STATE & NATIONAL NEWS

Scherer Keeps up Fight to Pay Back Wages Still Owed to Thousands of State Employees

                                                                                                                        

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, introduced legislation to pay back the portion of wages still owed to health care workers, law enforcement officials, public service providers and thousands of other state employees after she was able to secure nearly $50 million in back pay in this year’s spring Legislative session.
“Even when the state did not meet its obligations to them, these workers have shown their commitment by providing critical services to those in need,” Scherer said. “It is only right that the state pays what it owes to the workers that Illinoisans depend on every day.”
The unpaid wages are a result of Gov. Pat Quinn’s 2011 cancellation of contractually obligated raises owed to the state’s union workforce. Scherer introduced House Bill 6326 to make supplemental appropriations of $63 million to the Department of Corrections, Department of Human Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Public Health to pay wages dating back to July 2011. The current state budget includes nearly $50 million of the $112 million owed to these critical state workers, and Scherer is working on passing legislation in order to pay back all of the unpaid wages.
“Every lawmaker has a responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution, and that includes honoring the commitments they made to our teachers and state workers,” Scherer said. “I introduced this bill to continue to fight for the rights of working families.”
Scherer represents the 96th District, which includes portions of Christian, Macon and Sangamon counties.

Law Enforcement, IDOT Make Final Push to Save Lives in 2014, Roadside Safety Checks Planned Over Holidays

A final, end-of-the-year push begins today (Thursday to lead Illinois to far fewer motor vehicle fatalities than last year and the lowest annual fatality totals since 2009. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and more than 230 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in this comprehensive effort to save lives on Illinois roads at a time of year that can be one of the most deadly.
The enforcement crackdown will coincide with the premiere of the latest episode of IDOT’S website series “The Driving Dead”, which will be available beginning Dec. 19 at TheDrivingDeadSeries.com. The first video in the series, featuring Michael Rooker from the popular TV show “The Walking Dead” and the smash hit movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” was unveiled this summer and has received more than 640,000 views on YouTube.
The videos show the zombie-filled adventures of Rooker and other characters, who find themselves in situations depicting the dangers of driving impaired and not buckling up. You can connect with “The Driving Dead” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date news and behind-the-scenes looks at the series.
The statewide enforcement effort also features the familiar messages of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket” to remind motorists of the consequences of bad driving behavior. Holiday motorists can expect hundreds more roadside safety checks, seat belt enforcement zones and other police saturation patrols looking for impaired drivers and seat belt law violators from now through Jan. 1. 
In 1920, the first year motor vehicle fatalities were recorded, 728 people died on Illinois roads. In that year, vehicle-miles traveled totaled an estimated 3.46 billion miles. Just two years later, annual fatalities already increased to more than 1,000. Nearly a century later, annual fatalities again fell below 1,000, even though annual vehicle-miles traveled increased 30-fold in that time to105 billion each year. In 1920, Illinois’ annual motor vehicle fatality rate was 21.03 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2013, that rate was 0.94.  
Illinois has an opportunity in 2014 to make even more history by recording one of its lowest annual motor vehicle fatality totals ever, with a chance at achieving an all-time, modern-day low. As of December 17, 2014, 878 people have lost their lives on Illinois roads, which is 78 lower than the same timeframe in 2013. 
During the 2013 Christmas holiday (6 p.m. Dec. 24 to 11:59 p.m. Dec.25), two people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Illinois. Both fatalities involved a drinking driver. Over the last five years in Illinois (2009-2013), 38 fatalities occurred in Illinois during Christmas, 11 of which (29 percent) involved a drinking driver.
To see the latest information on motor-vehicle fatalities, visit 
http://apps.dot.illinois.gov/FatalCrash/Home/CrashData.


Rep. Davis Issues Statement on Funding Bill Passage

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) has released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a year-long spending bill to fund the federal government.

“The bill passed tonight funds our government for the next year providing certainty for the American people and giving the next Congress an opportunity to operate without being forced to govern from crisis to crisis,” said Davis.  “Although this is not a perfect bill, it does include many of the individual House-passed appropriation bills. But to return to regular order, where Congress debates each appropriation bill and goes line-by-line through the budget to see what works and what doesn’t, we need a willing partner in the Senate.

“I was happy to see that this bill prevents wasteful government spending while including several good provisions essential to Illinois. Among them include funds to improve veterans’ access to healthcare, providing our schools with much needed relief from school nutritional regulations, funds for vital transportation projects, and reins in government overregulation.”

Highlights from the bill include:

  • Provides an additional $209 million to the VA to implement provisions in the new veterans access legislation to improve healthcare for our nations veterans.
  • Waiver for School Lunch Regulations- Section 739 of House Committee legislation that establishes a waiver process from the new school lunch regulations if a school can demonstrated a net loss over a six month period.
  • The bill includes funding to save the contract tower program and funds TIGER grants.
  • Prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act.
  • Funding for 15 E/A 18-G Growlers to protect our troops, improve national security and benefit working families in Metro East area.




Ameren Provides Tips to Stop Scam Artists Trying to Defraud Customers this Holiday Season

Just ahead of the holiday season, Ameren is providing tips to its customers to safeguard them from scam artists who are using intimidation and other tactics to defraud the company’s customers in Missouri and Illinois. 
Ameren urges customers to be on alert for phone calls from scam artists who threaten disconnection of utility service unless a payment with a Green Dot Money Pak card or other pre-paid card is made immediately. Scammers are also mimicking voice recordings that appear to be from utilities to persuade customers to make an immediate payment.
“We want to alert our customers that we have also received reports of door-to-door scams and suspicious emails demanding payment,” said Tim Reagan, director of corporate security at Ameren. “To safeguard all of our customers, it’s important that anyone who has been subject to these intimidation tactics call Ameren and their local police department.”
Ameren offers these tips against scammers:
• Ameren never demands personal, account or financial information for immediate payment. Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or saving account numbers to anyone who comes to your home, calls or sends an email requesting this information.
• Ameren employees never come to your home without a scheduled appointment for reported outages or gas leak orders. Never let anyone into your home claiming to be from the utility unless they show proper Ameren badge identification. Our employees are not allowed to take payments in the field.
• Ameren never sends emails that include attachments, unless you’ve contacted us to specifically request information. Never open attachments unless you’ve contacted Ameren for the information.
If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000 or Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583. Customers can also follow Ameren on social media to receive the latest updates on scams.
St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries. Ameren Illinois provides electric delivery and transmission service as well as natural gas delivery service while Ameren Missouri provides vertically integrated electric service, with generating capacity of 10,300 megawatts, and natural gas delivery service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois develops regional electric transmission projects. Follow the company on Twitter @AmerenCorp. For more information, visit Ameren.com.

Macon County Sheriff’s Office Has Launched 
Facebook, Twitter Pages


The Macon County Sheriff’s Office has launched a Facebook Page as well as a Twitter Page.  
The pages have been launched in an effort for our department to become more connected to the citizens of Macon County through the use of social media.  
Over the past 4 months, our department has been experimenting with the use of social media to inform the media and a small number of citizens about current events that were going on in Macon County as well as promoting charitable events that our department has been involved in.
During those months several of the citizens and a large section of the local media has shown great support and approval of the use of social media.  The largest of those events came with the tornado touch downs in Macon County on Oct. 13th.  
By utilizing Twitter and Facebook the department along with Macon County Emergency Management were able to get current up to date damage reports with pictures as well as one posting of a video of the tornado that started on Hilvety Rd. just northeast of Moweaqua, while it was on the ground.
So far with the Facebook page being published for 24 hours, there have been over 1,400 people who like the page.  Citizens are urged to like the page by searching “Macon County Sheriff’s Office” on Facebook, or by going to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office website at www.sheriff-macon-il.us and clicking on the Facebook icon.  The Twitter page can be located at MaconCo_Sheriff or by clicking on the link through the Facebook page.
Citizens of Macon County are reminded that the pages are not going to be utilized as a way to report crimes or file complaints with the department.  If someone wants to report a crime, provide a tip or to file a complaint with the department they need to call the department at (217) 424-1311 or 911 if it’s an emergency, or Crimestoppers at (217) 423-TIPS (8477).
Each of the pages will be monitored by the department and any posts that are in violation of the posting policy will be deleted from the page that they are posted on.

Transportation, Law Enforcement Agencies Announce Preparations, Driving Reminders for Upcoming Winter

Drivers Urged to Slow Down, Buckle Up, Put Down Handheld Devices

CHICAGO –With colder weather rapidly approaching and winter right around the corner, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police (ISP) today announced that they are fully prepared for the upcoming snow-and-ice season and once again reminded motorists that when there is “Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.” Throughout the state, salt domes are being restocked following last year’s historic winter and snow plows and emergency equipment are ready to be pressed into action during the coming months.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation spends the whole year preparing for this critical time of year on all roads and highways. We take great pride in our snow-and-ice response and commitment to safety,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren. “While our top priority is to make sure our roadways are safe as possible, we do ask the motoring public to do its part as well. That means staying off your handheld devices, always wearing a seatbelt and allowing for extra time in all of your travels this winter.”

For the upcoming winter, 1,768 trucks statewide will be available for deployment by IDOT crews to keep about 16,000 miles of state routes – the equivalent of driving from Chicago to Miami almost 12 times – clear and passable. Last year, IDOT spent $131.4 million on snow removal and spread almost 800,000 tons of salt statewide. This winter, IDOT will have access to more than 1 million tons of salt if needed.

For years, ISP, Tollway and IDOT have worked together to urge motorists to drive defensively and safely in winter weather.

“An alert and prepared driver is a safe driver,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Winter driving conditions can be hazardous and life threatening for motorists and first responders if the necessary road safety precautions are not taken.”

The Illinois Tollway has increased its fleet to 185 snowplows and has restocked its salt supplies so it has more than 83,000 tons available to keep its 286-mile system open and operating for the 1.4 million drivers who use the Tollway daily.

 “Whenever the snow falls, we will be working around-the-clock to keep our roadways clear for customers who depend on us to safely reach their destinations,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Drivers can help by taking a few simple precautions, including slowing down, leaving a larger space between vehicles and giving our snowplows enough room to do their work.”   

The state’s “Ice and Snow, Take it Slow” annual campaign urges all motorists to slow down, build extra time in their schedules for travel during the winter months, increase the driving distance between vehicles and strongly consider refraining from travel during winter weather events. Other safety tips to remember:

  • Don’t crowd the plow – a snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas - all are prone to icing which is often invisible.
  • Try to keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary - if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
  • Carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone. In the Chicago area, dial *999 for roadway assistance.
  • Always wear a safety belt.
  • Motorists are urged to check travel conditions before any trip. You can get road condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at www.gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon. 

Illinois Department of Public Health
Issues Ebola Safety Guidance

CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck today provided further guidance on Illinois’ Ebola safety guidelines, including mandatory home quarantines for individuals who have a high-risk of exposure to the virus. 


“The Ebola safety guidance IDPH issued on Friday was designed to ensure that the public is protected without discouraging our health care workers from volunteering to fight this virus at its source,” Dr. Hasbrouck said.  “These guidelines ensure that we appropriately address the risks posed by workers who have been directly exposed to the Ebola virus without the necessary protective gear or procedures.  These individuals have a higher probability of becoming ill and a home quarantine is the most responsible way in which to manage this situation.”


The guidance on Friday was issued in light of the need for direction to local health departments about following up on passenger returning from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to issue guidance on this topic soon.


The IDPH guidance calls for a 21-day home quarantine for any returning traveler who has had high-risk exposures to Ebola. 


High-risk in this context refers to anyone who: 


Had unprotected (percutaneous or mucous membrane) contact with infectious blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient.

Made direct skin contact with blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Processed blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient without appropriate equipment or standard biosafety precautions.

Made direct contact with the dead body of an Ebola patient without appropriate PPE.

Lived with or shared a household with an Ebola patient in an outbreak affected country.


For individuals who meet any of the high-risk criteria, a formal home quarantine order will be issued. This will ensure that the movements of all those who are potentially at high risk of developing Ebola are limited. These individuals can stay at home for the 21-day duration of the Ebola virus's incubation period.


Our Friday, October 24 guidance places health care workers returning from outbreak-affected areas and who used appropriate PPE with no known infection control breach in a “low risk” category, and specifically recommends “no quarantine, no travel restrictions and verified self monitoring.” (Verified self-monitoring means checking and reporting one’s temperature and other potential symptoms twice daily and reporting to local public health, by phone or other means.)


IDPH's guidance from Friday, October 24 is available at  HYPERLINK "http://www.ebola.illinois.gov" www.ebola.illinois.gov and includes a chart summarizing tiers of risk, airport procedures and local health department monitoring activities.


“It is critical that measures pertaining to returning travelers are rational and science-based,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “We will not stigmatize health care workers, subject health care workers to undue restrictions or impair our ability to fight the epidemic at its source. The only way to reduce the risk of Ebola infections in the U.S. to zero is to extinguish the outbreak in West Africa.  We gratefully acknowledge that U.S. health care workers are critical to that effort.


“We deeply respect and support the health care workers, hospitals and local health departments who are working together to address Ebola worldwide. Science-based efforts to protect the public and ensure the safety of health care workers are foremost in our minds as we forge ahead to prepare and manage any future public health challenge in Illinois.”


For questions about Ebola, call the hotline at 800-889-3931.





decaturtribune@aol.com 
or to: Decatur Tribune, 
P. O. Box 1490, 
Decatur, IL 62525-1490.

                * * * *
Young people at the World War II Memorial in front of the Decatur Civic Center.

            * * * *
Decatur Tribune Offices Are Located At:
132 South Water Street 
Suite 424
P. O. Box 1490
Decatur, Illinois 62523

              Hours: 
      Mon.-Thurs. 9:00-4:30
      
Phone: 217/422-9702
        Fax: 217/422-7320
Email: decaturtribune@aol.com
Website Builder