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SPRINGFIELD – $5 million in financial assistance will be available to livestock producers and small meat and poultry plants hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic via the Illinois Department of Agriculture, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Thursday. 

Manar, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee and on the Senate Agriculture Committee, led the charge to support this initiative during last spring’s budget negotiations.

“Illinois’ proud agricultural tradition is built on the hard work and dedication of our farmers,” Manar said. “They work every day to provide for people across the state, and that’s why we prioritized them in this year’s state budget. It’s our obligation to return the favor in any way possible.”

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced the processing of livestock throughout the state, which led to farmers holding animals for a longer period of time with further input costs and cancelled, delayed or reduced sales.

Financial assistance is available through three programs administered by the Dept. of Ag. Individuals and businesses are only eligible to apply for one program, and applicants located in a disproportionately impacted area will receive a 10% increase in funding. A list of DIA’s can be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.

Online applications are available at agr.state.il.us. Applications will close on Oct. 31, 2020. Questions about this funding can be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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BUNKER HILL – Following a meeting with local officials and Vistra’s announcement that the Kincaid Power Plant would be shuttered within a decade, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement:

“For decades, the Kincaid plant has been a source of good paying union jobs, paving a path to economic security for countless families in the area. While the effects of the closure won’t be felt immediately, my colleagues and I are working diligently on a plan that will mitigate damage done to working families and the local economies of the places these plants call home.

“Under a proposal I’m sponsoring, property tax assessments on coal, gas, and nuclear plants would be frozen at pre-closure rates for five years, so that schools, local governments, and individual taxpayers in towns like Coffeen and Kincaid aren’t stuck with the bill for looming revenue shortfalls befalling their communities.

“While maintaining a stable revenue base is a short-term fix, it’s necessary to maintaining the economic viability of our communities. Ultimately, the state’s commitment to reinvesting resources in Downstate communities rocked by plant closures has been woefully inadequate for far too long. This commitment needs to be taken seriously, and that means substantially increasing this reinvestment. It’s on all of us to continue supporting the good paying union jobs that will be lost as a result of these closures. By transitioning the already existing plants into sustainable centers for clean energy production and storage, we can do just that, securing the economic stability of Downstate Illinois going forward.”

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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.

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