State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is sending a friendly reminder to residents of the 64th Legislative District about Halloween trick or treating this weekend. As kids across Lake and McHenry Counties get ready to bring home bags of yummy candy, Wheeler also wants to remind parents of some important safety tips offered by the CDC’s “SAFE HALLOWEEN” tips.

“Trick or treating is such a fun way to celebrate Halloween and enjoy fall,” said Wheeler. “To ensure you have a fun and safe Halloween, the CDC has some great tips through their ‘SAFE HALLOWEEN’ webpage that I hope parents will take a moment to look over to make sure everyone enjoys a very happy and healthy Halloween.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers free information to parents and kids through their website. Helpful tips include, fastening reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you, eat only factory-wrapped treats, avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers, and enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. For a complete list of “SAFE HALLOWEEN” tips click here.
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger told Illinoisans on Friday, October 16 that the State’s unpaid bills, in the absence of budgeted appropriations for FY16, have reached $6.9 billion. Based on the assumption that no significant changes will alter current trends, the State’s backlog of unpaid bills will be about $8.5 billion by December 31, 2015.

While many subsets of the FY16 budget are being protected by at least 14 separate court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations laws, not all of the budget is so protected. A major November 2015 pension payment of approximately $560 million, required by certified actuarial projections, is expected to be delayed. Payments due to many nonprofit socials service providers, Illinois university students and their institutions of higher education, counties, municipalities, 9-1-1 emergency call centers, and many other vendors are facing delay. Layoffs are taking place due to the inability of the State of Illinois to enact a constitutionally balanced budget.
Representative Wheeler gives children backpacks along with
daughter Catherine Wheeler and friend Megan Mowthorpe.
Today, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) partnered with the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL), the Office Depot Foundation and Fraternite Notre Dame to provide backpacks and other items to children in need. The backpacks were donated through Office Depot’s National Backpack Program and filled with socks, the number one need for those faced with homelessness and poverty as winter dawns. Wheeler was also joined by local Chicago Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago).

“For most of us, the shift from fall to winter is a happy time as the holidays approach, but for many in Illinois, the approach of winter means finding ways to keep their families and children warm,” said Wheeler. “It may come as a surprise, but the most needed item for those faced with homelessness is actually socks. While items like coats and knit hats are hugely important, a simply donation of socks can be every bit as important to those fending off the cold this winter.”

The Teletown Hall is about to start. If you miss the initial call but would like to join the conversation, call 815-414-9711 to get in on the discussion. ‪#‎jointheconversation‬
State Representatives Barb Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) invite residents to join them for an over the phone Teletown Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:45pm. The event will be broadcast live from Springfield and participants will be able to ask the Representatives’ questions on a number of topics.

A call will be made to households located within the 61st and 64th Legislative House Districts at 5:45pm on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and residents will be able to stay on the line and be connected to a live call with Rep. Jesiel and Rep. Wheeler. “I enjoy these teletown hall meetings because they offer people an opportunity to learn more about issues affecting Illinois, and they can directly ask us questions,” said Wheeler. “With the serious issues now facing our state, I’m looking forward to a lively conversation on a variety of issues.”
Many suburban and Downstate school superintendents are issuing statements of support for the push, led by Governor Rauner, to eliminate some of the more than 100 unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield on local school districts and their taxpayers. For example, last week St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Susan Sarfaty agreed that these unfunded mandates are costing her schools money not provided for in these districts’ property-tax-funded budgets.

Unfunded mandates targeted by the Rauner push include required drivers’ education, for which schools are supposed to be reimbursed by fees paid by pupils but often are not; daily physical education; and restrictions on school districts contracting out needed non-educational services, such as janitorial work, to the private sector. The Rauner “Turnaround Illinois” property tax relief measure, sponsored by House Republican leadership in the General Assembly as HB 4247, includes language specifically aimed at repealing barriers to use of third-party contractors for budget savings. House Democrats have so far failed to release HB 4247 from the Rules Committee for discussion and debate.
The drawings of lottery numbers, a longtime staple of Illinois television, moved last week from over-the-air and cable broadcast to online. The move affects players with Pick 3, Pick 4, Lotto with Extra Shot, and Lucky Day Lotto tickets. The last electromechanical drawing was held on Wednesday, September 30, and the transition was effective on Thursday, October 1.

Traditional lottery drawings use an electromechanical system that utilizes a physical drum stuffed with balls bearing lucky numbers. The Illinois State Lottery’s move to an all-electronic draw includes moving to a computer software system, called a Random Number Generator, which generates random numbers by harvesting them from a mathematical algorithm. Many financial institutions use similar algorithms to encode the secure material they send over digital wires. State lotteries throughout the United States are moving from electromechanical lucky-number drawings to digital draw systems.
The defending Stanley Cup champions will host their first regular-season game at Chicago’s United Center tonight. The team’s October games will mark the start of the 90th season for a National Hockey League (NHL) club that began operations in 1926-27. Returning players include team captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captain Duncan Keith, winner of the Conn Smythe trophy during the 2015 Cup playoffs. The Blackhawks have hoisted the NHL’s foremost trophy six times, in 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Rep. Wheeler received a very special treat in the office from a constituent today. A pink pumpkin in honor of breast cancer awareness month!

Mary Moltmann, who provided the pumpkin, is involved with the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation was created in 2012 to aid in the fight against breast cancer. America’s pumpkin growers have committed to giving a percentage of proceeds from every pink pumpkin sold to organizations involved in breast cancer research.

The foundation oversees donations and ensures that the funds go directly to reputable organizations with the highest percentage of dollars spent on actual research. In 2013 alone, a $30,000 grant was given to the breast cancer research department at Rush University Medical Center.

This is a perfect of example of how we can all make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. To learn more about the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and how you can get involved, buy pink products, or make a donation, visit: http://pinkpumpkinpatch.org/.
Corn Mazes: the child-friendly fall attractions are located in Northern, Central and Southern Illinois. The top-rated mazes honor family, patriotic, and sports-related themes. Two fields (at separate ends of the State) have winding pathways this year to celebrate the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Blackhawks. Richardson Adventure Farm’s Blackhawks-themed 2015 Stanley Cup maze, located near Spring Grove, Ill. in northeastern McHenry County, was rated by design firm DesignCurial as the #2 corn maze worldwide this year. Landowners George and Wendy Richardson dedicate a 33-acre rectangle each year to the family-friendly layouts, turning their designs into the “world’s largest corn maze.” A typical corn maze offers visitors the chance to buy souvenirs and Illinois farm products. Some charge admission fees. The closing day for most corn mazes is the last day of the Halloween weekend.

Check out other local corn mazes like Stade's Farmtraction Theme Park in McHenry and All Seasons Apple Orchard-Pumpkin Patch-Corn Maze in Woodstock. Stade's Farm and All Seasons offer everything from hayrides to the pumpkin patch, to petting zoos, to craft foods, in addition to corn mazes.
October is breast cancer awareness month. While we reflect on just how important it is to spread awareness and promote regular screening, I would like to highlight a local business that has made it their mission to help women overcome this experience and restore their lives and confidence.

Benchmark Atlantic Healthcare in McHenry aims to create an on-going relationship with women, built on the understanding that people are there for them on a continuing basis; not just a stop on the road, but someone to walk alongside them on their journey.

Their services compassionately walk a woman diagnosed with breast cancer through the process of renewing her comfort and confidence by offering solutions after a mastectomy, lumpectomy or reconstruction surgery. Whether she is newly diagnosed, currently in treatment or a long term survivor.

Benchmark Atlantic also works hand-in-hand with charitable organizations and its own Image Renewal’s Bra & Breast Bank to ensure that if a woman does not have insurance or cannot afford restorative services, she can get what she needs.