RailTracks350PANA – As the community of Pana today marks one year since the loss of five family members in a collision with a freight train, State Senator Andy Manar is reminding drivers and pedestrians about the dangers of rural railroad crossings.

“Today, we’ll pause to remember five respected citizens who are missed terribly by their loved ones and friends,” Manar said. “We owe it to them and their families to do everything in our power to protect people around train tracks and ensure rail crossings are unobstructed and well maintained.”

On June 14, 2017, five Pana residents were on their way home from a church event near Nokomis, when the van they were riding in was struck by a freight train near County Road 1800 East and Illinois 16 in Christian County.

All five died from the injuries they suffered. They were John “Sonny” and Mary Castle; Herb and Nell Castle; and Mary Pugsley. John and Herb Castle were brothers and well-known businessmen. Pugsley was Mary Castle’s sister-in-law.

About $600,000 in state money has been set aside for improvements to the crossing where the crash occurred and to another crossing about a half-mile away at County Road 1825 East. Improvements include installation of automatic flashing light signals and gates, and reconstructing the approaches to the crossing.

Manar commended state transportation and commerce commission officials for quickly recognizing the need for major safety improvements at the two crossings after the fatal collision. Crash investigators have said drivers at the location may have difficulty getting a clear view of oncoming trains because of the way the crossing is built.

“Public safety projects like these should be a priority,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee. “It’s a small price for saving future lives.”

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Category: Latest News

Red Lights 350SPRINGFIELD – A new law that State Senator Andy Manar helped advance in the Legislature will make it easier for central Illinois residents to protect themselves from identity theft during data breaches like the massive Equifax breach that exposed the personal information of 5.4 million Illinoisans last year.

House Bill 4095 was signed into law today. Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, co-sponsored the measure, which was an initiative of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Under the law, which goes into effect immediately, credit reporting agencies can no longer charge Illinois consumers a fee to place or lift a freeze on their credit reports. It also gives consumers the ability to request a freeze electronically or over the phone instead of only through certified mail.

“I heard from numerous constituents during the Equifax breach who feared their personal information had been compromised but were unsure what steps to take to protect themselves,” Manar said. “This law will help ensure credit companies can’t take advantage of consumers who are diligent about their credit.”

One way consumers can protect themselves from fraud is to freeze their credit reports. During a freeze, no new credit may be issued under their name and social security number. Until now, credit reporting agencies had been allowed to charge Illinois consumers up to $10 each time they asked to freeze or unfreeze their reports.

From May to July of 2017, as many as 143 million Americans nationwide were affected by a massive data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies. Personal consumer information compromised in the data breach included names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers – all of which can be used for widespread identify theft.

Anyone with questions about identity theft and those who believe they may be victims of identity theft are urged to call the Illinois attorney general’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630. Visit the attorney general's identity theft protection website for more information.

Category: Latest News

Students can earn affordable bachelor’s degrees in nursing at community college
Will help address critical nursing shortage in rural Illinois, Metro East


BUNKER HILL – Students will be able to earn affordable bachelor’s degrees in nursing at a regional community college thanks to an innovative partnership that will help boost the rural economy while supplying nurses for rural hospitals and clinics.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Monica Bristow (D-Godfrey) on Monday announced a new partnership between Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and the University of Illinois at Chicago to offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at the college.

The presidents of the two institutions worked with Manar and Bristow to develop the agreement. Nursing students will be able to earn a BSN from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing while attending classes at Lewis and Clark.

The agreement will include partnerships in the area of nursing degrees, collaboration and funding of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and innovation partnerships through the Lewis and Clark St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab and the University of Illinois Tech Hub. It also will include work at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities in Edwardsville.

Nurse350Manar has been working on legislation to make affordable BSN degrees accessible through community colleges in areas of Illinois where there is a critical shortage of nurses. During a tour of hospitals and federally qualified health clinics in the 48th Senate District last fall, Manar heard repeated concerns about the severe shortage of applicants for nursing and other professional health care positions.

“I want to commend the leadership of these two institutions of higher education for coming together to create a groundbreaking new program that solves a pressing problem in my Senate district,” Manar said.

“Because of their willingness to work together and think outside of the box, prospective students will have access to affordable bachelor’s degrees, rural hospitals and clinics will have access to an expanded pool of nursing applicants to address growing workforce needs, and working families will take on less debt and earn better wages. I am beyond thrilled about this partnership and I look forward to being there when the first BSN class graduates from Lewis and Clark and UIC through this program.”

The unique partnership creates options for a convenient and affordable pathway to a BSN degree for students in central Illinois and the Metro East. Nursing leadership from both institutions will work together during the coming weeks to develop plans to make RN-BSN education more available to nurses in the region.

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Category: Latest News

Lance Cpl. Charles Heinemeier was killed in combat in Vietnam 49 years ago

SPRINGFIELD – A Bunker Hill soldier who was killed in action in 1969 in Vietnam will be remembered with a memorial highway designation in his honor.

Lance Cpl. Charles T. Heinemeier, a 1967 graduate of Bunker Hill High School, was 20 when he died from wounds he suffered while fighting to take South Vietnam’s Hill 12, where an American helicopter had been downed by enemy fire, according to news reports at the time. The Marines were attempting to reach the crash site to aid possible survivors.

On Thursday, the Illinois Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 75, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), without opposition. It designates Illinois 159 from Detour Road to Illinois 16 in Bunker Hill as the Lance Cpl. Charles Heinemeier Memorial Highway. It further requests that the Illinois Department of Transportation erect signage identifying the memorial designation.

“I readily agreed when a group of constituents from Bunker Hill approached me about wanting to honor Lance Cpt. Heinemeier and his selfless service to our country,” Manar said. “With this highway designation, his sacrifice and the special place he still holds in the hearts of the people of Bunker Hill nearly 50 years after his death will be memorialized.”

Heinemeier, the son of John and Lela Heinemeier, enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1968. Six months later he was sent to Vietnam. He was serving with the 1st Marine Division in Quang Nam at the time of his death.

Born March 2, 1949, Heinemeier was one of 10 children in his family. He played baseball and basketball in high school, and he worked construction at McCann Concrete and Olin Mathieson before following the lead of his older brothers and enlisting in the military.

Heinemeier posthumously was awarded three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. He was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bunker Hill.

Category: Latest News

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