Catholic Priests and Lay Persons Publicly Accused in Illinois of Abuse Have Been Listed in a Report

CHICAGO (AP) — Attorneys who have represented clergy abuse victims across the United States  have released a report that lists the names of every Catholic priest and lay person in Illinois who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, the attorneys provided an 185-page report that includes background information and work histories of 395 priests and lay people accused in the state's six dioceses. The report did name several clergy who served in Paxton, Ford County, Iroquois County and Champaign County.


(Washington--jc)  -- What is the current state of the farm economy? Stephanie Ho has the details…



FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has toured flooded northern Illinois neighborhoods and asked the state's emergency operations center to expedite help to affected areas. The National Weather Service says the Rock and Pecatonica rivers have been at flood stage since last week. About 200 people have evacuated. Pritzker told residents the state "committed to being your partners in the future."


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois man has pleaded not guilty in a federal case accusing him of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy who was trying to serve an arrest warrant at a hotel. Floyd E. Brown of Springfield appeared in Rockford federal court Wednesday morning sitting in a wheelchair and wearing green jail scrubs. A grand jury Tuesday indicted him on murder and weapons charges.



(Springfield--jc)  -- State lawmakers are working on a couple of bills to help increase organ donation in Illinois. There is a real need for live organ donors to provide kidneys and bone marrow to those who are sick says Villa Park Representative Deb Conroy, whose bill helps donors with life insurance policies..


Villa Park Representative Deb Conroy



(Rantoul--jc)  A Rantoul based insurance agency is moving to a larger building to house its operations. The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is inviting the public to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Insurance Providers Group location at 423 South Murray Road across from the Rantoul Wal-Mart Superstore. The event is set for Tuesday April 2nd at 11-30am. The company had been using a building on the former Chanute Air Force base.



(Gifford--jc) It’s Spring and time for spring projects.  A school project is set to begin soon at a portion of the Gifford School gym. Gifford School Superintendent Rod Grimsley informed the school board this month that  work will begin on the south wall of old gym next week while the students are on spring break. Gifford school leaders are also in the process of getting some quotes on what to do with the holes in the parking lot right in front of the new bus barn.



(Paxton-dg)-The Paxton-Buckley-Loda School board recently voted to end it’s co-op with Rantoul for IHSA Wrestling. PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure says the redistricting in IHSA Football played a part in not continuing wrestling at PBL.


PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure


(Springfield--jc)  -- Right to life advocates were at the state capitol on Wednesday to rally against abortion legislation.  A couple of bills are under protest, including an appeal of a law requiring teens to notify their parent or guardian before getting an abortion. Another overhauls state abortion laws and lifts a ban on partial-birth abortions. State Representative Avery Bourne of Litchfield says these changes are extreme…



State Representative Avery Bourne of Litchfield

Supporters of the measures say the laws  to be updated to better protect a woman’s right to choose.


(Springfield--jc)  -- A bill in the House would force municipalities to get approval from voters before selling public assets like water and wastewater treatment plants to private companies. Water companies like Aqua Illinois and Illinois American Water have been offering municipalities in the state cash for the ownership of their water systems and wastewater systems. The private companies then can seek approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission to raise water rates for customers. State Representative. John Connor, the Lockport Democrat who sponsored the bill, says the legislation would require a ballot referendum to approve the sale and it wouldn’t just be for the residents of that municipality.



(Springfield--jc)  Organ donation continues to be a topic at the state capitol. Some roadblocks for employees has occurred at some businesses in the state. National Kidney Foundation of Illinois Spokesperson Megan Craig says one measure in Springfield will offer business some incentives for allowing employees to participate in being an organ donor…



National Kidney Foundation of Illinois Spokesperson Megan Craig.



CHICAGO (AP) — Ground has been broken on the first phase of a $1.2 billion expansion of a terminal at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and airline officials attended the Wednesday event. City officials say that Terminal 5 will gain another 350,000-square-feet by 2021 to make room for more concessions, airline lounges and passenger amenities. There also will be more security lanes and ten new gates.


(Springfield--jc)  --Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration is setting new rules that go beyond federal regulations for the herbicide dicamba to try to reduce the number of complaints about misuse of the popular product. The new rules set forth will ban spraying the chemical when the wind is blowing toward residential areas, establish a June 30 cutoff date for application and other requirements.The affected formulations of dicamba are Engenia by BASF, XtendiMax with Vaporgrip Technology by Bayer, and FeXapan plus Vapor Grip Technology by DuPont/Corteva, according to a news release.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Parkland College trustees approved curriculum for a new career certificate that will help bridge the digital divide in the district. At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees approved the school's new, six-credit-hour certificate, Introduction to Computers in Business. The program will go through a final review for approval with the Illinois Community College Board in the new academic year. The certificate will assist efforts to close the widening gap between those who have computer skills and those who do not in Champaign County.


(Rantoul--jc)  The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a candidates forum on Saturday at noon at Rantoul Township High School. Candidates for Rantoul Village Board and those running for school board at the high school and Rantoul City Schools and library board candidates will be participating in the forum. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Belynda Allen says its an opportunity to learn more about the candidates…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Belynda Allen. The forum is set for Noon on Saturday at the high school.


(Sibley--jc) The decision from the state of Illinois Ag department is coming, but not by Wednesday’s deadline. At issue is a mega-hog farm near the village of Sibley. The state has asked for more information about the hog farm.The Ford County Record has more on the issue.


(Springfield--jc) --  Right to life advocates were rallying at the state capitol against abortion legislation on Wednesday. In updating our story, protesters were speaking out against some new bills that make changes to Illinois law. Those include a proposal to lift a ban on partial birth abortions and a second bill that would allow teens not to tell parents about an abortion, before getting one. State Representative Terri Bryant of Mount Vernon says the legislation goes to far…



State Representative Terri Brant of Mount Vernon



(Rantoul--jc)  --Rantoul authorities say the local police department will be testing for new officers next month. Rantoul Police Chief Tony Brown says the police department is testing for officers on April 13th. Rantoul Police and Fire Commission members will conduct the test. Applications to the Rantoul Police Department are due by March 31st. More information is found by contacting the local police department.


A Private Immigration Detention Center Could be Coming to Dwight

(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker unveiled his plan for a progressive income tax and one local state representative finds the plan troubling. State Representative Mike Marron says the original plan for a Millionaire’s tax is now a graduated income tax for those making 250 thousand dollars annually..


104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


DWIGHT, Ill. (AP) — A Virginia-based company is one step closer to building a private immigration detention center near Dwight after trustees  approved the plan despite pushback from activists. Dwight trustees voted to annex and rezone 88 acres where Immigration Centers of America plans to build a detention center. More than 200 people attended the village meeting, which was repeatedly interrupted by protesters.Dwight Mayor Jared Anderson says the project could stimulate the region's economy by creating about 300 jobs, The  community and area lost jobs with the closing of the women’s prison in Dwight. Some groups against the project continue to protest the idea.



(Gibson City-jc)  -- A loan application is the topic for the Gibson City C-DAP committee. The group will discuss a loan application from Jay’s Place. The Gibson City C-DAP committee meeting takes place at 8 tomorrow morning at city hall.



(Undated--jc)  -- A Wilmington man was fatally injured in a motorcycle versus van and lexus accident in Kankakee County on Monday night. Police say 30 year old Kristopher Cortese of Wilmington was pronounced dead at the scene by Kankakee County authorities. Cortese was going south along Route 45-52 just after 9 Monday night and was struck head on by a northbound van and a second vehicle also was involved in the accident. The accident remains under investigation this morning.


CHICAGO (AP) — Attorneys who have represented clergy abuse victims across the United States say they are releasing a report that lists the names of every Catholic priest and lay person in Illinois who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. Today, the attorneys say they will release a 185-page report that includes background information and work histories of 395 priests and lay people accused in the state's six dioceses. It is not clear how much of the information will be new.


SEATTLE (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out a $4 million copyright infringement ruling against the Seattle-based online real estate company Zillow. Zillow faced a 2015 lawsuit from VHT, the nation's largest professional real estate photography studio. VHT said Zillow's use of its photos violated VHT's copyright. A federal jury awarded VHT more than $8 million, an amount a judge later cut in half. Last Friday, however, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that award



(Springfield--jc)  --An Illinois lawmaker wants the state to have a say in selecting the executive director of a private foundation that supports the state-run Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The foundation had sought state money to help pay off the remaining 9 million dollars of a loan that comes due later this year. The foundation purchased Abraham Lincoln artifacts, including a stovepipe hat that may have been Lincoln’s.State Senator Andy Manar, Democrat of  Bunker Hill, says his measure requiring the state to appoint a director for the foundation is about resetting the relationship between the private foundation and the public institution.



(Springfield--jc) -- Low income taxpayers and seniors can get help filing their taxes at locations throughout Illinois. The I-R-S and A-A-R-P offer free counseling to qualifying individuals at 300 sites around the state says Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Hortsman. Help is available by appointment at the Rantoul Public Library and the Mahomet Library. More information is found on line at  tax-dot-Illinois-dot-Gov.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- A talent show is coming to Rantoul in early April. The event is set for April 7th at the high school says event spokesperson Paula Hopkins…


Rantoul Talent Show Spokesperson Paula Hopkins



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Ford County Historical Society is set to meet tomorrow night in Paxton The 7pm meeting will take place at the Water Tower museum in downtown Paxton . Society member Jim Jarboe will speak at his collection of Civil War weapons. The meeting is open to the public and there is no admission charge.


(Minnesota--jc) A man from Clarence, who is accused of firebombing a mosque in Minnesota in 2017, has a trial date this fall. The News Gazette reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer says the trial of 48 year old Michael Hari of Clarence will  begin September 30th at the federal courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota. WPXN news will continue to follow this story as it warrants.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois could get an official state drink and an official state microbe.The northern cardinal is the official state bird. The monarch butterfly is the official state insect. The violet is the official state flower. And the white oak is the state tree. There's even a state fossil, the Tully monster, and state soil is Drummer silty clay loam. One state Senator wants to go even smaller. State Senator David Koehler, Democrat-Peoria, got an idea from a local columnist in a “kind of … almost tongue-in-cheek kind of way” to designate an official state microorganism. House Bill 3073 isn’t likely to settle the soda vs. pop debate, but one state representative wants to see if Illinois can make Ski the state's official drink. Popcorn is the official snack of the state of Illinois. The state vegetable is sweet corn. Legislators in the Land of Lincoln have even made pumpkin the state’s officials pie.State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, is looking to make the citrus, cane sugar drink Ski the official state soda.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- What do Hank Gamel, Chad Smith, Sherry Johnson, Mark Wilkerson and Gary Wilson have in common. They are all candidates for trustee positions on the Village of Rantoul board in April. The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a candidates forum at noon on Saturday at Rantoul Township High School. Candidates for school board races at Rantoul Township High School and Rantoul City Schools will also participate in the forum on Saturday



(Morton--jc)  -- A woman was found dead in a vehicle along eastbound Interstate 74 yesterday. Police say the vehicle was parked on the shoulder near Morton. Police closed the eastbound lanes just before noon. The victim was  pronounced dead at 12:15 p.m. No foul play is suspected. Traffic was slowed around the scene for several hours.



(Springfield--jc)  One group is set to help small non-profits in the state. Through Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs office,  Charitable Trust is helping small non-profits across Illinois in areas of workforce & economic development, housing, and food programs.  Those interested in applying have until March 31st to apply, on line at the Charitable Trust website or by calling the State Treasurer’s office in Springfield.



(Ford County--jc)  -- Ford County artists, you are needed. The Ford County Amature Town and Country Art Show takes place on April 14th at the Paxton Park District Building on Fall Street. Event Spokesperson Shawn Fairchild says the event is for Ford County residents…



Ford County Amature Town and Country Art Show Spokesperson  Shawn Fairchild. More information is found on line at the Paxton Park District web site.



(Crescent City--jc)  Five area fire departments were called to a garage fire in Crescent City on Tuesday afternoon. The fire was at a property at 803 South Street as reported by the Times Republic. No word on damage estimates was given



(Springfield--jc)  -- Tuesday was Agriculture  Legislative Day in Springfield. Famers, lawmakers and F-F-A members from around the state were at the state capitol. Under discussion were topics facing the ag community including promotion of agriculture and more Ag teachers says Illinois Ag Director John Sullivan…



Illinois Department of Ag  Director John Sullivan.



(Chicago--jc)  -- The state’s leading manufacturing group said it's on the defensive in Illinois, but plans to push for policies that it can get through the Democrat-controlled legislature. Governor . J.B. Pritzker encouraged more innovation and creation in Illinois to grow the state's manufacturing base at the m-HUB Manufacturing Industry Celebration last week in Chicago. Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said Tuesday that manufacturers feel like they are on the defensive in Illinois because of a number of mandates and regulations in energy policy, labor law and the state's minimum wage increase. Denzler added that the graduated income tax will cause a number of manufacturers to substantially increase costs. Energy legislation is also a topic the Illinois Manufacturers are watching



(Paxton--jc)  The annual Draggin’ Main event is set for the city of Paxton in April. Organizers say the downtown Paxton event takes place on April 20th. From 6pm until 11 pm car enthusiasts to the public are invited to participate. More information is found by contacting organizer Debbie Chapman-Herman. Draggin’ Main was popular for area residents for over 50 years in the city of Paxton.



Residents in Northern and Western Illinois Continue to Deal with Flooding

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) — Residents in northern and western Illinois continue to deal with flooding as rivers swell from melting snow and recent rains. National Weather Service readings Monday show major flooding along the Pecatonica River at Shirland and Freeport and the Rock River in the Rockford area and Moline. The Mississippi River also is at major flood stage from New Boston, Illinois, south to Burlington, Iowa.


LEMONT, Ill. (AP) — The Department of Energy plans to spend $500 million to build what could be one of the world's fastest computers at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago. The department said Monday that the supercomputer will be able to do more than one quintillion operations per second. That's equal to a 10 with 18 zeros behind it. The computer will be named "Aurora" and plans are to turn it on in 2021.



(Rantoul--jc)  The Northern Champaign County  and Ford County Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization held a recent bowling event in Rantoul that saw all lanes filled for two sessions. The money is being used to support the local efforts of Big Brothers-Big Sisters. Local Director Kristian Hopkins of Rantoul says there is a need for “Bigs” to help out with some area youth. Hopkins says those interested have several ways to contact the organization…



Big Brothers Big Sisters Local Director Kristian Hopkins of Rantoul.



(Washington--jc)  --The U.S. pet food industry is experiencing growth in export markets - a trend one industry insider expects to continue, despite some trade challenges. Rod Bain reports…




CHICAGO (AP) — Experts in Illinois say preparations for next year's U.S. Census are important because there's a lot at stake, including billions in federal funding and congressional seats. The Chicago Tribune reports that an analysis by George Washington University's Institute of Public Policy has found that at least $34 billion in federal funding for programs that assist Illinois residents is tied to census figures. The Illinois Complete Count Commission says Illinois could lose up to two congressional seats.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Four new sites have been added for this year's Illinois Spring Trout Fishing Season. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says this year's season opens 5 a.m. April 6 at 58 ponds, lakes and streams throughout the state. The new sites are Baumann Lake in Cherry Valley, Weldon Springs Lake in DeWitt County, Casey Park Pond in Casey and Belk Lake in Wood River. The agency stocks more than 80,000 rainbow trout for the spring season and another 80,000 trout for the fall season.


(Springfield--jc)  Tickets will be available at ticketmaster-dot-com starting April 20th for tickets to acts coming to the Illinois State Fair.  State Fair Spokesperson Morgan Booth says there are 3 tiers of tickets, plus the V-I-P track ticket and pre-show party…



State Fair Spokesperson Morgan Booth


(Rantoul--jc)  -- The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is  hosting the Official R-A-C-C Election Candidates Forum for candidate seats on the Village of Rantoul, Rantoul High School and City Schools boards and  Rantoul Library Board Seats .

The forum is set for Saturday March 23 at Noon at the Rantoul Township High School Cafetorium. Candidates are asked to call the local chamber with questions and to sign up for the forum. Phone 893-3323,



(Cissna Park--jc)  -- A blood drive is set for today in Cissna Park. The drive is set for Creekside Prairie on the village’s north side. Times to give blood start at 2pm and run through 7pm tonight.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois’ governor said small businesses in Illinois should be paying higher taxes and that taxpayers can expect deep cuts to government services if they don't approve his 3 point 4 billion dollar progressive tax plan. Governor. J.B. Pritzker visited Belleville City Hall on Monday to promote his plan. He was backed by mayors from the Metro East area who support changing the state constitution’s flat income tax to a structure where those who earn more pay higher tax rates. The governor's tax proposal includes modest rate reductions from the state's existing 4.95 flat rate for 97 percent of taxpayers. Those making more than $250,000 a year would pay 7.75 percent or more in state taxes. The governor says several neighboring states use the progressive tax and it is time for Illinois to get on board.


(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is providing more information about a settlement with 4 fast food chains over employee no-poach agreements. Under the deal, Dunkin, Arbys, Five Guys and Little Caesars will stop making workers sign  no-poach clauses. Attorney General Spokesperson Annie Thompson says employees sometimes do not even know about that rule…



Illinois Attorney General Spokesperson Annie Thompson

Agreements with Panera and Wendy’s have also been reached



(Rantoul--jc)  -- What to do this summer at Rantoul Township High School? That is the question before the Rantoul School Board of Educations, Building and Grounds committee tomorrow night. The committee will look at summer projects at their meeting at 7 on Wednesday evening.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs is working to modernize outed banking rules for the legal cannabis industry. Currently, banks and credit unions are not supposed to do business with marijuana  companies. That is the old law. Frerichs says the legal companies need new banking rules…



Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs.


(Springfield--jc)  -- The Illinois State Police is warning to drivers to follow the state’s “move over” law or face a penalty of up to $10,000.The law requires motorists to move over from stopped emergency vehicles, which includes police, fire and EMS, construction, tow truck drivers and the general motoring public when they have an emergency and have emergency flashers activated on the side of the road, said Sgt. Christopher Watson of the Illinois State Police.Watson said that the law was designed to not only keep first responders safe, but also to protect the public.



(Undated--jc)  -- Illinois State police have announced results of Nightime Enforcement patrols from over the St Patrick’s Day weekend.  State police in District 21 in Ashkum conducted the patrol in Kankakee County. 32 written warnings were given along with 7 driver licenses offenses, 3 insurance violations and two alcohol citations. On Friday night into Saturday morning, State police conducted an ACE patrol. 12 citations were given, including 4 registration violations and 4 driver license offenses. With the road safety check on Sunday, State troopers handed out 34 citations in Kankakee County that included 10 insurance violations and 5 alcohol citations.


(Paxton--jc)  One Paxton restaurant is set to close and a new restaurant will open on the west side of the city. In a facebook announcement, the Country Garden will close this weekend as the owners are retiring. A new restaurant is taking its place. The restaurant is located on Route 9 on the west side of I-57 in Paxton.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- The Gibson City Swimming pool exploratory committee is set to talk with pool builders. The group will meet with Mike Friend of the Farnsworth Group. The local committee is looking a investment costs, design  and size of a proposed new pool for Gibson City. The committee meeting starts at 7 tonight.



(Washington--jc)  The struggling ethanol industry probably won't see a quick increase in demand from year-round sales of E15 blended gasoline. Gary Crawford reports…




(Collinsville--jc)  --An effort is underway to establish a downstate site as a national historical park.  Supporters are trying again to convince federal lawmakers to make Cahokia Mounds a part of the National Parks Service. The 2,200-acre site in Collinsville draws about 300,000 visitors a year. Ed Weilbacher, vice president at HeartLands Conservancy, said Cahokia Mounds more than qualifies for the designation.



(Chicago--jc)  --Job seekers should be on high alert for potential scams.That’s the word from the Better Business Bureau, which reported the number of employment scams increased in 2018 along with financial losses. Better Business Bureau President Steve Bernas says there are some warning signs to look for. One is that when you post your resume online on a job site and they reply back immediately you have a job that pays a lot of money for doing little to no work and with little to no education or experience. The Better Business Bureau report said these scams are effective because they prey on people who may be desperate for work. Employment scammers often impersonate leading brands like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft when fishing for information.




Rising Waters Starting to Flood Homes in Northern Illinois

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) — Rising waters along the Pecatonica and Rock rivers have flooded homes in northern Illinois cities like Freeport, Rockford and Machesney Park. The (Freeport) Journal-Standard reports the American Red Cross opened a shelter Friday night for those displaced by flooding in Rockford. The National Weather Service on Saturday said record crests were possible along the rivers. The Mississippi River also saw moderate flooding Saturday at Rock Island south to Gladstone.


CHICAGO (AP) — New state data shows Illinois high school graduates have increasingly enrolled in out-of-state colleges and universities in recent years. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Board of Higher Education figures reveal the exodus continues. More than 48 percent of public high school graduates who enrolled in four-year universities in 2017 decided to attend schools that aren't in Illinois. That figure has climbed from about 46 percent in 2016 and 45 percent in 2015.


STAUNTON, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois State Police trooper is recovering after being wounded during a shootout with a suspected carjacker who was killed. Officials say state police were informed Saturday by the Glen Carbon Police Department of an armed carjacking in the city. A suspect was spotted by state police on Interstate 55 in southern Illinois and after driving the auto on the median fled on foot. The man fired his weapon, wounding at trooper who returned fire. The fleeing man was killed. He remains unidentified.


CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois Healthcare is hoping to expand access to trauma care in the southern part of the state. The Southern Illinoisan reports that SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale has applied to the Illinois Department of Public Health for Level II Trauma Center designation.



Tobacco 21 legislation is headed to the governor’s desk. The bill just passed by the senate raises the age to purchase tobacco products including e-cigs and vapes from 18 to 21. Senator Laura Fine Of Glenview says 38 communities have already passed similar ordinances.



Supporters says this will help prevent more teens from smoking and developing a life-long habit. Governor JB Pritzker has said he will sign the measure into law.



(Springfield--jc)  --A state Senator wants single-occupancy restrooms throughout the state in schools and businesses with public accommodations to have a gender-neutral sign. Amendment One to Senate Bill 5-66 from Senator Melinda Bush, Democrat of Grayslake, would require any single-occupancy restroom to be labeled with a gender neutral designation. Some Democrats are worried the measure may add to what some business owners see as a growing list of regulations that make doing business in the state more difficult. Bush said the measure does not require any new plumbing or new facilities be built, it would only require that if the place of public accommodation has a single-occupant bathroom that it have a gender-neutral label. If passed, such restrooms could only be used by one person at a time, or by a family.



BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois judge has rejected a state motion to reconsider granting a new trial to a man who has spent 27 years in prison for his father's 1991 beating and stabbing death. McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski rejected the motion during a hearing Friday for 52-year-old Donald Whalen. The judge last month ruled Whalen should receive a new trial in the killing of William Whalen, who was found stabbed and beaten in his downtown Bloomington bar.



(Rantoul--jc)  A Rantoul man is set to become the next Illinois V-F-W Commander this Spring. Brad Gould will be taking over as the V-F-W Commander of Illinois on June First. The mission of the V-F-W is to foster camaraderie among veterans, to serve veterans, their families and communities.


(Gibson City--jc)  -- 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City is back home after being in a car crash last week and spending time in the hospital. Bennett provides an update…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


(Washington--jc)  -- Are there jobs in the Ag sector for those entering the job fields. U-S-D-A Deputy Secretary Steve Censky says a new website is  focused on that subject..



U-S-D-A Deputy Secretary Steve Censky


(Springfield--jc)  -- The Illinois Blue Collar Jobs Program offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital investments in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. These tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. One area legislator is introducing a measure to expand the current Edge tax program. 104th district State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says this is a great idea to help businesses grow in the state…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


 (Springfield--jc)  -- Some state Senators want to tell companies how many women should be on their corporate board, but some Democrats say it’s bad policy. Senate Bill 76 from Senator Cristina Castro, Democrat of Elgin, was heard in a committee last week. The measure would require that by summer 20-20 there be at least one women on corporate boards. By the end of 2022, boards would have to have a minimum of three of six board members be women and at least two of five board members be women, depending on the size of the board. It would also require the publication of such information. “If you’ve looked at this last election, you can see the power of women. And women want equity,” Castro said in committee.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- Protecting K9 Heroes is pleased to announce that K9 Wyatt of the Rantoul Police Department , has been granted a K9 Trauma Kit and a Narcan kit. These gifts of protection were made possible by donations to Protecting K9 Heroes. Wyatt is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois mixed with German Shepherd and is assigned to Officer J. King. He enjoys chasing anything outside like balls and sticks. He loves working and is usually the first to the patrol car. He dislikes going to the vet. He is certified in Patrol, Tracking, and Narcotics.


(Washington--jc)  -- U-S-D-A Rural Development was the topic of a  special Farm Bill implementation listening session last week. Rod Bain reports….




(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker calls the mass shooting in New Zealand heartbreaking. Although the terrorist attack on a mosque occurred far away, the governor says it is still a concern here in Illinois…



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker


(Springfield--ab)  -The unemployment rate was up…as were jobs in most Illinois metro areas in January. 13 out of 14 metro areas had an increase in the jobless rate from January of last year to January 2019. The good news is that 11 metro areas saw over-the-year job growth says State Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Bob Gough (goff)...



I-D-E-S Spokesperson Bob Gough

Metro areas with job losses compared to January of 2018 include Bloomington and the metro east area.



(Springfield--jc)  -- New legislation addresses the rising number of pregnancy-related deaths in Illinois. A state public health report found that 73 Women die annually within one year of pregnancy and the majority are preventable.State Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin is pushing for mandated insurance coverage of post-partum complications...



State Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin



(Farmer City--jc)  -- The 20-19 Farmer City Heritage Days are set from May 30th through June 2nd. The new design logo is ready for this year’s celebration. T-Shirts are ready for pre-order. The cost is 15 dollars. E-mail inquiries may be made at farmer-city-heritage-days-at-hotmail-dot com.





Shots Fired in Rantoul, Suspects Flee

(Rantoul--jc) Rantoul Police Officers were dispatched to the area of Bel Place and Bel Air Driver around 1-30 Thursday afternoon. for a report of possible shots fired. Officers responded to the area and spoke with several area residents who reported hearing two gun shots in the area. Officers were initially unable to locate any evidence of a shooting. As the investigation progressed officers located two victims who reported they arrived at a residence in the area and observed three male subjects nearby. One of the three male subjects then fired two shots from a handgun at the two victims. The two victims went into a residence while the three suspects fled the area on foot. No injuries were reported and no damage or evidence was located.The suspects were described as three teen-aged African-American males, two wearing dark colored hoodies and the third wearing a gray-colored hoodie. Based on interviews, Rantoul Police do not believe this was a random act.Detectives continue to investigate. Anyone with information about this incident should contact the Rantoul Police Department at (217) 893-5600, or Champaign County Crimestoppers at (217) 373-TIPS.


(Springfield--ab) Tobacco 21 legislation is headed to the governor’s desk.

The senate joined the house in banning anyone under the age of 21 from buying tobacco products in Illinois. Senator Julie Morrison Of Deerfield says they want to help keep teens from picking up the habit.



Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison of Deerfield

The ban include e-cigs and vapes. Governor J-B Pritzker has said he will sign it into law.


PEKIN, Ill. (AP) — The father of a man accused of killing four people at a Tennessee Waffle House is facing a weapons charge in Illinois. Jeffrey Reinking was charged Thursday in Tazewell County Circuit Court with the unlawful delivery of a firearm. Prosecutors say he gave his son, Travis Reinking, an AR-15 in November  2017 despite knowing he had been a psychiatric patient at a hospital within the last five years. Jeffrey Reinking posted bond and is due to be arraigned April 25. His son remains jailed.


(Paxton--jc)  -- Some issues on dispatching is the topic between two local law enforcement groups in Ford County. City of Paxton Police Chief Coy Cornett and Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran continue to meet to work out solutions to the dispatching issues.


JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials are planning a groundbreaking ceremony for a 200-bed hospital to treat mentally ill prison inmates. The ceremony hosted by the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Capital Development Board will be Monday in Joliet. The Corrections Department settled a 2016 lawsuit requiring the state to provide adequate services to about 12,000 inmates who suffer from mental illness.


(Roberts--ab)  It’s almost Spring and time for area communities to do some cleaning. In Roberts,  bids were taken to get some help cleaning up and village clean up day is June 1st says Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner...



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner



(Gibson City-jc) -- One community has a group met on Thursday to look at the possibilities of building a new pool. The Gibson City Swimming Pool Exploratory committee continues to look at structures, goals, costs and a timetable for the proposed project. More meetings are planned


(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board heard anan update on the progress on the Clara Peterson school addition. P-B-L School Superintendent Cliff McClure says inside work continues....



P-B-L School Superintendent Cliff McClure


(Gibson City--jc)  -- One Ford County relay for life group is hosting a Euchre party fundraiser tonight in Gibson City. The Chic Meredith Relay Team says the game begins at 6-30 tonight at the Moyer Library. The fee to participate is 10 dollars. Snacks will be provided. Those interested may sign up at 217-784-5267.


(Paxton--jc)  -- The Paxton IGA is hosting a cookout from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on  Saturday. Raising money with the cookout is the Pink Heals group. On the menu is . Ribeye steak sandwiches, chips and  pop..


(Chicago--jc)  --Illinois Democrats are still talking about Gov. J.B. Pritzker's progressive income tax plan behind closed doors.Pritzker wants to amend the state constitution's flat income tax structure with a progressive one that has higher tax rates for those who earn more. The governor calls it a “fair tax” system. He has said the progressive tax rates and income brackets he’s proposed would generate $3.4 billion a year in additional revenue for the state.Ultimately, though, outside of promoting the idea, Pritzker has no role in getting the proposed constitutional amendment in front of voters. That’s entirely up to lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature. If the House and Senate approve the measure with three-fifths majorities, the question would go to voters, who would have the final say at the ballot box. Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers.


URBANA, Ill. (AP) — University of Illinois students will see an increase in their health insurance costs for the upcoming academic year. The university's Board of Trustees set student health insurance premiums during its Thursday meeting. The steepest increase will come at the University of Illinois' Springfield campus, where premiums will rise 63 percent, going up to $866 per semester from $336. School officials say that's because of an enrollment decline in the insurance plan and increases in claims.



(Thomasboro--jc)  The Thomasboro police department is growing. The local board approved the hiring of Janeen Henderson for around 30 hours weekly Henderson is from  Washington, Illinois and will commute for the job 3 days per week



(Ludlow--jc) A machine shed west of Ludlow caught fire Thursday morning and was a complete loss. Sangamon Valley District  Firefighters and several other departments battled the blaze for several hours. The contents in the building, including a mower and tools, were lost. Five area departments helped in the incident. They included Paxton, Ludlow, Elliott, Rantoul and Thomasboro.  The high winds hampered efforts. No one was injured in the blaze.



(Springfield--jc)  -- A group of lawmakers is introducing “March to Mental Health,” a package of legislation aimed at improving care and treatment in Illinois. There are 5 bills. They include to allow Pharmacists to administer anti-psychotics, and another requires    more comprehensive insurance says State Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake…


Illinois State Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake



(Springfield--ab) The unemployment rate was up…as were jobs in most Illinois metro areas in January.  All but Chicago and the suburbs saw an increase in the jobless rate from January of 2018 to January of 2019. But State Department Of Employment Security Spokesperson Bob Gough (goff) says most areas saw job growth.



Over-the-year job losses were seen in Bloomington, The East St. Louis Area And Danville.



(Springfield--ab) State and local police are boosting patrols for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  The increased enforcement is already under way says State Department Of Transportation Spokesperson Jessie Decker.



Decker says the best way to do that is to make sure you have a plan to get home before you head out. last year, eight people died on Illinois roads on St. Patrick’s Day.



(Gibson City--jc) --  Gibson Sibley Melvin Sibley school board members will be approving some field trips when they meet in monthly session on Monday night. They include one for high school seniors to Parkland College and the Kindergarten class to the Miller Zoo in Bloomington and the F-F-A to Springfield.  Board members also are expected to approve next year’s calendar. The G-C-M-S school board meeting comes to order at 6-15 on Monday night.

(Champaign--ab) In October 2017 the University of Illinois System officially launched a comprehensive fundraising initiative with an ambitious $3.1 billion goal. Now, less than a year and a half into the public campaigns, the U of I System has surpassed the $2 billion mark—or 64.8%—in funds raised toward this goal.The University of Illinois Foundation has secured an additional $26.9 million for the UI Alumni Alliance, U of I System or the Foundation and these gifts are directed to support the universities. This figure, combined with the amounts raised by the three university campaigns, brings the total to over $2 billion as of March 14, 2019.The University of Illinois System is supporting these campaigns with a brand messaging platform called, “Altogether Extraordinary,” which showcases the demand, growth, and life-changing impact of the U of I System’s three, best-in-class universities.



Central Illinois Under a Code Red Wind Alert Today

(Undated--jc)  The area is under a code red wind alert for today. High winds gusting from 55 to 60 miles per hour are expected. Semis and large trucks are also advised to drive safe due to the high winds. Travel is difficult for large vehicles. Area residents are asked to keep an eye out for downed power lines and trees. The potential of hail, rain and a remote tornado also exist today in the area.


WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners have gathered to remember a sheriff's deputy who was shot and killed while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a hotel. The main gym at Woodstock North High School was filled during Wednesday morning's funeral for McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner. Police say Keltner was killed by a suspect while serving with a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force last week.


(Washington--ab)  --It's a tough world market right now for sellers of U.S. wheat. Gary Crawford has the details…




(Iroquois County--ab) --Illinois State Police District 21 is reporting the arrest of Brittany A. Are-Latosa, 22, of Chicago for Possession of Cannabis More Than 500 Grams But Not More Than 2,000 Grams. On March 12 at approximately 10:24 P.M., an Illinois State Trooper was on patrol in Iroquois County. The trooper observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed (100 mph in a 70 mph zone) on I-57 northbound at mile post 294. The trooper stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Brittany Are-Latosa. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed 1917.95 grams of cannabis. Are-Lotosa was placed under arrest and transported to the Iroquois County Jail for processing. Are-Latosa was charged with Possession of Cannabis More Than 500 Grams But Not More Than 2,000 Grams and Manufacture/Delivery of Cannabis More Than 500 Grams But Not More Than 2,000 Grams. Are-Latosa was also issued citations for speeding and improper use of the left lane.


(Roberts--ab)  --The Roberts Public library is closed and there is a way you can get your hands on the books. On May 18th there is a book give-a-way and Village of Roberts mayor Rick Flessner says there is no cost to getting books...



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner


(Springfield--ab)  Supporters of a stronger state equal pay law are hoping the third time is a charm. Lawmakers have passed bills prohibiting employers from asking someone their wage history the past two years…but they were vetoed by the former governor. The latest version just passed the house and also tightens pay discrimination laws says Elgin Representative Anna Moeller.



State Representative Anna Moeller of Elgin

The legislation passed the house and will now be considered by the senate.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The end of the fiscal year for the city of Paxton is April 30th. Local leaders say the city will end the current year within budget. The announcement came at this weeks city council meeting. Paxton City Council members continue to work on next year’s budget.


(Chicago--jc)  --An association that represents convenience stores throughout the state says the governor should find budget efficiencies instead of increasing taxes on products they sell. Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 32 cents. That’s expected to raise 55 million dollars in revenue.  Illinois Association of Convenience Stores Executive Vice President Bill Fleischli represents thousands of convenience stores around the state. He says Pritzker’s proposal will make Illinois' taxes on cigarettes about $2.30 a pack in Illinois. He said that would push Illinois' taxes on cigarettes to the highest in the region, behind Wisconsin.



(Ludlow--jc) --  A Paxton based business has been hired to do mowing in the community of Ludlow. Ludlow village leaders have re-hired Biggs Lawn Care of Paxton to provide the mowing on village property. The price per each mowing is 175 dollars. Biggs Lawn Care has done the mowing in Ludlow for 14 years.



URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois man with six convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol will be sentenced next month. 57 year old David Pribble pleaded guilty to a case that allows him to avoid a seventh DUI conviction. That charge was driving with a license that had been suspended or revoked for driving under the influence. He will be sentenced on April 18. Under a plea agreement, felony counts of  aggravated DUI with six or more convictions will be dismissed at his sentencing.


(Springfield--ab) -- A bill requiring schools to teach kids about the contributions of lesbian, gay and transgender people throughout history passed the house Wednesday. Supporters says history curriculum shouldn’t be discriminative and leave out certain groups of people. but opponents, like Representative Tom Morrison of Palatine have concerns.



State Representative Tom Morrison of Palatine

The LGBTQ history requirement applies to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. the senate will consider the legislation next.


NEW YORK (AP) — A handful of Verizon customers could soon have faster wireless service — but they'll have to pay $10 a month more.Verizon says it'll flip the switch next month on a much-hyped, next-generation "5G" phone network . Service will start in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon expects to have 5G in 30 cities this year.For now, few people will sign on. The offer is available only on unlimited plans, which currently start at $75 for one person or $160 for a family of four without 5G. On family plans, each 5G line would cost $10 extra.


(Rantoul--jc) -- The Rantoul based Big Brothers-Big Sisters program had a huge fundraiser this past weekend to raise money to support the local program. What the local group needs is mentors, especially those for young boys says Big Brothers-Big Sisters Director Kristian Hopkins…



Big Brothers Big Sisters Director Kristian Hopkins of Rantoul


(Springfield--ab)  --Supporters of a stronger state equal pay law are hoping the third time is a charm. For the third year in a row, the house has passed a bill banning employers from asking job applicants for their salary history and strengthening wage gender discrimination statutes. It’s supported by Representative John Carroll of Northbrook.



State Representative John Carroll of Northbrook

Similar bills have passed the last two years but were vetoed by then-governor bruce rauner. this latest version now moves to the senate.



(Paxton--jc)  PRIDE in Paxton has a new 2 thousand dollar donation from the city of Paxton. The money will be used to maintain the flowers and flowerpots in the downtown area of the city. The local nonprofit group is also looking to help the city replace some aging banners in the downtown area of the city.


(Springfield--jc)  Local State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian is sponsoring legislation which will create an incentive program for blue collar jobs in the same vein as other programs that are given to businesses for locating in Illinois, creating jobs or retaining jobs in Illinois, or otherwise would leave Illinois. The 104th district state representative says its called the Illinois Blue Collar Jobs Program…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


(Paxton--jc)  --The annual Paxton Community Sale is set to begin at 10 A M sharp on Saturday April 6th at Coady Park in the city. The annual sale is sponsored by the Paxton Park District. A flea market, food vendors and live auctions hilite the event. More information about the event is found by contacting the park district office in Paxton.



Governor J-B Pritzker Says Taxpayers Can See for Themselves How They Would Do Under the Fair Tax Proposal

(Springfield--ab)  -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he wants taxpayers to see for themselves how they would do under his fair tax proposal. Governor Pritzker says 97 percent of Illinoisans will see some relief under his graduated income tax plan. A new online calculator will give people an idea of just how much they will save.



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker

The governor’s plan raises the income tax for those making over 250 thousand. the calculator is available at: illinois dot gov forward slash fair tax calculator.



(Bloomington--jc)--  Following a very serious car accident late last week, Tom Bennett’s  colleagues took a moment on the House floor Tuesday to wish him well in his recovery.  House Minority Leader Jim Durkin talks about the 106th District Republican…



Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin

Bennett suffered 10 broken ribs, 6 with multiple breaks, as he was returning to his home in Gibson City from his district office in Pontiac Thursday night around 9pm.  He remains hospitalized in Bloomington.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is proposing to allow year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol, seeking to calm a dispute between the oil industry and corn farmers. The proposal Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency fulfills a pledge that President Donald Trump made to U.S. corn farmers, who see ethanol as an important driver of demand for their crops. Oil refineries have been seeking exemptions from government requirements to include ethanol in their fuel mixes. The dispute between the industry and farmers and lawmakers from Midwest states sparked a billboard campaign and at least one tractor rally in the Midwest last year.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A study has found that an Illinois' teacher shortage has become particularly acute in central and southern sections of the state. The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools has released a study showing that 89 percent of school districts in central Illinois have trouble filling teaching positions with qualified candidates. Southern Illinois fared worse, with 92 percent having staffing issues. Association president Mark Jontry notes the pay for new teachers is not high.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- The roof project at the Rantoul Public Library has a cost of 170 thousand dollars. The local library board and staff have saved up around 90 thousand dollars for the project. Some fundraising has closed the gap between the two figures. More fundraising continues for the local structure, Rantoul Public Library Director Holly Thompson says workers have done a great job helping with the recent hard rain and high winds and continue to complete the project…


Rantoul Public Library Director Holly Thompson

A local group called H-M-S Hotspur is hosting an auction and euchre party at the library on April 5 to help raise money for the roof. Some silent auction items are on display now at the Rantoul library. Bids will be taken on the items through the fundraiser on the 5th of April.


Chicago, IL – Illinois State Police  officials would like to invite all individuals who are interested in becoming ISP Troopers to participate in a Physical Fitness Inventory Test  Seminar being held on Saturday, March 23. The seminar takes place from 8:00 a.m. to Noon at Olivet Nazarene University in the Student Recreation Center in Bourbonnais  Certified PFIT monitors will be in attendance to provide hands-on instruction on how to successfully pass the test



(Fisher--jc)  -- Fisher Village leaders will look at setback requirements for a housing development on Green Street when they meet tomorrow night in monthly session.  Local leaders will look to pass a resurfacing road project on third street. The project has a price tag of just over 442 thousand dollars The Fisher Village board meets at 6 tomorrow night at the Fisher Community Center.

(Springfield--jc)  -- A new report from the Illinois Board of higher education show that high school graduates are continuing to flock to out of state colleges. In 20-17 nearly half of college bound grads headed to 4 year schools in neighboring states. The Boards Director of Information Eric Lichtenberger says the trend continues to rise in percentages…



Illinois Board of Higher Education Director of Information Eric Lichtenberger.



(Ford County--jc)  A Ford County man pleaded guilty to reckless homicide concerning a crash the fatally injured a Paxton woman in 20-16. 27 year old Thomas  Hoekstra of Paxton made the plea on Tuesday in Ford County Court He will be sentenced in May.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois House lawmakers are voting to raise the age to buy cigarettes in Illinois. Smokers will have to be 21, instead of 18 to purchase tobacco  products under the “tobacco 21” legislation. State Representative Monica Bristow of Alton is a former smoker and supports the measure…



State Representative Monica Bristow of Alton.



(Washington--jc)  -- Cattle placements into feedlots during January were  5 percent less than January of 2018. Gary Crawford has the numbers…





The Illinois Department of Public Health is Warning About Unproven Stem Cell Therapies

EUREKA, Ill. (AP) — A judge has cleared the way for a solar energy project in central Illinois. Judge Charles Feeney says Woodford County's permit denial was "arbitrary" and "unreasonable" and violated the rights of SolAmerica Energy. Many property owners and the city of Eureka opposed the permit. The County Board voted against the permit last year, a step that led to the lawsuit.

The proposed site is on land near the Eureka city limits, 20 miles east of Peoria.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois man accused of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy attempting to serve an arrest warrant made his first appearance in court. Floyd E. Brown of Springfield is charged with first-degree murder in the death of McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner. The deputy was shot Thursday while working on a task force trying to serve a warrant at a hotel in Rockford, about 80 miles (128.7 kilometers) northwest of Chicago. The 39-year-old Brown did not enter a plea Monday.


(Springfield--ab)  -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning about unproven stem cell therapies. Public Health Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jennifer Layden says there is concern across the country and in Illinois about doctors using stem cell products that haven’t been approved by the F-D-A.



Illinois Public Health Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jennifer Layden

Risks of getting these unapproved stem cell treatments include bacterial infection, growth of tumors and a bad reaction at the site of injection.


(Paxton--jc)  A Gibson City man was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Monday for sexually molesting an 11 year old girl. Ford County judge Matt Fitton sentenced 43 year old Ryan Schoolcraft in Ford County court in Paxton.  Schoolcraft was found guilty in January of two counts of criminal sexaual assault.


(Springfield--ab)  -- The Illinois State Police is looking to boost its ranks. State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly says they are short about 500 sworn officers…and is urging lawmakers to approving funding for new cadet classes.



State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly

Kelly says recruitment is often challenging given the risks of the job and more competitive pay and benefits offered at other departments. the state police is accepting applications through the end of may for october’s cadet class. apply at: illinois trooper dot com.



CAIRO, Ill. (AP) — After more than two weeks, a bridge connecting Illinois and Kentucky has reopened over the Ohio River. The U.S. 51 bridge closed on Feb. 22 due to high water on the Wickliffe, Kentucky, side. Kentucky officials say 4,700 vehicles cross the bridge each day; trucks make up 35 percent.



ILLIPOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — Roman Catholics in a southern Illinois county are down to one church for weekend Mass. A decision to close two of Hamilton County's three Catholic churches took effect over the weekend. There were no Masses at St. John Nepomucene in Dahlgren or St. Clement of Rome in McLeansboro. They're now designated as chapels. The area's "mother church" is St. John the Baptist in Piopolis. Bishop Edward Braxton made the announcement in February. He called it a "challenging process."


(Springfield--jc)  -- Lawmakers are back in Springfield and one matter the Senate is poised to take up would prohibit people younger than 21 from buying tobacco and e-cigarettes, but other measures targeting vaping products are also on the horizon. State Senator Terry Link, Democrat from Indian Creek, wants to put e-cigarettes and vaporizers into the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Link says that would mean you couldn’t do it in a public building at a restaurant or local bar.


(Gibson City--jc)  -- One Ford County relay for life group is hosting a Euchre party fundraiser on Friday in Gibson City. The Chic Meredith Relay Team says the game begins at 6-30 on Friday night at the Moyer Library. The fee to participate is 10 dollars. Snacks will be provided. Those interested may sign up at 217-784-5267.



(Onarga--jc)  -- One local bank is sponsoring a free movie day next month. The Federated Bank is hosting the free movie event on April 13th at 1pm at the Onarga Theatre. There is free admission and free pop and popcorn. More information is found by contacting the bank.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to change Illinois’ flat income tax to a graduated one with higher rates for those who earn more, means taxing higher earners would make the state less competitive nationally, according a tax policy group. A new Tax Foundation analysis of the “Fair Tax for Illinois,” as the governor has branded it, shows that it would put in place in some of the highest individual and corporate income taxes in the country and what the nonprofit called one of the least competitive overall tax codes, causing the state to decline from 36th to 48th in the group's State Business Tax Climate Index. Analysts for the nonprofit have annually called Illinois’ flat income tax its “saving grace” in terms of overall taxation competitiveness. It’s kept Illinois closer to the middle of the pack in terms of the foundation's ranking.


(Champaign County--jc)  A proposed rural Gifford event center has several more steps to accomplish before the idea can move forward. The local county zoning board gave it’s O-K earlier this month. One issue to be decided is traffic on local rural roads to the proposed event center location. A special use permit will be the topic of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on March 28th in Urbana. With a positive committee recommendation, the issue would move the county board later this Spring.


(Springfield--ab)  Illinois enjoyed some nice job gains in January.

January’s unemployment rate came in at four point three percent…the same as in december. but payrolls hit a new high, with over 24 thousand jobs added says Illinois Department Of Employment Security Spokesperson Bob Gough…



I-D-E-S Spokesperson Bob Gough

Gains were also seen in the educational and health services and leisure and hospitality sectors.



(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board meets tonight  and the agenda is loaded with items of action. Items of note will be to approve the 2019-2020 academic calendar for the district, getting rid of the Paxton Buckley Loda Wrestling team. A report will be given on the Clara Peterson renovation and Eastlawn demolition. Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 at the board meeting room in Paxton.


(Washington-jc)  -- What is the new forecast for the 20-19 steer prices. U-S-D-A Livestock Analyst Shayle Shagam has the numbers…



U-S-D-A Livestock Analyst Shayle Shagam



(Rantoul--jc)  Those in the Rantoul area needing some help to keep their kids active have some help with a local civic group. The Rantoul Foundation is set to help with some charges and fees for programs offered in Rantoul. To apply for vouchers, those interested are asked to contact the Community Service Center in the village, by calling  893-5700.


(Springfield--jc)  -- It’s flood safety awareness week and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is reminding about some steps  you can take to protect your home. As Spring approaches, I-Ema Spokesperson Rebecca Clark says to make sure you have flood insurance…


I-EMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark.

(Paxton--jc)  -- If you like the decorated flower pots in the downtown area of Paxton, a vote by the city council tonight could extend to project. City of Paxton leaders meet tonight could provide a donation to PRIDE in Paxton to help with the flower pots and also banner purchases for the downtown light poles in the city. Paxton leaders are also expected to hire an engineering firm for the proposed “street scape” project. The city council meeting comes to order at 7 tonight on the 2nd floor of city hall.



(Gibson City--jc) With a third place finish in the state, fans of the Gibson City Melvin Sibley Falcons can order a two sided state T-Shirt to commemorate the 20-18-20-19 season. Orders for the 12 dollar t-shirts may be made by filling out a form and those forms are available at the high school in Gibson City. Deadline to order the shirts is Friday March 15th. Pick up date for the shirts is March 21st at the high school.



Are Chicago Politicians Pushing Windy City Policies onto the Rest of the State?

(Springfield--ba)  State representatives from different ends of Illinois disagree on whether Chicago politicians are pushing Windy City policies onto the rest of the state. There's been lots of debate on the topic over the years, but one often-cited study based on a snapshot of the state found that downstate communities received more money from the state government than they contributed in taxes. Others note that Chicago takes from the rest of the state, pointing to the hundreds of millions of dollars the state sends to Chicago Public Schools. Sponsors of HR101 also say Chicago politicians are pushing Windy City policies on the rest of the state with no regard for rural concerns.

(Champaign--jc)  -- How did the first full  week of March do in the weather category. Illinois Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner says cold and snowy…



Illinois Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner


CHICAGO (AP) — One of the people injured in a deadly warehouse shooting last month is suing Illinois State Police, saying authorities wrongly let the gunman purchase the weapon used in the attack. Henry Pratt Co. employee Timothy Williams on Friday filed the lawsuit. It says he was shot three times after colleague Gary Martin opened fire, killing five other co-workers. Illinois State Police declined comment, saying they don't discuss pending litigation.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- A leaky roof during high winds and a huge rain on Saturday, closed the Rantoul Public Library. The roof has been as issue for the local Library for some time and now library officials are looking for ways to make repairs. Staff members used plastic coverings to protect the books. The estimate to replace the roof is 17 thousand dollars.



(Undated--jc)  As lawmakers prepare to mirror a Chicago tax on shopping bags, a state Representative from the Windy City said it will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. State Senator Terry Link, Democrat from Indian Creek, sponsored Senate Bill 12-40, which would add a 7-cent tax to all single-use bags, paper and plastic. That’s similar to what Chicago already has in place. State Representative. Michael McAuliffe Republican from Chicago, says he has seen the bag tax in action in his jurisdiction and it hits the poor and the elderly the hardest.McAuliffe also said lawmakers should expect a strong reaction from taxpayers if the bag tax goes statewide. Some are expecting the same reaction as the soda tax in Chicago in 2017 that was repealed after just two months.


(Bloomington--jc)  -- Local State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City continues to recover at a Bloomington hospital. He was involved in a serious accident Thursday night.  Bennett suffered multiple broken ribs. Bennett represents the 106th district. He was expected to remain at the St Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington through the weekend.



(Paxton--ba)-This Monday the Paxton Buckley Loda Panther Regiment will once again travel to the city of New Orleans. Students will visit the French quarter, take a swamp tour, visit the WWII museum, as well as many other activities. This will be Band Director Tim Hess’s last trip. The trip begins today.


(Urbana-jc--)  The vote for the “alma ottter” at the University of Illinois did not pass a non-binding referendum this week. U of I students voted down the proposal with 3807 against the otter and 3510 for the mascot.



(Springfield--jc) --  Tickets to concerts like Dan and Shay, Pentatonix, Old Dominion and Snoop Dog will be available at the ticketmaster-dot-com on April 20th. The Illinois State Fair Box office opens on April 22nd says State Fair Spokesperson Morgan Booth…



State Fair SPokesperson Morgan Booth



CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is starting to make strides toward improving retention through a program that offers freshmen a special orientation aimed at getting them acquainted with college life. The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the Saluki Success Program covers study habits, mental health awareness, sexual consent and cultural sensitivity. The class started in 2015 and has four dedicated instructors. The school says early data show the program is making a positive impact on student retention and success


JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — The family of a World War II veteran who died when his plane was shot down over France in 1944 is to receive his lost medals. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs' office says he will return 1st Lt Walter B. Ingledew Jr.'s medals to his family Monday at the Stone City VFW Post in Joliet. The treasurer's office found the medals in a safe deposit box that was turned over to the state. The medals include a Purple Heart, two Campaign Stars and two Air medals with four oak leaf clusters that are received for meritorious achievement in aerial flight. Ingledew served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces.


(AP) — A sheriff in Illinois is warning people about a sophisticated phone scam.

In a news release, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says residents are reporting that they are receiving an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a representative of Apple Inc. warning them that their device or iCloud account has been compromised. The caller then asks for personal information such as passwords or usernames.The calls that come from numbers including (800) 275-2273 and (703) 336-8450 appear legitimate because the residents' caller identification shows the calls are coming from Apple Customer Service or Apple Inc. But Dart says that Apple — which is aware of the scam — says that its service representatives never ask customers for such personal information over the phone.


(Rantoul--jc)  A candidates forum is set for Thursday in Rantoul. The venue is the Rantoul Municipal Building on Tanner Street starting at 6pm on Thursday. Candidates to speak include those running for Rantoul Village Board, Rantoul Township High School board, local library. All candidates will be given a two minute opening remark period. Then  questions will be asked from the audience through a moderator. The Spring election is set for Tuesday April Second. The forum is sponsored by The League of Women Voters, Rantoul Residents for Representation and the Rantoul Press


(Paxton--jc) Paxton City leaders will look to make donations to the Pheasants Forever group, and a donation to the Show bus when they meet in monthly session tomorrow night. Other agenda items include signing a contract with Credit Collection Partners, repairs along Holmes Street and approve a request by American Legion Riders to collect donations at the intersections in the downtown area  Saturday April 27th from 8 am to Noon. The Paxton City Council meets Tuesday night at 7 on the second floor of city hall.



(Washington--jc)  What does the farm income forecast look like for 20-19. U-S-D-A Deputy Chief Economist Warren Preston has the numbers… 



U-S-D-A Deputy Chief Economist Warren Preston


(Rantoul-jc)  --Rantoul Village leaders will look to amend an agreement with a California investor.  John Van Der Velde has asked the village for another term for him to buy four hangers and the A-T-and-T Call Center near the local airport. The original purchase price of 5 point-45-Million would remain the same. The proposed amendment would lengthen the lease agreement paid by the village to the Van Der Welde group for 10 years  instead of 5. The Rantoul Village board meets at 6-15 Tuesday night at the municipal building on Tanner Street.



ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois man faces federal murder charges in the shooting death of a sheriff's deputy that led to an hourslong standoff with police along an interstate. Floyd E. Brown is scheduled to appear in court Monday in Rockford, where prosecutors say he shot and killed a deputy working with a U.S. Marshal's Service fugitive task force serving Brown an arrest warrant.


(Undated--jc)  --University of Chicago was ranked the most exclusive school in Illinois, according to a new study by the website 24-7 Wall Street, that examines acceptance rates and characteristics of university students nationwide. University of Chicago has an acceptance rate of 8.7 percent, and 75 percent of its students have SAT scores above 1480. The yearly net cost to attend the campus is nearly 35 thousand dollars.To determine the most selective universities in each state, 24/7 Wall St. examined the National Center for Education Statistics’ data on four-year schools, as well as other sources.  Notre Dame was top on the list in Indiana and Washington University in St Louis was the top exclusive school in Missouri.



(Roberts--jc)  Village of Roberts leaders have set a day in May for an open house and liquidation day for its library. The village has been in the process of closing the local library and distributing books. The day for the event is Saturday May 18th.



Governor JB Pritzker has Announced his Graduated Income Tax Proposal

(Springfield--jc) Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is unveiling his graduated income tax proposal, saying most taxpayers will see some relief. The plan goes like this, earn less than 10 thousand dollars, you pay 4 point 75 in income taxes. Earn between 10 thousand and one hundred grand, you pay 4 point 95 percent.Those making 100 to 250 thousand dollars pay the current 4 point 95 percent. The big jump is for those making over 250 thousand dollars. There tax would be between 7 point 75 percent and 8 percent. The governor says this is needed…



Illinois Governor J B Pritzker

The governor says the additional tax would bring in an additional 3 point 4 to 4 Billion dollars, annually.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Reaction to the announcement coming from the states Chamber of Commerce. A leading Illinois business advocate says Gov. J.B Pritzker has it "backward" in trying to solve the state's fiscal crisis with a graduated income tax plan. Todd Maisch is president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. He says Pritzker's plan to raise $3.4 billion in new revenue from a progressive tax structure will drive out businesses. Maisch says the Democratic governor and state lawmakers should get spending under control first, then boost the economy, then turn to revenue.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Springfield has approved an ordinance that would allow the city spend up to $50,000 to keep Abraham Lincoln's home open during a federal government shutdown. The State Journal-Register reports the City Council unanimously passed the ordinance Tuesday. It gives the city the option of using lodging taxes to keep the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site open for about a month. Many tourists were disappointed when the site closed during the partial government shutdown that started Dec. 22.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting an Illinois sheriff's deputy has been charged with first-degree murder. Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross says the charge against 39-year-old Floyd E. Brown of Springfield was upgraded after McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner died of his injuries. Authorities say Brown was taken into custody hours after he fled a Rockford hotel where a warrant for his arrest was being served.




(Buckley--jc)  -- It’s a day for the ladies in Buckley on Sunday. A Girls Day Out takes place on Sunday at the 103 Restaurant Banquet Center in the village. Spokesperson Angie Glad says over 25 vendors will be there…



A Girls Day Out Spokesperson Angie Glad

Prizes and other giveaways are planned for the event. All area ladies are invited for the fun event.



(Farmer City--jc)  --- Local state Senator Chapin Rose and State Representative Dan Caulkins will be in Farmer City this morning. The two local legislators will be at Imo's Restaurant from 7-8 am.


(Springfield--ab)  -- Problems with home repairs and remodeling lead Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s top 10 list of consumer complaints.

The office received more than 21 thousand complaints last year…and for the first time since 2000…construction related issues came in at number one. other top complaints pertain to consumer debt, identity theft and scams. Attorney General Raoul says they often begin with a bogus phone call.



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

The office also logged many complaints about used car sales, cell phones and cable and satellite t-v.


(Springfield-jc) --  With an economy that’s producing more job openings than there are people to fill them, applicants and even newly-hired workers walking away from their jobs, leaving no notice to their employers.The term “ghosting” comes from the dating world, when one party suddenly cuts off contact with the other without notice. Multiple outlets are now reporting job applicants and even newly-hired workers are ghosting employers, skipping interviews or not returning to work, leaving no notice.The situation has even gotten the attention of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In a “Beige Book” report on Chicago from last December:


(Rantoul--jc-- Big Brothers Big Sisters will hold its annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake event from 5 to 7 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m tomorrow at the Country Tyme Lanes on Grove Avenue in Rantoul. Big Brothers-Big Sisters Director Kristian Hopkins says this is the main fundraiser to support the group…



Big Brothers Big Sisters Director Kristian Hopkins.  The rock-and-roll-themed bowling event will also feature door prizes, raffles and drawings.


(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has unveiled his plan for a graduated income tax. The Governor says most taxpayers will see some relief.

The new tax structure would start at 4 point 75 percent and cap out at nearly 8 percent. The governor says this additional tax will be good for the majority of Illioisans…



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker

The new income tax would bring in 3 point 4 to 4 Billion dollars per year


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Republican opposition to the graduated tax plan Gov. J.B. Pritzker is floating has been swift. The Democratic governor announced Thursday a plan to change Illinois' flat-rate tax structure to one that ranges from 4.75 to 7.95 percent. He claims it would raise $3.4 billion extra a year while the vast majority of taxpayers would pay less in taxes. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said the GOP opposes "a $3.4 billion tax increase on Illinois families and businesses."



(Bloomington--jc)    Illinois Wesleyan University is offering a voluntary retirement incentive program, merging some academic departments and reducing visiting faculty positions as part of an effort to find $1.1 million in budget savings for fiscal year 2020. The changes were provided this week during budget update meeting. President Eric Jensen says the challenges facing all higher education in the state of Illinois prompted the move. University officials hope the cuts can be made over the next couple of years to keep in the budget in line.


(Washington--jc)  Farm profits this year could go up, but not enough to make up for last year's income drop. Gary Crawford reports…




(Rantoul--jc)  A candidates forum is set for next Thursday in Rantoul. The venue is the Rantoul Municipal Building on Tanner Street starting at 6pm on Thursday. Candidates to speak include those running for Rantoul Village Board, Rantoul Township High School board, local library. All candidates will be given a two minute opening remark period. Then  questions will be asked from the audience through a moderator. The Spring election is set for Tuesday April Second. The forum is sponsored by The League of Women Voters, Rantoul Residents for Representation and the Rantoul Press



(Watseka--jc)  --  The Iroquois County Clerk’s election department will be open Saturday, March 30th from 8:30 a.m. to noon.  Registered voters’ who would like to vote before the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election, may come into the County Clerk’s Office up through the early voting deadline, Monday, April 1st, to cast their vote  The County Clerk’s Office office hours are, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


The Rantoul School District will have their monthly meeting on March 11th. The board will discuss and vote on proposed board policy amendments on various topics. The board will also look at the Superintendents employment contract and  approve the 2019-2020 academic calendar.


(Paxton--jc)  The Paxton IGA is hosting a cookout from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on  Saturday. The parking lot cookout will help raise funds for Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s class of 2024. On the menu is Pork chop sandwiches, chips and pop



Illinois State Police have Reforms Designed to Make it harder for People to Keep Guns After Losing the Right to Own a Firearm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State Police officials have come up with several reforms designed to make it harder for people to keep guns after losing their right to own a firearm. The changes revealed Wednesday deal with how firearm owner's identification cards are revoked, how guns are seized and how related records are kept and shared. It calls for greater enforcement of the revocation laws that have long been ignored.The proposals are a reaction to the fatal shooting in Aurora last month of five people by Gary Martin. As a convicted felon, Martin never should have been allowed to purchase the handgun used in the shooting.Acting State Police Director Brendan Kelly says the federal government must do more to address the incomplete FBI databases and do more back ground checks.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has met with an Illinois congressman who was deployed last month to the U.S.-Mexico border with his Air National Guard unit. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Wednesday that his first-hand experience led him to conclude that the situation at the border represents a legitimate national emergency. He says he "came back absolutely convinced."


(Springfield--jc)  -- A-A-R-P is urging lawmakers to pass two bills aimed at improving the care for older Illinoisans. The first legislation requires the state to set up a database where people can see nursing home reports and violations, sets up rules for administering psychiatric medication and addresses minimum staffing levels says Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago…



Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago.


(Paxton--jc)  - The Pit Crew at Clara Petersen School in Paxton has an event coming this Spring. WPXN ‘s Austin Burklund has the story…




URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees is scheduled to decide if the school's new track will be named after longtime coach Gary Wieneke. U of I  Chancellor Robert Jones is recommending trustees approve naming the running portion of the track and field project the Gary R. Wieneke track. Wieneke retired in 2003 after 36 years with 13 Big Ten championships. The board meets next week.



(Springfield--jc)  -- It’s Women’s History Month. Local State Representative Mike Marron, Republican from Fithian, took a few moments on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives to honor a well-known figure in Vermilion County history.  Marron spoke on Rita Garman, current Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois who represents the Fourth Judicial District on the Supreme Court…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron


(Paxton--jc)  --Paxton Buckley Loda School Senior art students artwork will be on display at the Eric Show through March 29th.  A public viewing with area students is set from 4-30 until 7 tonight at the Illini Union on the campus of the University of Illinois. 19 other area schools will also be represented. They include Gibson City Melvin Sibley, St. Joe Ogden, Rantoul Township High School, St Thomas More, Oakwood and Monticello High School. The artwork will remain part of the Eric Show through March 29th.




(Springfield--jc) - You have to hand it to the state of Illinois. When it comes to taxing its residents, the state doesn't discriminate.As Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers move forward with plans to change the constitution to allow for what they've dubbed a "fair" income tax, a new report indicates that Illinois has been fair when it comes to taxing all income levels in the state.The report from financial website Wallethub, 2019's Best States to Be Rich or Poor from a Tax Perspective, indicates that Illinois ranks second- or third-worst when compared to other U.S. states and Washington D.C. in taxing low-, middle- and high-income wage earners. That's "fair" as in fairly high taxes for everyone.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- The Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting their annual banquet tonight. The event is set for the Kruse Center on the cities east side.

Several awards will be given out. A meal, and comedy show also hilite the event.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A former campaign worker for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan whose federal lawsuit claims her career was hindered when she complained about sexual harassment has alleged in court filings that "nothing was done in response" to other complaints against a Madigan staffer in 2015 and 2016.

The powerful Democratic speaker's office responded that the staff member, Travis Shea, was reprimanded. But it said that the speaker, who has faced criticism for more than a year over his handling of sexual harassment complaints among legislative office and campaign staffs, was not made aware of the incidents at the time. The Illinois Republican Party demanded Wednesday that Madigan release a full accounting of complaints against his staff members and how they were resolved.



(Bloomington--jc)  -- What are the rates of any proposed graduated tax. That is a question that some in Springfield want an answer to.  105th District State Representative Dan Brady is pursuing the answer…



105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


(Undated--jc)  -- Lawmakers from another state say the proposed progressive tax is a mistake. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…


SPRINGFIELD — Illinois law enforcement groups want to pump the brakes on proposed legislation that would do away with a requirement that Illinois cars display a front license plate. A bill proposed by East Dundee Republican Representative  Allen Skillicorn would instruct the secretary of state’s office to issue only one license plate to drivers, instead of two, for cars, trailers and trucks. The plate would attach to the rear of the vehicle. Executive Diretor of the Illinois Associations of Chiefs of Police Ed Wojcicki says  removing the front plate would make it harder for police officers and other law enforcement officials to do their jobs. Opposition also is coming from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.


Carmi, IL - Illinois State Police Zone 7 Investigations is requesting public assistance in locating a missing 19-year-old Harrisburg woman, Brooke Naylor. Naylor, pictured below, is described as 5 foot 3 inches and approximately 115 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen

in Harrisburg on March 3, 2019. Naylor was last known to have her brown dog, a Boxer, with her. Her abandoned Chevrolet Malibu was located on the Eldorado Ridgeway Blacktop approximately halfway between Route 142 and Route 1. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Brooke Naylor, please contact the Illinois State Police at (618) 384-9945.



(Springfield-jc)  -- More than 14 hundred people commit suicide each year in Illinois and new legislation aims to lower that number. The bill would create the office of suicide prevention says American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Illinois’ Steve Moore…



American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Illinois’ Steve Moore



(Springfield--jc)  Like Governor Bruce Rauner after his first months in office, Governor  J.B. Pritzker’s job approval rating has tumbled.So low, that President Donald Trump has a higher approval rating. In a We Ask America poll, 800 registered Illinois voters gave Pritzker a job approval rating of 37 percent. The pollsters asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the job J.B. Pritzker is doing as Illinois governor,” to which 37 percent approved, 36 disapproved and 27 percent had no opinion.When asked the same question about President Donald Trump, pollsters received a 41 percent positive response .Ideas Illinois president Greg Baise, who commissioned the poll, said Pritzker is likable, but his proposals for higher taxes and spending aren’t going over well.The poll respondents were more optimistic about the rest of the nation than they are in their own state, largely, Baise said, because residents aren’t being brought realistic solutions.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Village officials are in the process of hammering out a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year. One year ago, the process dragged out over potential job cuts and some deficit numbers.  A hearing on the budget will be scheduled at 5:45 p.m.on March 12th The monthly board meeting follows the hearing.


(Rantoul--jc)  Like to bowl? Then Saturday is a time to bowl and also help raise money for the Big Brothers-Big Sisters Rantoul based program. The annual Bowl for Kids Sake takes placd on Saturday starting at 5pm at Country Tyme Lanes on Grove Avenue in the village. The theme for this year’s event is Rock and Roll. The event also features door prizes, raffles and drawings.



(Melvin--jc)  The movie, “The Grinch” will be shown for free on Friday March 15th. The venue is the Melvin Community Hall. The movie starts at 7 that evening.



Missing Local Rantoul Man Found Safe

(Rantoul--jc)  -On March 5 at approximately 7:49pm the Rantoul Police Department was notified of a missing person. Melvin Fox was reported missing from his residence in the South Pointe area by his family. Rantoul Police immediately began a search of the area, but were unable to locate him. As the search continued, Rantoul Police received assistance from the Rantoul Fire Department, Rantoul Recreation Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, University of Illinois Police, Illinois State Police and the Illinois State Police Air Operations Unit. At approximately 11:31pm, Officers were able to locate Fox after he was spotted by the Illinois State Police Air Unit. Fox was found walking in a large farm field approximately ½ mile south of Chandler Dr. and ½ mile west of US Rt. 45 in rural Rantoul. Fox was found in stable condition and was transported to Carle Hospital for precautionary reasons. The Rantoul Police Department would like to thank all the agencies that assisted in locating Fox.


(Chicago--jc)  -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 54 attorneys general Tuesday urged Congress to enact the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence  or Traced Act. The measure would curb illegal robocalls and spoofing. With the letter Tuesday, Raoul and the attorneys general urged Congress to support the TRACED Act. Raoul stated that  complaints related to robocalls continue to be among the most common consumer complaints in Illinois and nationally. The legislation will require voice service providers to participate in a call authentication framework to help block unwanted calls, and creates an interagency working group to take additional actions to reduce robocalls and hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable.


A bill in the Illinois Senate restricts where people can use e-cigarettes and vape pens. The measure, sponsored by Senator Terry Link of Waukegan, includes alternative smoking products like e-cigs in the Smoke Free Illinois Act. That means they couldn’t be used in enclosed public places, like a restaurant or business, or within 15 feet of the entrance.



State Senator Terry Link of Waukegan

Link says he will work with opponents to address their concerns


CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Board of Education says it is switching to a new standardized test this month for third through eighth graders across the state. Students will be given the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, or I-A-R, instead of the widely criticized PARCC test. Board of Education spokeswoman Jackie Matthews says the I-AR is about a third shorter than PARCC. Matthews says more sweeping changes are coming, including quicker results and more locally created questions.The PARCC exam was launched in 2015 and was met with criticism from school administrators and parents. They said it was too long and too difficult.


(Armstrong--jc)  The Armstrong F F A is set for its dinner and auction a week from Saturday. The alumni dinner and silent auction takes place at the high school in Armstrong. Dinner begins at 4-30 on the 16th. A silent auction takes place from 4-30 until 7pm. A live auction of items begins at 6pm.



(Washington--jc)  -- A USDA economist offers her take on trends involving the organic dairy, produce and grain markets. Rod Bain has the story..




(Farmer City--jc)  --The City of Farmer City is accepting bids for the rebuild and extension of electric from the City's Power Plant to the northwest quadrant of I-74 and Rt. 54.  Bid documents may be purchased from B-H-M-G Engineers in Arnold, Missouri for twenty dollars. Any questions, please contact City Manager Sue McLaughlin at (309) 928-3412.


(Paxton--jc)  Ford County Board members could set up another meeting on wind farms when they meet in monthly session next week. The zoning committee meeting could also have a proposal ready for the full Ford County board to vote. Local Ford County leaders have been discussing its Wind Farm ordinance for around 2 years.


(Springfield--jc)  --Two bills sitting in the Illinois House would change estate tax laws, one by raising the tax threshold and the other by removing the tax completely.State Representative. Avery Bourne of Raymond, has introduced Illinois House Bill 14-54 which would repeal the estate tax — sometimes called the “death tax.” This is the second time Bourne has introduced the bill.Bourne said the existing estate tax disproportionally affects Illinois farmers.Bourne said that some estates can be taxed up to 16 percent. potential loss of tax revenue could instigate pushback on the bill.


Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ office is touting the success of the secure choice retirement program. In updating our story, Secure choice automatically enrolls businesses and their employees which don’t have a pension or 401-k plan, although workers can opt out. So far nine thousand people have accounts, saving over one million dollars says Treasurer Frerichs..



Illinois Treasure Michael Frerichs



(Washington--jc)  -- Analysts say they don't expect an increase in ethanol production this year or in corn use to make it. Gary Crawford reports…




(Buckley--jc) --  The Buckley Village Board has set a meeting concerning the towns sewer system for later this month. Work on the aging system is needed and local leaders are set to considered extensive work for the major project. Buckley leaders have set a meeting for Saturday March 30th at 10 am at Christ Lutheran High School to discuss the potential 3 million dollar project with local residents.



(Springfield--ab) Infrastructure in Illinois needs a big boost and both sides of the aisle in Springfield may be able to work together on it says Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


(Watseka--jc)  Iroquois County’s E-T-B-S committee meeting is set for later today and on the agenda is the Iroquois Complex tower rent and a purchase from Verizon for a mobile command center. A computer purchase is also an expected topic. The E-T-B-S committee meeting comes to order at 5 this afternoon at the Administrative Center in Watseka.


(Washington--jc)  -- Soybeans are in a difficult spot in the world market at the present moment. U-S-D-A Outlook Board Chairman Seth Meyer says the situation takes a look at the situation…



U-S-D-A Outlook Board Chairman Seth Meyer.



(Champaign--jc)  -- The Parkland College Foundation is hosting its "50th Anniversary Day of Giving" Celebration today. During the  event, Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen and Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin, will read proclamations of support from the Cities of Champaign-Urbana, and Parkland College Trustee Jim Ayers will read the proclamation from the City of Monticello. Foundation Director Tracy Wahlfeldt will read a special certificate from Senator Scott Bennett.. Special giveaways and sweet treats round out the festival.



U.S. regulator Wants to Meet with Walgreens Leaders to Discuss Whether the Drugstore Chain has a Problem with Illegal Tobacco Sales to Minors

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois lawmaker has proposed legislation that aims to provide a more comprehensive definition of consent for sex education classes in the state. The State Journal-Register reports that the bill defines consent as "a freely given agreement to sexual activity." The bill directs schools to use the definition when discussing consent, since current state law doesn't offer a specific definition. Advocates say the more detailed definition will help students better understand boundaries.


(Undated--jc)  --California and several other Democratic-led states have announced they are challenging the Trump administration's effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday that the state filed a federal lawsuit aiming to block a new family planning rule from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The rule bars taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. Illinois is among the states in the democratic challenge.


(Undated--jc)  -- A top U.S. regulator wants to meet with Walgreens leaders to discuss whether the drugstore chain has a problem with illegal tobacco sales to minors.Scott Gottlieb of the Food and Drug Administration said Monday Walgreens is a top violator among drugstores that sell tobacco products including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes. He says inspectors have found nearly 1,800 instances since 2010 in which one of the company's stores violated the law.Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. runs more than 9,500 U.S. drugstores.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Park Board officials are in the process of getting bids for a multi-purpose court that could be built in Wabash Park. The local board may issue around 120 thousand dollars in bonds for the proposed project.  The project has received support from Rantoul City Schools and the local Rotary club. The subject is expected to be a topic this month for the Rantoul Park board.


(Rantoul-dg)-The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce along with the Rantoul Historical Society dedicated a new roof Monday afternoon that was recently added to the Historical Society building. The Historical building houses the treasures of the past of the village of Rantoul. This was accomplished with the help of State Senator Scott Bennett of Rantoul, Former State Representative Chad Hays, and a grant from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.  Senator Bennett and Representative Mike Marron were in attendance.


(Springfield--ab) 11 Illinois State Troopers have been hit by passing motorists so far this year. The latest incident occurred this weekend when a trooper was struck in his squad car in montgomery county. Back in january a trooper was killed at the scene of a roadside accident. State police spokesperson Mindy Carroll says it’s a dangerous situation on the side of the road.



State Police Spokesperson Mindy Carroll

Motorists are reminded about the state’s “move-over” law, requiring them to slow down, move over if possible and be alert when any vehicle is stopped on the side of the road.



(Springfield--ab) The Illinois state government is looking into legalizing recreational use of Marijuana.  104th District State Representative Mike Marron, a Republican from Fithian has concerns ...



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.


(Gibson City--jc)  The Ford County Soil and Water Conservation District is sponsoring a household hazardous waste recycling project later this month in Gibson City.  The March 23rd event takes place at 115 South Sangamon Avenue in the city from 8am until 3pm. Among items that can be recycled include used oil, antifreeze, pool chemicals and medicines. The event is also sponsored by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting is set for next month. Engelbrecht Farms is the venue for Tuesday April 16th. Happy Hour begins at 5 to start the evening’s festivities.


(Springfield--jc)  As Governor. J.B. Pritzker prepares for talks with legislative leaders about possible tax rates and income levels for a progressive income tax in Illinois, a pro-business group is calling for those discussions to be done in public. The group says the governor dodged questions on the campaign trail about where he wanted the rates to be, but said he'd like to see tax cuts for middle class and tax increases for the wealthy. The governor says he's now ready to negotiate rates with legislative leaders. Governor Pritzker says the first step is for  conversations with leadership about rate structure, for the graduated income tax, and a fair tax system. Greg Baise, the leader of Ideas Illinois, a group formed to oppose a graduated income tax system in the state, said any such negotiations should be done in the open, especially around tax time.


(Undated--jc)  Representatives of Illinois’ villages, towns and cities are confident that municipalities will be able to get more state tax money with newly-installed Democratic supermajorities and a Democrat in the governor’s office. The Illinois Municipal League announced Monday a list of changes the group wants to usher through in Springfield. Chief among them is raising the percentage of state tax revenue municipalities get from the Local Government Distributive Fund which had been reduced in recent years. I-M-L Executive Director Brad Cole said the group has seen support for that among Democrats in the General Assembly and think freshman Governor J.B. Pritzker also will be receptive.



(Springfield--ab)  The Illinois Department of Human Services is a launching a new website for those fighting gambling addiction. The website: we-know-the-feeling-dot-org,  compliments the existing 1-800-gambler hotline, and offers treatment and recovery options says D-H-S’ Dani Kirby...



Illinois Department of Human Services Spokesperson Dani Kirby



(Springfield--jc)  Country group “Old Dominion” is joining the Illinois State Fair Grandstand lineup. The group will play on Thursday August 15th says Illinois State Fair Spokesperson Morgan Booth…



Illinois State Fair Spokesperson Morgan Booth



(Springfield--jc)Many public employees in Illinois are able to save up rolled-over sick days to boost retirement payouts, but lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would keep officials from being blindsided by those costs.The amount that a public pensioner in Illinois receives in retirement is based on their pay in the last years of their career in public service. It’s become common for some workers to save up sick days and cash them out in this window to boost their annual pay, thus boosting their retirement pay as well.State Rep. David McSweeney’s legislation, which was unanimously approved by a committee, wouldn’t ban the practice, but it would require many of the workers to disclose how many sick says they’re holding onto. The state's constitution prohibits the diminishment for pension benefits


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ office is touting the success of the Secure Choice Retirement program. About 9 thousand people have opened accounts, saving more than 1 million dollars to date. State Treasurer Frerichs says secure choice is for people who don’t have a retirement savings option at work..



State Treasurer Mike Frerichs.



(Woodworth--jc)  --The Iroquois County Republican Central Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner has been set for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14. This year’s event will again take place at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Woodworth. Tickets for this year’s event are available from any precinct committeeman, or by calling 815-278-1513. St. Paul’s Lutheran Parent/Teacher League will decorate and prepare the meal The featured speaker will be Peter Breen, a former State Representative who currently serves as a lawyer with Thomas Moore Society, a non-profit law firm which focuses on the defense of First Amendment rights.



(Undated--jc)  There is some more snow in the forecast, as most in the area are looking for spring like weather as soon as possible. With the warmer weather, local cities and towns will look at road repair and pot hole repair. The extreme temperatures, large amounts of snow and temperature changes have caused many potholes and road issues.  Road crews will be out in road repair in many area cities and towns, when the weather becomes more stable. We will hear from Doug Quick about the latest forecast, following this newscast this morning. WPXN news invites you to show us your local road pot holes, and e-mail a picture to news-at-WPXN-radio-dot-com. We will post the results on our website.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has named leaders in three cabinet-level agencies.The Democrat announced the appointments Monday. Paula Basta will be director of the Department on Aging. The governor tabbed Ron Guerrier as chief information officer for the Department of Innovation and Technology. And the director of the Department of Insurance will be Robert Muriel. Basta has been a strong advocate for seniors and LGBT rights. She is director of senior services for the Chicago Housing Authority and teaches at Loyola University.Guerrier has more than two decades' experience in information technology in the private sector. He last served as CIO for Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager.Muriel is a trial lawyer specializing in civil and commercial litigation. It includes insurance, bad-faith claims, financial fraud and more.



Environmentalists Praising Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Proposal for a 5-cent Tax on All Plastic Bags Used at Checkouts Across the State

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Lottery's transition to a new central gaming system has caused trouble for some retailers, including overpayments to winners. Illinois Lottery spokesman Jason Schaumburg says the ticket validation issue was discovered Feb. 20 and resolved the same day. He has no estimate of how much extra money was awarded. Stores that paid out incorrect winnings can be reimbursed if they submit a written account of the error to the central lottery office in Springfield.


(Rantoul--jc) --  Personnel is the topic for a committee meeting tonight at Rantoul Township High School. The committee will talk about employees in a closed session planned for 5pm today. The next full Rantoul Township High School board meeting is set for one week from today.



CHICAGO (AP) — Environmentalists are praising Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposal for a 5-cent tax on all plastic bags used at checkouts across the state, but not all shoppers are excited about the idea. Truck driver Jim Pruim tells the Chicago Tribune that while the bag tax isn't much of a financial hardship, he's concerned about government overreach. Pritzker says the tax could reduce waste and raise revenue. The state's budget proposal says the tax could generate up to $23 million.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A judge has delayed the trial of the man accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China. U.S. District Judge James Shadid  set Brendt Christensen's trial for June 3. Christensen's trial was originally to begin April 1, but defense attorneys requested more time to prepare a mental-health expert. Prosecutors say Christensen tortured 26-year-old Yingying Zhang before killing her in April 2017. He has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in death.


(Orlando--jc)  The National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers today announced their support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Mexico and Canada account for 25 percent of all U.S. agriculture exports and  S-M-C-A preserves and builds upon the existing trading relationship between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Members representing the four organizations will be advocating members of Congress to ratify the agreement this year while also urging the Administration to keep the current NAFTA agreement intact until the new agreement is ratified.



(Undated--jc)  On Friday, Hy-Vee, Inc. announced its commitment to delivering much-needed milk to local food banks in its eight-state region by partnering with The Great American Milk Drive throughout the month of March. This is the third consecutive year of the companywide partnership. During the month-long campaign, every Hy-Vee store will offer customers the opportunity to donate $2 or $4 toward the purchase of milk when they check out. At the end of the month, all donations will be used to purchase milk from area processors to be distributed to local food banks.


(Champaign--jc)  -- The driver of a semi truck carrying hogs along Interstate 57 on Friday was unhurt in the incident. The driver of the second vehicle, 59 year old Kirankumar  Topudurti of Champaign was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Local authorities remained on the scene to gather the hogs and clear the scene.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Community organizations may apply for $4 million in grants to gear up for the 2020 Census and to help immigrants interact with government agencies. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…





(Springfield--jc)  With Democratic state leaders pushing for a progressive tax, one area lawmaker says Illinois can not afford to put another tax on the backs of taxpayers.  Illinois does have 3 plus billion dollars budget deficit and a backlog of billions of dollars of unpaid bills. 106th district State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says another huge tax increase on a large group of middle class and upper class Illinoisans is not the answer…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


CHICAGO (AP) — The federal court system in Illinois where Abraham Lincoln argued cases before becoming president and where Al Capone saw his Prohibition Era crime spree come to an end is marking the 200th year since its founding. Events marking the bicentennial begin Friday morning at Chicago's federal courthouse. They include the cutting of a ceremonial cheesecake and unveiling of a new painting of the building by a district judge.


CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago foundation is launching the second $100 million grant competition open to organizations that can identify a critical social problem and propose a lasting solution. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's 100 & Change competition will take proposals from April 30 to August 6. Ideas can come from any organization, anywhere in the world.



CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — The Southern Illinois University Salukis have a new, more modern-looking logo.The Southern Illinoisan reports that the new logo is a sideways shot of a Saluki dog's head, with flowing fur and sharp teeth. SIU Athletic Director Jerry Kill unveiled the new logo during a short ceremony at the SIU arena. He says the logo is the perfect face for his rebuilding athletic department. The logo will be phased into uniforms for the university's 17 sports. It also will appear at the center court of SIU Arena and in the middle of the new turf at Saluki Stadium.


(Washington--jc)  The latest look at the numbers of dairy herds is in a downward trend. U-S-D-A livestock analyst Shayle Shagam says the numbers shows fewer active herds…



U-S-D-A Livestock Analyst Shale Shagum



(Ford County--jc)  The Spring Consolidated election takes place  on April 2 in Illinois. Early voting started on Friday. Voters may go to the county courthouse in Paxton to vote now through the first of April. Voters can stop by the county clerk’s office between 8-30am and 4-30pm Monday through Friday to vote. Voters in other counties are asked to contact their local county clerk office for times and places to vote.


(Springfield--ab) The Illinois government is moving at a rapid pace with having complete democratic majorities in both houses and having a democrat at the helm in the executive role. Republican Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says the pace takes some adjusting to...



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian



JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Autopsies have determined that a Joliet man shot and killed his girlfriend and their two children before he fatally shot himself as police initially believed. Joliet Police have said last week, that the deaths appeared to be murder-suicide and after the autopsies showed each victim died of a single gunshot. The  autopsies conducted by the Will County Coroner's office confirmed detectives' suspicions.Police found the bodies of 34-year-old Brandyn Lee, 28-year-old Jaquelon Gaskin, 6-year-old Gianna Lee and 1-year-old Giovanni Lee on Wednesday night in their home. The investigation determined there had been no calls to police about "domestic issues" at the residence but police said evidence at the scene and witness statements led detectives to the conclusion that Lee killed the others before killing himself.


(Flatville-jc)  A Champaign County Zoning Appeals board is set to meet later this week to consider a zoning development request from a Champaign County family to pursue an event center near Flatville. The Miller family wants the county to change the zoning designation. The Champaign County zoning board meets on thursday  night at 6-30 in Urbana, to consider the request.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois drivers would only need one license plate under terms of a bill moving forward in Springfield. House Bill 1623 would allow motorized vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, trailers, semi-trailers, motorized pedal cycles or truck tractors to only install one license plate, allowing for a reduced cost to the state. It’s about saving money, says  State Representative . Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee. Skillicorn says the measure would save the state 800 thousand a year.


(Urbana--jc)  -- The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation in Urbana is in the process of developing energy using a sustainable crop byproduct.  The project, which was funded by the Department of Energy through a 115 million dollar grant, has been progressing steadily, said director Evan DeLucia. He says the first year was a capacity-building year. The center has built out their farms and gotten new crops in the ground. Satellite farms are located in  both Florida and Iowa for some same crops and some related crops.



Seizure of Cocaine leads to 2 Arrests in McLean County this Week by ISP

MCLEAN COUNTY, IL:   For the second time in a week, a substantial cocaine

seizure has been made by Troopers assigned to Illinois State Police  District 6. The traffic stop of a passenger vehicle on Interstate 74 at Milepost 122 yielded over 12 pounds of cocaine and the arrest of one suspect. On Wednesday, an ISP Trooper stopped a passenger car on Interstate 74 near Carlock, Illinois after observing a traffic violation.  During the stop, signs of possible criminal activity were observed by the Trooper. Upon investigation , troopers seized five kilograms of suspected cocaine concealed in a bag. 60 year old Carlos Borge of West Valley Utah was arrested for controlled substance trafficking, A McLean County judge set his bail on Thursday at 200 thousand dollars,


(Gibson City--jc)  -- Continued reaction from area Republican lawmakers concerning a resolution  stating opposition to any measure that would allow for the creation of a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. 106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City had this to say.



106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

All 44 members of the Illinois House Republican Caucus are co-sponsors of House Resolution 153.



Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Police (ISP) Merit Board is currently processing applications for Cadet Class 130, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in October 2019.  In order to be considered for Cadet Class 130, the ISP Merit Board must receive your completed application and required documentation by April 30, 2019. Anyone interested in joining the ranks of the ISP is encouraged to visit the ISP Merit Board website at for application information.  



(Crescent City--ab)  The Iroquois County Emergency Management Agency will be hosting an annual Weather Spotter Seminar at the Crescent City Community Center at 6 PM on 11th March. The main presentation will be from the National Weather Service on how to spot severe weather, such as tornadoes. This seminar is open to the public. Admission is free. Pre-registration is encouraged, which can be done by contacting Iroquois County EMA at (815) 432-6997 or by email at e-m-a-at c-o-dot-Iroquois-dot i- l-dot-u-s


JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say a 6-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy are among four dead in what Joliet police are calling an apparent murder-suicide. The Will County coroner's office said Thursday afternoon that Gianna Lee and Giovanni Lee were found dead shortly after 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. An investigation is ongoing, but police say no one is being sought in connection with the deaths.


(Paxton--jc)  -- You can run and help a local high school group at the same time.   A Delta Dash 5-K is set for 9am on Saturday March 16th at Paxton Buckley Loda High School in Paxton. The local high school community service group trip over their spring break goes to the Mississippi Delta. Proceeds from the race help offset the groups costs. Project co-ordinator is P-B-L Teacher Emily Wood. Wood says the trip is a great service project for the participating students…



P-B-L Teacher  and Delta Dash 5-K Coordinator Emily Wood



(Washington--ba)-The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. in its cases against China's domestic price supports for wheat, corn, and rice - policies our nation says has kept grain exports out of China. USDA’s Rod Bain reports.




(Rantoul--jc)   One area F -F-A Chapter is set to receive a Monsanto company grant. With the help of Maury Busboom, the Rantoul Township High School F-F-A chapter has netted a 2 thousand 500 dollar grant. The local F-F-A group is expected to use the money for a gardening lab to produce fresh vegetables.  Monsanto has given away grants to programs across the country for the past 10 years.



(Paxton--jc)  The annual Paxton Draggin’ Main event has been set. The Ford County Press reports that Draggin’ Main 20-19 will take place on Saturday April 20th from 6pm until 11pm. Organizers with the event again, invite car enthusiasts and the public to this year’s downtown Paxton celebration.


(Springfield--jc)  -- New clean energy legislation is being introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. The clean energy jobs act includes ambitious goals like achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 20-50. State Representative Chris Welch sponsored the bill…



State Representative Chris Welch of Westchester.

Welch says the bill also strives to make sure all 102 Illinois Counties benefit equally from clean energy progress and jobs.


CHICAGO (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Illinois says it will still provide abortion referrals despite the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding under a rule enacted by the Trump administration. The Chicago Tribune reports that the rule issued last week bars taxpayer-funded family-planning clinics from making abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood of Illinois says it will no longer take federal money from the Title X family-planning program if the rule goes into effect in two months.


(Chicago--jc)  -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning about a possible measles exposure in northern Illinois An Illinois resident with the measles arrived at Midway airport in Chicago on February 22nd People who were there between 9pm and midnight may have been exposed. Treatment was obtained by the person at Northwestern Delnor Hospital on February 24th. Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi (‘En-gozi) Ezike (‘eh-zee-kay) says anyone in those areas should be watchful for measles…



Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike.


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The nation's farmers are struggling to pay back loans after years of low crop prices and a backlash from foreign buyers over President Donald Trump's tariffs, with a key government program showing the highest default rate in at least nine years. Many agricultural loans come due around January First, in part to give producers enough time to sell crops and livestock and to give them more flexibility in timing interest payments for tax filing purposes.

Kansas State University Department Head of Ag Economics Allen Featherstone says it is beginning to become a serious situation nationwide at least in the grain crops — those that produce corn, soybeans and, wheat.Featherstone says that while the federal government shutdown delayed reporting, January figures show an overall rise in delinquencies for those producers with direct loans from the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. Nationwide, 19.4 percent of FSA direct loans were delinquent in January, compared to 16.5 percent for the same month a year ago.


(Springfield--jc)  With newly elected Governor J-B Prizker presenting his initial budget address this month, area politicians are providing more insight from their perspective. Most Republican representatives have questioned the idea of a progressive tax. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says one positive is more money for higher education…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Desert Storm Vets were honored at the state capitol on Thursday. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs hosted the ceremony, recognizing the brave men and women who fought during the Gulf war says V-A Spokesperson Gwen Diehl…



V-A-Spokesperson Gwein Diehl



(Undated--jc)  --Illinois high schools students could soon be learning more about fake news.A plan to add media literacy courses in high schools across Illinois is moving forward at the State Capitol. State Representative. Elizabeth Hernandez, Democrat from Cicero, is driving the idea.  She said young people need to learn how to read the news they see on the internet or on social media.Hernandez tried with a similar plan last year. She's changing this year's version from a requirement to a suggestion, and hoping to find enough support. Hernandez says she is trying to emphasize fake news and use the measure to help high school students to recognize the difference between facts and false information. The issue is now in the hands of the full Illinois House after a House panel  unanimously approved her idea this week.



(Iroquois County--jc)  -- Iroquois County E-M-A officials remind local businesses to be prepared. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…




Illinois House Republicans Have Signed a Resolution to Oppose any Graduated Income Tax

(Undated--jc)  Illinois democrats have a spending bill for governor JB Pritzker.. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…


(Chicago--ab)  A group of house lawmakers is introducing a package of bills to address the high cost of prescription medication. One bill calls for more transparency when manufacturers raise the price of medicine, while another assesses fines for price gouging says Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago...



State Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago.

Other measures create a wholesale importation program to help access cheaper drugs from Canada and sets up a system where doctors can get unbiased information about different medications so that they aren’t only relying on salespeople.


(Bloomington--ab)  -- State Representative Dan Brady Republican from Bloomington has signed on to co-sponsor House Resolution 153, legislation stating opposition to any measure that would allow for the creation of a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. Brady says   All 44 members of the Illinois House Republican Caucus are co-sponsors of the measure....



105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.


ASHKUM – Illinois State Police District 21 Commander, Captain Don Aaron Harsy, announces that Illinois State Police will conduct Nighttime Enforcement  patrols in Kankakee County on March 8th and 14th. NITE patrols allow state police to o focus on preventing, detecting, and taking enforcement action in response to impaired driving and occupant restraint violations especially between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Officers will be looking for drivers under the influence, seat belt violations speeding and distracted driving.


(Springfield--ab)  After a joint investigation conducted by the Illinois State Police- Division of Internal Investigation and Illinois Department of Corrections Task Force at the Pontiac prison, criminal charges were filed against three employees. Correctional Officer Giovanni Rodriguez, Sergeant Jason Cremer and Lieutenant James Fike, were each charged with one count of Official Misconduct and one count of Battery. On or about February 3 of this year, Rodriguez, Cremer and Fike are alleged, while acting in their official capacity, to have knowingly performed an act, which is forbidden by law and without legal justification, which caused bodily harm to an incarcerated individual. The arrests of Rodriguez, Cremer and Fike were conducted over a two-day period,this week.



(Undated--jc)  Hospital nurses in Illinois are pushing for statewide staffing standards.Nurses say they are often given too many hospital patients to provide appropriate care and want set nurse-to-patient ratios. Helen Bernard has been a nurse for more than 42 years…



Illinois Nurse Helen Bernard.

Bills currently in the House and Senate in Springfield would create a Hospital-Patient Protection Act.



BALTIMORE (AP) — Songwriters and music publishers are suing bars around the country, saying they infringed on musical copyrights. The Baltimore Sun reports the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers sued Baltimore sports bar Carlos O' Charlies this week in federal court. ASCAP represents more than 690,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers and licenses establishments to play the 11.5 million songs in its repertoire. ASCAP also is suing a dozen establishments in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Spokesman Jackson Wagener says they spent up to five years reaching out, and is suing the businesses that refused to obtain licenses.



(Gibson City--jc)  On Ford County preschool is getting ready for the next school year. Little Achievers Academy Preschool is accepting student registration for the 2019-20 school year and will host an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the American Lutheran Church in Gibson City. Those interested can meet teachers, look at classrooms and get other questions answered.


As Walmart moves to phase out its familiar blue-vested "greeters" at some 1,000 stores nationwide, disabled workers who fill many of those jobs say they're being ill-treated by a chain that styles itself as community-minded and inclusive.Walmart told greeters around the country last week that their positions would be eliminated on April 26 in favor of an expanded, more physically demanding "customer host" role. To qualify, they will need to be able to lift 25-pound (11-kilogram) packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods.



(Rantoul--jc)  The date is Sunday June Second. The event is a Cubs versus Cardinals baseball game. The Rantoul Recreation Department is selling tickets to the game. The price tag is 130 dollars per ticket which includes transportation, ticket and box lunch.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 893-5700.


(Fithian--jc)  Are the state’s unbalanced budget, high property taxes, and the prospect of higher taxes in the future, enough reasons for people to leave Illinois? One State lawmaker says there is a trend that is troubling. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says with a proposed progressive tax, the details have not been given by the state’s democratic majority…



104th District  State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.



(Champaign--jc)  -- Will March come in like a lion or a lamb, Or what can we expect with weather starting tomorrow. Illinois State Water Survey Spokesperson Brian Kerschner talks about March temperatures to be lower than normal…



Illinois State Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner



(Washington--jc)  --. Officials from one of U-S-D-A's mission areas heard public comment on how, and how soon, they could implement policies and programs under the 2018 Farm Bill.  Rod Bain has the details…




(Springfield--jc)-- All 44 members of Republicans in the Illinois House signed on to co-sponsor House Resolution 153 on Wednesday. The resolution states opposition to any measure that would allow for a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. Decatur State Representative Dan Caulkins said he was happy to sign the resolution to oppose any graduated income tax..



Decatur State Representative Dan Caulkins


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois woman accused in the death of her 2-year-old daughter has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges. Twanka L. Davis of Decatur is charged with killing Ta'Naja Barnes through starvation and deprivation. The 21-year-old Davis on Wednesday also pleaded not guilty to endangering the life or health of Ta'Naja by depriving the child of food, water, heat and proper care. She is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.


SKOKIE, Ill. (AP) — A Wisconsin man has been indicted for allegedly causing the death of an Illinois state trooper who was helping victims in a multiple-vehicle highway crash. Cook County prosecutors accuse 61-year-old Scott Larsen of Kenosha of causing the January accident on Interstate-294 that claimed the life of 34-year-old Trooper Christopher Lambert. Authorities say Lambert was headed home when he pulled over and got out of his squad car to respond to a three-vehicle crash. A car then struck him.



(Rantoul--jc) The Community Service Center in Rantoul is the venue for a food distribution event on Saturday in Rantoul. The time of the distribution is 9am until 10-30 am. St. Pauls’ Lutheran Church of Gifford is sponsoring the event. Low income residents of Champaign county are eligible to participate. More information is found by calling the Community Service Center.


21st Annual Illinois Products Expo to be Held this Weekend in Springfield.

(Springfield--ab) --The 21st annual Illinois Products Expo will be held this weekend in Springfield.The expo features Illinois companies offering everything from pizza and salsa to lip balm and dog treats says State Department of Agriculture Spokesperson Morgan Booth...



State Ag Department Spokesperson Morgan Booth

The expo will be held in the Orr Building on the state fairgrounds. Admission is five dollars per person and includes free food samples. Wine samples will also be available for a small charge.



(Gibson City --ab)  --Notice is Hereby Given of the Meeting of the Ordinance Committee to be Held on Monday, March 4 at 7 P.M. The meeting will be Held at the City Hall Council Room at 101 E 8th Street, Gibson City. The Purpose of the Meeting will be to Discuss the Planning Commission Solar Wind Energy Ordinance and City Code 38-4-12 “Installation of Water Service Pipe.”


(Washington--ab) It’s up to the presidents, that’s the word from  Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. He was telling reporters in Washington on Monday that the American and Chinese presidents are the ones who will make the final decisions on any US-China trade deal.



USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A spokeswoman for an Illinois congressman who doubles as a Wisconsin National Guard pilot says he was exercising his free-speech rights when he criticized Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for withdrawing troops from the U.S. southern border. Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger criticized Evers on Monday for ordering Wisconsin National Guard troops out of Arizona. Kinzinger's spokeswoman says he was off duty when he made the remarks.


(Gibson City--jc)   The Gibson City Rotary Club is accepting donations of baby care items to be donated to Handles of Hope. The local group is looking for diaper bags, blankets, baby wash, to shampoo and lotion. Other items needed are diapers, wash rags, towels, rash to, bibs, pacifiers and feeding bottles. The collection site is the  Villas of Holly Brook o Melvin Street in the city. Today is the final day to bring in items.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A 30-year Illinois public schools veteran has been named Illinois state schools superintendent. Carmen Ayala (eye-YAH'-lah) was introduced Tuesday after the State Board of Education approved her hiring at its meeting in Springfield. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in the post in its 48-year history. Gov. J.B. Pritzker endorsed the choice. Ayala had been superintendent of the Berwyn North School District.



(Rantoul--jc)  A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Monday in Rantoul for the Rantoul Historical Society Museum. The event is set for 2pm on Monday at 10-40 Klein Avenue in the village.


Springfield – Local State Senator. Jason Barickman of Bloomington has filed legislation designed to reduce the some of the costs associated with hiring employees, with the goal of helping businesses to add more jobs.Barickman says Most know that Illinois has a bad reputation for businesses, which makes it hard to grow jobs. Barickman  says his bill will do the opposite, making it more affordable to hire, which would encourage job growth. Senate Bill 1539 would reform the current workers compensation system by clarifying when employers are liable for injuries, as well as tightening rules to help reduce abuse in the system.Senate Bill 1648 caps certain administrative fees related to unemployment insurance and improves the predictability in how and when the fees are paid.



(Gilman--jc) --   Country Financial and the Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau have an informational crop meeting this morning at 8 at the Farm Bureau building in Gilman. A light breakfast of rolls, juice and coffee will be served. Doug Yoder, a Country Financial crop agency manager, will discuss changes to the federal crop insurance program and markets for 2019. 


(Chicago--ab)  -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by nonprofit legal services provider Al Otro Lado, challenging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s  practice of unlawfully denying individuals access to the asylum process at ports of entry on the southern border. Raoul and the other attorneys general also argue that states will be harmed by the effects of this illegal policy. States invest their own resources to provide education, healthcare, and other services to immigrants residing within their borders, including asylum-seekers once they are in the country. State and local governments will incur the cost of providing services to asylum-seekers who suffer unnecessary trauma as a result of the “Turnback Policy.”

Joining Raoul in signing the amicus briefing were the attorneys general of 17 other states and the District of Columbia.


AURORA, Ill. (AP) — Authorities have released the audio of 911 calls reporting a shooting at an Illinois warehouse that resulted in five deaths. One caller in the Feb. 15 recordings says he's hiding in the Henry Pratt Co. facility in Aurora and pleads for help to be sent quickly. Also released Monday were recordings of police communications. One officer says: "I'm hit. I'm still in the fight." Five warehouse employees were killed and six officers were injured. The gunman also died.



What is the outlook for U.S. wheat during this marketing year? One expert says the answer may surprise you.




SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been appointed to the Council of Governors to advise the federal government on national security, disaster relief and the National Guard. Pritzker's office announced Monday that the Democrat was chosen for the 10-member bipartisan group after a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C. The council was established in 2008. It coordinates state and federal action and advises the federal government on National Guard matters.


(Paxton--jc)  The Paxton Grand Ole Flag project is gaining momentum. The 12 member group lead by local resident Denny Kingren are set to make the next step with the project. A brick walkway to the flag location will be built. Bricks will be sold for 100 dollars and some larger ones for 250 dollars. The group says the site of the flag will be northwest of the PBL Football field on Paxton’s west side near Interstate 57. WPXN news will continue to update this story as it develops.


DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler says it's cutting about 1,400 jobs at a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that makes Jeep Cherokees _ a move the automaker says is unrelated to a major investment in the Detroit area that could add 6,500 workers. The automaker made the announcement about Belvidere on Tuesday afternoon shortly after announcing the $4.5 billion Michigan investment that includes a new Detroit assembly plant. Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says they are "two separate, distinct actions."


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Millikin University will launch a search for a new president after President Patrick White announced plans to retire next year. White said Monday he plans to step down from his post at the Decatur university effective June 30, 2020. He said he was making the announcement to allow the Board of Trustees and the university enough time to conduct a nationwide search and prepare for the transition in leadership.



(Paxton--jc)  -- You can run and help a local high school group at the same time.  

A Delta Dash 5-K is set for 9am on Saturday March 16th at Paxton Buckley Loda High School in Paxton. The local high school community service group trip over their spring break goes to the Mississippi Delta. Proceeds from the race help offset the groups costs. Those registering by Friday will also get a free T-Shirt. More information is found by contacting PBL Teacher Emily Wood.


House Lawmakers are Looking at a Bill that Would Expand Mental Health Education in Schools.

(Springfield--jc)  -- House lawmakers are looking at a bill that would expand mental health education in schools. The bill would require schools to include lessons on mental health and illness and is supported by State Representative Deb Conroy of Villa Park…



State Representative Deb Conroy of VIlla Park

The issue is in the hands of the Illinois House today.


(Milford--jc)  -- One Iroquois County school has a new school superintendent. Michelle Lindenmeyer is set to become to the school superintendent at Milford Schools. Lindenmeyer says the school is a good fit for her…


New Milford School Superintendent Michelle Lindenmeyer

She officially takes over for Doctor Dale Hastings, who is retiring at the end of the school year.



(Springfield--ba)-State Representative Tim Butler,Republican from Springfield, wants Illinois’ electoral votes to reflect the outcome of  congressional district elections. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett reports.




MACOMB, Ill. (AP) — A Western Illinois University history professor has published a book on the power dockworkers have shown over time in the struggle for racial equality and social-justice issues. Peter Cole's book is "Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area." It is published by the University of Illinois Press.



(Washington--ab)  -- The world of farm loans and credit is showing more stress. Gary Crawford has the report...





(Undated--jc)  -- One of the four state lawmakers behind a bill that would split Chicago off from the rest of Illinois says that while the measure was designed to spark conversation, support for a split could gain support if policymakers continue to push Windy City policies on the rest of the state. For decades, the rules in Chicago and Cook County have been different from the rest of the state. Rules that apply to the rest of the state, don't apply to the state's most populous city. And many of the rules in Chicago don't apply to the rest of the state. Lawmakers often do this by using language that only applies to counties with "less than 3,000,000 inhabitants." Cook County is the only county in the state with more than 3 million people.Chicago used to be the place in Illinois where the minimum wage was higher than the rest of the state and where there was a tax on plastic bags. It also has higher taxes on tobacco and gasoline and other things, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the governor's mansion, one state representatives sees such policies spreading across the state.State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said policies implemented in Chicago are being forced on the rest of the state.



(Paxton--jc)  A Ford county man posted the required bond over the weekend as he faces an accusation of threats to a family member at Gibson City Melvin Sibley High school earlier this month. Adit Bhiday of Gibson City appeared in Ford County court on Friday. He posted the required 600 dollars on the 6 Thousand Dollar bond. Bhiday faces a class 4 felony


(Rantoul--jc)  The U.S Air Force is in the middle of a 30 day statement period concerning the dissolvement of the Chanute Air Force Base Restoration Advisory Board. The base closed in 1993 and clean up and restoration efforts began at the former base and its properties in the village. Those wanting to make comments or learn more about the clean up efforts are asking to call the Air Force Public Affairs Office at 866-725-7617.



(Washington--jc)  -- Ag Secretary Perdue announced that USDA is proposing changes in the way school food service workers are hired, especially in rural areas. Stephanie Ho has the story…



(Gibson City--jc)  -- It’s still Winter and still February but one local municipality is thinking summer and its pool. The Gibson City Pool Board is set to talk about an assistant manager position, the 2019 budget and its meeting schedule for the year. The Gibson City Pool Board meets at 7 tonight in city hall.



SPRINGFIELD – Republicans in the Illinois House continue to be opposed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to overhaul the state’s income tax structure, a key element in his plan to close the state’s long-term budget imbalance. The governor wants a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to adopt a graduated income tax. That tax would  levy higher tax rates on income earned above certain thresholds. Illinois now has a flat tax of just under 5 percent. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs says the G-O-P caucus would stand united against such a plan.



(Washington--jc)  U.S. plantings and production of soybeans may take a dip this season.Gary Crawford reports…




(Paxton--jc)  -- Paxton Buckley Loda School Board members are continuing to look at the schedule for the next school year. Due to the on-going elementary Building Project, the local school board is tentatively looking at at Friday September 6th start date for school in the 2019-2020 school year. The school year would end in early June of 20-20 and winter break would be from December 23rd through January 3rd. A resolution in Springfield on the use of digital days is also another factor in setting the new school year calendar. The P-B-L school board is expected to approve the new school calendar at their March meeting.



(Springfield--ba)-The Illinois State Police and the American Legion  announce plans for the 47th Annual American Legion Youth Police Camp.  WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the story.




High Winds over the Weekend Caused Some Damage

(Undated--jc)  -- The high winds over the weekend caused some damage. On Sunday afternoon,  A sign at a Shell gas station in Bradley was knocked to the ground by the winds. Winds also caused a semi rollover on Route 34 in Henry County.  Trees and limbs were blown over throughout the area.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Colleges and universities in Illinois are struggling to combat declining enrollment that was spurred by low unemployment rates, a shrinking population, unstable funding sources and increased out-of-state competition.Data show that the state's community colleges and state universities suffered a decline of nearly 100,000 students from 2008 to 2018 .Chicago State University has seen enrollment drop by 57 percent. Shawnee, Kennedy-King and Rend Lake community colleges all have seen enrollment numbers cut in half.The bulk of the losses were seen at the community college level, which lost 75,000 students. But despite the decline in overall enrollment, more students have been graduating from community colleges in the state. Almost 57,000 students graduated in 2010, compared to about 66,000 in 2017.The University of Illinois System has seen some success over the past decade. The system's Chicago campus has seen a 23 percent growth in enrollment. The Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses are each up nearly 6,000 students.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- Gibson City leaders will look at granting an easement for a property on 9th street when they meet on tonight. Local leaders will also consider the city’s participation in the Fall Harvest Fest event for 2019 and look to establish a Tax Increment Financing District hearing. The board will hear about a project from the Gibson Rotary club  concerning a project at North Park in the city The Gibson City Council meets at 7.


(Springfield--ab)  --The Illinois Department of Transportation says the state needs to extend a capital bill to pay for much needed road and bridge repairs. Testifying at a senate hearing…I-DOT acting secretary Matt Magalis said the state’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating faster than it can be maintained.


I-Dot Acting Secretary Matt Magalis.

Lawmakers and Governor Pritzker are hoping to put together a capital plan to help pay for these needs and other projects. the question will be how to pay for it.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Police department officials say applications are available for new and experienced officers. They describe the village as a diverse and emerging community of around 13 thousand people. More information for those interested in becoming a Rantoul Police officer is found on line or by calling the office.


(Bloomington--jc) — The state's charges against the former assistant manager of finance at the city-owned arena are outside the state's statute of limitations and should be dismissed. The lawyer for Kelly W. Klein made the case for dismissal last week. Klein is among the 5 officials of the former U S Cellular Coliseum accused of mishandling finances at the business over a 10 year period. She is facing money laundering and theft charges.



(Washington--jc)  -- The farm economy is weakening, but still relatively strong, according to USDA analysts.  Gary Crawford reports.



(Mahomet--jc) Mahomet Seymour High School has a new football coach. School officials announced on Friday the hiring of Jon Adkins. The Mahomet Seymour School board is expected to approve the hire at their next meeting. Adkins would replace Keith Pogue, who was head coach of the Bulldogs before stepping down after the 20-18 season.



Champaign, Ill. (AP) — A lawmaker from central Illinois stressed the importance of efforts to legalize recreational marijuana during a community forum, saying the industry could drive economic growth.  Democratic Representative. Carol Ammons of Urbana spoke about legalizing recreational cannabis. Ammons has studied the regulation and taxation of marijuana since 2004. She says revenue from taxing marijuana could be reinvested and used to improve communities.

(Gilman--jc)  -- The decision would be put to the voters in one area school district concerning a new building for its high school. The process to choose a site for a potential new building was approved this month by Iroquois West school board members. A referendum to build a new building on the west side of Gilman, just west of the Interstate 57 exchange would be the area for the building. School leaders will continue to pursue plans and then put that issue before voters in the school district. WPXN news will continue to follow this story as it develops.


(Champaign--jc)  -- An alleged threat at a local movie theatre on Sunday, prompted officials at the theatre to shut down for a short time. The incident occurred at the A-M-C Theatre on Prospect in Champaign. The theatre was evacuated. Channel 3 reported that  police said the threat was not credible. Those attending the theatre were given a refund on their tickets.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An update on the big slide that sits on property at the Illinois State fairgrounds in Springfield.  Officials say an out-of-state buyer has purchased the giant yellow slide that's been a visitor favorite at the Illinois State Fair for more than a half-century. The Minnesota company will continue to operate the slide at the fair. No price tag on the sale was given and the sale is not expected to close until early April. The slide has been at the Illinois State Fair since 1968.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Experts and credit rating agencies have raised concerns about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to give state-owned assets such as real estates to Illinois' pension systems in lieu of paying more or making other changes. To improve funding levels for the state's pension systems, Pritzker is proposing to transfer state assets directly into those retirement funds. Pritzker’s budget proposal said a recently-created task force will “identify what assets from among the billions of dollars in state real estate and infrastructure could be directed to enhance the value of the state’s pension funds.”For some, the strategy is preferred over another tax increase, but it could end up hurting the state’s credit rating, which would make borrowing money more expensive.



(Urbana--jc)  -- A popular report that said 95 percent of the stink bug population died due to extremely cold temperatures in Illinois and surrounding states when the polar vortex gripped much of the Midwest was misleading, according to a local expert. The report, released by the National Pest Management Association, said an estimated 95 percent of stink bugs unable find a place to hide during the polar vortex may have been killed. Nick Seiter, a research assistant professor from the University of Illinois who specializes in field crop entomology, said the death rate of 95 percent is circumstantial.



(Urbana--jc)  As we close out the final days of February, the weather for the month has been around normal temperatures and precipitation. Illinois Water Survey in Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerscher say its, February as usual…


Illinois Water Survey in Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner.


(Kempton--jc)  -- Tri Point School board members are expected to approve a fuel contract extension and look at next year’s school calendar when they meet tonight in monthly session. Also at tonight’s board meeting, school leaders will discuss the upgrade of the food to farm kitchen. The Tri Point school board meets at 7 tonight in Kempton.



(Washington--jc)  -- The 20-19 crops will be planted soon this Spring. One economist with the United States Department of Agriculture takes a look at the 20-19 crop..  U-S-D-A Chief Economist Rob Johansson has the numbers…


U-S-D-A Chief Economist Rob Johansson



Illinois Governor  J.B. Pritzker is Formally Asking Lawmakers to Shut Down Illinois' Private School Scholarship Program

(Springfield--ba)-Illinois Governor  J.B. Pritzker is formally asking lawmakers to shut down Illinois’ private school scholarship program and pour more into public schools. WPXN’s Braedon’s Arnett has the story.    



(Paxon--ab) The School building project continues in the Paxton Buckley Loda school district. The process is going as planned says P-B-L School  Superintendent Cliff McClure ...



P-B-L School Superintendent Ciff McClure



(Springfield-jc) New Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker has proposed a nearly $39 billion fiscal 2020 budget that he said will serve as a bridge to “a stable fiscal future” for the financially shaky state. His hope is then to change the income tax system in the state.   House Republicans expressed surprise that the proposal relies so heavily on policies that have not achieved a fiscal responsible goal…

104th District State Representative Mike Maron of Fithian says he has concerns…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington gave the governor a positive on the speech but wonders where the money will come from for proposed budget…



105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


(Gibson City--jc) Gibson City Melvin Sibley school board members are expected to approve field trips for a Spanish 4 class and the music department when they meet on Monday night. The FFA has received a donation from Alliance Grain in the amount of 609 dollars. The board will vote on extending the bus contract with Illinois Central School  Bus company. That contract would be for two years. The Gibson City Melvin Sibley School board meets on Monday night at 6-15.



(Rantoul--jc)  Rantoul police are seeking the public’s help with a report of guns fired and vehicle property damage. Officials say shots were fired in the 14 Hundred Block of Harper Drive in the village. The incident occurred on Saturday February 16th. Anyone with information is asked to call Champaign County Crimestoppers or Rantoul police.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A Republican in the Illinois General Assembly says all elected officials in the state should be required to wear body cameras while conducting government business. Rep. John Cabello of Machesney Park tells the Register Star in Rockford the intent of the bill he introduced is to reduce corruption at the state and local levels. He points to the corruption of public officials in Chicago and state lawmakers getting into trouble "with bribes and so on and so forth."


(Springfield--jc)  -- The sponsor of a bill to start a pilot program to tax drivers by the mile scrapped the idea this week after public backlash on social media. One idea for new revenue floated by State Representative Marcus Evans, Democrat from -Chicago, was a pilot program for a 2.1-cent tax per mile driven in place of the existing motor fuel tax. Evans said he heard from drivers statewide through social media and scrapped the bill.




With FFA week being this week, we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters.  Allison Wessels from Cissna Park High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Will Shook



 We were also able to talk with Taylor Talbert from Iroquois West High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with Armstrong  FFA member Gabby Hudson



We were also able to talk with Lexie Wilken from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with PBL FFA member Mikayla Jones



We were also able to talk with Taylor Duringer from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with St. Joe Ogden FFA member Abby Schluter





(Hoopeston--jc) It was a standing room only crowd at the Hoopeston Area school board meeting last night. The issue is one teacher at the Vermilion county school did not stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Concerned parents, a community members spoke at the board meeting to air their opinion on the issue.  The Hoopeston Area school district issued a one paragraph statement that talked about the rights of employees and students when it comes to speech freedoms. School leaders say nothing further would be released to the public on the issue. Some at the meeting talked about the right to opinions while others contend they want more on the topic at the next school board meeting.  



(Champaign--jc) Another shooting in Champaign last night. Police were called to the Town Center apartments on North Neil Street. Police are continuing their investigation after being on the scene for several hours.


(Springfield--ab) The Illinois Department of Human Services says more than 10 thousand people have called the state’s opioid hotline…seeking help for addiction. The helpline was created to help battle the opioid epidemic and has resources for those struggling says D-H-S spokesperson Dani Kirby.



D-H-S Spokesperson Dani Kirby

D-H-S is also expanding the warm hand-off program which connects recovery specialists directly with patients while they are in the hospital after an overdose. The helpline number is: 1-833-2-find help or visit helpline il dot org.


(Springfield--ab)  --New legislation makes sure students are given comprehensive lessons on what constitutes “consent.”the bill is co-sponsored by State Representative Karin Villa of west Chicago, who says sex education curriculum should include a discussion on exactly what consent means.



State Representative Karin Villa of West Chicago

The bill applies to students in sixth through 12th grades.


(Washington--ab) The  U-S-D-A is seeking farmer input for the Agricultural Resource Management -- or ARM -- survey. Stephanie Ho reports




(Springfield--jc)  -- There’s no catchy name for the next statewide construction bill, like the previous iteration Illinois Jobs Now from ten years ago. Governor. J.B. Pritzker wants one. Democratic majorities say there’s up to $15 billion needed just for highways alone over the next decade and they’re looking for ways to pay for it. State Senator Andy Manar, Democrat from Bunker Hill, and  State Senator Martin Sandoval, Democrat from Chicago, plan a statewide tour to learn more about local infrastructure needs. They’ll be in Chicago, the suburbs, several stops in central Illinois and a stop in the Metro East in the coming weeks.


(Onarga--jc) -- Water bills to help pay a loan are going up in one area town. Onarga village leaders gave the go-ahead to raise from 10 to 14 dollars per month inside the local water bills to pay off an E-P-A loan. Letters on the issue are being sent to residents and a timeline for the raise will be decided later this Spring.



(Gibson City--jc)   The Gibson City Rotary Club is accepting donations of baby care items to be donated to Handles of Hope. The local group is looking for diaper bags, blankets, baby wash, to shampoo and lotion. Other items needed are diapers, wash rags, towels, rash to, bibs, pacifiers and feeding bottles. The collection site is the  Villas of Holly Brook o Melvin Street in the city. Items will be taken through Wednesday February 27th.


(Illinois--ba)-Illinois' six Catholic bishops are warning against proposed changes to the state's abortion laws. Braedon Armett reports.



(Washington--ab)  -Old Man Winter is not expected to loosen his hold on most of the country, at least for several weeks. Gary Crawford reports.




Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Gave his Budget Address and it Doesn't Look Good for Downstate Illinois

(Springfield--jc)  --Illinois Governor JB Pritzker boasted his budget includes “humble, honesty and some bold optimism.The governor says the state faces a more than 3 Billion dollar deficit along with 15 Billion Dollars in unpaid bills. Governor Pritzker says he has some ideas to turn that around…



The governor, in his state of the state address on Wednesday, says some of the solutions include legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and sports betting. The governor also wants to move from a flat tax to a graduated income tax system…



Reaction from state lawmakers to the budget address from Governor Pritzker. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says the governor  is using a playbook of the past.



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.


106th district State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the positive is the promise of the governor to work together, but wonders how the state can pay for all the programs…



106 District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Parkland College Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a 3.48 percent tuition increase beginning the summer 2019 term. Additionally, trustees agreed to increase Parkland's technology fee from $12 to $14 per credit hour, and approved course fee adjustments for several individual programs.The $5 tuition rate increase applies to Parkland's Tier One academic programs, which comprise the majority of its degree and certificate offerings. Under the new Tier One increase, District 505 residents will pay a total of $171 per credit hour in tuition and fees. Tuition rates remained unchanged for the college's high-cost Tier Two programs such as Aviation, Ford ASSET, Case New Holland Technician, and select Health Professions programs.



(Washington DC--ab)  An expert says when you are working with a paid tax preparer, there are things you should do to protect yourself. Gary Crawford has more.




(Fisher--jc)  This is National F F A week. The current Illinois F F A President is from Fisher. F-F-A President Sophia Hortin talks about the passion for agriculture and her start as a greenhand at Fisher High school…



Illinois F F A President Sophia Hortin of Fisher


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Area high schools will compete in the 2019 Parkland-ICTM Regional High School Math Contest, to be held on Saturday  at Parkland College. The contest begins at 9:15 a.m., with an awards ceremony at 2 p.m. Approximately 450 students, representing 18 area high schools, are expected to attend. Winners will advance to the state finals, scheduled for May 4 at the University of Illinois. This will be the 44th year that Parkland has hosted the regional contest.


(Crescent City--ab) World day of Prayer is March first this year, and there is an event in Crescent City, Austin Burklund has the details.




(Springfield--ab) The Senate’s task force on sexual harassment and discrimination is highlighting past accomplishments and future goals. The task force made several recommendations last year as the me-too movement gained steam…and helped pass several new laws. That includes ethics reforms and addressing the backlog of sexual harassment claims in the legislature. But Co-chair, Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake, says more must be done.



Bush says that includes a bill requiring all hotels and casinos to adopt anti-harassment policies and have some sort of panic button for employees.



With FFA week being this week, we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Garrett Wright from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Bethany Mussick



  We were also able to talk with PBL High School FFA member Mikayla Jones 



We were also able to talk with Rantoul Township High School FFA member Rachel Klimas



We were also able to talk with Iroquois West High School FFA member Klayton Koloski 



We were also able to talk with Cissna Park FFA member Abby Kaeb



 We were also able to talk with St. Joe Ogden FFA member Mallory Ames 



We were also able to talk with Armstrong FFA member Jared Myler




(Gifford--jc) --  Gifford School Board members are looking at budget items for the next fiscal year. Jay Smith has started working on the new budget.  Also at last night’s board meeting, the Gifford school board hired Matt Clements as Girls Basketball Coach and Melissa Adkins as Girls Softball Coach. Tracy Gernentz was also hired as an assistant Track Coach. The board also approved a 60 month copier agreement with Watts Copy Systems.



(Springfield--ab) Grammy award winning duo Dan and Shay are coming to the Illinois State Fair. Dan and Shay will play on the grandstand stage on Sunday, August 11th says fair spokesperson Morgan Booth. Ticket prices will range from 25 to 55 dollars.



Last week the state fair announced Pentatonix would play on Wednesday August 14th. Booth says they will hopefully reveal more new acts each Thursday.


(Iroquois County--jc)  An Iroquois County man was sentenced to 44 years in prison in the murder of Milford restaurant owned Jesse Clintora. The Ford County Press reports that Randy White  was sentenced during a pre trial hearing on Tuesday. With the guilty plea, charges of first degree murder and burglary were dismissed.


(Kankakee--jc)  -- Kankakee County authorities are seeking information about a Kankakee man wanted on an order of protection with a prior domestic battery. Police say they are searching for 31 year old Robert Boyd. He is described as 6 foot tall, weighing 160 pounds. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Kankakee County Sheriff’s office.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- The sign up for summer softball and baseball is coming soon to one local recreation department. Rantoul Rec Department officials say sign up takes place on March first. Information about softball and baseball in Rantoul will be released over the next several days More information is found by contacting the recreation department



A group focused on creating jobs in Illinois is worried about the speed that Governor J.B. Pritzker is moving toward new taxes, more spending, and new costs for downstate businesses.  not just the minimum wage, although that is a big part of the concern. The group Ideas Illinois said it’s worried about the speed at which Pritzker is pushing to change the state’s business climate and spend more state money. The group’s Greg Baise said there is a real worry that Democratic lawmakers are lining up to pass two more tax increases over the next two years. And not cut spending. Baise says the thought from Democrats is a temporary tax will get them through this “rough patch” and then  the progressive tax will fix their problem. Baise believes the Chicago area will do well under the plan, but downstate Illinois may suffer.


(Washington--ab) Spring crop growers can now select the Multi-County Enterprise Unit as part of their crop insurance coverage for acreage in two counties within the same state. Rod Bain reports




It's National FFA Week. Students From Area FFA Chapters Talk About Their Activities

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Census Bureau says it's replacing its old technique for shielding data with a method that's state of the art in protecting basic personal information. The chief scientist for the Census Bureau, John Abowd, says an internal team at the agency found that 2010 information about age, gender, location, race and ethnicity was potentially vulnerable, though he says no hacking is known to have occurred. Abowd says the privacy shield for the 2020 headcount will counter the growing skills of hackers.


(Springfield--jc)  A new bill would prohibit state lawmakers from serving as the leader of a state political party while in office, but it wouldn't affect House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has come under fire by Republicans and some Democrats for the power he has as the longest-serving state legislative leader and his control over campaign finances as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.The state's other legislative leaders have term limits. There are leadership term limits in the Senate rules. House Republicans also have leader limits, but not in the entire House. Asked why there are no limits in his caucus, Madigan declined to answer.Madigan has been House speaker for all but two years since 1983. Lawmakers have filed legislation for several years to set term limits for legislative leaders. There have also been constitutional amendments proposed to limit terms for legislative leaders.


CHICAGO (AP) — Public housing authorities across Illinois are receiving a combined $2.7 million in federal grants to help residents find jobs and become more financially independent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the grants are part of $74 million being distributed across the country. HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency program helps local housing authorities hire service coordinators who work with public housing residents and people who use rental subsidies.



(Rantoul--jc)  - Personnel will be the topic of a special board meeting for the Rantoul Township High School Board later this week. The board will meet on Wednesday at 6pm. Board members are expected to go into executive session as the meeting comes to order.



(Springfield--jc)  WIth the Illinois House passing a new minimum wage measure and with the likelihood that new Governor JB Pritzker will sign the measure into law, more reaction from local legislators. 106th District Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has concerns…



106th District Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian also expressed concerns…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law. Governor Pritzker delivers his budget address on Wednesday.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- An accident in the southbound lanes of Interstate 57 closed traffic for about an hour, early Friday evening. Police say a semi and a second vehicle collided in the southbound lanes near Ludlow on I-57 around 6pm. Occupants received minor injuries, but the accident caused issues with nearby power lines. Officials shut down the Interstate for about an hour and re-rerouted traffic through Rantoul and Paxton to re-set the lines. Traffic was back to normal around 7 on Friday night.



Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. WPXN was able to talk with 30 students from area FFA Chapters. Brenna Ferguson from Cissna Park High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on this week.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Will Shook



Adam Crites from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter



PBL FFA member Jade Miles



Taylor Talbert from Iroquois West High School’s FFA Chapter 



 Armstrong  FFA member Nick Cannon



Shelbie Butler from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter 



 St. Joe Ogden FFA member Mallory Ames




(Shelby County--jc)  Shelby County is the latest area to see fake 20 dollar bills. The bills are printed as “promotional only.” Shelby County officials  say anyone receiving one the fake bills are asked to call the office at 217-774-3491



(Champaign County--jc)-Rantoul residents interested in getting an inside look at how local law enforcement works are invited to participate in the Champaign County Citizen Police Academy. The academy, which meets Thursday nights from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. for 10 weeks beginning April 4, will cover crime prevention, community based policing, drugs, gangs, DUI enforcement, citizen-police contacts, use of force, firearms orientation, crime scene investigation and more. More information is found by calling the Rantoul Police department at  893-5605.


URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request to exclude evidence about a cadaver-sniffing dog from the trial of a former University of Illinois physics student accused of killing a Chinese scholar in 2017. U.S. District Judge James Shadid ruled Friday that prosecutors can present evidence from McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Bruketta's dog Sage. The judge found both Sage and Bruketta to be reliable.The FBI says the canine "possibly indicated an alert" in the bathroom of Brendt Christensen's off-campus apartment in Urbana. Prosecutors are trying to prove Christensen kidnapped and killed 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. The scholar from China is presumed dead, but her body hasn't been found. Christensen faces the death penalty if convicted at his trial, which is scheduled to begin in April.


(Urbana--jc)  --Champaign Urbana Public Health District officials have reported 2 additional cases of measles. One case was of a child that attended Urbana Early Childhood school, the fourth case is pending. All four measle case infectious periods are over. Local Health officials remain concerned over the disease. Efforts remain to get the public vaccinated for the disease. Those not sure of their own vaccine records or that of their family should contact their healthcare provider.



(Rantoul--ab) Reaction is rolling in from local governments on how the minimum wage bill effects local municipalities. Rantoul village administrator Scott Eisenhauer says it even impacts how the village will hire workers for the Rantoul pool.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer



(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School district and the Paxton Park District will extend their intergovernmental agreement on the use of PBL facilities. The only change is what gyms will be used for Park District indoor sports says PBL superintendent Cliff McClure.



PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure


(Sringfield-jc)  -- Illinois finished 42nd in a new study by the Tax Foundation ranking of which states have the most business-friendly unemployment insurance tax structures.The state’s ranking remained unchanged from its 2018 ranking, according to the foundation’s analysis, which is part of a wider study titled “2019 State Business Tax Climate Index.”All states and the District of Columbia have unemployment insurance tax systems, which are federal-state programs that fund benefits to newly laid-off workers. Levies on employers fund the systems.In the foundation’s analysis, those state tax systems that have low minimum and maximum rates, stick closely to the federal taxable pay levels, and don’t impose more surtaxes or additional benefits were rated the highest..



(Chicago--jc)  -- Illinois’ political leaders want the 25,000 jobs that Amazon was going to bring to a second headquarters in New York, but some progressives don't want the company here.In a letter from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, they asked Amazon to reconsider the Second City for a second headquarters.The company announced Thursday that it would not expand in New York City, instead opting to distribute the jobs between its existing tech hubs. A number of groups that were fighting HQ2 in NYC thought the company shouldn’t get tax breaks to make money in their city.



(Gibson City--jc) --  The Gibson Area Hospital Auxiliary is hosting a blood drive today in Gibson City. The event goes from noon to 5:30 p.m, at the First Presbyterian Church. Persons donating blood are asked to bring their blood donor card or photo identification. Donors at the blood drive will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two $10 gift certificates to the Gibson Area Hospital Gift Shop or one of two $25 Gibson Bucks gift certificates sponsored by the GAH Auxiliary. Donating blood takes about one hour.



Illinois House Votes for $15 Minimum Wage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A $15-an-hour minimum wage is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker after the House approved the six-year plan. Thursday's 69-41 vote in the House almost guarantees it will become law. State Representative Charlie Meier of Okawville fears this  will mean the loss of jobs in downtown state Illinois…



State Representative Charlie Meier of Okawville

Chicago area State Representative Celine Villuanueva says the measure will give some Illinoisans a livable wage…



State Representative Celine Villuaneva of Chicago

The governor  has pledged to sign it before Wednesday. That's when he unveils his first annual budget plan. The measure would increase the state's $8.25 minimum wage to $15 in 2025.


(Paxton--jc)  -- An investigation into the death of an Elliott man who was found deceased on May 8th of last year in a home fire, is now considered a homicide investigation.  Elliott resident Jeremy Turner was found deceased, by the local fire department at his home. A fire had destroyed the home. A Ford County coroners jury ruled the death was consistent with a homicide. The incident remains an open investigation for the Ford County Sheriff’s office and the Ford County Coroner’s office. WPXN news will continue to update this story as more official news becomes available.


CHICAGO (AP) — Odds still favor the eventual construction of Barack Obama's $500 million presidential museum and library in a park along Chicago's lakeshore. But it's no longer a sure thing in the face of a formidable legal challenge by a parks-advocacy group. A judge hears arguments Thursday on a city motion to toss the group's lawsuit that argues the project violates laws barring development in lakeside parks. A ruling for Protect Our Parks could signal the Obama Presidential Center is in real trouble.


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Millikin University's new $5 million baseball stadium in central Illinois won't be complete in time for the 2019 season due to weather delays.The Decatur university planned to open the stadium in time for this spring's season. But Millikin President Patrick White says a rainy November and the recent cold weather slowed stadium construction. It's now scheduled to be completed in August.


(Urbana--jc)  A Champaign County man is facing child pornograhpy charges. The News Gazette reports that   a former Monticello schools employee appeared in court on Thursday. The judge in the case ordered 39 year old William Bell of St Joseph,  to remain locked up until his early March trial.The case will be heard by U-S District Judge Sue Myerscough. The March 5th trial will take place in Springfield The charges say Bell used a home computer to device or send  visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct..


(Springfield--ba)-The Illinois department of human services says more than 10 thousand people have called the state’s opioid hotline…seeking help for addiction. The helpline launched in December of 2017…aiming to connect people struggling with opioids and other drugs to treatment options. D-H-S’ Dani Kirby says it’s been a useful resource for thousands of people.



D-H-S’ Dani Kirby



(Buckley--jc)  The 20-19 St John’s School of Buckley Carnival, Chicken Dinner and Auction is set for Sunday from 3-30 until 7pm. This is the main fundraiser for the school and spokesperson Kari Stachura says the dollars raised helps Christian education at St Johns-Buckley…



St John’s School of Buckley event spokesperson Kari Stachura.


(Urbana--jc)- A teen from Rantoul was sentenced to 7 years in juvenile prison for his role in a break in at the Rantoul  Rural King in November of last year. Judge Heidi Ladd sentenced the 14 year old on Thursday in Champaign County court. A second teen and  24 year old Henry Boykins of Rantoul also received a similar prison sentence.



CHAMPAIGN Ill. — Parkland College Industrial Technology's welding lab has been recognized as an Accredited Test Facility by the American Welding Society, one of only four community colleges in Illinois to hold the designation.   Through a rigorous documentation and site inspection process, the AWS provides ATF accreditation for facilities, personnel, and equipment to test and qualify welders. For more information, visit


CHICAGO (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a 36-year-old man who was linked to the theft of 27 handguns and six assault rifles from a train at a Norfolk Southern rail yard in Chicago. The U.S. attorney's office says in a Thursday statement that Cameron Battiste was found guilty on Wednesday of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He wasn't charged with the gun thefts, though prosecutors said there's evidence he was involved.



(Buckley---jc)  -- It’s the annual fundraiser for one service group today in Buckley. The Buckley Sportsmen’s Club has its annual fish fry later today at the Buckley

American Legion. Fish, cole slaw, & french fries.  Carryouts and all-you-can-eat dine in starts at 5 this afternoon. Money raised goes to community projects for the local club.



WASHINGTON — Local 15th district Congressman John Shimkus  voted Thursday in support of the final Fiscal Year 2019 spending agreement. Shimkus says  Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would give President Trump just $1 for the border wall. The deal provides 1 point 4 Billion dollars for the wall. Shimkus called the issue a huge win for border patrol agents. The measure is now in the hands of the president.



House lawmakers are discussing a shared parenting bill for cases of divorce. The legislation requires courts to presume that both mom and dad should have equal time with their children when they get divorced. If a judge deviates from a 50-50 split, they have to issue a written statement explaining why says Illinois Fathers for Equality president Chad Loudermilk.



The idea is to prevent a parent from being alienated from their child. The judge would consider other factors including where the kid goes to school, distance between parent’s homes and if there are any safety concerns like abuse.



(Chicago--jc)   While the chief sponsor of a resolution urging Congress to make Chicago the country’s 51st state doesn’t expect it to go very far, he does expect it to spur conversation. A Chicago state representative who’s also running to be Chicago mayor is willing to have that talk. State Representative Brad Halbrook, a Republican from Shelbyville, says his House Resolution 101 is getting a lot of attention. Halbrook adds that people from across Illinois are texting, emailing and on social media to comment on the issue



(Undated--jc)  Some more money will be coming to local cities and towns. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…




(Paxton--jc)  Students wanting to learn about the high school experience have the opportunity next week. Pre-registration is set for February 20th at the Paxton Buckley Loda commons area between the high school and Junior high school. 8th grade students and their families are invited to attend. Course information, graduation requirements and college course information will be discussed. More information is found by contacting the school in Paxton at 217-379-4331



Illinois House Committee Approved Plan to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 over Six Years.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois House committee has approved a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 over six years. The Democratic-controlled Labor and Commerce Committee's 19-10 vote on Wednesday along party lines sets up a floor vote as early as Thursday. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on the issue and told lawmakers he wants to sign the law before his Feb. 20 budget address. A vote on the issue is expected today in Springfield


(Williamson County--jc)   Even if lawmakers pass a bill that bans assault weapons in Illinois, a state's attorney in southern Illinois says he won't enforce it.Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti says State Senator Julie Morrison's bill to ban common firearms would turn law-abiding citizens in his county into felons. Zanotti says, currently,   a large number of people in his county that have these weapons. They all would be felons under the proposal. Senate Bill 107, introduced last month, would prohibit a range of rifles, pistols and shotguns and require every such weapon in the state to be registered with the Illinois State Police. Owners would pay a $25 fee for that registration. A person found in possession of one of the prohibited weapons without registration coce a Class 3 felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a $25,000 fine.



(Champaign--jc) --  The numbers are in for the month of January. Just a little colder than normal was the result. It sure did not feel just a little cold for several days last month. Illinois State Water Survey Spokesperson Brian Kerscher has the data…



Illinois Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker isn't sharing his plans for balancing the state's budget ahead of an address next week, but lawmakers and his administration have given some clues about what taxpayers can expect. The new administration noted in a report last week that the upcoming budget is expected to be $3.2 billion out of balance. Pritzker is going to have to balance that with big asks from state employees wanting raises, billions in increased spending requested by K-12 schools and more than $300 million additional money public universities are requesting.A separate report from Pritzker’s Budget and Innovation Transition Committee mentioned service taxes and other possibilities for raising revenue.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 33-year-old woman is in critical condition after she and her 10-year-old daughter were abducted in Missouri and driven to Illinois before they managed to escape. Police in Illinois said in a news release that 39-year-old Leslie Austin kidnapped the woman and their child Tuesday night in Jefferson City, Missouri. The woman was shot multiple times during the abduction. Law enforcement pursued Austin into Illinois, when the woman and girl were able to escape.


(Washington--jc)--  The final look at 2018 U.S. corn production contributed to adjustments in U-S-D-A's latest domestic and global supply and demand estimates. Rod Bain has the story…




(Kankakee--jc) Kankakee County authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding a fugitive Kankakee County police are looking for 21 year old Robert Bray. He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing around 135 pounds. He is wanted for possession of a controlled substance among other charges. Anyone with information is asked to call Kankakee County Crimestoppers at 815-93-CRIME.


(Piper City--ab)  -- Assistance is available next week in the Piper City area for those needing help with the completion of their Property Tax Exemption and Freeze forms. The Ford County Public Health Department workers will be at the Piper City Library from 2 until 3pm on February 19th. Those attending are asked to bring those forms and 2018 income information for assistance with the Property Exemption and Freeze application. If a resident is 65 years of age or older or are over 16 years of age and disabled, they may be eligible for the Benefit Access Program. If a citizens annual income is less than $27, 610 for a one-person household or $36,635 for a two person household.


The Bellflower Country Opry Show will have Rick Flessner as their Special Guest on Saturday February 16th. Doors open at 6pm with the show starting at 7pm. The Bellflower Lions Club will be serving an all you can eat Pancakes and Sausage dinner from 4:30-7pm.


(Iroquois County--jc) Two area hospitals have called off their merger. A statement from Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka and Riverside Hospital in Kankakee on Wednesday stated the two entities entered into a diligence process in September of last year to explore the possibility of a merger. The statement said the merger has been call off by the two hospitals. Iroquois Memorial Hospital has been serving the area for more than a century. Riverside is based in Kankakee with offices in Watseka and Gilman.


(Champaign--jc)  Champaign County authorities continue to investigate gunshots in the city last night. Channel 3 reports that the gunshots came in the area of John Street and Mattis Avenue around 7 last night. A crime scene unit was on the scene and police were investigating some apartments in the area late Wednesday evening.

No one was injured.



(Springfield--jc)  While business groups are seeking changes to a minimum wage proposal that passed the Illinois Senate last week, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is urging the Illinois House to pass it as it is. The bill would raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars. The governor says its the product of many talks…



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker



(Washington--jc)  It's not cold and stormy everywhere. Stephanie Ho talks with U-S-D-A Meteorologist Brad Rippey…


(Springfield--jc)  Despite concerns from many business owners, the Illinois House is set to consider legislation today to raise the minimum wage. Democrat Will Guzzrdi of Chicago says the increase will be good the state’s economy…



State Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago.

Karen Conn is C-E-O of Conn Hospitality. Conn says the minimum wage increase cause  them to layoff employees and possibly close their doors…



Conn Hospitality Owner and C-E-O Karen Conn

A vote is expected today. The measure has passed the Illinois Senate and the governor says, if passed, he will sign the minimum wage act into law.



(Undated--jc)  Those with SNAP benefits have some good news this morning. The Illinois Department of Human Services announced on Wednesday that March SNAP benefits will be available earlier. I-D-H-S Spokesperson Meghan Powers says the announcement will make the process better…



I-D-H-S Spokesperson Meghan Powers.  The potential for a government shutdown was the reason for the decision from the JB Pritzker administration. Officials say the benefits will be loaded into SNAP recipients accounts on March First.



(Gibson City--jc)  A fundraiser for the Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School Dance team is set for Saturday night at 6-30 at the high school. A free will donation soup supper takes place from 5 til 6 Saturday afternoon. Several community leaders will perform as dance partners in a ‘dancing with the stars’ competition. Three awards will be given. The G-C-M-S dance team will also perform.


MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — A boom being used at an interstate bridge over the Mississippi River near Moline, Illinois has fallen into the water. Iowa Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday the agency is working to remove the lattice boom of the crane working at the Interstate 74 bridge site. IDOT has not said what caused the boom to fall. Construction on the bridge began in July 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020.


(Buckley--jc)  --St. John’s Lutheran School of Buckley is hosting its annual chicken dinner, carnival and auction is set for 3:30 to 7 p.m.on Sunday The carnival and auction begin at 3:30 p.m., with the chicken dinner served from 4 to 7 p.m. Dinner tickets cost $10 and can be purchased in advance by calling the school.  The event is the school’s main fundraiser each year.


The Illinois House Could Vote on a Plan this Week to Increase the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House could vote on a plan this week to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but inflation will largely negate the impact for low-income workers by the time the pay floor reaches that level in 2025. It's no windfall for more than 1 million Illinois workers who rely on the minimum wage. An Associated Press analysis found that assuming the current 2.1 percent rate of inflation, by 2025, $15 will only be worth $10.46.



(Springfield--ab) State officials and American Legions  honored Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday on Tuesday. At an annual wreath laying ceremony at Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Governor JB Pritzker said Lincoln’s leadership and legacy leaves lessons to guide Illinois forward today.



The governor pledged to honor lincoln’s legacy of action and compassion, and to listen to the opinions of others.


(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board is meeting today with a myriad of items to be discussed. The local board will discuss the amended budget for financial year 2019. Other items include approving teachers that have acquired tenure and affirm resignations and new volunteer coaches.



(Roberts--ab) Roberts village president Rick Flessner is resigning at the end of April 2020.  Flessner says his best memories involve fixing the water problems of the village…



Roberts Village President Rick Flessner.


(Urbana--jc)  A Champaign County man was sentenced to 4 years probation on Tuesday after pleading guilty to inappropriately touching a teen in the back seat of a van.  The News Gazette reports that 21 year old Ronnell Throw of Rantoul plead guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was arrested on December 12th as police found him in a van with a 13 year old girl.



(Coles County--jc)  Some land once owned by the 16th president was sold on Tuesday. WPXN ‘s Austin Burklund has the story…




(Farmer City--jc)  The winter winds continue to blow, but one local racetrack is getting ready for the 2019 season. Officials with the Farmer City raceway are reaching out to area drivers to reserve a pit stall for the upcoming season. Those interested in getting a pit stall at the Farmer City Raceway are asked to find more information on the raceway’s facebook page or contact track official Lance Spieker.


(Pekin--jc) --  On February 24,the Pekin Amateur Hockey Association and Peoria Youth Hockey Association will join forces to host a benefit for the family of fallen Trooper Christopher Lambert, who was struck and killed in the line of duty on January 12th The hockey associations are hosting an event on the 24th at the Pekin Memorial Ice Arena in Pekin. The area youth hockey teams will be participating in various hockey scrimmage games upon the ice for the public to enjoy.  Various gift baskets for raffle, as well as a 50/50 drawing, will be featured at the benefit. Admission is by donation.


AURORA, Ill. (AP) — Snow and strong wind gusts in northern Illinois forced the cancellation of flights at Chicago's two major airports. By Tuesday evening 335 flights had been canceled at O'Hare International Airport. The Chicago Department of Aviation reports 103 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport. Delays at both airports were averaging more than 15 minutes. The intense gusts prompted a wind advisory for much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana that will remain in effect until early today. Those with travel plans for the two Chicago airports are asked to check on flight availability and delays.


(Rantoul--ab) One issue before the Rantoul Village board is a property buying program. Rantoul  Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer says it's a win-win.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scot Eisenhauer



(Champaign County--jc)  -- It’s down to a lottery when it comes to a contract for solar energy projects in Champaign County. The Illinois Power Agency is expected to make its decision today. Areas in Champaign county up for a solar type project are near Ludlow, Homer, Sidney and two near St Joseph.


(Undated--ab)--  Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau will sponsor two Viewpoint Breakfast Meetings.  The first meeting will be held on Thursday, February 21, at Happy Days Diner in Roberts.  The second meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 26, at the Farm Bureau in Gilman. The meetings will begin at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast followed by discussion on the topics members wish to talk about.  Viewpoint is the name given to Farm Bureau’s grassroots effort to raise issues and concerns from members. There is no charge for member to attend and reservations are not needed.



(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB. Pritzker created two new groups to study ways to improve the state's underfunded pension systems.One will focus on the consolidation of more than 650 local pension funds for police officers and firefighters. The other will look at selling state-owned real estate and infrastructure assets to improve the balance sheets of the state's five pension systems.The Pension Consolidation Feasibility Taskforce will look at the 656 police and fire pension funds. Those funds manage $170 billion in assets and have liabilities of more than $355 billion.



(Springfield--jc) --  Changes in the Illinois House on the minimum wage issue? Austin Burklund has the story…



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Ford County circuit clerk’s office could get an additional worker. Ford County leaders are set to meet next Tuesday at 9am. The issue goes back to the Ford County Personnel committee. Local leaders took no action on the position at their monthly meeting this week. The full county board could get a recommendation about the position when they meet in March.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker has announced a new criminal justice reform effort. Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton will lead the new justice, equity and opportunity initiative which she says will examine at the issues from several angles…



Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.


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