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What was once just a couple of riverboats, Illinois gaming is now a multi-billion dollar industry

(Springfield-jm) – For the second week in a row, no Illinois counties are rated at a high level for COVID-19 transmission. 20 counties are at medium risk, up from 19 the previous week, says Illinois Department of Public Health Spokesperson Mike Claffey…



Illinois Public Health Spokesperson Mike Claffey. State Public Health officials are also announcing a new telehealth test to treat service through the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Patients who test positive for COVID can call: 217-545-5100 to be screened and prescribed medication if necessary.


(Springfield-jm) – Another storm is bearing down on Illinois. The weather system is expected to bring heavy rain to many parts of the state today, with winds of 40-50 mph possible. Due to the lack of snow this winter, moisture and streamflow conditions are not expected to contribute to spring flooding.


(Springfield-jm) – What was once just a couple of riverboats, Illinois gaming is now a multi-billion dollar industry. The state’s various gaming opportunities generated one point four billion dollars in tax revenue last year. There are 12 casinos in Illinois now with more to come, and the state is home to the largest network of video gaming terminals of its kind in the U-S says State Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Furchter (fruck-ter). As for sports wagering…



State Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Furchter. One area that continues to struggle is horse racing, especially with the closing of Arlington Park in 2021. There are currently only two racetracks that offer live racing, one in Cicero and one in Collinsville.


(Champaign-jm) – A pair of departments in the City of Champaign will have a new home starting this week. The city announced on Friday that the Neighborhood Services Department and the Equity and Engagement Department will be relocating to new offices located in downtown Champaign. Currently located in the City Building at 102 North Neil Street, the two departments will relocate a few blocks over to 205 West Park Avenue.


(Springfield-jm) – State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur believes there are areas of the state which lack properly qualified teachers for dual credit classes, and that is why he is sponsoring legislation   which he believes will help fill those teaching gaps by encouraging further education and endorsements. Under Caulkins measure, the ‘Teach Illinois Scholarship Program’ will be extended to include those teachers who are preparing to teach dual credit courses within a high school and commit to obtaining a master’s degree in order to teach the dual credit courses. Representative Caulkins explains the bill…



State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur.


(Champaign-jm) – Many Ameren Illinois customers in the Champaign area will see new energy upgrades throughout the spring and fall. Ameren Illinois said they plan to replace steel pipelines and natural gas services with modern, corrosion-resistant polyethylene material, upgrading approximately 4.2 miles of natural gas pipelines from the 1960s. The upgrades will also affect 430 individual customers’ natural gas services. Work will happen on the west and southwest side of Champaign between Southwind Dr. to Windsor Rd. and from Scottsdale Dr. to S. Mattis Ave. Ameren Illinois said the upgrades cost more than $3 million. All work should be completed by the end of November, weather permitting.


(Washington-jm) – The USDA is out with a new forecast for U.S. agricultural exports and imports for 2023. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – State lawmakers are getting a closer look at Governor J-B Pritzker’s program to prevent and end homelessness. There are more than 120 thousand people experiencing homelessness in Illinois, and the goal of “Home Illinois” is to bring that down to zero, said State Homeless Chief Christine Haley at a House committee hearing…



State Homeless Chief Christine Haley. The Governor wants to see a 350 million dollar investment in the program, for things like street outreach, rental assistance, more shelter and permanent supportive housing and a new initiative to help homeless adults find and keep a job.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois’ credit rating got upgraded from worst in the country to tied for the worst in the country with New Jersey. S&P Global Ratings upgrade is the seventh time in the last two years Illinois credit rating was upgraded.


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Other suggestions include adding more residential and inpatient beds and addressing the shortage of behavioral healthcare workers. Governor Pritzker says a long term goal is to implement universal screenings for mental health challenges in schools. The report is the product of an initiative launched last year.


(Urbana-jm) – A University of Illinois student is out $500 after University Police officials said he was a victim of sexual extortion. Officials said that an unknown individual contacted the victim through social media and encouraged him to send intimate photos of himself. After receiving the photos, officials said the individual threatened to send them to the victim’s social media contacts if he didn’t pay. The victim compiled with the demand. Since mid-January, University of Illinois Police included seven other instances of sexual extortion in their reports, the most recent of which also resulted in $500 being lost. However, other scammers have demanded up to $5,000 to keep photos private.


(Springfield-jm) – Senate Republicans continue to criticize Governor J-B Pritzker’s budget proposal. One of those is 53rd District State Senator Tom Bennett of Gibson City…



53rd District State Senator Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Champaign-jm) – One year ago, the City of Champaign began the Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint. The Champaign City Council voted to approve a grant to support the goals of the blueprint. The council approved the $334,440 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; the grant was allocated to the city by State Representative Carol Ammons. Over the past several years, gun violence became a forefront problem for the city of Champaign. This prompted city leaders to create the Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint that went into effect last year. It seems to be working, 2022 gun violence numbers were down 50% from 2021 in Champaign. The blueprint has three goals in hopes to lower gun violence in the city, which the new grant will allow the city to work alongside new and continuing organizations to achieve those goals.



(Washington-jm) – Farm income in 2023 is probably going to fall below last year's record high. Gary Crawford reports…



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