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As the new spring session of the General Assembly gets underway, State Representative Brad Halbrook today announced the first two locations for his spring listening tour that will begin on January 23.

 “In a district as large as ours it can be difficult for everyone who needs help or has an idea to share to travel to one of my district offices. Conducting a listening tour throughout the district is a great way for me to meet one on one with more of the folks that I represent; and the start of the new session is the perfect time for me to gather ideas and suggestions for legislation I can introduce to help our local families and communities,” Representative Halbrook said.

The first two dates and locations are:

 Paris- Wednesday, January 23, noon to 1:30pm in the Edgar County Farm Bureau Building conference room.

 Arthur- Wednesday, January 23, 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Arthur Village Hall village board room.

Representative Halbrook will be announcing more listening tour dates and locations in the coming weeks. He stressed that local residents are always welcome to call or stop by his Shelbyville office located at 203 N. Cedar (217-774-1306).
At a noontime ceremony at the University of Illinois at Springfield, State Representative Brad Halbrook took the Oath of Office to serve the 102nd District in the new 101st General Assembly. Rep. Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) stressed that new and returning members have big challenges ahead to get Illinois back on firm financial ground.

“Progress has been slow, but I believe there’s reason to be hopeful,” Rep. Halbrook said. “The national economy has strengthened, and if we remain committed to expanding job opportunities, supporting our agriculture industry and holding the line on taxes, we can strengthen our state and local communities as well.”

The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation is hosting a naming contest for participation by eligible Illinois young adults. Current members of three groups -- Illinois 4-H, Illinois FFA (Future Farmers of America) and the Illinois Junior Horsemen's Council -- are eligible to submit naming ideas. The Foundation will accept naming ideas through Friday, December 14. A winner will be announced on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

The century-old centerpiece of the Illinois State Fairgrounds, an oval arena with Illinois-style clerestory windows, is being re-roofed and partly rebuilt. The Coliseum was temporarily closed to the public in 2016. The building’s original ceiling beams, which were part of the first generation of steel-building technology when the Coliseum rose in 1901, have reached the end of their useful life. The project is being funded with donations of $7.5 million from the private sector. When rebuilt, the Coliseum will resume its role as a place to show horses in saddle and in harness.

Click HERE for more information on the naming contest.

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity's Office of Community Assistance announced today that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin scheduling appointments and accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning October 1, 2018.

Customers must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance including:

• Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application.

• A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).

• A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.

• Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.

• Proof that their household received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD); or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Disconnected households and families with children ages 5 or under (includes all children who are not yet 6 years old, that is, up to 5 years and 364 days) can begin applying for LIHEAP assistance beginning November 1, 2018. Individuals not eligible for priority enrollment can apply beginning December 1, 2018. LIHEAP applicants will be served on a first-come, first-served basis until May 31, 2019 or until funding is exhausted.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,518; a two-person household up to $2,058; a family of three can earn up to $2,598; and a family of four can earn up to $3,138. Benefits are paid directly to energy vendors on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP's local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to www.liheapIllinois.com or call the LIHEAP toll-free hotline at 1-877-411-WARM (9276).
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) announced that the governor signed into law House Bill 4253 on Tuesday that will now allow the body that appointed a trustee in a water district may also remove that trustee for misconduct, official misconduct, or neglect of office.

“I am pleased that this bill has become law,” said Rep. Brad Halbrook, a member of the Government Transparency Committee. “This is one of those instances where someone could be appointed but there was no legal mechanism to remove them if they were not doing their job or it was discovered they had lost the public trust because of misconduct.”

This law creates more accountability in the 98 public water districts in Illinois. It is a response to a water district trustee who made a profit of more than $14,000 on contracts between his business and the water district board on which he sits, despite being prohibited from having any direct or indirect interest in any contract or work of the district.

This law becomes effective immediately.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook is pleased to announce that the Small Firefighting and Ambulance Service Equipment Grants announced this week include $108,424.25 for communities in his district. Tolono Fire Protection District in Champaign County will receive $18,300; Fairmount Fire Department in Vermilion County will receive $14,640; and in Shelby County, the Windsor Area Ambulance Service will receive $23,800, Windsor Fire Protection District will receive $25,908, and the Findlay Fire Protection District will be receiving $25,076.25.

“This Small Equipment Grant Program is an important funding source for our rural communities,” said Rep. Brad Halbrook. “When the tax base is smaller than in the big cities, it is a bigger challenge to afford the equipment used by fire and ambulance services. These grants are truly life savers for our area.”

One hundred fire departments and nonprofit ambulance services across the state received grants for the purchase of safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other needed tools. The money for this grant comes from the Fire Prevention Fund. The grants total $2.2 million, with each recipient receiving up to $26,000.

“This year we had over 400 fire departments from across the state apply for a grant,” State Fire Marshall Matt Perez said. “The requests for grants totaled over $9 million. We had $2.2 million in funds to award and we ensured that the neediest stations across the state received the money to ensure the safety of the men and women that protect their cities. It is imperative that we continue to find ways to aid the men and women that respond first in a disaster and always put the lives of others before their own.”

This year, research conducted by the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) Research Center led OSFM to evaluate new needs. The research on cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks faced by firefighters prompted the inclusion of gear washers as acceptable purchases in this year’s grant application cycle.

Most Illinois fire departments, fire protection districts, township fire departments, and stand-alone, nonprofit ambulance service providers were eligible to apply. All fire department, fire protection district and township fire department applicants were required to have participated in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for a minimum of two years prior to applying.