Illinois Briefs – 8/30/14

August 30th, 2014

State Issues Proposed Fracking Regulations

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has finally released the set of proposed rules for the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking. Environmentalists have criticized draft versions of the rules as being too lenient, while industry groups have bemoaned the delay that has meant no drilling permits have been issued for sites in southern Illinois. The IDNR report has been delivered to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which has 45-days to act or let the rules take effect as they are.

Second Defendant Convicted In Joliet Murder Plot

(Joliet, IL) — A Will County judge today found 20-year-old Bethany McKee guilty of murder for her role in the gruesome murder of two Joliet men in January 2013. McKee is one of four people accused of conspiring to lure the two victims to a Joliet house to rob them, and then strangling them and abusing their corpses. A second woman has already pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for her testimony. Two men are awaiting trial, accused of the actual killing of Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover.

Chinese National Sentenced For Casino Scam

(Arlington Heights, IL) — A federal judge has sentenced a 59-year-old Chinese national to two-years in prison for scamming Illinois casinos out of 50-thousand-dollars. Xueliang Li allegedly used fake credit cards to buy “comp checks” from casinos in Kane, Will and Tazewell counties last year and then cashed those checks. Li could be free in about a year with good behavior, but faces possible deportation upon his release.

Peoria Civic Center Awash In Red Ink

(Peoria, IL) — The taxpayer-supported Peoria Civic Center showed an annual operating loss of 875-thousand-dollars, nine times more than projected. The loss comes in the wake of an attendance drop of some 23-percent from the previous year. The Civic Center board has approved a new three-year contract with a management firm and ended a long-standing relationship with a food and beverage service in an effort to save money.

U Of I Students From West Africa Getting Ebola Information

(Urbana-Champaign, IL) — University of Illinois students arriving at the Urbana-Champaign campus from West African countries are being warned about the dangers of the Ebola virus. As part of the normal health screening for international students, those from nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, including Nigeria and Sierra Leone, are told about the symptoms of Ebola and what to do if they start to feel ill. Other campuses across the country are following similar procedures, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public.

Illinois Briefs – 8/29/14

August 29th, 2014

Rain Expected To Stick Around

(Lincoln, IL) — The rain is expected to stick around for the next several days. The National Weather Service reports scattered thunderstorms could hit much of central Illinois between now and next Tuesday. Officials say it’s too soon to say if there will be any severe weather risks but with plenty of rain in the forecast, people should keep an eye out for standing water. Never try to walk or drive through standing water because doing so increases the odds of drowning.

Rauner, Quinn Lay Out Plans At Forums

(Chicago, IL) — Governor Quinn and his GOP opponent Bruce Rauner are starting to make the rounds and lay out their plans on how to restore the state’s economy. They’ve both appeared at forums over the past couple of days hoping to woo voters with their ideas on taxes, the minimum wage, and education funding. Rauner wants to freeze property taxes, lower the state’s income tax, and add taxes on certain services. Quinn disagrees with taxing services and says it’ll hurt the hardest working people in the state, those who live paycheck to paycheck.

Durbin Wants To Tackle Social Security Shortfall Now

(Bloomington, IL) — The Social Security system could face a huge shortfall in the next 20 years or so, but U.S. Senator Dick Durbin doesn’t want to wait that long to address the problem. He says he and his colleagues need to get around the table and come up with a solution to fix the system right now. Some suggest privatizing the program but Durbin is not on board with that plan. He says that’ll fail to fund the current obligations and could cause more harm than good to those who depend on the system.

Some Construction Suspended During Holiday Weekend

(Springfield, IL) — People who are hitting the road for the holiday won’t have to worry about too much construction. IDOT says they’re lifting all non-emergency road work for the weekend. That’ll help reduce some of the congestion and improve traffic flow. The construction will be lifted at 3 o’clock this afternoon and will go back into place Midnight Monday night into Tuesday morning. Drivers are still required to obey the posted speed limit signs or they risk getting a ticket worth at least 375-dollars.

>>K-9 Dog Dies Of Heat Stroke

(East St. Louis, IL) — The excessive heat has gotten the best of a K-9 officer in East St. Louis. Officials say the dog, better known as Officer Simmie, had a heat stroke after doing training exercises in the park. Simmie started having trouble walking when he got home and was rushed over to the veterinarian. That’s where he went into cardiac arrest and died.

Annual Hog Days Celebration Gets Underway in Kewanee

August 29th, 2014

It’s the opening day of the annual Hog Day Celebration in Kewanee, featuring the world’s largest outdoor pork barbecue, the tallest portable ferris wheel in the United States. Also featuring a craft show and flea market and the featured performers tonight are the Cook & Belle Band playing country rock. Hog Days runs through Labor Day in Kewanee. For more information and a detailed schedule of events, go online to

Illinois Briefs – 8/28/14

August 28th, 2014

Fracking Rules Available To Public Tomorrow

(Springfield, IL) — The state’s new fracking rules are slated to be available to the public tomorrow but oil and gas drillers will have to wait a while longer before applying for a permit. That’s because a legislative committee will need to sign off on the rules first. The fracking issue has been the center of intense debate in Springfield over the past couple of years. Supporters say it could lead to an oil boom, which would boost the state’s economy and put people to work. Opponents argue there are too many health risks associated with fracking.

Oberweis Throwing Jabs In Final Push Before Election

(Bloomington, IL) — State Senator Jim Oberweis is throwing jabs at U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in the final weeks before the election. He says Durbin is a thug and a bully who hasn’t done much to improve the quality of life in Illinois since his last election. Oberweis says he’ll keep the peoples’ needs first if he’s given a shot to replace Durbin. He says his main priorities are to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, simplify the tax code, work to implement term limits at the congressional level, and get a balanced budget.

Durbin Tries To Won Over Farmers

(Bloomington, IL) — U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is trying to win over Illinois farmers to keep his job. He says he’s been a friend of Ag ever since he was elected to Congress, some 30 years ago. Durbin says he’s kept an impartial view and tried to get things done for Illinois farmers, no matter what political party they affiliated with. He says he’s earmarked millions of dollars to bring Ag research centers and ethanol plants to parts of central and southern Illinois. He says he also acted quickly when the water levels were falling on the Mississippi River a couple of years ago, which was impacting barge traffic and ultimately the state’s ability to get goods to market.

St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department Being Sued

(East St. Louis, IL) — The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is facing legal scrutiny. A lawsuit was filed yesterday claiming deputies forced a teenager with the mental capacity of a nine-year-old to confess to an armed robbery back in August of last year. Several Chicago lawyers are behind the suit. They say there’s no evidence that links the teen to the crime and when you take a look at the taped testimony, it shows he was in tears, begging for his mom to be with him. The young man spent nine months behind bars before the charges against him were dropped.

Supreme Court Building Rehab Project Complete

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois Supreme Court building is back in commission. The justices have been working out of a temporary home in Chicago while the 100-year-old Springfield building was being renovated. The year-long rehab project cost 16-million-dollars and included upgrades to the heating and cooling systems. There are also new H-D cameras set up to record oral arguments and many of the murals in the building were also restored.

Police Stepping Up Patrols For Holiday Weekend

(Springfield, IL) — Police are beefing up their patrols now through the holiday weekend. The end of summer push will focus on catching drunk drivers, people who are speeding, and those who aren’t strapped in. Drivers can expect to see extra patrols on the streets and more roadside safety checks. More than 560-people have been killed on Illinois roadways this year.

Illinois Briefs – 8/27/14

August 27th, 2014

Top Quinn Aide Resigns

(Chicago, IL) — One of Governor Quinn’s top aides is calling it quits. Deputy Chief of Staff Sean O’Shea has just two more days on the job. He’s held the post for three years and is responsible for keeping watch over which senior officials are hired at IDOT. The transportation agency has been under scrutiny in recent months for hiring people based on political connections instead of skill. Quinn’s office insists that O’Shea is not leaving because of the ongoing hiring controversy.

School District Shuts Down Ferguson Talks

(Edwardsville, IL) — Teachers in Edwardsville aren’t allowed to talk about what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri. Superintendent of Schools Ed Hightower says it’s too soon to talk about the shooting, the protests, and anything else related to the unrest in Ferguson. He says there are still too many unknown facts surrounding the case and everyone has an opinion. Hightower doesn’t want teachers to find themselves in the middle of a heated discussion or playing moderator in an intense debate. Edwardsville is about 25-miles outside of Ferguson.

Granite City Recycling Plant Had Violations

(Granite City, IL) — The company that blew up in Granite City the other day apparently had prior marks against it. Reports indicate Totall Metal recycling had been cited quite a few times in the past five years for things like exposure to lead, fumes and dust. The OSHA citations also involved a plant in Fairmont City. Two people were killed when a live mortar exploded Monday morning. The facility will be opening back up today and counselors will be on hand to meet with grieving employees.

Law Protects Pregnant Women In The Workplace

(Chicago, IL) — A new law gives pregnant women more protections in the workplace. It allows them to sit down if they need to and take more bathroom breaks and water breaks when necessary. It also requires employers to make sure the moms-to-be have help lifting heavy objects. The new law takes effect in January.

Forensics Lab Opens In Belleville

(Belleville, IL) — There’s a new, state of the art forensics lab in the Metro-East. The Belleville-based facility will offer crime scene services and forensics like DNA, latent print, drug chemistry, and firearms testing. Police departments all over the region will have access to the lab.

Small Town Mayor Calls It Quits

(Kincaid, IL) — The mayor of Kincaid is stepping down after months of public scrutiny. Doug Thomas has been arrested several times since February on charges of violating an order of protection and drug possession. The village board accepted Thomas’s resignation on Monday and agreed to give him just under 12-hundred bucks for leaving before his term is complete. A new mayor has been appointed for now and a permanent replacement will be elected next April.

Illinois Briefs – 8/26/14

August 26th, 2014

Quinn Hires Tech Chief

(Springfield, IL) — Governor Quinn has hired a new digital director for his re-election campaign. Christopher Hass once worked for President Obama’s re-election campaign. He will be responsible for a nine-person crew, which is one of the largest in-house digital teams for a statewide race.

Galesburg Teachers Walkout Continues

(Galesburg, IL) — The teachers strike in Galesburg is entering its 13th day. Union leaders are hopeful that a deal can be reached today. The two sides are expected to meet again this afternoon. One of the sticking points is recall rights, which is how districts decide who to bring back when there are layoffs. Health insurance for teachers runs out on August 31st.

Bell Wants Three Debates With Representative Scherer

(Springfield, IL) — Republican candidate for state representative Mike Bell is challenging the incumbent to three debates in the 96th District. He sent a letter to Decatur Representative Sue Scherer requesting that they discuss the issues in Macon, Sangamon and Christian counties. Bell added in the letter that voters need to be informed about both candidates and hear how they both differ on the issues.

Power Outage Affects Close To 17-Hundred Customers

(Peoria, IL) — Power has been restored to the Peoria area after 17-hundred homes and businesses were left in the dark. Ameren Illinois officials say crews responded to a large outage in West Peoria Monday afternoon. The cause of the power loss has not been determined, but a downed branch may have been responsible. Electricity in the area was restored just after 6 p.m., even though a small section of 130 customers in South Peoria were still without power.

ADM Moves Headquarters From Decatur To Chicago

(Chicago, IL) — After residing in Decatur for 45 years, the Archer Daniels Midland Company has completed the move of its headquarters to Chicago. Officials with the agricultural processing firm say close to 70 employees will be working out of the global headquarters and customer center on West Wacker Drive. Fifty of the ADM workers will be from Decatur and the rest will be new hires. Even with the move of the corporate office to the Windy City, the company plans to continue to have a major presence in Decatur. Currently, two processing facilities remain there.

West Nile Virus Found In LaSalle

August 25th, 2014

West Nile Virus, the virus spread by infected mosquitoes, has been detected in a mosquito in La Salle. Health department officials say it’s the time of year for increased West Nile virus activity. They say it’s important to protect yourself especially when you’re out at night. They suggest you wear insect repellent and get rid of any stagnant water in your yard.  Symptoms of West Nile include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches, though you may not experience any symptoms. West Nile can also lead to meningitis or encephalitis. Those 50 and over are more at risk for the illness. If you find a dead crow, blue jay, robin or potential mosquito breeding sites, you’re urged to notify your county health department.

Illinois Briefs – 08/25/14

August 25th, 2014

Rauner Speaks Out On Recent NRI-Related News

(Chicago, IL) — The Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is taking jabs at the incumbent for the most recent criminal charges linked to Pat Quinn’s former anti-crime program. The new accusation involves a one-time Neighborhood Recovery Initiative employee accused of assisting in breaking into six Chicago area homes in 2011. Rauner held a media gathering on Sunday in downtown Chicago where he said that this news is another sign of Quinn’s failure as governor. Last month, feds subpoenaed the emails of Quinn’s former chief of staff and two other former top aides who are linked to the troubled NRI program.

Galesburg Teachers’ Strike Continues

(Galesburg, IL) — The teacher’s strike in Galesburg is entering another week. The union and school district officials met for four hours of talks on Sunday. There was no resolution. School district representatives say teachers turned down an offer that equaled a five-point-oh-four percent increase over three years. Union leaders say the contract offer doesn’t include fair working conditions. The walkout started August 13th.

Excessive Heat Warning In Effect Through Tuesday

(Undated) — An excessive heat warning is in effect until Tuesday for most of central and southern Illinois. The National Weather Service says it could feel like 103 to 108 degrees between noon and 6 p.m. The high temps and humidity can lead to a high risk of heat-related stress and illness. Young children, the elderly, those without air conditioning and people taking part in strenuous outdoor activity like football are most at risk.

Boil Order Issued For Mount Pulaski

(Mt. Pulaski, IL) — A boil order is in effect for people living in Mt. Pulaski. The order could possibly last until Tuesday. Right now the water is undergoing tests. If you’re not able to purchase bottled water, you can get free water from the fire department.

Springfield NAACP Holding Town Hall Meeting Next Week

(Springfield, IL) — The Springfield chapter of the NAACP is planning a town hall meeting next week to focus on some of the same issues that recently surfaced in Ferguson, Missouri. The meeting will take place on Thursday September 4th at Southeast High School. Dozens of people took part in a demonstration in downtown Springfield to bring attention to the recent police shooting death of the unarmed Ferguson teen Michael Brown.

Bull Riding Highlights Day 3 Of The Bureau County Fair

August 22nd, 2014

Bull Riding by the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association highlights day 3 of the Bureau County Fair in Princeton. The bull riding starts at 7 in the grandstand. Lunch In The Park, normally held at Soldiers & Sailors Park, is being moved to the fairgrounds today only from 11 to 1. The hospitality tent features musical performances from Hit & Miss duo, Double Shot duo and the Generics Goodies band. The band Forgotten Highway performs in the beer garden beginning at 9 tonight. A complete listing of the daily free attractions and other fair events can be found online at WZOE-AM 1490 is broadcasting on-location at the fair from 1 to 4 this afternoon.

Illinois Briefs – 8/22/14

August 22nd, 2014

Durbin Wants More Options For Paying Student Loans

(Edwardsville, IL) — U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says college grads should be able to refinance their student loan debt. He says many of them didn’t realize what they signed up for when they took the loan out, and now they’re having trouble paying the loan back. Durbin says refinancing will drop the interest rate and lower the monthly payment amount. He plans to call the measure for a vote in the second week of September.

State Sets Up Human Trafficking Fund

(Chicago, IL) — The state is stepping up to help victims of human trafficking and prostitution. A new law creates a fund that will help pay for things like emergency housing and specialized treatment services. Illinois already has several measures in place to help those who’ve come out of the sex trade, for example they can have some of their prostitution convictions cleared from their records.

Parents Should Know Details On School Security

(Springfield, IL) — Parents should keep school security in mind as their kids head back to the classroom. It’s a good idea to come up with a plan on how you’ll communicate with your kid in the event of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to get details about the school’s emergency preparedness plans and find out what the protocol is for before and after school activities. Social media is a way of life in today’s world, so parents should brush up on the school’s social media policies and go over them with their kids.

Simon Donates Books To Springfield School District

(Springfield, IL) — Hard copy books seem to be a thing of the past but Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon is making sure kids can still get their hands on them. She donated hundreds of books to the Springfield School District yesterday. Her staffers collected the books during the Illinois State Fair, where people could drop off new or slightly used books. They’re hosting another back-to-school book drive at the DuQuoin State Fair, which starts today.

“Walking Dead” Star Pushes For Safe Driving

(Springfield, IL) — One of the stars from “Walking Dead” is teaming up with state officials to promote safe driving. Michael Rooker is featured in a new video series and social media campaign, coined “The Driving Dead.” He says their main goal is to target people between the ages of 21 and 34, who are less likely to buckle up and more likely get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Rooker says his own brother died in a car accident because he wasn’t strapped in.