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Thomas Clatterbuck



How active was the Springfield African American community in the days of Abraham Lincoln? According to some national scholars, they were “passive” and took little role in local politics. But local historians Elizabeth Alexander and Patricia James Davis are challenging this perception with their new exhibit, “Early African American Pioneers of Springfield and Central Illinois” at the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum. They found a community that was far more engaged in both business and politics than many outsiders believe.

The exhibit looks at seven African American families who settled in Springfield: the Houston, Murrell, Donnegan, Yokem, Wilson Scott, Walker, and Ford families. Their contributions in business, the churches, and politics are discussed. Some of their ancestors almost certainly were known to Abraham Lincoln, despite what some historians claim.

In addition to the displays set up for the exhibit itself, the opening was an opportunity to share some family histories. Many speakers talked about their journeys to learn about their own genealogies, and the importance of keeping those stories alive. You can see all of those remarks in the video.

Some members from all of the families in the exhibit were present in the nearly 125 person crowd.

To see this exhibit and the others for yourself, you can visit the museum at 1440 Monument Ave, just outside of Oak Ridge Cemetery. Admission is free (but donations are appreciated). You can also find them online at or on Facebook at .

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.


186 passes compliance check with flying colors

Thomas Clatterbuck



Illinois has a lot of laws. Public schools have a wide array of rules and procedures set by the state that they need to follow. Fortunately, District 186 has kept up-to-date with the state’s policies, and was endorsed for the highest rating after its biannual audit by the Regional Office of Education.

The audit looks at five areas: students, policy and governance, instructional programs, health life and safety, and staff and personnel training. 186 improved in many key areas compared with 2013, especially in staff and personnel training. In 2013, 18 percent of teachers were in a position they were not officially qualified for. Last year it was zero. The audit did find that a large number of teachers had not been evaluated. However, this was attributed to the timing of the audit, rather than a lack of compliance.

While the district has taken positive steps to ensure all students have qualified educators, the teacher shortage continues to leave positions unfilled. The state is implanting some emergency rules to help alleviate the shortage, including expanded reciprocity for teaching licenses and loosening the rules on substitute teaching. However, the most difficult to staff positions, including special education, continue to see a lack of qualified applicants.

You can watch the full meeting in the player.

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Illinois is not among the states offering a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday



Illinois is not among the states offering a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday this year.

Seventeen states will hold some form of a tax holiday in 2018, down from a peak of 19 states in 2010. Some supporters argue the temporary reduction spurs spending and saves consumers money. Jesse Hathaway, research fellow for budget and tax policy at the Heartland Institute, said that doesn’t end up happening.

“Tax holidays don’t boost the sales overall, they don’t increase economic growth,” Hathaway said. “However, they do increase the cost of compliance with tax rules. They add to the complexity.”

A 2017 study by Federal Reserve researchers shows that consumers don’t typically spend more because of the tax holiday. Instead, they simply shift the timing of purchases to the period in which the sales tax is eliminated.

Illinois last held a tax holiday in 2010. State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, voted against the proposal at the time and notes the results weren’t encouraging.

“The weekend we had the sales tax holiday, the advertisements were for 30-percent off school supplies,” Syverson said. “The following two weekends, the advertisements were 40-percent and 50-percent off. The stores knew it was a no-tax weekend, so they artificially kept the prices even higher. Individuals thought they were getting a deal, but they actually were paying more.”

Syverson said a proposal to continue the tax holiday was defeated in 2011, though the idea is discussed just about every year in Springfield.

“It makes for nice headlines, and it makes them look like they’re populists,” Syverson said. “But most of these people are the same lawmakers who have been raising taxes on everyone.”

Hathaway said the temporary nature of the tax relief distracts both residents and officials from addressing the bigger issue.

“If lawmakers really want to save money for consumers and help people keep more of their money, then they should be reducing the sales tax rate not just on one weekend, but year-round. It should be a lower tax rate that covers more things that is fair to everybody.”

Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin all offer some form of a sales tax holiday in the month of August.

Article by Scot Bertram, for more news visit

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August 6th is registration day for District 186

Staff Contributor



Summer vacation is almost over, and that means it’s time to register for school again. The online option to register is already open. The traditional in-person registration will be held next Monday, August 6th. It is highly recommended that students and families new to the district attend the in-person registration event. All students are required to register.

Registration will be held from 11 AM to 6 PM on August 6th for District 186 elementary, middle, and high schools. For middle and high schools, a second day of registration on Tuesday the 7th from 8 AM to 2 PM. All students are required to register and update their information each year.

When you come to register, you will need to bring several documents:

  • Certified birth certificate (if the district does not already have one on file)
  • Photo Identification of Parent or Guardian
  • Proof of Residency
  • Health Records (physicals, immunizations, and other required tests)
  • Transcripts for high school transfer students

You can learn more about what documents you need on the district’s registration page. For more information, contact Julia Drake at or 217-525-7911.

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