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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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Kampsville and Brussels Ferries Closed Due to Ice on Illinois River
COLLINSVILLE, IL, (, February 16, 2015 - The Illinois Department of Transportation announces the closure of the Kampsville and Brussels Ferries due to ice accumulation in the Illinois River.

These closures will be in effect until River conditions improve to allow for the safe operation of each ferry service. Motorists should consider the Hardin Bridge for access to Calhoun County during this period.

These restrictions are required for the safety of the traveling public and ferry personnel. Advanced signage alerting motorists to each closure has been posted. Travelers are advised to consider alternate routes or allow additional time for travel around or through this area. Regardless, all motorists are urged to be patient, reduce speed, and exercise added caution throughout the Metro East area - as traffic patterns and travel times will likely be affected.

Since this is a very dynamic situation, please see the Department's website, , for the latest information on area roadway and ferry closures.

IDOR Begins Processing Individual Tax Returns
CHICAGO, IL, (, February 16, 2015 - The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is now processing 2014 Individual Income Tax returns after implementing additional security measures in an effort to safeguard taxpayers from identity theft and fraud. IDOR estimates that taxpayers could begin seeing refunds as early as February 25th for those choosing the direct deposit payment method.

"The additional security protocols and deliberate approach have proven beneficial as numerous fraudulent schemes were identified last week. Our fraud prevention efforts have slowed down the issuance of tax return refunds, however, we are confident these efforts will help ensure refunds get to their rightful owners," Illinois Department of Revenue Director Connie Beard said.

2014 Individual Income Tax returns now being processed include those returns submitted through tax preparers, individual accountants, and tax preparation software. MyTax Illinois, IDOR's free filing system, is scheduled to begin accepting Individual Income Tax returns beginning in mid-February.

Executive Order for Minority and Veteran Economic Opportunities
CHICAGO, IL, (, January 22, 2015 - Governor Bruce Rauner has signed Executive Order 15-12 designed to help bring more economic opportunities to minorities and veterans.

"Illinois is an incredibly diverse state, and we benefit from that diversity," Gov. Rauner said. "But the unemployment rate for minorities and veterans is way too high. This Executive Order will help reveal some of the causes and identify ways to solve this injustice."

Executive Order 15-12 orders state agencies to require every labor organization, contractor or subcontractor that is party to a state contract to obtain and report within thirty days the total number of minority and veteran participants in any offered training program as well as the minority and veteran participation rate in said programs.

CMS is also ordered to conduct a thorough review of all goals, preferences and considerations provided under state law and regulations concerning the hiring and training of veterans and the awarding of contracts to veteran-owned businesses. CMS is also to study the participation of minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses' ability to obtain opportunities in the State of Illinois. The goal of the study is to identify any disparity in awards and make recommendations to fix those differences.

"We need to ensure jobs and business opportunities are open to everyone, but especially those who serve our country or are underrepresented in the economy," Gov. Rauner added. "I will be a governor who champions our veterans and historically-disadvantaged communities. This Executive Order will help give my administration the tools to do exactly that."

First St. Louis Area Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Opens
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, IL, (, January 11, 2015 - Fresh Thyme Farmers Market's first St. Louis-area store has opened in Fairview Heights at 6569 North Illinois Street.

Fresh Thyme grand openings are popular for their family activities, live entertainment and food sampling. In addition, the first 250 shoppers through the doors at 7 a.m. will receive a free reusable shopping bag filled with $50 of healthy and organic groceries.

Fairview Heights Mayor Gail Mitchell, along with the Metro-East Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be on hand at 6:45 a.m. for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and community partners check presentation. As part of their commitment to the communities they serve, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market will donate $2,500 to both the Illinois Center for Autism and the Fairview Heights Food Pantry.

In a release, CEO Chris Sherrell, said, "Fresh Thyme is committed to improving the way our communities eat. Providing healthy and organic offerings at a great value and featuring an abundant produce section helps make healthy decisions easier."

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market will offer an extensive produce department with organic and local fruits and vegetables, a natural meat department, healthy deli foods to go, bakery goods, 400 bulk food bins, dairy and frozen, and health supplement products. Fresh Thyme is scheduled to open 60 stores by 2019.

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