Rep. John Cavaletto (Dist. 107) from Salem signs an Illinois Bicentennial Flag on the House Floor
for fellow Rep. Grant Wehrli (Dist. 41) from Naperville, IL.
Illinois Top 200 survey names Wrigley Field as Illinois’ top building. Participants in the Illinois Bicentennial’s Top 200 survey were asked to pick their favorite building in Illinois. The popular choice was Wrigley Field, the century-old Major League Baseball park that became the home of the Chicago Cubs in 1916. After many generations of mixed results, the storied Friendly Confines became the home of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

Other Illinois buildings were also supported by survey participants. Coming in second was a building owned by the people of Illinois, Springfield’s Dana-Thomas House. The Prairie Style house contains artistic motifs that celebrate Illinois’s ecology and landscapes, and is fitted with more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, lights, and art glass. The Wilmette Baha’i Temple, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and Chicago’s Robie House were honored with selection slots #3 through #5.

Illinoisans can join the state’s 200th birthday celebration by choosing the 200 greatest people, places, and things in state history in online voting coordinated by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The State Journal-Register, and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.

Every two weeks through the rest of 2018, the public will get to select the best movies, most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.
Our children’s education remains a top priority for Illinois House Republicans, which is why they have taken action to address the growing teacher shortage in our state. First and foremost, our members are committed to ensuring highly prepared and effective educators are teaching our children. To do that, Illinois must address the teacher shortage. 

The Illinois State Board of Education said the 2017-18 school year began with about 2,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state.* And a recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that school districts were increasingly having difficulty finding qualified candidates to apply for teaching positions.

The results of the survey showed concerns about teacher shortages were more prominent in rural districts in the central part of the state, and substitute teacher shortage concerns were most evident in southern part of the state. The most difficult positions to fill include bilingual, Spanish, special education teachers as well as nurses and school psychologists.

“The reduced candidate pool is likely caused by a combination of factors such as educators leaving Illinois, educators leaving the profession entirely, fewer students enrolled in Illinois approved programs leading to licensure, out-of- state educators choosing not to come to Illinois, and/or out-of-state educators unable to meet Illinois’ licensure standards without substantial delays and additional requirements being met. These issues span across the entire state and are not isolated to rural or urban communities, a particular district type, or geographic location.” **

Legislative solutions
House Republicans have been working closely with educational professionals to devise solutions to increase the number of qualified teachers in Illinois classrooms. Their legislative agenda to address the teacher shortage is outlined below:

*To address the need for substitute teachers, Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst introduced legislation establishing a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License. This special provision requires applicants to have an associates degree and allows them to substitute teach in a classroom for a no more than five consecutive days. This provision would allow more qualified individuals to enter the substitute teaching pool.

*Rep. Bob Pritchard’s measure establishes the Growing Future Educators Program to train qualified high school graduates to become secondary language educators beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. This effort is designed to help meet the need for bilingual and Spanish teachers. Rep. Pritchard also offered legislation to address the shortage of school psychologists by removing the requirements that those who already hold a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential take additional state-mandated tests for licensure. 

*To help future teachers complete their education expeditiously, Rep. John Cavaletto submitted legislation that requires Illinois public universities with an educator preparation program to offer those enrolled in it a three-year degree completion program. This is an effort to feed more teachers into the system as soon as possible.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is outraged that very important pieces of public safety legislation were not advanced out of the House Judiciary-Criminal committee yesterday. With the committee deadline today, these bills will not advance to the House Chamber this legislative session.

“The message from the House Democrats yesterday is clear – partisan politics are more important to them than protecting the most innocent and vulnerable in our state,” Durkin said. “Our message to them is that the House Republicans will not stand down and will continue to fight for victims of crime, first responders and all the citizens of Illinois.”

Some critical public safety bills that were killed by Democrats in committee yesterday are:

  • House Bill 5649, introduced by Leader Durkin, would deny bail for offenders who commit battery against a police officer while in police custody.
  • House Bill 5079, introduced by State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), increases the penalties for human traffickers.
  • House Bill 4586, introduced by State Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), increases a battery charge to aggravated battery if the victim is an employee of the Adult Protective Services Program, the Ombudsman Program or Department of Child and Family Services and the offender knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement of the victim. This bill was the result of the tragic death of DCFS employee Pamela Knight who was murdered while trying to take an abused child into custody.
  • House Bill 4318, introduced by State Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria), would make it illegal for a sex offender to knowingly reside within one mile of the victim of the sex offense. Currently, the law allows sex offenders to live as close as 500 feet to their victims.

“Our single, greatest duty as legislators is to protect our constituents, and these actions by the House Democrats are appalling, egregious and unacceptable,” Durkin said, who previously served as a felony prosecutor at the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. “These bills are responsible, thought out, and will have an immediate impact in providing protections for innocent victims of crime.”

"I was honored to be a part of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Kick-Off event at SIU's Touch of Nature Environmental Center on Friday.

Thank you to all of the athletes, volunteers, students, and community members who made this a success!"

--Rep. John Cavaletto

To watch some of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Kick-Off,
click here to see the WSIL-ABC Channel 3 video.

Athletes, organizers and volunteers at the Opening Ceremony on April 6, 2018.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne (McGlone) Burke
recounting her memories of visiting Touch of Nature
camps at Southern Illinois University in the 1960's.

Some of the ribbons, pins, medals, and programs
from the past 50 years of Special Olympics.
Justice Anne Burke Lounge at Dr. Freeberg Hall -- Dedicated on April 6, 2018.
The new plaque honoring Justice
Anne Burke donated by one of
the SIU Student groups,
Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity.

*Contest open to Illinois residents only

*Designs should depict an aspect of Illinois or Illinois history

*One entry per contestant may be submitted at

*Winning design will be minted on Illinois' Bicentennial Medallion

*Final winner will be announced on June 18, 2018
Pictured Members of KC’s Postsecondary Agricultural Student team with members of the KC board of trustees. Front row (L to R) Dr. Dee Boswell, Jack Mays, Linda Stover, Hannah Ehlers, Campbell Hill; Haley Gregson, Waterloo; Taylor Snow, Greenville; Bree Smith, St. Rose; Emilia Langel, Greenville; Cady McGehee, Okeechobee, Florida. Back Row (L to R) Laura Wedekemper, Bill Hawley, KC Interim President, George Evans; Bill Waggoner, KC Ag Instructor; Brock Irwin, Belvidere; Morgan Olbrich, Harvard; Kade Gambill, Sandoval; Shaylee Clinton, Ina; Josh Kelly, Trenton; Aaron Heinzmann, KC Assistant Professor of Agriculture.

The KC Board of Trustees approved a resolution proclaiming the month of April as “Community College Month”, recognizing the role college’s such as KC play in providing high quality educational opportunities at affordable costs in locations accessible to all students. KC interim President George Evans said, “Community colleges like Kaskaskia College are the first step for many students achieving their career goals and beginning their educational journeys, as well as providing workforce training, serve as the engines for economic development and provide numerous social and cultural activities for our residents.” During the month KC will be hosting open houses at its education centers around the district. The public is invited to attend any, and all to learn more about what KC can do for them.
April 2 – Nashville Education Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April 11- Greenville Education Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April 12 – Trenton Education Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April 17 – Vandalia Education Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April 18 – Salem Education Center from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April 30 – KC Main Campus from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Prior to the start of the meeting the board recognized KC’s Postsecondary Agricultural Student team that just competed in the National PAS competition in Louisville, Kentucky, taking home two, team national championships and seven individual national award winners.

Click here to read the complete WGEL story.

Artist: Tejaswi Achanta, age 14, Eighth Grade, Westfield Middle School,
Bloomingdale District 13, Bloomingdale, IL
"The arts and humanities teach us who we are and what we can be. They lie at the very core of the culture of which we're a part." --

Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President, Illinois native, 1911-2004

The Illinois State Board of Education is promoting March as "Youth Art Month" with the theme "the ARTS Make History Come Alive" to coincide with the Illinois bicentennial 1818-2018. This year's poster contest winners will be recognized at the 70th Annual Illinois Art Education Association Fall Conference November 10th in Bloomington-Normal. All of the winning artwork can be seen by clicking here.

Some Lessons the Arts Teach:
1. The arts teach children to make GOOD JUDGMENTS about qualitative relationships.
2. That problems can have MORE than ONE solution;
3. Complex forms of problem solving; and
4. Small Differences can have Large Effects.

Photo by Thinkstock

According to an article By Evonne Liu of Crain's Chicago Business, DuPage County remains the healthiest county in Illinois, followed by Kendall, as reported in the annual rankings. Clinton County from our area is ranked number 8. 

The rankings are a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. This is the ninth year the institute has released them.

The report has two parts: "Health Outcomes" looks at length of life and quality of life, with the length-of-life measurement focusing on premature deaths.

The report's quality-of-life factor is measured by "self-reported health status," which includes the percentage of people reporting poor or fair health conditions and a person's number of physically or mentally unhealthy days in a month, and is also measured by the percentage of newborns of low birth weight, an indicator of infant mortality risk. Another consideration in the report is maternal exposure to health risks.

DuPage scored the No. 1 spot in the health outcome ranking, which it also landed last year.

The collar counties scored higher marks than Cook County in the health outcome ranking: McHenry County landed the No. 5 spot and Kane improved from No. 12 to No. 7. Will County was ranked No. 9, up from No. 11, while Lake County fell to No. 10 from No. 6 last year.

The report also ranks "Health Factors" in each Illinois county, with those factors including health behaviors, clinical care, and social, economic and environmental factors, such as people's drinking and exercising habits. Other factors include obesity, access to health care, crime rates, child poverty and air pollutions.

DuPage also ranked No.1 in this ranking, while Cook County moved up from last year's No. 77 spot to No. 72. Kendall County improved year-over-year from No. 6 to No. 5; Lake County improved from No. 10 to No. 6 this year.

McHenry County dropped from No. 7 to No. 9; Kane County dropped from No. 25 to No. 30.

The report noted that Cook County improved in areas including premature deaths, alcohol-related driving deaths, and child poverty and teen births. Negative trends for Cook County included obesity, sexually transmitted infections and income inequality, according to the ranking.
With an eye towards the Prairie State’s history in the White House, Illinois is prepared to celebrate President’s Day on Monday, February 19.  General Washington’s victories at Yorktown and other battlefields helped force Britain to officially cede Illinois Territory to the new United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, making it possible to create the future state of Illinois thirty-five years later.  Washington’s birthday is the ancestor of what is now President’s Day, and 2018 marks the first President’s 286th birthday.  One of Washington’s veterans, James Monroe, as President signed the bill in 1818 that made Illinois the 21st state.   

The first President who lived in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1869 when Illinois as a state was only 42 years old.  Lincoln, whose 209th birthday was observed last week on February 12, has become a symbol of the State’s bicentennial celebration.  Ronald Reagan is the only President  actually born in Tampico, Illinois while UlyssesS. Grant lived in Galena, Illinois. The most recent President who lived in Illinois was former State Senator Barack Obama who lived in Chicago.
What: Governor Rauner delivers budget address

Where: Illinois State Capitol – House Chamber

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Time: 12:00 p.m.

The address will be streamed on Facebook Live and at the following links:

HD Satellite Coordinates: 
Slug: Illinois Budget Address Live
Date: February 14, 2018
Time: 11:45 AM (CT) 1:00 PM (CT) 
Satellite: ECHO105K
Transponder: 07
Slot: A9
Downlink Frequency: 11826.5
Downlink Polarization: Vertical
Bandwidth: 9 MHz
Symbol Rate: 7.5
FEC: 5 / 6
Data Rate: 18.589212
Video: MPEG-4 4:2:0
Modulation Scheme: 8PSK

For technical assistance please call IOCI Media Services at 217-785-5499.
Tony Griffith (left), owner of Griffith Trucking, Heartland Peterbilt and Heartland Classics in Effingham and Newton, will be giving out bonuses to his 65 full-time employees as a result of the recent tax law changes.

In President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening, he made the case that his recent tax law is the reason why companies across the country have announced bonuses, wage increases and other benefits for their employees.

Tony Griffith, who owns three companies in Effingham, agrees wholeheartedly. So much so that this week he announced to his 65 full-time employees that he will be giving each of them a $1,000 bonus.

“I'm excited for my employees," said Griffith, who anticipates he'll save about $100,000 under the new tax law. "This gives them hope that they are not just working at some humdrum job paying them the same until they die."

Griffith owns Griffith Trucking, inside of which is the moving company, Broadway Express. He also owns Heartland Peterbilt and Heartland Classics in Effingham and Newton.

Read the full Effingham Daily News story by Keith Stewart by clicking HERE.

You may watch the live video or listen to the live audio on
the Illinois General Assembly web site (ILGA.GOV) by clicking HERE.

The address will also be streamed on Facebook Live and at the following links:

HD Satellite Coordinates: 

Slug:  State of the State Live
Date: January 31, 2018
Time: 11:45 AM (CT)  1:00 PM (CT) 
Satellite: GAL17K
Transponder: 24
Slot: D
Downlink Frequency: 12193.5000
Downlink Polarization: V
Bandwidth: 9 MHz
Symbol Rate: 7.5
FEC: 5 / 6
Data Rate: 18.589212
Video: MPEG-4 4:2:0
Modulation Scheme: 8PSK
For technical assistance please call IOCI Media Services at 217-785-5499.
WGEL Radio announced that the First National Bank is now accepting scholarship applications from high school seniors in Bond County. Two Greenville High School and two Mulberry Grove High School seniors will be selected to each receive a $500 scholarship. Scholarship applications are available in the guidance offices of each school or may be downloaded at the bank’s website at Scholarships are listed under the Trust tab.

Applicants must have a minimum of 3.0 grade point average and exhibit the willingness to “go the extra mile” in academics, sports, or extra-curricular activities. Applicants will also submit a one page essay on a topic that is outlined in the application package.

Applications must be received no later than April 2, 2018.

If you have any questions about the scholarships, contact Pat Kious at FNB Greenville at 664-0300 or Dianne Siebert at FNB Mulberry Grove at 326-8314.
On Thursday State Representative John Cavaletto joined Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti for the announcement of a virtual learning pilot program involving students from Altamont Community High School. The 10 students from ACHS will help the State determine the future of the program. The students will be studying Advanced Placement US History and Government.

"The quality of education at Altamont is a good benchmark for evaluating the success of a pilot program like this," said Rep. Cavaletto. "The goal is to help more students from our rural part of the state take these kinds of classes to be able to go on to college."

Read more at the KJ Country web site by clicking here.