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WPXN Blog Archives for 2020-12

The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene in January 2021 for a lame duck session

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene in January 2021 for a lame duck session. The Illinois House will meet on Friday, January 8, 2021, at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center. In an email to House members, the Office of the Speaker's Chief of Staff Jessica Basham said representatives should plan on staying in Springfield from January 8 through at least January 13, and potentially longer.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Families in Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program will see lowered copays in the beginning of the new year. Governor J-B Pritzker announced that parents in the program will pay a maximum of $1.25 in monthly copays for January and February 2021. State officials said that as of November, about 98,000 children were enrolled in the program.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- After months of waiting, the home day cares in Illinois will be able to open at full capacity. Updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is allowing home daycares to return to pre-pandemic numbers. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law will further protect victims of stalking and sexual assault. The state’s Address Confidentially Program is currently only available to survivors of domestic violence. But a law taking effect January 1st adds stalking and sexual assault survivors as well. It lets them obtain an alternate address so it’s harder for their abuser to find them says Representative Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn…

 


 

State Representative Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn. The program keeps the victim’s real address out of public record and the substitute address can be used on their driver’s license or ID card. First class mail sent to that address will be forwarded. Survivors who are interested can apply to the Address Confidentiality Program online at: illinois attorney general dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 955,380 Coronavirus cases and 16,357 deaths. Locally, Livingston County reported 23 new cases bringing their total to 3,106. McLean County reported 124 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,479 and deaths to 101. Champaign County reported 131 new cases bringing their total to 13,789. Ford County reported 14 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,230 and deaths to 37. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,306 and deaths to 52. Kankakee County reported 61 new cases bringing their total to 10,717. Vermilion County reported 176 new cases bringing their total to 5,708.

 

 

(Rural Gibson City-jm) -- One person was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a car fleeing police crashed. Illinois State Police say Dewey Couch of Rankin was attempting to flee from Gibson City police on Route 47 south of Gibson City when he side-swiped a vehicle, then went off the road and rolled in a field. Couch was ejected and taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured. 

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Vermilion County Health Department is announcing they have received their first shipment of the Moderna COVID vaccine. Shipments to the counties two hospitals are also expected to arrive this week. The health department says they will begin vaccinating health care providers and first responders next week.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers are set to return to the state capitol next month. Members of the General Assembly are expected to be sworn in on January 13th and 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says there is one pressing issue facing members of the House of Representatives…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Unemployment rates are up and jobs are down across all 14 of the state’s metro areas in November. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says unemployment in Champaign Count rose from 3.1 percent in November 2019 to 4.6 percent in November 2020. Ford County’s rose from 3.8 percent to 4.3 percent. Iroquois County 3.8 percent to 4.0 percent and Vermilion County 4.7 percent to 6.1 percent.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state is awarding more than $750,000 in Back to Book grants for libraries. Among the recipients include $495 for Fisher library, $2,500 for the Paxton Carnegie Library, $4,900 each for the PBL School District and Watseka school district and $2,000 for Rantoul Township High School district. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The head of USDA's Risk Management Agency says input from producers has been the major guiding factor in RMA operations. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The federal government has released the latest edition of the once-every-five-years Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, harpooned by progressive Democrats as a handout to wealthy corporations, turned out to be more progressive in practice, new data from the federal government revealed.  The federal tax reform measure supported by President Donald Trump increased taxes on some wealthy property owners in high-tax jurisdictions such as Illinois and New Jersey and decreased tax burdens on the middle class.  Internal Revenue Service data released in December, analyzed by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation and Wirepoints, show the federal tax overhaul that took effect in 2018 didn’t necessarily become the tax break for the wealthy as it was criticized as.  In its assessment of the data, Wirepoints said taxpayers in high-tax states such as Illinois, New Jersey, and New York got hit with the majority of the new tax burden because the SALT deduction was capped at $10,000.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker released $142 million in funding, approved by the Illinois legislature, for technology training centers on public university campuses that will promote tech innovation and job creation across the state. The bipartisan public-private effort aims to create 50,000 high-demand tech jobs in the next 10 years. The funding is the first release from $500 million in state Discovery Partners Institute capital funds approved by Pritzker and the Legislature to develop the statewide education and innovation network, led by the University of Illinois System.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- High unemployment numbers, wallets stretched thin, and a global pandemic: It's not a situation you'd think would drive people to buy a house. But in Illinois, and across the country, that's exactly what happened. Illinois realtors said the pandemic taught them to expect the unexpected, which includes the almost 35 percent spike in home sales in October compared to last year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- At least 20% of Illinois families with children said they had only "slight or no confidence" they'd make their next rent or mortgage payment on time, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nadia Ramlagan reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,374 new Coronavirus cases and 178 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 955,380 and deaths to 16,357. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 2,878 have been removed from isolation and 172 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,403 have recovered, 949 are in isolation and 26 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,061 have recovered, 640 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,163 have been released from isolation, 85 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,616 have recovered and 4949 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 4,917 have been released from isolation, 675 remain in isolation and 39 are hospitalized.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Gifford paramedic has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman while she was in an ambulance. Jeffrey Sanford Jr was found guilty in October of criminal sexual assault for forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him in an ambulance in July of 2019. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A judge has denied a motion to have charges dismissed against a man accused of inciting a riot at Market Place Mall in Champaign. On Sunday, May 31, multiple people gathered in the parking lot of Market Place Mall. Shortly after, additional vehicles arrived and people began looting and vandalizing area businesses. According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint against him, Champaign Police saw a Facebook post that was allegedly made by 19-year-old Shamar Betts of Urbana. Betts was charged in a federal criminal complaint with using the internet to incite rioting in Champaign from May 31 to June 1.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s Streetscape project is once again moving forward. The project had been delayed because of the pandemic. Mayor Bill Ingold provides an update on the project…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Mahomet/Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton man is set to retire at the end of the year from Farm Credit Illinois after 40 years with the company. Brian Funk is a credit officer at the Mahomet based company.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Pritzker Administration is announcing 10 community revitalization grants including some around here. The Central Illinois Land Bank which incompases parts of Vermilion and Champaign Counties will receive $125,000. Champaign County will receive $69,500. The City of Champaign will receive $170,200 while Hoopeston will receive $125,000 and Bloomington and Danville will each receive $175,000.

 

(Washington-jm) -- Has the Phase One trade deal with China increased U.S. ag. product sales to that nation in 2020? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What do the next five years hold for college graduates in food and farm- related studies regarding employment opportunities? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

Illinois' leisure and hospitality industry saw its second-worst job decline on record last month

(Springfield-jm) --  Illinois’ leisure and hospitality industry saw its second-worst job decline on record last month, according to analysis from the Illinois Policy Institute. Recent data shows Illinois lost 27,400 jobs in that sector from mid-October to mid-November. Those losses come amid Governor J.B. Pritzker’s statewide ban on indoor dining, which took effect November 4th. Only the period from mid-March to mid-April saw worse outcomes for those working in the restaurant, hotel and travel industries.

 

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(Springfield-jm) --  An effort by the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association to force Governor J.B. Pritzker to award grower licenses to its more than three dozen members has been rebuffed by a Cook County judge. By law, 40 grower licenses were to be issued by July 1, but Pritzker hasn’t issued them. He initially cited the COVID-19 pandemic for delays in reviewing applications. The Chicago Tribune reports that in a ruling, Judge Allen Walker said the governor’s initial reason for delaying the licenses was insufficient. But Walker also wrote Pritzker has since clarified that the delay was necessary because the Illinois Department of Agriculture is now concentrating on oversight of meat and livestock facilities and the food supply chain due to the pandemic.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois. On January 24th, state Public Health officials briefed the press on Illinois’ first case of the new Coronaviurs, a woman who had just returned to Chicago from Wuhan, China. It was just the second case in the U-S. Her husband soon became infected as well, marking the first known person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in the country. By March 20th, Illinois had 585 cases and Governor J-B Pritzker made a big announcement…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. On May 1st, a mask mandate took effect and on May 5th, the Governor laid out his “Restore Illinois” plan, which included five phases for reopening the state. Cases declined over the summer and the entire state moved to Phase Four at the end of June. Fast forward to the fall when cases began to rise again and a new tiered system of restrictions based on regional cases was enacted. Today, Illinois has had more than 948 thousand cases of Coronavirus infection and over 16 thousand have died. Locally, Ford County reported 16 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,216 and deaths to 35. McLean County reported 84 cases and 9 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,355 and deaths to 97. Champaign County reported 76 new cases and 3 new deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,658 and deaths to 88. Vermilion County reported 91 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 5,532 and deaths to 77. Livingston County reported 37 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 3,083. Iroquois County reported 14 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,291 and deaths to 51. Kankakee County reported 47 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 10,657.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The federal government has released the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is published once every five years. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A Gibson City business honored one of their former employees yesterday. Clyde McRae died last week and yesterday his funeral procession passed through the parking lot of the Birkey’s Farm Store where employees and customers lined the parking lot with tractors and combines. McRae worked at the store for over 50 years.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Reports of unemployment fraud have increased significantly not just in Illinois but around the country. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has details of what you should do if you find yourself a victim…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Tuscola man has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for possessing a shotgun while on parole. Terry Porter pleaded guilty in Champaign County court to unlawful use of weapons by a felon. The charge stemmed from an August 25th call at an apartment complex between Rantoul and Gifford. Police say they were called for a person waving a shotgun and slashing tires. Officers located Porter in a vehicle with a shotgun in his possession.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker says the problems Illinois’ unemployment agency is experiencing with backlogs and fraud is happening in other states. Taylorville U.S. Representative Rodney Davis says from colleagues he’s talked to from other states, they aren’t experiencing the same level of problems Illinois is experiencing. Davis said it’s up to the Pritzker administration to manage Illinois’ persistent problems.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois recorded population loss for the seventh year in a row, which is the longest streak of population decline in state history. According to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois shrank by 79,487 people from July 2019 to July 2020, experiencing the second largest population loss over the year for any state both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population. Analysis from the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute found this year’s loss was historic – the single largest decline for the state since World War II. Meanwhile, researchers point out this data represents the first full year of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s policy agenda – including 20 tax and fee hikes, a minimum wage increase and a push for a progressive income tax. In 2020, Illinois lost the population equivalent of Bloomington, the 12th-biggest city in Illinois. Over the decade, from July 2010 to July 2020, Illinois lost a grand total of 253,015 residents, more than triple the amount lost by any other state during the decade. This is equivalent to losing the cities of Naperville and Peoria combined. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The nation's farm sector saw a big income rise in 2020, but what is the outlook for 2021? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County sheriff said as people start making New Year’s resolutions, his office is working on some of their own for 2021. The sheriff stated there are three initiatives they are working on early in the new year. Those areas include justice diversion, increased community relations and a special enforcement team.

 

(Undated-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police in Pesotum will be conducting Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols leading up to the New Year’s holiday. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton Police have released their recent activity report. On December 24th, James Meece was arrested for filing a false police report after he allegedly called police to report a burglary at his apartment. Officers discovered blood and cuts on his hand and Meece admitted to filing the false report. On December 21st, Dollar General reported the theft of several items. Misdemeanor charges of retail theft were forwarded to the State’s Attorney against Angela Purtell and Dorothy Isenhower both of Paxton.

 

Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume

(Springfield-jm) -- Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume. The Governor says mitigations will remain in place for now. The positivity rate has been dropping, but there are still a concerning number of Coronavirus patients in the hospital, especially the ICU…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he wants to get everything open as soon as possible but also doesn’t want to yo-yo back and forth between opening and closing bars and restaurants until there is a steady improvement in the infection rate.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Monday the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,453 new Coronavirus cases and 105 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 942,362 and deaths to 16,074. Locally since the Wednesday before Christmas, Vermilion County reported 607 new cases bringing their total to 5,441. Livingston County reported 67 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,046 and deaths to 56. Ford County reported 23 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,200 and deaths to 34. McLean County reported 404 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,271 and deaths to 88. Iroquois County reported 44 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,277 and deaths to 50. Kankakee County reported 159 new cases and 6 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 10,610 and deaths to 132. Champaign County reported 247 new cases bringing their total to 13,582.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is reminding auto dealers and the public about stricter odometer laws taking effect January 1st. Under a new federal requirement, anyone selling a 2011 or later model vehicle needs to record the mileage on the title says Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. Under the old rule, a 2011 vehicle would have been exempt from disclosing the odometer reading…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. 2011 and newer vehicles will only be exempt from the odometer disclosure after 20 years, so in 2031. 2010 models and older are exempt and do not have to list the odometer reading.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On December 22nd Robert Irvin of Gibson City was arrested on an in state warrant. On December 23rd Brett Thomas of Fisher was cited for driving while license suspended. On December 27th, Tony Harris of Gibson City was cited for driving while license suspended.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters and investigators from the state fire marshal’s office believe a faulty electrical outlet caused a house fire in Paxton yesterday. The fire happened in the 500 block of East Orleans just before 7 am. No one was home at the time. More than 30 firefighters from Paxton, Buckley, Loda, Ludlow, Rantoul and Rankin responded to the fire.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Prices for hogs and pork don't really indicate much change from current herd sizes and from current production levels. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state Department of Public Health says flu activity in Illinois has been pretty minimal so far. Wearing a mask, staying home and socially distancing are not only helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, but also seasonal flu says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says flu season typically peaks in January and February.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped 16,000 Coronavirus deaths Monday. The state reported 4,453 new cases and an additional 105 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 942,362 and deaths to 16,074. As for local active and recovered cases, Vermilion County reported 4,623 have been released from isolation, 705 remain in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,848 have been removed from isolation and 142 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,136 have recovered, 1018 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,148 have been released from isolation, 73 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,212 have recovered, 5246 cases are active and 19 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,892 have recovered, 605 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s climatologist takes a look at 2020 weather in Illinois. The first five months of this year were wetter than normal across the state. The rain continued in some areas but a large path across central Illinois is ending 2020 in abnormally dry to severe drought conditions. State Climatologist Trent Ford says there was some severe weather…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. 15 of those tornadoes occurred on August 10th in the Chicago area as a derecho swept through Illinois. Ford says 2020 will likely end up in the top 30 warmest years on record in Illinois with temperatures above average especially in January and November.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is releasing the name of a woman killed early yesterday morning. Northrup says 36 year old Lisa Lewis died at Carle Foundation Hospital from multiple gunshot wounds from a shooting in the 2000 block of Moreland Boulevard in Champaign. An autopsy is scheduled for today. The shooting remains under investigation.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Jerry Costello II has set February 2, 2021 as the date for a referendum that proposes to amend the Illinois soybean marketing program. Specifically, the referendum proposes changing the terms for the members of the Program Operating Board from two three-year terms to three three-year terms. To be eligible to vote in this referendum, you must be an Illinois producer engaged in the business of producing and marketing soybeans and be affected by the Illinois soybean marketing program by having first right of ownership in any soybeans for which payment is received at the first point of sale. Eligible voters must cast their vote via absentee ballot this year due to COVID-19. Absentee ballots will be available beginning January 4, 2021 and must be received by the Illinois Department of Agriculture by no later than January 29, 2021.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some of the areas addressed regarding agriculture in the recently signed FY 2021 federal budget and coronavirus stimulus package?  Rod Bain reports…

 

 

Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume

(Springfield-jm) -- Although COVID-19 numbers are gradually improving, Governor J-B Pritzker says there is no definitive date yet for when indoor dining can resume. Illinois is currently under Tier Three mitigations, and even moving to Tier Two won’t let restaurants and bars resume indoor service. The Governor says the state still needs to see cases and hospitalizations go down in order for those rules to be lifted…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritkzer says there will likely be an uptick in COVID infections after the holidays so they don’t want to open everything back up until that’s been assessed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is closing in on 16,000 COVID deaths. The state now has 15,969 total deaths and 937,909 total cases after the state reported 3,767 new cases Sunday and 3,293 new cases on Saturday. The state also reported 104 additional deaths Sunday and 66 on Saturday. 4,083 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 905 patients were in the ICU and 497 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is 8.5 percent.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The State Department of Public Health says flu activity in Illinois has been pretty minimal so far. Flu season is underway, but has yet to significantly take hold says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says they expect to see fewer flu hospitalizations and deaths this season because of the COVID safety measures in place.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ population in the year that ended July 2020 declined by nearly 80,000, according to data released this week from the U.S. Census. The annual loss is the equivalent of losing the entire city of Bloomington. The state led the nation in declines over the decade, at more than 253,000 people fewer, the equivalent of losing Naperville and Peoria combined.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton is moving forward with their streetscape project. The project was delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Because of the delay, city leaders approved doing a small overcoat of asphalt in the downtown area earlier this fall as a temporary band aid which Mayor Bill Ingold says they now want to try to incorporate into the full project…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Two people are dead and two are injured following an accident near Crescent City over the weekend. The accident happened at the intersection of county roads 1400 north and 1500 east. Police say Blake Martell was traveling southbound on 1500 east when he failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with another vehicle. 55-year-old Dominic Smith, and his wife Kimberly Smith, 60 of Woodland, IL, were both ejected out of the vehicle and later pronounced dead at the scene by the Iroquois County Coroner's Office. Martell, along with a 17-year-old juvenile passenger, were also ejected out of their vehicle due to the accident and were airlifted to Carle Hospital. Dominic Smith was a firefighter on the Champaign Fire Department. The accident remains under investigation.


 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Having received its largest cash gift ever from a single donor, the Parkland College Foundation recently awarded 12 new spring 2021 scholarships to Ford County residents. The generous $1.5 million gift, from the estate of C. Paul and Marjorie Davis of Gibson City, came as a surprise in early December to the Foundation, which had no prior connection with the Davises except a passion for education. The first recipients of the Cecil Paul and Marjorie Wilson Davis Scholarship are Katie Johnson, Gowyn Kelly, Allison Heavilin, Ashlyn McPherson, Jadrien Miles, Melissa Walker Salyards, Hannah Hein, Jordan Frederick, Paige Shelton, Lani Crim, Gracie Conover, and Breanna Brokate. The $2,000 awards for the spring 2021 semester will be used for tuition, fees, and/or books.

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  A new USDA report supports the idea that U.S. pork producers are pulling back on production. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is expanding assistance to child care providers for low income families. The state is pumping another 20 million dollars into efforts to help daycares in the Child Care Assistance Program stay open and to provide a place for parents to take their kids during work hours says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Providers can visit the Illinois Department of Human Services’ website for more information.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ borrowing of $2 billion to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole reflects deep challenges for the state, according to Fitch Ratings. The credit rating agency said it anticipates tax increases and budget cuts to be considered, along with continued bill deferrals and fund sweeps. But the agency reiterated it will be difficult for the state to maintain an investment grade credit rating.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As COVID-19 vaccinations begin, the U-S Surgeon General says everyone must remain vigilant and do their part, even if they feel they aren’t affected by the virus. You may not be too worried about the Coronavirus, but Surgeon General Jerome Adams reminds it is unforgiving and not particular about who it hits…

 


 

U-S Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams reminds it’s imperative that everyone does what they can to limit the spread of COVID and reduce the burden on hospitals. He says if facilities are full of patients with the virus, that means there won’t be enough beds for car accident or heart attack victims and others needing care.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,060 new Coronavirus cases and 170 deaths over the weekend bringing the state’s total number of cases to 937,909 and deaths to 15,969. 4,083 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital, 905 patients were in the ICU and 497 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is 8.5 percent. We will have the latest numbers from the state tonight on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. The Governor has issued more than 70 executive orders since the pandemic began back in March. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says we should not ignore our representative democracy which has served the state well for years…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign resident is $25,000 richer after winning a national baking competition. Julianna Jung won this year's "Holiday Baking Championship" on the Food Network. Jung was the only home baker out of the 12 competitors on the show.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture has registered the following Dicamba products for the use on soybeans for the 2021 growing season: XtendiMax with Vapor Grip Technology, Engenia Herbicide, and Tavium Plus Vapor Grip Technology. The new federal label requirements for these products include: requiring an approved pH-buffering agent, also known as a volatility reducing agent, be tank mixed with dicamba products prior to all applications, requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed endangered species are located and additional recordkeeping items. A cutoff date of June 20th has been set to apply to soybeans. In addition, the state is also adding additional restrictions including: temperature restriction of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, requirement to consult the Field Watch sensitive crop registry https://www.fieldwatch.com before application, prohibiting application if the wind is blowing toward any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site that is adjacent to the proposed field of application and  prohibiting application when the wind is blowing toward an adjacent residential area.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The University of Illinois Extension Office is offering some ideas about what to do with your Christmas tree after the holidays. Many communities have a tree pick up or recycling program so that’s always an easy solution says the Extension’s Katie Parker. What about using it as firewood…

 

 

University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker. Parker says the pine needles and boughs can be used as mulch or to protect plants. The whole tree can be left outside and adorned with bird feeders or you can cut up the trunk and use the pieces for trivets, coasters, garden edging and more.

 

State and local police are ramping up enforcement through the holidays

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ unemployment filings this week make up nearly 1 in every 5 new filers nationwide. About 154,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week, second only to California’s 156,000 new filers. Illinois’ change from the week before of more than 15,600 eclipsed all other states, including California, which saw a decline of more than 48,000 new filers. Illinois’ filings make up around 18 percent of total filings.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ borrowing of $2 billion to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole reflects deep challenges for the state, according to Fitch Ratings. The credit rating agency said it anticipates tax increases and budget cuts to be considered, along with continued bill deferrals and fund sweeps. But the agency reiterated it will be difficult for the state to maintain an investment grade credit rating.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State and local police are ramping up enforcement through the holidays. Expect to see more police on the roads looking for speeders, drunk drivers and other offenders says Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel…

 

 

Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Wappel says from now through the early morning hours of January 4th there will be hundreds of seatbelt enforcement zones and other special details around the state.


 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,762 new Coronavirus cases and 135 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 918,070 and deaths to 15,547. Locally, McLean County reported 16 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 10,367 and deaths to 86. Livingston County reported 27 new cases bringing their total to 2,949. Vermilion County reported 76 new cases bringing their total to 4,794. Ford County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 1,156. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases bringing their total to 2,218. Kankakee County reported 85 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 10,451 and deaths to 146. Champaign County reported 51 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,225 and deaths to 65.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. The Governor has issued more than 70 executive orders since the pandemic began back in March. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says lawmakers should be involved in the process…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- More COVID-19 vaccines are making their way to the area. Last week, we reported the first shipment coming to Ford County. Champaign County also received their shipment last week. This week Iroquois, Vermilion, Kankakee and Livingston Counties each received their shipment of the Pfizer vaccine.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some GOP state lawmakers are calling for answers over the backlog of FOID card renewals. One of those is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian, who puts the blame on Democrats…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that multiple projects in the Champaign-Urbana area are completed, underway or extending into future construction seasons, highlighting an ongoing commitment made possible by Governor J-B Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois. Just in the Champaign-Urbana area, seven major projects represent a total investment of more than $83 million for the region, with $73.5 coming from the historic and bipartisan capital program. They include resurfacing I-72 between White Heath Road and I-57. Resurfacing, signal modification, lighting and sidewalk improvements on University Avenue from Wright Street to Cunningham Avenue. Bridge work on I-74 between High Cross Road and the Union Pacific Railroad bridge. Bridge replacement on I-74 over the Canadian National Railline and Market Street bridge. Mattis Avenue bridge replacement at I-57 and I-74 in anticipation of the redesign of the I-57/I-74 interchange.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced that it would be receiving a portion of the vaccines that have arrived and will be arriving in Champaign County. The university is expected to get its first batch within the next week. Campus healthcare workers will receive the vaccine through McKinley Health. The campus further announced its policy for vaccinations. For students, the Illinois Department of Public Health determines the immunizations that are required of Illinois college and university students. IDPH does not currently require proof of COVID-19 immunization. For employees, there is currently no plan to require the vaccine.

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ population in the year that ended July 2020 declined by nearly 80,000, according to data released this week from the U.S. Census. The annual loss is the equivalent of losing the entire city of Bloomington. The state led the nation in declines over the decade, at more than 253,000 people fewer, the equivalent of losing Naperville and Peoria combined.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Building on its investments to fight against COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services announced $56 million in additional capital to community organizations and providers across Illinois. The funding comes from quality payments to its Medicaid Managed Care Organizations: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, CountyCare, Aetna Better Health, Meridian, and Molina.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 100 thousand people in Illinois have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. The state currently leads the effort to get front line health care workers and residents of long term care facilities vaccinated says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the Moderna vaccine is arriving this week in Illinois, going straight to providers since it doesn’t need to be kept in ultra-cold storage like Pfizers.


 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has more than 918,000 Coronavirus cases and 15,547 deaths. The state reported 6,762 new cases Wednesday and 135 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,794 have recovered, 969 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,760 have been removed from isolation and 184 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 296 are in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,067 have been released from isolation, 95 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,148 have recovered, 5157 cases are active and 35 hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,499 have recovered, 671 are in isolation and 10 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- GOP lawmakers are calling for answers over the state’s handling of the backlog of unemployment claims and fraudulent claims. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett says the Illinois Department of Employment Security needs to get a handle on the issue…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A car crashed into a Champaign business yesterday afternoon. A car crashed through the exit doors of the Menards on Town Center Boulevard. No word on the cause or if there were any injuries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Tips for keeping your Christmas tree fresh through the holidays. Depending on when you put your tree up, it may still be in good shape or starting to dry out. University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker says what your tree needs most is water…

 

 

University of Illinois Extension Educator Katie Parker. Parker says if your tree is really drying out, you can re-cut the stump, although that’s probably not practical if it’s full of lights and ornaments. She says it’s also a good idea to keep your tree away from heat sources like vents and direct sunlight. Additives are not necessary.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce Foundation is donating $2,000 to the Visit Champaign County Foundation’s Hospitality Relief Fund. The fund assists employees in the hospitality industry with monetary relief during the COVID pandemic.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is warning of a potential phone scam. The Peoria based healthcare system says patients and caregivers are receiving phone calls from a number that appears to be from OSF asking for social security and other personal information.

 

The U-S Surgeon General met with state and local officials Tuesday and discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 emergency rule Governor J.B. Pritzker filed in August requiring businesses to enforce face coverings and comply with capacity limits is set to expire January 4th. Emergency rules allowed to stand by a joint panel of the state legislature expire after 150 days. Businesses that violated the rule could face enforcement of up to $2,500 in fines. The governor could refile the measure.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The federal stimulus package, the first since March, includes billions for schools and colleges across the country, but it does not include funds for state and local governments to plug budget holes. Governor J.B. Pritzker has for months advocated for federal grants to cover the state’s spending gap. At one point earlier this year, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon requested $41 billion from the federal government.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U-S Surgeon General met with state and local officials Tuesday and discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Over 63 thousand frontline healthcare workers in Illinois have been vaccinated with more to come. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he hopes everyone gets the vaccine, noting it may cause a mild reaction like headaches or a sore arm in some. At a media availability, he was asked about the new variant of COVID found in the UK. He says viruses mutate all the time…

 

 

U-S Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams says there is no indication that the new variant will be resistant to the COVID vaccine. He says someday that may not be the case, just like with the seasonal flu where the vaccine is tweaked each year.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,239 new Coronavirus cases and 116 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 911,308 and deaths to 15,414. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9 percent and 4,571 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 981 patients were in the ICU and 557 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. Locally, Vermilion County reported 96 new cases and 14 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 4,718 and deaths to 73. Livingston County reported 26 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,922 and deaths to 55. Ford County reported 11 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,140 and deaths to 33. McLean County reported 75 new cases bringing their total to 10,851. Iroquois County reported 11 new cases bringing their total to 2,203. Kankakee County reported 55 new cases bringing their total to 10,366. Champaign County reported 81 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,174 and deaths to 83.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What were some of the findings in a recent USDA report of how the current pandemic has impacted the health of rural residents. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A 42-year-old Hoopeston man had a run-in with Hoopeston Police two times Monday.  Craig Stevens was charged with criminal damage to property after officers were flagged down about someone damaging Christmas decorations in the 200-block of E. Main Street.  Stevens was taken to the Public Safety Building in Danville. A couple of hours later, Hoopeston officers were called to the 400-block of S. 2nd Avenue.  There, Stevens was arrested for home invasion, criminal trespass to a residence, criminal damage to property, and aggravated battery. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Rental rates at Paxton park district facilities will be going up. The park district is raising the rate for a full day to $80 and $50 for 4 hours. Park District leaders say the increase is comparable to others in the area.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- The Watseka Area Food Pantry has received a donation from an area politician. State Representative Tom Bennett made the donation to the food pantry that serves Iroquois County residents.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Opioid overdose deaths accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC reported the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in the 12-month period that ended in May 2020. In Illinois, provisional data of emergency department visits from overdoses peaked in May at 750 per 10,000 people for opioids and 460 per 10,000 for heroin.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new state law aims to help Illinoisans with diabetes. Senate Bill 667 will set a cap for all out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 per month. This applies to all patients using a state-regulated insurance plan, regardless of the supply they need. Additionally, it requires the Departments of Insurance, Human Services, and Healthcare and Family Services to jointly issue an "insulin pricing report." This report will include details on insulin pricing practices and recommendations to prevent overpricing of insulin. The new law takes effect January 1st.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 911,308 Coronavirus cases and 15,414 deaths after the state reported 6,239 new cases and 116 deaths. 4,571 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 981 patients were in the ICU and 557 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9 percent. As for local active and recovered cases, Vermilion County reported 4,314 have been released from isolation, 293 are in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,747 have been removed from isolation and 120 cases are active. McLean County reported 9,711 have recovered, 1037 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,043 have been released from isolation, 104 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 5,079 have recovered, 5142 cases are active and 34 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 12,400 have recovered, 691 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA and NASA have agreed to continue cooperating on a range of issues, including soil moisture. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Pesotum-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police have released results of a recent occupant restraint enforcement patrol in Champaign County. During the patrol, troopers issued 25 safety belt citations and 1 child restraint citation.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Vermilion County Judge Thomas M. O’Shaughnessy has been elected as the 5th Judicial Circuit’s Chief Circuit Judge. He succeeds Chief Judge Mitchell K. Shick of Charleston, who held the post for 3 years and did not seek another term.  O’Shaughnessy begins a two-year term on January 29, 2021. The 5th Circuit includes the following five counties: Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, and Vermilion.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture, along with the University of Illinois Extension Service, is hosting the Certified Livestock Manager Online Training and Webinars for 2021. The webinar dates are Wednesday, January 20; Friday, January 29; Tuesday, February 9; Thursday, March 4, 2021.  These will have the same format as previous workshops starting at 9:00 am. After the webinar, those with over 1,000 AUs will be required to log in and take the 40-question online test in lieu of the IDoA's paper-based test. Pre-registration is required ($40). Please go to go.illinois.edu/CLMT to register. For questions with registration, please contact UI Extension at (815) 858-2273.

 

Sports betting industry group PlayIllinois drew more than $430 million in bets in October

(Springfield-jm) -- Sports betting industry group PlayIllinois says the state has reached a level in only four months no other jurisdiction has reached in fewer than 16 months. The group said Illinois sportsbooks drew more than $430 million in bets in October, up 42 percent from September and the fourth largest handle in the U.S.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Rifle Association says a judge could order Illinois State Police to follow the law and issue Firearm Owner Identification Cards. The group filed an injunction against ISP for the state agency to comply with the FOID Card Act that says they must issue or deny cards within 30 days. Last week, state police said they have more than 145,000 backlogged requests and an average wait of 121 days.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Legislation is being introduced this week to allow Illinois lawmakers to conduct business remotely in the event of an emergency. Representative Ann Williams of Chicago is sponsoring the bill saying its imperative the legislature can act even if they can’t get together physically…

 

 

State Representative Ann Williams of Chicago. Earlier this year the Senate adopted rules letting members meet virtually, but a bill letting the House do the same fell one vote short of passage. Williams said she’d like to see this new legislation passed as soon as they are in session.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois reported 4,669 new cases and 98 deaths Monday. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 273 new cases bringing their total to 13,093. McLean County reported 237 new cases bringing their total to 10,776. Ford County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 1,129. Livingston County reported 43 new cases bringing their total to 2,896. Kankakee County reported 101 new cases bringing their total to 10,311. Iroquois County reported 34 new cases bringing their total to 2,192. Vermilion County reported 97 new cases bringing their total to 4,622.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton made some improvements in their downtown area this fall. The city’s Streetscape project was put on hold as the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Mayor Bill Ingold says the work that was done was a temporary band aid to get by…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul firefighters were called to a fire Monday afternoon. Crews were called to a dumpster fire behind the south Caseys around 3:30. No word on the cause of the fire or how much damage was done.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- How does the weather look as we head into the final weeks of the year and start 2021? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Eastern Illinois Foodbank has received a large donation. The foodbank received a $60,000 donation from Apex Clean Energy which operates the Ford Ridge Wind Farm in Ford County as well as the Diamond Grove Wind Farm in McLean County. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As temperatures continue to drop, it is important to bundle up. However, parents need to remember to take your kids' coats off once you are inside the car. Health officials said the air inside the coat will compress and create space. In a car crash, that space can cause injury or the child to be ejected from their seat. Parents should put their child in a thin fleece or sweater. For infants, swaddle a blanket around them after harnessing them in. You can also place a blanket on top of the child's car seat to block the wind.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says the push to end business incentives to plug the state’s nearly $4 billion budget hole is the wrong approach during an economic crisis. CEO Todd Maisch said the government should be helping businesses, not punishing them with higher taxes. Statehouse Democrats are pushing to end what they call “loopholes” and “giveaways” for businesses instead of the governor’s proposed $711 million in cuts.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois residents, nonprofits, and local organizations helped the state rank among the top ten for best census self-response rates. Illinois came in 7th nationwide and first among states with more than 9 million in population size. Illinois exceeded the response rate of 70.5% from the last census in 2010. This year, the response rate was 71.4%.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The time for real public input on Illinois’ response to COVID-19 is long overdue. Ray Watt has the details…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 905,069 Coronavirus cases and 15,299 deaths after the state reported 4,669 new cases Monday and 98 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 12,302 have recovered, 712 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. McLean County reported 9,484 have recovered, 1179 are in isolation and 28 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,721 have been removed from isolation and 122 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 5,001 have recovered, 5165 cases are active and 37 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,016 have been released from isolation, 122 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 4,236 have been released from isolation, 288 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- If you need a last minute gift idea, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs suggests giving the gift of college. Kids that already have piles of toys and games will benefit later from your contribution to a Bright Start College Savings Account says Treasurer Frerichs…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Frerichs says you can also start a Bright Start account for a child or teen, with no minimum contribution required. Bright Start funds can be used for college tuition, books and more.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Champaign County Sheriff’s police are investigating after a pair of vehicles were broken into over the weekend at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. They say the vehicles had windows smashed and items taken from inside. Anyone with information is asked to call the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Many Illinois residents are having issues with receiving their unemployment benefits. Some are not receiving their benefits right away while others are the victim of fraud. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says he’s called on the Governor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security to address the issues…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Salvation Army says it is struggling to raise money for the Red Kettle Campaign. Their goal is to raise $158,000. So far, the Champaign Salvation Army has raised $116,238. They have $41,762 left to raise in less than a week to meet their goal. This year there have been several challenges. Because of the pandemic, there are less red kettles on street corners and store entrances. They’re also noticing an increased need for their service and are expecting to help over 150 percent more people this holiday season.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced a new anhydrous ammonia grower training platform available online January 1, 2021. Illinois farmers and any of their employees or family members who help transport or apply anhydrous ammonia are required by state regulation to participate in the mandatory training approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Training must be completed by April 1, 2022. Once completed, growers receive a certificate valid for three years to provide upon request to their anhydrous ammonia retailer. In-person training sessions will begin when state mitigations for Covid-19 determine it is safe to gather in a group setting.

Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend. The statewide total now stands at 900,370 cases and 15,202 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9.6 percent.  4,389 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 991 patients were in the ICU and 546 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. Locally on Friday, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 10,539. Champaign County reported 85 new cases bringing their total to 12,820. Livingston County reported 12 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 2,835. Vermilion County reported 104 new cases bringing their total to 4,525. Iroquois County reported 25 new cases bringing their total to 2,158. Ford County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 1,079. Kankakee County reported 66 new cases bringing their total to 10,210. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- On Friday’s the Illinois Department of Public Health updates cases at long term care facilities around the state. Locally, in Ford County 287 cases and 24 deaths have been linked to long term care facilities. In Iroquois County 269 cases and 27 deaths. In Champaign County 443 cases and 36 deaths. In Vermilion County 235 cases and 31 deaths. In McLean County 516 cases and 45 deaths. In Livingston County 176 cases and 24 deaths and Kankakee County 1,011 cases and 65 deaths. 

 

 

(Paxon-cf)-- The Paxton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Eat, Drink, and Shop Local Bingo contest. Andy Hudson of Hudson’s Drug and Hallmark shop has the details… 

 

 

Andy Hudson owner of Hudsons Drug and Hallmark Shop.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- A garage in Fisher was destroyed following an explosion Saturday night. Fire crews were called to the fire in the 400 block of N. Third Street just before 10 pm. Windows were blown out of a nearby home. The blast was heard several miles from the site. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

 

(Rural Paxton-jm) -- Paxton first responders were called to a single vehicle rollover accident Friday evening. The accident occurred at Route 115 and 600 East around 6pm. No word on if there were any injuries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Voters overwhelming rejected the progressive income tax proposal in the November election. While the implications of what will happen remains to be seen, 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says voters sent the Governor a strong message…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The village of Rantoul along with the University of Illinois and the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will be offering free COVID-19 testing and flu vaccination. The testing and vaccination will take place today from 3 to 7pm at the Rantoul Youth Center parking lot. No insurance or appointment is needed.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped over 900 thousand Coronavirus cases of the weekend. The statewide total now stands at 900,370 cases and 15,202 deaths. The seven day positivity rate is down to 9.6 percent.  4,389 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 991 patients were in the ICU and 546 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,313 have recovered, 1117 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,944 have recovered, 798 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,640 have been released from isolation and 160 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 337 active cases. Iroquois County reported 1955 have been released from isolation, 144 remain in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,937 have recovered and 5,130 cases are active.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Several area counties reported additional deaths Friday. McLean County reported 4 new deaths bringing their total to 85. Livingston County reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 53. Vermilion County also reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 59. Iroquois County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 48. Ford County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 32. Kankakee County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 143.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The frustration over the backlog of FOID card renewals continues to rise. Some state lawmakers are calling for legislative action to reduce the backlog. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says many are tired of trying to get answers…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Ludlow-jm) -- A Ludlow house was destroyed by fire over the weekend. Fire crews were called to the fire on S. Orange Street around noon Saturday. No word on the cause of the fire.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Ceremonies honoring fallen veterans were held around the country including at several cemeteries locally Saturday. Nationally 1.7 million wreaths were placed as part of Wreaths Across America Day. Locally, ceremonies were held in Onarga, Cissna Park, Buckley and at the National Cemetery in Danville.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Hundreds of small business owners and employees gathered outside the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on Saturday to protest what the health department has been enforcing. The health department has been taking away health licenses and issuing warnings to businesses that have continued to stay open despite state mitigations. Supporters made an argument that Champaign county has been in a better spot in recent weeks. The county has one of the lowest positivity rates in the state and remains one of eight counties off the state warning list.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s ordinance on animals at large was revised at their December meeting. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about the revisions…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police are releasing results of recent roadside safety checks conducted in Vermilion County. During the enforcement, 1 was arrested for DUI, 2 were cited for drug or alcohol related offenses, 1 for occupant restraint, 1 for registration offense, 6 for driver’s license offenses and 14 for insurance violations.

 

Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings

(Springfield-jm) -- State officials say while COVID-19 cases seem to be on a downward trend, now is not the time to let up on taking safety precautions. Governor J-B Pritzker is again asking families to not hold big family gatherings for the holidays, but to instead celebrate with your immediate family or open presents virtually. He says the chance of transmission is just still too high…

 

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he is hopeful that if everyone socially distances, stays home and continues to wear a mask, that officials can ease some of the COVID restrictions in coming weeks.

 

While the number of daily COVID cases have been under 10 thousand for a week now, patient deaths have been increasing in recent days. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,828 new cases and 181 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 879,428 and deaths to 14,835. Locally, McLean County reported 89 new cases bringing their total to 10,422. Champaign County reported 108 new cases bringing their total to 12,735. Livingston County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 2,841. Ford County reported 21 new cases bringing their total to 1,061. Kankakee County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 10,144. Vermilion County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 4,421. Iroquois County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 2,133.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 33 in Ludlow, 1082 in Rantoul, 129 in Gifford, 50 in Penfield, 390 in St. Joseph, 66 in Thomasboro, 33 in Dewey, 138 in Fisher, 29 in Foosland, 679 in Mahomet, 429 in Paxton, 23 in Elliott, 330 in Gibson City, 29 in Sibley, 88 in Loda, 35 in Buckley, 151 in Cissna Park, 48 in Rankin, 50 in Melvin, 24 in Roberts, 19 in Thawville, 126 in Milford, 441 in Hoopeston, 100 in Potomac, 51 in Crescent City, 105 in Rossville, 36 in Wellington, 61 in Sheldon, 426 in Watseka, 173 in Onarga, 237 in Gilman, 68 in Danforth, 130 in Ashkum, 230 in Clifton, 205 in Chebanse, 58 in Martinton, 45 in Donovan, 40 in Beaverville, 27 in Cabery, 21 in Kempton, 55 in Cullom, 102 in Piper City, 83 in Chatsworth, 49 in Saybrook and 26 in Bellflower.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the COVID-19 vaccine trickles into Illinois, public health officials are already learning that they can get more doses out of a single vial than originally thought. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says one vial was supposed to equal five doses, but the federal government has updated that recommendation…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says healthcare providers need to understand that if the vial gets to be about empty and doesn’t contain enough for a full dose, that vaccine cannot be combined with liquid from another vial to make up the difference.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings. With 142,700 new filers last week, Illinois was second only to California’s weekly claims. The Land of Lincoln had 35,000 more filers than the week before. That eclipses the total number of unemployment filings across the country, which reported 21,000 fewer new filers than the week before.

 

 

(Onarga-jm) -- Onarga and Gilman will ring in the Christmas season this Saturday. Spokesperson Fred Walraven talks about the parade and activities…

 

 

Onarga and Gilman Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business is closing at the end of the year. The Country Thyme Tea Room is closing after 26 years in the community. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture, along with the University of Illinois Extension Service, is hosting the Certified Livestock Manager Online Training and Webinars for 2021. The webinar dates are Wednesday, January 20; Friday, January 29; Tuesday, February 9; Thursday, March 4, 2021.  These will have the same format as previous workshops starting at 9:00 am. After the webinar, those with over 1,000 AUs will be required to log in and take the 40-question online test in lieu of the IDoA's paper-based test. Pre-registration is required ($40). Please go to go.illinois.edu/CLMT to register. For questions with registration, please contact UI Extension at (815) 858-2273.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One area state representative continues to wave the red flag about unemployment fraud in the state. Over 200 thousand Illinoisans have been the victim of the fraud that is coming in many different forms says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Two Iroquois County communities could soon receive police protection from the county sheriff’s office. The Iroquois County board approved hiring two additional deputies that would cover Gilman and Onarga. Both communities would split the cost of the deputies salaries. The deal must still be approved by the Gilman and Onarga town boards.

 

The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce along with the village of Rantoul will hold a drive thru lighted Christmas parade on Saturday from 5:30-8:30 pm at the Rantoul Aquatic Center.

 

The Vineyard Church in Urbana will hold a live drive thru nativity on Sunday from 5 to 7pm at their church on North Lincoln Avenue.

 

Looking at the case numbers from Thursday, Illinois now has 879,428 cases and 14,835 deaths after the state reported 8,828 new cases and 181 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,188 have recovered, 1127 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,851 have recovered, 806 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,596 have been released from isolation and 195 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,878 have recovered and 5124 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 4,035 have been released from isolation, 292 remain in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,875 have been released from isolation, 205 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for local deaths, McLean County reported 8 additional deaths Thursday bringing their total to 83. Champaign County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 78. Livingston County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 50. Ford County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 28. Kankakee County reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 142.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Tollway is extending its popular toll violation relief program through the end of June. This will give drivers an extra six months to take care of any outstanding toll violations and outstanding fines they may have says Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. She says there are quite a few people who can take advantage of the opportunity to settle up for just three dollars…

 

 

Illinois Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. McGinnis says if you’re interested in this offer, visit illinois tollway dot com.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- For those shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to stay safe from cyber threats, especially during the holidays. Illinois officials and the National Cyber Security Alliance encourage people to follow these tips to protect themselves while online: think before you click, do your homework, consider your payment options, watch what you give away, keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police are reporting a pair of incidents in the community this week. On December 16th, no injuries were reported and no tickets issued after a single vehicle accident in the 200 block of W. Orleans. The teen driver slid on the snow covered road and struck a bush and clipped a tree. On December 15th, Damien Mackins of Loda was arrested on an Iroquois County warrant following a traffic accident at Patton and Railroad. Mackins was also cited for failure to yield for the accident.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Officials with the University of Illinois Ice Arena said it will remain closed to the public through the Spring 2021 semester. They cited the current pandemic and state and university guidelines and restrictions as the reason. The ice arena also serves as a campus COVID testing site.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce will host their Drive-thru Christmas Parade this year at the Happ-Parker Aquatic Center parking lot tomorrow starting at 5:30 pm. Chamber Director Amanda Vickery details some of the events that will be happening at the drive-thru parade… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A new apprenticeship program taking place at Parkland College is looking for more students to train as surveyor and mapping technicians to fill a growing job demand. Developed in partnership with the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association, the first-in-the-nation Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. These technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines. Training consists of on-the-job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician Level I or Level II exam in order to complete the program.

 

A Wreaths Across America Remembrance Ceremony will take place on Saturday at 11 am at the Buckley American Legion.

 

Onarga will hold their Christmas parade on Saturday at 2:30 pm.

 

It looks like Illinois' supply of COVID-19 vaccine expected in the coming weeks is being cut in half

(Springfield-jm) -- It looks like Illinois’ supply of COVID-19 vaccine expected in the coming weeks is being cut in half. Governor J-B Pritzker says they were originally told that eight million doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be shipped out across the country next week…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says the shipment for the following week has also been reduced by about 50 percent and notes this will not affect distribution of doses received this week.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,123 new Coronavirus cases and 146 additional deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 870,600 and deaths to 14,655. Locally, McLean County reported 101 new cases bringing their total to 10,333. Champaign County reported 65 new cases bringing their total to 12,627. Livingston County reported 31 new cases bringing their total to 2,801. Ford County reported 26 new cases bringing their total to 1,040. Kankakee County reported 63 new cases bringing their total to 10,088. Iroquois County reported 28 new cases bringing their total to 2,121. Vermilion County reported 71 new cases bringing their total to 4,381.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, Paxton reported 418 cases, Gibson City 325, Elliott 23, Loda 87, Buckley 35, Roberts 23, Melvin 50, Sibley 29, Ludlow 32, Rantoul 1,074, Gifford 126, Thomasboro 65, St. Joseph 384, Penfield 50, Dewey 31, Fisher 137, Foosland 29, Mahomet 671, Cissna Park 151, Onarga 172, Gilman 237, Rankin 47, Hoopeston 431, Potomac 100, Thawville 19, Milford 126, Wellington 36, Sheldon 60, Watseka 421, Crescent City 51, Danforth 68, Ashkum 130, Clifton 229, Chebanse 203, Martinton 58, Beaverville 40, Donovan 44, Cabery 27, Kempton 21, Cullom 55, Strawn 26, Chatsworth 83, Forrest 133, Fairbury 408, Cropsey 7, Anchor 10, Saybrook 48 and Bellflower 25.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The first doses of the Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine are here in Ford County. The first vaccines were delivered by the Ford County Public Health Department to Gibson Area Hospital yesterday afternoon and administered to an ER nurse as well as the hospital's CEO.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new statewide effort aims to get computers into the hands of those who can’t afford one. With so many students and adults working remotely, access to a computer or mobile device is more important than ever says Governor J-B Pritzker. That’s why the state is launching the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network, which will begin distributing 20 thousand computers to low income families. The Governor is asking businesses to participate as well…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Individuals are also encouraged to donate old computers. Visit illinois dot gov slash computer equity network to donate or apply for a device. Community events will be held as well.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Several education unions are pushing Illinois State Board of Education officials to postpone standardized testing for this school year. The surge in COVID-19 rates across Illinois and the large number of students and their families that will be impacted is the reason they're asking for the testing to be pushed back. The Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Principals Association, and the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Federation of Teachers sent a joint letter to ISBE saying the current environment will greatly impact students' academic performances.


 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois ranks as one of the least financially-transparent states in the nation. Truth in Accounting lists the Land of Lincoln as the eighth-worst state in the country for financial transparency, scoring 73 out of 100 possible points. That’s an improvement by one point from last year’s report, though the state slipped one spot in the overall rankings, landing at No. 49.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What does USDA's latest world corn outlook indicate regarding production, especially from one of our nation's main global competitors? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- A Vermilion County man has been sentenced to 16 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a child. Benny Helms pleaded guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Helms was accused of assaulting the girl after he moved into the child’s home.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- 10 months after the Coronavirus pandemic began, the fight continues. With the second surge of the virus, many orders have been put in place to try and slow the spread. Governor Pritzker has issued over 50 executive orders related to the pandemic, which isn’t setting well with Republicans like 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A new outpatient addiction treatment center has opened in Urbana. Recovery Concepts, a network of Illinois addiction treatment centers, has announced the grand opening of their Champaign-Urbana outpatient addiction treatment center. The outpatient clinic is located at 710 W. Killarney St. in Urbana. Recovery Concepts offers early clinic hours, 6 days a week, offering medication assisted treatment along with counseling services.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois recorded another 7,123 new Coronavirus cases and 146 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases during the pandemic to 870,600 and deaths to 14,655. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,113 have recovered, 1119 are in isolation and 26 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,737 have recovered, 813 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,553 have been removed from isolation and 161 cases remain active. Kankakee County reported 4,805 have recovered, 5143 cases are active with 45 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,667 have been released from isolation, 401 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,998 have been released from isolation, 290 remain in isolation and 37 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Several deaths were also reported around the area Wednesday. McLean County reported 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 75. Champaign, Livingston, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties each recorded an additional death bringing their totals to 77, 49, 47 and 56 respectively. Kankakee County reported 4 new deaths bringing their total to 140. Ford County did not report any deaths leaving their total at 27.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is announcing the new Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council, which will work to increase diversity in state government. The 10 member group is looking at ways to attract more Native American state employees and address any barriers they face in applying or promoting to higher positions says CMS Deputy Director Rebecca Roussell…

 

 

Illinois Department of Central Management Services Deputy Director Rebecca Roussell. There are more than 750 thousand Native Americans living in Illinois but they only make up a very small portion of the state government workforce.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- On Monday, the Special Investigative Committee in the Illinois House of Representatives dissolved their investigation into House Speaker Michael Madigan. The investigation occurred after the speaker was implicated in a federal bribery investigation involving Chicago utility company, ComEd. Despite the dissolved investigative committee, the controversy may have imperiled Madigan’s chances at reelection as Speaker of the House. 19 Illinois House Democrats are currently not supporting Madigan’s reelection in January leaving Madigan 6 votes short of the 60 needed to win.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is reporting the potential for staffing issues this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 5,000 employees statewide, 130 are currently not at work for reasons related to COVID-19. Those reasons include being quarantined, being exposed, testing positive for the virus, awaiting test results, or caring for a vulnerable individual.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce says chamber bucks make a great gift this holiday season. Chamber bucks spend like cash and can be used at any chamber business says Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer…

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County 2020 tax sale has been postponed due to COVID-19 regulations. The new scheduled date is February 17th, 2021 at 1:00 pm.  Property owners will be able to make payments on delinquent 2019 payable 2020 taxes until February 16th, 2021. If you still need to make a tax payment, please contact the treasurer’s office for current amount due.  All payments must be in the form of cash, certified check or payments will be accepted online at gov tech tax pro dot com through the first week of February.  For more information, please contact the treasurer’s office or visit the Ford County Treasurer’s website at ford county dot illinois dot gov.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is offering a cutting edge infusion to help prevent COVID-19 hospital admissions. The infusion, called Bamlanivimab (bam-luh-ni-vi-mab) , or BAM, was created by Eli Lily for high risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms. OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker talks about how they got emergency use authorization from the FDA…

 

 

OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker. BAM is most effective when given early, and needs to be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- You hear it every year: “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the perennial holiday classic about someone giving 12 gifts to their paramour that they probably don’t know what to do with. As part of its annual tradition, PNC Bank has released its Christmas Price Index of how much the 12 Days of Christmas gifts would cost adjusted for today’s economy. A Partridge in a Pear Tree cost $210.18, Two Turtle Doves cost $450. Three French Hens cost $210.  Four Calling Birds cost $599.96. Five Gold Rings cost $945. Six Geese-A-Laying cost $570. Seven Swans-A-Swimming cost $13,125. Eight Maids-A-Milking cost $58. Nine Ladies Dancing cost not available. COVID-19 has wrecked the bar and nightclub industry. Same with the 10 lords-a-leaping. Eleven Pipers Piping cost not available. Live music venues continue to see gigantic losses in 2020. Same with Twelve Drummers Drumming. In all, the 2020 cost is $16,168.14 down from $38,993 last year.

Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing more than 700 million dollars in budget cuts

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing more than 700 million dollars in budget cuts, including possible furlough days for state workers. The Governor says the current state budget is nearly four billion dollars short, thanks in part to the pandemic. He’s identifying areas of state government that can be cut to help close the gap and is talking with AFSCME about reducing personnel costs…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says he’s also looking at other operational cuts, including closing some prison facilities since the state is housing less inmates. Governor Pritzker also says the state wouldn’t be in such bad shape if voters had approved his graduated tax plan. He says he welcomes other spending cut ideas from Republicans.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported an additional 7,359 cases Tuesday and 117 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 863,477 and deaths to 14,509. Locally, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total to 10,232. Champaign County reported 59 new cases bringing their total to 12,562. Livingston County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 2,770. Iroquois County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 2,094. Ford County reported 9 new cases bringing their total to 1,014. Vermilion County reported 69 new cases bringing their total to 4,310. Kankakee County reported 136 new cases bringing their total to 10,025.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Local deaths also rose Tuesday. McLean County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 73. Champaign County recorded 1 new bringing their total to 76. Livingston County reported 1 new bringing their total to 48. Iroquois County reported 3 additional bringing their total to 46. Ford County reported 1 new bringing their total to 27. Vermilion County reported 1 new bringing their total to 55 and Kankakee County now has 136 total deaths.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Minimum wage workers in Illinois will be getting a raise come January 1st. The current state minimum wage is $10 an hour. That will be increasing to 11 bucks an hour in the new year says State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller..

 

 

State Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. The minimum wage for teenagers working less than 650 hours a year rises to $8.50 an hour on the first and eventually goes up to 13 bucks an hour.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois residents shopped for more guns and applied for firearm permits more than any other time in the state’s history as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and Chicago dealt with civil unrest, according to state police data. There have been more than 500,000 inquiries about gun purchases through November, according to Illinois State Police statistics. That is a 45% increase from 2019. The department also received 445,945 applications for firearm owner’s identification cards, a 167% increase from 166,649 applications in 2017. There are more than 2.2 million Illinoisans with Firearm Owners Identification cards.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- An area state representative is taking his fight to Springfield in hopes of getting answers for struggling families. Mike Marron is spending a few days in Springfield, attempting to get someone from the Pritzker administration or the Illinois Department of Employment Security to give him some answers to questions his office has been receiving from constituents concerning problems with getting unemployment in the state of Illinois and the unemployment fraud that has been taking place throughout the state…

 

 

State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign is now home to the World's Tallest Glass Christmas Tree, thanks to donations from residents and a local artist. Jason Mack owns Mack Glass, a glass studio in Champaign. He has been spearheading the project. All of the glass for the tree was donated by the community, and then broken down, thrown into the furnace, and worked onto the tree. The 31-foot-tall tree can be seen spinning on the corner of Neil and Washington Streets.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two new acts have been added to the Illinois State Fair Grandstand lineup. Staind will take the stage on opening night, August 12th. On August 18th artists with the “I Love the 90’s Tour” will perform. Those include Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, All 4 One and more.

 

 

(Onarga-jm) -- Onarga and Gilman will ring in the Christmas season this Sunday. Spokesperson Fred Walraven talks about the parade and activities…

 

 

Onarga and Gilman Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police are releasing their recent activity report. On December 12th, Jacob Newton of Bloomington was arrested for criminal trespass to a residence and resisting a peace officer. On December 13th, Matthew Bennett of Bellflower was arrested for driving while license suspended and cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Emergency Response Service chili supper set for this Thursday has been canceled. The group cited an unforeseen circumstance. They hope to resume suppers in January.

 

Santa will be visiting Watseka today from 4 to 7pm. He will be escorted throughout the town by the Watseka Fire Department.

 

(Peoria-jm) -- The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine are being administered in Illinois. Healthcare workers at Peoria’s OSF Saint Francis Medical Center were some of the first to get the shot. They will need a second round, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says there are 96 hospitals that will be giving the vaccine this week to healthcare staff in counties with the highest COVID death rates. She says this is just the beginning as more doses arrive.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 863,477 Coronavirus cases and 14,509 deaths after the state reported 7,359 new cases and 117 additional deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,990 have recovered, 1140 are in isolation and 29 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,615 have recovered, 871 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,553 have been released from isolation and 169 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 1,655 have been released from isolation, 388 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,934 have been released from isolation, 287 remain in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,722 have recovered and 5167 cases are active.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 32 are in Ludlow, 1068 in Rantoul, 124 in Gifford, 49 in Penfield, 383 in St. Joseph, 64 in Thomasboro, 31 in Dewey, 136 in Fisher, 29 in Foosland, 665 in Mahomet, 411 in Paxton, 321 in Gibson City, 28 in Sibley, 50 in Melvin, 23 in Roberts, 81 in Loda, 35 in Buckley, 19 in Thawville, 149 in Cissna Park, 46 in Rankin, 428 in Hoopeston, 99 in Potomac, 125 in Milford, 100 in Piper City, 169 in Onarga, 234 in Gilman, 66 in Danforth, 51 in Crescent City, 412 in Watseka, 59 in Sheldon, 44 in Donovan, 40 in Beaverville, 50 in Martinton, 36 in Wellington, 203 in Chebanse, 228 in Clifton, 129 in Ashkum, 27 in Cabery, 20 in Kempton, 54 in Cullom, 83 in Chatsworth, 127 in Forrest, 408 in Fairbury, 26 in Strawn, 7 in Cropsey, 10 in Anchor, 48 in Saybrook and 25 in Bellflower.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has now run more than one million saliva tests for COVID-19. All students, faculty and staff who live in the area are tested weekly, with the groundbreaking saliva test accounting for 10 percent of all COVID testing in Illinois. U of I President Tim Killeen says the “Shield” program has led to a test positivity rate of less than one percent…

 

 

U of I President Tim Killeen. Killeen says local firefighters are also using the saliva test and that the U of I hopes to soon offer it to essential workers and schools across the state.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission is set to dissolve at the end of the month, but legislative leaders want to see it continuing into the new year. The group of lawmakers was created this summer by statute to collaborate with the governor on recovering from the pandemic, but had several false starts and canceled meetings. There have only been two public hearings. It will be dissolved at the end of the month, by law.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Many communities around the area are working on setting their tax levies. The city of Paxton is one of them. Mayor Bill Ingold talks about what residents can expect…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- University of Illinois Athletics isn't letting the coronavirus prevent them from helping children this holiday season. The annual toy drive, which would normally be held in-person, is taking place as a drive-thru event this year. It will be held from noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow at the State Farm Center East Circle Drive.

 

 

(Thomasboro-jm) -- A second man has been arrested for allegedly also firing shots at Champaign County Sheriff’s deputies following a pursuit from near Thomasboro to Champaign. U-S Marshals arrested 20 year old Jawon Brown. They say Brown was riding in the car with another man, who was arrested after running from a traffic stop. They said the men shot at the deputies who chased them. Brown faces a charge of reckless discharge of a weapon. If he is convicted, he will face prison time. That is because he was on probation for other weapons-related offenses at the time.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- FOID card delays continue to plague the Illinois State Police. The backlog of applications for renewal is causing headaches and is one of the top complaints says 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph-Swearinger Memorial Library will once again be holding their book sale. The book sale will take place through January 28th with the cost being by donation. Hours are Monday and Wednesday 1-8 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9 to 7 and Saturday 9 to 3.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley is announcing scholarship applications are now underway. The scholarships are available to high school seniors in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. Deadline to apply is February 28, 2021. More details are available at: cfkrv dot org then click on the scholarship tab.

 

 

 

The first shipment of the new COVID-19 vaccine has made it to Illinois.

(Springfield-jm) -- The first shipment of the new COVID-19 vaccine has made it to Illinois. The shipment to the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile Warehouse includes about 43 thousand doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, with more on the way. Governor J-B Pritzker says distribution is being carefully orchestrated…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Doses are very limited, so health care workers as well as staff and residents of long term care facilities will get the shots first. Like other big cities, Chicago will receive its own shipments of the vaccine.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,214 new cases and 103 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total to 856,118 and deaths to 14,394. Locally since Friday, McLean County reported 309 new cases bringing their total to 10,115. Champaign County reported 259 new cases bringing their total to 12,503. Livingston County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 2,751. Ford County reported 51 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 1,005. Kankakee County reported 171 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 9,959. Iroquois County reported 43 new cases bringing their total to 2,076. Vermilion County reported 159 new cases bringing their total to 4,250.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 32 in Ludlow, 1063 in Rantoul, Gifford 123, Penfield 49, St. Joseph 380, Thomasboro 64, Loda 79, Roberts 22, Dewey 31, Foosland 29, Fisher 136, Mahomet 660, Paxton 406, Gibson City 312, Sibley 28, Melvin 49, Buckley 34, Rankin 45, Potomac 97, Hoopeston 426, Cissna Park 148, Wellington 36, Milford 125, Thawville 18, Onarga 168, Gilman 232, Crescent City 51, Watseka 412, Sheldon 59, Piper City 100, Danforth 64, Ashkum 128, Clifton 224, Chebanse 202, Martinton 58, Beaverville 40, Donovan 44, Cabery 27, Kempton 20, Cullom 54, Chatsworth 82, Forrest 124, Fairbury 404, Strawn 26, Cropsey 7, Anchor 9, Saybrook 48 and Bellflower 25.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Pritzker administration expects to get $2 billion in borrowing from a federal loan program late this week, but it still owes $1 billion on a bridge loan from the previous fiscal year. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget said it’s only paid $200 million of the $1.2 billion loan it used to bridge the previous fiscal year. That’s expected to be paid back through the next year. Taxpayers are on the hook for the additional $2 billion over the next three years.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- You have time before you have to file your 2020 tax documents. The filing deadline is April 15th and Jeff Shaffer with Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton has what you need to bring with you for your tax meeting…

 

 

Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton Owner Jeff Shaffer.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton sex offender is facing soliciation and violating terms of his release. Wilbur White was arrested over the weekend after police were notified by PBL school officials. Police say they were called after White was observed on school property and associating with juveniles. When officers went to arrest White, he resisted arrest and battered an officer. He is charged with unlawful presence in a school zone, solicitation of a sexual act with a minor, resisting a peace officer and aggravated battery to a peace officer. He remains in the Ford County Jail.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Jury trials in the 21st circuit will continue to be on hold through February. Chief Judge Michael Kramer made the announcement citing an abundance of caution as the pandemic continues. The 21st circuit includes Iroquois and Kankakee Counties. 

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The annual Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade that takes place the first weekend in December has been canceled due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic. However, there will be a drive through parade says Chamber Director Amanda Vickery… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is announcing winter break details. The Champaign based community college announced campus will be closed December 24th through January 3rd. Student services will open with limited hours starting January 4th. The spring semester begins January 11th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's latest look at the U.S. soybean balance sheet shows another decrease in ending stocks, but the question is why? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 856,118 Coronavirus cases and 14,394 COVID related deaths after the state reported another 7,214 cases and 103 deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,810 have recovered, 1221 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,506 have recovered, 922 are in isolation and 14 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,524 have been released from isolation and 180 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,649 have recovered, 5165 cases are active and 56 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,636 have been released from isolation, 389 remain in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,901 have been released from isolation, 262 remain in isolation and 33 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Area COVID deaths also rose Monday. Ford County reported their 26th death. Kankakee County reported 3 additional deaths bringing their total number to 135. Vermilion County reported 5 additional deaths bringing their total to 54.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A state vaccine review board is giving the go ahead to the new COVID-19 shot. Illinois experts looked at all the FDA data on the Pfizer vaccine, which is recommended for everyone age 16 and up. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Dr Michael Olson is on the board and says side effects may include redness at the injection site…

 

 

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Dr Michael Olson. State officials urge pregnant women and those who have had a severe reaction to a vaccination in the past to talk to their doctor about whether or not to get the shot.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' electors met Monday to cast their 20 ballots in the presidential election. The electors formally cast their ballots for Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden's victory over Republican President Donald Trump in Illinois was certified earlier this month.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- One area state representative is calling for answers as the state’s unemployment situation continues to decline. Not only has the Illinois Department of Employment Security failed to get benefits to people in a timely manner, 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says there are thousands of cases of fraud…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- No injuries were reported after two vehicle fires in Paxton Monday. The first fire happened on Route 45 near the stop light late in the morning. No word on the cause of the fire. Just before 7 last night crews were called to a semi fire on I-57 just south of the Paxton exit. No word on the cause of that fire either.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for brutally beating a man in September of last year. Clayton Marcum received the maximum sentence after being found guilty of two felony counts of aggravated domestic battery. During sentencing, the victim's wife said her husband's injuries were so severe he is no longer able to care for himself and had to live in a nursing home since his release from the hospital. 

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign Urbana non profit is receiving a matching gift pledge. CU at Home is receiving $15,000 from Harrington Law for the non profits year end fundraising drive. The money will go towards the non profits One Winter Night 2021 campaign.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Cattle feedlot inventories are high, but may be worked down in the coming months. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

With the possible rollout of a Coronavirus vaccine days away, one question that has been brought up is can employers legally require employees to get the vaccine?

(Urbana-jm) -- With the possible rollout of a Coronavirus vaccine days away, one question that has been brought up is can employers legally require employees to get the vaccine? Michael LeRoy, an expert in labor law and labor relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau business and law about the legality of employers mandating that employees vaccinate themselves against the novel coronavirus. When it comes to the question if employers can legally require employees to get the vaccine, LeRoy says if the employer can prove that a vaccination is job-related and consistent with business necessity, an employee who refuses to vaccinate can be legally terminated.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- State officials say Illinois has received more than $3.5 billion in federal funding to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. That money covers between March 1 and December 30 of this year. The state first began COVID-19 spending on March 24, with an initial deposit of $339 million from the General Revenue Fund into the Disaster Response and Recovery Fund. The fiscal year 2021 budget authorizes spending for an estimated $5.5 billion in federal CARES Act funding for the state's response to the pandemic.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Struggling small businesses have just a few days left to apply for state Business Interruption Grants. The deadline to submit an application for a grant is Tuesday, December 15th, so Governor J-B Pritzker urges business owners to see if they qualify…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Grants range from five thousand to 150 thousand dollars. The average grant size is 25 thousand dollars. Apply online at: dceo dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 11,101 new cases and an additional 196 deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 823,531 and deaths to 13,861. Locally, Livingston County reported 46 new cases bringing their total to 2,639. McLean County reported 111 new cases bringing their total to 9,673. Champaign County reported 88 new cases bringing their total to 12,097. Ford County reported 49 new cases bringing their total to 944. Vermilion County reported 93 new cases bringing their total to 4,026. Iroquois County reported 30 new cases bringing their total to 1,995.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Case numbers in area communities rose Thursday. Ludlow now has 31 cases, Rantoul 1031, Gifford 115, Penfield 47, Thomasboro 64, St. Joseph 357, Dewey 29, Fisher 127, Foosland 29, Mahomet 633, Paxton 382, Gibson City 276, Sibley 27, Strawn 26, Fairbury 397, Forrest 119, Chatsworth 76, Piper City 99, Cullom 53, Kempton 19, Cabery 26, Thawville 15, Roberts 20, Melvin 48, Chebanse 200, Clifton 222, Ashkum 127, Danforth 60, Gilman 231, Onarga 163, Buckley 34, Loda 74, Martinton 57, Beaverville 39, Donovan 43, Sheldon 58, Watseka 380, Crescent City 49, Milford 117, Cissna Park 135, Wellington 34, Rankin 44, Hoopeston 394, Rossville 91 and Potomac 88.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Wreaths across America takes place Saturday December 19th at cemeteries around the country honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Local Spokesperson Pat Milchuck talks about how the program has grown locally…

 

 

Local Wreaths Across America Spokesperson Pat Milchuck.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign man wanted for murder has been arrested in northern Illinois. Darrion White was arrested Thursday in the Chicago suburb of Glenwood. White was mistakenly released from custody after an error. White is accused of shooting and killing a 16 year old in Champaign.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- A Mahomet non profit has a generous donation. The Mahomet Lions Club donated $1,000 plus food donations to Mom’s Pantry. Mom’s Pantry was created by a teacher in the Mahomet Seymour school district and is aimed to help students in the district. Mom’s Pantry is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9-11 am and Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:30.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton’s Mayor Bill Ingold will run for re-election again. Mayor Ingold says there are some things he would like to see to completion…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at area Congressional races. The 13th Congressional District featured incumbent Republican Rodney Davis against Democratic Challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Davis won the race in the district. Part of the 13th District covers Champaign County where Londrigan received 46,192 votes compared to Davis’ 22,394. Turning to the 15th Congressional District for the seat held by retiring Congressman John Shimkus. Republican Mary Miller defeated Democratic Challenger Erika Weaver. In Champaign County, Miller received 16,970 votes compared to Weaver’s 8,415. In Ford County, Miller received 2,394 votes while Weaver received 677. In Vermilion County, Miller received 21,204 votes while Weaver received 9,672. Turning to the 16th Congressional District featuring Republican incumbent Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Challenger Dani Brzozowski. Kinzinger won re-election for that seat. In Ford County Kizninger received 3,107 votes while Brzozowski received 689 votes. In Iroquois County, Kinzinger received 11,645 votes while Brzozowski received 2,186.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Senate Ag Chairman Scott Bennett of Champaign has received a prestigious ag award. Senator Bennett was recently awarded the Jim Guilinger Legislative Award from the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education for his support of Ag education and FFA programs.

 

Gibson City will host a Christmas in the Park tonight from 5 to 9 pm at North Park in Gibson City.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Food shoppers last month saw a significant drop in the prices for most foods at the grocery store. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers want state lawmakers to help make schools safer for everyone. The unions say some school districts have failed to follow and enforce the Illinois Department of Public Health's guidance and requirements for schools. They are asking the state legislature to work on the following measures: establish clear metrics, so districts know when to switch to remote learning to keep students and staff safe, enforce guidance and requirements put forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education , and heed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, provide rapid COVID-19 testing in schools so infected students and staff can be identified before they spread the virus and urge the prioritization of education workers in the vaccine schedule.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul led bipartisan a coalition of 30 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a decision upholding the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to seek restitution for victims of anticompetitive, unfair, and deceptive trade practices when enforcing consumer protections under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act. Raoul and the coalition filed the brief in support of the FTC in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission. In the brief, Raoul and the coalition argue that the FTC’s authority to seek restitution, which most often takes the form of refunds or other monetary payments to consumers, benefits states and their residents, and is critical to combating anticompetitive, unfair and deceptive trade practices.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A special commission on early childhood education is looking into ways to improve the care and teaching of Illinois’ youngest population. The commission hasn’t issued a final report yet, but members discussed some of their ideas at a Senate hearing. Recommendations include more equitable funding of pre-school and child care programs and better pay for early childhood teachers says First Assistant Deputy Governor of Education Theresa Hawley…

 

 

First Assistant Deputy Governor of Education Theresa Hawley. Commission members also stressed the need to pull child care, home visit and preschool  programs under the umbrella of a new early childhood state agency.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 823,531 Coronavirus cases and 13,861 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 2,339 have recovered and 254 cases are active. McLean County reported 8,415 have recovered, 1177 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,967 have recovered, 1057 are in isolation and 15 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,510 have recovered, 5057 cases are active and 62 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,656 have been released from isolation, 280 are in isolation and 42 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,563 have been released from isolation 384 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- 6 additional deaths were reported in the area Thursday. Livingston County reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 46. McLean County reported 3 new deaths bringing their total to 65. Champaign County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 73. Kankakee County has 129 deaths, Ford County 25, Vermilion County 48 and Iroquois County 43.

 

 

(Cissna Park-jm) -- The 2020 Cissna Park FFA Chapter’s scholarship auction wraps up tomorrow. The pandemic forced the chapter to get unique when it came to their auction, with them allowing those interested in bidding the opportunity to bid through their facebook page or at the Cissna Park American Legion from 2-9 pm. The chapter will also be at the legion all day tomorrow for those that want to come see the items in person and place their bids. Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton says they will also have a pork chop dinner tomorrow night…

 

 

Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A former Ford County Judge will serve on a committee to select the next 11th Judicial Circuit. Steve Pacey of Paxton was selected by State Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman to serve on the committee. The 11th Judicial Circuit includes Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean and Woodford Counties.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- PRIDE in Paxton is announcing the winners of the business decorating contest. Picket Fence Florist came in first, followed by Arcade Cafe, Houston’s Plumbing and Heating, Bijoux Hair Salon and Doug’s Pharmacy.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The legislative inquiry into House Speaker Mike Madigan continues. While not charged, Madigan has been implicated in a scheme with utility giant Commonwealth Edison. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says the distraction has caused issues in Springfield…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois is offering staff a voluntary retirement plan. They must meet eligibility to apply by May 31, 2021. The university says it will help navigate budget challenges as a result of the pandemic.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Buckley resident John Shure will remain chairman of the Iroquois County board. The board recently met and voted Shure to another 2 year term. Lyle Behrends of Ashkum was selected as vice chair.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at the Watseka American Legion on Sunday from 9 to 3.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- If you are a farmer whose production expenses fell in 2020, you are not alone. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

A Clarence man has been found guilty on all five counts for the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota

(Springfield-jm) -- Hunters harvested more than 76 thousand deer during Illinois’ firearm hunting season. The second half of what was a great season just wrapped up this past weekend says State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert…

 

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. Illinois counties with the largest harvests this year include Randolph, Adams, Jackson, Jefferson and Pike. Next up for hunters: muzzleloader-only season this weekend.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois dentists are ready to help distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as one nears distribution to the general public. The Illinois State Dental Society says dentists have the ability to provide vaccinations by law, but they’re awaiting training standards they hope to see in forthcoming guidance that ensures dentists are able to help vaccinate people as quickly as possible.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Of 415 college towns reviewed by consumer finance group WalletHub, Champaign-Urbana didn’t crack the top ten, let alone the top 50. The flagship University of Illinois campus landed Urbana at No. 71 and Champaign at No. 109. The worst performing college town in Illinois was Rockford at No. 399.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Another 179 COVID patients in Illinois have died. The daily number of new cases has been under 10 thousand in recent days but the state is still averaging about 150 deaths per day. With that in mind, State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike issues another warning for the holiday season…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Hospitalizations have been dropping a bit, although a few regions have 20 or less ICU beds available. There are currently more than 52 hundred Illinois COVID patients in the hospital.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Locally, McLean County reported 117 new cases bringing their total to 9,562. Champaign County reported 119 new cases bringing their total to 12,009. Livingston County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 2,593. Vermilion County reported 100 new cases bringing their total to 3,933. Iroquois County reported 22 new cases bringing their total to 1,965. Kankakee County reported 80 new cases bringing their total to 9,644. Ford County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 895.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for case numbers in area communities...Ludlow is at 30, Rantoul 1,024, Gifford 115, Penfield 46, Thomasboro 64, St. Joseph 353, Fisher 126, Foosland 29, Mahomet 630, Paxton 376, Gibson City 257, Loda 74, Buckley 33, Melvin 47, Sibley 27, Roberts 20, Rankin 44, Potomac 87, Rossville 86, Hoopeston 383, Cissna Park 132, Wellington 33, Milford 115, Onarga 158, Thawville 15, Gilman 225, Crescent City 48, Watseka 384, Sheldon 53, Donovan 42, Beaverville 39, Martinton 56, Chebanse 197, Clifton 221, Ashkum 127, Danforth 60, Cabery 26, Kempton 19, Cullom 53, Piper City 97, Chatsworth 75, Forrest 118, Fairbury 392, Strawn 26, Cropsey 6, Anchor 8, Saybrook 47 and Bellflower 22.

 

 

(Minneapolis-jm) -- A Clarence man has been found guilty on all five counts for the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota. A jury convicted Michael Hari Wednesday on civil rights and hate crime charges in connection to the 2017 bombing. Two co-defendents, Joe Morris and Michael McWhorter, testified against Hari. They pleaded guilty in January 2019 for their roles. 

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- A popular Mahomet restaurant is shutting its doors this weekend. The owners of JT Walker's  Restaurant and Brewery announced Sunday will be their final day. The owners cited the pandemic and restrictions by the Governor as reasons for the closure.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at how the area voted for President of the United States. In Champaign County, 57,067 voted for Joe Biden, 35,285 voted for Donald Trump, 1,507 voted for Jo Jorgensen, 671 voted for Howie Hawkins and 288 for Brian Carroll. In Ford County, 1,754 voted for Joe Biden, 5,048 voted for Donald Trump, 100 for Jo Jorgensen, 39 for Howie Hawkins and 10 for Brian Carroll. Iroquois County, 2,908 voted for Joe Biden, 10,877 voted for Donald Trump, 147 for Jo Jorgensen, 64 for Howie Hawkins and 24 for Brian Carroll.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a food drive today. The food drive will take place from 7-8 am in the high school parking lot. The food will then be donated to the Fisher Area Food Pantry.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some important ways to keep your fresh-cut Christmas tree healthy during the holiday season? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is working to combat the backlog of FOID card and concealed carry licenses that need to be processed. ISP has hired more workers and improved some systems, but it’s going to take more than that to handle the huge influx of people wanting FOID cards and concealed carry permits says Director Brendan Kelly. He says legislative action is needed to address what he calls an antiquated renewal system…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Republicans in the Illinois House held a press conference saying FOID and concealed carry delays are one of the biggest complaints they receive from their constituents and that they stand ready to pass much needed reforms.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Public health officials are working to build confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine that nears final approval and initial distribution, especially with Black and brown communities where hesitation is high. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said she understands historical concerns, but her department is working with community members to dispel myths and encourage acceptance.

 

(Paxton--jc)  Current Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold has made it official, he is running for re-election. Ingold has been passing around the signature page to be placed on the April 20-21 Ballot.  Several other city positions are also up for election in the Spring of next year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security show roughly 341,000 fraud claims have been shut down just this year. Many of these claims have come from state or public employees, whose wages are public information. Between this and information fraudsters may have obtained through past data breaches like Equifax, fraudsters have all they need to file a false claim.

 

(Undated-jm) -- As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County is reporting 8,282 have recovered, 1202 are in isolation and 16 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,875 have recovered, 1062 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,305 have been removed from isolation and 240 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 3,553 have been released from isolation, 290 are in isolation and 42 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,534 have been released from isolation, 383 remain in isolation and 5 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,459 have recovered, 5057 cases are active and 69 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Area COVID-19 deaths also rose Wednesday. Champaign County recorded 2 new deaths bringing their total to 72. Livingston County reported 6 new deaths bringing their total to 44. Iroquois County reported 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 43. Kankakee County also reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 129.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting how Gibson City will ring in the Christmas holiday season. The typical lighted Christmas parade is off for this year, however, a static light display of floats will take place at North Park today and tomorrow from 5 to 9 pm. Spokesperson Susie Tongate says kids can also bring letters for Santa…

 

 

Gibson City Christmas Spokesperson Susie Tongate.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- In updating our story from yesterday, we now know more details behind the arrest of a Roberts man. Paul Theesfield was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Police say Theesfield hit a woman in Gibson City on December 5th, in an attempt to incapacitate and sexually assault her. Theesfield was the water superintendent for Roberts and Elliott. He was fired from those positions.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released their November activity report. During the month of November, troopers issued 829 citations and 1,029 written warnings including 20 for DUI and 80 seatbelt citations. Troopers also responded to 73 traffic accidents.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- School Report card time has come for area school districts, Gibson City Melvin Sibley Superintendent Jeremey Darnell updates us on their report card from last year… 

 

 

GCMS Superintendent Jeremey Darnell.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- An art scholarship has been created in memory of a St. Joseph Ogden High School student killed in a crash earlier this month. 17 year old Nadirah Edwards died following an accident north of St. Joseph. Edwards was involved in the high school's art and drama groups. Those interested in donating to the scholarship fund can do so at the Gifford State Bank.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Mahomet Seymour High School Freshman Mentoring Program raised over $2,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The group raised money through the Pennies for Pasta Fundraiser. The fundraiser has been an annual event for the program for several years.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Trade numbers for October show huge percentage increases from October 2019 in sales of U.S. farm products to China. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

Illinois is slated to get its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, with hopes of more doses arriving weekly

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker said reductions in state spending are happening behind the scenes, but didn't provide any specific examples. He also said he needs the legislature to reconvene in order to make real reductions in the state’s spending. The $43 billion budget, Illinois’ highest-spending in its history, was enacted by the governor after being passed by the legislature in May. It’s held together by assumptions of billions of dollars in untethered federal aid and borrowing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new proposal to give voters more power to remove corrupt public officials is in the works. Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is introducing three constitutional amendments that create a process for recalling elected officials statewide, as well as the Illinois Auditor General, House Speaker and Senate President. He says the public is clamoring for the change…

 

 

State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington. The amendments are still being drafted but will require signatures from a certain percentage of voters to recall an official.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,910 new Coronavirus cases and 145 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 804,174 and deaths to 13,487. Locally, McLean County reported 108 new cases bringing their total to 9,445. Champaign County reported 95 new cases bringing their total to 11,890. Ford County reported 16 new cases bringing their total to 877. Livingston County reported 42 new cases bringing their total to 2,558. Iroquois County reported 17 new cases bringing their total to 1,943. Vermilion County reported 78 new cases bringing their total to 3,833. Kankakee County reported 270 new cases bringing their total to 9,564.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Cases in local communities also continue to rise...Rantoul now stands at 1,016, Ludlow 30, Gifford 110, Penfield 44, St. Joseph 343, Thomasboro 64, Dewey 29, Fisher 125, Foosland 29, Mahomet 618, Paxton 366, Gibson City 253, Sibley 27, Melvin 47, Roberts 20, Buckley 33, Loda 74, Rankin 42, Hoopeston 379, Rossville 86, Potomac 86, Wellington 33, Cissna Park 129, Milford 114, Onarga 155, Thawville 15, Strawn 26, Fairbury 385, Forrest 118, Chatsworth 74, Piper City 97, Gilman 224, Crescent City 48, Watseka 383, Sheldon 52, Donovan 42, Martinton 55, Beaverville 38, Danforth 60, Ashkum 127, Clifton 220, Chebanse 196, Kempton 18, Cullom 52, Cabery 26, Anchor 8, Cropsey 6, Saybrook 46 and Bellflower 21.

 

 

(Cissna Park-jm) -- The Cissna Park FFA Chapter’s annual scholarship auction is underway. With the pandemic, the FFA Chapter is changing their auction to more of a silent auction with those interested in bidding being able to place their bids online or at the Cissna Park American Legion says Chapter Advisor Jeff Clifton…

 

 

Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton. A drive thru or carryout pork chop dinner will also take place Saturday from 4-7.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The Gibson City police department could be adding a new addition. The police committee will discuss the purchase of a new police K-9 tonight at 7pm.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Lifeline screening will take place in Rantoul. The screenings will take place today from 9 to 4 at the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County. More details are available by calling the Community Service Center at 893-1530.

 

 

(Peoria-jm) -- OSF Healthcare is offering a new treatment for high risk COVID-19 patients. OSF HealthCare is now offering a cutting edge monoclonal immunotherapy infusion. Bamlanivimab (bam-luh-ni-vi-mab), or BAM, is approved for high risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker says the antibody will help keep hospital admissions for COVID-19 down so more beds are available for other needs…

 

 

OSF Healthcare Vice President of Physician Services Dr Mark Meeker. BAM is most effective when given early, and needs to be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Rantoul woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing credit cards in Paxton and using them to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets and cigarettes. Paxton police say 29 year old Samantha Pollack is accused of using the credit cards to purchase $680 worth of lottery tickets and cigarettes. Pollack was arrested in Rantoul for driving a vehicle reported stolen. She faces charges of burglary to motor vehicle, fraud and credit card fraud in Ford County.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. We now look at how the area voted for the constitutional amendment. In Champaign County, 46,426 voted yes while 45,724 voted no. In Ford County, 1,440 voted yes while 5,385 voted no. Iroquois County 2,404 voted yes while 11,332 voted no. In Vermilion County 8,779 voted yes while 21,859 voted no.

 

The Iroquois Memorial Auxiliary Scholastic Book Sale will take place today from 8 to 4.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Where in the country does the National Weather Service expect there will be a snowier-than-average winter? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A survey from CodeWizardsHQ showed 94 percent of parents are concerned about learning loss as a result of COVID-19-related disruptions. Among concerns parents had were bandwidth issues with remote learning, children missing group interactions of in-person learning, and students being distracted while remote.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is slated to get its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, with hopes of more doses arriving weekly. 109 thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in the coming days, although officials caution that could change. The vaccine will first go to healthcare workers and long term care facilities. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says it will be a long process…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Doses of the Moderna vaccine may also be arriving soon. The Governor says each county has its own plan to distribute the vaccine as it becomes more widely available.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has more than 800,000 coronavirus cases after an additional 7,910 cases were reported Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,158 have recovered, 1210 are in isolation and 15 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,705 have recovered, 1055 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,304 have been removed from isolation and 216 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 1,457 have been released from isolation, 438 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,469 have been released, 276 are in isolation and 40 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 4,402 have recovered, 5035 cases are active and 74 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The local death toll also continued to rise Tuesday. McLean County reported 4 additional deaths bringing their total to 62. Champaign County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 70. Livingston County reported 3 additional deaths bringing their total to 38. Vermilion and Kankakee Counties each reported 2 new deaths bringing their totals to 48 and 127 respectively. Iroquois County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 41.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a raffle. The raffle runs through December 11th. Rantoul Chamber Director Amanda Vickery talks about the raffle…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery. Tickets are available by calling the Rantoul Chamber office at 893-3323.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Health has implemented new changes to its COVID-19 testing. All pre-procedural patients have the option to test at all primary care or convenient care locations, rather than the limited few. Another change is you can call the Carle COVID-19 Hotline to register via your phone to get through the line faster, so registration will be complete by the time you get to your test. Also, all tests are now self-administered. You must have an order to get a COVID-19 test. Call Carle's COVID-19 hotline at 217-902-6100 for more information on testing, symptom checking, and ordering a test.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Small businesses in the City of Champaign can now apply for a new Economic Support Grant Program. The city is trying to reimburse businesses that have financial struggles due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Champaign is awarding grant reimbursements of up to $5,000 for qualifying expenses that businesses have incurred between March 1st and December 30th.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Cemeteries around the country will honor those who have fallen this holiday season this weekend. Saturday is the annual Wreaths Across America. Local Spokesperson Pat Milchuck talks about how Wreaths Across America got started…

 

 

Local Wreaths Across America Spokesperson Pat Milchuck.

 

Updated

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On November 30th, Terricia Martin of Sibley was cited for driving while license suspended. On December 5th, a juvenile was arrested for motor vehicle theft. Also on December 5th, Paul Theesfield of Roberts was arrested for aggravated battery and attempted aggravated kidnapping.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A familiar restaurant will be reopening in a new location in Rantoul today. Taco Bell is set to open at 10 am at their new location just east of McDonald’s. It used to be located just west of McDonalds before closing last year.

 

The Rantoul Recreation Department Senior Holiday Lunch today from 11-12.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Christmas tree growers and sellers appear to be having a banner year. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

Governor J-B Pritzker says the next four weeks will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation joined with 47 state regulators, 50 attorneys general and the District of Columbia along with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to announce a $90 million dollar settlement with Nationstar Mortgage LLC, also known as Mr. Cooper, one of the nation’s largest mortgage loan servicers. The settlement resolves a wide range of allegations regarding Nationstar’s past origination and servicing practices, including failing to provide required origination disclosures, failing to timely fund loans, engaging in wrongful foreclosures, failing to properly administer escrow accounts, charging impermissible fees, failing to properly terminate private mortgage insurance, and mishandling loan modifications and servicing transfers.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the next four weeks will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19. With Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s coming up, it's vital that everyone continue to wear a mask and not get together with big groups of people, says Governor Pritzker. He notes that with three out of four staffed hospital beds currently in use statewide, hospitals may not be able to handle another surge…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says it's more important than ever to wear a mask, wash your hands and socially distance.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,691 new cases and 90 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 796,264 and deaths to 13,343. Locally since Friday, McLean County reported 263 new cases bringing their total number to 9,337. Champaign County reported 370 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,795 and deaths to 65. Livingston County reported 98 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,513 and deaths to 35. Vermilion County reported 163 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,755 and deaths to 46. Iroquois County reported 61 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,926 and deaths to 40. Ford County reported 32 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 861 and deaths to 25. Kankakee County did not provide an update.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health has been tracking cases in area communities. Since the pandemic began, Rantoul has reported 1,010 cases, Ludlow 30, Gifford 107, Penfield 43, St. Joseph 338, Thomasboro 62, Dewey 29, Fisher 125, Foosland 29, Mahomet 614, Potomac 85, Rossville 81, Hoopeston 364, Rankin 41, Paxton 357, Gibson City 242, Sibley 27, Melvin 45, Roberts 20, Loda 70, Buckley 33, Cissna Park 126, Wellington 33, Milford 113, Thawville 15, Onarga 150, Gilman 221, Crescent City 48, Watseka 382, Sheldon 52, Piper City 97, Kempton 17, Cabery 26, Danforth 60, Ashkum 127, Clifton 219, Martinton 55, Donovan 42, Beaverville 38, Chatsworth 74, Forrest 115, Strawn 25, Fairbury 384, Cropsey 6, Anchor 6, Saybrook 41 and Bellflower 21.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place in April. That election is primarily for local races including town presidents or mayors, school boards and more. Those interested in running can now circulate petitions to be on the ballot. Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver has the deadline for filing your petitions and how you can get your petitions if you want to run for office…

 

 

Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County has a new county board chairman. Debbie Smith was chosen to replace Robert Lindgren last night. 

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce will host their Drive-thru Christmas Parade this year at the Happ-Parker Aquatic Center parking lot December 19th starting at 5:30 pm. Chamber Director Amanda Vickery details some of the events that will be happening at the drive-thru parade… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois has released their Native American Imagery Implementation Plan. The plan has input from a communitywide discussion started in 2018. As part of the plan, students of federally recognized tribal nations will receive the same tuition rate as in state students, strengthen their partnership with the Peoria tribe and explore permanent structures to acknowledge and represent Peoria and other tribal nations.

 

The Iroquois Memorial Auxiliary Scholastic Book Sale will take place today and tomorrow from 8 to 4.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The new fiscal year is getting off to a flying start for U.S. agricultural export sales. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois sold another $75 million of legal cannabis products last month, about level with the month before, but more than the first two months of the year combined. The latest sales figures released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation showed the state’s adult-use cannabis dispensaries have sold more than $582 million worth of the drug. That doesn’t include the total tax revenue from the past eleven months, which is now more than $150 million.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services announced the Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security. The Commission, which was signed into law by Governor Pritzker earlier this year as part of the Intergenerational Poverty Act, builds on the administration’s efforts to improve the lives of low- and middle-income Illinoisans. The Commission is tasked with developing and adopting a strategic plan that will develop anti-poverty programs that ensure long-term, multigenerational economic mobility regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity, ability, or geographic location. The plan will be available in spring 2021. Goals for The Commission outlined in state statute include reducing poverty in Illinois by 50 percent by 2026, eliminating child poverty by 2031 and eliminating all poverty by 2036. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is asking the public to participate in a new traveler survey. IDOT is seeking input about the state’s transportation system, says Spokesperson Paul Wappel. You can take the survey online…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. The survey also asks respondents about their travel habits during the pandemic. Provide your input at idot dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois is nearing 800,000 cases after the state reported an additional 8,691 new cases Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 8,016 have recovered, 1246 are in isolation and 17 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,729 have recovered, 1001 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,292 have recovered and 186 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 3,377 have been released from isolation, 298 are in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,452 have been released from isolation, 424 remain in isolation and 10 are hospitalized. Ford County could not provide an update on active and recovered cases. Kankakee County did not provide a report Monday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state has been tracking cases at long term care facilities around the area. In Ford County, 214 cases and 20 deaths have been reported at facilities. Champaign County reported 356 cases and 26 deaths have been reported at facilities. In Iroquois County 229 cases and 21 deaths have been reported at facilities. In Vermilion County, 174 cases and 18 deaths have been reported at facilities. 

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- The Savoy 16 will reopen after all. The theatre was bought by Knoxville Tennessee based Phoenix Theatre Entertainment. The previous owners reopened some of their theatres, except the Savoy 16, after the pandemic forced theatres across the country to close.

 

(Cissna Park-jm) -- The Cissna Park FFA Chapter is hosting their annual scholarship auction again this year. The auction is typically held in person but with the Coronavirus pandemic, it will look different this year says Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton…

 

 

Cissna Park FFA Advisor Jeff Clifton. A drive thru or carryout pork chop dinner will also take place Saturday night from 4-7.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state board of elections has certified election results from the November election. This week, we look at results from around the area. Up first we look at voter turnout. In Champaign County, 127,848 people are registered to vote while 96,185 turned out to vote. In Ford County, 9,359 are registered to vote while only 7,007 actually voted. In Iroquois County, 17,887 are registered to vote while 14,121 voted in the election. In Vermilion County, 46,303 are registered to vote while 31,881 voted.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at the Kruse Center in Gibson City today from 12 to 5:30 pm.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- This week's new USDA forecasts for U.S. crop demand and prices will be tied closely to South America crop prospects. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

Governor J-B Pritzker is laying out the state's plan for distributing the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is laying out the state’s plan for distributing the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. If the vaccine from Pfizer is approved by the FDA next week, Illinois is expected to get about 109 thousand doses in mid-December. These initial doses will be going to health care workers in the 50 counties with the highest number of cases says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Since the Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses, three weeks apart, the Governor says no one will be fully immunized by Christmas. The state has about 655 thousand frontline health care workers that will be first up to get the vaccine. After that, the vaccine will be distributed to long term care and assisted living facilities. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is closing Driver Services Facilities for another month due to the pandemic. The facilities will be closed for most in person transactions through January 4th. In the meantime, Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt reminds there are several things you can take care of online…

 

 

Illinois Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. Haupt says some facilities will be open just for new drivers to get a license and for CDL applications. Visit cyber drive illinois dot com to see if there is one open near you.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Voter turnout for the November election in Illinois reached nearly 73 percent. That’s the highest turnout for a presidential election since 1992 and remarkable since it was held in the midst of a pandemic, says State Board of Elections Spokesperson Matt Dietrich…

 

 

State Board of Elections Spokesperson Matt Dietrich. The November 2020 election set several records, for the number of voters registered, votes cast and mail in ballots received.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- Those in the GIbson City Melvin Sibley School district will see a slight increase in property taxes, as expected with the new school that was built for the district. G-C-M-S Schools Superintendent Jermey Darnell has the details on the increase… 

 

G-C-M-S Schools Superintendent Jermey Darnell 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) --  The Ford County Board will hold a special organizational meeting today. The board will swear in newly elected members then choose a new chairperson and vice chair. Currently board chairman Robert Lindgren was not re-elected. The organizational meeting will take place at 4pm.

 

(Danville-jm) -- The Vermilion County Farm Bureau will host a wind and solar farm informational meeting today starting at 6pm. The meeting takes place on zoom.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The future of House Speaker Mike Madigan remains unclear. Recently several members associated close to the longtime and powerful speaker were indicted. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says the recent indictments have increased calls for the speaker to resign…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 7 and a half years in federal prison for transportation and possession of child pornography. William Armstrong was arrested in June and pleaded guilty to the charges in August. He was ordered to remain on federal supervised release for 10 years at the end of his prison term. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

 

 

(Ludlow-jm) -- Ludlow’s first phase of their water main project will be larger than expected. The approved bid was almost $1 million lower than the engineer estimated. The project will include overhaul of the water plant and replace about half of the village’s water mains to pvc.

 

(Washington-jm) -- The pork industry may expand production again next year, but that expansion may be less "expansive". Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging safety when it comes to putting up holiday decorations. The first concern is lights. Fire Marshal Spokesperson JC Fultz has this advice…

 

 

State Fire Marshal Spokesperson JC Fultz. Candles are another hazard and should be kept away from anything potentially flammable. More than half of home decoration fires in December are caused by candles.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Struggling to pay your utility bills? Some Illinois, gas, electric and water companies are committing to help customers through the winter. As the second wave of the pandemic sweeps across the state, many are still having a tough time financially. Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Carrie Zalewski says utilities are offering options to qualifying customers, but you need to ask…

 

 

Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Carrie Zalewski. Funds are also available to help pay past due bills, or you can request that your payments be deferred. Some of these options have a deadline, most in late December, so the I-C-C urges people to call their utility now.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Recreation department is hosting their senior lunch program every Wednesday up until Christmas. If you would like a meal you have to call 217-893-5700. Spokesperson Andy Graham has the rest of the details to enter…

 

 

Rantoul Recreation Director of the senior lunch program Andy Graham.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph-Swearinger Memorial Library will once again be holding their book sale. The book sale will take place today through January 28th with the cost being by donation. Hours are Monday and Wednesday 1-8 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9 to 7 and Saturday 9 to 3.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois is revising on campus COVID testing. Beginning today, students, faculty and staff getting tested will have to use a straw to deposit their saliva into a smaller test tube. Campus officials say it should speed up the time it takes to get test results.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- The consolidated election may not take place until April but you can now begin circulating petitions. Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver explains the consolidated election…

 

 

Iroquois County Clerk Breein Suver. You can begin filing your petitions December 14th.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum is releasing results of recent Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols. During patrols, troopers issued 39 safety belt and 1 child restraint citations.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- Several Vermilion County officials recently were sworn in. Erika Briggs was sworn in as auditor, Melissa Quick was sworn in as circuit clerk, Jane McFadden as Coroner, Dave Stone as recorder, Aaron Hird was regional schools superintendent and Jacquiline Lacy as state’s attorney.


 

(Washington-jm) -- There is money to be made in the beef cattle business, depending on what part of the business you're in. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

The state's Public Health Director is clarifying new CDC guidelines for those exposed to someone with COVID-19

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is launching two new homebuyer assistance programs. The first one is called “Smart Buy” and includes an affordable 30 year fixed rate mortgage and a payment of five thousand dollars for a down payment or closing costs that will be paid back later says the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Javier Gumucio (ga-moo-cee-oh)...

 

 

Illinois Housing Development Authorities Javier Gumucio. The second program is “opening doors,” and is aimed at low to moderate income homebuyers. It also offers a 30 year mortgage and 6 thousand dollars for a downpayment that is forgiven after five years. Get all the details online at: ihda mortgage dot org.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Another 74,000 Illinoisans filed for unemployment claims last week. That’s 8,500 more than filed the week before and the largest weekly increase of any state. Unemployment filings nationwide neared where they were pre-pandemic restrictions. Illinois continues to lag the rest of the nation.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s Public Health Director is clarifying new CDC guidelines for those exposed to someone with COVID-19. Originally, the CDC said you should quarantine for 14 days after possible exposure. Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says that’s been reduced to 10 days if you don’t have any symptoms…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says you can reduce the isolation time to seven days if you don’t have any symptoms and also test negative for the virus later in that week.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,959 new cases and 192 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 759,562 and 12,830 deaths. Locally, McLean County reported 136 new cases bringing their total to 8,907. Vermilion County reported 167 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,478 and deaths to 43. Champaign County reported 156 new cases bringing their total to 11,260. Livingston County reported 49 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,320 and deaths to 32. Kankakee County reported 111 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 9,184 and deaths to 124. Iroquois County reported 42 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,827 and deaths to 38.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The annual Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade that takes place the first weekend in December has been canceled due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic. However, there will be a drive through parade says Chamber Director Amanda Vickery… 

 

 

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- In updating a story we brought to you yesterday morning, a 17 year old St. Joseph teen is dead following an accident north of St. Joseph Wednesday afternoon. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says Nadirah Edwards died at Carle Foundation Hospital Thursday from traumatic injuries. Police say Edwards collided with a garbage truck on 2200 East near 1850 North.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A former Boy Scout troop leader was sentenced Thursday to six and a half years in federal prison on child pornography charges. 80 year old Milton Forsberg was also ordered to pay $10,200 for court costs and his contributions to a fund supporting victims of child exploitation. Forsberg was arrested in October 2019. In August, he pleaded guilty to using a computer to get sexually explicit pictures of minors and to get child pornography.

 

 

(Fisher-cf)-- During the drive-thru Santa visit in Fisher on Saturday, you can also bring non-perishable items to donate to the Fisher Food Bank. Spokesperson Kristin Darling has the details… 

 

 

Fisher Parade Spokesperson Krisitn Darling.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County home sales rose almost 15 percent in October. According to the Champaign County Association of Realtors sales rose 14.77 percent with 272 homes sold compared to 237 in October 2019. The mean price also rose 5.9 percent in October 2019 from $159,000 in 2019 to $167,250 in October 2020.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- More people have signed up for the second round of USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program than signed up for the first round. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are the thoughts of some analysts regarding recent commodity price increases and if this will be a continuing trend in the short and long term? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

The Thawville American Legion will host a drive thru fish fry tonight from 4:30-7:30 pm. Cost is $10 for adults, children under 12 are $4.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service is hosting a drive thru Cookies with Santa on Saturday from 4 to 5:30 at their building at 134 W. State Street. 

 

The Mahomet Lutheran Church will hold their live drive thru nativity on Sunday from 5 to 7 pm.

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police say they’ve been able to cut the state’s DNA backlog by nearly half. Since March of 2019, ISP has seen a 48 percent drop in the number of DNA samples that are waiting to be processed. Director Brendan Kelly says this is due to improved technologies, the use of robotics and an aggressive hiring effort…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. Kelly says they are also working to improve communication with law enforcement and state’s attorneys to see which cases need immediate attention and which no longer need to be processed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ student participation in online math coursework has decreased by 12 percent this year, according to TrackTheRecovery.org. The national average is a 10.1 percent decrease. While the national average for student progress in online math coursework is up 0.8 percent, Illinois’ metric dropped by 7.1 percent compared to January 2020.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,959 new cases and 192 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 759,562 and 12,830 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 7,551 have recovered, 1281 are in isolation and 17 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 3,158 have been released from isolation, 243 are in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,271 have recovered, 929 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,177 have been removed from isolation and 171 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,181 have recovered, 4879 cases are active and 60 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,229 have been released from isolation, 540 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City will ring in the Christmas holiday season a little differently this year. Spokesperson Susie Tongate talks about some of the changes…

 

 

Gibson City Christmas Spokesperson Susie Tongate.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- A former Vermilion County high school teacher has been sentenced to four years of Specialized Sex Offender Probation for sexually abusing a student. Chelsea Robinson was arrested in 2018 after police learned from a then 17-year-old Danville High School student that they were in a sexual relationship. Robinson pleaded guilty in July.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- An award winning author will speak to students at J.W. Eater Junior High today. Jason Reynolds sent nearly 700 copies of his book “Look Both Ways”. Reynolds is a New York Times Number 1 best selling author.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- Around this time every year, the Rantoul Recreation Department hosts a senior lunch day, where all the seniors in the area can go eat a turkey lunch, listen to live music, and socialize. Director of the senior lunch program Andy Graham has the details… 

 

 

Director of the Senior Lunch Program Andy Graham.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton will have two committee meetings prior to the council meeting on December 8th. The public safety committee will meet at 6 to discuss changes to the animals at large ordinance. Then at 6:30 the license, permit and zoning committee will meet to continue reviewing zoning ordinances and map. The regular council meeting will get underway at 7 pm. All three meetings will take place in the city council chamber.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Will the expansion in the nation's broiler production continue next year? If so, at what rate? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

Fisher is hosting a drive thru Santa event on Saturday from 10 to noon at the Fisher Community Center.

 

Santa will be coming to the village of Sheldon on Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.

 

The University of Illinois' saliva testing ability could be coming out to the community sooner rather than later

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ economy continues to stagnate. The University of Illinois Flash Index for years showed economic expansion. But since April, the index contracted. After a few months of slight growth, the index stalled from October to November.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is reporting a 48 percent reduction in the backlog of DNA testing. On March 1, 2019 the state reported a backlog of 9,289 pending assignments. As of November 30th, that number was down to 4,857. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A grim new daily record set Wednesday, with 238 people in Illinois lost to the Coronavirus. The latest single day death toll surpasses the high of 191 set back in mid-May. Some of the increase may be attributed to a delay in reporting data over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but Governor J-B Pritzker says regardless, the numbers are heartbreaking…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. More than 12 thousand 600 people have now died from COVID in Illinois. The state also reported 9,757 new cases bringing the state’s total to 748,603. Locally, McLean County reported 90 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 8,771 and deaths to 58. Champaign County reported 151 new cases bringing their total to 11,104. Livingston County reported 38 new cases and 7 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,331 and deaths to 31. Ford County reported 56 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 829 and deaths to 22. Kankakee County reported 161 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 9,073 and deaths to 123. Vermilion County reported 74 new cases bringing their total to 3,311. Iroquois County reported 58 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,785 and deaths to 31.

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic may have some positives. Nick Reutter, President of the Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois Paxton  says interest rates should remain low…

 

 

Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois Paxton  President Nick Reutter.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Several county officials were sworn in this week in Iroquois County. Among those being sworn in for new 4 year terms include State’s Attorney Jim Devine, Circuit Clerk Lisa Hines and Coroner Bill Cheatum. County Clerk Briann Suver was sworn in for a 2 year term. David Penny and Thomas Lynch will be sworn in as new county board members Monday during the counties organizational meeting.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Those visiting downtown Champaign can take advantage of free parking for the rest of the month. The City of Champaign is offering up to two hours of free parking in the Hill Street Parking Deck for the month of December. It’s part of an effort to encourage people to visit downtown Champaign businesses during the holiday season.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The driver of a semi that struck and killed a bicyclist on Route 47 near Lake of the Woods in Mahomet has been fined $500 for the incident. Roman Sydoruk was driving a semi on Route 47 when he and 46-year-old David Powell crashed. Powell died three days later. Sydoruk was ticketed for improper passing and pleaded guilty to driving on the wrong side of the road.

 

 

(Fisher-cf)-- In addition to the drive-thru Santa in Fisher this year, village residents can decorate their house and enter in to win a prize for the best decorated house. Spokesperson Kristin Darling has the details… 

 

 

Fisher Parade Spokesperson Kristin Darling.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- One company is helping to close the digital divide for students in Rantoul. Mediacom’s ‘Connect2Compete’ is a program that provides students and families with affordable and reliable internet. 32 families in Rantoul currently use it. To qualify, you must have one child in the household that gets free or reduced lunch. There is no contract and a flat-fee cost per month.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA wants livestock producers to know there are crop insurance tools that are relevant to them. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- 2020 farm sector income may be much higher than had been projected a few months ago. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Four people, including a close friend of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, have entered not guilty pleas in a federal bribery case alleging a scheme with the state’s largest utility. The pleas were entered Wednesday, weeks after they were charged with federal counts of bribery and conspiracy. Among those who entered pleas was Michael McClain, a one-time state lawmaker and close friend of Madigan. The others are former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggirore, lobbyist and former ComEd executive John Hooker, and consultant Jay Doherty. Madigan hasn't been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker has introduced a bill to get rid of the cash bail system in the state. Illinois, an outlier in how it handles bonding out of jail after an arrest, would see cash bail eliminated under the proposed legislation. In 2017, Illinois became one of just a handful of states that don’t use a bail bondsman in its court system. Instead, Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin, all require 10% payment of the total bail in payment before the arrested individual can be released before trial. State Senator Robert Peters announced in November legislation that would eliminate cash bail entirely. The bill would need to be considered in the final days of the current 101st General Assembly or be refiled in January once the new session commences.

 

 

(Gibson City-cf)-- It is tax levy time for all schools in the WPXN listening area. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremey Darnell has the details on the levy… 

 

 

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremey Darnell.

 

 

(Rural St. Joseph-jm) -- One person was taken to the hospital following a crash north of St. Joseph Wednesday afternoon. Emergency crews were called to the accident on 2200 E. a couple miles north of St. Joseph around 4pm. Traffic had to be diverted while crews cleaned up the scene.

 

 

(Pesotum-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police in Pesotum have released results of recent patrols. During Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols, 3 were cited for DUI, 4 for occupant restraint offenses, 1 for distracted driving and 126 for speeding. During Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols, 26 were cited for safety belt citations and 4 for child restraint violations.

 

(Undated-jm) -- People need to be vigilant when it comes to scams. That's the word from Senator Jason Barickkman. After discovering he was the victim of unemployment insurance identity theft, Barickman reminds people to be more aware and report any suspected unemployment fraud to the Department of Employment Security and the Illinois Attorney General.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce says chamber bucks make a great gift this holiday season. Chamber bucks spend like cash and can be used at any chamber business says Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer…

 

 

Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Alan Meyer.

The chamber still has a deal when you buy 50 dollars in Paxton Chamber bucks, you get 10 dollars free.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois' saliva testing ability could be coming out to the community sooner rather than later. The Senate Executive Committee met this week to discuss the future of the university's saliva testing. The annex lab is currently going through the authentication steps to extend its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certification, comparing its performance to an FDA emergency use authorized test. They will introduce it to the community in phases and have already started with both the Champaign and Urbana Fire Departments.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Overall farm cash receipts for 2020 will be lower than 2019, but farm sector income will be higher than last year. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA takes into account the needs of livestock producers when it develops risk management programs. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

Online sales soared during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

(Springfield-jm) -- More than one-third of small businesses in Illinois aren’t open, compared to January of this year. That’s according to data from TrackTheRecovery.org, an effort from Harvard and Brown universities and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report shows in Illinois, as of Nov. 16, the number of small businesses that are open decreased by 35.4% compared to January 2020.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- With Illinois and the rest of the country dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the post-Thanksgiving shopping season was unlike any other. Online sales soared during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. A survey by the National Retail Federation shows Black Friday shoppers surpassed the 100 million mark for the first time ever, which is an increase of 8% over last year. The number of online Saturday shoppers grew even more, up 17% compared with last year.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Support for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to get another historic term as speaker continues to wane. State Representative Kathleen Willis, who’s in House leadership, said she won’t be supporting Madigan. Whoever becomes speaker needs 60 votes. Excluding Republicans and the 19 Democrats who’ve publicly said they won’t support him, that leaves 55 potential votes.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is urging those who traveled for Thanksgiving to get tested for COVID-19. Health experts asked everyone to stay home this year, but many still visited friends and relatives over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Governor says those people need to be tested…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Pritzker recommends everyone continue to stay home as much as possible, especially with the expected post Thanksgiving surge in cases looming.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported an additional 12,542 new cases and 125 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 738,846 and deaths to 12,403. Locally, McLean County reported 101 new cases and 6 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 8,681 and deaths to 56. Champaign County reported 95 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 10,953 and deaths to 60. Livingston County reported 41 additional cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,293 and deaths to 24. Ford County reported 18 new cases bringing their total to 773. Iroquois County reported 25 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,727 and deaths to 31. Vermilion County reported 134 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,237 and deaths to 40.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Recreation Department will be hosting their holiday senior lunch program every Wednesday starting today. If you are senior, you have to call the rantoul Recreation Department by 5pm on Monday says spokesperson for the program Andy Graham… 

 

 

Director of the senior lunch program Andy Graham . If you live in Rantoul City Limits you can get your meal delivered to you. To register for the meal program call 217-893-5700.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign Center Partnership is announcing their hometown holiday shop and stroll. The event kicked off yesterday and runs through December 20th. Over 15 local businesses are participating. For a list of participating businesses visit champaign center dot com.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County 2020 tax sale has been postponed due to COVID-19 regulations. The new scheduled date is February 17th, 2021 @ 1:00 pm.  Property owners will be able to make payments on delinquent 2019 payable 2020 taxes until February 16th, 2021. If you still need to make a tax payment, please contact the treasurer’s office for current amount due.  All payments must be in the form of cash, certified check or payments will be accepted online at gov tech tax pro dot com through the first week of February.  For more information, please contact the treasurer’s office or visit the Ford County Treasurer’s website at ford county dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- The Vermilion County Farm Bureau will host a wind and solar farm informational meeting on Monday, December 7th starting at 6pm.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- WPXN news continues to spotlight local and area businesses. Today we hear how one area financial institution is offering additional services. Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois Bank President Nick Reutter has the details...

 

 

Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois Bank President Nick Reutter.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Village of Rantoul Gas Division will be sending out survey cards over the next month evaluating the public awareness program which aims to share natural gas safety information with residents located on the former Chanute Air Force Base. The survey can either be completed online or by mail.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive today from 1 until 6 at the Cissna Park American Legion. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What are some indicators that those following the ag economic sector should watch out for regarding next year's economic outlook? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The chairman of the Illinois Special House Investigating Committee looking into the conduct of House Speaker Michael Madigan is in isolation after testing COVID-19 positive. State Representative Chris Welch Sunday announced he tested positive for the virus and has an elevated temperature. It’s unclear what that means for the December 14th scheduled hearing where Republicans are looking to subpoena Madigan and others in the ComEd bribery scheme.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin is demanding the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reforms that was stunted by the pandemic earlier this year to restart. The commission was created by law in the aftermath of months of headlines of state lawmakers being charged with federal crimes, raids on offices and other issues in 2019. After several meetings on a variety of ethics issues earlier this year, the commission missed its end-of-March deadline to issue a report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker announced two new homebuyer assistance programs intended to provide assistance to working class families and underrepresented communities of color across the state. The Illinois Housing Development Authority is offering the SmartBuy and Opening Doors programs. The goal of the programs is to give financial assistance to help address causes of financial barriers in order to create equal opportunities for all Illinoisans. Borrowers must meet the eligibility requirements. Homebuyer education is also required. The programs may be used by buyers in any Illinois county and are not exclusive to first-time buyers. These programs were launched using appropriations allocated to IHDA in Pritzker's Rebuild Illinois capital plan.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- It looks like the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to Illinois may be arriving later this month. The numbers change daily says Governor J-B Pritzker, but it’s anticipated the state will initially get about 109 thousand units of the vaccine, which covers about 54 thousand 500 people since everyone will need two doses…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he hopes that shipment as well as subsequent shipments will end up being larger but that Illinois is at the whim of the FDA.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has nearly 739 thousand Coronavirus cases and over 12,400 deaths after the state reported 12,542 new cases and 125 additional deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 7,268 have recovered, 1337 are in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 10,026 have recovered, 867 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,069 have recovered and 200 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 1,130 have recovered, 547 are in isolation and 19 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 245 cases are active.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- Rantoul Township High School could see more money this year off the tax levy, Superintendent Scott Amerio says that they will go just a little bit higher due to assed value… 

 

 

The actual amount has increased 2.9%, and the board will be asking for $5,480,000 says Amerio…

 

 

Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Mahomet man faces up to 120 years in prison as he faces several child sex assault charges. Andrew Huddle faces six counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Huddle is accused of sexually assaulting a child multiple times between 2015 and 2020. He is due back in court December 15th. If convicted he faces a mandatory prison sentence of 12 to 120 years in prison. 

 

 

(Bloomington-jm) -- COVID-19 didn’t break one regional airport’s high-scoring streak during a routine Federal Aviation Administration inspection. For the eighth time in the last 10 years, the Central Illinois Regional Airport earned a perfect score during the FAA’s Part 139 inspection. The inspection was handled by a representative of the FAA Great Lakes Region Airport Certification and Safety Office; the coronavirus pandemic did change how it was done, in that, for the first time, the inspection was done virtually on November 23rd. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Four area food pantries are receiving donations from a Paxton and Cissna Park bank as part of Giving Tuesday. The Frederick Community Bank donated $5,000 each to the PBL Area Food Pantry and Hands of Christ Food Pantry in Paxton and $2,500 each to Grant Township Food Cupboard in Hoopeston and Grace Lutheran Church Food Pantry in Rankin.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a raffle. The raffle begins November 2nd and runs through December 11th. Rantoul Chamber Director Amanda Vickery talks about the raffle…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery. Tickets are available by calling the Rantoul Chamber office at 893-3323.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Santa will be in Paxton Saturday. The Paxton Emergency Response Service will hold a drive thru cookies with santa from 4 to 5:30 in front of their location at 134 W. State Street underneath the downtown water tower.

 

The Rantoul Recreation Department Senior Holiday Lunch today from 11-12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor J-B Pritzker says current COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for the coming weeks

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says current COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for the coming weeks in anticipation of a possible post-Thanksgiving surge. The number of new cases has been declining the last few days, but that trend may not hold. Governor Pritzker says even if an area meets the metrics to ease up on mitigations, that won’t be allowed for a while…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he has spoken to several experts, including Dr Anthony Fauci who agree. He notes another concern is that a surge of new cases will overwhelm already crowded Illinois hospitals.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,190 new coronavirus cases and 85 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 726,304 and deaths to 12,278. Local health departments were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday and Friday, so since Wednesday, McLean County reported 694 new cases bringing their total to 8,580. Champaign County reported 507 new cases and 6 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 10,858 and deaths to 58. Ford County reported 88 new cases bringing their total to 755. Livingston County reported 124 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 2,252 and deaths to 23. Vermilion County reported 210 new cases bringing their total to 3,103. Iroquois County reported 130 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,702 and deaths to 29. Kankakee County reported 501 new cases and 12 new deaths bringing their total number of cases to 8,780 and deaths to 118.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the last weekly crop report of the season. Temperatures were about 4 degrees above normal, even as some areas saw snow and experienced a hard freeze. State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener says rainfall was above normal as well…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. 99 percent of winter wheat has emerged and 79 percent is rated in good to excellent condition, an improvement over the previous week.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A Cabery man has been arrested after police say he sold alcohol to an underage person. Illinois State Police say they conducted alcohol surveillance at 22 businesses in the Kankakee-Bradley-Bourbonnais area. John Mathis of Cabery was one of two people arrested for unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor.

 

 

(Pesotum-jm) -- District 10 Illinois State Police in Pesotum have released results from several recent patrols. During Distracted Driving patrols in Vermilion County, 9 people were cited for hand held phone or device violations and 6 citations for texting while driving. During Roadside Safety Checks in Champaign County, 4 were arrested and cited for DUI, 4 citations were also issued for other drug or alcohol related offenses, 3 citations for occupant restraint offenses,1 for a registration offense, 11 for driver’s license offenses and 9 for insurance violations. During special traffic enforcement patrols in Vermilion County, 4 people were cited for occupant restraint offenses, 40 for speeding and 1 for distracted driving.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- It may be the 1st of December but now is a good time to start preparing for tax season. Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton Owner Jeff Shaffer has the tax filing deadlines you need to know…

 

 

Shaffer Tax and Accounting Owner Jeff Shaffer.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Phones are ringing and students are singing –

The University of Illinois’ ‘Dial-A-Carol’ is coming back this Christmas. It has been a holiday season tradition for 60 years. With COVID there will be a few changes. Callers will have 9 prerecorded songs to choose from. Dial-A-Carol will return December 11 and remain open 24 hours a day until the 17th. The number is 217-332-1882.

 

 

(Danville-jm) -- Mobile COVID-19 testing will be returning to Vermilion County. The state’s mobile testing team will be at the Vermilion County Public Health Department in Danville on Sunday, December 6th from 8 to 4.

 

 

(Mahomet-cf)-- If you live in Mahomet and are needing assistance paying bills, rent, or any other expense you can request money from the Mahomet Community Fund. Also, if you would like to donate to the fund Spokesperson for the Mahomet Community Fundy Leah Wenger has the details… 

 

 

Spokesperson for the Mahomet Community Fund Leah Wenger. Once again the website is mahometcommunityemergencyfund.com. 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A Normal man is facing multiple charges following an incident in Gibson City. Dezel Dotts was arrested on November 23rd. He is charged with home invasion, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated assault, criminal damage to government supported property, threatening a public official and resisting and trying to disarm a peace officer. He was taken to the Ford County Jail.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The American Soybean Association is seeking candidates for their soy scholarship. The scholarship is available to high school seniors interested in an ag career. The deadline to apply is December 6th. Application details are available online at american soybean dot wufoo dot com slash forms.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Producers interested in applying for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program have a little more than one week left to apply. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 726,304 Coronavirus cases and 12,278 Coronavirus related deaths after the state reported 6,190 new cases and 85 additional deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 7,043 have recovered, 1465 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 9,876 have recovered, 924 are in isolation and 17 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,024 have been removed from isolation and 205 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 219 cases are active with 29 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,124 have been released from isolation, 529 remain in isolation and 20 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 3,979 have recovered, 4683 cases are active and 83 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the last weekly crop report of the season. Rainfall over the past week was more than an inch above normal, increasing average statewide topsoil moisture to 3 percent very short, 13 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus. State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener says 99 percent of winter wheat has emerged…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Pasture conditions also improved and were rated 53 percent in good to excellent condition.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation is looking to raise $4,000 as part of Giving Tuesday. The foundation will use the money to provide Clara Peterson students free monthly books through the remainder of the school year. Donations can be made through the PBL Education Foundations facebook page. Six local businesses have pledged additional matching $500 donations as the fundraiser reaches certain benchmarks. The fundraiser runs through December 6th.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- A Fisher 5th grader has received a national honor. Jordynn Huskisson was named Little Miss of America 2021 over the weekend. Huskisson was the reigning Little Miss of the Midwest in 2020.

 

 

(Fisher-cf)-- The Village of Fisher’s Christmas Parade this year will be different than recent years. There will be a drive through Santa this year where kids can still write letters to Santa, and deliver them to him… 

 

 

Fisher Parade Spokesperson Kristin Darling. The Drive-Thru Santa will take place at the Fisher Community Building on Saturday from 10 to Noon.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced it’s hosting mentored archery deer hunting for adults and youths at the Kickapoo State Park Recreational Area near Danville. It will run from December 13 through January 3, 2021. Applications are due by December 4th.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois Department of Agriculture will open the second year of the Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program December 15th with a few new requirements. This year applicants will be required to certify their cover crops approved through their local FSA office before applying. Applicants will also need their current FSA-578 and federal crop insurance policy number(s) for the 2021 application process. The program is applicable for acreage in Illinois planted to cover crops in the fall of 2020 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2021. Eligible applicants receive a $5 per acre premium discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The WPXN news Spotlight on area businesses features Shields Auto Mart of Paxton. Shields AutoMart in Paxton. General Manager Pete Klein talks about their exclusive lifetime powertrain warranty…

 

 

Shields AutoMart in Paxton General Manager Pete Klein.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The St. Joseph-Swearinger Memorial Library will once again be holding their book sale. The book sale will take place December 7th through January 28th with the cost being by donation. Hours are Monday and Wednesday 1-8 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9 to 7 and Saturday 9 to 3.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released results from two enforcement patrols conducted over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. During Nighttime Enforcement Patrols, troopers issued 1 citation of an occupant restraint violation, 7 for registration offenses, 3 for drivers license offenses and 2 for insurance offenses. During Special Traffic Patrols, troopers issued 1 citation for distracted driving, 2 for DUI, 20 for occupant restraint violations and 192 for speeding.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Increases in prices received for commodities in the livestock index led to a slight uptick in USDA's Agricultural Prices report covering October. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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