(NEWTON/OLNEY) Weather officials report some damage from yesterday’s late afternoon thunderstorm activity, most of which was reported from areas north of Interstate 70. Some of the thunderstorms had sustained winds gusting anywhere from 40 to 60 miles-per-hour, plus some small hail was reported along with heavy isolated rainfall amounts in the specific storm locations. Some buildings were damaged and a few utility poles and/or power lines were messed up, however to this point in time, no injuries have been reported.
(SPRINGFIELD) Visitors to Illinois hit an all-time high in 2017. Governor Bruce Rauner announced yesterday that nearly 114 million people traveled to the state last year to enjoy Illinois, giving a $1.1 billion boost to the state’s economy. Last year’s visitor totals were 1.4% higher than 2016, which also was a record year. Travelers came from all over the world for business (17%) and pleasure (83%), plus visitors spent a whopping $39.5 billion in Illinois last year. What’s that mean for us in downstate Illinois, it’s estimated that tourist spending saves the average statewide household over $1,300 in taxes each year.
(EFFINGHAM) The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled an area impromptu “town hall” meeting to discuss the Veterans Administration health care system. The “town hall” gathering is set for tonight, from 5:00 to 7:00, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1769 in Effingham. It’s being held to allow feedback from Veterans, their families, and other beneficiaries of the health care system. Many issues need attention, including a multibillion-dollar overhaul of electronic medical records aimed at speeding up wait times for Veterans seeking medical care as well as expanded mental health treatment for Veterans at higher risk of suicide. Veterans Affairs is the government’s second-largest department, responsible for nine (9) million military Veterans in more than 1,700 government-run health facilities around the country.