Illinois Briefs – 9/19/14

September 19th, 2014

>>Highland Teachers End Strike

(Highland, IL) — It was back to the classroom today for teachers and students in the Highland School District after agreement on a new contract ended a six-day strike. The contract will mean raises averaging four-point-three-percent over three years, while the teachers agreed to gradually give up six personal days. The end of the strike means the highly-ranked Highland football team will be on the field tonight after having to forfeit last week’s game. The Metro East district operates six schools, serving about three-thousand students.

>>Illinois Congressmen Take Aim At New FAA Hiring Rules

(Washington, DC) — Two Illinois Congressmen say new FAA rules for hiring air traffic controllers will pose a danger to the flying public. Randy Hultgren and Dan Lipinski have introduced a bill to restore the previous hiring rules, which favored graduates of FAA-accredited college aviation programs, like the one at Lewis University in Romeoville. The FAA’s new procedures make it easier for someone with no aviation background to become an air traffic controller, but Hultgren and Lipinski say a new personality test with vague scoring metrics is being used to disqualify otherwise qualified applicants from college aviation programs and the military.

>>New Rauner Ad Links Quinn, Blagojevich

(Chicago, IL) — In a new campaign ad that appears only on the Internet, the Bruce Rauner campaign links Governor Pat Quinn to his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, saying they are “cut from the same cloth.” The ad points out that questionable patronage hiring at IDOT began under Blagojevich before he was convicted of corruption and continued under Quinn. While there is a federal investigation of IDOT hiring underway, Quinn says it was his administration that uncovered the irregularities and took steps to eliminate them.

>>Deceased Joliet Priest Named In Abuse Lawsuit

(Joliet, IL) — A new lawsuit charges the Catholic Diocese of Joliet with downplaying and covering up the sexual abuse of three young boys by a now-deceased priest thirty-years ago. The suit claims documents released just this year about the alleged incidents in the early 1980s show that the diocese found the allegations made back then to be credible, but they didn’t discipline Rev. Leonardo Mateo, nor did he face criminal charges. Mateo, who had been accused of sexual misconduct multiple times before coming to Joliet, eventually returned to the Philippines where he died in 2004.

>>Illinois Farm Deaths Show Dramatic Increase

(Peoria, IL) — Fatal farming accidents have nearly doubled in the last year as 21-people died between July 2013 and July of this year. The prior year saw 12-people lose their lives in farming-related accidents. Twelve of this year’s farm death victims were 65 or older and nine of the 21 fatal accidents involved tractors. National statistics continue to show agriculture to be the most dangerous industry, with a higher percentage of deaths than mining or construction.

Illinois Briefs – 9/18/14

September 18th, 2014

>>Illinois Tax Structure Among Worst In Nation

(Chicago, IL)  –  Illinois’ tax structure is one of the most unfair in the nation.   A study conducted by shows that people tend to favor a progressive tax structure which requires people who make more money to pay more taxes.  Illinois has a flat-rate structure, which means everyone pays the same percentage from their paychecks no matter how much they make.  Lawmakers pushed to implement a progressive structure earlier this year but that requires changing the state’s constitution.

>>Rauner Unveils Ethics Blueprint

(Chicago, IL)  –  Bruce Rauner says he has a plan to help get rid of corruption in state government.  His ethics blueprint aims to put a hiring monitor in place at IDOT.  The agency has been under fire since news broke that there were hundreds of people on staff who were hired based on clout and not on skill.  Rauner also wants a revolving-door ban which means senior executive officials and former lawmakers would not be allowed to become lobbyists for at least a year after they’ve left their government job.

>>Quinn Wants Black Voters To Take Another Look

(Chicago, IL)  –  Bruce Rauner has been making the rounds in Black communities, trying to take that voting block away from Governor Quinn.  He’s donated cash to help black businesses get off the ground and even opened a campaign office on the south side of Chicago.  Quinn’s new radio ad points out that there’s not one African American worker on the payroll at Rauner’s investment firm.

>>Mother Nature Halts Corn Harvest

(Undated)  –  Mother Nature is putting a damper on harvesting efforts across the state.  According to the USDA, Illinois corn growers have only taken about two-percent of their crop from the fields, thanks to above average rain fall and below average temperatures last week.  The corn seems to be in great shape though, the crop report rates about half the corn as good and 31-percent as excellent.  Illinois farmers are expected to produce about two-point-three-billion bushels of corn this year.

>>Car Seat Fitting Sessions This Weekend

(Undated)  –  Parents can attend a fitting session this weekend to make sure they’re strapping their kids into their car seats properly.  IDOT will have certified technicians out on Saturday to help with the ins and outs of car seat installation.  Techs will show parents some of the secret features in their cars that can help secure the car seats.  The whole presentation takes about 30 minutes and of course, it’s free.  Check out to find a session near you.

Illinois Briefs 9/16/14

September 16th, 2014

>Rauner Wants Merit Pay For Illinois Teachers

(Springfield, IL)  –  Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is in favor of changing the tenure system for teachers.  He said Monday that poor performing teachers shouldn’t get a lifetime job guarantee to teach, and it should be easier to fire them.  Rauner also wants to put into effect a merit pay system, with the idea of  rewarding good instructors.  Governor Quinn’s running mate, Paul Vallas, says Rauner’s plans will cost dearly.  He added that school districts would lose millions of dollars and class sizes would increase.

>>Springfield Teacher Contract A Done Deal

(Springfield, IL)  –  A new contract has been approved for Springfield teachers.  The one-year deal was ratified Monday afternoon by the teacher’s union during a meeting at Southeast High School.  Teachers will only get about 500 dollars plus their step increases.  A contract with less pay was accepted by the union because they understood that there is a limited school budget.

>>Peoria Man Pleads Guilty To Heroin Conspiracy

(Peoria, IL)  –  A Peoria man is awaiting sentencing early next year after pleading guilty for his part in a drug operation in Tazewell and Peoria counties.  Federal prosecutors say 23-year-old Diondre Harris confessed Monday to a heroin conspiracy charge and can face up to 40 years behind bars.  He is accused of teaming up with four others who conspired to distribute more than one-thousand grams of heroin from May 2010 until now.  Harris is set for sentencing January 13th.

>>Champaign Cops Investigate Bank Robbery

(Champaign, IL)  –  Champaign Police are looking into a bank robbery that happened Monday afternoon.  The theft took place at the First Midwest Bank on the 800 block of West Springfield Avenue.  A weapon reportedly was not used in the crime and the suspect left the bank on foot. The alleged offender is described as a black male in his 30s, about five-feet-seven-inches tall, with a mustache and goatee.  He was last seen wearing a black cap with a Brooklyn Nets logo. a black Nike jacket with red designs, black pants and white shoes.

>>Groundbreaking Starts For Mt. Vernon High School

(Mt. Vernon, IL)  –  Construction work on a new Mt. Vernon Township school is underway.  School leaders broke ground Monday on the new project, which will hold 18-hundred students.  The educational facility will also include a football field and theater.  These were additional designs that almost didn’t make the cut due to budget concerns.  They were both reconsidered after the project was rebid.  The school in Mt. Vernon will be complete in the spring of 2016 and will open for class the following semester.

Illinois Briefs – 9/15/14

September 15th, 2014

More Legal Troubles For Quinn

(Springfield, IL) — There are more legal troubles for Governor Quinn. Dozens of IDOT workers who are slated to lose their jobs have filed suit. They say they’re being canned so Quinn can save face during a heated election season. All of the workers were staff assistants who may have been hired based on clout and not necessarily skill. The workers are asking a judge to let them stay on the job until IDOT turns over documents that provide details on why they’re being let go.

Callis Residency Challenged

(Troy, IL) — There seems to be an issue of residency for Ann Callis, a former Madison County judge who’s trying to become the next U.S. Rep for the 13th Congressional District. According to Lee Enterprises, Callis lived in Kirkwood, Missouri while serving as a judge in Madison County, Illinois. Her campaign reps say she also owns a home in Troy, Illinois but is renting a spot in Edwardsville while running for office. Congressional candidates are not required to live in their district.

Brookport Man Allegedly Kills Ex-Girlfriend, Son

(Brookport, IL) — A Brookport man is behind bars and accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and her son. Terry Froman allegedly shot 17-year-old Michael Mohney to death in Paducah, Kentucky then kidnapped the teen’s mom, Kimberly Thomas on Friday. Police caught up with him on I-75 in Ohio. Froman allegedly fired off a couple shots inside the car while trying to get away from the officers. When he finally pulled over, police found Thomas’s dead body in the back seat of the vehicle.

Carterville School Official Headed To Prison

(Carterville, IL) — A former school treasurer in Carterville is headed to prison. Todd Frazier will spend one-year and one-day behind bars for stealing 114-thousand-dollars from the school district. He managed to swindle the cash by manipulating the school’s financial records. Frazier will also have to dish out more than a-hundred-grand in restitution and serve 200-hours of community service once he’s released.

NIU Football Has Sights On Fighting Illini

(Chicago, IL) — The NIU Huskies football team has their sights set on the Fighting Illini. An ad appeared in the “Chicago Tribune” just days after the Huskies beat Northwestern, one of the state’s two Big Ten schools. U of I is the other. The ad shows a picture of a Huskie and the words, “We’re looking at you, Illini.” It goes on to proclaim NIU as “Chicago’s Big Time College Football Team.” The NIU alumni association backed the challenge.

43rd annual Homestead Festival wraps up today

September 14th, 2014

The 43rd annual Homestead Festival wraps up its 3-day run in Princeton today, featuring plenty of food and entertainment.  The day kicks off with an all you can eat pancake breakfast at the Moose Lodge until noon. Also this morning, a jazz worship service takes place at St. Matthews Lutheran Church at 10:30.  Other events today include the 34th Homestead Festival Car Show on South Main Street, a flea market at the fairgrounds, the 4th annual barbeque rib cook-off in Central Bank’s parking lot. Events at Soldiers and Sailors park include an arts and crafts show, children’s tractor pull and a petting zoo. Free tours of the Owen Lovejoy Homestead are being given and a 50/50 raffle drawing takes place.  The Bureau County Pork Producers are serving butterfly pork chops at Soldiers and Sailors Park from 10:30 to 3:30.  A complete schedule is available at


Illinois Briefs – 9/14/14

September 14th, 2014

Former Prosecutor Gets More Time To Mount Murder Defense

(Quincy, IL)  –  An Adams County judge today gave former western Illinois prosecutor Curtis Lovelace three more weeks to find a way to pay for an attorney for his murder trial.  Lovelace, once a football standout at the University of Illinois, is accused of first-degree murder in the 2006 suffocation death of his wife, Cory Lovelace. Curtis Lovelace was indicted last month after police took a new look at the death that had originally been ruled to be of undetermined causes.  After a second examination, two pathologists concluded that Cory Lovelace’s death on Valentine’s Day was a homicide.

Trial Delayed For Cop Charged In Bean Bag Death

(Park Forest, IL)  –  Cook County prosecutors are being given more time to prepare their case against a Park Forest police officer accused of reckless conduct in the death of a 95-year-old man during a confrontation last year.  Officer Craig Taylor is charged because he fired five beanbag rounds from a shotgun at John Wrana, who had barricaded himself in his apartment after hitting his nurse with a cane.  Five officers with riot gear entered the apartment, and when a Taser missed its mark, Taylor fired on the knife-wielding Wrana, who died five hours later.

Rockford Sheriff Quits After Cyberstalking Charge

(Rock Island, IL)  –  Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd has resigned after pleading guilty to attempted official misconduct in a cyberstalking case.  He was accused of using his position to threaten and intimidate a woman at a Rock Island gym and then pursuing her with text messages after she asked him to leave her alone.  Boyd will forfeit his pension as part of the plea agreement and is forbidden to contact the woman.

CTU Backs Quinn; Small Biz Group Behind Rauner

(Chicago, IL)  –  In the governor’s race, the two major candidates today picked up endorsements from expected sources.  The Chicago Teachers Union announced its backing of Governor Pat Quinn, with CTU president Karen Lewis calling challenger Bruce Rauner an “out of touch privatizer.”  Rauner picked up the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business, who cited his opposition to government mandates and high taxes.

TV Anchor Announces His Own Terminal Diagnosis

(Champaign, IL)  –  A television news anchor in Champaign used the airwaves to announce that he has brain cancer and is only expected to live for four to six months.  Dave Benton told viewers of WCIA last night that doctors say the tumor is too large for surgery or radiation.  The Addison native and NIU graduate said he’ll try a new treatment to slow the tumor’s growth and hopes to work as long as he can.

43rd annual Homestead Festival this weekend in Princeton

September 12th, 2014

The 43rd annual Homestead Festival gets into full swing today and runs through Sunday in Princeton, featuring plenty of food and entertainment at Soldiers and Sailors Park on South Main Street. The food includes the Princeton Junior Women’s Club presenting a pulled pork barbecue dinner and ice cream social under the tent at the park. The Homestead Steering Committee presents Parade Grand Marshal Julie McCutchan, Princeton Junior Women’s Club baby contest winners, and the window display contest winners. You can hear those announcements during an on-location broadcast on WZOE-AM beginning at 6 this evening. Other Homestead activities include tours of Owen Lovejoy Homestead and the Historical Society Museum, music from the Generics, an appearance by Those Funny Little People and a performance by the Princeton Community Band. Also, Snapshot performs at the Jaycees beer garden tonight at Darius Miller Park. Tomorrow, WZOE-AM will be broadcasting on-location from the Underground Railroad 5K race at 8 am, as well as the annual parade at 1:30.

Illinois Briefs – 9-11-14

September 11th, 2014

Fracking Opponents Scam Homeowners

(Johnson County, IL) — People who are opposed to fracking are trying to pull a fast one on landowners in southern Illinois. They sent out a fake letter to Johnson County residents who’ve signed oil and gas leases on their property, telling them that the leases have been terminated because of health and environmental factors. The letter claimed to be from Woolsey Energy Corporation and was even written on company letterhead. Company officials weren’t happy about the letter and called it very disturbing.

Christie Says He’ll Still Take Illinois Jobs

(Springfield, IL) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says nothing will stop him from trying to steal jobs away from Illinois, not even putting his pal Bruce Rauner in office. Christie says that’s the nature of competition when it comes to growing the economy. He says he has no doubt that Rauner would try to woo jobs from New Jersey if he’s put into office. Christie and Rauner made the rounds in Springfield yesterday and appeared at several fundraisers.

Man Headed To Prison For Lying About Bomb Threat

(Sesser, IL) — A southern Illinois man is headed to prison for four years for lying to the feds about a bomb threat. Ray Flener was locked up in Franklin County on Election Day back in 2012 but he told FBI agents that he knew of a plan to use weapons and explosives to disrupt the election. Turns out that was a lie. Flener plead guilty to making a false statement and was sentenced yesterday.

Teachers Hit Picket Lines In Highland

(Highland, IL) — There’s no school in Highland today. Teachers are on the picket line over an ongoing contract dispute with the school board. The two sides can’t agree on issues involving pay freezes, teacher evaluations, and layoffs. There’s no word on how long the strike will last. Athletes will be sidelined until it ends.

Inmates Busy Making Signs, Furniture, Other Products

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois prisoners impact your everyday lives more than you may think. Every time you see a stop sign, a park bench or even a barbecue grill at a state park, you can give thanks to someone who’s behind bars. About 950 inmates sign up to build the items every day. They also make office furniture, uniforms, mattresses, sheets, and even the eyeglasses for all of the state’s Medicaid recipients. And contrary to popular belief, they do not make Illinois license plates.

Illinois Briefs – 9/9/14

September 9th, 2014

Christie Headed To Springfield

(Springfield, IL)  –  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is making a pit stop in Springfield tomorrow.  He’s going on behalf of the Republican Governor’s Association, trying to build support for Bruce Rauner.  Rauner is in a heated race with Governor Quinn.  Christie will attend a couple of “closed door” events in the capital city.  The election is less than 60-days away.

Rauner Lays Out Education Plan

(Chicago, IL)  –  Bruce Rauner says he’ll boost education funding within the first year if he’s elected governor but, he hasn’t talked about how he plans to do that.  He says the specifics need to be worked out with lawmakers.  What he will say is that he wants to freeze property taxes, which provide a nice chunk of funding for schools all across the state.  Rauner also wants to start rolling back the income tax hike. That’ll take billions out of the state’s bank account and if you ask Governor Quinn what he thinks about that, he’ll say schools and students will ultimately be hurt by the lost revenues.

Columbia Man Facing Kidnapping Charges

(Columbia, IL)  –  A man from Columbia, Illinois is facing kidnapping charges.  Police say 45-year-old Robert Fricke was playing with kids in his neighborhood on Saturday when he suddenly picked one of the boys up and ran away with him.  Fricke allegedly went into his own home and locked the door.  Police say they found the kid in Fricke’s basement.  He’d been bitten on the ear but his injuries are not life threatening.

Dozens Fall Sick With Rare Enterovirus

(Springfield, IL)  –  Nearly a dozen people in Illinois have fallen sick with a rare virus.  Several hospitals have recently reported clusters of a severe respiratory illness, especially children.  Officials say the virus is transmitted through person-to-person contact and by touching objects after an infected person has touched them. People can keep the virus at bay by washing their hands with warm, soapy water, avoiding shaking hands with people who are sick, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. Anyone who’s having a hard time breathing should see a doctor immediately and, they should stay home from work or school until they feel better.

Teen Mom Charged With First-Degree Murder

(Jacksonville, IL)  –  A teen mom accused of dumping her baby in a trash bin is being charged with first-degree murder.  Police in Jacksonville say the 17-year-old left the baby boy just hours after it was born, and within feet of the police station where she could’ve left the baby with no questions asked.  The baby was found alive just over a week ago.  He was treated at an area hospital then turned over to DCFS.  Officials say the mom will be tried as a juvenile.

Man Drowns Near Starved Rock

(Oglesby, IL)  –  An investigation is underway after a 22-year-old Chicago man drowned in the Illinois River, near Starved Rock.  Officials say Angel Barreto was trying to swim across the river and over to Plum Island Saturday night but went under before he could make it.  Nine rescue boats came out to search for him after witnesses called authorities.  They pulled his body up nearly 15-hours later.  Officials say this is the third drowning in that area since summer began.

State Accepting LIHEAP Applications

(Springfield, IL)  –  Seniors and people with disabilities may be eligible to get help paying their heating bills this winter.  The state is accepting applications for the LIHEAP program.  The program is specifically designed to help low-income families avoid disconnection when their bills are the highest.  Funding is provided on a first-come first-serve basis.  Check out or call 877-411-WARM for more information.

LaSalle County multi-vehicle accident kills 1, injures 2

September 8th, 2014

The investigation continues into a multi-vehicle accident this morning in LaSalle County that left one person dead and two others injured. The crash happened at around 7 am on Route 251 south of Bottom Road in Peru. Peru Police Commander Shawn Anderson says there were three vehicles involved in the accident. One victim died on the scene, another was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, and the third victim was treated and released. Anderson says the road was shut down until noon with accident reconstructionists on the scene. The identities of all motorists are being withheld pending a preliminary report and notification of next of kin. We’ll have more information as it’s made available.