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BUNKER HILL – Continuing his efforts to close the broadband gap, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced the availability of three programs to improve access to internet services Downstate.

Manar, who chairs the Senate Appropriations II Committee and serves as a lead budget negotiator for the Illinois Senate Democrats, has long advocated for the modernization of high-speed internet infrastructure in Downstate communities.

“High-speed internet access is going to play a monumental role in the role of the recovery of the Downstate economy, and that’s why I insisted we fund these programs in the state budget,” Manar said. “Closing the broadband gap has never been more critical.”

Today’s announcement signals applications are open for two funding opportunities. The first, Broadband READY Grants, will direct $250,000 to regional entities to increase broadband access, adoption and utilization in underserved areas. Grant awards of up to $50,000 will be used to identify current digital inequities and work with community and economic development organizations, education, and local leaders to pave a path forward. More information on this grant can be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website. The submission deadline is December 23, 2020.

The second, Illinois Connected Communities Grants, will invest $150,000 in local governments that seek to expand broadband within their communities. It will allow communities to apply for up to $15,000 in grants that will support community-based broadband planning and capacity building. More information for this grant can also be found on DCEO’s website. The submission deadline is January 25, 2021.

Additionally, the State will partner with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and PCs for People to dispatch digital navigators to serve communities throughout the state. Their task will be to assess residents’ needs and connect with them to resources that match their households’ lifestyles. Those interested in the digital navigator position can find more information on DCEO’s website. The submission deadline is January 11, 2021.

“The past eight months have highlighted the glaring disadvantage many Downstate communities face when it comes to reliable access to quality internet service, and those issues are not going away any time soon,” Manar said. “These meaningful investments in rural communities will finally allow us to upgrade our position within the 21st Century economy.”

Category: Latest News

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SPRINGFIELD/DECATUR – The City of Decatur and Sangamon County Mass Transit District were named recipients of a grant to improve local mass transit systems, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Friday.

Manar, who chairs Senate Appropriations II Committee and serves as lead budget negotiator for the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus, urged the prioritization of mass transit systems in the landmark, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan.

“Too often, quality public transit systems are overlooked and underfunded. The fact of the matter is not everyone is fortunate enough to have regular access to a vehicle, making quality public transportation invaluable,” Manar said. “The coming improvements are the result of working alongside local leaders to assess public transit needs, taking those needs to the Capitol and ensuring their inclusion in the state budget.”

The City of Decatur will receive $1.1 million and Sangamon County Mass Transit District will receive $3.5 million for new or renovated busses, transit stations and maintenance facilities. This is the first of three grant cycles for mass transit projects through the Rebuild Illinois plan, with the next two set to occur in 2021 and 2023.

“Our mass transit system primarily serves our more vulnerable population, and we strive to make it the most efficient, comfortable and safe service possible,” Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. “We appreciate Senator Manar’s efforts to help us fund needed improvements, and this grant assists us tremendously.”

"This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Springfield. Public transportation is a strong contributor to the lifeblood of a community and these grant funds will serve to empower people to live independently and remain self-sufficient,” Alderwoman Doris Turner said. “For those who rely on public transportation, these funds will provide safe reliable transportation that will allow them to get to work, school, to the grocery store or doctor’s office, or just to visit friends."

“To see investment into our public transit shows a heart for the everyday person pursuing the American dream,” Alderman Shawn Gregory said. “Our Public transportation system has always been vital to my community and I am beyond pleased to work with Senator Manar and our local officials on behalf of the everyday person.”

Category: Latest News

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ASSUMPTION – To improve the city’s water system, Assumption has been named a recipient of a low-interest $877,249 loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Fund, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Thursday.

Manar, who chairs the Senate Appropriations II Committee and serves as a lead budget negotiator for the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus, advocated for this loan during last spring’s budget-making process.

“I’ve always said, ‘Small towns deserve good things too,’ and that’s why last spring I fought to fund these crucial projects in places like Assumption,” Manar said. “Regular maintenance of water systems is something that can easily be taken for granted but must not be overlooked.”

Through this loan, which is eligible for forgiveness, the City of Assumption will install a system for nitrate removal, a phosphate feed system, replace all active water meters, and replace undersized water main. If the loan is forgiven, it would not need to be paid back.

“I truly commend Senator Manar and his dedication to working with IEPA and Assumption so that we can have safe drinking water and an infrastructure in place for decades to come,” Assumption Alderman Derek Page said. “These funds made it necessary that the city won’t have to raise rates and make water bills more burdensome than they already are.”

Illinois EPA’s State Revolving Fund includes two loan programs, the Water Pollution Control Loan Program (WPCLP) which funds both sewer and stormwater projects, and the Public Water Supply Loan Program (PWSLP) for drinking water projects.

Funding for this loan is provided through the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois statewide construction plan.

Category: Latest News

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DECATUR – As Lamarcus Williams began his first term as the President of the Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) offered his congratulations.

“Lamarcus Williams is exactly the kind of person we need in union leadership positions. He is tenacious, dedicated, and completely engaged in advocating on behalf of working people,” Manar said. “I have no doubt that in this new leadership capacity he will continue to build on a legacy of strong union presence in Macon County.”

Williams currently serves as president of the United Steel Workers Local 193G. He is an active member of the union and has served the Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly as both a delegate and member of the executive board.

“All workers deserve social and economic justice and I am honored to be leading Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly to accomplish that goal,” Williams said. “I look forward to collaborating with local unions to advocate on behalf of the working men and women in Macon County.”

Representing more than 13,000 union members and retirees in Macon County, the Decatur Trades and Labor Assembly, AFL-CIO works to improve the lives of working families by bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to the community. Leadership positions are elected by the delegates of 33 local unions affiliated with the central labor council.

Category: Latest News

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Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110

Bunker Hill Office:
115 N. Washington, P.O. Box 636
Bunker Hill, IL 62014
Phone: (618) 585-4848