BUNKER HILL – To provide a public avenue for discussion related to schools reopening in the 48th District, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with area superintendents last week.

“After several weeks of the new school year, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult remote learning is on both parents and students,” Manar said. “I’m incredibly appreciative of the time Superintendents Fregeau, Owsley and Cox took to join me for these difficult, but necessary discussions, and for their commitment to making decisions that are in the best interest of our students and staff.”

Joining Manar were Dr. Paul Fregeau of Decatur Public Schools, Superintendent Shane Owsley of Gillespie and Superintendent Dan Cox of Rochester. Topics included what led each district to make its respective reopening decision, problems presented by remote learning, and what could lie ahead this school year.

“This school year is off to a good start, given these unusual circumstances,” Superintendent Cox said. “That really starts with our parents, teachers, our principals and our support staff. They’re doing truly remarkable work and deserve recognition for that.”

“Because of our rural setting, some students don’t have access to quality internet services, there is added frustration on all ends. Our staff has been nothing short of amazing while navigating this situation, whether it’s dropping off packets to students who need them or downloading lessons on to a flash drive,” Superintendent Owsley said. “I know Senator Manar is working diligently in Springfield to expand broadband access in Macoupin County and I’m thankful for his advocacy.”

“We’ve been steering this ship as we’ve built it since mid-March, and there are no easy solutions to the problems we’re facing. What we can do is make informed decisions with the safety of our students and staff in mind first and foremost,” Dr. Fregeau said. “At the end of the day it’s all about what we can do to best serve them.”

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DECATUR – With the deadline to complete the 2020 Census looming, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) was joined by Governor JB Pritzker and local leaders at the Decatur Public Library for a press conference Wednesday afternoon to encourage residents of Macon County to complete the 2020 census.

“When your city council and your mayor sit down to formulate budgets, they need all the help they can get. Everyone needs to be counted so our communities have the revenue necessary to maintain the quality of our roads, schools, hospitals, and other programs people rely on,” Manar said. “Every last dollar is going to count as we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis, so please take just a few minutes and fill out that census. This simple action will result in a positive impact on your community that will be felt for the next decade.”

Seven municipalities in Macon County have a response rate of 64% or higher. The cities and villages are:

  • Forsyth 83.8%
  • Mt. Zion 81.4%
  • Harristown: 75.4%
  • Blue Mound: 68.4%
  • Niantic: 66.8%
  • Decatur 66.2%
  • Warrensburg: 64.1%

"I’m here today because I want to be sure the Decatur community gets its fair share and that all of you get counted," said Pritzker. "It will bring more investment, better schools, better roads and better health care to your community – and you and your family. Call your friends and neighbors or send them a text or email and urge them all to do their part: just like voting, filling out the census is an act of civic engagement – a demand to be fully heard and fully counted."

Residents can complete the census for their household and check response rates in their area at www.my2020census.gov.


BUNKER HILL – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is encouraging area farmers to apply for the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s “Fall Covers for Spring Savings” cover crop program to receive a discounted crop insurance rate in spring 2021.

The initiative, which Manar spearheaded last year, allows eligible applicants to receive a $5 per acre discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

“The Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program has given our farmers the chance to make additional long- term investments in the health of the finest soil in the world,” Manar said. “By continuing to prioritize this program in this year's state budget, Illinois will remain an agricultural standard bearer for decades to come."

The goal of the program is to encourage farmers to plant additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state or federal incentives.

“Cover crops are a great way to keep soil anchored, salvage nitrogen, capture carbon and create weed suppression,” said Jerry Costello II, acting director of agriculture. “In the long run, cover crops will help Illinois farmers reduce the need for fertilizer and reach the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.”

Any farmer with coverage through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency crop insurance program is eligible to apply.

Applications will be available in December on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website. For questions or additional information, contact the department at (217) 782-6297.

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GILLESPIE – With the deadline to complete the 2020 Census looming, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) joined with the Illinois Primary Health Care Association, Macoupin County Public Health Department, and local elected officials at a press conference this morning to encourage residents of Macoupin County to complete the 2020 census.

“Completing the census is a simple step people can take to help their neighbors,” Manar said. “An accurate census count gives our communities a chance to properly maintain the quality of our roads, schools, hospitals, and other programs people rely on. Every last dollar is going to count as we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis.”

Nine municipalities in Macoupin County have a response rate of 60% or higher:

  • Brighton: 76.7%
  • Staunton: 75.2%
  • Carlinville: 75.1%
  • Bunker Hill: 73.5%
  • Mt. Olive: 72.2%
  • Gillespie: 70%
  • Virden: 69.4 %
  • Benld: 66.5%
  • Girard: 60.7%

“Census information is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to communities all across the country,” Paula Campbell, Associate Director of Health Equity for the Illinois Primary Health Care Association said. “The results will show where communities need new schools, new health clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.”
The Macoupin County Public Health Department has staff dedicated to helping people through the census completion process who can be reached by phone at (217) 854-3223.

“I appreciate the people who’ve already taken a few minutes to get counted, but we have so much more work to do before the Sept. 30 deadline,” Manar said.

Residents can also complete the census for their household at www.my2020census.gov.

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