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home : news : state news free October 24, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douglas statue comes down, but Lincoln had racist views, too
With the nation racing to come to grips with centuries of racial sins, officials plan to remove the Capitol lawn statue of Stephen A. Douglas, whose forceful 19th century politics helped forge modern-day Illinois but who also profited from slavery.

Just inside the Statehouse hangs another revered depiction of an Illinois legend — and longtime Douglas rival — who expressed white supremacist views: Abraham Lincoln. The immense painting in the governor’s second-floor office depicts a Sept. 18, 1858, debate between the two men that opened with these words from Lincoln, who was vying for Douglas’ Senate seat and was still two years away from running for president:

“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and Black races. ... There is a physical difference between the white and Black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”

Monday, September 21, 2020

Chicago steakhouse to close after nearly 50 years
A Chicago restaurant that has been serving steaks for nearly 50 years will close at the end of the year.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib is the victim of the coronavirus pandemic, an expiring lease and other issues, said Ryan Wilson, chief executive of Lawry’s Inc.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Wash and be counted: Free laundry exchanged for census
The census came with a tumble dry.

Community groups in Chicago offered two loads for free Sunday if customers at a coin laundry filled out census forms.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Aid to prevent violence against women goes to 19 agencies
The U.S. Justice Department has awarded $15.9 million to Illinois agencies to fight domestic abuse, officials said.

The money comes from the Violence Against Women Act.

The funding has been awarded to 19 community agencies, from Chicago to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Outreach: Visitors are welcome at Illinois State University's Horticulture Center
NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — How many of you have driven past the Illinois State University Horticulture Center on Raab Road and wondered, “What is that place?”
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Illinois dairy regs put the brakes on Spfld. business
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Tim and Emily Lewis built their reputation on scratch-made splurges with unique flavor profiles crafted using ingredients culled from local farms.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

U of I ag safety prof offers advice for safe harvest
ILLINOIS — Dr. Josie Rudolphi, University of Illinois Assistant Professor of Agricultural Safety and Health said there are several tips for a successful harvest season.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Benefit your health by growing own vegetables
URBANA, Ill. — As summer comes to an end, many vegetable gardeners are busy reaping what they've sown and harvesting the fruits of their labors. Growing your own vegetables has health, nutritional, and environmental benefits, says University of Illinois Extension Educator Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Prolong shelf life of garden produce with good habits
URBANA, Ill. — The fruits of our summer labors have been ripening, and soon, more fruits and vegetables will be ready for harvest. As gardeners, overplanting is a common problem, and it is a struggle to get the longest life out of the harvest.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Growmark System continues sustainability efforts
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — As wildfires ravage the West and another hurricane leaves damage along the Gulf Coast, scientists say the effects of climate change are getting more dangerous.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

U of I soybean lab event unveils new $1M initiative
URBANA, Ill. — The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) at the University of Illinois has been selected by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lead a new $1 million project -- Innovation to Impact (i2i), as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

IFB comments on 2nd round of USDA funding
ILLINOIS — The following is a statement from Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr., regarding USDA's announcement of a second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Saturday, September 19, 2020

U.S. Secretary of Ag Perdue in Illinois on Monday
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be in Illinois Monday, September 21st with Congressman Rodney Davis for a visit to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois, a partner in USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which has delivered more than 90 million food boxes to Americans in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Secretary and Congressman Davis will help distribute food boxes after the visit at Union Baptist Church. Following distribution, the Secretary and Congressman Davis will attend a forum with local farmers.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Illinois needs to plant milkweed, and a lot of it
URBANA — Illinois needs to plant milkweed, and a lot of it, over the next 18 years to ensure the state’s official insects, monarch butterflies, survive. 
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pekin, Illinois doctor's bout with COVID-19 was real eye opener for him
PEKIN, Ill. (AP) — As a primary care physician at UnityPoint Health Pekin East, Dr. Tom Luft is accustomed to seeing the hospital experience through the lens of a caregiver. This summer, he had an opportunity to view an emergency room through a patient’s perspective because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Southern Illinois University to hire more faculty in Africana Studies dept.
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois university has decided to increase faculty numbers in their Africana Studies department, a move that officials said will help students prepare for cross-cultural society after graduation.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Will, Kankakee counties see mitigations lifted
SPRINGFIELD — Will and Kankakee counties can again allow for indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants as the region saw its COVID-19 test positivity rate decrease Friday.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Free COVID-19 Testing at Illinois State Fairgrounds Sept. 23, 30th
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is setting up mobile COVID-19 testing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield on Wednesdays, September 23 and 30, 2020 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Governor promotes census two weeks from deadline
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker appeared in Macomb Friday to promote the census less than 2 weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline for responses.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Census layoffs are ordered despite judge's ruling
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Two weeks after a federal judge prohibited the U.S. Census Bureau from winding down the 2020 census, a manager in Illinois instructed employees to get started with layoffs, according to an audio of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Father gets 30 years in killing of his five-year-old
CHICAGO (AP) — A northern Illinois man who was charged with murder for his role in the beating death of his 5-year-old son pleaded guilty Friday to reduced charges and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Still staying close to home these days? Consider these options:
SPRINGFIELD — Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has been recognized with a Travelers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor because of its thousands of stellar reviews from visitors.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Discover artifacts at area archaeology open house
DECATUR — Explore days past during a weekend of history programs at the Macon County Conservation District on Saturday, October 3 and Sunday, October 4.  Each of these programs and open houses are free.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Virtual Special Olympics kicks off Saturday
MATTOON — The 37th annual Special Olympics Family Festival (SOFF) kicks off online this Saturday, Sept. 19, for Special Olympics athletes, past volunteers and the general public to join in the fun.
Friday, September 18, 2020

US Atty: Lawmakers free to pursue Madigan probe
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers are free to pursue their own investigation into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s role in a bribery scheme involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison, as long as they don’t specifically ask witnesses what information they’ve shared with federal investigators or a federal grand jury.
Friday, September 18, 2020

Illinois: No payroll tax deferral program

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois plans to continue withholding federal payroll taxes on behalf of its 62,000 employees despite a program President Trump launched in August that allows workers to defer paying those taxes through the end of the year.

Friday, September 18, 2020

50+ Chicago area restaurants closed due to COVID
CHICAGO (AP) — More than 50 restaurants in the Chicago area have permanently closed their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday, September 18, 2020

Black Caucus calls for racial equality in education
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus continued to set the stage for its fall legislative agenda Wednesday, calling a news conference and committee hearing to discuss education policy.

Education and workforce development make up one of four pillars on the agenda unveiled by the caucus earlier this month. The others are criminal justice reform, violence and police accountability; economic access, equity and opportunity; and health care and human services.

Caucus members are hosting a series of committees on the various pillars ahead of the fall veto session, which is scheduled Nov.. 17 to Nov. 19 and Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. Caucus Chair Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat and Senate Majority leader, said Black Caucus members would like to take the whole session to address items on their agenda.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Man arrested after girlfriend's body found in bags
A Kentucky man has been arrested in suburban Chicago after parts of his girlfriend’s body were found in duffel bags he had toted aboard a Greyhound bus, authorities said.

Melvin Martin Jr., 30, has been charged with fleeing prosecution, Markham city spokesman Michael Taylor said Wednesday.

Martin was arrested Monday at the Markham Public Library after curious family members looked into the bags that Martin seemed preoccupied with since arriving aboard the Greyhound bus from Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, Taylor said.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Illinois student arrested in dorm shooting at WIU
A Western Illinois University student suspected of shooting and wounding his roommate in their dorm room, prompting the school to cancel classes, turned himself into police on Wednesday afternoon, school officials said.

The shooting occurred in a room at Thompson Hall on the Macomb campus at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, stemming from what officials said was a dispute between the two roommates.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Former State Sen. Link pleads guilty to tax evasion
Former state Sen. Terry Link pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a felony charge of tax evasion.

Link, a Democrat from Indian Creek who resigned his seat last week, admitted in a plea agreement that he willfully underreported his income on his federal and state tax returns from 2012 through 2016.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pritzker defends his decision to prohibit high school football this season
Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday that he stands behind his decision to prohibit high school football for the fall season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, even as professional and many college leagues have decided to resume play.

“Over the summer, we saw outbreaks across Illinois and the world tied to a variety of youth sports leagues. Those continue today, even among the lowest risk youth sports,” Pritzker said during a COVID-19 news conference in Chicago. “We have watched professional sports and even some college teams play seemingly without many problems. But remember that these programs are operating with daily testing or in a league-created bubble, or with facilities that allow for outsized social distancing and are sanitized every day. And, in some cases, all of those precautions have been taken.”

Pritzker’s comments came one day after the Big 10 conference, which includes the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, reversed its earlier decision and announced that it will allow the 2020 football season to go forward starting Oct. 23-24 under enhanced health and safety protocols.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Illinois man drowns in Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park
The National Park Service says an Illinois man is believed to have drowned in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after falling into a natural wonder known as “Midnight Hole.“

The park service identified the man as Yogesh Patel, 25, of Oak Forest, Illinois.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Madigan probe paused for guidance
The Democratic chairman and ranking Republican on a special legislative committee investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan both said Tuesday that they are awaiting further guidance from federal prosecutors about how far they can go in questioning witnesses and calling for documents.

The Special Investigating Committee held its first meeting last week, during which members voted unanimously not to take any substantive action that could interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation. They also authorized Chairman Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, and Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, to contact the U.S. Attorney’s office for guidance on how to avoid interference.

Also during that meeting, Republicans unveiled a list of potential witnesses they would like to give testimony and produce various documents.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Former ITT students to get $9.4M in debt relief
Students who were enrolled at now-closed ITT Technical Institute campuses in Illinois are eligible for $9.4 million in student loan debt relief, the state’s attorney general announced Tuesday.

Illinois’ share of a $330 million national settlement follows investigations by several attorneys general over student loans offered by the for-profit school.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Number of homicides in Chicago passes 2019 total
Officials announced on Tuesday that with more than three months remaining in 2020 there have been more homicides in the county that includes Chicago than were recorded in all of 2019.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Outbreak: Chicago warns against Wisconsin travel
Chicago officials cautioned city residents Tuesday about travel to Wisconsin, citing a recent COVID-19 spike in Illinois’ neighbor to the north.

The Chicago Department of Public Health stopped short of adding Wisconsin to a travel advisory list. There are 16 states on the list, including Utah, which was announced Tuesday. City officials said Chicago residents who travel to the states must quarantine for two weeks upon return. Visitors from those states are expected to quarantine while in Chicago.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Roommate sought in WIU shooting, classes canceled
Classes were canceled at Western Illinois University today and all the buildings locked down as police searched for a student who allegedly shot his roommate in their dormitory on Tuesday night, the school said.

According to a statement by the school, 18-year-old Kavion Poplous, a freshman at the school, shot his roommate at Thompson Hall shortly after 10:30 p.m., before he fled. “He is considered armed and dangerous,” the school said.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Child welfare officials say they're coping during pandemic
Child welfare officials in Illinois told a panel of state lawmakers Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered but not completely prevented their efforts to monitor children at risk of abuse or neglect.

“Without question, the pandemic has been and continues to be extremely challenging for all of us, both personally and professionally,” Marc Smith, acting director of the Illinois Department of Children and Families, told a Senate panel during a virtual meeting Monday. “But everyone who works for, or in partnership with us has kept their eyes on our mission to keep children safe.”

Smith said one of the first things DCFS did was to move its child abuse reporting hotline, officially known as the State Central Register, to a remote environment so that employees could answer the phones from their homes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

State senator facing federal tax evasion charge resigns
State Sen. Terry Link, who was charged last month in federal court with tax evasion, resigned his seat last week.

Link, a Democrat from Indian Creek, had been a key player in passing gaming legislation in Illinois, including a massive 2019 expansion bill that provided for sports wagering, added land-based casinos and a Chicago casino.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

41 more deaths push COVID-19 casualties to 8,314
The COVID-19 test positivity rate fell to 3.6 percent statewide Monday, decreasing in two regions that have faced increased economic restrictions due to high rates.

The positivity rate decreased three-tenths of a percentage point since Friday as the state reported an average of 46,471 test results and 1,652 new cases each day between Saturday and Monday. That made for a three-day positivity rate of about 3.6 percent.

The seven-day rolling positivity rate average is as low as it’s been since July 25, while Region 7 and Region 4 of the state’s reopening plan each saw decreases to their positivity rate as of Friday, Sept. 11.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Officials: 500,000 counterfeit N95 masks seized in Chicago
About 500,000 counterfeit N95 respirator masks have been seized in Chicago by Customs and Border Protection officers, federal officials announced Monday.

The shipment of masks from China was seized Sept. 10 at O’Hare International Airport, according to the federal agency. It said the masks were headed to a company in Manalapan, New Jersey. The masks are used to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Illinois hunters website includes safety tips, rules
Illinois hunters looking for details on the season, licenses or regulations have a new website to consult.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has launched a website called “ Hunt Illinois.”

Monday, September 14, 2020

Chicago's census count lags as deadline approaches
The census count in Chicago is lagging behind the rest of Illinois, particularly in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the city.

The undercount, just weeks before the deadline, has neighborhood groups and census officials working to boost participation.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Air Force: Rantoul can keep its Cold War missile
A central Illinois community that was facing the impending loss of its iconic Minuteman missile can keep the Cold War relic under a last-minute arrangement with the Air Force.

Three days before the planned dismantling of Rantoul’s first-generation Minuteman missile, Mayor Chuck Smith announced Friday that the Air Force will hand over upkeep of the missile to the village.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Store manager is accused of theft over $500,000
A former store manager accused of stealing more than $500,000 from a Menards in Quincy has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Michelle R. Lewis pleaded guilty Friday to one count of theft over $10,000 in Adams County, according to The Herald-Whig. Under the plea deal, charges of them over $500,000 and theft over $100,000 were dropped.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Chicago schools struggling with remote attendance
Chicago schools reported roughly 84% citywide attendance for the first day of remote classes, but some schools had fewer than half of students log in.

Attendance increased citywide over the first three days, with 90.2% citywide Thursday, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Museum launches Journal of a Plague Year: Illinois in 2020
The Illinois State Museum (ISM) has announced the opening of the Journal of a Plague Year: Illinois in 2020 exhibition, showcasing submissions from its COVID-19 collecting initiative and featuring the photography of local artist Zach Adams.

In April, the ISM launched Share Your Story: Illinois in the COVID-19 Pandemic, a collecting initiative asking the people of Illinois to share their pandemic experiences. To date, the ISM has received hundreds of submissions from people trying to make sense of a world turned upside down.   

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Decatur 12-year-old shows power of giving back
Not many would spend their Saturday mornings cleaning up someone else’s neighborhood. However, if you know 12-year-old Nolan Evans, you might find yourself doing just that.

On a recent Saturday, Nolan was able to gather cleaning supplies and about 10 volunteers for Nolan’s Community Cleanup Day. With the support of the city, the group walks down a Decatur street removing garbage and debris from public areas.

“Let’s clean up the community,” Nolan cheered as part of his pep talk before the latest cleanup day.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Illinois man charged in deadly shooting in Missouri
A man has been charged in a deadly shooting last month in an apartment complex parking lot in the St. Louis area.

Twenty-two-year-old Zcore Hester-Henderson, of East. St. Louis, Illinois, was charged Friday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Aug. 12 shooting death of 37-year-old Derrick Bunting.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

State clears Tazewell site of 220 tons of used tires
The Illinois Environmental Agency has removed more than 220 tons of used tires from an abandoned auto salvage site in Tazewell County.

Officials said the operation took more than six weeks because of the amount of material dispersed over a 10-acre (4-hectare) area. It’s the site of the former Harmon Auto Salvage on Illinois 29 south of Pekin.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Illinois legislator hit with federal tax charge resigns
Illinois state Sen. Terry Link, who was hit last month with federal charge of filing a false income tax return for 2016, announced his resignation Friday after 24 years in the Legislature.

Link’s resignation, which goes into effect Saturday, garnered a brief reaction from Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, who said he “looks forward to welcoming and working with a new senator from Lake County,.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Additional COVID-19 death in Christian Co.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,337 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 30 additional confirmed deaths. Among the deaths is a female in her 90s from Christian County, which takes the numbers of deaths in the county to nine.
Friday, September 11, 2020

Snow leopard cub debuts at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo
A three-month-old snow leopard cub on Wednesday made her debut at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago on an unusually cool day.

Temperatures hovered in the mid-60s as Ahava (Ah-ha-vah), which means “love” in Hebrew, explored her outdoor habitat along the zoo’s Big Cats walkway. The cub has been kept behind the scenes as she bonded with her mother, Malaya.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Illinois files lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juice Man, deceptive practices
The Illinois attorney general sued e-cigarette maker Juice Man on Thursday, alleging deceptive marketing practices aimed at enticing youth.

The move follows a similar Illinois complaint filed  in December against Juul, the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker.

Juice Man, based in Dana Point, California, focused on children and teens with flavors like cotton candy and through social media advertising using cartoons and giveaways. The company also misled consumers on the amount of nicotine in its products, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Governor announces new federal funding for COVID-19 unemployment
Will and Kankakee Counties must lower their rolling COVID-19 test positivity rate by about one more percentage point before restrictions on economic activity can be lifted, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday at a COVID-19 update in Chicago.

Those counties, which make up Region 7 of the state’s reopening plan, had a 7.5 percent seven-day average positivity rate as of Monday, but it will need to decrease to 6.5 percent before coronavirus mitigations such as closures of indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars can be lifted.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Child welfare workers faces charges in Freund case
Two former Illinois child welfare workers who investigated abuse allegations involving a 5-year-old boy allegedly killed months later by his parents have been charged with child endangerment.

Carlos Acosta, an elected McHenry County board member from Woodstock, and his former supervisor, Andrew Polovin of Island Lake, were arrested Thursday on two counts each of endangering the life of a child and one count of reckless conduct, the McHenry County sheriff’s office announced.

Acosta, 54, and Polovin, 48, were released later Thursday from the McHenry County Jail after posting bond, jail records show.

Friday, September 11, 2020

GOP leader files charge against longtime Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan
The top Republican in the Illinois House filed a breach of public trust charge Thursday against Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan, the longest-serving legislative leader in U.S. history, as a special committee began investigating Madigan’s alleged role in a decade-long bribery scheme at the state Capitol.

Republicans asked the committee to probe Madigan’s activities in the scheme centered on ComEd. The utility entered a criminal agreement with the Justice Department in July to pay a $200 million fine for its role in a bribery conspiracy in exchange for cooperation in U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s ongoing investigation. As part of the agreement, the utility giant admitted that it engaged in bribery with the House speaker in exchange for favorable legislation.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Gov. Pritzker talks vaccine, contact tracing and university spread
The statewide COVID-19 test positivity rate hit its lowest point since July 26 on Wednesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,337 new cases of the virus among 48,029 test results reported over the previous 24 hours.

The rolling seven-day average positivity rate was driven downward to 3.7 percent after Wednesday saw a 2.8 percent one-day positivity rate.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Investigators hope to get answers from Madigan
Republicans who will serve on a special investigative committee looking into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s role in a bribery scandal involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison said Wednesday they hope the Democratic leader will speak directly to answer questions.

“This body, the special investigative committee, is the forum of which the speaker can come and state his position with regards to this statement of fact,” Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, said during a Statehouse news conference. “What in this statement of fact is not true, speaker? We need to know.”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lawmakers, stakeholders ask Pritzker to pause marijuana licensing process
Some lawmakers and stakeholders are asking Gov. JB Pritzker to hold off awarding 75 marijuana dispensary licenses amid concerns that just 21 applicants qualified for the first round of licenses.

Applicants for licenses were graded on a 250-point scale established by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to determine which firm receives a license. The applications were scored by an unaffiliated third-party, KPMG, a private auditing firm. KPMG was paid $4.2 million by IDFPR to grade the applications, a process that was delayed by five month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Graduate students lead U of I record enrollment
Fall enrollment at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign totals 52,331, surpassing by more than 1,000 the record set last year despite the mixture of in-person and online instruction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school announced Wednesday.

The rise in enrollment numbers is due to a jump in the number of graduate students to 17,802 from a record enrollment of 16,319 in 2019. Undergraduate enrollment is 33,492, a slight drop from 33,850 last year.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

1,382 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois and 7 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Tuesday 1,382 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven confirmed fatalities as a result.

The department reports the state has seen 252,353 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 8,186 deaths.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

U of Illinois sues to stop nurses strike this weekend
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees are suing to try to stop nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital from striking this weekend.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court names the Illinois Nurses Association as a defendant and seeks a temporary restraining order against the job action, saying it would pose a danger to the public.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Governor and sister highlight impact of pandemic relief fund
Gov. JB Pritzker and his sister Penny Pritzker announced Tuesday that a private fund that was formed to provide relief to communities hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic will wind down its operations after making its fifth and final round of grants.

Gov. Pritzker named his sister, a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration, to head up the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund in March, just days after issuing his first statewide stay-at-home order in the early days of the pandemic.

The fund has been operated by United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

1,381 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 1,381 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in eight confirmed deaths.

The latest reported fatalities bring the statewide death toll due to the virus to 8,179 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 250,961 confirmed coronavirus cases during the same period.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Food banks: USDA program helped, more needed
As she inched ahead in her rusty Chevy pickup, Brianna Lordz bemoaned that engine problems had prevented her from making it to the last few drive-up produce giveaways organized by a Des Moines food pantry.

But Lordz managed to coax her old truck to a former Sears parking lot, where she waited behind dozens of other vehicles spread across four lanes and lined up at a semi-trailer stocked with 20-pound boxes of cabbage, onions, peppers, carrots and other veggies provided by the federal government. The giveaways are a godsend, she said, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has caused jobs to dry up and grocery prices to soar.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Ceremony marks another step for Pullman district
A ceremony at the Pullman National Monument on Monday marked another step in making a sprawling factory site on Chicago’s South Side a tourist attraction.

Federal, state and local officials gathered to draw attention to the work being done at the site where Pullman passenger railroad cars were built. President Barack Obama designated the factory and surrounding area a national monument five years ago.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

8-year-old killed, 2 adults wounded, Chicago shooting
An 8-year-old girl was killed and two adults were severely wounded after they were shot Monday evening in Chicago while traveling in a vehicle on the city’s South Side.

The shooting occurred shortly before 6 p.m. in the Canaryville neighborhood, Chicago Police Chief of Operations Brian McDermott said.

The girl was with her mother and two other adults in a Subaru SUV when they stopped at a red light at 47th Street and Union Avenue, with a Dodge Charger behind them, police said. Once the stoplight turned green, authorities noted that someone in the Charger then opened fire, striking the child, a 31-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Chicago police launching programs to help prevent suicides
The Chicago Police Department is launching two programs aimed at preventing issues that may lead to suicides or excessive force by officers.

The first pilot program, called the “Officer Support System,“ was recently launched in the 5th District and will roll out across the city during the course of next year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Man held without bond in death of 3-year-old girl
A Chicago man is being held in lieu of $1 million bond in connection with the death of a three-year-old on Friday.

Lehleni Edwards was found unresponsive in bed at a West Side Chicago residence early Friday. She was taken to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, where she died.

Monday, September 7, 2020

School music education adapts to COVID-19 pandemic
While art education has typically been the first thing to go when times get tough, that doesn’t seem to be happening in central Illinois as students return to school amidst a global pandemic.

At Tremont Grade School, music teacher Christian Wilkey went to fairly extraordinary lengths to keep his kids singing in the face of strict public health mandates, starting with holding classes outside. Because singing and the consequent exhalation of droplets has been shown to be a very effective way to spread COVID-19, Wilkey decided that going outside is the only safe way to do it.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Springfield Ride to Remember will be held on September 13
SPRINGFIELD — Ride to Remember 9-11 is an annual memorial parade and ceremony to remember those who lost their lives and to honor the first responders and the heroes of that fateful day. Due to COVID-19, a ceremony will not take place this year but  a parade ending at the 9-11 Memorial site in Springfield will be held on Sunday, September 13, 2020.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

Cleared backlog leads to spike in COVID numbers
SPRINGFIELD — New confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of tests results reported skyrocketed Friday, reflecting the clearing of a data backlog in the state’s public reporting of case counts.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

State's wealthiest person, Ken Griffin, gives $20 million to group to fight graduated tax amendment
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ wealthiest man and frequent Republican political donor Ken Griffin has pledged $20 million to a group dedicated to defeating a graduated tax constitutional amendment.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

ISP and local law enforcement stepping up patrols
SPRINGFIELD — Now that we are in the final big weekend of summer, the Illinois Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that drunk and drugged driving is literally a matter of life or death. To make our roads safer and save lives, the Illinois State Police and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies are stepping up efforts to arrest impaired drivers during the Labor Day "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

Now more than ever, Central Illinois Foodbank needs support in fight against hunger
SPRINGFIELD — Hunger impacts people in every corner of the country, including 100,000 of our neighbors in central and southern Illinois. And given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number may increase this year.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

Illinois surpasses 240,000 COVID cases

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois surpassed another grim milestone Thursday as the total number of COVID-19 cases passed the 240,000 mark.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Advocate warns of moving foster kids to other care
SPRINGFIELD — The state has moved ahead with its plan to shift an estimated 18,000 children from the child welfare system into a health care coverage plan despite warnings from children’s advocates that the change will cut many of those children off from access to the critical care they need.
Friday, September 4, 2020

Authorities find bones based on killer's remarks
PERU, Ill. (AP) — Authorities are analyzing bones found in Illinois to determine if they are the remains of a woman whom a convicted serial killer imprisoned in Ohio claims he killed about 15 years ago.
Friday, September 4, 2020

Lung Association announces anti-vaping push
SPRINGFIELD — The American Lung Association this week announced a “comprehensive” plan to tackle electronic tobacco use by the nation’s high schoolers.
Friday, September 4, 2020

Gov warns of virus spread over holiday
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and other public health officials warned Wednesday of the danger of spreading COVID-19 during social gatherings as families and friends make plans for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Thursday, September 3, 2020

Illinois universities are blaming their students for the spike in COVID-19
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is ramping up enforcement of restrictions on student activity after more than 330 COVID-19 cases in two days on the school’s Urbana-Champaign campus, school officials said Wednesday.
Thursday, September 3, 2020

Special committee will investigate Madigan's ComEd ties
SPRINGFIELD — A special House committee will look into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s ties to Commonwealth Edison and determine whether discipline is needed after House Republican leadership filed a petition to initiate the process.
Thursday, September 3, 2020

Deaths, positivity rate spike amid low testing
The number of COVID-19-related deaths and the single-day test positivity rate spiked Tuesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced an abnormally small number of tests results over the previous 24 hours.

The health department reported 39 deaths related to the virus, the highest single-day total since June 26. The rolling seven-day average positivity rate increased to 4.3 percent as the state reported 1,492 new confirmed cases among 22,961 test results reported in the previous 24 hours.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

10 states form transportation diversity committee
A coalition of 10 state transportation agencies, including Illinois’, announced the creation of a diversity panel last week to develop “fairness and inclusion” at work sites, the group’s president said.

The committee has not yet held a meeting, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation said in an email, but its establishment “has been in the works for a while.” Members of the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Agencies will share methods and programs designed to diversify their practices.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Black Caucus pushes agenda with 'sweeping reforms'
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released its agenda of “sweeping reforms” meant to address systemic racism in the state at a news conference Tuesday.

The agenda is focused on four pillars of policy: Criminal justice reform, violence and police accountability; education and workforce development; economic access, equity and opportunity; and health care and human services.

State Senate Majority Leader and ILBC Chair Kimberly Lightford opened her remarks at the news conference by noting, “This is the moment that I have dreamed of, that I have prayed for, that I have worked towards my entire life.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IEMA encourages Illinoisans to get prepared
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), and local emergency managers, are encouraging Illinoisans to take time to prepare for potential emergencies at homes, at work, and in the community.

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning. As we learned this spring with the COVID-19 pandemic, disasters don't wait. They can strike at anytime and anywhere.

"The ongoing battle against COVID-19 underscores the importance of building a culture of preparedness," said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. "Now is a good time to take the lessons learned from the spring, when COVID turned our world upside down, and build an appropriate disaster plan that meets the needs of your family. Preparedness is more than building a kit, it's about communication, mitigation and education. While being prepared will not prevent a disaster, it will provide the foundation for an expedited recovery and instill the confidence to meet challenges when they arise."

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate still high in areas with increased restrictions
COVID-19-related deaths surpassed 8,000 over the weekend as the virus positivity rate hovered around 4 percent.

As of Monday, the rolling seven-day average positivity rate throughout the state was 4.1 percent, while the positivity rate in Regions 4 and 7 of the state’s reopening plan either remained roughly flat or increased as of Aug. 28 despite added restrictions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Girl's keen hearing credited with saving neighbor
A suburban Chicago girl who has hypersensitive hearing is credited with saving the life of a neighbor after she slipped and fell on ice last winter and became trapped beneath a car.

Kasey Brislane, a 13-year-old who is a Girl Scout Cadette, received the organization’s Medal of Honor on Sunday for saving Susi Schubert, 68. The national award is given to Girl Scouts who save another’s life, WLS-TV reported.

Brislane said that in January she was watching TV when she started to notice the faint sound of someone yelling for help outside her family’s home in the Cook County village of Harwood Heights.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Officers shoot 1 after squad car comes under fire
Chicago police officers shot and seriously wounded a person after their squad car was struck by gunfire, police said Tuesday.

The “male offender“ was in critical condition at Stroger Hospital after he was shot late Monday in the Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, police said.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Black franchisees sue McDonald's for discrimination
More than 50 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners are suing the burger chain, saying the company steered them to less-profitable restaurants and didn’t give them the same support and opportunities given white franchisees.

The 52 plaintiffs, who owned around 200 U.S. stores before being forced to sell them over the last decade, are seeking compensation of $4 million to $5 million per store, according to the lawsuit. The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, where McDonald’s is based.

According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s steered Black franchisees to stores in inner-city neighborhoods with lower sales volumes and higher security and insurance costs. The company would provide them with misleading financial information or push them to decide quickly when a store became available, the lawsuit says.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

IDPH voting guidance specifies distancing, recommends masks
The Illinois Department of Public Health has released in-person voting guidelines for election authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 this year.

Changes announced last week include moving polling locations from senior living facilities, maintaining social distancing for voters and workers, creating outdoor spaces for citizens to wait and swapping communal items for single-use ones.

Those rules also apply to early voting, which varies depending on local rules but generally begins Sept. 24 and runs through Nov. 2 — the day before Election Day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

IDOT says some road projects may be delayed
Some Illinois road construction projects scheduled to be completed this year could be delayed until next year because of lower-than-anticipated gas tax revenues during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Transportation Department Secretary Omer Osman said the department hasn’t yet assessed how many projects might be pushed back, the (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported. He told lawmakers during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Thursday that the department will prioritize projects related to safety improvements.

Monday, August 31, 2020

COVID-19 deaths in Illinois surpass 8,000
Anyone entering a Illinois courthouse should be wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to an Illinois Supreme Court order.

The state’s highest court issued an order including face masks in its rules governing who is admitted into courthouses “in the interests of the health and safety of all court users, staff, and judicial officers during these extraordinary circumstances.”

Monday, August 31, 2020

Man killed at Chicago eatery targeted by gunmen
A 31-year-old man who was killed in a shooting that wounded four others at a Chicago restaurant had been targeted by gunmen who jumped out of a vehicle and opened fire, police said.

Diners were having lunch under a tent Sunday afternoon at Lumes Pancake House on Chicago’s far South Side, when a white Audi pulled into the parking lot and three gunmen got out, walked into the tent and fired at least 40 shots.

Monday, August 31, 2020

No action from gov's COVID-19 price-gouging pursuit
The coronavirus pandemic had steamrolled Illinois, and amid the helter-skelter of counting hospital beds, keeping pace with ever-changing federal health guidance and maneuvering a market-turned-minefield of protective-gear prices, Gov. J.B. Pritzker made a pledge.

“Price-gouging will not be tolerated,” the Democrat declared in March, later promising that instances of unfair pricing would be brought to the attention of Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

During the chaotic spring, Illinois, like most states, was forced to pay sometimes eye-popping markups for lifesaving gear: $6 face masks previously costing $1 or less; ventilators listing for $25,000 selling for $40,000 or more.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Police: Two Chicago officers shot during traffic stop
Two police officers were shot in a struggle with a suspect during a traffic stop in Chicago early Sunday, prompting a third officer to return fire, injuring the suspect.

The two officers spotted a gun in the suspect’s vehicle during the traffic stop in Garfield Park, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said during a news conference. When the suspect refused to get out of the car, the officers shattered the vehicle’s window.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Pandemic shines 'great spotlight' on digital divide
Included in the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan in 2019 was a $400 million investment aimed at providing statewide broadband access to every residence, business and community institution across the state by 2024.

“It’s an ambitious goal,” Matt Schmit, director of the Office of Broadband in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said in an interview with Capitol News Illinois. “We think if we make smart investments, we think we can meet this goal, that’s why we put it in place and that’s why we want to push ourselves.”

The program, known as Connect Illinois, funds broadband expansion efforts through competitive grants that are matched with other nonstate dollars.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Illinois family's bison farm becomes a thriving business
Raising bison started as a hobby for an Illinois man, but as the herd began to grow, it became a thriving family business.

Terry Lieb bought his first bison in 2000. After his death in 2015, his sons, Jake and Josh Lieb, took over Lieb Farms, The News-Gazette  reported. The farm has 45 to 55 bison at any given time.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

447 will be new dialing prefix added to the 217 area code
A vast section of Illinois covered by the 217 area code is about to get some new digits.

The Illinois Commerce Commission announced this week that it will introduce 447 as an added dialing code to the 217 area.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

COVID deaths in Illinois close in on 8,000
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,707 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 24 additional virus-related deaths on Thursday as the statewide death toll from the disease reached 7,977.

Meanwhile, COVID-19’s economic impact continued to be felt throughout Illinois, where local July unemployment rates ranged from 7.9 to 13.8 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Rep. pushing for contracting diversity legislation
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch said Thursday that he will demand passage of legislation in the upcoming fall veto session to give minority- and women-owned businesses a larger share of the estimated $20 billion in state purchasing and contracting dollars allotted annually.

“I am demanding that veto session takes place as scheduled, because the Black agenda cannot wait,” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said during a video news conference. “The Black agenda, which will be rolled out in the coming days, is going to demand equity and inclusion and in several areas.”

Friday, August 28, 2020

30 years today since tornado killed 29 in Chicago's far southwest suburbs
Today marksthe 30th anniversary of a tornado that killed 29 people in Chicago’s far southwest suburbs when the powerful storm swept the village of Plainfield and adjacent communities.

The National Weather Service said the Aug. 28, 1990, tornado that also injured more than 300 people remains the only F5/EF5 rated tornado ever recorded in the U.S. in the month of August.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Bloodied telegram, lock of Abe's hair up for auction
This is one macabre auction: A lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair, wrapped in a bloodstained telegram about his 1865 assassination, is up for sale.

Boston-based RR Auction said bidding has opened online for the items ahead of a live auction scheduled for Sept. 12 in New Hampshire. The auction house set the minimum bid at $10,000 but expects the lock and telegram to fetch $75,000 or more, spokesman Mike Graff said.

Measuring roughly 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, the bushy lock of hair was removed during Lincoln’s postmortem examination after he was fatally shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., by John Wilkes Booth.

Friday, August 28, 2020

State positivity rate drops as stricter rules take effect
The statewide COVID-19 test positivity rate decreased again Wednesday, the same day added restrictions took effect in two regions of the state that are considered hotspots for the virus.

The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for tests completed decreased to 4 percent after rising as high as 4.4 percent on Thursday, Aug. 20.

Region 4 in the Metro East area on the Missouri border had a 9.7 positivity rate as of Aug. 23, while Region 7’s positivity rate was 8.3 percent in Kankakee and Will Counties. Those were the only two regions topping the 8 percent threshold leading to further state-imposed economic restrictions.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Chicago and three other cities sue to stop the spread of 'ghost guns'
Chicago and three other cities sued the federal government Wednesday to stop the proliferation of what are advertised as easy-to-assemble guns that require no serial numbers or background checks.
Thursday, August 27, 2020

Board votes to renew police contract
Chicago’s school board on Wednesday decided to keep a police presence in some of its schools despite the demands of protesters who say school resource officers create an unsafe learning atmosphere.

The Board of Education voted 4-2 to renew a contract with the Chicago Police Department to provide uniformed officers to schools that want them. The $12.1 million contract is less than last year’s $33 million deal.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Court: Pritzker has authority to set inmate transfer protocols
A state appellate court has overturned a Logan County court order that required state prisons to accept inmates from county jails.

It’s the latest action in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 89 county sheriffs against Gov. JB Pritzker and the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Previously, Logan County Judge Jonathan Wright issued an Aug. 3 order requiring IDOC to “accept transfer of all offenders as required by the Illinois Unified Code of Corrections.”

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Grants available for blighted housing
The Illinois Housing Development Authority is now accepting applications for grants to address vacant and abandoned housing throughout the state.

“Blight affects many communities, large and small across Illinois, and it is critical that municipalities have the tools they need to address the economic and social impact that vacant homes continue to impose in neighborhoods throughout the state,” IHDA executive director Kristin Faust said in a news release. “This is why IHDA is committed to helping Illinois cities and towns as they tackle their local housing needs.”

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Belleville man killed in pit bull attack
A southern Illinois man is dead after being attacked by his stepson’s pet dogs, authorities said Wednesday.

Stephen F. Pemberton Sr., 61, was killed after two pit bulls got out of a laundry room where they were being held and attacked him. It wasn’t unknown if the dogs got out on their own or if they were let out by Pemberton.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Illinois expands rules on wearing masks during indoor dining
Illinois officials have expanded rules requiring masks while dining indoors, saying Tuesday that customers must wear face coverings during each interaction with servers and other restaurant workers.

State officials said the requirements — including while servers are an taking order or bringing a bill — go into effect Wednesday and follow a recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Also starting Wednesday, indoor dining won’t be allowed in Will and Kankakee counties  following consecutive days of a positive test rate of 8%, roughly double the statewide rate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Survey: Half of Illinois high school students report using e-tobacco
Half of Illinois high school students reported using an electronic tobacco product last year, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found, “erasing gains” made by health advocates in recent years to curb tobacco use.

That trend of increasing e-cigarette, hookah and vape pen use is on par with the U.S. at large, which the nation’s wellness protection agency noted was a factor that prompted the surgeon general to proclaim electronic tobacco use an “epidemic.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Ohio River bridge reopening between Kentucky, Illinois
An Ohio River bridge that has been closed for almost four weeks will reopen this week, five days ahead of schedule, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said.

The “Cairo” Bridge serves as a north-south connection for U.S. 51 between Wickliffe in western Kentucky and Cairo, Illinois. It is also an east-west transportation corridor for U.S. 60 and U.S. 62. The bridge carries about 7,000 vehicles per day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Metra: Union Pacific conductor policy leads to lost revenue
Metra says Union Pacific’s refusal to send conductors into train cars is costing the Chicago-area commuter rail carrier $1 million each month in lost ticket revenue.

Union Pacific, which operates the UP North, Northwest and West lines for Metra, is not allowing conductors into the aisles to punch tickets, citing coronavirus safety concerns, the Chicago Tribune reported. That is giving passengers on those lines a free ride, Metra said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Official calls "suspicious" a condo fire that killed 2
A blaze at suburban Chicago condominium that left two dead and five injured was suspicious in nature, a fire official said Tuesday.

Bloomington acting Fire Chief Richard Kurka said Monday’s fire at the Waters Edge Condominiums complex in Glendale Heights stretched from the ground to third floor of the building. The investigation of the fire is being treated as a “police matter” with the Bloomingdale Fire Protection District assisting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Woman gets 27 years in prison for Uber driver's slaying
A young woman who pleaded guilty to stabbing an Uber driver to death in a Chicago suburb has been sentenced to 27 years in prison, authorities said Tuesday.

Eliza Wasni, 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced Monday by Cook County Judge Timothy Chambers, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Application period opens for mortgage assistance
Approximately 10,000 Illinois households whose members have struggled to pay their mortgage during the novel coronavirus pandemic can receive grants worth up to $15,000 each from the state Housing Development Authority.

A U.S. Census Bureau survey found that more than one in 10 residents have “little-to-no confidence” they can afford their loans in September due to economic repercussions caused by COVID-19 economic restrictions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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