Restoration Work Day At Lincoln Trail
Homestead State Park May 5

    Restoration work day will be held Saturday, May 5 at Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park from 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
    Volunteers are needed to help remove bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard plus mulching trails. Wear gloves.
    This will be a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful park, make new friends, and have some fun. For additional information, contact Jeff Tish at or Melody Arnold at
     Volunteers are also needed at 2:00 p.m. to assist Melody Arnold, president of the Decatur Audubon Society, with identifying birds found in Macon County and take part in the Illinois State Bird Count. For additional information, contact Judy Parish at or Roslyn O’Conner at
    The park is about 10 miles straight west of Decatur. Take Route 36 to Lincoln Trail Memorial Parkway, go south four miles. The park is on the east side of the road.

Decatur Working Families To Host Ceremony
In Honor Of Workers Who Died On The Job

    On Friday, April 27, working families, faith leaders and local officials will join at 5:30 PM at the Worker Memorial monument, located on the northwest corner of the Macon County Courthouse lawn, 253 W. Wood in Decatur.  
    The memorial service is in observance of AFL-CIO Workers Memorial Day to remember and recognize all workers from Macon County who have died while at their workplace.
     This national event is held annually on April 28 (held in Decatur on April 27 to avoid the weekend) and recognizes individuals that lost their lives while building, maintaining and improving our communities while also supporting their families through their labor.  
    The event will be one of many memorials hosted around the country.
     The ceremony will feature the reading of over 100 names of fallen workers who either lived or worked in Macon County, speakers and an impressive honor guard.  
    Everyone is invited to attend this free ceremony. 

Scherer Measure to Protect Illinois Taxpayers from
Federal Tax Plan, Fund Education Passes Out of House

      A measure backed by state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, designed to protect Illinois taxpayers from increased federal tax rates recently passed out of the Illinois House.
     “I think it is ridiculous that Washington politicians want to provide tax cuts for major corporations, placing the burden on the backs of working families,” said Scherer.  “My priority is the interests of the people that I represent.  Our family, friends and neighbors need tax relief, not a bigger tax bill from the federal government.”
      Scherer’s measure, House Bill 4237, amends the state income tax code to allow taxpayers to contribute to the Illinois Education Excellence Fund – a fund designated for public education expenses, including early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education and adult education. Taxpayers could then deduct contributions from their federal income taxes, providing them with savings on their tax bills.
      “As a former public school teacher of 34 years, I can tell you firsthand the way that a lack of education funding impacts our local students.  Many teachers find themselves paying for supplies out of pocket, so every little bit of funding helps,” continued Scherer.  “This measure will not only provide middle-class families with much needed tax relief, but it will also allow folks to invest directly into our local schools.”

Decatur Police to Participate in Second Annual
Distracted Driving Week -- Education, Enforcement Campaign to take place April 23-27

DECATUR, IL – Each day, 10 people are killed in distracted driving crashes - contributing to the 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To help bring attention to the dangers associated with driving distracted, the Decatur Police Department, announced today it will again participate in Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week (DDAW) and conduct an enforcement campaign of Illinois’ distracted driving laws. 
      “No distraction- whether texting or talking on the phone - is ever worth the loss of life on the roadway,” said Sgt. Steve Hagemeyer. “These senseless deaths can easily be prevented if drivers simply choose to focus on the core task of driving when behind the wheel. We aim to do our part to help keep Decatur’s roads safer.” 
      The second annual Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week is a coordinated effort between the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP), AAA, The Illinois State Police, The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois High School High School and College Driver Education Association (IHSCDEA) and nearly 300 local law enforcement throughout Illinois to educate motorists about the dangers of driving while distracted and enforcing the laws on Illinois’ roadways.  Last year’s DDAW efforts resulted in over 18,000 warnings and citations for distracted driving offenses. 
      Contrary to what some drivers may think, hands-free, handheld and in-vehicle technologies are not distraction-free, even if a driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. The latest AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that:
      Drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of being involved in a crash; 
Drivers who use in-vehicle technologies, like voice-based and touch screen features, can be distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. 
Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash.

Violating Illinois’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Know before you go. In Illinois:  

Law prohibits all drivers from texting and driving 
Law prohibits all drivers from using a hand-held phone while driving 
Law prohibits all teen drivers from using a cell phone while driving 

For more information on Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week visit These partnerships have been formed to help further a traffic safety culture in Illinois and to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries resulting from distracted driving.  Please help the ILACP, AAA, and Decatur, to keep Illinois’ roadways safe and Illinois strong. 

Howard G. Buffett Foundation Donates Sculpture 
Highlighting Gorilla Conservation 

DECATUR, IL – A $150,000 bronze sculpture, donated to Scovill Zoo by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, highlights the dangerous work of Virunga National Park’s rangers, whose lives are dedicated to preserving the mountain gorilla. The park is Africa’s oldest and a UNESCO* World Heritage Site, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. Virunga and its neighboring parks in Rwanda and Uganda are home to the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas, numbering only 880 in 2016. Virunga’s park rangers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, working to protect the gorillas, their habitats, and the communities around the park from the dozens of militias, bandits, and poachers who regularly prey on the wildlife and local population. More than 160 Virunga’s rangers have been killed in the line of duty since the late 1990s. Virunga’s first female rangers completed their training in January 2014, thanks to the financial support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
“We thank the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for choosing Scovill Zoo as the location for this meaningful work of art that will help educate zoo visitors about the dangers involved in protecting wildlife around the world,” said Chris Riley, Decatur Park Commissioner.

At Scovill Zoo, education and conservation are strategic priorities. Staff strives to develop and deliver engaging educational opportunities that inspire an understanding of the value of the natural world, its animals, and ecosystems, ultimately leading individuals to think and act in a way that promotes conservation in their daily lives. As an organization, the zoo contributes to conservation efforts like the Carnivore Conservation Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, C2S2 Cheetah Sustainability Program, Rincon Rainforest (Costa Rica), and others. Staff involved in the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) raise funds to contribute to the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation, Polar Bears International, Red Panda Network, Snow Leopard Trust, Wildlife Conservation Network, Wild Care Institute for Humboldt Penguin Conservation, and Wolf Park. 

“Scovill Zoo takes its role in education and conservation seriously,” said Ken Frye, Director of Scovill Zoo. “Through public education, Species Survival Plans (SSP), and donations to organizations working to save animals, we are an important partner in the conservation of wildlife and other natural resources. Each day, we strive to inspire our guests to respect, appreciate, and care for our planet. We will continue to look globally and in our own community for opportunities to make a difference.” 

    ∗    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. Find more at 

Millikin Chief of Staff Named 2018 Illinois
Big Sister of the Year

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois is pleased to announce that Marilyn Davis of Decatur, Ill. has been named the 2018 Illinois Big Sister of the Year. Davis volunteers as a Big Sister in the Macon County Community-Based Mentoring Program. Her long-term dedication, support and love for her Little Sister stood among other volunteers across the state. 

Marilyn Davis received the greatest blessing when she was matched with five year old Lathianna “Starr” Arnold in February 2006. Davis thought about becoming a Big Sister many times before, but because of her demanding work schedule and busy volunteer commitments she was unsure she could dedicate the time needed. After finding out from a close friend there was a perfect match waiting for her, she decided to move forward becoming a Big Sister. 

Davis and Starr share many special bonds. The most special bond is their birthday each year on September 1. Over the course of 12 years together, they have enjoyed eating out, going to movies, the children’s museum, and lake activities. They have frequent sleepovers and hang out at Davis’ house. They have had many conversations about academics, life goals, and birthday parties.

“It’s a privilege to see Starr grow up to be a kind, smart and compassionate lady,” said Davis. “She will be in my life forever.”

Starr has become part of Davis’ family. When Davis’ father passed away in September 2017, Starr stayed by her side and played a supportive role at the funeral. Their relationship has grown far beyond what both dreamed. That is the biggest blessing for Davis as Starr will always be a part of her family because of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Davis works at Millikin University serving as the Chief of Staff to President Dr. Patrick White while also serving as Secretary to the Board of Trustees. Starr will graduate from MacArthur High School this spring and plans to attend Millikin in the fall.

The Illinois Big Sister of the Year is awarded annually to a Big Sister who volunteers with one of the 16 Big Brothers Big Sisters Agencies in Illinois. 

Decatur public schools to receive $2.3 million in new money
New formula confirms Decatur schools

significantly underfunded

SPRINGFIELD – Decatur public schools will receive more than $2.3 million in new money under Illinois’ school funding formula overhaul, an initiative driven largely by Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.

The Illinois State Board of Education on Thursday issued vouchers to the state comptroller that clear the way for school districts around the state to begin receiving money under Illinois’ new evidence-based model of funding public schools.

The distribution – which is based on detailed enrollment figures, district-specific student learning needs, available local resources and other data – is the first step toward right-sizing state support for every school district. No schools will ever receive less state funding than they do today under the new plan.

“The data we have now reinforces what we already knew: that there is astonishing unfairness in how school districts around Illinois are funded,” Manar said.

“We have school districts with more than double the amount of resources it should take to educate their particular students, while other school districts have barely half of what they need. It’s been this way of years, and it’s going to come to an end.”

Decatur CUSD 61 was categorized as “Tier 1,” meaning it is among the least adequately funded school districts in the state.

Using the evidence-based model criteria, ISBE set the district’s base funding minimum at $47.5 million and determined it should receive an additional $2,310,791.40 in new money in the first year of the new formula.

To learn more about distribution figures ISBE released today for school districts throughout Macon County and statewide, visit

Manar credited the staff at the state board of education for their efforts working with school districts and lawmakers to pull together the necessary data and calculate the distribution amounts in April as promised. He called it a historic turning point for school districts.

Celebrate National Arbor Day by Planting Trees

    National Arbor Day is Friday, April 27, this year, and the Arbor Day Foundation is making it easy for anyone to celebrate the annual tree-planting holiday. Join the Foundation in April and receive 10 free shade trees.
    By joining the Foundation in April, new members receive the following trees: red oak, sugar maple, weeping willow, baldcypress, thornless honeylocust, pin oak, river birch, tuliptree, silver maple, and red maple.
    The free trees are part of the Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.
    “These trees provide shade in the summer and vibrant colors throughout the fall,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Through the simple act of planting trees, one person can make a difference in helping to create a healthier and more beautiful planet for all of us to enjoy.”
    The trees will be shipped postpaid with enclosed planting instructions at the right time for planting in April or May. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.
    To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE SHADE TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30, 2018, or visit 

Scherer Seeks to Raise Wages for Local Teachers
    To address the teacher shortage that Central Illinois is facing, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is spearheading a new measure that will require a minimum base salary be set for full-time teachers.
     “At this time, Illinois is facing a mass teacher shortage.  By setting a base salary for full-time teachers, we will be able to help attract the best and the brightest to educate our children,” Scherer said. “Ensuring that full-time teachers have a livable wage is imperative, especially considering a rising cost of living, as well as unprecedented levels of student loan debt.”
     Scherer is sponsoring House Bill 5175, a measure that would set a minimum salary for full-time teachers. The bill is part a number of measures by lawmakers to address the growing teacher shortage in Illinois, and has received supported from the Illinois Education Association (IEA).
     “Teachers dedicate incredible amounts of time and effort into ensuring our children have the best education possible.  It is important that they be compensated fairly for their invaluable work,” Scherer said. “Investing in good teachers is an investment into our future.”
     Scherer represents the 96th District, which includes portions of Christian, Macon and Sangamon counties.

Want To Be Prairie Aware?
Come To ‘Our Place In The Prairie’ 

    Discover the importance of prairies past in the area at Our Place in the Prairie. 
    This daylong public education event presented by Glacier’s Edge Master Naturalists, will focus on the prairies of the area during the time of grist mills, fur trade and river travel.         Attendees will travel to Lincoln Trail Homestead Park to learn about the geology of the area and restoration efforts. Participants will also be free to hike the beautiful park on their own.
    Our Place in the Prairie will be from 9am until 3pm on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the University of Illinois Extension Office, 3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd. in Decatur, IL.         Cost to attend is $25 and includes lunch. Register by April 23, 2018 at or call 217.877.6042.
    This event is hosted by the Glacier’s Edge Master Naturalists, a volunteer group through University of Illinois Extension. 
    If you have questions or need more details, contact Dena Hyde at 217.877.6042, or visit
    University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please call 217.877.6042.

Decatur Park District Partnering With Todd Mason And
Beach House To Assume Food & Beverage Operations

DECATUR, IL – At the Park Board meeting on March 21, Commissioners voted to approve an agreement with Todd Mason, owner/operator of the Beach House Restaurant, to assume Food & Beverage operations for the Decatur Park District, beginning April 1.  
    “A long-standing, positive relationship with Todd – as a tenant, as well as a partner in improvements at Lakeshore Landing – contributed to this decision,” said Bob Brilley, II, president of the Decatur Park Board of Commissioners. “Since 2005, Beach House has had a great reputation for high-quality meals and catering, and this transition will be smooth and immediate.” 
     A reduction in the number of banquet facilities with the closure of Scovill and the retirement of the banquets manager, highlighted a need for the Park District to change direction. Under Todd Mason’s leadership, Hickory Point Banquet Facility will continue to provide outstanding service, superior food quality, and great experiences for individuals holding weddings, parties, golf outings, and special events. Mason will also provide catering to Park District facilities and locations. All existing contract arrangements with the Park District will be honored in their entirety. 

City Of Decatur’s 2018 Citywide 
Cleanup Dates Set

    The City of Decatur, in partnership with Advanced Disposal, has set its 2018 citywide cleanup dates. Cleanup dates will be held on:
     Saturday, May 5, from 8:00 a.m.-12 p.m.; 
    Tuesday, June 19, from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
    Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
    Thursday, Oct 11, from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
    All events will be held in the Decatur Civic Center parking lot.
    Residents will be allowed to dispose of large items for no charge. Items must be placed in roll off bins located within the parking lot.
    Items such as old furniture, mattresses and household items can be disposed of during this cleanup. Limited amounts of tires from residents will also be accepted. No electronics, appliances, paint or yard waste will be allowed.
    The City of Decatur’s citywide cleanups are part of the City’s initiative designed to reinvigorate and improve neighborhoods.
    Contact Richelle Irons at (217) 424-2864 or Raymond Lai, (217) 424-2335 for additional information.

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