- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A central Illinois program educating young people about the dangers of drunken driving and ways to prevent injury has returned after a six-month hiatus caused by the state budget impasse.

The Think First program ended in February after political bickering over the state budget cut off the program’s grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, The State Journal-Register (https://bit.ly/2eZhw7v ) reported. It was reinstated Sept. 1.

The program’s director, Nancy Kyrouac, said the program has received positive feedback since being reinstated. She said the program, based at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, has booked its speakers for high schools and other venues from the end of October to mid-December.

The budget has remained largely unresolved, but the flow of state money eventually began after the Legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner agreed on a stopgap spending plan in June.

According to department spokesman, Guy Tridgell, the stopgap spending plan did not fully fund many parts of state government, but it was able to fully fund IDOT.

And knowing the IDOT funds would be available once again, SIU officials decided to renew contracts for two of the program’s employees.

“Think First’s messages of safe driving and injury prevention provide a valuable community service to teenagers, parents and the public,” IDOT chairwoman Dr. Janet Albers said.

The program also offers crash simulations and education on bicycle safety and car seat safety.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com


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