Paxton police are investigating a string of break ins in town

(Springfield-jm) -- Federal tax changes from 2017 could make it more politically difficult for local governments to raise taxes, according to a report. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the first sweeping change to the federal tax code since 1986. It lowered corporate taxes, removed individual tax brackets and broaden the personal standard deduction. To make up for that lower revenue, the state and local tax deduction was capped at $10,000. The dedication limit is often referred to as the SALT cap. In a 2020 outlook for local governments, credit-rating agency S&P Global Ratings highlighted how that change could affect high-tax states, namely New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Illinois. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Looking back over the last decade in Illinois agriculture, Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Economist and Policy Analyst Michael Doherty said it started with a bang but has since deflated. Although the state’s farming industry is still in good shape, he said predicting its immediate future would be like looking into “a murky crystal ball.” As populations overseas, especially in China, became larger and more affluent, people began wanting to eat more meat, creating major markets for soybeans, the state’s biggest crop, and even for pork. In addition, increased interest in biofuels fed demand for corn, Illinois’ second-largest agricultural product.



(Paxton)-The 32nd PBL FFA Toy Show is right around the corner, PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren gives us the details of when and were the toy show is, what time and what to expect. 




PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police are investigating a string of break ins in town. The burglaries took place Sunday morning. The laundromat, Contractor Services of Illinois and the Animal Clinic of Paxton were burglarized. Nothing was taken from the laundromat or Contractor Services, however, cash and medications was taken from the Animal Clinic. Anyone with information is asked to call Ford County Crime stoppers at 217-784-4173.



(Champaign County-jm) -- A cyber security expert has filed to run for the soon to be vacant Champaign County Treasurer position. John Bambenek filed his intent to run as a write in candidate for the March 17th primary. A court will decide whether or not Bambenek’s name will be allowed on the ballot since the resignation occurred after the filing period ended.



(Washington-jm) -- Brazil is forecast to overtake the United States as the world's top soybean producer. Stephanie Ho has the details…




SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The office of the State Fire Marshall is accepting applications for its Small Equipment Grant Program. The $3.5 million program provides grants of up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment for Illinois departments. This includes items such as self-contained breathing apparatuses, backboards and communication equipment. Applications are due by Feb. 29.


(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' new Senate President said the progressive income tax will be one of his top priorities, but Republicans worry the proposed tax structure would make Illinois less competitive at a time when the state's population is declining. New Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, faces a number of challenges heading into the start of the spring legislative session next week. Among them are how to address ethics regulations amid a sweeping federal corruption probe. He'll also face challenges in crafting the upcoming state budget and dealing with frustrations over the state's high property taxes.



(Springfield-jm) -- With early voting for the March primary set to begin early next month, Illinois House Republicans demanded an immediate hearing into how the Secretary of State's Office improperly caused voter registration cards to be sent to hundreds of non-citizens. State officials said 574 people who indicated they weren't U.S. citizens were sent voter registration cards by mistake in the past 18 months. The Secretary of State's office said it was the result of a glitch that had been corrected. Early voting for the March primary is set to begin Feb. 6.



(Buckley-jm) -- One area high school is starting to take applications for the upcoming school year. Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley will hold an open house in January says Executive Director Sandy Spitz…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.


(Fisher-jm) -- The village of Fisher has entered into an electric aggregation agreement. The one year agreement is with Constellation Energy. The agreement locks in rates at 4.423 cents per kilowatt hour. Customers have the opportunity to opt out. The agreement expires in February of 2021.



(Elliott-jm) -- The village of Elliott has received a half a million dollar grant for work on their water main system. The grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will cover the first phase of replacing water mains and meters in the village. Village leaders hope to get a second grant to do phase two.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing nearly 30 million dollars in grants for park projects. The grants come from the state’s open space land acquisition and development program and will fund 85 different projects says Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert…



Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. The money can be used to purchase land for a park or to renovate park pools, picnic areas and more.



URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A University of Illinois music professor has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Musicology professor Christina Bashford was awarded one of 188 humanities grants across the nation receiving $30.9 million. She will use the grant on a book project about the impact of the violin on Great Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. U of I Chancellor Robert J. Jones noted that the fellowship is one of the nation’s more competitive humanities programs. The NEH awards an average of 79 grants a year out of 1,100 applications received.


More low income students may be able to go to the University of Illinois

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ powerful House speaker spent nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions on legal fees in the last three months of 2019, records show. Of the $445,000 that Democrat Michael Madigan’s campaign spent on legal fees, $275,000 was for a settlement with a former campaign worker who filed a lawsuit in 2018 alleging that she was hindered from advancing in the speaker’s organization after alleging sexual harassment by a top Madigan lieutenant. Of the remaining money, $139,209 went to the Chicago office of Hinshaw & Culbertson and $6,500 to attorney Michael Kasper to cover costs tied to three other civil cases, spokeswoman Eileen Boyce said, according to the Chicago Tribune. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ automatic voter registration program, though not fully-implemented, appears to have allowed more than 500 non-citizens onto various county’s election registries. In letters first obtained by Bloomington-based political blogger Diane Benjamin, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office notified the State Board of Elections that a keypad glitch in the non-REAL ID license and identification card process allowed a number of non-citizens to have their information forwarded to ISBE from July 2, 2019 to Dec. 13, 2019. Those non-citizens were then sent voter cards. The errors, as admittedly serious by authorities, represent less than one percent of the more than 740,000 new voters registered through Illinois DMV facilities since the automatic voter registration program began in July 2019.


(Urbana-jm) -- More low income students may be able to go to the University of Illinois. Governor J-B Pritzker says the University of Illinois has agreed to expand their free tuition program for low income families, meaning half the households in the state will now qualify. The Governor says it’s important that more students have college options…


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. U of I officials announced last week that they are raising tuition for incoming freshmen for the first time in six years.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has pleaded guilty to a single count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child dating back to April 2015. In return for his guilty plea, an additional charge of predatory criminal sexual assualt of a child and aggravated criminal sexual assault were dismissed against Larry Hayden. Hayden had been convicted previously and was sentenced to life in prison however an appeals court overturned the conviction saying there should have been two separate trials because of two victims. Hayden was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison and given credit for 4 and a half.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man on parole is facing four drug related felony charges. 39 year old Shannon Sabol was arrested last week after police discovered more than half an ounce of cocaine. Sabol was charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. He faces a mandatory sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison.


(Paxton-Cale)- Youth Gymnastics sign ups are underway for the Paxton Park District. The group meets after school at 3:30pm two days a week. Park District Director Neil McKenry has more on the sign ups.


Park District Director Neil McKenry 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Two area school districts are receiving library grant money. Rantoul City Schools received $1,194 while Rantoul Township High School received $750. The grant money will go towards offering more library books and material for students.



(Springfield--jc)  The winner at the State Ag Fair Association talent show over the weekend is from Iroquois County. Watseka High School Senior Anna Parmenter won the annual competition in Springfield on Saturday. This weekend was the annual Illinois County Fair Association convention.

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers heard the latest in the state's fight to reduce opioid-related overdoses. The Illinois Senate committee on opioid crisis abatement got updates from state agencies during a hearing Thursday.  Illinois Department of Human Services Assistant Secretary Kia Coleman reviewed the statistics showing the state reported more opioid-related deaths than initially estimated, but it still represented the first drop since 2013 and a larger reduction than what they had expected. The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018 was 2,167, which represents a 21.6 percent reduction from the initial projection.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Don Harmon was elected Sunday as the next Illinois Senate president, becoming the first new leader of the Illinois General Assembly’s upper chamber in more than a decade. Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat who was elected by a 37-12 margin, will replace Sen. John Cullerton, 71, who last year announced his retirement after four decades in the General Assembly, including five terms as Senate president.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law will make sure Illinoisans don’t lose their driver’s license because they have a bunch of unpaid parking tickets. The state won’t be able to suspend a license for non-moving violations under the new “License to Work Act”. Governor J-B Pritkzer says people shouldn’t be hampered from getting to work or visiting the doctor’s office…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The new law takes effect July first.


(Rantoul) --   Rantoul Police Investigators arrested two seventeen year old males from Urbana in connection with a shooting that occurred last  Saturday in the 1200 block of Aspen Drive in the village. Investigation revealed these teens were involved in a robbery attempt, which resulted in a sixteen year old male being shot in the leg. That male was treated at Carle Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. As a result of the investigation three handguns were recovered, including two that were reported stolen. The two arrestees were transported to the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center on charges including Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm, Armed Robbery and Possession of a Stolen Firearm. The investigation is continuing, and more arrests are possible. Rantoul Police were assisted in the investigation by the Urbana Police Department.



(Gibson City-jm) -- A convicted felon from Gibson City who had access to guns and ammunition has been convicted of nine counts of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. 37 year old Noah Ringel will be sentenced March 26th in Ford County court. He faces a mandatory sentence of 2-10 years in prison.



(Springfield--Cale)--State of Illinois retirees who were notified of termination of some of their state health insurance benefits now have a second chance to “opt in” to immediately restore their prescription coverage. Dan Brady State Representative R- Normal was happy with the decision…. 


State Representative Dan Brady of Normal.



(Buckley--jc)  -- One local Christian High School has an open house for potential new students later this month. The event is set for Thursday January 30th from 5-30 to 7pm at Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley.  Tours of the school, meeting the teaching and support staff and information about the application process will be part of the event. More information is found by calling the high school at 217-394-2547.



(Kempton--jc)  Tri Point School board members will look to approve the Piper City Bus barn project when they meet on Monday night in Kempton. Updating school policies, a PACE report and use of the high school for a Gonzaga Conference are also on tonight’s agenda. The Tri- Point School Board meeting starts at 7pm in Kempton.


Illinois Senators plan to return to Springfield on Sunday to pick the chamber's next leader

(Springfield-jm) -- Senators plan to return to Springfield on Sunday to pick the chamber's next leader and whoever is picked will only be allowed to serve in that capacity for a decade. After the Senate adjourned on the final day of the fall legislative session, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, announced his retirement. Senators will pick his successor over the weekend.



(Watseka--jc)  A rural Iroquois man received 4 years probation on a charge of aggravated battery. 27 year old  Shayne Weber plead guilty to the charge in court on Thursday in Watseka. The incident stems from a confrontation in Buckley in July of 20-17. Weber was also told to pay 1 thousand dollars in court costs. Restitution of 115 thousand dollars will also be given.



(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to make criminal justice reform a major focus in the years ahead. The governor recently took part in a fireside chat about his administration’s Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative. Afterward, he laid out some of the things he wants to tackle over the next three years. One of those things is working on ending cash bail. Also working on reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, giving judges more discretion to take into account circumstances in each case.



(Paxton-Cale)- Youth soccer sign ups are officially out for the Paxton Park District. Any person aged 3 to 19 can participate. Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry tells us more…. 



Paxton Park District’s Neil McKenry.



(Fisher-jm) -- Ameren Illinois says several hundred Fisher residents mistakenly received a notice they were going to see an increase in their bill. The company sent out a notice to 782 Ameren Illinois customers in the village saying the villages municipal utility rate is increased. The company says it was a programming error and Fisher isn’t increasing their rate.



(Buckley-jm) -- One area high school is starting to take applications for the upcoming school year. Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley will hold an open house in January says Executive Director Sandy Spitz…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Thomasboro-jm) -- Thomasboro is moving forward with hiring a new full time police chief. Following a 4 to 1 vote, village leaders approved making an offer to Eric Shumate. Shumate is a retired Champaign County Sheriff Deputy. The offer includes a salary of $45,000 plus benefits. Mike Martinez has filled in as interim police chief. He will go back to being a part time officer for the village.


McHENRY, Ill. (AP) — Police say a pickup truck has slammed into an Illinois Starbucks, injuring five people and causing massive damage to the coffee shop. Patrick Polidori, public affairs officer for McHenry police, told The Associated Press that the driver and four people at the cafe were injured. Four were taken to the hospital, including one in critical condition. Polidori said it wasn't known why the full-sized pickup ran off the roadway in McHenry, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, and collided with the building after striking a vehicle at the drive-thru window.


(Washington-jm) -- There are small changes on the USDA balance sheet for soybeans. Stephanie Ho reports…




(Springfield--jc)  -- Members of the Illinois Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reforms heard concerns about lobbying influence in Illinois.During a hearing Wednesday, experts talked about the lack of uniform lobbying reporting standards and the need to look into so-called consultants doing shadow lobbying, among other reforms.But the Better Government Association’s Marie Dillon said the issue of corruption in Illinois was larger than lobbying.The commission must provide recommendations by the end of March.


(Gilman--jc)  The Gilman Community Fire Protection District received approval from city leaders to move ahead with a new building in the city. A 30 by 56 foot building will be placed at the corner of Third Street and Chamberlain Avenue in Gilman. The new building for the local fire protection district will feature two east facing bay doors. Neighbors had no objections to the building.  Construction is expected this year.



(Springfield--Cale)--State of Illinois retirees who were notified of termination of some of their state health insurance benefits now have a second chance to “opt in” to immediately restore their prescription coverage. Dan Brady State Representative R- Normal was happy with the decision…. 



State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


(Bloomington-Cale)-- The IHSA Board of Directors had their meeting on Jan. 15 to discuss some of the topics that were pressing. The first order of business was that “The Board modified the Executive Director’s ruling on Champaign(Judah Chrisitan). They ruled that all of the school’s State Series results form the 2018-19 school year after it was discovered that the school did not meet IHSA membership requirements for that season due to its status with the Illinois Board of Education, The school did resolve all matters with IBSE and is in good standing as an IHSA member schools.



(Washington--jc)  --Illinois’ U.S. Senators want the U.S. Army to review how an Illinois-based Army Reserve unit handled mutliple sexual assault claims. U.S. Senators. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth called for a review of the 416th Theater Engineer Command after media reports say the unit mishandled at least two sexual assault complaints by not referring them to outside investigators.



Prediction is that Illinois farmers are likely to endure more burdensome wet weather while they try to plant cash crops this spring

(Springfield-jm) -- Another measure has been filed to create a taxpayer-funded program to ensure Illinois residents have their first two years of college tuition paid for. State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, filed Senate Bill 2324 on Jan. 8. It mirrors legislation filed in 2019 by Chicago Democratic state Rep. Will Guzzardi. The new bill would ensure residents “seeking an associate degree, certificate, or diploma from an institution of higher learning” a taxpayer-funded state grant that would pay for tuition and fees, minus any other aid awarded, starting in 2021. The bill said the cost could exceed that of a local community college's tuition and fees.



(Springfield-jm) -- A state commission is looking at tightening up Illinois lobbying laws. The group heard testimony this week on lobbyist registration and what constitutes lobbying. Some suggested that local governments and school districts have lobbyist registrations. Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago says there is a concern that regulations become too strict..



State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago. Several bills have already been filed, including legislation that bans lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for one to two years after leaving elected office.



(Undated-jm) -- The state’s climatologist is predicting Illinois farmers are likely to endure more burdensomely wet weather while they try to plant cash crops this spring after suffering major losses as a result of a record-wet planting season last year. April through June is likely to be wetter than normal in Illinois, according to rainfall projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, posing a challenge to corn and soybean farmers in the heart of planting season.


(Washington-jm) --  A White House ceremony Wednesday saw the President and China's Vice-Premier sign the initial phase of a new trade agreement. Rod Bain reports…




(Paxton-jm) -- Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran is awarding a $500 scholarship. The scholarship is through the Illinois Sheriff’s Association. To be eligible, the applicant must be a permanent resident of Illinois, must be utilized at an institution of higher learning in Illinois and the student must be enrolled full-time during the 2020-2021 school year. Applications can be picked up at the Ford County Sheriff’s office in Paxton or online at ilsheriff dot org. Applications are due by March 15th.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced office closures for the MLK holiday. Facilities open Monday through Friday will be closed on Monday, January 20th. Facilities open Tuesday through Saturday will be closed on Saturday, January 18th. All facilities will reopen Tuesday, January 21.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School District has received their report card from the state. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about how the district did…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Undated-jm) -- Cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV are unusually high this year. RSV is a virus that causes cold like symptoms but lasts longer than the common cold. RSV is most common in the fall, winter and spring.


(Springfield-jm) -- As the state's pension liabilities mount, fewer taxpayers remain to pay the tab. The Auditor General reported the state’s largest pension fund, the Teachers’ Retirement System, increased in overall liability by $4.5 billion to $134.4 billion. Around $3.2 billion of that isn’t funded. The total unfunded liability for TRS was $81.1 billion, meaning TRS was 39.6 percent funded. Truth In Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman said the increased liability is even more concerning when considering a different datapoint Illinois continued to lead the nation in outbound migration as it did in the past decade with six years of population declines.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new study from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority finds most police officers are carrying naloxone to help prevent opioid overdoses. The random sampling of departments garnered responses from 82 police chiefs. 90 percent say officers have naloxone on hand, usually the nasal spray version. Researcher Jessica Reichert says police do have some concerns though…



Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Researcher Jessica Reichert. Departments that don’t have their officers carrying naloxone cite budget issues, low stock of the drug and relying more on firefighters and E-M-T’s to administer the dose.


(Undated-jm) -- Anyone who bought infant Tylenol over the past five years could be eligible for part of a $6.3 million settlement. The settlement comes after a class action lawsuit claimed the packaging was misleading and deceiving to customers because the medication dosage was the same for infant Tylenol as children's Tylenol. The settlement is for products bought between October 2, 2014 and January 6, 2020.



(Springfield--jc)  -- It’s Fair Time, Illinois State Fair convention time in Springfield. A new Illinois State County Fair Association Queen will also be crowned this weekend. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…




(Washington-jm) -- New trade deal with China may bring quick export sales increases for U.S. pork producers. Gary Crawford has the details…




(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released 2019 activity numbers. Troopers issued 6,149 citations and 16,802 written warnings including 132 DUIs, 493 seat belt citations and investigated 954 traffic accidents resulting in 17 fatalities. 



(Urbana-jm) -- Controversial graffiti has been found on the U of I campus again. An employee found graffiti referring to the Ku Klux Klan in a mechanical room in Altgeld Hall. The graffiti has since been removed.



(Paxton-Cale)- The PBL Hall of Fame selection committee is now accepting applications for its next class. Committee member and PBL High School principal Travis Duley shares information about how the committee makes their selections and what criteria must be met.



Hall of Fame selection committee member and PBL high school principal Travis Duley



(Undated-jm) -- Flu deaths are up 65 percent in 2020 according to the CDC. 4800 people have died and 87,000 people have been hospitalized because of the flu. 32 of the deaths have been children. The CDC reports 33 states have high flu activity currently including Illinois. They say flu season began early and was aggressive.



State regulators report dispensaries sold nearly $20 million in products in first 12 days of 2020

(Rantoul--jc)  -- The groundbreaking for a new sports complex in Rantoul took place on Tuesday afternoon. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…




(Springfield-jm) -- In the first 12 days of legal cannabis sales, state regulators report dispensaries sold nearly $20 million in products in nearly 500,000 transactions, but some have already raised concerns about how the tax revenue from recreational cannabis will be spent. The single largest day for sales was on New Year’s Day, when sales began. Sales that day totaled $3.2 million. After the first day, sales tapered off, especially as some dispensaries had to close because of product shortages and to give employees time off. 



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School board is expected to consider several items at tonight’s school board meeting. School board members will discuss the 2020-2021 school calendar, discuss a maintenance grant and consider the purchase of new math textbooks for grades 2-5. The PBL school board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Springfield-Cale) Yesterday at a Capitol press conference State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) said the final task force report was another missed opportunity, but it won’t be the final word..



Tuesday’s press conference was the third held around the state to point out the Dem controlled task force failure and to let taxpayers know that the House Republicans will continue to push for property tax relief.  



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton Food Pantry will continue to operate following the death of their director. Millie Sutton died last week. Sutton was the director of the PBL Community Food Pantry. The food pantry’s board said they will continue to remain open. The PBL Community Food Pantry is open 9-11:30 am Thursdays and Saturdays and serves families in the Paxton Buckley and Loda communities.



(Paxton-jm) -- One Paxton school is raising awareness about heart disease. Clara Peterson Elementary is teaming up with the American Heart Association to raise awareness and funds for the kids heart challenge. According to the American Heart Association, about 50 percent of children are not getting enough physical exercise and one in five are obese. The school’s goal is to raise $25,000.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is being recognized as a top place to hold a special event. The magazine ‘Unique Venues’ named the library and museum the best venue in the country for a unique experience. Spokesperson Chris Wills says they have had dinners, cocktail parties and receptions at the facility…



Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills. Learn more about hosting an event at the Lincoln Library or Museum at: president lincoln dot illinois dot gov.


CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois regulators say they are investigating apparent violations of a rule intended to prevent marijuana shops statewide from stockpiling weed from a single cultivator while also reminding retailers that they are required by law to keep enough product on hand for medical patients. Just over a week after the state’s recreational pot sales kicked off on Jan. 1, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation sent a letter to dispensaries on Friday saying they were aware of violations and probing whether stores were illegally sourcing more than 40% of their product from one grower. The law is aimed at preventing pot growers from entering into exclusive agreements with specific shops and making sure all stores have a diversity of products from various sources.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Lottery is launching two new monopoly instant games. The Monopoly 10 times and Monopoly 25 times multiplier tickets are now on sale, costing two and five dollars each. Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg says it’s a good time to celebrate a favorite childhood game…



Illinois Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg. The grand prize ranges from 25 thousand to 350 thousand dollars and there is also a second chance drawing for non winning tickets for a trip to Las Vegas.



(Gifford-Cale) The Gifford Grade School District Board of Education will have their monthly meeting tonight. They will be discussing the transfer of personnel to the Technology Education Position for the 2020-2021 School year, and the exact date in May of this year for the Eighth Grade Promotion. 


(Paxton-Cale) - It’s not too late to get in on that “New Year’s resolution! The Paxton Park District has a way to get in shape or drop a couple pounds in a fun way! Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry says they offer 3 zumba classes.



Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry 



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton Police have released their recent activity report. On January 10th, a 14 year old was taken to Carle Hospital for minor injuries after he was clipped by a slow moving vehicle in the 600 block of East Summer Street. On January 11th, Austin Walts, 20, of Fort Bliss Texas was arrested for driving on a suspended license and ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, speeding and improper lane usage following a traffic stop at Pells and Stockholm. Also on January 11th, Jacob Gaul, 20, of Paxton was arrested for driving on a suspended license following a traffic stop at Cherry and Franklin.



Production of Corn and Soybeans were both down by about 1/5 from last year's totals

(Springfield-jm) -- Production of Illinois’ two most valuable crops fell by roughly one-fifth last year, according to final crop yield numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Corn and soybean growers saw production drop 18.6 percent and 20.4 percent respectively compared to 2018. Farmers harvested just over 1.8 billion bushels of corn, down from more than 2.2 billion the year before. Soybean production decreased from around 667 million bushels to just over 532 million. 2019 was the worst year for corn since 2012, when farmers produced about 1.3 billion bushels. Soybean production had its worst year since 2013, which saw 461 million bushels.Yield per acre was down 14 percent for corn at 180 bushels and 15 percent for soybeans at 54 bushels. That’s the lowest for corn since 2015 and the lowest for soybeans since 2013.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois economy grew at a slower pace than most neighboring states and the nation as a whole during the third quarter of 2019, according to new figures. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which tracks state-by-state economic trends, said overall, the state’s economy grew at a modest annualized rate of 1.4 percent, well below the national rate of 2.1 percent. Illinois ranked 41st in the nation for GDP growth during the quarter, according to the data. Texas showed the fastest-growing economy, at nearly 4 percent, while Delaware came in last with no measurable growth.



(Springfield-jm) -- Comptroller Susana Mendoza is pushing to end exit bonus pay for Illinois lawmakers. The problem arose when two legislators who were under federal investigation resigned. Comptroller Mendoza says Senator Martin Sandoval gave up his seat as of January 1st, but will be paid for the entire month…



Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. Legislation paying resigning lawmakers on a prorated basis has been introduced in the Illinois Senate. 



(Undated-jm) -- Fire departments across the state can apply for a grant from the state. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is awarding $3.5 million in small equipment grants for fire departments and private ambulance services. The office will grant up to $26,000 for each department that applies. The deadline to apply is February 29th.



(Paxton-jm) -- A new alderman for Ward 4 in the city of Paxton could be named at tonight’s city council meeting. Mayor Bill Ingold is expected to name the replacement after alderman Rob Steiger announced he was moving out of the district last month. In addition, council members could take action on whether or not to install safety signs at the intersections of Holmes and Elm, Holmes and Maple and Holmes and American. The Paxton City Council meeting gets underway at 7pm.



(Paxton-Cale) The PBL Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations. Many people ask where you can find those forms, many are located in area businesses as well as online. PBL High School Principal Travis Duley has more on where those forms can be found…. 




PBL High School Principal Travis Duley.



(Iroquois County-jm) -- Iroquois County is into what it will take to make their government building restrooms ADA compliant. One of the changes being considered is to take some janitors closets and turn them into handicap and family restrooms.


(Washington-jm) -- The U.S.-China trade deal won't be reflected in USDA's crop reports until the details are made public, but anticipation for the deal is reflected in prices. Stephanie Ho has the details…




(Springfield-jm) -- The director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture has resigned. Governor J-B Pritzker asked John Sullivan to resign after he learned Sullivan knew about the cover up of a rape incident in Champaign while he was a state senator and didn’t report the incident. Sullivan is not considered a suspect in the incident.



(Undated-jm) -- More hospitals are merging but the quality of care is decreasing. The new study says hospitals use merging as a way to share costs and reduce competition however, it also decreases the quality of care. Researchers say more research needs to be done to determine why there is a decrease in care.


(Springfield-jm) -- New rules governing how retail gun dealers do business go into effect Friday and include the types of records they must keep, how weapons and ammunition are to be stored and the kinds of video surveillance and security systems they must maintain. The rules, established by the Illinois State Police and scheduled to be published in the Illinois Register on Friday, will go into effect almost one year to the day after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act into law. The Act requires firearm dealers who have a federal firearm license to also obtain a state certificate and comply with state regulations. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois ranks low in arrest rates for driving under the influence, according to a recent report. The state is only behind Delaware, placing 49th in a recent report from U.S. Drug Test Centers, a drug testing company, in terms of the number of DUI arrests per 100,000 people. The report was based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FBI crime statistics. The report found that not only has the state reached almost the bottom in terms of DUI arrests, but it has seen both short-term declines – over 4 years, DUI arrests are down more than 20 percent – and long-term decreases in DUI arrests. DUI arrests declined more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.



(Springfield-jm) -- “Operation Lambert” is underway in Illinois with State Police focusing on drivers violating the state’s move over law. Special details are running around the state in honor of Trooper Christopher Lambert who was struck and killed last year by a passing vehicle. I-S-P Sergeant Delila Garcia explains the law…



Illinois State Police Sergeant Delila Garcia. Violators face a fine of at least 250 dollars. The special details run through Sunday. 



(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher School District has received a commendable rating from the state in their recent report card. Juniors SAT scores as well as freshman and sophomore PSAT scores came in above the state average. The district says they are working on a plan to continue making improvements.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Village Board members will be voting on several items at tonight's village board meeting. Village board members will be asked to approve a contract for HVAC work at the police station for over $153,000, approve the purchase of a vehicle for public works administration as well as a vehicle for the street and water division and consider adding a new video gaming class. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Roberts-Cale)-- The Village of Roberts has sold the old Library Building. Roberts Mayor Rick Flesser talks about the new usage of the building.



Roberts Mayor Rick Flesser



(Piper City-jm) -- Piper City residents wont see an increase in the amount of taxes they pay to the village. Village leaders voted to leave the levy at the same rate as last year. That will bring in $79,226. The village set their appropriation ordinance at $613,500.



(Springfield-jm) -- The State Department of Children and Family Services is asking for the public to help stop human trafficking in Illinois. There are certain signs you can watch out for to spot victims of child human trafficking says DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. That includes an adult controlling a child or speaking for them…



DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. During the last fiscal year, DCFS investigated 255 allegations of human trafficking of children, although the agency says it’s a crime that’s often underreported. If you suspect a child is a victim, call 9-1-1 or the state’s hotline 1-800-25-ABUSE.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois is reporting the first pediatric flu related death in the state. The victim is from the Chicago area and died of complications from the flu. So far 6.4 million cases of influenza have been reported.



(Undated-jm) -- January 27th is the first day you can begin to file your taxes with the IRS. The average refund last year was $2,800. The last day to file is April 15th. If you need an extension, extensions can be granted to October 15th.



Illinois State Police will be going after Scott's Law violators in a special enforcement patrol this week

(Rantoul-jm) -- One man was injured following a shooting in Rantoul over the weekend. Police were called to the 1200 block of Aspen Drive just before 8 pm Saturday night for a report of shots fired. While out investigating the incident police learned a victim was taken to an Urbana in a personal vehicle. The victim was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.



NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Carle Health has announced plans to purchase medical facilities owned by Advocate Aurora Health, including hospitals in Normal and Eureka. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports that the Urbana-based Carle and Advocate announced the acquisition this week. Terms were not released, nor were name changes for Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Advocate Eureka Hospital and other facilities in central Illinois. Governing boards of both organizations approved the merger. Leonard and Colleen Kannaday, president of Advocate BroMenn and Advocate Eureka, said they expected to close the deal by mid-year. It requires approval by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board and the Federal Trade Commission.



(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is launching a program to replace all B-Truck plates in Illinois. The oldest plates will be replaced first and drivers will be notified by mail when their plate is eligible for an upgrade. Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt says this is about safety…



Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. There will be no costs to motorists and this will be an ongoing process that replaces plates every 10 years. About one point three million people in Illinois have B-truck plates. 



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton Buckley Loda student is one of 21 future leaders nominated to one of the nation’s military academies. Congressman John Shimkus nominated Ben Busby to the U-S Military Academy. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School leaders will begin fiscal year 2021 budget discussions at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members will also consider adopting district goals. The Rantoul Township High School meeting gets underway at 7pm.


(Paxton-Cale) The Paxton Park District has sign up sheets for youth soccer, Park District Director Neil McKenry has more…. 



Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry 



(Hoopeston-Cale) The 2020 Hoopeston Area FFA Alumni Scholarship Auction will take place at the Hoopeston American Legion on January, 25 2020. Food will be served from 4:30 pm until they run out at a free will donation. There will be a Silent Auction from 4pm to 6pm, and a live auction starting at 6pm. 


(Springfield-Cale)-- Over $13,500 in scholarships are available through the Illinois Pork Producers association or IPPA this year. The application is now available on the IPPA website for the 2020-2021 academic year. Also available is the Ryan & Friends Scholarship sponsored by the Illinois Purebred Swine Council. The scholarship will award 4 one- thousand dollar scholarships.  In addition, students can also apply for the Adam Fesser Scholarship sponsored by the Mid-Illinois Pork Producers Association. That scholarship will be worth one- thousand dollars. Applicants must have been a 4-H or FFA member. 


CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic leaders have selected a 23-year-old community activist who works for U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy″ Garcia to fill a vacant Illinois House seat. Edgar Gonzalez Jr., was appointed Friday evening to a Chicago-area post vacated by former state Rep. Celina Villaneuva. She was appointed to fill an Illinois Senate seat vacated by ex-Sen. Martin Sandoval, who’s under federal investigation. Gonzalez will be one of the youngest lawmakers to ever serve in the state Legislature.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be going after Scott’s Law violators in a special enforcement patrol this week. The enforcement patrol dubbed Operation Lambert hopes to raise awareness about the law requiring drivers to move over for emergency vehicles. Trooper Christopher Lambert was killed last year after a vehicle failed to move over and struck and killed him.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is hiring and applications for this summer’s cadet class are due by January 31st. Applicants must be at least 21 and have an associates degree or 60 hours of college work. Master Sergeant Hector Alejandre says it’s a rewarding career and that the Illinois State Police is the best in the country…



Illinois State Police Master Sergeant Hector Alejandre. Those interested can visit: Illinois trooper dot com for more information.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul City Schools will be hosting a series of  meetings this week to discuss the Safe Routes to School program. The meetings, from 5-6:30 will take place this evening at Eastlawn Elementary, tomorrow night at Pleasant Acres Elementary, Wednesday night at Broadmeadow Elementary and Thursday night at Northview Elementary.



(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City leaders have a light agenda for tonight’s meeting. Council leaders are expected to approve a Department of Natural Resources grant and hear a presentation on the 2020 Harvest Fest. The Gibson City city council meeting gets underway at 7pm.


(Washington-jm) --  Weather could turn the late Midwest harvest into a late spring planting. Gary Crawford reports…




(Champaign--Cale) C-U at home will host their ninth annual community awareness event, One Winter Night, on Friday, Feb. 7 2020 in downtown Champaign from 6pm to 6am. Box dwellers will brave the winter cold as they sleep on the streets in cardboard boxes to get a firsthand experience of what it might be like to be homeless. 



(Urbana--jc)  -- A Champaign County man was sentenced to 8 years in prison for stealing guns from his employer. Champaign County Judge Tom DiFanis passed the sentenced on 29 year old Justin Johnson on Friday in Champaign County court. Johnson plead guilty in December of a charge of aggravated possession of stolen weapons and possession of weapons by a felon stemming from a break-in at the Rantoul Rural King in early August.


Analysis of population trends now suggests Illinois will only lose one seat in Congress

(Springfield-jm) -- An analysis of population trends now suggests Illinois will only lose one seat in Congress. Illinois has lost tens of thousands in total population count since 2010, when the last U.S. Census count took place. The latest Census figures showed the state’s population declined by 51,000. Among other downsides, the population losses mean fewer members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressional seats are apportioned based on how the national population is split between states by the decennial U.S. Census. Each state is given one Representative and the other 385 seats are distributed by the state's share of the population. In Illinois, lawmakers in the majority are allowed to draw political boundaries. This has been the crux of protests from residents pushing for previous redistricting reform initiatives.


(Springfield-Cale)-- Lawmakers throughout the state of Illinois are giving sharp response to a Chicago radio report this week concerning a powerful former Springfield lobbyist and close friend of House Speaker Michael Madigan who once sought leniency for a state worker in a disciplinary case by arguing that the worker “kept his mouth shut” about an unspecified rape downstate says Republicn Minority Leader Jim Durkin.. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinoisans awoke to a brand new industry on New Year’s Day, with legal recreational marijuana sales coming online Jan. 1. Lines were long. Enthusiasts celebrated. Dispensaries cleared more than $10 million in sales in the first week.  At the same time, images of customers’ receipts were spreading across social media. Even in Illinois, which financial forecasting service Kiplinger dubbed the least tax-friendly state in the nation, weed buyers had sticker shock.  Of the 10 states with legal recreational marijuana regimes, Illinois is home to the second-highest tax burden on retail sales, according to a review of state and local statutes. In Chicago, customers will pay up to 41.25% in taxes on some marijuana products, after factoring in a soon-to-be-passed Cook County excise tax. That total doesn’t even include a 7% state wholesale tax further up the supply chain, which will be passed down to consumers through higher prices.



(Springfield-jm) -- The penalty for crimes committed in places of worship increased at the beginning of the year. Crimes such as assault and battery has been upgraded to aggravated assault or aggravated battery. 


(Undated-jm) -- At least 29 hundred people in the U-S have died from the flu according to the CDC. 6 point 4 million people have come down with the illness while 55 thousand have been hospitalized. Many hospitals have implemented visiting restrictions due to the flu.


(Roberts-cale)-- City of Roberts will be updating their water testing equipment. The new equipment will save approximately 15 minutes per day.  Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner says the equipment needed to be updated….



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner


(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been arrested on criminal sexual assault charges. Richard Thome allegedly forced a woman to have sex. Bond was set at $25,000. He faces 4-15 years in prison.


(Urbana-jm) -- The chairman of the Champaign County Board will have the final say in who will fill out the remainder of County Treasurer Laurel Prussings term. Prussing announced last week she is resigning at the end of the month. There had been questions as to whether the responsibility to pick a candidate to fill out the remainder of Prussings term would fall to County Executive Darlene Kloeppel or county board chairman Giraldo Rosales.


CHICAGO – With a forecast of heavy rainfall into the weekend, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 5 encourages you to get ready for the possibility of flooding in the local area.Flooding can happen anytime, even in winter months, says FEMA Region 5 Administrator James . Joseph. Joseph says to make sure your family knows how to stay safe before extreme weather occurs—don’t attempt to walk or drive through flowing water and verify your mobile phone is enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts to warn you of dangerous conditions and other emergencies in your area. Follow the instructions of state and local officials and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information related to this storm system. During this time of year, floodwaters can be excessively cold so be cautious, as even brief exposure can be life threatening. Stay indoors if possible, check that your sump pump is functioning properly and ensure nothing valuable is stored on your basement floor to avoid potential damage from unexpected flooding. Tips are found on line at



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is denouncing as “horrific” a newly disclosed 2012 email in which a powerful lobbyist cryptically suggests knowledge of cover-ups involving a rape and shady hiring practices.  The Democratic governor said he referred the email, written by Michael McClain, a confidante of House Speaker Michael Madigan, to independent investigators. Madigan on Thursday endorsed that approach, rejecting Republicans' call for a House committee probe. In the email, uncovered by WBEZ radio, McClain sought leniency for an employee facing discipline, noting that he “kept his mouth shut on ... ghost workers (and) the rape in Champaign."


(Paxton-Cale) The Paxton Knights of Columbus Council #8229 will be hosting their free throw contest on Jan. 12. Any person aged 9 to 14 can participate in the contest. Organizer Trent Eshleman says registration is at 12:30 with the event starting at 1pm



Knights of Columbus  Free Throw Organizer Trent Eshleman



(Urbana--jc)  In updating our story from Thursday, Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup has released more information on the two men involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash from Wednesday along on Interstate 74. Thirty-seven year old Rodney Young of Champaign,  was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 9:06PM on January 8, 2020. An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon to determine a cause of death for Rodney who was reportedly ejected from the vehicle during the crash.46 year old Shawntez L. Young of Champaign  was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital on Wednesday afternoon He died from multiple blunt force injuries he received during the crash.. The crash occurred at 8:25PM in the westbound lanes of Interstate 74 near mile post 183 and involved a single vehicle occupied by four male individuals. This crash remains under investigation by the Illinois State Police District 10 and the coroner’s office. 


(Roberts-Cale)- The Lyle Adkins benefit will be taking place this Saturday in Roberts. Benefit Spokesperson Venice Perrish talks about what will be served for dinner, and about the silent auction.



Benefit Spokesperson Venice Parrish



(Chicago--jc)  --Illinois may have legalized weed, but the federal government still controls the skies, so cannabis consumers can't fly with it. Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports have so-called “amnesty boxes” for people to dispose of any pot they have in their possession before completing the security screening process to board a plane. Police say any cannabis left in the boxes will be disposed of as officials would dispose of any narcotics.


The Loda American Legion will host a fish and chicken supper tonight. 



2019 was the 5th wettest year on record in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The speaker of the Illinois House said Wednesday that he had no knowledge of an alleged unreported rape that was referenced in an email written in 2012 by one of his close friends, a powerful lobbyist, and sent to the office of former Gov. Pat Quinn. Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who is not referenced in the email or mentioned in connection with the alleged incident, issued a statement asking for cooperation from anyone with information. The 2012 email from lobbyist Michael McClain to one of Quinn’s top aides mentions an apparent cover-up of the sexual assault that allegedly happened in the central Illinois city of Champaign.



(Springfield-jm) -- 2019 was the 5th wettest year on record in Illinois. Illinois received nearly 50 inches of rain last year says State Climatologist Trent Ford…


State Climatologist Trent Ford. The average statewide temperature for 2019 was 52 point one degrees, which is only about a degree below normal.. The local forecast shows 3 to 4 inches of rain over the next 48 hours and a possibility of 3 to 4 inches of snow this weekend.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul business destroyed by fire last week is open in a new location. TT Distribution Fasteners and Tools relocated to a location on Sangamon Avenue. Firefighters believe a wood burning stove caused the fire last week.


(Gifford-jm) -- The village of Gifford has approved a three percent cannabis tax in the village. The move comes after village leaders voted in November to ban the dispensing of recreational cannabis. Village leaders say the tax leaves open the possibility of reversing the ban in the future.



(Washington-jm) -- Now that a Senate committee has agreed to send the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the full Senate, speculation begins on how soon the matter be voted upon. Rod Bain reports…




(Rantoul-jm) -- Groundbreaking for the new $20 million sports complex in Rantoul will be held next week. The village announced Wednesday the groundbreaking will take place next Tuesday January 14 at 1pm. The new sports complex will be built near the Walmart and Holiday Inn Express.


(Washington-jm) -- It has been three weeks since the U.S. House with only Democratic support passed two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and Illinois’ Republican delegation, even though they didn’t support the articles, want the House to send them to the Senate. Trump was impeached Dec. 18 without any Republican support. The two articles majority Democrats passed were for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over allegations the president withhold military aid from Ukraine in exchange for a domestic political favor. The president has denied any wrongdoing. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the issue of impeachment has taken all the oxygen out of Washington. He said he was baffled as to why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not sent the articles to the Senate. Pelosi has said she wants to see what the Senate process will entail.



(Springfield-jm) -- The state Department of Labor wants Illinois workers to know their rights when it comes to breaks and time off. For starters, Labor Department Assistant Director Jason Keller says all full-time employees must get a meal break of 20 minutes for every seven and a half hour shift. That break must be no later than five hours into the shift…



State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. There are exceptions for some employees, like farmers, coal miners and security guards. Violations of the One Day Rest in Seven Act can be reported on the Department of Labor’s website.



(Watseka-jm) -- The deadline to register to vote in the March primary is coming up. The deadline to vote in the March 17th primary is February 18th. For those wanting to vote early, the last day to vote is March 16th. 



(Sibley-jm) -- The village of Sibley is looking to possibly restock Sibley Lake this year. The village didn’t restock the lake last year. The village typically spends $1,000 to restock the lake.



(Washington-jm) -- How much will the pending U.S./China trade deal play into this Friday's new round of USDA crop and livestock forecasts? Gary Crawford reports…




(Rantoul-jm) -- Tax appeals for three properties in the Rantoul Township High School district have been settled. Outdoor Vista settled their assessed value at $2.2 million instead of $2.7 million. Rantoul Foods settled at $626,000 instead of $1.1 million. Golfview settled for $682,000 instead of $1.3 million. Golfview is coming off the tax increment financing district and will be on the tax rolls.


Two of the state's largest electric utilities owe their customers a combined $543 million in refunds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois could lighten its property tax burden by consolidating governmental taxing districts, standardizing property-value assessments, tightening up the appeals process and reining in breaks on commercial redevelopments, according to a draft report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The unpublished report, required by state law signed last summer by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, found that Illinois hauls in $30 billion a year, or 38% of the total taxes collected, from a system put in place when the state was founded on its agricultural economy. Now it’s best known as the nation’s next-to-costliest, behind New Jersey .



(Springfield-jm) -- After reports of children being locked up in isolation rooms for misbehavior, Illinois lawmakers are looking at ways to better handle these situations. When the report came out, the State Board of Education enacted emergency rules, and now, legislation has been proposed. At a hearing in Chicago, Tom Tebbe (tebby) with the Illinois Association of School Social Workers called for more school staff training…



State Association of School Social Workers Tom Tebbe. Other areas discussed include extensive reporting and review of incidents and punishment for schools illegally restraining students. 

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for producing counterfeit anti-anxiety pills at his home. Federal prosecutors alleged Stephan Caamano produced 4.3 million pills in his Champaign home and distributed them through the U.S. mail. Caamano, 24, pleaded guilty in April to charges he operated a fake Xanax production scheme between March 2017 and May 2018. The charges included distribution of a controlled substance and money laundering.



(Paxton-jm) -- Property tax payers in the Paxton Buckley Loda School District should expect to see a decrease in their taxes. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about the districts tax rate…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- Ford County Fair Queen Evie Ellis will compete for the title of Miss Illinois County Fair Queen later this month. The competition will take place January 16th through the 19th at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. Ellis is a 2019 graduate of Paxton Buckley Loda High School. She currently attends the University of Illinois majoring in Food Science and Human Nutrition.



(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College will hold an informational session on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois. The session will be held on Wednesday January 22nd from 12-1 in the Student Union cafeteria.


(Washington-jm) -- Traders will soon be getting a better idea of how this past season's crops actually turned out. Gary Crawford reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- Two of the state’s largest electric utilities owe their customers a combined $543 million in refunds, according to state regulators, but there is sharp disagreement over how much time the companies should have to pay it back. At issue for Ameren Illinois and Commonwealth Edison, is money they collected to pay future tax bills before federal tax cuts which took effect in 2018 lowered those anticipated rates. When the corporate tax rate was slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent, both companies found themselves holding onto large surpluses, known as “excess deferred income taxes,” or EDIT. For ComEd, which serves 4 million customers in Chicago and northern Illinois, the excess amounted to $385 million. For Ameren, which serves about 1.2 million customers in central Illinois and the Metro East area, it amounted to $158 million.


(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ Congressional delegation is sounding off on the president’s powers under the decades-old War Powers Act after President Donald Trump used a drone strike to kill an Iranian general. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, supported last week’s strike on Qasem Soleimani. On the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said Soleimani was a terrorist who killed Americans. However, Durbin said previous presidents had their sights on Soleimani, but didn’t act. Members of Congress are expected to get a briefing about the justification for the strike from the Trump administration today.



(Springfield-jm) -- Applications for more licenses in the Illinois Cannabis Industry are now available. Marijuana craft growers, infusers and transporters can now apply for a state license. It’s part of the continued effort to get more businesses involved says the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox…



Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox. Those who qualify as social equity applicants will get extra points on their app and are eligible to receive grants, low interest loans and fee reductions. Visit: agriculture dot illinois dot gov for the applications. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police officials are working on a new service to reduce a backlog of more than 60,000 new, changed or renewal requests for Firearm Owners' Identification cards, but it’s expensive and will take time. The Illinois State Police posted an update on the agency's Facebook page that said it has about "62,000 FOID applications under review which includes new, renewals and changes.” The post said the agency is still working with Presidio, an IT services vendor that has contracts with a number of other state agencies, to implement a service that will eventually allow residents to handle many issues via automated voice prompts.



The Village of Roberts is still dealing with issues resulting from the paint chips removed from the water tower. Roberts Village Mayor Rick Flessner says he has to hear back from the EPA before approval of cleanup can take place. 



Roberts Village Mayor Rick Flessner



(Undated-jm) -- Congressman John Shimkus is doing his final Valentines for Hero collection. Shimkus’ office will be collecting Valentines through February 7th. Shimkus started the collection in 2008. You can send Valentines to his office in Maryville, Harrisburg and Danville.

(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School will be holding a blood drive in January. Executive Director Sandy Spitz says its part of their Wintorium curriculum…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.


(Hoopeston-jm) -- The Hoopeston Multi-Agency is receiving new equipment for their kitchen. The Hoopeston Rotary Club obtained a $2,000 grant for the project. The agency will receive new stoves, roasters and a beverage dispenser.



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow Grade School District will spend $11,000 to upgrade their security camera system. The district approved the contract for the new system with MCS Office Technologies of Gibson City. The new cameras will be both inside and outside of the school.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office has some tips for keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide this winter. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is very dangerous says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. He says you should never use your gas range or oven as a heat source and make sure your chimney flue is open when you use your fireplace. Additionally…



State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu and include headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness. Pets that are exposed may become sluggish. Those affected or hear their detector go off are advised to evacuate and call 9-1-1 immediately. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police are still accepting applications for new troopers. They extended the deadline for Cadet Class 132 to January 31. According to the ISP website, those whose applications were accepted will be invited to take the Recruitment Test and the Physical Fitness Inventory Test. 



Harvest Ale House in Paxton set to Close

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton restaurant is closing. Ben Grice announced Monday evening on facebook that Harvest Ale House will close in the next couple of weeks and the building will be up for sale. Grice’s other restaurant Humble Hog will remain open.



(Springfield-jm) -- In just two years, Illinois lost $12.4 billion in Adjusted Gross Income, according to IRS migration data analyzed by public finance watchdog Wirepoints. The IRS updated its data last month. Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said it shows more than 218,000 people left Illinois in 2017 and 2018 combined and more than $12.4 billion in income, among the worst losses of all states. Among the many areas of analysis included in the Wirepoints report is data that show the incomes of people who leave Illinois are larger than the incomes of people who move into Illinois.



(Springfield-jm) -- More college financial aid opportunities are now available for undocumented and transgender students in Illinois. Students that don’t qualify for federal aid can still apply for state dollars under the new Rise Act says Illinois Student Assistance Commission Spokesperson Lynne Baker…



Illinois Student Assistance Commission Spokesperson Lynne Baker. Interested students should fill out the alternative application for map grants. Additional apps will become available for other financial programs as well. Visit isac dot org for all the details.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating multiple reports of shots fired over the weekend. Police received several reports of shots fired in the area of Harper Drive, Lowry Drive and Keesler Drive around 2 am Sunday morning. Officers were not able to recover any evidence of a shooting.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Residents in the Rantoul City Schools District will see an decrease in their property taxes despite a tax levy increase. In a 5-2 vote, district leaders approved a 4 point 99 percent increase. The increase is expected to bring in an additional 247,751 to the district. The good news for tax payers is the tax rate is expected to drop to 4 point 7596. That means a person with a $100,000 home will pay $43.93 less in taxes.



(Elliott-jm) -- Water quality concerns are being addressed by the village of Elliott. Residents and village trustees have noticed an increase in the amount of rust and the smell of iron in their water. So far, water samples have passed state EPA standards. The village is in the process of applying for an Illinois Rural Water Association Grant for a new water system. A public hearing, as part of the grant application process, will be held on January 14th at 6:45 pm.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Fire crews from Rantoul and Thomasboro have been busy over the past week. Firefighters have responded to several fires. On the 31st, firefighters responded to a fire at the Burger King on the villages west side. The next night, firefighters from several area fire departments responded to a fire downtown. Sunday morning firefighters were called to a fire on Fairlawn Drive. Sunday night and early Monday morning firefighters were called to a house fire a mile south of the village.



CHICAGO (AP) — A report highlighting persistent problems within Illinois’ child welfare agency showed 123 children died in the past fiscal year despite having contact with the Department of Children and Family Services. It was the highest number since the fiscal year ending in 2005, when the number was 139 deaths, according to annual reports released each January by the department’s inspector general. The lowest it was during that that time was 84 in the fiscal year ending in 2010. Of the 123 deaths in the fiscal year that ended last June, 24 were ruled homicides, 37 were accidental, 34 were natural, seven were suicide and 21 were undetermined.



(Springfield-jm) -- Comptroller Susana Mendoza says her office will stop helping local governments collect red light ticket fines. Comptroller Mendoza says the red light camera system is unfair to low income Illinoisans and is the subject of a federal corruption probe…



Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. The Comptroller’s office worked on behalf of 60 Chicago area communities last year, collecting around 11 million dollars. Mendoza says those local governments can use private debt collectors instead. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating a robbery in the village over the weekend. Police say a man entered Colonial Liquors on Maplewood Drive just before midnight Sunday night, displayed a gun and demanded cash. The suspect is described as a black male, 25 to 30 years of age, about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was wearing a black jacket, black gloves and a black and white Halloween-type mask. He carried a dark-colored handgun.



(Paxton-jm) -- There is a vacancy on the Paxton City Council. Alderman Rob Steiger resigned at the city’s December meeting. Steiger moved outside of city limits and had to step down.



(Gifford-jm) -- The Gifford Grade School District is seeking a 9 percent tax levy increase. The district says the equalized assessed valuation is expected to climb $3.729 million to $53.331 million. Their tentative levy is set at 1.406 million which is expected to bring in an additional $116,107 for the district.




Illinois could lose a member of Congress due to decline in population

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ industries are reacting to new U.S. Census Bureau data that shows Illinois led the nation in population loss over the past decade. The state lost nearly 160,000 residents in just six years, which could mean fewer members in Congress representing the Land of Lincoln. Over the six consecutive years of population losses, the rate of decline accelerated year-to-year with more than 51,000 fewer people in the 12 months that ended July 1, 2019. Demographers say it’s likely Illinois will lose one U.S. congressman, if not two, come the next reapportionment. Illinois had 25 congressional districts in 1948, but lost a seat after the 1950 census. Today, there are 18 congressional seats. Illinois lost it’s 19th congressional seat in 2013 after the 2010 reapportionment. The next reapportionment will occur after the 2020 Census and before the 2022 elections. If Illinois loses more congressional representation because it’s bleeding population to other states, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, warns that will mean lost representation for rural areas. 



(Undated-jm) -- Last month was the 18th warmest December on record in Illinois. The statewide average temperature was 35 point two degrees in December, which is about five degrees above normal. State Climatologist Trent Ford says it was the second half of the month that was the warmest…



State Climatologist Trent Ford. Precipitation was below normal in December. Ford says the short term outlook calls for increased chances of warmer and wetter conditions in Illinois. 


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Owners of Illinois glass pipe shops are elated to begin selling bongs after the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuana took effect. Recreational marijuana users will be able to get equipment to use cannabis at several local stores. Traditional tobacco shops such as Jon’s Pipe Shop will not sell marijuana equipment, but some other smoke and vape shops intend to sell. Vapors Plus will sell water pipes, hand pipes, bubblers and other equipment. Meanwhile, a dispensary based in Champaign is focusing on marijuana products, such as joints, edibles, concentrates, tinctures and vape cartridges, instead of the equipment to use cannabis, such as pipes, bubblers and grinders.



(Washington-jm) -- USDA is collecting data for a special study called the 2019 Census of Horticulture. Officials are asking that if you get a Census form, please respond. Stephanie Ho reports…




(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County will be looking for a new treasurer. Current Treasurer Laurel Prussing announced Friday she is stepping down at the end of the month. Prussing was elected to the position in 2018.



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Farm Bureau is teaming up with Country Financial to host a series of farm legacy seminars around the state. The seminars will provide current and prospective Illinois Farm Bureau members and Country Financial clients with tools, protection and ongoing support essential to legacy planning, in order to allow them to keep their farm in the family amid today’s financial challenges. Locally, a seminar will be held on February 26th from 5 to 7 pm at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.



(Undated-jm) -- Farm Credit Illinois is hosting a series of learning programs for members this winter. On Monday, January 13th from 9:30-noon at their Mahomet location will be a program on crop insurance updates. A similar topic will be discussed in Milford on Tuesday, January 28th from 12:30 -2:30 at Imagine. A Freshroots forum will be held Tuesday, February 11th at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign from 9:30-3.



(Paxton-jm) -- Many school districts across the state continue to deal with funding issues from the state. Paxton Buckley Loda School Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about how the district is doing financially…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- For anyone who travels domestically or plans on entering federal facilities or nuclear power plants, they may need what the government is calling a REAL ID. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will require people to either have a valid U.S. passport, a REAL ID driver's license or  REAL ID card to fly domestically. It's an initiative of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to improve the credentialing process.



(Undated-jm) -- Police are warning people to write 2020 when signing legal documents instead of abbreviating the year. Writing “20” for the year 2020 could lead to potential fraud. Police say  someone could add additional digits to the abbreviated year. For example, a person could add the digits “17” or “19” to make it look like 2017 or 2019.


(Rantoul--jc)  There is another fire in the Rantoul area this morning. Officials say the fire was reported around 1 this morning in a building one mile south of Rantoul. No injuries have been reported. WPXN news will update this story as it develops.


(Rantoul--jc) The third fire in a week happened on Sunday morning in Rantoul. A fire apparently started in the kitchen in a home at 11-0h-5 Fairlawn Drive around 10 yesterday morning. Fire Chief Ken Waters says around 100 thousand dollars damage was done to the home. Firefighters were at the scene for around 2 hours.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Last June, as the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its spring session, first-year Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked whether he would simply kick back and wait for his re-election campaign. After all, he had accomplished virtually everything on which he had campaigned: A balanced budget, a multi-billion-dollar statewide construction program, legalization of marijuana for recreational use, a $15 minimum wage and more. But there is more work to do. Voters will be asked in November whether they want to move to a progressive income tax, lawmakers face ethics, pension and property tax reform and work on the next fiscal budget will begin.



(Springfield-jm) -- Small businesses in Illinois are urged to apply for a new minimum wage tax credit. The credit is available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 full-time employees or less says State Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro. The maximum credit amount allowed is 25 percent of the difference between the new minimum wage and each worker’s previous wage. It will end in 2026 for most small businesses. 



(Springfield-jm) -- A yearly measurement of cell phone taxes and fees found Illinoisans pay more than residents in any other state and the costs are increasing, according to a report. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation compiled state taxes and local taxes from each state’s largest city and capital city. This is how the foundation determined that Illinoisans pay an average of 31 percent, or $331 a year, for the average bill. The national average was 19 percent. Illinois charged a 7 percent excise tax on cell phones, but there were more costs at the local level.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Labor is reminding minimum wage workers to check their paychecks for a raise. The Illinois minimum wage rose from eight dollars 25 cents an hour to nine 25 an hour on January first and workers need to make sure they got the increase says State Labor Director Michael Kleinik…



State Labor Director Michael Kleinik. The increase will only be for hours worked in 2020. It’s been 10 years since the state increased the minimum wage and this gradual phase in will bring the minimum wage up to 15 dollars in 2025. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is reminding the public it is still illegal to drive high in Illinois despite recreational marijuana being legal. White says if you do drive high and get stopped you could face charges of Driving Under the Influence. 


(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson Area Hospital is announcing the first baby of 2020 born at their hospital. Ellie Nicole Good of Buckley was born around 7:30 am New Year’s Day. Good is the daughter of MicKayla Parker and Dakota Good of Buckley. The family was presented with a gift basket filled with baby items donated by the Gibson Area Hospital OB Department. They also received $100 in Paxton Bucks from the Gibson Area Hospital Administration.



(Watseka-jm) -- The Iroquois County Public Health Department is reminding residents that temporary food permits are needed when food is made for the public at a temporary event. The health department says temporary events include fairs, festivals, carnivals, auctions and fun days. The application for a temporary food permit can be found on their website and must be submitted at least two weeks in advance. Cost for a permit for an event lasting 1-3 days is $25. It’s $75 for an event thats 4-14 days. For more information or to find out if you need a temporary food permit call the Iroquois County Public Health Department at 815-432-2483.


(Buckley-jm) -- One area high school is starting to take applications for the upcoming school year. Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley will hold an open house in January says Executive Director Sandy Spitz…


Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Springfield-jm) -- A DCFS Inspector General’s report documents the death of 123 children who had contact with DCFS within 12 months of their death. The Department's Inspector General, Meryl Paniak, says this number should be unacceptable to every Illinois citizen. From July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, 123 children died. That's more than a 25% increase to the 98 child deaths in fiscal year 2018. The Inspector General said many of the problems she identified this year, are the same problems from 2004. One of those including the department leaving children with abusive parents and children sleeping in DCFS offices. The report also documents every child's death and recommendations for how the department can prevent similar deaths. The report is given to the Governor and the General Assembly.


(Undated-jm) -- It's been safer on the roads for drivers this holiday season. Illinois State Police said they reported exactly 120 fewer crashes on Illinois’ highways and interstates over the New Year’s holiday. ISP said they've had more troopers patrolling this holiday season, as well as year-round. Their goal in 2020 is to get that number even lower for this year's holiday season.


Illinois' agriculture and manufacturing sectors will reap gains from trade deals

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ agriculture and manufacturing sectors will reap gains from trade deals coming together through the Trump administration, and those deals could pave the way for more agreements with other countries. That’s according to U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria. He praised the House's passage of the US Mexico Canada Agreement that’s up for final passage in the U.S. Senate and looked ahead to an agreement with China being signed Jan. 15. Forty percent of the products grown, produced or manufactured in Illinois go to Canada or Mexico. Phase 1 with China, 25 percent of Illinois soybeans go to China every year.




(Rantoul-jm) -- A ribbon cutting and grand opening of a Rantoul business will be held today. Shields Auto Center will hold the ribbon cutting at 10 am at their new location next to Walmart. Everyone is invited to attend.



(Paxton-jm) -- Students in the Paxton Buckley Loda School District are almost one to one learning. One to one learning allows each student to have some form of technology to help them learn. PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure says it wouldn’t be possible without the help of the PBL Education Foundation…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- More Americans are working past the traditional retirement age of 65 compared to a decade ago. Census data shows that between 2014 and 2018, 26 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were employed. For those over 75 years old that number was 6 point 6 percent. Labor force participation also declined from 66 percent to 63 point 1 percent. The typical worker saved only $50,000 for retirement. Those who made less than $50,000 only saved about $3,000 for retirement.


(Springfield-jm) -- If you want to be exempt from Illinois' new sales tax exemption when trading in a vehicle, buy a truck. Illinois will now no longer give a full exemption on the trade-in value of a car. Instead, Illinois’ sales tax will apply to any trade-in vehicle worth more than $10,000. That means trading in a $30,000 car for one worth $60,000 will cost the customer an extra $1,200 in additional sales taxes.  The sales tax will also apply to RVs, ATVs and boats valued at more than $10,000. State officials expect the new tax to bring in $60 million annually. Exemptions include one of the more popular forms of transportation in rural Illinois. Pickup trucks or other hauling vehicles are exempt. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois topped three million dollars Wednesday. 77 thousand transactions were made on the first day for legal pot sales in Illinois with receipts totaling nearly three point two million dollars Illinois is just the second state in the midwest to legalize recreational marijuana, following Michigan which opened sales last month. 



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow Grade School District has a new member. Jacob Good replaces Jill Jamison who stepped down in December. Good is an alum of Ludlow Grade School and Rantoul Township High School. He farms in the Ludlow area.



(Washington-jm) -- Seven USDA-led Agricultural Trade Missions are scheduled for next year in continuing efforts to diversify export opportunities. Rod Bain has the details…




(Undated-jm) -- Long hours on the job can lead to high blood pressure according to a recent survey from the American Heart Association. Those who work 49 or more hours a week had a 66 percent higher chance of getting hypertension. They were at an even greater risk of developing masked hypertension, a condition that often goes undetected during routine visits. The survey tracked more than 3,500 white collar employees. Hypertension affects nearly half of US adults and leads to an average of 82,000 deaths per year.



Half of U-S workers didn't get a raise in pay in 2019

(Undated-jm) -- Schools in Illinois must comply with a new state law that allows students to use medical cannabis on school grounds. Under the law, only medically infused products can be used at school if approved by a doctor. Medical cannabis can be administered by the school nurse, administrator of self administered by the student. The Illinois School Board Association is working to develop a training for school nurses and administrators for administering medical cannabis.



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton is moving forward with their streetscape project in the downtown area. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about what people can expect…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.



URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois woman who allegedly attacked two police officers, leaving one with a broken arm, has been found unfit to stand trial. A Champaign County judge ordered 44-year-old Treva Murray committed for treatment until she's deemed fit for trial in the November attack. The Urbana woman is charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer and resisting a peace officer. She allegedly attacked two University of Illinois police officers at an Urbana video store where she had become unruly.  Both officers ended up in the hospital, one with a broken arm and the other with an injured knee.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The superintendent of Rantoul City Schools has a new contract. The Rantoul City Schools school board approved a one year contract extension for Michelle Ramage. Ramage had two years remaining on her contract. Her contract is now good through 2022.



(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School will be holding a blood drive in January. Executive Director Sandy Spitz says its part of their Wintorium curriculum…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Undated-jm) -- Half of U-S workers didn’t get a boost in pay despite the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. 49 percent of workers reported they did not receive a raise in 2019. That’s up from 38 percent in 2018. That is the highest number since 2016.


(Undated-jm) -- Right now, the state of Illinois faces $78 billion worth of unfunded teacher pension liabilities, according to the Teachers' Retirement System. Former Governor Bruce Rauner tried to shrink this number by capping teacher salary raises to 3% at the end of their career. Governor JB Pritzker overturned Rauner's salary cap, leaving the cap at 6 percent. In every other school district but Chicago, the state of Illinois pays the majority of all the pension costs and that is causing some to worry how Illinois will pay for rising pension costs.



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A University of Illinois College of Law professor accused of sexual harassment will not be returning to the university. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that teaching staff and students were notified by email that Jay Kesan's courses will be taught by other faculty members. A two-year investigation into his sexual misconduct was made public in the fall of 2018. Kesan then took a yearlong voluntary, unpaid leave of absence. He was expected to come back in January for the 2020 school year. The investigation had concluded that Kesan's conduct didn't qualify as sexual harassment or misconduct under university policy.



A local car dealership will hold an open house tomorrow in Rantoul. The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce and Shield’s Auto Center in Rantoul will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening at its new location near Walmart on the Village’s west side at 10am.



(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka is the latest hospital to add temporary visitor restrictions. The restrictions include no one under the age of 18 in patient rooms, no more than two visitors per patient and those visiting someone in isolation must check in at the nurses station.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Illinois High School Association voted recently against moving to a district playoff format from the current playoff format in football. Paxton Buckley Loda Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr talks about how the vote affects the team…


PBL Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr.



(Undated-jm) -- The past year’s population growth rate in the United States was the slowest in a century due to declining births, increasing deaths and the slowdown of international migration. Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show the U.S. grew from the middle of 2018 to the middle of 2019 by almost a half percent, or about 1.5 million people. The U.S. population stood at 328 million this year.



There will be increased Police Patrols today and tonight

(Springfield-jm) -- Of the more than 250 new laws that take effect New Year’s Day in Illinois, two deal with insurance coverage that could affect 20 percent of insurance plans statewide. One new law enacted this year and set to take effect New Year’s Day mandates insurance coverage for children’s epinephrine injectors when such devices are deemed medically necessary. Another measure beginning Jan. 1 allows insurance companies to offer optional coverage for hearing aids and sets the maximum cost at $2,500 for two years. State Rep. Tom Demmer said such laws only apply to insurance policies the state has legal authority over.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation says there will be increased police patrols for the New Year’s holiday. Traffic deaths are down this year and IDOT is hoping to keep it that way. Spokesperson Maria Castaneda says the public can expect to see more cops on the roads over New Year’s…



IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda. Police will also be looking for speeders and distracted drivers. 



(Gifford-jm) -- Gifford’s water main project is moving forward. Bids for the project are expected to go out soon with the plans were to be completed by Christmas. The plans must be submitted to the state EPA before the project can be awarded. Trustees are expected to review bids in February.


(Undated-jm) -- Come January 1st, those wanting recreational marijuana will have options at two locations in the Champaign-Urbana area. The state recently approved NuMed in Urbana and Phoenix Botanical in Champaign for recreational licenses. Both currently are allowed to dispense for medical marijuana. Owners at both locations warn there may be a shortage of flowers however, they have edibles and vape cartridges available. Sales will be cash only.



(Springfield-jm) -- As recreational marijuana becomes legal for adults on January 1st the Illinois State Police is reminding there are still laws that need to be followed. Under the law, those 21 and over may have up to 30 grams of weed, up to five grams of concentrated T-H-C and up to 500 milligrams of products like edibles says I-S-P Director Brendan Kelly…



Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Kelly says you also can’t use pot in front of anyone under 21 and it will still be illegal to drive while you’re high. Employers can set their own policies about marijuana use, including having a zero tolerance rule. 



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is reminding that all drivers services facilities will be closed tomorrow for the New Year holiday. All facilities will reopen on Thursday.

(Springfield-jm) -- With the end of the year here, a wealth manager said it’s a good time for Illinois residents to evaluate what they can do to maintain more of their wealth. John Bever with Phase 3 Advisors, a wealth management group, suggests looking at charitable donations. He said talk to a professional about donor advised funds and bunching .In Illinois, if your wealth involves real estate, Bever suggests looking to clarify what the real estate is for. There’s something else Bever said to keep an eye on heading into the new year and that’s the proposed progressive income tax constitutional amendment.  There is one bright spot for Illinois: the state doesn’t tax retirement income. As for your investments with the possibility of a market sell-off over the next year, he recommends being prepared to make that a buying opportunity.



(Springfield-jm) -- State officials are urging the public to prepare now for potential spring flooding. According to the National Weather Service, abnormally moist ground conditions and high river levels in the upper midwest could lead to flooding this spring. Rachel Torbert with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says that’s why it’s a good idea to consider flood insurance…



Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. The Illinois Department of Insurance recommends reviewing your current homeowners policy to see if you have flood coverage. 

(Ludlow-jm) -- Bids for upgrades for the new Ludlow water system are expected to go out in early 2020. Fehr Graham Engineering told village leaders the letting of bids will take place in January. They also expect to close with the USDA in mid-March for grant funds that will pay off the bridge loan from a Paxton bank for the project.



(Hoopeston-jm) -- There’s a new pet grooming business in Hoopeston. Paw Spa n More opened in the former Schulers Greenhouse location at 1208 S. 2nd Avenue. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 8 am to 6 pm. For more information call 217-260-3313.


(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest dairy outlook reveals minimum changes in the balance sheets for this year and next, but continued growth in product and class prices in 2020. Rod Bain reports…




Stiffer Traffic Fines go into effect January 1st

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Fifty wind farms have opened in Illinois since 2003 and more are in the works, but not everyone is on board. The state ranks sixth nationwide with 2,778 operational wind turbines, according to The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, which cited the American Wind Energy Association. McLean County is expected to have four wind farms soon. Illinois could make enough wind energy by 2030 to power the equivalent of 7.2 million average U.S. homes, according to the federal Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Scenario.



(Springfield-jm) -- The unemployment rate was down in nearly all Illinois metro areas last month. 13 out of the 14 metro areas enjoyed a decrease in the jobless rate in November, compared to the same time last year. State Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Rebecca Cisco says some areas set records…



Illinois Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Rebecca Cisco. Nine of the metro areas experienced over the year job growth as well, including Chicago and the Suburbs, Champaign-Urbana and the East St. Louis area. In Ford County the unemployment rate fell from 4 point 8 percent to 3 point 8 percent. In Champaign County the unemployment rate fell from 4 point 3 percent to 3 point 1 percent. In Iroquois County the unemployment rate fell from 4 point 4 percent to 3 point 6 percent.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man who allegedly entered a home last week in the 1800 block of Eater Drive and beat the person inside with a baseball bat faces up to 30 years in prison. Nicholas McMahon was charged with home invasion and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He is free on bond. He is due back in court February 11th.


(Washington-jm) -- What do USDA's December reports reveal about U.S. beef production, price and export forecasts for next year? Rod Bain reports…




Tri-County Players have set auditions for their next play, “The Last Séance”, by Herb Hassler, for Saturday, January 4th from 10 – noon. The auditions will be held at the Paxton Market Street Theatre, 120 N. Market St., Paxton. We will be looking for 3 men and 6 women to fill the parts in this slick farce: A family-operated séance scam is laid out before us. Attempts to conceal the swindle lead to a number of surprising twists amid frenetic action. The final startling twist of the play reveals to us - and the family - why this must be the last séance.To audition, you will need to read excerpts from the play. We will begin practicing on Monday, January 6th. Practices will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. The show dates are February 14 – 16 and 21 – 23.For additional information or to set up a different time to audition, contact Tammy Belanger at 217-766-1174.


(Springfield-jm) -- When Illinois’ recreational cannabis law goes into effect on Jan. 1, the Illinois State Police officials said the agency won’t revoke Firearm Owners' Identification cards based solely on recreational use, but questions remain.  A defense attorney who focuses on Second Amendment cases said the matter remains a question mark. Here’s the conundrum: Recreational cannabis is legal in Illinois. Illinois also is one of the only states that require residents to obtain a card to own a firearm. The governmental entity charged with running that program and its daily background checks will also have knowledge of some people who are using cannabis, a no-no for gun ownership in the eyes of the federal government. While possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis flower has not been a crime in Illinois since 2016, it is still a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government and gun buyers are specifically asked if they use cannabis. A “yes” answer to that question means a denial of the firearm sale. The punishment for lying on an FTR form is a felony. Felons cannot own guns in most cases. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Several new traffic safety laws take effect January first. Fines are going up in the new year for reckless driving, passing a stopped school bus and speeding in a construction zone. Another law, explained by Rockford Senator Steve Stadelman during floor debate, makes it illegal to stream movies or watch  youtube on your phone while driving…



State Senator Steve Stadelman of Rockford. Additionally, the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker increases from 10 thousand dollars to 25 thousand.


(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On December 26th Dusty Bouchard of Paxton was arrested for aggravated battery and home invasion. On December 23rd Michael Surratt of Paxton was arrested on a Kane County warrant.



(Springfield-jm) -- Minimum wage workers will be getting a raise in the new year. The state minimum wage will go up by a dollar January first from eight dollars 25 an hour to nine 25 an hour. When he signed the law back in February, Governor J-B Pritzker said it was time to pay workers a living wage…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. This will be the first increase in a gradual phase in that will bring the minimum wage up to 15 dollars an hour in 2025. 



(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher School District has received a commendable rating from the state in their recent report card. Juniors SAT scores as well as freshman and sophomore PSAT scores came in above the state average. The district says they are working on a plan to continue making improvements.


53 Year old Clifford Brewer arrested for 3 counts of first degree murder in Cullum

CULLOM, Ill. (AP) — A 53-year-old man has been arrested in the Christmas Day shootings of three people in a small eastern Illinois community. The bodies of a 51-year-old man, 48-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man were found at a home early Wednesday morning in Cullom. Dispatchers received a call about the shootings shortly after 2 a.m. State police say Clifford Brewer was arrested Wednesday and jailed on three counts of first-degree murder. A court hearing is expected today.  The names of the victims, their relationships to the suspect and a motive behind the shootings were not immediately released. About 550 people live in Cullom.


NEW LENOX, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois freeway has been shut down after a semitrailer rolled over and leaked acid onto the roadway. State police say the 33-year-old driver was heading west on Interstate 80 near New Lenox about 8 a.m. Thursday when the truck began to sway as he tried to change lanes. The vehicle struck the guardrail and rolled over in a ditch. An estimated 100 gallons (378 liters) of phosphoric acid leaked from the truck. Hazardous materials teams were called in to contain the chemical. No injuries were reported. Police say the driver was cited for improper lane usage. New Lenox is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. 


CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Gaming Board has moved to revoke the license of a video gambling operator for allegedly offering a $5 million “illegal inducement” to the owner of a gambling parlor chain. A spokesman for Rick Heidner has dismissed the claim, calling it a "smear campaign." The board's disciplinary complaint earlier this month comes after Heidner's name came up in a federal search warrant of then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval's offices. Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration has also said it won't sell state-owned land to Heidner for a proposed combined race track and casino project, Heidner hasn't been charged with wrongdoing. 



(Paxton-jm) -- Renovations to Clara Peterson Elementary School are pretty much wrapped up. There are just a handful of small projects left to be completed. Paxton Buckley Loda Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about some of the features of the renovation…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Buckley--jc)  Family and friends in and around the Buckley area are saying goodbye to a popular businessman, family member and friend on Saturday. Roger Weber of Buckley passed away on Wednesday morning . Roger owned and operated Weber Fertilizer and Trucking in Loda and Buckley. Weber’s interest ranged from cattle buying, the Buckley Dutchmasters, golf and fishng to playing cards. He was a devoted family man and cared for his family and community. He will be missed by all. Roger Weber’s funeral is set for Saturday morning at 11 at St John’s Lutheran Church in Buckley



Tri-County Players have set auditions for their next play, “The Last Séance”, by Herb Hassler, for Saturday, January 4th from 10 – noon. The auditions will be held at the Paxton Market Street Theatre, 120 N. Market St., Paxton. We will be looking for 3 men and 6 women to fill the parts in this slick farce: A family-operated séance scam is laid out before us. Attempts to conceal the swindle lead to a number of surprising twists amid frenetic action. The final startling twist of the play reveals to us - and the family - why this must be the last séance.To audition, you will need to read excerpts from the play. We will begin practicing on Monday, January 6th. Practices will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. The show dates are February 14 – 16 and 21 – 23.For additional information or to set up a different time to audition, contact Tammy Belanger at 217-766-1174.



(Undated-jm) -- Winter is hereand that means cold and snow. Experts have these tips to keep your four legged friends safe this winter. WPXN’s Jason Madden reports…



(Sprigfield--jc)  -- A new law will remove the statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes in Illinois.Lawmakers passed House Bill 2135 this spring. Oswego state Rep. Keith Wheeler introduced the measure in the House. Aurora state Sen. Linda Holmes introduced the Senate version. The law will remove the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual assault crimes against adults.  

General Counsel for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Sarah Beuning said the new law was “a very big deal in the message it sends to survivors about how serious sexual assault is as a crime.”


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinoisans will soon find out if the state's population has continued to decline The U.S. Census is scheduled to release its annual population estimates on Monday for the 12 months that ended in July 2019. This estimate will be the final one before the federal agency begins its ten-year count next spring. Last year, Illinois became the sixth most populous state, losing an estimated 45,000 people and falling behind Pennsylvania.  Some experts in the field say the loss of population trend in Illinois is likely to continue



(Washington-jm) -- What are some of the reasons behind USDA's recent adjustment of hog prices down for both this year and next? Rod Bain has the details…




(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow Grade School District is seeking a four point nine nine percent increase to their tax levy. The increase would bring in an additional $463,791 to the district. District leaders say the increase is due to a climb in the total equalized assessed valuation in the district from $17,4771,640 to $17,908,431.



(Springfield--jc)  Now that Christmas is over, a horticulturist at the University of Illinois Extension has some tips for disposing of your live tree. Some communities and waste haulers have recycling programs. U of I Extension’s Richard Hentschel says there are other ways of disposing of that holiday tree…



 U of I Extension Horticulturist Richard Henschel


(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher School District has received a commendable rating from the state in their recent report card. Juniors SAT scores as well as freshman and sophomore PSAT scores came in above the state average. The district says they are working on a plan to continue making improvements.



(Gifford-jm) -- Gifford’s water main project is moving forward. Bids for the project are expected to go out soon with the plans expected to be completed by Christmas. The plans must be submitted to the state EPA before the project can be awarded. Trustees are expected to review bids in February.



Livingston County, State Police and local police are investigating a triple homicide in Cullom

(Cullom--jc)  Livingston County, State Police and local police are investigating a triple homicide in Cullom. The bodies of three people were found on Christmas by authorities There is a suspect in custody. Authorities say the victims were a 51 year old man, 48 year old woman and a 27 year old man. Their bodies were found just after 2 Wednesday morning. Autopsies are set for all three today. WPXN news will update this story on later newscasts. 



(Hoopeston-jm) -- The Hoopeston Public Library is hosting their Food for Fines Program. If you bring in canned or non-perishable food you will receive $1 off your fine for each item. The food will be donated to a local food pantry. The promotion runs through December 28th.



(Gifford-jm) -- The Champaign County village of Gifford is seeing an increase in the monthly revenue they receive from the state’s Motor Fuel Tax. The village receives between $3,200 and $3,300 each month. Previously, the village received between $1,800 and $2,000 each month.



(Springfield-jm) -- Road fatalities are down this year and the Illinois Department of Transportation is hoping it stays that way. 965 people have died on Illinois roads in 2019, a decrease of about 50 people. State and local police have increased enforcement for the holidays in an effort to keep those numbers down says I-DOT Spokesperson Guy Tridgell... 



I-DOT Spokesperson Guy Tridgell. Tridgell says in addition to seeing more police on the roads, law enforcement will be holding special details and roadside safety checks through the holidays. 


(Undated-jm) -- The CDC is warning that puppies are linked to a multi-state outbreak of an infection resistant to multiple drugs. So far 30 cases resulting in four hospitalizations of Campylobacter jejune has been reported in 13 states including Illinois.  The CDC says contact with puppies especially in pet stores are likely the source of the outbreak. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever that lasts about a week. Those infected usually recover without antibiotics. The CDC recommends always washing your hands after touching puppies or dogs.


(Undated-jm) -- Changes are coming to changing table laws in 2020 in Illinois. State buildings, public places, retail stores over 5,000 square feet with public restrooms and restaurants that hold more than 60 patrons with public restrooms will now be required to have changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms. Industrial buildings, nightclubs and bars are exempt.



(Paxton-jm) -- Many school districts across the state are facing a multitude of challenges from funding to pensions and teacher retention. Paxton Buckley Loda Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about some of the challenges facing the PBL school district…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Undated-jm) -- Illinois home prices moved higher in November while statewide sales shifted lower amid tighter inventory. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…




(Peoria-jm) -- Those who have a sick child that is in OSF’s children's hospital in Peoria have another place to stay close by. Ronald McDonald House recently opened in the city. The 22 bedroom facility is expected to serve over 700 families annually. Ronald McDonald House’s provide a supportive place for families to stay while their child receives medical care.


(Washington-jm) -- More farmers who have been turned down for loans by the usual lenders are going to so called "alternative" lenders. Gary Crawford has the details…




(Paxton-jm) -- A local food pantry received a donation from an area business. Paxton Hardware and Rental sold ornaments for a Christmas tree with the money raised going to an area food pantry says Paxton Hardware and Rental employee Andrea Turner…



Paxton Hardware and Rental Employee Andrea Turner.



(Ludlow-jm) -- Bids for upgrades for the new Ludlow water system are expected to go out in early 2020. Fehr Graham Engineering told village leaders the letting of bids will take place in January. They also expect to close with the USDA in mid-March for grant funds that will pay off the bridge loan from a Paxton bank for the project.



(Fisher-jm) -- A Fisher intersection will see traffic control changes. The changes affect the intersection of Sangamon and Second Streets. Those traveling north and south on Second Street will now have a stop sign while Sangamon will be designated as a through street.



(Thomasboro-jm) -- The village of Thomasboro is moving forward with seeking to hire a full time police chief. The village had been discussing whether or not to hire an additional part time officer, contract full time service with the county or hire a full time police chief. Mike Martinez has currently been serving as interim police chief.



New W-4 Forms for 2020 Taxes

(Paxton-jm) -- A Bloomington man is facing charges of attempting to flee and elude police, driving with a revoked license and multiple warrants following a police chase Thursday night. Paxton police attempted to stop Nathaniel Robinson around 10:15 Thursday night in Paxton. Robinson fled west on Route 9 towards Gibson City where police found his vehicle in the ditch near Gibson City. He fled and was later apprehended in Sibley.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been arrested after shots were fired at a vehicle Friday morning. Police were called to the 600 block of Heath Drive for a report of shots fired. Officers located shell casings there as well as in the 600 block of Autumn Fields Lane. Alvin Parker approached police to report his vehicle had been stolen. Police learned Parker shot at the vehicle as it left. That vehicle was being driven by his girlfriend. The vehicle was located near Champaign and had been struck multiple times. No injuries were reported. Parker was taken to the Champaign County Jail on charges of resisting police and criminal damage.



(Urbana-jm) -- A University of Illinois police officer has been arrested for misusing law enforcement databases. Jerald Sandage was charged Friday with official misconduct. U of I police say Sandage misused law enforcement databases and security cameras to find personal information about women on and off campus. Sandage is also accused of sexually assaulting at least one of the women. 


(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts village residents will likely see an increase in their water bills. Mayor Rick Flessner says its because of a possible fine from the state over village employees picking up paint chips from the water tower project…



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner.



(Undated-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing drivers services facilities will be closed Tuesday, December 24th and Wednesday, December 25th for the Christmas holiday. Facilities will reopen on Thursday, December 26th.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul village leaders are expected to approve a land lease agreement for the new sports complex at a special meeting tonight. The agreement calls for the village to least 65 acres near I-57 for $10,000 until July 1st. After that date the village will purchase the property for $860,000. The village will also transfer 33 acres of property as part of the agreement. Village leaders are also expected to approve a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Tonight’s Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 5:30 pm.



(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton is moving forward with the streetscape project. Mayor Bill Ingold has the latest on the project…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.



(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County ended fiscal year 2019 in the red. The county had a deficit of $25,000. 16 of the 19 categories in the general fund ended the fiscal year below their budgeted amount.


(Champaign County-jm) -- A ballot lottery to determine placement on the March 17th ballot in Champaign County was held at the Brookens Administrative Center. Robert Burkhalter will appear first followed by Susan McGarth for circuit clerk. For district 6 DeShawn Williams will appear first followed by Charles Young. For district 8, Giraldo Rosales followed by Emily Rodriguez and district 10 Connie Deland-Meyers followed by Mary King.


(Springfield-jm) -- The winter solstice is nearly upon us, and for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, the shorter days and falling temperatures can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Mary Schuermann reports…




(Undated-jm) -- New year, new tax rates, even new tax forms. These are all of the issues taxpayers should ensure they’re prepared for next April by getting a “tax checkup” now. The IRS announced a re-designed W-4 form that will be the standard for new employees in 2020 but employers are suggesting current workers fill them out as well to ensure the correct amount is being taken out of their paychecks.  New to the form is a question about how much the employee’s spouse makes. In lieu of this, the IRS Tax Withholding Calculator will allow a family to figure out their liability for next year and withhold accordingly without having to tell the employer how much their entire family income is or if the worker has a second job. 


(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign woman is suing a Champaign County Sheriff’s deputy and the department over a pat down search. Wylesha Ayres was pulled over in May on Dobbins Drive in Champaign for an expired license plate. The deputy searched Ayres for weapons, which she claims the deputy allegedly touched her inappropriately. In the suit, Ayres claims her fourth amendment right against unreasonable search was violated. She also claims she was subjected to humiliation, degradation, emotional pain and suffering. The deputy, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and the county are listed in the suit.



(Rural Rantoul-jm) -- Firefighters from Rantoul and Thomasboro were called to a fire in the Fountain Valley area Saturday morning. Firefighters were called to a fifth wheel on fire just before 8:30 am. When they arrived the trailer was fully involved. Officials believe the cause was a space heater malfunction. The trailer was a total loss.



(Champaign-jm) -- Two people are dead following a house fire in Champaign. Firefighters were called to the fire on Sherwood Court late Saturday night. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says 49 year old Leslie Gill was pronounced deceased at Carle Foundation Hospital Sunday morning. An autopsy is scheduled for today. A 12 year old girl, who’s name has not yet been released also died in the fire.



(Paxton-jm) -- A local food pantry received a donation from an area business. Paxton Hardware and Rental sold ornaments for a Christmas tree with the money raised going to an area food pantry says Paxton Hardware and Rental employee Andrea Turner…



Paxton Hardware and Rental Employee Andrea Turner.



(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston Area High School will be hosting a four week baseball camp in January. The camp, in conjunction with US Baseball Academy will begin January 12th and is for players in grades 1-5. Those who register by December 24th save $30. The website is: us baseball academy dot com and enter promo code holiday 30 at checkout for the discount.



(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City leaders are expected to hear their fiscal year 2018-2019 audit at tonight’s city council meeting. The Gibson City city council meeting gets underway at 7 pm.



(Paxton-jm) -- Renovations at Clara Peterson Elementary School in Paxton are just about complete. Paxton Buckley Loda Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure says they are down to just some minor details…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Park District  handled a pair of financial matters at their December meeting. Park district commissioners approved the issuance $100,000 in general obligation bonds. They also updated their tax levy ordinance for the fiscal year beginning February 1 2020 through January 31 2021 to a levy of $107,000.



(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County leaders are looking into updating the county’s website and make it ADA compliant. In addition to the general updates and making it ADA compliant, department heads would like the ability to add more content on their pages. The redesign is expected to cost at least $20,000.



(Springfield-jm) -- A horticulturist at the University of Illinois Extension says if you’ve been keeping your bird feeder stocked, its important to not stop during the cold winter months. If you usually have a feeder out, birds will get used to stopping by your yard says the Extension’s Richard Hentschel. He recommends providing seed into mid-spring when plants start to come up. And if you don’t want the squirrels partaking…



University of Illinois Extension Horticulturist Richard Hentschel. Hentschel also suggests supplying water for the birds. 



(Undated-jm) -- Ford is recalling more than 500,000 pickup trucks because the carpet flooring can catch fire after a crash. The recall affects 2017 through 2019 super duty and super crew trucks. The company says the front seat pretensioner could generate excessive sparks that could ignite carpet.



The state unemployment rate fell to a historic low last month

(Chicago--jc)  --The first meeting of the newly formed Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform is set for Monday in Chicago.The first hearing will discuss the framework of future meetings.The co-chairs, Democrats from the House and Senate, issued statements saying they will look for “serious solutions” to “rebuild trust with the people of Illinois” in a bipartisan fashion. Senate Republicans opposed the commission’s creation because it was weighted toward Democrats. 



(Springfield-jm) -- While many people will hold off on house hunting until spring, data from millions of home sales show that closing after Christmas is less expensive. ATTOM Data Solutions compiles data from more than 23 million single-family home and condo sales over the past six years and found only three days of the year consistently offered discounts below what the estimated market value: Dec. 4, Dec. 26 and Dec. 31. In Illinois, December was the best time to buy a home at a discount, on average 5.3 percent below market price, which was the seventh-best discount in the nation.


(Springfield-jm) -- The state unemployment rate fell to a historic low last month. Illinois Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Sam Salustro says November was another good month, with the jobless rate coming in at three point eight percent…



Illinois Depart5809ment of Employment Security Spokesperson Sam Salutstro. The national unemployment rate for November was three point five percent. 


(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul man who left the courthouse before the verdicts against him were read is back in custody. James Hunt was taken into custody following a court hearing Thursday. Hunt told the court he felt ill and went home. The Champaign County Judge didn’t buy the explanation and ordered him held until sentencing on January 31st. A jury found Hunt guilty of possession of cannabis and possession of cocaine. 


(Rantoul--jc)  -- Congratulations to Rantoul Police Department Officer Nick Pampinella who graduated from the University of Illinois Police Training Institute on Thursday Officer Pampinella completed the 14-week intensive course which provides the foundation for officers to serve their community. Officer Pampinella was also recipient of an academic achievement award which is given to the top 10% of graduating officers. Officer Pampinella will now begin an intensive field training program at the police department.



(Washington-jm) -- The US/Mexico/Canada trade agreement has cleared another hurdle. The House of Representatives has voted its stamp of approval.  Gary Crawford reports…




(Mahomet-jm) -- Farm Credit Illinois has a new CEO. Aaron Johnson has served as interim CEO following the sudden passing of former CEO Tom Tracy. Wednesday, Johnson was named CEO. Johnson joined Farm Credit Illinois in 1985.



(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning shoppers to be wary of sales pitches from alternative energy suppliers. Alternative energy suppliers are targeting holiday shoppers at malls, stores and office building lobbies says Attorney General Raoul. They’re trying to get customers to switch energy companies, promising lower rates and other incentives. Raoul says a new law effective January first requires suppliers to release more information about their prices and prohibits termination fees for residential and small business customers. 



(Undated-jm) -- Ameren Illinois customers will see a reduction in their power bills. The Illinois Commerce Commission approved an overall reduction of $7.05 million on power delivery charges. The reduction should save the typical residential power delivery customer about $1.13 a month.

(Undated--jc)  --Nearly $600,000 in taxpayer-backed grants are going out to for snowmobile trails in Stephenson, Ogle and Winnebago counties. More than $350,000 of that is going to the Illinois Association of Snowmobile Clubs.The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the funding will be used for development, rehabilitation, operations and maintenance for snowmobile trail projects.



(Springfield-jm) -- People who have been negatively affected by the war on drugs can apply for $21 million in taxpayer-funded low-interest loans from the state to get started in the cannabis industry. The state’s cannabis legalization law created the Cannabis Business Development Fund, which will make low-interest loans available for qualifying applicants. The funds come from the licensing fees paid by existing dispensaries and cultivators.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation reminds that the latest road conditions are right at your fingertips. The website: getting around illinois dot com has up to date information about whether highways are ice or snow covered. I-DOT Spokesperson Guy Tridgell says it’s a good idea to check it before heading out…



IDOT Spokesperson Guy Tridgell. Again, the website is getting around illinois dot com.



(Danville-jm) -- A former Vermilion County Board member has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after using his position as an accountant  to operate a check-kiting scheme. Chris Leigh noticed in 2010, two of the three companies he worked for weren’t making enough to keep them all afloat so he began writing checks to fraudulently keep balances up. The bank noticed a pattern of large deposits that weren’t covered. The three banks lost over $1.3 million.



(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County is hiring an accounting firm to help the county’s treasurer's office get caught up. The treasurer’s office is facing a backlog of reconciling 2019 monthly bank statements that must be done by the end of the year. The treasurer’s office has been without their chief deputy who went on FMLA then stepped down. Clifton Larson Allen was hired to help and will be paid out of the county executive’s funds.



(Washington-jm) -- Before the event that gives us the reason for Christmas, trees were decorated by civilizations during the shortest day of the year. Rod Bain reports…




(Undated-jm) -- With the flu becoming more widespread, many area hospitals are taking precautions to protect patients. The CDC says seasonal flu activity peaks in January and February and ends as late as May. 20 percent of Americans get the flu every year. 1,300 people so far in the U-S have died from the flu with more than 23,000 hospitalized. Precautions being implemented at area hospitals include limiting inpatient visitors to no more than two at one time, they must be over 18 years of age and show no sign of illness. The CDC recommends covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and to wash your hands frequently.


GREEN BAY, Wis. — After more than a year of uncertainty layered on a depressed farm economy, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the country hailed today’s passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the House of Representatives.The House approval of legislation to implement the trade deal, known as USMCA, moves it to the Senate, which is likely to take up the legislation early next year.The three countries signed the agreement in November 2018, but their legislative bodies needed to approve. Mexico has done so and the Canadian legislature is expected to consider the deal next month. Last week, the Trump administration and Democratic leaders in the House said they had agreed on final details.


Illegally passing a school bus will cost you more starting in January

(Springfield-jm) -- The amount of overtime DCFS is paying is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. A recent investigation found the agency is paying out nearly $10 million in overtime in 2019. That’s up from over $8.6 million in 2017. The investigation uncovered over $1.6 million in overtime pay went to just 50 employees including a supervisor that makes over $100,000 a year.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illegally passing a school bus will cost you more starting in January. The fine for a first offense will double to $300 starting January 1st and you could lose your license for 3 months. A second and subsequent offense is also doubling. That will now cost you $1,000 and you could lose your license for a year. State law says you must stop if a bus has their red lights flashing and their stop sign extended.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is signing what he calls a monumental pension consolidation law. The new law combines the state’s 649 downstate and suburban police and firefighter pensions into just two systems. Governor Pritzker says this will be a relief to local governments and taxpayers…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker says having only two funds will also reduce paperwork and management costs. 


(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton Police have released their recent activity report. On December 6th no tickets were issued and no injuries reported following a two vehicle accident at Accolade Health on Fulton. On December 10th no tickets were issued and no injuries reported following a two vehicle accident at Pine and Maple. On December 11th no tickets were issued and no injuries reported after a vehicle struck the Paxton Civic Center. On December 13th Myra Lewis of Chicago was arrested for forgery, unlawful acquisition of a controlled substance, possession of fraudulent identification and possession of cannabis after police were called to Hudson’s for a report of a forged prescription. On December 16th, Anthony Bower of Paxton was arrested for criminal trespass and violation of bail bond.



(Pesotum-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police based in Pesotum have released results of special traffic enforcement patrols held in Champaign County during the months of November and December. During the patrols, troopers issued four occupant restraint citations, 35 speeding citations, 18 distracted driving citations and 86 other violation citations.



(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley is gearing up for their annual Wintorum. Executive Director Sandy Spitz explains what Wintorum is…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul has approved an agreement with a Champaign company for design and bid work for four roof projects. The village is looking to redo the roofs at the Rantoul Business Center, the wastewater treatment plants traveling bridge building, the water treatment west plant and the power plant. Costs are estimated at just over $97,000.



(Paxton-jm) -- The rates and schedule for the 2020 Paxton pool have been set. Paxton Park District officials set the dates and time for the pool at 1-5 Monday through Friday with an additional timeslot of 6-9 on Wednesday. Daily admission will be $3 with pool passes set at $55 for an individual, $95 for two and $25 per additional person. Weekends the pool will be closed unless it is sponsored. Sponsored days will be from noon to 4 with an admission price of $1.



(Washington-jm) -- A member of the U.S. soybean industry is optimistic for increased bean exports to China. Rod Bain has the details…



(Undated-jm) -- Doctors say cases of strep throat are up so far this year. They say the early cold weather is keeping people inside around each other causing germs to easily spread. If you do get strep throat, they recommend staying home and taking antibiotics.


(Springfield-jm) -- A pair of researchers are suggesting the best way to reduce property taxes in Illinois is for the state to take over a greater share of funding for public schools and consolidate some units of local government. Frank Manzo, policy director at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, and Robert Bruno, director of the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, argue in a new report that such a plan would not only hold down future property tax hikes, but it would actually help create jobs and stimulate the state’s economy. Manzo and Bruno argue that the state’s current property tax system and its school funding system are structurally flawed. Specifically, they point to the fact that property taxes account for two-thirds of school funding in Illinois while the state pays only about 27 percent, or about half the national average. In their report, Manzo and Bruno note that Illinoisans pay the seventh-highest property tax rates in the country and that roughly two-thirds of all property taxes go to school districts. Average Illinois homeowners pay 7.4 percent of their income on property taxes, compared to just 4.95 percent in income taxes. Using economic modeling formulas, Manzo and Bruno estimate the net impact of increasing the state’s investment in education and holding down school district property taxes would be to grow the Illinois economy by about $1.2 billion and adding up to 14,000 new jobs.



(Danville-jm) -- Those who use VA services in Danville can expect some changes next year. VA Illiana has announced they will end 24 7 urgent care beginning in January and go to 8 to 3:30 every day. The VA cites staffing issues for the change.


(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s cannabis policy czar says they will be working to make sure patients don’t face a medical marijuana shortage come January first. Some patients are worried that with the legalization of recreational marijuana, there won’t be enough of the medical variety to go around. But the Governor’s Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control Toi (toy) Hutchinson says they are already monitoring the situation…



Governor’s Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control Toi Hutchinson. The law requires dispensaries selling both types to have a monthly supply of medicinal cannabis on hand comparable to what they had before pot was legalized. Hutchinson says violators face fines and possibly losing their license. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to probation for mugging a man in the village. William Marshall pleaded guilty to robbery after admitting he used a baseball bat on the victim and robbing him of his phone, keys and money in the 700 block of Willow Pond back in July. In exchange for his guilty plea, a more serious charge of armed robbery was dismissed.



(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum have released November enforcement numbers. During the month, troopers issued 596 citations and 785 written warnings including 7 for DUI, 66 seat belt violations and made 33 criminal arrests. Troopers also investigated 90 traffic accidents, one of which was fatal.


(Paxton-jm) -- The IHSA has dropped plans to change the high school football playoff format. Paxton-Buckley-Loda Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr talks about the vote reversal…


Paxton-Buckley-Loda Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr.



(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Board has approved the county’s snow removal policy. The county highway department will have one shift of employees to plow 172 lane miles using three trucks. They won’t begin clearing snow until at least two inches has fallen and would begin at 4 am and if conditions allow end by 6 pm. The highway department says they intend to make one pass on every route by 7 am Monday through Friday and 8 am on weekends and holidays. Plow operators would be on call to assist first responders if needed. They will not apply de-icers or traction materials due to budget, storage and equipment limitations.



(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Board has banned cannabis establishments in unincorporated areas. The 18-0 vote ban includes cultivation centers, craft growers and processing, dispensing and transportation organizations.



(Undated-jm) -- Police are offering some tips to prevent holiday package thefts. WPXN’s Jason Madden reports…



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois has modernized and made available online spending, employee pay, and procurement contracting, but still needs improvement in keeping the public informed about subsidies given to companies for economic development.  In a report on all fifty states’ processes and laws when issuing tax breaks or other governmental sweeteners to select businesses, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and its affiliated nonprofit Frontier Group graded states based on their transparency. Illinois got a “C-,” which put it in the top third of all states.


Illinois' congressional representatives are preparing to vote with the rest of the U.S. House on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ congressional representatives are preparing to vote with the rest of the U.S. House on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Democrats claim Trump abused his power in asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival and obstructed Congress looking into it. U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood waited until Tuesday to announce that she would vote in favor of impeachment. U.S. Rep. John Shimkus won’t be in DC this week as he is on a personal trip to visit his son in the Peace Corp in Tanzania, a trip he said has planned for six months. Regardless, he said he wants it to be known the impeachment articles are quote “pretty bogus”. The overall vote is expected to be mostly along party lines with some Democrats across the country joining Republicans to oppose impeachment, something Shimkus said shows it’s a partisan effort. 



(Springfield-jm) -- A Capitol dome study conducted earlier this month revealed “some obvious flaws on the exterior of the dome,” a state employee said Tuesday. Inspectors also found cracks inside the structure and changes made over the years that have altered the Statehouse’s historical profile. The flagpole atop the Capitol needs to be replaced and the holiday lights will probably need to be hung in a different manner, Harl Ray, senior project manager for the secretary of state’s Department of Physical Services, said at a Capitol Architect board meeting. The firm’s final report, expected by mid-January, will include “a detailed and prioritized list of recommended corrections and repairs to guide future preservation efforts of the Illinois State Capitol Dome,” according to its website.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Danville man has been arrested for allegedly breaking into a home in Rantoul. Police were called to the 1300 block of Juniper Drive for a report of a man breaking into a residence armed with a knife. Witnesses told police a man chased two kids into an apartment. The man confronted a resident of the home and a struggle ensued. The suspect was identified as 24-year-old Willie Barfield. When he was arrested an officer found him in possession of a controlled substance and he allegedly bit a correctional officer while being processed. He was arrested and charged with home invasion, possession of a controlled substance and resisting a police officer. 



(Paxton-jm) -- The sale of the Paxton Airport is expected to be finalized in early 2020. The city council learned of the plans at their December meeting. A North Carolina man is looking to purchase the airport for his crop dusting business. The city agreed to sell the airport in February of 2017 for 100,000 cash and a bank note for 50,000.



(Gibson City-jm) -- A Gibson City golf course could close at the end of the year unless a group of can save it. A potential investor is seeking people to pool $225,000. That’s how much it costs to operate the course annually. If the group can’t come up with at least $200,000 by the end of the year, the course will close.



(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Clerk’s Office has held a lottery to determine placement on the March 17th primary ballot for a pair of contested races. For two 2 year terms in District 2, incumbent Tim Nuss of rural Roberts will appear first followed by newcomer Lesley King of Piper City and incumbent Robert Lindgren of rural Loda. For circuit clerk, Kammy Johnson Anderson will appear first followed by Suzie Shell both of Paxton.



(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that House Speaker Michael Madigan knows how he feels about the cloud of corruption at the Illinois statehouse, although the governor said he hasn’t spoken directly about the issue with the leader of the state’s Democratic party. The latest in a series of a stream of corruption news included a report that a Madigan ally had tried to thwart the governor’s selection of a chief of staff. The Chicago Sun-Times this week reported former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain sent messages to the governor’s office to try to block the governor’s choice. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he fully supports allowing refugees to resettle in Illinois and he is expected to sign a letter to the Trump administration to that effect in the coming days. Such a letter of consent is now required from state and local officials under an executive order that President Donald Trump issued earlier this year. Under that order, state and local officials have until Dec. 25 to issue written statements of consent. Pritzker’s comments came after the humanitarian aid organization World Relief and 77 Illinois pastors who are part of the Evangelical Immigration Table sent letters to Pritzker and 14 other governors urging them to support refugee resettlement, even as the Trump administration sharply curtails the number of refugees allowed into the country.



(Springfield-jm) -- A group of shareholders filed suit against Illinois-based Exelon Corp. alleging corrupt lobbying practices under the dome in Springfield caused the company's stock prices to fall. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, said stockholders who bought between February  9 and November 1 watched Exelon shares plummet after news of the company received multiple subpoenas related to lobbying activities with the Illinois General Assembly. The suit claims the utility company’s stock dropped 2.83 percent during the time period due to news of its lobbying activities and reports of “kickbacks” to officials. 



(Springfield-jm) -- About 700 hemp growers and processors are getting some of their questions answered about the new industry at a hemp summit in Springfield. This was the first year industrial hemp could be grown in Illinois and it’s proven to be a popular alternative crop option for producers. Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan says the summit covered everything from market prices and pesticides to hemp testing for T-H-C…



Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan. Sullivan says summits will likely be held at least once a year.



(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County Housing Authority has been awarded a one point five million dollar grant. U-S Representative Rodney Davis announced the grant from the U-S Department of Labor. The grant money will be used to establish a new YouthBuild program to prepare 16 to 24 year olds for the workforce.



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow village board will be changing their meet times come 2020. The village board had held their monthly meetings on the first Monday. Now come January, the meeting will be held the second Tuesday at 7 pm. The change is to accommodate the village attorney and bookkeeper.



(Fisher-jm) -- The village of Fisher has approved an extension of their franchise agreement with Ameren Illinois for an additional 20 years. After that the agreement will be on a year to year basis. As part of the agreement, the village will receive an annual payment of $7,800.



(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County has set their tax levy for the upcoming fiscal year. The county hopes to collect about $3 point 615 million in property taxes.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new report from the Better Business Bureau warns virtually anyone in Illinois could be victimized by rental scammers. A new study by the organization shows the fraud is widespread and affecting every part of the country. A national survey found that 43 percent of people have encountered a fake listing online and about 5.2 million people have been ripped off by rental scams recently. The scam often involves copying the photo and description of a property already listed somewhere online and then changing the contact information. According to the report, more than five million consumers have lost money to such scams. 



Another state police squad car was struck as a result of a Scott's Law violation

(Washington-jm) -- Illinois’ Congressional delegation wants to raise hundreds of millions of dollars per year by taxing vaping products and then use that money to stop children from vaping. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi announced the “Providing Resources to End the Vaping Epidemic Now for Teenagers,” or PREVENT Act in Chicago. They said local public health officials face a daunting task given the prevalence of e-cigarettes. If enacted, the bill would tax importers and manufacturers of vaping materials based on how much they produce. Krishnamoorthi estimated the tax would bring in $200 million. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police reported the 27th crash this year that involved a state police squad car that was struck as a result of a Scott’s Law violation as the agency continues to work to educate motorists about the law during what has proven to be a deadly year for troopers. The weekend traffic crash involving an Illinois State Police squad car was the 27th. So far this year, Illinois State Police squad cars have been involved in a total of 71 crashes. Twenty-seven of those involved a violation of Scott’s Law. Three state troopers were killed in crashes this year. By comparison, in all of 2018, there were eight trooper-involved crashes that resulted in a Scott’s Law ticket. In 2017, there were 12 and 2016 there were five.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs is urging Congress and the President to help reunite people with old savings bonds. The U-S Treasury has a record of all bond recipients and when they stopped earning interest says Treasurer Frerichs…


State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. Under current law, the treasury is not mandated to track down bond owners. Illinois Congressman Danny Davis is sponsoring legislation requiring the federal government to release the bonds to individual states, so they can eventually be returned. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Police are investigating a robbery in the village. Police say a man was walking near Congress and Marshal around 4:15 Thursday morning when he heard someone yell from behind. The victim turned and saw a black man in his 20s. The man grabbed him and demanded his wallet and cell phone. No injuries were reported. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul police.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul business sustained nearly $10,000 in damage after a snowplow struck it Monday morning. Firefighters from the Rantoul Fire Department were called to Perfect Nails just before 5 am. They say a snowplow clearing snow accidentally struck the building causing two windows to break and damaged the brick ledge that holds the windows up. No injuries were reported. The building was deemed structurally safe.



(Washington-jm) -- The U.S. agricultural trade value totals for October are almost identical to October a year ago. Gary Crawford has the details…




(Undated-jm) -- Data from the Illinois Department of Transportation shows the number of fatal crashes in the state in the past year is down. So far in 2019 there have been 940 fatalities. Last year there was 987. Locally, in Ford County there were 4 fatal accidents this year, down from 6 in 2018. In Iroquois County there were 8 fatal accidents down from 12 last year. In Champaign County there were 9 fatal accidents last year there were 20. In Vermilion County there were 10 in 2019 with 11 last year. 



(Undated-jm) -- Medicare costs are going up in January for some seniors. Medicare Part B premiums will be going up $9.10 to $114.60 a month. Medicare Part B deductibles will also be going up. They are expected to rise $13 to $198 per year. Medicare Part A inpatient hospital deductibles will also be on the rise up $44 to $1,408 per benefit period. The increases are expected to negate most of the one point six percent cost of living adjustment increase that’s expected.



(Chicago-jm) -- Tis the season for shopping and in 2019 that means shopping online. This year, Cyber Monday was the biggest digital shopping day ever with sales of $9.4 billion, and thieves want those packages. Filing a police report will not always get you your merchandise back and not every company will refund or replace them. If the driver delivered the package, the company is not responsible for the loss. But protecting yourself when it comes to online shopping should start way before the package is delivered. If you get an email from a friend saying, ‘Check out this site for great deals,’ and you click on it, you may be going to bad sites.


(Springfield-jm) -- Attempts to change ethics rules in Springfield have been slow to develop at the Illinois statehouse, but not for a lack of trying, according to an analyst who said lawmakers have been filed dozens of ethics bills, but few have advanced. Lawmakers in the House and Senate filed more than 6,300 bills since January. The Center for Illinois Politics reviewed all the bills filed this year and found 89 addressed ethics reforms of some kind. Of the 89 ethics bills, 24 had to do with term limits, redistricting reform, elections or campaigns; 16 bills involved proposed lobbyist registration changes; 12 bills involved ethics and ethics investigations; 11 involved so-called revolving-door prohibitions that would prevent lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists after leaving elected office. Twenty-nine other bills addressed gambling, public contracting, House and Senate rules, economic interests and sexual harassment, according to The Center for Illinois Politics.



(Springfield-jm) -- Efforts are underway to help reduce the rates of suicide among first responders in Illinois. A new First Responders Suicide Task Force, created this year by the passage of House Bill 2766, will try to address the emotional health needs of emergency response personnel in Illinois. The task force has 18 members, including four members each from the House and Senate, along with others appointed by various bodies around the state.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing efforts to improve early childhood care and education in Illinois. Governor Pritzker says he wants to make Illinois the best state in the nation for families raising young children. That includes making sure kids enter kindergarten with the skills to pay attention, read and solve problems…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the state will be investing more in child care reimbursement rates for low income families, and in training for child care workers. He also created a special commission that aims to get more Illinois kids into quality pre-school programs. 



(Loda-jm) -- The Loda village board has approved the rezoning of the former Loda Grade School. The school had been zoned for residential, but following a request from the Aardsma family, it was rezoned to manufacturing. The Aardsma family will use the facility for the distribution department for Mulberry Lane Farm.



(Pesotum-jm) -- Illinois State Police in Pesotum have released results of recent Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement Patrols. District 10 troopers issued one DUI citation, 4 occupant restraint citations, two for drivers license offenses and 23 citations for other offenses. State Police say drugs or alcohol is involved in more than 30 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois. They say one person is killed every 53 minutes in the U-S by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol.



(Undated-jm) -- Winter is coming and that mean’s cold temperatures. Experts have tips to staying safe and warm. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…




(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul will hold a special meeting next week. The focus of the meeting is to finalize the purchase of land for the new sports complex. The sports complex would be built on 60 acres south of Walmart. The special meeting will take place at 5:30 pm on Monday, December 23rd.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois farmers are on pace to experience one of the worst years for harvesting because of cold, wet weather. A wet spring and a cold autumn have combined to produce less than ideal conditions for growing crops, causing a delay in the harvest of corn and soybeans. Mike Doherty, senior economist and policy analyst with the Government Affairs and Commodities Division of the Illinois Farm Bureau, said that the delay yielded fewer amounts of corn and soybeans than normal. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, 100 percent of the state’s corn had been harvested around this time last year while the soybean harvest is lagging 5 percent behind average.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is still dealing with a recession hangover due to a mix of mortgage-friendly laws, high property taxes, and population declines, per a new analysis. Q4 of 2019 marks 10 years since the low-point of the national housing crisis. Nearly one in four mortgaged homes had negative equity, meaning the market value of the property is worth less than the value owed in mortgage. In the 12 months ending in September, they estimate homes across the country saw their homes value increase by 5.1 percent. Homeowners in Idaho saw the nation’s largest increase of 10.9 percent, gaining $25,800 in equity on average. Illinois, however, saw a fraction of those gains, nearly equal to inflation. Home equity was up nearly only an average of $1,300 for your typical homeowner in Illinois.



Iroquois County Murder suspect killed after high speed pursuit with Colorado State Troopers

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Matthew Borden, 43 of Melvin, the suspect in wanted on an outstanding warrant in Iroquois County charging him with First Degree Murder in the Deaths of Pamela Willimas of Martinton and 50 year old Brian Musk of Milford was killed after leading Colorado State Troopers on a high speed pursuit before crashing his stolen vehicle and firing at officers. Both Iroquois County murders are under investigation by the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal's Service. WPXN news will continue to update this story as information becomes available.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new state program provides free home smoke alarms to families served by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires where there was no working smoke detector. That’s why it’s so important to make sure families are protected says DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez…



DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. Illinois law requires all homes to have a smoke alarm within 15 feet of every bedroom and at least one on each floor.



(Gilman-jm) -- The Iroquois West School Board is expected to approve their tax levy at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members are expected to discuss and possibly approve the districts strategic plan as well as discuss and possibly approve an improvement plan for the middle school. The Iroquois West School Board meeting gets underway at  7 pm at the Iroquois West High School board room in Gilman.



(Cissna Park-jm) -- The Cissna Park School Board is expected to approve the 2019-2020 school improvement plan at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members are also expected to approve the adoption of a seniority list for certified and educational support staff and approve the districts tax levy. The Cissna Park School Board meeting gets underway at 7 pm.



(Washington-jm) -- Government officials from both our nation and China confirmed Friday that agreement has been reached on the first phase of a new trade deal, which in part would boost U.S. ag exports. Rod Bain reports…




(Undated-jm) -- If you plan on traveling for the Christmas holiday plan for more people on the roads and in the air. Triple A reports an estimated 115 point 6 million people will be traveling between December 21st and January 1st. That’s four percent more than last year. Triple A says low unemployment and more disposable income are causing the boost in numbers.



(Paxton-jm) -- Are you looking for the right Christmas gift to give to that special someone? One area business may be able to help. Hudson Drug and Hallmark in downtown Paxton has a wide variety of gift options says Owner Andy Hudson…



Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.



(Washington-jm) -- The U-S House has passed a bill to lower prescription drug costs. The bill empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, offer new benefits for seniors and cap out of pocket costs at $2,000 a year. About $360 billion of the projected 10 year sayings will be used to establish coverage for dental, hearing and vision.


(Paxton--jc)  --Congratulations to the Paxton Buckley Loda F F A Agronomy team for placing 6th in the State! The team consists of Christina White, Jasmine Miles- 6th place individual, Aden Grohler and Jeremiah Ager. Also Congratulations to the P-B-L F F A Meats team for placing 9th in the State! The team consisted of Tera Brown, Collin Wieneke, Jordan Delaney, and Matteo Vasquez. 

(Urbana-jm) -- An arrest warrant has been issued for a Rantoul man after he fled from the Champaign County courthouse before the verdict against him was read. 40 year old James Hunt was on trial for drug charges. During jury deliberations, Hunt and his attorney were waiting when they were told to return to the courtroom. Hunt asked to use the restroom before returning to the room but never returned. He was convicted of a lesser charge of possession of cocaine, possession of cannabis and obstructing justice. He was acquitted of unlawful use of a weapon.



(Springfield-jm) -- As jackpots soar, it’s tempting to join an office or friend’s pool. The Illinois Lottery has some tips to keep your pool running smoothly. Some create a one-time pool for big prizes, like the current Mega Millions Jackpot, while others have been part of a group for years. Whichever the case, Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg offers this advice…


Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg. More tips and lottery pool group sign up sheets are available online at: illinois lottery dot com.



(Gibson City-jm) -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley School Board is expected to approve their tax levy at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition they are also expected to approve their behavioral threat assessment procedures. The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley School Board meeting gets underway at 6:15.


(Kempton-jm) -- The Tri-Point School Board will discuss some school policies and tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members are expected to review the districts report card from the state, approve the districts tax levy and consider remodeling the bus barn in Piper City. The Tri-Point School Board meeting gets underway at 7pm.



(Springfield-jm) -- A horticulturist at the University of Illinois Extension Office offers some advice for choosing and storing your firewood this winter. While pretty much anything goes outside, the same doesn’t hold true when burning inside. The Extension’s Richard Hentschel recommends using dry, seasoned firewood, which means it has been cut and split. Stay away from wood with sap like pine and if you store the wood outside…



University of Illinois Extension Horticulturist Richard Hentschel. Hentschel says you shouldn’t bring the wood indoors unless you’re going to burn it within a week. That way any bugs burrowed in don’t have time to get out of dormancy and cause a nuisance in your home.



(Watseka-jm) --First degree murder charges have been added in Watseka stabbing case. Iroquois County Prosecutors have charged 23-year-old Andre Maiden with two counts of first degree murder, involunatry manslaughter and aggravated battery. Maiden is accused of stabbing 22 year old Isaiah Nelson on November 21st outside Baier Funeral Home in Watseka. Maiden will be back in court December 19th.


(Paxton-jm) -- Are you having a hard time finding that perfect gift for your mailman, your kids favorite teacher or maybe your best friend? The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce can help. Alan Meyer, President of the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce recommends chamber bucks…



Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer.



(Undated-jm) -- High health care costs are crimping American holiday spending. 53 percent say health care bills have eaten into money that otherwise would have been spent on the holiday according to a survey by Aflac. Nearly one in four surveyed said they would be spending less while one in five said they are not making any purchases this year.



Illinois State Police reminds motorists that is illegal to leave your car running and unattended

(Springfield-jm) -- Every Illinois household would have to pay $11,000 to cover the cost of taxpayer-subsidized healthcare benefits for retired state workers, a figure that is expected to grow, according to a new report from public finance watchdog Wirepoints. Illinois has more than $137 billion of unfunded pension liabilities for retired state employees. That is up more than $3.5 billion from the year before, according to the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. That doesn’t include healthcare costs. Some employees who work 20 years for state government get healthcare coverage with no copays. Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said numbers from state actuaries show the state provides 567,000 public sector workers and retirees subsidized health insurance benefits. Those getting fully subsidized benefits could cost $200,000 to $500,000 per retiree. To cover the expected $68 billion in healthcare liabilities would cost each household thousands of dollars.



(Springfield-jm) -- As cold weather grips most of the state, it is not uncommon to see a car left unattended and running, but many motorists don’t realize this is against Illinois state law. The Illinois State Police is reminding drivers who leave their cars running and unattended could face fines or a bigger problem: Car theft. Drivers could face up to a $250 fine. The law does not apply to cars with a remote starter system. In those instances, the doors are automatically locked, which prevents someone from being able to get in.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is suing Juul Labs, the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes. The lawsuit alleges that Juul is violating the state Consumer Fraud Act by misrepresenting the ability of its product to help people quit smoking and by promoting vaping to teens says Attorney General Raoul…



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul says this is just the beginning, as his investigation into other e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers continues. 



(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston man has been arrested on multiple charges. Police say a woman reported her minor pregnant granddaughter had been battered. Police arrested 22-year-old James Brayboy on charges of aggravated battery, domestic battery, battery of an unborn child and criminal trespassing. He was taken to the Vermilion County Jail.



(Washington-jm) -- Surprises are few and far between in USDA's new round of crop reports. In fact, surprises are pretty much missing this month.  Gary Crawford reports…




(Gibson City-jm) -- Parts of Gibson City are under a boil order. City officials say a water main broke near 15th and Church Streets. Residents affected will have a door hanger on their door.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul is the latest community to pledge funds to bring the state’s basketball tournament back to the area. The village is contributing $5,000 to bring the tournament back to Champaign-Urbana. Savoy recently voted to contribute $10,000 and Champaign voted to contribute $50,000. The IHSA will select the location for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 tournament location in March.


The Paxton Park District will hold their breakfast with Santa on Saturday, from 8-10:30 am.

Children are invited to storytime with Santa at the Watseka Elks Lodge on Saturday starting at 9 am.


(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers were only five voters away from reaching a deal to build a Chicago casino, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week in a discussion about her lobbying trip to Springfield last month. An amended Senate Bill 669 was the target that Lightfoot and other Chicago lawmakers couldn’t get across the finish line. The bill would have removed costs that were to be put on a potential developer of a Chicago casino, increase the city's share of casino revenue, and lower the amount of potential revenue the state would get from a Chicago casino. Some lawmakers bristled at the changes. They said the bill would have lowered builder costs only at the expense of the state’s cut of gambling revenue, potentially putting projects in the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan at risk.  But her lobbying efforts hit a roadblock when news broke that a state lawmaker had been arrested for allegedly offering a state senator who had been wearing a federal wiretap a series of bribes in exchange for supporting another piece of gambling legislation.



CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials say they're inching closer to selling a Chicago building that houses state government offices. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that Illinois has selected a project manager to oversee the sale of the James R. Thompson Center following a competitive process. He says Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors, LLC will also help with relocation options for current employees. Pritzker says the building has outlived its purpose and costs $17 million annually to operate. The Thompson Center was designed by architect Helmut Jahn and opened in 1985. Parts have fallen into disrepair and there heating and cooling issues. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is urging business leaders to get involved in the state’s census 2020 effort. The Governor spoke to a group of employers in Chicago, stressing the importance of getting an accurate count. He says the more people counted in Illinois, the more federal money Illinois will receive…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker is asking members of the business community to talk about the census with their employees, and offer to let staff complete the form on census day from their work computers. 



(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum have released results of recent occupant restraint enforcement patrols. The detail was held December 2nd in Kankakee County. 18 seat belt citations and one child restraint citation were issued.



(Undated-jm) -- More than 17,000 high school students in Illinois are being recognized by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for outstanding academic achievement. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School scholars…




(Fisher-jm) -- Fisher high school has a new athletic director. The school board recently approved Cody Diskin to take over as high school athletic director and k through 12 dean of students. Currently Diskin serves as high school physical education and drivers education teacher and head boys basketball coach. Diskin takes over for Jake Palmer who is taking over as grade school principal.



(Gifford-jm) -- The Gifford Grade School District has received their report card from the state. The report card shows a 45 percent proficiency rating in English language arts, 36 percent in math and 72 percent in science. The report card also shows that of the 185 students in the district, 92 percent were white with one percent black and seven percent two or more races. It also shows 31 percent of them fall in the low income category.


St. Christopher Episcopal Church in Rantoul will hold their Bake and Cookie sale on Saturday from 9-2.


The Iroquois County Animal Rescue will hold their annual Christmas Garage Sale on Saturday from 10-3 at the Watseka Park District.



Get our App
On Air Now
Regular Programming
6:00pm - 11:59pm
Regular Programming
Listen on Alexa

Visitor Polls
How do you consume your sports, or news coverage?
Add a Comment
(Fields are Optional)

Your email address is never published.