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  • Parent Category: News

High school students pitch new state legislation at Sen. Barickman’s Youth Advisory Council

Bloomington – Students from more than a dozen Illinois high schools are trying their hands at crafting new state legislation. It's all part of State Senator Jason Barickman's (R-Bloomington) "Youth Advisory Council."

Sixty-five high school students joined Senator Barickman at his first "Youth Advisory Council" at Heartland Community College on November 13. The Senator described the event as an opportunity to not only demonstrate to the students the significant role of government in their lives, but engage the young people in the legislative process.

"These students are the future leaders of our communities, our state and our nation," said Barickman. "The Youth Advisory Council was developed as a way to engage young people in state government, show them that their opinions and contributions are important, and that they can play a direct role in shaping public policy. What better way than to allow them to actually take part in the process of making laws? "

High school students from Central High School, Christ Lutheran, Cissna Park, Iroquois West, Milford, and Watseka were joined by other young people from throughout the 53rd District to learn about the functions of local and state government. The students were divided into smaller breakout groups to brainstorm specifically on legislation they believe is needed in Illinois. They were able to discuss relevant topics within their communities and come up with potential legislation to be considered by the General Assembly.

"Listening to these students work through these issues was eye opening," said Barickman. "As young people they have a different perspective, and I was impressed by how insightful and thoughtful many of their suggestions were."

Representatives from both state and local government also spoke to the group, explaining the role they play in their respective positions. Senator Barickman was joined by State Representative Dan Brady; McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery; Associate Judge William Yoder; Illinois Farm Bureau Legislative Director Kevin Semlow; and ISU Men's Basketball Coach Dan Muller. Students also learned about the legislative process and how a bill becoming a law in Illinois.
"It's really exciting, I mean to think that we can have a voice, and that our opinions can be heard, you know we're just high school kids," said Kristina Smith, a senior from Normal Community West. "But we got the chance to offer our opinion on something that maybe doesn't always get heard, so Senator Barickman got to hear that, and it was an awesome opportunity."

The Senator said he is planning for the students to return for a follow up Youth Advisory Council in Springfield during the Spring 2015 session, with hopes of filing a piece of legislation related to the discussions from Thursday's meeting.                   {info submitted}

  • Parent Category: News

Kinzinger Statement on death of Peter Kassig

Washington, DC- Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) today released the following statement following the news of the beheading of American Peter Kassig by ISIS:

"I am deeply saddened by the ruthless murder of Peter Kassig, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family during this terrible time. Kassig was a soldier who decided to return to the Middle East in order to help victims of war. That ISIS killed such a great example of American leadership further proves that ISIS is out to destroy everything we as Americans stand for. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and justice must, and will be served."

Kinzinger is a U.S. Air Force Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and currently serves as a major in the Air National Guard (ANG). In January of this year, he called for air strikes against ISIS, and in September he traveled to the Middle East to meet with the rebel groups fighting ISIS and witness firsthand the destruction ISIS has caused.                    {info submitted}

  • Parent Category: News

Cold temps this week; 1-year tornado anniversary today

The National Weather Service is reporting temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal today (Mon) it will continue in Central Illinois throughout much of the week.

Scattered snow flurries are in the afternoon forecast. The afternoon high is likely to only reach about 22 degrees. The wind factor has also kicked in.

The overnight low will dip to about 7 degrees and Tuesday will bring a mostly sunny sky, but a high only near 20 degrees again. The temps may reach above freezing Wednesday. The weekend should be warmer, with high temperatures reaching the 40-degree mark.

Last year on this date, temps reached 61 degrees.

Today (Monday) also marks the one-year anniversary of last year's deadly tornado outbreak that destroyed hundreds of homes in the Washington, Gifford, Coal City and Diamond areas. Roanoke and Pekin also had damaged structures.

According to the NWS, the outbreak produced 75 tornadoes across seven states. Thirty-two of the twisters were at least EF-2 strength, the most to occur in a single event since April 27-28, 2011.
Eight fatalities were reported, all in Illinois. This was Illinois' deadliest tornado outbreak since February 29, 2012.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Cissna Park, Watseka finish 3rd in state volleyball finals

NORMAL — The Iroquois County communities of Cissna Park and Watseka are proudly waving 3rd Place banners after the weekend state volleyball finals at ISU's Redbird Arena.

The Cissna Park T'wolves captured the 1A 3rd Place trophy. Watseka's Warriors returned home with the third place 2A award.

Cissna Park (34-5) made some defensive adjustments and got their own attack working for a 20-25, 25-23, 25-17 victory and the first state trophy in school history.

"I really think that was the difference in the match," Cissna Park coach Josh Landon said about a couple tweaks he made to his team's back-row defense. "We were able to dig up some of their (Woodlawn) power swings and got our offense going as well."

Addison Stoller finished the match with a 15-kill, 11-dig double-double. Anna Kaeb kept Cissna Park's attack flowing with 28 assists, and Lexi Knake led the Timberwolves defensively with 13 digs.

"Stoller was able to execute against their defense," Landon said. "We had to cut a little bit harder on our swings to find the open hole, but she just stayed aggressive."

And Gabby Wessels and Samantha Hasselbring helped bring home the win, giving Cissna Park a balanced attack.

"The likes of Samantha Hasselbring and Gabby Wessels stepped up tremendously, knocking down six and seven kills to keep Woodlawn honest," Landon said.

Cissna Park is also set up to build off this year's success — in which the only losses came to Rockford Keith Country Day (now three-time defending Class 1A state champs), Watseka (this year's Class 2A third-place finishers) and Deer Creek-Mackinaw (this year's 2A champs).

Of the nine players to play in the third-place match, only two are seniors. The Timberwolves will bring back Stoller, Kaeb, Wessels and Hasselbring next season.
Watseka showed determination against Edwards County after a semi-final loss to Dakota.
Watseka dropped the opening set 25-16 to the Lions. But then the match turned in the Warriors favor..

Watseka found a way to shut down the Lions power, Taylor Bauer got going and the Warriors rallied for a 16-25, 25-16, 25-13 victory. It was the first state trophy in program history.

"I think we just took them so much out of their offense that she couldn't get good swings," Watseka coach Krista Pufahl said about stopping James, who had just two more kills in the match after her strong start. "We took them completely out of their offense because we were attacking."

Watseka's own turnaround offensively started with better passing. Better passing gave setter Maddie Pfingsten a chance to deliver better sets. Better sets helped Bauer and fellow senior outside hitter Alexis Shoemaker terminate at a higher efficiency.

Bauer had a match-high 15 kills, while Shoemaker chipped in seven.

"Haley Shoemaker had a really good warmup," Pufahl said. "We knew if we could get her the ball she would put it away. She just had that look in her eyes."

Watseka finished the season at 36-4 — its fourth straight 30-win season. The Warriors, though, will have to deal with losing five senior starters in Pfingsten, Bauer, Shoemaker, Emily Allhands (who led all players with five total blocks) and Natalie Castonguay (who had a match-high 14 digs). Also graduating will be defensive specialists Katelyn McTaggart and Jenna Ripley.

"The seniors' commitment the past six years has really paid off," Pufahl said. "A lot of them have been starting since their sophomore season. We brought volleyball back into Watseka."

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Mother, boyfriend sentenced to 7 years for breaking bones in 5-week-old boy

In Jasper Superior Court in Indiana Friday, a Jasper County mother and her boyfriend were handed seven-year prison terms for breaking multiple bones in the body of her infant son. Prosecutors said the baby boy was just five weeks old at the time.

20-year-old Faith McDaniel and her 24-year-old boyfriend, Robert Rumback, broke several of the infant's ribs, as well as bones in his arms and legs, accordint to the prosecution.

On the night of Jan. 3, McDaniel's son was crying, while the two were trying to sleep. Rumback yanked the child by his arms and handed him to McDaniel. She grabbed her son by the ribs and squeezed the baby before setting the child down. Then while changing her son, McDaniel grabbed the infant's legs and jerked them.

The child did not receive treatment for the injuries until nearly two weeks later.

Rumback and McDaniel pleaded guilty last month to a felony charge of child neglect. Charges of battery with bodily injury were later dropped.

The seven-year prison sentence imposed by the judge is a year longer than what the plea called for. The child has since recovered.

94.1 WGFA