Parkland College students won't see the cost of their tuition increase

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and some of his top allies were named in a new federal subpoena. The Chicago Sun-Times reported federal investigators sent a subpoena seeking records to Merrionette Park, a village of 1,900 people in Cook County. The subpoena sought “correspondence with, or other communications (such as internal email messages) documenting communications with, Michael Madigan, Michael McClain, Timothy Mapes, Kevin Quinn and/or Marty Quinn,” according to the Sun-Times report.



(Springfield-cf)-- Sen. Jason Barickman of 53rd District Bloomington speaks on the Governor's new budget. Barickman said there will be some support pieces of his new budget particularly in the new K-12 section of the budget… 


53rd District State Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington



(Lincoln, IL-jm) -- Those who rely on their NOAA weather radio need to be aware of an outage issue. The National Weather Service office in Lincoln says their tower that transmits out of Champaign is down for several months. That station covers Champaign, Vermilion and Southern Ford Counties. Northern Vermilion County and Ford County except for the southwest portion can be picked up on KXI-86 out of Crescent City. Southwestern Ford County can be picked up on WXK-24 out of Odell. 



(Rantoul-cf)-- The annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake will take place Feb. 29. The Rantoul office services over 30 kids in Rantoul and Paxton who will benefit from the outing says Director Kristian Hopkins… 



Big Brothers Big Sisters Rantoul Director Kristian Hopkins. 



(Watseka--jc)  -- The Watseka Family Festival has announced the  headliner act for the 2020 Festival. Country music artist Neal McCoy will perform at 8 p.m August . 29th The Watseka Family Festival will take place August 27th through the 30th in the city.



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

Brayden Karlson from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what their chapter has planned on Saturday.



Rantoul FFA member Brayden Karlson



(Rantoul-jm) -- Three people have been arrested on drug and weapons charges in Rantoul. Police executed a search warrant in the 1300 block of Cypress Lane. During the search police discovered powdered cocaine, crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia, three guns and ammunition. Police arrested 52 year old Michael Sanders, 60 year old Robert Mercer and 32 year old Andrea Owens.  



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker gave his second budget address this week. The Governor covered a wide range of subjects from pushing for his graduated income tax to dealing with the state’s underfunded pension system. The Governor would also like to address issues with the states Department of Children and Family Services…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The lawmaker who proposed a bill which would have banned drivers from pumping their own gas in Illinois has tabled the bill. Rep. Camille Lilly (D) of the 78th District, near Chicago, introduced House Bill 4571 at the beginning of the month. If passed into law, drivers in Illinois would have had to wait for an attendant to pump their gas.


The Elliott Amvets will hold their all you can eat mountain oyster fry on Saturday, from 12-4 pm.

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill would allow residents to register their digital license plate with the state. The digital plates would replace the static metal like plates. Under the proposal you would still be required to have the metal plate on the front.



(Springfield-jm) -- State leaders are honoring Black History Month in Illinois. Officials are celebrating the work of local African American coaches, volunteers, mentors, school principals and more. Governor J-B Pritzker says Illinois has ties to the celebratory month…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker says Woodson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Chicago and then became the second African American to earn a phd from Harvard.



(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released January enforcement stats. During the first month of 2020, troopers issued 333 citations and 566 written warnings including 5 for DUIs and 7 seatbelts. Troopers responded to 129 traffic accidents resulting in one fatality.



(Urbana-jm) -- A banking glitch that caused some Busey Bank customers to be double charged has now been fixed. The company says customers who tried using their debit cards on Monday were double charged. The bank refunded customers.


(Buckley-cf)-- The venue is the 103 East Restaurant in Buckley.  The 2nd Annual Girls Day Out Event is scheduled for March 8th. All Ladies in the WPXN listening area are welcome to attend. There will be crafts, jewelry, homemade soap, scentsys, and posh. There will be something for all ages, says event spokesperson Missy Smith… 



Girls Day Out Spokesperson Missy Smith.  



(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College students won’t see the cost of their tuition increase. The board of trustees approved a tuition freeze at their meeting. The tuition rates will remain at $148.50 per credit hour. The school is also creating a debt forgiveness program. The program gives former students a chance to restart their education by removing financial holds preventing registration.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker gave his second budget address this week. The Governor covered a wide range of subjects from pushing for his graduated income tax to dealing with the state’s underfunded pension system. Governor Pritzker says he wants additional funding to address mental health…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Springfield-jm) -- A robocall tracking website estimated that the automated calls rang the average Illinoisan’s phone 10 times a day in January. YouMail, which offers a robocall blocking service, estimated that Illinois residents received 164.6 million robocalls last month, about 10 per day. Jim Chilsen, with the Citizens Utility Board, said the best way to fight robocalls is to find out what your carrier offers in terms of free services, as mandated by a new federal law. If you do pick up a robocall that appears to be a scam, Maureen Mahoney with Consumer Reports said not to interact at all. Just hang up.



With FFA week being next week and we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters about some of their planned activities. Tristen Cravens from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is happening on Sunday.



Rantoul FFA member Tristen Cravens



Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. Mallory Ames with the St. Joe Ogden High School’s FFA Chapter talks about their auction on Saturday.



St. Joe Ogden FFA President Mallory Ames


The Iroquois West FFA Alumni Auction will take place on Saturday at the Iroquois West High School Gym. Dinner starts at 4 with the live auction beginning at 5.


The Chatsworth Fire and EMS will hold their Pancake and Sausage breakfast on Sunday from 7-1 at the Chatsworth American Legion.



State lawmakers react to Governor J.B. Pritzker's Budget address

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers moved forward with legislation that would require high-voltage outlets to be installed in most new construction, renovations, and a significant portion of all parking garages to allow for electric car charging. House Bill 4284 is similar to a mandate in California. It requires any new residential construction to have a dedicated circuit that runs to the garage or all parking spaces to make it “electric vehicle ready.”  Any new residential property with six or fewer parking spaces would have to have a dedicated outlet for each spot under the terms of the bill.



(Springfield-jm) -- A group of Illinois lawmakers declined to block the Illinois State Police from implementing new administrative rules governing firearms dealers. Those rules were adopted on an emergency basis in January, nearly one year after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Firearms Dealer License Certification Act into law. It requires that anyone holding a federal firearms license who engages in the business of selling or transferring firearms also obtain a state certificate and subject themselves to state regulation.


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker gave his annual budget address before both chambers of the Illinois legislature Wednesday. One of the issues the Governor hopes to accomplish is the passage of his graduated income tax proposal…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 


Reaction is starting to come in from area state representatives. State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington…



State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.



(Urbana--jc)  An apparent glitch in the computer system on Monday has caused some charges on some Busey Bank customers. Those affected used a debit card and Pin Number on Monday. Busey Bank officials say the accounts should be corrected today. 



(Gifford-cf)-- The Gifford Community Grade School held their monthly board meeting on Feb. 19. A few items that were on the agenda were the approval of Superintendent Mr. Smith to work on the budget for the upcoming school year, the approval of the school calendar of the upcoming year, and the approved hiring of a special education teacher. That teacher has not been named yet and we will update this story as it allows. 



(Washington-jm) -- Illinois Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have announced over $21 million in public housing funding from the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development. Among the location organizations receiving funding includes the Ford County Housing Authority receiving $130,000. The Champaign County Housing Authority will receive $71,000. The Vermilion County Housing Authority will receive just under $400,000.



(Washington-jm) -- How is the coronavirus pandemic in China currently impacting U.S. ag exports into that market? Rod Bain reports…




(Undated-jm) -- Speed limits on certain roads in Illinois could be going up. Senate Bill 2565 would increase the max speed on interstates from 70 to 75 mph in rural areas of the state. Another bill, Senate Bill 2564 would increase the non interstate highway speed from 55 to 60. Triple A has come out against the increases.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation has awarded several grants to teachers in the district. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…




(Undated-jm) -- Have you filed your taxes but are still waiting to get their return? Here is when you can expect to see your return. If you filed by paper and are requesting a paper check you could be waiting six or more weeks for your return. If you filed electronically but are requesting a paper check you could be waiting four or more weeks. If you e filed and are requesting your refund be direct deposited it could take about 10 business days to receive your refund. The IRS says 90 percent of tax filings are processed within 21 days.


(Springfield-jm) -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing strict new limits on health insurance policies that require patients to receive “prior authorization” from the company before they can receive certain treatments, tests or prescription drugs. It’s a common practice under most health plans, one originally intended to hold down costs while making sure patients receive the appropriate care. But it’s one that many critics say has gotten out of control.



(Springfield-jm) -- First, there were cordless phones and text messages. Then, internet access and video calls. Now, wireless’s fifth generation will drive mobile phone speeds even faster and allow for advances in telemedicine and management of traffic signals, for example, according to the Federal Communications Commission. But two lawmakers, Western Springs Democratic Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton and Elmhurst Republican Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, want to give residents, legislators and industry experts a chance to weigh in on the network upgrade. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker gave his annual budget address before both chambers of the Illinois legislature Wednesday. The Governor addressed the state’s pension issue…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 


Area lawmakers are responding to the Governor’s annual budget address. State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…



State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.



(Ludlow-jm) -- The village of Ludlow is forming an ordinance committee. The committee, consisting of three members of the village board, will meet before each month's meeting. They hope to keep up on the current ordinances and meet the needs of the community.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The Champaign County Clerks office has released early voting hours in Rantoul. Early voting will take place at the Rantoul United Methodist Church beginning March 9th through the 13th from 10 am to 6 pm, March 14th from 10 am to 1 pm, March 15th from 1 to 4 pm and March 16th from 10 am to 6 pm.



(IW-cf)-- The Iroquois West FFA Alumni Auction will be this Saturday. There will be a free porkchop dinner at 4pm, and the auction will get underway at 5pm. IW FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman gives details about what will be auctioned off…



Iroquois West FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman.



(Undated-jm) -- Kids hospitalized with the flu continue to rise as 14 more have died from the virus. 92 kids have died so far this flu season, the second highest since the 2017-2018 flu season when 187 died. The CDC says the flu shot isn’t an exact match to the strain that is going around. So far in the U-S, 26 million people have gotten the flu resulting in 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 have died. Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, aches, chills, sweats and fatigue.


(Springfield-jm) -- A proposed bill in the Illinois House would define what part of the state is considered downstate Illinois. Representative Avery Bournes legislation would name any part of the state outside of Cook, Dupage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties as downstate.



Governor J-B Pritzker is set to give his annual budget address today

(Springfield-jm) -- The owner of Illinois’ nuclear power plants said it could face criminal charges and other penalties in connection with a federal investigation involving the company's lobbying practices in Springfield, but Exelon officials said they don't know how any of those things could play out or what they could mean for the company's bottom line. Utilities like Exelon are required to disclose certain issues in an annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In its 2019 report released earlier this month, the company disclosed that the federal investigation into ComEd, its utility service company, could face challenges. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Reactions are coming in to President Donald Trump’s commutation of former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence. Governor J-B Pritzker says the move sends the wrong message at the wrong time. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says he also disagrees with Trump’s decision…



House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Former federal prosecutors are weighing in as well, saying while the President has the right to reduce Blagojevich’s sentence, /the former Governor was convicted of very serious crimes.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is set to give his annual budget address today at the state capitol. The Governor will address both chambers of the statehouse at noon. You can hear more about his address tonight at our news at 4 and 5 pm.

(Springfield-jm) -- The sponsor of leaf blowing legislation says she doesn’t expect it to pass this session, but hopes it educates the public. The bill bans gas powered leaf blowers because of environmental and noise pollution concerns. It’s sponsored by Senator Laura Fine of Glenview, who says people in her district asked for the change…


State Senator Laura Fine of Glenview. Fine says the gas blowers can cause hearing loss and emit high levels of pollutants. She hopes people will explore healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives.



(Undated-jm) -- Two area men are among 15 arrested following a child sex sting in Kankakee County. 27 year old Joshua Koenig of Buckley and 50 year old Robert Shawn Anderson of Paxton are both charged with attempted enticement of a minor. If convicted both face a minimum of 10 years in prison.



(Undated-jm) -- The Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau is hosting two Viewpoint Breakfast meetings. The first breakfast will take place on Thursday at Happy Days Diner in Roberts. The second breakfast will take place on March 3rd at the farm bureau office in Gilman. Both breakfasts start at 7:30 am. For more information or to sign up, call the farm bureau.



(Paxton-jc)-- WPXN’s business of the day is Ryan Vance of Stine Seeds.With the 2020 planting season right around the corner Ryan Vance tells WPXN that there is a prediction for a wetter spring this year, and how there have been some restrictions on the dicamba herbicide… 


Ryan Vance of Stine Seeds.WPXN’s Business of the Day. 



Democratic candidates for the March 17th primary will hold a meet and greet at the Rantoul Public Library tonight from 5:30-7:30 pm.


(Springfield-jm) -- Other states are looking to copy Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, but an innovation expert warned about a potential pitfall of the state law. Illinois’ law protecting biometric privacy – such as fingerprints and face shape – allows citizens to file a lawsuit, something unique to the state. Since Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act was enacted in 2008, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against companies large and small. Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act requires an entity to get express consent from a person before obtaining, storing, or using any of that person’s physical characteristics. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois taxpayers will find out how Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to balance the state's budget today. Ahead of the governor's budget address, leaders from both parties laid out what they hope to hear talk about. House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said his caucus wants the governor to focus on education spending and funding for state agencies. House Republicans say they want to be included in budget negotiation to get to a balanced budget without tax and fee increases or new spending.



(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation aims to reduce the amount of plastic being used in Illinois. One measure prohibits restaurants and bars from providing plastic straws, unless a customer requests one. Another imposes a 10 cent plastic bag fee says Representative Ann Williams of Chicago…


State Representative Ann Williams of Chicago. A third proposal establishes a container deposit program. Supporters say these changes are needed to reduce pollution and protect Illinois waterways.



(Fisher-jm) -- The village of Fisher will spend $6,000 to rebuild or replace the engine on their oldest police vehicle. The village board voted to go that route instead of replacing the 2011 vehicle saying it was too soon to replace the vehicle after buying a new one late in 2018. The village hopes the vehicle will last another 3 to 4 years.



(Monticello, IN-jm) -- A popular regional tourist attraction is closing after 94 years. The owners of Indiana Beach in Monticello Indiana have closed the amusement park citing financial struggles.



(Rantoul-cf)-- Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Rantoul will be holding their annual Bowl for Kids Sake on Feb. 29. Kristian Hopkins, Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Rantoul gives us a little background on the event, and that it’s held every year at Country Tyme Lanes in Rantoul, and that this is the 5th year of the Bowl for Kids Sake…. 


Big Brothers Big Sisters Rantoul Directory Kristian Hopkins.



The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce will hold their Lunch and Learn today at noon at Cobblestone Hotel.



Area healthcare providers are warning about an increase in flu cases

(Springfield-jm) -- While a measure to require gas station attendants to pump gas in Illinois was tabled, other bills at the statehouse have been catching the attention of Illinois taxpayers. One would ban gas-powered leaf blowers. Another would require gun owners to get a $1 million insurance policy. state Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, filed  Senate Bill 3313 would require that beginning in 2022 “a person may not operate or sell at retail a gas-powered leaf blower” and any violation would “be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500.” State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, filed House Bill 5170 to require gun owners to obtain a $1 million insurance policy. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The trade dispute with China, a disease that halved its hog herd, and thus the demand for U.S. grains to feed them, and robust competition from South America all have had Illinois soybean farmers dealing with a reduction in demand. Phase 1 of the new trade deal with China was expected to help alleviate some of those issues, with China’s agreement to buy $32 million in U.S. agricultural products in 2020. But the coronavirus epidemic has put a wrench in the works, said Joseph Camp, manager of AgriVisor and an analyst specializing in grains.



NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University’s president has created a new position focused on diversity and inclusion on campus. President Larry Dietz appointed Doris Houston as the university’s first assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion, The Pantagraph reported. Houston is currently the interim director of the university’s School of Social Work and she called the new role a natural fit with her background.



(Springfield-jm) One area of funding inscreases from the governor is higher education. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker says the future of the state relies on educational opportunities in Illinois…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Undated-jm) -- Area healthcare providers are warning about an increase in flu cases. Doctors say they are seeing more cases of the flu this year compared to this time last year. The flu is now considered widespread in Illinois according to the CDC. 




(Roberts-Flessner)- The Village or Roberts will be hosting an electronic recycling event in 2021. Ford County reached out to the Village to see if they would like to host. Mayor Rick Flesnsner has more.. 



Mayor of Roberts Rick Flessner 



(Urbana-jm) -- A University of Illinois student has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department says the unidentified student lives in off campus housing and is being isolated at an area hospital while receiving treatment.


(Springfield-jm) -- To compete with record low unemployment, the U.S. Census is offering higher wages than it has ever offered. With Illinois’ unemployment rate at 3.7 percent in December, Ellisa Johnson deputy regional director for the Chicago Regional Census Bureau, said the bureau needs thousands of additional temporary workers. According to its website, the Census is now offering jobs paying up to $29.50 per hour in the Chicago area, $23.50 an hour in the Peoria area, and $21 an hour in Springfield. Hourly pay in each county is at least $17 per hour with reimbursements. Johnson said these workers are necessary to ensure all Illinoisans are counted this spring. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Associated Builders and Contractors have raised concerns about a measure to require private contractors working in refineries or ethanol processing plants to pay prevailing wage would destroy the group's Community Builders apprenticeship program. Senate Bill 1407 would require certain safety provisions for work done at refineries or ethanol production plants. But it would also require private contractors to pay prevailing wage rates. It passed the Senate in 2019 and is up for final passage in the Illinois House.



(Champaign--jc)  Funding for the C=U at Home group continues through Friday. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…


(Springfield-jm) -- A national organization says Illinois is the best state in the country when it comes to animal protection laws. The annual study, compiled by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of each state’s animal protection laws and ranks them accordingly. Kathleen Wood, staff attorney with the organization, said it was no surprise the state topped the list for the 12th straight year.


(Springfield-jm) -- More college age students in Illinois will be able to stay in state to get a higher education. In his last budget, Governor J-B Pritzker allotted more money for things such as MAP grants to entice more students to stay in state…


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Thawville-jm) -- A Thawville man is applying for a state marijuana growing license in Ford County. The man owns five acres in Ford County where he would operate a craft growing business employing 10 to 15 people. He needs the county boards permission for the state permit. The county zoning committee will discuss the issue on February 19th.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Three law enforcement officials will be honored for their work investigating the killer of a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois. Sgt. James Carter, Detective Eric Stiverson and telecommunicator Kenny Costa of the University of Illinois Police Department will be awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion at a ceremony Feb. 24 in Champaign. The award is the highest honor given by the university and has been awarded seven times.



(Gilman-cf)-- The Iroquois West FFA ALumni Auction will be Feb. 22 at IW High School in Gilman. The auction will kick off at 4pm with a FREE porkchop dinner says Iroquois West FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman…



Iroquois West FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman.


State lawmakers across the country, including in Illinois, are considering new laws that would classify more workers as employees rather than contractors

(Springfield-jm) -- An analysis of election data over the last decade highlights where Illinois’ Republican Party lost the competitive swing of Illinois’ electoral fight with Democrats. In 2010, the midwestern states surrounding Illinois saw what the Center for Illinois Politics called a “red wave,” turning formerly Democratic stronghold states such as Wisconsin in a major GOP coup that helped send President Donald Trump to the White House six years later.  But Illinois stands out as a blue island surrounded by Republican-dominated states, thanks to a Democratic takeover of the former GOP strongholds in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Why did those former Republican strongholds turn blue? The analysis said the key was independent suburban women.



(Springfield-jm) -- Ahead of this week’s budget address, Governor J-B Pritzker is hi-liting some of the expected savings over the next few years. Governor Pritker says several changes, making the government more efficient will save the state more than 225 million dollars in the next budget year, and at least 750 million dollars over the next three years…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker says the savings come from several areas including union contracts, avoiding late fees by paying overdue bills and merging some agency, board and commission functions to avoid duplication. The Governor will give his budget address on Wednesday.


(Chicago-jm) -- The two Chicago residents who were confirmed to have the Coronavirus have been released from isolation. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the couple were released from isolation last week after recovering from the disease. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Supporters of college student athlete legislation are urging the Senate to get it passed this week. The bill lets college athletes be paid for their name or likeness and allow them to sign endorsement deals. It’s sponsored by Senator Chris Welch of Hillside…



State Senator Chris Welch of Hillside. The measure has cleared the House but still needs to be passed by the Senate. Governor J-B Pritzker has said he will sign it into law.


(Iroquois County-jm) -- An Iroquois County teen is in a Chicago hospital with serious injuries following a single vehicle crash Friday near St. Anne. Iroquois County Sheriff’s police say the 16 year old from Watseka was traveling east on 3300 north when they lost control on the ice covered road, when they went off the road and struck a utility pole.



(Urbana-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 30 months probation for having heroin for sale. Lavonte McWilliams pleaded guilty in Champaign County court last week to possession with intent to deliver after he was arrested in August following a search of his home. During the search police discovered approximately 10 grams of heroin for sale and packaging materials. A lesser charge of possession of a controlled substance was dismissed.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing all drivers services facilities will be closed for the President’s Day holiday. Facilities open Monday through Friday will be closed today. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police says they’ve improved efforts to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, but that more needs to be done. More than 600 police departments and criminal justice agencies are now taking advantage of a new web database, that lets users search for those who’ve had their FOID card revoked and why. Moving forward, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says he’d like to see passage of a bill requiring fingerprints to obtain a FOID card…



Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. The measure is currently awaiting a final vote in the Senate.


(Springfield-jm) -- State lawmakers across the country, including in Illinois, are considering new laws that would classify more workers as employees rather than contractors in the growing gig economy. California was the first state to try to regulate companies operating in the gig economy, telling organizations like Uber and Lyft that drivers are employees, not contractors. There is an enormous difference for both workers and for companies. Employees are protected by certain laws, including minimum wage laws, workers' compensation and Social Security. Independent contractors are not subject to those same provisions. The idea that Illinois could follow in California’s footsteps is leading to some uncertainty around the state, said Bryan Gay, chairman of the Illinois Economic Development Association.




(Undated-jm) -- An Illinois congressman is co-sponsoring legislation to expand hospital based violence intervention programs around the country. The bi-partisan legislation co sponsored by Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger and Maryland Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersburger would provide $10 million in federal grants to hospitals that offer services to victims of violent crime while they are recovering from their injuries.



(Springfield-jm) -- The State Fire Marshal’s Office is stressing the importance of fire safety for older Illinoisans. According to the United States Fire Administration, about one thousand seniors die in home fires each year and another two thousand are injured says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz…



State Fire Marshal’s Office Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Fultz says another problem is people smoking near oxygen tanks, which should be kept at least five to 10 feet away from any heat source. He urges seniors to keep their glasses and phones next to their bed and to make sure they have a clear route to get out of the house should a fire break out.



(Thomasboro-jm) -- Questions have arised over the cost to bring a Dollar General to the village of Thomasboro. The company wants to build a store on the northeast corner of Route 45 and Flatville Road. As part of the agreement to build in the village, the village has been asked to extend water and sewer services to the site. The village learned their portion of the bill would be $85,000. Several residents and village trustees are wondering where that money would come from.


(Rantoul-jm) -- No injuries were reported after a car caught fire at the Rantoul Walmart. Rantoul Firefighters were called for a fully engulfed vehicle on fire at the store. The car was a total loss.



(Bloomington-jm) -- You will have another option to escape the cold winters of Illinois. Allegiant Air announced a new non-stop flight to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Florida twice weekly starting in June from Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington.


(Springfield-jm) -- State lawmakers are discussing criminal justice reforms, such as ending cash bail in Illinois. Supporters of the idea gave testimony at a hearing in Chicago, suggesting that too many suspects are languishing in jail simply because they can’t afford bail. But DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin says there are concerns about letting people off without a cash bond in place…



DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin. Berlin and other state’s attorneys says there should still be a bail for serious felony crimes and both the defendant and the state should be able to immediately appeal a judge’s decision.



New legislation creates a statewide drug take back program in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- A new proposal in Springfield would create a uniform standard to prepare schools and daycare facilities for handling severe allergic reactions. House Bill 3983, sponsored by Northbrook Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, would require state officials to establish anaphylactic policies for school districts and daycare centers. They would include procedure and treatment plans, a training course on how to respond to a severe allergic reaction, strategies for reducing exposure to specific foods or other allergens known to cause anaphylactic reactions, and other measures.



(Washington-jm) --  What's the outlook for U.S. net cash farm income this year?  Gary Crawford reports…




(Gilman-cf)-- The Iroquois West FFA Alumni is hosting their Alumni Auction Feb. 22 at IW High School in Gilman. Bill Bretzman, IW FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman says the proceeds from the auction go to funding SAE grants for the students, and other funding for the FFA program… 



IW FFA Advisor Bill Bretzman 



(McLean County-jm) -- A Gifford man has been arrested on drug charges in McLean County. Jonah Wankel is charged with unlawful possession of a meth precursor. Police say Wankel had pseudophedrine with the intent to manufacture meth. He also faces two counts of obstructing justice by giving police a false name. He was release don $20,000 bond.



(Buckley-cf)-- The St. Johns Winter Carnival will be this Sunday Feb 16th in Buckley. Starting at 3:30pm, each game will cost one ticket and tickets can be purchased for .50c each, Spokeswoman Keri Satchura has more… 



St Johns Winter Carnival spokeswoman Keri Satchura St. Johns in Buckley 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois can expect a year of slowing job growth, according to economic and business magazine Kiplinger’s. The magazine forecasted job growth of 0.5 percent for Illinois in 2020. That’s down from 1.1 percent in 2019. 



(Springfield-jm) -- A bill in the Illinois House would require students entering the 6th grade to receive the HPV vaccination in order to attend school. In addition, House Bill 4870 would require confirmation of the vaccination upon entering 9th grade. If approved, the law would be enacted beginning the 2022 school year.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is promoting his Rebuild Illinois infrastructure improvement plan. The governor discussed the plan during his State of the State address…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.


The Saybrook American Legion will hold a chicken and fish fry tonight from 4:30-6:30 pm.


Big Brothers Big Sisters will hold a Glow Bingo on Saturday from 6-11 pm at the Rantoul Knights of Columbus. Tickets are $25 a piece.


(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois voters decide whether to change the state’s flat income tax to a progressive one this November, but the chief proponent and opponent have been separately debating what it could mean for Illinois' high property taxes. Illinois has a flat income tax. Lawmakers have changed the flat rate several times over the past decade. Those changes affect all taxpayers the same, regardless of income. Democrats in the Illinois Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment to voters this November to change the flat income tax to a progressive structure with higher rates for higher earners. Illinois has among the highest property taxes in the country.



(Springfield-cf)--New legislation creates a statewide drug take back program in Illinois. The measure is sponsored by Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview who says one third of medications go unused, and often end up in the hands of addicts or flushed down the toilet and harm the environment. She says the Illinois Drug Act will change that… 


Rep. Jeffifer Gong-Gershowitz. The Bill requires drug manufacturers to fund a statewide drug collection effort and educate the public about why it’s important to properly dispose of medications. We will update this story as it allows. 



(Washington-jm) -- A bill allowing active duty military to have access to the system for mailing absentee ballots is now law. The Count All Military Votes Act, sponsored by U-S Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois would expand the system to expedite and track absentee ballots for military bases.



(Buckley-cf)-- The 2nd Annual Girls Day Out will be taking place this year on March 8th. Event Organizer Missy Smith talks about the massive turnout last year, with over 20 vendors, and the amount of ladies that participated…. 



103 East of Buckley Organizer of the Girls Day Out Event, Missy Smith. 



(Gifford-jm) -- A Danville company will provide construction services for a water main project in Gifford. Bob Brown Construction won the bid at a cost of $297,560 to replace water mains on Main Street in the village. Bob Brown Construction was the lowest bidder out of seven for the project.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new report said schools emotionally scar students by conducting unannounced active shooter drills. In the 2015-2016 school year, 95 percent of schools conducted active threat training, according to the U.S. Department of Education data. The National Education Association, International Federation of Teachers and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund jointly released a report that criticized the practice of simulated school shooting drills conducted without first notifying teachers and students.



(Springfield-jm) -- While adult-use cannabis has legal in Illinois since Jan. 1, some remain concerned that high prices are keeping people from moving to the legal market. Illinois legalized medical cannabis five years ago. Starting Jan. 1, dozens of medical dispensaries around the state began selling cannabis products to adults 21 and older. Cannabis buyers in Illinois spent nearly $40 million in January, according to state regulators. State officials haven't released official revenue totals from the sales, but the state taxes can add up to more than 40 percent, depending on the potency of the product. The Los Angeles Times reported in September that California’s black market for cannabis was at least three times the size of the state’s regulated industry and the same thing is happening in Illinois.



(Springfield-jm) -- Applications for more licenses in the Illinois cannabis industry are now available. State Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox says the license apps are for marijuana transporters, infusers and craft growers…



State Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox. Those interested can submit an application between February 14th and March 16th. Visit agriculture dot illinois dot gov for all the details. 


The Ludlow Fire Department will hold their pancake and sausage breakfast on Sunday from 8 to 1 at the firehouse.


St. John’s PTL Chicken dinner, silent auction and winter carnival will take place on Sunday from 3:30-7 pm at St. John’s Lutheran School in Buckley.



Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is accusing the U.S. Department of Agriculture of playing favorites with trade war aid payments

(Springfield-jm) -- An interim annual financial report shows Illinois spent more in the previous fiscal year than it collected in revenue despite claims from elected officials that the state's budget was balanced. A public finance watchdog said despite some shortcomings, the interim annual report is valuable, especially as Gov. J.B. Pritzker prepares to propose his budget next week for the coming fiscal year that starts this summer. The five-page Interim Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. It was published this week by the Illinois comptroller, weeks after the fully audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was supposed to be published.



(Washington-jm) -- Is the situation with the coronavirus causing a slowdown in China's imports of U.S. soybeans? Gary Crawford reports…




(Paxton-jm) -- Could changes be coming to the Sangamon Valley Conference? The Paxton-Buckley-Loda School board is expected to discuss the athletic conference at tonight's school board meeting. School board members will also discuss summer maintenance projects and releasing bids for parking lot repairs at the high school and junior high. The PBL School Board meeting gets underway at 6pm



State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Mike Marron will hold joint office hours today from 12-1 at the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce office.


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is promoting some accomplishments from his first year as governor. One of those accomplishments is expanding childhood education and increasing teacher pay…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is accusing the U.S. Department of Agriculture of playing favorites with trade war aid payments by giving more money to southern cotton farmers who were less affected by the trade war than Illinois soybean farmers. Durbin, who sits on the Senate agriculture committee, made the accusation after the USDA last week distributed the third and final round of aid payments to farmers affected by the ongoing trade war with China. The $14.5 billion of payments came from an aid package called the Market Facilitation Program. First-round payments in Illinois averaged $69 per acre. In contrast, 163 counties in five southern states saw payments above $87 per acre, including 13 that saw the maximum $150 per acre. Soybean exports fell by $9 billion, a drop of 75 percent, compared to cotton exports which fell just 6 percent, a decrease of $54 million.


(Springfield-jm) -- Proposed legislation in Illinois that would mandate your gas is pumped by an employee of the gas station would guarantee a price increase and is a “typical Springfield solution to creating jobs,” a convenience store group says. Illinois drivers filling up at the pump started paying double the state gas tax last summer. New revenue from the state gas tax increase from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents is going to pay for a multi-year statewide construction program. Drivers also got hit with increased fees in other areas, such as annual vehicle registration fees. Last week, House Bill 4571 was filed by Democratic state Rep. Camille Lilly and would create the Gas Station Attendant Act. It says that “no gas may be pumped at a gas station” in Illinois “unless it is pumped by a gas station attendant employed at the gas station.”


(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation in Springfield would keep Illinois lawmakers from shutting down investigations into their colleagues by the legislative ethics officer. The Illinois General Assembly has seen multiple resignations, offices raided, arrests, allegations of illegal kickbacks and a conviction in recent months as part of a sweeping federal corruption probe. It was revealed in 2018 that Illinois' Legislative Inspector General, the person responsible for investigating harassment, corruption and other unethical behavior under the dome, was often blocked by the Legislative Ethics Commission, a panel of lawmakers who don’t release their decisions to the public.  House Bill 4558 would require the investigator to tell the panel of lawmakers that they’ve started an investigation but the commission would no longer be able to stop them from starting it or from releasing a report on the findings to the public. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday touted statewide benefits he said will result from a $500 million state investment in 15 hubs of a University of Illinois-led public-private research institute network. The money is for the planning and construction of the Discovery Partners Institute — a public-private research and development and workforce development hub led by the UI — and 14 other hubs of a statewide program.



(Washington-jm) -- Cold snaps, even short ones, can cause significant agricultural damage. Stephanie Ho has the details…



The Onarga Public Library will hold their Family Movie Night tonight at 6:30 pm with the showing of Snow Buddies.



(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher village board will meet tonight in their monthly session. Items on the agenda include discussing whether to repair or replace a 2011 police vehicle, consider approving revisions to the villages nuisance ordinance and consider amending the villages raffle ordinance. The Fisher village board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Undated-jm) -- State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is introducing legislation to honor another branch of the U-S military on state license plates. Senate Bill 2518 would create the Air Force Combat Action license plate for eligible drivers. Senator Barickman says he wants to recognize all branches of military service.



(Washington-jm) -- What do USDA's latest domestic and global ag reports reveal about soybeans and wheat from a supply, export, and price perspective? Rod Bain reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- Most adults in Illinois give the state’s public school system only a so-so grade, but they give slightly higher marks for their own local schools. That’s according to a new survey commissioned by the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. The survey, called the State of Education Report,  also found broad public support for increasing funding for K-12 education and raising educator salaries. When asked to give the state’s public school system a letter grade, only 2 percent of respondents gave it an A, while 20 percent gave it a B, both down slightly from a similar survey conducted last year. Forty-one percent gave the state a C, while 31 percent gave it a D or F.



The Illinois Department of Public Health now has the ability to test for the 2019 novel coronavirus in-state

(Springfield-jm) -- A teachers union-sponsored poll of Illinois residents found that most think public school teachers should be paid more, receive their pensions earlier, and have the state provide more funding for public education. They also said high quality public schools are more important than lowering taxes, reforming the state’s pensions, reducing violence, and balancing the state’s budget, a constitutional requirement. Fifty-seven percent also told them that the state of Illinois “was headed off on the wrong track.”



(Springfield-jm) -- Despite bringing in billions of dollars more in tax revenue, Illinois state government’s fiscal condition continues to deteriorate, according to an interim annual report published by the Illinois comptroller. The five-page Interim Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. The report shows tax revenues to Illinois state government increased by more than $3 billion, from $74 billion in 2018 to $77.9 billion in 2019. Total expenses were also up, from $80.3 billion in 2018 to $81.5 billion in 2019. The largest amount of revenue, outside of money from the federal government, is income taxes.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health now has the ability to test for the 2019 novel coronavirus in-state, meaning shorter wait times for test results for people showing symptoms of the virus and meeting certain criteria. Illinois Department of Public Health said in a news release Tuesday that Illinois is the first state to be able to do the testing without shipping specimens out of state, and results are typically available within 24 hours.


(Washington-jm) -- Even though the U.S./China trade deal is signed and in effect, USDA made few changes to its new export forecasts. Gary Crawford explains…




(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters were called to an electrical fire in a stove Tuesday evening. Firefighters were called just after 6pm to the 600 block of S. Park Street. No injuries were reported.



(Buckley-CF)-- The St. Johns Chicken Dinner will be this Sunday Feb. 16th from 3:30- 7pm. There will be Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, and Applesauce. Spokesperson Kari Satchura has more… 



St. Johns Chicken Dinner Spokesperson Kari Satchura.



(Paxton-jm) -- Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran is awarding a $500 scholarship for an area college student. The scholarship is through the Illinois Sheriff’s Association. Scholarship requirements include being a permanent Illinois resident, used at an institution of higher learning in Illinois and be enrolled as a full time student during the 2020-2021 school year. Deadline to submit your scholarship application to the Ford County Sheriff’s Office is March 15th.


(Roberts-CF)- The Village of Roberts held their monthly board meeting on Feb. 3rd and discussed the amendment to rescind their objections to the Ford County Zoning committee on the windfarm Mayor Rick Flessner has more..



Mayor of Roberts Rick Flessner. The Height can’t be any greater than 500 feet and that the setback shall be no greater than 2250 feet from city limits. 



(Springfield-jm) -- State Treasurer Mike Frerichs is receiving the Patriot Award for his commitment military service member employees. Frerichs was nominated by a member of his staff, who is also a member of the National Guard. The award is given to supervisors and employers who make conscious efforts to support their military employees.



(Urbana-jm) -- School officials have taken steps to protect students on the University of Illinois campus amid concerns about the new coronavirus from China. The Champaign-Urbana campus is home to more than 5,800 students from China. When the outbreak began, Dr. Robert Parker at the campus’ McKinley Health Center contacted each student from the particular area of China where the virus was prevalent. He said that, as of last week, nine students said they were previously feeling ill but not one had been flagged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as potentially having the respiratory illness.


(Springfield-jm) -- A state senator wants to get a question in front of voters this November that would ban local governments in Illinois from prohibiting forced unionization. The state’s leading manufacturers’ group says that policy won’t grow the economy. State Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, filed Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 13 last year. It would amend Illinois’ Bill of Rights to prohibit the state or any local units of government from restricting forced unionization. He was scheduled to hold a press conference on the issue last week, but said he plans to reschedule. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Two union locals working on a contract with the Illinois Secretary of State are prepared to strike if they don’t get their way. Deneen Taylor, a field service director with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said Local 4407 runs all the IT for the Secretary of State. She said with the automatic voter registration program, REAL ID and other demands on employees, they want better pay and more staff. They also want raises and the same maternity leave other constitutional officers are offering employees. That policy is ten weeks of leave for mothers and fathers. She said the union voted down the administration’s last offer and authorized a strike.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers could enact new legislation this spring that would put the state on a path to using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, but just what the Clean Energy Jobs Act would mean for the state’s ratepayers remains unclear. The bill is awaiting consideration by the Illinois House of Representatives. Another version has been introduced in the state Senate. Both bills could be called this spring.



(Springfield-jm) -- As Valentine’s Day approaches Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is warning the public about romance related scams. Con artists have been known to target people through dating websites, apps and social media, purporting to need money so they can travel to see the victim. Attorney General Spokesperson Annie Thompson has this advice…


Illinois Attorney General Spokesperson Annie Thompson. Thompson says a few other online and phone scams are also circulating, where the caller poses as someone from the Illinois State Police, a utility company or the Social Security Administration, seeking your personal information.



(Undated-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing that all driver’s services facilities will be closed today for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. All facilities will reopen tomorrow.



(Paxton-cf)- The Paxton Buckley Loda  Education Foundation is set to start distributing money to the P-B-L school district for new computers, and updating technology. Technology becomes outdated in several years of  purchase says. P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold... 



P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold.


(Rantoul-jm) -- A health fair set for next month in Rantoul will focus on more than just your physical health. The health fair sponsored by the village of Rantoul in conjunction with the chamber will also focus on financial and inner health. 25 vendors will be on hand for the event on March 12th from 4-8 pm at the Forum Fitness Center.


(Crescent City-cf)- The Iroquois Country Fair Association is seeking sponsors for this year's upcoming fair. There are multiple ways to purchase sponsorships. Fair Spokesperson Debbie Krones has the details... 



 Iroquois County Fair Association spokesperson Debbie Krones



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is working to ease the student debt crisis. The crisis currently sits at $1.6 trillion with the average debt of $18,000. The Student Loan Investment Act signed last year would invest $700 million to facilitate payment options for Illinoisans affected by student loans. The money would help 50,000 families and would start in 2021.





A new bill has been proposed that would ban pumping your own gas at Illinois gas stations

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Revenue announced it collected nearly $240 million through a tax amnesty program, but similar programs in the future could yield diminishing returns, according to a public finance economist. The state's amnesty program allowed taxpayers to pay off any outstanding state tax liability and have penalties and interest forgiven. The program ended in mid-November 2019. Officials with the Illinois Department of Revenue said they expect to verify tens of millions of dollars more toward unpaid liabilities. As of Jan. 31, the department had verified $237,090,718 in qualified amnesty payments from 63,006 taxpayers.



(Springfield-jm) -- Did you make a lot in tips last night? You get to keep them under a new state law. The law makes it very clear that workers own their tips says Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller…



Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. Keller says the law requires tips to be paid to workers within 13 days after the end of the pay period. It does not prohibit businesses from having a system where tips are pooled among employees.



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow school district could receive a grant to upgrade their heating system. The school board approved applying for a $10,000 matching grant. The grant would go towards getting a new mud pan for the schools boiler. That is expected to cost between $15,000 and $20,000.



(Paxton-jm) -- Changes to the ordinance regulating the number of gaming machines in the city of Paxton will be discussed at tonight’s city council meeting. In addition, trustees will be asked to approve the purchase of a one ton truck with a dump bed and plow, approve the replacement of the salt bin and approve a pair of donations. A public safety committee meeting discussing the city’s emergency management agency will be held at 6:30 pm with the council meeting beginning at 7.


(Undated-jm) -- PACE center for independent living will hold a pair of low vision support group meetings today. The support groups will meet at 1:30 pm at Eagles View in Rantoul and at 3:30 at the Villas of Holly Brook in Rantoul.


(Springfield-jm) -- The debate over the use of red light cameras in Illinois continues. Some lawmakers have addressed concerns over contracts with red light camera operators following an investigation and indictment of former state Senator Martin Sandoval. The investigation found former Senator Sandoval had some influence in the awarding of contracts between companies and municipalities. Other lawmakers say the cameras target minorities and low income people. Governor J-B Pritzker says he is open to any ideas on what to do with the programs…


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill has been proposed that would ban pumping your own gas at Illinois gas stations. The legislation was proposed by Illinois House Democrat Camille Lilly. The Gas Station Attendant Act would require fuel be pumped by a gas station attendant starting Jan. 1, 2021.



(GIbson City--jc)  --Trade publication Becker's Healthcare has released its 2020 list of leaders making a positive impact on their organizations. This year’s featured hospital CEOs  recognized by the top health care organizations. For the seventh year in a row, Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services  CEO Rob Schmitt has been named among these top 60 rural hospital and health system CEOs to know, one of only two CEOs selected from Illinois. Schmitt, who has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare leadership, is a fellow of both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.


(Springfield-jm) -- The woman picked to replace a state lawmaker who resigned after being charged with bribery could face discipline and possible removal amid questions about the integrity of the selection process. There are growing bipartisan calls to remove the Illinois state representative selected to fill the vacancy left by Luis Arroyo, who resigned after he was arrested for bribery. Arroyo, D-Chicago, pleaded not guilty to bribery last week. He was arrested in October 2019 and resigned the following month. Some have questioned Arroyo's role in picking his replacement, Eva Dina Delgado. Members of both parties have filed petitions to challenge her qualifications.


(Springfield-jm) -- 12 Illinois sites are being added to the National Register of Historic Places. The sites are located around the state and include a replica of the leaning tower of Pisa in Niles, a stone wine cellar in Hancock County and a few historic districts. Amy Hathaway with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the Rollo Congregational United Church of Christ near Earlville is also now in the register…


Illinois Department of Natural Resources Amy Hathaway. Also added: the Paris High School and gymnasium, the Alton Gas and Electric Powerhouse and the Forum in Chicago.



(Sibley-jm) -- Sibley village trustees could approve changes to their nuisance ordinance as early as next month. The village will take the changes to the village attorney for review. If the village attorney approves the changes, it will go before the board at their March 2nd meeting.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul village leaders are expected to approve a pair of purchases at tonight's village board meeting. Village trustees will be asked to approve the purchase of a new F-450 truck for the electric department from Shields for $56,000 and the purchase of pumps for the wastewater treatment plant for nearly $50,000. Village trustees will also be asked to forgive the over $226,000 balance on the library loan for the purchase of the building in 2004. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 pm.



(Urbana-jm) -- A survey of more than 2,000 UIUC students last year provided data on experiences of sexual misconduct and the university’s response. Researchers caution the results are not reflective of the experience of all students since there were only 2,076 responses to 12,500 surveys sent out. Respondents were about 60% female having completed at least a portion of the Sexual Misconduct and Perceived Campus Response Survey. Findings from the 2019 survey include: Women, members of the LGBTQ community, Greek-affiliated students and students living with a disability are more likely to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Students who reported sexual misconduct also experienced greater distress and disengagement with their academic work. Students felt safer from sexual misconduct while on campus than off campus. Students reported confidence in Illinois’ perceived response to sexual misconduct.



(Washington-jm) -- Whether it is summer or winter, crops need the right temperatures at the right times. Stephanie Ho has the details…



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Bob Thomas, a one-time NFL placekicker whose second career led him to the state's highest court, is retiring. The Republican announced Monday that he will leave the Supreme Court at the end of February after 20 years. While he was chief justice from 2005 to 2008, he established the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, an outgrowth of a committee studying judicial civility. Thomas kicked the winning field goal in the 1973 Sugar Bowl to give Notre Dame the national championship and is the Chicago Bears' fourth-leading scorer of all time. State appellate court Justice Michael J. Burke will replace him. 



(Springfield-jm) -- When Illinois legalized recreational cannabis this year, lawmakers included a path to having previous criminal records expunged and the governor announced plans to pardon people previously convicted of possession of 30 grams or less. Brandon Williams, senior attorney for criminal records for Cabrini Green Legal Aid, said the process can be complicated. Under the existing law, anyone arrested but not convicted for a small amount of cannabis will have their records automatically expunged by the Illinois State Police. They’ll only know that happened, though, if they live at the same address as when they were arrested. Williams said it was best to contact the county where the offense occurred and to update mailing address records.



The trial of an Illinois militia leader accused of being the ringleader in the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque will be postponed until April

(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state's next budget will be balanced, but said if voters don’t approve a progressive income tax in November, he would have to reduce state spending across the board in future years. The governor is preparing to deliver his budget address later this month. He said that the progressive tax was needed to address “income inequality” and increase state spending on things like education. On Friday, Pritzker told Politico at a conference in Washington D.C. that we would present a balanced budget. However, if voters don’t approve the progressive income tax this November, the governor said 15 percent cuts in state spending would be needed across the board.


(Springfield-jm) -- More workers in Illinois whose employers don’t offer retirement savings plans are finding 5 percent of their pay automatically taken out of their checks and put into a retirement plan. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said the state’s Secure Choice Savings program will pay dividends in the future. The Illinois Secure Choice Savings program began in late 2018 with companies employing more than 500 employees that didn't offer a savings plan. Employers take 5 percent out of their employees' checks to put into individual retirement accounts. Employers don’t have to match that investment and employees can opt-out.



(Springfield-jm) -- Last year’s murder of a one and a half year old Illinois boy is prompting calls for a new legislative task force on domestic violence. Little Colton Michael Miller of Joliet was shot last September by his father. Colton’s mother was severly beaten by her estranged husband at the time as well. Now, Representative David Welter of Morris wants lawmakers to take action…



State Representative David Welter of Morris. Welter says the task force would look at existing laws and identify any gaps that need to be filled, as well as examine special conditions for bail and treatment options for victims and offenders.



(ST. PAUL, Minn. jm) — The trial of an Illinois militia leader accused of being the ringleader in the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque will be postponed until April to give his defense team more time to prepare, a federal judge ruled Friday. Michael Hari was scheduled to go to trial on multiple counts this month. But U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank decided to push it back to April 27. Prosecutors allege Hari and two others drove from Clarence, Illinois, to bomb Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. Hari’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Hari is also charged in a failed bombing of a women’s clinic in Illinois.



(Paxton-cf)- The Pillar Campaign was launched to get over the $250,000 dollar mark, the mark that had to be passed in order to distribute money to the PBL school district. PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold says a large donation was from an anonymous donor.. 



PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School school board members are expected to approve an abatement project and a health life safety project at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members will hear a presentation on health care careers program and an update on the targeted school violence prevention program. The Rantoul Township High School school board meeting gets underway at 7 pm.


(Springfield-jm) -- A new proposal would put the Illinois State Police on the clock to make decisions a resident’s Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID card. In Illinois, a FOID card is required for a resident to own, buy or handle a gun and ammunition. If an applicant is denied a card by the Illinois State Police, which administers the card program, the resident to be able to appeal the denial, but there is currently no timetable for addressing appeals. Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins’ legislation would require that process to happen in 60 business days.



(Springfield-jm) -- Although some say they are “full-time legislators,” Illinois state lawmakers are considered part-time, but there's growing debate about how outside employment should be handled. Should lawmakers be allowed to work as lobbyists to lobby local governments? What about working as a farmer, dentist, teacher or lawyer? Are there other conflicts of interest? Former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter said it was valuable for the legislature to have diversity in professions and expertise, but there should be full disclosure of any potential conflicts, such as farmers voting on measures affecting farmland, for example.



(Springfield-jm) -- Several special events are planned this month at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, including free admission on Lincoln’s birthday next week. Everyone gets in free on Wednesday as the nation celebrates Lincoln’s 211th birthday. Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills says many activities are planned as well…



Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills. On February 13th, visitors can check out “Tales from the Vault,” featuring Valentine’s cards and love letters from the facility’s collections. Check out all that’s going on this month at: president lincoln dot illinois dot gov.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Democratic candidates for the March 17 primary in Champaign County will hold a meet and greet in Rantoul. Candidates present and the offices for which they are running will be Erika C. Weaver, 15th Congressional District; Cindy Cunningham, 104th House District; Ramona Sullivan, Ruth Wyman, Troy Lozar and David Moore, circuit court judge; and Susan McGrath and Robert Burkhalter, circuit court clerk. The meet and greet will take place from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Rantoul Public Library on February 19th.



(Roberts-cf)- The Roberts Village Board has sent a letter to the I.E.P.A about paint chip clean up at the water tower in Roberts. Mayor Rick Flessner says the board still has not received a response.



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner. 


(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City leaders have a light agenda for tonight’s city council meeting. On the agenda will be a presentation by the Ed Day Skateboard Committee and alderman will consider a  15 minute parking limit in front of the city’s pharmacies. The Gibson City city council meeting gets underway at 7 pm.



(Springfield-jm) -- One of Governor J-B Pritzker’s proposals for his second year as governor is reforming the state’s criminal justice system. Governor Pritzker says he wants to work with both sides of the legislature to create a fairer system…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



Flying Pumpkins will not be coming back to Rantoul this year

(Springfield-jm) -- The Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted to override Gov. J.B. Pritzker's veto of a sales tax exemption. House Bill 3902 reinstates a previous sales tax exemption on materials, parts, equipment, components and furnishings used on planes in 14 facilities in the state. The tax exemption was allowed to sunset along with others during the budget impasse, but state officials were largely unaware, not collecting what industry advocates estimated to be $50 million in taxes. 



(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker is proposing to change the Illinois Constitution to protect Firearm Owners Identification card fee revenue from being swept into the state’s general fund. The proposal filed would require that proceeds from the issuance and renewal of the Firearm Owners Identification card and concealed carry permits go solely toward facilitating the program or other firearm-related activities, akin to the 2016 “lockbox amendment” that altered the state’s guiding charter to protect road funds from being used for other purposes. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Legislative Inspector General says her office needs more autonomy to investigate allegations of misconduct in the House and Senate. Current Inspector General Carol Pope says she has to get approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission to proceed with cases, noting her office is supposed to be independent…



Illinois Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope. Pope also says she shouldn’t have to get approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission to issue subpoenas. Her comments were made during this week’s hearing of a Commission on Government Ethics Reform.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Pumpkins will not be flying through the sky over Rantoul this year. The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association announced the group voted to not return to Rantoul after their inaugural trip last year. The group cited a lack of competitors due to the distance from where the competition originated as part of the reason for not returning.



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On January 20th, Josh Hardin of Ludlow was arrested for possession of meth and aggravated domestic battery. On January 28th, no injuries were reported no tickets issued following a two vehicle accident at Ottawa and John. On January 31st, police are investigating four burglaries that occurred at Prairieland Insurance, Cristals Creative Expressions, Pacey and Pacey law office and Pueblo Lindo. On February 2nd, James Hall of Morocco, Indiana was arrested for driving on a suspended license and ticketed for no functional taillight. Also on February 2nd, no injuries were reported no tickets issued after a one vehicle rollover in the 600 block of East Pells. On February 4th, no tickets issued no injuries reported in a two vehicle accident at Taft and Orleans.



(Springfield-jm) -- The state is launching 50 million dollars in grants to help improve access to high speed internet across Illinois. The idea is to help fund efforts by internet providers, local governments and rural cooperatives to bring better service to all corners of the state says Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton…



Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. Up to five million dollars per project will be available during the first round, with more grant money being released over the next several years.



(Springfield-jm) -- An estimated 2,500 children and young adults in Illinois who had been in the custody of the state’s foster care system within the last year abruptly lost their health coverage on Feb. 1. That was just one of many problems that occurred over the weekend when the state shifted some 19,000 former foster children into its privatized “managed care” health coverage system. Children’s advocacy groups warned that more problems may lie ahead as the state works to move approximately 17,000 current foster children into that same system.


The Elliott Amvets will hold Family Night meals tonight. The meal includes fish and chicken plus two sides for $10. Also available for purchase are $1 sodas, $2 beers and $4.50 mixed drinks.


The Foosland Sportsman’s Club will hold their splatterobard shoot on Sunday. Breakfast begins at 6 with the shoot starting at 8.


(Springfield-jm) -- The head of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce warned that shifting Cook County's property tax burden to businesses could shock the entire state of Illinois into an economic downturn. From 2018 to 2019, the Cook County Assessor’s office said the northern third of the county’s businesses would see their share of the total property tax burden go from 34 percent to 44 percent. That represents a sizable shift in property taxes to businesses, which Jack Lavin, CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said will mean an estimated $1 billion more in property taxes for those businesses compared to what they had been paying.  In the economic sense, a 2011 study found that states can enter and exit recessions independent of others, but didn’t remark on business climate, rather major industries such as oil and agriculture were the catalyst for economic downturns.



(Springfield-jm) -- Senate Democrats are putting together a special committee to look at ways to improve public safety in Illinois. Members, like Senator Celina Villanueva of Chicago say for starters, they want to address disparities within the criminal justice system…



State Senator Celina Villanueva of Chicago. The committee also wants to look at more job training for inmates, mental health services and making sure kids have a chance to visit their parents who are in prison.


(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police troopers issued 29 traffic tickets, including 21 for failure to wear a seat belt and two for child-restraint violations, to go along with nine written warnings during Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols conducted in Ford, Iroquois and Kankakee counties on Friday, Jan. 31. The special patrols focused on making sure all vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts as required by Illinois law.



(Crescent City-cf)- The Iroquois Country Fair Association is seeking sponsors for this year's upcoming fair. There are multiple ways to purchase sponsorships says Iroquois County Fair Spokesperson Debbie Krones.... 



Iroquois County Fair Association spokesperson Debbie Krones



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education says it’s seeking extra sponsors to ensure area counties have a chance to participate in a summer meals program. Last year, more than 5.2 million meals were served across the state — except for 35 counties who didn’t have “sponsors,” or local organizations running a summer meal program. Ford County is one of the counties excluded from the program.




(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White says Illinois’ automatic voter registration system is still a good program, despite a few recent glitches. Secretary White says problems with the system that led to more than 500 non-citizens being added to the Illinois voter rolls have been fixed. Representative Tim Butler of Springfield thanked White for his office’s quick action but says this needs to be carefully watched since every vote counts…



State Representative Tim Butler of Springfield. Some lawmakers are pushing to suspend automatic voter registration until it can be assured mistakes won’t happen again.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House overwhelmingly voted this week to override the governor’s veto of legislation restoring and retroactively applying a tax break for aircraft parts. Democratic Rep. Monica Bristow, of Godfrey, said it would protect more than 3,700 jobs at 14 aviation facilities in 12 communities across the state. She added 36 other states have similar laws on the books.The tax exemption was in place since 2010, but it expired without regulatory or other official bodies taking note, Bristow said. Aviation repair companies consequently did not collect the tax from jet owners during that period. Without the new law, those companies would need to repay $50 million in taxes to the state.


The Saybrook Sons of the American Legion will hold their spaghetti supper tonight from 5-7 pm.



Universities all over the world are scrambling to assess the risks to their programs from China's virus outbreak.

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois saw the slowest job growth in over a decade. The state saw growth of 0.7 percent in 2019 and only added 45,000 jobs. That’s the slowest growth since the Blagojevich administration in 2007.



(Springfield-jm) -- Clean energy is one of the key issues Governor J-B Pritzker hopes to accomplish in his second year as governor. He says he wants a clean bill not influenced by utility companies…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Soybean farmers in Illinois cannot catch a break. After a promising trade deal with China last month gave farmers hope amid an intense trade war, the deadly Wuhan coronavirus currently overwhelming China is also damaging its economy. The country’s economic slump is now sowing fears that China might not be able to buy all of the $32 billion of U.S. agricultural goods it promised for 2020, including soybeans from Illinois, America’s top soybean-producing state.


(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Burger King continues to undergo renovations following a fire last year. The restaurant was originally scheduled to undergo renovations next year, but while the restaurant is closed for repairs following the fire, the company decided to do the renovations. The renovations include a new facade and awning, adding a double drive thru lane and updated inside. The restaurant was built 13 years ago. The fire caused $100,000 in damage.



UNDATED (AP) — Universities all over the world are scrambling to assess the risks to their programs from China's virus outbreak. Some are canceling study-abroad opportunities and prohibiting travel affecting hundreds of thousands of students. In the U.S., the cancellations add to the tension between two governments whose relations were already sour. The scare also threatens to cause lasting damage to growing academic exchange programs that reached new heights over the last decade and a half. China sends far more students to the U.S. than any other country, more than 369,000 in the last academic year. The U.S. sends over 11,000 students to China annually. A potential coronavirus case is suspected in Champaign County. 


(Paxton-cf)- February is national heart disease month, and to show awareness for the month the Ford County Public Health Department is urging citizens to look at ways to improve their heart health and make healthy choices to help. Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls has more. 



Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls. 



(Undated-jm) -- Early voting begins today in Illinois for the March primary. Early voting starts  today and runs through Monday, March 16th. The March primary is Tuesday, March 17th.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Red-light enforcement cameras would be banned in some suburban Chicago communities under legislation that won House committee approval Wednesday. The measure is sponsored by Rep. David McSweeney, a Republican from Barrington Hills. It would ban photo enforcement of traffic violations in some Chicago suburbs. McSweeney and other critics complain they are unfair revenue-generators. They were spotlighted last week with the guilty pleas of an ex-state senator who admitted taking bribes in part from a red-light vendor in exchange for being a “protector”of the industry in the General Assembly.



(Champaign--jc)  -- One winter night takes place in Champaign on Friday evening. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…



CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials say at least one non-U.S. citizen voted after an error in the state's automatic vote registration system mistakenly registered over 500 people who said they weren't citizens. Secretary of State Jesse White's office released the information Wednesday during a hearing in Springfield. On the same day, State Board of Election officials revised their numbers, saying 16 people of 545 registered voters cast ballots instead of 15. Nine voters are likely U.S. citizens since they have long voter histories, leaving six people in question. White says he takes responsibility for the error and put his staff on notice.



(Paxton-cf)- It started with a quarter of a million dollar donation. That was the donation  to the Paxton Buckley Loda Endowment Fund. The fund continues to grow. Distributions from the money will help out the school district as funds come in says P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold....



PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold. 


(Springfield--jc)0  --Senate Bill 2978, filed earlier this month, would open up the ability for all municipal governments to tack on an extra 3 percent gas tax to the state and federal gas tax. Bill sponsor, state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said the bill wasn't going to move anytime soon, but it could come up before the end of the legislative session. He said it would open up local control of local gas taxes. If passed into law, gas prices could rise at various parts of Illinois.



(Rantoul--jc)  Though its a snowy day today, plans for the 20-20 Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce 4th of July celebration have started. The annual parade steps off on Saturday July 4th at 9-30 at the corner of Maplewood and Champaign Avenues. The two day event starts on July 3rd in the village. Those wanting to help or volunteer are asked to call the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce at 893-3323


(Undated-jm) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling the Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seats due to the risk of babies suffocating. The commission says while no injuries or deaths have been reported with the Graco product, similar products have caused deaths. They say 111,000 of the seats have been sold in the U-S including at stores such as Target.


(Washington-jm) -- Establishing year-round availability of e15 fuel at the pumps was just the latest step to encourage more retailers offering this product, and more consumers demanding it. Rod Bain reports…



(Springfield-jm) -- A tax amnesty program created during the passage of last year’s state operating budget has brought in nearly $240 million — approximately $60 million more than was expected — the Illinois Department of Revenue announced. The Illinois Tax Amnesty Program, proposed by Gov. JB Pritzker and passed as part of Senate Bill 689, allowed qualified taxpayers to pay off any outstanding state tax liability and have corresponding penalties and interest forgiven.


(Buckley-jm) -- The village of Buckley has approved renovation work to the Buckley Lake pavilion. The village will spend over $3,000 to enclose the ceiling of the pavilion with tin and update the lighting to LED lights.



(Sibley-jm) -- The village of Sibley has uncovered two leaks but believe more are occurring. The village has been working to uncover where the leaks are occurring for several months. Last month, the village used over one point three million gallons of water.


(Undated-jm) -- The gender wage gap narrowed slightly as more women moved into high skilled jobs. The Pew Research Center reports for every dollar a man makes, women make 85 cents. The gap has decreased from 33 cents in 1980 to 15 cents in 2018.




State officials said thousands of people fail to file for state tax refunds when they could get more money back

(Champaign-jm) -- After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadened the parameters for what qualifies as a “person under investigation,” or PUI, over the weekend, one person in the Champaign-Urbana area is suspected of having the respiratory virus. The Champaign County resident is a child, said Dr. Robert Parker, director of the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus.



(Springfield-jm) -- Recreational marijuana sales topped 39 million dollars last month in Illinois. Adult use cannabis became legal in Illinois on January 1st, with long lines and shortages at many dispensaries. The Governor’s Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control Toi Hutchinson says, more than eight million of the 39 million total sales came from people living out of state…



Governor’s Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control Toi Hutchinson. In all, about 972 thousand cannabis items were sold last month. A quarter of all proceeds will be reinvested in communities hardest hit by the war on drugs.



(Springfield-jm) -- With the debacle of the Iowa caucuses fresh in the minds of Illinois politicians, there’s bipartisan support to make the Land of Lincoln the first-in-the-nation primary. But that’s still just an idea at this point. Iowa Democratic Party officials say the delay in getting results from the first-in-the-nation caucuses Monday was because of a computer error. The state moved the primary up to the first Tuesday of February in 2008 when Barack Obama was running in the Democratic primary. He was an Illinois U.S. senator and a former Illinois state senator. But Illinois moved the primary back to March in 2012.



(Springfield-jm) -- 2020 got off to a warm and wet start in Illinois. January’s average temperature was 31 point four degrees, making last month the 17th warmest January on record in Illinois says State Climatologist Trent Ford…



State Climatologist Trent Ford. January was also the ninth wettest on record, with an average of four point four inches of precipitation statewide. Ford says most of that came over just a few days.



(Urbana-jm) -- An area paramedic is accused of sexually assaulting a patient on their way to the hospital. Jeffrey Sanford jr of Gifford is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault. Police say the incident occurred on July 22nd after a 48 year old Rantoul woman was being taken to the hospital. If convicted he faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4 to 15 years in prison.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County Sheriff’s office has released their recent activity report. During the month of January, deputies responded to four traffic accidents and issued 30 citations including 23 for speeding. Deputies also handled two reports each of burglary, theft and missing persons and one each of harassment and vandalism.



(Paxton-cf)- The PBL Education Foundation was given a $250,000 dollar donation to the Endowment Fund. That Donation helped start the Pillar Campaign. PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold has more.. 



PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold.


(Springfield-jm) -- State officials said thousands of people fail to file for state tax refunds when they could get more money back.  Friday was the Internal Revenue Service’s 14th annual Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day and the Illinois Department of Revenue said taxpayers who file for the federal credit sometimes leave a state tax credit on the table. A couple filing jointly with three or more children could make about $56,000 and still qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. For the 2019 tax year, credits can reach up to $6,557 for a couple filing jointly that earns less than $55,952. A single filer with no children making less than $15,570 would be entitled to a $529 return. IDOR said nearly 20,000 Illinoisans claimed a federal EITC credit without also claiming the state EIC, leaving more than $5 million dollars unclaimed. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval and SafeSpeed LLC, the red light camera company at the center of federal corruption charges against him, are now the targets of a racketeering lawsuit that seeks to void tens of thousands of traffic citations issued through the company’s devices. Lawrence Gress, a Downers Grove resident and lead plaintiff in the case, filed the suit under the federal Racketeering, Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act a law most often used to prosecute organized crime syndicates also allows for private civil suits for actions that are part of a criminal enterprise. The lawsuit alleges SafeSpeed, its officers and employees, paid bribes to Sandoval and several other local government officials to gain approval for placing its red light cameras at various intersections in Chicago-area suburbs.



(Springfield-jm) -- Early voting begins this week in Illinois. The primary isn’t until March 17th, but you can go ahead and cast your ballot starting Thursday says State Board of Elections Spokesperson Matt Dietrich…



State Board of Elections Spokesperson Matt Dietrich. Mail-in ballots will be sent out beginning Thursday. To find your local polling place or to register to vote, visit: elections dot il dot gov.



(Undated-jm) -- Close to $2 million in grants will be available to increase tourism in the state. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development and State Office of Tourism is putting $1.9 million in grants to help increase tourism across all parts of the state. The state had a record number of tourists in 2018 with 117 million visitors bringing in $42 billion.



(Springfield-jm) -- This is Earthquake Preparedness Month and the State Emergency Management Agency reminds that the possibility is very real in Illinois. Records indicate that Illinois has experienced some of the largest earthquakes ever measured in North America and the state is home to both the New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones. I-EMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark says that’s why it’s important you know what to do if the ground starts shaking…



I-EMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. I-EMA urges families, businesses and schools to register for the National annual earthquake drill, the great American shakeout. It will be held October 15th. Sign up at shakeout dot org.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul restaurant is now open. Yellow Ducky Express opened in the former Taco Bell location on the villages west side. The restaurant is open 10:30 am to 9 pm.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul is offering a one time only storm drainage amnesty program. All interest and late fees will be removed if the balance is paid in full by March 11th. The village says previous lien charges will not be waived. For more information about the program, call the Rantoul village building at 892-6800.


(Paxton-cf)- Feb. 7 is national Go Red For Women Day promoting Health. Be sure to wear red that day in support. Also when you're in red, be sure to share on social media and use the hashtag #FordCountyGoRed. When you use that hashtag, tag @1049WPXN on Twitter for a retweet! Danielle Walls has more information.. 



Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls



(Springfield-jm) -- High school students in Illinois will have more opportunities to vote during the school day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1970  that allows schools to excuse adult students for 2 hours to go to the polls on election day. Pritzker signed.


The Illinois State Fair is announcing six of the grandstand concerts that will be held in August

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State Police executed a search warrant at House Speaker Michael Madigan state Capitol offices this week as part of an investigation into sexual misconduct, stalking and other allegations against former state Rep. Jack Franks. Police justified the search warrant, executed Wednesday, by saying “probable cause exists for the crimes of criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual assault, official misconduct, stalking and aggravated battery,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. It sought personnel files that contain information related to the allegations against Franks, who hasn’t been charged and denies any wrongdoing.



CHICAGO (AP) — Some of the groups tasked with helping ensure that Illinois gets a good turnout for the 2020 census haven’t received their state funding yet. Census advocates worry that the lag in funding the groups’ efforts could hurt the state’s showing in the 10-year count, which determines how many U.S. House seats each state gets and how to distribute billions of federal dollars to local communities. Only few of the nine regional intermediary outreach groups in the Chicago region have received the state funding they need to take on the mammoth task of trying to ensure that every resident participates or is accounted for in this year’s census, the Chicago Tribune reported.


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is hi-liting the state’s efforts to fight human trafficking and urges the public to be vigilant as well. The current state budget included money and more prevention and awareness training for kids and therapy for teenage victims of sex trafficking says Governor Pritzker…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Starting this summer, all hotel staff must be trained on how to spot human trafficking and what to do about it. Signs of human trafficking include bruising, seeming to be controlled by and deferring to a certain person, lack of personal belongings and not being able to come and go freely.



(Paxton-jm) -- Several Paxton businesses were broken into Friday. Pueblo Lindo posted on their facebook page that someone broke into their business Friday morning and stole an unknown amount of cash. Cristal’s Boutique and Prairieland Insurance were also hit. The week prior The Animal Clinic, a laundromat and another insurance place was broken into. Anyone with information is asked to call Paxton Police.



(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County is in the process of finding their next county treasurer. Laurel Prussings last day was Friday. She stepped down after 18 months on the job. The Champaign County Board has 60 days to name her replacement.



(Paxton-cf)- The $250,000 dollar mark of the PBL Endowment Fund has been surpassed with help from the Pillar Campaign. The Endowment Fund now has over $625,000 that can start being distributed to the PBL school district. PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold tells us more.. 



PBL Education Foundation President Robin Niewold. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Facebook users in Illinois could soon see a portion of a $550 million settlement over the company's alleged breach of Illinois' biometric information law. The social media giant disclosed that it had come to a tentative agreement over a 2015 lawsuit that alleged the company violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act each time it stored a person’s facial data to then notify them about photographs posted on the platform.



(Washington-jm) -- During December most producers were receiving higher prices than December a year earlier for most products. Gary Crawford reports…



Country Financial will hold a Winter Agribusiness Seminar today at 9 am at the Champaign County Farm Bureau building.


CHICAGO (AP) — Lawmakers questioned Illinois State Police about the DNA backlog at state crime labs, stating too many cases are waiting on DNA processing. State police say the backlog has been drastically cut down, but state senators worry the delays in processing DNA could mean potential suspects who might otherwise have been arrested and in custody haven’t been identified, WLS-TV reported. The backlog went down 16% last year.



CHICAGO (AP) — Two nonprofit organizations in Chicago have launched a state-funded legal aid program designed to help thousands of immigrants, former inmates and low-income people across Illinois. The program is called Access to Justice, which will be funded with $10 million in state money. Roughly 60 organizations across Illinois are expected to benefit. An estimated 4,600 people will get full legal representation through the program.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Fair is announcing six of the grandstand concerts that will be held in August. The State Fair runs August 13th through the 23rd in Springfield and acts scheduled so far include Country singers Kane Brown, Toby Keith with Craig Morgan, Chris Young, Rapper L-L Cool J to the Traveling Salvation Show which is a free tribute to Neil Diamond. State Fair Grandstand Manager Kim Hart says there’s more and at a bargain…



State Fair Grandstand Manager Kim Hart. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 25th. Hart says more concerts, which could include a classic rock or pop group, will be announced later.



(Crescent City-jm) -- The Iroquois County Fair Association is seeking sponsors for this year’s fair. In a press release, the fair board says the new sponsorship program will benefit fairgoers experience with improved fair activities and entertainment while providing maintenance to the fairground facilities. For more information about becoming a sponsor, call Debbie Krones at 815-228-2924.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A third teen has been arrested after a drug deal went bad last month in Rantoul. The 17 year old was one of three that allegedly tried to rob two people in the village back in January. The other two teens, a 16 and 15 year old have already been arrested in connection to the incident on January 11th. The group intended to meet in the 1200 block of Aspen Drive. During the incident a struggle ensued and the 17 year old was shot in the leg. All three face attempted armed robbery and various weapons charges.



(FORD COUNTY-cf)- February is National American Heart Association Month to promote heart disease awareness. February 7th is the national movement day for heart health. Ford County Public Health Educator Danielle Walls has more information. 



Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls


(Springfield-jm) -- Despite more problems surfacing with Illinois’ Automatic Voter Registration Program, the Secretary of State’s office isn't giving in to pressure to suspend the program. Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than 500 likely non-citizens were registered to vote more than a year and a half. This week, the state revealed that 300 people who selected to opt out of registering were still forwarded to local elections officials to be registered to vote. There were also thousands of 16-year-olds forwarded to local election authorities to register to vote “because some 16-year-olds will be 17 by the next primary and 18 by the next general election.



(Washington-jm) -- The clues have been dropped over the last few months, but now we have confirmation of a new direction for the U.S. cattle herd, beef and dairy. Gary Crawford has the details…




The coronavirus has now been declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is announcing the first case of person-to-person transmission of the Coronavirus in the U-S. There are now two people confirmed to have the Coronavirus in Illinois. The newest patient is the spouse of the initial case. Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike says the virus is most likely spread through close personal contact, so this is not unexpected. Still, they are being cautious…



Illinois Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike. If you have recently traveled to China or come in contact with someone who has and then develop symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath, see your doctor.


CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois joined a multi-state lawsuit over proposed Trump administration rules on food stamps that could cause hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose benefits, Attorney General Kwame Raoul confirmed Thursday. The rule, expected to go into effect in April, limits states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits. The rule is among three targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP. Illinois could be hit hard. There are over 140,000 residents in the affected category; they’re able-bodied without dependents, according to state officials.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police officials said the agency has made progress to reduce the backlog of DNA evidence that needs to be tested in criminal cases across the state and said lawmakers can help speed up the process. During a hearing this week in a state Senate committee, state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, said the delay in processing DNA evidence hurts everyone. Carrie Ward, with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told the committee that delays in processing DNA evidence delay justice, and justice delayed is justice denied.




(Springfield-jm) -- The unemployment rate was down in all 14 of the state’s metro are as last month. The figures, comparing December of 2018 to December of 2019, are pretty positive says Illinois Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Rebecca Cisco…



Illinois Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Rebecca Cisco. Jobs were up in 10 metro areas with Chicago and the suburbs, Champaign-Urbana and East St. Louis seeing the highest over the year gains. Locally, in Ford County the unemployment rate fell from 5.6 percent to 4.3 percent. In Champaign County the unemployment rate fell from 4.5 percent to 3.3 percent. In Iroquois County the unemployment rate fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent. In Vermilion County, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 5.3 percent.




(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the Rantoul VFW. 75-year-old Brenda Wise turned herself into Rantoul Police Thursday. They say she allegedly stole between $6,000 and $8,000 from the group over a period of 3 to 4 years. Wise is due in court February 28th.




WATSEKA, Ill. (AP) _ IF Bancorp Inc. on Thursday reported net income of $964,000 in its fiscal second quarter. The bank, based in Watseka, Illinois, said it had earnings of 31 cents per share. The savings and loan holding company posted revenue of $8 million in the period. Its revenue net of interest expense was $5.6 million, which beat Street forecasts. IF Bancorp shares have increased 2% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Thursday, shares hit $23.50, an increase of 18% in the last 12 months.




(Paxton-cf)- The coronavirus has now been declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization NPR reports. Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls has information on how you can keep yourself safe, as well as notable symptoms with the virus. 



Ford County Public Health Department Educator Danielle Walls .If you have come into contact with someone that has been out of the country and you develop any upper respiratory symptoms, fever, or any other symptom associated with the coronavirus please contact your healthcare provider. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is filing a lawsuit to ensure the equal rights amendment is recognized as the 28th amendment to the U-S Constitution. Attorney General Raoul is joining his counterparts in Nevada and Virginia in the suit, as the number of states to ratify the amendment finally hits 38. Raoul says that’s the required number, but timing may be an issue…



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. The equal rights act guarantees equal rights for women.


(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois bill would allow drivers with certain medical conditions to tint all of their vehicle's window surfaces. Under existing law, it’s illegal to apply window tint to the driver side window or entire front windshield unless the primary operator of the vehicle has a condition such as albinism that makes sun exposure damaging to the skin. The law specifically prohibits issuing full surface window tint for “any condition, such as light sensitivity, for which protection from the direct rays of the sun can be adequately obtained by the use of sunglasses or other eye protective devices.” State Rep. Maurice West’s legislation would allow for all window surfaces to be tinted if a driver has a medical condition, such light sensitivity due to brain trauma, that results in photophobia.


(Springfield-jm) -- A former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting $250,000 in bribes in exchange for using his legislative weight to unilaterally stop bills from advancing often assigned measures to a subcommittee that had no members, essentially ensuring those measures wouldn't advance. As the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Transportation Committee, Martin Sandoval had the authority to protect the red-light camera industry. The chairman of a state legislative committee is able to decide if bills are called or not. They also reserve the right to delegate legislation to a subcommittee. One of the Transportation Committee’s subdivisions is the Subcommittee on Special Issues. While a number of bills that passed through Sandoval’s legislative docket might belong in that position, being a sponsor of a bill sent there was an indication that it was dead for one simple reason: The subcommittee has no members




(Springfield-jm) -- Super Bowl Sunday has become a major day for partying. The Illinois Department of Transportation has some tips for doing it safely. If you're hosting a Super Bowl party, you need to be responsible says I-DOT’s Shannon Alderman. That may include not serving alcohol after a certain point in the game, as well as…



IDOT’s Shannon Alderman. If you’re attending a Super Bowl party, Alderman recommends planning on how you’re going to get home ahead of time, and not drinking and driving. 


7am new

(Onarga--jc )  Firefighters were called to a home in Onarga on Thursday afternoon. The fire happened at the home at 206 East Grant Street. No damage estimates were available.




BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) _ HBT Financial Inc. on Thursday reported net income of $16.1 million in its fourth quarter. The bank, based in Bloomington, Illinois, said it had earnings of 61 cents per share. The bank holding company posted revenue of $44.9 million in the period. Its revenue net of interest expense was $42.6 million, topping Street forecasts. For the year, the company reported a profit of $66.9 million, or $3.43 per share. Revenue was reported as $166.6 million.




(Paxton-cf)- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation was given a $250,000 dollar donation to the Endowment Fund. That Donation helped start the Pillar Campaign. P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold has more.. 



P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold.


The PBL FFA Farm Toys Show takes place tomorrow. Doors open at 9am. Breakfast and lunch will be served. There will be a kiddie tractor pull at noon. 


Christ Lutheran High School will have it’s Taste of Italy Lunch on Sunday from 11am -1pm. On the Menu is Spaghetti with meat sauce, or regular sauce, salad, garlic bread, dessert and a drink. A freewill donation will be taken to benefit Christian education. Carry outs will be available.


Area State Representatives share their thoughts on Governor Pritzker's State of the State Address

(Springfield--jc)  -- In his annual state of the state address, Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker  proclaimed that Illinois is getting stronger every day. Governor Pritzker says Illinois is on the upswing. Jobs are up, unemployment is at a record low and minimum wages are on the rise…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker On the governor’s agenda is calling for ethics reforms, clean energy legislation looking at ideas to lower property taxes in Illinois. 



State Representative Dan Brady shares his thoughts…





State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City shares his thoughts…





(Springfield-jm) -- When an Illinois Senate panel met last March to discuss the state’s backlog of untested forensic evidence, there were more than 70 DNA samples in murder cases more than a year old awaiting action from Illinois State Police forensic investigators.  That number is down to 14, representatives of the Illinois State Police told the same Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday, but they noted the number is still too high and standard wait times for DNA processing are still too long. The average time for processing DNA evidence is about 215 days, or seven months. That number shrank from 288 days in September.



(Springfield-jm) -- New Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, announced his leadership team. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, will remain the chamber’s majority leader, while Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, will become an assistant majority leader and president pro tempore — a position once held by Harmon under former President John Cullerton before he changed the caucus’ leadership structure. Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, will serve in another newly created position — that of deputy majority leader. Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, previously a majority caucus whip, will ascend to assistant majority leader as well. She joins Sens. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, and Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, who all already held assistant majority leader positions and will retain them. Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, will remain majority caucus chair, and Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, will be the deputy majority conference chair, a newly created position. The three new majority caucus whips will be Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, and Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, all new to the position.


(Gifford--jc)  The 2020 Midwest Ag Expo continues today at Gordyville USA near Gifford along Route 136. The show opens at 8-30 this morning. One boot at this year’s show is sponsored by Loman Ray Insurance. Todd Harris with Loman Ray Insurance says information about farmers health insurance  and dental insurance is available at the booth today…




Garret Bruns with Premier Cooperative says now is the time to get your fuel plan especially with some fuel prices dipping lower…



 The event runs today from 8-30 to 3pm at Gordyville USA along Route 136 near Gifford.



(Washington-jm) -- President Trump touts strong ties between US, Mexico and Canada, as he signs a trade agreement between the three countries. Stephanie Ho reports…




(Ludlow-jm) -- The village of Ludlow has taken another step towards upgrading their water mains in the village. The village board is opening an account at the Bank of Rantoul. The USDA, which awarded the village a loan for the project, requires a separate checking account into which the construction loan and grant money will be deposited and construction costs paid from.



(Farmer City--jc)  -- Organizers with Heritage Days in Farmer City continues to add more entertainment for this years event. Performing on Friday, May 29th,  will be having Jack Daniel, The Woolridge Band, Whey Jennings, & Confederate Railroad. The 2020 Heritage Days  runs from Thursday May 28th through Sunday May 31st.


(Springfield-jm) -- In his annual state of the state address, Governor Pritzker proclaimed the state is getting stronger every day. The unemployment rate is at a record low, roads and bridges are being repaired, adults can now legally use recreational marijuana and the minimum wage has been raised. But Governor Pritzker says there is more to be done…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker is calling for changes to end corruption in government, criminal justice reforms, clean energy legislation and property tax relief. 



State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur shares his thoughts…




 State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian shares his thoughts…





(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers want a truce with other states to stop the practice of poaching businesses with tax breaks. State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, said economic incentives designed to attract businesses from other states or keep them in the state are a form of crony capitalism that doesn’t work.  Morgan, along with state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, introduced legislation to create a compact among states so that member states won't offer tax breaks to companies in exchange for corporate investment.



(Gifford--jc)  Today is day 2 of the Midwest Ag Expo at Gordyville USA. One businesses at this year’s show is SunPrairie Seeds-Champaign County Seeds. Company spokesperson Jared Widdick says a particular varierty of seed offered  continues to group in popularity among area farmers. That number is 27-85...




Another business is Abbe Insurance Diversified Insurance Services. Agent Larry Abbe says its crop insurance time, but also a time to talk agriculture with area farmers…


 The final day of the 20-20 Midwest Ag Expo runs from 8-30 this morning to 3 this afternoon.



(Springfield-jm) -- It is a mainstay of fairs and carnivals around the country: sink a ping pong ball into a fish bowl and win the goldfish swimming inside. But if a bill in the Illinois Senate becomes law, carnivals would no longer be allowed to award live animals – such as fish, reptiles and hermit crabs – as prizes. Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act already prohibits rabbits, ducklings and baby chicks as carnival prizes, but Senate Bill 2472 would expand the law’s protections to all animals – including the goldfish that winners can take home in a plastic bag. Illinois would join Iowa, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Vermont as states that outlaw all live animals as prizes.




(Champaign-jm) -- Country Financial is teaming up with the Illinois Farm Bureau to host Winter Agribusiness Seminars throughout the state. Topics include a 2020 crop insurance and farm bill update as well as a look at the crop markets in 2020. Locally, a seminar will take place on Monday, February 3rd at the Champaign County Farm Bureau in Champaign starting at 9 am.



House Republicans are laying out their legislative agenda for 2020

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois mother who has been fighting for years to close what she says is a loophole in Illinois' sex offender registration law will continue to push lawmakers to vote on a bill named after her daughter. Stephanie’s Law is a proposal that would require a person who pleads guilty to battery register with the Sex Offender Registry if the crime was sexually motivated. Tina Estopare has pushed for the law for seven years after an adult neighbor assaulted her underage daughter. The man didn’t have to register as a sex offender because he pleaded guilty to battery as part of a plea agreement.



(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are laying out their legislative agenda for 2020. The G-O-P has several issues they want to tackle as session gets underway in Springfield. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin…



House Minority Leader Jim Durkin. Durkin says they were pleased they got some pro business reforms passed last year and hope that spirit of cooperation continues.



(Undated-jm) -- The Internal Revenue Service is warning of “ghost” tax preparers who promise big returns. As the tax-filing season begins, the IRS said some tax preparers are promising bigger returns that might seem tempting. “They may invent income so that you qualify for tax credits, they may claim fake deductions so that you qualify for a larger refund,” IRS spokesman Michael Devine said. But these ghost prepares won’t sign the return and often ask for cash so they’re not tied to the return in anyway. Devine said the filer will then get audited, fined, or worse.


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is boosting efforts to fight the opioid crisis in Illinois. Governor Pritzker says while overall, the state is seeing the first decrease in opioid overdose deaths in five years, that does not apply to minority communities…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker is creating a special committee to research and coordinate new approaches to ending the disparity. The state is also dedicating more than four million dollars to expand recovery and prevention services across Illinois.



(Urbana-jm) -- University of Illinois leaders say they are preparing in case the coronavirus reaches campus. Officials say nearly 150 students have connections to Wuhan, the Chinese province most affected by the outbreak. Health officials say they don’t know which students went home for break and which ones stayed but did say doctors are prepared. The virus is typically spread by coughing or sneezing or contact with someone who is infected. It typically takes about 10-14 days for symptoms to emerge. Students have been back on campus for roughly seven days.



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) _ First Busey Corp. reported fourth-quarter net income of $28.6 million. The bank, based in Champaign, Illinois, said it had earnings of 52 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 57 cents per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of four analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 54 cents per share. The bank holding company posted revenue of $120.4 million in the period. Its revenue net of interest expense was $103.6 million, also surpassing Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $102.9 million.



(Washington-jm) -- The head of the Natural Resources Conservation Service updated a House Ag subcommittee on progress in implementing programs connected to the 2018 Farm Bill. Rod Bain reports…




(Urbana.-jm) -- Seven of the nearly 600 non U-S citizens registered to vote in Illinois through the automatic voter registration are from Champaign County. The Champaign County Clerk’s office confirms only two of the seven voted in the 2018 general election. The office says they are working to determine how the incidents happened.



(Rantoul--jc)  --A ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening is set for a Rantoul business on Friday morning. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce officials say the ribbon cutting for  the Yellow Ducky Express Chinese Kitchen will commence at 10 Friday morning. The grand opening will begin at 10-30 AM on Friday The business location at 715 West Champaign Avenue in Rantoul.


(Springfield-jm) -- Former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting more $250,000 in bribes over several years to protect the red-light camera industry and filing a false tax return. Sandoval said he wanted to be the red-light camera company’s “protector” and worked with a cooperating witness with an unnamed red-light camera company and an unnamed co-conspirator in the exchange of money. In addition to the red-light camera company, Sandoval took bribes from other people to benefit other industries, according to the plea agreement. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Red light cameras will likely be a hot topic during the legislative session. A former state senator is being charged with bribery over the contentious cameras and Governor J-B Pritzker says it’s an issue that should be debated…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Red light cameras were initially installed to improve safety at certain intersections but opponents say they are just being used to make money off of drivers.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois is the sickest state in the country according to the CDC. More than nine percent of the population is suffering from flu-like symptoms. The national average is 6.69 percent. Last year the national average was 3.86 percent. Illinois came in at 9.14 percent. The rest of the top five states include Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New York.



(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are laying out their legislative agenda for 2020. Pension reform, property tax relief and pro-business measures are all on the to do list. Representative Tom Demmer of Dixon says they would also like to reform the way legislative district maps are drawn every 10 years…



State Representative Tom Demmer of Dixon. Additionally, the House G-O-P says they are hoping to see ethics reforms passed to help clean up corruption in state government.



(Gifford-jm) -- Gifford police are investigating several break-ins last week. The break-ins occurred in five businesses on South Main Street. In total about $250 was taken.



(Buckley-Cale)- Christ Lutheran High School is having their annual spaghetti lunch on Sunday Feb. 2nd. The whole community is welcome to attend, starting at 11am to 1pm. Spaghetti with or without meat sauce, salad, garlic bread, and dessert will on the menu. Christ Luthern High school executive director Sandy Spitz has the details…. 



Christ Lutheran High School Director Sandy Spitz. 



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Park District will be updating speaker systems. The park board approved spending $400 to update the speaker system at Nelson Field on the city’s west side. If all goes well with that, the board will spend additional funds to upgrade the speaker system at the pool.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Parkland College Board of Trustees, District 505, is accepting applications to fill a current vacancy on the Board. This position as Trustee will serve until the next Board of Trustees election in April 2021. Interested persons should send no more than six pages, including a Letter of Intent and resume to Krystal Garrett, Assistant to the President and the Board of Trustees, by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.  To be eligible for this position, the candidate must be a citizen of the United States, 18 years of age or older, a resident of Illinois and District #505 for at least one year preceding the date of appointment, and not treasurers of a common School Board. District 505 includes Champaign, Coles, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion counties.-


The state of Illinois has committed $25 million to programs that bring more people into the construction industry

(Springfield-jm) -- As lawmakers prepare to come back to the Illinois State Capitol this week, some Republicans want to address delays in renewing Firearm Owners' Identification cards. A measure the Senate could still take up from last year, Senate Bill 1966, would increase the FOID fees and require applicants to provide fingerprints moving forward. Supporters have said there needs to be more checks in place to keep guns away from criminals. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing a new initiative to invest 12 million dollars in opportunity zones across the state. There are 327 opportunity zones in Illinois, defined as distressed or economically underserved areas. Governor Pritzker says the idea is to create jobs and development…


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The grants offer matching funds that can be used towards affordable housing, community development and commercial real estate projects.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois soybean farmers got good news this month when the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted average prices of $9 a bushel, a 15-cent per bushel increase from last month. But Michael Doherty, senior economist and policy analyst for the Illinois Farm Bureau, cautions that these estimates can fluctuate widely, even day-to-day. Doherty said the announcement that the United States and China were nearing a trade agreement likely influenced the USDA’s projections.


(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been arrested on weapons and drug possession charges. Samuel Hall was arrested in Urbana last week following a traffic stop. Hall was charged with unlawful use of weapons by a felon, possession of a stolen firearm and possession with intent to deliver. Hall is due back in court February 18th.



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation announced on Monday that the Frederick Community Bank has joined the list of area businesses and private donors participating in The P-B-L Education Foundation’s Pillar Campaign to jumpstart their endowment fund. This most recent gift brings the PBL Endowment Fund total to 616 thousand dollars. The Foundation distributes the income generated from this fund to the school district which in turn uses the monies to maintain and update technology within grades K-12. Formerly, First National Bank in Paxton, The Frederick Community Bank has a long history of support for The Foundation and our communities. Bank President and PBL Alumnus, Justin Swan, said he strongly encourages all area businesses to do what they can to support The Foundation. Swan added that the strength of the P-B-L school district is the backbone of the community.


(Undated-jm) -- Ameren Illinois is warning about a scam going around. Businesses are getting a call from someone claiming to be from Ameren. The individual demands money be sent or their power will be shut off in 30 minutes. Ameren Illinois says if you receive a call like that hang up and notify them at 1-800-755-5000.


(Springfield-jm) -- Former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat, was charged with bribery and filing a false tax return Monday in a manner that suggested he plans to cooperate with prosecutors.  From 2016 to around September 2019, the former lawmaker from Gage Park “corruptly solicited, demanded, agreed to accept, and accepted things of value, namely money, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a business transaction, and series of transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, continued support for the operation of red-light cameras in the State of Illinois, including opposing legislation adverse to the interests of the red-light camera industry,” according to the information filed in court documents. 



(Undated-jm) -- New data is providing fresh hope in the fight against cancer. Mary Scheurmann reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- The state of Illinois has committed $25 million to programs that bring more people into the construction industry. The average construction worker in Illinois is approaching age 50. That’s coming at a time when the development market is booming, leading contractors and labor unions to worry there will soon be too much work and not enough people to do it.



(Urbana-jm) -- Marijuana will still not be allowed on the University of Illinois campus. Despite recreational marijuana being legal in Illinois, it’s still illegal on campus property including dorms and apartments.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is taking a tough stand when it comes to the recent political mess in Springfield. From the coverup of a possible rape in Champaign to political corruption involving several members of the state legislature, Governor Pritzker says lawmakers need to take a look at themselves and see if they are part of the problem or the solution…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Gibson City-jm) -- The Gibson City Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for three awards. The awards include Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Junior Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Achievement. The winners will be announced at their chamber banquet March 12th at the Kruse Center. Nominations are due to the chamber by February 14th.



(Gilman-jm) -- The Gilman Fire Department is expanding. The Gilman city council approved the 30 by 56 foot structure to be added to the current station. The new addition will add bays to the firehouse.



Illinois state lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois state lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday ahead of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's second State of the State speech on Wednesday. Lawmakers will return amid ongoing federal corruption investigations involving lawmakers and lobbyists while ethics reforms have yet to materialize. Lawmakers said they also want to address the state's population losses and high property taxes. Pritzker's budget speech is next month.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is confirming a case of the Coronairus in Chicago. The patient is a woman who recently returned from Wuhan, China with the virus and is the second case in the country. State Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike says it’s a new strain that experts are studying…



Illinois Department of Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike. The CDC says the immediate risk to the general public is low. If you’ve traveled outside the country recently and have symptoms such as fever, cough or trouble breathing, or have been around someone who’s been outside the U-S and is sick, contact your doctor.



CHICAGO (AP) — Abortions in Illinois increased about 7% from 2017 to 2018, mostly from residents of the state who were seeking the procedure, according to the health department. The Illinois Department of Public Health recently released figures for 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported. The annual Illinois abortion report shows 42,441 pregnancies were terminated statewide in 2018, up from 39,329 in 2017.



(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign police were called to Marketplace Mall Saturday night for a report of shots fired. While no injuries were reported several vehicles sustained damage from the shots. Police continue to investigate.



(Springfield--jc)  -- One local County Fair official was named to a high award, after his death last year.  The 110th annual convention of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs was held in Springfield this month. Marvin Perzee of Ashkum passed away in July but was granted the Friend of Illinois County Fairs Award posthumously, his wife Sharon, received the award on his behalf. Marvin Perzee was elected to the Iroquois County Agricultural and 4-H Club Fair Board in 1967. He was elected President in 1972 and served in that capacity for 47 years and was Vice-President in 2019 for a total of 54 years of volunteer service to the Fair and his community



(Iroquois County-jm) -- A Momence man is dead following a crash in Kankakee over the weekend. The accident occurred on Route 1 at 10500 N just before 8:30 Sunday morning. State Police say a southbound vehicle crossed the center line and collided with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, Michael Latty Jr of Momence was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle was cited for improper lane usage.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul will hold an open house later this month to collect input from the public on the future of the village board. Two years ago, voters approved a referendum that would change the way village trustees are elected. Currently, they are elected at large but starting in 2021, trustees will be elected from wards. The public will have the chance to review two possible plans that would divide the village into different wards based on population. The open house will take place on Thursday, January 30th from 5 to 6:30 pm at the Municipal Building. Those attending will be asked to fill out a comments sheet, which trustees will look over at their February 4th study session.



(Paxton)- The PBL FFA Toy Show is upcoming on Sat. Feb. 1st, all are welcome to attend. There are numerous vendors already signed up for this year’s show from the area, the state, and some out of state vendors. Says PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren.



PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren


(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law will cap the monthly cost of insulin for patients. More than one million people in Illinois have diabetes and some are paying upwards of 500 to 900 dollars a month for insulin. Governor J-B Pritzker says this new law will cap the monthly co-pay at 100 dollars…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. This cap takes effect in 2021. The Illinois Department of Insurance will immediately begin studying the rising cost of insulin and make policy recommendations.


(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois state senator raised concerns in 2016 that Illinois’ automatic voter registration program could mistakenly give voter cards to people who weren't U.S. citizens. At the time, lawmakers were gearing up to override former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 250 in November 2016. The bill passed nearly unanimously and was overridden in a similar roll call. One of the few dissenters was state Sen. Dan McConchie, who sent out a news release that predicted a problem with automatic voter registration. The Hawthorne Hills Republican said Under this proposal, non-citizens will be automatically registered to vote and then perhaps later removed from the rolls. If a non-citizen is registered and the state fails to remove that person in a timely fashion, they will get a voter card in the mail and likely believe they can legally vote. And if they do vote, they will be committing a felony.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois hunters harvested more than 153 thousand deer during the various deer seasons. Deer hunting wrapped up January 19th bringing an end to archery, youth and firearm hunting seasons for the winter says State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert…


State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. This time around, deer hunters took 45 percent does and 55 percent males.



(Urbana--jc)  -- Champaign County Coroner, Duane Northrup has released the name of a woman who has died as a result of injuries she received when she was struck by a motor vehicle while walking near Russell Street and University Avenue in Champaign on Thursday night. Mary Johansen, 56, of Champaign,  died at Carle Foundation Hospital, Friday afternoon. No autopsy will be performed however, an inquest may be held at a later date.



(Urbana--jc)  A former Champaign police officer will serve one year probation for breaking into vehicles in Fisher. 45 year old Justis Clinton  plead guilty this week to a single count of burglary to a motor vehicle. Clinton was also ordered by pay restitution of 1 thousand 560 dollars to two other alledged victims.



(Rantoul--jc)  A new restaurant is coming to Rantoul. Rantoul Area Chamber officials are sending the local welcome to l, the Yellow Ducky Express Chinese Restaurant. The new restaurant is set to open at 715 West. Champaign Street. The opening is set for this coming week and a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony are also planned



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business is making some upgrades. Paxton Ready Mix is building a new batching plant. The new plant came in four sections in late summer. Crews have been busy putting them together. The new plant is estimated to last 40 years.



(Springfield-jm) -- The investigation into Mike McClain continues at the state and federal level. The investigation into possible rape and hush payments has led to the resignation of Illinois Ag Director John Sullivan. Governor J-B Pritzker had this tough message to those who know something…


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Undated--jc)  Today is the first day to officially file your income taxes. Filing today could mean a tax refund is coming your way in about 3 to 4 weeks.


An Illinois lawmaker wants to realign Illinois' tax on inheritance to federal thresholds

(Springfield-jm) -- Of all states, a national review ranked Illinois the 13th best state for drivers, but some measures, such as the cost of gas, held the state back. WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said most drivers across the country may think the roads in their state are the worst, but Illinois scored well in terms of safety and access to vehicle maintenance. Looking at individual indicators, Illinois was fourth for repair shops per capita and seventh for dealers per capita.



PONTIAC, Ill. (AP) — A suspended state corrections officer pleaded not guilty Thursday in the Christmas Day shootings of his wife, adult son and another man in a small eastern Illinois community. Clifford Brewer, 53, of Cullom is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bond. He is accused of shooting his wife, Shirley, 48; his son, Christian, 27; and neighbor Norman Walker, 51. They were all found in Brewer’s home with single gunshot wounds to their heads. If convicted, Brewer could face life in prison.



(Springfield-jm) -- You can start filing your state and federal tax returns next week. Monday is the first day for tax filing and Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro has this advice…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro. Salustro says the quickest way to get your refund is to file electronically and request direct deposit. Last year, about 88 percent of Illinois taxpayers opted to e-file.

(Rantoul-jm) -- Crews tearing down a building damaged by fire ran into issues this week. While demolition crews tearing down the building in the 100 block of South Tanner, a power pole was snapped causing a power outage in the downtown area. Crews also struck a water line causing a downtown business to lose water. The demotion of the structure continues



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity. On January 21st, Wilbur Wright was arrested for misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor theft and probation violation following an incident at the south Casey’s in Paxton. On January 19th, Tyler Campe of Paxton was arrested for criminal trespass to a motor vehicle and violation of bond following a domestic dispute on East Pells St. On January 17th, Kirk Marvel of Ludlow was arrested for manufacturing meth, possession of meth with intent to deliver, possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and ticketed for driving with a suspended license following a traffic stop.



(Undated-jm) -- During the first year of the Trump administration's new tax law, 91 Fortune 500 companies didn't pay a dime in federal income tax, according to a new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Mary Scheurmann reports…




(Undated-jm) -- Marijuana could be risky for patients on heart medications according to a new report from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The report says it could interact with common heart medications and could change how it works in the body.


The Loda American Legion will hold their fish and chicken fry tonight from 4:30-7:30 pm.


The Elliott Amvets will hold their all you can eat mountain oyster fry on Saturday, from 12-4 pm.



(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker wants to realign Illinois’ tax on inheritance to federal thresholds, something long sought by family farmers.  Currently, Illinois imposes an estate tax, sometimes called a “death tax,” of up to 16 percent. Combined with a top federal rate of 40 percent, some heirs face a tax of up to 56 percent, but the federal estate tax kicks in at just under $12 million while Illinois’ estate tax applies to any inherited value above $4 million.  That’s why state Rep. Mike Murphy said he wants to bring Illinois back to using the same estate value threshold as the federal government. Illinois and eleven other states and the District of Columbia levy an estate tax. Six states have an inheritance tax. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office collected $315 million in estate tax revenues in 2018.


(Springfield-jm) -- A programming error in the state's automatic voter registration system could result in immigrants in the country legally facing deportation.  When 16 of the more than 500 people who received voter registration cards by mistake because of an error in Illinois’ automatic voter registration program, they may have committed a felony. The issue was limited to keypads at Illinois Secretary of State facilities. When customers indicated that they weren’t a citizen, the system should have stopped the registration process. Instead, the machines forwarded information for 574 people who said they were not U.S. citizens to the Illinois State Board of Elections to be registered to vote.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is warning the public about a new phone scam. People have been reporting calls that seemingly come from state police district offices, with the caller asking for personal information. It’s probably bogus says Sergeant Joey Watson.  Watson says the caller often has a foreign accent. He says the best way to protect yourself is to start asking questions like the supposed trooper’s name and telling them you will call them back. Legit district information is available on the Illinois State Police website.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 30 months probation after he was found with a loaded gun. 19 year old Tre White pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 21. Police found White in possession of a gun last January as they were arresting him for allegedly sending threatening messages through Facebook. White was also sentenced to 180 days in jail but given credit for 106 days already served.



(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County mobile home taxpayers will receive their tax bills in March. County Treasurer Kurt Albers announced the bills will be sent out the first week of March. Those needing to change their address or their mobile home was moved or destroyed need to contact his office with the change. If the mobile home was purchased or sold the owner or previous owner must show a copy of the title to the treasurer’s office.


(Springfield-jm) -- Applications for more licenses in the Illinois cannabis industry are now available. State Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox says the license apps are for marijuana transporters, infusers and craft growers…



State Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox. Those interested can submit an application between February 14th and March 16th. Visit agriculture dot illinois dot gov for all the details. 



(Undated-jm) -- Waist size may be more important than weight when it comes to heart attacks. Researchers studied 22,000 Swiss patients who were considered obese. 78 percent of men and 90 percent of women were considered abdominal obese in the survey. The survey found men were at a higher risk of having a heart attack.


The Saybrook American Legion will hold a chicken and fish fry tonight from 4:30-6:30 pm.


The Hoopeston Area FFA Alumni Scholarship Auction will take place on Saturday at the Hoopeston American Legion. Silent auction begins at 4, dinner at 4:30 with the live auction starting at 6.



A new state law will give Illinois students time to vote during the school day

CHICAGO (AP) — At least three of 16 Illinois residents who cast ballots after being mistakenly registered to vote are U.S. citizens after all, election officials said Wednesday in assessing the damage caused by an error in the state’s automatic voter registration system. Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, a key player in the system because it oversees driver’s licenses, said the data of 574 people who self-identified as noncitizens was mistakenly forwarded to elections officials to be registered to vote. Election officials said 545 of them were registered and 16 voted in 2018 and 2019 elections. State Senator Dan Brady of Bloomington joined other House Republicans Wednesday demanding action to preserve the integrity of the March election…



State Senator Dan Brady of Bloomington.



(Springfield-jm) -- Although funding ratios for three of the state’s five public sector pension funds increased, a public finance watchdog said Illinois taxpayers still face a debt crisis. The Auditor General released financial audits of the State Employees, Judges and General Assembly retirement systems. The audits showed the total liability for two of the funds increased while the total liability for GARS decreased. All three funds had marginal improvement in unfunded ratios. For the State Employees Retirement System, the total liability grew $1.4 billion to $51.9 billion in the year that ended June 30, 2019. The funded ratio increased from 34.57 percent of the total liability in the bank in 2018 to 35.64 percent in 2019. Administrative costs decreased slightly for SERS, but the total number of members increased by nearly 2,000. The Judges Retirement System's total liability increased by $66.6 million to $2.9 billion.  The General Assembly Retirement System, the worst-funded of all the pension funds managed by the state, reported its total liability decreased $1.3 million from the year before, to a total of $321.8 million.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law will give Illinois students time to vote during the school day. Governor J-B Pritzker says he supports any initiative that makes it easier for Illinoisans to cast a ballot. He signed the bill in front of Thornton Fractional High School students who came up with the idea…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The law allows for two hours off of school to vote in any election including primaries and general elections.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School district has received a payment from the county. The district received $51,051 from Champaign County as part of the county’s one percent school facility tax.



(Washington-jm) -- The overall total of planted acreage in the country dropped significantly from last year. Stephanie Ho has the details…


(Paxton--jc)  Arguments in a pre-trial motion are set for February in Ford County court concerning a case involving a Ford County funeral home employee accused of taking money from the business. One issue is whether officials with Lamb-Young Funeral Home will disclose some wanted financial records including tax returns. 51 year old Michelle Rosenbaum is accused by Lamb Young of taking 60 thousand dollars from the business. Rosenbaum has plead not guilty. The pre trial motions are set for February 19 in Ford County court. 



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton intersection will receive new stop signs. The city council approved adding stop signs at the intersection of Holmes and Elm. The move comes after several residents in the area complained about speeding vehicles.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul City School District will be searching for a new superintendent. Michelle Ramage will be leaving the district at the end of the year. The school board approved a two year extension for Ramage, which includes one year for her to assist with the transition of a new superintendent.




(Springfield-jm) -- A bill filed in Springfield could allow local libraries to get a cut of the taxes on recreational cannabis sales, but it would come at the potential expense of county-level taxes.  House Bill 4135 would allow the state’s more than 600 libraries to impose a 1 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales in their jurisdictions.  In exchange for the 1 percent tax, the county that the library is in would be limited to taxing cannabis sales in the library district at up to 2 percent. Under existing law, counties can tax local recreational cannabis sales up to 3 percent.


(Paxton--jc)  Details remain sketchy on a collision near Paxton along Interstate57 earlier this morning. Local emergency crews were called to a two semi vehicle accident just after 1 this morning at mile marker 262. Reports say the two semis collided head-on. No official word has been given on injuries or damages to the vehicles.WPXN news will update this story as more officials news becomes available. 


DANVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Police say an eastern Illinois homeowner shot and killed an intruder during a home invasion. A Danville man told police that at least two people armed with handguns and wearing ski masks kicked in his door and attempted to rob him Sunday night, Commander Josh Webb said. The homeowner, armed with a handgun, fired multiple shots at the intruders, Webb said. Officers located a man inside the home suffering from multiple gunshot wounds who later died at a hospital. Vermilion County Coroner Jane McFadden identified the man as Jordan Parrish, 29. The homeowner told police that at least one other intruder fled the scene when shots were fired.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers have filed a number of bills they hope will give the public more information about potential conflicts of interest in the General Assembly. Two pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 2318 and House Bill 3895, would put restrictions on lawmakers’ ability to earn money from gambling interests.  Should it become law, House Bill 3998 would require lawmakers to disclose more information on the firms that they work with in their businesses and require more information about how their spouse makes money. 


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker hopes to expand the state’s home visiting program to all eligible families in Illinois by 2025. 500 additional children will be served this year, with thousands visited over the next five years says Governor Pritzker. He says it’s vital to reach families during those early years…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the state has recently secured millions of dollars in federal funding to improve early childhood programs across Illinois. That includes the early childhood workforce and raising salaries to improve retention rates.



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



(Paxton-)- The 32nd PBL FFA Toy show will be held on Saturday Feb. 1 from 9am to 2:30pm. There will be a silent auction, door prizes, a pedal tractor pull at 12pm, and a concession stand will be open the entire time, as well as lunch at 12pm. PBL FFA Member Christina White has the details.


PBL FFA Member Christina White



(Gilman-jm) -- Police are investigating the theft of at least two vehicles and the break in of several more in one Iroquois County community. The city of Gilman has had at least two vehicles stolen and several more broken into with items inside taken over the past few weeks. Police remind residents to keep their vehicles locked.



(Thomasboro-jm) -- The Champaign County village of Thomasboro is seeking candidates to fill a vacancy on the village board. Trustee Trent Sage resigned in December because he is moving. Those interested can reach out to the village office manager Deanne Wattjes.



(Undated-jm) -- Some Illinois college students are part of a growing movement to raise awareness of the $23 trillion national debt and brainstorm solutions. Mary Scheurman reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Supreme court could decide if police officers can use the smell of marijuana as probable cause to search a vehicle during a traffic stop. The state’s high court heard arguments in a case from Decatur. In that case, police pulled over a man after they thought they saw a fugitive in the vehicle. An officer said there was no fugitive, but reported smelling “raw” cannabis, which prompted a search. That search turned up crack cocaine. The defendant sought to suppress the crack cocaine evidence claiming the smell of cannabis in 2017 shouldn't be considered probable cause. The man wasn’t charged with cannabis possession. The trial court suppressed the evidence, but an appellate court overturned that suppression. The defendant then appealed the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. Illinois law in 2017 allowed for possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis to be considered a civil violation, the equivalent to getting a traffic citation. Police were still allowed to seize the drug. Possession of more than 10 grams was a criminal offense until Jan. 1 when the state legalized recreational cannabis for adult use.



The Illinois State Police issued nearly 300 tickets during "Operation Lambert" last week

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' economy grew in the third quarter of 2019, but at a slower pace than the national average, something the state’s leading manufacturers’ group said was due in part to the state's business and tax policies. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis gross domestic product data showed Illinois grew by 1.4 percent in the third quarter of 2019. That’s faster than Delaware, which didn’t grow at all, but much slower than Texas’ 4 percent growth. The national average was 2.1 percent. Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler said the overall outcome was mixed with nondurable goods growing by 7.7 percent.



CHICAGO (AP) — An error in Illinois’ new automatic voter registration system led to a possible 545 non-U.S. citizens being registered to vote, 16 of whom cast ballots, state officials publicly acknowledged this week. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, which oversees driver’s licenses, said the data of 574 people who self-identified as non-citizens was erroneously forwarded to elections officials to be registered to vote. Election officials confirmed Tuesday that 545 of them were ultimately registered. 



(Undated-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is speaking out on the error from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office that allowed 545 non U-S citizens to be registered to vote. He says a full investigation is being done to make sure the election process is secure in Illinois…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating an armed robbery over the weekend.  The suspect walked into the Verizon store around 11:30 Saturday morning, pulled a gun and stole numerous phones and other electronics. The suspect is described as a black male between 25 and 35 years old, approximately five foot 10 weighing 170 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul police at 893-5600.



(Washington-jm) -- There is at least one surprise in USDA's latest round of crop forecasts. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) -- The flu virus is spreading quickly across Illinois, moving along interstates and through airports to reach people in every part of the state. Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the illness is not targeting the normal populations this year – young people and those who are normally healthy seem to be coming down with the virus in greater-than-usual numbers. There has been one pediatric death caused by the flu virus so far this year. That’s on track with last year. In a typical year, eight to 10 children die from the flu, Ezike said. Adult deaths related to flu virus are not tracked in Illinois.



(Springfield-jm) -- A state commission recommended Illinois continue to keep student attendance as a factor in determining school success despite concerns from some who have said its an unfair metric. The Illinois State Board of Education's Attendance Commission report pushed back against suggestions that the state scrap chronic absenteeism as one of the ways schools are rated and consequently awarded funding.  The overall chronic absence rate in Illinois was 18 percent during the most recent completed school year, 2018-2019. That means that 360,000 students in the state missed 10 percent or more of their school days.


(Springfield-jm) -- One state lawmaker has a plan to reduce political corruption in Illinois. State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, has filed a bill to require all elected officials in the state to wear a body camera while conducting public business. Cabello said he was inspired by another recent public policy push under discussion in Springfield. The measure would apply to city, county, and state lawmakers. Under the proposal, public officials found to be in violation of the body cam law could receive fines.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois state lawmakers and advocates are drafting a plan to help people often overlooked by the criminal justice system: The children of the incarcerated. The Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents was created in 2019. It will release its report in less than six weeks. Taskforce members have been focusing on what can be done to ensure that about 200,000 children in Illinois who have parents in prison don’t suffer unnecessarily because of policies under state control. The coming report will address a broad range of issues related to incarceration.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police issued nearly 300 tickets during “Operation Lambert” last week. The seven day special enforcement detail was in honor of Trooper Christopher Lambert who was killed last year when his squad car was struck says Sergeant Delila Garcia…



Illinois State Police Sergeant Delila Garcia. The move over law requires drivers to switch lanes when possible if they see a vehicle with flashing lights stopped on the side of the road.



(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson Area Hospital auxiliary will award eight scholarships this year. Scholarship information can be found online at gibson hospital dot org slash supporting gibson slash auxiliary or contacting Sue Walker at 784-8705. The deadline to submit your application is March 9th.



(Paxton)- With the PBL FFA Toy show taking place on Saturday Feb. 1st, they have a limited amount of their feature tractor left. The Tractor can be purchased at $65.00. PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren has more… 



PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren. For more information please contact PBL High School



(Springfield-jm) -- More than 1,000 "criminal aliens" were released by law enforcement in Illinois’ largest county last fiscal year, something federal immigration officials said makes it more likely people will be victimized. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say in fiscal 2019, officials in Cook County released 1,070 criminal aliens despite requests by the federal agency seeking notification. Last summer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Keeping Illinois Families Together Act, which prohibits local law enforcement from coordinating with ICE. However, the act does not provide for any penalties for law enforcement that do coordinate with federal immigration authorities.



(Undated-jm) -- The U-S cancer death rate saw the largest single year drop ever between 2016 and 2017 according to the American Cancer Society. The decline is due in part to an increased survival rate in lung cancer. Lung cancer deaths dropped 2.2 percent however, accounts for 27 percent of all cancer deaths. American Cancer Society researchers also say there was a decline in melanoma deaths.



Paxton police are investigating a string of break ins in town

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



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



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




PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren



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



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



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




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


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



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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.


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



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



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



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



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


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

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



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


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


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



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



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


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


Park District Director Neil McKenry 



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



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

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



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



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



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


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



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



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


State Representative Dan Brady of Normal.



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



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


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

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



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



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



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



Paxton Park District’s Neil McKenry.



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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



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


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


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




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


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



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



State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


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



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



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