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home : news : state news free November 29, 2020

Panel features film on mental health
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Mental Health Task Force and the chief justice of the Supreme Court will conduct a screening of a new documentary on mental illness and criminal justice.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Some area animal shelters seeing fewer adoptions
PEKIN, Ill. (AP) — You might think that staying closer to home during a pandemic would result in more pet adoptions. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Deck the halls? Not at the Illinois Capitol due to the virus
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The coronavirus has extinguished some traditional holiday cheer at the Illinois Capitol. There will be no Christmas tree nor any holiday displays inside or outside the building.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Antibodies from donated blood key to COVID fight
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — People who have suffered through COVID-19 have a valuable weapon for those fighting the coronavirus now: antibodies.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Illinois approaching 12,000 deaaths from COVID
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois approached 12,000 deaths from COVID-19 with the addition of 131 new fatalities reported Thursday, state health officials said.
Friday, November 27, 2020

COVID-19 claims 125 more lives Illinois officials say
State health officials reported on Tuesday that another 125 people in Illinois have died from COVID-19.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Public Health said the latest deaths — a total that was nearly three times higher than the 47 deaths announced Monday — brings the death toll to 11,677 since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fraudulent unemployment claims in Illinois soar
Fraudulent unemployment claims have soared in Illinois with scammers directing jobless benefits to their own accounts even as record numbers of residents sought relief due to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said.

More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed since March 1, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

27 veterans die in COVID outbreak at VA home
State officials are investigating a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home in rural Illinois that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff, and killed 27 veterans.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs are attempting to determine what caused the outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home in LaSalle, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Vaccine shipment smaller than expected
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Illinois may be less than one-quarter of what officials had originally been told to expect.

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday that the latest word from federal officials is that the first shipment may contain only about 80,000 doses, or one-fifth of the 400,000 doses that state officials were expecting as recently as last week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rochester man gets probation for threatening Rep. Davis
A central Illinois man who pleaded guilty to making a threat against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis has been sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to undergo mental health counseling.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Illinois officials continue to urge caution as 47 more die
State health officials are again asking people to reconsider big Thanksgiving gatherings as another 47 people in Illinois from COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the latest daily death toll on Monday, reporting 8,322 new confirmed and probable cases.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

IDPH preps for initial 400,000 doses
After Pfizer submitted its application for a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week, Illinois public health officials have continued preparing locations to store and distribute the vaccine that could be released to frontline hospital workers in a matter of weeks.

Pfizer announced Friday that it planned to submit its COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — a process that could take between two and four weeks, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during the daily news conference.

Ezike said she expects the state will receive about 400,000 doses of the vaccine in the first round of distribution.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Rittenhouse attorney says judged allowed him on case
A California attorney said Monday that a Kenosha County judge will allow him to appear in court on behalf of an Illinois 17-year-old accused of killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin.

John Pierce, of Los Angeles, is not licensed to practice in Wisconsin and would need the court’s permission to appear in court for Kyle Rittenhouse. Such requests are routinely granted, but Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Jason Zapf has asked for a hearing on the matter “to address several issues.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pritzker warns of looming crisis if relief isn't extended
Gov. JB Pritzker warned Monday of another looming economic crisis for the state and nation if Congress does not act soon to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits for people displaced from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t overstate the implications of this,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “Without assistance from Congress, five weeks from now there will be no way to replace these benefits for the hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans impacted by these programs, which have become an essential lifeline for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This is incredibly dire.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Illinois again reports daily COVID cases at more than 10K
Illinois public health officials reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday for the fourth consecutive day.

The last time the daily count dipped below 10,000 was Wednesday when it was 8,922, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Lessons from pandemic are teaching educators, too
Lincoln-Douglas third-graders Emma Smith and Alaina Nichols sat at their table, brainstorming ideas about a Thanksgiving parade float for a writing assignment.

Alaina settled on a pumpkin pie theme.

“Pumpkin pie goes with November,” she explained. “Thanksgiving is in November.”

Monday, November 23, 2020

Hundreds of Illinois towns eligible for virus relief
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is reminding local government officials of a Dec. 1 deadline to submit applications for federal relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress approved so-called Local CURE funds as part of a COVID-19 relief package last spring. The money must be spent by Dec. 30.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Illinois agency launches study of gambling addiction
A state agency has launched a one-year roughly $500,000 study on gambling addiction in Illinois.

Results will be used by the Illinois Department of Human Services to help determine future efforts to prevent problem gambling and increase access to treatment and services.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trial delay for woman accused in crash that killed 4
The December trial for a Quincy woman charged with murder after a car crash that killed three children and an adult has been delayed to next year.

Natasha McBride, 36, briefly appeared in Adams County Circuit Court last week, according to The (Quincy) Herald-Whig.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court strikes down city of Sparta's policy on police citations
The state’s highest court has struck down a southern Illinois city’s policy that partly evaluates police officers on the number of citations officers issue, finding it violates an Illinois law prohibiting ticket quotas.

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the labor union that represents police officers in the Randolph County city of Sparta.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Illinois pushes for digital equity with new broadband investments
The governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity are awarding $500,000 through existing and new state programs as part of a “Digital Equity Package.”

The Illinois Office of Broadband, which is based in the DCEO, is spearheading the targeted investment program. The package gives modest grants to community-based and regional actors to address gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity and digital literacy skills.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

COVID-19 deaths top 100 for 3rd straight day in Illinois
Deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois topped 100 Friday for the third day in a row, and the continuing deluge of new cases helps explain why the nation hit an all-time high on Thursday.
Saturday, November 21, 2020

Pot advocates: Pritzker's reading of law costing state $135M
Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s interpretation of Illinois’ marijuana legalization law is costing the state more than $100 million in tax revenue by blocking certain pot shops from relocating, some state lawmakers and cannabis industry advocates say.

Cannabis sales have remained consistent despite the coronavirus pandemic, but a memo created by industry advocates and recently shared with lawmakers says the state is losing out on an estimated $135 million in revenue by not allowing medical dispensaries to move without repercussions.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Aquino to replace Garcia as Illinois presidential elector
U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will not serve as a presidential elector in Illinois. Instead, he is being replaced by state Sen. Omar Aquino, the state Democratic Party confirmed, and the reason has to do with a requirement of the U.S. Constitution.

Garcia was selected to serve as an elector when the Democratic Party of Illinois’ state central committee met in July. He was even listed on a press release the party sent out July 15.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Initiative launched to help Illinoisans expunge marijuana charges
A new state-funded initiative called New Leaf Illinois aims to connect Illinoisans who want to remove marijuana arrests or convictions from their records with 20 nonprofit organizations that provide free legal representation and information on expungements.

New Leaf Illinois was launched Thursday by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, an organization created by a 1999 state law to distribute funding appropriated by the government to support nonprofit legal aid programs and initiatives. IEJF administers state appropriations to three programs – a broad legal aid grant program, a legal aid service for veterans, and, most recently, a marijuana offense expungement program.

Friday, November 20, 2020

'21st century mass casualty event'
The state reported its second-highest one-day COVID-19 count Thursday with 14,612, but it also reported its second-highest daily testing output with 113,447 results reported over the previous 24 hours.

The 168 COVID-19 related deaths reported Thursday made for the third-highest one-day total since the pandemic began. That brought the total death toll to 11,178 among 621,383 confirmed cases out of 9.4 million test results reported.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Support for Madigan within Democratic ranks showing more signs of eroding
Support within the ranks of Illinois House Democrats to reelect Rep. Michael Madigan to another term as speaker eroded further Thursday after federal prosecutors in Chicago issued four more indictments Wednesday night linking him to a bribery scheme involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday put his own pressure on House Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the Democratic leader needs to answer questions from the press and the public or else resign.

Friday, November 20, 2020

State's Electoral College searching for venue for Dec. meeting
Plans are being developed in Illinois for the state’s Electoral College delegates to meet in Springfield on Dec. 14, but they are being complicated by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic as well as President Donald Trump’s refusal so far to concede the election.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White said Wednesday that the ceremony, which normally draws little public attention, has traditionally been held in the Statehouse. But with the entire state now under enhanced mitigation measures to prevent the spread of the disease, officials are searching for a room, or possibly another venue, that would allow enough social distancing for the state’s 20 electors, the media and the public to remain safe.

The electoral college system is spelled out in Article I of the United States Constitution. It provides that each state receives the same number of electoral votes as it has in the U.S. House and Senate. Since Illinois has two U.S. senators and 18 representatives, it gets 20 electoral votes.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ten lawsuits challenging dining bans are merged
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed to combine 10 lawsuits challenging indoor dining bans across the state with existing cases in Sangamon County that raise the same legal questions.

The Supreme Court’s order brings a total of 19 cases involving legal challenges to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 related restrictions that are now consolidated in Sangamon County Court before Judge Raylene Grischow.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Four indicted in scheme to allegedly influence House Speaker Madigan
Four people, including an associate of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges they orchestrated a bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison.

The alleged scheme provided do-nothing jobs to Madigan loyalists in exchange for the speaker’s help with state legislation.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Illinois virus cases double in 7 weeks; Illinois death toll surpasses 11,000
As the state surpassed 11,000 COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday and the disease became the third leading cause of death in the state, health officials sought to address rumors and conspiracy theories related to the virus.

“I still hear people saying that COVID-19 isn't real, that it's just another cold or that it's a conspiracy,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at Wednesday’s daily COVID-19 briefing. “The bottom line is that COVID-19 is real. And it is worse than a typical cold. This ‘not real virus’ is overwhelming our hospitals. Right now, it's taking up one out of every four beds that's occupied in the hospitals across our state. This ‘just another cold’ is putting hundreds of people in the ICU and on ventilators.”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

4 Sangamon County restaurants shut down for COVID violations
Four restaurants in Sangamon County that continued to offer indoor dining in defiance of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan were ordered to shut down temporarily Tuesday.

The order from a Sangamon County judge states that the four restaurants — Charlie Parker’s Diner, D&J Cafe, Sweet Basil Cafe, and Fox Run Restaurant and Lounge — “are prohibited from selling food items,” effective immediately.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stricter mitigations start Friday
Gov. JB Pritzker announced the entire state will enter Tier 3 of his mitigation plan starting Friday as he noted the best way for Illinoisans to avoid another stay-at-home order was by staying home.

“Tier 3 boils down to this: if you don’t need to do it, don’t,” Gov. JB Pritzker said of leaving the home as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar.

Pritzker, at his daily briefing, said the Tier 3 mitigations stop short of a stay-at-home order, although staying home was the best option for limiting the virus’ spread. More businesses are allowed to remain open than when he issued a stay-at-home order in March because more is known about the virus, he said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again after nearly two years
After nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Boeing’s 737 Max for flight.

The nation’s air safety agency announced the move early Wednesday, saying it was done after a “comprehensive and methodical” 20-month review process.

Regulators around the world grounded the Max in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. That happened less than five months after another Max flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. A total of 346 passengers and crew members on both planes were killed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Forecasters project long-term deficits, growing backlog of bills
A new report from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget shows that without significant new revenue, spending cuts or a combination of both, the state will face a budget deficit of $3.9 billion in the current fiscal year and continuing deficits of $4 billion or more in each of the next five fiscal years.

It also projects that the state’s backlog of unpaid bills could grow to as much as $33 billion by fiscal year 2026, up from the current backlog total of about $7.8 billion, if lawmakers do not make structural changes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Judge finds for Pritzker; rules executive orders legal
A Sangamon County judge on Monday ruled Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has power under state law and the state constitution to issue executive orders that mandate public health measures at schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision, issued by Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow after a roughly two-hour hearing, relates to two lawsuits — Mainer v. Illinois Department of Public Health and Pritzker v. Board of Education of Hutsonville — that arose from Pritzker’s June executive orders regarding schools.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

COVID-19 surges in Illinois: 'We're in for a rough ride for the next 3 months'
Illinoisans should stay home as much as possible, wear face coverings and rethink their Thanksgiving plans as hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to rise, state officials reiterated Monday.

“We are in for a rough ride for the next three months or so,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at a COVID-19 briefing Monday. “Just how bumpy it really gets depends on each of us. Let's hang in there together and be all in for Illinois.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

New Supreme Court justice brings decades of experience to bench
When Justice Robert Carter, who is slated to become the newest member of the Illinois Supreme Court when he is sworn in in December, was a chief circuit judge, he would remind the nascent trial judges to be humble in their new role.

“I always told the new judges that everything you do should be done with the greatest amount of humility because you don't have all the answers. You're just trying to do the best based on the facts as you find them, and the law that applies to those facts,” Carter said in a phone interview this week with Capitol News Illinois

Monday, November 16, 2020

2 young sisters found by themselves on Chicago street
Police say two young sisters were found by themselves on the street in Chicago, prompting a search for their parents

Two young sisters were found by themselves on the street in Chicago, prompting a search Monday for their parents, police said.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Gettysburg Address to be on display
A handwritten copy of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech will be on display for two weeks in a Springfield museum.

Officials with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum said it is only one of five surviving handwritten copies. The 1863 speech starts, “Four score and seven years ago...” Lincoln delivered it at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Illinois reports $285 million in September sport bets
The latest numbers released by the Illinois Gaming Board show bettors in the state wagered more than $285 million on sports contests in September.

Gamblers can place bets on sporting events at seven of Illinois’ casinos and one horse racing track. The state’s most lucrative casino and its first to start taking sports bets, Rivers in Des Plaines, accepted about $105 million in wagers in September, the most of any Illinois casino, according to the gaming board.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Illinois reports 10,631 new COVID-19 cases and 72 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 10,631 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state and 72 confirmed new deaths.

With the latest announced number, Illinois has reported 573,616 cases of COVID-19, including 10,742 deaths. The latest confirmed and probable cases were the result of 84,831 tests administered over 24 hours. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 14.8%.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Judge rules against group of cannabis license holders
SPRINGFIELD — A Sangamon County court on Thursday denied a restraining order requested by cannabis dispensary license finalists in an attempt to stop the state from rescoring the applications of losing applicants. 
Saturday, November 14, 2020

Lawmakers see hearing on veterans' home outbreak
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans on the Illinois House Veterans’ Affairs Committee called for a hearing this week to investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home where at least nine residents have died after testing positive for the virus.
Friday, November 13, 2020

Governor implores people to stay home; warns of possible stay-home order
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois residents are being urged to stay at home as much as possible for at least the next three weeks as the second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks continues to sweep across the state.
Friday, November 13, 2020

Memoir by Tammy Duckworth coming in March
Sen. Tammy Duckworth has written a memoir, “Every Day Is a Gift,” which comes out March 30.

Twelve, a Hachette Book Group imprint, announced the deal with Sen. Duckworth on Thursday, the 16th anniversary of the day she was shot down in a helicopter while serving in Iraq and lost both of her legs.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

State seeks tougher licensing for law enforcement
Lawmakers, in tandem with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, are looking to bolster the state’s system of certifying and decertifying law enforcement professionals.

At a joint hearing of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Special Committee on Public Safety Tuesday Raoul testified to lawmakers that the current metric for decertifying members of law enforcement leaves open too much room for misconduct, especially compared to the licensing and certification systems for other states.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Chicago police the target of 520 complaints since May
The Chicago Police Department has received hundreds of complaints against its officers since late May, when demonstrations broke out in the wake of the death of George Floyd  in Minneapolis, according to police officials.

Eight officers have been stripped of their police powers since that time due to the complaints, according to police officials. Details of the conduct that led to the actions against the officers were not immediately available. However, officials say some officers working the demonstrations were accused of verbally abusing protesters, denying them access to attorneys, and carrying out improper searches among other allegations.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Yesterday the sixth deadliest day since the pandemic began
Illinois health officials urged residents Wednesday to stay home and strictly limit travel and social gatherings over the next three weeks, after the state recorded its sixth-deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic and a new high for hospitalizations.

The 145 fatalities from COVID-19, the illness caused by the highly contagious virus are the highest one-day total since May 27. Among the deaths was a seventh resident of the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle, where nearly 150 residents and staff members have tested positive.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Investigators looking for cause of Chicago Jewelry Center fire
Two Chicago firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion early Thursday after helping battle a fire in a high-rise commercial building that houses several jewelry stores in the city’s Loop, officials said.

Chicago fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford said about 200 firefighters were called to the 22-story building known as the Mallers Building after the fire was reported about 4 a.m.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

COVID surge forces postponement of veto session
Leaders of the Illinois General Assembly announced Tuesday the postponement of the Legislature’s veto session due to the surge of COVID-19 in the state.

Senate President Don Harmon said the surge of the pandemic is no time to bring together hundreds of people from around the state. The veto session was scheduled for Nov. 17 through 19 and Dec. 1 through 3.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court appoints justice
The highest court in Illinois appointed a new member to its bench on Tuesday.

Justice Robert L. Carter, 74, will join the Illinois Supreme Court, effective Dec. 8, according to a news release from the Illinois Supreme Court.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

ISBE's proposed new 'culturally sensitive' teacher standards spark controversy
The Illinois State Board of Education is considering a set of new standards for teachers and administrators that are aimed at making them more sensitive to students of different cultures and backgrounds, but the proposal is sparking controversy among some religious conservatives.

The “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading” standards would amend current standards that apply to all teachers and administrators by adding a host of new requirements meant to ensure they understand how certain population groups have been marginalized in society and encourage them to adapt their teaching methods to be more inclusive of students with diverse cultures, family backgrounds, languages, sexual identity and orientation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

COVID-19 hospitalizations far higher in most regions than in first wave
With no signs of slowing, key metrics measuring the spread of COVID-19 – including hospitalizations – continue to push numbers not seen since April and May.

The 4,742 people hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19 as of Monday night marked the highest number since May 8, which was right around the peak of the first wave of the virus. It’s the 16th straight day of increases for hospitalizations, marking an 82 percent increase since the beginning of that 16-day period.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Illinois marijuana sales top $100 million in October
Illinois saw more than $100 million in marijuana sales in October, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported Monday.

There was a record $75 million in recreational pot sales last month, up nearly $8 million from the previous month. Sales of medical marijuana totaled another $33 million, according to officials. The first 10 months of legal cannabis sales total more than $500 million, with about $300 million in medical marijuana sales.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Our region headed for more mitigation
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that three more regions of the state will be placed under even stricter COVID-19 restrictions starting Wednesday as the state’s rates of infections and hospitalizations continue to climb.

“The virus is winning the war right now,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Kane Co. restaurant loses appeal over restrictions
An appeals court has handed down a favorable ruling to Gov. JB Pritzker in a legal challenge to his administration’s restrictions on bars and restaurants to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The 2nd District Appellate Court overruled a Kane County judge’s decision to temporarily block Pritzker’s indoor dining ban from taking effect at the FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva.

The state court on Friday decided that Pritzker has the power under state law to issue successive disaster proclamations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Experts advise state lawmakers on health care policy
State legislators heard testimony from health care experts Monday on policies the state could pursue to address racial disparities in health outcomes and access.

That testimony was given during a joint hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services and Public Health committees prompted by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which has highlighted health care disparities in the past.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

UIC gets grant to study support for rape victims

The University of Illinois Chicago has received a nearly $900,000 federal grant to help study the support rape victims receive and the outcomes of their recovery, according to university officials. 

The money for the three-year grant comes from the National Institutes of Health and will focus on “how support processes from social networks impact victims’ adjustment,” according to the university. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

After okaying three-town merger, voters will pick new leaders

Local leaders in three communities that will merge after voters approved the plan say the next steps are preparing for a new city government and planning ways to inform residents. 

Residents in Cahokia, Centreville and Alorton recently approved a referendum to merge the three cities into a single town that’ll be called Cahokia Heights. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Ample Illinois hunting opportunities prompt IDNR safety-tip reminders

Hunters in Illinois should think safety before, during and after their time in the field this fall and winter as waterfowl, upland game, furbearer, and firearm and archery deer seasons provide ample opportunity to enjoy time in the outdoors in Illinois. 

"We want to encourage hunters to make safety their first priority as they head out to enjoy what we hope will be a successful hunting season for everyone," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Colleen Callahan. "Illinois' hunting heritage is best celebrated by making sure hunters can spend their time experiencing the bounty nature provides for us and returning home safely to plan for their next hunting adventure."

Monday, November 9, 2020

Chicago study finds nursing home COVID cases rising four-fold

Despite Trump administration efforts to erect a protective shield around nursing homes, coronavirus cases are surging within facilities in states hard hit by the latest onslaught of COVID-19.

An analysis of federal data from 20 states for The Associated Press finds that new weekly cases among residents rose nearly four-fold from the end of May to late October, from 1,083 to 4,274. Resident deaths more than doubled, from 318 a week to 699, according to the study by University of Chicago health researchers Rebecca Gorges and Tamara Konetzka.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Data center serving Chicago opens in Indiana

A $40 million data center that’ll serve the Chicago area has opened in northwestern Indiana. 

National companies will store their data at the Digital Crossroads data center, in Hammond, according to The (Northwest Indiana) Times. The 105,000-square-foot center was designed to serve soaring demand for data storage, such as for streaming movie and music services. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois officials announce 10,009 new COVID cases
 Illinois public health officials on Sunday announced 10,009 new cases of COVID-19, including 42 additional deaths as cases surge nationwide. 
Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois governor isolates after possible COVID-19 exposure
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker self-isolated Friday and was awaiting test results after learning that he may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a meeting earlier this week, the third time during the pandemic that the Democratic governor has taken the step.
Saturday, November 7, 2020

Lawmakers eye limits on qualified immunity for law enforcement
SPRINGFIELD — State legislators are considering eliminating or limiting aspects of qualified immunity for law enforcement..
Saturday, November 7, 2020

State COVID death toll surpasses 10,000
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker warned Thursday that additional social and economic restrictions may need to be imposed statewide in the near future if the surge in new COVID-19 cases continues on its current path.
Friday, November 6, 2020

Senate committees discuss inequity in education, employment
SPRINGFIELD — State education officials and youth employment advocates are proposing expanding job skills programs in areas with large minority student populations and high unemployment, while also removing barriers to employment that disproportionately affect minorities.
Friday, November 6, 2020

Pritzker says Madigan should step down as party chairman
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday said that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan should step down as chairman of the state Democratic Party, agreeing with the state’s senior U.S. senator that the longtime political powerbroker’s implication in a federal bribery investigation hurt Democrats in Tuesday’s elections.
Friday, November 6, 2020

Probe into Madigan role in ComEd bribery postponed
The chairman of a special committee investigating Democratic State House Speaker Michael Madigan’s role in a bribery scheme involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison has postponed the panel’s next meeting, which had been scheduled for Thursday.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, announced Wednesday that the meeting is being delayed, in part because of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and in part because it is still waiting to receive documents from ComEd.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Unions, activists organize demonstrators in Chicago
Demonstrators gathered in downtown Chicago on Wednesday to urge that every vote cast in Tuesday’s election be counted.

Erica Bland-Durosinmi of of SEIU Healthcare said the union of health care workers fought hard for a fair and free election and will not stop until every vote will be counted.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

State's one-day COVID -19 positivity rate highest since May 22
Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged residents on Wednesday to stay focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 as the state’s one-day COVID-19 case positivity rate hit 10.5 percent– its highest rate since May 22 – and the Illinois Department of Public Health reported its second highest one-day total of new confirmed cases with 7,538.

“I know there's a lot of focus on other current events right now, but I do want to remind everyone that Illinois, and the nation, especially the states making news right now for their role in the presidential election, are in the middle of a public health crisis. And we cannot forget to take the necessary precautions to beat this pandemic down,” Pritzker said during his daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Failed retention first ever in court's history
For the first time since Illinois adopted judicial retention elections in 1964, an Illinois Supreme Court justice lost a retention bid to stay on the state’s highest court.

Justice Thomas Kilbride failed to win at least 60 percent of the ‘yes’ vote in his district, earning only 56.4 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. Kilbride conceded from the race in an email statement issued around 11:30 p.m. on election night.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Pritzker expounds on the 'pain' Illinois will feel after failure of his tax plan
Backers of a graduated income tax constitutional amendment conceded defeat Wednesday for Gov. JB Pritzker’s marquee policy proposal which was projected to bring in more than $3 billion annually to state coffers.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, voters had rejected the amendment by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. The Associated Press called the race for the “No” camp, as a large number of outstanding mail ballots were almost certainly not enough to make up for the deficit of approximately 500,000 votes.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Illinois rejects graduated tax
Illinis voters soundly rejected a ballot proposal that would have allowed Illinois to switch from a flat tax to a graduated income tax, taking a larger percentage from wealthy residents.

The switch would have given Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers a roadmap to pay down the state's billions of dollars in debt.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Gov pressures locals to enforce COVID rules
As state leaders continue to face pushback from the restaurant industry and even some county and municipal governments regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures, Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday put pressure squarely on the shoulders of local elected officials.

“The fact is that local officials who are not doing the right thing are the ones who are going to be responsible for the rates of infection going through the roof, and our hospitals getting overrun and people are dying if they don't enforce the rules,” Pritzker said during his daily briefing in Chicago. “That is why those rules exist.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Illinis votes: Biden and Durbin in, Kilbride off court
Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Illinois and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin won reelection on Tuesday, continuing a pattern of Democratic dominance in the state.

More than 3.5 million people in Illinois cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

National Guard reports to Chicago
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has deployed Illinois National Guard troops to Chicago to prepare for potential election-related civil unrest.

Pritzker was asked about the action during his daily briefing in Chicago on the coronavirus pandemic. He downplayed the move and noted the Guard similarly reported to Chicago earlier this year in case of violence during protests.

“We’ve made sure that our National Guard is simply in a state of readiness. We did this back during the few days before the ruling around Breonna Taylor,“ Pritzker said, referring to the woman fatally shot by Louisville, Kentucky police during a botched raid in March. “We want to make sure that cities, counties that call upon us for help from the state of Illinois, that we have those resources available to them.”

He did not say how many troops or what equipment was dispatched. Spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh didn’t respond to questions posed after the briefing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Chicago polluter agrees to $18k fine, improvements
A scrap shredder with a history of pollution problems has agreed to pay an $18,000 fine and make improvements intended to prevent explosions and stop metallic pollution from drifting into nearby neighborhoods.

General Iron Industries agreed to the settlement Monday with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration while it seeks final city approval to move  from a wealthy, largely white neighborhood to a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Chicago judge blocks Trump rule denying green cards
A federal judge in Chicago struck down a key immigration rule Monday that would deny green cards to immigrants who use food stamps or other public benefits, a blow to the Trump administration on the eve of the election.

In a decision that applies nationwide, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman rejected the rule that had taken effect recently after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a hold on the policy following lawsuits.  Among other things, Feinerman said the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes federal agencies accountable to the public by outlining a detailed process for enacting regulations.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Pritzker warns of record positivity rates as entire state triggers mitigations
All 11 of the state’s mitigation regions will face stricter COVID-19 based restrictions by Wednesday due to increasing positivity rates, while opposition grows from some bars, restaurants and other small businesses struggling during the pandemic’s economic downturn.

“The virus is spreading. And every region of the state is suffering from its insidious, invisible contagion,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday during his daily COVID-19 briefing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Supreme Court changes fuel moves to protect abortion access
A vast swath of West Texas has been without an abortion clinic for more than six years. Planned Parenthood plans to change that with a health center it opened recently in Lubbock.

It’s a vivid example of how abortion-rights groups are striving to preserve nationwide access to the procedure even as a reconfigured Supreme Court — with the addition of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett — may be open to new restrictions.

Planned Parenthood has made recent moves to serve more women in Missouri and Kentucky, and other groups are preparing to help women in other Republican-controlled states access abortion if bans are imposed.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Protest against police funding ends in clash with cops
A protest over police funding that began on Northwestern University’s campus spilled over into downtown Evanston, resulting in a clash with local police, authorities said Sunday.

Northwestern spokesman Jon Yates says Evanston police used pepper spray on demonstrators after bricks and other objects were thrown at officers overnight Saturday. Yates says a student who was arrested during the demonstration was released Sunday.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Military collection up in flames, but it's being rebuilt
This all started, this passion for collecting U.S. military-related memorabilia, when Jerry Lance was 6. That was 53 years ago.

“I got my dad’s Navy uniform, and I was hooked on the military after that,” Lance said. “Him and all my uncles were in the Navy. Every time somebody got out of the Navy, they went home and left their uniforms with my grandmother.

“I was sitting in the front room one day and for some reason, she got up and said, ‘I bet you’d want this.’ That was the beginning.”

Monday, November 2, 2020

Illinois' high court expands project to reduce appeal cases
The Illinois Supreme Court is expanding a program that recruits volunteer attorneys in an effort to shorten the backlog of criminal appeals.

The six-month pilot program was launched in northern Illinois and Cook County, where appeals can take so long that sometimes people are acquitted after they have completed their sentences.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Key congressional matchups in Illinois
CHICAGO (AP) — From Chicago’s suburbs to the southern tip of the state, Tuesday’s election will feature several closely watched congressional races in Illinois.
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Restaurants in Illinois seeking shut down alternative
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Legislators discuss statewide police reforms
SPRINGFIELD — In the wake of a police shooting that left one teenager dead and a woman injured last week in Waukegan, lawmakers met in a joint hearing of the Senate Criminal Law Committee and Senate Special Committee on Public Safety Tuesday to discuss statewide reforms for law enforcement.
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Why sleep experts say it's time to ditch daylight saving time
(THE CONVERSATION via AP) —  For most of the U.S., the clock goes back one hour on Sunday morning, Nov. 1, the "fall back" for daylight saving time. Many of us appreciate the extra hour of sleep.
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Restaurants push back as 10th region placed under mitigations
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois restaurant owners are asking Gov. JB Pritzker to rethink the state’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 as yet another medical region was placed under enhanced mitigation measures on Friday.
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Kilbride's retention race shatters spending records

SPRINGFIELD — The race to keep or remove an Illinois Supreme Court justice on the bench has become the most expensive election in the high court’s history.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Court OKs video jury selection for civil trials
SPRINGFIELD — As jury trials throughout the state have been put on pause during the pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court is now allowing jury selection for civil trials to be held remotely via video conference.
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Political campaigns even more vicious in the past
ILLINOIS — Are you tired of relentless attack ads in which candidates rip opponents on health care, the economy, the deficit, taxes, terrorism, and family values
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Charges filed in phone theft from dying jogger
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man is facing charges for allegedly stealing a cellphone from a collapsed jogger who was dying on a St. Louis sidewalk.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Republicans to Pritzker: Prove it, show us the data
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans in recent days have pushed back on bar and restaurant closures, requesting Illinois Governor JB Pritzker share more in-depth data on contact tracing that shows closing bars and restaurants will help curb spread, while Democrats have also called on the administration to do more for those businesses.
Friday, October 30, 2020

4 at PCH test positive; area hospitals close to visitors
PANA — Pana Community Hospital has reported four positive cases of COVID-19; these cases are hospital employees. Contact tracing has been completed. Anyone with an exposure concern has been notified.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Sleep medicine specialist offers sleep tips as time changes
DECATUR — Daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 a.m. Many people look forward to this opportunity each fall to set their clocks back one hour (i.e., "fall back") to gain an additional hour of sleep.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Mitigations for us start on Sunday
SPRINGFIELD – A ninth of the state’s 11 COVID-19 reopening regions triggered increased mitigations Thursday as the governor touted the release of federal funding for businesses affected by pandemic-related closures.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Republicans to Pritzker: Prove it, show us the data
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans in recent days have pushed back on bar and restaurant closures, requesting Illinois Governor JB Pritzker share more in-depth data on contact tracing that shows closing bars and restaurants will help curb spread, while Democrats have also called on the administration to do more for those businesses.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Officials urge voters to turn in mail ballots now; more than 900k still out
SPRINGFIELD — Heading into the final weekend before Election Day, Illinois voters continue to set records for advance voting, and election officials are urging anyone who has not yet turned in their mail ballot to do so as quickly as possible.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Court OKs video jury selection for civil trials
SPRINGFIELD — As jury trials throughout the state have been put on pause during the pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court is now allowing jury selection for civil trials to be held remotely via video conference.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Local hospitals to restrict visitors as COVID-19 spreads locally
DECATUR — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase throughout central Illinois, Decatur Memorial Hospital and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital will suspend visitors for inpatients effective Saturday, Oct. 31, in order to protect patients and ensure healthcare professionals can continue to safely offer all services.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Election officials urge voters to turn in mail ballots now
SPRINGFIELD — Heading into the final weekend before Election Day, Illinois voters continue to set records for advance voting, and election officials are urging anyone who has not yet turned in their mail ballot to do so as quickly as possible.
Friday, October 30, 2020

Gather round: Campfire stories at Rock Springs
DECATUR — Gather around a campfire for Campfire Legends and Stories at Rock Springs Nature Center on Saturday, November 7 at 7 p.m..  Meet outside on the West Lawn of the Nature Center with a naturalist to hear stories about wildlife and Native American legends.
Friday, October 30, 2020

GOP pushes back on Pritzker mitigation efforts
Republicans in the Illinois House and Senate pushed back Wednesday against Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, arguing that lawmakers should be involved in crafting the state’s response to the pandemic.

In back-to-back virtual news conferences, GOP leaders in the House and Senate argued that they believe there is scant evidence that bars and restaurants – which will be closed to indoor service in eight of the state’s 11 regions by the end of the week – are a significant source of COVID-19 spread.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

'Tremendous wave' of virus spread
It’s groud zero for Region 3.

Of the remaining three regions  of the state’s COVID-19 plan that have not triggered mitigations, Region 3, which includes Springfield and several surrounding counties, including Christian County, was just one day away from triggering them as of Wednesday after two days above an 8 percent positivity rate.

Region 6 in east-central Illinois saw its rate hit 8.1 percent, meaning if it holds that level for two days it would also see increased mitigations.

Region 2, including Peoria and several surrounding counties, increased to 7.7 percent.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Boilermakers wary of Illini
Purdue is fresh off a minor upset over Iowa.. Illinois is reeling from a 45-7 drubbing at Wisconsin.

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm made it clear the Boilermakers are taking nothing for granted when the two teams meet on Saturday.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

State to fund 2 manufacturing training academies
The state of Illinois plans to invest $15 million to construct two new manufacturing training academies at downstate community colleges.

Gov. JB Pritzker made that announcement Tuesday in Champaign at an event highlighting the state’s manufacturing industry.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

State high court upholds 130-year juvenile sentence
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court preserved a 130-year prison sentence for a man convicted of rape and murder, Ashanti Lusby, who was 16 years old at the time of the offense.

The 6-1 decision, issued Thursday, Oct. 22, prompted criticism from advocates within the juvenile justice reform movement that are seeking to eliminate extreme prison sentences for minors.

The majority of the state’s high court reversed a lower court ruling, and decided that Lusby’s 2002 sentencing hearing did not violate recent U.S. Supreme Court case law requiring a sentencing judge to consider a juvenile’s age and factors related to youth.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Guard stabbed 27 times for asking women to mask up
Two sisters accused of stabbing a West Side Chicago store security guard 27 times with a knife after he asked them to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer were ordered held without bond Tuesday.

The alleged attack late Sunday by Jessica Hill, 21, and Jayla Hill, 18, left the 32-year-old victim hospitalized in critical condition, police spokeswoman Karie James said.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Governor bans indoor dining in Chicago as virus cases surge
Surging COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and bar services and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she isn’t sure Pritzker’s new restrictions are targeting the right people and worries that they will adversely affect the city’s economy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Governor again implores Illinois residents to help mitigate virus
Six of the state’s 11 coronavirus mitigation regions will be under escalated restrictions starting Wednesday as hospitalizations for COVID-19 show a quickening rate of increase..

“So no matter where in Illinois you call home, as you go about your daily lives, remember that this is not over,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Peoria. “There seems to be a COVID storm on the rise. And we have to get prepared.”

As of Sunday night, there were 2,638 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 589 in intensive care unit beds and 238 on ventilators – all were once again highs not seen since early to mid-June.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Two siblings from Illinois fatally shot at funeral gathering
Ten people were shot, two fatally, during a post-funeral gathering in Mississippi over the weekend, police said.

Jonathan Pitts, 42, and his sister Katrina Pitts, 41, died at the scene of the shooting late Saturday in Greenwood, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Man sitting at kitchen table hit by gunfire, dies
A man died early today when a stray bullet entered a home on Chicago’s far south side and struck him as he sat at a kitchen table, police said.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Hayrack ride overturns killing 1 in Nauvoo
A woman was killed and more than 20 other people were injured over the weekend when a hayrack side overturned in rural western Illinois, police said.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Council to choose new mayor after Demuzio death
Carlinville officials will choose an acting leader this week after the central Illinois city’s mayor died this month.

The city’s council is set to choose an acting mayor from among its eight members on Thursday.

Monday, October 26, 2020

New health care for foster kids gets mixed reviews
Nearly two months after Illinois launched a major change in the way it provides health care to children in foster and adoptive homes, state lawmakers are hearing mixed reviews about how well the new system is working.

On Sept. 1, an estimated 19,000 children in state care were shifted to a managed care health system within the state’s Medicaid program. And while Marc Smith, acting director of the Department of Children and Family Services, declares the transition a “great success,” outside observers say a large number of children still are not getting the care they need.

Monday, October 26, 2020

SIU turns recruitment focus back to Southern Illinois region
Austin Lane, who joined Southern Illinois University as chancellor of its Carbondale campus in July, said he noticed one glaringly obvious problem area right away: In recent years, SIU had lost sight of the importance of recruiting students from its backyard.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out,” he said. “We have to have our No. 1 priority be here in the Southern Illinois region as it relates to recruiting.”

Lane and top members of his admissions and recruitment staff have spent the past several weeks reaching out to Southern Illinois high school and community college leaders to talk with them about efforts to improve local recruitment and seek their feedback on what SIU can do to draw more students. That has materialized in the form of a series of Zoom calls in light of COVID-19.

Monday, October 26, 2020

US housing officials investigate Chicago polluter
Federal housing officials are investigating why the city of Chicago is allowing a chronic polluter company to move its operation from a wealthy, largely white neighborhood to a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood.

The Ohio-based company that bought General Iron Industries — a clout-heavy scrap shredder with a long history of pollution problems — wants to move their operation from Lincoln Park on the city’s North Side to a site on the Calumet River in the East Side neighborhood near Illinois’ border with Indiana. It’s an area where residential yards, baseball fields and playgrounds are already contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals from other companies, including steelmakers that left decades ago.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lawmakers push to reform Illinois' bail system; work to end money bond
Some state lawmakers are looking to reform the cash bail system in Illinois, mainly by ending the use of money bonds as a factor in preventing a suspect’s release.

State Sen. Robert Peters and state Rep. Justin Slaughter, both Chicago Democrats, will attempt to end the use of money bonds by sponsoring a forthcoming, yet-to-be-filed bill known as the Pretrial Fairness Act.

In January, Gov. JB Pritzker put ending cash bail at the top of his administration’s criminal justice agenda for the year.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Half of the state's 102 counties now at warning level
Through tears, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike once again called for widespread use of face coverings Friday after warning of increasing COVID-19 hospitalization numbers that could surpass the peaks of April and May.

“I mean it's sad to see the numbers going up again,” Ezike said at a COVID-19 briefing in Chicago. “People have worked really hard to get us through the first phase, … and as we see the numbers go up in the hospital, people are bringing more beds, trying to prepare for the COVID units again, and the staff that went through all that pain to try to save as many people as they can are seeing history repeat itself.”

The virus has now claimed 9,418 lives in Illinois, with another 31 deaths reported over the previous 24 hours, including a person in their 30s, one in their 40s, two in their 60s, 11 in their 70s and the rest 80 or older.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Governor orders police patrols amid COVID-19 spikes
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday that Illinois State Police will start patrolling bars and restaurants in regions of the state where coronavirus numbers are surging, and establishments that disregard his new restrictions could face sanctions including the loss of their liquor or gambling licenses.

On another record-setting day for new COVID-19 infections, Pritzker announced the police patrols in four area of the state. The officers will be authorized to disperse crowds and issue citations for violators.

Pritzker previously downplayed enforcement while begging for compliance, but he said times have changed.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Court race turns ugly with attack ads
A court decision involving an appeal from a convicted sex offender who attempted suicide before trial has surfaced in the race for the state Supreme Court’s southern Illinois district between two sitting justices on that same court..

In a 28-page opinion issued in June, a three-judge panel of the 5th District Appellate Court tossed out the conviction of Jerad Peoples, who claimed he deserved a new trial because he was hospitalized from a drug overdose and suicide attempt during his first trial.

Justice David Overstreet, who is the Repubican candidate, agreed with the two other appellate judges on the panel that decided to throw out Peoples’ conviction for sexually abusing a child and grant him a new trial.

Friday, October 23, 2020

State fire officials announce Illinois' new 10-year smoke detector law
State and local fire safety experts gathered Thursday with EIU University officials at the Charleston Fire Department to make the public aware of Illinois’ new 10-year smoke detector law.  

"In 2019, there were 91 residential fire deaths in Illinois and sadly nearly 70 percent of these deaths are occurring in homes without working smoke detectors," said Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) /IL Firefighters Association Government Affairs Director Margaret Vaughn.  “We worked with the General Assembly to pass a law to address this horrific problem, by requiring Illinois residents to replace their old smoke detectors with the type that has a long term 10-year sealed battery by the end of 2022. This would apply to residents that are still using alarms with removable batteries or alarms are not hardwired.”

Friday, October 23, 2020

Illinois has spent half of its $3.5-billion virus funding; governor calls for more
Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday renewed his call for more federal aid for struggling state and local governments as well as small businesses, but talks in Washington may be stalled until after Election Day.

“We believe the federal government needs to step in here, both with greater dollars available to small businesses, targeted to small businesses, as well as for local governments and state governments to support the small businesses across our state,” Pritzker said at an event in Chicago. “We have programs that do that. The federal government can reup the programs they’ve created for that. Those are all things that are going to be needed to get through the COVID winter that’s ahead of us.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Illinois planning for COVID vaccine as cases surge
While battling a recalcitrant coronavirus pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday started laying plans for distributing a safe and effective vaccine.

But other than saying that a vaccine would go first to health care providers, long-term care residents and other vulnerable populations, Pritzker, at his renewed daily COVID-19 briefing, offered few details, saying much depends on what the federal government ultimately approves to prevent the virus.

“The challenge of designing a plan now, of course, is that there’s so much about the vaccines that we don’t know,” Pritizker said in Chicago. “The most defining characteristic of this plan is that it’s adjustable as we go forward and learn more.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Region 3, including Christian Co., half point away from more mitigation
COVID-19 “numbers throughout most of the regions are trending in the wrong direction,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at a news conference Tuesday in Chicago.

The governor and health officials announced more mitigations as COVID-19 positivity rates remained on an upward arc in every region.

The regions that will be subject to greater mitigations by the end of the week include 33 counties and more than a quarter of the state’s population. Other mitigations include a ban on party buses and closure of casinos and gambling venues at 11 p.m., among others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2 Wisconsin women accused of drugging, robbing 10 men
Two Wisconsin women are accused in Chicago of drugging 10 men and robbing them of about $85,000 after they fell unconscious, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.

Tiana Trammel, 25, and Tjwana Rainey, 32, both of Milwaukee, allegedly ran the scheme from January until last Sunday. They are charged with operating a continuing financial criminal enterprise and possession of a controlled substance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Research indicates Mississippi River is older than thought
Research by a Southern Illinois University instructor and her graduate student indicates the Mississippi River is more than three times older than previous records suggested.

Sally Potter-McIntyre, an associate professor in SIU’s School of Earth Systems and Sustainability, said in 2013 her then-graduate student, Jeremy Breeden, wanted to date deposits of sedimentary rock in his native Southern Illinois. So, she led a team of researchers, including Breeden, to begin dating sedimentary rock found at Illinois’ southernmost tip.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Chicago group to remove 'Lightscape' and speakers from city's downtown
An organization that advocates for Chicago’s central business district has decided to remove some decorative clusters of lights and speakers from the city’s downtown.

The Chicago Loop Alliance is uninstalling “Lightscape,” a multisensory experience that was unveiled in 2011. Each cluster included 50 to 100 energy-efficient LED lights that were in sync with songs that played through the speakers, WLS-TV reported.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Remains found in Illinois field identified 25 years later
The remains of a woman have finally been identified a quarter of a century after they were discovered in a central Illinois field about 150 miles from her family home.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported Wednesday that authorities were able to identify the woman as Keri Lyn Wyant by comparing DNA extracted from bones found in 1995 near Thomasboro to DNA that had been uploaded to open source genealogy sites.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

State announces 2nd round of broadband grants
State officials on Monday announced the opening of a second round of grant opportunities for businesses and organizations to expand access to broadband internet service in underserved communities.

Speaking at a news conference in Staunton, about 40 miles northeast of St. Louis, Gov. JB Pritzker said the program will help close a digital divide that existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many people to start working from home and students to attend classes remotely.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pritzker back to daily briefings as pandemic worsens
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 and the rolling seven-day test positivity rate for the virus increased again in Illinois on Monday, mirroring national trends.

Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Jackson County news conference Monday the state would increase mitigations in southern Illinois and announced he would once again hold daily weekday COVID-19 briefings until metrics start to decrease.

“While we continue to see a safer pandemic landscape than back in April and May, in terms of positivity, hospital capacity and community spread…Things have changed,” Pritzker said while noting Illinois’ positivity rates are still generally lower than its Midwest neighbors. “Every region of the state has started to move in the wrong direction.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Sangamon Co judge: Municipalities are exempt from Election Day holiday
A Sangamon County judge has ruled local units of government are exempt from a law the General Assembly passed this year declaring the Nov. 3 general election as a state holiday and requiring all government offices to be closed that day, unless they are used as polling places or for other election-related services.

Lawmakers passed that measure during their special session in May as a way to protect public safety during the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it was intended to allow schools, colleges and universities to be used as polling places without exposing students to members of the public who might be carrying the virus.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Lawmakers hear testimony on improving health care access and outcomes
Health care experts appeared before Illinois lawmakers Monday to discuss disparities in access to hospitals and outcomes based on ZIP code.

Witnesses discussed solutions to financial obstacles facing safety-net hospitals, the lack of preventative care for underserved communities, and massive disparities in outcomes based on race and income at a joint hearing of the state Senate Public Health and Human Services committees.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Illinois poorly prepared for flood of unemployment claims
Gov. JB Pritzker held off filling top vacancies at Illinois’ unemployment office because he was planning to merge it with another state department. Then COVID-19 upended the nation.

In March, as authorities shut down businesses and schools and two million Illinois workers applied for jobless benefits, the state Department of Employment Security was already at one of its weakest moments in recent history, records and interviews show.

Monday, October 19, 2020

7 Chicago cops suspended for cover up of sorts
CHICAGO (AP) — Seven Chicago police officers have been suspended for their roles the night then-Superintendent Eddie Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV after having several drinks at a bar, according to a report by the city’s inspector general released Friday.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sexual assault witnessed via remote learning site
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl witnessed in an online forum used for remote teaching on the South Side, police said.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

New cover crop harkened as the 'wonder weed'
LEXINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University researchers and administrators joined elected officials in praising what they say is an environmentally friendly and financially beneficial alternative to corn and soybeans during an event at the school’s research farm.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Enjoy a conversation with Harriet Tubman performed online
SPRINGFIELD — A Conversation with Harriet Tubman will be performed live online on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 7 pm. This family-friendly performance, featuring re-enactor Kathryn Harris, will illuminate the life and times of this famous figure of the Underground Railroad. It will be broadcast live on the Looking for Lincoln’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel, and will end with a question and answer with the virtual audience.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Illinois hospitalizations top 2,000
SPRINGFIELD — More than 2,000 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Illinois as of the end of this week, a high not seen since June 12.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Downstate judges face off for 5th District seat
SPRINGFIELD — The race for the seat on the Illinois Supreme Court that represents 37 counties in southern Illinois is pitting a centrist Democratic candidate against a self-described “constitutional conservative” Republican.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fall fun: Rediscover this Illinois gem
SPRINGFIELD — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has launched a new website that makes information easier to find, gives a better sense of what visiting is like and offers a blog and a searchable collection of Lincoln quotes.
Saturday, October 17, 2020

Pfizer: Mid-Nov. earliest it can seek vaccine okay
NEW YORK (AP) —  Pfizer Inc. cannot request emergency authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine before the third week of November — and that’s if everything goes well, the company’s CEO announced today.
Friday, October 16, 2020

4,015 cases in Illinois highest single-day total yet
SPRINGFIELD — As COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates continue to rise in Illinois, so do new unemployment claims.
Friday, October 16, 2020

APL hosting drive-thru and virtual bazaar Oct. 25
SPRINGFIELD — The Animal Protective League (APL), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting ill, injured and abandoned homeless animals, will hold its annual Chili Supper in a new drive-thru format on Sunday, October 25th, at the Grand Columbian Hall, 2200 Meadowbrook Road, in Springfield.  Chili will be available for pick-up from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can even pre-order online and choose what time you would like to pick-up your chili!
Friday, October 16, 2020

Gun owners frustrated over Illinois FOID backlog

SPRINGFIELD – Despite a temporary rule that extends the expiration dates for Firearm Owners Identification cards and concealed carry permits, many Illinois gun owners are still finding it difficult to buy weapons and ammunition.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Partisan battle over Supreme Court race could exceed $6 million in spending
SPRINGFIELD — With Election Day weeks away, top Republican donors have funneled more than $2.5 million to unseat one of four Democratic justices on the Illinois Supreme Court, and potentially seize control from the court’s Democratic majority, which has lasted since 1964.
Friday, October 16, 2020

Precautions urged for holiday parties as COVID-19 cases rise
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois’ public health director urged residents Wednesday to celebrate the holidays with limited activities and greater precautions because of the persistence of COVID-19.
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Gov. blasts decision to scuttle Census
SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration could shorten the U.S. Census count on Tuesday, just hours after the Illinois government committed an additional $1 million to outreach.
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Proposal would raise energy rate caps; expand green
SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers and renewable energy stakeholders are calling for legislative action on measures meant to bring funding to and diversify the clean energy industry in the state.
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Judge weighing dismissal of COVID-19 lawsuits
SPRINGFIELD — A circuit court judge in Springfield is now weighing whether to dismiss lawsuits by Republican Rep. Darren Bailey and others challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, October 15, 2020

State senate committees take on prison reform
The state Senate Criminal law Committee and Special Committee on Public Safety held a joint hearing Tuesday, calling on experts to provide evidence-based recommendations for enhancing public safety and making prisons more equitable and humane.

“Over 4 million Illinoisans have criminal records that prevent them from accessing jobs, housing, public benefits and other economic opportunities,” Victor Dickson, president of the Safer Foundation, said in virtual testimony. “The most severe discrimination experienced by Black and brown people in our state with lifelong negative consequences comes from involvement in our criminal justice system.”

The Safer Foundation provides prerelease and post-release services for individuals in the prison system to successfully reenter society.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

State COVID-19 positivity rates remain on the rise
COVID-19 test positivity rates and hospitalizations continue to increase in Illinois as virus-related deaths in the state surpassed 9,000 Tuesday.

“More than 9,000 Illinoisans — our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, family, friends, and neighbors — have had their lives cut short by COVID-19, leaving tens of thousands more to grieve loved ones lost too soon,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a news release. “As we pause today to mourn these individual and collective losses, may we find strength in the tools we have to protect our communities: wearing a mask, watching our distance, and respecting public health and each other. My heart breaks for all those who have lost a loved one in this battle we never asked to fight – may their memories be for a blessing.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

3 weeks before election, Illinois surpasses 660,000 early and mail-in votes
With just three weeks remaining before the Nov. 3 general election, more than 660,000 voters in Illinois have already cast ballots either through mail-in or early in-person voting, shattering previous records for advance voting, according to state election officials.

The Illinois State Board of Elections posted to its website Tuesday that 660,500 advance ballots had already been received by various local voting jurisdictions.

That included 482,848 mail ballots that had either been delivered to election authorities or deposited in a drop box. That’s 22.4 percent of the more than 2.15 million mail ballots that have been requested so far.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Illinois nears 9,000 COVID-19 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday that an additional 53 people in the state had died of COVID-19 over the weekend, pushing the statewide total to just under 9,000.

Illinois neared that grim milestone as the statewide test positivity rate inched above 4 percent for the first time since early September. From Saturday through Monday, IDPH reported a total of 8,374 new cases among 177,882 tests performed, making for a three-day test positivity rate of 4.7 percent.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Pregnant woman fatally shot, baby survives
A woman who was eight months pregnant has died after being shot in Chicago and doctors delivered her baby, who was hospitalized in critical condition early Tuesday, authorities said.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Housing professionals honored for COVID response
Two Western Illinois University housing officers have been recognized by an international organization for their efforts in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Jessica Butcher and Bridget McCormick were recognized by the “Heroes Program” of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

When school is home and home is school, which rules prevail?
Toys that look like weapons. Barefoot students. Disruptive imagery in the background. Pets roaming the room. All a clear violation of rules inside most American classrooms. But that was when most American students were actually inside schools.

How do standards like these translate when everyone is logging on from home? Schools are struggling to figure it out this fall — yet another adaptation demanded of educators during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Christian County remains at COVID-19 warning level
State officials announced that they are lifting the enhanced restrictions that have been in place for more than a month in the Metro East region after the area’s COVID-19 test positivity rate fell below 6 percent.

The region was scheduled to return to Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan effective 5 p.m. Friday, the same day statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose above 1,800 for the first time since June 18.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Big money funds debate on Illinois tax
Both sides in the debate over a ballot measure to change Illinois’ income tax system from a flat-rate to a graduated structure have straightforward arguments

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other proponents call it the “fair tax” because it demands more from those with higher incomes. Those making less than $250,000 a year would pay no more than the current 4.95% flat rate.

Opponents point to the state’s history of political corruption, saying the proposal on the November ballot would loosen constitutional restraints on lawmakers’ spending.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Rep. Bost tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois has tested positive for COVID-19, the latest lawmaker now confirmed to have the virus.

The Republican whose district covers most of deep southern Illinois tested positive late Thursday, according to a statement from his office Friday. He had experienced “a mild cough and a rapid loss of both taste and smell,” prompting him to take the test.

“We are taking this situation seriously and will continue to serve the people of Southern Illinois while doing our best to ensure their health and safety,” he said in a statement. “I will provide additional updates in the days ahead and am anxious to get back to work as soon as I make a full recovery.”

Monday, October 12, 2020

State officials encourage participation in quake drill
Illinois officials are encouraging the state’s residents to participate in an earthquake drill event planned in several states and countries.

The drill, called Shakeout, is planned for 10:15 a.m. on Thursday. Families, schools, businesses and other organizations should register online to participate, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Monday, October 12, 2020

East St. Louis students lack internet
Countless parents in East St. Louis say they are relying on minimal resources while struggling to gain internet access to help their children participate in remote learning at area schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

East St. Louis is a largely Black community where nearly 40% of residents live below the federal poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Four face charges in fatal shooting in Olney
Four people are facing charges in connection with the shooting death of a 19-year-old last month in southern Illinois, authorities announced Sunday.

Illinois State Police said the latest person to be charged in Kyle M. Johnson’s death was 32-year-old Dale E. Boatman of Olney. He was charged Saturday with committing first-degree murder by accountability and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Trial set for Lincoln impersonator accused in child porn case
A northwestern Illinois man known for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is scheduled to go on trial in December on child pornography and prostitution charges.

George Buss, 63, of Freeport has pleaded not guilty. The jury trial is set for Dec. 7, according to the (Springfield) State Journal-Register. According to Stephenson County court records, Buss posted on a $20,000 bond last month.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Roosevelt University creates new health sciences college
Roosevelt University is creating a new college focused on health care education.

Officials at the Chicago university said the College of Science, Health and Pharmacy combines existing programs in science and pre-health. The new college includes 16 total academic programs.

Dr. Melissa Hogan and Dr. Kelly Wentz-Hunter have been named as the college’s co-deans.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Lawmakers probe barriers to Black business development
Black-owned businesses in Illinois face significant barriers to growth and opportunities that would enable them to compete with their white-owned counterparts, a problem that many Black leaders say is directly tied to Black unemployment rates and the deterioration of Black neighborhoods.

That was the message state lawmakers heard Thursday when three Senate committees held a virtual joint hearing that focused on entrepreneurship and financial development for Black business owners.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Illinois changes online reporting of child abuse, neglect
The Illinois agency responsible for investigating child abuse has updated its system for accepting online reports of neglect and abuse.

Leaders of the Department of Children and Family Services said the changes include clearer instructions and fewer necessary clicks, aiming to reduce the amount of time required to complete abuse reports.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Van Dyke ends effort to overturn McDonald murder conviction
The former Chicago police officer imprisoned for the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald on Friday ended an effort to overturn his conviction.

An Illinois appellate court allowed Jason Van Dyke to withdraw his appeal, meaning he will serve out his sentence without further court proceedings.

Van Dyke’s attorney filed a motion with the court Sept. 29, 2020, asking that his appeal be dropped. Attorney Jennifer Blagg said Van Dyke decided to withdraw his appeal because he is trying to move on with his life.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Illinois tops 3K new Covid cases,1st time since May
State health officials reported Thursday that 3,059 cases of COVID-19 have been newly confirmed across Illinois — the state’s highest new daily caseload since the pandemic initially peaked in May.

The state last topped 3,000 daily coronavirus cases on May 14, when infections were confirmed among 3,239 people.

While the  Illinois Department for Public Health had reported more than 5,300 cases on Sept. 4, that figure was the result of a three-day data processing backlog.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Black lawmakers seek to revamp social studies in Illinois
Leaders of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus began pushing Wednesday for a complete overhaul of the state’s social studies curriculum to ensure that contributions of Black Americans and other minorities are properly included in history education.

“Something has to happen in this space, where we're all learning about each other, all of us,” Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said during a virtual committee hearing. “I'm not saying that we have to teach a special chapter that just teaches Black history. That is a myth. It should be taught throughout.”

Friday, October 9, 2020

Durkin calls on Democrats to demand Madigan answer questions or resign
The top Republican in the Illinois House on Thursday called for Democrats, including Gov. JB Pritzker, to either demand that Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan answer questions before a Special Investigating Committee or resign immediately.

During a virtual news conference, Minority Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, openly accused the investigating committee’s chairman, Hillside Democrat Emanuel “Chris” Welch, of deliberately stalling the investigation until after the Nov. 3 election, a move that Republicans warn could thwart the entire investigation.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Illinois COVID-19 deaths near 9,000
The Metro East area on the Missouri border could be two days away from seeing stricter mitigations lifted if its COVID-19 test positivity rate stays where it is or decreases.

The rate in Region 4 of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan hit 6.3 percent as of Sunday, the latest day for which data were available. It’s a decrease of four-tenths of a percentage point from the day prior and 1.4 percentage points from four days prior. It must remain below 6.5 percent for the next two days in order to have mitigations lifted. Added mitigations currently in place in Region 4 since the beginning of September include the closure of indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars.

Region 1, which includes northwest Illinois from Winnebago County to the western border, had a positivity rate of 8.6 percent as of Oct. 4, which was one day after bars and restaurants closed to indoor service in the region.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Gov confident about stimulus package
Gov. J.B. Pritzker expressed confidence Wednesday that Congress will put together another coronavirus pandemic relief package.

The budget the Democratic governor signed last spring left a $5 billion gap for what lawmakers hoped by late summer would be a second federal stimulus grant. But Congress has been unable to agree on a package for states to relieve the economic damage done by the highly contagious coronavirus, which has slowed or shut down commerce nationally.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Pritzker announces $4.5M 'racial healing' initiative
Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton unveiled a $4.5 million initiative Tuesday that is meant to foster dialogue and promote racial healing in the state.

The Healing Illinois initiative is a grant program launched in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust that will be overseen by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The grants come from the IDHS budget and will go to organizations across the state to foster positive dialogue on race relations and deliberative reckoning on systemic racism and disparities still faced by Black Illinoisans.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

St. Louis grand jury indicts couple who defended their home
A grand jury on Tuesday indicted the St. Louis couple who displayed guns while hundreds of racial injustice protesters marched on their private street.

Al Watkins, an attorney for the couple, confirmed to The Associated Press the indictments against Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61. A spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner declined comment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Chicago's Second City comedy theater for sale
Chicago’s Second City comedy theater — where performers including Bill Murray, Steve Carell and Jordan Peele honed their skills — has been put up for sale.

In a statement released Tuesday, co-owner Andrew Alexander said a sale presents the opportunity for Second City to succeed well into the future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Experts ask public to help conserve precious medical resources
State officials on Tuesday urged Illinoisans to get their seasonal flu vaccinations as a way to conserve medical resources for COVID-19 patients.

“There is the potential that people could become co-infected with both flu and COVID-19,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.  “Although a COVID-19 vaccine is still being developed and tested, we do have a vaccine to combat this season’s anticipated flu viruses..  I want to challenge everyone to roll their #SleeveUp and show us you that you’ve received your flu shot and are committed to protect those around you.”

Although the seasonal flu is significantly less lethal than COVID-19, many of the initial symptoms of both illnesses are similar – coughs, fevers, chills and shortness of breath.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Editorial Roundup: Chicago Trib says "No property tax relief, no Pritzker tax"
Following is an editorial from the Chicago Tribune published October 4, 2020:

No property tax relief, no to ‘Pritzker Tax”

If you voted early, you already know what the proposed Pritzker Tax amendment looks like on the ballot. It’s at the top, and the language is leading, not neutral:

In an ongoing series of editorials, we have outlined why Illinois voters should vote no.

Today we introduce Part Four: Why broken promises on property tax relief should encourage voters to say “no” to more taxes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Ending cash bail and more rehabilitation is part of the Pritzker prison plan
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced proposals to end cash bail, change theft and drug-crime sentencing to give criminals opportunities to escape addiction and creating more rehabilitation options to reduce long sentences.

The ideas are among seven “guiding principles“ the Democrat unveiled for negotiations with the General Assembly over criminal justice reform, an initiative announced in January and spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and pushed forward for decades by the Legislative Black Caucus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Lawsuit takes aim at graduated tax ballot language
A think tank  is suing the Illinois State Board of Elections and secretary of state, charging that graduated tax constitutional amendment language is “misleading” as it appears on the General Election ballot and in a pamphlet sent to voters.

The Illinois Policy Institute, which describes itself as a libertarian-leaning think tank and has been a leading organization in opposition the amendment, is joined by three retirees in the lawsuit which asks a judge to force election authorities to send “a corrective notice” to voters regarding the graduated tax constitutional amendment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Democrat chairman delays Madigan probe until after election
The chairman of the Special Investigating Committee probing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s alleged role in a bribery scheme said Tuesday that he will delay any further meetings of that panel until after the Nov. 3 general election.

“The committee will meet again in person on Nov. 5 in Springfield – without the backdrop of a political campaign,” Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said in a statement.

That statement, which came exactly four weeks before the Nov. 3 general election, infuriated Republicans on the panel who accused Welch of stonewalling the investigation in order to protect the powerful Democratic speaker.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Illinois trout fishing season opens on October 17
Illinois’ fall trout fishing season opens on Oct. 17 at more than 50 ponds, lakes, and streams across the state.

For those who can’t wait, the catch-and-release trout season opens Oct. 3 at select locations. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says no trout may be kept during catch-and-release period. Violators will face penalties.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

State gambling revenues plummet during pandemic
Revenues flowing into state coffers from legalized gambling operations plummeted during the fiscal year that ended June 30 as casinos, racetracks and other video gambling venues were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people also slowed down on buying lottery tickets, according to a new report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or CoGFA, which said total state tax revenues generated through legalized gambling fell 13.4 percent, or about $200 million, compared to the previous fiscal year.

“This decline is in large part due to the suspension of video gaming and casino operations between March 16 and June 30, which thereby prevented any revenues from being generated from these sources during this time period,” the report stated. “Although this suspension has been since lifted, gaming has only returned on a limited basis and it remains unclear how long these limitations will last. Even with the resumption of wagering, it is expected that the ramifications of the pandemic on public confidence will persist for some time.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Weekly COVID hospitalization averages tick upward
Illinois surpassed 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8,800 virus-related deaths over the weekend as it approached 6 million tests conducted since the pandemic first reached the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 62 additional virus-related deaths from Saturday through Monday, bringing total casualties in the state to 8,805.

There were 1,631 people hospitalized for the virus at the end of Sunday, including 382 in intensive care units and 155 on ventilators.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

For sleuths, documenting tombstones proves fulfilling
At first glance, the septuagenarians carefully brushing leaves and lichen from the tombstones at a suburban cemetery seem to have stepped straight out of a scene from a British mystery show.

“When the time comes, you want to make sure you have a vertical tombstone, so the weather doesn’t get to it,” advised Wilmette resident Julie Busse, 76, who on a recent September morning, strolled among the tombstones rising out of the mossy grounds at the St. Peter’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in Skokie.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Jackson drive-in restaurant being renovated to 1939 look
A Jackson landmark is getting a makeover.

The Dome was a legendary hangout for generations of Jackson-area youngsters who cruised “The Ave.” — Michigan Avenue — from The Dome to Bea’s Drive-In and back, especially in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Known for its chocolate malts and beefy Domeburgers, that egg-shaped building holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.

The primarily drive-in restaurant closed in 1984, and when the property it sat on was sold in 1988, a group of people organized its move to East Jackson Community Schools where it could live on as a concession stand at the athletic complex.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Committee looks at land use, gentrification, lingering effects of redlining
Redlining and gentrification were the latest topics discussed Thursday in a series of committee hearings spurred by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus as its members lay the groundwork for its veto session agenda.

While lawmakers have already held six other hearings focusing on informing the four-pillar Black Caucus agenda, Thursday’s joint hearing of four state Senate committees was the first to focus on economic access, equity and opportunity.

The goal was to convey the historical significance of gentrification and redlining and demonstrate how such practices contribute to racial economic divides.

Monday, October 5, 2020

At 47, daily COVID-19 death count is highest since the end of June
Twenty-eight Illinois counties are at a warning level for COVID-19 spread as of Friday, the same day the rolling seven-day average positivity rate in the state decreased to 3.4 percent.

The 28 counties at a warning level for COVID-19 spread include Bond, Boone, Brown, Calhoun, Christian, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, DeKalb, DeWitt, Fayette, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Lee, Livingston, Macon, Massac, Monroe, Morgan, Pulaski, Putnam, Richland, Saline, St. Clair, Wabash, Washington and Winnebago.

A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase, including number of deaths, new cases per 100,000, weekly test positivity and others.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Cook County judge resigns after sexual harassment
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mauricio Araujo resigned Thursday, according to the Judicial Inquiry Board. His resignation will take effect on Monday.

Araujo was facing the possibility of removal from the bench after the Illinois Courts Commission found Tuesday that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that he engaged in a pattern of inappropriate and harassing behavior toward women.

The commission of five judges and two members appointed by the governor was set to hand down a sanction next week.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Farmers expect neither feast nor famine this year
After a dry August, the State Climatologist Office for Illinois classified central Illinois counties as being either abnormally dry or in state of moderate drought. But Tazewell County farmers seem to anticipate a respectable harvest in spite of this summer’s unusual weather conditions.

“I think we’ll have a decent yield on corn and soybeans,” said Tazewell County Farm Bureau president Kent Kleinschmidt. “Both crops went through some less-than-ideal conditions early in the season, but we had good, favorable weather after that. We had some little dry spells, but we’ve had some timely rain and we’ve had some heat and we’ve had some cooler weather. I think the crops overall look pretty good in our area. I don’t think they’ll be bumper crops, but they’re sure not going to be a disaster, either.”

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Hunting opportunities abound in central Illinois
Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that maintains the health and abundance of game species and the balance of our natural resources. Hunters play an important role in managing wildlife and it is their tax dollars paid through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and hunting licenses and fees that pay for the majority of wildlife management by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR.) Please visit the Wildlife Management Site for more information.
Saturday, October 3, 2020

Safety course required for many Illinois hunters
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 may not be issued a hunting license unless he or she presents a valid Hunter Education Certificate of Competency issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Safety Education Division or another state.

Many states are now requiring adult hunters to furnish evidence of having completed a Hunter Education Course prior to issuance of a non-resident license. An Illinois Hunter Safety Education certificate is accepted by all other states.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Fall flowering witch hazel charms home gardens
With a name befitting the season it blooms, common witch hazel is a fall favorite for Illinois gardeners looking to add a small tree with character to their yard.

"People are very interested in plants that add some interest to their landscape in fall and winter," says Gemini Bhalsod, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "Common witch hazel is one of my favorites because it supports pollinators and has unusual yellow flowers."

Saturday, October 3, 2020

How to pick and preserve the perfect pumpkin
When you think of Halloween, you may think trick-or-treating and fall, but you likely also think pumpkins.

Illinois is the top pumpkin-producing state in the U.S., says Ron Wolford, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Black Caucus seeking 'accountability'
Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair state Sen. Kimberly Lightford said the caucus is holding Gov. JB Pritzker, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, accountable for their pledged support for the ILBC agenda.

At a news conference Thursday in Englewood to unveil the third pillar of the ILBC’s four-pronged legislative agenda for the upcoming veto session, Lightford, D-Maywood, was asked whether she believed Madigan’s promise “to try” to support the ILBC’s initiatives to combat systemic racism in Illinois and whether the Black Caucus would support his re-election as House speaker.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Fellw Democrat to challenge Madiagan as GOP pushes for subpoenas
The longest-serving state legislative speaker in U.S. history will have a challenger from his own party in January.

The Thursday announcement that Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, (pictured right) would challenge Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan as Illinois House Speaker came just an hour before Republicans called a news conference to lay out their next steps in a noncriminal legislative probe of Madigan.

Kifowit’s challenge to the speaker, who has held the position for all but two years since 1983, comes months after utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted in a court agreement to handing out jobs and contracts worth $1.3 million to close Madigan associates in an effort to curry his favor for legislation that benefitted the company.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Application period open for $5M in livestock grants
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that $5 million in business recovery grants is available for the state’s livestock industry.

Livestock producers and small meat and poultry plants impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive the grants, and the application period is open through Oct. 31.

The funding is a part of the state’s coronavirus relief initiative, the Business Interruption Grants program, which uses federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act money in targeted disbursements for Illinois industries.

Friday, October 2, 2020

IDPH announces another 25 virus-related deaths
The state announced another 2,126 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 virus-related deaths Thursday as new unemployment claims climbed from a week ago.

There were 29,390 initial unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 26, which was an increase of 3,414, or 13 percent, from the week prior, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. New claims were more than four times higher than the same period a year ago.

Nationally, there were 837,000 initial claims for the same period, a decrease of 36,000 from the week prior.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Governor issues Halloween guidance and more
The state announced Halloween COVID-19 guidance encouraging social distancing while trick-or-treating, and the governor took questions in a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Those passing out candy should maintain six feet from trick-or-treaters and wear proper face coverings, according to the guidance, and trick-or-treating should be done in groups with household members only.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said households should consider leaving individually wrapped candy on a table in driveways or in front of walkways to allow for social distancing

“For anyone wearing a costume – whether a child or an adult – a costume mask is not a substitute for face covering,” Ezike said. “If face coverings are worn under the costume mask, please ensure that this does not create any breathing problems, and if it does, don't discard your face covering. Put the costume mask aside.”

Thursday, October 1, 2020

2 million-plus mail-in ballots requested in Illinois
More than 2 million Illinois voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots and more than 26,000 such ballots have already been returned, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

That means about a quarter of the state’s registered voters had requested vote-by-mail ballots as of Wednesday afternoon.

ISBE reported that 2,077,594 ballots were requested, with 26,872 returned and 55,751 persons having voted early.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Ex-UAW president with ties to Illinois pleads guilty
The former president of the United Auto Workers pleaded guilty Wednesday to an embezzlement scheme, saying he suspected that union dues were being used for golf, lodging and fancy meals but “deliberately looked away” and enjoyed the bounty.

Dennis Williams is the latest senior leader at the UAW to plead guilty in the government’s investigation of corruption in the union’s upper ranks. His successor as president, Gary Jones, pleaded guilty in June.

“As I have often said, the hard-working men and women of the UAW deserve so much better,“ said Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI in Detroit.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Authorities advise older adults of importance of flu vaccination
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is encouraging all older Illinoisans that getting a flu vaccine during the 2020-2021 flu season is especially important in order to protect yourself and the people around you from the flu. Doing so will also help reduce the strain on healthcare systems, keeping hospital beds and other medical resources available for COVID-19 patients.
Thursday, October 1, 2020

Illinois car heist ends with one teen dead, one injured
A 14-year-old boy fleeing police in a car he had allegedly stolen from a southwestern Illinois dealership died after it collided with another stolen car officers were also pursuing, police said.

The two vehicles stolen from a Wood River dealership collided early Tuesday along the southbound ramp linking Illinois 255 with Interstate 270 in the Metro East area several miles east of the Mississippi River, police said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

State Senate committee focuses on drug penalty reform, elderly parole prompted by Black Caucus
The Illinois Senate Criminal Law Committee and Special Committee on Public Safety held its latest in a series of hearings related to the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ legislative agenda Tuesday, focusing on reclassifying offenses, drug penalty reform and elderly parole.

“We must confront the vast disparities in how individuals throughout the state are sentenced,” state Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat and chair of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, said. “We have to ensure that our justice system treats everyone fairly regardless of their race, religion and economic status. That often is not the case. These issues are important to achieve a more fair and equitable system.”

Witnesses testifying before the committee included Tanya Woods, executive director of the Westside Justice Center; Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz; White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud; Ben Ruddell, director of criminal justice policy for the Illinois ACLU; and representatives from Restore Justice Illinois.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Former ComEd VP pleads guilty in bribery scheme involving Madigan
A former ComEd vice president pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in what prosecutors say was a long-running bribery conspiracy in which the energy utility sought legislative support from one of Illinois’ most powerful Democrats, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Fidel Marquez, who headed ComEd’s governmental affairs office until 2019 and is the first former executive charged in the ongoing investigation, entered the plea by video before Chicago-based U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Northwest Illnois headed for more virus mitigation
While Gov. JB Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-isolate for a period of two weeks, Region 1 of the state’s reopening plan saw a second straight day with a COVID-19 test positivity rate exceeding 8 percent and will see increased mitigations starting Saturday, Oct. 3, due to the rising rate of spread.

“The concerning uptick in Region 1’s positivity – jumping more than two percentage points in two weeks even as the majority of Illinois continues to see downward trends – demands increased efforts to stop the spread in our northwestern counties,” Pritzker said in a news release.

The region includes the northwest part of the state from the Rockford area to the western edge of Illinois, including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Stephen Douglas statue removed from Capitol lawn
A statue of Stephen A. Douglas, a 19th century senator from Illinois who owned slaves and was a longtime nemesis of Abraham Lincoln, has been moved from the state Capitol’s lawn into storage, more than a month after a state board ordered its removal.

Crews on Saturday used equipment to remove the statue of Douglas and a statue of Pierre Menard — an early Illinois settler and politician who was also a slave owner — from the Statehouse lawn in Springfield, The State Journal-Register reported.

The board of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol voted unanimously on Aug. 19 to remove both statues after House Speaker Michael Madigan asked the panel in July to consider removing portraits and statuary of Douglas in and around the Capitol.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Pritzker will quarantine for 2 weeks; aide tests positive
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will quarantine for two weeks after a member of his administration tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Tuesday.

The staff member had attended events with the first-term Democrat all last week including in Chicago, Marion and Marseilles.

“Both the governor and the staffer were wearing masks during the entirety of their interactions,” read a statement from Pritzker’s office.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Ameren to invest $8 billion in renewable energy projects
Ameren plans to invest $8 billion in renewable projects during the next two decades, with a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across Missouri and Illinois, the energy company announced Monday.

The St. Louis-based company said it plans to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030 and 85% by 2040, based on 2005 levels. It also will eventually close all of its coal-based power plants, starting with the retirement of the Meramec Energy Center in 2022 and ending with the final coal-power plant closing in 2042.

The changes were included in a generation plan — known as an Integrated Resource Plan — that Ameren submits to state regulators every three years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Mother charged in fatal stabbing of her five-year-old
A Chicago woman charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of her 5-year-old daughter was ordered Monday to be held without bond after prosecutors gave chilling details provided by the child’s older sister who witnessed the slaying.

Prosecutors presented a proffer that included details of the last moments of Serenity Arrington’s life before Simone Austin allegedly slashed her throat with a serrated knife and repeatedly stabbed her.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Four Peoria women killed in 1-car crash
Teachers and staff at a central Illinois high school are mourning the weekend deaths of four young women who were killed when their vehicle left a roadway and slammed into a tree.

All four women killed in early Sunday’s crash in Peoria were Manual Academy graduates. Authorities identified them as Jazzman Burns, 22, a 2016 graduate; Quanylan Thomas, 19, a 2019 graduate; and 18-year-olds Tyesha Thomas and Diamond Williams, both 2020 grads.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Chicago easing some COVID capacity restrictions
Restrictions aimed at limiting spread of the coronavirus in Chicago’s restaurants and bars will ease slightly this week, letting more customers dine and drink indoors.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the decision Monday as Illinois officials said 1,709 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported statewide and 13 more people have died.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported 289,639 confirmed cases and 8,614 deaths. According to state health data, 79,765 of those cases and 2,956 deaths have been among Chicago residents.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Illinois launches online tracking system for rape kits
The Illinois State Police has launched an online tracking system for rape kits that will allow sexual assault survivors to track evidence in new cases.

The state police, which rolled out the system in August, runs laboratories that analyze DNA evidence. The system was supposed to launch last year, but was delayed until this year, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Vets refuse CDC request to deport bulldog puppies
Veterinarians caring for 15 bulldog puppies rescued from a warehouse at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Monday refused to send the dogs back to the Middle East country from which they came.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week ordered the animals back to Jordan. However, the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue, which has been taking care of the animals since August, refused, saying they are concerned the dogs might be mistreated again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Overhaul of Lake Shore Drive planned
Transportation officials are seeking the public’s input for a roughly $3 billion overhaul of Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive.

The modernization project is aimed at improving Lake Michigan shoreline protection and traffic issues between Grand and Hollywood avenues, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Enbridge criticized for oil tunnel plans
Enbridge’s plans for drilling an oil pipeline tunnel beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes do not meet industry standards and pose significant hazards to workers and the environment, experts who reviewed project documents on behalf of opposition groups told The Associated Press.

Two geologists and a hazardous waste specialist said they found numerous shortcomings with the Canadian company’s proposals to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, which is considering whether to allow construction of the tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

“What Enbridge has submitted to the state of Michigan doesn’t come close to properly designing and preparing for a tunnel underwater,” said Brian O’Mara, a geological engineer who has worked on dozens of tunnel projects.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Driver's license deadline extended again
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has extended expiration dates for driver’s licenses another three months.

White announced this week that expired licenses need be renewed by Feb. 1, 2021. The previous extension was until Nov. 1.

Monday, September 28, 2020

EIU sees double-digit enrollment increase this year
Student enrollment at Eastern Illinois University has been growing for the last three-straight years, continuing with a 10.5% increase this fall.

Even during the global pandemic, enrollment numbers are at the highest point since 2014, at 8,628 students. The number of student-athletes has also increased, despite scholarship cuts that the athletic director was forced to make as a result of a budget impasse.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Illinois couple: Faux mini home sold their 2-story house
An Illinois couple that sold their home in just two days believe it was the popular faux miniature home in their yard that closed the deal.

Dannette and Brad Holifield put up the “whimsy house,“ and their two-story home in Rockford on Aug. 10 for $89,900. It sold on Aug. 13 for more than the asking price. The two homes were listed as a package deal, the Rockford Register Star  reported.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

West Peoria tavern undergoes big changes to stay same
Even with the rarity of new ownership, Mike’s Tavern will sell tradition as much as drinks.

The timeworn saloon is one of the oldest in the Peoria area, brimming with the same casual atmosphere (and, maybe, some of the same dust) since its inception nine decades ago. Over its first 82 years, Mike’s was owned by only two families, a streak that ended this month. That’s why, amid a current flurry of sawing and hammering during a temporary shut-down, a lot of hard work is going into updates mostly aiming to maintain the same ol’, same ol’.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Illinois joins pact to protect monarch butterflies' habitat
Four state agencies have signed a pact to protect monarch butterflies and other important pollinators whose numbers are dwindling.

Representatives of the Illinois Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency signed onto the Illinois Monarch Action Plan on Friday.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Funding available for unsewered communities
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director John Kim today announced two grant opportunities with $20 million in funding available to assist communities with inadequate or nonexistent wastewater collection and treatment facilities. Illinois EPA is making $100 million available through Governor Pritzker's bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan over the next five years for construction grants for wastewater collection and/or treatment facilities. Illinois EPA is also making $1 million available for the next four years for planning grants to assist small and disadvantaged communities in developing a project plan that identifies a solution to wastewater collection and treatment needs. Notices of Funding Opportunities have been posted for both programs. Applicants are required to pre-qualify through the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act Grantee Portal.

"Because of the historic investments of Rebuild Illinois, Illinoisans in every part of the state will see significant upgrades in their communities, not only in our roads and bridges but in our wastewater collection and treatment facilities," said Governor JB Pritzker. "The Unsewered Communities Construction Grants program will provide disadvantaged communities across Illinois with the needed funds to improve sewer systems and reduce impacts on the environment. These investments are but one piece of the Rebuild Illinois plan and we will continue working to improve the financial wellbeing, health, education and safety of all Illinois residents."

Friday, September 25, 2020

Court upholds death sentence for man who killed girlfriend
The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence for an Illinois man convicted of abducting his estranged girlfriend from Kentucky in 2014 and killing her along an Ohio highway.

Death row inmate Terry Froman was sentenced to death in 2017 by a Warren County jury for shooting Kimberly Thomas on Interstate 75 in southwestern Ohio.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Abuse investigator pleads not guilty in slain boy case
A former Illinois child welfare worker who investigated allegations of abuse involving a 5-year-old boy who was later beaten to death pleaded not guilty Thursday to child endangerment and reckless conduct charges.

Carlos Acosta, 54, of Woodstock, entered the plea in a McHenry County courtroom Thursday morning, the Northwest Herald reported.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Illinois reports 2,257 new COVID-19 cases, 30 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 2,257 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 30 confirmed deaths.

The numbers reveal that as of late Wednesday, 1,713 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 400 patients were being treated in intensive care units, with 155 patients on ventilators.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Lawmakers discuss lowering compulsory school age
Illinois lawmakers may soon consider legislation to lower the state’s compulsory attendance law to include 5-year-olds, a measure advocates see as a way to expand access to early childhood education opportunities, especially among Black and low-income families.

That was just one of the issues discussed Thursday during a virtual joint hearing of the Illinois Senate Education and Higher Education committees, and it’s one that has the strong backing of the Illinois State Board of Education.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Secretary of state extends driver's license, ID expiration dates
Expiration dates on Illinois driver’s licenses and state ID cards will be extended another three months, Secretary of State Jesse White announce Wednesday.

White announced expirations for licenses and IDs will be extended until Feb. 1, 2021, so the cards will remain valid throughout that span. The extension applies to those who have October, November, December and January expiration dates.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pritzker, Lightfoot condemn Breonna Taylor decision
Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned a Jefferson County, Kentucky, grand jury’s decision to not charge Louisville officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor and called for protests of the decision to be peaceful.

“This is, to put it simply, a gross miscarriage of justice,” Pritzker said at a joint news conference with Lightfoot and others Wednesday. “The circumstances surrounding Breonna Taylor’s death brings an overwhelming sense of rage, of passion, of sorrow, to so many… Our justice system has a long history of failing Black Americans.”

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Illinois best in COVID-19 testing, Pritzker says
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday continued to champion Illinois as a leader in testing for the coronavirus during a period when he faces some of the sharpest criticism for his social restrictions to stop the virus.

Two days after announcing that Illinois had become the fifth state to conduct more than 5 million tests, the Democrat said it is averaging 52,000 tests a day to become “the best testing state between the two coasts.”

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in 'Brian's Song'
When Chicago Bears teammates Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo became roommates in 1967, the first time NFL players of different colors shared accommodations on the road, it hardly looked like a good fit.+
Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bond set for Chicago horseman who rode on city expressway
Cook County Circuit Judge David Navarro called the alleged treatment of the horse “terrible.”

“The horse doesn’t know it’s a part of a protest, the horse only knows how it’s been treated,” he said. “It would appear from (prosecutors) its treatment was criminal.”

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sustainable Agriculture: What is the Partners For Conservation Program?
The Partners For Conservation Program is a long-term, state-supported initiative to protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in Illinois. The program implements strategies for maintaining the viability of Illinois' soil and water resources into the 21st century and beyond. Several state agencies share responsibility for administering The Partners For Conservation Program funds. The Illinois Department of Agriculture oversees the program's agriculture-related components.
Thursday, September 24, 2020

EPA: Insecticide risk on diet, handling
EPA on Tuesday released its draft risk assessment of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, finding dietary risks in adults and children, as well as to professional handlers of the chemical.

The agency's draft assessment also identifies potential adverse effects in mammals, birds, fish, and terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.

EPA said it will open a 60-day public comment period on the risk assessment when it issues a proposed interim decision in October. That decision is expected to outline potential risk management options for the insecticide.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Illinois Bees and Apiaries program
The Illinois Bees and Apiaries Program is designed to assist beekeepers throughout Illinois with the management and protection of honeybee colonies. The domestic honeybee plays a vital role in today's society. Due to the extensive problems caused by various diseases and pests of the honeybee, many feral or wild honeybees have been eliminated, which has had a significant negative impact on the pollination of flowering plants.

Honeybees pollinate many of the plants which produce the food consumed by humankind. Examples of plants pollinated by honeybees include almonds, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. A lack of feral honeybees over the last several years has greatly increased the need for managed honeybees to be used for the pollination of plants.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Partners' pollinator plot creating lots of buzz
Wabash Valley College and the Wabash Valley Stewardship Alliance seeded a pollinator plot — and they came. High school seniors and their photographers seeking a picturesque setting. Families exploring and sharing Facebook photos. Bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts pursuing their hobbies.

The insects, birds and wildlife? They came, too.

“The community has gone bananas. There are people asking, ’What can we do on our ground?’ It’s been great publicity for the college,” said Mike Wilson, specialty product manager with Wabash Valley Service Co.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

SIU's Green Roof marks 10-year anniversary
As Southern Illinois University Carbondale marks the 10th anniversary of its innovative Agriculture Building Green Roof sustainability project, a virtual event on Friday will highlight a new chapter in its life.

The virtual rooftop festivities, which will feature guest speaker Chancellor Austin A. Lane, will be available via livestream beginning at 11 a.m. Sept. 25.

A decade of excellence

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Students 'stayed on the farm' during pandemic to help agriculture operation
It doesn’t take an agricultural sciences student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to know that farm animals can’t do Zoom meetings.

Thanks to a small group of SIU students, real-world work experience meant numerous buildings and programs were maintained despite the campus — like most around the country — being virtually shut down last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

2 men fatally shot during alleged burglary of Illinois home
A resident of a northern Illinois home fatally shot two men he claims were trying to break in, authorities said Tuesday.

A person in the Waukegan home confronted two males, one of them armed, inside the residence, according to police. In the ensuing altercation guns were fired. Authorities say officers responding to the scene found two males dead on the front lawn.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Illinois, too, prepares for Breonna Taylor announcement
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday put the state’s national guard in a “state of readiness“ in anticipation of Kentucky’s attorney general’s announcement on whether charges will be filed in the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Pritzker’s office said in a statement that the national guard would fall under the direction of the state police if necessary. The national guard was activated earlier this year during civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

High court front-runner Amy Coney Barrett hailed by right
A front-runner to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a federal appellate judge who has established herself as a reliable conservative on hot-button legal issues from abortion to gun control.

Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic, is hailed by religious conservatives and others on the right as an ideological heir to conservative icon Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice for whom she clerked. Barrett met with Trump at the White House on Monday, according a person familiar with the vetting process who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Liberals say Barrett’s legal views are too heavily influenced by her religious beliefs and fear her ascent to the nation’s highest court could lead to a scaling back of hard-fought abortion rights. She also would replace the justice who is best-known for fighting for women’s rights and equality.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Young Leader gained confidence, leadership skills in Farm Bureau
After high school, Gracelynn Dale left her hometown of Walnut to study art in Chicago. But it wasn’t long before she realized she wanted to get back to a rural way of life.

“I was sitting in my apartment in Chicago and a friend who was from the city was watching me cook a hamburger,” explained Dale. “She made the comment she couldn’t believe that it came from my family’s own cows because meat comes from the grocery store. So, it was kind of a turning point for me and I ended up moving back home and went to Blackhawk College East for ag business.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Study shows fall anhydrous not corn's dominant nitrogen source
University of Illinois research on corn efficiency using fall-applied anhydrous discovered the crop obtained most of its nitrogen from the soil, not fall fertilizer applications, according to two U of I scientists in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Professor Richard Mulvaney with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Resources and Kelsey Griesheim, a graduate student in Mulvaney’s lab, gave an online report of their nitrogen trial during U of I Virtual Agronomy Day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Treated wastewater may be the irrigation wave of the future
According to an article on the USDA website, approximately one-half of 1% of the planet’s water is drinkable, and we use that water for much more than drinking – showering, brushing our teeth, watering our grass, etc. Consumer usage, however, pales in comparison to the amount of water needed to irrigate our crops.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Former IFB President Harold Steele's antique tractor stays in IFB family
Two farmers, Illinois Farm Bureau leaders and antique tractor collectors had a relationship that spanned nearly 50 years. From role model to mentor to friend, Harold Steele of Dover and Rollie Moore of Oneida shared many memories that spanned beyond their involvement in Farm Bureau.

“My relationship with Harold started back in the early 1970s,” explained Moore. “As for myself, being a very new, young Farm Bureau member, and going to annual meetings and watching the current IFB president and vice president conducting annual meeting, those folks appear larger than life to a young, impressible farmer from western Illinois. I guess that was the beginning of Harold being a role model..”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Customers embracing DeKalb County orchard, safety practices
Family traditions remain key to Jonamac Orchard, but the apples, pumpkins, cider and fun this season are offered with COVID safety practices in DeKalb County.

Three generations of the McArtor family have grown apples near Malta, expanding the orchard on more than 170 acres. In addition to U-pick apple and pumpkin opportunities, Jonamac Orchard operates a store and bakery, cider house and agritourism attractions. The pumpkin patch opened Sept. 19 for the season.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

State passes 5 million COVID-19 tests over the weekend
After the state surpassed 5 million COVID-19 tests over the weekend, Gov. JB Pritzker and health officials touted the expansion of testing efforts at a news conference Monday.

The statewide positivity rate in Illinois decreased to and leveled at about 3.5 percent over the previous three days. From Saturday through Monday, the state averaged 1,802 new cases among 53,510 test results reported on average over the three-day span.

That brought the total number of cases to 275,735 among more than 5.1 million test results reported, and there have been 8,457 deaths since the pandemic first began in Illinois. There were 46 deaths reported from Saturday through Monday. The recovery rate is 96 percent for those 42 days removed from a positive diagnosis.

“In a pandemic, widely available testing and faster results mean our people are safer,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Springfield. “Here in Illinois, we’ve steadily added new in-state commercial labs and greater hospital and university lab capacity utilization to get to an average of more than 50,000 tests per day. We do three and a half times the testing the average state does. And we’re one of the fastest states in delivering tests back to our residents.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

British man sentenced to 5 years for hacking US companies
A British man who was part of a hacking collective called The Dark Overlord was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for helping the group steal information from several companies in the U.S., including Missouri, Illinois and Georgia.

Nathan Francis Wyatt, 39, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Louis to conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft and computer fraud. He was also ordered to pay about $1.5 million in restitution.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Horseman takes ride on Chicago expressway, tying up traffic
A man who calls himself the “Dread Head Cowboy” was taken into custody after riding his horse on Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway during the height of the Monday evening rush hour.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

GOP legislator apologizes after comments disparaging opponent's race, sexuality
Freshman state Rep. Amy Grant, R-Wheaton, apologized Monday after making disparaging comments in a recorded phone call about her opponent, Ken Mejia-Beal, which referenced his race and sexual orientation.

In a Monday morning virtual news conference, state Reps. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, Greg Harris, D-Chicago, and Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, presented three short recordings of Grant from a single phone call, although they said they would not release the full call.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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