State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is inviting local residents to join her for a Townhall meeting in Antioch on Monday, November 16. The event will be held at the Village of Antioch Senior Center located at 817 Holbek Drive in Antioch from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The event will give residents an opportunity to speak directly with Jesiel about what is happening in Springfield and the 61st Representative District. The event will also feature Lake County Board Member Linda Pedersen. Pedersen represents Lake County’s 1st District.

WHAT:     Townhall Meeting

WHEN:     Monday, November 16
                  6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE:   Village of Antioch Senior Center
                  817 Holbek Drive,
                  Antioch, IL 60002
Budget stalemate continues; Comptroller Munger issues financial update.
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger told Illinoisans on Friday, October 16 that the State’s unpaid bills, in the absence of budgeted appropriations for FY16, have reached $6.9 billion. Based on the assumption that no significant changes will alter current trends, the State’s backlog of unpaid bills will be about $8.5 billion by December 31, 2015.

Action once again delayed on State budget, other key issues.
The Illinois House and Senate met in fall session on Tuesday, October 20, but House Democrats did not take substantive action on the general funds portion of the FY16 budget. As noted above, the General Assembly took action to select a new Auditor General. Testimony on the budget was heard, and the Democrats moved amendments to a bill to appropriate money from GRF and “other State funds” for various individual line items related to the testimony.
The Lake County sheriff’s office is seeking the public’s help in finishing first in Aftermath’s 4th Annual K-9 Giveaway contest. The winner of the contest receives $5,000 toward a K-9 unit, safety equipment or training program. The Lake County sheriff’s office is currently in second place. The public can vote once a day through Saturday, Oct. 31, by clicking here and entering “Lake County sheriff’s office” in the Department tab and “Waukegan” in the city tab. Add photos of the K9s count as an extra vote. Photos are available on the Lake County Sheriff’s Facebook page
Fitch Ratings, whose credit ratings are closely watched by Wall Street and the global investment community, reduced Illinois’ “general obligation” (GO) bond rating from single-A-minus, the former ranking, to one notch closer to junk-bond status on Monday, October 19. The new BBB+ rating is only two notches above the lowest investment-grade rating (BBB-) and is three notches above BB+, which signals non-investment-grade (“junk bond”) status. Illinois’ GO bond rating is the lowest among the 50 states. Following Fitch’s downgrade, Moody’s Investor Services downgraded its ratings on Illinois bonds. The downgrade has a direct impact on the state budget, as the lower the bond rating, the higher the interest investors must be paid.
Illinois high schools increase their graduation rates - The increase, tallied for school year 2013-2014, reflects a higher number of high school graduates as a proportion of those entering high school. For 2013-2014, the rate for Illinois was 86.0%, up 2.8% from the 83.2% reported in 2012-2013. Higher graduation rates mean fewer dropouts. The new numbers were reported by the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, October 19.

Illinois has room for improvement in its high school graduation rates. The 2013-2014 report shows 19 states scoring above Illinois. All five neighboring states – Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin – outscored Illinois on high school graduation rates in 2013-2014. Iowa’s graduation rate, 90.5%, was #1 among the 50 states measured.
Pumpkin season across Illinois.
Illinois is the #1 pumpkin-producing state in the U.S. The vine has been grown in sandy, irrigated Illinois soil since Native American days. Pumpkin-friendly soils can be found centered in Tazewell County east of Peoria, which is also the home of the only cannery plant in the U.S. that specializes in the processing of farm-grown pumpkins into pulp for pastries and pies. Other Central Illinois counties that grow many pumpkins are Mason, Peoria, Stark, and McLean. Unfortunately, heavy rain in the summer of 2015 has damaged production this year. After the pumpkin season is over, however, Illinois-grown winter squash will be enjoyed for further months.

Lake County trick or treating.
With Halloween coming up this weekend, kids across the country are getting ready to go trick or treating and bring home bags of yummy candy. In addition to traditional community trick or treating events, special trick or treating events will take place across the county, such as Zion's Trail of Treats on Friday evening. Click here for the designated trick or treating times in your community.
The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) will be collecting several hard-to-recycle items at Recycle-O-Rama tomorrow! Electronics, musical instruments, printer ink cartridges, clothing and whole lot more will be accepted! View the complete list of accepted items:

Where: Lcdot - Lake County, IL Division of Transportation, 600 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville
When:  Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
The teletown hall live from Springfield is about to get underway. If you miss the call but still want to join the conversation, call 815-414-9711. ‪#‎jointheconversation‬
State Representatives Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) and Barb Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) invite residents to join them for an over the phone Teletown Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:45pm. The event will be broadcast live from Springfield and participants will be able to ask the Representatives’ questions on a number of topics.

A call will be made to households located within the 61st and 64th Legislative House Districts at 5:45pm on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and residents will be able to stay on the line and be connected to a live call with Rep. Jesiel and Rep. Wheeler. “I enjoy these teletown hall meetings because they offer people an opportunity to learn more about issues affecting Illinois, and they can directly ask us questions,” said Wheeler. “With the serious issues now facing our state, I’m looking forward to a lively conversation on a variety of issues.”
Corn Mazes: the child-friendly fall attractions are located in Northern, Central and Southern Illinois. The top-rated mazes honor family, patriotic, and sports-related themes. Two fields (at separate ends of the State) have winding pathways this year to celebrate the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Blackhawks. Richardson Adventure Farm’s Blackhawks-themed 2015 Stanley Cup maze, located near Spring Grove, Ill. in northeastern McHenry County, was rated by design firm DesignCurial as the #2 corn maze worldwide this year. Landowners George and Wendy Richardson dedicate a 33-acre rectangle each year to the family-friendly layouts, turning their designs into the “world’s largest corn maze.” A typical corn maze offers visitors the chance to buy souvenirs and Illinois farm products. Some charge admission fees. The closing day for most corn mazes is the last day of the Halloween weekend.
Many suburban and Downstate school superintendents are issuing statements of support for the push, led by Governor Rauner, to eliminate some of the more than 100 unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield on local school districts and their taxpayers. For example, last week St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Susan Sarfaty agreed that these unfunded mandates are costing her schools money not provided for in these districts’ property-tax-funded budgets.

Unfunded mandates targeted by the Rauner push include required drivers’ education, for which schools are supposed to be reimbursed by fees paid by pupils but often are not; daily physical education; and restrictions on school districts contracting out needed non-educational services, such as janitorial work, to the private sector. The Rauner “Turnaround Illinois” property tax relief measure, sponsored by House Republican leadership in the General Assembly as HB 4247, includes language specifically aimed at repealing barriers to use of third-party contractors for budget savings. House Democrats have so far failed to release HB 4247 from the Rules Committee for discussion and debate.
The closure became effective on Thursday, October 1. Like some other State programs and facilities, the State Museum as an institution is not protected by the network of consent decrees and court orders that have kept much of the State’s government operating for three months (July-September 2015) in the lack of an appropriated budget. State Museum personnel will continue to be paid, for now, but the Museum facilities will not be open to the public until further notice.

The Illinois State Museum is a network of educational institutions and facilities that serve adults, families and children throughout Illinois. The facilities celebrate and contain educational displays on Illinois’ natural history and culture. The State’s flagship museum is located in the Capitol Complex in downtown Springfield, with a major secondary museum at the Native American mound site of Dickson Mounds near Lewistown. Museum cultural centers and galleries are located in downtown Chicago; suburban Lockport; and southern Illinois’ Rend Lake.

What a great Kids Fair! Highlights - Air One Helicopter and demonstration by Gurnee Police K-9 Hunter! Thank you everyone who came, hope to see you again next year!
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is inviting residents of the 61st District to join her for a Kids Health and Safety Fair at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee on October 3. The free fair will offer helpful information for parents from various state and local organizations, refreshments, prizes, kid’s activities and a special visit by the Air One Search and Rescue Helicopter.

“The event is a great opportunity for the whole family to stop by for a fun filled morning and see some great attractions along with the chance to get some very helpful information,” said Jesiel.

In addition to the health information and the Air One Search and Rescue Helicopter, the event will also feature a “Touch-a-Truck” area with a firetruck and crane truck, amongst others, as well as information about car seat installation and after school activities around the 61st District. Call (847) 855-8600 with any questions.

WHO:       State Representative Sheri Jesiel
                  Families of the 61st District
Representative Jesiel with Ty Kovach, executive director of the 
Lake County Forest Preserves and Katherine Hamilton-Smith, 
director of public affairs and development for the Lake County Forest Preserves.
Last Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to take part in a very special celebration at North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor. The Chiwaukee Prairie Illinois Beach Lake Plain received the Ramsar designation as a “Wetland of International Importance.” This designation has only been given to 37 other sites in the United States, such as the Everglades and the San Francisco Bay.

This is significant for a number of reasons because of the public and private partners on both sides of the Illinois-Wisconsin border that have been working to protect the Lake Plain for more than 50 years. Their efforts mean that the ecological function of Lake Michigan, and the entire Great Lakes system, is able to provide drinking water for tens of millions of people in eight US states and two Canadian provinces, as well as support a huge diversity of plants and wildlife. This effort doesn’t just help other states, but provides us with some great recreation opportunities like the Spring Bluff Forest Preserve, where you can meet one of 63 state-threatened species, like the Blanding’s turtle.