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Rep. Dave Severin announced today that the next event in the State Museum Bicentennial Speaker Series will be July 15th at 2 p.m. in the Thorne Deuel Auditorium of the Illinois State Museum. Mike Matejka will present a program entitled Building Illinois: Entrepeneurialism Flourishes, Workers Rise.

Beginning with 1850s railroad construction, Illinois boomed as an agricultural and industrial powerhouse. Familiar brand names, from Wrigley chewing gum to Swift and Armour meat products, covered the nation. Looking at two specific industries, this presentation will cover not only the business expansion, but the workplace tensions that followed. George Pullman was a model nineteenth century entrepreneur, a “rags to riches” story. Yet when he was buried, his grave was concrete reinforced, to curtail desecration. What did Pullman create and what was his legacy? For many years Illinois led the nation's coal production--a vital industry that fueled nineteenth and twentieth century expansion. At the same time, the deep dark mines were a dangerous lair, creating a widespread workers’ movement for industrial democracy.

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Future presentations include:

August 19 - Farming in the Great Corn Belt: 200 Years of Challenges, Choices, and Changes
Presented by Don Meyer



Explore 200 years of farming from the arrival of the earliest settlers in Illinois and the decision-making, determination, hard work, adoption of machines and technology, and financial decisions of farm families that have brought us to the modern era of agriculture. Four “eras” of changes will provide the framework including the Western Frontier (1820’s to 1850’s), The Railroad Arrives (1850’s to 1900), Information Age and Mechanization Advancement (1900-1945) and the Modern Era (post WW2 to present).


September 16 - Illinois Art and Literature, 1818-2017
Presented by Laura Mueller


Art historian and educator Laura Mueller will offer a wide-ranging, slide-illustrated presentation surveying depictions of Illinois and its people in art and literature. It will include examples representing many points in time between 1818 and the present, indicating the countless ways in which Illinois has been represented artistically throughout its history as a state. The presentation will emphasize works of visual and literary art by Illinoisans but will also incorporate works by artists and authors from elsewhere that illuminate significant aspects of life in our state.


October 21 - From Prairie to Farm to City: Music to Commemorate Illinois' Bicentennial
Presented by Phil Passen


The music performed by singer and hammered dulcimer player Phil Passen reflects the story of Illinois, which has been shaped not only by its land and natural features – the prairies, lakes, and rivers – but also by the many cultures that have flourished here: those of Native Americans, French, Germans, African Americans, Latin Americans and numerous others. Songs of the Underground Railroad, which ran through Illinois, will be featured as well as selections representing farmers, workers, labor struggles, disasters, and tragedies. Passen will provide commentary about the histories of the selections and the contexts in which they have been sung and played in Illinois. This will be an informative and entertaining look at Illinois, its history and its people. Audiences are fascinated by the uncommon, trapezoidal-shaped hammered dulcimer, a word that means “beautiful song”. After Phil’s performance, members of the audience, young and old, musicians and non-musicians, are welcome to take a closer look at the dulcimer and try their hand at it.










The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding under the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act Program. This program furthers the Department’s mission by supporting and assisting state, local, territorial, and tribal jurisdictions in improving efforts to reduce violent crime through the creation of school threat assessment teams and the use of technology for anonymously reporting suspicious activity as it relates to violence in schools.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), recently published two notices for competitive grant programs for the recently approved STOP School Violence Act. Eligible applicants are limited to states, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribes. School districts interested in these funds should work with their counties and municipalities to apply.

STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program
Funds available for this grant program may be used to address the development and operation of school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams, and the development of technology for local or regional anonymous reporting systems. Applications for grants are due July 23, 2018. Further information about this grant program is available here.

STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program
Funds available for this grant program may be used to address training school personnel and educating students to prevent student violence, and training school officials in responding to related mental health crises. Grant applications are due July 23, 2018. Further information about this program is available here.
State Representative Dave Severin and State Senator Dale Fowler will host a Senior Health Fair at the HUB Rec Center, 917 W. Main, Marion, IL on Tuesday, June 26. The event will feature vendors that will assist with a variety of health screenings and provide information on various services available to area seniors.

Doors will open at 9:00 a.m. and the event lasts until 11:00 a.m. Door prizes and refreshments will be available. For those seniors wishing to participate in blood sugar and cholesterol screenings, please note that an 8 hour fast is required in order to receive testing.

For more information, please call Sen. Fowler’s office at 618-294-8951 or Rep. Severin’s office at 618-440-5090.
Funding will foster future of Illinois agriculture

Gov. Bruce Rauner joined the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe to announce the release of $16M in agriculture grants. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will fund soil & water districts, county fairs and agriculture societies, and the University of Illinois Extension services.

“These three entities provide services that are vital for the future of Illinois agriculture,” Rauner said. “From protecting our farmland for future generations to fostering agriculture careers and educating consumers, these organizations support Illinois agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy.”

“Funding for these organizations comes at a critical time,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs. I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times.”

More than $54,000 will be sent to each of the 92 county fairs across the state. It will help operations at the fairs and may be used to support critical facility rehabilitation needs. Illinois county fairs are economic drivers for rural Illinois. A study from the University of Illinois shows county fairs generate more than $90 million annually and create more than 1,000 jobs each summer. In addition to providing family friendly entertainment, county fairs provide an outlet for our state’s youth to become involved and engaged in Illinois agriculture. 

Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which protects our state’s farmland through strategic conservation efforts, will receive $6 million. The 97 districts around the state play a central role in efforts to protect and sustain the viability of Illinois soil and water resources in order to preserve our farmland for future generations. The Department will be issuing more than $61,000 to each of the districts to help fund operations.

“As a result of this funding, the SWCD’s of Illinois will be better positioned to support important conservation efforts such as the statewide Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy,” said Steve Stierwalt, President of the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “This funding also ensures that SWCD’s have the resources needed to continue to provide important technical expertise, assistance, and cost-share agreements to not only farmers for the installation of conservation practices such as grassed waterways, filter strips, and cover crops – but also urban, suburban, and other rural landowners.”

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension Service. Extension provides educational assistance in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship, food safety and security, economic development and workforce preparedness, family health, financial security and wellness, and youth development. The Department of Agriculture will disperse $5 million dollars to assist the organization with its core mission.

To learn more about agriculture programs in Illinois, please visit the IL Dept. of Agriculture web site here. Remember to visit our local county fairs:


Franklin County Fair (July 5 - 12)

Hamilton County Fair (July 20 -29)

Williamson County Fair (Aug. 7 - 11)

Du Quoin State Fair (Aug 24 - Sept 3)

Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearms owners to file paperwork early as the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification cards come due for renewal.

"We expect tens of thousands of renewal applications to come in over the next few months," Schmitz said. "We recommend gun owners get their renewal applications in at least one to two months in advance so we have adequate time to process them and get a new card out before expiration."

More than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. The General Assembly amended state law in 2008, allowing FOID cards to be valid for 10 years. The timing of the law change creates a glut of renewals this summer.

FOID card applications involve state and federal background checks, as well as review of the database from the Illinois Department of Human Services to confirm that applicants have not been in a mental institution in the past five years. The Illinois State Police oversees the FOID card system and issues the cards that are needed to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition.

State Police already have sent renewal notices to people whose cards will expire June 1.

Applicants can visit the ISP's Firearm Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online. The cost of the card is $10. Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their Illinois Drivers License or State ID card number. Applicants under the age of 21 must have a parents' signature on the application.

Anyone who needs assistance with FOID card renewal, and those who prefer paper applications, can call 217-782-7980 and select menu option 0.

Applicants should make sure the name and address on FOID applications match the records on file for them at the Secretary of State's Office, otherwise the renewal process will be delayed.

To read the full article by Doug Wilson at the Herald-Whig, click here.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) along with all members of the House Republican Caucus have filed a resolution demanding an independent redistricting reform solution.

“It is unacceptable that partisan politics involved in the map drawing process have skewed years of election results throughout Illinois,” Durkin said. “We are long overdue for an independent map drawing process that will protect voter rights, create a more transparent process and make legislative races more competitive with more qualified candidates running for office.”

House Resolution 995 shows broad support for maps to be drawn without regard to incumbency and partisanship, and allows voters the opportunity to choose a candidate based on the issues and policies most important to them. Legislative district maps are redrawn every ten years based on the newest census results.

“It is clear that people from both sides of the aisle will not be supporting the current protocol of our inequitable and unfair map-drawing process, making now the time to begin working efficiently towards a new solution to a fair and equitable map across the state,” Durkin said. “A new process will give voters the opportunity to have their own say and involvement in ensuring that the new legislative maps fairly represent each district in Illinois.”

According to a poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, 72 percent of Illinois residents, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, support the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps. Based on the current legislative calendar, the deadlines for passage are April 27 in the House and May 3 in the Senate.