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WIQI News Archives for 2024-03

Eastern Illinois Foodbank Announces "Foodmobile" Food Giveaways in Iroquois County

When: Thursday, April 18 2024 & Wednesday, April 24 2024 Where: Iroquois County Iroquois County, IL – Eastern Illinois Foodbank (EIF) is distributing food to area families facing food insecurity. The Foodmobile will travel throughout southern Iroquois County on 04/18/2024 and northern Iroquois County on 04/24/2024, with distribution sites and times and for each town listed at Those attending are asked to bring boxes or bags to transport food. The distribution is part of the Foodbank’s Foodmobile Program, a system of mobile food pantries designed to help bring nutritious food to rural or underserved areas. Those planning to attend should pre-register at, although doing so does not guarantee a place in line. Income guidelines are as follows: Updates regarding future food distributions can be found at the Foodbank’s website at ### Eastern Illinois Foodbank (EIF) works to alleviate hunger in eastern Illinois as the primary food source to a network of 170 food pantries, agencies, and other programs throughout our 18-county service area. Through these agencies, the Foodbank provides meals to more than 1 million people each year. Since 1983, EIF has led the fight against hunger and strengthened communities by providing food access, emergency relief, education, and advocacy to families in eastcentral Illinois. EIF is a member of Feeding America, Feeding Illinois, the United Way of Coles County, and the United Way of Champaign County. For more information, visit 

Former public health administrator before judge March 21 on theft and official misconduct charges

A former public health administrator was before a judge March 21 after being charged by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office on theft and official misconduct charges.

Dee Ann Schippert, 57, Watseka, was charged by Attorney General Kwame Raoul “with allegedly submitting fraudulent time sheets to the Iroquois County Public Health Board claiming to have worked hours she did not actually work, valued in excess of $100,000,” reads a press release from Raoul’s office.

Schippert was arrested by Illinois State Police Special Investigations Unit March 20 in Champaign.


Schippert is charged with two counts of theft of government property, which are Class X felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison, six Class 1 felonies of theft of government property, which are punishable up to five years in prison, and 17 Class 3 felony counts of official misconduct, which are punishable by up to five years in prison. “Sentences are ultimately determined by the court and can run concurrently,” reads the statement from Raoul.


Judge William Dickenson presided over court proceedings March 21. Iroquois County judges Michael Sabol and Kara Bartucci have recused themselves from the case.

According to information, Schippert appeared at the Zoom video hearing March 21 in the custody of the sheriff’s department. Public Defender Lance Cagle was also present as was Assistant Attorney General Mara Somlo. It was noted that Schippert may hire private counsel instead of a public defender. Part of the March 21 proceedings indicate that she is not to leave the State of Illinois and refrain from going to areas of the health department and Iroquois County departments that are not open to the public. She is to report to pre-trial services within 24 hours. She was read her appeal rights.

She will next go before a judge at 9:30 a.m. April 4 when the next status hearing is set. That hearing is set to be in a Kankakee courtroom.

In the press release, Raoul says that Schippert began her time as Iroquois County Public Health Department administrator in 2015, and had worked at the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department for more than 20 years before that.

“While in the administrator role, Raoul’s office alleges from May 2020 to July 2022, Schippert knowingly deceived the government by misrepresenting to Iroquois County’s Board of Health how much work and what type of work she did,” reads the release. “This included submitting multiple fraudulent time sheets claiming regular and overtime work hours she did not actually work. Raoul alleges that, as a result, Schippert was paid more than $100,000 she should not have received.”

“Public officials who abuse their position for their own financial gain must be held accountable,” Raoul said in the release. “I would like to thank the Illinois State Police for their assistance in investigating this case. My office will continue to collaborate with law enforcement agencies to investigate and

hold accountable government employees who take advantage of the trust their communities have placed in them.”

"No one is above the law and when we learn of possible public corruption, the Illinois State Police Special Investigations Unit will be there to hold offenders accountable on behalf of the public," said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly.


 Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 1 arrested 35-year-old Kenneth L. Brown of Kankakee, IL for three counts of Possession of Child Pornography (Class 2 Felony).


On March 6, 2024, ISP agents executed a search warrant at a residence in the 4800 block of West Doris Drive in Kankakee, IL.  Evidence of Child Pornography was gathered as a result of the search warrant.  On March 20, 2024, after an extensive investigation, the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s Office approved the above charges against Brown.  ISP agents took Brown into custody and transported him to the Kankakee County Jail.  No further information will be disseminated.


The Illinois State Police provide the following resource for parents, for the public to report crimes against children, and victims to start their path towards healing and recovery.  Anonymous tips of child pornography can also be reported through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) cyber tip line at  To keep kids safe online, learn more at: ;  For resources for survivors of sexual abuse visit:


IEDA NEWS COUNTY BOARD MEETING 3/12/24 At the end of February,I attended the 35th Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs-Annual Rural Community and Economic Development Conference in Springfield and here are some programs that were highlighted this year! ? Ryan Tate & Brenda Matherly-Illinois Farm Bureau: They spoke about the Rural Development Grant Program released last year & the New Code of Country Living Guide that was just released last month! I’ve attended numerous meetings in Iroquois County, where this very idea was discussed, so I’m glad to see it come to fruition! This will be a great tool for towns to share with new residents. Ryan let me know that this is the first draft, so if you have additional ideas, please contact Kacie Claire at the Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau in Gilman and let her know! ? Molly Hammond, Mike McKee & Mary Warren-USDA Rural Development: They spoke about the USDA Rural Business Development Grant (City of Murphysboro -example of Facade Replacement) and the USDA Intermediary Relending Program or Revolving Loan Fund for towns to help lend to businesses to help improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities at a 1% interest rate. ? Stacy Mullinex-Iowa Center for Employee Ownership: She spoke about Worker cooperatives as an alternative business ownership transition model for business owners wanting to retire, but keep their business going for their communities and local workers. These are just a few of the many sessions that were held during this week-long conference. I look forward to sharing all this information (& MORE!) with all Iroquois County businesses and towns in the future! 3 IEDA NEWS COUNTY BOARD MEETING 3/12/24 This month celebrates Women’s History Month and I was honored by State Representative Jason Bunting and the Illinois House of Republican Caucus to receive recognition to be one of the Statewide Emerging Women recipients of 2024! I attended the this conference with numerous other leading ladies learning about challenges, achievements and how women are working continually to create great accomplishments. I would like to thank Representative Bunting for this honor and opportunity to meet so many amazing women leaders throughout this wonderful State of Illinois! In closing, here are some upcoming events and NEW local news! Last week, the Watseka Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the Watseka Family Festival at the Watseka American Legion and announced this year's Entertainment for the festival! Headlining the 2024 Watseka Family Festival on Saturday, Aug 24th, is country music artist Tracy Lawrence, who has sold over thirteen million albums and charted eighteen number-one hits! Opening for Lawrence is Central Illinois' favorite country party band, The Feudin’ Hillbillys! Also Announced: Headlining Friday, August 23, is The Boat Drunks ~ a Jimmy Buffet Tribute band. Be sure to get your tickets today at before they sell out! Here are some NEW businesses in Iroquois County! ? In WATSEKA the owners of Alliance Polysacks, USA proudly announce the opening of its state-of-the-art facility in Watseka, Illinois. At their facility, they will manufacture interwoven plastic bags primarily used for sakrete and farm seed and they plan to hire around 60 employees. 4 IEDA NEWS COUNTY BOARD MEETING 3/12/24 ? In ASHKUM, Cameron & Dee Charles from Ashkum will be opening the Blue Barn Market store in mid-summer. It will be located next to Beans, Barley & Brew in Ashkum and will be the place to go to get bulk dry foods and locally produced food products. ? In WATSEKA, Tyler Hayes (who is also owner of Steak & Shake in Watseka) is making plans to open Cluck Bucket. It will be located in the old KFC building and will feature a fried chicken buffet. Tyler plans to open around June and hire around 30 employees. ? In MILFORD, Brandyn & Courtney Wallace have opened Wallace Automotive Brandyn has worked in dealerships and private shops locally as well as in other states and looks forward to serving Iroquois County residents. Brandyn & Courtney also own the Milford Laundromat that offers custom laundry services. ? In MILFORD, Tamar Walder will be opening the So Fetch dog grooming shop. She has numerous years of dog grooming experience and is a member of the Illinois Professional Pet Groomers Association! Her opening date is April 1, online booking is available now if you would like to pre book or email inquiries are available. If you know a business that is opening up in Iroquois County, a event happening in your town that you would like to promote or would like to sign up for our notifications, please call our office. Also, be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for all the exciting things happening in Iroquois County! at (815) 432-0072. Thank you!

Tracy Lawrence is coming to the Watseka Family Festival!

 The Watseka Family Festival Committee is proud to announce the entertainment lineup for the 2024 festival. Headlining Saturday Night (AUG 24) is a country music artist who has sold over thirteen million albums and charted eighteen number-one hits! Tracy Lawrence is coming to the Watseka Family Festival! Opening for Lawrence is Champaign’s favorite country party band, Feudin’ Hillbillys!


Headlining Friday, August 23, is another Champaign-based band, The Boat Drunks, a Jimmy Buffet Tribute band that has been voted the Trop Rock Band of the Year six times, most recently in 2021, by the Trop Rock Music Association’s members. Additionally, the members of Trop Rockin’ Magazine voted the band as Band of the Year in 2019 for the second consecutive year.


The concerts will occur at the Watseka American Legion Park in Watseka, IL, on August 23 & 24, 2024. Gates will open at 6PM each night. The music will begin at 7:30 PM. General Admission to Friday Night will be $10; there is a $5 discount (online only) if you purchase Saturday Night and Friday tickets. General Admission for Saturday Night is $20 if purchased in advance, and the Party Pit (the section closest to the stage) will be $25. Saturday Night tickets will increase by $10 on August 24, 2024.


Chairs are allowed in designated areas of the General Admission area on both nights. Tickets for both nights will be available online at starting at 8 AM on Friday, March 8, 2024.


Other activities during the festival include a carnival, craft-flea markets, a car show, a bags tournament, a beer garden, food vendors, and more. There is no entry fee to attend any activities outside of the concerts. Once available, details on all events can be found at



 Illinois State Police (ISP) Troop 5 Commander, Capt. Tim Sweeney, announces the results of Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols (OREP) held in Kankakee, Iroquois, Ford, Livingston, and McLean Counties in February. These OREPs provided extra patrol coverage for the ISP so officers could focus on saving lives by making sure all vehicle occupants were buckled up. Violations Enforcement Activity Safety Belt Citations 27 Child Restraint Citations 1 Total Citations 57 Total Written Warnings 22 Most motorists know safety belts save lives, but some ignore their safety and that of their families by neglecting to use safety belts and child restraint devices. These patrols reinforce the occupant protection message by focusing on those who ignore the law. Lives can be saved if people simply “buckle up!” This project is funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

ICPHD Safe Sitter® Class - March 27, 2024

Safe Sitter® prepares students in grades 6-8 to be safe when they’re home alone, watching younger siblings, or babysitting. Students learn life-saving skills such as how to rescue someone who’s choking, and helpful information like what to do if there’s severe weather. The lessons are filled with fun activities and role-playing exercises. Students even get to use CPR manikins to practice choking rescue and CPR. Safety Skills: Students learn how to prevent unsafe situations and what to do when faced with dangers such as power failures or weather emergencies. Child Care Skills: Students learn tips to manage behavior that will help them stay in control of themselves and the children in their care. Students also learn the ages and stages of child development, as well as practice diapering. First Aid & Rescue Skills: Learning skills such as choking rescue and CPR is often students’ favorite part of the class. Students also learn a system to help them assess and respond to injuries and illnesses. Life & Business Skills: The ability to screen jobs, discuss fees, and greet employers will set students up for success now and in the future. Students practice these skills through various role play. The Iroquois County Public Health Department will be hosting our next class on March 27, 2024 at the Iroquois County Administrative Center located at 1001 East Grant Street in Watseka, IL. Registration and payment are due March 13, 2024 by calling 815-432-2483 or emailing Cost: $35 Date: March 27, 2024 Time: 9:00am - 3:30pm Payment Method: In person or mail cash/check made out to ICPHD for Safe Sitter® class.


 The Iroquois County Emergency Management Agency invites you to celebrate a historic milestone for Iroquois County! Please join us at 11:30 AM on Monday, March 4th, 2024, at the Iroquois County Courthouse, 550 S. 10th Ave, Watseka, IL 60970 as Iroquois County formally receives their StormReady accreditation from the National Weather Service. The ceremony will take place outside the main entrance (on the west side) of the courthouse, weather permitting. The StormReady program uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of extreme weather- from tornadoes to winter storms. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. The StormReady program helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property- before, during and after an extreme weather event, from tornadoes to winter storms. StormReady areas are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education, and awareness. No community is storm proof, but StormReady can help communities save lives. Iroquois County is the 39th county in Illinois to receive this prestigious accreditation. Special guests are scheduled to include Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Mike Bardou from the National Weather Service office in Chicago, State Senator Tom Bennett, State Representative Jason Bunting, County Board Chairman John Shure and other members of the county board. Remarks will be made by Mike Bardou from the National Weather Service, Iroquois County’s Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, Scott Anderson, as well as others. The ceremony will include the presentation of a certificate as well as a StormReady sign from the National Weather Service. A photo opportunity will be made available. If you have any questions, please contact Scott Anderson at .


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