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Illinois Auctioneers

Watchdog reporting isn’t defined as a monthslong, multi-part series generated from stacks of documents that expose government corruption.It’s a mentality, Chris Coates, the Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises, said during a Thursday afternoon session on watchdog reporting at the Illinois Press Association and Illinois Press Foundation virtual convention.
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A special section featuring senior residents giving advice to graduating seniors who were denied traditional graduation ceremonies this spring made readers and advertisers alike smile, laugh, and cry. It also made money, and in-roads with a tough-to-reach but invaluable part of the community during the pandemic. Advertising representatives from throughout the state submitted several entries showcased during the Illinois Press Association’s Thursday morning session, “That’s My Idea!”
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Illinois’ top newspapers were honored today at the Illinois Press Association’s virtual convention. More than 120 daily and nondaily newspapers competed in 40 editorial categories.
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On Wednesday, former Associated Press Chicago Bureau Chief George Garties was inducted into the prestigious Lincoln League of Journalists. He was awarded during the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors annual awards event, which was held virtually as part of the Illinois Press Association/Foundation annual convention – also being held virtually this week.
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Sept. 17, 2020



SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ top newspapers were honored today at the Illinois Press Association’s virtual convention. More than 120 daily and nondaily newspapers competed in 40 editorial categories.

The Nebraska Press Association judged the more than 2,000 editorial entries for work done in 2019.

The Chicago Sun-Times won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies.

The Sweepstakes Trophies are awarded to newspapers earning the most points in six different circulation divisions. Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.

Runner-up for the Paddock Trophy was the Chicago Tribune Media Group. In third place was Daily Herald Group, Arlington Heights.

In the medium-sized daily newspaper category, The News-Gazette in Champaign took top honors for the fifth consecutive year. It was awarded the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy. The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake claimed second place, and the Quincy Herald-Whig placed third.

In the small daily newspaper category, The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale claimed top honors. The newspaper was awarded the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence. Coming in second for the Coburn Award was the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, followed by The Telegraph in Alton.

In the large, nondaily newspaper category, The MidWeek of DeKalb claimed the Will Loomis Memorial Trophy. Pioneer Press Media Group received second place. The Journal & Topics Media Group received third place.

The Harold and Eva White Memorial Trophy is awarded to a medium-sized nondaily newspaper. The winner this year was The Hinsdalean. Second place went to The Galena Gazette. And in third place was The Journal-News in Hillsboro.

The Woodstock Independent claimed ownership of the David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best small, nondaily newspaper in Illinois. The Oakland Independent received second place. And the third-place award was won by the Bureau County Republican in Princeton.


The Illinois Press Association also named a statewide Editor of the Year and Reporter of the Year for the first time during this convention. The Editor of the Year is Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises. The Reporter of the Year is Katie Smith of Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents approximately 440 daily and weekly newspapers.


# # #

Illinois judicial candidates rated in Illinois State Bar Association
lawyers' poll and evaluations

Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications
(217) 747-1433
Sept. 10, 2020
For Immediate Release

Candidates for Illinois judicial offices who are running in the November 3 election have been rated by an Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) evaluations committee, or in a poll of lawyers conducted by ISBA.

Results were made available today at www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.

In Cook County, an ISBA Judicial Evaluations committee used the results of a questionnaire, background investigations, and in-person interview to rate candidates for all judicial offices. Candidates for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts outside of Cook County were also evaluated using this method. Ratings based on these judicial evaluations are the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.

In counties outside of Cook, the ISBA conducted an advisory poll. The advisory poll is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may request a ballot. Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.

# # #

The Illinois State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of 29,000 members that provides professional services to Illinois lawyers and education and services to the public. For more information, visit www.isba.org.


Indy Health Insurance Company seeking investor partners

July 27, 2020
For Immediate Release

LITTLE ROCK, AR (July 27, 2020) – This fall, Indy Health Insurance Company begins accepting patients for its debut Medicare-D plan, pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Indy Health is offering additional investment opportunities for independent pharmacy owners, pharmacy organizations and other investors until Aug. 29.

Indy Health Insurance Company, domiciled in Arkansas, will operate in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and will begin enrolling patients in those states when Medicare open enrollment begins in October.
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription drug plan option.  Indy Health-covered patients may receive their medications from any independent pharmacy in the Indy Health Preferred Pharmacy Network.  
"We’re building a pharmacy network on the strength of the 22,000 independently-owned community pharmacies in the U.S.,” said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a plan that empowers the relationship between patients and pharmacists. Pharmacists are patients’ most accessible health care provider. Evidence shows better health outcomes are possible when patients are permitted to see their community pharmacy versus being forced into big box stores or mail order.”
An article in the Journal of American Medicine Network Open newsletter highlights the central role of community pharmacies in patient care. The 3-year study showed older patients see their community pharmacists more frequently than their primary care physicians, providing an opportunity for better patient outcomes when physicians and pharmacists collaborate in the delivery of preventative care and chronic disease management.
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store – an 87% increase from 2017, according to an industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson.  In addition, Indy Health Independent Preferred Network members will have better reimbursements, no restrictions to mail and an independent Preferred Specialty Pharmacy Network.
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will ultimately be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned, sustainable entity providing them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system.  Please visit  IndyHeatlhinc.com to learn more or to explore investment opportunities.


# # #



Chicago-based, minority-owned mobile game company, Speegs, releases Mo and Trey Adventures demo FREE on iOS and Android

(708) 288-3840
(708) 601-0190
July 15, 2020
For Immediate Release

Ninety-eight percent of households with diverse socio-economic backgrounds have access to a mobile device, and more people just need a break while working and learning at home.  More than 90% of smartphone usage, five hours a day, is being spent on apps and games.

CHICAGO, Illinois - July 15, 2020 – Speegs, LLC, headquartered inside world renowned tech incubator, 1871, has announced the pandemic is not a barrier for them.  More than forty animated assets and stories have been created to accompany their gaming spirit.  Sharing a smile is their goal.  Tunnel vision has gotten Speegs where they want to be in the city they love.

“We create awesome characters to make anyone have a smile on their face, if only for a moment.” said Victor, CEO of Speegs, LLC.  “Our games will be a way to take a break from the overwhelming changes in today’s world.”

Seeing unrest nationwide only made everyone at Speegs work harder to bring a smile to one’s face.  As represented in their YouTube banner alone, anyone can get behind this company.                               

Spending countless hours to get the demo ready for release, they have placed a demo on Google Play and have become an Apple Developer.  This allows anyone with a mobile device to play their demo game absolutely FREE.

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mo-and-trey-adventures/id1500089784?ls=1


In the spirit of giving back to the inner city community where Victor grew up, the game was to be a donation to all Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  With all fifty states completed by the 2021 school year.  CPS would use this as an enhancement tool for first through fourth grades in the social science curriculum to teach students geography.  Just as this conversation began with CPS, so did the pandemic.  Within a week CPS had closed.

This would not stop Victor even as his funding sources waned during COVID-19.  Victor’s entrepreneurial spirit has only skyrocketed. Just recently, he has attached social media accounts to Speegs’ website https://www.speegsmedia.com/.

He is launching a Kickstarter campaign on Monday, July 20thhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468614803/mo-and-trey-adventures-mobile-game  Money raised will go directly to completing the map for Mo and Trey Adventures.  Each state will have a mini-game with endless levels inside.  Select Mo or Trey and collect iconic food from every state.  Collecting enough food items will earn a gamer a state bird patch.  Ultimately, it is a casual game that individuals of all ages can enjoy. 

Thank you in your efforts to support one of Chicago’s very own.

# # #

Find Speegs Online:
Media Website:  https://www.14victorjmm.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speegs_media/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpeegsM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Speegs-Media-108388937602523/?modal=admin_todo_tour


Illinois bowlers file lawsuit challenging Gov. Pritzker orders; say they are 'unconstitutional and improper'

ISBPA: 'Governor has thrown a gutter ball'

(847) 840-9620
July 14, 2020
For Immediate Release

LINCOLNWOOD, IL – The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association (ISBPA) today said that it has filed a lawsuit asking a Lee County state court to invalidate Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “unconstitutional and improper” exercise of authority to issue consecutive emergency declarations that improperly restrict the number of people allowed in a bowling center.

ISBPA officials said that successive orders issued by the governor related to COVID-19 have caused “tremendous emotional and economic hardship” during the past several months.

“Frankly, Gov. Pritzker has thrown a gutter ball on this one. Even medical experts agree that bowling is not a highly dangerous activity with regard to COVID-19 spread,” said R. William Duff, Jr., executive director of the ISBPA.

“As the businesses of our members buckle under the governor’s orders, it’s hard to explain to employees, the bowling public and family members why other activities rated by experts as more dangerous than bowling enjoy the governor’s favor,” said Duff. “That’s why we want the court to intervene and put a stop to this before more harm is caused.”

“Our members have suffered substantial pain and burden as a result of Gov. Pritzker’s unconstitutional, successive orders, and they now face insolvency and the permanent loss of their livelihood,” Duff added. “The governor’s ill-advised policies have resulted in staggering losses for our members, and these unconstitutional moves threaten thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue.”

Under the current orders, bowling centers, regardless of size, are restricted to a maximum of 50 people per location, while businesses such as gyms, waxing centers, tattoo parlors, retail stores, nail salons, restaurants, and other businesses face no 50-person cap and are allowed to have as many people as they want so long as they do not exceed 50% of their capacity, Duff explained.

“That makes no sense, is not based on science and needs to be addressed by the court,” he said.

He noted that bowling centers around the state have instituted a broad range of safety and sanitation measures to ensure the bowling public could enjoy a safe environment with strict rules that include maintaining at least one empty lane between each group bowling; daily temperature and wellness checks of employees; on-going sanitation of all venue-provided equipment; and reducing touch points in all facilities.

Duff added that member bowling centers also have elevated their already robust cleaning procedures and installed floor markings, plexiglass and signage to enforce social distancing.

Duff also noted that bowling can be done while wearing a face covering and that the ISBPA had invested an estimated $40,000 to purchase additional personal protective equipment to provide to bowling centers around the state.

“The governor’s improper interpretation of the law could lead to the absurd result of a perpetual state of emergency and also give him the unilateral authority to regulate the economy and society by executive order,” Duff said. “The governor now has made five disaster declarations invoking his emergency powers, and our view is that his wishes on this particular topic are contrary to the plain meaning of the law that is on the books and could lead to irrational results. We know that one result is that his approach is devastating our industry members, many of which are family owned and multi-generational businesses.”

Duff said that there are about 270 primarily independent family bowling centers in the state and that they provide an estimated 5,000 jobs and purchase about $65 million in goods and services on an annual basis. He added that member centers participate in various charity events that range from Junior Achievement and Special Olympics to the Lions Club International and the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Most if not all the Illinois bowling centers support various youth leagues, participate in community fundraising efforts and donate prizes to different parent-teacher groups, sports teams and organizations that back disadvantaged children, he said.

“Our members are active and engaged members of dozens of communities in the state,” Duff said. “From Chicagoland to downstate Illinois, bowling centers play an important role in the civic life of the places they call home, and the governor’s orders are hurting them.”

The ISBPA lawsuit asks the court to issue a restraining order prohibiting the state from enforcing the governor’s order and also requests that the latest Executive Order issued by the governor be ruled invalid.

“Our members are suffering serious and irreparable harm in the form of insolvency or the permanent loss of their business and reputation as a result of these illegal orders,” Duff said. “While we tried to work cooperatively to find a solution, the state was unwilling to work toward a fair solution, so we were left with no choice but to seek a court order. We believe that we have both the facts and law on our side, and we look forward to presenting our case to the court.”

- 30 -

Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association
7356 N. Cicero Ave.
Lincolnwood IL 60712




Innovative refi loan for students and parents offers cash back

Borrowers can refinance to a lower rate before earning a degree and without immediate payments 

Digital Public Relations Specialist
(515) 273-7102
July 13, 2020
For Immediate Release

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (July 13, 2020) — An innovative new refinance loan lets students still in college, or parents who have borrowed on behalf of a student still in college, refinance their existing education debt. Offered across the country, the program allows borrowers to take advantage of current lower market rates while being able to defer payments until college has been completed. The lower refinance rates can result in less interest to repay overall.

The Reset Refinance Loan for In-School Borrowers is available from Iowa Student Loan®, a nonprofit company based in West Des Moines, Iowa. As an added bonus, and in an effort to help those affected by COVID-19, eligible applicants who refinance through the program by Sept. 30, 2020, will receive a $300 cash back bonus. Interested applicants can start at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/CollegeRefi.

“Usually, when you refinance student loans, either you need to already have a degree and be making payments on your loans or, if you refinance while still in school, you have to begin making payments immediately,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “With this new loan, you don’t have to do either, and you benefit because less interest accrues with the lower interest rate.”

The new fixed-rate loan, which is one product in the Reset Refinance Loan portfolio, is the most recent product the nonprofit organization has introduced to help students and families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about historically low interest rates,” McCullough said. “We want to be sure that students and parents of students still in school have the opportunity to reduce their overall debt load by locking in a new fixed rate that may be much lower than their existing rates or to avoid increased rates in the future.”

“Iowa Student Loan has a long history of helping people across the country plan smart and pay less for college, and we are ready to prove that we are here to help borrowers, whether that’s through a lower-rate refinance loan or a new loan for current or future expenses,” McCullough added.

All applicants, and any potential cosigners, are encouraged to visit the website to pre-qualify. In less than a minute, applicants can learn the rate they would get by refinancing and see potential interest savings over their current loans to make informed decisions before they apply. The quick rate check does not impact applicants’ or cosigners’ credit scores.

Besides refinance loans, Iowa Student Loan offers several private loan products to help students and their families pay for ongoing education. In addition, free resources for planning and paying for college are available to the public without charge on www.IowaStudentLoan.org.


About Iowa Student Loan
Established in 1979 as a private, nonprofit organization, Iowa Student Loan helps Iowa students and families obtain the resources necessary to succeed in postsecondary education. Iowa Student Loan has helped nearly 400,000 students pay for college. The organization, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, also provides an array of borrower benefits, financial literacy tools and community reinvestment programs, including support for free college planning services for students and their families.




Dr. Amy Dixon named
2020-2021 president of the
Illinois Principals Association

Government and Public Relations Director, Illinois Principals Association
(217) 299-3122
July 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Principals Association announces Dr. Amy Dixon, principal of Lincoln and Jefferson Attendance Centers, and Director of Instruction for Carmi-White County Schools in Carmi, IL as association President for the 2020-2021 school term.

“The importance and impact of the Illinois Principals Association has never been as vital as it is now,” said Dr. Dixon. “As we serve students in this state with vastly different needs, in a time that has never been experienced before, it is imperative that we work together for the betterment of all. The IPA provides leaders across the state a phenomenal opportunity to learn, share, and network with colleagues from across the nation. As President of the IPA, it is a privilege to serve and L.E.A.D. with a focus on Learning, Equity, Advocacy, and Diversity. I am honored and blessed to be able to partner with all of you as we L.E.A.D. in 2020!”

Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director for the Illinois Principals Association, adds, “Dr. Dixon is an experienced and accomplished school leader - two traits that are critical to leading the Illinois Principals Association, especially as we support principals, assistant principals, deans and other building leaders during this time of COVID-19. We are fortunate to have her at the helm right now.”

Dr. Dixon has been a member of the Illinois Principals Association since 2003. During this time, she has served as Egyptian Region member of the IPA Board of Directors, Region Director for the Egyptian Region, and National Association of Elementary School Principals State Representative. Dixon has been recognized by her peers as Egyptian Region Elementary Principal of the Year (2012) and Egyptian Region Herman Graves Award Winner (2014). She has been recognized as 4-H Hall of Fame Inductee (2013), Guardian Center Friend of Children Region Award (2015), and under her leadership, received the Spotlight School Award in 2010 and 2011 from the Illinois State Board of Education.

At Carmi-White County Schools, Dr. Dixon works with teachers on curriculum mapping, activities to increase parental involvement, facilitated a district-wide curriculum review process, and has hosted community advisory meetings to solicit input on district goals. Dr. Dixon also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Eastern Illinois University.

Dixon began her career in education in 1996 as school social worker with the South Eastern Special Education Cooperative (Ste. Marie), and continued working as a school social worker and early intervention service coordinator at the Wabash and Ohio Valley Special Education District. Following, Dr. Dixon served as principal of Truant Alternative Optional Education (TAEOP) programs at ROE #20 in Carmi. Dr. Dixon has served in various roles including principal, Special Education coordinator, Director of Instruction, 504 and English Language Learner Coordinator for Carmi-White County Schools since 2005.

Dr. Amy Dixon resides in Carmi, Illinois with her husband Eric, a teacher in Carmi-White County Schools, and their two children, Payton and Trey. Dr. Dixon received her Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Illinois, Master of Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University, and her Doctoral degree from the Oakland City University.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,900 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.



Illinois Principals Association
names new executive board
and board members

Government and Public Relations Director, Illinois Principals Association
(217) 299-3122
July 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Principals Association, which serves over 5,900 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois, announces the following school leaders to serve as the Executive Board for the IPA, effective July 1, 2020.

• President – Dr. Amy Dixon, Jefferson & Lincoln Attendance Centers, Carmi
• President-Elect – Dr. Marcus Belin, Huntley High School, Huntley
• Immediate Past-President – Dr. Daniel Krause, Willowbrook High School, Villa Park
• Secretary – Mandy Ellis, Dunlap Grade School, Dunlap
• Treasurer – Craig Beals, Nuttall Middle School, Robinson

Heidi Lensing, principal of Eagle Ridge School in Silvis, will serve as State Legislative Chair. Lensing previously served as Blackhawk Region State Director.

Sean German, principal of Argenta-Oreana High School in Argenta, will serve as the Illinois representative to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). German previous served as President of the Illinois Principals Association and serves as representative to the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board.

IPA also welcomes the following members to the Board of Directors:

• Tim Wernentin, Sherrard High School, Sherrard (Blackhawk Region)
• Shaun Grant, South Elementary School, Chillicothe (Central Illinois Valley Region)
• Angie Codron, Normal West High School, Normal (Corn Belt Region)
• Joe Landers, Wallace Elementary School, Ottawa (Starved Rock Region)

The mission of the Illinois Principals Association is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders.




More recognition for lawyers
at Rabin & Associates

The Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Rabin & Associates, Ltd.
2604 Dempster St., Suite 508
Park Ridge, IL 60060

June 30, 2020
For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL, June 30, 2020: Emma Drozdowski Webb and Spelios Bacoyanis have both been named as leaders of the Social Security Disability legal community in their region.

Emma Drozdowski Webb was just named as Chair Head of the Tennessee Bar Association Disability Law Section Executive Council for 2021–2022. This section serves Tennessee lawyers protecting the rights of the disabled or who are building a disability rights practice. The section offers continuing legal education, news updates and a forum for advancing disability rights. Ms. Webb manages the Knoxville, Tennessee, office of the law firm.

In Chicago, Spelios Bacoyanis has been named as the Chairperson of the Chicago Bar Association Social Security Disability law committee for 2021-2022. This committee provides a forum for disability attorneys throughout the region to work together to exchange best practices and to further advocate for the rights of Social Security disability applicants.

Both attorneys are part of the team of lawyers and paralegals at Jeffrey A. Rabin & Associates – a law firm focused since 1988 on helping people with disabilities obtain Social Security Disability and SSI benefits.

Nothing is more significant than being recognized as a leader by your peers. Both of these young attorneys are continuing the long tradition of Rabin & Associates participating and leading in the community. Senior Partner Jeffrey Rabin has served and led many boards and presently is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illinois – DuPage chapter.

“I am really proud of the leadership demonstrated by both Emma and Spelios. They work hard for their clients and this recognition from the local and state bar associations demonstrates that the legal community knows these are rising stars in the Social Security Disability world,” says Mr. Rabin.

Emma Drozdowski Webb is a Certified Disability Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. She has been named a Top Attorney in North America in 2018-19. She has also been named a Top Attorney in Social Security Disability law by her peers in the Knoxville Bar in Cityview magazine on multiple occasions. Emma has lectured nationally on Social Security law. She has been working on behalf of Social Security disability claimants since 2008.

Spelios Bacoyanis has been licensed since 2012 and has been involved in litigation and advocacy in the areas of commercial litigation, housing choice vouchers, landlord-tenant law, fair housing, disability accommodations, immigration, and social security. He graduated from Purdue University in 2009 with a B.A. in political science. He earned his J.D. in 2012 and LL.M., with honors, in 2014 from The John Marshall Law School in downtown Chicago.
For more information, please contact Jeffrey Rabin, 847-977-4552 or at jeff@rkblegal.com.



2021 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant canceled


June 9, 2020
For Immediate Release

With many county fairs having to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Board of Directors of the IAAF voted to cancel the 2021 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant. Contestants for the January competition would have been chosen at Illinois county fairs this summer. Current Illinois County Fair Queen Kelsi Kessler will remain throughout 2021 and give up her crown at the 2022 IAAF Convention and Pageant.

In addition, the board voted to cancel the state Talent Show competition, also held in January, due to many county fairs canceling and not having competitions this summer.

The 2021 IAAF Convention, scheduled Jan. 15-17, will still go on at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The ever-popular Trade Show and Showcase of Entertainment is expected to be bigger than ever, as county fairs book entertainment and talent for their 2021 fairs. County fair members will continue to celebrate 111 years of history and will look forward to new information on putting on their best county fair yet in 2021.  



Illinois Conference of Churches response to the Virus and the

Re-opening of the State

CONTACT: Pastor Walter Carlton
May 19, 2020
For Immediate Release

The Leadership Team of the Illinois Conference of Churches (ICC) believes sheltering-in-place guidelines save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. We support careful, evidence-based steps to re-open the economy.

We believe that the health and safety of our wider community rises above individual autonomy in this unprecedented global emergency.

Limiting public excursions for anything but essential purposes and exercise and the wearing of masks in public while practicing social distancing are practical ways of showing respect for the communities where we live and serve.

But we don’t like it.

Those we love and serve are hurting

We grieve the myriad losses our communities are experiencing, not the least of which is the loss of life. Even in the midst of this crisis, more have died in this country from the coronavirus than in the Vietnam War. Business owners, closed now for weeks, wonder how long and if they can hold on. Teachers and parents are struggling with teaching from home. Our front-line workers have held the line steadily with grace and courage. While some families are enjoying down time and togetherness, economic and social stresses are tearing others apart. Our state must rely on science-based directives so that we will properly protect the people who live here.

While the CARES Act, unemployment benefits, and other programs are helping some, many people fall through the cracks. Small businesses, the homeless, the seriously disabled are struggling. There is evidence that the fault lines of race and economic disparity that have always divided our communities may widen. The pandemic has caused many problems for Black and Brown people because of employment as essential workers. Many are not eligible for the stimulus money or unemployment. Health care is not an option for part-time workers while pre-existing medical conditions plague Hispanics and African-Americans.

While we do not know what science will indicate about coming back together for worship, movies, concerts, and even haircuts, we are hopeful that human kindness, not to mention the grace of God, will flourish just as wildly as springtime is blooming across our state

We are in prayer for our beloved state and her people, particularly mindful of those whose lives and livelihoods are most endangered.


The Leadership Team of the Illinois Conference of Churches
We represent approximately seven million Illinois Christians
in 13 denominations.



Retired teachers to mentor students virtually

CONTACT: Nathan Mihelich, IRTA
(217) 481-6915
April 6, 2020
For Immediate Release

(April 6, 2020 - Springfield, Ill.) Members of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, a statewide association of retired educators, their families and supporters, are volunteering during this COVID-19 pandemic to assist students tackling the unprecedented challenge of finishing the school year at home.

“We want to help students learn,” said John Flaherty, a former high school and special education teacher and current president of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. “Our members are ready to help students build their learning skills and tutor in highly advanced subject areas like chemistry and mathematics. For elementary students, self-paced and self-directed learning is a foreign concept. A teacher-mentor will help students take their own initiative and focus their learning at their own pace.”

Parents desiring to match their student with a retired teacher may sign up on the Association’s website, www.irtaonline.org. Mentors are on a first come, first serve basis. Mentors will meet with students in virtual environments. Mentorships will last from now until the end of the school year or June 1st. Mentorships are at the sole discretion of the teacher-mentors.

“A retired Illinois public school teacher’s depth of knowledge is so great, it may be just what parents need to energize their children into at-home students,” Association Executive Director Jim Bachman said. “Retiree-mentors can specifically target aspects of learning that need the most attention, whether it’s mathematics, science, history, writing or reading.”

“Younger students may simply need help reading a story; other students will need advanced tutoring. If we retirees can find a way to help, we will,” Flaherty concluded.

IRTA encourages former teachers, spouses and supporters of teachers to join the Association. Learn more, join or renew your IRTA membership today at https://www.irtaonline.org.




Watch your well-being during coronavirus distancing


By Graham A. Colditz

Siteman Cancer Center

For Immediate Release


Daily life has changed to an amazing degree in the last few weeks. As individuals and communities work to contain the spread of COVID-19, one major adjustment for most of us personally is that we now spend much more time at home. This form of physical distancing, or sheltering in place, limits contact between people, which can help curb the infection’s spread.

As necessary as this distancing is, it is a change that can also be stressful, tedious and isolating, among many other things. So, as we all work to get used to our new and, ultimately, temporary reality, here are eight ways to look after your health, your well-being and yourself during these unique times.

Be kind to yourself. The great thing about physical distancing is that by doing nothing — just staying inside — we’re doing something really important. Despite what you may see on social media, you don’t need to be writing a novel, conducting your children in a symphony or even reorganizing your sock drawer — unless you really want to. Be kind to yourself, and just take time to figure out what works best for you and your family.

Take a break from the news. Even in normal times, the sheer volume of news can feel overwhelming. These days, it’s even worse. So, be sure to carve out chunks of the day when you take a rest and shut off the news and pandemic-related social media feeds. Pick up a book. Stream a TV show. Play a board game. The news will still be there when you get back to it.

Keep up healthy food choices. When our regular routines are upended, our food choices can be, too — and often not for the better. A healthy diet can be a good way to maintain some normalcy, help keep the immune system working well and keep calories in check during these times when we’re less active and may feel urges to eat because of stress or boredom. When stocking up at the grocery store, focus on nourishing and filling foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, fruits and vegetables (frozen, canned or fresh) and beans. And if you buy sweets and less-healthy foods, store them out of sight so they’re less tempting. With the economy hard hit, food insecurity can also be an issue for many. For food assistance, or to donate, contact food banks in your area, or visit feedingamerica.org.

Keep moving. Although gyms are closed and exercise classes canceled, it’s still important to stay physically active. It can take a little extra creativity and more planning than before, but the payoff in energy, mood and overall well-being make it well worth it. YouTube is a great source for free yoga, dance and cardio videos. Exercise apps are another option. And, for most people, getting outside for a walk or bike ride is still allowed (while keeping a safe distance from others). Don’t worry about hitting specific goals, just try to fit something in on most days. You’ll be happy you did.

Stand more. This can sound a bit odd. But, on top of staying active, try to make an effort to stand more than you normally would when you’re at home. In our normal days before COVID-19, it’d be rare to sit for most of the day. Going to class, walking to meetings, doing errands or spending time with the kids, we were on our feet a good amount. Now, while most of us are spending much more time at home, we’re probably also spending much more time sitting. Long term, sitting too much is bad for health, and short term, it can sap some of our energy and just make the long days at home feel even longer. So, try to work some standing breaks into your schedule. Set a timer that chimes every half hour to remind you to get up for a short leg stretch. Or try standing when watching TV shows, working on your computer or playing with your pet.

Stay connected — virtually. While we may no longer be able to meet up with friends and colleagues in the real world, we can still stay connected through technology. Host a trivia game over group video chat, share recipes via text message or email, or just pick up the phone and have a long talk with your best friend. The options are wide open for making connections.

Check in with your health-care provider if you have an existing medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. See if there are any changes you should make during this time, such as rescheduling appointments, extending prescriptions or connecting remotely by telehealth rather than in person. Because COVID-19 can be more serious in some people with pre-existing diseases, it’s also especially important to follow recommendations for keeping safe, such as staying at home, avoiding groups and close contact with others, keeping surfaces clean and washing hands frequently.

Look after your mental wellness. This can be a time of stress, anxiety and loneliness for many people. So, as you’re looking after your physical health, it’s extremely important to also look after your mental and emotional health. Try to keep up with those things that can help with mood: physical activity, mindfulness and meditation, and connecting with friends using technology. Many people also need professional help. So, don’t be shy about calling a health-care provider or visiting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) for resources. If you ever feel you’re in crisis, call 911 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) immediately.

We’ll get through this together, even as we’re safely distancing ourselves for now.

It’s our health. Let’s take control.

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Dr. Graham A. Colditz, associate director of prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is an internationally recognized leader in cancer prevention. As an epidemiologist and public health expert, he has a long-standing interest in the preventable causes of chronic disease. Colditz has a medical degree from The University of Queensland and a master’s and doctoral degrees in public health from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Greystone Health Centers offering employment opportunities to displaced workers and retirees Edit

For Immediate Release – March 17, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has greatly impacted all our lives, especially our vulnerable, elderly population and those in senior living communities across the United States. As we continue to take guidance from The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization as well as the local Departments of Health to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and employees,  our teams at all of our Greystone Health Centers continues to be dedicated to our residents and staff by remaining not only vigilant but compassionate.

It takes a village to provide loving care to our residents daily and now more than ever with the ever-changing situation with COVID-19 affecting so many people, we are looking for new employees to be a part of our village. As a skilled nursing facility, we are open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, caring for residents and keeping them safe.

We understand many people have been affected in various ways by the pandemic including businesses temporarily closing or shutting down altogether. We also know there are many people out there seeking to find ways where they can make a difference and help those in need. We encourage those that have been displaced or want to make a difference in the lives of our nation’s seniors to come join us.

We have a wide range of roles available such as certified nursing assistants, nurses, concierge, activities, dining staff, cooks and more to support our residents. We have full-time, part-time and PRN opportunities. A list of all of our openings is online at www.greystonehealthcareers.com or text CARE to 97211 to learn more about our facilities in Florida, Illinois & Missouri.

Greystone Health has great benefits and competitive wages but most of all we can offer the opportunity to WORK WHERE PEOPLE MATTER.



Press Release
Contact: Monique Whitney, Monique@TruthRx.org, m. (505) 480-4150
Immediate Release: March 16, 2020


Illinois Independent Pharmacies Launch
Their Own Medicare-D Plan This Fall

Newly Licensed Indy Health Insurance Company Aims to Restore Trust with Independent Pharmacy-Owned
Medicare Part D Plan

SPRINGFIELD, IL (March 16, 2020) – Who better to design a patient-centered, pharmacy-friendly pharmacy benefit plan than a pharmacist?
That’s the premise behind a new Medicare-D plan making its debut this fall thanks to a group of independent pharmacies and pharmacy organizations who got sick of being pushed around by the largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), deciding instead to take matters into their own hands. 
The result is Indy Health Insurance Company, newly licensed and on track to roll out its first plan offering this October when Medicare open enrollment begins.
"Ours is a 100% independent pharmacy and independent pharmacy organization-owned plan built on a network of 22,000 pharmacies across the country," said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a more transparent, affordable, cost effective alternative for independent pharmacies and their patients."
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription plan that pairs with their Medicare medical plan. Indy Health allows enrollees to receive their medications from their local community pharmacies in a preferred network that does not force the use of mail order or large retail chain pharmacies. “Participants may use their neighborhood pharmacy, and that pharmacy can provide mail service if needed, which is often restricted under other plans,” said Ms. Atkinson.
“It was important to us to protect patient choice,” said Todd Evers, Collinsville, Illinois-based pharmacist and board member, and managing partner for Indy Health.  “Community pharmacies are uniquely positioned to care for patients, meeting the same demands as the big-box retail pharmacies but with quality and attention to detail you’d expect from a community pharmacy.”
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a type of “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store– an 87% increase from 2017 according to 2019 industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson.
With approved licensure in Arkansas, Indy Health will expand to Georgia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois, and has begun the application process with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS). Upon CMS approval, Indy Health will begin enrolling patients in October 2020.

The Indy Health Medicare-D plan is owned by investors in 34 states, including Illinois.
About Indy Health:
The Indy Health team has over 616 combined years of experience in Medicare-D plans, Health Insurance, Med D Actuarial Health Insurance Law, and Pharmacy. The Indy Health team’s mission is to create a transparent Medicare-D plan that provides fair reimbursements for independent pharmacies as well as transparent pricing and affordable medications for consumers.
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and to negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned sustainable entity that provides them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system.  To learn more about Indy Health, including information about investment opportunities, please visit IndyHealthInc.com.

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Press Release
Contact: Kim Schilling, Melting Pot Productions, 712-326-9964
Immediate Release: February 28, 2020

Antique Spectacular Vintage Market

March 6-8 inRock Island, IL

(Rock Island, IL) The annual Spring Antique Spectacular Vintage Market will be March 6th-8th at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, Illinois. This anticipated event, will feature 70 exhibitors with antiques & vintage items galore at Antique Spectacular. The show, now in its 26th year, is located at the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois! It is overflowing with a wonderful variety of fine antiques and vintage collectibles for sale. Featured will be select antique dealers with unique merchandise from around the world. Hunters of vintage will have an opportunity, all weekend, to shop the wide range of quality antiques.

With the Antique Spectacular, there is always something to interest every collector, whether they have a new interest in vintage & repurposed for decorating their home or have been collecting antiques for years. This includes great furniture, art pottery, country, stoneware, books, prints, primitives, jewelry, silver, antique glassware, American Indian items, china, postcards, coins, quilts, dolls, toys, advertising, marbles, rugs, vintage textiles and period pieces. The list of amazing vintage items is endless and all under one roof for the convenience to shop all weekend, for a timeless vintage treasure, that is new to you.

March 6th-8th, the Antique Spectacular show hours are Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is FREE and Patrons can check out and register on the website: www.antiquespectacular.com to print a $1 off coupon.
Antique Spectacular Vintage Market Show Hours:
Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$8 Weekend Pass
More information about the Antique Spectacular is available at www.antiquespectacular.com or by calling Kimberly Schilling at 712-324-9964. The Antique Spectacular is presented by Melting Pot Productions, Inc.

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