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home : news : state news free September 29, 2020

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 GOP legislators demand ethics, lobbying reform
Four Republican lawmakers implored the co-leaders of a bipartisan, bicameral and multi-branch panel designed to present ethics and lobbying reform proposals to restart meetings that have stalled since the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The call, made during an online news conference Monday by the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform’s GOP members, is another push by state Republicans “to root out corruption and enact serious reforms,” Rep. Patrick Windhorst, from Metropolis, said.

Party members resumed calls for changes to rules and statutes governing lawmaker conduct after a recent federal investigation charged utility giant Commonwealth Edison with one count of bribery and implicated House Speaker Michael Madigan in a scheme that would benefit the company legislatively.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Additional charges still pending against former Rep. Arroyo
Federal prosecutors said Monday they still expect to file additional charges against former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, and a judge scheduled a hearing in 60 days so that Arroyo’s defense attorney has time to review “voluminous” information in the case.

During a brief status hearing that was conducted by telephone Monday, U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger scheduled the next hearing for 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Arroyo did not take part in Monday’s hearing. He was represented by his defense attorney, Michael Gillespie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Kindergarten readiness improves for second straight year
The number of Illinois children entering kindergarten who are fully prepared to start school grew for the second consecutive year in 2019, a possible indication that the state’s increased spending on early childhood education is paying off.

But the latest kindergarten readiness report, released Monday by the Illinois State Board of Education, also showed that more than one-third of all pupils who entered kindergarten last year were unprepared across all three developmental areas that the state tries to measure.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

1-year extension on driver's licenses for seniors over 75
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that the expiration date for valid driver’s licenses held by Illinois drivers who are 75 years of age or older has been extended for a period of one year past the licenses’ current 2020 expiration date. As a result, drivers age 75 and older with a 2020 driver’s license expiration date do not need to visit a facility to renew their driver’s license until shortly before their birthday in 2021.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

New COVID restrictions for Will and Kankakee counties
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the state Department of Public Health on Monday announced increased restrictions for residents of Will and Kankakee Counties as the COVID-19 positivity rate there remained at or above 8 percent for three consecutive days.

Bars, restaurants and gatherings in those counties, demarcated as Region 7 in the Restore Illinois Plan, are facing similar rules to those implemented over the past five months by state officials trying to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Group takes first steps to food autonomy for Carbondale
The Carbondale Spring community group has united three community gardens to streamline its mission to make Carbondale a food autonomous city.

The seed that started the group’s food autonomy project was planted in the fall of 2018. Nick Smaligo, one of the Carbondale Spring’s chartering members, said there was a meeting of about 30 people that came together to find ways of improving food security in the city — a debate about food assistance benefits was raging in Washington, D.C., at the time.

What is the Carbondale Spring? A proposed 4-point plan for Carbondale’s future.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Living Room: Helping those feeling troubled, overwhelmed
DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Annette Halbmaier of Sycamore was walking out of the Circle K gas station convenience store when a man walked up to her and gave her a hug.
Sunday, August 23, 2020

Make mental health a priority as students return to school
SPRINGFIELD — This August, many students in Illinois will venture back to the classroom. For some, that classroom looks dramatically different in a COVID-19 environment. The challenges of remote learning, social distancing, and new classroom restrictions can cause emotional stress for both our students and teachers. That's why this month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and local emergency managers are highlighting various resources to help the public make mental health a priority during these unprecedented times.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

IDPH announces top to bottom, independent review of Long-Term Care Bureau in response to delay in complaint investigations
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is announcing a top to bottom, independent review of its Bureau of Long-Term Care in the Office of Health Care Regulation, in response to a delay in the investigation of abuse and neglect complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

20 Illinois counties at warning level for Coronavirus disease
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 20 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

State of Illinois reports ninth consecutive year of record tourism growth
CHICAGO — Prior to the impact of COVID-19 and record losses in the industry, Illinois achieved its ninth consecutive year of record tourism growth in 2019. According to new data released today by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Office of Tourism, Illinois welcomed a record 120 million visitors last year, and a record economic boost for the state. In 2019, visitors spent nearly $43.1 billion, a $1.3 billion increase over the prior year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Senate GOP demands Pritzker open IDES offices
SPRINGFIELD — Ten “frustrated” Republican senators demanded Gov. JB Pritzker allow state offices tasked with processing unemployment claims to reopen in a letter sent exactly five months after Illinois’ first stay-at-home order was issued.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

20 Illinois counties at warning level for Coronavirus
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 20 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Illinois digging into delays in nursing home complaints
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The state of Illinois said it’s investigating a delay in responding to abuse and neglect complaints at long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Group takes first steps to food autonomy for Carbondale
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — The Carbondale Spring community group has united three community gardens to streamline its mission to make Carbondale a food autonomous city.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Experience the changing seasons on Sangamon River
DECATUR — Experience the changing of the seasons on the Sangamon River, during guided canoe trips with Macon County Conservation District staff.  Canoe trips will be Saturdays, August 29, September 19, and October 17 from 1-4pm.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Bourne is named champion of Free Enterprise
SPRINGFIELD — State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) has been named a Champion of Free Enterprise, an award given by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to legislators who have made special contributions to the defense of free enterprise, and the furtherance of policies that promote job growth and economic opportunities for Illinoisans.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Pediatrician's tips help kids transition to daily use of masks
SPRINGFIELD — While masks are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it can be a challenge to get young children to leave on things they don’t want to wear – whether it’s mittens, socks or a face mask..
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Millikin University cancels Vespers this year due to COVID
DECATUR —Millikin University's 2020 Vespers celebration has been canceled due to the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Virtual Prairie Pedal Bicycle Ride raising funds for nature and wildlife
DECATUR — Support natural areas and wildlife by riding your bicycle in Prairie Pedal! The Macon County Conservation Foundation will hold its annual bicycle ride fundraiser event from now through Sunday, Oct. 11. With health and safety in mind, this year's fundraiser will be held virtually through the Prairie Pedal Facebook page. All proceeds support natural areas and wildlife in Macon County, Illinois.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Millikin again named among best colleges in the Midwest
DECATUR — Millikin University is one of the 158 best colleges in the Midwest according to The Princeton Review. The education services company lists Millikin University in the Best in the Midwest section of its "2021 Best Colleges: Region by Region" website feature that was posted on Aug. 18 at
Friday, August 21, 2020

USDA accepting applications to help cover costs for organic certification
SPRINGFIELD — USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP).  Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020, are due Oct. 31, 2020.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Attorney General Raoul challenges FDIC rule that allows predatory lenders to bypass state interest-rate caps
CHICAGO — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today, as part of a coalition of eight attorneys general, filed a lawsuit challenging the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) final rule that exempts buyers of high-interest loans from state interest-rate caps. These caps play a critical role in regulating payday loans and other high-cost lending.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Chicago schools cut funding for police
CHICAGO (AP) — Funding for police officers in Chicago Public Schools will be cut by more than half, while other ‘major reforms’ will be implemented for the way police operate in the school district, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and district CEO Janice Jackson said.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Gov. Pritzker seeks to make Illinois a totally renewable energy state by 2050
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday provided a substantive look at how he wants to make Illinois a completely renewable-energy state by 2050 with tighter controls on utility companies amid an influence-peddling scheme involving ComEd.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Pandemic's grip on state's economy may be easing
SPRINGFIELD – The unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 11.3 percent in July as the coronavirus pandemic’s grip on the state’s economy showed signs of easing.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Lightfoot is defending beefed-up policing near her home
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot adamantly defended on Thursday a beefed-up police presence outside her home, saying extra officers were necessary to protect her and her family.
Friday, August 21, 2020

UI lab okayed for 'game changer' test
As the state’s rolling COVID-19 test positivity rate increased again Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker and representatives of the University of Illinois announced a testing breakthrough which they said could eventually allow for greater suppression of new cases of the virus.

The state’s flagship public university was granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for rapid saliva-based testing similar to what is being used to test NBA players during their resumed season in Florida. “Today's announcement is yet another game changer,” UI President Timothy Killeen said at a news conference in Chicago Wednesday. “The pioneering saliva-based testing developed by our leading edge researchers in Urbana produces rapid results at costs that allow and permit large-scale surveillance testing. That combination is a key to curbing the virus, allowing isolation early enough to limit the spread of the infection.”

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chicago police step up release of photos, videos
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police posted on Wednesday a video on its website of a boy getting shot in the leg, the latest addition to a rapidly expanding collection of videos and photographs the department has made public in the hopes of solving shootings and recent incidents of looting.
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Virus cases continue to climb in Illinois
Cases of novel coronavirus disease continue to climb in Illinois along with the positivity rate among tests conducted.

The rolling seven-day average positivity rate has climbed by one-tenth of a percentage point per day over the past three days, sitting at 4.3 percent as of Tuesday.

That number was driven upward by a one-day positivity rate of 5.1 percent Tuesday, the highest one-day statistic since June 5. There were 1,740 new confirmed cases of the virus reported Tuesday among 34,175 tests completed over the previous 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Housing relief application extended by one week
Illinoisans suffering economic decline due to COVID now have an extra week to apply for emergency rental assistance.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday that the Illinois Housing Development Authority, or IHDA, extended the deadline for Illinois renters to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program until noon Friday, Aug. 28.

According to a news release from the IHDA, the deadline was extended due to powerful storms that battered residents in northern Illinois last week.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Illinois AG joins federal lawsuit against USPS
Operational shifts undertaken by the United States Postal Service in recent weeks, including spending cuts and equipment removal, are illegal, Illinois’ top lawyer and 13 other attorneys general argued in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

By terminating workers’ overtime, eliminating a number of mail sorting machines, removing several mailboxes and rescheduling the delivery of some late-day mail, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is subverting the national election this year, the officials added.

Several states, including Illinois, are promoting expanded vote-by-mail programs as a safety precaution amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Architect of the Capitol to take up issue of Douglas statue
Board members of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol on Wednesday will take up a request from the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to replace imagery of political giant Stephen Douglas and Illinois pioneer Pierre Menard because of their racist pasts.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Navy Pier to again close with too few visitors
Chicago’s Navy Pier is closing again until next spring because attendance has been too low during the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Tuesday.

The popular tourist spot reopened in a limited capacity June 10 after closures to limit the spread of COVID-19. But officials said they’re only seeing about 15% to 20% of the usual crowds during what’s generally the busiest time of year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The closure, starting Sept. 8, will help reduce operational expenses and limit losses.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

SW Illinois man allegedly ran over his wife, killing her
A southwestern Illinois man faces charges alleging that he ran over his wife with a truck, killing her, while he was intoxicated.

Teddy Weil, 62, was charged Monday with two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with Saturday night’s death of Donna Weil. The Lebanon, Illinois, man was being held at the St. Clair County Jail on $75,000 bond.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Illinois woman killed in Mississippi River crash in Iowa
Authorities in eastern Iowa are seeking information on a boat crash in the Mississippi River near LeClaire that killed an Illinois woman.

The collision of a large black center-console boat and a blue and white 19-foot ski boat on the river happened Sunday evening, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in a news release. The crash killed Dr. Anita Pinc, 52, of Moline, Illinois, an obstetrician and gynecologist with The Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists in Davenport, according to a statement from the clinic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Review cites 'operational failures' in Smollett prosecution
A special prosecutor in Chicago accused Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office on Monday of repeatedly abusing their discretion and making false public statements in the case against actor Jussie Smollett last year, but he concluded they did nothing criminal.

In his 12-page outline of his conclusion released Monday, Dan Webb criticized Foxx and her staff for how they decided on March 26 last year to toss charges that the former “Empire” actor staged a racist, homophobic attack against himself and how they explained the move as public outrage grew.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Redistricting reformers seek to change to mapping process
Reformers say it’s time for Illinoisans to “advocate for themselves” when lawmakers redraw the state’s political boundaries in a few months.

That’s the message the Coalition for Honest and New Government Ethics, or CHANGE Illinois — a group that has long advocated for changes to the redistricting process — intends to deliver through an online application its helped develop.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Exhibit of salvage material from Joliet Prison open again
An Illinois State Museum gallery closed due to the coronavirus pandemic will reopen this month.

Museum officials said the Lockport Gallery is set to reopen on Wednesday. The gallery will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Virus spikes in countries that had seen respite
Countries that had seen a summer respite from coronavirus outbreaks tracked swiftly rising numbers of new confirmed cases today, prompting fears among government leaders and health officials that months of hard-won progress would be lost in just days as vacationers return home.

New restrictions on leisure activities accompanied the final weeks of summer break in Europe. Hours-long traffic jams formed at the Croatia-Slovenia border over the weekend as Austrians trying to beat a midnight quarantine deadline rushed home from a favored coastal vacation spot.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Illinois county tables decision on jail's ICE contract
A county board has tabled a decision on whether a northern Illinois jail will continuing its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain immigrants.

The contract with ICE has been around since 2004, though the board hasn’t looked at it since 2014. The agreement has brought in an average of $6.8 million a year for the last three years, according to the Northwest Herald.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Chicago mayor: Young people behind virus uptick
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot again warned Sunday of rising COVID-19 rates, saying young people are behind the recent uptick.

The first-term Democrat spoke Sunday to CBS’ “Face the Nation,” as the state reported 1,562 new confirmed cases and 18 deaths.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Review cites 'operational failures' in Smollett case
A special prosecutor in Chicago said Monday that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office abused their discretion in the case against actor Jussie Smollett but did nothing criminal.

In a statement on the conclusions his investigation, special prosecutor Dan Webb sharply criticized the handling of the Smollett case by Foxx and her assistant prosecutors, saying their handling was marked by disarray and misleading statements.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Mayor defends police after clash with protesters
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised city police Sunday for “fairly quickly“ settling weekend protests that devolved into violent skirmishes while activists and other elected officials blasted police for unnecessary aggressive tactics.

The day of demonstrations against police brutality started peacefully Saturday with a march around noon. Later, a separate demonstration near downtown resulted in two dozen arrests, 17 injured officers and at least two injured protesters. None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Former Illinois Gov. James Thompson, 'Big Jim,' dies at 84
Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson, known as “Big Jim” during a long career that eventually made him the state’s longest-serving chief executive, has died. He was 84.

Thompson died shortly after 8 p.m. Friday at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, his wife, Jayne, told the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. The Tribune, citing a police report, reported Thompson had been recovering there for several weeks after suffering heart problems.

“It was very sudden,” Jayne Thompson told the Tribune. “I was told that his heart simply stopped.”

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Illinois sees three-month high in new confirmed virus cases
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported another 2,264 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest increase in confirmed cases in nearly three months and the third time the state has topped 2,000 daily cases in the last week.

The state health department also announced another 25 people have died from the virus, raising Illinois’ death toll from the pandemic to 7,721 people.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

University of Chicago president shifting role to chancellor
The president of the University of Chicago is leaving that role and will become the school’s chancellor in June 2021.

Robert Zimmer announced his plans at a Board of Trustees meeting this month. Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Neubauer said members plan to create a search committee to determine the next university president.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Chicago officials pledge swift response to theft, vandalism
Chicago officials under pressure to reassure residents after hundreds of people vandalized and stole from downtown businesses pledged Friday to respond forcefully to any similar attempts during the weekend.

Flanked by local and federal officials at a press conference near the city’s lakefront, Mayor Lori Lightfoot outlined the strategy that includes a Chicago Police team to monitor social media around the clock for efforts to organize looting or other crime.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Starved Rock, Matthiessen state parks closed due to storm
Two of Illinois’ most popular state parks will remain closed at least until Monday after heavy storms downed trees, blocking roadways and trails.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Starved Rock State Park in Utica and Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby will remain closed until clean-up is complete.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Perspectives on Progress: Jordan Powell talks health disparities
As the novel coronavirus disease continues to spread throughout the United States, the numbers show Latino and African American communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 nationwide.

To Jordan Powell, president of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association, or IPHCA, it’s a natural extension of the inequities that already exist in health care.

“African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to suffer from other underlying conditions as a result of socioeconomic factors and a lack of access to health care,” he said in an interview. “So, when you combine those underlying conditions with a virus in a pandemic like coronavirus, then your outcomes are going to be worse.”

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Illinois surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 cases
Illinois has now recorded more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic first arrived in the state..

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Thursday that there had been 1,834 new confirmed cases of the disease over the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day total since Saturday. That brought the statewide total number of cases to 200,427, or nearly 1.6 percent of the state’s population.

The department also reported 24 additional virus-related deaths since Wednesday, bringing that statewide total to 7,696.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Weather Service confirms 14 tornadoes hit Illinois
Survey teams with the National Weather Service have confirmed that 14 tornadoes touched down Monday in northern Illinois when a rare storm known as a derecho swept parts of the Midwest.

The weather service’s Chicago office said in a Thursday update that it confirmed a total of 15 tornado touchdowns in its forecast region, including one in the northwestern Indiana town of Kentland.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Illinois Senate conducts first-ever virtual committee hearing; focus on diversity
An Illinois Senate committee met for the state’s first-ever virtual hearing Thursday in a Zoom teleconference focusing on diversity in state contracts granted through the Illinois Tollway.

The new Senate rules for virtual hearings were approved by the chamber in the abbreviated May legislative session. They allow the Senate president, in consultation with the minority leader, to create a process in which committee votes can be taken, but such a process has not yet been approved.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Illinois Democrats outline ethics proposals
Several Democratic state lawmakers called a virtual news conference Thursday morning in support of ethics reforms, hours before news broke that another Democratic state senator was charged with a federal crime.

A number of the nine initiatives proposed by the Democrats echo reforms called for by Republicans in recent months. Lawmakers should not lobby officials at any level of government or be allowed to jump into lobbying immediately after leaving office, both parties agree.

They are also in favor of establishing term limits for leadership positions. The Senate has such a provision in its rules, but the House does not.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Body ID'd after being found at car dealership
A coroner has identified the decomposed remains of a woman whose body was found inside a car parked at an automotive repair shop and car dealership in Illinois’ Metro East region.
Friday, August 14, 2020

Link charged with felony tax evasion
State Sen. Terry Link was charged in federal court Thursday with a felony count of tax evasion.

In a one-page document, federal prosecutors allege that Link filed a return for tax year 2016 in which he reported income of $264,450, “when defendant knew that the total income substantially exceeded that amount.”

Friday, August 14, 2020

Illinois meatpacking plant sued after COVID- 19 death
The family of a suburban Chicago woman who died of complications related to COVID-19 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a meatpacking plant where her husband worked and contracted the virus.

The family of Esperanza Ugalde alleges in their lawsuit that Aurora Packing Co. in North Aurora failed to take steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Aurora Beacon-News reported. They also said the company failed to warn employees after it became aware that other employees at the plant were infected.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Chicago store ransacked twice since May
Security cameras captured the pillaging of a West Side Chicago convenience store hours after Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned vandals that the city would hold them accountable for ransacking downtown retailers.

Walid Mouhammad, owner of African Food & Liquor, watched surveillance video helplessly from home on Monday as thieves destroyed his ATM, safe and cash register, stealing money and ripping the store apart in the process.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Attacks and pandemic are 'gut punch' for Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile
Neil Mehra’s cigar shop just off Chicago’s Michigan Avenue wouldn’t normally share much in common with big brand-name stores such as Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, whose boutiques sit on the choicest spots on the city’s most iconic street.

But this week they share foreboding over whether the economics and reputation of one of America’s most prestigious shopping districts can rebound from damage done by hours of looting Monday in and around the mile-long strip known as the Magnificent Mile.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Charges announced in this week's looting
Cook County’s state’s attorney’s office on Thursday announced 42 people have been charged with felonies in connection with the looting of stores along the city’s premier retail street that occurred earlier this week.

Prosecutors said among the charges filed include one for attempted murder and 28 for burglary and looting, in addition to aggravated battery, resisting a police officer, theft and criminal damage to property.

Friday, August 14, 2020

State releases $46M for businesses reeling from pandemic
Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced the release of $46 million in grant funding for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, warned of potential further shutdowns if case counts continue to rise and called widespread use of face coverings the key to preventing such action.

The funding comes from the Business Interruption Grant, or BIG, program which is funded through the federal CARES Act.

The initial allotment of $46 million split between 2,655 small businesses is part of $636 million in total funding for the program. Of that funding, $270 million will go to child care providers.

Pritzker said the initial allotments were distributed in 78 of the state’s 102 counties.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Pandemic aid to start flowing to local governments
The state of Illinois will soon begin distributing $250 million in federal funds to help cities, counties and other units of local government pay for pandemic-related expenses.

The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules cleared the way Tuesday for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to launch the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency, or Local CURE, program, which state lawmakers authorized in the budget they adopted in May.

Of that money, $200 million will go directly to cities and counties. The rest will be divided between local public health departments and other local units of government such as townships and other special taxing districts.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Rules adopted for 75 adult-use marijuana dispensary licenses
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, or IDFPR, adopted permanent rules this week to break ties in the application process for 75 conditional adult-use marijuana dispensary licenses.

Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, firms can score up to 250 points on their application to obtain a license. There are a limited number of licenses available in each of the state’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Regions. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Chicago PD posts looting videos to identify suspects
Chicago police started giving people another look Wednesday at the looting that happened downtown and around the city this week and are hoping they will recognize suspects and provide their names and other information that will help detectives make arrests.

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan announced the department has started posting videos on its website of suspects who took part in the widespread looting early Monday morning. One of the first videos posted shows a person, apparently a woman, smashing store windows with a rock. Another shows some young men striking and trying to pry open an automatic teller machine with a hammer as one of them can be heard complaining, “It won’t open.”

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ill. Supreme Court declines to consider legal battle over Pritzker orders
The Illinois Supreme Court declined to take on a downstate legal battle over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s coronavirus-related orders on Tuesday, moving the case to Sangamon County and consolidating it with a similar challenge.

The decision comes as the first-term Democrat was expected in a Clay County courtroom this week after a judge rule d Pritzker exceeded his authority in issuing orders aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Mask rule survives panel oversight
A legislative panel that oversees the state’s administrative rulemaking process voted along partisan lines to allow Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency rule to enforce mask-wearing and other public health orders to move forward.

That decision came from the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, a 12-member, bipartisan, bicameral group that exercises oversight of the state’s regulatory process.

Pritzker announced the new enforcement measure on Friday, Aug. 7, as 13 counties were put on warning that they may have to reimpose some social and economic restrictions to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Feds release $21.6 million to Illinois public housing authorities
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing $21.6 million in CARES Act funding to 68 public housing authorities, or PHAs, throughout Illinois to help low-income families during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s local housing authorities can apply those funds to “eligible coronavirus activities” related to preparation and response to the virus for families taking part in Housing Choice Voucher and Mainstream Voucher programs, according to a news release distributed by HUD Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Winds knock down remains of historic church
Strong winds caused additional damage to a historic Chicago church but may have also swept in a badly needed “blessing” for a sanctuary where Mahalia Jackson and other famed gospel singers often sang and the man considered the father of gospel music led the choir.

Winds that reached nearly 100 mph knocked down the south wall of the fire-damaged Pilgram Baptist Church in northeast Illinois on Monday. Two walls, made of limestone and braced by metal beams, remain intact. The building has been a shell since January 2006, when it was gutted by fire.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Southern Illinois, Metro East regions have highest positivity rates
The state on Tuesday announced another 20 COVID-19-related deaths and 1,549 new confirmed cases of the virus.

That brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Illinois to 7,657 out of 196,948 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. More than 3.14 million tests have been conducted during the same time period.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Lawsuit seeks $450 million payment to ratepayers from ComEd, Madigan
A group of Commonwealth Edison ratepayers asked a federal judge Monday to force the utility company, House Speaker Michael Madigan and others to pay “at least” $450 million to be split among all those affected by an alleged extortion scandal.

The number of affected ratepayers could rise to more than 3.8 million, according to a lawsuit filed by attorneys representing six residents that all resided in the Chicagoland area at some point in the last decade.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Pritzker announces launch of housing assistance programs
Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday announced a pair of housing assistance programs aimed at helping lower-income households meet their rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic.

“The economic pain brought on by COVID-19 has impacted every Illinoisan, but no one has carried a burden larger than those least able to weather a financial hardship,” Pritzker said during an announcement in Chicago. “Every action that we take to pave our way through this crisis and beyond must be done with a special focus on those who have too often been left out and left behind.”

The two programs are being administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide $150 million in federal CARES Act funding to help low-income households catch up on their rent payments.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Suit seeks to force state bond default
A lawsuit seeking to force the state to default on billions of dollars in outstanding bonds should move forward, a state appellate court said last week.

A three-judge panel of the 4th District Illinois Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a lower court acted prematurely in dismissing the suit by John Tillman, CEO of the conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute.

“We repeat that we express no opinion on the merits of Tillman’s claims,” Justice Robert Steigmann wrote in an opinion also signed by Justices John Turner and Lisa Holder White. “We merely conclude for the purpose of this proceeding that Tillman should be permitted to file the complaint.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Lawsuit: Expanded mail voting a partisan 'scheme'
Chicago-area Republicans filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging Illinois’ expanded vote-by-mail program is a “partisan scheme” to help Democrats get votes and could open the door to election fraud.

The lawsuit is the latest GOP effort to curb mail-in voting, which President Donald Trump has called flawed and the greatest threat  to his reelection. Though several states rely exclusively on mail-in ballots and fraud related to it is rare, it’s a complicated endeavor that more states are taking on during the coronavirus pandemic.

At issue are changes to Illinois’ vote-by-mail program that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in June to limit Election Day crowds at the polls. Among other things, it sends vote-by-mail applications to millions of Illinois residents who voted in elections since 2018, makes Nov. 3 a government and school holiday and allows local election authorities to establish secure drop-boxes for collecting ballots.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate over 4% for 5th straight day in Illinois
The state announced 1,319 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday and one additional virus-related death.

That followed 1,382 cases and eight deaths reported Sunday, and 2,190 and 15 deaths reported Saturday. Low Sunday and Monday death and case counts in the state’s reported numbers have been an almost weekly trend during the pandemic, with higher numbers generally reported in the middle of the week.

The rolling positivity rate for the past seven days was 4.1 percent as of Monday after reaching 4.2 percent over the weekend. It’s the fifth straight day of a rolling positivity rate of 4 percent or higher after it was below that number for nearly two months.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Officials at odds over troops in Chicago
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she remained opposed to calling the Illinois National Guard into her city after a night of looting and unrest that led to more than 100 arrests.

At a joint news conference Monday morning with Gov. JB Pritzker, Lightfoot shut down the idea after taking questions on President Trump’s repeated offer to send in federal troops.

“Both of us believe this is not an incident that requires the National Guard,” she said of herself and the governor..

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Aid for struggling small businesses to start flowing
Financial aid is about to start flowing for Illinois businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity published emergency rules this week to implement the Business Interruption Grant program, or BIG. Those rules took effect July 21 when they were submitted to the secretary of state’s office.

Monday, August 10, 2020

EPA, U of I develop school course on food waste
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has worked with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to create an educational unit on food waste.

“Where Does my Food Go?” is for fifth- and sixth-graders and helps them understand the implications of thrown-out food. It then leads them through the environmental and social issues associated with food waste and explores solutions.

Monday, August 10, 2020

More than 100 arrests, 13 officers hurt amid Chicago looting
More than 100 people were arrested Monday following a night of looting and unrest that left 13 officers injured and caused damage in the city’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and other parts of the city, authorities said.

Police Superintendent David Brown said it “was not an organized protest” but instead “an incident of pure criminality” that began following the shooting of a person by police the previous day in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. At one point early Monday, shots were fired at police and officers returned fire. Brown said a heavy police presence is expected in the downtown area until further notice.

“This was straight up, felony criminal conduct,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This was an assault on our city.”

Monday, August 10, 2020

From pirate hideout to picnic spot
CAVE-IN-ROCK, Ill. (AP) — What a difference a couple of centuries can make.

Today, several hundred thousand tourists a year flock to the tiny Ohio River village of Cave-In-Rock to visit the massive cave carved out of the limestone bluffs by the river. Even the most claustrophobic person would have little difficulty stepping inside the 55-foot-wide opening.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Museum showcases kitchen things
TREMONT, Ill. (AP) — Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Tremont Museum and Historical Society’s Apron Strings and Kitchen Things exhibit is that it makes local history a personal matter for area residents.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Some Illinois community colleges see a boost in summer enrollment
CHICAGO (AP) — Some community colleges in Illinois have seen an increase in student enrollment over the summer, but officials are waiting to see if that will continue in the fall.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Farm families urged to participate in resource survey
SPRINGFIELD — Farmers and their families have the opportunity to complete a survey aimed to improve a wide range of services that will be available to them from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Farm Family Resource Initiative program in the coming months.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Bailey wants Pritzker to rescind orders or go to jail
SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Darren Bailey asked a downstate judge this week to agree that Gov. JB Pritzker violated a court ruling when he issued three COVID-19-related executive orders in July.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

13 Illinois counties in warning zone for virus
SPRINGFIELD – The rolling seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Illinois continues to tick upward, hitting 4.1 percent Friday – its highest mark since June 11.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Healthcare Organizations remind visitors: masks required at hospitals, clinics
SPRINGFIELD  — Local healthcare organizations on Friday emphasized that anyone visiting a hospital or clinic must wear a mask at all times, saying that the public’s compliance is critical to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Aid for small businesses in Illinois to start flowing
SPRINGFIELD — Financial aid is about to start flowing for Illinois businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Blooms unfold at this sunflower maze
PARIS, Ill. (AP) — A seemingly endless field of sunflowers is in bloom in east central Illinois, a golden spectacle that’s drawing families from all corners of the Wabash Valley and beyond.
Friday, August 7, 2020

State announces another 1,953 COVID-19 cases
SPRINGFIELD – The rolling, seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Illinois ticked back up to 4 percent Thursday as the state announced another 1,953 new confirmed cases of the virus.
Friday, August 7, 2020

New today: Fines for flouting guidelines
SPRINFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced his administration would be filing a new emergency rule today allowing health authorities to levy fines on establishments that flout masking and capacity guidelines.
Friday, August 7, 2020

Leader of troubled Teacher's Retirement resigns after being put on leave
SPRINGFIELD – Richard Ingram, the long-serving executive director of the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, resigned from that position this week after being placed on administrative leave.
Friday, August 7, 2020

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