Illinois governor grants 5 petitions for clemency, denies 97

CHICAGO, IL-  Please click on the link below for the Associated Press story from KTVI in St. Louis regarding Govenor Rauner’s action today.  If an official statement from his office is released, it will be added to the story.  -sd

Severin Encourages District to Shop Local this Saturday

Marion, IL –  State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) would like to remind constituents of Williamson, Franklin, and Hamilton County to shop small and shop local in honor of Small Business Saturday on November 25th. Small Business Saturday has turned into a national tradition and has continued to grow each year.

“Sometimes we forget that small business owners are our neighbors, friends, or other people with ties to our community,” Severin said. “These business owners hire local workers, as well as support our local charities and other organizations. The weekend after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. That makes it even more important for people to be shopping and supporting local businesses.”

As the owner of a small business in Benton, Rep. Severin knows firsthand how important small businesses are to local communities.

“Illinois is home to 1.2 million small businesses, which makes up about 90% of the state’s overall exports,” Severin said. “Small businesses bring entrepreneurship and innovation, giving a unique and energetic feel to our towns and villages. Most importantly, when they are supported, local businesses turn around and invest back in the community, providing jobs and other valuable resources.”

To learn where you can go to support local business visit the Shop Southern Illinois page on Facabook and follow on Twitter @shopsouthernIL.

Plenty of sun and seasonal the next several days

Seven Day Forecast

Sunny, with a high near 42. North wind 3 to 7 mph.
Partly cloudy, with a low around 25. Calm wind.
Thanksgiving Day
Partly sunny, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 51. South southwest wind 3 to 7 mph.
Thursday Night
Clear, with a low around 31. Light south southwest wind.
Sunny, with a high near 58. Light south wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
Friday Night
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. South wind 6 to 10 mph becoming west northwest after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 56. Northwest wind 7 to 9 mph.
Saturday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 31. North northwest wind 3 to 7 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 48. Light and variable wind.
Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 30. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 54. South wind 5 to 10 mph.
Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 41. South southwest wind around 10 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 58. South southwest wind 10 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

5 Loaves Cafe in Sesser offers more than a meal

SESSER, IL –  Living in the community over fifteen years, I know first hand the work, generosity, and showing Christ’s love the Sesser-Valier Ministerial Alliance does for the community.  Please the link below to read the story from Holly Kee of the Benton news about the alliance’s newest ministry, Five Loaves Cafe, and their outreach to the community during the ministry’s thanksgiving dinner.  -sd


Click It or Ticket Campaign in Full Gear

DuQuoin, IL  – The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is generally one of the busiest travel holiday periods of the year. As millions of travelers take to Illinois roadways to celebrate Thanksgiving, Illinois State Police (ISP) District 13 / 22 Interim Commander, Lieutenant Michael Alvey, reminds motorists to drive safely.

Drivers can do their part to ensure they, and their passengers, experience safe travels. Simply keeping your eyes on the road, watching your speed, buckling your seatbelt, and refraining from driving after consuming alcoholic beverages can reduce your chances of being involved in a traffic crash.

The ISP will be doing our part to help keep the roadways safe from dangerous drivers. Troopers will be on the watch for drivers exceeding speed limits and those who choose to drive distracted. Along with regular patrols, we will also have additional patrols out to help remove intoxicated drivers from Illinois roadways. Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving.

The ISP is joining the Illinois Department of Transportation and other law enforcement agencies to remind motorists to Click It or Ticket. The Click It or Ticket campaign officially started on November 17. The goal of this high-visibility effort is to reduce motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities. Stepped-up patrols and seat belt enforcement zones will be seen throughout the state through November 27.

Lieutenant Alvey stated, “Our ultimate goal is to create a safe driving environment for travelers, but they have to do their parts as well. By them making good driving choices they are exponentially increasing their chances of having a safe drive.” Alvey added, “Even with Troopers every 20 miles on the interstate, there will still be people making bad choices. Our hope is we stop them before anyone is injured.”

The ISP’s goal is to ensure safe travels for you and your loved ones over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. If you find yourself behind the wheel, please watch the road and your speed, buckle up, and do not drive intoxicated.

Preparation is Key: ‘Winter Weather – Get it Together’

IDOT, ISP, Tollway urge motorists to prepare for winter driving conditions

SPRINGFIELD – As bitter cold creeps into Illinois, the state’s frontline weather responders remind motorists that preparation can help take the bite out of winter this season. The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Tollway encourage motorists to prepare for wintry driving conditions and remember: “Winter Weather – Get it Together.”

“Winter weather can be unpredictable in Illinois, but preparation today will make a safer tomorrow,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Drivers should start easing into those winter driving behaviors now. Our snow-and-ice teams are ready, as always, to make this a safe, successful winter driving season.”

Throughout the winter, especially during adverse conditions, motorists should practice basic winter driving skills and build extra time into their schedules. As part of the “Winter Weather – Get it Together” campaign, all travelers are encouraged to follow these simple rules and tips during the coming months:

• Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois.
• Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.
• Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois.
• Don’t crowd the plow. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see
them, but they may not see you.
• Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
• Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
• Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to icing.
• 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. Consider taking public transportation if it is an option.
• Prepare an emergency 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 and a car charger in case of emergency.
• Follow Scott’s Law. Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles.
• For a list of suggested maintenance for your car, visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s winter driving website.
• For more winter driving tips, check out this short IDOT video.

“Winter weather causes extremely dangerous driving with black ice and white out conditions,” said ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz. “Plan ahead by checking your windshield wipers, vehicle fluid levels, proper tire inflation and tread depth. Remember to avoid unnecessary lane changes and as always, reduce your speed and increase following distances. Don’t crowd the plow. Give them room to work. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.”

Before leaving the house, drivers are encouraged to check for continually updated information on winter road conditions, weather radars, road and bridge closures and other traffic-related information. The site was recently redesigned in a mobile-friendly format providing a more convenient way to access important information quickly. The winter road conditions map gives travelers the ability to zoom in to their location, travel route or destination and get real-time road conditions. At any time, motorists can check travel conditions by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or 1-800-TOLL-FYI.

“Winter weather can make driving challenging for our customers, so our priorities are to keep the roads clear and provide roadway information to help drivers safely reach their destinations,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov. “In return, we ask our customers to protect themselves and our workers by slowing down and increasing their distance from other vehicles, particularly during storms and severe weather.”

For the upcoming winter, IDOT will have more than 1,700 trucks available for deployment to plow almost 16,000 miles of roads statewide, the equivalent of driving from Springfield to the tip of South America and back. Last year, IDOT spread almost 305,000 tons of salt statewide. This winter, salt domes throughout the state are at capacity, with more than 550,000 tons on hand. Four hundred brand-new snow plows are ready to be deployed throughout the state. The new trucks are more energy efficient and will reduce air pollution.

The Illinois Tollway is prepared to deploy its fleet of 196 snowplows for winter storms and has stockpiled more than 87,000 tons of salt to keep its 294-mile system of five tollways clear and safe for its 1.6 million daily drivers.

Please follow IDOT on Facebook and Twitter for updates on travel throughout the winter.

State Fire Marshal Shares Thanksgiving Safety Tips

CHICAGO, IL – This Thanksgiving, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) urges Illinoisans to be mindful when preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. In 2015, fire departments responded to over 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends. The last thing we want to see is your holiday ruined by a devastating fire,” said Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “These simple fire safety tips will ensure you and your loved ones’ safety throughout the holiday season.”

The NFPA recommends the following:

• Stay at home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
• Turn pot handles inward over the stove – out of reach from hands, pets and accidental bumps of the hip.
• Keep the floor clear and electrical cords out of the way so there is less chance of tripping.
• Put a lid on stove top fires. Keep oven doors closed and turn off the heat, in case of fire.
• Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

If you will be deep frying a turkey, OSFM recommends following these tips:

• Never leave your fryer unattended.
• Keep the fryer outdoors – off decks, out of garages and away from trees.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before frying as frozen or wet turkeys can cause hot oil splatters.
• Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into oil. Turn the burner back on when the turkey is completely submerged.
• Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

For additional home fire safety information, please visit the OSFM website.

Investigators searching for cause in Johnston City fire

Seasonal weather over the next week with no precipitation in the forecast

Seven Day Forecast

Partly sunny, with a high near 55. South southwest wind 8 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.
Mostly clear, with a low around 27. North wind 6 to 9 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 42. North wind 3 to 7 mph.
Wednesday Night
Increasing clouds, with a low around 25. Calm wind.
Thanksgiving Day
Sunny, with a high near 49. Calm wind becoming south southwest 5 to 7 mph in the morning.
Thursday Night
Clear, with a low around 32. South southwest wind 3 to 5 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 55. Light south southwest wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
Friday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 41. South southwest wind 8 to 10 mph becoming west after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 55. Northwest wind 8 to 10 mph.
Saturday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 31. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 44. North northwest wind 6 to 8 mph.
Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 28. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming light and variable.
Sunny, with a high near 46. East wind 5 to 7 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon.

Gov. Rauner advances apprenticeships as crucial driver of workforce readiness


CHICAGO, IL  — Apprenticeship programs are a boon both to workers who gain key proficiencies and to businesses that benefit from the resulting skilled workforce pipeline. Participating companies are to be commended, and expansion of such programs well beyond the traditional trades model is economically vital, Gov. Bruce Rauner said at a National and Illinois Apprenticeship Week celebration today at Chicago’s Aon Center.

“There is no one-size-fits-all way to a career,” Rauner said. “Here in Illinois, we are expanding our understanding of career pathways to include learn-and-earn models. Increasing our support for apprenticeships is just one of the ways Illinois is working to advance our world-class workforce.”

Aon and Accenture hosted today’s event, which celebrated business-led programs and the state’s efforts to expand opportunities. Both companies are founding members of the Chicago Apprenticeship Network, and each highlighted how apprenticeships have helped to build and maintain their respective workforces.

Aon is one of the 412 Registered Apprenticeship programs throughout Illinois. The Aon program allows apprentices to be regular, full-time Aon employees while they work their way to an associate’s degree through the City Colleges of Chicago. Upon successful completion, the workers have the opportunity to continue in their roles.

“We wanted to make sure young people had the skills they needed to compete in the economy of the future,” said Bridget Gainer, Aon’s vice president of global public affairs. “Through this program, we are learning that combining classroom education with real-world experience gives students from two-year colleges a winning formula.”

Accenture offers Chicago apprentices work experience, training and technical education in a one-year program that develops skills and proficiencies in high-demand fields such as IT and cybersecurity. In its second year, Accenture recruits people who have or are pursuing associate’s degrees to participate in its program, providing on-the-job learning, mentoring and the potential for an offer of full-time employment. Building on its success so far, Accenture recently committed to expanding its number of apprenticeships to 25 a year.

“Apprenticeships play an essential role in providing more people with the skills and job experience they need to succeed in their local communities,” said Jim Coleman, senior managing director of Accenture’s Chicago office. “At a time when employers are looking to drive innovation and growth, we believe apprenticeships help to build a pipeline of new talent while engaging individuals in some of the most dynamic areas of the local economy.”

The Rauner administration has worked in tandem with business to increase and support learn-and-earn programs throughout every industry. In July, under the guidance of the Governor’s Cabinet for Children and Youth, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced $1.5 million in funding for the initial Apprenticeship PLUS pilots. The pilots target youth between the ages of 16 and 24, and provide them with career education, a chance to earn industry-recognized credentials and on-the-job training.

“It is our goal to provide resources to those looking to start a new, fulfilling career while helping employers cultivate a skilled workforce,” said DCEO Assistant Director Brittany Ladd.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois was home to 13,754 registered apprentices in 2016 — an understated figure since unregistered programs exist.

In addition to supporting registered programs, the State of Illinois also promotes pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, and non-registered apprenticeship programs. Resources and information are available through DCEO’s Office of Employment and Training or at