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Southwest Illinois News is a weekly news publication spotlighting attractions, events, entertainment, tourism, jobs and business developments in Southwestern Illinois
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Pere Marquette's Apple Festival to Feature Fun Activities for the Family
GRAFTON, IL (, August 28, 2016 - Apples of all kind will be served at Pere Marquette's Apple Festival on Sunday, September 11, 2016.

This free family fun event will include warm apple pie, fresh hand-dipped caramel apples, live music, handmade jewelry, apple wine for the adults and balloon twisting and face painting for the children.

Visitors can also purchase tickets for the apple pie walk at 12:30pm for a chance to take home a freshly baked apple pie. All proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Pere Marquette Foundation which works to support, protect and enhance Pere Marquette State Park and its many programs.

Adding to the early fall fun, the Lodge's Fourth Annual Pumpkin Roll will begin at 2pm. Participants can bring or buy a pumpkin to decorate and roll down the hill in front of the Lodge. Second and third place pumpkins will win gift certificates for the Lodge Restaurant. The fastest pumpkin's owner will win the grand prize of a free night at the historic Lodge.

Pere Marquette Lodge was hand-built in the scenic Pere Marquette State Park. Its massive timbers and classic limestone stand tall just across the Illinois River from St. Louis, MO, and it has 72 newly renovated guest rooms and cabins. The lodge features a unique one-of-a-kind life-size chess set, a 50ft limestone fireplace in the Great Room, a terrace overlooking the picturesque Illinois River, an indoor pool, a Restaurant and a Winery, Call 618-786-2331 for more information.

Bill to Curb Practice of Step Therapy Signed into Law
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (, August 28, 2016 - The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation will host its Fourth Annual Sequins, Suits & Sneakers Gala at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

The Gala is a fun-filled event which allows you to wear your finest cocktail attire with your bling sneakers.

The year's Gala will focus on showcasing the programs and activities of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. The Gala allows the Foundation to continue helping children and families access the tools they need to achieve their dreams.

In 2016, the Foundation served nearly 3,000 children in quality programs such as summer camp, after-school, leadership and character education programs using the Winning in Life curriculum developed by Jackie, as well as sports leagues for: wrestling, football, soccer, cheerleading, baseball, softball and basketball.

For more information, call 314-749-5606 or the Foundation Office at 618-274-5437.

Bill to Curb Practice of Step Therapy Signed into Law
SPRINGFIELD, IL (, August 14, 2016 - Patient and advocacy groups across Illinois are praising Governor Rauner for signing into law a key patient-centric legislation aimed at limiting the practice of step therapy, insurance protocols requiring patients to fail first with less expensive medications before receiving what their doctors originally prescribed.

Receiving unanimous, bi-partisan support from both the House and Senate, HB 3549, proposed by State Representative Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and sponsored by Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), puts limits on step therapy and fail first protocols. Under this new law, the step therapy process would become more transparent, requiring health plans to provide a reason(s) for denying a prescription drug. It also ensures overrides of the step therapy process if the prescription drug is contraindicated, if the patient has tried and failed on the drug previously, or if the patient is stable on their current prescription medication either from a previous or current health plan.

"We want to thank the Governor for supporting this important legislation and improving patient care for all Illinoisans," said Mark Heyrman, clinical professor of law for the University of Chicago Law School, and facilitator of the Mental Health Summit - a statewide coalition of more than forty advocacy organization, professional societies and trade organizations in the behavioral health field. "When navigating mental health issues, consistency in a patient's medication regimen is critical. This new law will help ensure patients and providers are able to access medication that best treats their individual condition."

"This is a great day for patients throughout Illinois who have long struggled with navigating the step therapy process," said Michele Guadalupe, state director of advocacy and access for the Arthritis Foundation. "We are extremely grateful for Representative Fine's and Senator Morrison's sponsorship of this bill-and for Senator Haine's leadership in the Senate Insurance committee for bringing together stakeholders to ultimately support greater patient access to care. We want to thank the Governor for his support in improving patient care."

The new law will take effect beginning in January 2018. Similar legislation has been passed in other states across the country, including Indiana, Connecticut, Kentucky, Texas and Louisiana.

IL Teenagers Will Have the Ability to Vote in Primary
SPRINGFIELD, IL (, August 7, 2016 - Some teenagers will have the ability to vote in primary elections under a measure advanced by Senator Terry Link that was signed into law last week.

The new law allows 17-year-olds to vote in the primary of a consolidated election if they will be 18 by the time of the consolidated election.

In a release, Link, a Vernon Hills Democrat said, "We should be opening up access to the voting booth for those who will be 18 to have a full say in who represents them at every level of government.

Consolidated elections primarily are held for local offices, such as school boards, city councils and village boards. The new law also would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to pass nominating petitions for candidates or for a question to be put on a ballot.

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant's effort to guarantee parents time off work to mourn the loss of a child is now law.

"Illinois took an important step forward in helping parents who go through the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child," Bertino-Tarrant of Shorewood said. "The last thing any parent who loses a child needs to worry about is getting approved for time off work to grieve and plan a funeral."

Bertino-Tarrant's initiative expands FMLA coverage by ensuring that employees who lose a child will be provided with two weeks of unpaid bereavement leave. This time can be used to make arrangements, attend the funeral and grieve their child's death.

Illinois taxpayers will benefit from a new law that encourages state pension funds to regularly review their rolls for deceased recipients.

The measure, sponsored by Democratic Senators Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, Scott Bennett of Champaign and Laura Murphy of Des Plaines gives the funds until Jan. 1, 2017, to implement a process to identify deceased annuitants at least once a month.

It is unclear how many state pension payments are made to deceased annuitants in Illinois because each pension fund tracks death-related overpayments differently.

Under the new law, the review process can include using a third-party company, Social Security Administration data or other available data, as well as any other method that is commonly used by other state retirement systems.

Chicken Sing Festival Returns to the St. Clair Square Mall
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, IL (, July 8, 2016 - The popular chicken wing festival is returning to the St. Clair Square Mall parking lot, located in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

The Midwest Wingfest event will be held over on Friday, September 2nd from 5:00 to 11:00 pm, and Saturday, September 3rd from 12:00 noon until 11:00 pm.

2016 will mark the first year that a national touring artist will headline the Main Stage, as 92.3 WIL will bring country music artist Jon Pardi to perform a free concert LIVE on Friday night. Jon Pardi's album California Sunrise hit #1 on Billboard's Country Album Charts with his current single "Head over Boots" in top 10.

This year's event will feature live music, wing eating competitions, the return of the 5K Chicken Run, and over a dozen of the area's top chicken wing vendors competing for prizes in multiple categories.

The Midwest Wingfest organizers have partnered with Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. in St. Louis to promote and help operate the event this year. Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. is the parent company for popular local St. Louis radio stations 92.3 WIL, 106.5 The Arch, and 101ESPN.

Donations collected throughout the weekend will benefit Climb for PTSD, an Illinois-based nonprofit that provides services for veterans, first responders, and others living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For more information about Midwest Wingfest, please contact event chairman Doug Shoemaker at 618-795-0790.

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