WPXN Blog

Nearly 97,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week.

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly 97,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that’s more than 51,000 more than filed the week before. Illinois now has 362,000 insured unemployed individuals, an increase from 330,000 from the week before.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is asking the public to learn the warning signs of trafficking. DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith says child trafficking happens all over Illinois and the average age of victims is 14. Here’s what you can do…

 

 

DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith. If you suspect a child is being trafficked, call 9-1-1 and the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,652 new cases and 88 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 52 thousand 682 and deaths to 17,928. Locally, McLean county reported 32 new cases bringing their total to 12,829. Champaign County reported 70 new cases bringing their total to 15,097. Ford County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 1,364. Iroquois County reported 10 new cases bringing their total to 2,544. Kankakee County reported 35 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,393 and deaths to 161. Livingston County reported 36 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,540 and deaths to 63.

 

 

(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) -- Two schools in the Gibson City Melvin Sibley School District are going remote for the next two weeks. Starting today students at GCMS Middle School and High School will be remote learning through the 22nd. The district says the move comes as a significant number of staff and students are quarantined.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is answering questions when it comes to the rollout of the COVID vaccine. One of those questions surrounds who gets vaccinated and when says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter…

 

 

Reutter explains who is eligible to receive the next round of vaccines…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is working to help students in the state complete financial aid applications for the fall. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is adding initiatives to its college outreach programs. ISAC is extending its support to help address the complications students may face during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to meet the state's new mandate for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A law took effect with the 2020-21 school year that requires public high school seniors to fill out the FAFSA, or, if eligible, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, before receiving their high school diploma.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As a new Illinois General Assembly begins, the President of the State Senate is touting the emergency of virtual hearings. Last Spring, members of the state Senate adopted a remote meeting rule, letting them hold 32 Zoom hearings over the summer and fall months. Senate President Don Harmon says this has been an unexpected positive to come out of the pandemic…

 

 

Senate President Don Harmon. The House did not approve a similar rule so members were not able to meet virtually. A bill letting both chambers act remotely during an emergency did not come up during this week’s lame duck session.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 52 thousand 682 cases and 17,928 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,820 have recovered, 854 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,179 have recovered, 825 are in isolation and 30 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,461 have been released from isolation, 43 remain in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,876 have recovered and 1,356 cases are active. Livingston County reported 3,230 have been removed from isolation and 247 cases are active.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department held their first COVID vaccination clinic this week with more to come. The county is starting to vaccinate those 75 and older. Champaign Urbana Public Health Department Epidemiologist, Awais Vaid talks about the importance of herd immunity…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released results of recent patrols. During Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols, troopers issued 32 safety belt citations and 1 child restraint citation. During Nighttime Enforcement Patrols, troopers issued 2 drug or alcohol related citations, 4 each for registration and driver’s license violations and 3 for insurance violations.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local reaction from the General Assembly’s passing of a criminal justice reform bill continues to come in. 105th District State Representative Dan Brady reacts to the bill…

 

 

105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- There are two vaccines on the market currently, and they both require two doses. The dose times vary with the two vaccines after taking the first dose. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details on the times you need to take the second dose as well as if you receive your first dose at Hudson Drug and Hallmark, how they will notify you for your second dose…  

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

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Representative Chris Welch of Hillside, elected new Illinois Speaker of the House

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the end of an era in Illinois, as a new house speaker is elected. With the exception of just two years, Mike Madigan has served as Speaker of the Illinois House since 1983. That changes as House Democrats elect the first African American speaker, Representative Chris Welch of Hillside…

 

 

New House Speaker Chris Welch. In a written statement, Speaker Madigan said it’s time for new leadership in the House and that with such a diverse caucus full of young leaders, he’s confident Illinois remains in good hands.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,862 new Coronavirus cases and 97 additional deaths Wednesday. Locally McLean County reported 86 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,797 and deaths to 134. Champaign County reported 108 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 15,027 and deaths to 93. Livingston County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 3,504. Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 1,358. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases bringing their total to 2,544. Kankakee County reported 44 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,358 and deaths to 160. Vermilion County reported 69 new cases bringing their total to 6,743.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers have approved an expansive criminal justice and police reform bill. The measure establishes statewide use of force standards and bans certain techniques. It eventually mandates the use of body cameras, lets suspects in custody make three phone calls and ends cash bail. It’s sponsored by Representative Justin Slaughter of Chicago…

 

State Representative Justin Slaughter of Chicago. Unlike previous version the legislation does not remove qualified immunity for police officers but does create a task force to study the issue. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local lawmakers are reacting to the criminal justice reform bill pushed through the lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly. 105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington shares his thoughts…

 

 

105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- How does the weather look for the last few weeks of January? State Climatologist Trent Ford has those details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- There is a power struggle in Champaign County over who has the power to appoint replacements on the county board. County Executive Darlene Kloeppel filed a suit that she has the county’s ultimate authority not the county board chairman. A judge’s decision could have major implications after DeShawn Williams recently announced he was resigning from the board to become the county’s deputy treasurer.

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts has a new ordinance enforcement officer. Sarah Meyer was hired to replace Janet Walker who stepped down late last year. Walker will help train Meyer in the position.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- After an exhausting lame duck session, a new Illinois General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday afternoon. The legislature faces a daunting year, with the pandemic continuing and a huge budget deficit looming. Senate President Don Harmon says there is much work to be done, such as passing ethics reforms…

 

 

Senate President Don Harmon. Democrats hold a supermajority in both the Senate and the House, where a new Speaker has been elected. Republicans say they want to work to improve the business climate in Illinois and get government spending under control.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 46 thousand 30 cases and 17,840 deaths. 384,658 doses of COVID vaccine have been distributed. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,778 have recovered, 862 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,067 have recovered, 867 are in isolation and 28 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,209 have been removed from isolation and 233 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,381 have been released from isolation, 104 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,828 have recovered and 1,370 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 573 active cases with 18 hospitalized.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A package of bills designed to reduce economic disparities in minority communities is headed to the Governor’s desk. The measures cap the interest rate for payday and car title loans at 36 percent, and require more diversity in awarding state contracts. Employers won’t be able to turn someone down for a job or a promotion solely based on their criminal record says Representative Sonya Harper of Chicago…

 

 

State Representative Sonya Harper of Chicago. Harper says that’s especially true for minorities. Other components address the wage gap for black women and housing for those with a criminal record

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local lawmakers are reacting to the police reform bill pushed through the lame duck session of the General Assembly yesterday. One of those reacting is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Illinois, as well as the WPXN listening area. There are certain phases of individuals that will be vaccinated first. Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton owner, Andy Hudson, details the first recipients of the vaccine… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Carla Baines as an at-large judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit. Baines became the 1st African American judge to serve in the 11th Judicial Circuit. The 11th Judicial Circuit covers Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean and Woodford Counties.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County's Salvation Army is declaring this year's Red Kettle Campaign a success. The Salvation Army of Champaign County meet its 2020 Red Kettle fundraising goal of $158,000.

 

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The 102nd General Assembly will be sworn in today in Springfield

(Springfield-jm) -- The 102nd General Assembly will be sworn in today in Springfield. Members of the House will be sworn in at the Springfield convention center while the Senate will be sworn in at the capital. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration, Governor J-B Pritzker is activating members of the Illinois National Guard. Pritzker has ordered the activation of approximately 200 Illinois National Guard members. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is now reporting the latest COVID-19 vaccine information on the agency’s website. Recent vaccine data is posted on the dph dot illinois dot gov webpage, showing how many doses Illinois has received and how many have been administered. It’s a good resource says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. To date, nearly 354 thousand doses have been administered in Illinois, with about 24 thousand shots given per day.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,642 new cases and 117 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the states total number of cases to 1 million 40 thousand 168 and deaths to 17,743. Locally, Livingston County reported 37 new cases bringing their total to 3,454. McLean County reported 72 new cases bringing their total to 12,711. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,529. Ford County reported 15 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,356 and deaths to 40. Champaign County reported 66 new cases bringing their total to 14,919. Kankakee County reported 37 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,314 and deaths to 157.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Some area health departments are beginning to move to Phase 1B of the COVID vaccination plan. One of those is the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department which held the first of several vaccination clinics this week. Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid talks about reaching herd immunity…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A former Ludlow village trustee remains free on bond after a Champaign County judge declined to increase his bail amount. Ross Radke is facing three felony cases in Champaign County including criminal damage to state supported property for allegedly trying to ram a vehicle through a security gate at Willard Airport, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated battery to a police officer for an incident in Rantoul as well as an incident at the Champaign County Jail. Radke is facing charges in Indiana for a pair of incidents including speeding through a construction site and causing nearly $100,000 in damage as well as a disturbance at an Indianapolis laundromat. He is due back in Champaign County court March 9th.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly a year into the Coronavirus pandemic and the state is still struggling with the backlog of unemployment claims. The pandemic caused a shutdown of businesses while others had to reduce staff to try to make ends meet. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the state was not prepared for the influx of claims…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton has a new alderman. Kendall Cox was sworn in last night for Ward 3.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA has issued its "final" production estimates for the 2020/2021 crops of corn and soybeans. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An emergency rule for businesses to enforce masks and social distancing in Illinois stands after a 12 member panel of lawmakers failed to block an emergency mask rule. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules took up the issue yesterday. The order is in effect until June or unless the Governor repeals the rule.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Local Congressional members are split on whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump following last week's deadly attack at the nation's capitol. 16th Congressional District Congressman Adam Kinzinger announced he supports efforts to impeach the President saying the President encouraged the group to storm the U-S capitol to stop the counting of the electoral vote. Meanwhile 15th Congressional District Congresswoman Mary Miller denounced the violent attack and called it a sad day in our nation’s history but said impeaching the President would further divide the country. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 40 thousand 168 coronavirus cases and 17,743 deaths after the state reported an additional 66 hundred cases and 117 deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 3,182 have been removed from isolation and 210 cases are active. McLean County reported 11,654 have recovered, 892 are in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,373 have been released from isolation, 97 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,031 have recovered, 796 are in isolation and 27 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,763 have recovered and 1,384 cases are active.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is updating the public on the county’s vaccination process and answering questions people may have. One of those questions is whether you can get the vaccine in a different county says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter…

 

 

Reutter adds that some counties may differ on the phases depending on the number of doses they receive…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County State’s Attorney is reviewing the county’s animal control policies after a dog was improperly euthanized last month. Both the county board chairman and county executive have asked for an investigation into the matter. A dog was turned into animal control on December 18th, two days before Christmas the owner contacted animal control and made arrangements to pick up the dog the Monday after Christmas however, the dog was euthanized before that could happen.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One of the issues facing state lawmakers is the state’s economy. Illinois lags most of the country when it comes to its economics according to 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board will meet tonight where members will consider amending the FY21 budget as well as hear a report on the 2020-2021 extended school year and K-12 summer school and consider approving the 2021-2022 school calendar. The PBL School board meeting gets underway at 6.

 

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Regions of Illinois successfully containing the virus may be able to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced on Monday that he is suspending his campaign to retain his seat as House Speaker. However, he also says it is not a withdrawal. The 78-year-old Chicago Democrat directed House Democrats to work toward finding a replacement.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Regions of Illinois successfully containing the virus may be able to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday. Some areas of the state may be getting good news later this week, and be able to open some things back up says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Those metrics include test positivity rates, number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU beds available. The entire state has been under Tier 3 mitigations since late November.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,776 new Coronavirus cases and 53 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 33 thousand 526 and deaths to 17,627. Locally, Ford County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 1,341. Champaign County reported 312 new cases bringing their total to 14,853. Iroquois County reported 36 new cases bringing their total to 2,524. Vermilion County reported 91 new cases bringing their total to 6,674. McLean County reported 278 new cases and 10 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,639 and deaths to 131. Livingston County reported 77 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,417 and deaths to 62. Kankakee County reported 110 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,277 and deaths to 156.

 

 

(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) -- A chain of stores with locations in the area is closing. Stock and Field announced Monday they are closing all of their stores including their locations in Gibson City, Watseka, Danville and Tilton. The stores used to be called Big R before they were bought out by Stock and Field.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Paxton City Council and Rantoul village boards both meet tonight for their first meeting of 2021. The Rantoul village board will meet at 6 where they will consider an easement agreement for a solar project, consider an agreement for Maplewood Drive improvements and discuss the Forum Fitness Center renovation and expansion. In Paxton, the Paxton City Council will meet at 7 where they are expected to consider Mayor Bill Ingolds appointment to Ward 3 and consider the purchase of a backhoe and pickup truck. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 with the Paxton city council meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- January 1st normally brings hundreds of new laws however because of the Coronavirus pandemic only three new laws went into effect. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about the new laws…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- An effort to impose term limits on Rantoul government members has stalled. Not enough signatures were gathered on a petition for a referendum to hit the ballot. The proposal would have put a two year consecutive term on the mayor, village board and village clerk positions.

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will begin distributing the COVID vaccines this week. Although time slots are already full the health department is distributing information on the vaccine. Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid talks about the two vaccines…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

(Washington-jm) -- U-S Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced Monday more than $843 million in federal funding will be coming to the state to help support expanded COVID testing and vaccine distribution in Illinois. $574 million will go towards COVID testing while $90 million will go towards vaccine distribution. The rest will go to the City of Chicago for their COVID testing and vaccine distribution.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some areas of the state are moving into Phase “1-B” of vaccination distribution. Governor J-B Pritzker says he expects to make a formal announcement later this week about when all of Illinois will move to 1-B, where essential workers and seniors 65 and older can get the shot. But for now…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker urges patience, since more than two million Illinoisans fall into the 1-B group and it will take many weeks to get through them all.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 33 thousand 526 Coronavirus cases and 17,627 deaths after the state reported an additional 4,776 cases and 53 deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,318 have recovered, 1157 are in isolation and 33 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,905 have recovered, 856 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,175 have been removed from isolation and 180 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,351 have been released from isolation, 114 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,727 have recovered and 1,384 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 5,972 have been released from isolation, 596 are in isolation and 25 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Each month, the health department will issue a challenge on their facebook page. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter talks about what they hope to accomplish with this challenge…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation has received a donation from a local bank. Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois donated $13,000 to the foundation to go towards technology updates throughout the district. The district will use the money to purchase 20 new machines in the Mac lab.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Champaign County Forest Preserve is announcing the opening of a new preserve. The 98 acre Heron View Forest Preserve is the latest preserve for the district and is located along the Sangamon River north of Mahomet between Lake of the Woods and the Sangamon River Forest Preserve. The forest preserve hopes to add more hiking paths as well as access to the river in the upcoming years.

 

 

(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 in Paxton Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson. 

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Iroquois County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue. The property assessment equalization factor, often called the “multiplier”, is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law. State law requires property in Illinois to be assessed at one-third of its market value. Farm property is assessed differently, with farm homesites and dwellings subject to regular assessing and equalization procedures, but with farmland and farm buildings assessed according to standards based on productivity. The equalization factor is determined annually for each county by comparing the sales price of individual properties sold over the past three years to the assessed value placed on those properties by the county supervisor of assessments/county assessor.

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  The federal government's newly-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans can be tailored to meet individual needs. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

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Criminal justice and police reform were the big topic of the day in the Illinois Legislature Saturday.

(Springfield-jm) -- Criminal justice and police reform were the big topic of the day in the Illinois Legislature Saturday. A Senate committee heard testimony on a 611 page bill that makes changes to use of force policies, ends cash bail and eliminates liability protections for officers. Law enforcement is pushing back on several aspects of the bill but Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood says something needs to change…

 

State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood. Additionally, Attorney General Kwame Raoul is rolling out legislation to improve the police certification process and address officer misconduct.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is freezing the implementation of a new set of state business tax credits. The Governor's Office said this is due to the budget crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The expanded state tax credits were set to take effect on January 1st of this year. The Pritzker administration said the new, expanded credits are estimated to cost the state an addition $20 million each year. In addition, Pritzker is calling for a decoupling of Illinois tax law from recently enacted federal business tax changes that he says would cost the state over $500 million.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker announced on Friday more than $275 million in funding has been doled out to hard hit businesses across Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 9,000 emergency assistance grants have been made to small businesses in more than 600 cities and towns statewide through the Business Interruption Grants program. The funds allowed businesses to make payroll, buy PPE, and cover operational costs.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is adopting the N-Double-A-C-P’s 10 shared principals of police reform. The principals recognize the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to build trust between police and communities. Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says they have already put the principals into action…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. 

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- The trial date for the former Roberts and Elliott water superintendent has been set for April. A probable cause hearing was held Friday for Paul Theesfield. He is charged with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Theesfield has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to begin April 19th.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is providing an update on the COVID vaccination progress. Ford County Public Health Community Educator Megan Reutter provides the update…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A county board and a local city council meet tonight. Gibson City leaders will consider replacing a faulty pump at well number 5 at tonights meeting at 7. Also at 7 tonight the Ford County Board will consider setting the per diem rate for mileage as well as considering law enforcement agreements with Roberts, Melvin, Elliott and Kempton. The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council both meet tonight at 7.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- If you think USDA's upcoming winter round of forecasts will be a real snoozer. you may end up being awakened and surprised. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus says now is the time for police and criminal justice reforms. It’s more clear than ever that change is needed says State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago…

 

 

State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago.  Law enforcement says the reforms are being rushed but Sims says nine public hearings have been held discussing these proposals. He adds that discussions are ongoing and changes may be made to the current bills but that he still plans to get this passed before the new general assembly is sworn in on Wednesday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Inmates across Illinois are part of the next group to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Correctional staffers and inmates will be part of the 3.2 million people that get vaccinated in phase 1B. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, there have been over 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among the Illinois prison population and more than 3,600 among staff members. According to the latest numbers from the Marshall Project, the spread amongst inmates in Illinois prisons is 205% higher than the normal population.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois finished 43rd in a new study by the Tax Foundation that ranked which of the 50 states have the most business-friendly unemployment insurance tax structures. The state’s ranking reflected a drop of three positions from its 2020 ranking, according to the foundation’s analysis, which is part of a wider study titled “2021 State Business Tax Climate Index.” All states and the District of Columbia have unemployment insurance tax systems, which are federal-state programs that fund benefits to newly unemployed workers. Levies on employers fund the systems.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is partnering with the FBI to combat unemployment benefits fraud. The two have formed a task force made up of law enforcement, federal tax officials and more to address the over 350 thousand fraudulent claims filed in Illinois so far. Attorney General Raoul says it’s important they all work together on this…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Thieves have been stealing people’s identities across the country to apply for unemployment benefits. If you get a notice that a claim has been filed in your name, Raoul says you should report it immediately to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

 

 

(Rossville-jm) -- A Rossville World War Two veteran turned 100 over the weekend. Frank Morse celebrated his big day with a drive by parade. Morse served in World War Two and later became principal at Rossville Alvin High School.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The spring legislative session begins this week in Springfield. New members of the General Assembly are expected to be sworn in Wednesday. One of the biggest issues facing members of the General Assembly is the budget says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two area school boards meet tonight. The Rantoul Township High School school board will meet at 6 where they will consider creating a bass fishing team. At 630 the St. Joseph Community School District will meet where they will hear updates on the solar project, the search for a new middle school principal and property tax projections. The Rantoul Township High School school board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph School District meeting at 6:30.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What were the actual acreages, yields and production of this past season's crops? We'll soon have the answer to that question. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

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COVID-19 cases in Illinois now top one million

(Springfield-jm) -- COVID-19 cases in Illinois now top one million. With the most recent addition of more than 87 hundred new cases, Illinois now has one million 8 thousand 45 cases of COVID infection since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says it’s important that everyone continues to wear a mask, wash hands frequently and avoid large gatherings…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Although most COVID patients have recovered, the state has lost more than 17 thousand people to the virus. Looking at numbers locally from Thursday, McLean County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 12,139. Champaign County reported 122 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 14,349 and deaths to 92. Livingston County reported 30 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,302 and deaths to 59. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,321. Iroquois County reported 22 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,465 and deaths to 53. Kankakee County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 11,109. Vermilion County reported 79 new cases bringing their total to 6,393.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- When House lawmakers return to Springfield today for a lame duck session of the General Assembly, one topic that will be brought up is selecting the next speaker of the house. State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington discusses the election of the speaker…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady. Stay with WPXN News for the latest on the lame duck session.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 47,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, nearly 63,000 fewer than filed the week before. But, despite the decline in initial filers from the week before, the U.S. Department of Labor reports there are nearly 16,000 more insured unemployed from the week before for a total of 343,500.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Pritzker administration couldn’t say how much of the $19 billion of unemployment benefits paid out are the result of fraud. When asked, the administration said it has stopped 350,000 fraudulent claims since March 2020. The administration also said it could take weeks to implement the overpayment waiver the federal government approved last month.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives in some aspect. However, coronavirus infections could soon lessen with the new vaccine that has been developed with operation warp speed. Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton details when the vaccine could become available to the general public…. 

 

 

Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House GOP lawmakers are calling for public hearings over the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s handling of the unemployment and unemployment fraud crisis. Thousands of Illinoisans have filed for unemployment benefits because of the Coronavirus pandemic while an unknown number of people in the state have been victims of fraud. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says it’s beyond time to fix the issue…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released December 2020 stats. During the final month of 2020, troopers issued 471 citations and 662 written warnings including 26 DUIs, 27 safety belt citations and 20 criminal arrests. Troopers also responded to 83 traffic accidents.

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans return to Springfield today for the lame duck session. Although the agenda for the session hasn’t been announced, one of the things House members will have to do is select a speaker of the House says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Stay with WPXN News for the latest from Springfield.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois dispensaries sold nearly $670 million in cannabis products in 2020. Despite ongoing pandemic restrictions on other businesses, the 79 licensed pot stores in Illinois finished the year in December with $86.9 million in sales. That was more than $10 million more than was sold in November.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Members of the Illinois House who are going to be sworn in next week won’t have family members with them. That’s part of the COVID-19 protocol laid out by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office for the alternate location in Springfield. The House will meet beginning today in the Bank of Springfield Center as they did in May. That’s also where the new House will be sworn in next Wednesday, but members have been told no guests will be allowed.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- In an effort to promote healthy living, the Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Megan Reutter (Righter), Community Educator at the Ford County Public Health Department, says it will help promote self care…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter. This month’s challenge is Dry January, where they will share non-alcoholic drink recipes.

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts has a new water superintendent. The village board hired Tyler Martin. Martin also manages water for Rantoul and Elliott. He replaces Paul Theesfield who was fired following an incident in Gibson City last month.

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker is lowering the age limit for the next round of COVID vaccinations to 65

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is lowering the age limit for the next round of COVID vaccinations to 65. The state is currently working in Phase 1-A, where healthcare workers and residents and staff of long term care facilities are getting the shot. For round 1-B, front line workers and seniors 65 and older will be vaccinated, instead of the recommended age 75 and older says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Phase 1-B will vaccinate more than three million people in Illinois. Over 207 thousand doses have already been administered.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,569 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 139 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 999,288 and deaths to 17,096. Locally, McLean County reported 72 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,089 and deaths to 116. Ford County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 1,309. Livingston County reported 25 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,272 and deaths to 58. Iroquois County reported 26 new cases bringing their total to 2,443. Vermilion County reported 93 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 6,314 and deaths to 80. Kankakee County reported 83 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 11,053. The state is expected to hit 1 million cases today becoming the 4th state to reach such milestone.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As members of the Illinois House prepare to return to Springfield tomorrow for a lame duck session ahead of the start of the spring session next week, one of the biggest questions is will House Speaker Mike Madigan retain his powerful position or will there be a shakeup. The questions surround alleged corruption within Madigan’s inner circle says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House GOP lawmakers are calling for hearings into the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s handling of the unemployment crisis and fraud crisis. One of those is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session. Local 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says he too has heard talks of a possible tax increase…

 

 

Local 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Representative Bennett says the election of the next speaker of the house will also be key to watch. Stay with WPXN News for the latest from Springfield during the lame duck session. 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Drive thru COVID-19 testing will be coming back to Ford County this month. The testing will take place on January 17th from 8 to 4 at the intersection of Sangamon and Church in Gibson City.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- If COVID-19 numbers don’t spike, Governor J-B Pritzker says regions of Illinois may be able to lift some mitigations come January 15th. The state didn’t see a big increase in cases after Thanksgiving, and the Governor says they are hopeful that trend will hold now that Christmas and New Year’s have passed…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Those metrics include a test positivity rate of 12 percent or less for at least three days in a row. The Governor urges everyone to continue to be careful. The state’s mask mandate has been extended another 150 days.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped 17,000 COVID deaths Wednesday and will likely top one million cases today. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,569 new cases and 139 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 999,288 and deaths to 17,096. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 10,960 have recovered, 974 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,422 have recovered, 715 are in isolation and 19 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,077 have been removed from isolation and 138 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,260 have been released from isolation, 124 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 607 active cases and 41 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 8,821 have recovered and 2,077 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning the public about COVID-19 vaccine scams. COVID scams aren’t new, but the approval of a vaccination is now giving con artists more opportunities to fleece consumers says Attorney General Raoul. He says you should ignore emails, texts and calls offering to put you on a list to get the vaccine or asking for your personal information to sign you up for a shot…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul also notes that Medicaid and Medicare will not call people to proactively offer the vaccine and that no one should be asking for your bank account or social security information in relation to the vaccine.

 

 

(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 County-jm) -- A newly elected member of the Champaign County Board is announcing he is resigning. DeShawn Williams was elected in November but announced Wednesday he is resigning to become chief deputy treasurer under new county treasurer Cassandra Johnson. His term runs through November 30, 2022.

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Nursing homes will soon face fines if they don't have enough staff to take care of patients

(Springfield-jm) -- Nursing homes will soon face fines if they don't have enough staff to take care of patients. The fines were originally going to start in January, but because of the pandemic, the fines are being pushed back until later in the year. In 2019, legislation was passed allowing the Illinois Department of Public Health to fine nursing homes if their staff-to-patient ratio was too low.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,839 new Coronavirus cases and 126 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 991,719 and deaths to 16,959. Locally, Livingston County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 3,247. Ford County reported 19 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,290 and deaths to 39. McLean County reported 129 new cases bringing their total 12,017. Champaign County reported 782 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 14,247 and deaths to 90. Iroquois County reported 23 new cases bringing their total to 2,417. Vermilion County reported 227 new cases bringing their total to 6,221.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House members are returning to Springfield later this week for the lame duck session. Because of the COVID pandemic the session will be held at the Springfield Convention Center. But the pandemic has also brought a piece of legislation that would allow the House to meet virtually during emergency situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Representative Dan Brady says he and other GOP members would have an open mind on the issue…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady.

 

(Undated-jm) -- If you are an H&R Block customer, you may not get your second stimulus check right away.  The IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department began issuing the second round of stimulus checks last week.  However, H&R Block customers including some locally, are reporting their payments not ending up in their bank accounts. According to H&R Block, customers who have used the IRS Get My Payment tracking tool may see an account number their payment was issued to that is not theirs. H&R Block customers that used the Refund Transfer option in 2019 may have had their stimulus sent to that temporary account.  The company says they are working to make sure recipients receive their stimulus.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Recent months have shown a significant increase in the amount of food and farm goods China is importing from our nation.  Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to David Harris, Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. The property assessment equalization factor, often called the “multiplier”, is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law.  Assessments in Ford County are at 33.03 percent of market value, based on sales of properties in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Certified Grower Training is now available on the Illinois Department of Agriculture  website.  Under a new state regulation , anyone who works on a farm and handles anhydrous ammonia must complete Certified Grower Training by April of 2022 and once every three years thereafter.  This includes not only farm workers who apply the nitrogen fertilizer to fields, but also those who transport nurse tanks to and from suppliers and those who maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment. The training program can be accessed through a link posted on the website’s homepage. 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The members of the Illinois Senate Republican leadership team have been announced. Senate Republican Leader-Designate Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, announced his appointments ahead of the 102nd General Assembly. The eight senators chosen to the leadership team include: Sue Rezin for Deputy Republican Leader, Jason Barickman as Republican Caucus Leader, Donald DeWitte, Steve McClure, Jason Plummer and Chapin Rose as Assistant Republican Leaders, Dave Syverson and Jil Tracy as Republican Caucus Whips.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 991,719 confirmed Coronavirus cases and 16,959 Coronavirus related deaths after the state reported 6,839 new cases Tuesday and 126 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 3,061 have been removed from isolation and 129 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,917 have recovered, 950 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,498 have recovered, 659 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,253 have been released from isolation, 105 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 613 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are offering a plan to draw new legislative districts in Illinois. Based on the 2020 census data, new legislative boundaries will be set across the state this year. Representative Tim Butler of Springfield says they want an independent commission to be charged with the task instead of lawmakers. He says this will ensure the districts are drawn fairly and not just to give one political party an advantage…

 

 

State Representative Tim Butler of Springfield. Under the House GOP proposal, the commission would be made up of 11 members. Seven would have to approve the new map and public hearings would be held to keep the process transparent.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston police are investigating an attempted burglary. It happened in the 400 block of West Washington Street. Police say someone tried entering a garage on the property causing damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Hoopeston police.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- As the government releases the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one statistic to look at is the Healthy Eating Index.  Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Ford County Fair Association will hold its annual meeting Saturday, January 16th at 8:30 a.m. at the Wall Township Building, which is located at 1498 East 900 North Road in Loda. ?The election of board members and officers will take place at this meeting. In addition, plans for the upcoming Ford County Fair, scheduled for June 13-19, will be discussed. A virtual meeting link will be made available on the fair’s Facebook page closer to the meeting date. The public is invited to attend. Those attending in person are asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, beginning in January. First conducted in 2015, this Census of Agriculture special study will look at local and regional food systems and provide new data on how locally grown foods in the United States are marketed and sold. The results will be available in November 2021. Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail. The deadline for response is February 16, 2021.

 

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The state of Illinois has paid out $19 billion in unemployment benefits

(Springfield-jm) -- The state of Illinois has paid out $19 billion in unemployment benefits. How much of that is fraud hasn’t been revealed. The state’s unemployment agency says fraudsters are using fictitious addresses and they want employers to register with a state data exchange to help combat such fraud. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Illinois finished the year with nearly 339,000 insured unemployed, behind only California, New York and Texas.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A University of Illinois Springfield professor says data suggests almost all K-12 schools should be open, despite COVID-19 concerns. Professor Gary Reinbold reviewed data from nearly a dozen studies on the issue and found children can attend school, even if just part-time, without contributing to spreading the virus. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session. One of the concerns House GOP members like Representative Dan Brady has is the potential for a tax increase to address the state’s budget…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,059 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. Locally, McLean County reported 299 new cases bringing their total to 11,888. Champaign County reported 626 new cases bringing their total to 14,465. Livingston County reported 99 new cases bringing their total to 3,228. Ford County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 1,271. Iroquois County reported 61 new cases bringing their total to 2,394. Vermilion County reported 169 new cases bringing their total to 5,994. Kankakee County did not have a report.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Megan Reutter (Righter) is the community educator at the Ford County Public Health Department. She explains the challenge…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter. The first challenge is Dry January where they will share mocktail recipes.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Registration is underway for the virtual 2021 Soybean Summit. The summit will be held February 10th, 17th and 24th from 9 to 11:30 am. Registration is free.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County home sales hit a record in November. 236 homes sold in November, up 33 percent from November 2019 when 177 homes sold. The median price rose 14.39 percent to $177,300 from $155,000 in November 19. Pending home sales were up 30 percent and the average number of days on the market was 71 days. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- There are several new things in the latest edition of the federal government's Dietary Guidelines. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House announced that members are headed back to Springfield on Friday. Representatives will hold session and committee hearings at a Springfield convention center, similar to how they did in May 2020. That three-day session cost taxpayers an extra $143,000 on top of the regular costs. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois businesses hoping to get state aid via Business Interruption Grants were largely let down last week. Roughly 8 out of 10 businesses that applied were notified that they wouldn't get any money, something bar and restaurant owners are saying came as a surprise that will likely lead to closures. Governor J.B. Pritzker used the grants as leverage to ensure bars and restaurants obeyed his COVID-19 mitigations, saying anyone who broke his rules wouldn't get state aid.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Drivers Services Facilities open back up statewide today. Doors are opening but mask and social distancing requirements will still be in place. Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker reminds you can hold off awhile if you prefer, since expiration dates have been extended…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker. Druker says you can take care of lots of things online like renewing a license plate sticker or driver’s license for qualifying drivers. The website is: cyber drive illinois dot com.


 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 984,880 Coronavirus cases and 16,834 Coronavirus-related deaths after the state reported 5,059 new cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 10,763 have recovered, 994 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. McLean County also reported 12 additional deaths bringing their total to 113. Champaign County reported 13,465 have recovered, 639 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,049 have been removed from isolation and 122 cases are active. They also recorded their 57th death.  Iroquois County reported 2,224 have been released from isolation, 110 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 795 cases are active and 41 are hospitalized. Vermilion County also recorded 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 79.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the FDA from Moderna and Pfizer have not been approved for use in individuals under the age of 18. Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton has the details on why…. 

 

 

Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Six Ford County students have placed first in national Daughters of the American Revolution contests. 66 students from Tri-Point, PBL and GCMS competed locally. Ava Fehr, Jack Goembel and Josie Klerst from GCMS, Melanie Tamayo and Lainey Bertrand from Tri-Point and Lauren Sawyer from PBL all placed first in national contests.


 

(Undated-jm) -- High school seniors gearing up for college have a shot at $60,000 in scholarship support thanks to Mediacom. Sixty high school seniors will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. The winning seniors are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership. Students have until February 15, 2021 to apply.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An aggressive approach towards opening new markets for U.S. farm and food goods has resulted in specific products finally entering nations via export. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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The Illinois Department of Public Health warns people about avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams

(Springfield-jm) -- Driver Services facilities are set to reopen across the state this week. Starting on Tuesday, Illinois residents will be able to enter Driver Services facilities. However, there are a few requirements such as wearing a face mask and social distancing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health warns people about avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams. As COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins, the IDPH warns the public to be on the lookout for signs of potential scams, including: being asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine, being asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list, advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/ unknown sources and marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment. If you believe you have been a victim of COVID-19 fraud, call 1-880-HHS-TIPS, 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 1-800-MEDICARE. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Members of the Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session before the spring session begins on the 13th. One of the major story lines is will Mike Madigan be re-elected as Speaker of the House says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Winter weather helped kick off 2021 over the weekend with a mixture of freezing rain and snow. Freezing rain brought down trees and power lines causing some outages around the area Thursday night into Friday. Over the weekend another system brought snow. Most of the WPXN listening area picked up about an inch of snow while Piatt County saw as much as 10 inches of snow.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Former State Representative Chad Hays is heading back to state government in an appointed position. Hays was appointed in December by Governor J.B. Pritzker to serve as a member of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The board is in charge of administering the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which establishes the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively. Hays represented the 104th district in the Illinois House from 2010 until 2018, when he stepped down.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City’s clocktower at city hall will be getting an upgrade. City leaders approved a $126,000 contract to replace the brick. They hope to start the project this spring.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- It's been an extraordinary year for food shoppers with the largest price increases in years. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- FEMA is giving the state $147 million in grants to reimburse the state for COVID related expenses. The grant funding is part of the recovery efforts in response to the federal disaster declaration of March 31, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency utilized contracts to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment statewide to reduce the threat of COVID-19.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education announced that it has delayed the opening of the 2021 spring assessment window to at least March 15, in response to requests from school districts and stakeholders. The delayed start provides the greatest possible flexibility for schools. The federally required assessments in Illinois are the Illinois Assessment of Readiness for students in grades 3-8; the SAT for students in grade 11; the Illinois Science Assessment for students in grades 5, 8, and 11; the ACCESS for English Learners; and the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment for the 1 percent of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

 

 

(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) -- Champaign County's Animal Control Department will soon be under investigation. Champaign County Board Chair Kyle Patterson said he is launching the investigation. This comes after a dog was mistakenly put down on Christmas Eve.

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- A Champaign woman is facing multiple charges after an incident at Willard Airport. U of I police were called to the airport for a woman ramming her car into a security fence. Police located the vehicle and found an open container of alcohol, marijuana and MDMA pills. Heidi Burns was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, illegal transportation of alcohol, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident and illegal possession of cannabis in a vehicle.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Five candidates have filed for the Parkland College Board of Trustees. Maureen Banks, Jarrett Clem, Bradley Uken and James Voyles all filed for two six year terms. Tim Johnson filed for a two year term.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An economist says food price inflation will continue in 2021, but at a lower rate than we've seen this year. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene in January 2021 for a lame duck session

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene in January 2021 for a lame duck session. The Illinois House will meet on Friday, January 8, 2021, at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center. In an email to House members, the Office of the Speaker's Chief of Staff Jessica Basham said representatives should plan on staying in Springfield from January 8 through at least January 13, and potentially longer.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Families in Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program will see lowered copays in the beginning of the new year. Governor J-B Pritzker announced that parents in the program will pay a maximum of $1.25 in monthly copays for January and February 2021. State officials said that as of November, about 98,000 children were enrolled in the program.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- After months of waiting, the home day cares in Illinois will be able to open at full capacity. Updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is allowing home daycares to return to pre-pandemic numbers. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law will further protect victims of stalking and sexual assault. The state’s Address Confidentially Program is currently only available to survivors of domestic violence. But a law taking effect January 1st adds stalking and sexual assault survivors as well. It lets them obtain an alternate address so it’s harder for their abuser to find them says Representative Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn…

 


 

State Representative Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn. The program keeps the victim’s real address out of public record and the substitute address can be used on their driver’s license or ID card. First class mail sent to that address will be forwarded. Survivors who are interested can apply to the Address Confidentiality Program online at: illinois attorney general dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 955,380 Coronavirus cases and 16,357 deaths. Locally, Livingston County reported 23 new cases bringing their total to 3,106. McLean County reported 124 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,479 and deaths to 101. Champaign County reported 131 new cases bringing their total to 13,789. Ford County reported 14 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,230 and deaths to 37. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,306 and deaths to 52. Kankakee County reported 61 new cases bringing their total to 10,717. Vermilion County reported 176 new cases bringing their total to 5,708.

 

 

(Rural Gibson City-jm) -- One person was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a car fleeing police crashed. Illinois State Police say Dewey Couch of Rankin was attempting to flee from Gibson City police on Route 47 south of Gibson City when he side-swiped a vehicle, then went off the road and rolled in a field. Couch was ejected and taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured. 

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Vermilion County Health Department is announcing they have received their first shipment of the Moderna COVID vaccine. Shipments to the counties two hospitals are also expected to arrive this week. The health department says they will begin vaccinating health care providers and first responders next week.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers are set to return to the state capitol next month. Members of the General Assembly are expected to be sworn in on January 13th and 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says there is one pressing issue facing members of the House of Representatives…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Unemployment rates are up and jobs are down across all 14 of the state’s metro areas in November. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says unemployment in Champaign Count rose from 3.1 percent in November 2019 to 4.6 percent in November 2020. Ford County’s rose from 3.8 percent to 4.3 percent. Iroquois County 3.8 percent to 4.0 percent and Vermilion County 4.7 percent to 6.1 percent.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state is awarding more than $750,000 in Back to Book grants for libraries. Among the recipients include $495 for Fisher library, $2,500 for the Paxton Carnegie Library, $4,900 each for the PBL School District and Watseka school district and $2,000 for Rantoul Township High School district. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The head of USDA's Risk Management Agency says input from producers has been the major guiding factor in RMA operations. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The federal government has released the latest edition of the once-every-five-years Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, harpooned by progressive Democrats as a handout to wealthy corporations, turned out to be more progressive in practice, new data from the federal government revealed.  The federal tax reform measure supported by President Donald Trump increased taxes on some wealthy property owners in high-tax jurisdictions such as Illinois and New Jersey and decreased tax burdens on the middle class.  Internal Revenue Service data released in December, analyzed by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation and Wirepoints, show the federal tax overhaul that took effect in 2018 didn’t necessarily become the tax break for the wealthy as it was criticized as.  In its assessment of the data, Wirepoints said taxpayers in high-tax states such as Illinois, New Jersey, and New York got hit with the majority of the new tax burden because the SALT deduction was capped at $10,000.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker released $142 million in funding, approved by the Illinois legislature, for technology training centers on public university campuses that will promote tech innovation and job creation across the state. The bipartisan public-private effort aims to create 50,000 high-demand tech jobs in the next 10 years. The funding is the first release from $500 million in state Discovery Partners Institute capital funds approved by Pritzker and the Legislature to develop the statewide education and innovation network, led by the University of Illinois System.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- High unemployment numbers, wallets stretched thin, and a global pandemic: It's not a situation you'd think would drive people to buy a house. But in Illinois, and across the country, that's exactly what happened. Illinois realtors said the pandemic taught them to expect the unexpected, which includes the almost 35 percent spike in home sales in October compared to last year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- At least 20% of Illinois families with children said they had only "slight or no confidence" they'd make their next rent or mortgage payment on time, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nadia Ramlagan reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,374 new Coronavirus cases and 178 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 955,380 and deaths to 16,357. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 2,878 have been removed from isolation and 172 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,403 have recovered, 949 are in isolation and 26 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,061 have recovered, 640 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,163 have been released from isolation, 85 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,616 have recovered and 4949 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 4,917 have been released from isolation, 675 remain in isolation and 39 are hospitalized.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Gifford paramedic has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman while she was in an ambulance. Jeffrey Sanford Jr was found guilty in October of criminal sexual assault for forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him in an ambulance in July of 2019. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A judge has denied a motion to have charges dismissed against a man accused of inciting a riot at Market Place Mall in Champaign. On Sunday, May 31, multiple people gathered in the parking lot of Market Place Mall. Shortly after, additional vehicles arrived and people began looting and vandalizing area businesses. According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint against him, Champaign Police saw a Facebook post that was allegedly made by 19-year-old Shamar Betts of Urbana. Betts was charged in a federal criminal complaint with using the internet to incite rioting in Champaign from May 31 to June 1.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s Streetscape project is once again moving forward. The project had been delayed because of the pandemic. Mayor Bill Ingold provides an update on the project…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Mahomet/Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton man is set to retire at the end of the year from Farm Credit Illinois after 40 years with the company. Brian Funk is a credit officer at the Mahomet based company.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Pritzker Administration is announcing 10 community revitalization grants including some around here. The Central Illinois Land Bank which incompases parts of Vermilion and Champaign Counties will receive $125,000. Champaign County will receive $69,500. The City of Champaign will receive $170,200 while Hoopeston will receive $125,000 and Bloomington and Danville will each receive $175,000.

 

(Washington-jm) -- Has the Phase One trade deal with China increased U.S. ag. product sales to that nation in 2020? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What do the next five years hold for college graduates in food and farm- related studies regarding employment opportunities? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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Illinois' leisure and hospitality industry saw its second-worst job decline on record last month

(Springfield-jm) --  Illinois’ leisure and hospitality industry saw its second-worst job decline on record last month, according to analysis from the Illinois Policy Institute. Recent data shows Illinois lost 27,400 jobs in that sector from mid-October to mid-November. Those losses come amid Governor J.B. Pritzker’s statewide ban on indoor dining, which took effect November 4th. Only the period from mid-March to mid-April saw worse outcomes for those working in the restaurant, hotel and travel industries.

 

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(Springfield-jm) --  An effort by the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association to force Governor J.B. Pritzker to award grower licenses to its more than three dozen members has been rebuffed by a Cook County judge. By law, 40 grower licenses were to be issued by July 1, but Pritzker hasn’t issued them. He initially cited the COVID-19 pandemic for delays in reviewing applications. The Chicago Tribune reports that in a ruling, Judge Allen Walker said the governor’s initial reason for delaying the licenses was insufficient. But Walker also wrote Pritzker has since clarified that the delay was necessary because the Illinois Department of Agriculture is now concentrating on oversight of meat and livestock facilities and the food supply chain due to the pandemic.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois. On January 24th, state Public Health officials briefed the press on Illinois’ first case of the new Coronaviurs, a woman who had just returned to Chicago from Wuhan, China. It was just the second case in the U-S. Her husband soon became infected as well, marking the first known person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in the country. By March 20th, Illinois had 585 cases and Governor J-B Pritzker made a big announcement…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. On May 1st, a mask mandate took effect and on May 5th, the Governor laid out his “Restore Illinois” plan, which included five phases for reopening the state. Cases declined over the summer and the entire state moved to Phase Four at the end of June. Fast forward to the fall when cases began to rise again and a new tiered system of restrictions based on regional cases was enacted. Today, Illinois has had more than 948 thousand cases of Coronavirus infection and over 16 thousand have died. Locally, Ford County reported 16 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,216 and deaths to 35. McLean County reported 84 cases and 9 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,355 and deaths to 97. Champaign County reported 76 new cases and 3 new deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,658 and deaths to 88. Vermilion County reported 91 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 5,532 and deaths to 77. Livingston County reported 37 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 3,083. Iroquois County reported 14 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,291 and deaths to 51. Kankakee County reported 47 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 10,657.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The federal government has released the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is published once every five years. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A Gibson City business honored one of their former employees yesterday. Clyde McRae died last week and yesterday his funeral procession passed through the parking lot of the Birkey’s Farm Store where employees and customers lined the parking lot with tractors and combines. McRae worked at the store for over 50 years.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Reports of unemployment fraud have increased significantly not just in Illinois but around the country. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has details of what you should do if you find yourself a victim…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Tuscola man has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for possessing a shotgun while on parole. Terry Porter pleaded guilty in Champaign County court to unlawful use of weapons by a felon. The charge stemmed from an August 25th call at an apartment complex between Rantoul and Gifford. Police say they were called for a person waving a shotgun and slashing tires. Officers located Porter in a vehicle with a shotgun in his possession.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker says the problems Illinois’ unemployment agency is experiencing with backlogs and fraud is happening in other states. Taylorville U.S. Representative Rodney Davis says from colleagues he’s talked to from other states, they aren’t experiencing the same level of problems Illinois is experiencing. Davis said it’s up to the Pritzker administration to manage Illinois’ persistent problems.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois recorded population loss for the seventh year in a row, which is the longest streak of population decline in state history. According to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois shrank by 79,487 people from July 2019 to July 2020, experiencing the second largest population loss over the year for any state both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population. Analysis from the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute found this year’s loss was historic – the single largest decline for the state since World War II. Meanwhile, researchers point out this data represents the first full year of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s policy agenda – including 20 tax and fee hikes, a minimum wage increase and a push for a progressive income tax. In 2020, Illinois lost the population equivalent of Bloomington, the 12th-biggest city in Illinois. Over the decade, from July 2010 to July 2020, Illinois lost a grand total of 253,015 residents, more than triple the amount lost by any other state during the decade. This is equivalent to losing the cities of Naperville and Peoria combined. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The nation's farm sector saw a big income rise in 2020, but what is the outlook for 2021? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County sheriff said as people start making New Year’s resolutions, his office is working on some of their own for 2021. The sheriff stated there are three initiatives they are working on early in the new year. Those areas include justice diversion, increased community relations and a special enforcement team.

 

(Undated-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police in Pesotum will be conducting Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols leading up to the New Year’s holiday. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton Police have released their recent activity report. On December 24th, James Meece was arrested for filing a false police report after he allegedly called police to report a burglary at his apartment. Officers discovered blood and cuts on his hand and Meece admitted to filing the false report. On December 21st, Dollar General reported the theft of several items. Misdemeanor charges of retail theft were forwarded to the State’s Attorney against Angela Purtell and Dorothy Isenhower both of Paxton.

 

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Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume

(Springfield-jm) -- Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume. The Governor says mitigations will remain in place for now. The positivity rate has been dropping, but there are still a concerning number of Coronavirus patients in the hospital, especially the ICU…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he wants to get everything open as soon as possible but also doesn’t want to yo-yo back and forth between opening and closing bars and restaurants until there is a steady improvement in the infection rate.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Monday the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,453 new Coronavirus cases and 105 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 942,362 and deaths to 16,074. Locally since the Wednesday before Christmas, Vermilion County reported 607 new cases bringing their total to 5,441. Livingston County reported 67 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,046 and deaths to 56. Ford County reported 23 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,200 and deaths to 34. McLean County reported 404 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,271 and deaths to 88. Iroquois County reported 44 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,277 and deaths to 50. Kankakee County reported 159 new cases and 6 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 10,610 and deaths to 132. Champaign County reported 247 new cases bringing their total to 13,582.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is reminding auto dealers and the public about stricter odometer laws taking effect January 1st. Under a new federal requirement, anyone selling a 2011 or later model vehicle needs to record the mileage on the title says Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. Under the old rule, a 2011 vehicle would have been exempt from disclosing the odometer reading…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. 2011 and newer vehicles will only be exempt from the odometer disclosure after 20 years, so in 2031. 2010 models and older are exempt and do not have to list the odometer reading.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On December 22nd Robert Irvin of Gibson City was arrested on an in state warrant. On December 23rd Brett Thomas of Fisher was cited for driving while license suspended. On December 27th, Tony Harris of Gibson City was cited for driving while license suspended.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters and investigators from the state fire marshal’s office believe a faulty electrical outlet caused a house fire in Paxton yesterday. The fire happened in the 500 block of East Orleans just before 7 am. No one was home at the time. More than 30 firefighters from Paxton, Buckley, Loda, Ludlow, Rantoul and Rankin responded to the fire.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Prices for hogs and pork don't really indicate much change from current herd sizes and from current production levels. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state Department of Public Health says flu activity in Illinois has been pretty minimal so far. Wearing a mask, staying home and socially distancing are not only helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, but also seasonal flu says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says flu season typically peaks in January and February.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped 16,000 Coronavirus deaths Monday. The state reported 4,453 new cases and an additional 105 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 942,362 and deaths to 16,074. As for local active and recovered cases, Vermilion County reported 4,623 have been released from isolation, 705 remain in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,848 have been removed from isolation and 142 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,136 have recovered, 1018 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,148 have been released from isolation, 73 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,212 have recovered, 5246 cases are active and 19 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,892 have recovered, 605 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s climatologist takes a look at 2020 weather in Illinois. The first five months of this year were wetter than normal across the state. The rain continued in some areas but a large path across central Illinois is ending 2020 in abnormally dry to severe drought conditions. State Climatologist Trent Ford says there was some severe weather…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. 15 of those tornadoes occurred on August 10th in the Chicago area as a derecho swept through Illinois. Ford says 2020 will likely end up in the top 30 warmest years on record in Illinois with temperatures above average especially in January and November.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is releasing the name of a woman killed early yesterday morning. Northrup says 36 year old Lisa Lewis died at Carle Foundation Hospital from multiple gunshot wounds from a shooting in the 2000 block of Moreland Boulevard in Champaign. An autopsy is scheduled for today. The shooting remains under investigation.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Jerry Costello II has set February 2, 2021 as the date for a referendum that proposes to amend the Illinois soybean marketing program. Specifically, the referendum proposes changing the terms for the members of the Program Operating Board from two three-year terms to three three-year terms. To be eligible to vote in this referendum, you must be an Illinois producer engaged in the business of producing and marketing soybeans and be affected by the Illinois soybean marketing program by having first right of ownership in any soybeans for which payment is received at the first point of sale. Eligible voters must cast their vote via absentee ballot this year due to COVID-19. Absentee ballots will be available beginning January 4, 2021 and must be received by the Illinois Department of Agriculture by no later than January 29, 2021.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some of the areas addressed regarding agriculture in the recently signed FY 2021 federal budget and coronavirus stimulus package?  Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume

(Springfield-jm) -- Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume. Illinois is currently under Tier Three mitigations, and even moving to Tier Two won’t let restaurants and bars resume indoor service. The Governor says the state still needs to see cases and hospitalizations go down in order for those rules to be lifted…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritkzer says there will likely be an uptick in COVID infections after the holidays so they don’t want to open everything back up until that’s been assessed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is closing in on 16,000 COVID deaths. The state now has 15,969 total deaths and 937,909 total cases after the state reported 3,767 new cases Sunday and 3,293 new cases on Saturday. The state also reported 104 additional deaths Sunday and 66 on Saturday. 4,083 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 905 patients were in the ICU and 497 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is 8.5 percent.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The State Department of Public Health says flu activity in Illinois has been pretty minimal so far. Flu season is underway, but has yet to significantly take hold says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says they expect to see fewer flu hospitalizations and deaths this season because of the COVID safety measures in place.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ population in the year that ended July 2020 declined by nearly 80,000, according to data released this week from the U.S. Census. The annual loss is the equivalent of losing the entire city of Bloomington. The state led the nation in declines over the decade, at more than 253,000 people fewer, the equivalent of losing Naperville and Peoria combined.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton is moving forward with their streetscape project. The project was delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Because of the delay, city leaders approved doing a small overcoat of asphalt in the downtown area earlier this fall as a temporary band aid which Mayor Bill Ingold says they now want to try to incorporate into the full project…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Two people are dead and two are injured following an accident near Crescent City over the weekend. The accident happened at the intersection of county roads 1400 north and 1500 east. Police say Blake Martell was traveling southbound on 1500 east when he failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with another vehicle. 55-year-old Dominic Smith, and his wife Kimberly Smith, 60 of Woodland, IL, were both ejected out of the vehicle and later pronounced dead at the scene by the Iroquois County Coroner's Office. Martell, along with a 17-year-old juvenile passenger, were also ejected out of their vehicle due to the accident and were airlifted to Carle Hospital. Dominic Smith was a firefighter on the Champaign Fire Department. The accident remains under investigation.


 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Having received its largest cash gift ever from a single donor, the Parkland College Foundation recently awarded 12 new spring 2021 scholarships to Ford County residents. The generous $1.5 million gift, from the estate of C. Paul and Marjorie Davis of Gibson City, came as a surprise in early December to the Foundation, which had no prior connection with the Davises except a passion for education. The first recipients of the Cecil Paul and Marjorie Wilson Davis Scholarship are Katie Johnson, Gowyn Kelly, Allison Heavilin, Ashlyn McPherson, Jadrien Miles, Melissa Walker Salyards, Hannah Hein, Jordan Frederick, Paige Shelton, Lani Crim, Gracie Conover, and Breanna Brokate. The $2,000 awards for the spring 2021 semester will be used for tuition, fees, and/or books.

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  A new USDA report supports the idea that U.S. pork producers are pulling back on production. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is expanding assistance to child care providers for low income families. The state is pumping another 20 million dollars into efforts to help daycares in the Child Care Assistance Program stay open and to provide a place for parents to take their kids during work hours says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Providers can visit the Illinois Department of Human Services’ website for more information.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ borrowing of $2 billion to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole reflects deep challenges for the state, according to Fitch Ratings. The credit rating agency said it anticipates tax increases and budget cuts to be considered, along with continued bill deferrals and fund sweeps. But the agency reiterated it will be difficult for the state to maintain an investment grade credit rating.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As COVID-19 vaccinations begin, the U-S Surgeon General says everyone must remain vigilant and do their part, even if they feel they aren’t affected by the virus. You may not be too worried about the Coronavirus, but Surgeon General Jerome Adams reminds it is unforgiving and not particular about who it hits…

 


 

U-S Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams reminds it’s imperative that everyone does what they can to limit the spread of COVID and reduce the burden on hospitals. He says if facilities are full of patients with the virus, that means there won’t be enough beds for car accident or heart attack victims and others needing care.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,060 new Coronavirus cases and 170 deaths over the weekend bringing the state’s total number of cases to 937,909 and deaths to 15,969. 4,083 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital, 905 patients were in the ICU and 497 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is 8.5 percent. We will have the latest numbers from the state tonight on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. The Governor has issued more than 70 executive orders since the pandemic began back in March. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says we should not ignore our representative democracy which has served the state well for years…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign resident is $25,000 richer after winning a national baking competition. Julianna Jung won this year's "Holiday Baking Championship" on the Food Network. Jung was the only home baker out of the 12 competitors on the show.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture has registered the following Dicamba products for the use on soybeans for the 2021 growing season: XtendiMax with Vapor Grip Technology, Engenia Herbicide, and Tavium Plus Vapor Grip Technology. The new federal label requirements for these products include: requiring an approved pH-buffering agent, also known as a volatility reducing agent, be tank mixed with dicamba products prior to all applications, requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed endangered species are located and additional recordkeeping items. A cutoff date of June 20th has been set to apply to soybeans. In addition, the state is also adding additional restrictions including: temperature restriction of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, requirement to consult the Field Watch sensitive crop registry https://www.fieldwatch.com before application, prohibiting application if the wind is blowing toward any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site that is adjacent to the proposed field of application and  prohibiting application when the wind is blowing toward an adjacent residential area.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The University of Illinois Extension Office is offering some ideas about what to do with your Christmas tree after the holidays. Many communities have a tree pick up or recycling program so that’s always an easy solution says the Extension’s Katie Parker. What about using it as firewood…

 

 

University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker. Parker says the pine needles and boughs can be used as mulch or to protect plants. The whole tree can be left outside and adorned with bird feeders or you can cut up the trunk and use the pieces for trivets, coasters, garden edging and more.

 

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State and local police are ramping up enforcement through the holidays

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ unemployment filings this week make up nearly 1 in every 5 new filers nationwide. About 154,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week, second only to California’s 156,000 new filers. Illinois’ change from the week before of more than 15,600 eclipsed all other states, including California, which saw a decline of more than 48,000 new filers. Illinois’ filings make up around 18 percent of total filings.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ borrowing of $2 billion to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole reflects deep challenges for the state, according to Fitch Ratings. The credit rating agency said it anticipates tax increases and budget cuts to be considered, along with continued bill deferrals and fund sweeps. But the agency reiterated it will be difficult for the state to maintain an investment grade credit rating.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State and local police are ramping up enforcement through the holidays. Expect to see more police on the roads looking for speeders, drunk drivers and other offenders says Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel…

 

 

Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Wappel says from now through the early morning hours of January 4th there will be hundreds of seatbelt enforcement zones and other special details around the state.


 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,762 new Coronavirus cases and 135 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 918,070 and deaths to 15,547. Locally, McLean County reported 16 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 10,367 and deaths to 86. Livingston County reported 27 new cases bringing their total to 2,949. Vermilion County reported 76 new cases bringing their total to 4,794. Ford County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 1,156. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases bringing their total to 2,218. Kankakee County reported 85 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 10,451 and deaths to 146. Champaign County reported 51 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,225 and deaths to 65.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. The Governor has issued more than 70 executive orders since the pandemic began back in March. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says lawmakers should be involved in the process…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- More COVID-19 vaccines are making their way to the area. Last week, we reported the first shipment coming to Ford County. Champaign County also received their shipment last week. This week Iroquois, Vermilion, Kankakee and Livingston Counties each received their shipment of the Pfizer vaccine.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some GOP state lawmakers are calling for answers over the backlog of FOID card renewals. One of those is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian, who puts the blame on Democrats…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that multiple projects in the Champaign-Urbana area are completed, underway or extending into future construction seasons, highlighting an ongoing commitment made possible by Governor J-B Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois. Just in the Champaign-Urbana area, seven major projects represent a total investment of more than $83 million for the region, with $73.5 coming from the historic and bipartisan capital program. They include resurfacing I-72 between White Heath Road and I-57. Resurfacing, signal modification, lighting and sidewalk improvements on University Avenue from Wright Street to Cunningham Avenue. Bridge work on I-74 between High Cross Road and the Union Pacific Railroad bridge. Bridge replacement on I-74 over the Canadian National Railline and Market Street bridge. Mattis Avenue bridge replacement at I-57 and I-74 in anticipation of the redesign of the I-57/I-74 interchange.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced that it would be receiving a portion of the vaccines that have arrived and will be arriving in Champaign County. The university is expected to get its first batch within the next week. Campus healthcare workers will receive the vaccine through McKinley Health. The campus further announced its policy for vaccinations. For students, the Illinois Department of Public Health determines the immunizations that are required of Illinois college and university students. IDPH does not currently require proof of COVID-19 immunization. For employees, there is currently no plan to require the vaccine.

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ population in the year that ended July 2020 declined by nearly 80,000, according to data released this week from the U.S. Census. The annual loss is the equivalent of losing the entire city of Bloomington. The state led the nation in declines over the decade, at more than 253,000 people fewer, the equivalent of losing Naperville and Peoria combined.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Building on its investments to fight against COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services announced $56 million in additional capital to community organizations and providers across Illinois. The funding comes from quality payments to its Medicaid Managed Care Organizations: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, CountyCare, Aetna Better Health, Meridian, and Molina.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 100 thousand people in Illinois have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. The state currently leads the effort to get front line health care workers and residents of long term care facilities vaccinated says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the Moderna vaccine is arriving this week in Illinois, going straight to providers since it doesn’t need to be kept in ultra-cold storage like Pfizers.


 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has more than 918,000 Coronavirus cases and 15,547 deaths. The state reported 6,762 new cases Wednesday and 135 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,794 have recovered, 969 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,760 have been removed from isolation and 184 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 296 are in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,067 have been released from isolation, 95 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,148 have recovered, 5157 cases are active and 35 hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,499 have recovered, 671 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- GOP lawmakers are calling for answers over the state’s handling of the backlog of unemployment claims and fraudulent claims. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett says the Illinois Department of Employment Security needs to get a handle on the issue…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A car crashed into a Champaign business yesterday afternoon. A car crashed through the exit doors of the Menards on Town Center Boulevard. No word on the cause or if there were any injuries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Tips for keeping your Christmas tree fresh through the holidays. Depending on when you put your tree up, it may still be in good shape or starting to dry out. University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker says what your tree needs most is water…

 

 

University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker. Parker says if your tree is really drying out, you can re-cut the stump, although that’s probably not practical if it’s full of lights and ornaments. She says it’s also a good idea to keep your tree away from heat sources like vents and direct sunlight. Additives are not necessary.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce Foundation is donating $2,000 to the Visit Champaign County Foundation’s Hospitality Relief Fund. The fund assists employees in the hospitality industry with monetary relief during the COVID pandemic.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is warning of a potential phone scam. The Peoria based healthcare system says patients and caregivers are receiving phone calls from a number that appears to be from OSF asking for social security and other personal information.

 

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The U-S Surgeon General met with state and local officials Tuesday and discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 emergency rule Governor J.B. Pritzker filed in August requiring businesses to enforce face coverings and comply with capacity limits is set to expire January 4th. Emergency rules allowed to stand by a joint panel of the state legislature expire after 150 days. Businesses that violated the rule could face enforcement of up to $2,500 in fines. The governor could refile the measure.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The federal stimulus package, the first since March, includes billions for schools and colleges across the country, but it does not include funds for state and local governments to plug budget holes. Governor J.B. Pritzker has for months advocated for federal grants to cover the state’s spending gap. At one point earlier this year, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon requested $41 billion from the federal government.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U-S Surgeon General met with state and local officials Tuesday and discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Over 63 thousand frontline healthcare workers in Illinois have been vaccinated with more to come. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he hopes everyone gets the vaccine, noting it may cause a mild reaction like headaches or a sore arm in some. At a media availability, he was asked about the new variant of COVID found in the UK. He says viruses mutate all the time…

 

 

U-S Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams says there is no indication that the new variant will be resistant to the COVID vaccine. He says someday that may not be the case, just like with the seasonal flu where the vaccine is tweaked each year.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,239 new Coronavirus cases and 116 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 911,308 and deaths to 15,414. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9 percent and 4,571 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 981 patients were in the ICU and 557 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. Locally, Vermilion County reported 96 new cases and 14 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 4,718 and deaths to 73. Livingston County reported 26 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,922 and deaths to 55. Ford County reported 11 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,140 and deaths to 33. McLean County reported 75 new cases bringing their total to 10,851. Iroquois County reported 11 new cases bringing their total to 2,203. Kankakee County reported 55 new cases bringing their total to 10,366. Champaign County reported 81 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,174 and deaths to 83.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What were some of the findings in a recent USDA report of how the current pandemic has impacted the health of rural residents. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A 42-year-old Hoopeston man had a run-in with Hoopeston Police two times Monday.  Craig Stevens was charged with criminal damage to property after officers were flagged down about someone damaging Christmas decorations in the 200-block of E. Main Street.  Stevens was taken to the Public Safety Building in Danville. A couple of hours later, Hoopeston officers were called to the 400-block of S. 2nd Avenue.  There, Stevens was arrested for home invasion, criminal trespass to a residence, criminal damage to property, and aggravated battery. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Rental rates at Paxton park district facilities will be going up. The park district is raising the rate for a full day to $80 and $50 for 4 hours. Park District leaders say the increase is comparable to others in the area.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- The Watseka Area Food Pantry has received a donation from an area politician. State Representative Tom Bennett made the donation to the food pantry that serves Iroquois County residents.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Opioid overdose deaths accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC reported the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in the 12-month period that ended in May 2020. In Illinois, provisional data of emergency department visits from overdoses peaked in May at 750 per 10,000 people for opioids and 460 per 10,000 for heroin.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law aims to help Illinoisans with diabetes. Senate Bill 667 will set a cap for all out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 per month. This applies to all patients using a state-regulated insurance plan, regardless of the supply they need. Additionally, it requires the Departments of Insurance, Human Services, and Healthcare and Family Services to jointly issue an "insulin pricing report." This report will include details on insulin pricing practices and recommendations to prevent overpricing of insulin. The new law takes effect January 1st.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 911,308 Coronavirus cases and 15,414 deaths after the state reported 6,239 new cases and 116 deaths. 4,571 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 981 patients were in the ICU and 557 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9 percent. As for local active and recovered cases, Vermilion County reported 4,314 have been released from isolation, 293 are in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,747 have been removed from isolation and 120 cases are active. McLean County reported 9,711 have recovered, 1037 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,043 have been released from isolation, 104 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,079 have recovered, 5142 cases are active and 34 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,400 have recovered, 691 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA and NASA have agreed to continue cooperating on a range of issues, including soil moisture. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Pesotum-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police have released results of a recent occupant restraint enforcement patrol in Champaign County. During the patrol, troopers issued 25 safety belt citations and 1 child restraint citation.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Vermilion County Judge Thomas M. O’Shaughnessy has been elected as the 5th Judicial Circuit’s Chief Circuit Judge. He succeeds Chief Judge Mitchell K. Shick of Charleston, who held the post for 3 years and did not seek another term.  O’Shaughnessy begins a two-year term on January 29, 2021. The 5th Circuit includes the following five counties: Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, and Vermilion.

 

 

(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 dates are Wednesday, January 20; Friday, January 29; Tuesday, February 9; Thursday, March 4, 2021.  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.

 

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Sports betting industry group PlayIllinois drew more than $430 million in bets in October

(Springfield-jm) -- Sports betting industry group PlayIllinois says the state has reached a level in only four months no other jurisdiction has reached in fewer than 16 months. The group said Illinois sportsbooks drew more than $430 million in bets in October, up 42 percent from September and the fourth largest handle in the U.S.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Rifle Association says a judge could order Illinois State Police to follow the law and issue Firearm Owner Identification Cards. The group filed an injunction against ISP for the state agency to comply with the FOID Card Act that says they must issue or deny cards within 30 days. Last week, state police said they have more than 145,000 backlogged requests and an average wait of 121 days.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Legislation is being introduced this week to allow Illinois lawmakers to conduct business remotely in the event of an emergency. Representative Ann Williams of Chicago is sponsoring the bill saying its imperative the legislature can act even if they can’t get together physically…

 

 

State Representative Ann Williams of Chicago. Earlier this year the Senate adopted rules letting members meet virtually, but a bill letting the House do the same fell one vote short of passage. Williams said she’d like to see this new legislation passed as soon as they are in session.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois reported 4,669 new cases and 98 deaths Monday. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 273 new cases bringing their total to 13,093. McLean County reported 237 new cases bringing their total to 10,776. Ford County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 1,129. Livingston County reported 43 new cases bringing their total to 2,896. Kankakee County reported 101 new cases bringing their total to 10,311. Iroquois County reported 34 new cases bringing their total to 2,192. Vermilion County reported 97 new cases bringing their total to 4,622.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton made some improvements in their downtown area this fall. The city’s Streetscape project was put on hold as the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Mayor Bill Ingold says the work that was done was a temporary band aid to get by…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul firefighters were called to a fire Monday afternoon. Crews were called to a dumpster fire behind the south Caseys around 3:30. No word on the cause of the fire or how much damage was done.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- How does the weather look as we head into the final weeks of the year and start 2021? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Eastern Illinois Foodbank has received a large donation. The foodbank received a $60,000 donation from Apex Clean Energy which operates the Ford Ridge Wind Farm in Ford County as well as the Diamond Grove Wind Farm in McLean County. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As temperatures continue to drop, it is important to bundle up. However, parents need to remember to take your kids' coats off once you are inside the car. Health officials said the air inside the coat will compress and create space. In a car crash, that space can cause injury or the child to be ejected from their seat. Parents should put their child in a thin fleece or sweater. For infants, swaddle a blanket around them after harnessing them in. You can also place a blanket on top of the child's car seat to block the wind.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says the push to end business incentives to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole is the wrong approach during an economic crisis. CEO Todd Maisch said the government should be helping businesses, not punishing them with higher taxes. Statehouse Democrats are pushing to end what they call “loopholes” and “giveaways” for businesses instead of the governor’s proposed $711 million in cuts.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois residents, nonprofits, and local organizations helped the state rank among the top ten for best census self-response rates. Illinois came in 7th nationwide and first among states with more than 9 million in population size. Illinois exceeded the response rate of 70.5% from the last census in 2010. This year, the response rate was 71.4%.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. Ray Watt has the details…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 905,069 Coronavirus cases and 15,299 deaths after the state reported 4,669 new cases Monday and 98 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 12,302 have recovered, 712 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. McLean County reported 9,484 have recovered, 1179 are in isolation and 28 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,721 have been removed from isolation and 122 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 5,001 have recovered, 5165 cases are active and 37 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,016 have been released from isolation, 122 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 4,236 have been released from isolation, 288 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- If you need a last minute gift idea, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs suggests giving the gift of college. Kids that already have piles of toys and games will benefit later from your contribution to a Bright Start College Savings Account says Treasurer Frerichs…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Frerichs says you can also start a Bright Start account for a child or teen, with no minimum contribution required. Bright Start funds can be used for college tuition, books and more.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Champaign County Sheriff’s police are investigating after a pair of vehicles were broken into over the weekend at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. They say the vehicles had windows smashed and items taken from inside. Anyone with information is asked to call the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Many Illinois residents are having issues with receiving their unemployment benefits. Some are not receiving their benefits right away while others are the victim of fraud. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says he’s called on the Governor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security to address the issues…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Salvation Army says it is struggling to raise money for the Red Kettle Campaign. Their goal is to raise $158,000. So far, the Champaign Salvation Army has raised $116,238. They have $41,762 left to raise in less than a week to meet their goal. This year there have been several challenges. Because of the pandemic, there are less red kettles on street corners and store entrances. They’re also noticing an increased need for their service and are expecting to help over 150 percent more people this holiday season.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced a new anhydrous ammonia grower training platform available online January 1, 2021. Illinois farmers and any of their employees or family members who help transport or apply anhydrous ammonia are required by state regulation to participate in the mandatory training approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Training must be completed by April 1, 2022. Once completed, growers receive a certificate valid for three years to provide upon request to their anhydrous ammonia retailer. In-person training sessions will begin when state mitigations for Covid-19 determine it is safe to gather in a group setting.

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Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend. The statewide total now stands at 900,370 cases and 15,202 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9.6 percent.  4,389 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 991 patients were in the ICU and 546 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. Locally on Friday, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 10,539. Champaign County reported 85 new cases bringing their total to 12,820. Livingston County reported 12 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 2,835. Vermilion County reported 104 new cases bringing their total to 4,525. Iroquois County reported 25 new cases bringing their total to 2,158. Ford County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 1,079. Kankakee County reported 66 new cases bringing their total to 10,210. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- On Friday’s the Illinois Department of Public Health updates cases at long term care facilities around the state. Locally, in Ford County 287 cases and 24 deaths have been linked to long term care facilities. In Iroquois County 269 cases and 27 deaths. In Champaign County 443 cases and 36 deaths. In Vermilion County 235 cases and 31 deaths. In McLean County 516 cases and 45 deaths. In Livingston County 176 cases and 24 deaths and Kankakee County 1,011 cases and 65 deaths. 

 

 

(Paxon-cf)-- The Paxton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Eat, Drink, and Shop Local Bingo contest. Andy Hudson of Hudson’s Drug and Hallmark shop has the details… 

 

 

Andy Hudson owner of Hudsons Drug and Hallmark Shop.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- A garage in Fisher was destroyed following an explosion Saturday night. Fire crews were called to the fire in the 400 block of N. Third Street just before 10 pm. Windows were blown out of a nearby home. The blast was heard several miles from the site. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

 

(Rural Paxton-jm) -- Paxton first responders were called to a single vehicle rollover accident Friday evening. The accident occurred at Route 115 and 600 East around 6pm. No word on if there were any injuries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Voters overwhelming rejected the progressive income tax proposal in the November election. While the implications of what will happen remains to be seen, 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says voters sent the Governor a strong message…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul along with the University of Illinois and the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will be offering free COVID-19 testing and flu vaccination. The testing and vaccination will take place today from 3 to 7pm at the Rantoul Youth Center parking lot. No insurance or appointment is needed.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend. The statewide total now stands at 900,370 cases and 15,202 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9.6 percent.  4,389 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 991 patients were in the ICU and 546 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,313 have recovered, 1117 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,944 have recovered, 798 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,640 have been released from isolation and 160 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 337 active cases. Iroquois County reported 1955 have been released from isolation, 144 remain in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,937 have recovered and 5,130 cases are active.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Several area counties reported additional deaths Friday. McLean County reported 4 new deaths bringing their total to 85. Livingston County reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 53. Vermilion County also reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 59. Iroquois County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 48. Ford County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 32. Kankakee County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 143.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The frustration over the backlog of FOID card renewals continues to rise. Some state lawmakers are calling for legislative action to reduce the backlog. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says many are tired of trying to get answers…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Ludlow-jm) -- A Ludlow house was destroyed by fire over the weekend. Fire crews were called to the fire on S. Orange Street around noon Saturday. No word on the cause of the fire.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Ceremonies honoring fallen veterans were held around the country including at several cemeteries locally Saturday. Nationally 1.7 million wreaths were placed as part of Wreaths Across America Day. Locally, ceremonies were held in Onarga, Cissna Park, Buckley and at the National Cemetery in Danville.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Hundreds of small business owners and employees gathered outside the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on Saturday to protest what the health department has been enforcing. The health department has been taking away health licenses and issuing warnings to businesses that have continued to stay open despite state mitigations. Supporters made an argument that Champaign county has been in a better spot in recent weeks. The county has one of the lowest positivity rates in the state and remains one of eight counties off the state warning list.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s ordinance on animals at large was revised at their December meeting. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about the revisions…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police are releasing results of recent roadside safety checks conducted in Vermilion County. During the enforcement, 1 was arrested for DUI, 2 were cited for drug or alcohol related offenses, 1 for occupant restraint, 1 for registration offense, 6 for driver’s license offenses and 14 for insurance violations.

 

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Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings

(Springfield-jm) -- State officials say while COVID-19 cases seem to be on a downward trend, now is not the time to let up on taking safety precautions. Governor J-B Pritzker is again asking families to not hold big family gatherings for the holidays, but to instead celebrate with your immediate family or open presents virtually. He says the chance of transmission is just still too high…

 

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he is hopeful that if everyone socially distances, stays home and continues to wear a mask, that officials can ease some of the COVID restrictions in coming weeks.

 

While the number of daily COVID cases have been under 10 thousand for a week now, patient deaths have been increasing in recent days. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,828 new cases and 181 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 879,428 and deaths to 14,835. Locally, McLean County reported 89 new cases bringing their total to 10,422. Champaign County reported 108 new cases bringing their total to 12,735. Livingston County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 2,841. Ford County reported 21 new cases bringing their total to 1,061. Kankakee County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 10,144. Vermilion County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 4,421. Iroquois County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 2,133.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 33 in Ludlow, 1082 in Rantoul, 129 in Gifford, 50 in Penfield, 390 in St. Joseph, 66 in Thomasboro, 33 in Dewey, 138 in Fisher, 29 in Foosland, 679 in Mahomet, 429 in Paxton, 23 in Elliott, 330 in Gibson City, 29 in Sibley, 88 in Loda, 35 in Buckley, 151 in Cissna Park, 48 in Rankin, 50 in Melvin, 24 in Roberts, 19 in Thawville, 126 in Milford, 441 in Hoopeston, 100 in Potomac, 51 in Crescent City, 105 in Rossville, 36 in Wellington, 61 in Sheldon, 426 in Watseka, 173 in Onarga, 237 in Gilman, 68 in Danforth, 130 in Ashkum, 230 in Clifton, 205 in Chebanse, 58 in Martinton, 45 in Donovan, 40 in Beaverville, 27 in Cabery, 21 in Kempton, 55 in Cullom, 102 in Piper City, 83 in Chatsworth, 49 in Saybrook and 26 in Bellflower.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the COVID-19 vaccine trickles into Illinois, public health officials are already learning that they can get more doses out of a single vial than originally thought. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says one vial was supposed to equal five doses, but the federal government has updated that recommendation…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says healthcare providers need to understand that if the vial gets to be about empty and doesn’t contain enough for a full dose, that vaccine cannot be combined with liquid from another vial to make up the difference.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings. With 142,700 new filers last week, Illinois was second only to California’s weekly claims. The Land of Lincoln had 35,000 more filers than the week before. That eclipses the total number of unemployment filings across the country, which reported 21,000 fewer new filers than the week before.

 

 

(Onarga-jm) -- Onarga and Gilman will ring in the Christmas season this Saturday. Spokesperson Fred Walraven talks about the parade and activities…

 

 

Onarga and Gilman Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business is closing at the end of the year. The Country Thyme Tea Room is closing after 26 years in the community. 

 

 

(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 dates are Wednesday, January 20; Friday, January 29; Tuesday, February 9; Thursday, March 4, 2021.  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.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One area state representative continues to wave the red flag about unemployment fraud in the state. Over 200 thousand Illinoisans have been the victim of the fraud that is coming in many different forms says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Two Iroquois County communities could soon receive police protection from the county sheriff’s office. The Iroquois County board approved hiring two additional deputies that would cover Gilman and Onarga. Both communities would split the cost of the deputies salaries. The deal must still be approved by the Gilman and Onarga town boards.

 

The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce along with the village of Rantoul will hold a drive thru lighted Christmas parade on Saturday from 5:30-8:30 pm at the Rantoul Aquatic Center.

 

The Vineyard Church in Urbana will hold a live drive thru nativity on Sunday from 5 to 7pm at their church on North Lincoln Avenue.

 

Looking at the case numbers from Thursday, Illinois now has 879,428 cases and 14,835 deaths after the state reported 8,828 new cases and 181 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,188 have recovered, 1127 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,851 have recovered, 806 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,596 have been released from isolation and 195 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,878 have recovered and 5124 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 4,035 have been released from isolation, 292 remain in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,875 have been released from isolation, 205 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for local deaths, McLean County reported 8 additional deaths Thursday bringing their total to 83. Champaign County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 78. Livingston County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 50. Ford County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 28. Kankakee County reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 142.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Tollway is extending its popular toll violation relief program through the end of June. This will give drivers an extra six months to take care of any outstanding toll violations and outstanding fines they may have says Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. She says there are quite a few people who can take advantage of the opportunity to settle up for just three dollars…

 

 

Illinois Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. McGinnis says if you’re interested in this offer, visit illinois tollway dot com.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- For those shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to stay safe from cyber threats, especially during the holidays. Illinois officials and the National Cyber Security Alliance encourage people to follow these tips to protect themselves while online: think before you click, do your homework, consider your payment options, watch what you give away, keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police are reporting a pair of incidents in the community this week. On December 16th, no injuries were reported and no tickets issued after a single vehicle accident in the 200 block of W. Orleans. The teen driver slid on the snow covered road and struck a bush and clipped a tree. On December 15th, Damien Mackins of Loda was arrested on an Iroquois County warrant following a traffic accident at Patton and Railroad. Mackins was also cited for failure to yield for the accident.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Officials with the University of Illinois Ice Arena said it will remain closed to the public through the Spring 2021 semester. They cited the current pandemic and state and university guidelines and restrictions as the reason. The ice arena also serves as a campus COVID testing site.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce will host their Drive-thru Christmas Parade this year at the Happ-Parker Aquatic Center parking lot tomorrow starting at 5:30 pm. Chamber Director Amanda Vickery details some of the events that will be happening at the drive-thru parade… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A new apprenticeship program taking place at Parkland College is looking for more students to train as surveyor and mapping technicians to fill a growing job demand. Developed in partnership with the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association, the first-in-the-nation Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. These technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines. Training consists of on-the-job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician Level I or Level II exam in order to complete the program.

 

A Wreaths Across America Remembrance Ceremony will take place on Saturday at 11 am at the Buckley American Legion.

 

Onarga will hold their Christmas parade on Saturday at 2:30 pm.

 

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It looks like Illinois' supply of COVID-19 vaccine expected in the coming weeks is being cut in half

(Springfield-jm) -- It looks like Illinois’ supply of COVID-19 vaccine expected in the coming weeks is being cut in half. Governor J-B Pritzker says they were originally told that eight million doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be shipped out across the country next week…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the shipment for the following week has also been reduced by about 50 percent and notes this will not affect distribution of doses received this week.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,123 new Coronavirus cases and 146 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 870,600 and deaths to 14,655. Locally, McLean County reported 101 new cases bringing their total to 10,333. Champaign County reported 65 new cases bringing their total to 12,627. Livingston County reported 31 new cases bringing their total to 2,801. Ford County reported 26 new cases bringing their total to 1,040. Kankakee County reported 63 new cases bringing their total to 10,088. Iroquois County reported 28 new cases bringing their total to 2,121. Vermilion County reported 71 new cases bringing their total to 4,381.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, Paxton reported 418 cases, Gibson City 325, Elliott 23, Loda 87, Buckley 35, Roberts 23, Melvin 50, Sibley 29, Ludlow 32, Rantoul 1,074, Gifford 126, Thomasboro 65, St. Joseph 384, Penfield 50, Dewey 31, Fisher 137, Foosland 29, Mahomet 671, Cissna Park 151, Onarga 172, Gilman 237, Rankin 47, Hoopeston 431, Potomac 100, Thawville 19, Milford 126, Wellington 36, Sheldon 60, Watseka 421, Crescent City 51, Danforth 68, Ashkum 130, Clifton 229, Chebanse 203, Martinton 58, Beaverville 40, Donovan 44, Cabery 27, Kempton 21, Cullom 55, Strawn 26, Chatsworth 83, Forrest 133, Fairbury 408, Cropsey 7, Anchor 10, Saybrook 48 and Bellflower 25.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The first doses of the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine are here in Ford County. The first vaccines were delivered by the Ford County Public Health Department to Gibson Area Hospital yesterday afternoon and administered to an ER nurse as well as the hospital's CEO.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new statewide effort aims to get computers into the hands of those who can’t afford one. With so many students and adults working remotely, access to a computer or mobile device is more important than ever says Governor J-B Pritzker. That’s why the state is launching the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network, which will begin distributing 20 thousand computers to low income families. The Governor is asking businesses to participate as well…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Individuals are also encouraged to donate old computers. Visit illinois dot gov slash computer equity network to donate or apply for a device. Community events will be held as well.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Several education unions are pushing Illinois State Board of Education officials to postpone standardized testing for this school year. The surge in COVID-19 rates across Illinois and the large number of students and their families that will be impacted is the reason they're asking for the testing to be pushed back. The Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Principals Association, and the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Federation of Teachers sent a joint letter to ISBE saying the current environment will greatly impact students' academic performances.


 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois ranks as one of the least financially-transparent states in the nation. Truth in Accounting lists the Land of Lincoln as the eighth-worst state in the country for financial transparency, scoring 73 out of 100 possible points. That’s an improvement by one point from last year’s report, though the state slipped one spot in the overall rankings, landing at No. 49.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What does USDA's latest world corn outlook indicate regarding production, especially from one of our nation's main global competitors? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- A Vermilion County man has been sentenced to 16 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a child. Benny Helms pleaded guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Helms was accused of assaulting the girl after he moved into the child’s home.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- 10 months after the Coronavirus pandemic began, the fight continues. With the second surge of the virus, many orders have been put in place to try and slow the spread. Governor Pritzker has issued over 50 executive orders related to the pandemic, which isn’t setting well with Republicans like 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A new outpatient addiction treatment center has opened in Urbana. Recovery Concepts, a network of Illinois addiction treatment centers, has announced the grand opening of their Champaign-Urbana outpatient addiction treatment center. The outpatient clinic is located at 710 W. Killarney St. in Urbana. Recovery Concepts offers early clinic hours, 6 days a week, offering medication assisted treatment along with counseling services.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois recorded another 7,123 new Coronavirus cases and 146 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases during the pandemic to 870,600 and deaths to 14,655. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,113 have recovered, 1119 are in isolation and 26 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,737 have recovered, 813 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,553 have been removed from isolation and 161 cases remain active. Kankakee County reported 4,805 have recovered, 5143 cases are active with 45 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,667 have been released from isolation, 401 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,998 have been released from isolation, 290 remain in isolation and 37 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Several deaths were also reported around the area Wednesday. McLean County reported 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 75. Champaign, Livingston, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties each recorded an additional death bringing their totals to 77, 49, 47 and 56 respectively. Kankakee County reported 4 new deaths bringing their total to 140. Ford County did not report any deaths leaving their total at 27.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is announcing the new Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council, which will work to increase diversity in state government. The 10 member group is looking at ways to attract more Native American state employees and address any barriers they face in applying or promoting to higher positions says CMS Deputy Director Rebecca Roussell…

 

 

Illinois Department of Central Management Services Deputy Director Rebecca Roussell. There are more than 750 thousand Native Americans living in Illinois but they only make up a very small portion of the state government workforce.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- On Monday, the Special Investigative Committee in the Illinois House of Representatives dissolved their investigation into House Speaker Michael Madigan. The investigation occurred after the speaker was implicated in a federal bribery investigation involving Chicago utility company, ComEd. Despite the dissolved investigative committee, the controversy may have imperiled Madigan’s chances at reelection as Speaker of the House. 19 Illinois House Democrats are currently not supporting Madigan’s reelection in January leaving Madigan 6 votes short of the 60 needed to win.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is reporting the potential for staffing issues this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 5,000 employees statewide, 130 are currently not at work for reasons related to COVID-19. Those reasons include being quarantined, being exposed, testing positive for the virus, awaiting test results, or caring for a vulnerable individual.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce says chamber bucks make a great gift this holiday season. Chamber bucks spend like cash and can be used at any chamber business says Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer…

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer.

 

 

(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.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is offering a cutting edge infusion to help prevent COVID-19 hospital admissions. The infusion, called Bamlanivimab (bam-luh-ni-vi-mab) , or BAM, was created by Eli Lily for high risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms. OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker talks about how they got emergency use authorization from the FDA…

 

 

OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker. BAM is most effective when given early, and needs to be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- You hear it every year: “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the perennial holiday classic about someone giving 12 gifts to their paramour that they probably don’t know what to do with. As part of its annual tradition, PNC Bank has released its Christmas Price Index of how much the 12 Days of Christmas gifts would cost adjusted for today’s economy. A Partridge in a Pear Tree cost $210.18, Two Turtle Doves cost $450. Three French Hens cost $210.  Four Calling Birds cost $599.96. Five Gold Rings cost $945. Six Geese-A-Laying cost $570. Seven Swans-A-Swimming cost $13,125. Eight Maids-A-Milking cost $58. Nine Ladies Dancing cost not available. COVID-19 has wrecked the bar and nightclub industry. Same with the 10 lords-a-leaping. Eleven Pipers Piping cost not available. Live music venues continue to see gigantic losses in 2020. Same with Twelve Drummers Drumming. In all, the 2020 cost is $16,168.14 down from $38,993 last year.

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Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing more than 700 million dollars in budget cuts

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing more than 700 million dollars in budget cuts, including possible furlough days for state workers. The Governor says the current state budget is nearly four billion dollars short, thanks in part to the pandemic. He’s identifying areas of state government that can be cut to help close the gap and is talking with AFSCME about reducing personnel costs…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says he’s also looking at other operational cuts, including closing some prison facilities since the state is housing less inmates. Governor Pritzker also says the state wouldn’t be in such bad shape if voters had approved his graduated tax plan. He says he welcomes other spending cut ideas from Republicans.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported an additional 7,359 cases Tuesday and 117 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 863,477 and deaths to 14,509. Locally, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total to 10,232. Champaign County reported 59 new cases bringing their total to 12,562. Livingston County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 2,770. Iroquois County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 2,094. Ford County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 1,014. Vermilion County reported 69 new cases bringing their total to 4,310. Kankakee County reported 136 new cases bringing their total to 10,025.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Local deaths also rose Tuesday. McLean County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 73. Champaign County recorded 1 new bringing their total to 76. Livingston County reported 1 new bringing their total to 48. Iroquois County reported 3 additional bringing their total to 46. Ford County reported 1 new bringing their total to 27. Vermilion County reported 1 new bringing their total to 55 and Kankakee County now has 136 total deaths.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Minimum wage workers in Illinois will be getting a raise come January 1st. The current state minimum wage is $10 an hour. That will be increasing to 11 bucks an hour in the new year says State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller..

 

 

State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. The minimum wage for teenagers working less than 650 hours a year rises to $8.50 an hour on the first and eventually goes up to 13 bucks an hour.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois residents shopped for more guns and applied for firearm permits more than any other time in the state’s history as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and Chicago dealt with civil unrest, according to state police data. There have been more than 500,000 inquiries about gun purchases through November, according to Illinois State Police statistics. That is a 45% increase from 2019. The department also received 445,945 applications for firearm owner’s identification cards, a 167% increase from 166,649 applications in 2017. There are more than 2.2 million Illinoisans with Firearm Owners Identification cards.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- An area state representative is taking his fight to Springfield in hopes of getting answers for struggling families. Mike Marron is spending a few days in Springfield, attempting to get someone from the Pritzker administration or the Illinois Department of Employment Security to give him some answers to questions his office has been receiving from constituents concerning problems with getting unemployment in the state of Illinois and the unemployment fraud that has been taking place throughout the state…

 

 

State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign is now home to the World's Tallest Glass Christmas Tree, thanks to donations from residents and a local artist. Jason Mack owns Mack Glass, a glass studio in Champaign. He has been spearheading the project. All of the glass for the tree was donated by the community, and then broken down, thrown into the furnace, and worked onto the tree. The 31-foot-tall tree can be seen spinning on the corner of Neil and Washington Streets.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two new acts have been added to the Illinois State Fair Grandstand lineup. Staind will take the stage on opening night, August 12th. On August 18th artists with the “I Love the 90’s Tour” will perform. Those include Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, All 4 One and more.

 

 

(Onarga-jm) -- Onarga and Gilman will ring in the Christmas season this Sunday. Spokesperson Fred Walraven talks about the parade and activities…

 

 

Onarga and Gilman Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police are releasing their recent activity report. On December 12th, Jacob Newton of Bloomington was arrested for criminal trespass to a residence and resisting a peace officer. On December 13th, Matthew Bennett of Bellflower was arrested for driving while license suspended and cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Emergency Response Service chili supper set for this Thursday has been canceled. The group cited an unforeseen circumstance. They hope to resume suppers in January.

 

Santa will be visiting Watseka today from 4 to 7pm. He will be escorted throughout the town by the Watseka Fire Department.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine are being administered in Illinois. Healthcare workers at Peoria’s OSF Saint Francis Medical Center were some of the first to get the shot. They will need a second round, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says there are 96 hospitals that will be giving the vaccine this week to healthcare staff in counties with the highest COVID death rates. She says this is just the beginning as more doses arrive.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 863,477 Coronavirus cases and 14,509 deaths after the state reported 7,359 new cases and 117 additional deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,990 have recovered, 1140 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,615 have recovered, 871 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,553 have been released from isolation and 169 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 1,655 have been released from isolation, 388 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,934 have been released from isolation, 287 remain in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,722 have recovered and 5167 cases are active.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 32 are in Ludlow, 1068 in Rantoul, 124 in Gifford, 49 in Penfield, 383 in St. Joseph, 64 in Thomasboro, 31 in Dewey, 136 in Fisher, 29 in Foosland, 665 in Mahomet, 411 in Paxton, 321 in Gibson City, 28 in Sibley, 50 in Melvin, 23 in Roberts, 81 in Loda, 35 in Buckley, 19 in Thawville, 149 in Cissna Park, 46 in Rankin, 428 in Hoopeston, 99 in Potomac, 125 in Milford, 100 in Piper City, 169 in Onarga, 234 in Gilman, 66 in Danforth, 51 in Crescent City, 412 in Watseka, 59 in Sheldon, 44 in Donovan, 40 in Beaverville, 50 in Martinton, 36 in Wellington, 203 in Chebanse, 228 in Clifton, 129 in Ashkum, 27 in Cabery, 20 in Kempton, 54 in Cullom, 83 in Chatsworth, 127 in Forrest, 408 in Fairbury, 26 in Strawn, 7 in Cropsey, 10 in Anchor, 48 in Saybrook and 25 in Bellflower.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has now run more than one million saliva tests for COVID-19. All students, faculty and staff who live in the area are tested weekly, with the groundbreaking saliva test accounting for 10 percent of all COVID testing in Illinois. U of I President Tim Killeen says the “Shield” program has led to a test positivity rate of less than one percent…

 

 

U of I President Tim Killeen. Killeen says local firefighters are also using the saliva test and that the U of I hopes to soon offer it to essential workers and schools across the state.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission is set to dissolve at the end of the month, but legislative leaders want to see it continuing into the new year. The group of lawmakers was created this summer by statute to collaborate with the governor on recovering from the pandemic, but had several false starts and canceled meetings. There have only been two public hearings. It will be dissolved at the end of the month, by law.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Many communities around the area are working on setting their tax levies. The city of Paxton is one of them. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about what residents can expect…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- University of Illinois Athletics isn't letting the coronavirus prevent them from helping children this holiday season. The annual toy drive, which would normally be held in-person, is taking place as a drive-thru event this year. It will be held from noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow at the State Farm Center East Circle Drive.

 

 

(Thomasboro-jm) -- A second man has been arrested for allegedly also firing shots at Champaign County Sheriff’s deputies following a pursuit from near Thomasboro to Champaign. U-S Marshals arrested 20 year old Jawon Brown. They say Brown was riding in the car with another man, who was arrested after running from a traffic stop. They said the men shot at the deputies who chased them. Brown faces a charge of reckless discharge of a weapon. If he is convicted, he will face prison time. That is because he was on probation for other weapons-related offenses at the time.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- FOID card delays continue to plague the Illinois State Police. The backlog of applications for renewal is causing headaches and is one of the top complaints says 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph-Swearinger Memorial Library will once again be holding their book sale. The book sale will take place through January 28th with the cost being by donation. Hours are Monday and Wednesday 1-8 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9 to 7 and Saturday 9 to 3.

 

 

(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.

 

 

 

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The first shipment of the new COVID-19 vaccine has made it to Illinois.

(Springfield-jm) -- The first shipment of the new COVID-19 vaccine has made it to Illinois. The shipment to the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile Warehouse includes about 43 thousand doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, with more on the way. Governor J-B Pritzker says distribution is being carefully orchestrated…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Doses are very limited, so health care workers as well as staff and residents of long term care facilities will get the shots first. Like other big cities, Chicago will receive its own shipments of the vaccine.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,214 new cases and 103 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total to 856,118 and deaths to 14,394. Locally since Friday, McLean County reported 309 new cases bringing their total to 10,115. Champaign County reported 259 new cases bringing their total to 12,503. Livingston County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 2,751. Ford County reported 51 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 1,005. Kankakee County reported 171 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 9,959. Iroquois County reported 43 new cases bringing their total to 2,076. Vermilion County reported 159 new cases bringing their total to 4,250.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 32 in Ludlow, 1063 in Rantoul, Gifford 123, Penfield 49, St. Joseph 380, Thomasboro 64, Loda 79, Roberts 22, Dewey 31, Foosland 29, Fisher 136, Mahomet 660, Paxton 406, Gibson City 312, Sibley 28, Melvin 49, Buckley 34, Rankin 45, Potomac 97, Hoopeston 426, Cissna Park 148, Wellington 36, Milford 125, Thawville 18, Onarga 168, Gilman 232, Crescent City 51, Watseka 412, Sheldon 59, Piper City 100, Danforth 64, Ashkum 128, Clifton 224, Chebanse 202, Martinton 58, Beaverville 40, Donovan 44, Cabery 27, Kempton 20, Cullom 54, Chatsworth 82, Forrest 124, Fairbury 404, Strawn 26, Cropsey 7, Anchor 9, Saybrook 48 and Bellflower 25.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Pritzker administration expects to get $2 billion in borrowing from a federal loan program late this week, but it still owes $1 billion on a bridge loan from the previous fiscal year. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget said it’s only paid $200 million of the $1.2 billion loan it used to bridge the previous fiscal year. That’s expected to be paid back through the next year. Taxpayers are on the hook for the additional $2 billion over the next three years.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- You have time before you have to file your 2020 tax documents. The filing deadline is April 15th and Jeff Shaffer with Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton has what you need to bring with you for your tax meeting…

 

 

Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton Owner Jeff Shaffer.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton sex offender is facing soliciation and violating terms of his release. Wilbur White was arrested over the weekend after police were notified by PBL school officials. Police say they were called after White was observed on school property and associating with juveniles. When officers went to arrest White, he resisted arrest and battered an officer. He is charged with unlawful presence in a school zone, solicitation of a sexual act with a minor, resisting a peace officer and aggravated battery to a peace officer. He remains in the Ford County Jail.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Jury trials in the 21st circuit will continue to be on hold through February. Chief Judge Michael Kramer made the announcement citing an abundance of caution as the pandemic continues. The 21st circuit includes Iroquois and Kankakee Counties. 

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The annual Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade that takes place the first weekend in December has been canceled due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic. However, there will be a drive through parade says Chamber Director Amanda Vickery… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is announcing winter break details. The Champaign based community college announced campus will be closed December 24th through January 3rd. Student services will open with limited hours starting January 4th. The spring semester begins January 11th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest look at the U.S. soybean balance sheet shows another decrease in ending stocks, but the question is why? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 856,118 Coronavirus cases and 14,394 COVID related deaths after the state reported another 7,214 cases and 103 deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,810 have recovered, 1221 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,506 have recovered, 922 are in isolation and 14 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,524 have been released from isolation and 180 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,649 have recovered, 5165 cases are active and 56 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,636 have been released from isolation, 389 remain in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,901 have been released from isolation, 262 remain in isolation and 33 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Area COVID deaths also rose Monday. Ford County reported their 26th death. Kankakee County reported 3 additional deaths bringing their total number to 135. Vermilion County reported 5 additional deaths bringing their total to 54.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A state vaccine review board is giving the go ahead to the new COVID-19 shot. Illinois experts looked at all the FDA data on the Pfizer vaccine, which is recommended for everyone age 16 and up. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Dr Michael Olson is on the board and says side effects may include redness at the injection site…

 

 

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Dr Michael Olson. State officials urge pregnant women and those who have had a severe reaction to a vaccination in the past to talk to their doctor about whether or not to get the shot.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' electors met Monday to cast their 20 ballots in the presidential election. The electors formally cast their ballots for Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden's victory over Republican President Donald Trump in Illinois was certified earlier this month.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- One area state representative is calling for answers as the state’s unemployment situation continues to decline. Not only has the Illinois Department of Employment Security failed to get benefits to people in a timely manner, 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says there are thousands of cases of fraud…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- No injuries were reported after two vehicle fires in Paxton Monday. The first fire happened on Route 45 near the stop light late in the morning. No word on the cause of the fire. Just before 7 last night crews were called to a semi fire on I-57 just south of the Paxton exit. No word on the cause of that fire either.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for brutally beating a man in September of last year. Clayton Marcum received the maximum sentence after being found guilty of two felony counts of aggravated domestic battery. During sentencing, the victim's wife said her husband's injuries were so severe he is no longer able to care for himself and had to live in a nursing home since his release from the hospital. 

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign Urbana non profit is receiving a matching gift pledge. CU at Home is receiving $15,000 from Harrington Law for the non profits year end fundraising drive. The money will go towards the non profits One Winter Night 2021 campaign.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Cattle feedlot inventories are high, but may be worked down in the coming months. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

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With the possible rollout of a Coronavirus vaccine days away, one question that has been brought up is can employers legally require employees to get the vaccine?

(Urbana-jm) -- With the possible rollout of a Coronavirus vaccine days away, one question that has been brought up is can employers legally require employees to get the vaccine? Michael LeRoy, an expert in labor law and labor relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau business and law about the legality of employers mandating that employees vaccinate themselves against the novel coronavirus. When it comes to the question if employers can legally require employees to get the vaccine, LeRoy says if the employer can prove that a vaccination is job-related and consistent with business necessity, an employee who refuses to vaccinate can be legally terminated.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State officials say Illinois has received more than $3.5 billion in federal funding to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. That money covers between March 1 and December 30 of this year. The state first began COVID-19 spending on March 24, with an initial deposit of $339 million from the General Revenue Fund into the Disaster Response and Recovery Fund. The fiscal year 2021 budget authorizes spending for an estimated $5.5 billion in federal CARES Act funding for the state's response to the pandemic.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Struggling small businesses have just a few days left to apply for state Business Interruption Grants. The deadline to submit an application for a grant is Tuesday, December 15th, so Governor J-B Pritzker urges business owners to see if they qualify…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Grants range from five thousand to 150 thousand dollars. The average grant size is 25 thousand dollars. Apply online at: dceo dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 11,101 new cases and an additional 196 deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 823,531 and deaths to 13,861. Locally, Livingston County reported 46 new cases bringing their total to 2,639. McLean County reported 111 new cases bringing their total to 9,673. Champaign County reported 88 new cases bringing their total to 12,097. Ford County reported 49 new cases bringing their total to 944. Vermilion County reported 93 new cases bringing their total to 4,026. Iroquois County reported 30 new cases bringing their total to 1,995.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Case numbers in area communities rose Thursday. Ludlow now has 31 cases, Rantoul 1031, Gifford 115, Penfield 47, Thomasboro 64, St. Joseph 357, Dewey 29, Fisher 127, Foosland 29, Mahomet 633, Paxton 382, Gibson City 276, Sibley 27, Strawn 26, Fairbury 397, Forrest 119, Chatsworth 76, Piper City 99, Cullom 53, Kempton 19, Cabery 26, Thawville 15, Roberts 20, Melvin 48, Chebanse 200, Clifton 222, Ashkum 127, Danforth 60, Gilman 231, Onarga 163, Buckley 34, Loda 74, Martinton 57, Beaverville 39, Donovan 43, Sheldon 58, Watseka 380, Crescent City 49, Milford 117, Cissna Park 135, Wellington 34, Rankin 44, Hoopeston 394, Rossville 91 and Potomac 88.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Wreaths across America takes place Saturday December 19th at cemeteries around the country honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Local Spokesperson Pat Milchuck talks about how the program has grown locally…

 

 

Local Wreaths Across America Spokesperson Pat Milchuck.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign man wanted for murder has been arrested in northern Illinois. Darrion White was arrested Thursday in the Chicago suburb of Glenwood. White was mistakenly released from custody after an error. White is accused of shooting and killing a 16 year old in Champaign.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- A Mahomet non profit has a generous donation. The Mahomet Lions Club donated $1,000 plus food donations to Mom’s Pantry. Mom’s Pantry was created by a teacher in the Mahomet Seymour school district and is aimed to help students in the district. Mom’s Pantry is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9-11 am and Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:30.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s Mayor Bill Ingold will run for re-election again. Mayor Ingold says there are some things he would like to see to completion…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at area Congressional races. The 13th Congressional District featured incumbent Republican Rodney Davis against Democratic Challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Davis won the race in the district. Part of the 13th District covers Champaign County where Londrigan received 46,192 votes compared to Davis’ 22,394. Turning to the 15th Congressional District for the seat held by retiring Congressman John Shimkus. Republican Mary Miller defeated Democratic Challenger Erika Weaver. In Champaign County, Miller received 16,970 votes compared to Weaver’s 8,415. In Ford County, Miller received 2,394 votes while Weaver received 677. In Vermilion County, Miller received 21,204 votes while Weaver received 9,672. Turning to the 16th Congressional District featuring Republican incumbent Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Challenger Dani Brzozowski. Kinzinger won re-election for that seat. In Ford County Kizninger received 3,107 votes while Brzozowski received 689 votes. In Iroquois County, Kinzinger received 11,645 votes while Brzozowski received 2,186.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Senate Ag Chairman Scott Bennett of Champaign has received a prestigious ag award. Senator Bennett was recently awarded the Jim Guilinger Legislative Award from the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education for his support of Ag education and FFA programs.

 

Gibson City will host a Christmas in the Park tonight from 5 to 9 pm at North Park in Gibson City.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Food shoppers last month saw a significant drop in the prices for most foods at the grocery store. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers want state lawmakers to help make schools safer for everyone. The unions say some school districts have failed to follow and enforce the Illinois Department of Public Health's guidance and requirements for schools. They are asking the state legislature to work on the following measures: establish clear metrics, so districts know when to switch to remote learning to keep students and staff safe, enforce guidance and requirements put forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education , and heed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, provide rapid COVID-19 testing in schools so infected students and staff can be identified before they spread the virus and urge the prioritization of education workers in the vaccine schedule.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul led bipartisan a coalition of 30 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a decision upholding the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to seek restitution for victims of anticompetitive, unfair, and deceptive trade practices when enforcing consumer protections under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act. Raoul and the coalition filed the brief in support of the FTC in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission. In the brief, Raoul and the coalition argue that the FTC’s authority to seek restitution, which most often takes the form of refunds or other monetary payments to consumers, benefits states and their residents, and is critical to combating anticompetitive, unfair and deceptive trade practices.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A special commission on early childhood education is looking into ways to improve the care and teaching of Illinois’ youngest population. The commission hasn’t issued a final report yet, but members discussed some of their ideas at a Senate hearing. Recommendations include more equitable funding of pre-school and child care programs and better pay for early childhood teachers says First Assistant Deputy Governor of Education Theresa Hawley…

 

 

First Assistant Deputy Governor of Education Theresa Hawley. Commission members also stressed the need to pull child care, home visit and preschool  programs under the umbrella of a new early childhood state agency.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 823,531 Coronavirus cases and 13,861 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 2,339 have recovered and 254 cases are active. McLean County reported 8,415 have recovered, 1177 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,967 have recovered, 1057 are in isolation and 15 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,510 have recovered, 5057 cases are active and 62 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,656 have been released from isolation, 280 are in isolation and 42 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,563 have been released from isolation 384 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- 6 additional deaths were reported in the area Thursday. Livingston County reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 46. McLean County reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 65. Champaign County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 73. Kankakee County has 129 deaths, Ford County 25, Vermilion County 48 and Iroquois County 43.

 

 

(Cissna Park-jm) -- The 2020 Cissna Park FFA Chapter’s scholarship auction wraps up tomorrow. The pandemic forced the chapter to get unique when it came to their auction, with them allowing those interested in bidding the opportunity to bid through their facebook page or at the Cissna Park American Legion from 2-9 pm. The chapter will also be at the legion all day tomorrow for those that want to come see the items in person and place their bids. Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton says they will also have a pork chop dinner tomorrow night…

 

 

Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A former Ford County Judge will serve on a committee to select the next 11th Judicial Circuit. Steve Pacey of Paxton was selected by State Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman to serve on the committee. The 11th Judicial Circuit includes Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean and Woodford Counties.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- PRIDE in Paxton is announcing the winners of the business decorating contest. Picket Fence Florist came in first, followed by Arcade Cafe, Houston’s Plumbing and Heating, Bijoux Hair Salon and Doug’s Pharmacy.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The legislative inquiry into House Speaker Mike Madigan continues. While not charged, Madigan has been implicated in a scheme with utility giant Commonwealth Edison. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says the distraction has caused issues in Springfield…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois is offering staff a voluntary retirement plan. They must meet eligibility to apply by May 31, 2021. The university says it will help navigate budget challenges as a result of the pandemic.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Buckley resident John Shure will remain chairman of the Iroquois County board. The board recently met and voted Shure to another 2 year term. Lyle Behrends of Ashkum was selected as vice chair.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at the Watseka American Legion on Sunday from 9 to 3.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- If you are a farmer whose production expenses fell in 2020, you are not alone. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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A Clarence man has been found guilty on all five counts for the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota

(Springfield-jm) -- Hunters harvested more than 76 thousand deer during Illinois’ firearm hunting season. The second half of what was a great season just wrapped up this past weekend says State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert…

 

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Illinois counties with the largest harvests this year include Randolph, Adams, Jackson, Jefferson and Pike. Next up for hunters: muzzleloader-only season this weekend.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois dentists are ready to help distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as one nears distribution to the general public. The Illinois State Dental Society says dentists have the ability to provide vaccinations by law, but they’re awaiting training standards they hope to see in forthcoming guidance that ensures dentists are able to help vaccinate people as quickly as possible.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Of 415 college towns reviewed by consumer finance group WalletHub, Champaign-Urbana didn’t crack the top ten, let alone the top 50. The flagship University of Illinois campus landed Urbana at No. 71 and Champaign at No. 109. The worst performing college town in Illinois was Rockford at No. 399.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Another 179 COVID patients in Illinois have died. The daily number of new cases has been under 10 thousand in recent days but the state is still averaging about 150 deaths per day. With that in mind, State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike issues another warning for the holiday season…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Hospitalizations have been dropping a bit, although a few regions have 20 or less ICU beds available. There are currently more than 52 hundred Illinois COVID patients in the hospital.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Locally, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total to 9,562. Champaign County reported 119 new cases bringing their total to 12,009. Livingston County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 2,593. Vermilion County reported 100 new cases bringing their total to 3,933. Iroquois County reported 22 new cases bringing their total to 1,965. Kankakee County reported 80 new cases bringing their total to 9,644. Ford County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 895.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for case numbers in area communities...Ludlow is at 30, Rantoul 1,024, Gifford 115, Penfield 46, Thomasboro 64, St. Joseph 353, Fisher 126, Foosland 29, Mahomet 630, Paxton 376, Gibson City 257, Loda 74, Buckley 33, Melvin 47, Sibley 27, Roberts 20, Rankin 44, Potomac 87, Rossville 86, Hoopeston 383, Cissna Park 132, Wellington 33, Milford 115, Onarga 158, Thawville 15, Gilman 225, Crescent City 48, Watseka 384, Sheldon 53, Donovan 42, Beaverville 39, Martinton 56, Chebanse 197, Clifton 221, Ashkum 127, Danforth 60, Cabery 26, Kempton 19, Cullom 53, Piper City 97, Chatsworth 75, Forrest 118, Fairbury 392, Strawn 26, Cropsey 6, Anchor 8, Saybrook 47 and Bellflower 22.

 

 

(Minneapolis-jm) -- A Clarence man has been found guilty on all five counts for the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota. A jury convicted Michael Hari Wednesday on civil rights and hate crime charges in connection to the 2017 bombing. Two co-defendents, Joe Morris and Michael McWhorter, testified against Hari. They pleaded guilty in January 2019 for their roles. 

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- A popular Mahomet restaurant is shutting its doors this weekend. The owners of JT Walker's  Restaurant and Brewery announced Sunday will be their final day. The owners cited the pandemic and restrictions by the Governor as reasons for the closure.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at how the area voted for President of the United States. In Champaign County, 57,067 voted for Joe Biden, 35,285 voted for Donald Trump, 1,507 voted for Jo Jorgensen, 671 voted for Howie Hawkins and 288 for Brian Carroll. In Ford County, 1,754 voted for Joe Biden, 5,048 voted for Donald Trump, 100 for Jo Jorgensen, 39 for Howie Hawkins and 10 for Brian Carroll. Iroquois County, 2,908 voted for Joe Biden, 10,877 voted for Donald Trump, 147 for Jo Jorgensen, 64 for Howie Hawkins and 24 for Brian Carroll.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a food drive today. The food drive will take place from 7-8 am in the high school parking lot. The food will then be donated to the Fisher Area Food Pantry.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some important ways to keep your fresh-cut Christmas tree healthy during the holiday season? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is working to combat the backlog of FOID card and concealed carry licenses that need to be processed. ISP has hired more workers and improved some systems, but it’s going to take more than that to handle the huge influx of people wanting FOID cards and concealed carry permits says Director Brendan Kelly. He says legislative action is needed to address what he calls an antiquated renewal system…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Republicans in the Illinois House held a press conference saying FOID and concealed carry delays are one of the biggest complaints they receive from their constituents and that they stand ready to pass much needed reforms.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Public health officials are working to build confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine that nears final approval and initial distribution, especially with Black and brown communities where hesitation is high. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said she understands historical concerns, but her department is working with community members to dispel myths and encourage acceptance.

 

(Paxton--jc)  Current Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold has made it official, he is running for re-election. Ingold has been passing around the signature page to be placed on the April 20-21 Ballot.  Several other city positions are also up for election in the Spring of next year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security show roughly 341,000 fraud claims have been shut down just this year. Many of these claims have come from state or public employees, whose wages are public information. Between this and information fraudsters may have obtained through past data breaches like Equifax, fraudsters have all they need to file a false claim.

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County is reporting 8,282 have recovered, 1202 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,875 have recovered, 1062 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,305 have been removed from isolation and 240 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 3,553 have been released from isolation, 290 are in isolation and 42 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,534 have been released from isolation, 383 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,459 have recovered, 5057 cases are active and 69 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Area COVID-19 deaths also rose Wednesday. Champaign County recorded 2 new deaths bringing their total to 72. Livingston County reported 6 new deaths bringing their total to 44. Iroquois County reported 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 43. Kankakee County also reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 129.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting how Gibson City will ring in the Christmas holiday season. The typical lighted Christmas parade is off for this year, however, a static light display of floats will take place at North Park today and tomorrow from 5 to 9 pm. Spokesperson Susie Tongate says kids can also bring letters for Santa…

 

 

Gibson City Christmas Spokesperson Susie Tongate.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- In updating our story from yesterday, we now know more details behind the arrest of a Roberts man. Paul Theesfield was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Police say Theesfield hit a woman in Gibson City on December 5th, in an attempt to incapacitate and sexually assault her. Theesfield was the water superintendent for Roberts and Elliott. He was fired from those positions.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released their November activity report. During the month of November, troopers issued 829 citations and 1,029 written warnings including 20 for DUI and 80 seatbelt citations. Troopers also responded to 73 traffic accidents.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- School Report card time has come for area school districts, Gibson City Melvin Sibley Superintendent Jeremey Darnell updates us on their report card from last year… 

 

 

GCMS Superintendent Jeremey Darnell.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- An art scholarship has been created in memory of a St. Joseph Ogden High School student killed in a crash earlier this month. 17 year old Nadirah Edwards died following an accident north of St. Joseph. Edwards was involved in the high school's art and drama groups. Those interested in donating to the scholarship fund can do so at the Gifford State Bank.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Seymour High School Freshman Mentoring Program raised over $2,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The group raised money through the Pennies for Pasta Fundraiser. The fundraiser has been an annual event for the program for several years.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Trade numbers for October show huge percentage increases from October 2019 in sales of U.S. farm products to China. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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Illinois is slated to get its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, with hopes of more doses arriving weekly

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker said reductions in state spending are happening behind the scenes, but didn't provide any specific examples. He also said he needs the legislature to reconvene in order to make real reductions in the state’s spending. The $43 billion budget, Illinois’ highest-spending in its history, was enacted by the governor after being passed by the legislature in May. It’s held together by assumptions of billions of dollars in untethered federal aid and borrowing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new proposal to give voters more power to remove corrupt public officials is in the works. Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is introducing three constitutional amendments that create a process for recalling elected officials statewide, as well as the Illinois Auditor General, House Speaker and Senate President. He says the public is clamoring for the change…

 

 

State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington. The amendments are still being drafted but will require signatures from a certain percentage of voters to recall an official.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,910 new Coronavirus cases and 145 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 804,174 and deaths to 13,487. Locally, McLean County reported 108 new cases bringing their total to 9,445. Champaign County reported 95 new cases bringing their total to 11,890. Ford County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 877. Livingston County reported 42 new cases bringing their total to 2,558. Iroquois County reported 17 new cases bringing their total to 1,943. Vermilion County reported 78 new cases bringing their total to 3,833. Kankakee County reported 270 new cases bringing their total to 9,564.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Cases in local communities also continue to rise...Rantoul now stands at 1,016, Ludlow 30, Gifford 110, Penfield 44, St. Joseph 343, Thomasboro 64, Dewey 29, Fisher 125, Foosland 29, Mahomet 618, Paxton 366, Gibson City 253, Sibley 27, Melvin 47, Roberts 20, Buckley 33, Loda 74, Rankin 42, Hoopeston 379, Rossville 86, Potomac 86, Wellington 33, Cissna Park 129, Milford 114, Onarga 155, Thawville 15, Strawn 26, Fairbury 385, Forrest 118, Chatsworth 74, Piper City 97, Gilman 224, Crescent City 48, Watseka 383, Sheldon 52, Donovan 42, Martinton 55, Beaverville 38, Danforth 60, Ashkum 127, Clifton 220, Chebanse 196, Kempton 18, Cullom 52, Cabery 26, Anchor 8, Cropsey 6, Saybrook 46 and Bellflower 21.

 

 

(Cissna Park-jm) -- The Cissna Park FFA Chapter’s annual scholarship auction is underway. With the pandemic, the FFA Chapter is changing their auction to more of a silent auction with those interested in bidding being able to place their bids online or at the Cissna Park American Legion says Chapter Advisor Jeff Clifton…

 

 

Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton. A drive thru or carryout pork chop dinner will also take place Saturday from 4-7.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The Gibson City police department could be adding a new addition. The police committee will discuss the purchase of a new police K-9 tonight at 7pm.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Lifeline screening will take place in Rantoul. The screenings will take place today from 9 to 4 at the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County. More details are available by calling the Community Service Center at 893-1530.

 

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is offering a new treatment for high risk COVID-19 patients. OSF HealthCare is now offering a cutting edge monoclonal immunotherapy infusion. Bamlanivimab (bam-luh-ni-vi-mab), or BAM, is approved for high risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker says the antibody will help keep hospital admissions for COVID-19 down so more beds are available for other needs…

 

 

OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker. BAM is most effective when given early, and needs to be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Rantoul woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing credit cards in Paxton and using them to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets and cigarettes. Paxton police say 29 year old Samantha Pollack is accused of using the credit cards to purchase $680 worth of lottery tickets and cigarettes. Pollack was arrested in Rantoul for driving a vehicle reported stolen. She faces charges of burglary to motor vehicle, fraud and credit card fraud in Ford County.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at how the area voted for the constitutional amendment. In Champaign County, 46,426 voted yes while 45,724 voted no. In Ford County, 1,440 voted yes while 5,385 voted no. Iroquois County 2,404 voted yes while 11,332 voted no. In Vermilion County 8,779 voted yes while 21,859 voted no.

 

The Iroquois Memorial Auxiliary Scholastic Book Sale will take place today from 8 to 4.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Where in the country does the National Weather Service expect there will be a snowier-than-average winter? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A survey from CodeWizardsHQ showed 94 percent of parents are concerned about learning loss as a result of COVID-19-related disruptions. Among concerns parents had were bandwidth issues with remote learning, children missing group interactions of in-person learning, and students being distracted while remote.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is slated to get its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, with hopes of more doses arriving weekly. 109 thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in the coming days, although officials caution that could change. The vaccine will first go to healthcare workers and long term care facilities. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says it will be a long process…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Doses of the Moderna vaccine may also be arriving soon. The Governor says each county has its own plan to distribute the vaccine as it becomes more widely available.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has more than 800,000 coronavirus cases after an additional 7,910 cases were reported Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,158 have recovered, 1210 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,705 have recovered, 1055 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,304 have been removed from isolation and 216 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 1,457 have been released from isolation, 438 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,469 have been released, 276 are in isolation and 40 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,402 have recovered, 5035 cases are active and 74 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The local death toll also continued to rise Tuesday. McLean County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 62. Champaign County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 70. Livingston County reported 3 additional deaths bringing their total to 38. Vermilion and Kankakee Counties each reported 2 new deaths bringing their totals to 48 and 127 respectively. Iroquois County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 41.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a raffle. The raffle runs through December 11th. Rantoul Chamber Director Amanda Vickery talks about the raffle…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery. Tickets are available by calling the Rantoul Chamber office at 893-3323.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Health has implemented new changes to its COVID-19 testing. All pre-procedural patients have the option to test at all primary care or convenient care locations, rather than the limited few. Another change is you can call the Carle COVID-19 Hotline to register via your phone to get through the line faster, so registration will be complete by the time you get to your test. Also, all tests are now self-administered. You must have an order to get a COVID-19 test. Call Carle's COVID-19 hotline at 217-902-6100 for more information on testing, symptom checking, and ordering a test.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Small businesses in the City of Champaign can now apply for a new Economic Support Grant Program. The city is trying to reimburse businesses that have financial struggles due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Champaign is awarding grant reimbursements of up to $5,000 for qualifying expenses that businesses have incurred between March 1st and December 30th.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Cemeteries around the country will honor those who have fallen this holiday season this weekend. Saturday is the annual Wreaths Across America. Local Spokesperson Pat Milchuck talks about how Wreaths Across America got started…

 

 

Local Wreaths Across America Spokesperson Pat Milchuck.

 

Updated

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On November 30th, Terricia Martin of Sibley was cited for driving while license suspended. On December 5th, a juvenile was arrested for motor vehicle theft. Also on December 5th, Paul Theesfield of Roberts was arrested for aggravated battery and attempted aggravated kidnapping.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A familiar restaurant will be reopening in a new location in Rantoul today. Taco Bell is set to open at 10 am at their new location just east of McDonald’s. It used to be located just west of McDonalds before closing last year.

 

The Rantoul Recreation Department Senior Holiday Lunch today from 11-12.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Christmas tree growers and sellers appear to be having a banner year. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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