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CCCC Fall Festival Coming September 24

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Free entertainment, fall crafts and merchandise, food, an educational animal show, the smoke house, children’s games, and a business expo will be highlights of the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce 13th annual Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, at the Benld City Park.

The Fifth Annual Tour de Coal bike ride will additionally be run in conjunction with the festival starting with a 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. registration at the Benld City Hall. Bicycling devotees from many parts of Illinois, Missouri and other states have preregistered for the bike ride from which they may choose the 15, 30 or 63 mile route. Registration is also allowed on the day of the race.

While the festival officially opens at 10 a.m. the free entertainment starts at 7:30 with Joe Powell serenading the many crafters, food vendors, and local business people who are setting up their booths. Powell’s performance is available to anyone who wants to sit in the entertainment pavilion and enjoy the peaceful early morning.

At 9:45 a.m. the Will Black Orchestra, led by local musician Bill Winkleblack, will perform, followed by the Heartland Band at 11:30. The Heartland Band features classic and modern country music and the State Champion Fiddler, 13 year-old Mikayla Roach. At 1 p.m. until 4, Steve Davis will present “Elvis” and his full band, the “Memories of Elvis”.

“That is 8 hours of first class entertainment that is free for all who choose to take part,” said Mickey Robinson, CCCC Executive Director. “We are trying to fulfill the Chamber goal of bringing people from outside the local Community District 7 area to our event that is family oriented and designed to be inexpensive fun for all ages.”

Robinson said visitors who attend the Fall Festival should bring lawn chairs with them. The only other available seating will be in the Food Court area.

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New to the 13th Annual Festival will be live full-grown Reindeer with antlers. Children and adults can thrill to the sight of these creatures. They will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the children’s area of the festival. The reindeer also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic. Reindeer vary considerably in color and size. Both sexes grow antlers, though they are typically larger in males.

Another popular animal show is the Reptile Show shared with the Festival by Dr. Richard Crowell of the Biology Department of Blackburn College. Crowell brings a collection of native and exotic snakes and lizards. Persons attending the Reptile Show from around 1:30 until 2:30 p.m. will learn about various species as well as be able to handle some of the reptiles.

Another free exhibit for the children will be the Community Unit 7 Fire Protection District’s “Smoke House”, which is a scaled down version of a family home that is used to teach youngsters how to respond in the event of a house fire. During demonstrations with groups of children, the Smoke House will fill with non-toxic “smoke,” giving firefighters an opportunity to teach children how to safely exit the house.

Illinois State Police District 18 will again bring in the “Rollover Simulator” , a car model with human “Dummies” that shows persons what would happen to someone who is not wearing a seat belt when a car roles over.

Lettie Crays will again be sharing a children’s book that she has authored. This year’s book is the “just arrived” . For those who wish to purchase her book from this first edition, there will be the added advantage of having the author sign it.

The Macoupin County Safe Kids Coalition for Car Seat Check Up will be a feature that is returning to our festival this year. The Coalition’s goal is to help parents properly install and use children’s safety car seats.

The Macoupin-Montgomery Chapter of Crime Stoppers will offer free fingerprinting of children for identification purposes in the event a child is lost or abducted. Each set of fingerprints will be given to the children’s parents for safekeeping.

“Sometimes parents are afraid to have their children fingerprinted because they think that the prints will go into the police system,” Robinson explained. “Crime Stoppers takes the fingerprint and then hands it over to the parent. It does not make a copy of the prints.”

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A traditional part of this Festival is the Craft area where this year will again be a wide variety of products for sale. Decorations and gifts that are appropriate for fall and the upcoming holiday seasons will brighten the day with color and design. Yard ornaments, pet items, knick knacks, Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving décor, books, children’s services, raffles, clothing, sports memorabilia, baskets, purses, cooking products and tools are just some of the many wares that will be available to shoppers.

In the Food Court, the Festival has brought back old favorites and new vendors as well. Available for purchase will be BBQ ribs, “Smokies”, ice cream products, snow cones, burgers, a variety of fish, corn dogs, Italian beef, hot dogs, pork steaks, kettle korn, funnel cakes, pretzels, sweet potato fries and other delicious foods that are on the menu.

The Festival gives local non-profit groups an opportunity to fund raise or just promote their services. Some of the groups that will participate in some way are Joyful Angels Community Toy Drive, the Illinois Valley “Barn in the Garden” Gift Shop, several church groups, Education Station Preschool, Macoupin County Public Health Department, and Macoupin County Military Support Group.

Health care related groups will take part in the Health Fair which is organized by Community Memorial Hospital of Staunton. The Health Fair will offer free blood pressure screenings and will offer information about health care opportunities in our area.

For local businesses, the festival is a way of attracting new potential customers from the immediate area as well as outside communities. The Business Expo will feature local Chamber members who will have displays of their products or services. Some are planning to register people for free drawings and to give away free gifts. The Expo gives them the opportunity for a relaxed venue to get to know new customers and socialize with their old friends and customers.

The Macoupin Center for Developmentally Disabled will again offer a variety of “kiddie” games for young children along with a “bouncy” house. Low-priced games will include a ring toss, bean-bag toss and duck pond. The games are a major fund raiser for MCDD’S Camp Goodtimes summer camp for clients.

“We hope that local folks and those from far away will all enjoy this day of much free entertainment, and a way to have a family adventure that is inexpensive and fun.” Robinson concluded.

If anyone still wants to have vendor or exhibitor space or to ride in the Tour de Coal, they should visit the chamber web site at www.coalcountrychamber.com or email mrer@madisontelco.com or call 217-710-5218.

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Community News

Gillespie Library, United Community Bank to host Fraud and Scam Prevention seminar on July 22

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Gillespie Public Library (Photo by Gillespie Public Library)

Friends of the Gillespie Public Library and United Community Bank are hosting a joint “Fraud and Scam Prevention” seminar at on Monday, July 22 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gillespie Public Library.

The seminar will focus on today’s common scams and frauds, which includes imposter and check scams, money mule fraud and those that target seniors. Presenters will be Jenni Alepra of Gillespie UCB and Kennen Bertolis of Carlinville UCB.

The seminar is open to the public and is free of charge. For additional questions, call the Gillespie Public Library at 217-839-3614.

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Bike MS set for September 7, 8

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Participants in the Bike MS travel (archived photo)

Each year we hold the Bike MS: Gateway Getaway in Godfrey, Illinois to raise critical funds and create awareness around our movement. This year, on Saturday and Sunday September 7 and 8, over 1,100 riders plus more than a hundred volunteers and staff will converge on Lewis and Clark Community College’s Godfrey with a goal to raise $1.3 million to change the world for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Riders will take off over a 2-hour window beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and 7:15 to 8:30
a.m. on Sunday. All participating cyclists, who must be at least 12 years of age and raise a minimum of $300 will have access to bike mechanics, support vehicles, rest stops, a finish line celebration and much more.

You may see our riders who will tackle their choice of 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile routes both days, traveling along the limestone bluffs on the Great River Road and winding through Lewis and Clark district communities, including Godfrey, Alton, Fosterburg, Bethalto, Elsah, Otterville, Jerseyville, Brighton, Dorsey, Worden, Holiday Shores, Moro, Woodburn, Bunker Hill, Shipman, Staunton, Benld, Wilsonville and more.

Community members should drive cautiously through 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday
when the routes close.

MS is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society provides global leadership and funds research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Our vision is a world free of MS. Our mission is to cure MS while empowering people affected by MS to live their best lives.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about multiple sclerosis (MS) now – to move together toward a world free of MS. Our local chapter serves nearly 9,000 individuals in this area who battle this often-devastating disease.

You can learn more about this event at www.bikems.org.

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Community News

Increase in gas tax, new laws coming July 1

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The tax assessed on fuel will increase and several new laws will hit the books in Illinois starting July 1.

The gasoline tax will increase to $0.47 per gallon, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue, and the state’s tax on diesel fuel will rise to $0.545 per gallon. The gas tax is rising from $0.454 per gallon or about a 3.5 percent increase while the diesel fuel increase is a 3 percent increase over the current $0.529 per gallon tax.

Officials say the increase in fuel taxes take effect at the start of each new fiscal year under a 2019 piece of legislation. The increase in tax is calculated each year based on inflation.

Other changes coming on July 1 include a program to offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, changes to the Freelance Worker Protection Act, and a new bill protecting child influencers.

Undocumented immigrants seeking a license must have identification documents, prove residency exceeding one year in the state of Illinois while also passing a driving test and having valid car insurance, according to HB 3882.

The change in the Freelance Worker Protection Act will offer more protections for freelance workers against threats and intimidation as well as obligating companies to pay freelance workers in a timely fashion.

Lastly, new legislation SB 1782 amends the child labor law and aims to protect child influencers who become popular online. Children under the age of 16 are required to receive a specified portion of the earnings with those earnings being put in a trust fund.

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