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News Around Illinois – Aug. 24, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 24, 2020.

Illinois Low Census Response Puts Federal Dollars At Risk

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — A low census response rate in southern Illinois is putting millions of federal dollars for infrastructure improvements, education and social service programs at risk. As of Monday, only about 46% of Carbondale households had responded to the 2020 census survey, The Southern Illinoisan reports. City officials estimate a loss of about $1,600 per year for every person who fails to respond — or $16,000 over a decade. The census count concludes Sept. 30. Most southern Illinois counties’ response rate is significantly below the overall Illinois response rate of 69%. Carbondale Planning Director Chris Wallace said the city’s low response rate is mostly tied to Southern Illinois University students. College students are counted in the community where they attend school, not where their home address is. He says the student population is traditionally hard to reach and the coronavirus pandemic has made it even harder. – Associated Press

Virus Spread Puts 20 Illinois Counties on ‘Warning’ Status

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Rising indicators of the potentially deadly coronovirus have forced Illinois public health officials to place nearly one-fifth of the state’s counties on “warning level” status for the disease. Two or more measurements for the spread of the highly contagious virus have exceeded allowable limits in each of the counties put on warning Friday. The process serves as notice that local officials should take action to mitigate the spread. Twenty of the Prairie State’s 102 counties are on warning status: Bureau, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Jefferson, Logan, Madison, Monroe, Moultrie, Randolph, St. Clair, Union, White, Will, and Williamson. – Associated Press

Champaign County Clerk Predicts Heavy Vote-By-Mail Turnout

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons says he’s expecting heavy use of mail-in ballots in the November election.  At a Saturday news conference outside Champaign’s Mattis Avenue post office, the county clerk said his office had received over 12,000 applications for mail-in ballots. Ammons anticipates that, with 117,000 registered voters in Champaign County, voter turnout could be from 95,000 to 100,000, with up to 50,000 ballots coming in by mail. Ammons’ news conference promoting vote-by-mail took place on the same day that the House of Representatives passed a bill giving more funding to the Postal Service and reversing changes that have slowed service. Two downstate Illinois Republicans, Rodney Davis and Mike Bost, joined Democrats in voting for the bill, which is expected to stall in the GOP-controlled Senate. — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

3 Illinoisans Named To State’s Outdoor Hall of Fame

CHICAGO (AP) — Three more people are being inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame for boosting conservation efforts and outdoor recreation opportunities, according to the Illinois Conservation Foundation. The individuals — Mike Conlin of Auburn, Jim Smith of Morris and Bob Wilkins of Shorewood — will be honored at a Chicago gala in April 2021. The trio has “helped set the pace on conservation leadership for years,” said Colleen Callahan, chair of the foundation’s board and director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Conlin retired from the Illinois Department of Conservation and IDNR in 2009 after nearly 40 years. Working as fisheries division chief, he’s credited with initiating an expansion of the state fish hatcheries. Smith and Wilkins are avid sportsman and volunteer IDNR instructors. They’re credited with sponsoring events including fishing derbies and waterfowl education seminars. The Outdoor Hall of Fame has recognized Illinois residents for their contributions to preservation and support of the outdoors since 2002. – Associated Press

Illinois’ Seniors Struggle To Schedule Tests Amid Pandemic

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ incoming high school seniors have been struggling to register for standardized testing ahead of college application season after the pandemic caused testing dates to be canceled. Students weren’t able to take the SAT at schools in April, and ACT tests in the spring and summer were canceled after sites closed, the Chicago Tribune reported. ACT executive Shane King said the company relies on schools for testing sites, but shutdowns made that impossible. He also can’t guarantee that locations booked for September and October won’t be canceled. The SAT, the ACT’s main competitor, tried a different approach. The College Board, which administers the exam, allowed seniors to sign up early for tests that will resume Aug. 29. Some students said they were able to register for an SAT test after they couldn’t land a spot for ACT testing. – Associated Press

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Jose Zepeda

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