Pictured (L-R) are Rick Linton (Executive Director); Mark Kays, Pat Hollada (new Vice President);
Lowanda Johnston; Steve Vercellino (outgoing president); Dave Freeman (new President); and Tom Vaughn.



Congratulations to Dave Freeman who was elected as president of the Rend Lake Area Tourism Council and to Pat Hollada elected vice president and to Kathy Crawford who was elected the secretary/treasurer! Thank you for all that you do to promote tourism for our region! The next event is the Wine & Art Festival this weekend.


Click here for more information.

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) is asking that local businesses and community groups support the efforts of the Hamilton County Chamber of Commerce to compete for a renewed "Enterprise Zone" designation for the area.

The Hamilton County Chamber of Commerce held its quarterly meeting this week in McLeansboro with over forty in attendance. The guest speaker was Keith Moran, president of Moran Economic Development out of Edwardsville, Illinois who is spearheading the application process to renew and expand the 'enterprise zone' for Hamilton County.

The enterprise zone program is designed to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in economically depressed areas of the state. This is accomplished through state and local tax incentives, regulatory relief, and improved governmental services.

For more information, please contact Chris Howton (618-643-5424) or Mark Epperson (618-643-5425) at the Economic Development Commission.





Deborah Hogg, Community Education Manager
for the Hospice of Southern Illinois, joins
Rep. Dave Severin in giving a thumbs-up
to the “GO Pink” effort to help bring awareness
 to the breast cancer issue in our area.
State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) on Monday joined Herrin Hospital officials in the Healing Garden of Southern Illinois Healthcare’s Herrin Hospital for the “Pink Out” balloon release to kick-off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October is the month designated to honor those who have lost the battle, those who are fighting for their life, and those who have survived.

“This month is meant to serve as a reminder to women to have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40, or younger for those with a family history of breast cancer,” said Rep. Dave Severin, “Also anyone at any age who discovers an abnormality should not waste time in having it checked by a doctor.”

According to BreastCancer.org, about one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Though rarer in men — a man’s lifetime risk is about 1 in 1,000.
State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) today visited Christopher Elementary School to help promote safety on the roads to the 2nd Grade students. Through their “Trucker Buddy” event, the students learned about the dangers of texting while driving and the importance of wearing seat belts while in a moving vehicle.

“Second graders are old enough to begin to understand the consequences of good and bad decisions and this is the right age to reinforce these kinds of safety issues for them and their families,” said Rep. Dave Severin, a member of the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee.

An organization called Trucker Buddy International gives students a glimpse into what life is like on the road. The Alabama-based nonprofit group matches classes of students with professional truck drivers, who share news about their travels with kids throughout the school year.



Ameren Illinois is partnering with the Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort to host a bill payment assistance event this week. It will be held on Wednesday, September 12th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Frankfort Mall just off I-57.

One-time grants of up to $150 will be available to income-qualified customers who live in Franklin, Jefferson and Williamson counties. These grants are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

You will need to bring with you a current copy of your Ameren Illinois bill, proof of 30-day income (pay stub) and a photo ID.

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) supports Governor Bruce Rauner’s proclamation to declare a ‘harvest emergency’ to help farmers dealing with rain-related delays get commodities harvested. The decision is meant to speed crop transportation on state highways.

“I applaud this decision to allow trucks hauling agricultural commodities to obtain a free permit to exceed the gross vehicle weight limit by 10 percent and help farmers harvest their crops more efficiently,” said Rep. Dave Severin, a member of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

This is the second year that a statewide harvest emergency has been declared under a law, which was signed by Governor Rauner in 2017. The permit issued by the Illinois Department of Transpiration is not available for interstate highways.

The emergency declaration begins Friday, September 7 and will remain in effect for the next 45 days.

To sign up for a Harvest Season Emergency overweight permit you may go online to the Illinois Department of Transportation at https://webapps.dot.illinois.gov/ITAP/.

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) announced that Centerstone of Illinois has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery. The grant money will be used to create a ‘hub & spoke’ model Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Pilot Program for Williamson, Franklin, Johnson, Saline, Jackson and Union counties in southern Illinois.

“I am glad to see that my efforts to help fight for this grant for our area was successful,” said Rep. Dave Severin, a member of the Appropriations-Human Services Committee in the House. “Centerstone will be the hub in Williamson County and then the spokes of this treatment program will be the other counties in our under-served part of the state to help people with opioid use disorders.”

The grant will create a team that can support physicians and other prescribers through technical assistance and training, and on-site counseling and other supports as needed. The new location in Williamson County will serve 100 clients during the first grant year and will open before the end of 2018.
Watch the full report by clicking here.

The Marion Wellness School Health Center welcomed Representative Dave Severin for a tour in honor of National Health Center week as reported by Hannah Gebresilassie of WSIL Channel 3.

The week is centered around raising awareness about the mission of health centers across the nation and the dedicated staff who provide the care. The tour's aim was to show support for community and school based health centers, like the one at Marion High School. They offer everything from preventative and sick care services to mental health services.

"I see the efficiency of healthcare being initiated here on a daily basis," Severin said. "If you're in this school district, any part of it and you have needs with your students, you call the clinic, make an appointment and they will work with you. What an awesome program."

Shawnee Health Service operates Marion Wellness School Health Center which serves students, parents, faculty and staff of Marion Consolidated Unit School District #2.
Thank you to Mr. Thanet Natisri, a local Marion restaurant owner, who recently helped save the twelve young soccer players and their coach who were trapped in a remote cave in Thailand!

I was honored to help recognize Mr. Natisri along with the mayor of at tonight's City Council meeting in Marion.

While working in Bankok on a groundwater project for the Thai government to help farmers,Mr. Natisri was contacted by the military for his assistance when this incident happened. Mr. Natisri is a self-taught expert on diverting water into underground storage.

You can watch part of the presentation here.





All programs are free and appropriate for visitors of all ages. Children ages 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Unless otherwise stated, programs will be held at the Rend Lake visitor Center, located on the west end of the Rend Lake Dam. For more information, call the Rend lake Visitor Center at 618-724-2493. You may also visit their website at www.CorpsLakes.us/Rend and 'like' their Facebook page at Rend Lake Project Office/Visitor Center.


It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target began providing field trip grants in 2007 for accredited K-12 public, private or charter schools in the United States.


As part of the program, Target stores award field trip grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued at $700. They are accepting grant applications now until Oct. 1st. Educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals or classified staff of these institutions must be willing to plan and execute a field trip that will provide a demonstrable learning experience for students should consider applying.

The Target Field Trip Grants program is managed and administered entirely by Scholarship America. Scholarship America will evaluate applications and award grants based on the following criteria:
* Applicant's description of the field trip and its objectives
* Benefits to the students, including overall student learning experience, relevance to curriculum and number of students who may benefit from the grant
* Proposed use of funds
* Trip to be taken between January 1, 2019 and the end of the 2018-19 academic year (May/June 2019)


Applications will be judged by Scholarship America, whose decisions will be final in all respects. In the event of a tie, the applications will be re-judged based on the criteria.

All applicants will be notified by e-mail by December 15, 2018. Potential recipients will also be notified by U.S. Mail at their home address and must follow instructions to verify their application information and sign a publicity release form. Grant checks are made payable to recipient's school. In the event a recipient does not implement the field trip by the end of the 2018-19 school year, the grant will be forfeited and funds returned to the SPONSOR. Any tax liability is the responsibility of the school.

Recipients may receive a grant only once in a given school year. Grants are to be used to cover field trip costs and fees. In the event the costs and fees are less than the grant amount, the balance of the grant may be utilized for other education costs such as materials, books and resources related to the curriculum.


WSIL-TV reported that the Benton American Legion hosted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Saturday.

Instead of a bucket, though, those who donated 50 dollars were soaked by a tractor full of water.

All proceeds went toward the St. Louis, Missouri Regional Chapter of the ALS Foundation.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosisdiseasem, commonly known as ALS, is a disease that causes nerve cells to break down and affects muscle functionality.

The chapter raised over $3,000 dollars, some of which came from local lawmakers State Senator Dale Fowler and State Representative Dave Severin.

Watch the WSIL-TV report by clicking here.


State Representative Dave Severin's Summer Reading Club for K-4th Grade is coming to an end for this year. August 1st is the deadline to get your forms returned to the Marion district office to be eligible to receive your certificate of accomplishment and to give your local library credit to be considered for the pizza party for the library with the most summer readers.

Please return the completed forms to the legislative office at:

1301 Enterprise Way
Suite 40A
Marion, IL 62959

If you have any questions, please call 618-440-5090.

State Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) would like to remind residents that the Illinois State Treasurer's office will be at the West Frankfort Public Library and the Benton Public Library on Tuesday, July 31st to help research state records to see if there are any unclaimed dollars being held by the State of Illinois that belong to you.


9:30 AM – 12:30 PM             West Frankfort Public Library
                                                402 E Poplar Street

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM                Benton Public Library
                                                502 S. Main Street

These are both Check for Cash/I-Cash Events where a representative from the Treasurer’s Office will be set up to check their database and try to reunite people with their long lost cash or other property.

If you are unable to attend one of these events, you may learn more about this FREE service on-line at the Illinois State Treasurer's web site by clicking here.


State Representative Dave Severin is proud to support the Colt World Series coming to southern
Illinois in August!

"I encourage everyone to come out and support this international event right in our own backyard," said Rep. Severin. "Many of these young baseball players could end up playing in our professional leagues with teams like the St. Louis Cardinals or Chicago Cubs or White Sox."

The PONY Baseball Colt World Series is coming to Rent One Park in Marion from August 3rd to 8th, 2018, and the first two teams have qualified for the event from the European and Mexican regions.

In the European region, Holland A dominated in its semifinal and final games Sunday en route to its second-consecutive PONY European Zone title by an 11-0 final score in the title game against the Czech Republic. Naut Kragt pitched a complete game (five innings) shutout, allowing a hit and four walks, while striking out eight. Tyriq Kemp paced the Netherlands with three hits, while Ruendrick Piternella led the team with three RBI's. Overall, the Dutch offense took advantage of six walks and collected 10 hits on the day.

In the Mexican region, Mazatlán, Sinaloa took home the Colt Mexico Zone title. Liga Muralla will be making its third all-time appearance at the Colt World Series this summer, as well as its first since 2015.

Links to purchase tickets for the 2018 Colt World Series at Rent One Park are below:



Now in its 65th year, the Colt World Series is PONY Baseball's second-longest running World Series event. It is a ten-team tournament consisting of two, five-team double-elimination brackets, as well as ninth and tenth place games. The ten teams will be:

- Four (4) from the continental United States
one each from the West, East, South and North Zones

- Four (4) international teams
one each from the Asia-Pacific, European, Mexican, and Caribbean regions

- One (1) area host team from Southern Illinois
To Be Announced

- One (1) city host team from Marion, Illinois
To Be Announced

The Colt World Series will have a check-in date of August 2nd. There will be four games played on Friday, August 3rd, Saturday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th. Three games will take place on Monday, August 6th, with two games contested on Tuesday, August 7th, and one to three contests on Wednesday, August 8th. There will also be opening ceremonies, as well as a Champions League game, which is the PONY Baseball League developed for special needs children.

State Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) is pleased that four communities in his district will receive Small Firefighting and Ambulance Service Equipment Grants as part of this year’s Small Equipment Grant Program announced this week. In Franklin County, both Valier Fire Department and Ziegler Fire Department will each receive $26,000; McLeansboro Fire Department in Hamilton County will receive $25,988.43; and the Carterville Fire Department in Williamson County will be awarded $25,824.76.

"These grants are vital for our more rural areas in Illinois to be able to provide life-saving services to our residents and visitors alike,” commented Rep. Dave Severin. “I encourage other fire protection districts and ambulance services to apply for these grants every year to keep equipment up-to-date and help protect those who protect us.”

One hundred fire departments and nonprofit ambulance services across the state received grants for the purchase of safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other needed tools. The money for this grant comes from the Fire Prevention Fund. The grants total $2.2 million, with each recipient receiving up to $26,000.

"This year we had over 400 fire departments from across the state apply for a grant," State Fire Marshal Matt Perez said. "The requests for grants totaled over $9 million. We had $2.2 million in funds to award and we ensured that the neediest stations across the state received the money to ensure the safety of the men and women that protect their cities. It is imperative that we continue to find ways to aid the men and women that respond first in a disaster and always put the lives of others before their own."

This year, research conducted by the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) Research Center led OSFM to evaluate new needs. The research on cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks faced by firefighters prompted the inclusion of gear washers as acceptable purchases in this year's grant application cycle. Most Illinois fire departments, fire protection districts, township fire departments, and stand-alone, nonprofit ambulance service providers were eligible to apply. All fire department, fire protection district and township fire department applicants were required to have participated in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for a minimum of two years prior to applying.
State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) reacted to the signing of two pieces of legislation that put additional regulations on Second Amendment rights. Rep. Severin opposed both bills when they came before the Illinois House Chamber.

Senate Bill 3256 establishes a ’72-hour waiting period’ while background checks are performed on gun purchasers.

“This three-day waiting period bill does nothing to stop criminals from obtaining a gun or any other kind of weapon to hurt someone or commit a crime,” said Rep. Dave Severin. “Criminals have never waited on the legal morality of a law to break the law. This waiting period only impacts law-abiding citizens in Illinois.”

House Bill 2354 would allow family members to get court approval to remove firearms from other family members they claim could hurt someone or themselves.

“HB 2354 unfairly limits our due process and could make criminals out of law abiding citizens. I feel this legislation goes too far and allows for actual confiscation of legally owned weapons and will hurt gun dealers as well as gun trade shows,” declared Rep. Severin. “I will continue to fight to protect our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights her in Illinois.”


Presented continuously from 1983 to 2014 and then 2017 to present, the Governor’s Hometown Award​s (GHTA) program gives formal recognition to those who contributed to projects that improved their community’s quality of life. These projects are sponsored by local units of government t​​hat had strong volunteer support, met a need, and made a definitive impact, thereby generating a positive outcome in the community and by extension, the state. The program is administered by the Serve Illinois ​Commission, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.
Serve Illinois, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, is excited to be able to tie GHTA to its mission to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State. In order to nominate your community, please complete the application at the link below:

https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/serve/Pages/GHTA.aspx
Joe Ragusa of WSIL Channel 3 reports that Illinois state officials want to reopen the Rend Lake Resort.

Representatives with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources met with several companies Thursday, hoping to find someone capable of running the place.

The facility closed due to mold problems in Dec. 2016, right after Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) won his seat.

"There was actually one building, it was called 'The Wind Jammer,' it was razed," Severin said. "They tore it down just a couple weeks ago and they found that not only was there mold in that building, but the walls, you could put your hands through them. It was in terrible shape."

Loris Elston of Marion is considering a bid with his son-in-law.

"We need flooring. We need pads. We need the carpet," Elston said. "The bathrooms need to be sheet-rocked. In some cases, new tubs, new toilets."

Thursday's meeting was the fourth meeting officials have held since the Rend Lake Resort's closure, according to another prospective buyer whom did not wish to be named.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful facility. Beautiful resort," Elston said. "But it's just sat too long and too much needs to be done."

Elston said he isn't sure just how much the repairs will cost but the work won't end anytime soon.

Bidders have until Aug. 9 to submit their proposals. An IDNR spokeswoman said there is no timetable after that to reopen the facility, it just depends on the bids.

The contract would last 18 years with an extension possible for another 25 years.

View the WSIL Channel 3 report by Joe Ragusa by clicking here.
Benton….State Representative David Severin (R-Benton) is voicing his support for a newly introduced bill by his House colleague Barbara Wheeler of the 64th legislative district. HB 5928 would create the “Pyrotechnic Use Act”, thereby legalizing fireworks in Illinois for the first time since the 1930s.

“I’m proud to say on this 4th of July week that I am a supporter of re-legalizing fireworks in our state,” Severin said. “Rep. Wheeler’s bill not only legalizes fireworks, but lays out important safety guidelines as well. Safety should always come first when using fireworks.”

During the recent legislative session, Severin filed legislation (HB 5630) that would have legalized fireworks, but the bill was never allowed for a vote. Severin says he believes the public is in favor of legalizing fireworks and that Southern Illinois is losing out on revenues to other states.

“Right now the situation is, folks are using fireworks in Illinois, but they're buying these items in places like Kentucky and Missouri where fireworks are legal,” Severin said. “If people are willing to travel to buy fireworks then surely they would be willing to spend their money closer to home if Illinois were to legalize fireworks. I’m strongly in favor of legalizing fireworks and making it as safe as humanly possible at the same time. I think HB 5928 would accomplish those goals.”


####

Marion.... State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Rides Mass Transit District "Park and Ride" facility on Thursday, June 28 in Marion. The new facility is being built to allow easier access for passengers using public transportation across southern Illinois.

"We are very excited to have mass transit expanding for folks in Southern Illinois," Severin said.

The location at 2315 W. Main St. is near the grounds of the Veterans Affairs medical clinic and will allow easier access for passengers using public transportation from across southern Illinois.

"The new park and ride facility will expand the availability of services for rural transit. This will certainly be a big benefit for those that Rides Mass Transit provides for the citizens of the area. I want to thank RMTD, Sentor Fowler, and all the local officials that helped make today's groundbreaking a reality. The real work now begins!"

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) joined RMTD officials and Senator Dale Fowler for Tuesday's
groundbreaking on a new 'Park and Ride' facility. The location at 2315 W. Main St. is near the grounds of the Veterans Affairs medical clinic and will allow easier access for passengers using public transportation from across southern Illinois.



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.

**************************************************************************

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.
Legislation would put Illinois workers back on the job
and is supported by labor and business

Speaking is Marc Poulos, Executive Director at the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (Operating Engineers Local 150); Rep. Dave Severin (center - left of podium) with leaders from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, and fellow legislators to announce the "Blue Collar Jobs Act" at the Capitol.
State Rep. Dave Severin today joined with labor and business leaders and legislative colleagues to introduce House Bill 5864, the Blue Collar Jobs Act, to incentivize construction projects in the state of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class.

"This bill is good for southern Illinois and good for my district specifically where there are too many buildings sitting empty," commented Rep. Dave Severin, a member of the Business Incentives for Local Communities Committee. "This will help businesses that are here now and help those looking to relocate or start up here."

The Blue Collar Jobs Act is supported by both labor and business groups and offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital improvements in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. It does this through the creation of four new tax credits, including:

- High Impact Business construction jobs credit 

- Enterprise Zone construction jobs credit 

- New Construction EDGE Credit 

- River Edge construction jobs credit


“We support prioritizing Illinois construction workers in our state’s economic development toolset through incentives for new construction, expansion, and rehabilitation projects,” said Marc Poulos, Executive Director IN, IL, IA FFC, the labor-management group of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150.

The program will work under the same structure as the current EDGE program:

- Tax credit value is 50% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement;

- Tax credit value rises to 75% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement in areas designated to be in an underserved area that meets certain poverty, unemployment, and federal assistance rates;

- Tax credit is issued to the organization that builds, renovates or expands the building just as the EDGE tax credit goes to the company hiring the workers. The tax credit is meant to incentivize the company to construct new buildings or improve existing buildings which can’t be built without the use of Illinois labor.

“The Blue Collar Jobs Act gives growing businesses another reason to make substantial capital investments in Illinois to bring more jobs and opportunities to our state,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

The tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. There is no risk to the state for a company not meeting its requirement as the state has already captured the withholding tax prior to the tax credit being issued.

“Helping the middle class is precisely what the Blue Collar Jobs Act does. It sends a message that Illinois is open for business by putting our highly-skilled construction workers to work,” added Rep. Severin.

HB 5864 has been introduced is waiting to be assigned to committee.
Crab Orchard High School "Top Achievers" for 2017-18

Marion High School "Top Achievers" for 2017-18

Marion High School graduate and current Marion Chief of Police, Dawn Tondini,
receives the "Alumnus of the Year" Award from Bill Swinford.


Retired SIU Football Coach Jerry Kill was the guest speaker an talked about setting goals and working hard.
Congratulations to the "Top Achievers" of the graduating seniors from Crab Orchard High School and Marion High School!

The Marion Star (Swinford-Reppert publishers) annually awards the Top 6 graduating seniors from our high schools in Marion and Crab Orchard. Today, there were seven from Marion because of a set of twin sisters who are top achievers. The luncheon ceremony was hosted at the Artstarts House on Van Buren Street, across from the old jail/history museum.

Former Southern Illinois University football coach Jerry Kill was the guest speaker and spoke about setting goals, working hard, listening to parents and teachers, and making good choices in the face of going off to college and being independent.
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·     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.     
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.

Background 
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 Parkhurstintroduced 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. 
  • Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer’s legislation will streamline the hiring process for educators at the Illinois School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Visually Impaired by eliminating the sunset date of which ISD and ISVI employees are exempt from CMS’ grading process.
  • bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Wheeler would eliminate duplicative efforts by state agencies that slow down licensing approval of teachers in the Juvenile Justice System. The provision would eliminate the need for the Department of Central Management Services to verify the State educator license of a teacher employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice if the State Board of Education verifies the license. The bill also ensures that the salary of teachers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice is comparable to the salary of a teacher employed by a school district in the same geographical area in which the institution or facility is located.
  • In an effort to speak to the shortage of everyday classroom teachers, as well as the scarcity of substitute teachers, Rep. Tom Bennett introduced legislationthat encompasses many of the elements of the previous sponsors and tackles the problem from a number of angles. Among other things it would provide full reciprocity for out-of-state applicants for a Professional Educator License (PEL), thus allowing out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois. Additionally, school districts would be able to hire an individual who already has a PEL or an Educator License with Stipulations to serve as a substitute teacher without that person having to go through the separate application process for a Substitute Teaching License. Lastly, the legislation would adjust the Pension Code to allow retired educators to substitute for more days each year without infringing upon their pension benefits.


Attribution
http://www.whig.com/20180417/teacher-shortage-threatens-harm-to-illinois-education-system#
** http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IllinoisTeacherShortage_12-10-15_kd-2.pdf (pg. 18).

An advertising group in Illinois is providing free advertising space statewide to help promote a new helpline for those struggling with opioids and other substance abuse.

A statement from the state's Department of Human Services says the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois has donated some 100 billboards. They will advertise the helpline that offers treatment information for anyone who has questions about opioids and other substances. Several large billboards will appear on tollways.

The Illinois Department of Human Services launched the helpline in December. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's also free and confidential. The number for the helpline is 1-833-2FINDHELP.


WSIL -- Almost a month after Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, the bill sponsor said he plans to file an override. News Three talked with three local Representatives that say, if the override comes up in the House, they won't support it. 
Last month, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a gun control bill he called "duplicative" of federal laws. 
The bill would require gun dealers to pay for a state license and require further training for their employees on how to do background checks.
Representative Dave Severin feels bills like this are for personal gain.
"This is an election year. So some of these bills are "gotcha bills." Some of them are just trying to get people on record for where they stand or what they stand for or don't stand for. A lot of this is gamesmanship going on," said Rep. Severin. 
The veto is expected to be brought up as early as Tuesday. 
Click here to read the full article on-line and watch the video report at WSIL-TV 3


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.”

"Congratulations to Touch of Nature Environmental Center at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, the Dr. William Freeberg Family, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke on your well-deserved recognition for all of your good work to develop programs and help start the Special Olympics in 1968 right here in Illinois!"
--State Rep. Dave Severin



One of the Special Olympic Athletes who led
the opening ceremonies with the
Special Olympics Pledge.
Dr. William Freeberg's granddaughter, Brittany Freeberg,
talks about his life's work here in Southern Illinois and
his impact on Special Olympics.




















IL Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke organized the
first Special Olympics in Chicago in 1968.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, State Rep. John Cavaletto, and State Rep. Dave Severin at the "Gala in the Woods" to celebrate and raise money for the Special Olympics of Southern Illinois and SIU's Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Congratulations to my colleague, John Cavaletto, for your part in developing activities and programs for children with special needs at the summer camps. To watch some of the ceremony, click here to see the story by Joe Ragusa at WSIL ABC Channel 3.