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WPXN Blog Archives for 2020-01

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

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



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


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



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




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



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




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




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




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



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


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



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


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


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




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



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


7am new

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




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




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



P-B-L Education Foundation President Robin Niewold.


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


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

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

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



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



State Representative Dan Brady shares his thoughts…





State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City shares his thoughts…





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



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


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




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



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



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




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



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


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



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



State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur shares his thoughts…




 State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian shares his thoughts…





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



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




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


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



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




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


House Republicans are laying out their legislative agenda for 2020

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



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



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



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


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



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



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



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



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




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



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


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Director Sandy Spitz. 



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


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

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

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



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


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



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


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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



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


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


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



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




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



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



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



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



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



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


Illinois state lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday

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


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren


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



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


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



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


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



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



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



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



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



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


Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



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

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

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



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



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



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

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



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



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




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


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


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



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


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


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



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



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


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



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



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


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


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


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

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



State Senator Dan Brady of Bloomington.



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



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



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



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



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


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



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



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




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


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


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



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


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



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



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



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


PBL FFA Member Christina White



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



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



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




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


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

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



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



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



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.



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



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



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



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


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


Paxton police are investigating a string of break ins in town

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



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



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




PBL FFA Member Maisie Kingren



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



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



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




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


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



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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.


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



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



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



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



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

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

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



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


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


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



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



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


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


Park District Director Neil McKenry 



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



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

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



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



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



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


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



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



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


State Representative Dan Brady of Normal.



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



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

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

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



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



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



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



Paxton Park District’s Neil McKenry.



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



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



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



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


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


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




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


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



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



State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington


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



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


Prediction is that Illinois farmers are likely to endure more burdensome wet weather while they try to plant cash crops this spring

(Springfield-jm) -- Another measure has been filed to create a taxpayer-funded program to ensure Illinois residents have their first two years of college tuition paid for. State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, filed Senate Bill 2324 on Jan. 8. It mirrors legislation filed in 2019 by Chicago Democratic state Rep. Will Guzzardi. The new bill would ensure residents “seeking an associate degree, certificate, or diploma from an institution of higher learning” a taxpayer-funded state grant that would pay for tuition and fees, minus any other aid awarded, starting in 2021. The bill said the cost could exceed that of a local community college's tuition and fees.



(Springfield-jm) -- A state commission is looking at tightening up Illinois lobbying laws. The group heard testimony this week on lobbyist registration and what constitutes lobbying. Some suggested that local governments and school districts have lobbyist registrations. Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago says there is a concern that regulations become too strict..



State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago. Several bills have already been filed, including legislation that bans lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for one to two years after leaving elected office.



(Undated-jm) -- The state’s climatologist is predicting Illinois farmers are likely to endure more burdensomely wet weather while they try to plant cash crops this spring after suffering major losses as a result of a record-wet planting season last year. April through June is likely to be wetter than normal in Illinois, according to rainfall projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, posing a challenge to corn and soybean farmers in the heart of planting season.


(Washington-jm) --  A White House ceremony Wednesday saw the President and China's Vice-Premier sign the initial phase of a new trade agreement. Rod Bain reports…




(Paxton-jm) -- Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran is awarding a $500 scholarship. The scholarship is through the Illinois Sheriff’s Association. To be eligible, the applicant must be a permanent resident of Illinois, must be utilized at an institution of higher learning in Illinois and the student must be enrolled full-time during the 2020-2021 school year. Applications can be picked up at the Ford County Sheriff’s office in Paxton or online at ilsheriff dot org. Applications are due by March 15th.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced office closures for the MLK holiday. Facilities open Monday through Friday will be closed on Monday, January 20th. Facilities open Tuesday through Saturday will be closed on Saturday, January 18th. All facilities will reopen Tuesday, January 21.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School District has received their report card from the state. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about how the district did…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Undated-jm) -- Cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV are unusually high this year. RSV is a virus that causes cold like symptoms but lasts longer than the common cold. RSV is most common in the fall, winter and spring.


(Springfield-jm) -- As the state's pension liabilities mount, fewer taxpayers remain to pay the tab. The Auditor General reported the state’s largest pension fund, the Teachers’ Retirement System, increased in overall liability by $4.5 billion to $134.4 billion. Around $3.2 billion of that isn’t funded. The total unfunded liability for TRS was $81.1 billion, meaning TRS was 39.6 percent funded. Truth In Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman said the increased liability is even more concerning when considering a different datapoint Illinois continued to lead the nation in outbound migration as it did in the past decade with six years of population declines.



(Springfield-jm) -- A new study from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority finds most police officers are carrying naloxone to help prevent opioid overdoses. The random sampling of departments garnered responses from 82 police chiefs. 90 percent say officers have naloxone on hand, usually the nasal spray version. Researcher Jessica Reichert says police do have some concerns though…



Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Researcher Jessica Reichert. Departments that don’t have their officers carrying naloxone cite budget issues, low stock of the drug and relying more on firefighters and E-M-T’s to administer the dose.


(Undated-jm) -- Anyone who bought infant Tylenol over the past five years could be eligible for part of a $6.3 million settlement. The settlement comes after a class action lawsuit claimed the packaging was misleading and deceiving to customers because the medication dosage was the same for infant Tylenol as children's Tylenol. The settlement is for products bought between October 2, 2014 and January 6, 2020.



(Springfield--jc)  -- It’s Fair Time, Illinois State Fair convention time in Springfield. A new Illinois State County Fair Association Queen will also be crowned this weekend. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…




(Washington-jm) -- New trade deal with China may bring quick export sales increases for U.S. pork producers. Gary Crawford has the details…




(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released 2019 activity numbers. Troopers issued 6,149 citations and 16,802 written warnings including 132 DUIs, 493 seat belt citations and investigated 954 traffic accidents resulting in 17 fatalities. 



(Urbana-jm) -- Controversial graffiti has been found on the U of I campus again. An employee found graffiti referring to the Ku Klux Klan in a mechanical room in Altgeld Hall. The graffiti has since been removed.



(Paxton-Cale)- The PBL Hall of Fame selection committee is now accepting applications for its next class. Committee member and PBL High School principal Travis Duley shares information about how the committee makes their selections and what criteria must be met.



Hall of Fame selection committee member and PBL high school principal Travis Duley



(Undated-jm) -- Flu deaths are up 65 percent in 2020 according to the CDC. 4800 people have died and 87,000 people have been hospitalized because of the flu. 32 of the deaths have been children. The CDC reports 33 states have high flu activity currently including Illinois. They say flu season began early and was aggressive.


State regulators report dispensaries sold nearly $20 million in products in first 12 days of 2020

(Rantoul--jc)  -- The groundbreaking for a new sports complex in Rantoul took place on Tuesday afternoon. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…




(Springfield-jm) -- In the first 12 days of legal cannabis sales, state regulators report dispensaries sold nearly $20 million in products in nearly 500,000 transactions, but some have already raised concerns about how the tax revenue from recreational cannabis will be spent. The single largest day for sales was on New Year’s Day, when sales began. Sales that day totaled $3.2 million. After the first day, sales tapered off, especially as some dispensaries had to close because of product shortages and to give employees time off. 



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School board is expected to consider several items at tonight’s school board meeting. School board members will discuss the 2020-2021 school calendar, discuss a maintenance grant and consider the purchase of new math textbooks for grades 2-5. The PBL school board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Springfield-Cale) Yesterday at a Capitol press conference State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) said the final task force report was another missed opportunity, but it won’t be the final word..



Tuesday’s press conference was the third held around the state to point out the Dem controlled task force failure and to let taxpayers know that the House Republicans will continue to push for property tax relief.  



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton Food Pantry will continue to operate following the death of their director. Millie Sutton died last week. Sutton was the director of the PBL Community Food Pantry. The food pantry’s board said they will continue to remain open. The PBL Community Food Pantry is open 9-11:30 am Thursdays and Saturdays and serves families in the Paxton Buckley and Loda communities.



(Paxton-jm) -- One Paxton school is raising awareness about heart disease. Clara Peterson Elementary is teaming up with the American Heart Association to raise awareness and funds for the kids heart challenge. According to the American Heart Association, about 50 percent of children are not getting enough physical exercise and one in five are obese. The school’s goal is to raise $25,000.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is being recognized as a top place to hold a special event. The magazine ‘Unique Venues’ named the library and museum the best venue in the country for a unique experience. Spokesperson Chris Wills says they have had dinners, cocktail parties and receptions at the facility…



Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Spokesperson Chris Wills. Learn more about hosting an event at the Lincoln Library or Museum at: president lincoln dot illinois dot gov.


CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois regulators say they are investigating apparent violations of a rule intended to prevent marijuana shops statewide from stockpiling weed from a single cultivator while also reminding retailers that they are required by law to keep enough product on hand for medical patients. Just over a week after the state’s recreational pot sales kicked off on Jan. 1, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation sent a letter to dispensaries on Friday saying they were aware of violations and probing whether stores were illegally sourcing more than 40% of their product from one grower. The law is aimed at preventing pot growers from entering into exclusive agreements with specific shops and making sure all stores have a diversity of products from various sources.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Lottery is launching two new monopoly instant games. The Monopoly 10 times and Monopoly 25 times multiplier tickets are now on sale, costing two and five dollars each. Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg says it’s a good time to celebrate a favorite childhood game…



Illinois Lottery Spokesperson Jason Schaumburg. The grand prize ranges from 25 thousand to 350 thousand dollars and there is also a second chance drawing for non winning tickets for a trip to Las Vegas.



(Gifford-Cale) The Gifford Grade School District Board of Education will have their monthly meeting tonight. They will be discussing the transfer of personnel to the Technology Education Position for the 2020-2021 School year, and the exact date in May of this year for the Eighth Grade Promotion. 


(Paxton-Cale) - It’s not too late to get in on that “New Year’s resolution! The Paxton Park District has a way to get in shape or drop a couple pounds in a fun way! Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry says they offer 3 zumba classes.



Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry 



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton Police have released their recent activity report. On January 10th, a 14 year old was taken to Carle Hospital for minor injuries after he was clipped by a slow moving vehicle in the 600 block of East Summer Street. On January 11th, Austin Walts, 20, of Fort Bliss Texas was arrested for driving on a suspended license and ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, speeding and improper lane usage following a traffic stop at Pells and Stockholm. Also on January 11th, Jacob Gaul, 20, of Paxton was arrested for driving on a suspended license following a traffic stop at Cherry and Franklin.


Production of Corn and Soybeans were both down by about 1/5 from last year's totals

(Springfield-jm) -- Production of Illinois’ two most valuable crops fell by roughly one-fifth last year, according to final crop yield numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Corn and soybean growers saw production drop 18.6 percent and 20.4 percent respectively compared to 2018. Farmers harvested just over 1.8 billion bushels of corn, down from more than 2.2 billion the year before. Soybean production decreased from around 667 million bushels to just over 532 million. 2019 was the worst year for corn since 2012, when farmers produced about 1.3 billion bushels. Soybean production had its worst year since 2013, which saw 461 million bushels.Yield per acre was down 14 percent for corn at 180 bushels and 15 percent for soybeans at 54 bushels. That’s the lowest for corn since 2015 and the lowest for soybeans since 2013.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois economy grew at a slower pace than most neighboring states and the nation as a whole during the third quarter of 2019, according to new figures. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which tracks state-by-state economic trends, said overall, the state’s economy grew at a modest annualized rate of 1.4 percent, well below the national rate of 2.1 percent. Illinois ranked 41st in the nation for GDP growth during the quarter, according to the data. Texas showed the fastest-growing economy, at nearly 4 percent, while Delaware came in last with no measurable growth.



(Springfield-jm) -- Comptroller Susana Mendoza is pushing to end exit bonus pay for Illinois lawmakers. The problem arose when two legislators who were under federal investigation resigned. Comptroller Mendoza says Senator Martin Sandoval gave up his seat as of January 1st, but will be paid for the entire month…



Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. Legislation paying resigning lawmakers on a prorated basis has been introduced in the Illinois Senate. 



(Undated-jm) -- Fire departments across the state can apply for a grant from the state. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is awarding $3.5 million in small equipment grants for fire departments and private ambulance services. The office will grant up to $26,000 for each department that applies. The deadline to apply is February 29th.



(Paxton-jm) -- A new alderman for Ward 4 in the city of Paxton could be named at tonight’s city council meeting. Mayor Bill Ingold is expected to name the replacement after alderman Rob Steiger announced he was moving out of the district last month. In addition, council members could take action on whether or not to install safety signs at the intersections of Holmes and Elm, Holmes and Maple and Holmes and American. The Paxton City Council meeting gets underway at 7pm.



(Paxton-Cale) The PBL Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations. Many people ask where you can find those forms, many are located in area businesses as well as online. PBL High School Principal Travis Duley has more on where those forms can be found…. 




PBL High School Principal Travis Duley.



(Iroquois County-jm) -- Iroquois County is into what it will take to make their government building restrooms ADA compliant. One of the changes being considered is to take some janitors closets and turn them into handicap and family restrooms.


(Washington-jm) -- The U.S.-China trade deal won't be reflected in USDA's crop reports until the details are made public, but anticipation for the deal is reflected in prices. Stephanie Ho has the details…




(Springfield-jm) -- The director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture has resigned. Governor J-B Pritzker asked John Sullivan to resign after he learned Sullivan knew about the cover up of a rape incident in Champaign while he was a state senator and didn’t report the incident. Sullivan is not considered a suspect in the incident.



(Undated-jm) -- More hospitals are merging but the quality of care is decreasing. The new study says hospitals use merging as a way to share costs and reduce competition however, it also decreases the quality of care. Researchers say more research needs to be done to determine why there is a decrease in care.


(Springfield-jm) -- New rules governing how retail gun dealers do business go into effect Friday and include the types of records they must keep, how weapons and ammunition are to be stored and the kinds of video surveillance and security systems they must maintain. The rules, established by the Illinois State Police and scheduled to be published in the Illinois Register on Friday, will go into effect almost one year to the day after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act into law. The Act requires firearm dealers who have a federal firearm license to also obtain a state certificate and comply with state regulations. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois ranks low in arrest rates for driving under the influence, according to a recent report. The state is only behind Delaware, placing 49th in a recent report from U.S. Drug Test Centers, a drug testing company, in terms of the number of DUI arrests per 100,000 people. The report was based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FBI crime statistics. The report found that not only has the state reached almost the bottom in terms of DUI arrests, but it has seen both short-term declines – over 4 years, DUI arrests are down more than 20 percent – and long-term decreases in DUI arrests. DUI arrests declined more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.



(Springfield-jm) -- “Operation Lambert” is underway in Illinois with State Police focusing on drivers violating the state’s move over law. Special details are running around the state in honor of Trooper Christopher Lambert who was struck and killed last year by a passing vehicle. I-S-P Sergeant Delila Garcia explains the law…



Illinois State Police Sergeant Delila Garcia. Violators face a fine of at least 250 dollars. The special details run through Sunday. 



(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher School District has received a commendable rating from the state in their recent report card. Juniors SAT scores as well as freshman and sophomore PSAT scores came in above the state average. The district says they are working on a plan to continue making improvements.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Village Board members will be voting on several items at tonight's village board meeting. Village board members will be asked to approve a contract for HVAC work at the police station for over $153,000, approve the purchase of a vehicle for public works administration as well as a vehicle for the street and water division and consider adding a new video gaming class. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Roberts-Cale)-- The Village of Roberts has sold the old Library Building. Roberts Mayor Rick Flesser talks about the new usage of the building.



Roberts Mayor Rick Flesser



(Piper City-jm) -- Piper City residents wont see an increase in the amount of taxes they pay to the village. Village leaders voted to leave the levy at the same rate as last year. That will bring in $79,226. The village set their appropriation ordinance at $613,500.



(Springfield-jm) -- The State Department of Children and Family Services is asking for the public to help stop human trafficking in Illinois. There are certain signs you can watch out for to spot victims of child human trafficking says DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. That includes an adult controlling a child or speaking for them…



DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. During the last fiscal year, DCFS investigated 255 allegations of human trafficking of children, although the agency says it’s a crime that’s often underreported. If you suspect a child is a victim, call 9-1-1 or the state’s hotline 1-800-25-ABUSE.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois is reporting the first pediatric flu related death in the state. The victim is from the Chicago area and died of complications from the flu. So far 6.4 million cases of influenza have been reported.



(Undated-jm) -- January 27th is the first day you can begin to file your taxes with the IRS. The average refund last year was $2,800. The last day to file is April 15th. If you need an extension, extensions can be granted to October 15th.


Illinois State Police will be going after Scott's Law violators in a special enforcement patrol this week

(Rantoul-jm) -- One man was injured following a shooting in Rantoul over the weekend. Police were called to the 1200 block of Aspen Drive just before 8 pm Saturday night for a report of shots fired. While out investigating the incident police learned a victim was taken to an Urbana in a personal vehicle. The victim was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.



NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Carle Health has announced plans to purchase medical facilities owned by Advocate Aurora Health, including hospitals in Normal and Eureka. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports that the Urbana-based Carle and Advocate announced the acquisition this week. Terms were not released, nor were name changes for Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Advocate Eureka Hospital and other facilities in central Illinois. Governing boards of both organizations approved the merger. Leonard and Colleen Kannaday, president of Advocate BroMenn and Advocate Eureka, said they expected to close the deal by mid-year. It requires approval by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board and the Federal Trade Commission.



(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is launching a program to replace all B-Truck plates in Illinois. The oldest plates will be replaced first and drivers will be notified by mail when their plate is eligible for an upgrade. Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt says this is about safety…



Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. There will be no costs to motorists and this will be an ongoing process that replaces plates every 10 years. About one point three million people in Illinois have B-truck plates. 



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton Buckley Loda student is one of 21 future leaders nominated to one of the nation’s military academies. Congressman John Shimkus nominated Ben Busby to the U-S Military Academy. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School leaders will begin fiscal year 2021 budget discussions at tonight’s school board meeting. In addition, school board members will also consider adopting district goals. The Rantoul Township High School meeting gets underway at 7pm.


(Paxton-Cale) The Paxton Park District has sign up sheets for youth soccer, Park District Director Neil McKenry has more…. 



Paxton Park District Director Neil McKenry 



(Hoopeston-Cale) The 2020 Hoopeston Area FFA Alumni Scholarship Auction will take place at the Hoopeston American Legion on January, 25 2020. Food will be served from 4:30 pm until they run out at a free will donation. There will be a Silent Auction from 4pm to 6pm, and a live auction starting at 6pm. 


(Springfield-Cale)-- Over $13,500 in scholarships are available through the Illinois Pork Producers association or IPPA this year. The application is now available on the IPPA website for the 2020-2021 academic year. Also available is the Ryan & Friends Scholarship sponsored by the Illinois Purebred Swine Council. The scholarship will award 4 one- thousand dollar scholarships.  In addition, students can also apply for the Adam Fesser Scholarship sponsored by the Mid-Illinois Pork Producers Association. That scholarship will be worth one- thousand dollars. Applicants must have been a 4-H or FFA member. 


CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic leaders have selected a 23-year-old community activist who works for U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy″ Garcia to fill a vacant Illinois House seat. Edgar Gonzalez Jr., was appointed Friday evening to a Chicago-area post vacated by former state Rep. Celina Villaneuva. She was appointed to fill an Illinois Senate seat vacated by ex-Sen. Martin Sandoval, who’s under federal investigation. Gonzalez will be one of the youngest lawmakers to ever serve in the state Legislature.



(Undated-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be going after Scott’s Law violators in a special enforcement patrol this week. The enforcement patrol dubbed Operation Lambert hopes to raise awareness about the law requiring drivers to move over for emergency vehicles. Trooper Christopher Lambert was killed last year after a vehicle failed to move over and struck and killed him.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is hiring and applications for this summer’s cadet class are due by January 31st. Applicants must be at least 21 and have an associates degree or 60 hours of college work. Master Sergeant Hector Alejandre says it’s a rewarding career and that the Illinois State Police is the best in the country…



Illinois State Police Master Sergeant Hector Alejandre. Those interested can visit: Illinois trooper dot com for more information.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul City Schools will be hosting a series of  meetings this week to discuss the Safe Routes to School program. The meetings, from 5-6:30 will take place this evening at Eastlawn Elementary, tomorrow night at Pleasant Acres Elementary, Wednesday night at Broadmeadow Elementary and Thursday night at Northview Elementary.



(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City leaders have a light agenda for tonight’s meeting. Council leaders are expected to approve a Department of Natural Resources grant and hear a presentation on the 2020 Harvest Fest. The Gibson City city council meeting gets underway at 7pm.


(Washington-jm) --  Weather could turn the late Midwest harvest into a late spring planting. Gary Crawford reports…




(Champaign--Cale) C-U at home will host their ninth annual community awareness event, One Winter Night, on Friday, Feb. 7 2020 in downtown Champaign from 6pm to 6am. Box dwellers will brave the winter cold as they sleep on the streets in cardboard boxes to get a firsthand experience of what it might be like to be homeless. 



(Urbana--jc)  -- A Champaign County man was sentenced to 8 years in prison for stealing guns from his employer. Champaign County Judge Tom DiFanis passed the sentenced on 29 year old Justin Johnson on Friday in Champaign County court. Johnson plead guilty in December of a charge of aggravated possession of stolen weapons and possession of weapons by a felon stemming from a break-in at the Rantoul Rural King in early August.

Analysis of population trends now suggests Illinois will only lose one seat in Congress

(Springfield-jm) -- An analysis of population trends now suggests Illinois will only lose one seat in Congress. Illinois has lost tens of thousands in total population count since 2010, when the last U.S. Census count took place. The latest Census figures showed the state’s population declined by 51,000. Among other downsides, the population losses mean fewer members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressional seats are apportioned based on how the national population is split between states by the decennial U.S. Census. Each state is given one Representative and the other 385 seats are distributed by the state's share of the population. In Illinois, lawmakers in the majority are allowed to draw political boundaries. This has been the crux of protests from residents pushing for previous redistricting reform initiatives.


(Springfield-Cale)-- Lawmakers throughout the state of Illinois are giving sharp response to a Chicago radio report this week concerning a powerful former Springfield lobbyist and close friend of House Speaker Michael Madigan who once sought leniency for a state worker in a disciplinary case by arguing that the worker “kept his mouth shut” about an unspecified rape downstate says Republicn Minority Leader Jim Durkin.. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinoisans awoke to a brand new industry on New Year’s Day, with legal recreational marijuana sales coming online Jan. 1. Lines were long. Enthusiasts celebrated. Dispensaries cleared more than $10 million in sales in the first week.  At the same time, images of customers’ receipts were spreading across social media. Even in Illinois, which financial forecasting service Kiplinger dubbed the least tax-friendly state in the nation, weed buyers had sticker shock.  Of the 10 states with legal recreational marijuana regimes, Illinois is home to the second-highest tax burden on retail sales, according to a review of state and local statutes. In Chicago, customers will pay up to 41.25% in taxes on some marijuana products, after factoring in a soon-to-be-passed Cook County excise tax. That total doesn’t even include a 7% state wholesale tax further up the supply chain, which will be passed down to consumers through higher prices.



(Springfield-jm) -- The penalty for crimes committed in places of worship increased at the beginning of the year. Crimes such as assault and battery has been upgraded to aggravated assault or aggravated battery. 


(Undated-jm) -- At least 29 hundred people in the U-S have died from the flu according to the CDC. 6 point 4 million people have come down with the illness while 55 thousand have been hospitalized. Many hospitals have implemented visiting restrictions due to the flu.


(Roberts-cale)-- City of Roberts will be updating their water testing equipment. The new equipment will save approximately 15 minutes per day.  Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner says the equipment needed to be updated….



Roberts Mayor Rick Flessner


(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been arrested on criminal sexual assault charges. Richard Thome allegedly forced a woman to have sex. Bond was set at $25,000. He faces 4-15 years in prison.


(Urbana-jm) -- The chairman of the Champaign County Board will have the final say in who will fill out the remainder of County Treasurer Laurel Prussings term. Prussing announced last week she is resigning at the end of the month. There had been questions as to whether the responsibility to pick a candidate to fill out the remainder of Prussings term would fall to County Executive Darlene Kloeppel or county board chairman Giraldo Rosales.


CHICAGO – With a forecast of heavy rainfall into the weekend, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 5 encourages you to get ready for the possibility of flooding in the local area.Flooding can happen anytime, even in winter months, says FEMA Region 5 Administrator James . Joseph. Joseph says to make sure your family knows how to stay safe before extreme weather occurs—don’t attempt to walk or drive through flowing water and verify your mobile phone is enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts to warn you of dangerous conditions and other emergencies in your area. Follow the instructions of state and local officials and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information related to this storm system. During this time of year, floodwaters can be excessively cold so be cautious, as even brief exposure can be life threatening. Stay indoors if possible, check that your sump pump is functioning properly and ensure nothing valuable is stored on your basement floor to avoid potential damage from unexpected flooding. Tips are found on line at



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is denouncing as “horrific” a newly disclosed 2012 email in which a powerful lobbyist cryptically suggests knowledge of cover-ups involving a rape and shady hiring practices.  The Democratic governor said he referred the email, written by Michael McClain, a confidante of House Speaker Michael Madigan, to independent investigators. Madigan on Thursday endorsed that approach, rejecting Republicans' call for a House committee probe. In the email, uncovered by WBEZ radio, McClain sought leniency for an employee facing discipline, noting that he “kept his mouth shut on ... ghost workers (and) the rape in Champaign."


(Paxton-Cale) The Paxton Knights of Columbus Council #8229 will be hosting their free throw contest on Jan. 12. Any person aged 9 to 14 can participate in the contest. Organizer Trent Eshleman says registration is at 12:30 with the event starting at 1pm



Knights of Columbus  Free Throw Organizer Trent Eshleman



(Urbana--jc)  In updating our story from Thursday, Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup has released more information on the two men involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash from Wednesday along on Interstate 74. Thirty-seven year old Rodney Young of Champaign,  was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 9:06PM on January 8, 2020. An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon to determine a cause of death for Rodney who was reportedly ejected from the vehicle during the crash.46 year old Shawntez L. Young of Champaign  was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital on Wednesday afternoon He died from multiple blunt force injuries he received during the crash.. The crash occurred at 8:25PM in the westbound lanes of Interstate 74 near mile post 183 and involved a single vehicle occupied by four male individuals. This crash remains under investigation by the Illinois State Police District 10 and the coroner’s office. 


(Roberts-Cale)- The Lyle Adkins benefit will be taking place this Saturday in Roberts. Benefit Spokesperson Venice Perrish talks about what will be served for dinner, and about the silent auction.



Benefit Spokesperson Venice Parrish



(Chicago--jc)  --Illinois may have legalized weed, but the federal government still controls the skies, so cannabis consumers can't fly with it. Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports have so-called “amnesty boxes” for people to dispose of any pot they have in their possession before completing the security screening process to board a plane. Police say any cannabis left in the boxes will be disposed of as officials would dispose of any narcotics.


The Loda American Legion will host a fish and chicken supper tonight. 


2019 was the 5th wettest year on record in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The speaker of the Illinois House said Wednesday that he had no knowledge of an alleged unreported rape that was referenced in an email written in 2012 by one of his close friends, a powerful lobbyist, and sent to the office of former Gov. Pat Quinn. Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who is not referenced in the email or mentioned in connection with the alleged incident, issued a statement asking for cooperation from anyone with information. The 2012 email from lobbyist Michael McClain to one of Quinn’s top aides mentions an apparent cover-up of the sexual assault that allegedly happened in the central Illinois city of Champaign.



(Springfield-jm) -- 2019 was the 5th wettest year on record in Illinois. Illinois received nearly 50 inches of rain last year says State Climatologist Trent Ford…


State Climatologist Trent Ford. The average statewide temperature for 2019 was 52 point one degrees, which is only about a degree below normal.. The local forecast shows 3 to 4 inches of rain over the next 48 hours and a possibility of 3 to 4 inches of snow this weekend.



(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul business destroyed by fire last week is open in a new location. TT Distribution Fasteners and Tools relocated to a location on Sangamon Avenue. Firefighters believe a wood burning stove caused the fire last week.


(Gifford-jm) -- The village of Gifford has approved a three percent cannabis tax in the village. The move comes after village leaders voted in November to ban the dispensing of recreational cannabis. Village leaders say the tax leaves open the possibility of reversing the ban in the future.



(Washington-jm) -- Now that a Senate committee has agreed to send the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the full Senate, speculation begins on how soon the matter be voted upon. Rod Bain reports…




(Rantoul-jm) -- Groundbreaking for the new $20 million sports complex in Rantoul will be held next week. The village announced Wednesday the groundbreaking will take place next Tuesday January 14 at 1pm. The new sports complex will be built near the Walmart and Holiday Inn Express.


(Washington-jm) -- It has been three weeks since the U.S. House with only Democratic support passed two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and Illinois’ Republican delegation, even though they didn’t support the articles, want the House to send them to the Senate. Trump was impeached Dec. 18 without any Republican support. The two articles majority Democrats passed were for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over allegations the president withhold military aid from Ukraine in exchange for a domestic political favor. The president has denied any wrongdoing. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the issue of impeachment has taken all the oxygen out of Washington. He said he was baffled as to why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not sent the articles to the Senate. Pelosi has said she wants to see what the Senate process will entail.



(Springfield-jm) -- The state Department of Labor wants Illinois workers to know their rights when it comes to breaks and time off. For starters, Labor Department Assistant Director Jason Keller says all full-time employees must get a meal break of 20 minutes for every seven and a half hour shift. That break must be no later than five hours into the shift…



State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. There are exceptions for some employees, like farmers, coal miners and security guards. Violations of the One Day Rest in Seven Act can be reported on the Department of Labor’s website.



(Watseka-jm) -- The deadline to register to vote in the March primary is coming up. The deadline to vote in the March 17th primary is February 18th. For those wanting to vote early, the last day to vote is March 16th. 



(Sibley-jm) -- The village of Sibley is looking to possibly restock Sibley Lake this year. The village didn’t restock the lake last year. The village typically spends $1,000 to restock the lake.



(Washington-jm) -- How much will the pending U.S./China trade deal play into this Friday's new round of USDA crop and livestock forecasts? Gary Crawford reports…




(Rantoul-jm) -- Tax appeals for three properties in the Rantoul Township High School district have been settled. Outdoor Vista settled their assessed value at $2.2 million instead of $2.7 million. Rantoul Foods settled at $626,000 instead of $1.1 million. Golfview settled for $682,000 instead of $1.3 million. Golfview is coming off the tax increment financing district and will be on the tax rolls.

Two of the state's largest electric utilities owe their customers a combined $543 million in refunds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois could lighten its property tax burden by consolidating governmental taxing districts, standardizing property-value assessments, tightening up the appeals process and reining in breaks on commercial redevelopments, according to a draft report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The unpublished report, required by state law signed last summer by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, found that Illinois hauls in $30 billion a year, or 38% of the total taxes collected, from a system put in place when the state was founded on its agricultural economy. Now it’s best known as the nation’s next-to-costliest, behind New Jersey .



(Springfield-jm) -- After reports of children being locked up in isolation rooms for misbehavior, Illinois lawmakers are looking at ways to better handle these situations. When the report came out, the State Board of Education enacted emergency rules, and now, legislation has been proposed. At a hearing in Chicago, Tom Tebbe (tebby) with the Illinois Association of School Social Workers called for more school staff training…



State Association of School Social Workers Tom Tebbe. Other areas discussed include extensive reporting and review of incidents and punishment for schools illegally restraining students. 

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for producing counterfeit anti-anxiety pills at his home. Federal prosecutors alleged Stephan Caamano produced 4.3 million pills in his Champaign home and distributed them through the U.S. mail. Caamano, 24, pleaded guilty in April to charges he operated a fake Xanax production scheme between March 2017 and May 2018. The charges included distribution of a controlled substance and money laundering.



(Paxton-jm) -- Property tax payers in the Paxton Buckley Loda School District should expect to see a decrease in their taxes. Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about the districts tax rate…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- Ford County Fair Queen Evie Ellis will compete for the title of Miss Illinois County Fair Queen later this month. The competition will take place January 16th through the 19th at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. Ellis is a 2019 graduate of Paxton Buckley Loda High School. She currently attends the University of Illinois majoring in Food Science and Human Nutrition.



(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College will hold an informational session on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois. The session will be held on Wednesday January 22nd from 12-1 in the Student Union cafeteria.


(Washington-jm) -- Traders will soon be getting a better idea of how this past season's crops actually turned out. Gary Crawford reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- Two of the state’s largest electric utilities owe their customers a combined $543 million in refunds, according to state regulators, but there is sharp disagreement over how much time the companies should have to pay it back. At issue for Ameren Illinois and Commonwealth Edison, is money they collected to pay future tax bills before federal tax cuts which took effect in 2018 lowered those anticipated rates. When the corporate tax rate was slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent, both companies found themselves holding onto large surpluses, known as “excess deferred income taxes,” or EDIT. For ComEd, which serves 4 million customers in Chicago and northern Illinois, the excess amounted to $385 million. For Ameren, which serves about 1.2 million customers in central Illinois and the Metro East area, it amounted to $158 million.


(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ Congressional delegation is sounding off on the president’s powers under the decades-old War Powers Act after President Donald Trump used a drone strike to kill an Iranian general. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, supported last week’s strike on Qasem Soleimani. On the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said Soleimani was a terrorist who killed Americans. However, Durbin said previous presidents had their sights on Soleimani, but didn’t act. Members of Congress are expected to get a briefing about the justification for the strike from the Trump administration today.



(Springfield-jm) -- Applications for more licenses in the Illinois Cannabis Industry are now available. Marijuana craft growers, infusers and transporters can now apply for a state license. It’s part of the continued effort to get more businesses involved says the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox…



Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox. Those who qualify as social equity applicants will get extra points on their app and are eligible to receive grants, low interest loans and fee reductions. Visit: agriculture dot illinois dot gov for the applications. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police officials are working on a new service to reduce a backlog of more than 60,000 new, changed or renewal requests for Firearm Owners' Identification cards, but it’s expensive and will take time. The Illinois State Police posted an update on the agency's Facebook page that said it has about "62,000 FOID applications under review which includes new, renewals and changes.” The post said the agency is still working with Presidio, an IT services vendor that has contracts with a number of other state agencies, to implement a service that will eventually allow residents to handle many issues via automated voice prompts.



The Village of Roberts is still dealing with issues resulting from the paint chips removed from the water tower. Roberts Village Mayor Rick Flessner says he has to hear back from the EPA before approval of cleanup can take place. 



Roberts Village Mayor Rick Flessner



(Undated-jm) -- Congressman John Shimkus is doing his final Valentines for Hero collection. Shimkus’ office will be collecting Valentines through February 7th. Shimkus started the collection in 2008. You can send Valentines to his office in Maryville, Harrisburg and Danville.

(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School will be holding a blood drive in January. Executive Director Sandy Spitz says its part of their Wintorium curriculum…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.


(Hoopeston-jm) -- The Hoopeston Multi-Agency is receiving new equipment for their kitchen. The Hoopeston Rotary Club obtained a $2,000 grant for the project. The agency will receive new stoves, roasters and a beverage dispenser.



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow Grade School District will spend $11,000 to upgrade their security camera system. The district approved the contract for the new system with MCS Office Technologies of Gibson City. The new cameras will be both inside and outside of the school.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office has some tips for keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide this winter. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is very dangerous says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. He says you should never use your gas range or oven as a heat source and make sure your chimney flue is open when you use your fireplace. Additionally…



State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu and include headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness. Pets that are exposed may become sluggish. Those affected or hear their detector go off are advised to evacuate and call 9-1-1 immediately. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police are still accepting applications for new troopers. They extended the deadline for Cadet Class 132 to January 31. According to the ISP website, those whose applications were accepted will be invited to take the Recruitment Test and the Physical Fitness Inventory Test. 


Harvest Ale House in Paxton set to Close

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton restaurant is closing. Ben Grice announced Monday evening on facebook that Harvest Ale House will close in the next couple of weeks and the building will be up for sale. Grice’s other restaurant Humble Hog will remain open.



(Springfield-jm) -- In just two years, Illinois lost $12.4 billion in Adjusted Gross Income, according to IRS migration data analyzed by public finance watchdog Wirepoints. The IRS updated its data last month. Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said it shows more than 218,000 people left Illinois in 2017 and 2018 combined and more than $12.4 billion in income, among the worst losses of all states. Among the many areas of analysis included in the Wirepoints report is data that show the incomes of people who leave Illinois are larger than the incomes of people who move into Illinois.



(Springfield-jm) -- More college financial aid opportunities are now available for undocumented and transgender students in Illinois. Students that don’t qualify for federal aid can still apply for state dollars under the new Rise Act says Illinois Student Assistance Commission Spokesperson Lynne Baker…



Illinois Student Assistance Commission Spokesperson Lynne Baker. Interested students should fill out the alternative application for map grants. Additional apps will become available for other financial programs as well. Visit isac dot org for all the details.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating multiple reports of shots fired over the weekend. Police received several reports of shots fired in the area of Harper Drive, Lowry Drive and Keesler Drive around 2 am Sunday morning. Officers were not able to recover any evidence of a shooting.



(Rantoul-jm) -- Residents in the Rantoul City Schools District will see an decrease in their property taxes despite a tax levy increase. In a 5-2 vote, district leaders approved a 4 point 99 percent increase. The increase is expected to bring in an additional 247,751 to the district. The good news for tax payers is the tax rate is expected to drop to 4 point 7596. That means a person with a $100,000 home will pay $43.93 less in taxes.



(Elliott-jm) -- Water quality concerns are being addressed by the village of Elliott. Residents and village trustees have noticed an increase in the amount of rust and the smell of iron in their water. So far, water samples have passed state EPA standards. The village is in the process of applying for an Illinois Rural Water Association Grant for a new water system. A public hearing, as part of the grant application process, will be held on January 14th at 6:45 pm.


(Rantoul-jm) -- Fire crews from Rantoul and Thomasboro have been busy over the past week. Firefighters have responded to several fires. On the 31st, firefighters responded to a fire at the Burger King on the villages west side. The next night, firefighters from several area fire departments responded to a fire downtown. Sunday morning firefighters were called to a fire on Fairlawn Drive. Sunday night and early Monday morning firefighters were called to a house fire a mile south of the village.



CHICAGO (AP) — A report highlighting persistent problems within Illinois’ child welfare agency showed 123 children died in the past fiscal year despite having contact with the Department of Children and Family Services. It was the highest number since the fiscal year ending in 2005, when the number was 139 deaths, according to annual reports released each January by the department’s inspector general. The lowest it was during that that time was 84 in the fiscal year ending in 2010. Of the 123 deaths in the fiscal year that ended last June, 24 were ruled homicides, 37 were accidental, 34 were natural, seven were suicide and 21 were undetermined.



(Springfield-jm) -- Comptroller Susana Mendoza says her office will stop helping local governments collect red light ticket fines. Comptroller Mendoza says the red light camera system is unfair to low income Illinoisans and is the subject of a federal corruption probe…



Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. The Comptroller’s office worked on behalf of 60 Chicago area communities last year, collecting around 11 million dollars. Mendoza says those local governments can use private debt collectors instead. 



(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating a robbery in the village over the weekend. Police say a man entered Colonial Liquors on Maplewood Drive just before midnight Sunday night, displayed a gun and demanded cash. The suspect is described as a black male, 25 to 30 years of age, about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was wearing a black jacket, black gloves and a black and white Halloween-type mask. He carried a dark-colored handgun.



(Paxton-jm) -- There is a vacancy on the Paxton City Council. Alderman Rob Steiger resigned at the city’s December meeting. Steiger moved outside of city limits and had to step down.



(Gifford-jm) -- The Gifford Grade School District is seeking a 9 percent tax levy increase. The district says the equalized assessed valuation is expected to climb $3.729 million to $53.331 million. Their tentative levy is set at 1.406 million which is expected to bring in an additional $116,107 for the district.



Illinois could lose a member of Congress due to decline in population

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ industries are reacting to new U.S. Census Bureau data that shows Illinois led the nation in population loss over the past decade. The state lost nearly 160,000 residents in just six years, which could mean fewer members in Congress representing the Land of Lincoln. Over the six consecutive years of population losses, the rate of decline accelerated year-to-year with more than 51,000 fewer people in the 12 months that ended July 1, 2019. Demographers say it’s likely Illinois will lose one U.S. congressman, if not two, come the next reapportionment. Illinois had 25 congressional districts in 1948, but lost a seat after the 1950 census. Today, there are 18 congressional seats. Illinois lost it’s 19th congressional seat in 2013 after the 2010 reapportionment. The next reapportionment will occur after the 2020 Census and before the 2022 elections. If Illinois loses more congressional representation because it’s bleeding population to other states, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, warns that will mean lost representation for rural areas. 



(Undated-jm) -- Last month was the 18th warmest December on record in Illinois. The statewide average temperature was 35 point two degrees in December, which is about five degrees above normal. State Climatologist Trent Ford says it was the second half of the month that was the warmest…



State Climatologist Trent Ford. Precipitation was below normal in December. Ford says the short term outlook calls for increased chances of warmer and wetter conditions in Illinois. 


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Owners of Illinois glass pipe shops are elated to begin selling bongs after the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuana took effect. Recreational marijuana users will be able to get equipment to use cannabis at several local stores. Traditional tobacco shops such as Jon’s Pipe Shop will not sell marijuana equipment, but some other smoke and vape shops intend to sell. Vapors Plus will sell water pipes, hand pipes, bubblers and other equipment. Meanwhile, a dispensary based in Champaign is focusing on marijuana products, such as joints, edibles, concentrates, tinctures and vape cartridges, instead of the equipment to use cannabis, such as pipes, bubblers and grinders.



(Washington-jm) -- USDA is collecting data for a special study called the 2019 Census of Horticulture. Officials are asking that if you get a Census form, please respond. Stephanie Ho reports…




(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County will be looking for a new treasurer. Current Treasurer Laurel Prussing announced Friday she is stepping down at the end of the month. Prussing was elected to the position in 2018.



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Farm Bureau is teaming up with Country Financial to host a series of farm legacy seminars around the state. The seminars will provide current and prospective Illinois Farm Bureau members and Country Financial clients with tools, protection and ongoing support essential to legacy planning, in order to allow them to keep their farm in the family amid today’s financial challenges. Locally, a seminar will be held on February 26th from 5 to 7 pm at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.



(Undated-jm) -- Farm Credit Illinois is hosting a series of learning programs for members this winter. On Monday, January 13th from 9:30-noon at their Mahomet location will be a program on crop insurance updates. A similar topic will be discussed in Milford on Tuesday, January 28th from 12:30 -2:30 at Imagine. A Freshroots forum will be held Tuesday, February 11th at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign from 9:30-3.



(Paxton-jm) -- Many school districts across the state continue to deal with funding issues from the state. Paxton Buckley Loda School Superintendent Cliff McClure talks about how the district is doing financially…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- For anyone who travels domestically or plans on entering federal facilities or nuclear power plants, they may need what the government is calling a REAL ID. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will require people to either have a valid U.S. passport, a REAL ID driver's license or  REAL ID card to fly domestically. It's an initiative of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to improve the credentialing process.



(Undated-jm) -- Police are warning people to write 2020 when signing legal documents instead of abbreviating the year. Writing “20” for the year 2020 could lead to potential fraud. Police say  someone could add additional digits to the abbreviated year. For example, a person could add the digits “17” or “19” to make it look like 2017 or 2019.


(Rantoul--jc)  There is another fire in the Rantoul area this morning. Officials say the fire was reported around 1 this morning in a building one mile south of Rantoul. No injuries have been reported. WPXN news will update this story as it develops.


(Rantoul--jc) The third fire in a week happened on Sunday morning in Rantoul. A fire apparently started in the kitchen in a home at 11-0h-5 Fairlawn Drive around 10 yesterday morning. Fire Chief Ken Waters says around 100 thousand dollars damage was done to the home. Firefighters were at the scene for around 2 hours.



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Last June, as the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its spring session, first-year Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked whether he would simply kick back and wait for his re-election campaign. After all, he had accomplished virtually everything on which he had campaigned: A balanced budget, a multi-billion-dollar statewide construction program, legalization of marijuana for recreational use, a $15 minimum wage and more. But there is more work to do. Voters will be asked in November whether they want to move to a progressive income tax, lawmakers face ethics, pension and property tax reform and work on the next fiscal budget will begin.



(Springfield-jm) -- Small businesses in Illinois are urged to apply for a new minimum wage tax credit. The credit is available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 full-time employees or less says State Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro. The maximum credit amount allowed is 25 percent of the difference between the new minimum wage and each worker’s previous wage. It will end in 2026 for most small businesses. 



(Springfield-jm) -- A yearly measurement of cell phone taxes and fees found Illinoisans pay more than residents in any other state and the costs are increasing, according to a report. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation compiled state taxes and local taxes from each state’s largest city and capital city. This is how the foundation determined that Illinoisans pay an average of 31 percent, or $331 a year, for the average bill. The national average was 19 percent. Illinois charged a 7 percent excise tax on cell phones, but there were more costs at the local level.


(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Labor is reminding minimum wage workers to check their paychecks for a raise. The Illinois minimum wage rose from eight dollars 25 cents an hour to nine 25 an hour on January first and workers need to make sure they got the increase says State Labor Director Michael Kleinik…



State Labor Director Michael Kleinik. The increase will only be for hours worked in 2020. It’s been 10 years since the state increased the minimum wage and this gradual phase in will bring the minimum wage up to 15 dollars in 2025. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is reminding the public it is still illegal to drive high in Illinois despite recreational marijuana being legal. White says if you do drive high and get stopped you could face charges of Driving Under the Influence. 


(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson Area Hospital is announcing the first baby of 2020 born at their hospital. Ellie Nicole Good of Buckley was born around 7:30 am New Year’s Day. Good is the daughter of MicKayla Parker and Dakota Good of Buckley. The family was presented with a gift basket filled with baby items donated by the Gibson Area Hospital OB Department. They also received $100 in Paxton Bucks from the Gibson Area Hospital Administration.



(Watseka-jm) -- The Iroquois County Public Health Department is reminding residents that temporary food permits are needed when food is made for the public at a temporary event. The health department says temporary events include fairs, festivals, carnivals, auctions and fun days. The application for a temporary food permit can be found on their website and must be submitted at least two weeks in advance. Cost for a permit for an event lasting 1-3 days is $25. It’s $75 for an event thats 4-14 days. For more information or to find out if you need a temporary food permit call the Iroquois County Public Health Department at 815-432-2483.


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


Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Springfield-jm) -- A DCFS Inspector General’s report documents the death of 123 children who had contact with DCFS within 12 months of their death. The Department's Inspector General, Meryl Paniak, says this number should be unacceptable to every Illinois citizen. From July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, 123 children died. That's more than a 25% increase to the 98 child deaths in fiscal year 2018. The Inspector General said many of the problems she identified this year, are the same problems from 2004. One of those including the department leaving children with abusive parents and children sleeping in DCFS offices. The report also documents every child's death and recommendations for how the department can prevent similar deaths. The report is given to the Governor and the General Assembly.


(Undated-jm) -- It's been safer on the roads for drivers this holiday season. Illinois State Police said they reported exactly 120 fewer crashes on Illinois’ highways and interstates over the New Year’s holiday. ISP said they've had more troopers patrolling this holiday season, as well as year-round. Their goal in 2020 is to get that number even lower for this year's holiday season.

Illinois' agriculture and manufacturing sectors will reap gains from trade deals

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ agriculture and manufacturing sectors will reap gains from trade deals coming together through the Trump administration, and those deals could pave the way for more agreements with other countries. That’s according to U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria. He praised the House's passage of the US Mexico Canada Agreement that’s up for final passage in the U.S. Senate and looked ahead to an agreement with China being signed Jan. 15. Forty percent of the products grown, produced or manufactured in Illinois go to Canada or Mexico. Phase 1 with China, 25 percent of Illinois soybeans go to China every year.




(Rantoul-jm) -- A ribbon cutting and grand opening of a Rantoul business will be held today. Shields Auto Center will hold the ribbon cutting at 10 am at their new location next to Walmart. Everyone is invited to attend.



(Paxton-jm) -- Students in the Paxton Buckley Loda School District are almost one to one learning. One to one learning allows each student to have some form of technology to help them learn. PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure says it wouldn’t be possible without the help of the PBL Education Foundation…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- More Americans are working past the traditional retirement age of 65 compared to a decade ago. Census data shows that between 2014 and 2018, 26 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were employed. For those over 75 years old that number was 6 point 6 percent. Labor force participation also declined from 66 percent to 63 point 1 percent. The typical worker saved only $50,000 for retirement. Those who made less than $50,000 only saved about $3,000 for retirement.


(Springfield-jm) -- If you want to be exempt from Illinois' new sales tax exemption when trading in a vehicle, buy a truck. Illinois will now no longer give a full exemption on the trade-in value of a car. Instead, Illinois’ sales tax will apply to any trade-in vehicle worth more than $10,000. That means trading in a $30,000 car for one worth $60,000 will cost the customer an extra $1,200 in additional sales taxes.  The sales tax will also apply to RVs, ATVs and boats valued at more than $10,000. State officials expect the new tax to bring in $60 million annually. Exemptions include one of the more popular forms of transportation in rural Illinois. Pickup trucks or other hauling vehicles are exempt. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois topped three million dollars Wednesday. 77 thousand transactions were made on the first day for legal pot sales in Illinois with receipts totaling nearly three point two million dollars Illinois is just the second state in the midwest to legalize recreational marijuana, following Michigan which opened sales last month. 



(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow Grade School District has a new member. Jacob Good replaces Jill Jamison who stepped down in December. Good is an alum of Ludlow Grade School and Rantoul Township High School. He farms in the Ludlow area.



(Washington-jm) -- Seven USDA-led Agricultural Trade Missions are scheduled for next year in continuing efforts to diversify export opportunities. Rod Bain has the details…




(Undated-jm) -- Long hours on the job can lead to high blood pressure according to a recent survey from the American Heart Association. Those who work 49 or more hours a week had a 66 percent higher chance of getting hypertension. They were at an even greater risk of developing masked hypertension, a condition that often goes undetected during routine visits. The survey tracked more than 3,500 white collar employees. Hypertension affects nearly half of US adults and leads to an average of 82,000 deaths per year.


Half of U-S workers didn't get a raise in pay in 2019

(Undated-jm) -- Schools in Illinois must comply with a new state law that allows students to use medical cannabis on school grounds. Under the law, only medically infused products can be used at school if approved by a doctor. Medical cannabis can be administered by the school nurse, administrator of self administered by the student. The Illinois School Board Association is working to develop a training for school nurses and administrators for administering medical cannabis.



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton is moving forward with their streetscape project in the downtown area. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about what people can expect…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.



URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois woman who allegedly attacked two police officers, leaving one with a broken arm, has been found unfit to stand trial. A Champaign County judge ordered 44-year-old Treva Murray committed for treatment until she's deemed fit for trial in the November attack. The Urbana woman is charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer and resisting a peace officer. She allegedly attacked two University of Illinois police officers at an Urbana video store where she had become unruly.  Both officers ended up in the hospital, one with a broken arm and the other with an injured knee.



(Rantoul-jm) -- The superintendent of Rantoul City Schools has a new contract. The Rantoul City Schools school board approved a one year contract extension for Michelle Ramage. Ramage had two years remaining on her contract. Her contract is now good through 2022.



(Buckley-jm) -- Christ Lutheran High School will be holding a blood drive in January. Executive Director Sandy Spitz says its part of their Wintorium curriculum…



Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.



(Undated-jm) -- Half of U-S workers didn’t get a boost in pay despite the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. 49 percent of workers reported they did not receive a raise in 2019. That’s up from 38 percent in 2018. That is the highest number since 2016.


(Undated-jm) -- Right now, the state of Illinois faces $78 billion worth of unfunded teacher pension liabilities, according to the Teachers' Retirement System. Former Governor Bruce Rauner tried to shrink this number by capping teacher salary raises to 3% at the end of their career. Governor JB Pritzker overturned Rauner's salary cap, leaving the cap at 6 percent. In every other school district but Chicago, the state of Illinois pays the majority of all the pension costs and that is causing some to worry how Illinois will pay for rising pension costs.



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A University of Illinois College of Law professor accused of sexual harassment will not be returning to the university. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that teaching staff and students were notified by email that Jay Kesan's courses will be taught by other faculty members. A two-year investigation into his sexual misconduct was made public in the fall of 2018. Kesan then took a yearlong voluntary, unpaid leave of absence. He was expected to come back in January for the 2020 school year. The investigation had concluded that Kesan's conduct didn't qualify as sexual harassment or misconduct under university policy.



A local car dealership will hold an open house tomorrow in Rantoul. The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce and Shield’s Auto Center in Rantoul will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening at its new location near Walmart on the Village’s west side at 10am.



(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka is the latest hospital to add temporary visitor restrictions. The restrictions include no one under the age of 18 in patient rooms, no more than two visitors per patient and those visiting someone in isolation must check in at the nurses station.



(Paxton-jm) -- The Illinois High School Association voted recently against moving to a district playoff format from the current playoff format in football. Paxton Buckley Loda Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr talks about how the vote affects the team…


PBL Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr.



(Undated-jm) -- The past year’s population growth rate in the United States was the slowest in a century due to declining births, increasing deaths and the slowdown of international migration. Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show the U.S. grew from the middle of 2018 to the middle of 2019 by almost a half percent, or about 1.5 million people. The U.S. population stood at 328 million this year.


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