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District 21 to Enforce Speeding, DUI, Seatbelt, and Distracted Driver Violations from Friday to Monday

ASHKUM, IL – Illinois State Police (ISP) officials statewide are reminding motorists to make safety their number one priority while driving during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The Labor Day weekend is one the busiest driving periods for motorists and thousands of drivers are expected to hit the roadways and interstates nationwide.

Law Enforcement officials will push for ZERO fatalities by enforcing the four most common traffic violations: Speeding; DUI; seat belts; and distracted driving. Troopers will saturate the expressways and roadways looking for violators. Troopers will also be on heightened alert monitoring intelligence from the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC) for any suspicious activity, vehicles, special alerts, and criminal activity crossing state lines. District 21 Captain Bridget Bertrand stated "We are asking motorist to enjoy the holiday weekend by driving in a responsible manner. Please use a designated driver when appropriate, avoid distractions while you are driving and always remember to buckle up."

In addition to enforcement messages and public safety awareness campaigns, districts statewide are also working with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to ensure that highways are safe and clear of road distractions that can impede or impact safe driving and roadway safety.

Law enforcement officials added that roadside safety checks have already been deployed leading up to the holiday weekend, and these patrols will continue throughout the holiday weekend. Troopers will also be equipped with radar and LIDAR devices to monitor motorists exceeding the legal speed limits.

Last year, the Illinois State Police issued 2,651 tickets for speeding violations during the holiday period from Friday through Monday. During the same time period, there were 91 DUI arrests; 625 seatbelt violations; and 45 distracted driver violations.

"Drivers who choose to violate the law and place other motorists and first responders in harm's way face fines and possible jail time," said ISP Director Hiram Grau. "Our Troopers will have zero tolerance when it comes to reckless and irresponsible driving behavior," he stressed.

Since 2007, ISP Troopers have been enforcing the Fatal 4 mission and have been striving to reduce the number of fatalities every year.

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  • Parent Category: News

Audit next step for health department

A forensic audit appears to be the next thing on the drawing board for the Ford-Iroquois Department of Public Health.

The department's finances are the subject of the audit, which follow-up on the earlier allegations of fraud, awarding of contracts without proper bids.

Another issue surfaced this week when the Edgar County watchdog Group pointed another finger, claiming the department's tobacco coordinator—Julie Clark—misused funds for the tobacco program. Watchdog Kirk Allen offered to produce documents showing Clark misled the health department officials in her application for grants to subsidize the program.

The allegations were denied.

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Farm Progress Show ends with hopes for rain

DECATUR — Up until recent weeks, farmers across Illinois, including Lynn Rohrscheib of Fairmount, were optimistic about the possibility of a bountiful harvest.

For Rohrscheib and other growers this week at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, concern has grown about crops drying out before harvest is ready to start next month. It's like the water faucet for rain has been turned off and sealed shut, she said.

"Soybeans are hurting," said Rohrscheib, who serves as a director for the Illinois Soybean Association. "They need a drink. If we get rain, we'll be all right."

As for corn, analysts speaking during the Farm Progress Show, which concluded Thursday, appeared to think the crop is going to be sufficient as it heads into the final growing stages before harvest.

"Up until this last week, it's been fairly stress free," Emerson Nafziger, a University of Illinois crop production specialist, said of corn. "We've got a crop that has been now living on stored moisture for the month of August. We would still like more rain."

The weather over the next two weeks is going to be critical for the soybean crop, said David Hartke, a farmer from Teutopolis who serves on the United Soybean Board. Corn is already an improvement from the damage suffered in last year's drought, he said.

"If we get 1 inch of rain today, it would mean millions to the soybean farmers of the state," Hartke said. "My corn crop is six times better than last year. It's not going to be a bin buster like we thought three weeks ago."
Despite the setbacks and challenges presenting themselves, Nafziger isn't ready to give up on the harvest.

"More of the surprises at harvest will be positive than will be negative," he said.

The 2014 Farm Progress Show will be in Boone, Iowa. The event will return to Decatur for Sept. 1-3, 2015.

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Benton County gaining 22 new jobs >

Appalachian Railcar Services out of West Virginia, announced last week that they'll be building their newest facility in Benton County, Indiana.

The company is investing $1.4 million in leasing, constructing, and equipping the 8,000 square-foot facility in Earl Park. The company plans to bring existing rail up to industry standards. The company is going to do maintenance and storage of rail cars.

Benton County Economic Development Director, Kelly Kepner said. "Norfolk Southern had a three and a quarter mile, disconnected track and what they did is now they lease that track to ARS. Kepner said "we were the perfect fit for them."

Kepner said during the next two years, the company will provide 22 new jobs, ranging from secretarial work, to welding jobs.

"My understanding is they're going to be starting out with 8 to 10 jobs this year," Kepner explained. "I do know they already received over 40 applicants which is great. A lot of people that we are going to be needing for these jobs are going to be welders."

For an application, you can stop in the Benton County Economic Development office at the Benton County Courthouse.

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  • Parent Category: News

Cops out in force this Labor Day weekend

Illinois State Police will be joined by 400 local departments for extra traffic patrols over the holiday weekend.

The cops will be looking for drunk and distracted drivers, speeders, and seat belt violators. The enforcement detail will run through midnight Monday.

Shannon Alderman, the alcohol program coordinator for IDOT, says this is not about ticket revenue. "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is not about making arrests. We want motorists to drive smart to prevent those arrests from ever having to take place. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is about deterrence, it's about prevention, it's about saving lives," he said.

Alderman says these efforts are working, because fatalities caused by drunk drivers, especially at night, are declining in Illinois. There were 374 DUI deaths in Illinois in 2007. That number dropped to 233 in 2011. Between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., DUI fatalities fell from 121 in 2007 to 71 in 2011. {IRN)

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