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WPXN Blog Archives for 2018-12

Illinois Farmers are Hoping Tensions Between the U.S. and its Trade Partners Dissipate After Record-Yielding Harvests in 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois farmers are hoping tensions between the U.S. and its trade partners dissipate after record-yielding harvests in 2018. Illinois produced the most soybeans of any state in the country while ranking second in corn production. But farmers have been significantly affected by the government’s tougher stance on trade and retaliatory tariffs.Illinois Farm Bureau official says that  unfortunately, the farming community has to rely on international markets to move their commodities.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that $6.7 billion of Illinois exports are threatened by the emerging trade war. In 2017, China accounted for 25 percent of the state's agricultural exports, including $1.75 billion in soybeans and more than $500 million in corn. When China wasn't buying this year, many farmers had to store excess crops for winter and hope the tariff situation is resolved.


NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — The father of a U.S. Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan says it's a "tremendous honor" to have a post office in the community of Normal renamed in honor of his son.Sgt. Joshua Rodgers was a 2013 graduate of Normal Community High School, where he was on the football and track teams. The 22-year-old was on his third tour of duty as a member of a special operations unit when he was killed last year during a raid on an ISIS headquarters.

Kevin Rodgers says the family is looking forward to the renaming ceremony. A date for the ceremony hasn't been set. President Donald Trump signed the measure, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and co-sponsored by each member of Illinois' congressional delegation.



(Illinois--ba)-It’s New Year’s Eve and a time to State and local police will be on the lookout for drunk drivers over the new year’s holiday. Last year in Illinois…six people died in vehicle crashes over New Year’s. Four of those deaths were alcohol related. Cops are boosting patrols but there are plenty of options for staying out of trouble and getting home safely on New Year’s says I-DOT spokesperson Jessie Decker.



I-DOT spokesperson Jessie Decker



Springfield – Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Leo P. Schmitz commissioned 59 Troopers Friday, during the Cadet Class 128 graduation ceremony at Hope Church in Springfield, Illinois.  The new Troopers will report to ISP patrol districts throughout the state on Monday, December 31, 2018. Director Schmitz and ISP command staff welcomed the new Troopers after delivering the Oath of an Officer before family and friends.  District 21 in Ashkum has 3 new troopers, Pesotum has 8 new officers and 3 will be placed in the Pontiac district, locally.



(Illinois--ba)-A new report on Illinois underfunded pension systems says the state needs to put more money into the benefits programs before they become unsustainable and consume an even larger share of the state's tax revenue. The state will be required to contribute $9.39 billion to six pension funds in fiscal 2020, about $845 million more than the previous year, according to the report. In addition to being underfunded, the state's pension systems are susceptible to a volatile stock market, the report found. Two public finance watchdogs said the report underscores the need for changes moving forward, including some changes that won’t be popular.




(Chicago--jc) --A new Illinois law regarding gym and health club memberships goes into effect as many people resolve to join gyms and spend more time working out.A lawmaker who got a measure passed that becomes law Tuesday said his bill will help keep consumers from being nickel-and-dimed. An Illinois state law from the 1965 capped gym membership fees at $2,500 a year. In today's dollars, that’s $20,000.State Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, said the cap was out of date. After talking with the industry, the Illinois Attorney General’s office, and legislators from both sides of the aisle, they decided to lift the cap entirely.The measure was supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, and several other health club companies and groups.




ROSEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Hemp could be the next big cash crop in Illinois, according to a farmer who was among the first to legally grow the plant in the state after it became legal this year.Hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana but doesn't have THC, the compound that causes a high. Hemp can be turned into clothing, textiles, building materials, paper and food.Illinois lawmakers authorized hemp production in the state this year. A new federal farm bill signed this month legalized the plant's production nationwide. The move will give hemp farmers access to interstate commerce, crop insurance, standard business loans and tax deductions, giving the hemp industry an advantage over medical marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law.Andy Huston was among the first to grow hemp in Illinois on his Roseville-area farm. He told the Chicago Tribune that he believes the crop could be more profitable than corn and soybeans once farmers learn how to raise and sell it.



(Illinois--ba)-As Illinois celebrates its Bicentennial, WPXN’s Braedon Arnett talks about the top ten musicians from Illinois.




(Iroquois County---jc)  Slick roads caused numerous accidents along area roads on Saturday. In Iroquois County, local police handled dozens of accidents, along Interstate 57 and along Route 49 and 45. Kankakee police also reported a plethera of ice road accidents in and around the Kankakee area.



(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Bloomington--jc) A Champaign County man was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to a drug-induced homicide. 24 year old Troy McBride of Rantoul was sentenced on Friday in McLean County Court from an incident on March 23 when he sold the fentanyl-laced heroin to James Dingman, 41, of Bloomington, in Champaign. Dingman later died from the drugs at his home in Bloomington.


CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in Chicago has refused to toss a lawsuit accusing an Illinois investigator of violating privacy rights of two patients by seizing their files from their psychotherapist. Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo's ruling stemmed from a suit brought by the patients. They were patients of a psychotherapist who gives court-ordered counseling after convictions of alcohol-related driving offenses. The DuPage County State's Attorney's Office investigator was looking into whether the psychotherapist properly accounted for such sessions.The suit says the investigator should have only taken business records, not patient files.


(Undated--jc)  --The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has remained the same since 2009. Since then, 29 states and the District of Columbia have set minimum wages above the federal level. Twenty states have minimum wage increases taking effect around the start of the new year. California goes up to 12 dollars an hour,  Washington state also goes to 12 dollars per hour. Rhode Island goes to 10-50 and Ohio jumps to 8-55. Illinois’s rate remains at 8-25 with the start of the new year.



(Urbana--jc)  --Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup has released the name of a male subject who has died from injuries he received during a shooting incident early Sunday morning in Urbana. Thirty-year-old Renese D. Riley was pronounced dead just after 3 Sunday morning  in the Carle Foundation Hospital Emergency Department. An autopsy is scheduled for today at the Champaign County Regional Autopsy Facility. An inquest may be held at a later date. This death is under investigation by the Urbana Police Department, the Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- Fundraising for the 20-19 Ford County Relay for Life event set for August, continues. A euchre party for the  Chic Meredith Relay for Life team  is set for Friday January 18th, at the Moyer District Library in  Gibson City. There is a 10 dollar entry fee. Snacks and water will be provided. To sign up, you may call 217-784-5267.


(Rantoul--jc)  A business in the downtown area of Rantoul has received a facelift. Falling debris from a close by property caused damage to the building that houses, A House of Flowers by Paula in downtown Rantoul. A microloan of 10 thousand dollars was approved earlier this month. The money was used to repair the property and will be repaid back to the village over a 5 year period. The building had over 30 thousand dollars in damages. The project will help bring several more jobs to the downtown area.



(Coles County--jc)  A Coles County man faces two to five years in prison after being arrested for a bomb threat at the Mattoon Wal-Mart. 49 year old James Brigham  was arrested on Friday. He faces a charge of disorderly conduct. Investigators say Brigham called the Mattoon Walmart on a cell phone and said there was a bomb with the building. .


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say a body found inside a central Illinois home more than 14 hours after it was destroyed by fire was that of a 67-year-old woman who lived there.The Macon County Coroner's Office says the preliminary cause of death for Bertha Harden was carbon monoxide inhalation from the smoke and soot generated by Friday's fire in Decatur. An autopsy performed Saturday found no signs of foul play.  Officials say the fire's cause remained under investigation.


DETROIT (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has rejected Michigan's offer of $8 million to support a project to keep invasive carp from establishing themselves in the Great Lakes, saying the money wouldn't be useful for at least 10 years.

Rauner said in a letter to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that the offer to support operations at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, wouldn't help until after an upgrade there is completed in 10 years.Experts consider the area a good location to block movement of Asian carp, which have infested the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Scientists warn that if the voracious fish become established in the Great Lakes, they could ruin native species and harm the region's $7 billion fishing industry.



State and Local Police Will be on the Lookout for Drunk Drivers over this New Year's Holiday.

CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has named an outgoing Republican state representative and a former Democratic state senator to key positions in his administration.Pritzker said Thursday that GOP Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights will be director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, the department responsible for collecting state taxes.Harris served in the state House from 1983 to 1993 and was elected again in 2010. He chose not to seek re-election in November.Pritzker, who'll be sworn in next month, also named John Sullivan of Rushville director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Sullivan served in the Senate from 2003 to 2016 and was a chairman of the Senate's Agriculture and Conservation committee.Ann Spillane, longtime chief of staff to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, was named Pritzker's general counsel.


LINCOLN — A transgender female inmate, whose alleged mistreatment by male correctional officers led to a federal judge ordering training for prison staff, has been moved to a women's prison in Lincoln. In the federal lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections, Hampton has detailed her allegations of confinement and sexual harassment.She said she was threatened with rape and other violence while held in men's facilities. According to attorneys for Hampton, she has been moved from Dixon Correctional Center, an all-male facility, to Logan Correctional Center for women in Lincoln.


(Paxton--ba) 20-18 has been a positive year for new business in the city of Paxton Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says new business means more reasons to stop by the Ford County city....



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold


(Rantoul--ba) In the job for just over a month,Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower says there are similarities  between the village of Rantoul and city of Danville.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower


(Lewsiston--ba)-A central Illinois man faces felony charges after allegedly concocting a story his car being stolen with a 13-month old child inside that triggered a statewide Amber Alert. Police say Mitchell Dutz of Mason City reported to police that he was inside a gas station when three people stole his car. But police soon determined Dutz made up the story to cover up a drug deal. There was never a missing child and gas station surveillance video didn't reveal any vehicles matching the one Dutz described.



(Peoria--ba)-Peoria's police chief says investigators don't see connections between numerous recent shootings that have pushed the city's number of criminal homicides for 2018 pass the combined total for the two previous years. The city saw its 22nd criminal homicide of the year early Wednesday when police say a 43-year-old man was fatally shot during a birthday party. The city's had three deaths among 10 shooting incidents since Dec. 18, including early Tuesday gunfire that wounded a 12-year-old and another person. Peoria police Chief Loren Marion says his officers are working long hours to make arrests in the cases but need the community's help.


(Illinois--ba)-An Illinois-based internet provider is planning to spur broadband development in rural areas across five states in the central U.S. Wisper ISP Inc. is set to receive money from the Federal Communication Commission for broadband development in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas. Malinda Heuring, marketing director at Wisper, said the company will need help locating areas to install the technology and in getting the word out to potential customers.



(Chicago--ba)  U.S. District Court in Chicago is among the federal courts nationwide suspending civil cases where one party is the federal government. Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo issued an order suspending all such civil litigation for two weeks because of the government shutdown that began last week. Among the suspended cases are ones where people are suing the U.S. government to get Social Security money they say they are owed. Asylum and some extradition cases also fall under the order.


(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Springfield--jc) State and local police will be on the lookout for drunk drivers over this New year’s holiday.  Officials say it’s everyone’s responsibility to make good decisions, before getting behind the wheel. Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Jessie Decker says the New Year’s holiday can be dangerous…



I-Dot Spokesperson Jessie Decker.



(Urbana--jc)  --Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is releasing the name of a woman who has died from injuries she received in a shooting incident earlier this month. 29 year old Marlene M. Brown, of Danville,  was pronounced dead early on December 25 at Carle Foundation Hospital. Ms. Brown was reportedly shot by a male subject in the 300 block of North Washington Street in Danville, Illinois at approximately 10:30PM on December 15, 2018 following a domestic dispute. An autopsy was performed on Wednesday of this week and an inquest  may be held at a later date. This death is being investigated by the Danville Police Department and the Coroner’s Office.



(Springfield--jc)  It’s graduation day for some Illinois State police troopers.

Illinois State Police Officials will welcome 59 cadets to their ranks this morning.  Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz will formally address Cadet Class 128, followed by the oath of an officer ceremony. The 10am ceremony is set for Springfield. The new troopers will be assigned to districts throughout the state beginning on Monday.


Chicago--jc)  – Attorney General Lisa Madigan Thursday released guidance on the impact of immigration status on employees’ rights in the workplace. Recent policy debates and court cases regarding changes to federal immigration programs have left many employees and employers in Illinois with questions about workers’ rights and obligations under federal immigration law, state and federal workplace laws, and the intersection between the two. Madigan’s office drafted and issued Guidance for Illinois Residents: Impact of Immigration Status on Employees’ Rights in the Workplace as a resource for Illinois employers.


(Urbana--jc)  A Champaign County womans bond was set at 1 thousand dollars on a charge of felony aggravated battery in a public place after an incident at Carle Foundation hospital on Thursday. 20 year old Rashaya Brown of Champaign was ordered by Champaign County court officials  to have no contact with the alleged victim and a new court date on the charges is set for February 12th.


(Watseka--jc) Iroquois County leaders are looking at ways to increase revenue for the county. The county board  policy and procedure committee met on Thursday in Watseka and the topic was revenue. Iroquois County, like most counties in the state, continue to look at funds to run county programs. The full board meets in January to continue the look into the future.


(Champaign--jc)  If you travel along North Mattis Avenue in Champaign, your commute to work, college or shopping will be somewhat slower through the weekend. Champaign City workers continue to fix a water valve in the area. Mattis between John and Henry streets is down to one lane northbound traffic through Monday.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Did you get a drone for Christmas? The Illinois Department of Transporation is reminding  the public on some rules you need to follow. One rule is you can not fly your drone within 5 miles of an airport says I-Dot Spokesperson Jessie Decker…



Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Jessie Decker.


(Gifford--jc)  It’s everything agriculture at Gordyville USA next month. The 20-19 Midwest Ag Expo is set for Wednesday January 24th and Thursday January 25th. The even offers over 175 exhibitors to showcast farm, industrial, outdoor power equipment, dairy and farmstead mechanization industry. The event is free to attend.. Hours of the 20-19 Midwest Ag Expo are from 8am to 4 pm on Wednesday January 24th and 8am to 3pm on Thursday January 25th. WPXN will be broadcasting live to help kick off the annual event.


Hundreds of New Laws Go Into Effect January 1

(Springfield--jc)  --Hundreds of new laws go into effect Jan. 1, but the one that will save you time at the Secretary of State's Office isn't among them.Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation in the fall that will allow vehicle registration to be paid for two years at a time. It won’t save vehicle owners money on the $101 annual cost. but it would save time. Drivers would pay $202 for the two-year registration. Trailer owners would be able to register for up to five years at once.State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, said his father inspired the bill.


(Washington--ba) U-S-D-A will be proposing regulatory reforms to tighten the ability of states to grant work waivers to SNAP recipients. USDA’s Stephanie Ho reports.


CHICAGO (AP) — An Australian commodities trader pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Chicago to manipulating market prices by placing orders in the millions of dollars, then canceling them within milliseconds so that he could sell smaller orders at a profit. Jiongsheng "Jim" Zhao pleaded guilty to one count of spoofing in a deal with prosecutors, who say that from 2012 to 2016, the 31-year-old executed trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange online from Sydney.Spoofing carries a maximum 10-year prison term,



(Springfield--ba)-Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is reminding the public about two new laws for 2019.The first law requires children under two years old to be secured in rear-facing car seats says Secretary of State spokesperson Dave Druker.



Secretary of State spokesperson Dave Druker.


(Washington--ba) At the Farm Bill signing ceremony, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA provided to lawmakers as much requested input as it could, as Congress worked to draft the legislation.



Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue


(Buckley--ba) -- An E-M-T basic initial education class will be held at Christ Lutheran High School Tuesday and Thursday nights January 15th to May 7th. The cost is $700 per person with a $350 deposit due at registration. However, if you live within 10 miles of Buckley and can help out, Buckley Ambulance Service will pay 100% of all your education costs. For more details, contact Ron Lenington at 217-394-2335.


(Farmer City--jc)  -- One area city is looking for a new police chief. Officials at Farmer City say current Farmer City Police Chief David Betz has resigned from the position. Farmer City City Manager Sue McLaughlin says her office has started the process to hire a new police chief for Farmer City. Her phone number is 309-928-3412.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is offering grants to public wastewater treatment plants to improve energy efficiency. The agency has announced $3 million in grant funding. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $1.5 million will reduce energy consumption at treatment plants. EPA Director Alec Messina says the department has worked with 15 Illinois municipalities for no-cost efficiency assessments. The grant program uses U.S. Department of Energy funds to upgrade plants where the most cost savings will be. Applications for the grant are available online from the EPA . Applications are due by Feb. 12, 2019.The applications will be ranked according to energy savings per dollar invested, energy rate paid by the facility and the energy cost to treat one million gallons of water at the plant.



(Undated--jc)-- Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



(Washington---jc) Issues that have an impact on ag in East Central Illinois will be discussed on a national stage in early 20-19  World Agricultural Outlook Board Chair Seth Meyer talks about the upcoming Ag Outlook Forum in February in Arlington Virginia….


World Ag Outlook Board Chairman Seth Meyer.


CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. District Court in Chicago is among the federal courts nationwide suspending civil cases where one party is the federal government. Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo issued a Wednesday order suspending all such civil litigation for two weeks because of the government shutdown that began last week.Among the suspended cases are ones where people are suing the U.S. government to get Social Security money they say they are owed. Asylum and some extradition cases also fall under the order.



(Paxton--jc)  Ford County Board officials cancelled a meeting one week ago with the subject of wind farms. Several wind projects have popped up over the last several years. Setbacks,  positive economic development and jobs to tax help for local schools. Flicker and height remain issues for project managers. Ford County officials say a new meeting on wind farms could take place sometime in  January.


(Washington--ba) How will 2018 end up for food shoppers? USDA’s Gary Crawford Reports.





(Rantoul--jc)  -- A new fitness center is coming to the downtown area of Rantoul Koru Fitness is expected to open to the public next Wednesday. The business will be located inside the Lindsey Lane Bridal business in downtown Rantoul. Koru Fitness uses dance as   a motivational factor. A similar business called CURVEs is leaving the downtown area of Rantoul


(Bloomington--jc)  -- Country Financial and the Illinois Farm Bureau are teaming up to host a series of winter crop meetings for local farmers across Illinois. Farmers and landowners across the state have attended similar meetings in the state. Officials with the two companies say topics include updates on the new Farm Bill will be provided. One area meeting coming up is on January 10th at 11-30am at the Fairbury Golf Course. More meetings are planned over the next two months across Illinois.  Each of these events are free and open to all farmers and landowners.



(Champaign County--jc)  -- State police were called to a property damage crash in the southbound lanes of Interstate 57 on Wednesday afternoon. The crash occurred just before 2pm yesterday. The left lane was closed for several hours. State Police say no one was injured in the mishap and traffic was back to normal after a 2 hour clean up period.





Bill Daley Wants Dan Ryan Expressway to be Changed to Honor Barack Obama

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Some smart students at the University of St. Francis in Joliet who are short on money will be getting a nice gift courtesy of the National Science Foundation.In a news release, Illinois Congressman Bill Foster is announcing that the school in Joliet will be getting a $649,677 award from the foundation to fund 12 scholarships for low-income students from local high schools who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in biology and biochemistry. The money will be provided to the school through the foundation's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.Foster says the money is important to make sure that low-income students can pursue their education.



CHICAGO (AP) — A member of Chicago's first political family running for mayor is suggesting that an expressway on the city's South Side be renamed after former President Barack Obama and the family of the man it's named after now isn't happy. Daniel B. Ryan III 's feelings are hurt that Bill Daley would suggest changing the name of the Dan Ryan Expressway. It's named in honor of his grandfather, a former Cook County board president.Daley — the brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the son of legendary Mayor Richard J. Daley — says that renaming the stretch of roadway would be an appropriate way to honor the 44th president whose political career started as a South Side community organizer.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is offering grants to public wastewater treatment plants to improve energy efficiency.

The agency has announced $3 million in grant funding. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $1.5 million will reduce energy consumption at treatment plants.

EPA Director Alec Messina says the department has worked with 15 Illinois municipalities for no-cost efficiency assessments. The grant program uses U.S. Department of Energy funds to upgrade plants where the most cost savings will be.



(Springfield--ab) The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is urging anglers to keep safety in mind when they are ice fishing this winter. The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re on solid footing says D-N-R Spokesperson Tim Schweizer...



D-N-R Spokesperson Tim Schweizer

Anglers are also advised to carry a rope or flotation device with them in case someone falls into the water and it’s recommended to wear a life jacket as well.



(Chicago--jc)  --Nearly a third of people in America are expected to travel between now and New Year's. In Illinois, that number is closer to half.Almost six million people from Illinois are expected to travel somewhere this holiday season. That's in-line with the record-breaking travel expectations across the rest of the country, according to Triple A Chicago Motor Club's Beth Mosherd.Nationally, more than 112 million people – one-third of the country – are expected to travel between now and New Year's.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- It will be an easy decision for Gibson City leaders tonight. They are expected to vote to put up signs for the 2-A Football State Champion Gibson City Melvin Sibley Falcons. Its a move leaders in Gibson City did last year.  An ordinance on sexual harrassment, and appointment of Paul Phillips to the Pool Board and appointment of Dave Crow to the Planning Commission also hilite the agenda. The Gibson City council meets at 7pm this evening.



Watseka--jc) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated January 2019 as National Radon Action Month. The purpose of the designation is to remind everyone of the serious danger that radon gas poses to us in our homes. According to Terry Eimen, Director of Environmental Health for the Iroquois County Public Health Department, it is estimated that radon causes about 21,000 deaths from lung cancer annually in the United States. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. The U.S. Surgeon General warns that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking and the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Eimen describes radon as a natural radioactive gas that is released in rock, soil, and water from the natural decay of uranium. Eiman sys one of the problems with radon is that it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and the only way to tell if you have radon gas in your home is to test for it with a test kit. 26 percent of the homes in Iroquois county tested this year tested around or above 4 percent Picocure. That means you should fix the radon problem in the home



(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



(Springfield--jc)  -- A recently-retired Republican lawmaker is searching for leadership inside his party. Former state Senator Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, represented the 45th District in far northwestern Illinois for the past ten years. He announced last year he would not run for re-election and stepped down from his seat earlier this month.Bivins is hard-pressed to identify who's leading the Illinois GOP, following disappointing results at the ballot box in NovemberTim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said in a statement that the party has clear priorities for the future that include picking new leaders..


(Washington--jc)  -- Its just the start of winter, but  Forrest Service researchers and engineers are working on something that could save lives when tornadoes hit. Gary Crawford has the story…




(Springfield--jc)  -A new law that takes effect in the new year aims to cut down on how much boards can approve to pay someone when a high profile public employee severs employment with a taxpayer-funded institution.Back in 2015, the College of DuPage Board voted to fire President Robert Breuder in the wake of a spending scandal and deny him a $763,000 severance package. Breuder later filed suit against the college. The college has since spent more than $500,000 fighting Breuder in court, according to media reports. Reports about other executive payouts from public entities followed.Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, said it just kept stacking up


(Washington-jc)  Some changes are needed in the SNAP program. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has several reasons why USDA's proposals to reform some SNAP work requirements are needed..



USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue.



(Springfield--jc)0  High school football in Illinois is changing. Eventually.High schools across the state recently voted 324 to 307 to move from a conference system for football to a district system.The first thing that they need to do is wait.And secondly, he said, some small schools in the state may drop football by then.The change to districts starts in the 2020-21 school year.Matt Troha says the IHSA has to figure out how to group more than 500 high school football teams into eight districts in each of the state's eight classes


(Undated--jc  -- In 2017, 28 percent of shoppers returned a holiday giftt, with clothing topping the list.  But with holiday returns also comes holiday return fraud. Return fraud comes in many forms, including purchasing merchandise for short-term use and then returning the item, returning stolen merchandise, or using reused, stolen or falsified receipts to return merchandise for a profit. But in most cases, consumers are just trying to return wrong sizes or items. Many retailers, both online and brick and mortar, have return policies in place to not only protect the consumer but their businesses as well. If you have something that doesn't fit, or you already have the item or it's just the wrong thing, the Better Business Bureau offers some tips which include to

Know and understand the seller’s return policy.

Keep original packaging and ask about restocking fees

Bring Identification

Red Product warranty

Don’t delay any return

And Read the fine print

Message from Local Police Agencies is to Make Sure Your Vehicle is Locked to Prevent Burglaries

(Undated--jc)  -- One main message from local and area police during the Christmas shopping season is simple.-- Make sure you lock your vehicle. Bloomington police have reported a number of vehicle burglaries this week. The incidents have happened around  business parking lots, fitness centers and shopping centers. Local police officials remind the shopping public to be aware of your surroundings, be aware of suspicious activity and to always lock your car and take precaution with your gifts. In Bloomington vehicle thefts were reported on the city’s east side including several on Wednesday.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has named former state Comptroller Dan Hynes as deputy governor among top staff picks. The Democrat also announced Thursday that state Rep. Christian Mitchell and education advocate Jesse Ruiz will serve as deputy governors.Hynes was elected comptroller in 1998 and served three terms. He finished second to Barack Obama for the 2004 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010.


Attorney General Lisa Madigan says preliminary findings of her office’s investigation into the catholic church are shocking. While the church has made the names of 184 clergy accused of child sexual abuse public…Attorney General Madigan says her office has found at least another 500 cases. many have never been looked into…and Madigan says it’s time for reform.



Madigan says her investigation will continue but hopes these initial findings will be discussed at next month’s u-s conference of catholic bishops’ retreat in Mundelein.


Republicans in the Illinois house say raising the gas tax in Illinois is a bad idea opponents worry a big increase in the gas tax could be come up for a vote during the final days of the legislative session in early January. Representative Jeanne Ives of Wheaton says taxpayers don’t need to be burdened with a proposed 20 to 30 cent per gallon hike.



Supporters say the state gas tax hasn’t been raised in 28 years and that funding for road repairs is desperately needed across Illinois.



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Parkland College officials approved curricula for three new career credentials and learned more about a new student start-up cohort coming this spring. Yesterday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees approved the school’s new Advanced Unmanned Aircraft Systems certificate, the Agriculture Retail Operations certificate, and the Advanced Applicator Technician AAS degree. The programs will go through a final review for approval with the Illinois Community College Board and, in the case of the AAS degree, Illinois Board of Higher Education in the new year.



(Paxton--jc)  The Paxton Park District approved its annual tax levy at their meeting this week The tax levy is just over 102 thousand dollars. The board will not use general obligation bonds for 20-19. The board will meet next on January 16th.



UNDATED (AP) — Lawmakers introduced the Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act Thursday hoping to close two mass detention facilities holding more than 4,000 migrant teens in Texas and Florida. Most of the 14,300 migrant toddlers, children and teens in government care are in detention centers and residential facilities packed with anywhere from hundreds to thousands of children. Experts say the deep anxiety and distrust children suffer when they're institutionalized can cause long-lasting health problems.



GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Travelers in Grand Junction soon will be able to fly directly to Chicago.  United Airlines officials say they will start a seasonal flight between Grand Junction Regional Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport in June. The flights will run on Saturdays from June 8 through Oct. 26. Tickets for some of the flights are already on sale.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Jonathan C. Wright as a resident Circuit Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Mr. Wright is being appointed to fill the vacancy created by the election of Justice Thomas M. Harris to the Fourth District. The appointment takes effect on January 7, and will conclude on December 7, 2020,  The 11th circuit district includes Ford, McLean, Woodford, Livingston and Logan Counties.



(Undated--jc)  -- Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



CHICAGO — Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 55-93 Thursday, establishing a pilot program for school districts to use the design-build construction delivery method. The method allows architects, engineers and construction contractors to pick their partners and be hired as a team, expediting project completion by allowing early phases of construction to begin as the building design is still being developed. This legislation permits up to five design-build demonstration projects to be undertaken in Illinois. Each must be shown to be in a school district’s best interest as determined by the State Board of Education.



OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of rural bankers in parts of 10 Plains and Western states suggests the regional economy is growing. The overall index of the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet survey for December climbed back above growth neutral to hit 54.2, compared with 49.9 in November . Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy in the months ahead, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy. Illinois participates in the 10 state survey.


(Paxton--jc)  -- A meeting with the Ford County board concerning wind farms was cancelled last night.The announcement came from  Ford County Board Chairman Bob Lingren. Chairman Lingren says the meeting to discuss the future of wind farm projects in Ford County will be rescheduled in January.



(Champaign--jc)  Champaign County authorities are seeking information about Christmas light damage and reports of stolen lights in the village of Savoy. The incidents happened around December 19th. Champaign County police are seeking information. If you have information on this crime, you are asked to called Champaign County Crimestoppers at 217-373-TIPS.


(Springfield-jc)  --  A new Illinois law will soon allow schools to use recruitment agencies to find substitute teachers.The program opens the door for school districts to work with temp agencies to supplement the search for substitute teachers for elementary and secondary schools. It will be available January first.  Most school administrators will pull from the surrounding school districts to fill an open substitute teaching position. But when that pool of teachers is tapped out, they are stuck. The new law will change that by allowing schools to pull from a larger group. Rural schools especially are struggling to find teachers for sciences or foreign language.



(Undated--jc)  -- No injuries were reported in a bus vs vehicle accident along Interstate 74 near mile marker 148. State police say a bus struck a trailer being pulled by a Ford truck in the west bound lanes of I-74 around 2-40 Thursday afternoon. No children were on the bus at the time of the accident.



(Paxton--ab)  --The Paxton Evangelical Covenant Church is hosting a Christmas dinner on Christmas day. What’s on the menu? Paxton Evangelical Covenant Church spokeswoman Amanda Nelson has the details.


Paxton Evangelical Covenant Church Spokesperson Amanda Nelson


(Bloomington-jc)  State Senator Jason Barickman has been recognized for work on education funding reform, while also being honored for his support of manufacturing businesses.Barickman was recently presented with the “Friend of Education” award from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents.  The award was largely based on the Senator’s work in advancing the concept of an evidence-based model for school funding.


(Gifford--jc- Gifford grade school board members learned that the repair work on the south wall of the old gym has not started. The reason has been the weather. School officials hope the project can proceed  in the very near future.


(Taylorville--jc)  --A federal lawmaker wants to know why Governor Bruce Rauner's administration helped nearly every county in the state sidestep work requirements for food stamps users. Taylorville U.S. Representative Rodney Davis applauded President Donald Trump administration's move to reform rules governing the waivers that states seek from work requirements for food stamps. And he wants to know why Rauner’s administration sought another waiver from the federal rules for 2019 despite low unemployment .Last month state officials said they requested a waiver from the federal work requirements for able-bodied adults without kids to get food stamps. The request included all counties in East Central Illinois. Davis says with plenty of jobs available, he questions the qualifications of some to work with the SNAP program. The Foundation for Government Accountability estimates of 346,000 able-bodied adults without kids in Illinois, Only 9,000 were subject to work requirements.


The 2018 Farm Bill is signed into law. Stephanie Ho reports...



New Law Making it Easier to Submit Required Mortgage Activity Reports to Authorities in Illinois Signed by Governor Bruce Rauner

SPRINGFIELD — A new law making it easier to submit required mortgage activity reports to authorities in Illinois has been signed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Enactment of House Bill 55-42 will exempt nonprofits focused on affordable housing from having to obtain a residential mortgage license while also fostering reallocation of resources for improved tracking of market trends.

Instead of filing separate reports, mortgage professionals now can use the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry  to comply with state reporting requirements.


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a 12-year-old central Illinois boy. Twenty-year-old Avante M. Flesch of Decatur entered the plea Wednesday. He is being held at the Macon County Jail in lieu of posting $100,000 bond.Decatur police have said Flesch told investigators he was playing with a handgun when it accidently fired and fatally wounded Marqueius Gray on Nov. 12. He said he found the gun lying on a couch and removed its magazine before it accidentally discharged.


CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's O'Hare Airport is getting a new security scanner that officials hope will make going through security checkpoints more efficient. The new scanner may not be used to screen passengers until after the holidays because the Transportation Security Administration is still testing it and training employees to use it. The new CT scanners have been tested in Boston and Phoenix and are now being rolled out to other airports.The technology is already used on

checked luggage. It could give TSA agents at security checkpoints a better view of items, eventually allowing passengers to leave liquids in their carry-on bags. Agents also may need to do fewer hands-on searches.In Chicago the scanner will be in the Terminal 1 checkpoint open to some United Airlines passengers.



CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday issued a blistering report about clergy sexual abuse, saying that Catholic dioceses in Illinois has not released the names of at least 500 clergy accused of sexually abusing children.The preliminary report found that the church's six archdioceses have done a woefully inadequate job of investigating allegations and in some cases did not investigate them at all or notify the state's child welfare agency. Madigan's office said that while the dioceses have disclosed 45 more names of those credibly accused, the total number of names disclosed is only 185 and raises questions about the church's response to the crisis.


CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Illinois' population shrunk by more than 45,000 over the 12 months ending July 1. The estimates released Wednesday show that loss was more than any other state except New York, which lost more than 48,000. The estimates have Illinois remaining as the sixth most populous state with more than 12.74 million residents, behind California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.



The Illinois State Police is reminding parents about a new car seat law effective January first. Starting in 2019…all kids under the age of two must ride in a rear facing seat unless they weigh more than 40 pounds. it’s about preventing injury and death during a crash says Lieutenant Matt Boerwinkle.



Violators face a 75 dollar fine for the first offense and up to 200 bucks for the second offense.


(Paxton--jc)  --The Paxton Evangelical Covenant Church on South Union Street will be busy on Christmas Day. The local church is hosting a  free Christmas dinner from 11 AM to 1 PM on the 25th. To get a ride to the church or to arrange a Christmas meal delivery, you may call the church.



(Paxton--jc)  The subject of wind farm regulation is on the agenda for a special meeting of the Ford County Board tonight in Paxton. At stake, is the future of jobs, economic development with several wind farm projects proposed for Ford County. The meeting comes to order at 7 at the courthouse in Paxton.




Members of the 2018 Parkland College Cobras Baseball team will receive their NJCAA-D2 World Series Runner-Up rings in a ceremony Saturday, Jan. 12.

This recognition will take place at halftime of the 1 p.m. Cobras Women's Basketball game against Kankakee Community College, in Parkland's Dodds Athletic Center (gym). The ring ceremony is open to the public.



Illinois home prices moved higher in November while home sales slowed slightly as consumers began to turn their attention to the holidays, data from Illinois REALTORS® show.Statewide home sales (including single-family homes and condominiums) in November totaled 11,608 homes sold, down 1.6 percent from 11,800 in November 2017.The statewide median price in November was $190,000, up 2.7 percent from November 2017, when the median price was $185,000. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.



(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge overseeing the case of a man accused in the 2017 kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China must rule soon on a defense motion to suppress evidence seized from the suspect's apartment. Brendt Christensen's lawyers contend Christensen's then-wife, Michelle Christensen, never validly consented to a search. That contradicts investigators at the apartment on June 14, 2017, two weeks before Brendt Christensen was charged in Yingying Zhang's death. They say they interviewed the wife, got her consent and then searched.But the ex-wife, who since changed her last name to Zortman, told a Tuesday hearing agents searched during the interview. She asked how she could object to a search that had already been done. Christensen's trial is set for April.



Attorney General Lisa Madigan says preliminary findings of her office’s investigation into the catholic church are shocking. The six dioceses in Illinois have publicly identified 185 clergy members accused of child sexual assault. But Attorney General Madigan says her office has identified at least another 500 potential cases...many of which were never investigated.



Madigan says her office has received about 300 calls, emails and letters regarding clergy abuse since her investigation began in august.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An ongoing project to digitize all of Abraham Lincoln's papers has received a grant. Officials announced Tuesday that the Abraham Lincoln Association has given a $6,000 grant to the digitization project at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The grant will pay for software for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln to track hundreds of thousands of documents related to the 16th president.



SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Wednesday that companies and individuals interested in expanding demand for food and other products using Asian carp caught in Illinois waters are invited to apply for grant funding to assist their marketing efforts. Grants are now available through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Asian Carp Market Value Program (MVP) to support current Asian carp processors and product-makers in expanding existing markets and developing new markets and sales opportunities for Asian carp products. Governor Rauner says  taxpayers will save money, the fishing industry benefits along with those who consume the fish.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- The American Lutheran Church located on route 9 in Gibson City is hosting its 43rd annual Christmas Day Dinner at noon on Tuesday. The free meal includes turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetables, desserts and beverages. A free-will offering will be received. Although tickets are not necessary, a call to the church to arrange a meal is suggested.



There's a special U-S-D-A web page that can help Santa and other international holiday travelers and gift givers avoid some potential hassles. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield--jc)  --An anti-abortion group is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to consider the legality of the procedures lawmakers used in 2017 to approve a law that allowed taxpayer-funded state health insurance and Medicaid coverage to be used to cover abortions.The Thomas More Society, a nonprofit that advocates for anti-abortion policies, has formally requested the state’s highest court take the case to decide if House Bill 40, which Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law last year, was approved within the legal boundaries of the Illinois Constitution.



(Fisher--jc)  -- The Holiday time is also a time that phone scams increase. The Fisher Police Department says they have responded to local residents who have reported phone call from scammers claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service, seeking money. Fisher police remind the public not to give out any personal, banking or credit card information.

IHSA Switches From Conferences to Districts in 2021

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois High School Association says member schools have voted to move to district scheduling beginning in 2021 and abandoning current conferences.The I-H-S-A said Tuesday schools had voted 324-307-69 to move to the new format in which schools from each class will be placed into eight geographic groups and play a round-robin schedule. The top four teams in each of the eight groups qualify for the playoffs, based upon games played within each group. Districts will be in place for two years to allow for home-and-home scheduling for competing schools.Remaining games on the nine-game regular season schedule will be arranged by schools at their discretion.



(Champaign--jc)  -- Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance regarding a theft at Dick's Sporting Goods at Dick's Sporting Goods that happened on December 12th.  Police say two suspects stole merchandise from Dick’s Sporting Goods located at 2000 N. Neil St. in Champaign. A male and female entered the store together and after selecting several items,  the male ran out of the store without paying. The stolen merchandise was valued at over $1000Anyone with information can contact Champaign County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 217-373-8477.


(Paxton--ab) The city of Paxton has 53 out of 58 store fronts filled. That’s good news for the local holiday economy.  Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold is excited about the economic development of Paxton…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois State Police  have announced changes to the Child

Passenger Protection Act, which will become effective  next month. Effective January 1, all motorists traveling on Illinois roadways  will be required to secure children under the age of 2 years old in a rear facing child restraint system. State Police officials say the  are hopeful the change in law will reduce infant injuries and fatalities if they are involved in a traffic crash.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Republicans in the Illinois House say raising the gas tax in illinois is a bad idea. There’s been talk of increasing the state gas tax to help pay for road construction projects by as much as 30 cents per gallon. State Representative Allen Skillicorn of Crystal Lake says lawmakers should wait and see if an infrastructure program develops at the federal level first…



State Representative Allen Skillicorn of Crystal Lake.



CHICAGO (AP) — The largest Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found is ready to go back on display at Chicago's Field Museum in a new exhibition space.

The skeleton named Sue, after her discoverer, Sue Hendrickson,  is now in a second-floor gallery near other dinosaurs. It opens to the public Friday.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- The 75th performance of “The Messiah” was performed in Gibson City earlier this month. The Gibson City Music Club helps with the annual performance. Group Spokesperson Cheri Friedman says this year’s director has a huge amount of experience…



Gibson City Music Club Spokesperson Cheri Friedman. You can hear a performance of The Messiah by those with the Gibson City based group at 6pm on Christmas Eve and again at 6pm on Christmas Day.



(Champaign--jc)  -- A Champaign County man who fired a gun into the air in downtown Champaign in June of last year has been sentenced to a year of probation. The News Gazette reports that 44 year old Malcom Comer pleaded guilty before Judge Roger Webber on Tuesday. With the guilty plea, several other weapons related charges were dropped against Comer.



(Undated--jc)  -- Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Springfield--jc)  --A new survey from two Illinois law enforcement groups provide anecdotal evidence that more teens are using marijuana as state lawmakers draft legislation to legalize recreational use of the drug for adults.An advocacy group has questioned the value of the law enforcement survey and pointed to statistics in other states that show teen cannabis use declined after recreational use became legal.The Illinois Sheriffs' Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police surveyed 104 school resource officers and found 75 of them dealt with a pot issue in the past month, an increase from the year before. The survey also found more reports of teenagers vaping, which can be a delivery mechanism for nicotine, THC or other substances. THC is an active ingredient in marijuana that produces a high.



(Springfield--jc)  About 6,200 federal employees in Illinois could be affected by a partial government shutdown if some federal agencies aren’t funded by midnight Friday. It’s a situation that a central Illinois congressman said he'd like to avoid while talks on funding a border wall continue. Most of the federal government is funded. The Friday deadline to get a deal to fund the rest appeared to be contingent on funding for a southern border wall President Donald Trump wants, though he seemed to waiver some on his demands Tuesday.Some Republicans want to act now, and on the opposite side of the issue, some Democrats say the wall is a waste of money.


(Washington--jc)  -- Should you be dreaming of a white Christmas? Stephanie Ho has the details…




(Paxton--jc)  -- Wind farms will be the subject again on Thursday night in Paxton. The Ford County board is set to meet at 7pm at the courthouse in Paxton. Thursday nights meeting is the second for the board as they consider setbacks, heights and the positive economic benefits of wind farms in Ford County.


(Washington--jc)  -- A potential federal government shutdown  would not stop the process to certify U.S ag products for export. Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Kevin Shea says that ag exports would continue…



USDA Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Kevin Shea.


(Paxton--jc) As we close out 20-18 and look forward to a new year, city of Paxton officials  look to the future and a streetscape program for the Ford County city. Local leaders are looking to use just over 1 million 4 hundred thousand dollars to do improvements to the downtown area. The money comes from a fund that the city of Paxton returned to the state of Illinois from a revolving loan fund program that recently ended.



(Ottowa--jc)  -- Several area residents have been nominated for Military Academy admission. U-S Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican in the 16th Illinois district hosted a reception earlier this week. Among the nominees include Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School Senior Nathaniel Garard to West Point and Central Clifton High School Senior Nolan Ahlden of Ashkum to the Naval Academy.



(Springfield--jc)  --Democrats who soon will retake full control of Illinois government are expected to push for a sweeping overhaul of the state income tax, but if history is any guide prospects for success range from don’t-get-your-hopes-up to fat chance. Replacing the current single tax rate structure in Illinois with a menu of graduated rates that charge more to the wealthy would require a Constitutional amendment that to pass requires an extraordinary majority of voters. Similar proposals in other states have fared poorly at the ballot box.In November, voters in Colorado defeated a referendum that would have replaced that state’s Illinois-like flat tax with several new brackets for higher income wage earners The measure was rejected 55 percent to 45 percent.



(Springfield--jc)  A committee nominated a retired judge to handle complaints against state lawmakers after a number of high-profile harassment cases emerged while the post was vacant.The Illinois legislature has been hit over the past 14 months with allegations of harassment and intimidation toward employees, lobbyists and others who work under the dome in Springfield.The Legislative Inspector General’s Office, the body meant to field complaints against lawmakers, had been vacant for several years. Legislative Ethics Commission Chairwoman state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, said after reviewing 20 applications, a selection committee winnowed the list of names down. A bipartisan panel of lawmakers is now recommending retired Judge Carol Pope to be the next Legislative Inspector General.



Illinois State Police Remind Motorists to be Safe When Driving This Holiday Season

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Attorneys for the man charged with kidnapping and killing a Chinese University of Illinois scholar say the FBI searched his jail cell when he was in court. Brendt Christensen's attorneys now want a judge to force the FBI to divulge what they found in Friday's search at the Livingston County jail. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Christensen, who's charged in the 2017 abduction and death of 26-year-old Yingying Zang. Authorities haven't found her body. Another court appearance is set for Today.


(Dewitt County--jc)  -- Farmer City police are warning the area about an e-mail scam. Officials say the scam is claiming to be from Fed-Ex. The scam wants the person  to send money for an unclaimed package. Police officials say that if you receive such an e-mail, do NOT respond or send money. Alert your local police agency about any suspicious activity.



(Springfield--ab)  --Illinois State Police  Director Leo P. Schmitz is reminding motorists to enjoy the holidays responsibly and take the necessary safety precautions to prevent senseless tragedies from occurring. The ISP will be doing their part to keep Illinois roadways safe by strictly enforcing all laws, with an emphasis on the four most common causes of fatal traffic crashes.   “The Fatal Four” includes: DUI, Speeding, Seat Belt, and Distracted Driving. Throughout the holidays, the ISP will conduct extra patrols and roadside safety checks with an emphasis on removing impaired drivers from the roadways and a goal of reducing traffic crashes. ISP encourages the public to do their part to make travel safe this holiday season.  If you will be attending an event where alcohol is being served, please make sure to designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use a ride-sharing service.


(Washington--jc)  -- Land-grant university researchers and Christmas tree farmers work together in genetic breeding efforts of seed desirable for grower needs and consumer wants. Rod Bain reports.




(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Recreation Department officials say they are planning their next Broadway Musical trip. The trip to the Fox Theatre in Saint Louis will be to see the musical “Come From Away” which won the Best Musical award. The cost is expected to be around 85 dollars per person. More information is found by contacting the Rantoul Recreation Department.


(Gifford--jc)  -- Gifford School leaders will talk about a contract for the schools new superintendent when they meet tonight in monthly session. School board members are expected to talk about the contract for Jay Smith. Smith was hired this past Spring to replace current Superintendent R Grimsley, who is retiring at the end of the school year. A new contract could be in place in early 20-19.


(Ford County--jc) Ford County Republicans are planning one of their main events for next year. The local political group will hold a “Mega Town Hall” event rather than the Lincoln Day Dinner. More details will be provided in the near future as the event could be set in July in Gibson City.


(Urbana--jc)  If you see Elmo and some of his pals in Urbana this afternoon, there is a good reason. The characters from the Sesame Street Live Show that are performing locally, will make the appearance at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana starting at 1 this afternoon. Elmo and friends will be visiting with children at the hospital which include songs and one on one meet and greets.




(Champaign--jc)  -- Christmas is one week away, and the chances for a White Christmas in East Central Illinois remain slim. As we close out fall and the beginning of winter on Friday, State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kershner says temperatures are expected to be above normal and that means above freezing…



State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kershner.



CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's O'Hare Airport is getting a new security scanner that officials hope will make going through security checkpoints more efficient. The new scanner may not be used to screen passengers until after the holidays because the Transportation Security Administration is still testing it and training employees to use it. The new CT scanners have been tested in Boston and Phoenix and are now being rolled out to other airports. The technology is already used on checked luggage. It could give TSA agents at security checkpoints a better view of items, eventually allowing passengers to leave liquids in their carry-on bags. Agents also may need to do fewer hands-on searches.In Chicago the scanner will be in the Terminal 1 checkpoint open to some United Airlines passengers.



(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Chicago--jc)  --Illinois' senior U.S. Senator said a judge's ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional means that Republicans are going to once again have to talk about healthcare. Dick Durbin says he's not sure that the U.S. Supreme Court will save the Affordable Care Act. Durbin  says Republicans in Washington D.C. now face a future where they will have to have another debate on healthcare. A judge last week.ruled that without Obamacare's individual mandate, the rest of the law was unconstitutional. Challenges are expected



(Paxton--jc)  -- A Chicago man is expected to be returned to Ford County today to face a charge of stealing more than 700 dollars in cigarettes from a Paxton business in November. Cook County police say they arrested 26 year old Rakeem Burris. Burris is awaiting transfer to Ford County.  The Class 2 felony, upon any conviction, has a sentence range from probation to 7 years in prison.


(Mahomet--jc)  -- Mahomet Seymour school leaders will hear about the Fieldhouse project when they meet tonight in monthly session.  Approving a fuel bid and the annual tax levy are also agenda items. The meeting comes to order at 7 tonight at the Middletown Prairie board room.



(Springfield--jc)  -- The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to use more paper. The state agency is taking a small step away from digital records. Returning to paper records in some cases could potentially save businesses money. The move is part of an initiative of Governor Bruce Rauner, who often used government paperwork as an example bureaucratic inefficiency during his time in office. It’s part of the governors, cutting the red tape initiative and the changes will result in savings for businesses and taxpayers.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois State Police are increasing patrols and urging the public to be safe for busy holiday travel. I-S-P Sergeant Jacqueline Cepeda says with all the celebrations, motorists need to be extra careful at this time of year…



Illinois State Police Sergeant Jacqueline Cepeda



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Parkland College officials announced Monday that four candidates have filed to run for positions on the Parkland College Board of Trustees.Bianca Truitt Green of Champaign, Jonathan Westfield of Savoy and Douglas Jones of Champaign have filed for the two six-year trustee terms that are expiring next April. Green and Westfield are incumbent trustees who have served on the board since 2015 and 2017, respectively. Jones is a surgeon at Christie Clinic in Champaign. James L. Ayers of Monticello, also an incumbent, has filed for the four-year term expiring in April. Ayers has served the on the board since 1989. The two six-year terms will run through April 2025, while the four-year term will run through April 2023. The election will be held April 2, 2019.



(Washington--jc --  U.S. soybean farmers welcomed news from President Trump Monday confirming a second payment under the United States Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program. American Soybean Association President Davie Stephens, a soybean farmer from Clinton Kentucky says that while the 2nd payment will not make losses whole, it will help offset the drop in prices.


(Illinois--jc)  Make sure to protect your vital information when shopping and giving this holiday season. A-A-R-P of Illinois Terri Worman says be prepared and be alert…



A-A-R-P of Illinois Spokesperson Terri Worman


(Champaign--jc)  -- The Champaign County Association of Realtors is planning it’s One Winter Night in February. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story..




(Champaign--jc)   The Prairielands Council, Boy Scouts of America  has hired Jared White as its’ new Scouting Executive; Jared will begin his career with Prairielands Council on January 16. Jared began his Scouting career as a District Executive for the Greater St. Louis Area and is also an Eagle Scout. Prairielands Council President Randy Kangas calls White, a winner for scouts in East Central Illinois

Mysterious Noise Heard By Many Saturday Night

(Undated--jc)  It was a sound, maybe a streak in the sky. A phenomenon happened around 9-15 on Saturday night. Ford County Sheriff’s police were among the law enforcement groups that received calls about the noise. Reports about the noise were taken from several communities throughout the WPXN listening area.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is looking at clemency cases. This is the 27th set of petitions the governor has reviewed since taking office. Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System.A granted clemency request for a pardon with expungement allows the petitioner to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.Gov. Rauner has acted on 3,829 petitions since taking office, clearing the backlog left by previous administrations.For additional information on the granted clemency cases, please contact the Prisoner Review Board at (217) 782-1610.


CHICAGO (AP) — Tel Aviv University is the first international partner in a research center led by the University of Illinois. Officials from the Israeli school signed the agreement Friday. The university will help guide development and participate in educational and research programs at the Discovery Partners Institute.The facility in downtown Chicago will house more than 100 researchers who will conduct work in health care, cybersecurity, food supplies and the environment. Tel Aviv University joins other academic partners including Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. All rank on Reuters' list of the world's 100 most innovative universities.



(Clinton--jc)  -- The final “200 Years of Statehood” Christmas Candlelight Tours, themed in honor of the Illinois State Bicentennial, will take place Friday  at the C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum in Clinton. Friday night, the mansion will be illuminated by candlelight and holiday music will be enjoyed by all.  Doors open at 5pm Guests are asked to enter at the front door. No reservations are needed. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for ages 11 to 18 years, and free for children aged 10 years and under.


GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) — Communities across Illinois are receiving a combined $13.7 million to reduce hazards from lead-based paint in low-income housing.

About $3.6 million will be used for remediation at 200 housing units in Galesburg, where the Illinois Department of Public health has reported high rates of elevated blood lead levels in children. A 2015 study found 14.4 percent of tested children showed elevated levels — one of the highest rates in the state. Lead-based paint has been proven to harm children and cause behavioral and cognitive problems.U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said three other communities will receive grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Chicago is receiving $4.1 million, Moline is receiving $2.4 million and Kankakee is getting $3.6 million.


(Paxton--jc)  -- Property owners in the Paxton Buckley Loda School district will have to wait officially till the first quarter of next year, but taxes for the local school could be cheaper next year. P-B-L school officials say property value in the district increased by nearly 10 million dollars from a year ago and that could mean a lowering of taxes.


URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois has fired a professor who was accused of falsifying research.Fei Wang worked in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. He has been at the university since 2005 and was granted tenure in 2012.The investigation and its aftermath lasted nearly five years. Wang was accused of applying for research grants with information from experiments that hadn't been performed. He included images of mouse cells, not human cells.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler says the university has returned $355,000 in grant money to various agencies.


(Champaign--ba)-The tree is up and decorated…now here’s some tips for keeping it looking fresh through christmas. The best thing you can do is make sure your tree has plenty of  fresh, clean water says U of I Extension Horticulture expert Richard Hentschel.



U of I Extension Horticulture expert Richard Hentschel



VALMEYER, Ill. (AP) — Environmentalists in southern Illinois have raised concerns that a proposed wind turbine project will diminish the area's natural beauty and hurt animal habitat. Developer Joe Koppeis, who owns Southern Illinois Wind, hopes to construct 50 wind turbines along 15 miles of bluffs south of Valmeyer and Waterloo,  Koppeis expects the project to cost $220 million and says the reason he is in the wind industry is for his family and belief in renewable energy. The wind turbines reduce the need for the burning of fossil fuels and also generate alternative energy and raise tax revenue for government services, such as local schools.On the opposite side is  Heartlands Conservancy that contend the wind farm could change the character of the rural landscape and harm wildlife and make the area more industrial.


(Undated--jc) --  Illinois is celebrating its anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Lawyers for the man charged with kidnapping and killing a Chinese University of Illinois scholar have argued the case should be heard in state court, where the death penalty isn't an option.Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty  against former graduate student Brendt Christensen. He's charged with the 2017 abduction and death of 26-year-old Yingying Zang. Authorities have not found her body. A federal judge in Peoria is holding several days of pre-trial hearings.Defense attorney Robert Tucker said Friday he believes the main reason federal prosecutors are trying the case is to seek the death penalty. Illinois abolished it in 2011 for state cases. Prosecutor Eugene Miller denied Tucker's claim. He argued there are several valid legal reasons to try the case in federal court.


NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University will buy about 80 acres of land to expand the central Illinois farm operated by the university's agriculture department.

The ISU board of trustees on Saturday authorized the university to purchase the land adjacent to University Farm for $810,000, including closing costs. The money will come from university reserves. The farm is located about 20 miles northeast of Normal, and provides students with hands-on farming experience. The 360-acre University Farm produces corn, soybeans, alfalfa, beef, sheep and swine. It was dedicated at its site near Lexington in 2002. In addition to student employees it has eight full-time employees.



(Champaign--jc)  The weather for the final days of fall and heading into the Christmas holiday are expected to be warmer. That is according to  State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kerschner..



State Climatologist Office Spokesperson Brian Kerschner



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The city of Springfield is the winning bidder for a historic neon sign that's one of the city's remaining Route 66 landmarks.An online auction was held for the Sonrise Donuts sign, which went up along Route 66 in 1949.At one point the top bidders were in Chicago and California. But Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau director Scott Dahl revealed Friday the city made the winning bid of $22,000. The money will come from city hotel-motel tax.Dahl says buying the sign "ensures our visitors will continue to experience Springfield's story as it relates to Route 66." Plans for the 6-by-8-foot sign weren't announced.The sign remained on the Sonrise Donuts building even after the shop closed in 1998 and other businesses moved in.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Governor.-elect J.B. Pritzker's inaugural celebration will raise money for a Chicago-based legal aid organization and the foundation that supports the state fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin The inauguration committee released information Friday about two events scheduled for Jan. 14.The swearing-in will occur at Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield at 11 a.m. People interested in attending may request up to two free tickets starting Dec. 28 through the inauguration website. The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. at the Exposition Building of the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Tickets are currently available by invitation only but may go on general sale depending on availability. The committee says all ticket purchases and donations will be given to the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The city of Paxton joint review board is set to meet this week. The subject is Paxton’s Tax Increment Finance District. THe meeting comes to order on the second floor of city hall on Tuesday evening at 6.



(Gibson City--jc)  Gibson City officials have set up a special meeting on Tuesday at 7pm. On the agenda includes an Ordinance Approving an Addendum to the Agreement by and between the City of Gibson City, One Earth Energy, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Community Unit School District #5, Gibson City Fire Protection District, the Ford County Supervisor of Assessments, and the Ford County Board of Review. A second agenda item is an Ordinance Approving and Authorizing the Execution of a third Amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreement by and between the City of Gibson City and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Community Unit School District #5.



(Springfield--jc)  -- The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party said he didn't know Governor  Bruce Rauner had asked other people to take his spot in the governor's race after a narrow primary victory and ahead of the November election contest with J.B. Pritzker. The governor told a Chicago TV station that he talked with four people about taking his place in the lead up to the midterm elections. Rauner said they all turned him down. Republican Party leaders said they weren't aware of it.



(Buckley-dg)-Goat’s Christmas Charity in Buckley has been operating for the last 15 years. This time of year can be especially hard on some and the donations received at Goat’s goes to help those in need. This year is no different. A woman in Buckley is need of helping to pay her water bill. There was a leak that took some time to be fixed and the village said they wouldn’t be able to help out. The charity is trying to raise $1000 to help with repair costs and take the burden off this Christmas. If you would like to donate to this cause please send your donation to Goat’s Christmas Charity at P O Box 207, Buckley, Il 60918.




New Data Shows the Number of Uninsured Children in Illinois Rose About Eight Percent Last Year

CHICAGO (AP) — A county public guardian in Illinois is suing the state's Department of Children and Family Services over what it contends is the "immense harm" the agency is doing to mentally ill foster children that are kept in psychiatric hospitals beyond their medical discharge dates. The federal class-action lawsuit filed by Cook County's public guardian contends that keeping the children so long at the psychiatric hospitals is "inhumane" and costs taxpayers more than $125,000 a month.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has welcomed governors-elect from both parties to the White House. Among those in attendance on Thursday were Florida Republican Ron DeSantis, Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, Illinois Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Wisconsin Democrat Tony Evers and newly inaugurated Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican. The visitors also met with Cabinet members as part of a broader White House outreach effort to local officials.



(Springfield, IL--ba)  -- New data out yesterday show the number of uninsured children in Illinois rose about eight percent last year, and advocates say they worry that federal policies could thwart future progress. Researchers with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that for the first time in a decade, the number of children without health coverage in the U-S has gone up - with five percent of kids now uninsured. In Illinois, it's almost three percent. Kathy Waligora with EverThrive Illinois contends that with an improving economy and low unemployment, the backslide is the result of messages at the national level.



Ever-Thrive Illinois Spokesperson Kathy Waligora


CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — A former administrator may serve as interim chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale while the university conducts a search for the campus' next permanent leader. The Southern Illinoisan reports the SIU board of trustees will vote today to name John M. Dunn interim chancellor, a role he previously held from 2006 to 2007.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- 52 Classes, 17 thousand participants. Those are the numbers the Lincoln Challenge Director Peter Thomas had been involved with the local program that began July First 1993. Thomas has been a leader, challenging and changing the lives of at-risk teens for the past 25 years. When the latest group graduates this month, Thomas has stated he will retire. The local program will name a new director in the very near future. Thomas will be missed by those with Lincoln’s Challenge, friends and the community of Rantoul and surrounding area.



(Undated--ab) Football safety is on the minds of a lot of government officials, Superintendents, Coaches, and parents. Matt Troha Assistant Executive Director of the IHSA says that the Illinois High School Association is making a lot of changes to make the game safer.


 Assistant Executive Director of the IHSA Matt Troha



(Springfield--jc)  -- As more cases of hepatitis A pop up in Illinois, State Public Health Officials urge those most at risk to get vaccinated. So far this year in Illinois there have been 75 cases of Hep-A, which can cause liver damage. The recent outbreak is concerning, says Illinois Public Health Department Director Doctor Nirav Shah…



Illinois Public Health Director Doctor Nirav Shah.


Gibson City--ab) a public hearing will be held by the City of Gibson City Planning Commission on Monday, January 7, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at the Villas of Hollybrook Dining Room located at 1400 N Melvin Street, Gibson City, Illinois. The hearing will involve the discussion of changes to the City of Gibson Zoning Ordinances for residential and commercial districts as they relate to wind and solar power energy.


(Rankin-dg)-Grace Lutheran Church in Rankin will be having it’s Annual Breakfast and Bazaar tomorrow from 6:30am-12:30 at the Rankin Lion’s Club. The Biscuit and Sausage Gravy Breakfast begins at 6:30 with a free will donation. Carry outs will be available. You’ll be able to find homemade baked goods, hand- crafted Farmhouse decor’ and other homemade items at the Bazaar.


(Undated--jc)  -- Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



(Springfield--jc)  -- You have until Saturday, but there is still time to check out your options for insurance in 20-19. Illinois Department of Insurance Acting Director Karin Zosel says the best place is the get-covered Illinois, website…



Illinois Department of Insurance Acting Director Karin Zosel.


(Paxton--jc)  With the annual parade complete and a bag sale earlier this month, the city of Paxton has a lot to offer Christmas shoppers. Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ashley Tolley says it’s good to see the variety of shops in the city..


Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ashley Tolley


GRIDLEY, Ill. (AP) — A company that's the largest employer in the small central Illinois village of Gridley has closed because not enough people were buying the cereal it made.  Kerry, Incorporated. closed its doors at the end of the day Wednesday. Company spokesman Gene Grabowski says that that Kerry remains hopeful that the plant will re-open someday but that the fact that "the demand for cereal has dropped" forced the move. Grobowski says that 115 employees were affected by the closure. He says they were offered severance packages and that some of them were offered positions at other Kerry facilities.Kerry Inc. is based in Ireland. Its United States headquarters is in Beloit, Wis.


(Watseka--jc_  -- A merger remains a possibility between Riverside Hospital in Kankakee and the Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka The two facitlies have been in talks since October. Riverside Hospital officials announced yesterday that they will take over the Iroquois Memorial Hospital Ambulance service starting on January First. The announcement was made by both hospitals on Thursday and the two sides continue to look at merger possibilities.


(Springfield--ba)--The holiday season is ramping up, and while most people look forward to festivities with friends and family, for others this time of year can worsen stress, sadness and depression. Some people have increased anxiety due to travel obligations, or the expenses of gift-giving. Others neglect self-care trying to make the holidays special for family or loved ones.  Nancy Molitor is a clinical psychologist with the Illinois Psychological Association. She explains the holidays can be especially tough for people who have experienced a recent loss or have struggled with depression. She adds this is not the time to cancel therapy sessions...



Illinois Pshcholigical Association Psychologist Nancy Molitor


(Paxton--jc)  The “Grand Ole’ Flag” project continues to gain momentum in the city of Paxton. The efforts are being spearheaded by a group of citizens that represent the school, city government, chamber,  fire department, Pride in Paxton and concerned citizens. The idea was started by local resident and Paxton Firefigher Denny Kingren. The city is looking into the feasibility and regulations of putting up a large flag on the city’s west side. School officials are looking at the possibility and regulations on placing the structure on school property. Fundraising for the Paxton Grand Ole Flag has started. Donations may be brought the the Frederick Community Bank. The goal is to raise 40 thousand dollars.



(Rantoul--jc) --  The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Rantoul Rudolf Retail Rally ends at the end of business hours today. The Chamber, through the 10 businesses, are offering a 500 dollar prize for those who have found the “rudolf” in each of the participating stores. Rantoul officials will give away the prize on Saturday .


(Paxton--jc)  -- The Ford County Republican Central Committee will meet at 830 tomorrow morning at the Arcade Restaurant in Paxton. Among items on the meeting’s agenda are a discussion about 2019 activities, a look at the recent elections and updates on state and National issues. The public is welcome to attend.


Santa Claus will be meeting with children from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and again from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Santa Hut next to Majestic Park in downtown Paxton.


Governor Bruce Rauner's Team Will Help Make it a Smooth Transition for Governor Elect J.B. Pritzker

(Springfield--ab) Governor Bruce Rauner says his office is working to make it a smooth transition for the new administration for governor-elect J-B Pritzker. Pritzker will be sworn into office on january 14th, and until then the governor says his team will help guide the newcomers..

Governor Rauner says he also wants to make sure there is no clemency petition backlog when he leaves office and says he will not be issuing a bunch of executive orders or appointments during his final days.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Investment Policy Board is scheduled to meet for the first time since Gov. Bruce Rauner called for an investigation into Airbnb's lodging-listings policy toward the occupied West Bank. The policy board meets Wednesday in Chicago. The Republican governor requested the Airbnb review last month because the online private-lodging marketplace de-listed 200 participating properties in Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank.


(Washington--jc)  -- What are some of the notable aspects found in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill reported to, and under consideration by, Congress this week? Rod Bain has the answer…



(Chicago--jc)  -- Several suburban mayors joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to ask Illinois lawmakers to raise the state's gas tax by 20 to 30 cents a gallon, a proposal that could make Illinois' motor fuel tax the highest in the nation. The request would also ensure that per gallon taxes increase yearly with the rate of inflation. Outgoing mayor Emanuel joined other mayors from suburban Chicago this week to push the General Assembly should pass a gas tax hike in January. The money would be used for roads and bridges in the state.. A 30-cent hike would make Illinois’ total gas taxes the highest in the nation. Illinois’ total average tax burden on a gallon of fuel is just over 37 cents per gallon now.e. At the proposed 67.32 cents per gallon, Illinois' taxes would be higher than Pennsylvania’s average of 58.7 cents per gallon, the highest rate in the nation.




(Chicago--jc)  -- Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with a coalition of 11 attorneys general, opposed a rule change proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor that would allow young people to operate power-driven patient lifts without training or supervision. This change would endanger the health and safety of young workers and residents in health care facilities that rely on these lifts. Madigan and the other attorneys general contend that the proposed change to Hazardous Occupation Order 7 is based on an unscientific online survey with only 22 respondents, instead of being based on reliable science. The U.S. Department of Labor currently allows 16- and 17-year-old workers to operate power-driven patient lifts, but only after they have been trained and only under the supervision of an adult caregiver. These lifts are used in nursing homes, residential facilities, and hospitals to lift and move patients who are unable get up without assis



(Springfield--jc)  -- A new Illinois Governor’s Mansion curriculum guide contains scores of suggestions for activities, online resource links and ways to engage today’s students in yesterday’s lessons for a better tomorrow. The 44-page guide, released Wednesday, provides a variety of learning activities connecting K-12 math, science, art, music, reading and writing lessons with the rich history surrounding some of the movers and shakers who occupied the Governor’s Mansion dating back to the Civil War and through the early 1900s. First Lady Diana Rauner wrote the prefacing letter stating that the Rauners want  everyone in Illinois to visit the People’s House, a site of history, culture and civic pride



(Buckley--jc)  -- The Buckley American Legion Post #432 will be participating in a nation-wide ceremony on Saturday by laying wreaths in honor of America’s veterans. Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. There will be a brief ceremony at the Buckley American Legion hut at 11am. Then on to the Buckley cemetery where the public is invited to assist in laying the wreaths on graves of veterans.


(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



(Chicago--jc)  --The state's pension system is unsustainable and lawmakers in Springfield need to amend the state's constitution to cut out a clause that protects pensions, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday. Emanuel, who leaves office in the spring, criticized Illinois’ retiree benefits in a speech Wednesday in front of the Chicago City Council. He said the automatic 3 percent annual pay bumps given to retirees are “raises” rather than cost-of-living adjustments. Emanuel echoed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call to amend the state constitution to eliminate the pension protection clause. Under the terms of many of the state’s public pension agreements, retirees receive a three percent annual compounded increase. Emanuel said the annual pay increases were designed to help pensions keep pace with inflation. Emanuel says automatic raises for retirees don't make sense when city workers have to take furlough days because of tight budgets.



(Chicago--jc)  --The Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force showed that it successfully avoided or recouped 218 million dollars in wasteful or fraudulent Medicaid spending. The effort resulted in 39 fraud convictions including $27.8 million in recoveries through criminal prosecutions, civil actions, and/or administrative referrals. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) saved or recouped an estimated $190 million in FY18.  The task force has saved the state more than $665 million since its inception in 2016. Governor Rauner made the announcement in Chicago this morning.



(Urbana--jc)  --The University of Illinois has taken out a $60 million insurance policy to protect against a sudden drop in enrollment from students from China.When Gies School of Business Dean Jeff Brown took his post in August 2015, his first faculty meeting addressed what he called a “serious risk” of having such a large portion of department tuition come from Chinese studentBy 2017, they’d found a willing underwriter to insure their potential loss for a competitive price. Since July of that year, the school has paid $424,333 annually for a three-year specialty contract with Lloyd’s of London, insuring the Chinese contingent of the business and engineering schools’ student population for $60 million, the amount Brown said would cover potential losses in the two colleges. The final payment is due in May 2019. The policy expires in 2020. Should the revenue drop by any more than 20 percent for identifiable reasons outside of the school’s control, Lloyd’s of London would have to pay out under terms of the policy.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is starting to plan his inaugural festivities. Pritzker and Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton announced Tuesday they've formed an inaugural committee that will plan events surrounding their Jan. 14 swearing-in ceremony. Events will begin Jan. 12-13. The committee will be led by future Illinois first lady M.K. Pritzker and Bryan Echols, who serves as senior adviser to the Illinois treasurer.



(Watseka--jc)  It was a night of shopping for some Watseka area kids last night. Members of the Watseka Police Department went on a “Shop with a Cop” detail at the Watseka Walmart. The local police officials helped some area kids get some gifts for Christmas.



(Joliet--jc)  One plant in Joliet is set to close by mid 20-19. The Herald Review reports that  Caterpillar may close its Joliet plant by June. The company’s latest layoff notice with the state reports that 285 workers at the factory will lose their jobs starting in early January.Caterpillar would not confirm when the plant is closing. A Caterpillar spokeswoman would not specify when the company plans to close the plant or how many people still work there.



U by Kotex tampons are being recalled because there is a chance they could unravel or fall apart. Kimberly-Clark is recalling some lots of the tampons made before Oct. 16 of this year.  In some cases, pieces of the tampon left in the body have caused customers to seek medical attention. The tampons were sold broadly across the U.S. and Canada by many retailers.Call Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499 for more information.



(McLean County--jc)  -- A Phone Scam.....McLean County law enforcement officials say they  had a report of yet another telephone scam. This time it is an automated call from the Social Security Administration advising the recipient that there is going to be "Some Legal Enforcement Actions" filed on your social security number. The message goes on to threaten to suspend your SSN. It leaves a number to call back as 760 230-5498. After listening to the message, its obvious that it is a computer generate voice and the grammar on the recording is not very good. Remember the Social Security administration will never call you or leave a message such as this. Be smart, Don't be a victim of identity theft.


(Loda--jc)  -- A benefit is set for Sunday. A concert  for Gabe Fairchild, will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Loda United Methodist Church. The benefit concert will feature performances by Bluegrass Demolition, Andy Kaufmann and Mickey Matthews. A free-will offering will be collected to help with medical expenses for Gabe Fairchild, a local musician and member of the Prairie City band. Refreshments will be served after the concert.


A Ford County Man from Cabery Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison on Possession of Child Pornography

(Urbana--jc)  A Ford County man from Cabery was sentenced to 120 years in prison on possession of child pornography.  Broadcast reports say 78 year old Toetim Cizmar of Cabery was sentenced in federal court on Friday on charges stemming from June of 20-17 to four counts of sexual exploitation of three children, ages 3 to 6 years old.



(Champaign--jc)  -- A driver in a vehicle versus train accident in Champaign on Monday afternoon was taken to a local hospital. The accident occured on the tracks at Bradley Avenue and Chestnut street. The driver is expected to survive from the injuries. The tracks were block for several  hours on Monday



(Joliet--jc)  -- The Unlock Our Jobs Coalition is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct complete regional and national economic development studies in addition to further risk and safety analyses following the release of its proposed plan to install new structural barriers at Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet.The Corps' proposed plan includes untested technologies and costly structural barriers, even though commercial fishing and existing electric barriers have proven to be effective in preventing Asian carp from advancing north over the last 27 years, successfully cutting the population of Asian carp at the leading edge by 93 percent. Shipments and maritime activity between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River system generate billions of dollars in economic investment each year, supporting a vast array of industries including steel, agriculture, manufacturing, chemical, energy, construction and tourism in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. The plan put forth by the Corps would greatly restrict traffic at Brandon Road Lock and Dam and could have a detrimental impact on thousands of people who work and live along the waterways.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Media personality and political commentator Glenn Beck is pitching in to keep a trove of artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln in the 16th president's hometown. Beck's charity called Mercury One has donated $50,000 toward a $9.2 million debt owed for a collection of 1,400 artifacts purchased a decade ago for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.


(Washington-ba)-Soybean traders are reportedly eager for USDA's  World Supply and Demand forecast later this morning.  USDA’s Gary Crawford reports.




(Paxton--jc)  The old helicopter at the Paxton Airport is probably not going to a Vermilion County legion post. As local leaders in the city of Paxton approved the donation, the owner of the helicopter has contacted city officials and the property is in the process of being moved. The city council is expected to take proper action when they meet tonight in monthly session. The council meeting comes to order at 7 tonight on the second floor of city hall.


(Champaign--jc)  Those with layaway items at Walmarts in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy received a surprise on Monday. They had their layaway items paid in full. The bill was paid by John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John’s Restaurants.



(Paxton--ab) The Paxton-Buckley- Loda School district has their latest School board meeting this Wednesday night at 6 PM. One item is about the School levy. PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure gives the latest details on the topic.



The board will also listen to Denny Kingren from the Paxton Fire Department. Other items include a vote on a new art class, and bids on transportation services.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- They want you to bring your appetite. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at one local high school are gearing up for their annual free community feed. The group at Rantoul Township High School are hosting the event on Wednesday December 19  from 5-30 to 7-30 at the Rantoul Township High School cafetorium.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Struggling to find the perfect present? The Illinois Emergency Management Agency suggests giving the gift of preparedness. The recent tornadoes, foggy weather and pending snow, show that you need to be ready for ever-changing Illinois weather. I-EMA’s Rebecca Clark says preparedness items make great gifts..



I-EMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark.



(Illinois-ba)-Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute.



(Watseka--jc) --  Iroquois County leaders are expected to approve their meeting schedule when they meet this afternoon at 5. Iroquois County leaders are also expected to learn more about bids for around 30 acres that are projected for use with a solar farm in Beaverville township. Moving dollars from the safety tax fund to the Joint Dispatch fund is also on the agenda.


(Washington-ba)- If you are shipping or receiving holiday gifts of perishable food items, here are some tips for keeping those foods safe through the entire process. USDA’s Gary Crawford reports.




(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul village leaders are expected to approved an engineering service agreement. The 43 thousand dollar fee would be  with the Burns and McDonnell group concerning the sale of some airport property. Also at tonight’s monthly meeting, village leaders will look to extend the contract with  O-S-F Healthcare Systems and approve the 20-19 meeting dates. The Rantoul Village Board meets at 6pm at the municipal building on Tanner Street.


(Gibson City--jc) With two State Football titles, does one local high school have to now move up in competition class. The Falcons of Gibson City Melvin Sibley have won state titles in 2-A football. IHSA Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha says there is no automatic move up in classes with schools with boundries…



I-H-S-A Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha



(Chicago--jc)  --– Attorney General Lisa Madigan and a coalition of attorneys general and attorneys general-elect Monday opposed the federal government’s latest effort, what they believe, is  to attack, demonize and marginalize immigrants in Illinois and around the country. The federal administration has proposed a radical overhaul of so-called “public charge” rules that could make it easier to deny adjustment of status to lawful immigrants, reject green card applications, or even remove lawful immigrants from the country if they utilize certain healthcare, nutrition or housing programs.



(Paxton--jc)  The start of fundraising has begun for the Paxton Grand Ole Flag project. An account has been opened with the Frederick Community Bank in Paxton. The Paxton area Chamber of Commerce made the initial donation in the amount of 5 hundred dollars. The group is looking to raise 40 thousand dollars to place the giant American flag on the city’s west side near Interstate 57. Donations are to be made out to Pride in Paxton with a memo line of Paxton Grand Ole Flag project.  



Identity Thieves Smarter About Accessing Information and Using it to Steal Tax Rebates

(Springfield--jc)  -- Government officials are warning tax filers that identity thieves are getting smarter about accessing information and using it to steal tax rebates.An investigator with the Internal Revenue Service joined officials from the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois and the Illinois Department of Revenue to speak out about the growing dangers of identity theft in a month where this type of criminal activity are known to spike.The number of fraudulent tax claims has dropped slightly since 2016, largely thanks to new systems in place to recognize when a scammer is trying to illegally get someone’s tax return, said Gabriel Grchan, special agent in charge with the IRS Criminal Investigation Chicago Field Office.


(Springfield--jc)  -- From gambling expansion to a tax based on how many miles you drive, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has said he’s open to all ideas to find revenue to pay for infrastructure projects.Outgoing Gov. Bruce Rauner said last month that he's heard talk that an infrastructure bill could come up during lame duck session in January. Governor Rauner says he has been recommending an infrastructure bill – a big one – for four years  Rauner adds the infrastructure bill is long overdue and with this measure, we do not need new taxes to pay for it.



(Illinois--ba)   --If you haven’t picked out your Christmas tree yet, one expert has some tips. University of Illinois Extension Horticulture expert Richard Hentschel says use your eyes and senses... 



U of I Extension Horticulture Expert Richard Hentschel


(Illinois--ba)  -- The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs hosted the 77th pearl harbor remembrance ceremony Friday. The event in Springfield paid tribute to Pearl Harbor survivors and the more than 24-hundred americans who lost their lives that day. U-S army chief warrant officer Bobby Edwards has been deployed overseas over 20 times and was the guest speaker. He spoke about the need for stronger patriotism these days….



U-S Army Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Edwards



(Paxton--jc)  -- A ribbon cutting ceremony for a business in downtown Paxton was held on Friday afternoon. The Mom and Pops Kettle Stop is located at 119 South Market in downtown Paxton. The business is owned by the Alan Meyer Family of Paxton. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold and several representatives of the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce were in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon. Mom and Pops Kettle Stop  features popcorn, kettle corn, caramel corn, cheese corn along with gifts and tins. Catering is also available.


(Rantoul--ab) Recently, two former and one current Rantoul Police Department Officers were recognized for their service and dedication to the METRO SWAT Team. The officers receiving recognition were: Retired Lieutenant Jeff Wooten was honored as the first “Career Award” for his twenty-one years of service to the METRO SWAT Team. Also, retired Officer Chuck Casagrande received a plaque recognizing his twelve years on the team. During that time Officer Casagrande served as an Operator from 2003-2008 and a Negotiator from 2010-2018. Sergeant Will Stuckemeyer received a plaque and leadership award recognizing his ten years on the team. During his time, Will served as an Operator, CART Operator and Assistant Team Leader.




(Northern Illinois--jc)  --Amazon is set to expand its air cargo operation in Illinois.The e-commerce giant has been operating at the Chicago Rockford International Airport facility for about a year. Officials now say they’ll more than double the company’s footprint at RFD and plan to increase the number of cargo flights in and out of the facility.Amazon currently runs seven flights each day at the airport. Dunn expects that number to increase. A 120,000-square-foot addition is planned for the company’s existing 72,000-square-foot building.The Rockford airport already is UPS’s second-largest air hub in North America. Dunn said RFD is becoming a key player in the cargo industry.


(Gibson City--jc) A gift basket program needs names. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 62-89 in Gibson City continues to accept names of people in the community to receive a Christmas basket. Names will be accepted through Saturday. Those with names can call the V-F-W in Gibson City at 217-784-4210.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- Seniors that want to attend the Rantoul Recreation Department holiday luncheon have to sign up by today. The event is set for 11-30 Thursday morning at the Rantoul Youth Center.  Reservations are made by calling 893-5700.



(Undated--jc)  -- Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Villa Grove--jc)  An accident east of Villa Grove that took the lives of two area people, has ties to the city of Paxton. Authorities say 2 two people have died in a traffic accident near Villa Grove just before 5pm on Friday night. The accident happened east of Villa Grove on a local county road. The two killed in the accident were 75 year old John Jones and 66 year old Kristine Trudeau.  The Heritage School district says Jones was a substitute teacher. Jones wife is originally from Paxton. Jones also has a twin brother, Tom, also from Paxton. Jones was highly regarded and respected in both communities. Heritage School officials say counselors will be at the high school today for students and staff.



(Rantoul--jc)  A fire caused significant damage to an apartment complex in Rantoul on Friday afternoon. Fire officials say a smoldering cigarette is likely the cause of the fire along Harmon Drive. Fire Chief Ken Waters says around 50 thousand dollars damage was done to the structure. With the fire, three families lost their apartments.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The next two Saturdays, Santa Claus will be meeting with area children in downtown Paxton. Pride in Paxton officials say the jolly old elf will be at the Santa Hut in downtown Paxton from Noon until 2pm on December 15th and December 22nd. Area merchants also invite you to shop Paxton this Christmas season.



NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — A man driving a bus carrying a high school girls' basketball team that was struck head-on by a semitrailer traveling the wrong way in central Illinois this week remains in critical condition. O-S-F HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria has identified the bus driver as 64-year-old Mark Kuhn of Heyworth.



NEW YORK — A New York City man who served as an aircraft technician with the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen died Saturday at age 100.   DeFour passed away at his Harlem apartment. A postal worker, after the war, DeFour was honored just last month at a ceremony to rename a Manhattan post office after the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen trained at Rantoul Chanute Air Force Base for a time in the 1940s.



(Bloomington--jc)  -- Rural landscapes have always captured the imagination of photographer Ronald Douglas Frazier of Bloomington, but says that once the photography got off the ground,  with a drone-based camera, his interest truly soared. Now, an exhibit of his photography from an aerial point of view, is on display at the Joe McCauley Gallery at Heartland Community College through Feb. 15. His drone photograph recently was shown at Joann Goetzinger's Studio and Gallery in downtown Bloomington.



(Washington--jc)   One federal officials says if you still have crops in the field, you need to contact your crop insurance agent.  U-S-D-A UnderSecretary Bill Northey says ask for an extension for the reporting deadline which officially ends today…



U-S-D-A Under Secretary  Bill Northey



(Rantoul--jc)  -- An electrical problem on Sunday afternoon caused a Rantoul business to close for a short time.  Firefighters were called to the Rural King Store on the east side on Rantoul on Sunday just before 3pm. The Rantoul Press reports that an electrical system shorted out causing a transformer to blow. The store was filled with smoke. The store is expected to re open later today. No damage estimates were given to WPXN news.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers have created the nation's toughest test for admitting testimony from jailhouse snitches into criminal trials. Inspired by reform of the state's notorious and now-discarded system of capital punishment, it requires judges to make pre-trial inquiries into the veracity of testimony by incarcerated informants before allowing or barring it. Testimony by snitches has helped convict 19 criminal defendants who were later exonerated during the past three decades in Illinois.


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett says he remains committed to his central Illinois community after his unlikely term as sheriff. Howard Buffett was a longtime volunteer before being appointed Macon County sheriff late last year to fill the vacant post. His term ended Nov. 30, but he says he has no plans to leave Decatur. His foundation has donated about $100 million to local projects.



(Paxton--jc)  -- One local high school has a group of students wanting to “get involved” with area communities. The  Paxton Buckley Loda High School group called “Get-Involved-Value-Everyone-Club is set to host a concert on Saturday. The event starts at 2pm on Saturday at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Roberts. The group is asking the public to bring a new toy the the concert and that toy will be donated to Ford County’s Toys for Tots program. Monetary donations will also be accepted.

 Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and 38 States are Joining Forces to Crack Down on Annoying Robocalls

(Springfield--jc)  -- Democrats in the General Assembly, flush with super majorities in both chambers and a friend in the governor's mansion, will take a different approach to fostering investment and job growth.Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has said he plans build the state's economy by revitalizing small business growth with improved access to capital, infrastructure improvements and investment in higher education, among other efforts. He's also said he favors a graduated income tax and increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.Pritzker's new administration and Democrats in the House and Senate have an opportunity to reshape Illinois’ business climate in the next year. Among the issues expected to arise are workers’ compensation costs, property taxes and the state’s debt load.


(Paxton--ba)  One local Paxton group is helping those  who have less this Christmas. The group is made up of church members, teachers, and others in the city.  The Christmas Helpers are planning a meal and gift exchange next week, according to spokesperson Kaye Harper…



Christmas Helpers Spokesperson Kaye Harper


NORMAL, ILL. – As part of the 10th anniversary of Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program presented the Midwest Food Bank with 10,000 pounds of ground pork. Since 2008 Pork Power has generated over 625,000 pounds of pork - enough for nearly 2.4 million meals - for families throughout Illinois. Farmers and partnering commodity groups give pork and monetary donations all year round.


(Washington--jc) -- USDA is coming out with new rules designed to help schools serve nutritious meals that students will be less likely to throw in the trash. Gary Crawford reports…



(Rantoul--jc)  - The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce and officials with the village of Rantoul are hosting an open house event for long time Lincoln’s Challenge  Director Peter Thomas. The event is set to honor Thomas for his 25 years of service to the Rantoul community. Thomas is set to retire after the current class of cadets graduates later this month. The open house takes place on December 16th from 4-30 to 5-30pm at the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Rantoul.


(Crescent City--jc)  -- Those in the Crescent City area are invited to a school topic meeting tomorrow morning at 10. The community meeting  is set to talk about a consolidation possibility with the Watseka school district. A time for questions from the public will be taken at the meeting.



(Springfield--jc)  -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is asking the public to take a new travel survey. The annual Illinois traveler opinion survey seeks public input on a variety of issues says I-Dot Spokesperson Jessie Decker…



I-Dot Spokesperson Jessie Decker

The on-line survey is available at I-Dot-Dot-Illinois-Dot-Gov.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- Newly elected state representative Mike Marron will hold traveling office hours in Rantoul on Monday. The local state representative will be at the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Rantoul from noon to 1pm to talk with constituents.



(Cissna Park--jc)  One local school has a Christmas time event set for tonight. Students at Cissna Park High School are performing at 6pm. A dinner will be served, but those who just want to go to the performance will be asked for a 5 dollar donation



(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute..



(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and 38 states are joining forces to crack down on annoying robocalls. Attorney General Madigan says her office receives  a lot of complaints about robocalls. She says the multi-state coalition is addressing the issue…



Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan


(Springfield--jc)  --A member of the Legislative Ethics Commission said the panel is getting closer to selecting an inspector general to handle ethics complaints against lawmakers, but the post won't be filled this year.Lawmakers appointed Julie Porter as the temporary inspector general in late 2017 after it was revealed the post had been vacant for several years while allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers sat on a shelf.Members of the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission wanted to secure a new inspector general during veto session that wrapped up last month. That didn’t happen.


(Washington--jc)  -- The attack 77 years ago on Pearl Harbor sent U.S. farmers into production overdrive, helped by civilian victory gardens. Gary Crawford reports…



(Rantoul--jc)  -- Christmas programs will continue at Rantoul City Schools. Several classes at Northview Elementary school were held last night. Next up is a program at Broadmeadow Elementary at 6 on Tuesday night for pre-K through 2nd grade and then on Thursday at 6 for third grade through 5th grade. A Christmas program and dinner for the Boys and Girls Club at Pleasant Acres Elementary school takes place at 4-30 in the afternoon on December 18th.


(Rantoul--jc)  If you see a lot of Rantoul police officers at the Rantoul Wal-Mart tomorrow, there is a good reason. It’s the annual “Shop with a Cop.” event. Local officers did fundraising earlier this year and the money raised is being used for the local shop with a cop event. Wal-Mart officials also donated money to help with Saturday’s Christmas gifts.


SENECA, Ill. (AP) — Authorities in Illinois are appealing to people in northwestern Indiana to help them solve a 42-year-old cold case. The body of a woman who was shot in the head was found in a ditch in Grundy County in 1976. The body was buried after investigators failed to confirm an identity. Grundy County coroner John Callahan says the case has troubled him since he joined the office in 1994. Deputy coroner Brandon Johnson says a group of psychics recently said the woman may have been from Gary, Indiana.


(Cissna Park--jc)  It’s a shopping day with buggy rides, a lighted Christmas parade in one Iroquois County town on Saturday. The day in Cissna Park begins with shopping in the downtown district at 9am. Santa Claus will be at the Cissna Park American Legion Home from 10am until noon with numerous holiday vendors with Christmas gift ideas. The twilight parade steps off at 5pm on Saturday in downtown Cissna Park.


(Gibson City-dg)-The CN IC Santa train will make scheduled stops in the area again this year. Tonight it will be in Onarga from 6:30-8:30 pm. On Saturday the Santa Train will make stops in Gibson City from 8am-10am, Melvin from noon until 1:30pm, Roberts from 1:45-3pm, Thawville from 3:30pm-5pm and Gilman from 6pm-8pm. On Sunday it will be in Danforth from 10:30-noon, Ashkum from 1-2:30pm, and in Clifton from 3:30-5:30 pm. 



(Buckley--jc)  If you like to sing, like hymns and good fellowship, then one local church should be on your list of things to do on Sunday. A Christmas hymn sing starts at 3 Sunday afternoon at St John’s Lutheran Church in Buckley. Refreshments will be served after the event. A free will offering will be taken for the churches organ fund.


Normal West School Bus Returning from Girls Basketball Game in Champaign Involved in Accident, Leaving 2 People Dead

(Normal--jc)  A McLean County school bus was involved in an accident along Interstate 74 near downs last night. Authorities say the bus was carrying members of the Normal West girls basketball team. The bus collided with a semi tractor trailer around 8-30 Wednesday evening.  Two people have died in the accident and several people on the bus were airlifted to area hospitals. The semi struck the bus head-on. WPXN will update this story as more information is released.


(Illinois--ba) Hunters harvested nearly 81 thousand deer during the firearm season. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Ed Cross says hunters harvested 59 thousand during the first week and 22 thousand in week number two..



Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Ed Cross


Springfield--jc)  -- A credit ratings agency is warning that states like Illinois could be pushed to raise taxes because lawmakers haven't set aside money to pay for retiree healthcare costs.S&P Global Ratings reported that total unfunded state liabilities that aren’t pensions have increased significantly for the third year in a row. The agency said this is largely due to states like Illinois underfunding the issue.State employees with at least 20 years of work qualify for state-sponsored retiree healthcare. Those premiums are covered by taxpayers. This is the retiree’s primary coverage when they’re eligible to retire as early as 55 with it becoming supplemental once they qualify for Medicare ten years after.


(Springfield--ab) Attorney General Lisa Madigan Wednesday filed a lawsuit against a California woman who has used dozens of aliases and assumed business names to create and sell tickets for fake events in Illinois and throughout the country that never occurred. In Illinois, the scammer stole over $30,000 from unsuspecting consumers. Madigan’s lawsuit was filed today in Cook County Circuit Court against Kristen Yvette Martin, individually and doing business as Expo Network,



(Washington--jc)  -- Area farmers could get financial aid from the federal government due to the trade disruptions. U-S-D-A Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says some farmers have been hit hard by the tariffs…



U S D A Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue


(Springfield--ab) Last month was the eighth coldest November on record in Illinois. The statewide average temperature last month was 35 degrees. That’s more than seven degrees below normal says State Climatologist Jim Angel.



State Climatologist Jim Angel

Snowfall ranged from about an inch in southeastern Illinois to 15 inches in the quad cities. Angel says there’s an increased chance of above normal temperatures and precipitation for December.


(Fisher--jc)  -- Who is going to do it?.  The choices are three. The Fisher Bunnies Relay for Life will hold a fundraiser tomorrow night at the Fisher Bunnies basketball game. Three people from the Fisher area have agreed to a public vote to determine who will get the opportunity to kiss a pig to raise money to fight cancer. You are asked to  help raise money to fight cancer and vote for Jim Moxley, Jon Kelly or Jake Palmer. Money raised goes to the American Cancer Society.


(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute..



(Springfield--jc)  -- Just a few days are left in the medicare open enrollment period.  The illinois Department on Aging says help is available for seniors. Senior Health Insurance Program Director Sandy Leith says to ask yourself a few questions…



Senior Health Insurance Program Director Sandy Leith.


(Rantoul--ab) A few Rantoul businesses are coming together for a cool shopping experience. Shop and Hop is this Saturday and will feature multiple businesses on Sangamon St. in downtown Rantoul. The event is a multifaceted experience with sweets and giveaways says Paula Hopkins owner of House of Flowers in Rantoul.



Paula Hopkins owner of House of Flowers in Rantoul.

WPXN will be broadcasting live on Saturday from downtown Rantoul from 9am to 10am to help kick off the event.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois  Attorney General Lisa  Madigan Wednesday announced she is joining with a bipartisan group of 38 other attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. Madigan says that robocalls are an  obnoxious form of consumer harassment. Madigan and the multistate group has had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies about technological capabilities currently in existence or in development that would reduce robocalls. The coalition of states is pushing the carriers to, among other things, quickly develop and implement technology to help identify and block potential unwanted robocalls for their customers.


(Washington--jc)  Soggy and cold weather, that is not a good combination for winter wheat. Stephanie Ho reports…



(Cissna Park--jc)  -- Cissna Park village merchants are planning a Christmas event on Saturday.  Along with the shopping opportunities, horse and buggy rides will be available from 10am until 1pm on Saturday. Holiday vendors will be set up at the Cissna Park American Legion and visits with Santa Claus are set from 10am until 1pm. A parade with lights is set for 5 on Saturday afternoon in Cissna Park.



(Springfield--jc)  The man who cast the lone “no” vote on a proposal for Illinois’ public universities to get a double-digit funding increase in the coming state budget said Illinois can't afford it. The Illinois Board of Higher Education voted 13-1 this week to approve a proposed request for an additional $314 million for the state’s public universities for fiscal year 2020. That's a 16.6 percent increase over the previous year. Illinois Board of Higher Education Chairman Tom Cross said the total $2.2 billion request is a commitment to ending out-migration of Illinois students. Board member John Bambenek was the only “no” vote. He said the request wasn't based on clear metrics. He wants to see future budgets for higher education work from defined metrics because some schools have increased enrollment while others are teaching fewer students.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White announced the winners of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award in the 14th annual Illinois Emerging Writers Competition for 2018. The winners are from Saunemin, Evanston and Jacksonville. Donna O’Shaughnessy of Saunemin was awarded first place for her poem “In the Kitchen They Danced. The contest winners read their poems during a ceremony at the state library earlier this week.


(Rantoul--jc)  -- Repair work on several downtown buildings in Rantoul continues.  Work on the Kiefers Photography building and on A House of Flowers by Paula began this week and continues from damage that happened this past June. New glass and facade work is expected to continue for the next several days. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce officials also say a new restaurant called E-Ts Barbeque is getting closer to a soft opening. That could happen later this month.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- The 75th annual performance of “The Messiah” was completed this past Sunday in Gibson City. The Gibson City Music Foundation is the group that puts together the event each year. Group spokesperson Shari Friedman says the group has members from Gibson City and Paxton, but also Savoy, Colfax, and Saybrook, among others. Friedman says celebrating 75 years of performances in Gibson City is a great accomplishment…


Gibson City Music Foundation Spokesperson Shari Friedman

WPXN will be airing this year’s version of the Messiah during Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- A Children’s Christmas party is set for tomorrow night in Rantoul. The event is set for the Rantoul Public Library. The party starts at 7 with activities and a movie at 8pm.


The Debate on Wind Farms in Ford County Continues

(Paxton--jc)  -- The debate continues on wind farms in Ford County. Local leaders met last night and heard from officials from wind farm operations, local citizens and business people. At stake are jobs and economic growth to quality of rural life. One suggestion is to leave the existing height of 500 feet on wind turbines and to put setbacks at 2 thousand 250 feet from property lines. The increase in setbacks would hamper several wind farm operations, according to some of the wind farm operators that are wanting to come to the local area. County leaders could decide on the issue in the near future.


(Chicago--jc)  -- Illinois is now officially 200 years old. Illinois Governor elect J B Pritzker says the states history is one of many accomplishments, but the best is ahead for the Land of Lincoln.



Illinois Governor elect J B Pritzker


(Vermilion County--jc)  Foul play is not suspected in the death of a man in Vermilion County. Police say the man was found deceased inside a truck south of Rossville. The vehicle was partially submerged. Police continue to investigate the incident.


(Springfield--ab) Attorney General Lisa Madigan Tuesday announced a $17.25 million settlement with Wells Fargo as a result of the bank’s misconduct in its marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities  leading up to the 2008 economic collapse. Under the settlement, Wells Fargo will pay $17.25 million to the state that will be distributed among the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois, the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois, and the Illinois State Board of Investment, which oversees the State Employees’ Retirement System.The settlement is the ninth settlement addressing the sale of mortgage-backed securities during the lead up to the economic collapse. Attorney General Madigan has led the country in taking legal action against banks, lenders and other financial institutions for unlawful financial misconduct that contributed to the country’s economic collapse.



(Undated--jc)  -- A former Rantoul High School student had the honor to guard the casket of George H W Bush earlier this week. Family and friends of Chris Deaville caught a view of him on several media outlets late Monday. The 24 year is part the of United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard.


(Washington--ab)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volumes will be increased above previous year levels, which is good news for the soybean industry. The increase, however, is mitigated by the absence of reallocation of the significant gallons that were waived under exemptions issued previously by EPA to refineries. The final rule sets the 2020 requirement for biomass-based biodiesel (BBD) volumes at 2.43 billion gallons, a 330-million-gallon increase over the 2018 and 2019 levels. Total advanced biofuel volumes, which are largely filled by biodiesel, are increased to 4.92 billion gallons.


(Springfield--ab) Thousands of Illinoisans will soon be getting checks in the mail thanks to round two of treasurer Mike Frerichs’ money match program. Money match uses technology to cross-reference information and find people who have long forgotten funds in the treasurer’s i-cash database says Frerichs.



63 thousand people will be getting checks for anywhere between five and 50 dollars as part of the latest money match effort. You can search to see if you have any unclaimed money or property online at: illinois treasurer dot gov.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The local chapter of The Satanic Temple has been allowed to place a statue in the Illinois Capitol alongside holiday displays of a Nativity scene and a menorah. The State Journal-Register reports the sculpture depicts the forearm of a woman who is holding an apple. The statue is called "Knowledge is the Greatest Gift." In its application for the display, Satanic Temple-Chicago calls itself a nontheistic organization that aims to "encourage benevolence and empathy among all people."



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials have allocated the first grants to buy cleaner-burning engines from an emissions lawsuit settlement Volkswagen reached with federal officials. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that $19 million will finance cleaner-burning public-transit trains and buses. Illinois is receiving $108 million from Volkswagen's multibillion-dollar settlement after allegations that the automaker sold 60,000 vehicles with software designed to cheat air-quality tests.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Some in state government are looking into why the backlog of D-N-A samples have yet to be processed. The samples are from crimes committed in the state over the past several years. Colonel Sean Cormier (‘Core-meer) with the Illinois State Police Forensic Sciences Command  says its a staffing and funding issue…



State Police Colonel Sean Cormier.


Parkland College invites the public to its fall Greenhouse Plant Sale, Dec 5–7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.This annual event will include poinsettias, succulents, and house plants and kalanchoes. Plants can make great holiday gifts or make a home more inviting.Parkland College's greenhouse is located on the west side of the Tony Noel Agricultural Technology Applications Center, on the west side of campus.


(Undated--jc) Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial minute…



(Springfield--jc)  -- With 5 cases of hepatitis A recently diagnosed in Illinois, The state Department of Public Health is urging people to make sure they are vaccinated. Hepatitis A is an infection that can damage their liver and is easily passed from one person to another through food, water, drug use and sex says Illinois Public Health Director Doctor Nirav Shah…



Illinois Public Health Director Doctor Nirav Shah.

There have been 69 cases of Hepatitis A in Illinois so far this year, including 5 most recent in East Central Illinois, locally.


(Washington--jc)  -- Where in the country are the soy and corn crops still not fully harvested yet?Stephanie Ho has the story…



(Chicago--jc)  -- Attorney General Lisa Madigan Tuesday announced a $6 million settlement that resolves an investigation she led with 41 states and the District of Columbia into one of the nation’s largest debt buyers, Encore Capital Group Inc., and its subsidiaries, Midland Credit Management Inc. and Midland Funding LLC. Madigan led an investigation into Midland’s debt collection and litigation practices and its pattern of signing and filing affidavits in state courts against consumers in large volumes without verifying the information. The practice of debt buying involves buying and selling overdue debts from creditors and other account owners



(Rantoul--jc)  -- A senior lunch event is coming to one local village. Those in the Rantoul area are reminded that the  Annual Senior Holiday Luncheon will take place December 13th starting at  11:30 at the Rantoul Youth Center. Reservations must be made by Monday. Call the Youth Center for more information



(Kankakee--jc) A crash along Interstate 57 near Kankakee slowed traffic for several hours on Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say a crash in the southbound lanes and clean-up were the reasons for delays in the southbound lanes of I-57. Traffic was delayed for several hours.



(Chicago--jc)  -- A financial adviser says some residents preparing to retire are eyeing moving out of the state entirely, and it’s not just for better weather. Although Illinois doesn't tax retirement income, that doesn't mean it's the best place for all retirees according to Buffalo Grove-based financial planner John Bever He adds that Illinois property taxes are extremely high, the 2nd highest in the nation. That is another reason to go elsewhere.



(Chicago--jc)  -- Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker this week announced his Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee, which features members of the labor and business communities.  One member, the president of an Illinois business group, is asking state policymakers to consider the full effects of a proposed raise to the state's minimum wage. Pritzker says increasing the minimum wage in Illinois is important to him, but didn't say how high he thinks it should be raised. He said he’d like to get something done within the first six months of his term.Illinois Retail Merchants Association President and CEO Rob Karr, who’s on Pritzker’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee, said he didn’t want to speculate about what Pritzker’s minimum wage would be, but said it will likely affect two-thirds of the state’s consumers.


The National Weather Service Says the 23 Tornadoes That Touched Down Saturday in Illinois was a Record for December

(Urbana--jc)  A Ford County man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday in U-S District Court. The Ford County Record reports that 32 year old Kenneth Slater was sentenced on Monday for receiving and possessing child pornography The sentence was handed down on Monday by, Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid.  Slater was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of 6 thousand dollars.



(Rantoul--ab) The high of the retail and business is during the holiday season in Rantoul. Speaking at the annual parade last week,  Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer says talking about the positives of Rantoul is the key to keeping the momentum in Rantoul.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer


(Springfield--ab) Senate lawmakers are looking into the backlog of d-n-a samples waiting to be processed in murder investigations. Recent reports have found hundreds of D-N-A samples waiting to be tested in crimes committed over the past couple of years. That includes the murder of 20-year-old Jeremy Tang, a college student taking a semester off from school who was shot in chicago in 2017. His mother, Carmia Tang, spoke to a senate committee on the issue.



Officials from the Illinois State Police’s forensics unit also testified, saying they need more staff and funding to help speed up D-N-A processing times.



CHICAGO (AP) — American Airlines is investigating how a 67-year-old woman in a wheelchair was left alone overnight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport when her flight was canceled. The incident, first reported by CBS 2 in Chicago, started Friday night when Olimpia Warsaw's flight from Chicago to Detroit was canceled and a porter was assigned to take care of her.


LINCOLN, Ill. (AP) — The National Weather Service says at least 23 tornadoes touched down Saturday in Illinois, making the outbreak the state's largest on record for December. Meteorologist Dan Smith says crews had confirmed 23 tornado touchdowns across central Illinois by Monday afternoon. He says that number may grow because crews continue surveying three other sites to determine if storm damage there was caused by tornadoes. Illinois' previous December tornado record was 21 tornadoes during a 1957 outbreak.


(Gibson City-dg)-The new Santa train will make scheduled stops in the area again this year. Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner says one stop is in Roberts…



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner

Friday Dec 7th it will be in Onarga from 6:30-8:30 pm. On saturday December 8th the Santa Train will make stops in Gibson City starting at 8am. Then its off to Melvin, Roberts, Thawville and Gilman by 6pm. On Sunday December 9th, the Santa Train will be in Danforth from 10:30-noon, Ashkum from 1-2:30pm, and in Clifton from 3:30-5:30 pm. Check out our facebook page for the list.



(Paxton--jc  The Paxton Park District’s annual Breakfast with Santa event takes place on Saturday. The event runs from 8am to 10-30am at the Civic Center on Fall Street. Santa will be there and a free breakfast will be served by park district officials.



(Undated--jc) --  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Bicentennial Minute…



(Springfield--jc)  -- Flu activity usually peaks between December and February, so it makes sense to get vaccinated if you have not already says the state’s chief medical officer. Doctor Jennifer Layden says there are other things you can do to protect yourself from the flu…



Illinois’s Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jennifer Layden.


(Springfield--jc)  --Illinois Representative LaShawn Ford wants to bar law enforcement agencies from releasing photos of people who have been arrested for low-level crimes until after a conviction. Ford says having a mug shot posted and shared on social media can ruin a person's life long before a judge or jury settles the matter.The Chicago Democrat's new bill would require a conviction before law enforcement agencies could release a person's jail booking or arrest photo. He said the repercussions of having a mugshot posted online can be more severe than the punishment for a crime, like getting turned down for employment years later.



(Springfield--jc)  -- The state legislature approved a bill that requires fire chiefs to have specific qualifications over a veto from the governor and objections from municipal management groups. State Representative  Kathleen Willis, Democrat from Addison says Senate Bill 26-19 establishes requirements for the fire chief post that local governments must follow. Willis says her bill is not mandating an increase in pay, but certain training or on the job experience is needed.The Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and the Illinois Association of Firefighters supported the measure. The Illinois Municipal League, opposed the bill because it removed local control over fire chiefs. The measure is now law in Illinois.



(Taylorville-jc)  Governor Bruce Rauner Monday declared Christian County a state disaster area after severe storms and tornadoes ripped across Illinois. More than 20 people were injured in the storm and hundreds of structures were damaged or destroyed. Rauner said that our heart and thoughts go out to those impacted.  The State is providing resources and necessary personnel to the affected area. The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has mobilized personnel and assets to help local government officials with disaster recovery.



(Springfield--jc )  --Between 2003 and 2014, the state operated under single-party control with two different Democratic governors and sizable Democratic majorities in the General Assembly. A report released on Monday stated that over that span, the state’s credit quality deteriorated considerably. In that 11-year span, Illinois made various poor fiscal decisions. The new report also flagged some ideas majority Democrats have floated to deal with the state's long-term debt. The Fitch report gave Illinois' credit a B-B-B rating with a negative outlook, which it says reflects an ongoing pattern of weak operating performance and irresolute fiscal decision making The report was entitled... "Illinois: What Happens Next,"  and ratings analyst Eric Kim wrote that “Illinois' fiscal pressures may accelerate in the near term given implementation risk for the fiscal 2019 budget and uncertainties around ongoing fiscal management and decision-making. Kim said the fiscal 2019 budget is already hundreds of millions out of balance and it could go further into the red if the state-owned Thompson Center in Chicago isn't sold and if savings from a yet-to-be-fully-implemented pension buyout plan don't materialize


(Watseka--jc)  The Iroquois County Tax and Planning committee will look at an application for a solar farm project. It’s a application by Microgrid Energy for a Conditional Use for a Solar Farm in the county. The Committee mets at 9 this morning in Watseka.



(Washington-jc) Reaction coming on the forecast for 20-18 farm income. U-S-D-A  Chief Economist Rob Johansson says the report reveals several items…


U-S-D-A Chief Economist Rob Johansson


(Gibson CIty--jc)  -- Monday was the official day for Illinois’ 200th anniversary as a state. A star filled gala took place at the United Center in Chicago. Reaction to the celebration and anniversary from 106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Assessed the Tornado Damage in Taylorville

(Taylorville--jc)  -- Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner assessed the tornado damage in Taylorville on Sunday.  More than 30 structures were damage by a tornado. Power lines were down, trees pulled up by the roots and now clean up has started. The governor says several areas were hit by Saturday night’s storms..



Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner


CHICAGO (AP) — A report from the Illinois Department of Public Health says more women have been crossing state lines to get abortions in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports that the findings released this week show more than 5,500 women from other states traveled to Illinois last year for the procedure, up from about 4,500 women in 2016. A Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokeswoman says increasing abortion restrictions have forced women to incur additional expenses to access a safe abortion procedure.



(Rantoul--ab) Rantoul was celebrating the Christmas holiday on Friday night with a lighted Christmas Parade. Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer says it was awesome seeing all the businesses and organizations on the grand stage...



Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer



(Washington--ba)-The Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced its final rule for next year's Renewable Fuel Standard for ethanol and biodiesel production volumes.

USDA’s Rod Bain reports.




(Urbana--jc)  -- A Rantoul man is due back in court today to face charges after a traffic stop in Champaign on Friday. The News Gazette reports that 32 year old Mantonia Duncan of Rantoul could be charged with a gun possession by a felon and a drug possession charge. He is also wanted on an outstanding warrant from Tennessee. Formal charges could come later today



(Hoopeston--jc) An extension on one local tax increment financing district has been approved by lawmakers. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the measure to extend the city of Hoopeston was passed in Springfield this week….



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


(Rantoul--ab) Looking for a cool Christmas gift that comes from the heart? Try your hands at woodworking, the Rantoul Recreation building woodworking shop is hosting woodworking sessions ran by skilled woodworkers. Hours are 6-9 PM on Tuesday and Wednesdays; Saturday from 8-11 AM, then starting on December 3rd a new session will start from 10 AM to 2 PM. Cost is 4 dollars an hour or 10 dollars per session.



(Paxton--jc)  Paxton Firefighters, police officers, E-M-A volunteers are invited to a pizza party tomorrow night at the Paxton Firehouse on North Market Street. The event is sponsored by Pride in Paxton as a thank you for the service the Paxton community and area received from these groups. In conjunction with the party is a cookie bake-off competition. Those attending will have the opportunity to judge the cookies.


(Undated--jc)  Illinois is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a state. Here is today’s Birthday Bicentennial Minute…


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois turns 200 today. And the state has a gala celebration planned. The Chicago party organizers have arranged will be at times solemn, like a solstice at Cahokia Woodhenge observed by some of the state's earliest inhabitants 1,000 years ago near St. Louis, and at times raucous, like a 2016 street party after the Chicago Cubs won the  World Series. A celebration is planned for the United Center in Chicago this evening. Governor Bruce Rauner will serve as host.



NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Interest is growing in central Illinois about  Rivian Automotive’s electric pickup truck unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show.Normal Mayor Chris Koos says his city already has pre-ordered one of the R1T electric vehicles that are expected to launch in 2020.Rivian plans to manufacture electric vehicles in a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal. The plant was shut down by Mitsubishi in November 2015.  Rivian plans to hire as many as 1,000 employees to make electric vehicles in the area.The R1T is expected to travel between 250 and 400 miles (402 kilometers and 644 kilometers) on a single charge, depending on the model. The price starts at $61,500. The vehicle will be sold at a factory store in Normal.



(Washington--jc) --  A framework for a 20-18 Farm Bill has been agreed upon by House and Senate Ag Committee leaders. What is the next step to get the bill passed? Rod Bain has the report…




(Watseka--jc) Even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established this week as  National Influenza Vaccination Week It highlights the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the holiday season and beyond. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against flu.



(Washington--jc)  -- What are the trends of rural population growth in Illinois and around the nation? A “Rural America at a Glance” study has been released and U-S-D-A economist John Cromartie say those in rural areas face unique challenges…



U-S-D-A Economist John Cromartie.


(Bloomington-dg)-Schools are considering a new proposal that could change the high school football schedule in Illinois.Illinois' high school football conferences could soon be a thing of the past. Schools will vote next month on a plan from the IHSA to replace conferences with districts. The districts would be based on size and location, said Matt Troha, assistant executive director of the The Illinois High School Association, the organization that oversees high school sports in the state.


(Gibson City-dg)-The CN IC Santa train will make scheduled stops in the area again this year. Friday Dec 7th it will be in Onarga from 6:30-8:30 pm. On saturday December 8th the Santa Train will make stops in Gibson City from 8am-10am, Melvin from noon until 1:30pm, Roberts from 1:45-3pm, Thawville from 3:30pm-5pm and Gilman from 6pm-8pm. On Sunday December 9th, the Santa Train will be in Danforth from 10:30-noon, Ashkum from 1-2:30pm, and in Clifton from 3:30-5:30 pm. Check out our facebook page for the list.


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