This electronic newsletter is an opportunity for you to learn more about what we’ve accomplished in Illinois government, and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering in a Serve Illinois volunteer project, receiving state services, or learning about new laws and programs, I want to ensure that you know what’s happening in your government.
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Shake Out Drill 2012
On Oct. 13, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) announced that it will be conducting an earthquake drill on Feb. 7 at 10:15 a.m. The drill will focus on the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” protective actions that a person should take when an earthquake begins. Southern Illinois lies along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, affecting the entire state. As of right now, eight states are involved with the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) for this 2012 Shake Out Drill, and nearly 260,000 Illinois residents are registered to participate.
Urban Weatherization Initiative Helping Illinois Become Greener
On Sept. 28, Governor Quinn announced $1.6 million will be applied to the Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). UWI is an innovative program to create jobs, increase efficiency, and reduce energy costs to residents while preparing workers for jobs in the growing “green” sector. The program will train participants to become nationally certified in home energy and weatherization retrofit work. Funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, the first grants will be awarded following a competitive process. After implementation, residents will be able to save an average of $215 per year on weatherization. For more information, visit www.ildceo.net.
Statewide Veterans Job Fairs
On Oct. 13, Governor Quinn joined the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to announce statewide job fairs for Illinois Veterans. The fairs will allow Veterans to connect with ready-to-hire employers through Governor Quinn’s ongoing efforts towards job growth. The job fairs will continue through November. To apply for positions, please visit work.illinois.gov.
On Oct. 11, the Illinois Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) announced free one-on-one Medicare insurance counseling. The sessions will take place in more than 25 locations throughout the state, allowing Illinois seniors and people with disabilities to learn more about Medicare insurance coverage and the application process. Open enrollment began Oct. 15 and will run through Dec. 7. The counseling sessions will run in conjunction with the open enrollment period. For a complete list of locations, visit Insurance.Illinois.gov/SHIP or call SHIP’s toll-free hotline at (800) 548-9034.
Enjoy Illinois Travel App
On Oct. 11, the Illinois Office of Tourism announced a new free mobile travel application for Android smart phones to assist visitors in getting around Illinois. The app was initially launched in August for iPhone users. The Enjoy Illinois application is a pocket tour guide that allows users to access more than 10,000 listings statewide including attractions, dining, accommodations, events, deals, and more. For more information, visit enjoyillinois.com.
Teen Safe Driving
On Oct. 14, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced that 105 Illinois high schools were selected to participate in the 2011-2012 Operation Teen Safe Driving Program (OTSD). The initiative is designed for teens to help educate their peers about responsible driving. Partnering with Ford’s Ford Driving Skills for Life program and Allstate Foundation’s Keep the Drive, IDOT selected high schools statewide in an effort to decrease the number of fatalities and injuries involving teen drivers in Illinois. Each of the selected schools will receive $2,000 in grant funding from IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, The Allstate Foundation and The Ford Motor Company Fund. Visit teensafedrivingillinois.org for more information.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
On Oct. 12, Governor Quinn joined country musician Martina McBride and her PINK TOGETHER Express at Chicago’s Union Station to promote breast cancer awareness. During the event, Governor Quinn highlighted the importance of breast cancer screenings through mammograms. The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) provides free pelvic exams and Pap tests to uninsured female residents ages 35-64, and free breast exams and mammograms to uninsured female residents ages 40-64. Younger residents may be eligible on a case-by-case basis. The IBCCP has assisted more than 139,000 females since its inception in 1995. For more information on breast cancer, visit the IDPH’s website at www.idph.il.us/cancer. For more information about the IBCCP, visit http://cancerscreening.illinois.gov.
On Oct. 5, Governor Quinn launched the Advantage Illinois program. The program is designed to provide Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the capital needed to start new companies and expand existing businesses. The $78 million federally-funded program encourages businesses to bring innovative ideas and new products to market, and accelerate job creation and economic growth in Illinois. Advantage Illinois consists of the Capital Access Program (CAP), Participation Loan Program (PLP), Collateral Support Program (CSP), and Invest Illinois Venture Fund Program (IIVF). The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) began actively enrolling lending institutions to utilize CAP, PLP, and CSP on Oct. 5. Once the appropriate application process is complete, businesses will be able to begin accessing the capitol loans. For complete information, visit http://www.ildceo.net/dceo/Bureaus/Advantage+Illinois.
Improving Illinois Railways
On Oct. 10, Governor Quinn joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Bobby Rush and other officials to break ground on the Englewood Flyover in Chicago. The project will eliminate one of the region’s worst bottlenecks, enabling Illinois to serve as a hub for an expanded Midwestern network of passenger rail. The $133 million project, funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and the federal recovery act, will create nearly 1,500 jobs while improving commuter safety and reducing delays. The project also enforces a strict “Buy America” requirement, ensuring an economic boost for American manufacturers and workers.
University of Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering Building
On Oct. 7, Governor Quinn joined University of Illinois President Michael J. Hogan to break ground on the school’s new Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building. The facility will enhance educational opportunities, support research breakthroughs in computing, communications, nanotechnology and biotechnology. The project, which is being funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program, will create an estimated 620 construction jobs while building what is projected to be the most energy-efficient engineering structure in the nation. The combined composition is anticipated to reach zero net energy consumption on an annual basis. This 232,000-square-foot building will include state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and equipment. Design on the facility is finished, and construction is expected to begin in November with completion expected by August 2014.
Health and Human Services Grant
On Sept. 29, Governor Quinn announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Illinois a $24 million grant to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending. The award, $4.8 million per year over five years, was made through a highly competitive national application process for Community Transformation Grants. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) was one of only 35 grantees to receive funds to implement proven methods to advance health and wellness. The IDPH and its state and community partners will implement “We Choose Health,” a statewide initiative to reduce chronic diseases. Strategies will be targeted toward serving residents in rural counties, and racial and ethnic minority groups in urban areas to reduce health disparities. Programs will focus on reducing exposure to second-hand smoke, and discouraging access to tobacco; increasing screening and treatment for tobacco-related illness, hypertension, and high cholesterol; improving nutrition; and increasing physical activity. For more information about Community Transformation Grants, please visit www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation.
Park and Recreational Facility Construction Investments
On Oct. 3, Governor Quinn announced that 22 communities across the state will be able to renovate and repair recreation facilities and build new facilities with support from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The Park and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) Grant Program is providing $50 million in targeted investments to eligible local governments for acquisition, development, construction, and other capital improvements to park and recreational facilities in Illinois. The public works projects are expected to create more than 300 jobs. The PARC Grant Program is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and reimburses grant recipients up to 75 percent of approved project costs, with up to 90 percent reimbursement available to local governments defined as disadvantaged. For more information concerning the Grant Program, please visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.
Volunteer Fire Assistance Program Grants
On Sept. 30, Governor Quinn announced that 90 Illinois communities will benefit from more than $677,000 in federal grants to rural fire protection districts and fire departments. The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program is a federally-funded program that provides matching funds to aid fire departments in the purchase of new equipment and training. The grants announced are supporting more than $1.3 million in local projects. For more information and a list of the 90 recipients, please visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.