Sheriff Howard Buffett is paying consultants to look over Macon County's jail and make recommendations to improve its mission. He thinks he may spend as much as $1.5 million before the process is complete.

Four other stories you should see are Macon County farmers getting the harvest finished, five questions for Illini basketball, Shelby County woman wins $1 million and neighborhood revitalization plans draws volunteers to first meeting.

Buffett paying for jail consultants

Consultants privately paid for by new Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett are expected to finish evaluating the county jail next week, the first step in potential upgrades for which Buffett said he is willing to spend more than a million dollars within the next year.

The four consultants will look at everything from the jail’s policies, mental and medical health protocol and its technological systems and programs. Buffett paid for their services through in-kind donations from his Howard G. Buffett Foundation totaling $236,000, accepted last month by the Macon County Board. Buffett, who was appointed sheriff less than two months ago, said Tuesday that he expects the overall cost for consultants to exceed $300,000, and he would not be surprised if his foundation spent at least $1.5 million on consultants and jail upgrades.

Macon County farmers faring better against weather

The weather is a fickle partner for farmers, offering promise with spring rains for seeds, then dismay in the fall when unwelcome wetness keeps combines out of the fields during harvest. Macon County farmers have fared better than their peers in other parts of Illinois, getting their crops mostly out of the field before Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a harvest emergency.

The declaration, which began on Sunday and lasts 45 days, allows drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities, such as grain, to get a free permit to exceed gross vehicle limits. Local authorities can also waive the permit requirement.

Here are 5 questions for Illini basketball

Anticipation for a new-look Illini basketball season was building and building until the balloon was punctured in last week’s exhibition loss at Eastern Illinois.

All of a sudden, reality hit. There may be a few bumps in the road as new coach Brad Underwood tries to engineer the transformation of a program that has been trending in the wrong direction for several years.

That said, the loss to Eastern was an exhibition game and won’t matter when the final math is done on this season. What matters is what happens starting on Friday night when the Illini get going for real by hosting a game against Southern University.

Shelby County woman wins $1M lottery prize

A Shelby County woman won $1 million from a scratch-off lottery ticket, according to the Illinois Lottery.

Lisa Doss plans to invest the money, which she opted to take in a lump sum of $600,000, the lottery said in a news release.

Neighborhood revitalization draws on residents' input

For more than 100 residents tasked with helping city leaders develop neighborhood revitalization goals, discussions on Tuesday reached far beyond demolishing homes and installing flower beds.

Those who split into groups in the lobby of MacArthur High School grappled with systemic issues surrounding poverty and access to opportunities in Decatur, whether it was knowledge about well-paying jobs, job training, building home equity for working families in a bargain real estate market, and encouraging entrepreneurship among the city's youth.

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