Some new elective courses are in the works for students of Prairie Central Junior High School.
Principal Tonya Dieken appeared before members of the Prairie Central Board of Education last week to announce plans for courses on current events, photography, multimedia design, speech and books.
“We want to branch out and have a few more offerings for them,” said Dieken.
Dieken is not sure if all five courses will be offered next year and she reminded board members that this would not include any new staff members. School officials would like a minimum of 10 students in a section before moving ahead with a course.
“I’d recommend we give it a try,” stated Superintendent Dr. John Capasso.
The board unanimously approved the proposal.
Board members also approved student handbook changes for 2014-2015. These changes deal with attendance policies, access to student social networking passwords, bullying, student driving and parking.
The handbook states school authorities may request a password to gain access to a student account or profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reason to believe a student’s account contains evidence that a student has violated a school rule or procedure. Another section of the handbook says any student driving to and from school must park in an assigned space and obtain a parking permit from school officials.
In another matter, Superintendent Capasso reviewed the budget. He said the district is going to spend a bit more between now and the end of the fiscal year. Prairie Central could finish April with an education fund deficit, as the district waits for state and federal reimbursements to arrive in a timely manner.
According to Capasso, working cash will still be healthy at the end of the day and he is hoping for more transportation money, although he is not sure the district will get everything it expects.
“It could be worse,” he admitted.
The board approved a resolution to move working cash, in case funds need to be moved to cover a deficit.
Capasso informed the board that the first sales tax check for the month of January was received. Several projects have been planned because of the extra money. Also, grants from the State Board are available for building work and the district has its own life safety funds.
Plans include a roof for Chatsworth Elementary and half of the school’s piping in Fiscal Year 16 and the rest of the piping in Fiscal Year 17. Capasso anticipates work on fire alarms to be completed by Fiscal Year 17.
In the superintendent’s report, the board learned about the School Funding Reform Bill, also known as Senate Bill 16. This formula should favor schools that are above a certain percentage of lower income students.
Also on Thursday night, the Prairie Central Board of Education:
-Authorized a helmet cam for the football field. The Athletic Boosters have donated $3,000 and the rest will be covered by the football activity fund.
-Scheduled a district-wide building tour for May 16 at 8 a.m. The board will meet in the district office at 8 a.m.
-Approved a copier bid, which includes all brand new machines for $68 more per month on the lease. This would avoid costly maintenance on older machines.
-Okayed student fees for 2014-2015
-Approved bread and milk bids
-Allowed the Prairie Central Junior High School student council to send students and sponsors to a state convention in Springfield.
It's planting season so drivers will start seeing more heavy duty farming equipment on the roads.
Illinois State Police are warning drivers and farmers to be careful out there. They say they have to share the roads and stay alert so they can avoid accidents. Drivers are urged to be patient, tap the brakes when approaching the slower moving vehicles, and allow extra room when they pass.
The Pontiac Police Department supports the National Safety Council campaign to recognize April 2014 as distracted driving awareness month. Please join us in helping to reduce traffic crashes by modeling focused driving and urging those you love to:
•Stop using cell phones while driving
•Recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit (even though it is legal)
•Understand the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain
•Tell others about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving
In Illinois it is illegal to use an electronic device without hands free integration and/or a device that requires the pressing of more than one button with very limited exceptions. We recommend against using a device in any circumstance while driving.
(photo courtesy of the National Safety Council)
>04-06 a complaint of a reckless driver was received in Piper City.
>04-07 a complaint about a neighborhood dog was received from rural Gibson City and was handled by the Ford County animal control officer.
>04-07 a suspicious vehicle call was received from a resident of Stelle. The vehicle was found to be a local resident.
>04-08 a suspicious vehicle was reported in rural Gibson City.
>04-11 a deputy assisted the Roberts Fire dept. with an injured male at a Roberts business.
>04-11 a complaint of criminal trespass was taken in Piper City.
>04-11 a deputy assisted a Paxton police officer with an intoxicated male.
>04-11 deputies assisted the Roberts/Melvin Fire Dept. as well as two other fire departments with a barn fire caused by a controlled burn that became out of control.
>04-12 a deputy responded to a report of a fire along the railroad tracks at 300N and 300E Roads.
>04-12 a rural Sibley resident reported being the victim of two residential burglaries.
>04-12 deputies responded to a residential alarm in Melvin. The alarm was the owner’s error.
>04-12 deputies issued two citations in Sibley for Operation of an Off-Road Vehicle on the Roadway.
>04-12 deputies searched rural Paxton for a female who jumped out of a car and fled into a section of crop land. The female was located without incident and she was uninjured.
>04-12 a Cabery resident reported the theft from her home of her medication.
During the week deputies handled 4 civil matters and issued 14 citations.
>04-12 John Anderson, Jr. of Bellflower lost control of his car for an unknown reason on Rt9 at 150E. The vehicle left the roadway, hit a culvert and overturned in the ditch. Anderson then fled the scene on foot. He was issued multiple citations for the crash.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is releasing strong first quarter I-Cash numbers today that show the program returned $29,944,349 to 15,063 claimants during the first three months of 2014.
“The I-Cash program continues to flourish under my administration,” said Treasurer Rutherford. “This is terrific news because it has been my pledge as treasurer to return as much money or assets to Illinoisans as possible. I am extremely proud of its success and of all the employees who helped make it happen.”
The treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division’s costs, including staff, computers and travel, are paid for through the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund, and not by tax dollars.
The Unclaimed Property Division has more than $1.8 billion in cash, plus contents from Illinois safe deposit boxes that have been inactive for at least five years. The cash comes from inactive bank accounts, utility deposits, insurance policies, paychecks and more. During 2013, the program returned more than $139 million in cash and other assets to their rightful owners, representing a 69 percent increase over 2010. Treasurer Rutherford took office in January 2011.
Treasurer Rutherford encourages everyone to visit the Illinois State Treasurer’s website at www.treasurer.il.gov and click on the I-Cash link to search for unclaimed property.
BLOOMINGTON - At the regular meeting of the McLean County Board on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, the McLean County Board approved Resolutions of Congratulations to the following schools:
-Central Catholic High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team on winning the IHSA Class 2A State Championship;
-Heyworth High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team on finishing as State runner-up in the State Class 1A Basketball Championship.
The County Board approved a Resolution of Appreciation of the McLean County Board to agencies assisting the County with the March 31, 2014 County Highway Department fire.
The County Board approved two items, namely an Ordinance amending the 2013 Combined Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance for the reappropriation of outstanding purchase orders; and an Ordinance amending the 2014 Combined Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance for the reappropriation of outstanding purchase orders. An amended Ordinance was distributed at the meeting, which incorporated the results of the Finance Committee Stand-up meeting prior to the Board meeting.
The County Board approved the McLean County Solid Waste Management Technical Committee Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program Agreement.
The Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD) is accepting applications for the George McKibben Memorial Scholarship.
The $500 scholarship has been established by the AISWCD to assist agriculture students in their completion of their education at any Illinois state college (University of Illinois, Western, Southern and Illinois State). Any student who will be a junior or senior for the 2014-2015 academic year and is enrolled in an agriculture degree program at any state college in Illinois is eligible. The student awarded the scholarship should demonstrate superior agriculture academic achievement, commitment to soil and water conservation and potential for innovation and/or leadership ability.
In the early 1960s no-till agriculture was not widely supported among farmers and agriculture specialists in the United States. George Elvert McKibben, however, made no-till the accepted farming technique that it is today. For thirty-seven years George McKibben was an agronomist for the University of Illinois. This work has been called the single most important contribution to corn production since the development and adaptation of hybrid seed corn.
In 1966 McKibben planted plots on which to conduct these experiments at Dixon Springs, Illinois. The plots are now named after George McKibben and are the oldest of their kind not only in Illinois, but also in the world. McKibben was recognized and given many awards during his lifetime. The best recognition he received was the fact that by 1985 more than one million acres of farmland in Illinois were using no-till as a way of farming.
McKibben died February 1, 1988, but the contributions that he made to no-till continue to be beneficial to this state as well as to the nation. He was a man dedicated to what seemed to many an impossible cause. However, McKibben believed in no-till and proved to the state, as well as the nation, that is was a success.
Contact the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District at 815-844-6127 extension 3 to obtain application information. Applications may also be downloaded from: http://www.aiswcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-G-McKibben-Memorial-Scholarship-fillable-3.pdf
FAIRBURY – Students, parents and supporters of Westview Elementary in Fairbury enjoyed Saturday’s warm temperatures during the second annual Wild About Westview Family Fun Day.
A 5K run/walk started the day’s activities at North Park before the action moved to the school later in the morning. Children enjoyed inflatables, carnival games, temporary tattoos and a sandy candy station. Also, local emergency vehicles were on display along with a late model simulator.
Prizes were offered to participants in the Kids Fun Run, which was held behind the school. A food stand featured Marchelloni’s pizza by the slice, chips and drinks.
Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase desks and chairs for the first grade classrooms and chairs for the art room.
See a clip of Saturday's run in VIDEOS.
One person is dead and another sustained life-threatening injuries after an accident in Marshall County on Saturday night.
State Police say a 1993 Buick car was traveling south on Interstate 39 near milepost 31 when the driver, whose name has not been released, drove off the roadway, entered the median and struck a 2004 Pontiac car head-on. After striking one car, the Buick continued south and struck a 2007 Chevy car which was traveling north. Police say a 2002 Ford SUV was traveling northbound and tried to avoid colliding with the other vehicles, causing the vehicle to enter the median and roll over.
The driver of the Buick was pronounced dead at the scene by the Marshall County coroner, while several others involved in the accident were taken to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria and St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator. The interstate was closed for a short period of time following the wreck.
Saturday’s crash remains under investigation by the ISP Crash Reconstruction Unit.
HEYWORTH – One person is dead after a fire broke out at a mobile home north of Heyworth Thursday.
According to the McLean County Coroner’s Office, the Randolph Township Fire Department & EMS, Downs Fire Department, Bloomington Township Fire Department and McLean County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to the fire at 14737 East and 425 North roads. Upon their arrival, officials observed flames at the front door of the residence and a charred individual with no signs of life was found inside.
The victim was Terry W. Fox, 55, who was the owner and occupant of the mobile home. Fox reportedly died from carbon monoxide intoxication due to smoke and soot inhalation. According to McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling, Fox was seen entering his residence minutes prior to smoke showing. Fox is originally from Jacksonville, IL where he was a municipal worker for over 30 years.
The MABAS 41 Fire Investigation Team, McLean County Sheriff’s Department and McLean County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident.
PONTIAC – Pontiac resident Ron Minnaert is $2.25 million richer now.
He bought a winning lottery ticket earlier this year at the Pontiac Shell station through the lottery’s Hit or Miss contest. Minnaert matched 12 numbers and the good life number to win. Minnaert serves as president of State Bank of Graymont.
An official check presentation was held in Pontiac this week and Minnaert doesn’t expect a lot of changes now that he won. The gas station receives over $22,000 for selling the winning ticket.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police (ISP) announced that another firearms instructor from Bolingbrook is no longer approved to instruct Illinois Concealed Carry Curricula, and 327 applicants trained by the instructor will receive notification that their application has been denied due to improper training.
Since January, ISP has investigated numerous complaints from the public alleging that firearms instructors were improperly training and /or awarding certificates to students who had not completed the required 16 hours of training required by law. The Firearms Concealed Carry Act (430 ILCS 66/75) states that firearms instructors are required to teach all applicants, who are not eligible for prior training credit, a minimum of 16 hours of curriculum approved by the Illinois State Police prior to receiving an Illinois Concealed Carry License Training Certificate.
After conducting numerous interviews and reviewing records, ISP investigators have confirmed that the training was not conducted in accordance with the law, and are in the process of providing investigative findings to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“The public expects firearms instructors to provide a thorough understanding and solid foundation of the curriculum and practical training that meets all qualifications of the law,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “When these instructors fall short, safety is compromised and the integrity of the training process raises concerns,” he stressed.
Normal Fire Department Investigators have completed the initial on-scene phase of the investigation into the fire that heavily damaged Green View Landscaping at 1813 Industrial Park Road, however the investigation into the cause and origin continues. There has been no determination made at this time.
"Fire investigation is a very time consuming and difficult process because the fire often times destroys or conceals the evidence of the cause,” said Matt Swaney, Normal Fire Department Public Information Officer.
He added, “Many times, investigators will work a case and isolate where the fire started, and then work to eliminate all of the variables until there is only one left that could have started a fire. But if they can’t prove with 100% certainty that it caused the fire, then the fire has to be deemed as ‘undetermined’. ”
Normal Fire Department has five members who are tasked with determining cause and origin of a fire. They work in conjunction with various local, state and federal investigation and law enforcement agencies to determine what started a fire, where it started, and to prosecute arsonists if it is determined that a fire was intentionally set. Members of the team are certified as investigators by the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, and have extensive training in fire cause and origin determination. The results of their investigations are submitted to a nationwide database which helps regulatory agencies and code authorities in determining if product recalls are necessary, if code revisions are necessary, and assist firefighters and prevention officials in educating the public.
The National 9-1-1 Education Coalition is encouraging public safety officials, schools, government officials, and industry leaders to engage in this national effort to educate the general public about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1 services.
To support this endeavor, the Coalition has launched 9-1-1: The Number to Know awareness campaign to allow these entities to speak together with one voice while supporting specific 9-1-1 messages being promoted in the local community.
Darren Wolf, Communications Center Manager for the City of Bloomington advised location is the most vital piece of information needed in an emergency. "If you don't know the address, look around for landmarks or cross streets that will help the 9-1-1 operator locate the emergency," said Wolf.
April 13 through April 19, 2014 is recognized as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. This week is dedicated to those individuals who truly are the hidden heroes of the first responder community, 9-1-1 telecommunicators. Wolf described 911 telecommunications as the voice of calm when lives are on the line. "They take control of situations on the phone, get help to the right location, and give instructions that make a difference," said Wolf. The City of Bloomington employs 21 9-1-1 professionals who, in 2013, answered over 25,000 911 calls and dispatched emergency responders over 81,000 times.