Grants for fire departments, safety in the summer heat

Local fire departments receive state grants
The Office of the State Fire Marshal has announced that five local fire departments have received funding under the Small Equipment Grant Program. In all, more than 100 departments statewide were awarded a share of the $2 million in grant funds which were announced this week. The grant program is intended to help fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services with purchases of small firefighting or ambulance equipment.

This year, five departments in our area were approved for these grants from the State Fire Marshal. They include the Martinton Fire Protection District and the Otto Fire Protection in Iroquois County, the Hoopeston Fire Department in Vermilion County, the Secor Fire Protection District in Woodford County and the Reddick Community Fire Protection District in Livingston County.

My congratulations to these departments, and my thanks to their members and all our fire and emergency services personnel for all that they do every day.

Keeping safe in the hot weather
We have already endured a very hot summer, and the traditionally hottest weeks are still to come. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding Illinoisans of the many precautions you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from extreme heat. IDPH is also making an effort to educate Illinoisans about the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

IDPH advises everyone to stay in an air conditioned space when daytime temperatures are at their hottest. Whether it is your home or a neighbor’s, a public place like a library, a business or a government office, it is important to be someplace cool if possible. You should wear light clothing which will not absorb as much heat from the sun, and constantly drink water, not just when you are thirsty.

Perhaps most importantly: never leave anyone in a closed vehicle. This includes not only people but also pets. Temperatures rise very quickly in parked cars and exposure to those high temperatures can quickly lead to serious health problems.

If someone is exhibiting the symptoms of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 and get help immediately. These warning signs include a body temperature above 103 degrees, a fast, strong pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion or fainting. Move the person to a cooler place out of the sun and use cool cloths to help. IDPH advises against giving a person with heat stroke anything to drink.

For more information on hot weather safety, visit

How much do we owe? 
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $6,556,209,356 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

Governor visits Champaign

I had the honor of joining Governor Rauner in Champaign-Urbana last week as he and several officials visited Wolfram Research, Granular and A&R Mechanical Contractors. These are exciting, growing businesses in Champaign-Urbana that are helping to shape the future. The University of Illinois is a world renowned institution of higher learning and offers so much to students and communities in economic development.

Government needs to help support the development and growth of business, agriculture and the economy across this great state. Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois play a vital role in making this all happen. We need to be doing more to encourage local businesses like these to grow and expand, creating jobs and helping the state’s economy move into the future.

New state Supreme Court justice seated
The Illinois Supreme Court has a new justice. Justice Charles Freeman announced his retirement this year before the conclusion of his 10-year term. Under the State Constitution, whenever there is a vacancy before a term has expired, the other justices of the Court appoint a new justice to fill the seat until it comes up for election. This year, the justices selected the honorable P. Scott Neville as his replacement. Justice Neville is a graduate of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Prior to his appointment to the state’s high court, Justice Neville served for 14 years as an appellate judge.

In order to achieve some geographic balance on the state Supreme Court, the justices are chosen from five districts throughout the state. Justice Neville will represent the First District, which is made up entirely of Cook County. The Chief Justice is Justice Lloyd Karmeier, of Nashville, which is located in the southernmost district in the state.

Did You Know?
On Tuesday night, the best players in Major League Baseball will gather at Nationals Park in Washington for the annual All-Star game. The very first MLB All-Star game was played here in Illinois. Comiskey Park in Chicago, home of the White Sox, hosted the inaugural mid-summer classic the same summer as the kickoff of the Chicago World’s Fair in July 1933. The American League won the game 4-2 on the strength of a home run by Babe Ruth, the first to be hit in an All-Star game.