SPRINGFIELD – A state grant to the University of Illinois Springfield will help provide special radios to visually impaired residents over which they can listen to local news, books and magazines read by volunteers, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced today.

The university was awarded a $28,455 Radio Information Service grant from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Blind and Physically Handicapped Services program.

The grant specifically supports the broadcast of local news and information typically not heard on regular news broadcasts for the general public. For example, volunteers actually read specific sections of local newspapers during the daily broadcasts.

“This is an outstanding program that enables blind and visually impaired people to stay connected to their communities through timely access to their local newspapers and other materials,” Manar said. “A vast number of Americans enjoy reading for pleasure, stress relief and to stimulate the mind, and I’m proud that we can continue to make it available locally to those who rely on this service.”

About 295,000 Illinoisans have a vision disability and could be eligible for a special receiver to listen to broadcasts through the Blind and Physically Handicapped Services program. Radio stations around the state broadcast daily news, often read by volunteers, which only can be heard by obtaining one of the free special-frequency radios. Some people currently can access the services through a password-protected Internet web stream.

Visit the grant’s website for more information.

Category: Latest News

CoalSPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has been appointed to two state boards charged with research and policy development affecting the Illinois coal industry.

Manar said he is proud to have a greater voice in promoting Illinois coal because of its potential for job growth in central and southern Illinois.

“While the governor goes out of his way to lure companies and good-paying jobs to Chicagoland, he has largely ignored the people who live south of Interstate 72 and their problems,” Manar said. “We could see a resurgence of Illinois coal jobs with the proper leadership, investment and policy development. I look forward to being part of the conversation.”

Manar was appointed to the Illinois Coal Development Board, which sets and promotes a yearly agenda for research and methodologies to increase the use of Illinois coal resources. The board also advises the Office of Coal Development and the Illinois Clean Coal Institute on coal research and development policy projects.

The 17-member board includes lawmakers of both political parties from both houses of the legislature, as well as the president of the University of Illinois, representatives of the Illinois coal industry and relevant state agencies.

Additionally, Manar was appointed to the state’s Flue Gas Desulfurization Task Force, which was established in September under legislation that Manar sponsored. The panel will weigh the costs and benefits of using modern scrubber technology on coal-fired power plants to burn Illinois coal, as well as the cost of constructing new stacks compared to converting existing stacks at plants.

Most Illinois coal is sold and burned out of state because of its sulfur content, which exceeds state and federal air quality standards.

The task force will report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor.

Category: Latest News

DECATUR – The Decatur Public Library will make technology and mentors available to at-risk Decatur youth through a state grant that helps children who lack Internet access at home, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced today.

Library officials were awarded a $12,200 grant from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Project Next Generation program.

“If we expect children to succeed as adults, we have to narrow the digital divide,” Manar said. “This grant helps to ensure that children who don’t have computers or the Internet at home can enjoy access to these vital tools at the local library.”

Project Next Generation grants, funded by the Illinois State Library, allow public libraries to pair technology with tutoring to help students between 10 and 18 develop skills they may find useful in school and later in the workforce. Grants are awarded based upon community need and allow access to technology and computers that typically would not be available to the participating students.

The goal of the grant is to increase at-risk students’ confidence through project-based learning, reinforce their abilities and learning, enhance their ability to deal with life experiences and the future, and more.

The Decatur Public Library is at 130 N. Franklin St. and online at decaturlibrary.org.

Category: Latest News

The following op-ed by Senator Andy Manar was published in the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat.

MacCEOPicStemming the migration of young people from rural communities is a common challenge facing local leaders across Illinois and the nation. Macoupin County is no exception. The county has seen a 7 percent population loss since 1980, according to U.S. Census figures.

Our communities are confronted by this problem every day, but I’ve recently seen changes that will help us attack it head on: comprehensive school funding reform that will inject fairness into the system for rural school districts; the promising Macoupin CEO program, now in its second year, which immerses local high school students in the business world, connects them with mentors and nurtures their entrepreneurial spirit; and an innovative new program at Blackburn College in Carlinville that could help change population trend lines locally.

Called Macoupin Promise, Blackburn will offer free tuition to Macoupin County high school students who meet certain family income and admissions requirements. Blackburn President John Comerford says it’s a way for the college to give back to the community and to help develop future leaders and employees of the county.

I view it as a clear message to local students in our small towns: they’re wanted, they’re needed, they’re a worthy investment and they don’t have to leave the region or the state to take advantage of the higher education system.

Read more ...

Category: Latest News

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