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Jacksonville City Council recognizes Fire Department promotions

Staff Contributor



The February 26 Jacksonville City Council meeting was an opportunity to highlight the development within the Jacksonville Fire Department. The Council was given an overview of proposals to better integrate the services in Jacksonville with the surrounding communities.

Improvements to the personnel in the department were also celebrated. Lt. Mike Hopper was recently promoted to his officer role. He was given his formal oath of office at the meeting. Newer members of the department were also recognized. Three new firefighters are being trained to become members of the force. While the department had done recruiting outside of Jacksonville to find applicants, the three trainees are all Jacksonville locals.

In other city business, the appropriations ordinance was for fiscal year 2018 was given a first reading. $44.3 million was appropriated for corporate purposes.

Prior to the Council meeting, the Golf oversight committee also met for the first time. Their goal is to find ways of controlling the costs at the two city golf courses. The courses have lost significant amounts of money in recent years.

You can watch the whole meeting below:

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Illinois’ bicentennial beer now on shelves



Images from Hand of Fate Brewing Company Facebook Page

The latest birthday gift to the people of Illinois comes in a 12-ounce can – the state’s bicentennial beer is now on store shelves.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and members of the state’s Bicentennial Commission cracked the first cans of the 1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale on Wednesday in Springfield.

The governor said not only is the beer good, it shows what can still be made in the state.

“This year, we celebrate our 200th birthday,” the governor said. “We’ll celebrate our bicentennial by celebrating everything that is born, built and grown in the great state of Illinois.”

The beer is brewed by the Hand of Fate Brewing Co. out of Petersburg.

It won a competition at last year’s Illinois State Fair to become Illinois’ official 200th birthday beer.

Hand of Fate owner Mike Allison said he’s happy to have his relatively new success story be part of Illinois’ long legacy.

“It’s overwhelming, and a little bit mind blowing, to think that two years ago we were just opening a small brewery,” Allison said.

Allison said 1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale uses Illinois crops including corn, wheat and oats.

Reviews say the beer has some aromatic nose bursts with bubblegum, clove and white peppercorn.

Article by Benjamin Yount. For more Illinois News Network content, visit 

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2018 Election

Morgan County League of Women of Voters hold candidate forum in Jacksonville

Thomas Clatterbuck



from left: Rients, Miller, Deters, Rodriguez, Petty, Johnson, Carmody, Davidsmeyer

Nearly all candidates in contested races in Morgan County came out to attend one of the last forums before the March 20th primary. They answered questions in a packed Jacksonville City Council chamber. Over 50 people were in attendance.

Of the nine candidates invited, only Rep. Darin LaHood was unable to attend. He is currently serving in Washington. The candidates who could make it included:

  • Donald Rients, a Republican running in the 18th Congressional District
  • Darrel Miller, a Democrat running in the 18th
  • Brian Deters, a Democrat running in the 18th
  • Junius Rodriguez, a Democrat running in the 18th
  • Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, a Republican running in the 100th Illinois House District
  • Jonas Petty, a Republican running in the 100th Illinois House District
  • Chris “CJ” Johnson, a Republican running for Morgan County Sheriff
  • Mike Carmody, a Republican running for Morgan County Sheriff

There were few surprises from any of the candidates on any of the questions. However there were some. Both Miller and Deters expressed pro-life sentiments for their personal views; but were pro-choice from a policy standpoint. On the same question about the sanctity of life, Petty said we need to get the root of the abortion issue, and supported better economic opportunities and sex education to reduce abortions.

Both Sheriff candidates also expressed concerns about body cameras. While they saw the utility, they spoke about how unclear the law is at this point. This includes protecting suspects’ and other individuals’ fourth and fifth amendment rights. Additionally, storing the footage and providing Freedom of Information Act access for the footage is far more expensive than the cameras themselves. But throughout the evening, both said their job was to enforce and follow the law, not to make policy.

All of the candidates opposed a mandate on arming teachers. Rients and Petty were open to the option, and Miller said it was a local issue, not a federal one. Johnson warned about the change of mindset that comes with carrying a firearm and distractions that would cause teachers. Carmody opposed a mandate, but said he would enforce it if it was a law.

To learn more about the candidates in the 18th congressional district or the 100th House district, you can check out our campaign headquarters pages.

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Jacksonville City Council discusses boats, fireworks, and budget

Thomas Clatterbuck



The Jacksonville City Council covered a wide range of topics at their last meeting. Most importantly, they approved the 2018 operating budget, and the ordinance for corporate appropriations. The public hearing for the appropriations ordinance did not receive any public comment.

However, there were several other issues that generated a large amount of discussion. There were calls to put some preliminary restrictions on the size of boats on Lake Jacksonville. The lake suffers from a large amount of erosion each year. In a good year it might lose three feet of shoreline, but in a bad year it might lose as much as eleven feet. Large and fast boats have been blamed for much of the erosion. To help protect the shores, a ban on boats larger than 28 feet (excluding pontoons) was proposed. Similarly sized lakes in the region have restrictions on boat sizes and horsepower.

While there was agreement protecting the shores is important, there was disagreement about the proposed size limit. Boats larger than 28 feet are rare on the lake. Because of this, some of the aldermen questioned the decision to pin the blame on these craft. Horsepower limits were seen as more appropriate for the goal of limiting wake. However, a horsepower limit may negatively impact bass fishing tournaments, as bass boats typically have high horsepower.

Back on land, the speedway has petitioned the city for permission to put on small pyrotechnic displays. These displays would be small and pose no risk to the surrounding communities. The council was not opposed to the idea, but still needs to draft an ordinance for discussion.

The council also had a lengthy discussion about whether or not to place a stop sign at the corner of Michigan and Hardin. South Jacksonville is in favor of the sign. Despite the high traffic in the area, there was only one accident in the last year. One stated goal of the stop sign is to control speed along the road. Alderman Warmowski countered this claim, citing the IDOT handbook which states stop signs should not be placed solely to try to control motorists’ speed. Other aldermen were concerned about possible noise from the large number of trucks that use the road as well.

You can watch both the workshop and chamber sessions below:

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