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No Rotation Detected in Storm that Ripped Through South Jacksonville

East Vandalia remains closed from Main Street to Hardin Avenue after the severe weather that tore through the area Sunday night.

At approximately 6:17 pm a storm caused severe damage down the entire length of Vandalia from South Diamond to Nichols Park in South Jacksonville which took the brunt of the storm. Multiple buildings and homes were damaged including one home on West Vandalia that had its roof completely torn off.

The west-facing overhead doors on the South Jacksonville Fire Department were blown in and onto multiple fire department vehicles. South Jacksonville Fire Chief Richard Evans Jr. says the Murrayville Fire Department responded with mutual aid to assist in responding to the scene due to the damage at the fire department.

Evans says the department was lucky as only minor damage was done to fire equipment and all units are still operable. Evans says several houses in the village sustained minor to complete roof damage.

The front of City Church on East Vandalia was ripped completely open and building damage was reported at the Circle K as well as areas surrounding the intersection of South Main and Vandalia.

A section of metal facade from the Circle K station was blown across the road and struck the side of Precious Jewelers breaking out a window and glass door. Businesses in the shopping center also sustained damage with windows broken out. Multiple vehicles reported broken windows in the area.

Nichols Park is closed today for clean-up efforts after several trees and power lines were knocked down by the storm making the main entrance to the park impassable.

Ameren Illinois is reported 20 customers are still without power as of noon, down from over 240 as of 6:30 am.

Morgan County Office of Emergency Management Director, Phil McCarty says the area was very lucky that there have been no injuries reported from the storm. He says according to the data collected so far, it appears the storm was not a tornado and it could have been much worse.

In the extensive conversations that I have had with the National Weather Service immediately following the event last night, and then again twice this morning, it really does not look like it was tornadic activity.

Judging by the damage created as well as the path, as well as researching very detailed radar images, it does not look like at that specific time there was rotation. That doesn’t downplay that there wasn’t significantly strong winds, but there was no rotation.

McCarty says his office has to look at the whole picture for the county when storms approach and the only warnings issued by the National Weather Service were for the northwestern portion of Morgan County. He says no emergency sirens were activated because, by the time the warning was issued, the storm cell was out of Chapin and moving north/northeast with no impact to Jacksonville.

He says any indication via radar or storm spotters at the time had the worst moving away from populated areas with siren capabilities.

The weather activity that created the damage in South Jacksonville was a downburst type, straight-line type wind environment, and even though it did create damage, it’s probably right on the edge of to the point of where we would activate the sirens.

We are very cautious of activating the sirens and don’t want to activate the sirens every time it storms so we don’t lose how important the warning is. So it’s a delicate balance. We could argue either way that yeah maybe we should have.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a roof on your house, you’d have a strong argument, but I’d also have a strong argument that yes you may be right in this isolated incident, but I have to look at it as a whole. And you can’t always make a decision afterward. The information in the moment did not provide for activation of the sirens.”

The Village of South Jacksonville announced in a press release this morning, that clean-up efforts are still underway and residents are encouraged to move storm debris to the curb in front of their residences so the Street Department can get it picked up and hauled away. Residents should separate tree debris and trash/building debris.

Village officials say residents should also be cautious of outside contractors used for home repair/storm cleanup. Any concerns with contractors or building permits should be reported to Village Hall or the Police Department. Homeowners should contact their insurance company notifying them of storm damage.

If residents have emergency issues, please contact the Police Department at 217-245-9222. Residents with structural damage to their property are encouraged to call Village Hall at 217-245-4803. Power or gas issues should be reported to Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000.

Scott County to Hold Drive Through COVID Booster Clinic

The Scott County Health Department is holding a COVID-19 booster shot clinic soon.

The Health Department will be hosting a Moderna COVID-19 Booster clinic on Monday, October 25, 2021, at the Winchester EMS parking lot from 1:30 pm-5:00 pm.

The event will be a drive-thru system and no appointment will be necessary. Scott County Health Department officials ask that attendees use the main entrance off the highway to enter the parking lot and to exit to the East (by Logan Ag), to maintain the fluidity of traffic.

A pre-vaccination checklist and consent form will need to be signed before vaccination.

Scott County Health officials say it is recommended that for those who had Moderna or Pfizer, it be at least 6 months since their last dose, and if they received Johnson and Johnson, it is at least 2 months since their dose.

Any questions can be called into the Scott County Health Department at 217-742-8203.

Daycare Staff Required to Vaccinate or Test Under New Executive Order

Anyone who works in a licensed daycare center in the state of Illinois will be required to get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 soon.

Governor J.B. Pritzker issued another executive order for COVID vaccination and testing this afternoon.

Pritzker says the order is an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Illinois’ youngest residents, employees of licensed daycare centers will be required to have received at least the first dose of vaccine by December 3rd and the second dose by January 3rd.

The executive order covers more than 55,000 daycare center staff statewide. According to the announcement, employees in these settings who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week and increased testing frequency may be required in certain situations.

Licensed daycare centers are child care facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The centers are operated outside an individual’s home and regularly provide child care for groups of children ages 0-12.

Currently, there are 2,872 licensed daycare centers in Illinois. The executive order is the latest in a series of orders since the vaccine became readily available earlier this year.

On August 4th, Pritzker announced vaccinations would be required for all state employees who work in the state’s congregate facilities, including individuals at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS), Corrections (IDOC), Veterans Affairs (IDVA), and Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).

Pritzker issued requirements on August 26th that all Pre-K-12 teachers and staff; all higher education personnel; all higher education students; and healthcare workers in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care facilities, and physician offices are to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

Currently there are no COVID vaccines approved for use in those under the age of 12, however earlier today Pfizer announced it’s vaccine is 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID in children ages 5 to 11.

Pfzer is currently seeking emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of a 10-microgram, two-dose regimen for children.

Fall Leaf Pick Up Returns to South Jacksonville

Residents in the Village of South Jacksonville will again have a little help with their fall clean-up efforts.

The Village of South Jacksonville has announced the fall leaf pick-up will be offered this year during the month of November.

The leaf pick-up was not offered last year due to a lack of manpower after the Illinois Department of Corrections put a halt to outside work crews due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Works Superintendent John Green says the issue was compounded this year as the Greene County Work Camp is no longer offering the service leaving municipalities like South Jacksonville scrambling to find help for larger projects like the leaf pick-up.

Green says help will now be from crews with the Pittsfield Work Camp, and the leaf pick-up will be offered as normal, so long as IDOC permits.

We’ll be picking up every Tuesday in the month of November. It must be curbside leaves only, and they need to be bagged and you can put them in paper or plastic. We will continue this through November as long as there are no COVID issues from the work camp. If there is and they have to pull out, then we will be done.

Greene says the Pittsfield Work Camp is the only option left for help in the area, and the Village does not have the manpower to offer the service on its own and still be able to provide their normal daily services.

ABATE of Illinois Pushing for Equality in New Energy Bill

An organization dedicated to the rights and safety of motorcycle riders in Illinois is pushing for changes to the recently passed energy bill.

ABATE of Illinois announced this week, the organization is calling on members of the General Assembly to support a recently introduced Senate Bill aimed at removing a provision in the energy bill its members feel is discriminatory to motorcyclists.

Josh Witkowski, State Legislative Coordinator for ABATE of Illinois says the Illinois Energy Bill passed in September had two critical components for electric vehicles including the planning of infrastructure and the incentives for transitioning to electric transportation.

Witkowski says that although ABATE appreciates Governor J.B. Pritzker’s approach to the electrification of transportation, unfortunately, the sections specifically excluded electric motorcycles from participating in planning and incentives.

The definition of electric vehicle in that bill specifically excludes electric motorcycles. It allows for every other electric vehicle, but it specifically calls out shall not include electric motorcycles. ABATE of Illinois views this as discriminatory in trying to exclude motorcycles from the future of Illinois transportation. So we have introduced legislation that removes that discriminatory language.”

SB 2940 which would remove the provisions, would also give motorcycles equal access to electric vehicle infrastructure planning and incentives. Witkowski says the sponsors of the energy bill in the House and Senate declared support for removing this language during debates and hearings on the bill in September.

He says a further explanation by the Governor’s Office following passage of the bill called into question if a motorcycle is considered a primary vehicle.

When asked why the Governor’s Office did this, they said they wanted to facilitate the development of electric primary transportation, indicating that motorcycles were not primary transportation, basically referring to us as second-class citizens.

The fact is many Illinois bikers use their motorcycles as primary transportation. Personally, I have two vehicles, a motorcycle, and a truck. My motorcycle averages fifteen to sixteen thousand miles a year, my truck is less than ten thousand, my motorcycle is my primary vehicle.”

Earlier today, Pritzker walked back comments made earlier by his administration. During a press conference to discuss the state’s shift to electric vehicles, Pritzker said there was “no intentionality exactly to exclude” motorcycles from the provisions in the bill. He says it’s something his administration is looking at, and he looks forward to reviewing it.

Since the passage of the Energy Bill, Illinois has signed on to a 5 state coalition focused on electric vehicle infrastructure & transitioning to an electric future. The Governor’s Office has also indicated plans for incentives aimed at electric vehicle manufacturing in Illinois.

Witkowski says ABATE is calling on the Governor’s Office to guarantee that motorcycles will not be excluded in the new initiatives, and hopes that leaders in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office will work together to ensure equal access to planning the future of Illinois transportation.

Transportation is changing. We are sitting on top of what could be the greatest change in transportation in the last hundred years. It’s very important that as transportation changes we consider all road users and that includes motorcycles. We are about the fight of preserving motorcycles, not only for my kids but for my kid’s kids and future generations beyond that.”

SB 2940 has been introduced and is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. Witkowski says it is the hope of ABATE that the language in the bill can be rolled into an “Energy Bill Fix” that is rumored to be occurring during the upcoming veto session.

Free Food Distribution Planned in Jacksonville

A free food giveaway is coming to Jacksonville next week.

Jacksonville Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Communities Collaborative and the Central Illinois Food Bank are sponsoring a food distribution that will be held next Friday, October 29th at the Jacksonville Police substation located at 110 West Walnut Street.

The distribution begins at noon and no preregistration is required to receive food. Walk-up service is available as well as the drive-thru option.

Those who plan to receive food should wear masks and those using the drive-thru should clear space in the trunks of their vehicles so volunteers can safely load the food.

Volunteers from Healthy Communities Collaborative and the Jacksonville Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs will be on hand to distribute the food.

Longtime Friend of the Late Jerry Symons Raising Money to Replace Memorial Press Box Sign in his Honor

A local businessman is making an appeal to the public to help update a memorial sign that has grown tired looking at the JHS Football Field.

Jacksonville native and longtime friend of the late Jerry Symons, John Buchanan is working to raise funds to replace the sign on the Jerry Symons Press Box at the Kraushaar-Rosenberger Football Field.

The press box was dedicated to Symons a number of years ago, and Buchanan says over time and likely due to its placement on the west-facing facade, the sign has darkened and cracked to the point of being difficult to read.

Buchanan says he feels District 117 has done a great job at being diligent in improving the curb appeal of district facilities, including the bleachers and electronic scoreboard.

Buchanan says he knows the district has a lot on its plate right now including continued compliance with COVID, so he hopes members of the public are willing to help update the memorial sign for Jerry Symons.

So I just thought we should do something about that partially for appearances, but secondly, I’m, a close personal friend of Jerry Symons’, and I respected the work he did over the years. He was much more than a sports broadcaster and radio station manager, he was passionate about his community and improving it.

He was a consummate volunteer and dedicated, and Jerry prior to his death, left his fingerprints all over this community, and this sign that was put up was certainly appropriate in dedicating the press box to him. And it was a fingerprint that I would like to see maintained and sustained.”

Buchanan says he is hoping for a groundswell of support from the public to help with the project. He asks that anyone who was touched by Jerry Symons’ work throughout the years, would give a donation to the effort no matter how large or small.

He says the donations will also be tax-deductible thanks to support from a local foundation.

I’ve made arrangements with the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation to route these donations through the Foundation so it is a tax-deductible gift. Folks can send a check to me at 308 County Club Road in Jacksonville, there at the radio station P.O. Box 1180, 62651, and the Public Schools Foundation would receive those as well at 211 West State Street. We just ask that you simply make the check out to the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation and in the memo line, put Jerry Symons.”

Buchanan says it will cost approximately $860.00 to replace the sign that measures thirty inches by twenty feet long. He says hopefully more money comes in than is needed for the sign as a fund has been established with the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation to help repair or replace any future signage in the district such as at The Bowl, the Kraushaar-Rosenberger Football Field, or wherever the help may be needed.

To make a donation to the Jerry Symons sign fund, mail or drop off a check at the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation or the WLDS/WEAI studios.

Checks should be made payable to the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation with the name Jerry Symons in the memo line.

Brief Pursuit Leads to Arrest of Ashland Man

A brief pursuit lead to the arrest of an Ashland man in Jacksonville last night.

Just before midnight Tuesday, a Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy clocked a small gray car at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour heading towards Jacksonville on Interstate 72 near mile marker 81.

According to a Sheriff’s Office report, the vehicle was going fast enough that the Deputy was not able to catch up quickly enough to initiate a stop. The deputy alerted dispatch and Jacksonville Police began a search of the area.

The gray vehicle was found pulled over in the area of the former MacMurray College campus and according to a Sheriff’s Department official, when officers approached the vehicle it sped off heading back out into the county.

A Deputy had stopped on Blacks Lane just east of the WLDS/WEAI studios and along with other law enforcement was able to take the driver into custody after he pulled over on Old Jacksonville Road a short time later.

34-year-old Steven C. Rodgers of Ashland was arrested and booked into the Morgan County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine, driving on a revoked or suspended license, and speeding over the statutory limit.

Rodgers remained held at the Morgan County Jail as of late this morning while awaiting a bond hearing in Morgan County Court.

Court Declares Initial State Legislative Maps Unconstitutional

The process of redistricting for state legislative districts got a little muddier today following a U. S. Court decision.

The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois announced its opinion on the first slate of maps approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker in June.

The court declared the first version of the maps unconstitutional saying that the proposal “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and enjoins the Defendant State Board of Elections” and its members “in their official capacities as members of the Illinois State Board of Elections, from enforcing Public Act 102-0010.”

The Court decision says the maps as submitted and approved, contain an unconstitutional divide in terms of population. The first round of maps was drawn by Democrats using data from the American Community Survey instead of the traditional results from the 2020 Census, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illinois Republicans and representatives of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, both filed suit to challenge the maps on the grounds that the maps as written posed unfair representation to populations throughout the state.

The second version of the maps, redrawn over the summer and passed and signed in September is now under judicial review as a result of the decision that the first set were drawn unconstitutionally.

The court also rejected the Republican claim that failure to draw a constitutional map should trigger the state’s non-partisan remap commission process, according to a report by Capitol Fax.

The Court instead invites Republicans and MALDEF, whose lawsuits were combined by the court into one, to submit their own alternative maps with specific emphasis on how their alternatives address the alleged deficits.

JPD Seek info on Suspected Vehicle Connected to Drive-by Shooting on South Prairie

More information has become available on a shots fired incident that occurred Monday night in Jacksonville.

According to a Crime of the Week update from Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott & Cass Counties, at approximately 8:30 pm on Monday, October 18th, a residence in the 600 block of South Prairie Street was struck by gunfire.

According to police reports, a complainant called into West Central Dispatch after hearing what they described as five to six gunshots. Police found bullet holes in the exterior of the residence a short time later during the investigation.

Police say no one was injured in the incident. The white SUV pictured is the suspected vehicle. The vehicle is reported to have exited the scene Westbound on Chambers immediately following the shooting.

Jacksonville police ask anyone who identifies the vehicle can submit an anonymous tip online by going to www.morganscottcrimestoppers.webs.com and clicking the leave a tip button on the home page, or by calling Crimestoppers at 243-7300.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously via the Morgan Scott Crime Stoppers mobile app. If your tip leads to an arrest, you are eligible for a cash reward.

Tips may also be submitted by texting 274637 (CRIMES). The first word of the text tip must be “payout”