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WPXN Blog Archives for 2019-02

Illinois House Republicans Have Signed a Resolution to Oppose any Graduated Income Tax

(Undated--jc)  Illinois democrats have a spending bill for governor JB Pritzker.. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…


(Chicago--ab)  A group of house lawmakers is introducing a package of bills to address the high cost of prescription medication. One bill calls for more transparency when manufacturers raise the price of medicine, while another assesses fines for price gouging says Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago...



State Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago.

Other measures create a wholesale importation program to help access cheaper drugs from Canada and sets up a system where doctors can get unbiased information about different medications so that they aren’t only relying on salespeople.


(Bloomington--ab)  -- State Representative Dan Brady Republican from Bloomington has signed on to co-sponsor House Resolution 153, legislation stating opposition to any measure that would allow for the creation of a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. Brady says   All 44 members of the Illinois House Republican Caucus are co-sponsors of the measure....



105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.


ASHKUM – Illinois State Police District 21 Commander, Captain Don Aaron Harsy, announces that Illinois State Police will conduct Nighttime Enforcement  patrols in Kankakee County on March 8th and 14th. NITE patrols allow state police to o focus on preventing, detecting, and taking enforcement action in response to impaired driving and occupant restraint violations especially between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Officers will be looking for drivers under the influence, seat belt violations speeding and distracted driving.


(Springfield--ab)  After a joint investigation conducted by the Illinois State Police- Division of Internal Investigation and Illinois Department of Corrections Task Force at the Pontiac prison, criminal charges were filed against three employees. Correctional Officer Giovanni Rodriguez, Sergeant Jason Cremer and Lieutenant James Fike, were each charged with one count of Official Misconduct and one count of Battery. On or about February 3 of this year, Rodriguez, Cremer and Fike are alleged, while acting in their official capacity, to have knowingly performed an act, which is forbidden by law and without legal justification, which caused bodily harm to an incarcerated individual. The arrests of Rodriguez, Cremer and Fike were conducted over a two-day period,this week.



(Undated--jc)  Hospital nurses in Illinois are pushing for statewide staffing standards.Nurses say they are often given too many hospital patients to provide appropriate care and want set nurse-to-patient ratios. Helen Bernard has been a nurse for more than 42 years…



Illinois Nurse Helen Bernard.

Bills currently in the House and Senate in Springfield would create a Hospital-Patient Protection Act.



BALTIMORE (AP) — Songwriters and music publishers are suing bars around the country, saying they infringed on musical copyrights. The Baltimore Sun reports the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers sued Baltimore sports bar Carlos O' Charlies this week in federal court. ASCAP represents more than 690,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers and licenses establishments to play the 11.5 million songs in its repertoire. ASCAP also is suing a dozen establishments in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Spokesman Jackson Wagener says they spent up to five years reaching out, and is suing the businesses that refused to obtain licenses.



(Gibson City--jc)  On Ford County preschool is getting ready for the next school year. Little Achievers Academy Preschool is accepting student registration for the 2019-20 school year and will host an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the American Lutheran Church in Gibson City. Those interested can meet teachers, look at classrooms and get other questions answered.


As Walmart moves to phase out its familiar blue-vested "greeters" at some 1,000 stores nationwide, disabled workers who fill many of those jobs say they're being ill-treated by a chain that styles itself as community-minded and inclusive.Walmart told greeters around the country last week that their positions would be eliminated on April 26 in favor of an expanded, more physically demanding "customer host" role. To qualify, they will need to be able to lift 25-pound (11-kilogram) packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods.



(Rantoul--jc)  The date is Sunday June Second. The event is a Cubs versus Cardinals baseball game. The Rantoul Recreation Department is selling tickets to the game. The price tag is 130 dollars per ticket which includes transportation, ticket and box lunch.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 893-5700.


(Fithian--jc)  Are the state’s unbalanced budget, high property taxes, and the prospect of higher taxes in the future, enough reasons for people to leave Illinois? One State lawmaker says there is a trend that is troubling. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says with a proposed progressive tax, the details have not been given by the state’s democratic majority…



104th District  State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.



(Champaign--jc)  -- Will March come in like a lion or a lamb, Or what can we expect with weather starting tomorrow. Illinois State Water Survey Spokesperson Brian Kerschner talks about March temperatures to be lower than normal…



Illinois State Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner



(Washington--jc)  --. Officials from one of U-S-D-A's mission areas heard public comment on how, and how soon, they could implement policies and programs under the 2018 Farm Bill.  Rod Bain has the details…




(Springfield--jc)-- All 44 members of Republicans in the Illinois House signed on to co-sponsor House Resolution 153 on Wednesday. The resolution states opposition to any measure that would allow for a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. Decatur State Representative Dan Caulkins said he was happy to sign the resolution to oppose any graduated income tax..



Decatur State Representative Dan Caulkins


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois woman accused in the death of her 2-year-old daughter has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges. Twanka L. Davis of Decatur is charged with killing Ta'Naja Barnes through starvation and deprivation. The 21-year-old Davis on Wednesday also pleaded not guilty to endangering the life or health of Ta'Naja by depriving the child of food, water, heat and proper care. She is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.


SKOKIE, Ill. (AP) — A Wisconsin man has been indicted for allegedly causing the death of an Illinois state trooper who was helping victims in a multiple-vehicle highway crash. Cook County prosecutors accuse 61-year-old Scott Larsen of Kenosha of causing the January accident on Interstate-294 that claimed the life of 34-year-old Trooper Christopher Lambert. Authorities say Lambert was headed home when he pulled over and got out of his squad car to respond to a three-vehicle crash. A car then struck him.



(Rantoul--jc) The Community Service Center in Rantoul is the venue for a food distribution event on Saturday in Rantoul. The time of the distribution is 9am until 10-30 am. St. Pauls’ Lutheran Church of Gifford is sponsoring the event. Low income residents of Champaign county are eligible to participate. More information is found by calling the Community Service Center.

21st Annual Illinois Products Expo to be Held this Weekend in Springfield.

(Springfield--ab) --The 21st annual Illinois Products Expo will be held this weekend in Springfield.The expo features Illinois companies offering everything from pizza and salsa to lip balm and dog treats says State Department of Agriculture Spokesperson Morgan Booth...



State Ag Department Spokesperson Morgan Booth

The expo will be held in the Orr Building on the state fairgrounds. Admission is five dollars per person and includes free food samples. Wine samples will also be available for a small charge.



(Gibson City --ab)  --Notice is Hereby Given of the Meeting of the Ordinance Committee to be Held on Monday, March 4 at 7 P.M. The meeting will be Held at the City Hall Council Room at 101 E 8th Street, Gibson City. The Purpose of the Meeting will be to Discuss the Planning Commission Solar Wind Energy Ordinance and City Code 38-4-12 “Installation of Water Service Pipe.”


(Washington--ab) It’s up to the presidents, that’s the word from  Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. He was telling reporters in Washington on Monday that the American and Chinese presidents are the ones who will make the final decisions on any US-China trade deal.



USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A spokeswoman for an Illinois congressman who doubles as a Wisconsin National Guard pilot says he was exercising his free-speech rights when he criticized Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for withdrawing troops from the U.S. southern border. Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger criticized Evers on Monday for ordering Wisconsin National Guard troops out of Arizona. Kinzinger's spokeswoman says he was off duty when he made the remarks.


(Gibson City--jc)   The Gibson City Rotary Club is accepting donations of baby care items to be donated to Handles of Hope. The local group is looking for diaper bags, blankets, baby wash, to shampoo and lotion. Other items needed are diapers, wash rags, towels, rash to, bibs, pacifiers and feeding bottles. The collection site is the  Villas of Holly Brook o Melvin Street in the city. Today is the final day to bring in items.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A 30-year Illinois public schools veteran has been named Illinois state schools superintendent. Carmen Ayala (eye-YAH'-lah) was introduced Tuesday after the State Board of Education approved her hiring at its meeting in Springfield. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in the post in its 48-year history. Gov. J.B. Pritzker endorsed the choice. Ayala had been superintendent of the Berwyn North School District.



(Rantoul--jc)  A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Monday in Rantoul for the Rantoul Historical Society Museum. The event is set for 2pm on Monday at 10-40 Klein Avenue in the village.


Springfield – Local State Senator. Jason Barickman of Bloomington has filed legislation designed to reduce the some of the costs associated with hiring employees, with the goal of helping businesses to add more jobs.Barickman says Most know that Illinois has a bad reputation for businesses, which makes it hard to grow jobs. Barickman  says his bill will do the opposite, making it more affordable to hire, which would encourage job growth. Senate Bill 1539 would reform the current workers compensation system by clarifying when employers are liable for injuries, as well as tightening rules to help reduce abuse in the system.Senate Bill 1648 caps certain administrative fees related to unemployment insurance and improves the predictability in how and when the fees are paid.



(Gilman--jc) --   Country Financial and the Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau have an informational crop meeting this morning at 8 at the Farm Bureau building in Gilman. A light breakfast of rolls, juice and coffee will be served. Doug Yoder, a Country Financial crop agency manager, will discuss changes to the federal crop insurance program and markets for 2019. 


(Chicago--ab)  -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by nonprofit legal services provider Al Otro Lado, challenging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s  practice of unlawfully denying individuals access to the asylum process at ports of entry on the southern border. Raoul and the other attorneys general also argue that states will be harmed by the effects of this illegal policy. States invest their own resources to provide education, healthcare, and other services to immigrants residing within their borders, including asylum-seekers once they are in the country. State and local governments will incur the cost of providing services to asylum-seekers who suffer unnecessary trauma as a result of the “Turnback Policy.”

Joining Raoul in signing the amicus briefing were the attorneys general of 17 other states and the District of Columbia.


AURORA, Ill. (AP) — Authorities have released the audio of 911 calls reporting a shooting at an Illinois warehouse that resulted in five deaths. One caller in the Feb. 15 recordings says he's hiding in the Henry Pratt Co. facility in Aurora and pleads for help to be sent quickly. Also released Monday were recordings of police communications. One officer says: "I'm hit. I'm still in the fight." Five warehouse employees were killed and six officers were injured. The gunman also died.



What is the outlook for U.S. wheat during this marketing year? One expert says the answer may surprise you.




SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been appointed to the Council of Governors to advise the federal government on national security, disaster relief and the National Guard. Pritzker's office announced Monday that the Democrat was chosen for the 10-member bipartisan group after a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C. The council was established in 2008. It coordinates state and federal action and advises the federal government on National Guard matters.


(Paxton--jc)  The Paxton Grand Ole Flag project is gaining momentum. The 12 member group lead by local resident Denny Kingren are set to make the next step with the project. A brick walkway to the flag location will be built. Bricks will be sold for 100 dollars and some larger ones for 250 dollars. The group says the site of the flag will be northwest of the PBL Football field on Paxton’s west side near Interstate 57. WPXN news will continue to update this story as it develops.


DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler says it's cutting about 1,400 jobs at a plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that makes Jeep Cherokees _ a move the automaker says is unrelated to a major investment in the Detroit area that could add 6,500 workers. The automaker made the announcement about Belvidere on Tuesday afternoon shortly after announcing the $4.5 billion Michigan investment that includes a new Detroit assembly plant. Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says they are "two separate, distinct actions."


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Millikin University will launch a search for a new president after President Patrick White announced plans to retire next year. White said Monday he plans to step down from his post at the Decatur university effective June 30, 2020. He said he was making the announcement to allow the Board of Trustees and the university enough time to conduct a nationwide search and prepare for the transition in leadership.



(Paxton--jc)  -- You can run and help a local high school group at the same time.  

A Delta Dash 5-K is set for 9am on Saturday March 16th at Paxton Buckley Loda High School in Paxton. The local high school community service group trip over their spring break goes to the Mississippi Delta. Proceeds from the race help offset the groups costs. Those registering by Friday will also get a free T-Shirt. More information is found by contacting PBL Teacher Emily Wood.

House Lawmakers are Looking at a Bill that Would Expand Mental Health Education in Schools.

(Springfield--jc)  -- House lawmakers are looking at a bill that would expand mental health education in schools. The bill would require schools to include lessons on mental health and illness and is supported by State Representative Deb Conroy of Villa Park…



State Representative Deb Conroy of VIlla Park

The issue is in the hands of the Illinois House today.


(Milford--jc)  -- One Iroquois County school has a new school superintendent. Michelle Lindenmeyer is set to become to the school superintendent at Milford Schools. Lindenmeyer says the school is a good fit for her…


New Milford School Superintendent Michelle Lindenmeyer

She officially takes over for Doctor Dale Hastings, who is retiring at the end of the school year.



(Springfield--ba)-State Representative Tim Butler,Republican from Springfield, wants Illinois’ electoral votes to reflect the outcome of  congressional district elections. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett reports.




MACOMB, Ill. (AP) — A Western Illinois University history professor has published a book on the power dockworkers have shown over time in the struggle for racial equality and social-justice issues. Peter Cole's book is "Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area." It is published by the University of Illinois Press.



(Washington--ab)  -- The world of farm loans and credit is showing more stress. Gary Crawford has the report...





(Undated--jc)  -- One of the four state lawmakers behind a bill that would split Chicago off from the rest of Illinois says that while the measure was designed to spark conversation, support for a split could gain support if policymakers continue to push Windy City policies on the rest of the state. For decades, the rules in Chicago and Cook County have been different from the rest of the state. Rules that apply to the rest of the state, don't apply to the state's most populous city. And many of the rules in Chicago don't apply to the rest of the state. Lawmakers often do this by using language that only applies to counties with "less than 3,000,000 inhabitants." Cook County is the only county in the state with more than 3 million people.Chicago used to be the place in Illinois where the minimum wage was higher than the rest of the state and where there was a tax on plastic bags. It also has higher taxes on tobacco and gasoline and other things, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the governor's mansion, one state representatives sees such policies spreading across the state.State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said policies implemented in Chicago are being forced on the rest of the state.



(Paxton--jc)  A Ford county man posted the required bond over the weekend as he faces an accusation of threats to a family member at Gibson City Melvin Sibley High school earlier this month. Adit Bhiday of Gibson City appeared in Ford County court on Friday. He posted the required 600 dollars on the 6 Thousand Dollar bond. Bhiday faces a class 4 felony


(Rantoul--jc)  The U.S Air Force is in the middle of a 30 day statement period concerning the dissolvement of the Chanute Air Force Base Restoration Advisory Board. The base closed in 1993 and clean up and restoration efforts began at the former base and its properties in the village. Those wanting to make comments or learn more about the clean up efforts are asking to call the Air Force Public Affairs Office at 866-725-7617.



(Washington--jc)  -- Ag Secretary Perdue announced that USDA is proposing changes in the way school food service workers are hired, especially in rural areas. Stephanie Ho has the story…



(Gibson City--jc)  -- It’s still Winter and still February but one local municipality is thinking summer and its pool. The Gibson City Pool Board is set to talk about an assistant manager position, the 2019 budget and its meeting schedule for the year. The Gibson City Pool Board meets at 7 tonight in city hall.



SPRINGFIELD – Republicans in the Illinois House continue to be opposed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to overhaul the state’s income tax structure, a key element in his plan to close the state’s long-term budget imbalance. The governor wants a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to adopt a graduated income tax. That tax would  levy higher tax rates on income earned above certain thresholds. Illinois now has a flat tax of just under 5 percent. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs says the G-O-P caucus would stand united against such a plan.



(Washington--jc)  U.S. plantings and production of soybeans may take a dip this season.Gary Crawford reports…




(Paxton--jc)  -- Paxton Buckley Loda School Board members are continuing to look at the schedule for the next school year. Due to the on-going elementary Building Project, the local school board is tentatively looking at at Friday September 6th start date for school in the 2019-2020 school year. The school year would end in early June of 20-20 and winter break would be from December 23rd through January 3rd. A resolution in Springfield on the use of digital days is also another factor in setting the new school year calendar. The P-B-L school board is expected to approve the new school calendar at their March meeting.



(Springfield--ba)-The Illinois State Police and the American Legion  announce plans for the 47th Annual American Legion Youth Police Camp.  WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the story.



High Winds over the Weekend Caused Some Damage

(Undated--jc)  -- The high winds over the weekend caused some damage. On Sunday afternoon,  A sign at a Shell gas station in Bradley was knocked to the ground by the winds. Winds also caused a semi rollover on Route 34 in Henry County.  Trees and limbs were blown over throughout the area.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Colleges and universities in Illinois are struggling to combat declining enrollment that was spurred by low unemployment rates, a shrinking population, unstable funding sources and increased out-of-state competition.Data show that the state's community colleges and state universities suffered a decline of nearly 100,000 students from 2008 to 2018 .Chicago State University has seen enrollment drop by 57 percent. Shawnee, Kennedy-King and Rend Lake community colleges all have seen enrollment numbers cut in half.The bulk of the losses were seen at the community college level, which lost 75,000 students. But despite the decline in overall enrollment, more students have been graduating from community colleges in the state. Almost 57,000 students graduated in 2010, compared to about 66,000 in 2017.The University of Illinois System has seen some success over the past decade. The system's Chicago campus has seen a 23 percent growth in enrollment. The Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses are each up nearly 6,000 students.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- Gibson City leaders will look at granting an easement for a property on 9th street when they meet on tonight. Local leaders will also consider the city’s participation in the Fall Harvest Fest event for 2019 and look to establish a Tax Increment Financing District hearing. The board will hear about a project from the Gibson Rotary club  concerning a project at North Park in the city The Gibson City Council meets at 7.


(Springfield--ab)  --The Illinois Department of Transportation says the state needs to extend a capital bill to pay for much needed road and bridge repairs. Testifying at a senate hearing…I-DOT acting secretary Matt Magalis said the state’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating faster than it can be maintained.


I-Dot Acting Secretary Matt Magalis.

Lawmakers and Governor Pritzker are hoping to put together a capital plan to help pay for these needs and other projects. the question will be how to pay for it.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Police department officials say applications are available for new and experienced officers. They describe the village as a diverse and emerging community of around 13 thousand people. More information for those interested in becoming a Rantoul Police officer is found on line or by calling the office.


(Bloomington--jc) — The state's charges against the former assistant manager of finance at the city-owned arena are outside the state's statute of limitations and should be dismissed. The lawyer for Kelly W. Klein made the case for dismissal last week. Klein is among the 5 officials of the former U S Cellular Coliseum accused of mishandling finances at the business over a 10 year period. She is facing money laundering and theft charges.



(Washington--jc)  -- The farm economy is weakening, but still relatively strong, according to USDA analysts.  Gary Crawford reports.



(Mahomet--jc) Mahomet Seymour High School has a new football coach. School officials announced on Friday the hiring of Jon Adkins. The Mahomet Seymour School board is expected to approve the hire at their next meeting. Adkins would replace Keith Pogue, who was head coach of the Bulldogs before stepping down after the 20-18 season.



Champaign, Ill. (AP) — A lawmaker from central Illinois stressed the importance of efforts to legalize recreational marijuana during a community forum, saying the industry could drive economic growth.  Democratic Representative. Carol Ammons of Urbana spoke about legalizing recreational cannabis. Ammons has studied the regulation and taxation of marijuana since 2004. She says revenue from taxing marijuana could be reinvested and used to improve communities.

(Gilman--jc)  -- The decision would be put to the voters in one area school district concerning a new building for its high school. The process to choose a site for a potential new building was approved this month by Iroquois West school board members. A referendum to build a new building on the west side of Gilman, just west of the Interstate 57 exchange would be the area for the building. School leaders will continue to pursue plans and then put that issue before voters in the school district. WPXN news will continue to follow this story as it develops.


(Champaign--jc)  -- An alleged threat at a local movie theatre on Sunday, prompted officials at the theatre to shut down for a short time. The incident occurred at the A-M-C Theatre on Prospect in Champaign. The theatre was evacuated. Channel 3 reported that  police said the threat was not credible. Those attending the theatre were given a refund on their tickets.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An update on the big slide that sits on property at the Illinois State fairgrounds in Springfield.  Officials say an out-of-state buyer has purchased the giant yellow slide that's been a visitor favorite at the Illinois State Fair for more than a half-century. The Minnesota company will continue to operate the slide at the fair. No price tag on the sale was given and the sale is not expected to close until early April. The slide has been at the Illinois State Fair since 1968.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Experts and credit rating agencies have raised concerns about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to give state-owned assets such as real estates to Illinois' pension systems in lieu of paying more or making other changes. To improve funding levels for the state's pension systems, Pritzker is proposing to transfer state assets directly into those retirement funds. Pritzker’s budget proposal said a recently-created task force will “identify what assets from among the billions of dollars in state real estate and infrastructure could be directed to enhance the value of the state’s pension funds.”For some, the strategy is preferred over another tax increase, but it could end up hurting the state’s credit rating, which would make borrowing money more expensive.



(Urbana--jc)  -- A popular report that said 95 percent of the stink bug population died due to extremely cold temperatures in Illinois and surrounding states when the polar vortex gripped much of the Midwest was misleading, according to a local expert. The report, released by the National Pest Management Association, said an estimated 95 percent of stink bugs unable find a place to hide during the polar vortex may have been killed. Nick Seiter, a research assistant professor from the University of Illinois who specializes in field crop entomology, said the death rate of 95 percent is circumstantial.



(Urbana--jc)  As we close out the final days of February, the weather for the month has been around normal temperatures and precipitation. Illinois Water Survey in Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerscher say its, February as usual…


Illinois Water Survey in Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner.


(Kempton--jc)  -- Tri Point School board members are expected to approve a fuel contract extension and look at next year’s school calendar when they meet tonight in monthly session. Also at tonight’s board meeting, school leaders will discuss the upgrade of the food to farm kitchen. The Tri Point school board meets at 7 tonight in Kempton.



(Washington--jc)  -- The 20-19 crops will be planted soon this Spring. One economist with the United States Department of Agriculture takes a look at the 20-19 crop..  U-S-D-A Chief Economist Rob Johansson has the numbers…


U-S-D-A Chief Economist Rob Johansson


Illinois Governor  J.B. Pritzker is Formally Asking Lawmakers to Shut Down Illinois' Private School Scholarship Program

(Springfield--ba)-Illinois Governor  J.B. Pritzker is formally asking lawmakers to shut down Illinois’ private school scholarship program and pour more into public schools. WPXN’s Braedon’s Arnett has the story.    



(Paxon--ab) The School building project continues in the Paxton Buckley Loda school district. The process is going as planned says P-B-L School  Superintendent Cliff McClure ...



P-B-L School Superintendent Ciff McClure



(Springfield-jc) New Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker has proposed a nearly $39 billion fiscal 2020 budget that he said will serve as a bridge to “a stable fiscal future” for the financially shaky state. His hope is then to change the income tax system in the state.   House Republicans expressed surprise that the proposal relies so heavily on policies that have not achieved a fiscal responsible goal…

104th District State Representative Mike Maron of Fithian says he has concerns…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian


105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington gave the governor a positive on the speech but wonders where the money will come from for proposed budget…



105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


(Gibson City--jc) Gibson City Melvin Sibley school board members are expected to approve field trips for a Spanish 4 class and the music department when they meet on Monday night. The FFA has received a donation from Alliance Grain in the amount of 609 dollars. The board will vote on extending the bus contract with Illinois Central School  Bus company. That contract would be for two years. The Gibson City Melvin Sibley School board meets on Monday night at 6-15.



(Rantoul--jc)  Rantoul police are seeking the public’s help with a report of guns fired and vehicle property damage. Officials say shots were fired in the 14 Hundred Block of Harper Drive in the village. The incident occurred on Saturday February 16th. Anyone with information is asked to call Champaign County Crimestoppers or Rantoul police.


ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A Republican in the Illinois General Assembly says all elected officials in the state should be required to wear body cameras while conducting government business. Rep. John Cabello of Machesney Park tells the Register Star in Rockford the intent of the bill he introduced is to reduce corruption at the state and local levels. He points to the corruption of public officials in Chicago and state lawmakers getting into trouble "with bribes and so on and so forth."


(Springfield--jc)  -- The sponsor of a bill to start a pilot program to tax drivers by the mile scrapped the idea this week after public backlash on social media. One idea for new revenue floated by State Representative Marcus Evans, Democrat from -Chicago, was a pilot program for a 2.1-cent tax per mile driven in place of the existing motor fuel tax. Evans said he heard from drivers statewide through social media and scrapped the bill.




With FFA week being this week, we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters.  Allison Wessels from Cissna Park High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Will Shook



 We were also able to talk with Taylor Talbert from Iroquois West High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with Armstrong  FFA member Gabby Hudson



We were also able to talk with Lexie Wilken from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with PBL FFA member Mikayla Jones



We were also able to talk with Taylor Duringer from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter 



We were also able to talk with St. Joe Ogden FFA member Abby Schluter





(Hoopeston--jc) It was a standing room only crowd at the Hoopeston Area school board meeting last night. The issue is one teacher at the Vermilion county school did not stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Concerned parents, a community members spoke at the board meeting to air their opinion on the issue.  The Hoopeston Area school district issued a one paragraph statement that talked about the rights of employees and students when it comes to speech freedoms. School leaders say nothing further would be released to the public on the issue. Some at the meeting talked about the right to opinions while others contend they want more on the topic at the next school board meeting.  



(Champaign--jc) Another shooting in Champaign last night. Police were called to the Town Center apartments on North Neil Street. Police are continuing their investigation after being on the scene for several hours.


(Springfield--ab) The Illinois Department of Human Services says more than 10 thousand people have called the state’s opioid hotline…seeking help for addiction. The helpline was created to help battle the opioid epidemic and has resources for those struggling says D-H-S spokesperson Dani Kirby.



D-H-S Spokesperson Dani Kirby

D-H-S is also expanding the warm hand-off program which connects recovery specialists directly with patients while they are in the hospital after an overdose. The helpline number is: 1-833-2-find help or visit helpline il dot org.


(Springfield--ab)  --New legislation makes sure students are given comprehensive lessons on what constitutes “consent.”the bill is co-sponsored by State Representative Karin Villa of west Chicago, who says sex education curriculum should include a discussion on exactly what consent means.



State Representative Karin Villa of West Chicago

The bill applies to students in sixth through 12th grades.


(Washington--ab) The  U-S-D-A is seeking farmer input for the Agricultural Resource Management -- or ARM -- survey. Stephanie Ho reports




(Springfield--jc)  -- There’s no catchy name for the next statewide construction bill, like the previous iteration Illinois Jobs Now from ten years ago. Governor. J.B. Pritzker wants one. Democratic majorities say there’s up to $15 billion needed just for highways alone over the next decade and they’re looking for ways to pay for it. State Senator Andy Manar, Democrat from Bunker Hill, and  State Senator Martin Sandoval, Democrat from Chicago, plan a statewide tour to learn more about local infrastructure needs. They’ll be in Chicago, the suburbs, several stops in central Illinois and a stop in the Metro East in the coming weeks.


(Onarga--jc) -- Water bills to help pay a loan are going up in one area town. Onarga village leaders gave the go-ahead to raise from 10 to 14 dollars per month inside the local water bills to pay off an E-P-A loan. Letters on the issue are being sent to residents and a timeline for the raise will be decided later this Spring.



(Gibson City--jc)   The Gibson City Rotary Club is accepting donations of baby care items to be donated to Handles of Hope. The local group is looking for diaper bags, blankets, baby wash, to shampoo and lotion. Other items needed are diapers, wash rags, towels, rash to, bibs, pacifiers and feeding bottles. The collection site is the  Villas of Holly Brook o Melvin Street in the city. Items will be taken through Wednesday February 27th.


(Illinois--ba)-Illinois' six Catholic bishops are warning against proposed changes to the state's abortion laws. Braedon Armett reports.



(Washington--ab)  -Old Man Winter is not expected to loosen his hold on most of the country, at least for several weeks. Gary Crawford reports.



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Gave his Budget Address and it Doesn't Look Good for Downstate Illinois

(Springfield--jc)  --Illinois Governor JB Pritzker boasted his budget includes “humble, honesty and some bold optimism.The governor says the state faces a more than 3 Billion dollar deficit along with 15 Billion Dollars in unpaid bills. Governor Pritzker says he has some ideas to turn that around…



The governor, in his state of the state address on Wednesday, says some of the solutions include legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and sports betting. The governor also wants to move from a flat tax to a graduated income tax system…



Reaction from state lawmakers to the budget address from Governor Pritzker. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says the governor  is using a playbook of the past.



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.


106th district State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the positive is the promise of the governor to work together, but wonders how the state can pay for all the programs…



106 District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Parkland College Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a 3.48 percent tuition increase beginning the summer 2019 term. Additionally, trustees agreed to increase Parkland's technology fee from $12 to $14 per credit hour, and approved course fee adjustments for several individual programs.The $5 tuition rate increase applies to Parkland's Tier One academic programs, which comprise the majority of its degree and certificate offerings. Under the new Tier One increase, District 505 residents will pay a total of $171 per credit hour in tuition and fees. Tuition rates remained unchanged for the college's high-cost Tier Two programs such as Aviation, Ford ASSET, Case New Holland Technician, and select Health Professions programs.



(Washington DC--ab)  An expert says when you are working with a paid tax preparer, there are things you should do to protect yourself. Gary Crawford has more.




(Fisher--jc)  This is National F F A week. The current Illinois F F A President is from Fisher. F-F-A President Sophia Hortin talks about the passion for agriculture and her start as a greenhand at Fisher High school…



Illinois F F A President Sophia Hortin of Fisher


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Area high schools will compete in the 2019 Parkland-ICTM Regional High School Math Contest, to be held on Saturday  at Parkland College. The contest begins at 9:15 a.m., with an awards ceremony at 2 p.m. Approximately 450 students, representing 18 area high schools, are expected to attend. Winners will advance to the state finals, scheduled for May 4 at the University of Illinois. This will be the 44th year that Parkland has hosted the regional contest.


(Crescent City--ab) World day of Prayer is March first this year, and there is an event in Crescent City, Austin Burklund has the details.




(Springfield--ab) The Senate’s task force on sexual harassment and discrimination is highlighting past accomplishments and future goals. The task force made several recommendations last year as the me-too movement gained steam…and helped pass several new laws. That includes ethics reforms and addressing the backlog of sexual harassment claims in the legislature. But Co-chair, Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake, says more must be done.



Bush says that includes a bill requiring all hotels and casinos to adopt anti-harassment policies and have some sort of panic button for employees.



With FFA week being this week, we were able to talk with several students from area FFA Chapters. Garrett Wright from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on today.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Bethany Mussick



  We were also able to talk with PBL High School FFA member Mikayla Jones 



We were also able to talk with Rantoul Township High School FFA member Rachel Klimas



We were also able to talk with Iroquois West High School FFA member Klayton Koloski 



We were also able to talk with Cissna Park FFA member Abby Kaeb



 We were also able to talk with St. Joe Ogden FFA member Mallory Ames 



We were also able to talk with Armstrong FFA member Jared Myler




(Gifford--jc) --  Gifford School Board members are looking at budget items for the next fiscal year. Jay Smith has started working on the new budget.  Also at last night’s board meeting, the Gifford school board hired Matt Clements as Girls Basketball Coach and Melissa Adkins as Girls Softball Coach. Tracy Gernentz was also hired as an assistant Track Coach. The board also approved a 60 month copier agreement with Watts Copy Systems.



(Springfield--ab) Grammy award winning duo Dan and Shay are coming to the Illinois State Fair. Dan and Shay will play on the grandstand stage on Sunday, August 11th says fair spokesperson Morgan Booth. Ticket prices will range from 25 to 55 dollars.



Last week the state fair announced Pentatonix would play on Wednesday August 14th. Booth says they will hopefully reveal more new acts each Thursday.


(Iroquois County--jc)  An Iroquois County man was sentenced to 44 years in prison in the murder of Milford restaurant owned Jesse Clintora. The Ford County Press reports that Randy White  was sentenced during a pre trial hearing on Tuesday. With the guilty plea, charges of first degree murder and burglary were dismissed.


(Kankakee--jc)  -- Kankakee County authorities are seeking information about a Kankakee man wanted on an order of protection with a prior domestic battery. Police say they are searching for 31 year old Robert Boyd. He is described as 6 foot tall, weighing 160 pounds. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Kankakee County Sheriff’s office.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- The sign up for summer softball and baseball is coming soon to one local recreation department. Rantoul Rec Department officials say sign up takes place on March first. Information about softball and baseball in Rantoul will be released over the next several days More information is found by contacting the recreation department



A group focused on creating jobs in Illinois is worried about the speed that Governor J.B. Pritzker is moving toward new taxes, more spending, and new costs for downstate businesses.  not just the minimum wage, although that is a big part of the concern. The group Ideas Illinois said it’s worried about the speed at which Pritzker is pushing to change the state’s business climate and spend more state money. The group’s Greg Baise said there is a real worry that Democratic lawmakers are lining up to pass two more tax increases over the next two years. And not cut spending. Baise says the thought from Democrats is a temporary tax will get them through this “rough patch” and then  the progressive tax will fix their problem. Baise believes the Chicago area will do well under the plan, but downstate Illinois may suffer.


(Washington--ab) Spring crop growers can now select the Multi-County Enterprise Unit as part of their crop insurance coverage for acreage in two counties within the same state. Rod Bain reports



It's National FFA Week. Students From Area FFA Chapters Talk About Their Activities

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Census Bureau says it's replacing its old technique for shielding data with a method that's state of the art in protecting basic personal information. The chief scientist for the Census Bureau, John Abowd, says an internal team at the agency found that 2010 information about age, gender, location, race and ethnicity was potentially vulnerable, though he says no hacking is known to have occurred. Abowd says the privacy shield for the 2020 headcount will counter the growing skills of hackers.


(Springfield--jc)  A new bill would prohibit state lawmakers from serving as the leader of a state political party while in office, but it wouldn't affect House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has come under fire by Republicans and some Democrats for the power he has as the longest-serving state legislative leader and his control over campaign finances as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.The state's other legislative leaders have term limits. There are leadership term limits in the Senate rules. House Republicans also have leader limits, but not in the entire House. Asked why there are no limits in his caucus, Madigan declined to answer.Madigan has been House speaker for all but two years since 1983. Lawmakers have filed legislation for several years to set term limits for legislative leaders. There have also been constitutional amendments proposed to limit terms for legislative leaders.


CHICAGO (AP) — Public housing authorities across Illinois are receiving a combined $2.7 million in federal grants to help residents find jobs and become more financially independent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the grants are part of $74 million being distributed across the country. HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency program helps local housing authorities hire service coordinators who work with public housing residents and people who use rental subsidies.



(Rantoul--jc)  - Personnel will be the topic of a special board meeting for the Rantoul Township High School Board later this week. The board will meet on Wednesday at 6pm. Board members are expected to go into executive session as the meeting comes to order.



(Springfield--jc)  WIth the Illinois House passing a new minimum wage measure and with the likelihood that new Governor JB Pritzker will sign the measure into law, more reaction from local legislators. 106th District Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has concerns…



106th District Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City


104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian also expressed concerns…



104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law. Governor Pritzker delivers his budget address on Wednesday.



(Rantoul--jc)  -- An accident in the southbound lanes of Interstate 57 closed traffic for about an hour, early Friday evening. Police say a semi and a second vehicle collided in the southbound lanes near Ludlow on I-57 around 6pm. Occupants received minor injuries, but the accident caused issues with nearby power lines. Officials shut down the Interstate for about an hour and re-rerouted traffic through Rantoul and Paxton to re-set the lines. Traffic was back to normal around 7 on Friday night.



Over 670,000 FFA students will be participating in FFA Week across the country. WPXN was able to talk with 30 students from area FFA Chapters. Brenna Ferguson from Cissna Park High School’s FFA Chapter talks about what is going on this week.



We were also able to talk with Fisher FFA member Will Shook



Adam Crites from Rantoul Township High School’s FFA Chapter



PBL FFA member Jade Miles



Taylor Talbert from Iroquois West High School’s FFA Chapter 



 Armstrong  FFA member Nick Cannon



Shelbie Butler from GCMS High School’s FFA Chapter 



 St. Joe Ogden FFA member Mallory Ames




(Shelby County--jc)  Shelby County is the latest area to see fake 20 dollar bills. The bills are printed as “promotional only.” Shelby County officials  say anyone receiving one the fake bills are asked to call the office at 217-774-3491



(Champaign County--jc)-Rantoul residents interested in getting an inside look at how local law enforcement works are invited to participate in the Champaign County Citizen Police Academy. The academy, which meets Thursday nights from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. for 10 weeks beginning April 4, will cover crime prevention, community based policing, drugs, gangs, DUI enforcement, citizen-police contacts, use of force, firearms orientation, crime scene investigation and more. More information is found by calling the Rantoul Police department at  893-5605.


URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request to exclude evidence about a cadaver-sniffing dog from the trial of a former University of Illinois physics student accused of killing a Chinese scholar in 2017. U.S. District Judge James Shadid ruled Friday that prosecutors can present evidence from McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Bruketta's dog Sage. The judge found both Sage and Bruketta to be reliable.The FBI says the canine "possibly indicated an alert" in the bathroom of Brendt Christensen's off-campus apartment in Urbana. Prosecutors are trying to prove Christensen kidnapped and killed 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. The scholar from China is presumed dead, but her body hasn't been found. Christensen faces the death penalty if convicted at his trial, which is scheduled to begin in April.


(Urbana--jc)  --Champaign Urbana Public Health District officials have reported 2 additional cases of measles. One case was of a child that attended Urbana Early Childhood school, the fourth case is pending. All four measle case infectious periods are over. Local Health officials remain concerned over the disease. Efforts remain to get the public vaccinated for the disease. Those not sure of their own vaccine records or that of their family should contact their healthcare provider.



(Rantoul--ab) Reaction is rolling in from local governments on how the minimum wage bill effects local municipalities. Rantoul village administrator Scott Eisenhauer says it even impacts how the village will hire workers for the Rantoul pool.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer



(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School district and the Paxton Park District will extend their intergovernmental agreement on the use of PBL facilities. The only change is what gyms will be used for Park District indoor sports says PBL superintendent Cliff McClure.



PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure


(Sringfield-jc)  -- Illinois finished 42nd in a new study by the Tax Foundation ranking of which states have the most business-friendly unemployment insurance tax structures.The state’s ranking remained unchanged from its 2018 ranking, according to the foundation’s analysis, which is part of a wider study titled “2019 State Business Tax Climate Index.”All states and the District of Columbia have unemployment insurance tax systems, which are federal-state programs that fund benefits to newly laid-off workers. Levies on employers fund the systems.In the foundation’s analysis, those state tax systems that have low minimum and maximum rates, stick closely to the federal taxable pay levels, and don’t impose more surtaxes or additional benefits were rated the highest..



(Chicago--jc)  -- Illinois’ political leaders want the 25,000 jobs that Amazon was going to bring to a second headquarters in New York, but some progressives don't want the company here.In a letter from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, they asked Amazon to reconsider the Second City for a second headquarters.The company announced Thursday that it would not expand in New York City, instead opting to distribute the jobs between its existing tech hubs. A number of groups that were fighting HQ2 in NYC thought the company shouldn’t get tax breaks to make money in their city.



(Gibson City--jc) --  The Gibson Area Hospital Auxiliary is hosting a blood drive today in Gibson City. The event goes from noon to 5:30 p.m, at the First Presbyterian Church. Persons donating blood are asked to bring their blood donor card or photo identification. Donors at the blood drive will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two $10 gift certificates to the Gibson Area Hospital Gift Shop or one of two $25 Gibson Bucks gift certificates sponsored by the GAH Auxiliary. Donating blood takes about one hour.


Illinois House Votes for $15 Minimum Wage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A $15-an-hour minimum wage is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker after the House approved the six-year plan. Thursday's 69-41 vote in the House almost guarantees it will become law. State Representative Charlie Meier of Okawville fears this  will mean the loss of jobs in downtown state Illinois…



State Representative Charlie Meier of Okawville

Chicago area State Representative Celine Villuanueva says the measure will give some Illinoisans a livable wage…



State Representative Celine Villuaneva of Chicago

The governor  has pledged to sign it before Wednesday. That's when he unveils his first annual budget plan. The measure would increase the state's $8.25 minimum wage to $15 in 2025.


(Paxton--jc)  -- An investigation into the death of an Elliott man who was found deceased on May 8th of last year in a home fire, is now considered a homicide investigation.  Elliott resident Jeremy Turner was found deceased, by the local fire department at his home. A fire had destroyed the home. A Ford County coroners jury ruled the death was consistent with a homicide. The incident remains an open investigation for the Ford County Sheriff’s office and the Ford County Coroner’s office. WPXN news will continue to update this story as more official news becomes available.


CHICAGO (AP) — Odds still favor the eventual construction of Barack Obama's $500 million presidential museum and library in a park along Chicago's lakeshore. But it's no longer a sure thing in the face of a formidable legal challenge by a parks-advocacy group. A judge hears arguments Thursday on a city motion to toss the group's lawsuit that argues the project violates laws barring development in lakeside parks. A ruling for Protect Our Parks could signal the Obama Presidential Center is in real trouble.


DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Millikin University's new $5 million baseball stadium in central Illinois won't be complete in time for the 2019 season due to weather delays.The Decatur university planned to open the stadium in time for this spring's season. But Millikin President Patrick White says a rainy November and the recent cold weather slowed stadium construction. It's now scheduled to be completed in August.


(Urbana--jc)  A Champaign County man is facing child pornograhpy charges. The News Gazette reports that   a former Monticello schools employee appeared in court on Thursday. The judge in the case ordered 39 year old William Bell of St Joseph,  to remain locked up until his early March trial.The case will be heard by U-S District Judge Sue Myerscough. The March 5th trial will take place in Springfield The charges say Bell used a home computer to device or send  visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct..


(Springfield--ba)-The Illinois department of human services says more than 10 thousand people have called the state’s opioid hotline…seeking help for addiction. The helpline launched in December of 2017…aiming to connect people struggling with opioids and other drugs to treatment options. D-H-S’ Dani Kirby says it’s been a useful resource for thousands of people.



D-H-S’ Dani Kirby



(Buckley--jc)  The 20-19 St John’s School of Buckley Carnival, Chicken Dinner and Auction is set for Sunday from 3-30 until 7pm. This is the main fundraiser for the school and spokesperson Kari Stachura says the dollars raised helps Christian education at St Johns-Buckley…



St John’s School of Buckley event spokesperson Kari Stachura.


(Urbana--jc)- A teen from Rantoul was sentenced to 7 years in juvenile prison for his role in a break in at the Rantoul  Rural King in November of last year. Judge Heidi Ladd sentenced the 14 year old on Thursday in Champaign County court. A second teen and  24 year old Henry Boykins of Rantoul also received a similar prison sentence.



CHAMPAIGN Ill. — Parkland College Industrial Technology's welding lab has been recognized as an Accredited Test Facility by the American Welding Society, one of only four community colleges in Illinois to hold the designation.   Through a rigorous documentation and site inspection process, the AWS provides ATF accreditation for facilities, personnel, and equipment to test and qualify welders. For more information, visit


CHICAGO (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a 36-year-old man who was linked to the theft of 27 handguns and six assault rifles from a train at a Norfolk Southern rail yard in Chicago. The U.S. attorney's office says in a Thursday statement that Cameron Battiste was found guilty on Wednesday of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He wasn't charged with the gun thefts, though prosecutors said there's evidence he was involved.



(Buckley---jc)  -- It’s the annual fundraiser for one service group today in Buckley. The Buckley Sportsmen’s Club has its annual fish fry later today at the Buckley

American Legion. Fish, cole slaw, & french fries.  Carryouts and all-you-can-eat dine in starts at 5 this afternoon. Money raised goes to community projects for the local club.



WASHINGTON — Local 15th district Congressman John Shimkus  voted Thursday in support of the final Fiscal Year 2019 spending agreement. Shimkus says  Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would give President Trump just $1 for the border wall. The deal provides 1 point 4 Billion dollars for the wall. Shimkus called the issue a huge win for border patrol agents. The measure is now in the hands of the president.



House lawmakers are discussing a shared parenting bill for cases of divorce. The legislation requires courts to presume that both mom and dad should have equal time with their children when they get divorced. If a judge deviates from a 50-50 split, they have to issue a written statement explaining why says Illinois Fathers for Equality president Chad Loudermilk.



The idea is to prevent a parent from being alienated from their child. The judge would consider other factors including where the kid goes to school, distance between parent’s homes and if there are any safety concerns like abuse.



(Chicago--jc)   While the chief sponsor of a resolution urging Congress to make Chicago the country’s 51st state doesn’t expect it to go very far, he does expect it to spur conversation. A Chicago state representative who’s also running to be Chicago mayor is willing to have that talk. State Representative Brad Halbrook, a Republican from Shelbyville, says his House Resolution 101 is getting a lot of attention. Halbrook adds that people from across Illinois are texting, emailing and on social media to comment on the issue



(Undated--jc)  Some more money will be coming to local cities and towns. WPXN’s Austin Burklund has the story…




(Paxton--jc)  Students wanting to learn about the high school experience have the opportunity next week. Pre-registration is set for February 20th at the Paxton Buckley Loda commons area between the high school and Junior high school. 8th grade students and their families are invited to attend. Course information, graduation requirements and college course information will be discussed. More information is found by contacting the school in Paxton at 217-379-4331


Illinois House Committee Approved Plan to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 over Six Years.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois House committee has approved a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 over six years. The Democratic-controlled Labor and Commerce Committee's 19-10 vote on Wednesday along party lines sets up a floor vote as early as Thursday. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on the issue and told lawmakers he wants to sign the law before his Feb. 20 budget address. A vote on the issue is expected today in Springfield


(Williamson County--jc)   Even if lawmakers pass a bill that bans assault weapons in Illinois, a state's attorney in southern Illinois says he won't enforce it.Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti says State Senator Julie Morrison's bill to ban common firearms would turn law-abiding citizens in his county into felons. Zanotti says, currently,   a large number of people in his county that have these weapons. They all would be felons under the proposal. Senate Bill 107, introduced last month, would prohibit a range of rifles, pistols and shotguns and require every such weapon in the state to be registered with the Illinois State Police. Owners would pay a $25 fee for that registration. A person found in possession of one of the prohibited weapons without registration coce a Class 3 felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a $25,000 fine.



(Champaign--jc) --  The numbers are in for the month of January. Just a little colder than normal was the result. It sure did not feel just a little cold for several days last month. Illinois State Water Survey Spokesperson Brian Kerscher has the data…



Illinois Water Survey of Champaign Spokesperson Brian Kerschner.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker isn't sharing his plans for balancing the state's budget ahead of an address next week, but lawmakers and his administration have given some clues about what taxpayers can expect. The new administration noted in a report last week that the upcoming budget is expected to be $3.2 billion out of balance. Pritzker is going to have to balance that with big asks from state employees wanting raises, billions in increased spending requested by K-12 schools and more than $300 million additional money public universities are requesting.A separate report from Pritzker’s Budget and Innovation Transition Committee mentioned service taxes and other possibilities for raising revenue.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 33-year-old woman is in critical condition after she and her 10-year-old daughter were abducted in Missouri and driven to Illinois before they managed to escape. Police in Illinois said in a news release that 39-year-old Leslie Austin kidnapped the woman and their child Tuesday night in Jefferson City, Missouri. The woman was shot multiple times during the abduction. Law enforcement pursued Austin into Illinois, when the woman and girl were able to escape.


(Washington--jc)--  The final look at 2018 U.S. corn production contributed to adjustments in U-S-D-A's latest domestic and global supply and demand estimates. Rod Bain has the story…




(Kankakee--jc) Kankakee County authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding a fugitive Kankakee County police are looking for 21 year old Robert Bray. He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing around 135 pounds. He is wanted for possession of a controlled substance among other charges. Anyone with information is asked to call Kankakee County Crimestoppers at 815-93-CRIME.


(Piper City--ab)  -- Assistance is available next week in the Piper City area for those needing help with the completion of their Property Tax Exemption and Freeze forms. The Ford County Public Health Department workers will be at the Piper City Library from 2 until 3pm on February 19th. Those attending are asked to bring those forms and 2018 income information for assistance with the Property Exemption and Freeze application. If a resident is 65 years of age or older or are over 16 years of age and disabled, they may be eligible for the Benefit Access Program. If a citizens annual income is less than $27, 610 for a one-person household or $36,635 for a two person household.


The Bellflower Country Opry Show will have Rick Flessner as their Special Guest on Saturday February 16th. Doors open at 6pm with the show starting at 7pm. The Bellflower Lions Club will be serving an all you can eat Pancakes and Sausage dinner from 4:30-7pm.


(Iroquois County--jc) Two area hospitals have called off their merger. A statement from Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka and Riverside Hospital in Kankakee on Wednesday stated the two entities entered into a diligence process in September of last year to explore the possibility of a merger. The statement said the merger has been call off by the two hospitals. Iroquois Memorial Hospital has been serving the area for more than a century. Riverside is based in Kankakee with offices in Watseka and Gilman.


(Champaign--jc)  Champaign County authorities continue to investigate gunshots in the city last night. Channel 3 reports that the gunshots came in the area of John Street and Mattis Avenue around 7 last night. A crime scene unit was on the scene and police were investigating some apartments in the area late Wednesday evening.

No one was injured.



(Springfield--jc)  While business groups are seeking changes to a minimum wage proposal that passed the Illinois Senate last week, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is urging the Illinois House to pass it as it is. The bill would raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars. The governor says its the product of many talks…



Illinois Governor JB Pritzker



(Washington--jc)  It's not cold and stormy everywhere. Stephanie Ho talks with U-S-D-A Meteorologist Brad Rippey…


(Springfield--jc)  Despite concerns from many business owners, the Illinois House is set to consider legislation today to raise the minimum wage. Democrat Will Guzzrdi of Chicago says the increase will be good the state’s economy…



State Representative Will Guzzardi of Chicago.

Karen Conn is C-E-O of Conn Hospitality. Conn says the minimum wage increase cause  them to layoff employees and possibly close their doors…



Conn Hospitality Owner and C-E-O Karen Conn

A vote is expected today. The measure has passed the Illinois Senate and the governor says, if passed, he will sign the minimum wage act into law.



(Undated--jc)  Those with SNAP benefits have some good news this morning. The Illinois Department of Human Services announced on Wednesday that March SNAP benefits will be available earlier. I-D-H-S Spokesperson Meghan Powers says the announcement will make the process better…



I-D-H-S Spokesperson Meghan Powers.  The potential for a government shutdown was the reason for the decision from the JB Pritzker administration. Officials say the benefits will be loaded into SNAP recipients accounts on March First.



(Gibson City--jc)  A fundraiser for the Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School Dance team is set for Saturday night at 6-30 at the high school. A free will donation soup supper takes place from 5 til 6 Saturday afternoon. Several community leaders will perform as dance partners in a ‘dancing with the stars’ competition. Three awards will be given. The G-C-M-S dance team will also perform.


MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — A boom being used at an interstate bridge over the Mississippi River near Moline, Illinois has fallen into the water. Iowa Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday the agency is working to remove the lattice boom of the crane working at the Interstate 74 bridge site. IDOT has not said what caused the boom to fall. Construction on the bridge began in July 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020.


(Buckley--jc)  --St. John’s Lutheran School of Buckley is hosting its annual chicken dinner, carnival and auction is set for 3:30 to 7 p.m.on Sunday The carnival and auction begin at 3:30 p.m., with the chicken dinner served from 4 to 7 p.m. Dinner tickets cost $10 and can be purchased in advance by calling the school.  The event is the school’s main fundraiser each year.

The Illinois House Could Vote on a Plan this Week to Increase the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House could vote on a plan this week to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but inflation will largely negate the impact for low-income workers by the time the pay floor reaches that level in 2025. It's no windfall for more than 1 million Illinois workers who rely on the minimum wage. An Associated Press analysis found that assuming the current 2.1 percent rate of inflation, by 2025, $15 will only be worth $10.46.



(Springfield--ab) State officials and American Legions  honored Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday on Tuesday. At an annual wreath laying ceremony at Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Governor JB Pritzker said Lincoln’s leadership and legacy leaves lessons to guide Illinois forward today.



The governor pledged to honor lincoln’s legacy of action and compassion, and to listen to the opinions of others.


(Paxton--ab) The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board is meeting today with a myriad of items to be discussed. The local board will discuss the amended budget for financial year 2019. Other items include approving teachers that have acquired tenure and affirm resignations and new volunteer coaches.



(Roberts--ab) Roberts village president Rick Flessner is resigning at the end of April 2020.  Flessner says his best memories involve fixing the water problems of the village…



Roberts Village President Rick Flessner.


(Urbana--jc)  A Champaign County man was sentenced to 4 years probation on Tuesday after pleading guilty to inappropriately touching a teen in the back seat of a van.  The News Gazette reports that 21 year old Ronnell Throw of Rantoul plead guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was arrested on December 12th as police found him in a van with a 13 year old girl.



(Coles County--jc)  Some land once owned by the 16th president was sold on Tuesday. WPXN ‘s Austin Burklund has the story…




(Farmer City--jc)  The winter winds continue to blow, but one local racetrack is getting ready for the 2019 season. Officials with the Farmer City raceway are reaching out to area drivers to reserve a pit stall for the upcoming season. Those interested in getting a pit stall at the Farmer City Raceway are asked to find more information on the raceway’s facebook page or contact track official Lance Spieker.


(Pekin--jc) --  On February 24,the Pekin Amateur Hockey Association and Peoria Youth Hockey Association will join forces to host a benefit for the family of fallen Trooper Christopher Lambert, who was struck and killed in the line of duty on January 12th The hockey associations are hosting an event on the 24th at the Pekin Memorial Ice Arena in Pekin. The area youth hockey teams will be participating in various hockey scrimmage games upon the ice for the public to enjoy.  Various gift baskets for raffle, as well as a 50/50 drawing, will be featured at the benefit. Admission is by donation.


AURORA, Ill. (AP) — Snow and strong wind gusts in northern Illinois forced the cancellation of flights at Chicago's two major airports. By Tuesday evening 335 flights had been canceled at O'Hare International Airport. The Chicago Department of Aviation reports 103 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport. Delays at both airports were averaging more than 15 minutes. The intense gusts prompted a wind advisory for much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana that will remain in effect until early today. Those with travel plans for the two Chicago airports are asked to check on flight availability and delays.


(Rantoul--ab) One issue before the Rantoul Village board is a property buying program. Rantoul  Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer says it's a win-win.



Rantoul Village Administrator Scot Eisenhauer



(Champaign County--jc)  -- It’s down to a lottery when it comes to a contract for solar energy projects in Champaign County. The Illinois Power Agency is expected to make its decision today. Areas in Champaign county up for a solar type project are near Ludlow, Homer, Sidney and two near St Joseph.


(Undated--ab)--  Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau will sponsor two Viewpoint Breakfast Meetings.  The first meeting will be held on Thursday, February 21, at Happy Days Diner in Roberts.  The second meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 26, at the Farm Bureau in Gilman. The meetings will begin at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast followed by discussion on the topics members wish to talk about.  Viewpoint is the name given to Farm Bureau’s grassroots effort to raise issues and concerns from members. There is no charge for member to attend and reservations are not needed.



(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB. Pritzker created two new groups to study ways to improve the state's underfunded pension systems.One will focus on the consolidation of more than 650 local pension funds for police officers and firefighters. The other will look at selling state-owned real estate and infrastructure assets to improve the balance sheets of the state's five pension systems.The Pension Consolidation Feasibility Taskforce will look at the 656 police and fire pension funds. Those funds manage $170 billion in assets and have liabilities of more than $355 billion.



(Springfield--jc) --  Changes in the Illinois House on the minimum wage issue? Austin Burklund has the story…



(Paxton--jc)  -- The Ford County circuit clerk’s office could get an additional worker. Ford County leaders are set to meet next Tuesday at 9am. The issue goes back to the Ford County Personnel committee. Local leaders took no action on the position at their monthly meeting this week. The full county board could get a recommendation about the position when they meet in March.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker has announced a new criminal justice reform effort. Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton will lead the new justice, equity and opportunity initiative which she says will examine at the issues from several angles…



Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.

Could Indiana Get Sports Betting Before Illinois?

(Indianapolis--jc)  -- Could Indiana get sports betting before Illinois. A shake-up of Indiana's gambling laws being debated could see two new casinos being built and allow legalizing sports betting to start as early as next year. The proposal cleared a state Senate committee last week and comes as Indiana's 13 casinos have largely seen years of declining revenue amid increased competition from surrounding states and tribal casinos. Under Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois is a state considering legalized sports betting. The issue is a topic in Springfield during this current sessions


(Gibson City--ab) A Gibson City man was arrested early Monday Morning around midnight. For threatening a Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School student. Adit P Bhiday was charged with a class 4 felony charge of disorderly conduct or making a threat against a person or school. GCMS superintendent Jeremy Darnell and officers of both Ford County and Gibson City conducted security checks of all three schools in the GCMS district. Bond was set at 6 thousand dollars and a preliminary hearing was set for March First.


(Roberts--ab) Roberts village president Rick Flessner is stepping away from his post in April 2020. Rick explains his decision is about travel.



After that April 2020 date Trustee Matt Vaughan will take over. He is shadowing Flessner to learn the position up until April.


CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued an executive order creating a new office that will address what he says is a broken justice system. The Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative announced Monday will be headed by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and is expected to look at criminal sentencing, education, poverty and the link among the three. Pritzker noted the state spends roughly $1.3 billion a year for the Department of Corrections, which houses about 43,000 inmates in a system made for 32,000.

(Chicago--ba)-Some Illinois Lawmakers want to get out in front of a civic group’s proposal to tax retirement. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett reports.



(Gibson City--jc) Gibson City Police say no injuries occurred during a minor accident between a train and vehicle. The accident happened around 3 Monday afternoon. The roadway was blocked for several hours as local police completed their investigation.



(Springfield--jc)--  A proposal in Springfield requires Illinois Public Colleges and Universities to automatically admit students who are in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, so long as they meet the school’s academic standards. University of Illinois Chicago’s Kevin Pitts says some students may not be prepared…



U of I Chicago’s Kevin Pitts

Supporters say the free college will boost minority enrollment and keep more Illinois students at Illinois Schools.



(Champaign--ab)  --The Illinois State Police, assisted by the Champaign Police Department, conducted an Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement  Bar ID Check detail over the weekend. The purpose of the ACE program is to reduce and deter underage drinking in Illinois. 16 citations were issued for possession or purchase  of alcohol by a minor. During the detail, bar checks were conducted at five bar locations and a Streep Sweep in Champaign County. Citations were given to the Red Lion, Kams, Joe’s Brewery, Brothers Bar and Grill and the Illini Inn. No street citations were handed out.



(Washington--ab)  -- The latest round of U-S-D-A reports included a smaller than expected number for winter wheat seedings. Gary Crawford reports...




SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials say the state had 30 properties added to the National Register of Historic Places last year. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the number shows efforts paid off from historic preservation advocates across the state. The 30 sites were added throughout last year. The National Park Service added places to the register based on recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the agency. Several structures have the distinction locally. They include the Bryant House in Bement, The Edward Chipman Library in Momence and the downtown business district in LaSalle.



(Illinois--ba)-WPXN’s Braedon Arnett Reports on local state funding for park projects.



(Chicago--jc)  --As new reports show Illinois residents were exposed to a cancer-causing chemical, some suburban mayors are seeking a court order to shutdown Sterigenics despite a warning from the company that any disruption could delay medical procedures in Illinois and other states. Environmental Protection Agency testing from late last year showed higher levels of ethylene oxide than previously recorded. Because of this, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling a temporary judge-ordered shutdown of the Willowbrook facility.


Watseka--jc) When Iroquois County leaders meet today, they are expected to approve a new sexual harassment policy for Iroquois County workers. The local board will also consider purchasing two new squad cars for the Iroquois County Sheriff’s department and approve a travel expense for Iroquois County Sheriff Derek Hagan in the amount of 464 dollars. A fertilizer bid from United Prairie for 18 thousand 221 dollars is also on the agenda. The Iroquois County Board meeting is set for 5pm today at the Iroquois County Administrative Center in Watseka.



(Gibson City--jc)  --Only a few days remain to get your reservations for a local banquet. The Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet and meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 7th at the Kruse Center in Gibson City. Reservations are being accepted through the 15th. The social hour begins at 6pm with a catered meal at 7pm. Several awards will be handed out including 20-18 Citizen of the Year and Junior Citizen of the Year awards. Comedian Drew Hastings will also perform that eventing. The event is free for Chamber members, but is also open to the public.



(Gibson City--jc)  -- You are invited to sing and help raise money for the efforts in Ford County with the money going to the American Cancer Society. The event is set for February 23rd says Ford County Relay for Life Spokesperson Becky Grohler…



Ford County Relay for Life Spokesperson Becky Grohler.


(Washington--jc)  -- What are the numbers from 2017 and how do they compare to 2018. U-S-D-A Trade Economist Kamron Daugherty compares U.S. soybean exports January through November of 2018 with the same time frame of 2017…



U-S-D-A Trade Economist Kamron Daugherty


(Illinois--ba)-A plot of Illinois State farmland owned by President Abraham Lincoln is headed to auction. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the story.




(Rantoul--jc)  -- Rantoul Village leaders will hear from Jeremy Bell concerning a youth-adult re-entry program when they meet in monthly session tonight. Annexing some properties into the village and amending the zoning map are also on the agenda. The Rantoul Village Board meets at 6 tonight in the municipal building on Tanner Street.

Wind Farms is a Hot Topic is DeWitt County and Continue to be in Ford County

(Dewitt County--jc)  -- A number of meetings has started this week in Dewitt County, the topic is wind farms. Dewitt County business owners, farm property owners and concern citizens are talking about a 300 million dollar wind farm proposed in the county. Trade Wind Energy has applied for a special-use permit to place the wind farm in north east Dewitt County. Tuesday’s meeting was the first. The meetings continue tonight and tomorrow night at Clinton High School. More one hour meetings are planned for the 19 through the 22nd. Each meeting starts at 4pm. The county zoning committee is expected to make a recommendation to the full board next month and the Dewitt County board is expected to make their decision on the wind farm, aslo in March. In Ford County, the board continues to revise its wind ordinance. The recent moves have placed any new wind farm projects in limbo.


(Dwight--jc)  -- A federal detention center could be coming to one area town. The Dwight Planning Commission will consider an annexation agreement later this month that could be the first step in bringing a federal detention center for illegal immigrants to the Livingston County village. The commission meets next on the 19th. The area in question is just west of Dwight. The Dwight village  board will look to annex the property in the village when they meet on February 28th.



(Washington--ab)  The President had his 2nd State of the Union Address earlier this week. Reaction and comments from  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue...


Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue




(Champaign--jc)--  Do you know how to love your “soils.” You have a chance on week from today on Valentine’s at Parkland College. The Parkland College Ag program and Ag Club are hosting the public on the importance of soils to farmers and the public.  The event runs from 8-15am to Noon at the Tony Noel Ag Technology Applications Center. The event is free and a lunch will also be served.


(Paxton--jc)  -- A First aid class is set for later this month in Paxton The Paxton Park District is the host venue for the certification class. The date is February 23rd starting at 10-30 that morning for the First Aid class. A C-P-R Class begins at 1pm. Cost per class is 25 dollars. The fee is 40 dollars to attend both classes. More information is found by calling the Paxton Park District at 217-379-4203.



(Gibson City--jc)  --The Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet and meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 7th at the Kruse Center in Gibson City. The social hour begins at 6pm with a catered meal at 7pm. Several awards will be handed out including 20-18 Citizen of the Year and Junior Citizen of the Year awards. Comedian Drew Hastings will also perform that eventing. The event is free for Chamber members, but is also open to the public. Registration is opening through Feburary 15th.



(Washington--jc)  -- TheU-S-D-A is delaying release of the 2017 Census of Agriculture to make sure that it gets all the information right. Stephanie Ho reports.




ASHKUM – Illinois State Police District 21 Commander, Captain Don Aaron Harsy, announces the results of Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols held in Kankakee, Iroquois, and Ford Counties on the first weekend in February. These OREPs provided extra patrol coverage for the ISP so officers could focus on saving lives by making sure all vehicle occupants were buckled up. 10 seat belt citations were given and 14 total written warnings.



(Paxton--jc)  -- Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker says the 2019 mobile home privilege tax bills will be mailed out the first week of March. Owners of mobile homes are asked to call the treasurer’s office in Paxton is their address has changed, or if the mobile home has been moved or destroyed. Shoemaker says anyone who has recently purchased or sold a mobile home are asked to bring a copy of the title to the treasurer’s office. Mobile Home tax bills are due May 3rd.


MAYWOOD, Ill. (AP) — The extreme cold last week activated the science experiment gene in a number of people, resulting in injuries for those who tried the "boiling water challenge." The challenge was to fling boiling water in the air and watch it turn into frozen vapor. The burn center at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood reports it treated eight people who attempted the exercise. Temperatures in Illinois plummeted to double-digit subzero readings last week.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A Senate committee has OK'd increasing the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 in six years. Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford's measure won approval 13-6 on a party-line vote Wednesday in the Executive Committee. The Maywood Democrat hedged on calling it for a floor vote immediately. The plan would increase the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020 and after going to $10 on July 1, 2020, increase $1 each Jan. 1 until 2025.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An adult and an alleged teenage accomplice are charged with setting fire to an abandoned central Illinois food processing plant. Twenty-four-year-old Richard L. Thomas of Springfield and a 17-year-old boy were charged Wednesday with arson and criminal damage to property in connection with a fire at the abandoned Pillsbury Mills factory. The building was deemed too unsafe to enter, so crews fought the fire from a stairwell and from ground la



(Watseka--jc) When Iroquois County leaders meet next week, they are expected to approve a new sexual harassment policy for Iroquois County workers. The local board will also consider purchasing two new squad cars for the Iroquois County Sheriff’s department and approve a travel expense for Iroquois County Sheriff Derek Hagan in the amount of 464 dollars. A fertilizer bid from United Prairie for 18 thousand 221 dollars is also on the agenda. The Iroquois County Board meeting is set for next Tuesday at 5pm at the Iroquois County Administrative Center in Watseka.


(Gibson City--jc)  -- The way it works in Springfield, is the House Speaker decides which bills come up for discussion and debate. Local State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City supported a different reform package, which would have changed the rules to allow ample time to review amendments and also create a way for legislators to force a vote on a bill…


State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City

However, with Madigan’s super-majority in the House the Democrat sponsored legislation was approved.



(Washington--ab)  An expert says those crafting the new Farm Bill listened to complaints from farmers about some provisions of the old bill. Gary Crawford reports...




(Springfield--jc)  --Bipartisan efforts to change how the state draws political boundaries got a booster shot from Illinois Senate Republicans.State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, filed a constitutional amendment that would change how the state draws political district maps by forming an independent commission to decide the boundaries.Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, called all Senate Republicans together Wednesday to sign on to Morrison’s bill. After the census every 10 years, political boundaries get redrawn to account for population migration. Illinois’ boundaries have been criticized for years as being politically drawn, leaving many districts with only one choice every election. With this amendment, voters could get a say in changing that come 2020.



(Springfield--ab) The State Board of Education is announcing improvements to the student assessment test. Gone is the previous “PARCC” test…although the questions on the new Illinois Assessment of Readiness will be about the same. The board's Rae Clementz says it will be a little shorter this year…with more changes to come. That includes moving to a computer-adaptive design in 2021.



 State Board of Education Rae Clementz

Other future plans include quicker results and making sure all schools can give the test online. It's given to third through eighth graders each March.




Advocates Trying Again to Pass a Tobacco 21 Law in Illinois

(Urbana--jc)  -- A Rantoul man was sentenced to 7 years in prison on Tuesday for a break in at the Rantoul Rural King Store last fall. A Champaign County judge sentenced Henry Boykins to the 7 year prison term. Boykin admitted to the break in of the Rantoul Rural King and also to stealing a gun. Two juveniles were also implicated in the break ins. Both have plead guilty. One has already been sentenced. The second is awaiting sentencing.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Advocates are trying again to pass a tobacco 21 law in Illinois. The measure, raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 passed last year…but was vetoed by the governor.  Illinois Senate president John Cullerton says he’s confident they can get it done this time around...



Illinois Senate President John Cullerton

The bill includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigs and other tobacco products. 36 communities already have a tobacco 21 local ordinance.



(Washington--ab)  -- Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky explaining for a special Farm Foundation Forum in Washington, D.C., some of the complexities of implementing the new Farm Bill.




(Springfield--jc)  -- Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are putting up bills that set term limits for House Speaker or Senate President in Illinois. There are term limits for legislative leaders in the Illinois state Senate, and limits on how long someone can serve as a House GOP leader. But there are no limits on how long someone can serve in a leadership position for Illinois House Democrats. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has been the speaker for all but two years since 1983. He’s the longest-serving state House speaker in the country. That’s one reason for state Rep. Tim Butler’s move to limit how long someone can serve in that role. Butler says Madigan has served in the role since his was a Sophomore in High School. Butler is now 51 years old.



Parkland College Adult Education is now partnering with Salt & Light Ministries to offer a new district site in Urbana. Learners seeking to earn their GED or improve literacy and job preparation skills may attend free classes beginning Feb. 11 at the Urbana Salt & Light location, 1819 S. Philo Road. Classes will meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. This expansion of services will allow more students to be served by bringing educational opportunities into their community.Salt & Light is committed to fighting poverty with opportunities that empower people for lasting change, according to Terry Austira, the organization's director of education.

Contact Parkland College Adult Education at 217/351-2580 to learn more about these opportunities or sign up for classes.


(Melvin--jc)--  One Ford County Church has a 150th birthday coming up later this month. The Melvin United Methodist Church celebration is set for February 17th says church spokesperson Kay Swearingen…



Melvin United Methodist Church Spokesperson Kay Swearingen.


CHICAGO (AP) — The patriarch of the family behind the Chicago Cubs has apologized after an online media outlet published emails in which he took part in racist comments and conspiracy theories. Some of the emails Splinter News published Monday featured Joe Ricketts making Islamophobic comments. Others included conspiracies about former President Barack Obama's birthplace and education. Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails, saying he believes "bigoted ideas are wrong."


(Washington--jc)  -- President Donald Trump issued the state of the Union  address

Last night. Local Congressman Adam Kinzinger says the jobs market is a huge positive for the country…



16th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger.


(Springfield--jc)  -- School districts could see sharply higher costs as lawmakers consider not only boosting the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour over a number of years, but also a separate bill setting minimum pay requirements for teachers The Senate will take another crack at raising the minimum pay for Illinois teachers. Senate Bill 10 from Democrat State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hills, is similar to the bill that passed last year. That bill was  vetoed by then Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner said pay practices should be left to locally elected school boards.With a new governor and Democratic supermajorities in both chambers, Manar got his bill through the Senate education committee Tuesday. The measure will not give more money to school districts..The School Management Alliance’s Zach Messersmith told committee members on Tuesday that they’d rather the state leave the issue to the school districts.


CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois consumer-advocacy group is offering new tips for reducing those pesky computer-generated phone calls. Citizens Utility Board released its Guide to Fighting Robocalls on Monday. The guide is available for free through the organization's website. CUB says technology is allowing scam artists to make thousands of calls a minute, and the calls have reached an "alarming level." One estimate found there were a record 47.8 billion automated calls in 2018




CHICAGO (AP) — Shares in Archer Daniels Midland slid 5 percent after the company reported lower-than-expected profits as costs rise and a trade dispute with China drags on the price of commodities. The Chicago company reported fourth-quarter profit of $315 million, down sharply from the $788 million profit n the same quarter last year when it benefited from the Trump administration's tax overhaul.Archer Daniels Midland Co. had profit of 56 cents per share, or 88 cents per shares when one-time gains and costs are removed.



(Springfield--jc)  -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is awarding nearly 29 million dollars in local park grants. The money will fund 89 local park projects around the state says D-N-R Spokesperson Ed Cross…


Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Ed Cross.


(Springfield--jc)--  Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker will need more money to balance the state's budget to the satisfaction of bondholders, credit rating agency Moody’s Investor Services said in a new report Tuesday. Pritzker has promised to bring a balanced budget when he addresses the General Assembly on February 20th . But that could be challenging because the governor won't be able to change the state's income tax system to a progressive structure by then. And growth in existing revenue sources will be "tepid," Moody's reported. Moody's analysts said the coming fiscal 2020 budget will have to address the state's pension contributions, which they noted are straining the budget even though the contribution is shortchanging liabilities, an operational deficit, and economic headwinds from the state's shrinking population.



(Washington--jc)  The U-S-D-A is rescheduling  reports that were delayed by the shutdown. Stephanie Ho has the dates…




(Loda-jc) -- A new restaurant is coming to a local golf course facility. Lakeview Golf Course officials say the Tin Cup Restaurant and Bar will open later this year in the golf course clubhouse. The operator of the new restaurant is Peggy Burton, who co-owned The Tin Pan restaurant in Paxton. Burton is working on the new restaurants menu and a grand opening is also planned in the near future.



(Flatville--jc)  -- One local school is setting up fundraisers for its Parent Teacher Organization.  A pizza night, movie night and garage sale are coming for the Prairieview Ogden school district this school year. The P-T-O plans to use the money  for sports uniforms and classroom needs.


(Gibson City--jc)  Some at Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School are ready to get their dance shoes on and also raise money. The annual “Dancing with the Stars” fundraisers is set for Saturday February 16th at the high school. Members of the G-C-M-S Dance Team will compete with a member of the community. Those entering the contest will be judged on performance, donations and crowd appeal. A Free will soup supper kicks off the event at 5pm on the 16th.

7 Students and 1 Parent Arrested After Fight at Urbana high School

(Springfield--ba) --  Illinois' Roman Catholic bishops have taken a stand against legalizing recreational use of marijuana. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the story.




CHICAGO (AP) — A new study by the American Lung Association says Illinois is not doing enough to reduce tobacco use. The report titled "State of Tobacco Control" gives Illinois grades in funding for smoking cessation and prevention programs, tobacco taxation and access to existing quit-smoking services. The Chicago Tribune reports the state got a failing grade for keeping the minimum age to buy all tobacco products including e-cigarettes at 18.



(buckley--jc)  Federal Crop insurance premiums must be completed by March 15th.  Prices will be set later this month by the government. Abbe Insurance-Diversifited Insurance Agent Larry Abbe talks about what premiums and prices could be…



Abbe Insurance-Diversified Insurance of Buckley Agent Larry Abbe.


CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Illinois health officials are requesting about $5 million more from the state to implement new rules aimed at identifying and caring for children under 6 years with lead poisoning. The Southern Illinoisan reports that the Illinois Department of Health received about $10 million this fiscal year to send nurses and inspectors into the homes of children who tested positive for lead poisoning. Experts say lead can cause behavioral problems, developmental delays and other health issues.



SEATTLE (AP) — Winter weather is pounding a swath of the U.S. West, closing schools, snarling traffic and turning coastal cities like Seattle that rarely get much snow unusually white. The Pacific Northwest's first major winter snowstorm Monday comes as the Midwest warmed up following a dangerous blast of cold last week. Parts of California and Montana are bracing for the threat of mudslides and avalanches.



In the weeks before freshman Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first budget address, his Democratic comptroller is reminding him about the fiscal reality of Illinois’ finances.Comptroller Susana Mendoza called on the Chicago Democrat to use the Debt Transparency Act report, one of the transparency issues she championed that passed into law last year, to propose a budget that uses“realistic projections when estimating revenues and cost savings and to avoid relying on any concepts they know cannot be realized in fiscal year 2020.”Assistant Republican Leader Keith Wheeler, from Aurora, said he was happy to see Mendoza asking for fiscal sanity, something he said has been absent from the state budget in recent years.


CHICAGO (AP) — O'Hare International Airport in Chicago was the busiest airport in the U.S. last year, surpassing Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the first time in four years.The Federal Aviation Administration released data today showing that O'Hare had more than 903,000 arrivals and departures during 2018. Atlanta's airport was second, with more than 895,000 arrivals and departures. Los Angeles International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Denver International Airport round out the top five.




(Springfield--jc)  Democrat Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon has filed legislation in Springfield to ask voters to change the state's constitution to allow for a progressive tax system, but the bill provides no details about what that structure would look like.  Harmon's bill would allow for the state to impose higher income tax rates on those who earn more, but is devoid of detail. It "provides that the income tax may be a fair tax where lower rates apply to lower income levels and higher rates apply to higher income levels," according to a synopsis of the legislation.  Governor J.B. Pritzker has pledged to change the state's flat income tax to a graduated one, but he has avoided talking about specifics such as tax rates. He's said that the rates would be negotiated with the legislature.


(Springfield--jc)  -- Some at the statehouse want a constitutional amendment to change how the state taxes income, while others want to amend the constitution’s pension protection clause to change pensions for state employees.State Representative. Jay Hoffman, Democrat from Swansea, says Governor. J.B. Pritzker expects quick action to get the graduated income tax question to voters.

Hoffman says that Governor Pritzker has made it very clear that he would like to see on the ballot in 2020 a constitutional amendment regarding a progressive tax.



(Urbana--jc)  In an update from Monday, 7 high school students and one parent were arrested after a fight broke out at Urbana High School on Monday.  One Urbana High School teacher was injured and was sent with injuries to a local hospital. Police say the first fight occurred Monday morning and more conflicts continued throughout the day.  35 year old Adrian Pettis was arrested on a charge of obstructing a police officer. The fights resulted in charges of mob action and resisting a police officer. Urbana police continue to investigate the incident and motives for the fights.


(Illinois--ba)-Schools across Illinois might not have to make up all the recent days missed due to snow and cold. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the story.



(Springfield--jc)  -- Several gun dealers in Central and Southern Illinois are closing their businesses rather than pay what they’re saying is thousands of dollars in costs to comply with a law enacted last month.When he signed the bill into law last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Gun Dealer Licensing Act was about stopping straw buyers.“The reason for it is to deter straw purchases so that we can prevent someone from buying a gun for someone else who is not legally allowed to own a gun,” he said at the signing ceremony in Chicago.


(Washington--jc)  - Want a job with the U-S-D-A as a poultry grader, there are some available. Those wanting to apply need to do so by Thursday says U-S-D-A Branch Chief Dana Stahl…



U-S-D-A Branch Chief Dana Stahl

More information is found on line at U-S-D-A-dot-gov




Springfield--jc)  -- As other states look at upping financial literacy requirements, should Illinois high schools require students to learn basic budgeting before getting a diploma? Just this month, lawmakers in Florida introduced a bill that would require all students to take a class on basic skills, like how to save money and apply for loans. A new bill in South Carolina would make passing a financial literacy test a graduation requirement. Starting in 2017, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs’ office has partnered with Econ Illinois, a nonprofit affiliated with Northern Illinois University, to create the first ever standards-based financial literacy curriculum for grades 1-8 in Illinois. According to spokesman Greg Rivara, grades 1-3 currently are online at the treasury’s website. Grades 4-8 will be available shortly.


(Rantoul--jc) Champaign Crime Stoppers is looking for your help to solve  several gun shots into 2 Rantoul homes. Shots were fired into a home in th 13 hundred block of Abram Drive on Wednesday January 16th and also at a home on Frost Avenue on January 18t or 19th. Anyone with information is asked to call Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477.



(Pontiac--jc)  --O- S-F HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center is the latest Central Illinois hospital to enact visitor restrictions because of an increase in seasonal flu and other upper respiratory illnesses. The Pantagraph reports thatn Saint James announced Monday that, effective immediately, visitors would be limited as a precaution to limit the spread of flu. The Illinois Department of Public Health  reports seasonal influenza is widespread in Illinois during this first week of February/ .Hospital visitor restrictions generally are enacted when flu becomes widespread in an area and are lifted in the spring when flu activity decreases.


(Springfield--jc)  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed an executive order that boosts the state’s efforts in fighting the H-I-V epidemic. The order re-establishes the state’s commitment to prevention and testing programs. Aids foundation President John Peller says reaching out to minorities is espcially critical…



Aids Foundation President John Peller


Gibson City Police Need Public's Help in Solving String of Burglaries in Gibson City

(Gibson City--jc)  -- Gibson City Police and Ford County officials are seeking the public’s help in solving a series of motor vehicle burglaries in Gibson City. Police officials say in a release that on January 20th and 21st, there were  several burglary and attempted burglaries to Motor Vehicles on the the north end of Gibson City Officers completed a thorough investigation and collected enough evidence to secure arrest warrants for two suspects. Ford County State's Attorney Andrew Killian issued arrest warrants for Justin Jesse and Kaitlyn Darnell on Friday afternoon. Anyone with information about these crimes are asked to call Ford County Crime Stoppers at (217) 784-4173. Law enforcement officials remind everyone that all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. de Klerk will speak at Illinois State University this month. De Klerk's presentation Feb. 12 will be "Bridging the Gap: Globalization Without Isolation." De Klerk became president of South Africa in 1989. A short time later he released civil rights leader Nelson Mandela from prison after 27 years. Their joint efforts at reforming the country earned them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is looking for ways to protect faculty members from disruptive students who take online trolling into the classroom. The News-Gazette reports that the issue was prompted by a case involving Jay Rosenstein, a professor of media and cinema studies who's criticized the school's former Chief Illiniwek mascot. Rosenstein says someone who disagreed with his views harassed him online for months before enrolling in one of his classes in the fall.



(Springfield--ab) Governor J-B Pritzker is signing an executive order that boosts the state’s efforts in fighting the H-I-V epidemic. About 40 thousand Illinoisans are living with H-I-V…and more than 13-hundred cases are diagnosed each year. Governor Pritzker says this order will re-invest in prevention and testing services.



The order also requires the state to work with medicaid manage care companies to ensure those living with H-I-V are getting the healthcare they need.


SULLIVAN, Ill. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has died after an explosion leveled a home in central Illinois. The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports the explosion occurred just before 10 p.m. Friday near Sullivan. Fire Department Chief Mike Piper said the home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and it was clear "there had been a very large explosion." Authorities say they suspect the cause may have been propane. The home's residents are Amish.


(Urbana-jc)  --A Champaign County man was sentenced to 4 years in prison for being  found to have cocaine byproducts in his system when he hit and killed a pedestrian with his pickup truck two years ago. 47 year old Joseph Perry was sentenced on Friday, according the to News Gazette. The fatal accident  took the life of 76 Marjorie Roberts of Champaign.



(Champaign County--jc)  -- A traffic accident along Interstate 57 on Sunday slowed traffic for several hours. Police say a semi rolled on the interstate. Crews were on the scene for several hours cleaning up the site between Curtis Road and the Interstate 72 exchange. No word was provided on the  condition of the semi driver



WILMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — A seven-mile ice jam on the Kankakee River could cause flash flooding as warmer temperatures and possible rain move into northern Illinois. First responders went door-to-door this week in Wilmington, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of Chicago, to warn residents who may be affected that they should be ready to evacuate at short notice.



(Illinois--ba) This week’s forecast calls for rain and not the dangerous cold and temperatures from a week ago. WPXN’s Braedon Arnett has the numbers about the last weeks weather...



(Paxton--jc) --Ford County Clerk Amy Frederick says her office has extended the filing deadline for residents to become write-in candidates in April’s election. Due to last weeks harsh weather the deadline was extended to 4:30 this afternoon. More information is found by calling Fredericks office at 217-379-9400 or on line at Ford-County-Illinois-dot-gov.


(Washington--ba) National ag officials say a trade agreement with China is a  long way" from being done....Gary Crawford reports.



(Undated--jc)  Replace the dangerous cold temperatures and  wind chills with drizzle and rain to start the week. The new weather pattern for the next couple of days is rainy through Thursday. The new weather may cause some flooding issues. Homeowners are reminded to check their sump pumps. And the change in temperatures from a low of minus 50 to around 60 degrees threatens a new set of problems. Ruptured water mains, leaky pipes and gutters, an influx of potholes and the flooding of roads and bridges are among the potential repercussions of such a sudden temperature swing.


(Champaign--jc)  A second case of measles has been reported in Champaign County. Champaign County Public health Officials made the announcement over the weekend. The two people affected were adults who had not been vaccinated against the disease. More information is found on line with the Champaign County Public Health Department website.


(Springfield--jc)  -- The Opioid alternative pilot program is now open. It allows those who take powerful and addictive painkillers use medical marijuana instead. Illinois Department of Public Health Spokesperson Melaney Arnold says those interested need to talk to their doctor…



Illinois Department of Public Health Spokesperson Melaney Arnold



(Sibley--jc)  Ford County leaders are expected to discuss a proposed mega-hog farm near Sibley when they next week in Paxton. The Ford County Zoning Committee met on Friday morning and heard comments on the issue from Sibley village leaders. Sibley leaders may also take a stand on the proposed farm. The Illinois Department of Agriculture and Ford County held a meeting on the issue last month. WPXN will continue to follow this story as more information is provided.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials are looking for partners to help provide meals to children in low-income areas over the summer when school isn't in session.The Illinois State Board of Education administers the Summer Food Service Program. The state receives federal reimbursement to cover the costs of preparing and serving meals.In 2018 there were about 2,200 summer meal sites in Illinois.Outgoing State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said Illinois is already planning for this summer. He says there are 33 counties that don't have any sites. Smith says not having access to school lunch and breakfast over the summer "poses a significant challenge" for many families.Nonprofits, local governments and school districts may set up serving sites at community locations such as schools, churches and libraries.


(Rantoul--jc)  If you are a business that belongs to the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce you can expect a visit from your executive director soon. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Belynda Allen has the goal to stop by all businesses in the chamber to help promote the village and to see how the chamber can assist its members…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Belynda Allen



(Rantoul--jc)  A Rantoul based company with ties to the local area has the naming rights for the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion. The building is now known as the Credit Union 1 Arena. The 9 point 3 Million dollar agreement was approved by the Illinois Board of Trustees last week. The agreement is for 15 years. Credit Union 1  has local facilities Rantoul Champaign and Urbana.



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is extending its search for its first chief diversity officer after four finalists for the position didn't work out. Chancellor Robert Jones told search committee members  that the goal is to make a decision by the end of the academic year in May. Jones originally hoped to hire someone for the job early this semester. Jones told search committee members that it's critical the university find "the best possible person" to create the position and "support diversity efforts." He says the extra time will help to find the right candidate. The chief diversity officer will oversee the new cabinet-level Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.


Senate lawmakers to Discuss Legislation Raising the Minimum Wage in Illinois to 15 Dollars an Hour

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The extreme weather that shuttered schools across a swath of the northern United States this week also spurred debates over whether when such calls are appropriate. School superintendents said they try to weigh the needs of the entire district when considering whether but need to look especially for the most vulnerable, who may rely on schools for meals and other assistance. Ad additional 2 to 4 inches of snow fell last night into this morning. Most schools are in session this morning.



CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Department of Public Health says at least 144 people made hospital emergency-room visits and one person has died due to cold-related injuries since Tuesday. Department spokesman Melaney Arnold said Thursday that there were at least 65 visits in Chicago and at least 75 outside Chicago. The data say the injuries were either hypothermia or frostbite, which came as temperatures plummeted in Illinois to double-digit subzero readings.


(Springfield--jc)  The new head of the Illinois Department of Agriculture says he wants to see expanding broadband access. Acting Ag Director John Sullivan says the need to expand broadband access will help business expansion in the state…



Illinois Acting Ag Director John Sullivan.


(Springfield--ab)  -- Senate lawmakers are discussing legislation raising the minimum wage in Illinois to 15 dollars an hour. The last increase was in 2010…to eight dollars and 25 cents an hour. State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood says it’s time to bump that up, so that people earn a wage they can live on. She says the goal is 15 bucks an hour…but that it would be phased in over the next few years.



State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood


(Champaign--jc)  Three semis and three cars collided along Interstate 74 in Champaign last night. The wreckage blocked the road for several hours. Traffic started flowing around midnight last night. Damage to the semis was significant, though no word was given on injuries of those involved.


(Buckley--ab) This Sunday Italian food lovers won't have to look too hard to find a great Spaghetti dinner. At Buckley Christ Lutheran from 11 AM to 3 PM there is a “Taste of Italy” with proceeds from the free will donation helping the student body.


URBANA, Illinois – Illinois residents have the option to make a donation to fight local hunger on their 2018 state income tax returns. By checking the box on Schedule G, the Voluntary Charitable Donations Form, a tax-deductible contribution will be made to the Hunger Relief Fund, a special fund in the State treasury, to purchase food grown and processed in Illinois to be distributed by the eight food banks serving Illinois, including Eastern Illinois Foodbank. Feeding Illinois, the state association of food banks, will collect the funds to purchase nutritious Illinois-sourced food such as fresh produce and protein products.

(Bloomington--jc)  -- It’s chocolate and deals in one McLean County city tonight.

The downtown business association of Bloomington has a chocolate tour event that runs from 5 til 8 pm tonight. The event is called “Tour de Chocolat.”

(Paxton--jc)  -- A Ford County Zoning committee is set to meet at 9 this morning. The topic continues to be windfarms, setbacks, decommissioning, flicker and more. The local board has a set back at 22 hundred 50 feet currently. The public is invited to the meeting.


CHICAGO (AP) — In Illinois, temperatures could rise by 100 degrees within days. In Michigan, melting snow and rain and a 17-mile ice jam could lead to flooding. Across the Midwest, the sudden warmth was sure to bring more broken roads and busted water mains. Wind chills on Wednesday were in the minus 45 degree range The forecast for this weekend will see temps rise to 55 degrees. The sudden swing from long johns to light jackets and short sleeves could create problems of its own.


(Gibson City--jc)  -- August is the expected start for the next renovation and addition project at one Ford County Hospital. Officials with Gibson Area Hospital will start a 12 million dollar project to add medical offices for all its doctors and also address parking at the local facility. Hospital officials say the project will take several years to complete.


CHICAGO (AP) — A University of Illinois graduate who leads a Chicago-based private equity firm has been elected chairman of the university system's Board of Trustees. Donald Edwards was unanimously elected to a one-year term during the board's meeting Thursday. Edwards earned his bachelor's degree in finance from Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was a four-year letter winner on the Illini golf team. He is CEO of Flexpoint Ford, a firm he founded in 2004. Edwards was first appointed to the Board of Trustees by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017. He was re appointed earlier Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who also appointed four other board members: Patricia Brown Holmes, Ricardo Estrada, Kareem Dale and former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson. The Illinois Senate must confirm the appointments.



(Paxton--jc)  -- The 31st annual toy show sponsored by the Paxton Buckley Loda F F A is set for Saturday at the high school in Paxton. This is the major fundraiser for the local chapter. Tomorrow’s event begins at 9 am. PBL FFA Member and event spokesperson Mikayla Jones says the money raised goes to help the chapter and its members…



PBL FFA Member and Event Spokesperson Mikayla Jones.



LOS ANGELES (AP) — While the polar vortex is driving up demand for natural gas, it isn't doing the same for the price. Demand for Natural Gas spiked over the past week, yet natural gas prices have fallen this week and are in the throes of a two-month skid. The bone-chilling cold stretches from the local area stretched from  North Dakota to Maine, is short-lived. Forecasters say warmer than normal weather is coming to replace it. Natural gas stockpiles hovering at a 13-year low drove the price of natural gas to $4.84 per 1,000 cubic feet in mid-November, the highest closing price in more than four years.


(Buckley--jc)  -- Its just the start of February, but farmers have only til the middle of March to get federal crop insurance. Larry Abbe of Abbe Insurance of Buckley and Diversified Insurance Services talks about prices for coverage this year…



Abbe Insurance of Buckley Owner Larry Abbe.



(Paxton--jc)  An inquest is set for later this month for a Ford County man from Elliott who was found dead in a house fire in Elliott in May of last year. Ford County Coroner Rick Flessner says the inquest into the death of 34 year old Jeremy Turner is to make public the facts about the death.The inquest is set for 7pm on February 13th at the courthouse in Paxton.



(Springfield--jc)  --With calls to change Illinois’ constitutional flat income tax to a progressive structure and a new push to change how political boundaries are drawn, one state lawmaker said there are enough proposed changes that it may be time to open the whole thing up. State Representative Tim Butler of Springfield, says every year there are many ideas lawmakers bring forward to get voter approval on changing the state constitution.  Butler says talk goes from term limits, fair maps, pension reform and other constitution issues. Lawmakers have over a year to get issues to Illinois voters. One of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s campaign issues was to change Illinois’ flat tax to a progressive tax. That too, would need a vote by Illinoisans.


(Giffrord--jc)  -- The 20-19 Midwest Ag Expo has concluded for another year. Despite the frigid temperatures, both days saw good attendance. Stine Seeds representative Chuck Vaughn says for this year farmers have more options in some new seeds and weed control…



Stine Seeds Representative Chuck Vaughn


(Springfield--jc)  -- One bill would tax ammunition, another would have police scour the social media accounts of people seeking to legally buy guns, a third would ban some common firearms, even from law-abiding gun owners.One state lawmaker said that people’s rights are being threatened by the aggressive anti-gun agenda.State Representative Tony McCombie a Republican from Savanna, has been ringing the alarm bell on social media, highlighting bills she says go too far. She said she’s taking a stand against another proposal that would register privately held guns with the government.



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