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PRESS PEOPLE: Veteran journalist succeeds longtime editor in Danville

MaxJonesDANVILLE –­ Max Jones, an accomplished Indiana journalist, has been appointed editor of the Commercial-News in an expanded role that will also see him continue as editor of the Terre Haute, Indiana, Tribune-Star.

Jones (left) succeeds Larry Smith, the longtime Commercial-News editor who retired from the paper in April. According to his LinkedIn page, Smith has been the Commercial-News’ editor since 1999, after serving as city editor for 10 years, from January 1989 to April 1999.

Before his time with the Commercial-News, Smith was editor of the Daily Tribune in Peru, Indiana, for more than two years, following three years as a reporter at the Muncie Star and four years as editor of The News & Sun in Dunkirk, Indiana.

A Dunkirk High School graduate, Smith received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Ball State University, according to his LinkedIn page. It shows he is on the administrative team at the CRIS Healthy-Aging Center in Danville.

Jones has served as editor of the Tribune-Star for the past 20 years, after stints at the paper as editorial page editor and city editor. He previously served as editor of the Sullivan (Indiana) Times. He is a journalism graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, and has served in several leadership roles for Indiana newspaper organizations.

Jones is a charter member and past president of the Indiana Debate Commission, an independent group that conducts debates between candidates for major statewide political offices.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star and Danville Commercial-News are both owned by CNHI, LLC. Jones said with today's technology he can participate daily in the oversight of both papers, and will split his personal time between them.

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Sept. 17, 2020



SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ top newspapers were honored today at the Illinois Press Association’s virtual convention. More than 120 daily and nondaily newspapers competed in 40 editorial categories.

The Nebraska Press Association judged the more than 2,000 editorial entries for work done in 2019.

The Chicago Sun-Times won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies.

The Sweepstakes Trophies are awarded to newspapers earning the most points in six different circulation divisions. Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.

Runner-up for the Paddock Trophy was the Chicago Tribune Media Group. In third place was Daily Herald Group, Arlington Heights.

In the medium-sized daily newspaper category, The News-Gazette in Champaign took top honors for the fifth consecutive year. It was awarded the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy. The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake claimed second place, and the Quincy Herald-Whig placed third.

In the small daily newspaper category, The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale claimed top honors. The newspaper was awarded the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence. Coming in second for the Coburn Award was the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, followed by The Telegraph in Alton.

In the large, nondaily newspaper category, The MidWeek of DeKalb claimed the Will Loomis Memorial Trophy. Pioneer Press Media Group received second place. The Journal & Topics Media Group received third place.

The Harold and Eva White Memorial Trophy is awarded to a medium-sized nondaily newspaper. The winner this year was The Hinsdalean. Second place went to The Galena Gazette. And in third place was The Journal-News in Hillsboro.

The Woodstock Independent claimed ownership of the David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best small, nondaily newspaper in Illinois. The Oakland Independent received second place. And the third-place award was won by the Bureau County Republican in Princeton.


The Illinois Press Association also named a statewide Editor of the Year and Reporter of the Year for the first time during this convention. The Editor of the Year is Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises. The Reporter of the Year is Katie Smith of Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents approximately 440 daily and weekly newspapers.


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Illinois judicial candidates rated in Illinois State Bar Association
lawyers' poll and evaluations

Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications
(217) 747-1433
Sept. 10, 2020
For Immediate Release

Candidates for Illinois judicial offices who are running in the November 3 election have been rated by an Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) evaluations committee, or in a poll of lawyers conducted by ISBA.

Results were made available today at www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.

In Cook County, an ISBA Judicial Evaluations committee used the results of a questionnaire, background investigations, and in-person interview to rate candidates for all judicial offices. Candidates for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts outside of Cook County were also evaluated using this method. Ratings based on these judicial evaluations are the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.

In counties outside of Cook, the ISBA conducted an advisory poll. The advisory poll is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may request a ballot. Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.

# # #

The Illinois State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of 29,000 members that provides professional services to Illinois lawyers and education and services to the public. For more information, visit www.isba.org.


Indy Health Insurance Company seeking investor partners

July 27, 2020
For Immediate Release

LITTLE ROCK, AR (July 27, 2020) – This fall, Indy Health Insurance Company begins accepting patients for its debut Medicare-D plan, pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Indy Health is offering additional investment opportunities for independent pharmacy owners, pharmacy organizations and other investors until Aug. 29.

Indy Health Insurance Company, domiciled in Arkansas, will operate in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and will begin enrolling patients in those states when Medicare open enrollment begins in October.
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription drug plan option.  Indy Health-covered patients may receive their medications from any independent pharmacy in the Indy Health Preferred Pharmacy Network.  
"We’re building a pharmacy network on the strength of the 22,000 independently-owned community pharmacies in the U.S.,” said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a plan that empowers the relationship between patients and pharmacists. Pharmacists are patients’ most accessible health care provider. Evidence shows better health outcomes are possible when patients are permitted to see their community pharmacy versus being forced into big box stores or mail order.”
An article in the Journal of American Medicine Network Open newsletter highlights the central role of community pharmacies in patient care. The 3-year study showed older patients see their community pharmacists more frequently than their primary care physicians, providing an opportunity for better patient outcomes when physicians and pharmacists collaborate in the delivery of preventative care and chronic disease management.
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store – an 87% increase from 2017, according to an industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson.  In addition, Indy Health Independent Preferred Network members will have better reimbursements, no restrictions to mail and an independent Preferred Specialty Pharmacy Network.
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will ultimately be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned, sustainable entity providing them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system.  Please visit  IndyHeatlhinc.com to learn more or to explore investment opportunities.


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Chicago-based, minority-owned mobile game company, Speegs, releases Mo and Trey Adventures demo FREE on iOS and Android

(708) 288-3840
(708) 601-0190
July 15, 2020
For Immediate Release

Ninety-eight percent of households with diverse socio-economic backgrounds have access to a mobile device, and more people just need a break while working and learning at home.  More than 90% of smartphone usage, five hours a day, is being spent on apps and games.

CHICAGO, Illinois - July 15, 2020 – Speegs, LLC, headquartered inside world renowned tech incubator, 1871, has announced the pandemic is not a barrier for them.  More than forty animated assets and stories have been created to accompany their gaming spirit.  Sharing a smile is their goal.  Tunnel vision has gotten Speegs where they want to be in the city they love.

“We create awesome characters to make anyone have a smile on their face, if only for a moment.” said Victor, CEO of Speegs, LLC.  “Our games will be a way to take a break from the overwhelming changes in today’s world.”

Seeing unrest nationwide only made everyone at Speegs work harder to bring a smile to one’s face.  As represented in their YouTube banner alone, anyone can get behind this company.                               

Spending countless hours to get the demo ready for release, they have placed a demo on Google Play and have become an Apple Developer.  This allows anyone with a mobile device to play their demo game absolutely FREE.

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mo-and-trey-adventures/id1500089784?ls=1


In the spirit of giving back to the inner city community where Victor grew up, the game was to be a donation to all Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  With all fifty states completed by the 2021 school year.  CPS would use this as an enhancement tool for first through fourth grades in the social science curriculum to teach students geography.  Just as this conversation began with CPS, so did the pandemic.  Within a week CPS had closed.

This would not stop Victor even as his funding sources waned during COVID-19.  Victor’s entrepreneurial spirit has only skyrocketed. Just recently, he has attached social media accounts to Speegs’ website https://www.speegsmedia.com/.

He is launching a Kickstarter campaign on Monday, July 20thhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468614803/mo-and-trey-adventures-mobile-game  Money raised will go directly to completing the map for Mo and Trey Adventures.  Each state will have a mini-game with endless levels inside.  Select Mo or Trey and collect iconic food from every state.  Collecting enough food items will earn a gamer a state bird patch.  Ultimately, it is a casual game that individuals of all ages can enjoy. 

Thank you in your efforts to support one of Chicago’s very own.

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Find Speegs Online:
Media Website:  https://www.14victorjmm.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speegs_media/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpeegsM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Speegs-Media-108388937602523/?modal=admin_todo_tour


Illinois bowlers file lawsuit challenging Gov. Pritzker orders; say they are 'unconstitutional and improper'

ISBPA: 'Governor has thrown a gutter ball'

(847) 840-9620
July 14, 2020
For Immediate Release

LINCOLNWOOD, IL – The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association (ISBPA) today said that it has filed a lawsuit asking a Lee County state court to invalidate Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “unconstitutional and improper” exercise of authority to issue consecutive emergency declarations that improperly restrict the number of people allowed in a bowling center.

ISBPA officials said that successive orders issued by the governor related to COVID-19 have caused “tremendous emotional and economic hardship” during the past several months.

“Frankly, Gov. Pritzker has thrown a gutter ball on this one. Even medical experts agree that bowling is not a highly dangerous activity with regard to COVID-19 spread,” said R. William Duff, Jr., executive director of the ISBPA.

“As the businesses of our members buckle under the governor’s orders, it’s hard to explain to employees, the bowling public and family members why other activities rated by experts as more dangerous than bowling enjoy the governor’s favor,” said Duff. “That’s why we want the court to intervene and put a stop to this before more harm is caused.”

“Our members have suffered substantial pain and burden as a result of Gov. Pritzker’s unconstitutional, successive orders, and they now face insolvency and the permanent loss of their livelihood,” Duff added. “The governor’s ill-advised policies have resulted in staggering losses for our members, and these unconstitutional moves threaten thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue.”

Under the current orders, bowling centers, regardless of size, are restricted to a maximum of 50 people per location, while businesses such as gyms, waxing centers, tattoo parlors, retail stores, nail salons, restaurants, and other businesses face no 50-person cap and are allowed to have as many people as they want so long as they do not exceed 50% of their capacity, Duff explained.

“That makes no sense, is not based on science and needs to be addressed by the court,” he said.

He noted that bowling centers around the state have instituted a broad range of safety and sanitation measures to ensure the bowling public could enjoy a safe environment with strict rules that include maintaining at least one empty lane between each group bowling; daily temperature and wellness checks of employees; on-going sanitation of all venue-provided equipment; and reducing touch points in all facilities.

Duff added that member bowling centers also have elevated their already robust cleaning procedures and installed floor markings, plexiglass and signage to enforce social distancing.

Duff also noted that bowling can be done while wearing a face covering and that the ISBPA had invested an estimated $40,000 to purchase additional personal protective equipment to provide to bowling centers around the state.

“The governor’s improper interpretation of the law could lead to the absurd result of a perpetual state of emergency and also give him the unilateral authority to regulate the economy and society by executive order,” Duff said. “The governor now has made five disaster declarations invoking his emergency powers, and our view is that his wishes on this particular topic are contrary to the plain meaning of the law that is on the books and could lead to irrational results. We know that one result is that his approach is devastating our industry members, many of which are family owned and multi-generational businesses.”

Duff said that there are about 270 primarily independent family bowling centers in the state and that they provide an estimated 5,000 jobs and purchase about $65 million in goods and services on an annual basis. He added that member centers participate in various charity events that range from Junior Achievement and Special Olympics to the Lions Club International and the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Most if not all the Illinois bowling centers support various youth leagues, participate in community fundraising efforts and donate prizes to different parent-teacher groups, sports teams and organizations that back disadvantaged children, he said.

“Our members are active and engaged members of dozens of communities in the state,” Duff said. “From Chicagoland to downstate Illinois, bowling centers play an important role in the civic life of the places they call home, and the governor’s orders are hurting them.”

The ISBPA lawsuit asks the court to issue a restraining order prohibiting the state from enforcing the governor’s order and also requests that the latest Executive Order issued by the governor be ruled invalid.

“Our members are suffering serious and irreparable harm in the form of insolvency or the permanent loss of their business and reputation as a result of these illegal orders,” Duff said. “While we tried to work cooperatively to find a solution, the state was unwilling to work toward a fair solution, so we were left with no choice but to seek a court order. We believe that we have both the facts and law on our side, and we look forward to presenting our case to the court.”

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Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association
7356 N. Cicero Ave.
Lincolnwood IL 60712




Innovative refi loan for students and parents offers cash back

Borrowers can refinance to a lower rate before earning a degree and without immediate payments 

Digital Public Relations Specialist
(515) 273-7102
July 13, 2020
For Immediate Release

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (July 13, 2020) — An innovative new refinance loan lets students still in college, or parents who have borrowed on behalf of a student still in college, refinance their existing education debt. Offered across the country, the program allows borrowers to take advantage of current lower market rates while being able to defer payments until college has been completed. The lower refinance rates can result in less interest to repay overall.

The Reset Refinance Loan for In-School Borrowers is available from Iowa Student Loan®, a nonprofit company based in West Des Moines, Iowa. As an added bonus, and in an effort to help those affected by COVID-19, eligible applicants who refinance through the program by Sept. 30, 2020, will receive a $300 cash back bonus. Interested applicants can start at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/CollegeRefi.

“Usually, when you refinance student loans, either you need to already have a degree and be making payments on your loans or, if you refinance while still in school, you have to begin making payments immediately,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “With this new loan, you don’t have to do either, and you benefit because less interest accrues with the lower interest rate.”

The new fixed-rate loan, which is one product in the Reset Refinance Loan portfolio, is the most recent product the nonprofit organization has introduced to help students and families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about historically low interest rates,” McCullough said. “We want to be sure that students and parents of students still in school have the opportunity to reduce their overall debt load by locking in a new fixed rate that may be much lower than their existing rates or to avoid increased rates in the future.”

“Iowa Student Loan has a long history of helping people across the country plan smart and pay less for college, and we are ready to prove that we are here to help borrowers, whether that’s through a lower-rate refinance loan or a new loan for current or future expenses,” McCullough added.

All applicants, and any potential cosigners, are encouraged to visit the website to pre-qualify. In less than a minute, applicants can learn the rate they would get by refinancing and see potential interest savings over their current loans to make informed decisions before they apply. The quick rate check does not impact applicants’ or cosigners’ credit scores.

Besides refinance loans, Iowa Student Loan offers several private loan products to help students and their families pay for ongoing education. In addition, free resources for planning and paying for college are available to the public without charge on www.IowaStudentLoan.org.


About Iowa Student Loan
Established in 1979 as a private, nonprofit organization, Iowa Student Loan helps Iowa students and families obtain the resources necessary to succeed in postsecondary education. Iowa Student Loan has helped nearly 400,000 students pay for college. The organization, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, also provides an array of borrower benefits, financial literacy tools and community reinvestment programs, including support for free college planning services for students and their families.




Dr. Amy Dixon named
2020-2021 president of the
Illinois Principals Association

Government and Public Relations Director, Illinois Principals Association
(217) 299-3122
July 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Principals Association announces Dr. Amy Dixon, principal of Lincoln and Jefferson Attendance Centers, and Director of Instruction for Carmi-White County Schools in Carmi, IL as association President for the 2020-2021 school term.

“The importance and impact of the Illinois Principals Association has never been as vital as it is now,” said Dr. Dixon. “As we serve students in this state with vastly different needs, in a time that has never been experienced before, it is imperative that we work together for the betterment of all. The IPA provides leaders across the state a phenomenal opportunity to learn, share, and network with colleagues from across the nation. As President of the IPA, it is a privilege to serve and L.E.A.D. with a focus on Learning, Equity, Advocacy, and Diversity. I am honored and blessed to be able to partner with all of you as we L.E.A.D. in 2020!”

Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director for the Illinois Principals Association, adds, “Dr. Dixon is an experienced and accomplished school leader - two traits that are critical to leading the Illinois Principals Association, especially as we support principals, assistant principals, deans and other building leaders during this time of COVID-19. We are fortunate to have her at the helm right now.”

Dr. Dixon has been a member of the Illinois Principals Association since 2003. During this time, she has served as Egyptian Region member of the IPA Board of Directors, Region Director for the Egyptian Region, and National Association of Elementary School Principals State Representative. Dixon has been recognized by her peers as Egyptian Region Elementary Principal of the Year (2012) and Egyptian Region Herman Graves Award Winner (2014). She has been recognized as 4-H Hall of Fame Inductee (2013), Guardian Center Friend of Children Region Award (2015), and under her leadership, received the Spotlight School Award in 2010 and 2011 from the Illinois State Board of Education.

At Carmi-White County Schools, Dr. Dixon works with teachers on curriculum mapping, activities to increase parental involvement, facilitated a district-wide curriculum review process, and has hosted community advisory meetings to solicit input on district goals. Dr. Dixon also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Eastern Illinois University.

Dixon began her career in education in 1996 as school social worker with the South Eastern Special Education Cooperative (Ste. Marie), and continued working as a school social worker and early intervention service coordinator at the Wabash and Ohio Valley Special Education District. Following, Dr. Dixon served as principal of Truant Alternative Optional Education (TAEOP) programs at ROE #20 in Carmi. Dr. Dixon has served in various roles including principal, Special Education coordinator, Director of Instruction, 504 and English Language Learner Coordinator for Carmi-White County Schools since 2005.

Dr. Amy Dixon resides in Carmi, Illinois with her husband Eric, a teacher in Carmi-White County Schools, and their two children, Payton and Trey. Dr. Dixon received her Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Illinois, Master of Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University, and her Doctoral degree from the Oakland City University.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,900 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.



Illinois Principals Association
names new executive board
and board members

Government and Public Relations Director, Illinois Principals Association
(217) 299-3122
July 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Principals Association, which serves over 5,900 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois, announces the following school leaders to serve as the Executive Board for the IPA, effective July 1, 2020.

• President – Dr. Amy Dixon, Jefferson & Lincoln Attendance Centers, Carmi
• President-Elect – Dr. Marcus Belin, Huntley High School, Huntley
• Immediate Past-President – Dr. Daniel Krause, Willowbrook High School, Villa Park
• Secretary – Mandy Ellis, Dunlap Grade School, Dunlap
• Treasurer – Craig Beals, Nuttall Middle School, Robinson

Heidi Lensing, principal of Eagle Ridge School in Silvis, will serve as State Legislative Chair. Lensing previously served as Blackhawk Region State Director.

Sean German, principal of Argenta-Oreana High School in Argenta, will serve as the Illinois representative to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). German previous served as President of the Illinois Principals Association and serves as representative to the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board.

IPA also welcomes the following members to the Board of Directors:

• Tim Wernentin, Sherrard High School, Sherrard (Blackhawk Region)
• Shaun Grant, South Elementary School, Chillicothe (Central Illinois Valley Region)
• Angie Codron, Normal West High School, Normal (Corn Belt Region)
• Joe Landers, Wallace Elementary School, Ottawa (Starved Rock Region)

The mission of the Illinois Principals Association is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders.







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