WPXN Blog

Extended pandemic unemployment benefits for self-employed people are ending for the foreseeable future

(Springfield-jm) -- Extended pandemic unemployment benefits for self-employed people are ending for the foreseeable future. Because Illinois’ unemployment rate has dropped, federal rules now prohibit individuals from seeking seven additional weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Drought conditions have improved slightly after winter storms that swept through much of the state last month. Illinois went into December with a large band across central Illinois in a severe to moderate drought, but State Climatologist Trent Ford says the snow did provide some moisture…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. Ford says it’s hard to boost soil moisture when the ground is frozen and the snow is drier. The latest U-S Drought Monitor shows a stretch across Central and North-Central Illinois still in moderate drought to abnormally dry conditions.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,104 new Coronavirus cases and 44 additional deaths Wednesday bringing their total number of cases to 1,191,520 and deaths to 20,626. Locally, Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 1,590. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,787. Vermilion County reported 26 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 8,499 and deaths to 106. Champaign County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 18,296.

 

 

(Buckley-cf)-- The Crop Insurance deadline is approaching quickly. Dylan Reetz of Diversified Insurance Agency in Buckley gives updates on important deadlines… 

 

 

Diversified Insurance Agent Dylan Reetz. You can visit the office in Buckley or contact Dylan at 815-822-5477

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County mobile home tax bills have been sent out. The county treasurer’s office says tax bills were sent out Tuesday. They are due May 3rd.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released February enforcement numbers. During the second month of 2021, troopers issued 317 citations and 464 written warnings including 5 DUIs, 4 seat belt and 27 criminal arrests. Also during the month, troopers responded to 87 traffic accidents.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- For the first time in nearly four decades the Illinois House will be led by someone new. Mike Madigan stepped down after 50 years in the Illinois General Assembly with 36 of them as speaker. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about the change in leadership…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A federal grand jury indicted a Rantoul man on child pornography charges. 37-year-old Alan Dodd was indicted with distribution and possession of child pornography. He was arrested and charged on February 11 and had remained in custody ever since. Dodd is accused of distributing child pornography on October 25, 2020 and possessing it on February 11, 2021.  If convicted, Dodd faces between 5-20 years in prison for child pornography distribution and up to 10 years for possessing it.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County board could limit how many cannabis businesses come to unincorporated areas of the county. A county committee is recommending no more than 3 cannabis businesses will be allowed in unincorporated areas. In addition, the committee is recommending businesses must be at least 1000 feet from schools, daycares and anywhere children can be and they must obtain a conditional use permit. The recommendations go before the full county board on March 8th.

 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is hosting the Certified Livestock Manager Online Training and Webinar this morning starting at 9 am. Preregistration is required at go dot illinois dot edu slash C-L-M-T.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,104 new Coronavirus cases and 44 additional deaths Wednesday bringing their total number of cases to 1,191,520 and deaths to 20,626. As for local active and recovered cases, Iroquois County reported 2,720 have been released from isolation and 8 are in isolation. Vermilion County reported 271 active cases and 9 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 17,879 have recovered, 288 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Ford County is unable to provide active and recovered updates due to a reporting issue at the state level.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul will be getting a veterans memorial. A group has been raising funds for several years to build the memorial says Spokesperson Jim Cheek…

 

 

Rantoul Veterans Memorial Spokesperson Jim Cheek. The memorial will be for any veteran whether they live in Rantoul or not. Bricks can still be purchased for the memorial by contacting any member of the committee. Cost of the brick is $150.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is announcing a new program for science achievers. The college announced the program is funded through a 5 year grant from the National Science Foundation. The program is supposed to empower full time low income students.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- An Urbana man has been convicted of raping his coworker and faces up to 30 years in prison. A jury convicted Junior Nyanguile of two counts of criminal sexual assault and acquitted him of a less serious count of criminal sexual abuse. The victim said that she and Nyanguile had met at work and decided to “hang out” on August 25, 2019. Nyanguile allegedly assaulted the woman at his apartment.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- A Mahomet area organization is gearing up for one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. The Mahomet Area Youth Club will be hosting their annual auction next week although it will look different this year says Director Sara Balgoyen…

 

 

Mahomet Area Youth Club Director Sara Balgoyen. Registration is required to bid and is free. Visit mayc auction dot com to sign up. There you can check out the items on the silent auction, place your bid and watch and bid on the live auction at 6pm Saturday.

 

 

(Gilman/Onarga-jm) -- Police coverage remains uncertain in two Iroquois County communities. Gilman and Onarga were both considering a shared police service however, that appears to no longer be the case. Gilman’s only officer retired and Onarga has been using services of other departments.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- It may feel like gas prices are high right now, but come summer you may be wishing the winter fuel prices would return. The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline jumped 14 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.64, according to the Associated Press. The price at the pump has climbed 46 cents since November 20. Some of the rise this past week was attributable to the deep freeze in the South, which temporarily shut down production at about a dozen refineries in and around Texas. Resumption of production there could bring some temporary relief, but the long-term outlook is not as rosy. Gas prices will likely continue to rise as crude oil costs remain high. Prices will remain high as refineries transition to summer gas.

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker is calling on communities to boost COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is calling on communities to boost COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts. Whether it be by helping seniors who aren’t internet savvy get an appointment or church leaders encouraging their congregation to get the shot. Governor J-B Pritzker says its vital to ensure as many people get vaccinated as possible…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says this is especially crucial in minority communities, where residents are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,557 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 47 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,189,416 and deaths to 20,583. Locally, Vermilion County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 8,473. Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total 1,588. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,783. Champaign County reported 20 new cases bringing their total to 18,256.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Many GOP lawmakers believe the state will get a federal bailout. The state has pushed the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress to pass a Coronavirus relief package that includes money for states. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says it's not the right way to handle the state’s budget deficit…

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Tuition will not be going up at Parkland College. The board of trustees voted to freeze tuition at $148.50 per credit hour. 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The pandemic has slowed down the City of Paxton’s streetscape project. Mayor Bill Ingold provides an update on the project…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Kankakee Community College is announcing a Fast Pack information night. The night will be tomorrow at 6pm at the Miner South Extension Center in Watseka.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some areas that may reflect, or perhaps play a part in, a new Biden Administration approach to ag trade over the next few months? Rod Bain reports…

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation requires trampoline parks in Illinois to be regulated by the state. The bill classifies trampoline courts as an amusement ride to be inspected by the Illinois Department of Labor. It’s sponsored by Representative Denyse Stoneback of Skokie who says it’s about safety…

 

 

State Representative Denyse Stoneback of Skokie. A similar bill passed in 2017 but was vetoed by then Governor Bruce Rauner. Nine other states regulate trampoline parks.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,557 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 47 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,189,416 and deaths to 20,583. Locally Vermilion County reported 269 active cases and 8 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,720 have been released from isolation and 4 are in isolation. Champaign County reported 17,828 have recovered, 299 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Construction at two Gibson City Melvin Sibley Schools is expected to begin later this month. School board members approved the $5.24 million bid from Champaign based Petry-Kuhne for a new addition at the elementary school and renovations at the elementary and high school.

 

 

(Buckley-cf)-- The deadline for Crop Insurance this year is March 15. Unlike filing for taxes, there is not an extension offered if the deadline is missed. Dylan Reetz of Diversified Insurance in Buckley says that this year is especially important for Crop Insurance based on the drought maps…. 

 

 

Diversified Insurance Agent Dylan Reetz. You can visit the office in Buckley or contact Dylan at 815-822-5477

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture, along with the University of Illinois Extension Service, is hosting the Certified Livestock Manager Online Training and Webinars for 2021. The webinar date is Thursday.  These will have the same format as previous workshops starting at 9:00 am. After the webinar, those with over 1,000 AUs will be required to log in and take the 40-question online test in lieu of the IDoA's paper-based test. Pre-registration is required ($40). Please go to go.illinois.edu/CLMT to register. For questions with registration, please contact UI Extension at (815) 858-2273.


 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Agricultural trade is being viewed as a smoothing and calming factor in what some call "rocky" relations between the U.S. and China.  Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

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Senator Barickman is the new ranking Republican member of the Illinois Senate Executive committee

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,143 new Coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,187,839 and deaths to 20,563. Locally Champaign County reported 75 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 18,236 and deaths to 129. Iroquois County reported 1 new case bringing their total to 2,778. Ford County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 1,586. Vermilion County did not have a report Tuesday.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- A trail that would connect Urbana to Danville is coming along. The Kickapoo Rail Trail is a bike and walking path being created along an old railroad line that would go from Urbana through St. Joseph and over to Kickapoo State Park and Danville. St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling has been apart of the group…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A new Acting U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois has been named. The Department of Justice announced that Douglas J. Quivey is now serving in this role, effective Monday. This comes after former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John C. Milhiser announced his resignation last month.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Senate Executive committee, which typically reviews the most important and most controversial legislation, now has a new ranking Republican member, as 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman has been elevated to the top spot for his caucus. Senator Barickman, who serves in caucus leadership as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair, will also be taking on the role of Republican spokesperson for the Redistricting Committee.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Area Youth Club is hosting their annual fundraiser. Starting March 1st, the group will hold a virtual silent auction through the week culminating with a virtual live auction at 6pm on March 6th. Director Sara Balgoyen talks about some of the items on the silent auction…

 

 

Mahomet Area Youth Club Director Sara Balgoyen. In order to bid, you must register. It’s free and can be done by visiting mayc auction dot com. You can also check out the live auction on that site on March 6th.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Two Rantoul men are facing attempted robbery charges. Police say Angel Quinones and Moises Concepcion-Roman are accused of robbing a man coming out of a Rantoul restaurant on South Garrard Street. Police say the victim noticed a flat tire on his vehicle, while he was checking it out Quinones and Concepcion-Roman approached him and pointed a BB gun and demanded money.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- An elevator at the Ford County courthouse will be upgraded. It’ll cost about $158,000 and will bring the elevator into ADA compliance.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) --  The University of Illinois System received emergency use authorization today from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for covidSHIELD, its innovative saliva-based COVID-19 test that was used on the U of I campuses to hold the virus in check by utilizing widespread testing with rapid results. Under FDA guidelines, the EUA allows the U of I System to broadly expand its covidSHIELD testing beyond its universities.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- In what kind of financial shape is the U.S. farm economy? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,143 new Coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,187,839 and deaths to 20,563. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 17,777 have recovered, 330 are in isolation and 12 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,714 have been released from isolation and 5 remain in isolation. Vermilion County did not provide a report Monday. Ford County is unable to report active and recovered cases due to an issue at the state level.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- There aren’t many side effects from the COVID vaccine, but there are a few and they don’t differentiatie that much from the flu shot. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Jury trials resumed in Champaign County court yesterday. A pause to jury trials was put in place back in December. The county is taking steps to keep everyone safe including reconfiguring courtrooms to allow for additional distancing.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- More Champaign County residents are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Residents 16 years and older with disabilities or underlying conditions who aren’t otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories can now receive the vaccine. The underlying conditions or disabilities include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, pregnancy, pulmonary disease and sickle cell disease.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man faces up to 30 years in prison for allegedly robbing a woman at a Champaign motel. Demarco Ross is charged with armed robbery, aggravated unlawful restraint and criminal damage to property. Police say Ross allegedly pulled a knife on the woman he had just met, took her keys and phone before slashing her tires and jumping on her windshield.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Parkland College Foundation is announcing the scholarship period for Fall 2021 is now open. Workshops will be held tonight at 6pm and March 9th at noon on zoom or their facebook page. The deadline to apply for scholarships is 5pm on March 15th.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A building on the University of Illinois campus was damaged following a hit and run crash. The incident happened at the Personnel Services Building. Police say a car that had been reported stolen struck the building. The person driving fled before officers could arrive. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- A panel of farm organization leaders and two former Deputy Agriculture Secretaries converged at this year's Ag Outlook Forum to talk about some of the current key issues in the farm sector.  Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

OSF St James-John Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac’s Diabetes Support Group will meet tonight from 6 to 7pm.

 

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The days of paying cash on the Illinois Tollway are gone forever

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services along with the Illinois Department of Human Services are announcing a security incident involving protected health information. The agencies say a system error sent out 8,848 notices to the wrong address. The notices may have included: name, case number, status as a recipient of medical assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, names of dependents, birth dates, medical information numbers, medical eligibility category, and medical coverage dates.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings says Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget could be a “small step toward” better finances. But, the agency said the proposal does not structurally balance the budget “due to the treatment of pension obligations.” The agency also noted the state’s bill backlog in the billions and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Now that former House Speaker Mike Madigan has resigned from his seat in the Illinois House, what will happen to the criminal investigation? Between Madigan resigning and President Biden asking some U-S Attorneys to resign could impact the ongoing investigation into Commonwealth Edison and the former Speaker says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A dog in Hoopeston was rescued after it fell into a pond. The Hoopeston Fire Department along with the Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team and some nearby neighbors helped pull the dog from the water. The dog is recovering at the vet.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston is celebrating their sesquicentennial this summer. To help kick off the event, the group is holding a raffle in March says Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle…

 

 

Hoopeston Sesquicentennial Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle. Tickets are available at Mr B’s cafe, Stay Awhile or the Hoopeston City Hall.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons is announcing early voting locations and hours for the April consolidated election. Early voting began last week at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana. Starting March 30th through April 5th, early voting locations include the Lake of the Woods Elks Pavilion in Mahomet,  Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in St. Joseph and the Gathering Place at the First United Methodist Church in Rantoul. Hours for early voting will be 10 to 6 Monday through Friday. 10-3 on Saturday, April 3rd and 1-5 on Sunday, April 4th.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive today from noon to 5 at the Christian Life Community Church in Rantoul.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois experienced increased initial unemployment claims last week as compared to the week before. The U.S. Department of Labor reports an additional 75,000 Illinoisans filed for first-time benefits. Another 19,100 independent contractors also filed for unemployment benefits. The state now has a total of 486,100 individuals drawing unemployment. Consumer finance website WalletHub said Illinois has the third slowest employment recovery in the nation.

 

 

(Chicago-jm) -- The days of paying cash on the Illinois Tollway are gone forever. The tollway announced it's permanently eliminating cash toll collections and will accept only I-Pass, E-ZPass or online payments. Customers unable to pay online can pay by check or money order. The tollway also says it will begin a program in May to help low-income drivers by waiving deposits on I-PASS transponders and adding $20 in tolls to people with household incomes up to 2 1/2 times the poverty line.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois General Assembly was rocked when Mike Madigan announced he was resigning. Madigan had served in the General Assembly for 50 years, 36 of which was as speaker. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says there were several possible reasons behind the once powerful speakers resignation…

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Fire officials say a fire in north Urbana over the weekend is suspicious. Crews from Thomasboro, St. Joseph, Savoy, Eastern Prairie, Edge-Scott and Carroll Fire Protection Districts were called to a property on North Olympian Drive. When they arrived they found 3 outbuildings fully engulfed. The state fire marshal’s office has been called in to investigate.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- It is estimated that 70% of the United States population will need to take the coronavirus vaccine for COVID-19 to subside. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- Due to inclement weather causing the closure of the Ford County Courthouse February 16th the judgment hearing for the Ford County Tax sale has been rescheduled for tomorrow at 8:30am. The 2019 payable 2020 Ford County Tax Sale will be held Wednesday at 2pm. Please contact the Ford County Treasurer's Office with any questions at 217-379-9465. 

 

 

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Spring Guaranteed Prices for this year's Crop Insurance will be announced March 1

(Urbana-jm) -- The Potomac man accused of firing shots at police during a chase that started in Urbana and ended in Vermilion County was in court Thursday. A Champaign County judge ordered John Bennett undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. Bennett’s bond was set at $2 million. He is due back in court March 25th.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,884 new Coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,181,226 and deaths to 20,406. Locally, Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 1,566. Iroquois County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 2,773. Champaign County reported 52 new cases bringing their total to 18,112. Vermilion County did not provide a report Thursday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state lawmaker says he’s not surprised former House Speaker Mike Madigan resigned. Madigan announced last week he was stepping down from his House seat after 50 years in the state legislature. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman talks about Madigan’s legacy…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- There is a push to increase voter turnout for the April consolidated election in Champaign County. Only 7.5 percent of the registered voters turned out for the primary. While the primary was for Champaign and Urbana only, voting advocates and Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons are pushing to remind people of the April 6th election. Early voting is underway across the area.

 

 

(Buckley-cf)-- Spring Guaranteed Prices for this year's Crop Insurance will be announced March 1. Premiums will also be higher for this crop season as commodities have risen 30 to 40 percent since last year say Diversified Insurance Agent Dylan Reetz…

 

 

Diversified Insurance Agent Dylan Reetz. You can visit the office in Buckley or contact Dylan at 815-822-5477.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Mobile Home Privilege tax bills will be sent out in the coming days. Treasurer Kurt Albers says tax bills will be mailed out the first week of March. Anyone with questions is asked to call Albers office at 815-432-6985.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture released emergency administrative rules detailing additional restrictions for dicamba application on soybeans for the 2021 growing season. In October 2020, USEPA announced that it had renewed the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act registrations for three dicamba pesticides for growing seasons 2021-2025. Impacted registrations include: XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, Engenia Herbicide and Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology.

 

Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. WPXN was able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Chloe Smith from Rantoul High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.

 

 

We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Dylan Zwilling

 

 

 

 

The Crescent-Iroquois Fire Department Pancake and Sausage Breakfast will take place on Saturday from 6 to 10:30 am. The breakfast will be drive thru only.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for robbing a Champaign gaming establishment. Deshawn Burries-Brumfield received the sentence in Champaign County court after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery for putting an object to the head of a woman at Lacy’s Place back in March of last year and stealing cash from the register. In exchange for his plea, a more serious charge of armed robbery was dismissed.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,884 new Coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,181,226 and deaths to 20,406. As for local active and recovered cases, Iroquois County reported 2,704 have been released from isolation, 9 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Champaign County reported 17,524 have recovered, 460 are in isolation and 12 are hospitalized. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The former Westlawn Elementary School in Paxton could see new life. A developer is interested in turning the old school into an apartment building which has some neighbors concerned. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says they are talking with neighbors to address their concerns and hope to make a decision in March…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Those who want to get a tour of the new Rantoul Family Sports Complex can do so in March. A tour was originally scheduled in February however due to inclement weather it was rescheduled for March 7th at 2 and 3pm. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 893-5731.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the Cissna Park ballot…

 

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce is announcing their Easter egg hunt has been canceled this year. It’s the second year in a row that the hunt has been canceled because of the pandemic. The chamber says they are unsure they would be able to conduct a socially distanced hunt but hope to bring it back next year.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County home sales marked their 8th consecutive month of positive sales in January. Home sales were up 15.27 percent in January with 151 homes sold. The median price in January was $155,000.

 

With FFA week being this week and we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Christina White from PBL High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.

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We were also able to talk with Cissna Park FFA member Allison Wessels

 

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One in seven Illinoisans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

(Springfield-jm) -- About one million children in Illinois will soon be receiving additional monthly food aid. The state has qualified for an expansion of the pandemic E-B-T program, giving many eligible families a little extra to help feed their kids. Governor J-B Pritzker says enrollment is automatic…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The card will be sent out next month to qualifying kids not able to access free or reduced meals at school. The federally funded expansion will be able to reach 200 thousand more children than last year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is the second most corrupt state and Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country, according to a new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The report shows over several decades, Illinois has the second-most corruption cases per-capita behind Louisiana. Chicago beat out Los Angeles for the top spot.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says one in seven Illinoisans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 56 thousand doses are administered each day in Illinois, but that could soon increase says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says if the Johnson and Johnson version of the vaccine is approved later this week, states are being told they will see a 20 percent increase in doses by the end of March.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,022 new Coronavirus cases and 44 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,179,342 and deaths to 20,374. Champaign County reported 59 new cases bringing their total to 18,060. Ford County reported 9 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,564 and deaths to 43. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,771 and deaths to 59. Vermilion County reported 51 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 8,436.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- An area community is planning for the future. St. Joseph is seeing growth and Mayor Tami Fruhling says they are preparing for even more growth in the coming years…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts and Melvin firefighters were called to a grain dryer fire. Crews were called to the fire at 1528 N State Route 115 just before 3pm. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local reaction continues to come in after former House Speaker Mike Madigan announced last week he was resigning from his House seat. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington called it historic…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Commerce Commission is reminding residential and business customers that, beginning February 27, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur where all local calls made within the Illinois 217 Area Code will have to be placed using the 10-digit telephone number.  That day, the 447 area code will be added as an overlay to the region currently served by area code 217 to ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers for the area.  Your number will not change unless you get a new phone number.

 

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

 

 

We were also able to talk with Rantoul FFA member  Pascaline Grace Phongo

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritkzer is announcing a 15 million dollar loan program for small Illinois towns hit by record spiking natural gas prices. The extreme weather has caused prices to skyrocket and that is hitting downstate communities especially hard says Governor Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor is calling on the Illinois Finance Authority to put together the low interest loan program. It would help municipalities spread payments out over a more manageable timeframe, although officials say they are hoping federal assistance will be available as well.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is not the best state to own a firearm. According to an annual ranking from Guns 'n Ammo Magazine, Illinois ranks 41st in the nation for gun ownership due to lawmakers banning many components legalized elsewhere, proposals to reform the state's FOID card and a crackdown on gun sales. In spite of that, federal records show a record number of gun purchases in 2020.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ hemp harvest fell slightly last year. Hemp farmers harvested nearly 24 hundred acres during the second season of the industry. That’s down from 2019 when farmers harvested just over 28 hundred acres of hemp says State Department of Agriculture Division of Cannabis Manager David Lakeland…

 

 

Illinois Department of Agriculture Division of Cannabis Manager David Lakeland. Lakeland says they are now accepting applications for the 2021 hemp season. More information is available on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,022 new Coronavirus cases and 44 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,179,342 and deaths to 20,374. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 17,460 have recovered, 476 are in isolation and 11 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,689 have been released from isolation, 13 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 262 cases are active and 12 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Area Youth Club will be hosting their annual fundraiser coming up next week. Director Sara Balgoyen says they will have a virtual silent and live auction…

 

 

Mahomet Area Youth Club Director Sara Balgoyen. You must register to participate. It is free to sign up. Visit mayc auction dot com to register and check out the items on the silent and live auction.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- The Hoopeston City Council is now at full capacity. Steve Eyrich was recently sworn in to fill the Ward 1 alderman vacancy. The council recently filled another open seat.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City is announcing some committees he has been assigned to. Representative Bennett discusses the committees…

 

 

104th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley is announcing scholarship applications are now underway. The scholarships are available to high school seniors in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. Deadline to apply is February 28, 2021. More details are available at: cfkrv dot org then click on the scholarship tab.

 

With FFA week being this week and we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters.  Christina White from PBL High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.

 

 

We were also able to talk with  Fisher FFA member Lacey Cotter

 

 

Stay tuned to our local newscasts as we will have more from our FFA students all week.

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The number of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1B expands this week

(Springfield-jm) -- The number of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1B expands this week. The change is expected to go into effect on Thursday, allowing those with conditions like cancer, diabetes, COPD and obesity to get vaccinated, regardless of age. At an unrelated press conference, Governor J-B Pritzker was asked if those seeking the shot will have to show proof…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says health care workers administering the vaccine can ask people about their conditions to make sure they are eligible under Phase 1-B.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,665 new Coronavirus cases and 27 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,177,561 and deaths to 20,330. Champaign County reported 23 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 18,001 and deaths to 128. Iroquois County reported no new cases leaving their total at 2,768. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not provide a report Tuesday.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- An old school in Paxton could get new life. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says a person is interested in turning the former Westlawn School into an apartment building…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. Ingold says there were some concerns addressed by neighbors. The issue will likely be discussed and voted on at the March meeting.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Carle Illinois College of Medicine has been granted provisional accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education following an in-depth review of educational and program quality standards. Provisional accreditation moves the college’s engineering-based M.D. degree program one step closer to full accreditation in 2022. 

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- If you fall under the Phase 1-B guidelines in the vaccination process, and have already signed up for your first dose, you don’t need to re-register. The FCPHD is encouraging all Ford County residents to sign up on their website, says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A man wanted for a fatal shooting in Mississippi has been arrested in Champaign. 19 year old John Morton was taken into custody by U-S Marshals. Three people were killed and another wounded in the shooting at a nightclub in Benoit, Mississippi. Another suspect was arrested in Mississippi.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Those who need assistance paying their utility bills can get assistance in Gibson City. Assistance will be available at the Moyer District Library on Thursday from 9:30-3:30. Appointments are needed and can be made by calling 217-497-2979.

 

Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. WPXN was able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Christina White from Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today...

 

 

 

We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Connor Diorio

 

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Grain Bin Safety Week. Joe Small with the Illinois Department of Agriculture says it’s easy for farmers to become complacent when working in and around grain bins, but that conditions can quickly become dangerous. Small says this can occur when the condition of the grain is poor and clumping…

 

 

Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Joe Small. Small says farmers should always have someone with them, wear a harness with a properly secured rope, and break up crusted grain from outside the bin with a long pole if possible.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,665 new Coronavirus cases and 27 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,177,561 and deaths to 20,330. As for local active and recovered cases, 17,369 have recovered, 504 are in isolation and 11 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,689 have been released from isolation, 21 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not provide a report.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to independent pharmacies in phase two of the distribution process. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details of what the vaccine process will look like at his pharmacy… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Village of Mahomet's Board of Trustees is hoping to adopt a village-wide statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This comes after months of action in the community in response to protests and wanting to make a change. The village has been working with several community leaders, condemning all forms of racism.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign man has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a counterfeit check scheme. Tommie Slayton received the sentence in federal court after pleading guilty to seven counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy. Slayton and a co-defendant wrote over 120 fraudulent checks at businesses in Champaign and Bloomington totaling over $100,000. 

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- There will be a pair of candidate forums for the Mahomet Seymour school board. The Mahomet Chamber of Commerce will host the first candidate forum on Thursday from 6-8 pm on their facebook page. The second candidate forum will take place on Sunday, March 7th at 2pm at the Mahomet Public Library.

 

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

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We were also able to talk with Rantoul FFA member Sophie Ramme

 

 

Stay tuned to our local newscasts as we will have more from our FFA students all week.

 

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker is signing a sweeping criminal justice reform into law

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is signing a sweeping criminal justice reform into law. The new law ends cash bail in many cases, sets statewide standards on police use of force, requires cops to wear body cameras, diverts low level drug offenders to treatment programs and much more. Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Opponents, many in law enforcement, say this ties the hands of police officers and will make communities less safe.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,246 new Coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,175,655 and deaths to 20,303. Locally, Champaign County reported 174 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 17,978 and deaths to 127. Ford County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 1,555. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,768. Vermilion County reported 60 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 8,385 and deaths to 103.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Reaction continues to come in to Governor J-B Pritzker’s budget and state of the state address held last Wednesday. The budget yet again is unbalanced, a pattern that has taken place over the past several years. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman was asked why the state keeps doing the same thing every year expecting the same result…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County Sheriff says a Potomac man fired a gun at deputies Sunday night as they chased him onto I-74. Around 10:50 p.m. police tried to stop a car near Cunningham Avenue and Kenyon Road, which is just south of I-74. Officers say a K9 unit was alerted by the car and the driver then fled from the traffic stop. A passenger in the vehicle fired around 8 shots at officers. The passenger was identified as John Bennett. The chase stopped on Route 1 in Vermilion County where he barricaded himself in the vehicle for 3 hours before surrendering to police. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. No injuries were reported.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph village board is reviewing an extension to the franchise agreement with Ameren. Mayor Tami Fruhling says there are some concerns the village has with the proposal from the utility…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to two years probation for car theft and burglary. Jacob Peters pleaded guilty in Champaign County court to possession of a stolen vehicle and burglary without causing damage. Prosecutors say police recognized a vehicle at an Urbana motel in July 2019 that had been reported stolen two days earlier. Peters admitted to being in possession of that vehicle. Then in May 2020, Peters was arrested for entering a vehicle in Rantoul.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver is announcing they are in need of election judges for the upcoming consolidated election in April. Suver’s office says they will accept both Republican and Democrat election judges but are in urgent need of Democrat judges. Anyone interested can call the clerk’s office at 815-432-6960.

 

With FFA week being this week we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. From PBL High School’s FFA Treasurer Maci Kingren  talks about what is going on today… 

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We were also able to talk with Cissna Park FFA member Kenadee Edelman

 

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- How will higher feed costs affect beef production this year? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,246 new Coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,175,655 and deaths to 20,303. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 17,314 have recovered, 537 are in isolation and 13 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,689 have been released from isolation and 21 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 7,995 have been released from isolation, 274 remain in isolation and 13 are hospitalized. Ford County is unable to provide local active and recovered cases at this time due to an issue at the state level.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- If you choose to participate in the Photo Contest that is taking place until the middle of August in Gibson City, there are four different prize groups says spokesperson Suzie Tongate… 

 

 

Gibson City Photo Contest Spokesperson Suzie Tongate

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A former pastor faces up to 23 years in prison for having sex with a teenager, who was a member of his congregation. Roger VanRaden pleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault charges. He was involved with the girl for four years–since she was 14–while he was a youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church. He will be sentenced April 8th.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- The Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau has several upcoming events. Manager David Treece hi-lites some of those events…

 

 

Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Music Festival will go on this year. The committee announced the headline act is country music artist Hardy. The two day free festival will take place August 27th and 28th.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College’s Parkland Pathway to Illinois program will hold a virtual open house. The virtual open house will take place tonight from 6 to 8 via zoom. Go online to go dot illinois dot edu slash pathway to rsvp.

 

Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. WPXN was able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Kianna Berlatsky with Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.

 

 

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

 

 

Stay tuned to our local newscasts as we will have more from our FFA students all week.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s virtual Hemp Summit is this morning from 9 to noon. Visit the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website to register.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Farm income may go down this year while the cost of farm inputs and other production expenses are expected to rise. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

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There are new uncertainties about when Illinois will be able to draw new political boundaries

(Springfield-jm) -- There are new uncertainties about when Illinois will be able to draw new political boundaries. U.S. Census officials announced a six-month delay in releasing reapportionment data, pushing the date to September 30. That’s a month into when candidates begin gathering petitions for the March 2022 primary, leaving uncertainty for where political boundaries would lie for statehouse and congressional races.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is urging motorists to obey Illinois’ Move Over law. Since the beginning of the year, 10 Illinois State Police squad cars have been hit by those failing to move over, injuring troopers in half of the crashes. Spokesperson Henry Haupt says that’s why Secretary White is issuing a call to action to drivers…

 

 

Illinois Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. Fines for violating the Move Over Law range from 250 to 10 thousand dollars.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Associations representing an array of businesses in Illinois are opposing the governor’s move to end nearly a billion dollars of business tax incentives. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said the move to end nine programs the governor called “corporate loopholes” is the wrong direction. The Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association said ending the programs compounds costs of three minimum wage increases during the pandemic. Any changes to the tax code require legislative approval.



(Springfield-jm) -- As natural gas prices spike, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is offering some tips to winterize your home and save energy. There are some steps you can take to help extend your field supply and protect your house from the bitter cold says IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark...

 

 

IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. To conserve energy, Clark suggests turning your thermostat and water heater down a couple of degrees, set your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise which will push warm air down and avoid using large appliances like dishwashers, washers and dryers as much as possible.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois now has 1,174,409 cases of Coronavirus and 20,269 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is 3.1 percent. 2,151,952 vaccines have been administered in Illinois. On Friday, Champaign County reported 132 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 17,804 and deaths to 126. Ford County reported 8 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,539 and deaths to 42. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases bringing their total to 2,764. Vermilion County reported 34 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 8,325 and deaths to 102.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton city crews have been busy over the past week with the recent snows. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about how the city handles snow events…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. 

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- The estate of a Hoopeston man is suing Vermilion County in federal court. The family of Thomas Dalton says officials at the county’s jail ignored repeated medical requests for 8 days before he died February 16, 2020.

 

Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. 

Felicity Schaffer from Fisher High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is happening on Monday.

 

 

Fisher FFA President Felicity Schaffer

 

We were also able to talk with Rantoul FFA member  Madison McGinn

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois experienced an increase in the number of new unemployment filings last week than the week before. The U.S. Department of Labor reports nearly 68,000 new claims were filed last week, 33,500 more than the week before. There were also more than 14,800 new independent contractors filing for unemployment. The total number of insured unemployed and continued pandemic unemployment assistance claims is 477,500.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- 1099-G tax forms are now available for claimants who received unemployment insurance benefits in 2020, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced.  Claimants who collected unemployment insurance benefits last year need the 1099-G tax form to complete state and federal tax returns.  The form is necessary for individuals who received state or federal unemployment insurance benefits.  This includes claimants who received regular unemployment insurance benefits and/or benefits under the new federal pandemic relief programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance , Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Lost Wages Assistance, and state Extended Benefits.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Office of the State Fire Marshal is urging older Illinoisans to practice fire safety. Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz says in 2019, nearly 48 percent of all fire deaths in Illinois were people over 60. That’s why they want to focus on seniors and make sure they are safe…

 

 

State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Additionally, the Illinois Department on Aging offers an emergency home response service for qualifying seniors. It’s a 24 hour two way communication system where once you push a button, help will be on its way in any home emergency.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois now has 1,174,409 cases of Coronavirus and 20,269 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is 3.1 percent. 2,151,952 vaccines have been administered in Illinois. As for local active and recovered cases Friday. Champaign County reported 16,996 have recovered, 682 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,678 have been released from isolation, 28 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 269 active cases and 11 hospitalized. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Republicans and Democrats across the state are asking the Biden Administration to not seek the resignation of the U-S Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch. Lausch has been behind the Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme that implicated former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. Congressman Adam Kinzinger says he hopes the Administration will withdraw the resignation request…

 

 

Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Market Place Mall and Champaign police responded to a fight at the mall on Saturday.  Champaign Police Department assisted mall security in breaking up a fight among a large group of juveniles. No one was arrested.

 

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

 

 

We were also able to talk with PBL FFA treasurer Maci Kingren 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Madigan is stepping down from the Illinois House

(Springfield-jm) -- Mike Madigan is stepping down from the Illinois House. The former speaker submitted his resignation, effective immediately, saying he is leaving office at peace with his decision and proud of the many contributions he has made to the state. Governor J-B Pritzker wished him well and was asked by reporters if Madigan leaving is a good thing for state government in light of the recent Com-Ed scandal…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Madigan served in the Illinois House for 50 years and was the longest serving House Speaker in U-S History. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A legislative commission is upholding new “Culturally Responsible” teaching standards. The new standards pushed by the State Board of Education aims to better prepare teachers for a diverse classroom and to look at how their own biases may affect their instruction. The Board’s Legislative Affairs Director Amanda Elliott says research shows that when students feel included and understood, they are more likely to succeed...

 

 

Illinois State Board of Education’s Legislative Affairs Director Amanda Elliott. Opponents argued this is forcing political ideology on teachers. The new standards will take effect in the fall of 2025.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,966 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 72 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,168,683 and deaths to 20,129. Locally, Champaign County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 17,672. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,761. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,531. Vermilion County did not have a report Thursday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- Willard Airport is getting some financial relief from the federal government. The Federal Aviation Administration is giving the airport more than $1.3 million in grant funding. The funds will be used for operational expenses, debt service payments, and other costs related to fighting the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- St. Joseph will be getting a village administrator. The village is advertising the position right now through the end of the month. Mayor Tami Fruhling talks about the next steps in the process…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Motorists can blame mother nature, in part, for the impending higher prices at the pump, according to GasBuddy. GasBuddy reports the national average price of gasoline may jump 10-20 cents per gallon over the next two weeks as millions of barrels of refining capacity have gone offline because the extreme cold in the South. GasBuddy expects the national average to hit $3 a gallon by May just as refineries start switching over to EPA-mandated summer-grade gasoline, which costs several cents more per gallon to produce and is partially the reason why pump prices rise in the summer.

 

The Buckley Sportsman Club will hold a carry out only fish fry tonight from 4-7pm. The meal will be held at the Buckley American Legion. Fish, baked beans and cole slaw will be served. Cost is $10 per meal.

 

The Iroquois West FFA Chapter will host a drive thru pork chop dinner on Saturday starting at 4pm at the high school parking lot.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Mike Madigan is stepping down from the Illinois House. Madigan had served as speaker for 36 years and spent 50 years in the Illinois House. House Deputy Republican Leader Dan Brady of Normal reacts to the news and discusses the new House Speakers role in uniting the state…

 

 

Illinois House Deputy Republican Leader Dan Brady of Normal.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s hospitality industry is asking for a solid plan to work towards fully reopening. During a virtual Senate Committee hearing, those representing hotels, food service and bars stressed the need for more guidance as Illinois sits in Phase Four of COVID mitigations. That includes Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia, who says current rules need to be revisited...

 

 

Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia. Senate committee members want to work with public health officials and industry leaders over the next few weeks to come up with a detailed game plan to transition into Phase Five.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,966 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 72 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,168,683 and deaths to 20,129. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 16,901 have recovered, 648 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,678 have been released from isolation, 25 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Ford County was unable to provide an update on active and recovered cases due to an issue at the state level. Vermilion County did not provide a report Thursday.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An area Congressman is discussing the recent events in Washington. Former President Donald Trump was acquitted of insurrection over the weekend following the events January 6th. The election, insurrection and subsequent impeachment trial divided the Republican party with some members including Congressman Adam Kinzinger to vote to impeach the 45th President. Kinzinger talks about what the Republican party will have to do in the future…

 

 

Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Kinzinger was censured by the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee earlier this week because of his vote to impeach the former President.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County officials will soon be able to get regular Covid-19 tests. The county board passed a resolution that would allow the weekly testing of county departments. $140,000 dollars from the general fund will be used to cover two months of Covid-19 testing for county employees. The tests will be the saliva based tests from the University of Illinois, but the board plans to have OSF administer the tests once they come to an agreement.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston is celebrating their sesquicentennial this summer. To help kick off the event, the group is holding a raffle in March says Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle…

 

 

Hoopeston Sesquicentennial Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle. Tickets are available at Mr B’s cafe, Stay Awhile or the Hoopeston City Hall.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul will honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen this weekend. The ceremony will take place on Saturday at 2pm at the intersection of Route 45 and Century Boulevard. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the Rantoul Business Center. The Tuskegee Airmen were part of the 99th Pursuit Squadron at Chanute Air Force Base. The all black group was then transferred to Tuskegee, Alabama. 

 

 

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Governor J.B. Pritzker gave his State of the State and budget address yesterday

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules upheld new standards passed by the Illinois State Board of Education. The state board of education passed the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards in December 2020, just before the Illinois General Assembly passed the education reform bill during the lame duck session. The learning standards will provide training to teachers on how to teach in diverse classrooms more effectively. These new teaching standards will take effect in October 2025.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker gave his state of the state and budget address yesterday. The pandemic and its effect on the state’s budget were a significant portion of the address. One topic the governor did touch on was education funding…

 

 

Governor Pritzker also called on the General Assembly to pass ethics reform…

 

 

The Governor took time to address the pandemic and thanked Illinoisans for their perseverance during the pandemic…

 

 

The Governor said there is good news when it comes to the fight against the pandemic…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington reacts to the Governor’s address…

 

 

 

State Senator Dan Brady reacts to the Governor’s address…

 

 

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,795 Coronavirus cases and 24 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,166,717 and deaths to 20,057. Locally, Champaign County reported 13 new cases bringing their total to 17,622. Iroquois County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 2,757. Vermilion County reported 27 new cases bringing their total to 8,291. Ford County did not provide a report Wednesday.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees is dealing with a lawsuit from two Chinese women for trafficking claims. Xingjian “Vina” Sun and Xing “Ely” Zhao claim the university deliberately overlooked their allegations of sexual violence and harassment by one of its now-former professors, Gang “Gary” Xu. The lawsuit alleges the university overlooked the claims in order to safeguard future revenues from the Chinese student population.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Despite the pandemic, U.S. agriculture did a booming export business in 2020. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- 16th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger has been named to Time Magazine’s 2021 Time 100 Next list. The tabloid says Kinzinger was named to the list for his efforts in shaping the future of politics and defining the next generation of leadership. Kinzinger has been under fire recently for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump. Earlier this week, he was censured by the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service will host their All You Can Eat Chili Supper tonight from 5 to 7:30 at their station at 134 W. State Street. Cost is $8 for a meal that includes chili drink and dessert.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- There could be a renewed effort to require fingerprints for applicants seeking a Firearm Owner Identification Card. Democratic state Senator Ram Villivalam told the Chicago Tribune he plans to sponsor such a bill. Republican state Representative Andrew Chesney filed House Bill 1770 to repeal the FOID Card Act, saying persistent FOID processing delays are violating people’s rights. The Illinois State Rifle Association who’s suing the state over delays said the system is obsolete and should be ended.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,795 Coronavirus cases and 24 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,166,717 and deaths to 20,057. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 16,841 have recovered, 658 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,667 have been released from isolation, 32 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 313 cases are active and 12 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle said it is pausing all of its COVID-19 vaccine scheduling. The pause is due to weather-related vaccine delivery delays. Officials said scheduled appointments will continue as planned, unless you hear otherwise directly from Carle. Carle plans to resume online form callbacks when more COVID-19 vaccine doses become available.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- China made major increases in purchases of U.S. agricultural products during calendar year 2020. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The 2022 campaign cycle is already underway with statewide candidates from both parties announcing their intentions. The Illinois Republican Party is joining the fray, launching a cycle-long campaign, titled Fire Pritzker, to oust incumbent Illinois Governor, Democrat J-B Pritzker. Former State Senator Paul Schimpf and businessman Gary Rabine have declared they are running for the top spot so far for the GOP. Governor Pritzker has yet to announce whether he will run for a second term.

 

 

 

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Illinois state and local government could get more than $13 billion in financial support from federal taxpayers

(Undated-jm) -- Winter weather again struck the area yesterday and overnight causing slick roads. Slow down and use caution as you head to work this morning. Check the latest road conditions at getting around illinois dot com. Many schools are on remote learning today and county government offices are closed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois state and local government could get more than $13 billion in financial support from federal taxpayers under President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 aid package. Schaumburg Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorti’s office shared a spreadsheet with estimates showing $7.5 billion would go directly to the state’s budget with $5.7 billion going to local governments.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is set to deliver his annual budget address Wednesday and Illinois House Republicans say it’s more important than ever that than ever that the proposal is balanced. The Illinois constitution requires the state budget be balanced each year, with spending matching revenues. But sometimes expected revenues don’t pan out. That can’t happen this year says House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

 

 

House GOP Leader Jim Durkin. The state is facing a three billion dollar budget deficit. Governor Pritkzer has said his proposal will keep spending at the same levels as last year and will not include a tax increase. He says Republicans should offer suggestions about where cuts can be made to help keep costs down.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,420 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 41 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,163,574 and deaths to 20,002. Champaign County reported 229 new cases and 7 additional deaths bringing their totals to 17,536 and 123 respectively. All other health departments did not issue reports due to the President’s Day holiday.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Forum Fitness Center in Rantoul will be undergoing a major renovation. The Rantoul Recreation Department received an $850,000 grant for the work says Director Luke Humphry…

 

 

Rantoul Recreation Department Director Luke Humphry.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County 2020 tax sale has been postponed due to COVID-19 regulations. The new scheduled date is tomorrow at 1:00 pm.  Property owners will be able to make payments on delinquent 2019 payable 2020 taxes until the end of the day today. If you still need to make a tax payment, please contact the treasurer’s office for current amount due.  All payments must be in the form of cash, certified check or payments will be accepted online at gov tech tax pro dot com through the first week of February.  For more information, please contact the treasurer’s office or visit the Ford County Treasurer’s website at ford county dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man who admitted to touching an underage girl has been sentenced to 4 years probation. Darwayne Barton received the sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He must also register as a sex offender for life.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois taxpayers are paying retired state lawmakers more than $2.1 million a month from a pension fund that’s just 16 percent funded. Numbers from the General Assembly Retirement System show 40 former lawmakers or their surviving spouses are getting at least $10,000 a month with the highest payout for one former lawmaker more than $18,000 a month.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped 20,000 deaths yesterday after the state reported 1,429 new cases and 41 additional deaths. Champaign County was the only county to issue a report yesterday because of the President’s Day holiday. They reported 16,694 have recovered, 719 are in isolation and 17 are hospitalized. They also reported 7 new deaths bringing their total to 123.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- The Village of Gibson City is hosting a photo contest within the village. You can show off your camera skills by taking photos of landmarks, old and new inside the village to showcase the history of the village says Spokesperson Suzie Tongate… 

 

 

Gibson City Photo Contest Spokesperson Suzie Tongate. The contest will run until the middle of August. 

 

 

(Watseka-jm) --Congressman Adam Kinzinger has been censured by the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee. Kinzinger spoke out against former President Donald Trump and joined 9 other GOP members in seeking impeachment following the January 6th insurrection. 10 of the 19 members of the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee voted to censure the politician. You can hear from Congressman Kinzinger on his vote to impeach the former President tonight on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- An area community is hitting a major milestone this year. Hoopeston will celebrate their sesquicentennial this summer. Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle talks about some of the planning in the early going…

 

 

Hoopeston Sesquicentennial Spokesperson Brad Hardcastle.

 

 

(Potomac-jm) -- A Potomac man has been named the 2021 Soybean Master Adviser. Randy Niver received the title by the Illinois Soybean Association. Niver has been a certified crop advisor since 2012.

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Illinois State Police's Move Over Task Force is making recommendations to further protect officers and first responders

(Springfield-jm) -- State Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is offering some advice for students, parents and teachers about internet safety. Attorney General Raoul says the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has investigated numerous cases of cyber predators going after kids, as well as an uptick in youth sharing explicit content online...

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul says before sharing information, a photo or video online, students should ask themselves if it’s something that they wouldn’t want to be made public, if they know the person they are sending it to, and if they think that person will share it with others.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police’s Move Over Task Force is making recommendations to further protect officers and first responders. The task force was formed after a rash of move over law violations left two troopers dead in 2019. Four squad cards have already been struck this year, injuring three troopers. State Police Sergeant Joey Watson says the group is proposing several changes. One is simple, requiring drivers to not only change lanes when they see flashing lights on the side of the road, but to slow down as well…

 

 

Illinois State Police Sergeant Joey Watson. Other recommendations include stiffer penalties for distracted drivers violating the Move Over law, making the law a national safety priority and better data collection to track how often this occurs.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- Illinois is starting to move forward with the vaccination process after getting all frontline, and essential work force vaccinated completely. Chain pharmacies are now starting to offer vaccination for the Phase 1-A patients. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter has the details on how you can find which pharmacy is offering the vaccination… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter. You don’t need to be a resident of that county to receive that vaccine, but you still need an appointment.

 

 

(Normal-jm) -- A freight train transporting non-hazardous material derailed in Normal over the weekend. It happened around 6 am Saturday morning. Crews spent the weekend cleaning up the derailment and making repairs.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One area state lawmaker is addressing the issues the state will face when it comes to the state’s budget during the next few months. 103rd District State Representative Carol Ammons of Champaign says the pandemic has made it harder to balance the states budget…

 

 

Ammons says the budget will also have to focus on people first…

 

 

103rd District State Representative Carol Ammons of Champaign.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County Board is encouraging Governor J-B Pritzker to veto the controversial criminal justice reform bill. County leaders say they support a majority of the measures in the bill however, there are some that they say will have significant negative impacts on the safety of both residents and law enforcement officers in the county.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new report from AARP aims to address the needs of older people of color in Illinois. The “Disrupt Disparities” report looks at the additional challenges minority seniors face including less access to healthcare and lack of savings says Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago…

 

 

State Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago. The report recommends expanding the state’s secure choice retirement program, making sure minority communities have access to high speed internet, expanding telehealth care coverage, more property tax relief for seniors and lifting the age cap on the Illinois earned income tax credit.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s top public health doctor says if you went to a Super Bowl party last weekend, it’s a good idea to get tested for COVID-19. For those who attended a gathering for the big game, now is the time to get tested if you haven’t already says Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. To find a testing site near you, visit coronavirus dot gov and click on “resources.”

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The village of St. Joseph is moving forward with creating a village administrator position. Mayor Tami Fruhling talks about where the process stands right now…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

(Bloomington-jm) -- OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington has received another honor. The hospital received the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Blue Distinction for Maternity Care.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- For more than a year, backlogs of processing applications for Illinois Firearm Owner Identification cards and Concealed Carry Licenses persists. The most recent data through December from Illinois State Police has the average wait time for new FOID cards at 122.5 days and about the same for CCL applicants that provide fingerprints. It's supposed to be 30 days for FOID and 90 days for CCL. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says it looks like a backdoor way for the Governor to implement some form of gun control…

 

 

Representative Marron said he cosponsored legislation last year to eliminate the FOID card and will be sponsoring that legislation again this year…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian. Illinois State Police said as of January 19, there were 175,751 new FOID applications and 25,518 CCL backlogged.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School is receiving grant money to help close the digital access gap. The district received a 71 hundred dollar digital network access grant from the state.

 

 

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Another COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- Another COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Thursday that the variant first identified in South Africa B.1.351 has now been confirmed in a Rock Island, Illinois resident. As of Thursday, IDPH has also reported 22 cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A special enrollment period for Illinoisans needing health insurance kicks off Monday. An executive order signed by President Joe Biden provides the additional opportunity to search for an affordable plan on the state’s marketplace says Get Covered Illinois Executive Director Laura Pellikan…

 

 

Get Covered Illinois Executive Director Laura Pellikan. Those that have already enrolled can also use this period to switch plans. The special enrollment period runs through May 15th. Learn more at: get covered illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,838 new Coronavirus cases and 102 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,155,835 and deaths to 19,841. Locally, Champaign County reported 68 new cases bringing their total to 17,254. Ford County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 1,500. Iroquois County reported 13 new cases bringing their total to 2,741.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- OSF is announcing some openings for their COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Rantoul today. The clinic is for Phase 1-B Champaign County residents only. Sign up for your shot at sign up genius dot com slash go slash covid feb 12 rantoul.

 

 

(Urbana-cf)-- If you live in Champaign or Urbana, you will have a primary election for your local leaders on February 23rd. Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons details who is on the ballot for the primary for the Mayor, and Urbana City Clerk positions… 

 

 

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing drivers services facilities will be closed today for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In addition, facilities open Monday through Friday will be closed Monday for President’s Day. Facilities open Tuesday through Saturday will be closed Saturday in observance of Presidents Day.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- VA Illiana is now scheduling the Moderna COVID vaccine for veterans 65 and older. The vaccination is by appointment only and can be made by calling 217-554-4444. Eligible vets can get the vaccine at their facility in Danville or their outpatient clinics in Bloomington, Decatur, Peoria and Springfield.

 

The Loda American Legion will host their fish fry tonight from 4 to 7 pm.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA is just out with its first farm income forecast for 2021. It could be an unusual income year. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The already bright prospects for U.S. corn exports and prices are getting a little brighter. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- About 38,000 people filed for initial unemployment claims last week in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s about 32,000 of traditional filings and around 6,000 of the pandemic unemployment assistance filers made up of independent contractors. The Illinois Department of Employment Security said its offices remains closed to the public because of COVID-19 concerns and threats of violence.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than one and a half million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in Illinois, with hopes of increasing that pace in the coming weeks. State Public Health officials testified before a Senate committee about the status of the vaccination rollout, saying one point two million of those were initial doses about 300 thousand were second doses. IDPH Deputy Director Andrew Friend says they are preparing for shipments to ramp up...

 

 

Illinois Department of Public Health Deputy Director Andrew Friend. Friend says they are also setting up storage freezers across the state to accommodate the vaccine once larger shipments arrive. More than 300 new vaccination locations have just been added, bringing the total to 850 statewide. Find one near you at: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,838 new Coronavirus cases and 102 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,155,835 and deaths to 19,841. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 16,342 have recovered, 796 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,646 have been released from isolation, 37 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- University of Illinois Police said a university employee reported that someone drew a swastika on a virtual drawing board during an online meeting. Police say the incident happened on zoom and do not believe it was from an invited guest at the meeting but rather someone who was able to access the meeting.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Youth basketball is currently underway in Rantoul at the Rantoul Recreation Department. Director Luke Humphry says they are looking ahead to spring and summer…

 

 

Rantoul Recreation Department Director Luke Humphry.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police are investigating a burglary. Police say they were called to a house in the 400 block of East Ottawa Sunday morning. Reported stolen were 4 firearms. Anyone with information is asked to call Paxton police or Ford County crimestoppers.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- The Hoopeston City Council has filled one of two vacancies on the board. Mayor Bill Crusinberry appointed Joe Garrett to fill the vacancy in Ward 3.

 

St. John’s Lutheran School in Buckley will hold their annual Chicken Dinner fundraiser on Sunday from 4 to 6:30. The fundraiser is carry out only.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- How low can U.S. soybean stocks go? USDA analysts have a new answer to that question. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An Extension expert says not only should producers create a strategic plan to manage risk in dynamic times, they should also plan for various scenarios that could impact their business. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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The state is expanding eligibility for Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House is voting to set term limits for party leaders. House lawmakers met in Springfield to approve new rules for the current legislative session. They include 10 year term limits for the Speaker of the House and Minority Leader. The change comes after Mike Madigan’s 36 year reign as speaker. Additionally, all bills are guaranteed to be assigned to a committee. But Representative Mark Batinick of Plainfield says that doesn’t go far enough, and that Republicans and the public should be given more notice about which bill will be up for discussion each day…

 

 

State Representative Mark Batinick of Plainfield. The new rules also let the House hold legislative hearings remotely. The Senate has been doing that for several months now.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is expanding eligibility for Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Governor J-B Pritzker says they plan to include those with dangerous underlying health conditions, regardless of age or profession starting February 25th…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says this expansion will also include people with disabilities. Nearly one and a half million doses have been administered in Illinois so far.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,825 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 53 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,152,995 and deaths to 19,739. Locally, Ford County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 1,493. Champaign County reported 122 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 17,186 and deaths to 116. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases bringing their total to 2,728. Vermilion County did not provide a report.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- Ford County is still in Phase 1-A of the vaccination process, but starting this week, Ford County has been allocated 1,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter

 

 

All of the vaccinations in Ford County will be administered at Gibson Area Hospital. The Phase 1-B vaccination process is going to take Ford County a while to get through as it is for teachers, agriculture workers, and patients that are 65 and older. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter is asking everyone to stay patient… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter. At the end of this week, the health department is hoping to have 700 residents over 65 vaccinated.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a chip that detects COVID-19 antibodies. It first started as a project, creating a chip that detects the flu that measured proteins in a blood sample, and is now able to detect antibodies for COVID-19. The chip measures 8 centimeters by 8 centimeters. It's made of glass and a biosensor film that was created to show the antibodies on the glass through the microscope. When looking at the test 15 minutes later, the test will show little black dots on the screen. Each test costs less than $2 to produce a sample. It uses just a finger stick amount of blood and can detect antibodies in 15 minutes.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine has been slower compared to other states in the country. The most recent data shows Illinois is 41st in the country in getting doses of the vaccine into the arms of those who want to receive it. 103rd District State Representative Carol Ammons of Champaign says the General Assembly will work with the Governor to get the vaccine out to everyone who wants it…

 

 

103rd District State Representative Carol Ammons of Champaign.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana has been named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by Healthgrades. Its the 6th year in a row the hospital has received the honor.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House set their rules yesterday during a special session in Springfield. Among the rules set include term limits for the Speaker of the House and House Minority Leader and hold legislative committee hearings remotely. State Representative Dan Brady of Normal voted against the measure saying its more of the same bad policy…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady of Normal.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 100 new COVID-19 vaccination sites have been added in Illinois. 134 additional sites are coming online including two new mass vaccination sites in Cook County, and at several retail locations around the state including Wal-Mart, Kroger and Jewel-Osco. Locations locally include the Walgreens in Rantoul, the CVS in Hoopeston, the Walgreens in Mahomet and at 6 Walgreens locations in the Champaign-Urbana area. To find other locations and the latest on the pandemic visit the website: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,825 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 53 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,152,995 and deaths to 19,739. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 16,300 have recovered, 770 are in isolation and 25 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,637 have been released from isolation, 33 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County did not provide a report Wednesday. Ford County is unable to report local active and recovered case numbers at this time due to an issue with the state reporting system.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- Gibson City is hosting a photo contest, with VIVID Studios. Residents of Gibson City can show off their camera skills with different landmarks throughout the community for different prizes. Spokesperson Suzie Tongate has the details… 

 

 

Gibson City Photo Contest Spokesperson Suzie Tongate. 

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush, a travel baseball and softball program is hosting a fundraiser. The prizes are $3,000 for 1st place, $1,500 for 2nd place, $500 for 3rd place, and there will be 5 $100 winners. Spokesperson Ryan Burch has the details on how to get tickets… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Burch. The winning tickets will be drawn on February 15th.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- A Fisher youth is receiving a national honor. Jordynn Huskisson was named the top youth volunteer of 2021 by Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The group is America’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service. Huskisson was one of 102 chosen for the award.

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Governor J-B Pritzker's office says he will propose a budget with no tax increases for the upcoming fiscal year

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker’s office says he will propose a budget with no tax increases for the upcoming fiscal year, and the deficit is now projected at about $2.5 billion less than previously thought. In a brief, 250-word outline of the upcoming fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, the governor’s office said the state will keep spending flat from a year ago while closing “corporate tax loopholes” worth $900 million. The outline did not identify any specific loopholes. Pritzker’s office said the FY22 budget will continue to include $700 million in state government spending cuts his administration initiated this year. Pritzker is scheduled to give his budget address next Wednesday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,082 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 20 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 150 thousand 170 and deaths to 19,686. Locally, Champaign County reported 57 new cases bringing their total to 17,064. Ford County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 1,489. Iroquois County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 2,725.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State lawmakers and advocates are renewing efforts to pass a Clean Jobs Act in Illinois. This latest version aims to combat climate change, create equitable jobs and hold utilities accountable, says bill sponsor, Representative Ann Williams of Chicago…

 

 

State Representative Ann Williams of Chicago. Supporters say the goal is to move to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 by increasing energy efficiencies, moving towards electric public transportation fleets, setting up charging stations in all communities, giving more households access to solar energy and other initiatives.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Police Department received the highest level of accreditation any Illinois police department can receive. The police department received Tier Two accreditation from the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. This is the third time U of I Police have received this ranking since 2012.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Hundreds of businesses in the Champaign Urbana area are pledging to keep their employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen says over 300 have signed up…

 

 

Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School board will meet tonight at 6. School board members will discuss summer maintenance projects and release bids for the replacement of the all weather track. Again the meeting for the PBL school board is at 6.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Also tonight starting at 6, you can catch the Rantoul candidate forum here on WPXN. The forum is sponsored by the group Rantoul Residents for Representation and will feature candidates for mayor and village trustees. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House returns to Springfield today for one day only. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett discusses what to expect…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Rantoul man is facing up to 30 years in prison after he was found with guns and drugs. Lawrence Lillard was arrested after police executed a search warrant at an apartment in Urbana. When he was arrested, police found a small amount of heroin on him. Inside the apartment, they found 48 grams of crystal meth, 10 grams of heroin, 6 grams of cocaine, 4 scales and 2 guns. Lillard was charged with being an armed habitual criminal, delivery of methamphetamine, manufacture or delivery of heroin, manufacture or delivery of cocaine and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's February reports indicate another increase in the season ending average price for both corn and wheat. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) --  President Biden's administration is getting ready to remove all Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys that were appointed during the era of former President Donald Trump. In the removals President Biden will order, U.S. attorneys John Lausch of the Northern District of Illinois. Lausch is involved in the ComEd bribery scandal investigation, which implicated Madigan and led to the indictments of four other people.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,082 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 20 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 150 thousand 170 and deaths to 19,686. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 16,239 have recovered, 713 are in isolation and 28 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,636 have been released from isolation, 31 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is National Burn Awareness Week, with a focus this year on electrical burns. The theme is electrical safety, from amps to zaps says Illinois State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz...

 

 

Illinois State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Fultz says it’s a good idea to assess your home for other potential hazards such as space heaters, stovetops and grills. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top causes for burns include contact with a flame, scalding, contact with a hot object, electrical and chemicals.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Champaign County residents in need of rental assistance can get help through a local program. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission is offering an Emergency Rent Assistance Program to help residents in the county with past due rent, water, power, and sewer bills. Individuals can begin the screening process by calling the Emergency Rent Assistance Program call center at 877-548-4205. The call center is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Coronavirus pandemic has shown both an ugly side with the number of cases and deaths rising daily, the long lines at food banks and the unemployment lines but it has also shown a better side, a side of compassion, care and sacrificing for others. 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign…

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign.

 

 

(Loda-jm) -- Loda village leaders are expected to hear about a couple of construction projects at tonights village board meeting. Village leaders will hear an update on the water tower project and hear a presentation on the Build Illinois grants for storm sewer lines. The Loda village board meeting gets underway at 7pm.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state lawmaker is speaking out against an attempt to decouple Illinois’ tax code. An attempt was made during the legislature's lame duck session back in January. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian called out those who support the idea especially when many of them supported the Black Caucus’ four pillars…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Three alumni have been appointed by Governor J.B. Pritzker to the University of Illinois System Board of Trustees. The governor named finance executive Ramón Cepeda, banking executive Sarah Phalen and agricultural communicator Tami Craig Schilling to six-year terms on the board, pending approval of the Illinois Senate. This will be Cepeda’s second term as a trustee.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- If you're wondering why it's become so cold, you can blame the La Nina weather pattern. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

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Making a phone call in central Illinois will soon require entering the full 10-digit phone number

(Champaign County-jm) -- A Ludlow man is dead after a shooting over the weekend near Gifford. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says 46 year old Robert Ogburn died of a gunshot wound to the head. Ogburn was found deceased in a vehicle along U-S 136 east of Gifford. A second occupant of the vehicle was taken to Carle Hospital.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Making a phone call in central Illinois will soon require entering the full 10-digit phone number, including the area code. Starting February 27th, the central Illinois region that encompasses the 217 area code also will include area code 447. New 447 area code numbers will be distributed starting March 27.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,747 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 35 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 148 thousand 088 and deaths to 19,668. Locally, McLean County reported 100 new cases bringing their total to 14,118. Champaign County reported 252 new cases bringing their total to 17,007. Ford County reported 8 new cases bringing their total to 1,485. Iroquois County reported 10 new cases bringing their total to 2,719. Livingston County reported 24 new cases bringing their total to 4,010.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton bakery has moved to a new location. Mareci’s Bakery is now at their new location in the former Country Thyme Tea Room on the city’s west side near Hardee’s. The location will continue to feature the many great items and will allow them to offer indoor dining in the future says owner Dawn Long…

 

 

Mareci’s Bakery Owner Dawn Long. Long says the business will be closed for a couple of days in order to get everything set up.

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois Federal Foundation is awarding a $10,000 grant to Kankakee Community College for their First Year Experience Class. The class offers learning strategies, study skills and financial awareness.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Vermilion County Board and St. Joseph village board both meet tonight. The Vermilion County board will meet at 6 where they will discuss infrastructure financial assistance for the 8 mile drainage district. At 7 in St. Joseph, village leaders there will hear a presentation on park enhancements and consider allowing Ameren to construct, operate and maintain a utility system in the village. The Vermilion County Board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph village board meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A last minute attempt during the lame duck session to decouple Illinois’ tax code from federal tax code failed. However some lawmakers like 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City believe there will be another attempt this spring session. Representative Bennett says it will raise taxes on already struggling businesses…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Soybean Board is looking for farmers interested in filling 1 of 4 director positions on the United Soybean Board. Those interested must complete an application and agreement to serve by March 1st. More details are available by calling Dustin Scott at 309-808-3603.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Should USDA be more flexible in its crop report release dates? There are differing opinions about that. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA is forecasting higher prices across all meat categories in 2021. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Republican Party has a new chairman. Top Republicans chose Don Tracy. The Springfield attorney is the former chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board and a businessman. The former chairman, Tim Schneider, announced in December that he was stepping down from the post.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,747 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 35 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 148 thousand 088 and deaths to 19,668. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,595 have recovered, 351 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 16,185 have recovered, 710 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,631 have been released from isolation, 29 remain in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,853 have been removed from isolation and 85 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some lawmakers and victim advocacy groups are speaking out against the criminal justice reform bill. A group of GOP lawmakers and others in the criminal justice field held a virtual press conference late last week calling on the Governor to reject the bill. One of those participating in the press conference was Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy. She says victim’s rights groups that support the legislation obviously didn’t read the bill…

 

 

Lacy also argues victims of crime will be re-victimized over and over by the legislation…

 

 

Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Tri-Point 7th grader Rebecca Griner has won the Governor Thomas Ford Chapter of the National Society of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution annual American History essay contest. The theme was the Boston Massacre, as this year marks the 250th anniversary of the deadly event that historians say paved the way for the American Revolution. Griner is the daughter of Amanda and Thomas Griner of Cullom.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Paxton and Rantoul city councils meet tonight. At 6pm in the village of Rantoul, trustees will be asked to approve Mayor Chuck Smiths appointment of D. Jolene Gensler as Comptroller, approve the purchase of a 2021 Dodge Charger police vehicle and approve the sale of Hanger 2. In Paxton at 7, council members will be asked to approve the purchase of a new street sweeper, approve a new repeater for the city’s Emergency Response Service and approve issuing an 8th class C liquor license. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 with the Paxton city council meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul is hosting a recorded virtual forum with all of the candidates running for local office within the village. Those forums with the different offices will be posted on the villages YouTube page on their release date. Spokesperson Debbra Sweat has the detail on when the videos will be posted… 

 

 

Rantoul Virtual Forum Spokesperson Debbra Sweat. You can hear the forum tomorrow night here on WPXN.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A pair of Ford County committees will meet this week. The Public Building Committee will meet at 10 am this morning to open elevator bids while the zoning committee will meet at 4pm on Thursday to consider revisions to the wind farm ordinance and hear an update on the solar farm ordinance.

 

(Washington-jm) -- What's the latest forecast for food prices in 2021? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The USDA has announced several actions designed to help distressed borrowers in some of USDA's loan programs. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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Illinois continues to lead the country in the number of firearm background checks

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois continues to lead the country in the number of firearm background checks. The FBI reports there were more than 1 million checks in Illinois for January. That’s more than double Kentucky’s 421,000 checks. Illinois' 1 million checks last month is also almost double the 612,000 checks in Illinois for January 2020.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois more than doubled the amount of cannabis sold in the first month of this year compared to the first month of 2020, but the state barely sold more than last month. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reports the state sold $88.8 million worth of legal weed last month. That’s just $2 million more than in December.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois came in second lowest on a new ranking measuring   migration growth among the states based on one-way U-Haul truck traffic leaving or entering their borders last year. California displaced Illinois as the state with the biggest net loss of U-Haul trucks in 2020, the moving company reported. And Illinois was ranked lowest in U-Haul’s 2019 migration growth study.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,660 new Coronavirus cases and 83 additional deaths Friday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 141 thousand 219 and deaths to 19,526. Locally, McLean County reported 41 new cases bringing their total to 14,018. Champaign County reported 82 new cases bringing their total to 16,755. Livingston County reported 8 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,986 and deaths to 72. Iroquois County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 2,703. Ford County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 1,477. Vermilion County reported 148 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 7,806 and deaths to 96. Kankakee County reported 8 new cases bringing their total to 12,070.

 

(Paxton-cf)-- 2020 was one of the most abnormal years in history, having to order carry out, not being able to gather with friends, and losing loved ones. However, with the uncertainty that loomed in 2020 the vaccine is starting to anwer one big question, when will we be able to return back to normal? Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson says that we could start seeing some normality this late summer or fall with the more people that get the vaccine… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released statistics from the first month of 2021. In January, troopers issued 468 citations and 768 written warnings including 21 DUIs and 10 safety belts and made 27 criminal arrests. Troopers also responded to 83 traffic accidents.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush, a travel baseball and softball program is hosting a fundraiser. The fundraiser is similar to a cash bash, where the winners will take home some money. Spokesperson Ryan Birch has the details on the prizes… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Birch. There is not a limit to the amount of tickets that will be sold. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two area school boards meet tonight. The Rantoul Township High School school board meets at 6 where they will hear a presentation from Driven to Reach Excellent and Academic Achievement for Males and discuss 2021-2022 student handbook changes. At 6:30 in St. Joseph, the St. Joseph Community Consolidated School Board will hear an update on the solar project, discuss the 5 essentials survey and district and state assessment data. The Rantoul Township High School school board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph Community school board meeting getting underway at 6:30.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The criminal justice reform as well as education reform bills were the two biggest pieces of legislation to come out of the lame duck session held in January. Another big headline to come out of Springfield was the election of a new house speaker. Despite the headlines, 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says there were some major issues that still need to be tackled…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. House leaders have canceled most of the February session except for one date.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A man sentenced to life in prison for a shootout with police near Paxton back in 1979 has died. The Illinois Department of Corrections says Monroe Lampkin died February 2nd. Lampkin and his brothers murdered a state trooper and the troopers brother in law and Paxton officer William Caisse and injured another Paxton officer Larry Hale on April 7, 1979 south of Paxton on I-57. Two of Lampkin’s brothers were also killed in the shootout and another one was not implicated in the incident.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- While the total number of suicides in Illinois has declined from a previous three-year average, preliminary data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows a 27.7 percent increase in suicides among Black people and a 6.3 percent increase among Hispanic people. There's also been an increase of 7.4 percent in the suicides of 18 to 24-year-olds and a 2.8 percent increase in suicides among people 65 and older.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- If you were unemployed through last year and took unemployment, some of Illinois’ congressional delegation are looking to waive federal income taxes on the first $10,000 of benefits. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office said the proposal would apply to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for independent contractors forced out of work by stay-home orders, as well as other unemployment beneficiaries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Credit card holders in Illinois have reduced balances this past year, a surprising turn of events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Experian, the average credit card balance in Illinois dropped 14% in 2020 from $6,253 to $5,365. Overall credit card debt in the U.S. dropped as well, marking the first time in 7 years that any major consumer debt category decreased.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,660 new Coronavirus cases and 83 additional deaths Friday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 141 thousand 219 and deaths to 19,526. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,435 have recovered, 414 are in isolation and 17 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,972 have recovered, 671 are in isolation and 19 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,622 have been released from isolation, 30 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 547 cases are active and 14 are hospitalized. 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are addressing their concerns about the criminal justice reform bill before Governor J-B Pritzker. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says he has received multiple calls from people in his district…

 

 

Marron says the legislation that was passed did not have bipartisan support and left out concerns from law enforcement and others in the criminal justice system…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Illinois State Police are investigating after a missing man from Indiana was found dead along I-74 in Vermilion County over the weekend. State Police say the body of 42 year old Justin Marcinko was found late Friday. He had been reported missing on February 3rd to the Covington Indiana police. 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council both meet tonight at 7. In Gibson City, council members will consider a new sewer pump for the Falcon Point lift station and approve the cleaning of water plant filters. In Paxton, the Ford County board will consider appointments to several committees and district boards and consider funds for constructing a bridge on the Ford/Kankakee County line. The Gibson City and Ford County board meetings both get underway at 7 pm.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- In addition to all of the baseball, softball, and football tournaments that will be held at the Rantoul Sports Complex on the weekends, there will also be softball and kickball leagues throughout the week says Director Ryan Reid… 

 

 

Rantoul Sports Complex Director Ryan Reid. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department is partnering with OSF and Carle to vaccinate all 1A and 1B eligible residents. Vaccinations will be done next week at the Rantoul Youth Center and the former Dress Barn location at Kohl’s Plaza in Champaign. To schedule your appointment in Rantoul call 892-6844. To schedule your appointment in Champaign call 217-902-6100.

 

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Republicans in the Illinois House say a sweeping criminal justice reform bill poses a threat to public safety and crime victims

(Springfield-jm) --  Child welfare officials in Illinois reported a 17 percent decline in the number of child death cases they investigated during the previous fiscal year, an indicator, they say, of progress in addressing previous shortcomings. According to the latest annual report by the Department of Children and Family Services’ inspector general, the agency opened 102 child death investigations during the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from 123 the previous year. Of the 102 deaths that occurred during the year, 41 were determined to be the result of natural causes, 30 were the result of accidents. Homicides accounted for 12 of the deaths. Five were caused by suicides and 14 were from undetermined causes.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State lawmakers will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the current Phase 1-B. Governor J-B Pritzker says legislators can now sign up for the shot. He notes the change came at the request of some concerned individual members…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. It will be up to lawmakers whether or not they want to get the vaccine now. Some say they will wait their turn. Governor Pritzker says he will also wait.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Kindergarteners could get initial lessons on sex education under a proposal Planned Parenthood of Illinois is working to advance. The measure would require standards for sex ed lessons in public schools for each grade level. Kindergarten through second grade would teach about personal safety and respecting others. Future grades would build on that to include gender identity and prevention of STDs.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Republicans in the Illinois House say a sweeping criminal justice reform bill sitting on the Governor’s desk poses a threat to public safety and crime victims. Most lawmakers agree that reforms are needed, but the House GOP says the measure is confusing and doesn’t do enough to protect victims. Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy agrees, and explains the potential ramifications of one portion of the bill that gives those arrested three phone calls instead of one…

 

 

Vermilion County State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy. Republicans say another concern is the elimination of cash bail and what they say are inconsistent standards of whether or not someone arrested poses a threat if they are released until trial.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,328 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 69 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 137 thousand 559 and deaths to 19,444. Locally, Ford County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 1,472. Champaign County reported 89 new cases bringing their total to 16,693. McLean County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 13,977. Livingston County reported 29 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,978 and deaths to 70. Iroquois County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 2,703. Kankakee County reported 22 new cases bringing their total to 12,062. Vermilion County did not provide a report.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul is hosting a virtual forum with the candidates that are running for local offices. If you live in Rantoul and want to ask the candidates a question Spokesperson Debbra Sweat explains how you can do so… 

 

 

Rantoul Virtual Forum Spokesperson Debbra Sweat.

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois Memorial Hospice will be celebrating a milestone next weekend. The hospice associated with Iroquois Memorial Hospital is turning 25 on February 14th and serves Ford, Iroquois, Kankakee, Livingston and Vermilion Counties.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The University of Illinois Flash Index rose to 96.3 from its 95.9 level in December. The report said January results suggest only modest gains for the economy because of the resurgence of the virus and the mandated closures. Author Fred Giertz says the index dropped to around 93 last May during the height of the pandemic. Giertz says all three components of tax receipts used in his analysis, personal income, sales and corporate taxes were higher in January. The Flash Index has remained below 100 since last March, showing Illinois’ economy is not growing.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Clifton Central High School on Saturday from 8 to 1.

 

Christ Lutheran High School will hold a drive thru spaghetti lunch on Sunday from 11-1.

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois General Assembly Retirement System is only 16 percent funded.  This could be the year lawmakers end it, but that will come with a cost to taxpayers. As of 2019, the average legislative pension was $64,408 annually, up from $47,061 in 2008. The most recent audit from the Illinois Auditor General pegs the funding ratio at 16.48 percent. That audit for the year that ended June 30, 2020, showed of the 176 potential legislators that could take part in the fund, there were only 124 active members. There were 427 benefit recipients costing the fund $26.2 million for the year. The net position of the fund was $63 million of a total of $382 million in overall liability. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is redirecting nearly 100 thousand unused doses of the vaccine away from a federal pharmacy program. The program utilized Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate the state’s most vulnerable, setting aside a certain amount of doses says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritkzer says the feds overestimated how many residents each facility has and how many staff and residents would decline the vaccine so there’s some left over. Those doses will go to people eligible to get the shot under Phase 1-B.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois bill that would put an interest cap on loans under $40,000 is under fire. The Predatory Loan Prevention Act would cap interest rates at 36 percent. Under the bill, any loan made in excess of a 36 percent APR would be considered null and void, and no entity would have the right to collect, receive or retain any principal, fee, interest or charges related to the loan. The Illinois Small Loan Association says the legislation was rushed through and says thousands of licensed lenders will be forced to close if the bill is signed into law.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House and Senate Republicans are proposing a series of constitutional amendments to empower Illinois voters. One amendment makes it easier for citizens to propose changes to the constitution on a wider variety of topics. Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie says another allows for voter-initiated referendums on recently enacted laws…

 

 

Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie. The third amendment lets voters recall elected officials at all levels of state constitutional officers, lawmakers and local officials.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,328 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 69 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 137 thousand 559 and deaths to 19,444. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 15,920 have recovered, 661 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. McLean County reported 13,385 have recovered, 418 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,776 have been removed from isolation and 132 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,617 have been released from isolation and 29 remain in isolation. Kankakee County reported 11,186 have recovered and 704 cases are active.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Mareci’s Bakery is on the move. The bakery will move from its current location at Market and Franklin to the old Country Thyme Tea Room location next to Hardee’s. Owner Dawn Long says they will have a drive thru at the new location…

 

 

Mareci’s Bakery Owner Dawn Long.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Carle is encouraging women living in the Hoopeston or Mattoon areas who have never had breast cancer to participate in an eight year study.  It will focus on the risk factors affecting breast imaging. Eligible women, ages 45 to 74, who plan to have a routine screening can easily participate.  Carle says there is no additional cost involved for the mammogram, and no extra time will be needed for the exam.  The study also involves a one-time voluntary collection of saliva and blood to help develop a more personalized approach to breast cancer screening. Those interested in learning more about participating can call (217)-431-7657.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- If you have already had the COVID-19 virus you might have some immunity but it isn’t sure how long that immunity will last. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson says that even if you have had the virus, you should still get vaccinated… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston man is behind bars facing drug charges. Police were called to the 500 block of East Penn Street around 11 am Wednesday for an alleged domestic battery in progress. James Mannin the second was found to be in possession of an illegal substance. He was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

 

Staerkel Planetarium will host Dr. Jessica Conroy for the Kaler Lecture Series as she talks about "Climate, Water, Life, and Rock: Past Climate Information in Tropical Pacific Lake Sediments" tonight at 7pm.

 

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An area state representative has been named to a leadership role in the new General Assembly

(Springfield-jm) -- For those going through the COVID-19 vaccination process or who are about to, the Illinois Department of Public Health has some reminders. You won’t reach maximum protection against the Coronavirus until 10 to 14 days after you receive the second dose of the vaccine, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. But she says that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be careful…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says the good news is that the COVID vaccine is about 95 percent effective, a far greater percentage than the annual flu shot which is around 40 to 50 percent effective.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,314 new Coronavirus cases and 69 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 134 thousand 231 and deaths to 19,375. Locally, Livingston County reported 8 new cases bringing their total to 3,949. McLean County reported 57 new cases bringing their total to 13,947. Champaign County reported 113 new cases bringing their total to 16,604. Iroquois County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 2,697. Ford County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 1,458.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment benefits fraud continues across the country. Here’s what to do if it happens to you. The fraud is occuring because someone likely got your personal information from a data breach, such as the one at Equifax a few years ago, or other cyber attacks says Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Kristin Richards. She explains how you’ll know if you’ve been targeted…

 

 

Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Kristin Richards. Richards says if this happens, you can report it online by visiting: ides dot illinois dot gov and clicking on “fraud and identity theft.”

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Champaign County Sheriff’s deputies helped resuscitate a 27-year-old man this week who was experiencing a heroin overdose. Sheriff Dustin Heuerman says deputies were dispatched around 7:30 p.m. to an Urbana motel to help with a medical emergency. When they arrived, they found a man laying on the floor, not breathing and unresponsive. Deputies then administered four doses of Narcan to him and did chest compressions until paramedics arrived. The man regained consciousness shortly after emergency medical personnel arrived.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state representative has been named to a leadership role in the new General Assembly. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City was named to the leadership team by GOP leaders…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Mobile Home Privilege tax bills will be sent out in the coming months. Treasurer Kurt Albers says tax bills will be mailed out the first week of March. Anyone with questions is asked to call Albers office at 815-432-6985.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting occupant restraint enforcement patrols this Friday. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is joining a nationwide effort to protect the public from robocalls. Attorney General Raoul and many of his counterparts in other states are seeking to overturn a federal court decision that said the Telephone Consumer Protection Act could not be used to fight Robocalls from 2015 to 2020…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul says despite telephone spam filters, Robocalls remain a top consumer complaint.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,314 new Coronavirus cases and 69 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 134 thousand 231 and deaths to 19,375. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 3,766 have been removed from isolation and 114 cases are active. McLean County reported 13,369 have recovered, 398 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,856 have recovered, 636 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,611 have been released from isolation and 29 remain in isolation.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois schools have served more than 113 million meals to families during the COVID-19 pandemic. School breakfast and lunch programs remained a vital resource, even as kids learned from home says the Illinois State Board of Education Principal Consultant Tim Murphy…

 

 

Illinois State Board of Education Principal Consultant Tim Murphy. Murphy says schools had to adapt and offer curbside and advance pick up to help minimize exposure. Murphy says they are looking for more schools, camps, community groups and the like to participate in the state’s summer meals program.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- A bridge is now closed for at least two years after a hit and run. An oversize load struck a part of the bridge on Champaign County Road 2000 East over Interstate 74 just west of St. Joseph. IDOT says they have not found the person responsible. Drivers are urged to use county roads 1800 East, 1900 East, and 2200 East as alternate routes.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker may get his bailout as the Biden Administration takes over. Governor Pritzker’s budget relied on federal money which 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says doesn’t solve the state’s problems…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran is awarding a $500 scholarship through the Illinois Sheriff’s Association. To be eligible the applicant must be a permanent Illinois resident, attend an in state school and be registered as a full time student for the 2021-2022 school year. The deadline to apply is March 15th. Applications can be picked up at the Ford County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- OSF Medical Centers now have two vaccination clinics in Champaign County. One in Champaign-Urbana and now at the Rantoul Youth Center. President of OSF Dr. Jared Rodgers has the details on how they chose the Youth Center… 

 

 

OSF President Dr. Jared Rodgers. Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith received his first dose Wednesday morning, and is encouraging the public to do the same… 

 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith.

 

A Illinois Conservation Cropping Seminar will take place virtually this morning from 9-11 am. More details are available at c-c-s-w-c-d dot com.

 

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The Illinois Department of Employment Security says tax forms are now available for those who received unemployment benefits

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security says tax forms are now available for those who received unemployment benefits. Anyone who received unemployment benefits, including pandemic unemployment assistance, will need to fill out a 10-99-G form in order to file their income tax returns says IDES Director Kristin Richards…

 

 

Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Kristin Richards. Richards says if you already opted to get the form electronically, you should be getting an email to access the document online. If you did not, you should receive a paper copy in the mail or you can download it from the IDES website at: ides dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,304 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 47 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 130 thousand 417 and deaths to 19,306. Locally, McLean County reported 34 new cases bringing their total to 13,885. Champaign County reported 50 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 16,471 and deaths to 112. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,451. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,690. Livingston County reported 11 new cases bringing their total to 3,941. Vermilion County reported 88 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 7,549 and deaths to 94. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Hunters harvested more than 162 thousand deer during the 2020-2021 season. The preliminary total came in at 162 thousand 575, about a six percent increase over the previous year. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert says archery deer hunting numbers were significant…

 

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Of all deer harvested, about 45 percent were does and more than 56 percent were bucks. Torbert says once numbers are finalized Department of Natural Resources staff will review the trends.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Educators and daycare providers in Rantoul can get their COVID vaccine today. The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department along with Carle and OSF will be providing the vaccines at the Rantoul Youth Center. WPXN News will be there and will have more coverage tonight on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business is on the move. Mareci’s Bakery is moving this weekend says owner Dawn Long…

 

 

Mareci’s Owner Dawn Long.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College, in collaboration with the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, the University of Illinois Research Park, regional manufacturers, and community partners, has submitted a bid to become the site of a $7.5 million manufacturing training academy through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Governor JB Pritzker announced the program in Champaign County in late October during a tour of local of manufacturers. If awarded, the Parkland Manufacturing Training Academy would be built as an expansion of the Parkhill Applied Technology Center, located on the northwest corner of the college’s campus.

 

 

(Urbana-cf)-- Local election time is upon us once again, and that means going over who is on the ballot, and looking at the different ways you can vote. For Champaign County residents, mainly Champaign and Urbana residents, there is a primary election. Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons reiterates that… 

 

 

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons. The primary election is set for February 23rd.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House Republicans are critical of new teaching standards adopted by the State Board of Education. The state board says the “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning Standards” aim to prepare educators to teach a diverse group of students and make all kids feel like they belong. They encourage teachers to include lessons on inequality and provide opportunities for student advocacy. Representative Steve Reick of Woodstock says these new mandates are too much right now…

 

 

State Representative Steve Reick of Woodstock. The new teaching standards are set to go before a legislative oversight committee for final approval later this month.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,304 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 47 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 130 thousand 417 and deaths to 19,306. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,319 have recovered, 392 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,774 have recovered, 585 are in isolation and 25 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,605 have been released from isolation while 28 remain in isolation. Livingston County reported 3,750 have been removed from isolation while 122 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 520 active cases with 11 hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is warning about the dangers of carbon monoxide. On your own, carbon monoxide is hard to detect since it’s colorless, odorless and tasteless. That’s why it’s important to have a CO alarm in your home, says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz…

 

 

State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Fultz says in 2019, Illinois fire departments responded to more than 23 thousand calls for carbon monoxide, with leaks found at nearly 11 thousand of those locations. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue and nausea.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Champaign man has pleaded guilty in Champaign County court for inciting the riot at Marketplace Mall in Champaign last summer. Shamar Betts made a facebook post on May 31st saying Riot at Marketplace Mall and encouraging people to show up with bricks and other items. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The ag industry has also been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. One particular part that has been affected is the Farm Bureau’s efforts to reach members to discuss policy issues among other topics says Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece…

 

 

Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- IF Bancorp, the parent company of Iroquois Federal, released 2nd quarter earnings. The Watseka based bank reported earnings of 48 cents per share and net income of $1.5 million.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- If you live in Rantoul, there is a virtual forum that will be posted onto the village's YouTube page where you can meet the candidates that are running for local office. Spokesperson Debbra Sweat has the details on how the forum works… 

 

 

 Rantoul Virtual Forum Spokesperson Debbra Sweat.

 

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Area legislative leaders continue to discuss the actions of the lame duck session held in January.

(Springfield-jm) -- The growth domestic product of Illinois dropped 3 percent between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020, the 28th best economic performance among the 50 states, according to a new ranking by the website 24/7 Wall St.  Nationwide, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. economic output declined 2.8 percent over that same time period, and only three states saw their economies expand, 24/7 Wall St. reported.  In Illinois, the fastest-growing industry during the period was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, while arts, entertainment and recreation was judged the fastest-shrinking industry, according to the analysis.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,312 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 16 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 128 thousand 613 and deaths to 19,259. Locally, Ford County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 1,439. McLean County reported 83 new cases bringing their total to 13,851. Champaign County reported 182 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 16,421 and deaths to 109. Livingston County reported 38 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,930 and deaths to 69. Iroquois County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 2,685. Vermilion County reported 112 new cases bringing their total to 7,461. Kankakee County did not provide an update.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Area legislative leaders continue to discuss the actions of the lame duck session held in January. One of those is 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. He says he felt the Black Caucus dominated the lame duck session in passing their four pillars…

 

 

One of those pillars dealt with police and criminal justice reform which several GOP lawmakers felt was rushed through. Representative Bennett says he reached out to several entities in the criminal justice area for their thoughts and opinions on the bill..

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Bennett says because of those concerns he voted against the bill and is encouraging Governor Pritzker to do the same.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School District needs your help. The district is asking people to subscribe to their youtube channel so they livestream events. They need 1,000 subscribers.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Those handling anhydrous ammonia will have to undergo mandatory training. Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken says the training is online this year…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Unemployment rates were up and jobs were down across the state’s 14 metro areas. Locally Champaign County’s rose from 3.2 percent to 5.1 percent. Ford County’s rose from 4.1 percent to 4.6 percent. Vermilion County’s rose from 5.2 percent to 6.4 percent. Iroquois County’s rose from 4.6 percent to 4.7 percent.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County home sales surpassed expectations and was the highest since 2006. According to the Champaign County Realtors Association, 3,098 homes were sold in 2020 up almost 12 and a half percent. Median prices also rose 7.28 percent to $167,625.

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden led a coalition of 23 attorneys general calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes. In a letter submitted, Raoul and the coalition argue that a ban on menthol cigarettes would benefit public health overall, decrease youth smoking, and help mitigate the harm menthol cigarettes do to minority populations.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,312 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 16 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 128 thousand 613 and deaths to 19,259. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,235 have recovered, 443 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,703 have recovered, 609 are in isolation and 27 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,743 have been removed from isolation and 118 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,591 have been released from isolation, 35 remain in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 526 cases are active with 22 hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly a year after the pandemic started, unemployment rates are up and many businesses are either opened at limited capacity or not at all. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman outlines some priorities for dealing with the pandemic…

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to essential frontline workers who live or work in Champaign County. Those include: grocery store workers, food and ag workers, shelter and adult day care workers, postal service workers, manufacturing workers and public transit workers. To schedule your appointment call 217-902-6100.

 

 

(Danville-cf)-- The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency has been granted money to assist individuals with their utility bills during the pandemic. East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Spokesperson Chris Bay has the details… 

 

 

East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Spokesperson Chris Bay

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is once again hosting summer fun and learning opportunities for area youth, as registration opens for its 2021 College for Kids and Summer Discovery camps. Registration begins Monday, February 15 for elementary, middle, and high school students. An early bird discount of $15 per registered class is available until March 12 for College for Kids.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign is announcing he will chair the Senate Higher Education Committee in the upcoming General Assembly. The committee mainly deals with laws that will affect both state and private institutions. Senator Bennett’s district includes the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Parkland College and Danville Area Community College.

 

 

(Pontiac-jm) -- Free developmental screenings for children from newborn to three years are available at OSF HealthCare Saint James – John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac. A screening takes approximately one hour and includes speech, gross and fine motor development, problem solving and interpersonal/social skills. Any parent can schedule a screening if they have developmental concerns regarding their child. To schedule or for more information, call (815) 842-4591.

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Illinois residents to be on alert for text message scams related to upcoming federal Real ID requirements

(Springfield-jm) --  Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Secretary of State Jesse White are warning Illinois residents to be on alert for text message scams related to upcoming federal Real ID requirements. Scammers are sending unsolicited text messages claiming to be from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The text message urges the recipient to click on a link to update their driver’s license or state ID to comport with upcoming federal Real ID requirements. Attorney General Raoul said the text is a scam, and recipients should not click on the link or provide any information.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois has the tenth most restrictive COVID-19 mitigations of all states, including its neighbors. Consumer finance website WalletHub reviewed all 50 states’ economic restrictions and found Illinois was ranked No. 49 for reopening restaurants and 34th in reopening nonessential businesses. While Illinois overall ranked No. 42, Kentucky ranked No. 26, Indiana No. 20, Wisconsin No. 8, Missouri ranked No. 6 and Iowa No. at No. 3.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Sports Complex has 28 weekends booked with different events throughout the year. Director of the Sports Complex Ryan Reid highlights the big events…

 

 

In addition to the baseball and softball tournaments, there will also be a football tournament, says Reid… 

 

 

Rantoul Sports Complex Director Ryan Reid.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A Springfield man has been sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking for trafficking young women from around central Illinois. Franshon Stapleton ran his prostitution ring out of a Champaign motel and recruited women from Champaign, Sangamon and Peoria Counties. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One issue not tackled during the lame duck session was addressing the impacts of the pandemic. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says this was a missed opportunity to help residents…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Mattoon-jm) -- First Mid Illinois reported 4th quarter net income of $13.6 million. The Mattoon based bank with locations around the area including Rantoul said it had earnings of 81 cents per share which exceeded Wall Street expectations of 70 cents per share.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Country music superstar Kane Brown has been added to the state fair grandstand concert lineup. Brown will take the stage on Friday, August 13th. Other acts include comedian Gabriel Iglesias on August 14th, Toby Keith with Craig Morgan on August 15th, a Neil Diamond tribute band on August 16th, Chris Young on August 17th, I love the 90s Tour on August 18th, Bad Flower on August 19th, Kelsea Ballerini on August 20th and George Thorogood with 38 special to wrap up the state fair on August 22nd.

(Springfield-jm) -- A new report shows the state and local sales tax rate in Illinois is among the highest in the country. According to the research conducted by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy nonprofit, the average combined sales tax rate in Illinois is around 8.8 percent. The statewide sales tax rate of 6.25 percent is the thirteenth-highest in the country, while the population-weighted average local tax rate of 2.57 percent ranked seventh. All of Illinois’ bordering states have sales tax rates that are lower overall than in Illinois.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- From mid-March of 2020 through the first full week of 2021, Illinois reported a spike in its weekly unemployment claims of 710.11 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to a new analysis from the WalletHub website. Using that metric, Illinois had the 30th highest number of jobless claims among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the WalletHub analysis found.  Using another metric, however, the state ranked fifth highest based on a recent number of weekly unemployment claims. That metric combines comparisons of the jobless claims during the week of January 4 of this year with the first week of 2019 and the first week of 2020, the study states.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Planning is underway for the 2021 Paxton Community Sale. Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans talks about this year’s event…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Teachers and day care providers in Rantoul will be able to get their COVID vaccine this week. The vaccinations will take place at the Rantoul Youth Center. WPXN will be there and will talk with providers about the vaccine.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- 2020 was one of the most abnormal years in history, having to order carry out, not being able to gather with friends, and losing loved ones. However, with the uncertainty that loomed in 2020 the vaccine is starting to anwer one big question, when will we be able to return back to normal? Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson says that we could start seeing some normality this late summer or fall with the more people that get the vaccine… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Housing Authority of Champaign County has announced a new Interim Executive Director. Lily L. Walton will take on the new role starting today. Walton has been with the Authority for three years, filling various roles such as the Interim Deputy Director of Enrichment Operations and the Director of YouthBuild.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush are hosting a fundraiser for their travel softball and baseball league this summer. The Rush will be playing in tournaments around the area, which the money raised will help them play in, says spokesperson Ryan Birch… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Birch. Tickets are $50 dollars for various cash prizes. If you would like to purchase a ticket you can contact Rantoul Rush on Facebook.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois plans to let high school students know if they were accepted on Friday, February 19. Normally, the U of I releases decisions twice: once in mid-December and then later in February. This year, because of the pandemic, they wanted to give students more time to take tests if they choose to do the SAT or ACT.

 

 

(Kankakee-jm) -- The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley is announcing 2021 Community Works grants are available. $80 thousand in grants are available for non profits in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. A mandatory information session will be held on February 3rd. Reservations are required for the session and can be made by emailing info at cfkrv dot org. The deadline to apply is March 5th.

 

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We could see more winter weather this weekend

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois continues to see increased initial unemployment claims. More than 13,000 more initial claims were filed last week than the week before for a total of 108,800. That brings the total of insured unemployed to 337,000. There are 175,000 contractors getting unemployment benefits in Illinois.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has activated approximately 500 Illinois National Guard members in support of the continued security mission in Washington, D.C. The Illinois Army National Guard soldiers, along with a small contingent of Illinois Air National Guard airmen, are expected to remain on duty in the nation’s capital until mid-March.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- We could see more winter weather this weekend, here’s what to do if you slide off the road. If poor driving conditions land you in a ditch, Illinois State Police Master Sergeant JC Clarke says you should put on your hazard lights and then call for help…

 

 

Illinois State Police Master Sergeant JC Clarke. Clarke says the trooper will likely ask you if you want to stay with your vehicle or would like a ride to the next exit. If you do stay with your car, the Secretary of State’s Office recommends running the engine only briefly and to crack a window to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can check the latest road conditions at getting around illinois dot com.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,191 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 103 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 116 thousand 372 and deaths to 19,067. Locally, Ford County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 1,425. Champaign County reported 110 new cases bringing their total to 16,171. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,673. McLean County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 13,646. Livingston County reported 24 new cases bringing their total to 3,872. Kankakee County reported 28 new cases bringing their total to 10,877. Vermilion County did not provide a report.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul is hosting a virtual forum for the individuals who are running for office in the village. Spokesperson Debbra Sweat has the details on who will be on the forum… 

 

 

Rantoul Virtual Forum Spokesperson Debbra Sweat

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston man faces decades behind bars if convicted of child sexual exploitation and trafficking of child pornography. 27 year old Dalton Burmeister allegedly exploited children under the age of six to engage in sexual activity and to create an image of what happened and that he trafficked images of child pornography. If convicted he faces up to 30 years in prison for sexual exploitation, up to 20 years for distribution and receiving child pornography and up to 20 years for possession of child pornography.

 

 

(Danville-cf)-- The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency was granted federal dollars to help individuals who qualify pay their utility bills during the pandemic. East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Director Odette Hyatt-Watson has the details on the program… 

 

 

East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Director Odette Hyatt-Watson.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A court refused to dismiss a multi million dollar lawsuit against the University of Illinois. Attorneys for Joseph Petry filed the lawsuit in June 2020 with the Illinois Court of Claims alleging a breach of contract by UI officials. Petry is asking for $7.9 million. Among other things, the complaint says that the UI board of trustees violated a resignation agreement Petry signed in April 2019 by not discontinuing an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct between Petry and one of his students. UI Board of Trustees filed in August 2020 to have the case dismissed, arguing the university’s decision to continue to investigate the accusations against Petry did not cause him further damage. According to the filing, the board argued Petry’s damages were because of actions he did himself or from third-parties, not the university.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week it won’t take up a case of public-sector employees seeking past union wages the nation’s high court said violated the free speech rights of employees. The case of previous union dues taken from workers stems from the 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME case where the court determined public-sector employees can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t agree with.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new area code is coming soon to central Illinois. The new 447 area code will be an overlay to the territory currently served by the 217 area code to ensure a continuing supply of phone numbers for the area. Starting Feb. 27, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur, where all local calls made in the 217 area code must be made using the 10-digit phone number. Starting March 27, 2021, new phone lines or services may be assigned phone numbers with the 447 area code.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is offering scholarships to current and former youth in care. Scholarship recipients receive up to five consecutive years of tuition reimbursement, monthly grants and a medical card. DCFS’ Kim Peck says they want kids that have gone through the system to have all the tools they need to succeed…

 

 

DCFS’ Kim Peck. 53 scholarships will be awarded this year. Those interested can apply online at: dcfs dot illinois dot gov. The deadline is March 31st.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,191 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 103 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 116 thousand 372 and deaths to 19,067. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,014 have recovered, 462 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,391 have recovered, 673 are in isolation and 21 hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,610 have been removed from isolation and 195 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,564 have been released from isolation, 49 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,877 have recovered and 858 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- One of the new bills that went into law the first of the year capped insulin prices at $100 per month. 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign says the bill has another part, the investigation of the cause of the increase in insulin prices… 

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign.

 

 

(Macon County-jm) -- A former Illinois State Police trooper has pleaded guilty to a reckless conduct charge for his involvement in a deadly collision. Former Master Sergeant Jeffrey Denning was charged in a high-speed collision that killed a young Decatur mother. Denning was driving an unmarked police car that was traveling at 108 MPH in a 35-MPH zone in Decatur just before the crash that killed 26 year old Kelly Wilson. Denning was responding to an officer shot in Mahomet.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Park District is looking at ways to bring activities back for both adults and youth. Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans says they want to bring activities back and make it safe for everyone…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans. 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County Executive Darlene Kloeppel is announcing the members of the Redistricting Advisory Group. The group meets to redraw the counties district maps every 10 years. The committee is made up of 13 members and will make their recommendations later this year.

 

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The Illinois House has canceled all but one session day for next month

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House has canceled all but one session day for next month. In a one-page memo, House Speaker Chris Welch canceled all days except February 10. That’s when members could return to the capitol building, not the Bank of Springfield Convention Center, to possibly vote on the House rules. The Illinois Senate’s next scheduled day is February 9. It’s unclear how the governor’s February 17 State of the State and Budget Address will be handled amid COVID-19 concerns.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The second year of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program ended with 768 applications requesting over 185,000 acres submitted. The discount program opened the application period December 15th and saw the acreage limit met within its first 24-hours. In 2019, over 500 applications requesting over 133,000 acres were received. Consistent with last year’s program, qualified applicants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. The program is applicable for acreage in Illinois planted to cover crops in the fall of 2020 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2021. Recipients of the premium discount program receive $5 per acre on the following year’s crop insurance for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,751 new Coronavirus cases and 81 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 112 thousand 181 and deaths to 18,964. Locally, McLean County reported 30 new cases bringing their total to 13,634. Champaign County reported 49 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 16,061 and deaths to 107. Vermilion County reported 99 new cases bringing their total to 7,349. Livingston County reported 27 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,848 and deaths to 67. Iroquois County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 2,668. Ford County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 1,419. Kankakee County reported 29 new cases bringing their total to 11,875.

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Mahomet’s fire chief has received a prestigious honor. John Koller was named the Illinois Fire Chief’s Associations 2020 Fire Chief of the Year. The award was created in 1979 to recognize outstanding fire chiefs. Koller has been chief for six years.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The leader of the Paxton Park District is hoping to have spring and summer programs to offer both adults and youth. Director Cody Evans talks about the challenges the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to the park district…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- First Busey Corporation reported 4th quarter earnings of $28.3 million. The Champaign based bank said it had earnings of 62 cents per share which surpassed Wall Street expectations of 57 cents per share. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  Landowners wishing to enroll acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up have until February 12th to do so. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Rifle Association says the Pritzker administration is operating outside of state law with continued delays in processing Firearm Owner Identification Card and Concealed Carry License applications. The average wait for both is around 122 days when it’s only supposed to take 30 days for FOID and 90 days for CCL. Illinois State Police says there were 175,751 new FOID applications and 25,518 CCL backlogged.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The total cost of smoking in Illinois is more than $2.6 million per smoker, according to consumer finance website WalletHub. The total cost includes hundreds and thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs, healthcare costs and lost income per smoker, among other factors. Across the country, Illinois came in at No. 41.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he expects COVID-19 vaccine shipments to ramp up in coming weeks. The Governor says Illinois hasn’t received nearly as many doses as he’d like, but that he got some good news this week…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Additionally, Governor Pritzker says the Biden Administration is committing to minimum dose amounts set every three weeks so that states can better plan how many vaccination appointments can be offered. The Governor says in the past, they wouldn’t know how many doses were arriving until just a few days ahead of time.



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,751 new Coronavirus cases and 81 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 112 thousand 181 and deaths to 18,964. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 12,977 have recovered, 487 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,315 have recovered, 639 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 552 cases are active with 22 hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,606 have been removed from isolation and 175 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,562 have been released from isolation, 45 remain in isolation and 4 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,459 have recovered and 1,248 cases are active.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- If you have already had the COVID-19 virus you might have some immunity but it isn’t sure how long that immunity will last. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson says that even if you have had the virus, you should still get vaccinated… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Health is loosening some of its restrictions for visitors and support persons at all of its locations. All visitors and support persons are required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth at all times while inside the facilities. Non-medical disposable and fabric masks are acceptable. In addition, Carle says support persons must be over the age of 18, except in end-of-life situations or if the support person is a patient's parent. Outpatient appointments and procedures will allow two support persons for patients under the age of 18, or one support person for an adult patient when social distancing can be maintained. Visitors need to use approved entrances, go directly to their patient room, and limit their movement throughout the facility.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush, a travel baseball and softball program is hosting a fundraiser. The prizes are $3,000 for 1st place, $1,500 for 2nd place, $500 for 3rd place, and there will be 5 $100 winners. Spokesperson Ryan Birch has the details on how to get tickets… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Birch. The winning tickets will be drawn on February 15th. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County 2020 tax sale has been postponed due to COVID-19 regulations. The new scheduled date is February 17th, 2021 at 1:00 pm.  Property owners will be able to make payments on delinquent 2019 payable 2020 taxes until February 16th, 2021. If you still need to make a tax payment, please contact the treasurer’s office for current amount due.  All payments must be in the form of cash, certified check or payments will be accepted online at gov tech tax pro dot com through the first week of February.  For more information, please contact the treasurer’s office or visit the Ford County Treasurer’s website at ford county dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA is expecting milk production this year to increase.  Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

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