WPXN Blog

Illinois is inching closer to setting term limits on lawmakers

(Springfield-jm) -- Another 17,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, which’s about 760 more than the week before. Groups of employer associations are pushing for the state to use some of the billions in federal funds to cover the debt unemployment trust fund debt they say could be up to $5 billion.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  Illinois is inching closer to setting term limits on lawmakers. The bill, introduced by Representative Anthony DeLuca, would limit Illinois lawmakers in leadership roles from serving more than 10 consecutive years. Those roles include speaker of the house, senate president and minority leaders of the house and senate.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA saw small increases in global corn production. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,581 new Coronavirus cases and 40 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,292,515 and deaths to 21,609. Champaign County reported 27 new cases bringing their total to 19,615. Iroquois County reported 7 new cases bringing their total to 2,907. Vermilion County reported no new cases leaving their total at 8,948. Ford County did not have a report.

 

 

 Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Sports Complex will host their first games this weekend. The sports complex will kick off their first game tonight says Mayor Chuck Smith…

 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith. 

 

Mahomet, IL – Starting on the evening of April 22 and extending into the fall, Mahomet-Seymour School District is hosting a series of community engagement meetings for the development of a long-range facility improvement program. The engagement program, Bulldog Blueprint, is being organized by a coordinating committee of more than 20 volunteers led by four community co-chairs: Jama Grotelueschen, Adi Puckett, Jennifer Soderlind and James (Riz) Risley. Through a series of community workshops, the District will gather data and input to identify community priorities related to the development of a long-range facility plan. ALL members of the community are invited and encouraged to participate in this engagement process. 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On April 12th, Christopher Siaperas of Paxton was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and domestic battery. No injuries were reported and no tickets issued following a two vehicle accident near State and Vermilion on April 12th. Austin Jennings of Paxton was arrested on April 10th for a Champaign County warrant. Also on April 10th, Wilma Brown of Loda was ticketed for driving with a suspended driver’s license. On April 9th, Breana Lowe of Melvin was arrested for failure to appear. Jacob Hill-Campbell of Paxton was arrested on April 9th for two warrants for failure to appear. Andrew Thompson of Paxton was ticketed for failure to yield following a two vehicle accident at Cherry and Ottawa on April 7th.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The spring legislative session continues as lawmakers continue to try and pass their legislation along with handling the COVID pandemic and prepare to address the state’s budget crisis. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about some of the legislation he has introduced…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

The Onarga American Legion will host their fish fry tonight from 4:30 to 7:30 pm.

 

The Thawville Community Sale will take place Saturday.

 

Paxton IGA will host their cookout benefiting the Ford-Iroquois Master Gardeners on Saturday from 10 to 2.

 

The Onarga Fire Department will host a taco fundraiser on Saturday starting at 10:30. Cost is $2.50 per taco.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Mothers in Illinois who make 208% of the federal poverty level are now eligible for full Medicaid benefits for a full year. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the expansion from 60 days to 12 months postpartum. The move follows the federal government’s approval of an Illinois waiver allowing the extension.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said the state's financial situation is getting better. The state received a new outlook on bonds from two major investor services this month. Both took the outlook from negative to stable. During the two-year budget impasse, Illinois' credit rating had dropped to a stop above junk status. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest outlook for the meat industry expects higher prices for beef and pork. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,581 new Coronavirus cases and 40 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,292,515 and deaths to 21,609. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 19,024 have recovered, 453 are in isolation and 13 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,816 have been released from isolation, 28 are in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 8,780 have been released from isolation, 42 cases are active and 5 are hospitalized.

 

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver is reminding local government officials they have until May 1st to submit Statements of Economic Interest. Approximately 1200 officials are required to submit the statements including from townships, villages, schools, drainage districts, fire districts, multi-township assessing districts, libraries, county government, park districts and cemeteries. There is a fine for not submitting on time.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is receiving billions of dollars in federal aid. The money comes from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington talks about how he feels the state should use the money and what he fears some in Springfield might do instead…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

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New legislation would modernize the state's FOID and concealed carry systems

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,536 new Coronavirus cases and 31 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,288,934 and deaths to 21,570. Ford County reported 8 new cases bringing their total to 1,683. Champaign County reported 87 new cases bringing their total to 19,588. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,900. Vermilion County reported 24 new cases bringing their total to 8,948.

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- The entire village of Buckley is under a boil water order until further notice.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation would modernize the state’s FOID and concealed carry systems. The bill is an initiative of the Illinois State Police and makes some much needed updates, says Director Brendan Kelly. For starters, he says they want to sync up the FOID and concealed carry permits into one card and allow them to be renewed at the same time. Additionally…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. The measure also creates an online portal of people prohibited from owning a gun for use by law enforcement agencies.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois House task force will review artifacts in the state Capitol for their depiction of historical figures with racist or other objectionable traits. House Speaker Chris Welch on Wednesday announced the Statue and Monument Review Task Force. The review follows last summer's removal of a Capitol statue of Stephen A. Douglas.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A bill headed to the Senate floor aims to help students make better choices when choosing their loans for higher education. The Know Before You Owe Private Education Loan Act is designed to give students more chances at federal loans before they result to private vendors. State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign is sponsoring the bill, which will require private lenders to confirm with a potential borrower’s school that the student’s tuition, housing, and other costs are not covered by other sources of financial aid.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House is voting to decriminalize HIV. Currently, its a crime to knowingly transmit HIV or not disclose HIV status before engaging with a sexual partner. But Representative Carol Ammons of Urbana says the law reflects past thinking about the virus and needs to be changed…

 

 

State Representative Carol Ammons of Urbana. The bill passed on a 90 to 9 vote and still needs Senate approval.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- One person is dead and another seriously injured following a crash on I-57 in Champaign County. Illinois State Police say two vehicles collided in the southbound lanes causing one of the vehicles to go off the road and strike some trees. The driver, Kimberly Lewis of Chicago was taken to Carle Hospital where she died. A passenger was ejected and taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The second vehicle left the scene.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Public Library will no longer charge late fees. Library officials say the fees have become a barrier for services to low income families.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul will be seeing a new business coming to town. Maverick Piping based in New Jersey has purchased one of the hangers from the city, and will create 50 new jobs to start, and 150 when they get settled says Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith… 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two pieces of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly could affect zoning for wind farms. Senate Bill 602 and House Bill 804 would take away any authority from county governments when it comes to zoning control of wind farms. That would be left to the state. It’s part of the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act. The Illinois Farm Bureau is among the organizations that oppose the legislation.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Illinois National Guard and the Iroquois County Public Health Department will conduct a Moderna vaccination clinic next week. The clinic will take place Monday at the Iroquois County Fairgrounds north of Crescent City. It is open to Illinois residents, 18 and older. The vaccine is by appointment only. Call 815-432-2483 to set up your appointment. The second dose will be administered May 17th also at the fairgrounds.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House lawmakers are voting for legislation that aims to bring an end to puppy mills. The measure prohibits pet stores from selling dogs and cats obtained from a breeder. They can only sell pets they get from animal control or a shelter says bill sponsor, Representative Andrew Chesney of Freeport…

 

 

State Representative Andrew Chesney of Freeport. The legislation still lets people buy dogs and cats from private breeders. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Despite seeing a decline in sports betting month-over-month, Illinois is still gaining ground compared with other states. Industry analysts with PlayIllinois.com say February’s handle in Illinois dropped nearly $72 million in February to $509.8 million. Despite the drop, Illinois surpassed Pennsylvania's handle of $509.5 million, making Illinois the third highest state for sports betting.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill would require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to report how many youth are stuck waiting for permanent placement. Reports show that finding placement for youth has been a long time struggle for the department. If passed and signed, the department would have to provide an annual report about the youth who sit in waiting. The bill also requires a demographic breakdown of the youth affected by these placement concerns.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State officials are urging the public to consider flood insurance this spring. It’s estimated that less than one percent of Illinois residents have flood insurance. But State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert says it’s definitely something to think about…

 

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Torbert says you don’t want to wait if you plan on getting flood insurance, since it usually takes up to 30 days to go into effect.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- A Las Vegas man is dead following a collision with a train in Iroquois County. Coroner Bill Cheatum says 54 year old Greg Brutlag struck a train near Woodland late Tuesday night. The incident remains under investigation.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A suspect attempted to rob a University of Illinois student in Champaign. U of I police said this happened at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, when a man approached a student who was walking on the sidewalk in the 200 block of S. Wright St. The suspect hit the victim in the back of her head and tried to take her backpack. Police said the suspect ran when a passing vehicle stopped to help, causing the robbery attempt to fail. The suspect was last seen running west from Wright Street. 

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- The Iroquois West School District is looking into possibly doing some roof work at their school in Thawville. Superintendent Angelo Lekkas says they are in the early stages of the potential project…

 

 

Iroquois West Schools Superintendent Angelo Lekkas.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Champaign County Board is asking community members to send in suggestions and input for reforms to the Champaign County Animal Control ordinance. In December 2020, a dog was accidentally put down after miscommunication at Animal Control. This launched an investigation into the department, and further change will be made as a result of it. Later this year, the Champaign County Board will receive recommendations from a task force formed with community partners on reforms to the Animal Control ordinance and the overall structure of the department.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Republican Women is announcing they will be awarding a $500 scholarship to a graduating female high school senior. To qualify you must be a resident of Iroquois County at least 3 years, register to vote if 18 by November 2, 2021, proof of citizenship, letter of recommendation, copy of recent high school transcript and be a member or relation of a member of the group. The deadline to apply is today. Email iroquois gop women at gmail dot com.

 

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The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology is warning about the dangers of "phishing" emails

(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation lets student athletes make changes to their uniforms for religious reasons. Senator Laura Murphy of Des Plaines says students should be able to easily make modest alterations when they compete. That may include adding a hijab, undershirt or leggings to be more in line with their religious beliefs…

 

 

State Senator Laura Murphy of Des Plaines. A Senate committee approved the measure and it now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois received a C- for infrastructure in a new report from President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan. The new report states, infrastructure in Illinois has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. It adds that Illinois has 2,374 bridges and 6,218 miles of highway in poor condition.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology is warning about the dangers of “phishing” emails. Phishing emails are sent by scam artists hoping to get you to reveal your personal information. The state’s Chief Information Officer, Chris Britten says the message may appear to be from someone you know or a company you do business with, but if anything looks off, be on alert. He recommends this trick…

 

 

Illinois Chief Information Officer Chris Britten. Same goes for the email sender, you can hover your mouse over the email address to see if it’s legit. Britten advises never clicking on a link sent in an email just to be safe. Instead, if it’s from someplace like your bank or Amazon, open up a new tab and go straight to the company’s website.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,193 new Coronavirus cases and 17 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,285,398 and deaths to 21,540. Champaign County reported 38 new cases bringing their total to 19,501. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,895. Vermilion County reported 25 new cases bringing their total to 8,924. Ford County did not have a report Tuesday.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Firefighters from several departments were called to a fire in Rantoul Tuesday evening. Crews were called to the fire in Maplewood Estates mobile home park just after 7pm. No word on the cause of the fire. Rantoul, Gifford and Thomasboro responded to the fire.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois leaders will be discussing how to spend the $13 billion the state is receiving following the passage of the American Rescue Plan. Governor Pritzker and some Republican members of the General Assembly including 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City, believe the money should go towards paying down the state’s backlog of bills…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County residents who are 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, which includes U of I students. University officials are working with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on possible vaccine clinics in the future. An additional shipment of 20,000 doses has been requested from the state to help get U of I students vaccinated.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What is USDA's latest outlook for corn? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Corrections is resuming in-person visits at state facilities. The East Moline Correctional Center is open for families to visit their incarcerated loved ones now, and the other locations will soon follow. Agency Spokesperson Lindsey Hess says visits had been suspended since last March…

 

 

Illinois Department of Corrections Spokesperson Lindsey Hess. Visitors will have to sign up ahead of time online. More details are available at: illinois dot gov slash idoc. Click on facilities and then visitation rules and information.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A study ranked Illinois in the top five nationally for marijuana taxes generated in 2020. The U.S. Drug Test Centers study on Marijuana Economics and Usage by State found Illinois ranked No. 5 in marijuana taxes with $175 million during the 2020 year. In addition, adult and youth marijuana usage increased. Adults who used marijuana in Illinois "in the last month" grew by 39% since 2015 and youth ages 12-17 increased by 4%. The study said the $175 million in 2020 Illinois taxes made up .4% of total Illinois revenue.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is encouraging families to include their kids in any disaster planning. Emergency plans should keep in mind the unique needs of children. IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark says getting them involved in building an emergency kit, planning an escape route and practicing fire drills can help make kids feel safer…

 

 

IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. Clark says there are a number of online resources that make disaster preparedness fun for kids including the National Fire Protection Association and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s websites.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,193 new Coronavirus cases and 17 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,285,398 and deaths to 21,540. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,960 have recovered, 403 are in isolation and 12 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,810 have been released from isolation, 22 are in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 31 active cases and 4 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- An accident in Mahomet caused a gas leak and a portion of Route 150 to be closed for several hours. Crews say a teen with a driving permit was driving with his parents when he accidentally hit a gas feed to a building causing the leak. Traffic on Route 150 had to be diverted while crews fixed the leak.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 Vaccine is available at Hudson Drug and Hallmark Shop in Paxton. There will be an online form that you can fill out, as well as a paper version when you go to get your vaccine. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details of the process… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Undated-jm)-- Nominating petitions are available for Illinois Commodity Boards. For the Illinois Soybean Program, petitions are available for District 11 which includes Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar and Piatt Counties. For the Illinois Wool and Sheep Marketing, petitions are available for District 2 which includes, Champaign, Clark, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall, Livingston, Piatt, Vermilion and Will Counties. To be nominated, you must be at least 18 and reside in the district. Nominations must be submitted by July 6th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The USDA made some changes to the U.S. supply and demand estimates for soybeans. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

 

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Illinois came up $1 billion short in expected transportation tax revenue last year

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House GOP lawmakers want to ban your workplace from requiring you to prove you've received the COVID-19 vaccine. The proposed legislation would make it illegal for an employer in Illinois to require an employee to show proof of receiving a vaccine that is only approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA. The bill would only apply to vaccines that have emergency use authorization, not vaccines that have full FDA approval.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois came up $1 billion short in expected transportation tax revenue last year. Due to COVID-19, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates the state's travelers did so up to 40% less compared to 2019. Taxes on things like fuel pay for infrastructure spending.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Vermilion County coroner’s office is releasing the name of an inmate that died at the county jail. Coroner Jane McFadden says 43 year old Joshua Edwards of Hoopeston died Sunday morning at the counties jail. An autopsy was scheduled for yesterday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,433 new Coronavirus cases and 18 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,282,205 and deaths to 21,523. Champaign County reported 112 new cases bringing their total to 19,463. Iroquois County reported 6 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,890 and deaths to 61. Ford County reported 13 new cases bringing their total to 1,675. Vermilion County did not have a report Monday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Rantoul village board and Paxton city council both meet tonight. In Rantoul at 6, village trustees are expected to approve the purchase of 70 new radios for the police and fire departments, waive certain liquor license fees and approve their fiscal year 21-22 budget. In Paxton at 7, city aldermen are expected to consider motor fuel tax projects, approve the purchase of a new police vehicle, consider changes to the city’s tree ordinance and discuss the 4th of July. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 with the Paxton city council meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Two Paxton Buckley Loda teachers have received grants. Superintendent Cliff McClure recognizes those teachers…

 

PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- Willard Airport will be receiving over a million dollars in federal funding. The Savoy based airport received $1.17 million to purchase a new aircraft rescue and fire fighting truck as well as snow removal equipment. The funding is part of $627 million in federal infrastructure and safety grants.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Corn planting has begun in Illinois. Nearly four days were suitable for fieldwork this past week, giving producers time to start planting says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Three percent of winter wheat has headed and 73 percent of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition. Rain was more than an inch above normal, boosting average statewide topsoil moisture to six percent short, 73 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus.

 

The American Red Cross will host a blood drive at the Milford Fire Department today from 1-6 pm.

(Springfield-jm) -- More than a third of small businesses in Illinois have closed a full year into COVID-19 restrictions.Those restrictions the governor says are to slow the spread of the virus continue to this day. The Illinois Policy Institute analyzed data from Harvard University that showed 35% of small businesses are closed compared to before the pandemic, more than in any other Midwestern state, except Michigan.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new study at Northwestern University is shedding light on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the body. Eighty-five percent COVID-19 “long haulers” reported four or more neurological symptoms such as attention and memory problems, loss of taste and smell, headaches and blurred vision. The average age of people in the study was 43.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department on Aging is working to make sure seniors stay connected. The state has distributed more than 11 hundred i-pads, tablets and access to wifi and hotspots to older Illinoisans and people with disabilities thanks to a nearly two million dollar federal grant. Department on Aging Director Paula Basta says the technology has provided a valuable lifeline during the pandemic…

 

 

Illinois Department on Aging Director Paula Basta. More resources are available to seniors and families struggling to get through the pandemic on the agency’s website at: illinois dot gov slash aging.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- One person is in the hospital and one person is behind bars following a weekend shooting in Rantoul. Police were called to the 600 block of Autumn Fields Lane. Darrion Miles was arrested for aggravated battery with a firearm.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,433 new Coronavirus cases and 18 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,282,205 and deaths to 21,523. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,926 have recovered, 399 are in isolation and 12 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,808 have been released from isolation, 19 remain in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Ford County is unable to provide an active and recovered report at this time. Vermilion County did not have a report Monday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Rantoul village board and Paxton city council both meet tonight. In Rantoul at 6, village trustees are expected to approve the purchase of 70 new radios for the police and fire departments, waive certain liquor license fees and approve their fiscal year 21-22 budget. In Paxton at 7, city aldermen are expected to consider motor fuel tax projects, approve the purchase of a new police vehicle, consider changes to the city’s tree ordinance and discuss the 4th of July. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 with the Paxton city council meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is announcing student artists selected to attend the 2021 Illinois Community College Juried Exhibit. Katy Geurtz of Loda and Grant Siegmund of St. Joseph were among those selected to participate.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Corn planting has begun in Illinois. Five percent of corn acres have now been planted. That’s ahead of last year and the five year average says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. He turns to winter wheat…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Pasture conditions improved quite a bit, to 70 percent in good to excellent condition. Average statewide topsoil moisture increased to six percent short, 73 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus.

 

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The pandemic has taught the Illinois Emergency Management Agency some valuable lessons

(Springfield-jm) -- New daily COVID-19 cases rose above four thousand Friday for the first time since the end of January. Four thousand four new and probable cases of infection are being reported along with 21 additional deaths. The number of COVID patients in the hospital is also increasing with about 18 hundred currently admitted. The good news is that it was another record day for vaccinations, with more than 164 thousand given, says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The governor says those that are ending up in the hospital typically haven’t been vaccinated. You can find a vaccination site near you online at: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov. On Friday, Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,884. Champaign County reported 58 new cases bringing their total to 19,351. Vermilion County reported 17 new cases and 1 additional death, a woman in her 30s, bringing their total number of cases to 8,899 and deaths to 126. Ford County did not have a report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House lawmakers are hearing from the tourism and hospitality industry. During a committee meeting, members of hotel, restaurant and convention groups stressed that they can’t survive another summer under low capacity limits. And, while they appreciate the need to move ahead based on COVID numbers, Navy Pier CEO Marilyn Gardner said they need more notice…

 

 

Navy Pier CEO Marilyn Gardner. Hotel industry representatives expressed frustration that their staff, including housekeepers, were not included in the initial priority groups eligible for the vaccine. Others said there needs to be a coordinated effort to promote what’s open in Illinois so travelers and event organizers aren’t having to try and figure that out.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- One person was taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries following a car vs semi accident near Paxton Friday evening. Emergency personnel were called to the accident just before 5pm on I-57 near mile marker 263.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul will be getting a new building for multiple businesses. Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith says that he doesn’t know who will be in the new building but that there are more tenants wanting the location then the building has space… 

 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Could the graduated income tax proposal still come to fruition? There are talks Democratic legislative leaders are considering the idea again says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

Representative Bennett goes on to say raising the income tax while recovering from the pandemic is not a good idea…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Several area schools are receiving federal COVID money. Thomasboro Grade School is receiving $1,468,270. Rantoul City Schools is receiving $9,109,926. Gifford Grade School $255,934. Rantoul Township High School $3,590,051. Paxton Buckley Loda $3.3 million. Gibson City Melvin Sibley $2.6 million and Tri Point Schools $1.2 million.

 

The American Red Cross will host a blood drive at the Crescent City Community Center today from 1-6 pm.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The pandemic has taught the Illinois Emergency Management Agency some valuable lessons. IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau says Illinois has become a national leader in PPE preparedness, building a system of purchasing and transporting valuable supplies like masks and gloves and keeping a 60 day stockpile on hand. But there is concern for the future…

 

 

Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. Tate-Nadeau says they also realized they didn’t really have a logistical arm to the agency. That’s changed with the addition of new warehouses around the state to quickly disperse supplies to communities in case of disaster. She says more training for local emergency management personnel is also needed.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul business has moved to a new location. Sheer Excellence held a ribbon cutting yesterday at their new location across from the south Casey’s along Route 45. The business offers hair cuts as well as tanning.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- There will be a slight fee increase in the Iroquois West School District. Superintendent Angelo Lekkas says only Head Start students will be affected by the increase…

 

 

Iroquois West Schools Superintendent Angelo Lekkas.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Republican Women is announcing they will be awarding a $500 scholarship to a graduating female high school senior. To qualify you must be a resident of Iroquois County at least 3 years, register to vote if 18 by November 2, 2021, proof of citizenship, letter of recommendation, copy of recent high school transcript and be a member or relation of a member of the group. The deadline to apply is April 15th. Email iroquois gop women at gmail dot com.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area lawmaker is calling out Governor J-B Pritzker’s handling of the pandemic. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says the Governor is ignoring calls to have the legislature involved in the reopening plan…

 

 

Senator Barickman also talks about Governor Pritkzer’s recent announcement creating a bridge phase…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Public Health Department will be hosting a series of COVID vaccination clinics this week. The Moderna vaccination clinic will take place on Wednesday, April 14th with the Pfizer vaccination clinic on Thursday, April 15th and the Johnson and Johnson vaccination clinic on Friday, April 16th.

 

 

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Everyone in Illinois 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 15,000 Illinoisans filed for additional unemployment benefits last week. That’s nearly 1,000 more that filed for the expanded traditional benefits than the week before. More than 2,200 independent contractors also applied for benefits, a decrease of around 200 from the week before. In total, the state has nearly 430,000 people getting benefits, more than 40,000 than the week before.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s top public health doctor says they are keeping a watchful eye on the COVID variants circulating in Illinois and across the country. 704 cases of variants have been confirmed in Illinois so far, the vast majority are the B-1-1-7 strain, first seen in the UK. This isn’t unusual says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says experts will continually be studying the properties of any new variants to determine if they are more contagious and covered by the vaccine.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,739 new Coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,269,196 and deaths to 21,457. Champaign County reported 46 new cases bringing their total to 19,293. Ford County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 1,662. Iroquois County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 2,879. Vermilion County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 8,882.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)--To go along with all the vaccination efforts that the Ford County Public Health Department is putting forth currently, Educator Megan Ruetter is working with Tri-Point junior high schoolers on routine hygiene… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A Foosland man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for conspiring to commit bank fraud in connection to a real estate short sale scheme. 41 year old David Litman received the sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring with others to defraud lending institutions in a series of short-sale transactions between 2008 and 2010.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Crime Stoppers’ Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program will continue in Champaign County. Since it began in 2019, 32 firearms were taken off the streets and 26 have been arrested for gun-related, felony crimes.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Sports Complex is close to completion. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony in the future, says Director Ryan Reid… 

 

 

Rantoul Sports Complex Director Ryan Reid.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Penfield man is facing multiple charges in Vermilion County. Timothy Wernigk was arrested after police observed a vehicle pull into the lot of a Hoopeston business, blacked out and a male get out and start carrying property from the building. When confronted by police, Wernigk told police he had permission to remove the items. Wernigk was also found in possession of meth. He is charged with burglary to a commercial building, criminal damage to property, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Farm Credit Illinois is announcing the winners of their ag scholars. Rachel Ash and Taylor Talbert of Iroquois West High School and Randy Shook of Fisher High School each received $2,000 scholarships. The Fantastic 4-Hers of Fisher received a $500 Community Improvement Grant from Farm Credit Illinois to go towards constructing picnic tables for the Fisher Community Park.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products are still setting records. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

St. Joseph community spring garage sales will take place today and tomorrow

 

Kankakee Community College will host a virtual career fair today from 10 to 4. Visit career services at kcc dot edu for more information.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Marketplace Mall in Champaign today from 11 to 4.

 

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will host a household hazardous waste collection tomorrow from 8 to 3 at Marketplace Mall in Champaign.

 

The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will host a free pregnancy and postpartum health virtual expo tomorrow starting at 10 am. 

 

Paxton IGA will host their cookout benefiting the Prairie State Church camp tomorrow from 10 to 2.

(Springfield-jm) -- The case Geneva restaurant FoxFire brought against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s orders closing restaurants to slow the spread of COVID-19 will advance. Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow denied Pritzker’s motion to dismiss. Pritzker’s attorneys have 2 weeks to respond. A hearing is set for April 28.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Everyone in Illinois 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday. More than 80 counties have already expanded eligibility and there are more than one thousand vaccination sites across the state now says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. More than 700 cases of COVID variants have been confirmed so far in Illinois.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,739 new Coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,269,196 and deaths to 21,457. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,787 have recovered, 368 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,800 have been released from isolation, 18 are in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 246 active cases and 4 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce usually holds their cash bash during the spring. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chamber Director Amanda Vickory says that the event has been postponed, and the date will be set in May… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickory

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) --  A 49-year-old man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a teenager. Former youth pastor Roger VanRaden pleaded guilty in February after he was accussed of having sex with a teenager who was also a member of his congregation. VanRaden was a youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Champaign. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters were called to the Hardee’s yesterday afternoon. Crews were called just before 2pm for a fryer smoking. No injuries were reported.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The man accused of shooting at another man in Rantoul back in September has been arrested. Police say Dametrius Kellup was taken into custody in Wisconsin and brought back to Champaign County. Kellup is accused of shooting at a vehicle with a man inside, whom he had just gotten into an altercation with back in September 2020. He’s charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm. A judge set bond at $250,000. Kellup is due back in court May 4th.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Sheriff’s Office has released their March activity report. During the 3rd month of 2021, deputies responded to 4 traffic accidents and issued 14 citations for speeding, 4 for driving on a suspended or revoked license, 2 each for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and operating an uninsured motor vehicle and 1 each for illegal use of registration, expired registration, improper lane usage, expired driver’s license and illegal transportation of alcohol. Deputies also handled 6 domestic issues, 3 missing persons reports, 2 each of harassment, trespassing and abuse complaints and 1 each of theft and a pursuit.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The latest USDA agricultural trade update has good news for U.S. farmers and exporters. There's also news for an economist who puts that update together every month. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

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New cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- New cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Illinois. The latest daily total is nearly 38 hundred new cases of infection. That’s the highest one day total since January 29th. Additionally, about 17-hundred COVID patients are currently in the hospital says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The seven day rolling positivity rate has now risen to four point one percent. About 19 and a half percent of adult Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated. Locally, Iroquois County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 2,870. Champaign County reported 51 new cases bringing their total to 19,247. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report Wednesday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker’s office says they are hopeful Illinois can move to Phase Five by the beginning of the summer. Despite the recent rise in cases, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Ann Caprara says there may be some good news in the next few months…

 

 

Governor Pritzker’s Chief of Staff Ann Caprara. Caprara says there are still concerns about the COVID variants circulating. There have now been 600 such cases in Illinois. In order to move to Phase Five, 50 percent of Illinoisans 16 and older will need to have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That number is currently around 40 percent.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Labor is urging drivers to be careful during the busy spring planting season. The best thing you can do is slow down and have patience as large farm equipment moves in and out of fields and down the road says the Department’s Hap Hileman. He notes that many accidents occur when a driver tries to pass a big piece of equipment, not realizing the farmer is making a left hand turn…

 

 

Illinois Department of Labor Spokesperson Hap Hileman. Drivers should also remember that farmers have limited visibility in the rear. Those driving farm equipment need to do their part as well, having slow moving vehicle signage posted and the correct lights.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton Economic Development committee will meet tonight. The committee will meet at 7pm where they will discuss how the city will benefit from the new sports complex in Rantoul.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul is in negotiations with two Hotels. Mayor Chuck Smith says that the chances of getting both is in the works… 

 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- Dates for Gilman’s Old Boys and Girls Reunion have been announced. The event was postponed last year because of the pandemic. It’s scheduled for August 12th-15th. The reunion happens every 5 years.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state GOP platform for this session is Reimagine Illinois. One of those on the committee creating the platform is 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. He talks about the platform and their goals…

 

 

Another key portion of the platform deals with public safety says Representative Bennett…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

The Moyer District Library in Gibson City will host a free hot dog cookout as part of National Library Week today from 3:30 to 6.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation would let Illinois community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. A community college could apply to offer a bachelor of applied science degree in the field under the proposal. It’s sponsored by Chicago Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas who says this is desperately needed…

 

 

State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas of Chicago. Supporters say this is also a way to make a bachelor’s degree more accessible for non-traditional and lower income students.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College’s Child Development Center is receiving recognition. The center received the Gold Circle of Quality from ExeleRate Illinois.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The pandemic has caused things to look different for students around the area. Between a hybrid mix of remote and in person learning to wearing masks during athletic events the past year has been a challenge. But the Paxton Buckley Loda School District is looking at trying to bring some form of normalcy says PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure…

 

 

PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Republican Women is announcing they will be awarding a $500 scholarship to a graduating female high school senior. To qualify you must be a resident of Iroquois County at least 3 years, register to vote if 18 by November 2, 2021, proof of citizenship, letter of recommendation, copy of recent high school transcript and be a member or relation of a member of the group. The deadline to apply is April 15th. Email iroquois gop women at gmail dot com.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Redistricting efforts are underway in Springfield. Redistricting is done using census data. The Census Bureau announced the data won’t be available until fall however, 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says there are efforts to move forward with creating the new maps anyway…

 

 

Senator Barickman also discusses a recent redistricting meeting…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

 

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Secretary of State Jesse White's Office is launching a new organ and tissue donation campaign featuring a former White Sox All-Star

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is touting federal relief money to help schools reopen and get students back on track. The seven billion dollars will help districts address some of the obstacles created by the pandemic, and the challenge of returning to normal says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Most of the funding is coming from the American Rescue Plan. It’s suggested the money be used for things like improving access to technology, summer school and after school programs and tutoring.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,931 new Coronavirus cases and 13 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,261,667 and deaths to 21,395. Vermilion County reported 14 new cases and 2 additional deaths, a man in his 90s and a man in his 60s, bringing their total number of cases to 8,877 and deaths to 125. Ford County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 1,653. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,868. Champaign County reported 15 new cases bringing their total to 19,196.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House members are discussing ethics reforms, including a revolving door prohibition for legislators. The change would prevent lawmakers leaving office from immediately going to work as a lobbyist. Some have suggested a six month ban, but Reform for Illinois Executive Director Alisa Kaplan says two years would be better…

 


 

Reform for Illinois Executive Director Alisa Kaplan. Supporters argue the ban is needed to address problems like the recent Com-Ed bribery scandal. Some lawmakers say while they support ethics reforms, they shouldn’t be prevented from working on an issue they care deeply about after they have left office.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Yesterday was the consolidated election in Illinois. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has some results of races in the WPXN listening area…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Champaign County Sheriff's Office is working through its 2021 initiatives; one of them is creating a mobile app. It covers watch requests for residents who live in the county's officer patrol jurisdiction, extra patrol requests, and neighborhood watch. You can also find most wanted and information on paying fines. The app is free.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul has received a grant for road repairs. The repairs are going to be on Maplewood Drive. The road will be resurfaced from the start of the base to the north side of town towards Paxton. The repairs will also fix a dip in the asphalt in front of the Post Office says Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith… 

 

 

Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is providing funding for truck access route projects including two locally. Ford County will receive $360,000 from the state for work on county highway 22 from Illinois 54 to the Ford/Iroquois County line. Champaign County will receive $900,000 for work on county highway 20 from U-S 45 to the east village limits of Royal.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is launching a new organ and tissue donation campaign featuring a former White Sox All-Star. For more than a decade White Sox pitcher and later announcer Ed Farmer has promoted organ donation, having benefited himself from the gift of life in the early 90s says Secretary White…

 

 

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. Farmer passed away last year. More than seven million people are currently on the state’s donor registry but about 300 Illinoisans still die each year waiting for an organ.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,931 new Coronavirus cases and 13 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,261,667 and deaths to 21,395. As for local active and recovered cases, Vermilion County reported 250 active cases and 2 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,795 have been released from isolation and 14 remain in isolation. Champaign County reported 18,735 have recovered, 323 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s top technology official is offering some advice about choosing a secure password. It’s vital to have a complex password to protect your information. Illinois Chief Information Officer Chris Britten says that means it should be at least 8 characters long, with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols…

 


 

When you need to update your password, you can change the L’s in Illinois to ones, altering it just enough to be secure. Britten also recommends not using any personal information such as birthdays, children’s names or pet’s names that can easily be found on social media, and not having the same password for multiple accounts.

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting their annual tree and fish sale. Fish orders are due today while tree orders are due tomorrow. Call Sarah Earles at 217-379-4388 to place your order.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- Construction on the Rantoul Sports Complex was delayed due to all the winter weather that the area saw this year. One of the final pieces is laying the turf on the remaining fields, says Director Ryan Reid… 

 

 

Rantoul Sports Complex Director Ryan Reid.

 

 

(Elliott-jm)  -- The Ford County village of Elliott is receiving over half a million dollars from the state. Elliott was awarded a $550,000 Community Development Block Grant for water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

 

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March cannabis sales broke records with retailers selling $109.1 million

(Springfield-jm) -- After a slump in February where cannabis sales were down more than $8 million from the month before, March sales broke records with retailers selling $109.1 million worth of adult-use cannabis products. That brings the total sold since January 2020 to nearly $950 million. The state has collected more than $233.5 million in taxes from legal sales since sales began in 2020.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the first weekly crop report of the season. There were less than four days suitable for fieldwork this past week, but farmers got a few things done says State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Two percent of winter wheat has headed and 74 percent of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition. Pasture conditions are rated as 58 percent in good to excellent shape.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,102 new cases and 11 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,258,736 and deaths to 21,384. Locally since Friday Champaign County reported 130 new cases bringing their total to 19,181. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,864. Vermilion County reported 33 new cases and 1 additional death, a woman in her 70s, bringing their total number of cases to 8,863 and deaths to 123. Ford County did not have a report Monday.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Today is the Consolidated election. Ford County Clerk Amy Frederick talks about some of the races in the county…

 

 

Ford County Clerk Amy Frederick. In Iroquois County, Clerk Breein Suver has the races in her county…

 

 

Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver. Polls are open until 7 tonight. You can catch all your local election results tomorrow morning on our news at 6:30,7, 7:30 and 8.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston man was arrested after police say he attempted to enter a residence over the weekend. Police were called to the 400 block of West Lincoln Street. When they arrived they found the resident of the home and his two sons had chased down the suspect, 21 year old Chase Hensley. He is charged with criminal trespass to property and criminal damage to property.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The Ford County Public Health Department is looking to add a few vaccination clinics in the near future. Community Educator Megan Ruetter has the details… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign based Parkland College is receiving $862,000 for ADA upgrades and door replacement. The funds come from Governor Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois plan.

 

OSF St. James John Albrecht Diabetes Support Group will meet tonight from 6 to 7 pm.

(Springfield-jm) -- The Department of Children and Family Services is supposed to provide safe places for children who weren't safe in their own homes, but new reports are showing that cases of maltreatment in care are double the rate Illinois is aiming for. "Maltreatment in care" is how the department describes when a child continues suffering abuse and neglect in foster care, even after being removed from a harmful situation at home. The current rate is 18.5 per 100,000 days in care. The rate the state is aiming for is 9 per 100,000.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the first weekly crop report of the season. Illinois farmers were able to till, spread dry fertilizer and apply anhydrous ammonia this past week says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Looking at winter wheat…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Pasture conditions are rated as 58 percent in good to excellent condition. Average statewide topsoil moisture came in at one percent very short, 16 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 30 percent surplus.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,102 new cases and 11 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,258,736 and deaths to 21,384. As for local active and recovered cases since Friday, Champaign County reported 18,669 have recovered, 374 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,790 have been released from isolation and 15 remain in isolation. Vermilion County reported 247 active cases and 2 are hospitalized. Ford County did not have a report Monday.

 

 

(Urbana-cf)-- Champaign County voters will see three referendum questions on the consolidated election this year. Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons details the first… 

 

 

The village of Dewey is looking at dissolving their water district says Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons… 

 

 

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons. Polls close at 7 tonight. We will have the results from area races tomorrow morning on our news at 6:30, 7, 7:30 and 8.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Registration for fall classes at Parkland College is underway. Yesterday was the first day students can sign up for the fall semester which begins August 23rd.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton Economic Development committee will meet this week. The committee will meet on Thursday at 7pm where they will discuss how the city will benefit from the new sports complex in Rantoul.

 

 

 

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Opioid deaths are on the rise in Illinois

(Onarga-jm) -- Five people, including 3 children, were taken to the hospital following a single vehicle accident on I-57 near Onarga Saturday evening. Illinois State Police say the vehicle was traveling northbound on I-57 when it veered off the road and flipped several times, landing in the southbound lanes around 7pm. One child was fully ejected and a second was partially ejected. Both children and two adults were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. An infant was also taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is kicking off child abuse prevention month. DCFS and children’s advocates gathered for an event in downstate Carterville. Brittany Hale with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois says keeping kids safe includes parent education, support for community programs like home visists and early intervention and the watchful eye of the public…

 

 

Prevent Child Abuse’s Brittany Hale. Some signs of abuse and neglect are: no parental supervision, wearing long sleeves and pants when it’s really warm outside, frequent absence from school, unexplained cuts and bruises and showing extreme behavior. To report suspected cases of abuse, you can call 1-800-25-ABUSE or fill out a form on the DCFS website.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,235 new Coronavirus cases and 24 additional deaths Friday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,251,346 and deaths to 21,549. The seven day positivity rate rose to 4.1 percent. On Friday, Champaign County reported 28 new cases bringing their total to 19,051. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases bringing their total to 2,860. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Closing “unaffordable corporate loopholes” used by Illinois businesses would result in higher costs for local consumers and lower wages, according to an analysis of the proposals. Using a biannual analysis from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois estimates Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year would place an $8.8 billion burden on Illinois consumers in the form of higher prices, reduce wages by $403 million, and reduce profits by $2.3 billion. That’s in comparison to not having any tax burden. 

 

 

(Champaign-cf)-- The Champaign Urbana Public Health District will be hosting a virtual Women's Health Expo. The event will cover topics for mothers with young children, and expecting mothers… 

 

 

Champaign  Urbana Public Health District Women's Health Expo Spokesperson Sheila Raila.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Portions of Paxton were without power Saturday. The strong winds brought a line down near the Village Pantry along Route 45. It took Ameren a couple of hours to repair the line and restore power.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton has a list of projects they are hoping to get accomplished. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about some of those projects…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Get ready for higher prices when you go to buy certain toilet paper, tissue paper, and diaper brands this summer. Kimberly-Clark announced it will be increasing prices on the majority of its products in the United States and Canada. Those items include: Huggies, GoodNight and Pull-Ups as well as Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, Cottonelle, Poise and Depends products.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- According to provisional data from the state Department of Public Health, opioid deaths are on the rise in Illinois. Nearly 29 hundred people died due to an overdose of opiates last year. That’s a 30 percent increase over 2019. 83 percent of those cases involved fentanyl laced drugs, which Marnell Brown, founder of the non profit Chicago based group “To Walk in My Shoes” says is turning up everywhere…

 

 

To Walk in My Shoes Founder Marnell Brown. Brown was speaking before a senate committee on the issue. Other speakers talked about the need to get drug users long-term treatment instead of putting them in jail and to aggressively pursue dealers who sell tainted drugs that end up killing someone.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,235 new Coronavirus cases and 24 additional deaths Friday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,251,346 and deaths to 21,549. The seven day positivity rate rose to 4.1 percent. As for local active and recovered cases on Friday, Champaign County reported 18,547 have recovered, 366 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. In Iroquois County, 2780 have been released from isolation, 20 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report. 

 

 

(Chicago-jm) -- The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association has filed a lawsuit against the state and electric truck startup Rivian for selling vehicles directly to consumers. The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court also names Lucid Motors, an electric vehicle startup based in California that is planning to open a sales office in suburban Chicago. Rivian began taking advance orders online in November and plans to open a Chicago showroom. The lawsuit cites the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Illinois Motor Vehicle Franchise Act, which mandates all vehicle sales to the public be made through licensed and independent franchised dealers. The dealers association claims they are protecting consumers and franchised dealers.

 

 

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

 

 

Gibson City Photo Contest Spokesperson Suzie Tongate.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting their annual tree and fish sale. Fish orders are due by April 7th while tree orders are due by April 8th. Call Sarah Earles at 217-379-4388 to place your order.

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The COVID pandemic isn’t the only health issue rising around the area, so is the number of sexually transmitted diseases among young people. According to data from the state, Champaign County comes in 2nd with 948 cases per 100,000 people when it comes to Chlamydia. For Gonorrhea, Champaign County is 8th with 299 cases per 100,000 people. Champaign County comes in 10th for Syphilis with 9 cases per 100,000 people.

 

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A new bill making its way through the Illinois House aims to make it easier to sue police officers

(Springfield-jm) -- Another 13,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week. That’s in addition to around 2,400 independent contractors from the state that filed for benefits last week. All filers combine getting continued benefits in Illinois totals nearly 391,000 workers out of work getting benefits.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some lawmakers are backing another effort to require Illinois gun owners to submit their fingerprints to Illinois State Police in order to get a Firearm Owner Identification Card. State Senator Ram Villivilam’s bill would also increase the cost of the FOID card. It’s unclear how such a bill would clear a backlog of applications. The state faces several lawsuits in state and federal court over backlogs of applications lasting months and in some cases more than a year.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,526 new Coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state's total number of cases to 1,248,111 and deaths 21,326. The seven day positivity rate is 4 percent.  Iroquois County reported no new cases leaving their total at 2,857. Champaign County reported 45 new cases bringing their total to 19,023. Ford and Vermilion County did not have a report Thursday.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)--  The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce has a few events scheduled for the 2021 calendar year. The Swine-and-Dine will take place Saturday Sept. 18, and the Wine and Chocolate Walk will take place Oct. 2 says Chamber President Alan Meyer… 

 

 

To go along with the Swine-and-Dine, the Chamber is also hosting their Farmers Market in the Spring and Summer on Thursdays says Meyer… 

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer. 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Executive Committee of the University of Illinois System Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a request by the three universities to allow high school students to apply for admission in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years without taking standardized tests. Thursday’s decision extends a policy allowing test-optional admissions at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, University of Illinois Chicago and University of Illinois Springfield for the 2021-22 academic year.

 

 

(Urbana-cf)-- If you live in Rantoul, and want to vote early in the consolidated election, you can do so at The Gathering Place. However, early voting will not be permitted on Easter Sunday at the location says Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons… 

 

 

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The HOT ROD Power Tour is coming back to Champaign for one night only. The tour comes to Champaign on Friday, August 27th to the State Farm Center.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Corn markets got a surprise in USDA's Prospective Plantings Report. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at the Hoopeston First Prisbyterian Church today from 11-4.

 

Parkland College’s Staerkel Planetarium will host their final virtual Kaler Lecture Series this evening at 7pm as University of Illinois Assistant Research Professor Daniel Andruczyk discusses why nuclear fusion is seen as the energy of the future.

 

The Onarga American Legion will host a breakfast with the Easter Bunny tomorrow from 7 to 10 am with an Easter Egg hunt to follow at Durham Park at 10:15.

 

The Paxton Community Sale will take place tomorrow at 10 am at Coady Park.

 

The Easter Bunny will be at Buckley Lake tomorrow from 10 to 11:30.

 

Paxton IGA will host their cookout benefiting the Loda Truck and Tractor Pull tomorrow from 10 to 2.

 

The Moyer District Library will host an Easter egg hunt at North Park in Gibson City tomorrow starting at 10 am.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill would provide state's attorneys with a new resource in investigations of abuse and neglect. Lawmakers say it could help protect the state's children. Currently cases are broken down into two categories: unfounded, where there was no evidence found in the investigation and indicated, where evidence was found. This bill would allow the state's attorneys to receive unfounded reports when they try these cases.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill making its way through the Illinois House aims to make it easier to sue police officers. The "Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act" would eliminate qualified immunity statewide. If passed, it would allow for civil litigation against law enforcement if they deprive any individual rights guaranteed under the Illinois Constitution. The bill would also make it so that there is legal liability for police officers who don't intervene when other officers are breaking the law. Municipalities would also be required to publicly disclose any legal settlements with law enforcement.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,526 new Coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state's total number of cases to 1,248,111 and deaths 21,326. The seven day positivity rate is 4 percent. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,531 have recovered, 354 are in isolation and 13 are hospitalized. Iroquois Counties numbers remained the same. Ford and Vermilion County did not have a report Thursday.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Community Sale will be making a return this year to Coady Park. The sale last year was canceled because of the pandemic. Paxton Park District Director and Community Sale Spokesperson Cody Evans talks about this year’s event…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director and Community Sale Spokesperson Cody Evans.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Police Department is investigating a sexual assault report. A U of I student said they were sexually assaulted in a residence hall by a person they know. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School District will be doing some projects this summer. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about the work to be done…

 

 

PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- A Danville man will spend the rest of his natural life behind bars for the sexual assault of two children. Travis Vannote was sentenced to Natural Life in the Illinois Department of Corrections for Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault. Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault is a Class X felony. Vannote pleaded guilty to two counts; one count for each victim.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- Ford County is starting to make progress in the vaccination process. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter has the details… 

 

 

FCPHD is also reminding residents and employees of Ford County to still sign up to get the vaccination through the Health Department says Ruetter… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A former Rantoul motel will be demolished. The village announced the former Knights Inn will be under new ownership. The developer plans to redevelop the former motel at the corner of Murray Road and 136. The village says the developers plans will focus on varying types of retail. The deal is expected to close sometime this month.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Farmers intend to boost soybean acreage this year, but not by as much as many had expected.  Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker is signing a package of four bills designed to increase economic equity and opportunities across the state

(Bondville-jm) -- An Illinois State Trooper is dead following a crash in Champaign County. The crash happened Thursday morning on Route 10 in Bondville. State Police say Trooper Todd Hannekan died after his cruiser left the road and struck a pole and tree.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s going to be easier for students to apply to multiple state universities this fall. Three schools currently use the Common Application, letting students apply to a bunch of colleges at once. Governor J-B Pritzker says more are coming on line…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. This will make Illinois one of only two states to have all state universities using the Common App.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' economy won't make a full return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023, according to a new report from Moody’s Analytics. The economy will begin to recover in mid-2021. The report noted the state’s population loss and troubled finances will also make the recovery more challenging.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is asking the public to “think before you throw.” Littering on the side of the road is a problem that takes up a lot of manpower says IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Wappel says tossing your trash out the window creates more than just an eyesore, it can earn you a ticket of up to 15 hundred dollars.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,190 new Coronavirus cases and 35 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,229,898 and deaths to 21,171. Iroquois County reported 10 new cases bringing their total to 2,840. Champaign County reported 43 new cases bringing their total to 18,757. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report Thursday.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The 2021 Paxton Community Sale will take place on Saturday, April 3rd at Coady Park in Paxton. The sale starts at 10 am and you can start dropping your items off Friday afternoon. Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans says its a good way to get rid of unwanted items…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director and Community Sale Spokesperson Cody Evans.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Stock and Field will not be closing after all. RP Lumber bought the assets of Stock and Field after the company announced in January they would be closing all of their locations. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School District is looking to close the achievement gap caused by the pandemic. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about the districts plan…

 

 

PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

 

Christ Lutheran High School will host a drive thru pork chop dinner on Sunday from 10:30 to 12:30. Cost is a free will donation.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is signing a package of four bills designed to increase economic equity and opportunities across the state. The new laws tackle discrimination and inequities from several angles, preventing employers from disqualifying candidates with a criminal record unless it substantially relates to the job and capping the interest rate on short term loans at 36 percent…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says the laws also change the state’s procurement code to increase the diversity of business contracting with the state and improves access to public housing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Firearm Violence Prevention and Reduction Act would require the Illinois Department of Public Health to study the issue of gun violence in Illinois. If passed, it would provide $150,000 per year for IDPH to conduct an annual study on gun violence prevention and reduction. The bill would require funding yearly studies over the next 10 years.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The State Community College Board is touting the success of the dual credit program for Illinois students. High school student enrollment in dual credit courses has been increasing steadily over the last decade, by nearly six percent a year says Board Spokesperson Matt Berry…

 

 

State Community College Board Spokesperson Matt Berry. Berry says a new report found that students taking dual credit courses are 20 percent more likely to graduate from college.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,190 new Coronavirus cases and 35 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,229,898 and deaths to 21,171. As for local active and recovered cases, Iroquois County reported 2,754 have been released from isolation, 25 remain in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 18,365 have recovered, 255 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. 

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley will be hosting their pork chop lunch. Executive Director Sandy Spitz talks about the lunch…

 

 

Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- U-S Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is accepting applications for Service Academy nominations. Those 17 to 23 can apply for the full 4 year scholarship. Those accepted must perform at least 5 years active duty service following graduating.

 

 

(Champaign-cf)--  The Champaign Urbana Public Health District will be hosting a virtual Women's Health Expo. Spokesperson Ruby Carpenter has the details on what will be covered in the expo… 

 

 

Champaign  Urbana Public Health District Women's Health Expo Spokesperson Ruby Carpenter.

 

Paxton IGA will host their cookout benefiting the Jack Wilkinson Ball Team on Saturday, March 27th from 10 to 2.

 

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The Illinois State Police is asking for a few tweaks in state law to help reduce the backlog of FOID and concealed carry cards to be processed

(Springfield-jm) -- House lawmakers are discussing making more fireworks legal in Illinois. A legislative committee voted to add “ground sparklers'' to the short list of allowed products. They sit on the ground and emit a shower of sparks. Representative Norrine Hammond of Macomb says they are already legal in 46 other states…

 

 

State Representative Norrine Hammond of Macomb. Opponents say ground sparklers are too dangerous and are much more powerful than handheld sparklers. If this legislation is eventually passed, fireworks like firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles would still be illegal in Illinois.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker received his COVID-19 vaccination Wednesday at a mass vaccination site in Springfield. The Governor received the one time Johnson and Johnson version, saying he’s thankful for the life saving shot that will help get life back to normal…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritkzer says more than five million doses have been administered in Illinois so far, including 66 percent of seniors 65 and older. 70 percent of older people need to be vaccinated in order for the state to move to the “Bridge” phase of mitigations.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Looking at the latest COVID numbers, the state recorded 2,793 new cases and 20 additional deaths bringing the total to 1,227,708 and deaths to 21,136. Ford County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 1,632. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases bringing their total to 2,830. Champaign County reported 38 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 18,714 and deaths to 137. Vermilion County did not have a report.

 

 

(Urbana-cf)-- The consolidated election is just a few weeks away. In Champaign County, this election will look different than the presidential election in November. Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons says that one change is the amount of polling locations… 

 

 

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On March 13th, Stephen Ernst of St. Peters, Missouri was arrested for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license and cited for illegal transportation of alcohol, disobeying a stop sign, improper lane usage and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Also on the 13th, Joshua Wright of Paxton was arrested for possession of meth with intent to deliver, possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a peace officer. On March 18th, Analyh Zarata of Cissna Park was charged with driving on a suspended license, speeding and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. On March 20th, an unidentified vehicle struck the stop sign at Patton and Market and Aubrey Beene of Paxton was arrested for battery, the victim, a man in his 50s was taken to the hospital for his injuries. On March 21st, Christian King of Paxton was arrested on a Ford County warrant for failure to appear and Steven Adkins of Ludlow was arrested for driving under the influence and cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle and a driver’s license classification offense. 

 

 

(Watseka-cf)-- Early voting is still open in Iroquois County. Any registered voter can go to the Iroquois County Clerk's office from 8 to 4:30 Monday-Friday says County Clerk Breein Suver… 

 

 

Iroquois County is also holding a grace period for voting. If you are not a registered voter, you can go to the Clerk's office, register and vote on the same day, says Suver… 

 

 

Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is asking for a few tweaks in state law to help reduce the backlog of FOID and concealed carry cards to be processed. There’s been a 167 percent increase in FOID card applications over the past few years, overwhelming an already antiquated system says State Police Director Brendan Kelly. He’s looking for some common sense changes that will make the system more streamlined for the state, and the public…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Kelly says they would also like to get the renewal process in sync, so that when you renew a concealed carry license, you’re also automatically renewing your FOID card. And he thinks the cards should be electronic, removing the need for a paper license.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 2,793 new cases were reported Wednesday and 20 additional deaths bringing the states total number of cases to 1,227,708 and deaths to 21,136. As for local active and recovered cases, Iroquois County reported 2,752 have been released from isolation, 17 remain in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 18,327 have recovered, 250 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Ford County could not provide active and recovered case numbers and Vermilion County did not have a report.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- The consolidated election is just under two weeks away. Voters will go to the polls to vote in local races. Vermilion County Clerk Cathy Jenkins talks about how early voting is going in her county…

 

 

Vermilion County Clerk Cathy Jenkins. Jenkins reminds residents they can vote early at their office in Danville or request a mail in ballot. Those requests must be in by April 1st.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has announced spring trout fishing dates and locations. The opening day for spring trout fishing is April 3rd. Nearby locations to be stocked for trout include Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, Kaufman Lake in Champaign, Weldon Springs in Clinton and Clear Lake at Kickapoo State Park. In order to trout fish you need a fishing license and an inland trout stamp.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The State of Illinois currently sits in Phase 4 of the Rebuild Illinois Plan. In order to reach phase 5, Illinoisans must move through a bridge phase. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter has the details… 

 

 

In order to move out of the bridge phase, and into phase 5 there are certain metrics the state has to hit says Ruetter… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

Don’t forget coming up over the noon hour, we will continue our series, talking with the 3 mayoral candidates for the village of Rantoul.

 

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Tom Vilsack is back as US Secretary of Agriculture

(Gibson City-jm) -- We now know more information regarding an accident in Gibson City. Police say Carla Moxley was the driver of the vehicle that ran over Carol Leisure in the Dollar General parking lot. Police believe Leisure fell after getting out of her vehicle and Moxley didn’t see her lying on the ground before backing over her. Leisure served as a crossing guard for the GCMS school district for over 30 years.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,832 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 13 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,224,915 and deaths to 21,116. Champaign County reported 25 new cases and 1 additional death, a man in his 80s, bringing their total number of cases to 18,676 and deaths to 136. Iroquois County reported 1 new case bringing their total to 2,827. Vermilion County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 8,786. Ford County did not have a report Tuesday.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- A familiar face is back leading the U-S Department of Agriculture. Tom Vilsack was appointed to the position under the Biden Administration having served as Ag Secretary under the Obama Administration. Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken talks about Vilsack’s return to the USDA…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and OSF HealthCare are partnering to offer saliva-based COVID-19 testing at public schools, businesses, and organizations. The partnership will offer testing to Champaign County residents.

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston’s pool will likely not open this year and its future could be in jeopardy. The pool, like many around the area, last year was closed because of the pandemic. The city’s pool committee reported recently they are having a hard time finding people to be lifeguards. The committee and council members discussed the pools repair needs and use and whether or not it would be better to permanently close the pool.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- More fans could soon be attending events at Paxton Buckley Loda school events. The district is following guidance from public health but Superintendent Cliff McClure is optimistic about the future…

 

 

PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Gasoline prices are starting to drop after 11 weeks as the nation enters the spring season. According to GasBuddy data, the national average price of gasoline posted a drop of 0.3 cents from a week ago to $2.86 per gallon. The data was compiled from more than 11 million price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations nationwide.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing another round of $250 million in Rebuild Illinois funds have been released for transportation projects around the state. Looking at funds coming to Vermilion County and communities within the county...Vermilion County is receiving $423,351. As for communities...Danville is receiving $362,768, Hoopeston $58,775, Potomac $8,237 and Rankin $6,162.

 

Coming up during our noon newsblock we will continue our series focusing on the Rantoul Mayoral Race with incumbent Chuck Smith, current trustee Gary Wilson and newcomer Kevin Williams.

 

(Washington-jm) -- The Agriculture Secretary explains how the farm sector and rural America might benefit from a recent COVID-19 economic relief plan. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Decatur-jm) -- A now retired Illinois State Trooper who killed a woman in Decatur while responding to a Mahomet shooting in 2016 has been sentenced to 24 months probation. A judge handed down that sentence to Jeffrey Denning yesterday. Denning pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless conduct. Denning was driving over 100 mph through Decatur without his siren activated, responding to an officer shot in Mahomet, when he struck a vehicle, killing Kelly Wilson. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,832 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 13 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,224,915 and deaths to 21,116. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,298 have recovered, 247 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,752 have been released from isolation, 13 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 257 active cases and 5 are hospitalized. Ford County did not have a report.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- To go along with the new QR Codes that are on the back of the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Bucks, the plan is to have the same code on the 2021 Chamber members sticker that can be scanned to send you to that businesses website… 

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer. Chamber Bucks can be purchased at Paxton IGA, Hudson's Drug and Hallmark Shop, and the Chamber Office. 

 

 

(Cullom-jm) -- Tri-Point schools will be getting a new superintendent. Jeff Bryan submitted his letter of intent to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City Police have released their recent activity report. On March 15th, Kevin Platta of Gibson City was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and disobeying a traffic control device. Also on March 15th, Williams Butts of Gibson City was arrested for disorderly conduct. On March 19th, Craig Fuoss of Gibson City was cited for leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Regional Veterans Memorial is going to be constructed at the new Rantoul Family Sports Complex. The memorial will honor veterans not just from Rantoul but from around surrounding areas as well. The group has been fundraising for several years and Spokesperson Jim Cheek says they will continue to raise funds to maintain the memorial once its built…

 

 

Rantoul Veterans Memorial Spokesperson Jim Cheek. You can purchase a brick for the memorial. Cost is $150 and can be purchased through Cheek or any other member on the committee.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 can now enroll in a study to help understand the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Participants will be paid and could receive the vaccine as soon as April 1. The U of I vaccine study is part of a broader initiative of the National Institutes of Health to determine whether those who are vaccinated could still carry and spread the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County residents will soon be able to receive severe weather alerts. The National Weather Service in Lincoln announced a tower lease agreement has been signed. The agreement will allow the weather service to put the weather radio equipment on a tower to service the county. The county has been without weather radio service for over a year.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The nation's feedlot inventory numbers seem to be holding steady over the last three months. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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Government workers, higher education staff and the media may now sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill aims to increase the amount of all-gender bathrooms in Illinois. State Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake filed Senate Bill 457. This legislation would allow a multiple-occupancy restroom to become an all-gender restroom. The bill would still allow gender specific multiple-occupancy bathrooms.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state of Illinois has announced a new pilot program to address obstacles facing rural child care providers in meeting quality of care standards. Thirty-five centers will receive $3.8 million in funding per year to hire additional staff or increase the salaries of existing staff. The initiative is funded by state and federal dollars.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill going through the Illinois General Assembly could help reduce suicides by youth. The bill is sponsored by State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian and supported by the Illinois Education Association. Marron says it would require schools to provide the suicide prevention hotline number…

 

 

State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian. Marron says it came about after a student in his district committed suicide. Friends of the student came up with the idea.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,220 new Coronavirus cases and 22 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,223,083 and deaths to 21,103. Locally, Champaign County reported 73 new cases bringing their total to 18,651. Iroquois County reported 11 new cases bringing their total to 2,826. Ford County reported 1 new case bringing their total to 1,627. Vermilion County did not have a report Monday. 

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley will be hosting their pork chop lunch. Executive Director Sandy Spitz talks about the lunch…

 

 

Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A Gibson City woman is dead after she was run over in a parking lot. Champaign County Coroner says 77 year old Carol Leisure died of blunt force trauma after she was run over in the Dollar General parking lot. Gibson City Police and the Champaign County coroner’s office continue to investigate.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign County Farm Bureau is announcing an upcoming program discussing the Mahomet Aquifer. Manager Brad Uken has the details…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager. More information on the program, as well as past meeting videos can be found on their website cc farm bureau dot com.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing another round of $250 million in Rebuild Illinois funds have been released for transportation projects around the state. Looking at funds coming to Iroquois County and communities within the county...Iroquois County is receiving $231,031. As for communities...Buckley is receiving $6,540, Cissna Park $9,292, Gilman $19,924, Loda $4,470, Onarga $15,026 and Thawville $2,647.


 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College’s Early College and Career Academy is announcing the launch of a new pathway program. The construction trades program is open to high school juniors and seniors. Those interested can find more details on Parkland College’s website.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Today is National Ag Day. Here is a special message from Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- With an average effective real estate tax rate of 2.27%, Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation, according to a new report from WalletHub. The consumer finance website puts the Land of Lincoln behind only New Jersey. While Illinois ranked No. 1 for having zero vehicle property tax, the state’s median real-estate tax on a $195,000 home is around $4,400.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is slowly climbing its way back to pre-pandemic economic conditions. That’s according to an annual state report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The report says Illinois will continue to make steady gains back towards pre-pandemic levels, only slightly lagging behind the national economy. Officials say most industries are facing higher than normal unemployment rates, but tourism and hospitality are currently taking the hardest hit. The report says corporate and income tax revenues, along with sales tax revenues, are all up higher than normal this year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Government workers, higher education staff and the media may now sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine. This latest subgroup can go ahead and schedule their shot. Governor J-B Pritzker says more than four point seven million doses have already been administered in Illinois so far and that more sites will be coming on line…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Next Monday, restaurant and construction workers as well as religious leaders become eligible for the vaccine. Anyone can sign up starting April 12th.


 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,220 new Coronavirus cases and 22 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,223,083 and deaths to 21,103. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,270 have recovered, 246 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,751 have been released from isolation, 13 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County did not have a report Monday.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Youth soccer is underway for the Paxton Park District but that isn’t the only youth sports being offered this spring. Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans says the registration deadline for more youth sports is fast approaching…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Republican Women is announcing they will be awarding a $500 scholarship to a graduating female high school senior. To qualify you must be a resident of Iroquois County at least 3 years, register to vote if 18 by November 2, 2021, proof of citizenship, letter of recommendation, copy of recent high school transcript and be a member or relation of a member of the group. The deadline to apply is April 15th. Email iroquois gop women at gmail dot com.

 

 

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

 

 

Gibson City Photo Contest Spokesperson Suzie Tongate.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Unemployment rates rose in all 14 of the state’s metro areas in January. Locally, Champaign Counties unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in January 2021 from 3.0 percent in January 2020. Ford County’s rose from 4.2 percent to 6.4 percent. Vermilion County’s rose from 4.6 percent to 8.0 percent. Iroquois County’s is now at 6.7 percent, up from 4.8 percent.

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- The village of Buckley will put in ramps on their sidewalks along Route 45. The village board approved spending $13,973 for the work which will be done by IDOT when the road is resurfaced this summer.

 

Coming up at noon, we continue our series on the Rantoul mayoral candidate race.

 

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Illinois State Police issued more than 13 hundred tickets to drivers violating the state's Move Over law during a special enforcement effort

(Gilman-jm) -- A Memphis, Tennessee couple was arrested after police say one of them shot at a vehicle on I-57 near Gilman. State police say the victim reported an individual in a black Nissan pointed a firearm at his vehicle and fired. Less than an hour later, the vehicle was located near Peotone. Police say a one year old was in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Dieon Kerr was arrested for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm, Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Unlawful Use/Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Child Endangerment, and Driving While License Suspended. The passenger, Jessica Fields was arrested for child endangerment. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A bill in the Illinois Senate counts mental health days as an excused absence for students. The measure excuses kids from class for up to five days because of a mental health or behavioral issues. It’s sponsored by Senator Robert Martwick of Chicago who says it aims to further remove the stigma about mental health concerns. He was asked about students taking advantage of the change…

 

 

State Senator Robert Martwick of Chicago. Others suggest this shouldn’t apply to kids who are chronically truant. The bill was passed out of committee and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois taxpayers are getting a little more time to file their income taxes. The state is giving people until May 17th now to finish up their taxes says Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman…

 

 

Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman. Horstman says two point four million Illinoisans have already filed their taxes, with 79 percent expecting a refund. You can file your IL 10-40 for free online at my tax dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A representative of Congresswoman Mary Miller’s office will be making a pair of stops around the area today. The representative will be at the Paxton City hall from 10 to noon and the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Office from 2 to 4.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- OSF Hospitals will be opening an OSF urGO location in Rantoul. The location will be on Broadmeadow Road. Director Molly Barnes has the details… 

 

 

Director of OSF urGo Molly Barnes 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two school boards and a city council meet tonight. The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school board will meet at 6:15 where they are expected to approve an agreement with Russ Leigh and Associates for the next audit, consider fees for the 21-22 school year and consider a feasibility study for the high school heating and cooling system. At 7, also in Gibson City, the city council will hear their FY 19-20 audit and consider an ordinance vacating the alley at 628 South Sangamon and Church Street. Also at 7, the Mahomet Seymour school board will consider purchasing devices for staff and consider approving fees for the Early College and Career Academy. The GCMS School Board meeting gets underway at 6:15 with the Gibson City city council and Mahomet Seymour School Board meetings both get underway at 7.

 

 

(Roberts-cf)-- The Village of Roberts will be coordinating an event throughout the spring named Operation CHALK, in which residents of the village can sign up to have their sidewalks decorated with sidewalk chalk artwork. Mayor Matt Vaughn has the details on how you can sign up… 

 

 

Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police issued more than 13 hundred tickets to drivers violating the state’s Move Over law during a special enforcement effort. Over 11 hundred details were conducted statewide from February 18th to March 7th, catching quite a few people who did not change lanes when they saw flashing lights along the side of the road. State Police Director Brendan Kelly...

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Troopers also issued about 73 hundred tickets for speeding and 892 for distracted driving during the details.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House is voting to expand some of the changes made to accommodate COVID-19 concerns during last fall’s election. The legislation lets local election authorities continue to use ballot boxes and curbside voting and requires them to accept mail in ballots even without the correct postage. It’s sponsored by Representative Katie Stuart of Collinsville…

 

 

State Representative Katie Stuart of Collinsville. Opponents argue that while the ballot boxes aren’t a bad idea, the bill does not set any standards about the size and security of the boxes or where they will be located.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will be hosting a virtual expo coming up in April. The expo will focus on pregnancy and postpartum health. The virtual expo will take place on Saturday, April 10th starting at 10 am on the health department’s facebook page.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s streetscape project continues to move forward. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about the next step in the process…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. Mayor Ingold says the project consists of resurfacing Market Street from Orleans to Holmes, redoing sidewalks in the 100 block of North Market and upgrading street lights.

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce usually holds their cash bash during the spring. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chamber Director Amanda Vickory says that the event has been postponed, and the date will be set in May… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickory.

 

The Moyer District Library in Gibson City will hold a Consumer Fraud Prevention presentation on Thursday, March 25th at 6pm. Reservations must be made ahead of time by calling the library at 217-784-5343.

 

Coming up at noon today we will continue our series with the Rantoul mayoral candidates.

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker announced a new Bridge Phase to move Illinois from Phase Four to Phase Five

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing  a new Bridge Phase to move Illinois from Phase Four to Phase Five of the state’s reopening plan. The change aims to bridge the gap between the current restrictions in Phase Four to going back to normal in Phase Five. When this new phase kicks in depends on the data says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. That number is currently 58 percent. Under the Bridge Phase, health clubs, offices, salons, museums and retailers can operate at 60 percent capacity. Gatherings of up to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors will be allowed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- So, when Illinois hits the bridge phase, what’s next? Once enough seniors are vaccinated to get us to the new bridge phase, two additional metrics will have to be met before moving to Phase Five and a return to normalcy says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. That number is currently 28 percent. All regions of Illinois will move through these steps together based on statewide data.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,325 new cases Thursday and 34 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,216,690 and deaths to 21,022. Champaign County reported 57 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 18,553 and deaths to 135. Iroquois County reported no new cases leaving their total at 2,813. Ford and Vermilion Counties had no report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- What issues will take precedence for the spring legislative session? 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington hi-lites some issues he thinks will be considered…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Two people were taken to the hospital following a crash on I-74 between Urbana and St. Joseph Thursday. State police say a semi traveling westbound went into the center median and the trailer struck a bridge beam causing it to lose its load of soybeans. An eastbound vehicle was struck by a sand filled barrel that went airborne when it was struck by the semi. Both are expected to be ok.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City is re-introducing legislation that extends the statute of limitations for a prosecution for perjury. Representative Bennett introduced the legislation last year but the bill stalled after the session was put on hold because of the pandemic. That legislation would have extended the statute of limitations for a prosecution for perjury from 3 years to 7 years. The new legislation would extend it to 5 years says Representative Bennett…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing another round of $250 million in Rebuild Illinois funds have been released for transportation projects around the state. Looking at funds coming to Ford County and communities within the county...Ford County is receiving $95,809. As for communities...Elliott is receiving $3,240, Gibson City $37,422, Melvin $4,964, Paxton $49,131, Piper City $9,072, Roberts $3,976 and Sibley $2,987.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Bond has been set at $150,000 for a Rantoul man who allegedly forced his way into a woman’s home armed with a gun and hitting her. Troy Stewart is charged with home invasion while armed with a gun and unlawful use of weapons. Police say Stewart allegedly forced his way into the home of a woman he knew on Falcon Drive, displayed a handgun and struck her. If convicted of the most serious charge he faces 21-45 years in prison. He is due back in Champaign County court March 30th.

 

The Onarga American Legion is hosting their fish fry tonight from 4:30-7:30 pm

 

Paxton IGA will kick off their cookouts tomorrow from 10 to 2 benefiting the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- All Illinoisans will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, April 12th. Governor J-B Pritzker says thanks to the increase in doses sent by the federal government, the state’s vaccination program will soon be open to everyone…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Vaccinations will continue to be by appointment only, and those becoming eligible April 12th will have to wait until then to schedule their shot. More information is available online at: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,325 new cases Thursday and 34 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,216,690 and deaths to 21,022. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,174 have recovered, 244 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,742 have been released, 11 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Ford and Vermilion Counties had no report.

 

 

(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 for Rantoul schools…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- After 23 years, a new organization will be in charge of the Festival of Trees in Champaign County. OSF HealthCare says the festival is being transitioned over to Balloons Over Vermilion, a local not-for-profit. While Balloons Over Vermilions organizers and volunteers have always been involved in Festival of Trees in some capacity, the group will now be taking the lead.

 

 

(Champaign-cf)-- The Champaign Urbana Public Health District will be hosting a virtual Women's Health Expo. The event will cover topics for mothers with young children, and expecting mothers… 

 

 

Champaign  Urbana Public Health District Women's Health Expo Spokesperson Sheila Raila.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A public hearing on a wind farms building permit will be held in Gibson City coming up later this month. The hearing between Apex Clean Energy and the Ford County Zoning Board of Appeals will take place Thursday, March 25th at the Kruse Center in Gibson City at 5pm. The move comes after the county’s zoning officer rejected the developers permit request for the Ford Ridge Wind Farm near Sibley. If built, the wind farm is expected to generate $33.25 million in revenue for the county over 30 years.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Spring starts this Saturday but that isn’t the only season changing. With the warmer temperatures starts road construction. Crews will be resurfacing Route 9 between Route 115 and Gibson City this year along with Route 45 between Loda and Onarga. Other projects around the area include work around the I-57/I-74 interchange in Champaign, crack sealing along I-57 from Champaign County line to Iroquois County line, resurfacing Route 24 between the Ford County line and Gilman, pavement preservation of Route 9 between the Ford County line and Route 1 in Hoopeston.

 

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker says he will be announcing new reopening plans in the coming days

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he will be announcing new reopening plans in the coming days. Illinois is currently in Phase Four of the pandemic, but it’s a big jump to Phase Five, when everything goes back to normal. That’s why the Governor is expected to release a more incremental phase in. He says they are considering several factors…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says more than four point two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far in Illinois. Looking at the latest numbers, the state reported 1,655 new cases and 17 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,213,765 and deaths to 20,988. Locally, Ford County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 1,626. Iroquois County reported no new cases Wednesday. Champaign County reported a data error and as a result removed 129 confirmed cases bringing their total down to 18,496. Vermilion County reported 14 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 8,718 and deaths to 122.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- A House of Flowers by Paula and Schitts & Giggles are hosting a Spring Shop and Swap this weekend. Owner of A House of Flowers Paula Hopkins says they are looking for vendors for the event… 

 

 

If you donate an item to either business, you will receive 15% off your purchase at their locations, as well as entered into a drawing for a spring cleaning basket. All items donated will go to Seek and Find Ministries in Rantoul, Hopkins details what Seek and Find is… 

 

 

A House of Flowers Owner Paula Hopkins. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- If you see a more active police presence at Parkland College on Friday, do not be alarmed. The police department at Parkland College will host active shooter/hostile intruder training on the college's campus. The main campus will be closed to all faculty, staff, and students.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton is getting a new business downtown. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about the business…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing another round of $250 million in Rebuild Illinois funds have been released for transportation projects around the state. Looking at funds coming to Champaign County and communities within the county...Champaign County is receiving $962,449. As for communities...Fisher is receiving $20,660, Champaign $890,307, Gifford $10,709, Ludlow $4,075, Urbana $453,089, Mahomet $92,265, Rantoul $142,143, St. Joseph $43,573 and Thomasboro $12,367.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County could lose state money after a delay in submitting the county’s audit. The county auditor missed the deadline to submit to the state. The state may stop making payments for grants like LIHEAP and rent assistance. The loss of funding could impact other departments.

 

Taking a look at the numbers from Wednesday, Illinois is now up to 1,213,765 cases and 20,988 deaths after the state reported 1,655 new cases and 17 additional deaths. Champaign County reported a data error that brought their recovered case total down to 18,143, 219 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County’s numbers remain the same with 2,742 released from isolation, 11 in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 263 active cases and 4 are hospitalized. Ford County is unable to report local active and recovered cases at this time.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- The pandemic has impacted nearly every sector of life and economy around the world. One of those sectors affected is agriculture. Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece talks about the challenges they face…

 

 

Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece. We also reached out to Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken and asked him about their challenges…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken.

 

(Danville-jm) -- Danville Area Community College is raising tuition this fall. The board of trustees approved a $5 per credit hour increase. It will now cost students $145 per credit hour.

 

 

(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 in Rantoul…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is awarding grants for pheasant habitat projects. Pheasants Forever is receiving $125,876 to hire four bird biologists that cover projects in 26 counties including Ford, Iroquois, Vermilion and Champaign Counties.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The grandstand lineup for the Champaign County Fair has been announced. Country music star Gary Allen will perform on July 22nd with up and coming artist Travis Denning opening. The Beach Boys will perform on July 23rd. They were originally scheduled to perform last year before the fair was canceled because of the pandemic. Tickets go on sale Friday.

 

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Gas prices continued an upward trend, going up to an average of $3.05 a gallon in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health gave a COVID-19 update to a Senate Committee, including possible plans for a possible phased-in reopening. Senators heard from State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike about how vaccination efforts are increasing as more doses arrive, and asked when the state could move to phase five, a full reopening of the state. She responds…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Senators also asked about businesses requiring employees to be vaccinated against the virus. Ezike said she doesn't know of any adopting such a policy right now but that some have been discussing the possibility of requiring proof of vaccination or continuous COVID testing.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,997 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 19 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,212,110 and deaths to 20,973. Champaign County reported  23 new cases bringing their total to 18,625. Iroquois County reported 1 new case bringing their total to 2,813. Vermilion County reported 17 new cases bringing their total to 8,704. Ford County did not have a report Tuesday leaving their total at 1,621.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A veterans memorial will be constructed at the new Rantoul Family Sports Complex. Groundbreaking for the memorial is expected to begin in April and take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Spokesperson Jim Cheek says the memorial will honor all veterans from the area, not just Rantoul…

 

 

Rantoul Veterans Memorial Spokesperson Jim Cheek. Cheek says the group is still selling bricks for $150. If you would like to purchase a brick for the memorial, reach out to a member of the committee.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Gas prices continued an upward trend, going up to an average of $3.05 a gallon in Illinois. Prices have been rising for several weeks. The average gas price in Illinois has jumped more than 70 cents in the last year. GasBuddy attributes the rise in prices to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The sixth annual Illini Success report released Tuesday shows that University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduates in summer 2019, fall 2019 and spring 2020 still found jobs, enrolled in graduate school or began volunteer programs on par with previous years – despite the global pandemic.  The report found that 91% of graduates secured a “first destination” – defined as a job, enrollment in graduate school or a volunteer position – within six months of graduation. The report also shows that the average salary for a full-time-employed recent graduate is $65,178, up from last year’s $63,515. About 75% of graduating Illinois residents stayed in the state for a job or graduate school, and 68% of all graduates found their first destination in Illinois.

 

 

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

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- A St. Joseph man is facing five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Joshua Rodriguez is accused of molesting a young girl. The girl reported the abuse and Rodriguez was arrested. Bond was set at $1 million. He is due back in court March 24th.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Communities across Central Illinois are receiving $11.7 million in U-S Housing and Urban Development Grants. Rantoul is receiving  $348,890 in Community Block Grant funding. Champaign is receiving $1,045,984, Bloomington $547,296, Danville $1,014,692 and Urbana $516,972. Other central Illinois communities receiving Community Block Grants include Decatur, Pekin, Peoria and Springfield. Urbana is also receiving $819,687 in Home Investment Partnership funding.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Low to moderate income taxpayers with unpaid fines are getting a little bit of a reprieve this year. Usually, the state can take out overdue fines from your income tax refund. But this year, that won’t happen for those who qualify for the earned income tax credit says Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza...

 

 

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. The fines will still have to be paid eventually, as this is just a deferment. To be eligible, individuals can earn up to $15,820 and for a family of four $56,844.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,997 new Coronavirus cases Tuesday and 19 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,212,110 and deaths to 20,973. Locally, Champaign County reported 18,275 have recovered, 216 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,742 have been released from isolation, 11 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 273 active cases and 7 hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- There’s a concern about the potential impacts the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdowns and mitigation measures will have on students. One of those concerned is 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- More University of Illinois students will be able to return to classrooms for in-person instruction this coming fall. University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said he plans to expand in-person instruction for the majority of classes and labs at all three campuses. Killeen says it's based on the success of the covidSHIELD testing and the growing numbers of vaccinations in Illinois.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College has a vacancy on their board. Jonathan Westfield resigned from the board after being appointed in 2017. The board will meet in April to discuss filling the vacancy.

 

 

(Roberts-cf)-- The village of Roberts is hosting an event throughout the spring called Operation CHALK. The idea was born when Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn saw his niece using sidewalk chalk to create artwork, and a neighbor wanted her to decorate their driveway, says Vaughn… 

 

 

Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County Circuit Clerk Susan McGarth is warning of a phone scam. She says scammers are purported to be from the circuit clerk’s office asking about information from people’s upcoming cases. McGarth says they do not call unless they are returning a phone call from you.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A pair of central Illinois airports are receiving federal money. Willard Airport in Savoy is receiving $1,864,767 while Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington is receiving $1,938,664 in Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations from the U-S Department of Transportation. The funds can be used for operation, personnel, cleaning and sanitization costs.

 

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For the first time in months, Illinois saw a decrease in monthly cannabis sales

(Springfield-jm) -- For the first time in months, Illinois saw a decrease in monthly cannabis sales. February sales of adult-use cannabis were $80.7 million, down more than $8 million from the month before. Since the program began in January 2020, the state has collected more than $233.5 million in cannabis taxes. Taxes on the drug can be as high as 40 percent or more, depending on its potency.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs says the state’s investment earnings from 2015 now top one billion dollars. When he took office, Treasurer Frerichs says he asked lawmakers for a series of tweaks to state law to help boost investment profits…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Frerichs says he also works closely with the Illinois Comptroller and Governor’s Office to estimate when money is needed and when money can remain invested to keep earning a higher rate of return.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 782 new Coronavirus cases and 12 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,210,113 and deaths to 20,955. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 79 new cases bringing their total to 18,602. Iroquois County reported 3 new cases bringing their total to 2,812. Ford County reported 3 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,812 and deaths to 44. Vermilion County reported 114 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 8,687 and deaths to 121.


(Paxton-cf)-- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce has made changes to their Chamber Bucks. Starting with the $10 chamber buck, there is a QR Code that is on the back that can be scanned to see if that business accepts Chamber Bucks says Chamber President Alan Meyer… 

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer. Chamber Bucks can be purchased at Paxton IGA, Hudson's Drug and Hallmark Shop, and the Chamber Office. 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- OSF broke ground yesterday afternoon on a new helipad at their Urbana hospital. The new helipad will be located on the east side of OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center. The new helipad will allow OSF to bring their Lifeflight helicopter to the Urbana hospital. Work is expected to be completed in 8 to 10 weeks.

 

 

(Sibley-jm) -- The western Ford County village of Sibley is looking for members to serve on a zoning committee. The village is looking for 3 to 5 people to volunteer to be on the committee. Once the committee is formed, a zoning ordinance will be created.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state lawmaker is concerned about the Governor’s budget proposal. Governor J-B Pritkzer proposed a $41.6 billion dollar budget which 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington called reckless…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Illinois State Police conducted Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement details in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. 19 businesses in Gilman, Onarga, Kankakee and Bourbonnais were checked for compliance when it came to selling alcohol to minors. Three local establishment employees were charged with unlawful delivery of alcoholic liquor to a minor, Destiny Miller of Wasmer’s Phillips 66 Gilman, Brooke Condon of Best Supermarket Onarga and Jacob Kilby of Fred’s Fuel n Feed in Gilman.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The freezing rain and strong winds caused havoc around the area yesterday. Emergency crews were busy handling downed tree limbs and powerlines. Ameren Illinois reported some power outages.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service chili supper scheduled for this Thursday has been cancelled. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What might be more profitable for producers this year when comparing price and crop rotation for corn and soybeans? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is below the middle of the pack when it comes to the cost of vehicle insurance. Consumer finance website WalletHub ranked No. 28 of all 50 states. In Illinois, WalletHub said the cheapest insurance is Geico, Country Financial and Pekin Insurance. The cheapest insurance in the country was found in Wyoming. The most expensive car insurance was in Michigan.

 

 

(Normal-jm) -- An area lawmaker is teaming up with the National Safety Council to improve safe senior access. State Representative Dan Brady talks about the bill that would allow seniors to participate in online trainings…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 782 new Coronavirus cases and 12 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,210,113 and deaths to 20,955. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,257 have recovered, 211 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,742 have been released from isolation, 9 are in isolation and 2 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 279 cases are active and 6 are hospitalized. Ford County is unable to report local active and recovered cases at this time.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)--Two Rantoul businesses are hosting a Spring Fling. A House of Flowers by Paula, as well as Schitts and Giggles are hosting the event. If you bring an item to either store that can be donated to Seek and Find ministries, you will receive 15% off your purchase and be entered into a spring cleaning drawing says House of Flowers owner Paula Hopkins… 

 

 

Spring Fling Spokesperson Paula Hopkins.

 

 

(Kankakee-jm) -- Kankakee Community College is announcing a tuition freeze. The Kankakee based community college says tuition will remain at $165 per semester hour. For a full time student its expected to cost them about $4,950 a year to attend.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking vendors for their market. The Mahomet Market will return in June. Those interested can reach out to the chamber at 217-586-3165.

 

 

(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 in Thomasboro…

 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The former Champaign County Chief Deputy Treasurer is suing the county and her former boss for allegedly violating her FMLA rights. Amy Jo Foster filed the suit in federal court claiming she told former Treasurer Laurel Prussing the office was struggling to keep up with deadlines and other duties. Prussing began blaming the struggles on Foster’s absence. Foster allegedly told Prussing she was able to return to work in November 2019, however Prussing put her on indefinite administrative leave before firing her. Prussing resigned from the Treasurer position part way through her term.



(Undated-jm) -- Two area hospitals are partaking in a pilot program to get more COVID vaccines into the arms of people. Gibson Area Hospital and Carle Hoopeston Regional Medical Center are participating in the pilot program to get an additional 6,000 vaccines from the federal government.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Except for one dairy product category, most milk product and class prices were increased from the previous month in USDAs latest dairy forecast. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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The FDA approved a third COVID-19 vaccine last week

(Springfield-jm) -- Fewer people filed for unemployment last week than the week before in Illinois, but the total number of first-time filers still exceeded 61,000. The number of independent contractors seeking unemployment benefits was 15,500 last week, up nearly 1,900 from the week before. WalletHub says Illinois has the sixth slowest recovery in the nation.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new law that caps the cost of insulin at $100 per 30 days went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021 in Illinois, but most Illinoisans can’t take advantage of it. According to a new joint report from the Illinois Departments of Insurance, Human Services, and Healthcare and Family Services, the insulin cap only applies to insurance policies regulated by the state, and not self-insurance plans regulated by the federal government. About 50% of Illinoisans have federal self-insurance plans, so they aren’t eligible for the cap.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The FDA approved a third COVID-19 vaccine last week, with Johnson and Johnson’s version. Their shot is unique, as it only requires a single dose. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Ruetter updates us on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine… 

 

 

Johnson and Johnson's vaccine may not seem as effective as the current Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but that isn't the case, says Ruetter… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- OSF hospitals honored the frontline workers while marking the one year anniversary of the COVID pandemic. All OSF hospitals were illuminated in pink starting last Saturday. The hospitals will continue to be illuminated through the rest of the week.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A memorial honoring veterans will be going up in the village of Rantoul. A group has been raising funds to build the memorial for several years. The group originally planned to build the memorial on the former Chanute Air Force Base but will instead construct it at the new sports complex on the village's west side. Spokesperson Jim Cheek says they hope to do a groundbreaking in April…

 

 

Rantoul Veterans Memorial Spokesperson Jim Cheek. The memorial is for any branch of service and not just for Rantoul residents. Bricks are still available and can be purchased by contacting any member of the committee.

 

 

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

 

The April 6th consolidated election is just a couple of weeks away. The group Rantoul Residents for Representation hosted a candidates forum. Over the next two weeks, we will hi-lite the questions incumbent Chuck Smith, former trustee Gary Wilson and newcomer Kevin Williams were asked over the noon hour.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A review of state records shows the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent at least $1.1 million in Business Interruption Grants to 72 companies the state considers “dissolved.” In order to qualify for the Coronavirus relief funding, state application forms show the businesses had to attest that they were open on March 1st, 2020, they would try to stay open all year, and would use the money “exclusively for costs and losses incurred due to the business interruption” caused by Covid-19. Business registration records kept at the Secretary of State’s office showed at least 72 of the companies that won grant funding were considered dissolved or terminated long before the pandemic began.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Legislation was filed in the Illinois General Assembly last month that intends to lower heating bills across the state. House Bill 3941 and Senate Bill 570 filed by State Senator Ram Villivalam would end a gas utility surcharge that contributes to higher heating bills. Under this law, the "Qualified Infrastructure Plant" charge would be phased out at the end of 2021, instead of at the end of 2023, and restore traditional regulatory oversight over gas utility spending.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- Ranotul will be getting a new doctors office. OSF Hospitals are opening an OSF urGO or Urgent Care in the village. Director of OSF urGo Molly Barnes has the details… 

 

 

Director of OSF urGO Molly Barnes.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A St. Joseph man is expected to be formally charged with molesting a child. Joshua Rodriguez faces predatory criminal sexual assault of a child when he goes before a Champaign County judge. He faces 6 to 60 years in prison.

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County Farm Bureau has a couple of upcoming programs for farmers. Manager Brad Uken talks about the first program set for March 16…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken. More details on that and other events and ag news can be found on their website cc farm bureau dot com.

 

 

(Bloomington-jm) -- OSF is announcing the groundbreaking of a new cancer center in Bloomington. The new cancer center will be located at their OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. Construction is expected to be completed in September.

 

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No surprise, Illinois has the highest taxes in the nation

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois has the highest taxes in the nation. That’s according to consumer finance website WalletHub. The analysis compared all states' local taxes, income taxes, real estate taxes, sales and excise taxes and vehicle property taxes. All combined, the average Illinois household pays nearly $9,500 a year in state and local taxes, the highest in the nation. Illinois doubled the gas tax recently, catapulting the state to the top of the list.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ credit rating remains a notch above “junk” status, but rating agencies have different outlooks for the state. Rating agency Fitch issued a report saying the state’s outlook is negative. S&P Global Ratings changed Illinois’ negative outlook to stable. Both said the state’s long-term unfunded pension liability is a major issue holding the state’s crediting rating down.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health are now both saying they are in support of a return to in-person learning. Among the new guidelines issued include: required use of masks and social distancing, require contact tracing and isolation of those suspected or confirmed with COVID and quarantine of those possibly exposed and require enhanced cleaning. Another change reduces social distance from 6 feet to 3 feet for students and fully vaccinated staff.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Ladder Safety Month and the Illinois Department of Labor has some tips for ladder use at home and on the job. One of the most important things to remember is to use the correct ladder for the job says the Department’s Hap Hileman. Take an a-frame ladder for example…

 

 

Illinois Department of Labor’s Hap Hileman. Hileman says you should also consider a ladder’s weight limit, including not just your own weight but the weight of any tools you’ll be climbing up with. More safety tips are available in free weekly webinars at: ladder safety month dot com.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,682 new Coronavirus cases and 30 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,202,709 and deaths to 20,810. Locally Champaign County reported 34 new cases bringing their total to 18,473. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,614. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,805. Vermilion County did not provide a report Wednesday.

 

 

(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 in Gifford…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Carle officials said their clinic for those receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine has been postponed. In a news release, Carle said the clinics were supposed to take place today and tomorrow at Kohl’s Plaza. Now, they have been postponed to March 15 and 16. They said the decision was made because of a lack of Pfizer vaccine. 

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- A new bike and walking trail will be coming to parts of Champaign and Vermilion Counties. The Kickapoo Trail will extend from Kickapoo State Park near Danville to Urbana. A portion of the trail has already been completed and St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling says thanks to a grant some amenities will be added in the St. Joseph portion of the trail this summer…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign County Health Department has a plan on how to improve the community’s health. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, in conjunction with Carle Foundation Hospital, OSF HealthCare, and the United Way of Champaign County all worked together on the plan. A survey of community leaders helped narrow the team's goals to three top health priorities for the community; behavioral, reducing obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles, and violence.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at The Garage Community Center in Gilman today from 9 to 3.

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest look at the global soybean balance sheet led to revisions up for Brazilian soybean production. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House has canceled all but one session day next week. An email from House Speaker Chris Welch’s office said the House will convene on Thursday, March 18, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are off. Committees will continue to meet virtually.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the state of Illinois continues to grapple with a massive deficit in its finances, it continues to pour out millions of dollars into abandoned properties state officials have deemed as "surplus." Currently, Illinois has 380 properties, 11 of which are surplus. The state paid a total of $1,786,647.08 of taxpayer money in 2020 alone to maintain the "surplus" properties.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth took to Twitter to announce plans to run for a second term in 2022. In a brief tweet, Duckworth claimed her work for Illinois families and veterans isn’t finished. Duckworth is launching her re-election bid without a prominent Illinois Republican actively mounting a challenge.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,682 new Coronavirus cases and 30 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,202,709 and deaths to 20,810. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,114 have recovered, 225 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,731 have been released from isolation, 14 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Ford County is unable to report active and recovered cases at this time. Vermilion County did not provide a report Wednesday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State lawmakers will have some tough choices to make when it comes to creating the next budget year. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says it will be especially harder with handling the financial disaster of last fiscal years budget…

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Vermilion County Board approved a $24,000 budget amendment this week. The amendment will go to the counties animal control budget to pay expenses for animals in an alleged animal cruelty case.

 

 

(Roberts-cf)-- The Village of Roberts has one main priority on the docket for this summer, and that is updating, and maintaining the water system within the village. Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn has the details on what is happening… 

 

 

Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn.

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Farm Credit Illinois is announcing ag scholarships. The scholarships are for high school seniors enrolling in college this fall and majoring in an ag related field. Applications are due by March 12th. More details are available at farm credit il dot com.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- So far this year food price inflation has been surprisingly stubborn.  Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

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Illinois students get in free to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield for the next couple months

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker wants to put an end to certain outdoor balloon releases in the state. Representative Sam Yingling of Round Lake Beach, proposed the bill which would amend the Environmental Protection Act. It would prohibit balloons from being released at outdoor events such as weddings, funerals, birthday parties, and other celebrations. As part of the proposal, those who violate the amendment would face a $500 fine for each offense.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Several Illinois state lawmakers are looking to give the Legislative Inspector General more independence to investigate lawmakers. The Legislative Inspector General is overseen by the Legislative Ethics Commission, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers from the House and Senate. One reform several years ago allowed sexual harassment claims to be investigated without the inspector getting permission from the commission. State Representative Mike Murphy of Springfield wants to give the inspector general more freedom with House Bill 2575. The measure would allow the inspector general to issue subpoenas without permission or start an investigation. Complainants would also be notified their claims have been received within 15 days.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois students get in free to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield for the next couple months. The free admission lasts through the end of May, and applies to students on field trips or a family out says Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills…

 

 

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills. Wills says the museum will have live music this spring, displays of Lincoln’s artifacts and a new exhibit about the history of music in Illinois that opens at the end of April.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,510 new Coronavirus cases and 16 additional deaths Tuesday. Champaign County reported 21 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 18,439 and deaths to 134. Iroquois County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 2,801. Vermilion County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 8,573. Ford County did not have a report Tuesday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker proposed a $41.6 billion dollar budget when he gave his budget address last month. The state is facing a nearly $3 billion budget deficit from the previous year. Governor Pritzker is proposing several cuts to make up the deficit including the Blue Collar Jobs Act which 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City calls disappointing…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rural Ludlow-jm) -- Fire crews from several area departments were called to a structure fire Tuesday evening. Crews were called to the fire around 7:30 at 2393 county road 3600 in Champaign County east of Ludlow. No word on the cause.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Warm, breezy and dry conditions yesterday kept fire departments busy. Several departments around the area were called to grass and field fires. Breezy and warm conditions will continue today although there is rain in the forecast. Fox 55/27 Meteorologist Doug Quick will have the forecast at the end of this newscast.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On March 1st, Joseph Loveless of Melvin was arrested for driving while license revoked. On March 5th, Terry McRae of Gibson City was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and cited for improper turn, improper lane usage and speeding.

 

 

(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 in Fisher…

 

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Treasurer Kurt Albers is announcing Iroquois County real estate taxpayers can now view and print previously paid tax bills online. Visit iroquois il dot dev net wedge dot com. For more information or if you have questions, call the treasurer’s office at 815-432-6985.

 

 

(Melvin-jm) -- The Ford County Fair is announcing the Eli Young Band will perform at this year’s fair on Friday, June 18th. 90’s country band Shenandoah will open for the Eli Young Band. Tickets are on sale now at ford county fair dot org.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The returning Secretary of Agriculture says USDA faces new challenges that are different from his previous time at the agency. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  A new survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents shows 77% of responding school districts are struggling to hire teachers. School districts across Illinois are struggling to keep classrooms staffed because of the growing teacher shortage. COVID-19 has only made the problem worse.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An advocate for Illinois’ hotel and lodging industry says while other states are opening up more fully, the lack of clarity from Governor J.B. Pritzker on when Illinois will open up will have lasting consequences. Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association President Michael Jacobson said there’s no middle ground in Illinois on opening things up for conventions to drive major economic activity. Pritzker couldn't say when he’d announce Illinois is in Phase 5 of his COVID-19 reopening plan.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,510 new Coronavirus cases and 16 additional deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 18,439 have recovered, 233 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,729 have been released from isolation, 12 are in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 233 active cases and 7 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The agriculture industry was challenged during the Coronavirus pandemic as have been other industries. Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken talks about the challenges the industry faced…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- The Old Courthouse Museum in Watseka will remain closed to the public through the end of the month. The board of directors made the decision recently but will re-evaluate towards the end of the month.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Health Systems has received an $875,000 grant for substance abuse treatment. The grant is through the Illinois Department of Human Services. Carle says they will use the money to help their 23 county area.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers will face a tough challenge in taking on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says this year may be tougher than others…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is planning an in-person individual, private stage-crossing experience for 2020 and 2021 graduates May 10–17 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The stage crossing will be an individual procession specific to each graduate. Graduates may register for a time slot, during which they will proceed into the theatre where the graduate’s name will be announced as they cross a stage. Two guests will be allowed to accompany each graduate. Mandatory COVID-19 safety protocols will apply for all who participate, including wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Those traveling through Mahomet will want to be aware of some road construction. Starting March 15th portions of Route 150 and Lake of the Woods Road will be down to one lane as crews replace sewer lines. Work is expected to be done by March 19th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Renewable fuels will play an important part in meeting America's energy and environmental needs in the coming years, according to the Agriculture Secretary. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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The state is launching a 10 million dollar COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker wants to require the use of paper ballots in state elections.  State Senator Darren Bailey has filed Senate Bill 2038, which would mandate the use of hand-marked paper ballots by election authorities. Ballots under this bill could be counted by hand or with optical scanners. Illinois election leaders would have to set up strict chain-of-command procedures for ballots, voter registration polls and tabulation results. In addition, the Illinois State Board of Elections would have to use software that monitors and detects potential vulnerabilities in voter registration roll security. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Democratic Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are introducing legislation to close a loophole that allows a gun sale to proceed if a background check is not completed after 72 hours, even if the gun buyer is not legally allowed to purchase a gun. The measure would prohibit federally-licensed dealers from transferring the guns until a background check is completed.  The measure is called the “No check, No sale” law. The law will not impact sales in Illinois since the state already requires the background check to be completed before the firearm is transferred.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is launching a 10 million dollar COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign. The campaign aims to reach those in areas hardest hit by the virus. Governor J-B Pritzker says while it’s a personal choice whether or not to get the vaccine, he wants everyone to have the facts…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The statewide campaign features COVID patients, doctors and people who have lost loved ones to the virus.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,182 new Coronavirus cases and 5 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,199,517 and deaths to 20,767. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 53 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 18,418 and deaths to 131. Iroquois County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 2,792. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,602. Vermilion County reported 34 new cases and 12 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 8,533 and deaths to 118.

 

 

(Buckley-cf)-- There are new types of Crop Insurance for the 2021 growing season. Farmers can now become 90 or 95% covered based off their last season. Diversified Insurance Agent Dylan Reetz explains the coverages, and how Diversified Insurance goes an extra step… 

 

 

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

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Jury selection is expected to begin today for a double murder in St. Joseph back in 2020. Jonathan Perry is accused of shooting and killing 54-year-old Kimberly Coyne and her daughter, 24-year-old Blair Coyne. Perry is charged with 8 counts of first degree murder. If he is found guilty of two or more counts against both Kimberly and Blair he could be sentenced to natural life in prison with no possibility of parole.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- There's a new way to enter the emergency department at Carle Hospital in Urbana. Renovations are nearly complete, with just a few finishing touches remaining on the new patient entrance. It also increases the number of ambulance bays increased from four to six to meet rising demand. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The last day to register to vote in the April Consolidated elections at the county clerks office is today. You can still register online until March 21st.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest agricultural trade update shows big gains in U.S. exports. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul leads a bipartisan coalition of 19 attorneys general who filed an amicus brief in support of a Washington state initiative regulating the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles. Raoul and the attorneys general argue that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm regulations that protect public safety and reduce gun violence prevalence. The coalition argues that this includes passing regulations to ensure that only individuals who are likely to use firearms responsibly are able to access them. In the amicus brief, Raoul and the coalition argue that states have the responsibility and power to protect their residents by promoting safety, preventing crime, and minimizing gun violence. Raoul and the coalition also argue that states can also permissibly promote public safety by restricting in-person sales of firearms to state residents, as Washington has.

 

 

(Chicago-jm) -- Health officials reported the first Illinois case of P.1, a COVID-19 variant. The P.1 variant was first identified in travelers from Brazil during an airport screening in Tokyo, Japan, in early January. Since then, it has been identified in several other countries. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health said the P.1 case in Illinois was identified in Chicago at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. CDPH found that a household contact of the positive individual had also recently been sick with COVID-19, but neither individual nor their household contacts have reported travel outside of Illinois. Health officials say this variant may spread more easily than the most currently circulating strains of COVID-19.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,182 new Coronavirus cases and 5 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1,199,517 and deaths to 20,767. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County is reporting 18,051 have recovered, 236 are in isolation and 12 are hospitalized. Iroquois County is reporting 2,724 have been removed from isolation, 8 remain in isolation and 1 is hospitalized. Vermilion County is reporting 222 cases are active with 5 hospitalized.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)--Last week, the Ford County Public Health Department was only able to give 2nd doses of the COVID-19 vaccine due to the winter weather that hit the area in late February delaying shipments. However, the Health Department is back on schedule says Community Educator Megan Ruetter… 

 

 

Ford County Public Health Community Educator Megan Ruetter.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- There are several meetings around the area tonight. At 5:30, the Paxton Park District could decide whether or not to open the pool this summer. At 6, Rantoul village leaders are expected to approve agreements for Maplewood Drive improvements and establish a human relations committee. Also at 6, the Vermilion County Board is expected to fill a vacancy on their board. At 7 in Paxton, council members will consider whether to move forward with rezoning of the former Westlawn Elementary School. Also at 7, the St. Joseph village board will consider a new restaurant liquor license and hear an update on the search for a village manager.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A new pot dispensary may be coming to campus, but University of Illinois officials are already warning that nothing has changed about their smoking policy. NuEra, who already has an Urbana location, will open on 1st and Green streets right next to KAMS. Officials said the expansion will help them better serve their customers. In a statement, University officials made it clear they do not consider students to be part of that customer base. Smoking any tobacco or marijuana product is still completely prohibited on all campus properties. Any students who do not comply will be subject to a warning on the first offense; $25 fine on the second; $50 on the third; and $100 on every subsequent violation. After the second offense, students will have to take a course about not smoking on campus.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers have until the end of May to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about Governor J-B Pritzker's budget proposal…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

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

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Latest numbers show Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products are continuing to be far above last year's levels. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

 

 

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Free tax preparation assistance is available throughout Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- Free tax preparation assistance is available throughout Illinois. State Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman says low to moderate income families and seniors needing help with their taxes can get answers to their questions through several programs…

 

 

State Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman. The IRS also offers assistance virtually and the AARP has tax help available in several communities. Visit tax dot illinois dot gov for a list of locations.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ long-term debt has passed a grim milestone. Rating firm Moody’s Investors Service announced that Illinois’ adjusted net pension liabilities spiked 19% in 2020 to $317 billion. The figure was $261 billion in 2019. Distributed evenly across Illinois’ approximately 12 million residents, that amounts to roughly $25,000 per person. In addition to falling interest rates, Moody’s also blames lower returns on pension fund investments for the growing shortfall. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is launching a campaign to get high schoolers to fill out the free federal application for student aid. “Rock the FAFSA Illinois” aims to increase awareness about potential financial aid and offers free assistance in filling out the forms. The State Student Assistance Commission’s Lynne Baker says completing the FAFSA can be very useful to families…

 

 

Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s Lynne Baker. High schools are encouraged to hold FAFSA workshops this month. Baker says a new state law requires all public school seniors to fill out the FAFSA or the alternative application for Illinois financial aid in order to graduate, although families can opt out by submitting a form.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Sheriff’s Police have released their recent activity. On March 2nd, Vincent Perez of Onarga was arrested for domestic battery. On March 5th, Brandon Bennett of Onarga was charged on a warrant for failure to appear for driving under the influence of alcohol. Also on March 5th, Cheyenne Hollingsworth of Onarga was arrested on a warrant for battery.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Could summer activities happen in the City of Paxton. Mayor Bill Ingold says he hopes they will be able to have some of the normal activities this year…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council both meet tonight at 7. In Paxton at the Ford County Jail, the county board is expected to approve bids for county township maintenance projects and approve law enforcement agreements with Piper City and Sibley. In Gibson City, council members will consider banners for light poles in honor of their sesquicentennial and hear a presentation on the upcoming HarvestFest. The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council meetings both get underway at 7.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- GOP lawmakers are saying a federal bailout is not the answer. Governor J-B Pritzker and General Assembly Democrats approved a budget last year that relied on federal money and the Governor’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year does the same. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says it doesn’t solve the state’s financial issues…

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- With the easing of some Coronavirus restrictions and the expectation that some summer events will take place, the Ford County Circuit Clerk’s office is considering upgrading a part time traffic clerk to full time. That’s because circuit clerk Kami Johnson Anderson expects an uptick in the number of traffic tickets. Last year, only 655 tickets were issued compared to 1,095 the year prior.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- According to preliminary data, last month was the 10th coldest February on record in Illinois. It’s probably no surprise but temperatures in February averaged just 20 degrees. That’s 11 degrees below normal says State Climatologist Trent Ford…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. Statewide precipitation averaged about two inches in February. Ford says the recent snow and rain has helped improve soil moisture conditions, although portions of Central and Eastern Illinois remain abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is changing the way it charges interest on child support. Specifically, the department is ending the automatic 9% penalty for past due child support payments, in order to focus on racial and economic equity for the population they serve, including low-to-middle income families. Illinois is one of only 15 states that automatically charged interest on families served by the state.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Now that the FDA has approved the University of Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva test, other state colleges will be able to take advantage of the groundbreaking science. The low cost, easy and quick saliva test has made the Urbana campus one of the safest places to be says U of I President Tim Killeen, with a rate of infection there often below one percent. He says the so-called “Shield” Program has been a huge success and they are anxious to share it with other schools in Illinois…

 

 

University of Illinois President Tim Killeen. Even before FDA approval, the U of I has been sending the saliva test to clients all over the world including companies in the Silicon Valley, out of state universities as well as New Zealand and the Philippines.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A large police presence was seen at an Urbana apartment complex around 6 p.m. Sunday. Urbana Police say they received a report of shots fired near 1 Illinois North Student Apartments at the corner of Bradley and Lincoln. Champaign Police, Champaign County Sheriff's Office, Urbana Police, and the University of Illinois Police all responded to the scene.

 

 

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

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two area school boards meet tonight. In Rantoul at 6, the Rantoul Township High School board will meet where they will hear a presentation on the Student Online Privacy Protection Act and a presentation on the student handbook changes. At 6:30 in St. Joseph, the St. Joseph Community School District will consider the 2021-2022 school calendar and fees and hear a 2nd reading of updated policies. The Rantoul Township High School board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph Community school board meeting getting underway at 6:30.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- Work is continuing on the Kickapoo Rail Trail. The trail will run from Urbana to Kickapoo State Park near Danville. A portion of the trail is already completed with more to come. St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling says having the trail going through St. Joseph will help the community…

 

 

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Sunflowers are making a comeback in Champaign County this summer. The Atkins Group is launching Clearview Farm. It will be 140 acres. 18 crops will be planted ranging from wheat to sweet corn and sunflowers. The farm will be near Mattis and Olympian.

 

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