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MACON –State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) met with Meridian High School administrators and advocates Thursday to discuss a proposed state-of-the-art agricultural education facility for the district.

Manar, who sits on both the Senate Agriculture and Education Committees, has long advocated to increase opportunities for students wishing to explore careers in agriculture.

“A healthy agriculture industry is essential to the economic wellbeing of Downstate, and we need to invest in the future leaders of this industry,” Manar said. “Facilities like the agricultural education center at Meridian High School will allow for the adequate training of the next generation of farmers, cementing our status as an agricultural standard bearer for decades to come.”

Upon completion, the 4,800 square-foot classroom, shop, and greenhouse would build upon an already firm foundation in Meridian Community Unit School District by providing the capacity for technologically based agricultural education. The space would allow students to learn agriculture mechanics, agriculture welding, and veterinary practices for livestock.

“I’d like to thank former Senator Duane Noland for bringing this project to my attention and shining a light on the efforts of Superintendent Andy Pygott, Mr. Jerry Brockett, and members of the Meridian Ag Foundation, who are providing the steady leadership a project like this one requires,” Manar said.

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BUNKER HILL – Local schools are set to receive nearly $2 million in grants to improve students’ access to remote learning technology, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Wednesday. 

“Many school districts have employed a remote or hybrid learning model to protect staff and students during the pandemic,” Manar said. “These funds can help provide every child with the resources they need to stay engaged in their education during this difficult time.”

Digital Equity Formula Grants, funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, are intended to help schools bridge the digital divide and offer students more reliable access to the technology they need to participate in e-learning. School districts can use the funds to expand connectivity and provide students with devices like computers or tablets.

More than $80 million was awarded to 471 districts across the state, including 16 school districts in the 48thState Senate District:

  • Taylorville CUSD 3 - $159,778
  • Pana CUSD 8 - $98,372
  • South Fork SD 14 - $45,472
  • Hillsboro CUSD 3 - $116,404
  • Litchfield CUSD 12 - $102,887
  • Nokomis CUSD 22 - $61,450
  • Macon-Piatt Regional Office of Education #39 - $66,840
  • Decatur SD 61 - $496,087
  • Regional Office of Education #40 - $32,269
  • Carlinville CUSD 1 - $106,182
  • Mount Olive CUSD 5 - $53,839
  • Staunton CUSD 6 - $98,300
  • Gillespie CUSD 7 - $96,810
  • Bunker Hill CUSD 8 - $61,134
  • Southwestern CUSD 9 - $104,973
  • North Mac CUSD 34 - $97,941

Funding was distributed using a need-based formula. The full list of schools receiving funds is available on the Illinois State Board of Education’s website.

Decatur COVID 19 Testing Site

DECATUR – To keep pace with the State of Illinois’ testing goals, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is encouraging residents to take advantage of a mobile COVID-19 testing site in Decatur this weekend.

“The State of Illinois has implemented a robust statewide testing operation, but we cannot let up. Continuing to meet our testing goals is one of the key tools we have at our disposal to fight the spread of COVID-19,” Manar said. “Taking advantage of this free opportunity to get tested will pay dividends for you, your loved ones, and your community. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 takes effort from all of us, and I urge everyone who is able to get tested.”

A testing site will open be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Decatur Civic Center, located at 1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza.

Anyone with or without symptoms or insurance can be tested for free. Face masks will be required, but no appointment is needed. Tests will be administered via nasal swab, and patients will receive a call with their results within a few days.

These testing sites are sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health and are available this weekend only. For more information and to stay up to date on COVID-19, visit the Macon County Health Department’s website.

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SPRINGFIELD – To curb the devastating economic effects brought on by COVID-19, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is encouraging small business owners to apply for the second round of Business Interruption Grants, a key piece of the State of Illinois’ pandemic response effort.

Manar, the Senate Appropriations II Committee Chair, fought to ensure necessary funding for this program during last spring’s budget negotiations.

“We in the General Assembly prioritized the BIG program in this year’s state budget, because we recognize that it’s one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal to provide meaningful relief in the face of the economic devastation brought on by COVID-19,” Manar said. “As we move forward, it’s critical that we continue to prioritize programs like BIG to alleviate the unnecessary burden facing small business owners and their employees.”

Applications for the second round of the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program will be made available this Thursday afternoon and will offer $220 million in funds for small businesses hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic.

The second wave of funds from BIG aims to provide relief for all types of small businesses, with a focus on businesses located downstate or in disproportionately impacted areas. Application information for the second round of funds and can be found on DCEO’s website at Illinois.gov/dceo.

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