Stay Safe Putting Up Holiday Decorations
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, many families are getting ready for the coming holiday seasons and putting up their annual decorations. But as you’re hanging up your lights or festive displays, please be aware that decorations can potentially create a fire risk.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2013 and 2017, American fire departments responded to an average of 780 home fires each year that started with decorations. The NFPA adds that two out of every five decoration fires are caused by decorations being placed too close to a heat source, while one-third of the fires are started by candles.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal is offering a few tips to keep your holiday decorations safe.
• Be careful with holiday decorations. Make sure decorations are either flame retardant or flame resistant.
• Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire.
• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
• Extinguish all lit candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Check to make sure your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use or both.
• Replace any light strands that have worn or broken cords. Make sure to read the recommendation for number of light strings you can string together.
• Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
• If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to check water levels daily! It is not unusual for a tree to drink two gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.
• Keep real Christmas trees away from a heat source. It can dry out the tree quickly.
You can find m ore suggestions and information for the Illinois Fire Marshal here: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/sfm/CurrentFocus/Pages/Winter-Holiday-Safety.aspx
Eligible local governments can seek reimbursements
Local governments applying for federal CURES money (COVID-19 relief funds) are being advised that a policy directive from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity allows for reimbursements of payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services were substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19.
This directive might be helpful to smaller communities that haven’t had to purchase a lot of supplies, but still have significant COVID-19 related personnel expenses.
For questions or technical assistance, visit the Local CURE Reporting Portal FAQs at https://dceocures.powerappsportals.com/faqs/ or contact the Local CURE Support Team via email at LocalCURE@crowe.com.
Business Interruption Grant
State Senator Jason Plummer is reminding businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 closures that there is still funding available through the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Program.
The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $636 million program that provides economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. Funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs, rent, utilities, and other operational costs.
DCEO is accepting applications to disperse over $200 million in funds for the grant program. For this round, nearly all businesses and non-profits with an annual revenue under $20 million are eligible to apply.
Particular consideration will be given to businesses downstate, in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), and for heavily impacted industry and regions – representing businesses that have been unable to reopen or operating at a severely diminished capacity since the spring.
More information on grant funding can be found here.
Earlier this year, DCEO directed $49 million in funding to businesses that were heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in DIAs. In that wave, more than 2,800 businesses received funding relief. Click here to see the full list of grant recipients.
High school seniors: Apply for conservation scholarships!
Applications from high school seniors are now being accepted by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) for the 2021 Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.
The ICF awards the annual Conservation Achievement Scholarships to encourage the next generation of leaders to preserve and enhance a sustainable outdoor environment.
The deadline to apply for the 2021 Conservation Achievement Scholarship is March 1, 2021.
Up to four one-time scholarships of $2,000 are given to outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who have demonstrated effective, voluntary and long-term dedication to the preservation, protection, enhancement and/or promotion of Illinois’ natural resources.
Applicants must be Illinois residents and a senior in an Illinois high school during the year of the scholarship award. One of the scholarships is earmarked for a qualified applicant who is a dependent of a current employee of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Detailed instructions and the 2021 application form can be accessed through the ICF website at https://ilconservation.org/What-We-Do/Scholarships.