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The Annual Heritage Days at the American Farm Heritage Museum are July 29-31.

Attendees may take a train ride, admire tractors and working farm engine displays, learn about farm life in the Little Red Barn, watch steam engines saw logs and thresh wheat, shop the flea market, tour the Hill’s Fort replica, listen to music in the air-conditioned main building, see the military museum display and eat some great food including hand-scooped ice cream. There will be horse pulls, tractor pulls, and kiddie tractor pulls. A church service is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Sunday. (Learn more at WGEL Radio here.)
According to an article by Reboot Illinois writer Kevin Hoffman, more than 181,000 Illinoisans have a license to carry a concealed firearm, according to the Illinois State Police.

In July 2013, Illinois became the last state in the nation to legalize concealed carry after a federal circuit appeals court struck down a ban on carrying concealed handguns in December 2012.

The Illinois State Police began issuing licenses to residents in the spring of 2014; and as of June 1, 2016, there were a total of 181,489 active concealed carry licenses.

Using data provided by the state police, we’ve listed and mapped out which counties have the most concealed carry license holders per 1,000 residents as ranking counties based on the total number of active concealed carry licenses can be misleading.

For example, more than 47,000 permits have been issued to residents of Cook County — by far the most in the state — but the county ranks dead last for the number of license holders per 1,000 people (see the spreadsheet above for absolute figures).

Illinois’ concealed carry law is considered to be among the strictest in the nation, particularly because there are 23 prohibited places where a license holder can’t carry, such as public transit and public festivals that require a permit. In addition, private businesses can post anti-gun signs designated by the state police. While legislation has been introduced in recent years to loosen restrictions on where one can carry, including a controversial bill that would have permitted license holders to carry a concealed, loaded firearm on public transportation, no such measures have advanced through the General Assembly. (Read the complete article and see the chart by clicking here.)
Illinois is ditching the controversial state PARCC exam for high school students, instead giving 11th-graders a state-paid SAT college entrance exam next spring.

The announcement from the Illinois State Board of Education on Monday comes after only two administrations of PARCC, in the spring of 2015 and 2016, following dismal test scores and thousands of students skipping the exams.

Still, third- through eighth-graders will continue taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers in reading and math, exams designed to prepare students for college and work. The state tests have drawn opposition from families who questioned the amount of testing at school — part of a national movement that has prompted some states to stop using the PARCC exams, which are based on Common Core standards.

At the high school level, the PARCC exams took away from key instruction time, school administrators said, as tests piled up in the spring, including Advanced Placement exams for honors-level students and a college entrance exam in many districts.

Against that backdrop, some students didn't seem to take PARCC seriously. (Read the full story by Chicago Tribune writer Diane Rado by clicking here.)
State museum facilities in Lewistown and Springfield reopened to public. The reopening followed a move to allow the charging of an admission fee ($5) on most adults seeking to visit the flagship museum in Springfield. The Dickson Mounds satellite museum complex near Lewistown will remain free to the general public at this time. The two museum complexes reopened on Saturday, July 2, after having been closed for nine months.

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield contains comprehensive displays on the natural history and culture of Illinois, with a particular emphasis on Illinois’ prairie ecosystems.
The Dickson Mounds Museum concentrates on the story of the Illinois River and river valley, with a particular emphasis on the Native Americans who lived in the valley and called it home. The Dickson Mounds Museum, a branch of the Illinois State Museum and a National Historic Site, is one of the major on-site archaeological museums in the United States. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the world of the American Indian in an awe inspiring journey through 12,000 years of human experience in the Illinois River Valley.
On July 4, 1866, General William Tecumseh Sherman joined Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby, General John A. Logan, and others in Hulls Grove (now William Jennings Bryan Memorial Park) for a grand celebration of America's Independence. In his speech, Gen. Sherman defended his military strategy in his capture of Atlanta and the subsequent "March to the Sea."

On Monday, July 4, 2016, 150 years to the day later, the City of Salem with the help and organization of local organizations and volunteers, sponsored a re-enactment of the speech with General Sherman portrayed by Kaskaskia College English professor Clint Stevens. Here are some of hte photos of the day's activities.

Rep. Cavaletto firing a cannon used at the Battle of Shilo. Photo provided by Bruce Kropp of WJBD Radio.
KC English professor Clint Stevens with Rep. Cavaletto
Danny Tolka - Civil War Reenactors of Marion Co.

Luke Purcell welcomes the visitors as Mayor Rex Barbee prepares to open the ceremonies.

Reenator soldiers mix and mingle with attendees.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows serve "Smoked Meats & Cabbage" and "Melon Slices."


Michael Mullen prepares the audience with some history to introduce "General Sherman."

Civil War Reenactors of Marion County set up camp in Bryan Memorial Park with military artifacts.
Dr. Mark Murfin displays his collection of portraits/art of Gen. Sherman, Lincoln and other historical people.




Read more at the WJBD Radio web site by clicking here.
State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), member of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and the Appropriations Public Safety Committee, announced today that legislation passed (Senate Bill 2047) to fully fund K-12 education for FY17 (full year), ensuring that our schools open on time and have the resources they need for the entire school year. K-12 will receive $11.1 billion from General Revenue Funds (GRF), other state funds, and federal funds. The stopgap budget will also ensure that critical state operations and services continue through the end of this year, including items like higher education, human services, and prisons.

“This is an historic investment in education which will fund our schools at 100% foundation level for the first time in seven years,” said Rep. Cavaletto. “That means the vast majority of school districts will receive more than they did the year before and now we can focus on how to improve our broken school funding formula,” added Cavaletto.

This bi-partisan agreement will ensure schools are fully funded and open on time in the fall, and will protect Illinois taxpayers. The plan also includes $75 million for early childhood education, and a new, statewide $250 million equity grant for the poorest school districts.

Additionally, this legislation provides for a 6-month, ‘stop-gap’ allocation for other state services including the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) which will get money for roads, bridges, railway, and airports around the state. Nearly $1 billion will go towards universities and community colleges to be able to open for fall classes and take them through December, while we continue to work on a full budget to cover the remainder of FY17. All other agencies are taken care of in part with this legislation: the Departments on Aging, Human Services, Health and Family Services, Public Health, Children & Family Services, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Corrections.

This morning was the dedication ceremony for two fallen troopers from the Illinois State Police District 12 who both died in the line of duty. At Interstate 57 Mile Post 164.4 Northbound and Mile Post 168.1 Southbound, will be placed 'Trooper Layton T. Davis Memorial Highway' signs and at Interstate 57 Mile Post 151.3 Northbound and Mile Post 157 Southbound will be placed 'Trooper Frank Doris Memorial Highway' signs.

Thank you to the Effingham Sunrise Rotary Committee for the planning and hosting of the ceremony at the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum. The Sunrise Rotary Committee included Kathy Schroeder, Dr. Paul Rhodes, Mel Stock, Dave Price, Dr. Kelly Stanfield, Doc Krahlman and Bill Totten. Other speakers included Jim Nieman (Effingham County Board Chair), Jeff Bloemker (Mayor-City of Effingham), and Mark Doris and Alan Davis (both sons of the fallen troopers).

God Bless America was performed by Sunrise and Noon Rotarians Jim Hecht, Matt Cekander and Greg Sapp.

Other elected officials in attendance were Representative David Reis (109th District) and Senator Dale Righter (55th District). Senator Kyle McCarter was represented by his legislative assistant, Tara Hall.