06202018 Manar Mueller 1 650

DECATUR – State Senator Andy Manar toured Mueller Co. in Decatur Wednesday to learn more about the manufacturer and issues of importance to the industry in Illinois.

Mueller Co. is a 160-year-old company with deep roots in Decatur. It was founded in 1857 by Hieronymus Mueller, and many of his patents continue to be in use today.

Mueller currently is one of the largest producers of valves and brass components for water systems. The company employs about 600 workers. Its foundry in Decatur is one of the largest brass foundries in the nation.

Manar toured the site with Mueller Co. plant manager Jim Clark. They were joined by Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association; Ryan McCrady, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County; and others.

Manar is a Bunker Hill Democrat, chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee and a member of the Senate Labor and Education committees.

Pictured above: Mueller Co. plant manager Jim Clark (second from left) leads State Senator Andy Manar, Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and Decatur economic development official Ryan McCrady on a tour of the factory Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (From left to right: Denzler, Clark, Manar, McCrady)


06202018 Manar Mueller 2 650Mueller Co. plant manager Jim Clark (middle) shows State Senator Andy Manar and Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association a machine inside the Decatur factory during a tour Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (From left to right: Denzler, Clark, Manar)

SmallBiz 350SPRINGFIELD – Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that e-commerce retailers should pay the same local sales taxes as brick-and-mortar businesses is a victory for downstate Illinois communities that have seen their local economies decimated because of online shopping, State Senator Andy Manar said.

“Out-of-state corporations have been gaming the system for a long time, with alarming consequences for cities like Springfield, Decatur and small towns all over the district I represent. We’ve watched storefront after storefront close and retail workers sent to the unemployment line,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who has met with local small business owners and listened to their concerns about this issue.

“While online shopping is a wonderful convenience for rural consumers and businesses, it can also be a pox for many of the retailers we rely on to support our towns,” he added. “I’m talking about the moms and the pops who struggle to compete with faceless corporate giants that always manage to undercut them online because they get to play by a different set of rules.”

Illinois is poised to benefit right away from today’s Supreme Court ruling. Manar helped advance bipartisan legislation that requires out-of-state e-commerce retailers that do business with Illinois customers to collect a use tax under two conditions: their cumulative gross receipts exceed $100,000 or they have more than 200 separate transactions with customers in Illinois.

The measure creates a level playing field for retailers and will bring more economic stability to communities that have been hard hit by business closures the past few years. Those effects aren’t limited to job losses. Declining local sales tax revenue means less money for road and sewer repairs, sidewalk improvements, fire and police protection, and other local needs.

Lawmakers incorporated the Senate measure into the budget bill that was signed into law June 4 in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. Now, out-of-state retailers are going to have to get used to the idea that they must pay their fair share, Manar said.

“The times change. Consumer habits change. I get that,” he said. “But if we don’t correct this imbalance, I fear some of our rural communities will be ghost towns in a few years.”

06132018 Manar and All Degree Recipients 650

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar was honored Wednesday evening to accept an Honorary State FFA Degree during the 90th Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield.

More than 5,000 FFA members, advisors, and guests attended the convention during its three-day run from June 12-14. Among them were students from Taylorville and Pana high schools.

Honorary State Degree recipients are recognized for their outstanding service to agricultural education and FFA programs. The degree is awarded by the Illinois Association FFA. Manar was one of 34 recipients this year.

“It’s an honor to be included among such a fine group of supporters for agriculture and ag education in Illinois,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “I am pleased that I can be a voice at the Capitol for K-12 education and rural and agricultural priorities.”

In addition to Manar, the other recipients of 2018 honorary degrees were (in alphabetical order): State Senator Neil Anderson; Don and Gina Birritier, parents of Illinois FFA state president; Congressman Mike Bost, 12th District; Mike Butler, Athens FFA advisor; Dave Clark, retired reporter for The Star Courier; Anna and Jeff Clausen, parents of Illinois FFA state treasurer; Congressman Rodney Davis, 13th District; Katie Eads-Cressey, Youth Education in Agriculture Committee; John C. Edgar, Illinois FFA Center assistant director; Doug Falk, Cuba FFA advisor; Kenny Hartman, ILCAE member; Elliot Hasselbring, Illinois FFA Alumni Council; and Dalton Heavner, state convention volunteer.

Also, Dr. Walt Hurley, UIUC Animal Science Department; Chris and Jody Janssen, parents of Illinois FFA state vice president; Randy Meyer, Nokomis FFA advisor; Ryan Orrick, IACCAI chairman; Karen and Tom Painter, parents of Illinois FFA state secretary; Raymond Poe, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture; Pam and Terry Reeverts, parents of Illinois FFA state reporter; Larry Riden, friend of Illinois FFA; Marianne Shields, assistant to the dean of the SIU COAS; Kirk Stevens, friend of Illinois FFA; Doug Thurnau, St. Elmo FFA advisor; Darin Walter, friend of Illinois FFA; Jenny Webb, Illinois Farm Bureau Youth Education; Kaitlyn Weitekamp, ILCAE member; and Julie Wollerman, regional superintendent.

Pictured above (left to right): (seated) Julie Wollerman, Larry Riden, Kirk Stevens, Marianne Shields, Darin Walter, Jenny Webb, Kaitlyn Weitekamp; (standing) Doug Falk, Dave Clark, Neil Anderson, Kenny Hartman, Randy Meyer, Andy Manar, Dr. Walt Hurley.


06132018 Manar FFA Award Pana HS 650

Pictured: State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), recipient of a 2018 Honorary State FFA Degree, is joined by Pana High School FFA students during the 90th Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. From left to right: Ivy Stewart, 16; Chase Temmen, 16, FFA chapter president; Amanda Hall, 16, FFA chapter secretary; Manar; Grace Sims, 17; and Alex Weitekamp, 16.


06132018 Manar FFA Award Tville HS 650

Pictured: State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), recipient of a 2018 Honorary State FFA Degree, is joined by Taylorville High School FFA students during the 90th Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. From left to right: Duncan Beck, 18; Ryan Held, 18; Manar; Abel Gunn, 17; and Ellie Tippitt, 18. All four students are recent graduates of Taylorville High School.

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.”

Read more: Manar urges vigilance, safety at rural rail crossings


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