Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) welcomed dozens of high school students from across the 59th Senate District to his annual Youth Advisory Council on October 15.

During the event, students from 22 different schools came together for a unique, one-of-a-kind experience in state government and public policy. Students also heard from local leaders in the community about leadership and the importance of being active in their communities.

“The takeaway was standup and speak your voice,” said Natalie Bonnell from Pope County High School.

“The main point that I think every person who has come and talked with us is just that we’re not too young to make a change,” said Callie Oxford from Harrisburg High School.

“One day we will have to take over. We will be the next state senators,” said Rajanae Moore from Cairo High School. “I feel like it’s important for youth to know what is going on in our state capitol today.”

In the spring, the students will meet again in Springfield, continuing their discussion about the legislative process from the Capitol.

Also happening during the week, Senator Fowler hosted his first-ever Sportsmen’s and Outdoorsmen’s Update Meeting. Hunters, anglers, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the region gathered to get an update on legislation impacting Illinois’ sportsmen and learn important information on this year’s hunting seasons.

Senator Fowler also held his annual Tucking Advisory Committee on October 16. Partnering with the Illinois Trucking Association, trucking industry leaders came together to discuss state legislative issues impacting Illinois’ trucking companies. Attendees heard from Trooper Paul Howard with the Illinois State Police, Daniel Nalley with Pepsi MidAmerica and Eric Gallien, the Associate Director of the Illinois Trucking Association.

Also happening this week, the Governor’s office announced 11 Illinois communities are to receive a total of nearly $1.6 million to be used for recreational trail development projects intended to improve trails and outdoor recreational facilities.

Included in the allocated funding was $200,000 for the Southern Illinois University Touch of Nature Center to hire a professional trail building team to construct a trail open for biking, hiking and running. 

Future goals for the Center include expanding the trail, creating a 30 mile-long multi-use pathway open to the public.   

While grant recipients provide the balance of funding for the projects, the grant funding is supported by the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that will provide an up to 80 percent reimbursement to the communities for the cost of the trail projects.

Illinois’ RTP grant program is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Application forms  for the next round of grants are available by contacting the IDNR Division of Grant Administration, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, or by calling 217-782-7481, TDD 217-782-9175, Ameritech Relay 800-526-0844, or on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov. The annual deadline to submit an RTP application is March 1. 


Election officials recently outlined steps they are taking to eliminate hacking risk and ensure voter information and votes aren’t compromised in the upcoming election.

State Board of Elections officials say that they will be vigilant in surveying for hackers by closely monitoring Illinois’ voter databases to identify cybersecurity threats. More extensive firewall protections have been installed to protect election results and voter records, cybersecurity experts have been hired to watch for irregularities, and local election officials have received thorough cyber training. Illinois National Guard cybersecurity specialists will also be on standby to provide cybersecurity support in the event the Board of Elections needs assistance leading up to or on Election Day.

In 2016, 76,000 Illinois voters’ information was exposed through a data breach. Officials said that though the hackers accessed the voter information, they did not alter votes or election results.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft, contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 866-999-5630.

Dale Fowler

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