Senate Week in Review: June 18-22

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Senator Fowler recently visited with the kids involved in the Teen REACH program of Massac County. The organization offers programs geared toward developing life skills and improving academic success. The program also gives back to the area, facilitating student participation in community service projects.

Senator Fowler toured the facility, spoke with some of the students and took the opportunity to learn more about the local program. REACH stands for responsibility, education, achievement, caring and hope.

“This is a program that provides a great service to the area, creating a healthy environment for Southern Illinois students to learn and grow,” said Senator Fowler.

Senator Fowler also stopped by the Innovative Readiness Training Clinic currently being hosted at the Harrisburg Middle School. The program was developed through a partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Military’s reserve forces to offer medical screenings to the public free of charge.

Senator Fowler is a member of the Delta Regional Authority Delta Leadership Network and encourages anyone in need of medical, dental or optical screenings to come to the clinic. The medical service clinic will continue through June 27 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding June 27 when hours will change to 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Also coming up in the community, Senator Fowler will be partnering with State Representative Dave Severin to host their annual Senior Fair in Marion. On June 26, seniors are invited to attend the free fair event being held at the HUB Rec Center located at 917 West Main Street. Helpful information from health care services and other local medical and residential facilities will be available.

Senator Fowler is also sharing exciting news for Meridian School District 101. The district was recently awarded a $36,000 grant for Arts and Foreign Language Assistance through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Meridian intends to use these funds to re-establish their Arts and Foreign Language programs.

In other state news, Illinois’s new adoption credit program will make it easier for families to adopt, connecting children with loving families

The adoption process can be extremely costly and difficult. The state’s new adoption tax credit, which is based on the existing federal tax credit, seeks to mitigate those costs by offering a tax credit of up to $5,000 for a couple who is adopting a child at least one-year-old who resides in Illinois. Other adoption situations will qualify for up to a $2,000 credit.

Proponents hope that lowering the cost of adoption will help families interested in adoption move more easily through the process, placing children into an environment where they can grow, thrive, and be loved and nurtured. Additionally, advocates say the adoption process makes good fiscal sense as compared to costly foster care and institutional programs.

The adoption tax credit was part of the larger budget negotiations that led to the passage of a balanced budget.

Senator Fowler is also sharing news from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) who has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2018.

Director Nirav Shah emphasized that West Nile virus can cause serious illness in some people; people older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

Common symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.

Director Shah encouraged Illinois residents to get serious about taking precautions, such as wearing insect repellent and eliminating stagnant water around your home. Specifically, precautions to “Fight the Bite” include practicing the three “R’s”: reduce, repel, and report.

REDUCE: Ways to reduce potentially affected mosquitoes include making certain doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repairing or replacing screens that have tears or other openings. Residents are also encouraged to attempt to keep doors and windows shut. Also, experts say to eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.

REPEL: Ways to repel potentially affected mosquitoes when outdoors includes wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and applying insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535. However, residents should consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

REPORT: Locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.

Last year, 63 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus-positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. For the 2017 season, IDPH reported 90 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including eight deaths.

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