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July
2007


July 30, 2007
$1.38 Billion Sale of State's Student Loan Portfolio Complete
ISAC deal will help agency pay off debt, focus on making college more affordable for Illinois students
DEERFIELD, IL – The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) today closed the sale of $1.38 billion in student loans to two not-for-profit agencies. The transaction will help ISAC pay down its debt, exit the increasingly unprofitable business of holding loans made to non-Illinois students, and focus on making college more affordable for Illinois students.


July 30, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich signs important legislation as part of Illinois’ strong bipartisan push to bring FutureGen to Illinois
Part of coordinated campaign to bring world’s cleanest coal plant to Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich took another important step today in demonstrating why Illinois is the natural location for FutureGen, a $1.4 billion, coal-to-energy, state-of-the-art facility. By signing Senate Bill 1704, the Governor is giving Illinois an even greater chance of landing FutureGen. Mattoon and Tuscola are two of only four remaining sites for this public-private project, which would have a major economic impact statewide, in addition to demonstrating breakthroughs in clean coal technology. The Governor, the Illinois Congressional delegation, and state and local partners across Illinois have been working for more than four years to bring FutureGen to Illinois. The FutureGen Industrial Alliance, which is developing the facility for the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), is expected to announce its final selection from the four remaining sites this fall. State Senators Gary Forby (D-Benton) and Dale Righter (R-Matoon) and State Representatives Kurt Granberg


July 25, 2007
State officials announce $1 million to help low income families and senior citizens afford locally grown fruits and vegetables
Farmers in 24 counties to accept coupons for the Illinois WIC and Senior Farmers Market programs
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. and Department on Aging Director Charles Johnson today announced $1million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2007 Women Infant and Childrens (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market programs. The money will be distributed in the form of coupons to eligible persons to buy produce at the markets.


July 25, 2007
7 Illinois counties now reporting West Nile virus
SPRINGFIELD - Three additional counties have reported positive West Nile virus mosquito batches to the Illinois Department of Public Health this week bringing the total number of counties reporting West Nile virus to seven. A positive mosquito batch was collected in rural south-west Lake County on July 6, another was collected in Springfield in Sangamon County on July 19 and the final positive batch was collected in Amboy in Lee County on July 24, 2007.


July 24, 2007
Blagojevich Administration Partners with UAW Leadership to Offer Consumer Protection Training
SPRINGFIELD - Representatives of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) today met with leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) retiree chapters from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, to train them to help their members deal with financial planning, health care quality, and other consumer issues.


July 24, 2007
Illinois Arts Council Calls For Artists Fellowship Applications
Fellowship Grants Promote Excellence in the Arts Deadline September 1st, 2007
Chicago – Applications are now available for the Illinois Arts Council’s (IAC) Artists Fellowship Program. These highly competitive grants honor artists of exceptional talent and enable them to pursue their artistic goals. Fellowships are a fixed amount of $7,000. A limited number of Finalist awards will also be given. These $700 awards are intended to recognize additional applicants who demonstrate considerable talent. All Illinois residents are eligible and encouraged to apply.


July 24, 2007
Illinois Arts Council Calls For Ethnic & Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program Applications
Master Artist/Apprentice Relationship Preserves Illinois’ Cultural Heritage Deadline September 1st, 2007
Chicago – Applications are now available online for the Illinois Arts Council’s (IAC) Ethnic & Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program. This program recognizes the vital role of the master artist/apprentice relationship in the preservation of Illinois’ cultural heritage. Master/Apprentice awards are $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.


July 24, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich reminds Illinoisans to apply online for Illinois Cares Rx
Urges all seniors to sign up now to avoid interruption in wrap-around prescription drug coverage and lower costs; For more information on Illinois Cares Rx, call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or visit www.illinoisbenefits.org
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today urged all Illinois Cares Rx members to reapply for Illinois Cares Rx now in order to avoid a break in coverage, including seniors who have not yet reapplied because they thought their income was over the limit. The Governor also reminded Illinois citizens who are newly eligible for Medicare Part D to go online and apply for Illinois Cares Rx – the state’s prescription drug assistance program that provides wrap-around prescription drug coverage to fill in the gaps created by Medicare Part D. Seniors and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply online because it is the fastest way to get approved for the program. Seniors with questions about Illinois Cares Rx can call the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or visit www.illinoisbenefits.org.


July 23, 2007
State health director warns consumers of food borne illness after company expands recalled foods
Recall now includes almost 100 varieties of canned goods
SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, is warning consumers again today not to eat certain canned products after Castleberry’s Food Company, owned by Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, voluntarily expanded its recall from last week due to possible botulism contamination.


July 23, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation making Illinois smoke-free; drastically reduces the risk of second-hand smoke for workers and the public
Senate Bill 500 bans smoking in public places statewide
CHICAGO – Surrounded by cancer survivors, healthcare professionals and clean air advocates at Northwestern University’s Feinberg Pavillion, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today took steps to protect millions of Illinoisans from the dangers of lung cancer by signing important legislation that will impose a statewide ban on smoking in all public places, including bars, restaurants, public buildings and work places. Senate Bill 500, the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, was sponsored by State Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough (D-Broadview) and State Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff).


July 20, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich announces recommendations to improve safety at Illinois dams
Input will be sought on report recommendations from communities near dams
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today released a new state-funded report by a private engineering firm that examines the current condition of 25 publicly owned dams on Illinois rivers and makes recommendations on specific safety improvements.


July 20, 2007
"Breakfast On A Stick" Competition To Debut At 2007 State Fair
Prizes to be awarded for best stick-meal creation
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Do you have what it takes to create the next, great “on-a-stick” concoction? At the 2007 Illinois State Fair, creative cooks will have their chance to do just that.


July 19, 2007
Department on Aging hosts 21st Annual Elder Rights Conference during Elder Abuse Awareness Month
Outstanding workers & volunteers recognized at conference in Lincolnshire
SPRINGFIELD – Continuing the state’s effort to increase awareness and visibility of elder abuse during Elder Abuse Awareness Month, the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) hosted the 21st Annual Elder Rights Conference in Lincolnshire this week. The conference, entitled “Elder Rights... Family Matters,” educated providers and professionals on an array of topics including how to work towards elder abuse prevention. At the conference today, individuals from around the state were recognized and honored by IDoA for their continued dedication and passion for elder rights.


July 18, 2007
IDNR announces proposed waterfowl season dates for 2007-08
Proposals sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for concurrence
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood today announced the state’s recommendations for 2007-08 waterfowl hunting season dates and regulations. The recommendations include 60-day duck seasons in all zones, 85-day Canada goose seasons in the North and Central zones, and a 66-day Canada goose season in the South Zone.


July 18, 2007
Illinois Department Of Agriculture To Offer Free Recycling Program For Agrichemical Containers
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois farmers soon will have a cheap and convenient opportunity to dispose of their empty agrichemical containers.


July 18, 2007
Illinois State Fair Searching For Volunteers
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Fair still is looking for volunteers to help in a number of areas throughout the 10 days of this year’s fair. These areas include information booths, various buildings and gates and at the Illinois State Fair Museum under the Grandstand.


July 18, 2007
Third human case of West Nile virus identified in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed the third human West Nile virus case in Illinois for 2007. A Madison County man in his 60s, who reportedly traveled within Illinois and other states during his incubation period, has West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Neuroinvasive disease is the most severe form of the West Nile virus and affects a person’s nervous system.


July 17, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich announces $12.5 million for anti-drug, prosecution, and victims’ assistance programs throughout Illinois
More than $1 million will be used for crime victims’ assistance in Cook County
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced nearly $12.5 million in federal funding for programs to help fight the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs, prosecute drug offenders, provide victims assistance, and support other state, county and local programs to enhance public safety throughout Illinois.


July 17, 2007
Red Hats To Be Celebrated With Day At The Illinois State Fair
Live entertainment and contest highlight events
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On Aug. 13, the Springfield chapter of the Red Hat Society will host “Red Hat Day and Lunch” at the 2007 Illinois State Fair. All Red Hat Chapters in Illinois are welcome to attend. The activities will occur on Senior Citizen’s Day, when admission for persons 60 and older is free.


July 16, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich signs bill to extend special education services for students with disabilities
Law helps young people with disabilities transition into adulthood
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that allows young people with disabilities to continue receiving the services necessary to help them transition smoothly into adulthood. House Bill 817, sponsored by State Rep. Elizabeth Coulson (R-Glenview) and State Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) clarifies the definition of “children with disabilities” to include students through age 21.


July 11, 2007
Free Trade Show Part Of National High School Finals Rodeo
Dozens of exhibitors to have booths in Orr Building
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – More than 60 exhibitors will set up shop in the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds during the 2007 National High School Finals Rodeo, selling items from Western wear and jewelry to saddles and horse trailers.


July 11, 2007
Illinois Department of Agriculture Finds New Emerald Ash Borer Infestation
Three counties, including LaSalle, now known to harbor the pest
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A destructive, non-native pest that feasts on ash trees has been confirmed in LaSalle County. The emerald ash borer (EAB) was discovered just north of Peru at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Route 251, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced today.


July 10, 2007
Illinois State Fair Arena To Showcase Fan Favorites
Professional bullriders, truck and tractor pull and freestyle motocross to return in 2007
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Arena will, once again, offer spectators unique, competitive and popular entertainment options at the 2007 Illinois State Fair. The fair announced today that Pro-Am arena cross and freestyle motocross, the Illinois Tractor Pullers Association’s (ITPA) truck and tractor pull, and the Professional Championship Bullriders tour all will return this year.


July 9, 2007
Governor Blagojevich, victims’ families, advocates urge lawmakers in Springfield to take action against assault weapons during overtime session
Governor will call Special Session so lawmakers can consider and pass ban on large capacity ammunition clips
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined the families of gun violence victims, legislators, the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other gun safety advocates today to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass a ban on the high capacity ammunition clips that are needed to operate assault weapons and make semi-automatic handguns more deadly. At a press conference in front of the emergency room at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the Governor urged the House of Representatives to support SB1007 which would ban the delivery, sale, purchase, or possession of ammunition clips that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The Governor also announced that he will call a special session so lawmakers can consider and pass the bill. The Illinois Senate already approved the legislation in May.


July 6, 2007
Grand Funk Railroad to Open for Joe Walsh
Classic rock act kicks off Aug. 18 show
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – If guitarist Joe Walsh wasn’t enough of a draw in his own right, legendary rock band Grand Funk Railroad has been signed to open the Aug. 18 show at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand.


July 6, 2007
Illinois Department of Natural Resources announces graduation of 19 new cadets from Conservation Police Academy
New class expected to be on patrol beginning December 2007
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood today announced the graduation of 19 Conservation Police Officer (CPO) cadets, who just completed 12 weeks of CPO training at the Conservation Police Academy in Springfield.


July 6, 2007
End-of-June Rainfall Provides Remarkable Transformation
State wide precipitation above normal for month thanks to second half rainfall
SPRINGFIELD – The most outstanding feature of June weather was the change from very dry conditions the first 18 days to very wet ones the rest of the month. As a result, crops, lawns, and gardens recovered quickly from abnormally dry conditions that began in May.


July 6, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich congratulates Illinois Senate for passing resolution affirming its commitment to shoring up State’s decades-old pension debt
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today congratulated members of the Illinois Senate for passing a resolution affirming members’ commitment to solve the state’s mounting pension crisis so future generations will not be burdened by mounting deficits. Without action, the retirement of state and university employees, teachers, judges, members of the Illinois General Assembly, and anyone who depends on a state pension would be jeopardized.


July 5, 2007
State seeks information from Illinois’ nurses in continued effort to address workforce shortage
Nursing Center Survey responses due July 17
SPRINGFIELD – To better estimate the impact of the projected nursing shortage across Illinois, the state is collecting information from nurses to help develop recruitment, retention and training strategies. The Illinois Center for Nursing, created by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich in 2006, will analyze the survey’s findings. Current forecasts indicate that Illinois will be facing a shortage of more than 21,000 nurses by 2020.


July 5, 2007
State public health director reminds of Salmonella linked to Veggie snacks
Robert’s American Gourmet Food, Inc. recalls Veggie Booty and Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks
SPRINGFIELD - Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, is warning people of Salmonella linked to Veggie Booty and Super Veggie Tings Crunch Corn Sticks Snack Food. The products have been voluntarily recalled by Robert’s American Gourmet Food, Inc. Currently there are 57 cases of the Salmonella ser. Wandsworth strain from 17 states, including one from Illinois.


July 5, 2007
Second human West Nile virus case identified in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed through laboratory tests the second human West Nile virus case in Illinois for 2007. The Cook County woman is in her 50s and became ill in the latter part of June.


July 3, 2007
Governor Blagojevich’s Keep Cool Illinois campaign reminds you to be safe and stay healthy this July 4th
Department of Public Health encourages safe food handling, swimming safety and West Nile virus prevention this holiday
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health wants to remind you of some steps you can take to ensure a safe and healthy Fourth of July. This effort is part of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Keep Cool Illinois campaign, established to help keep Illinois families cool and safe this summer.


July 3, 2007
Gov. Blagojevich announces landmark Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder program for Illinois Veterans
First in the nation program to provide TBI screening for state’s returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, mandatory screening for returning Guard members and 24-hour PTSD helpline
CHICAGO – On the eve of Independence Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was joined by Tammy Duckworth, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) to announce a first-of-its-kind program to screen every returning Illinois National Guard member for traumatic brain injury (TBI), offer TBI screening to Illinois Veterans, and 24-hour toll-free psychological assistance for Veterans suffering from PTSD. The program increases health care benefits for Veterans and will later become part of the Governor’s Illinois Covered insurance plan.


July 2, 2007
Governor Blagojevich launches annual “Break the Silence” campaign to increase awareness about Elder Abuse
Proclaims July Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Illinois
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) today launched the 3rd annual statewide “Break the Silence” campaign and proclaimed July Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Illinois. The Governor and the Department are encouraging those who are victims or suspect abuse to call the state’s 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline at (866) 800-1409, where trained professionals are prepared to take reports of elder abuse and forward them promptly to local service agencies or law enforcement.


July 2, 2007
Governor Blagojevich signs one-month budget bill to meet state’s needs through July
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a one-month budget bill that will ensure critical government services are provided to the people of Illinois through the month of July as fiscal year 2008 budget negotiations continue. The interim budget, passed by the Illinois General Assembly as HB3920, largely funds state operations consistent with fiscal year 2007 levels and sunsets on July 31.


July 2, 2007
National High School Rodeo In Search Of Volunteers For Finals In Springfield
At least 500 Volunteers needed for July event
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Non-Fair Events is beginning its search for volunteers for this years’ National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) Finals, which will be held on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield July 22-28. About 500 volunteers will be needed to staff the event.


July 2, 2007
IDNR announces schedule of waterfowl blind site drawings
Drawings to be held for public hunting area waterfowl blind sites
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to mark their calendars for upcoming waterfowl hunting blind site random drawings to be held at several public hunting areas in Illinois this summer.


July 1, 2007
Governor Blagojevich announces Illinois minimum wage increases to $7.50 an hour
Statewide minimum wage hike to benefit nearly 650,000 hardworking Illinoisans
CHICAGO- Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced that the state’s new minimum wage of $7.50 an hour took effect today, helping nearly 650,000 workers pay for basic necessities like groceries, rent, gas, childcare or medicines. The Governor also reminded Illinoisans that if they work for the minimum wage and are not receiving it, they should call the Illinois Department of Labor’s hotline at 1-800-478-3998 so the State can help them get the wages they’re owed.

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