WPXN Blog Archives for 2021-01

We could see more winter weather this weekend

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois continues to see increased initial unemployment claims. More than 13,000 more initial claims were filed last week than the week before for a total of 108,800. That brings the total of insured unemployed to 337,000. There are 175,000 contractors getting unemployment benefits in Illinois.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has activated approximately 500 Illinois National Guard members in support of the continued security mission in Washington, D.C. The Illinois Army National Guard soldiers, along with a small contingent of Illinois Air National Guard airmen, are expected to remain on duty in the nation’s capital until mid-March.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- We could see more winter weather this weekend, here’s what to do if you slide off the road. If poor driving conditions land you in a ditch, Illinois State Police Master Sergeant JC Clarke says you should put on your hazard lights and then call for help…

 

 

Illinois State Police Master Sergeant JC Clarke. Clarke says the trooper will likely ask you if you want to stay with your vehicle or would like a ride to the next exit. If you do stay with your car, the Secretary of State’s Office recommends running the engine only briefly and to crack a window to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can check the latest road conditions at getting around illinois dot com.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,191 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 103 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 116 thousand 372 and deaths to 19,067. Locally, Ford County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 1,425. Champaign County reported 110 new cases bringing their total to 16,171. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,673. McLean County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 13,646. Livingston County reported 24 new cases bringing their total to 3,872. Kankakee County reported 28 new cases bringing their total to 10,877. Vermilion County did not provide a report.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Village of Rantoul is hosting a virtual forum for the individuals who are running for office in the village. Spokesperson Debbra Sweat has the details on who will be on the forum… 

 

 

Rantoul Virtual Forum Spokesperson Debbra Sweat

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston man faces decades behind bars if convicted of child sexual exploitation and trafficking of child pornography. 27 year old Dalton Burmeister allegedly exploited children under the age of six to engage in sexual activity and to create an image of what happened and that he trafficked images of child pornography. If convicted he faces up to 30 years in prison for sexual exploitation, up to 20 years for distribution and receiving child pornography and up to 20 years for possession of child pornography.

 

 

(Danville-cf)-- The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency was granted federal dollars to help individuals who qualify pay their utility bills during the pandemic. East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Director Odette Hyatt-Watson has the details on the program… 

 

 

East Central Illinois Community Action Agency Director Odette Hyatt-Watson.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A court refused to dismiss a multi million dollar lawsuit against the University of Illinois. Attorneys for Joseph Petry filed the lawsuit in June 2020 with the Illinois Court of Claims alleging a breach of contract by UI officials. Petry is asking for $7.9 million. Among other things, the complaint says that the UI board of trustees violated a resignation agreement Petry signed in April 2019 by not discontinuing an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct between Petry and one of his students. UI Board of Trustees filed in August 2020 to have the case dismissed, arguing the university’s decision to continue to investigate the accusations against Petry did not cause him further damage. According to the filing, the board argued Petry’s damages were because of actions he did himself or from third-parties, not the university.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week it won’t take up a case of public-sector employees seeking past union wages the nation’s high court said violated the free speech rights of employees. The case of previous union dues taken from workers stems from the 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME case where the court determined public-sector employees can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t agree with.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new area code is coming soon to central Illinois. The new 447 area code will be an overlay to the territory currently served by the 217 area code to ensure a continuing supply of phone numbers for the area. Starting Feb. 27, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur, where all local calls made in the 217 area code must be made using the 10-digit phone number. Starting March 27, 2021, new phone lines or services may be assigned phone numbers with the 447 area code.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is offering scholarships to current and former youth in care. Scholarship recipients receive up to five consecutive years of tuition reimbursement, monthly grants and a medical card. DCFS’ Kim Peck says they want kids that have gone through the system to have all the tools they need to succeed…

 

 

DCFS’ Kim Peck. 53 scholarships will be awarded this year. Those interested can apply online at: dcfs dot illinois dot gov. The deadline is March 31st.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,191 new Coronavirus cases Thursday and 103 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 116 thousand 372 and deaths to 19,067. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 13,014 have recovered, 462 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,391 have recovered, 673 are in isolation and 21 hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,610 have been removed from isolation and 195 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,564 have been released from isolation, 49 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,877 have recovered and 858 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- One of the new bills that went into law the first of the year capped insulin prices at $100 per month. 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign says the bill has another part, the investigation of the cause of the increase in insulin prices… 

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign.

 

 

(Macon County-jm) -- A former Illinois State Police trooper has pleaded guilty to a reckless conduct charge for his involvement in a deadly collision. Former Master Sergeant Jeffrey Denning was charged in a high-speed collision that killed a young Decatur mother. Denning was driving an unmarked police car that was traveling at 108 MPH in a 35-MPH zone in Decatur just before the crash that killed 26 year old Kelly Wilson. Denning was responding to an officer shot in Mahomet.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Park District is looking at ways to bring activities back for both adults and youth. Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans says they want to bring activities back and make it safe for everyone…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans. 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County Executive Darlene Kloeppel is announcing the members of the Redistricting Advisory Group. The group meets to redraw the counties district maps every 10 years. The committee is made up of 13 members and will make their recommendations later this year.

 

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The Illinois House has canceled all but one session day for next month

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House has canceled all but one session day for next month. In a one-page memo, House Speaker Chris Welch canceled all days except February 10. That’s when members could return to the capitol building, not the Bank of Springfield Convention Center, to possibly vote on the House rules. The Illinois Senate’s next scheduled day is February 9. It’s unclear how the governor’s February 17 State of the State and Budget Address will be handled amid COVID-19 concerns.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The second year of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program ended with 768 applications requesting over 185,000 acres submitted. The discount program opened the application period December 15th and saw the acreage limit met within its first 24-hours. In 2019, over 500 applications requesting over 133,000 acres were received. Consistent with last year’s program, qualified applicants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. 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. Recipients of the premium discount program receive $5 per acre on the following year’s crop insurance for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,751 new Coronavirus cases and 81 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 112 thousand 181 and deaths to 18,964. Locally, McLean County reported 30 new cases bringing their total to 13,634. Champaign County reported 49 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 16,061 and deaths to 107. Vermilion County reported 99 new cases bringing their total to 7,349. Livingston County reported 27 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 3,848 and deaths to 67. Iroquois County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 2,668. Ford County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 1,419. Kankakee County reported 29 new cases bringing their total to 11,875.

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- Mahomet’s fire chief has received a prestigious honor. John Koller was named the Illinois Fire Chief’s Associations 2020 Fire Chief of the Year. The award was created in 1979 to recognize outstanding fire chiefs. Koller has been chief for six years.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The leader of the Paxton Park District is hoping to have spring and summer programs to offer both adults and youth. Director Cody Evans talks about the challenges the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to the park district…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- First Busey Corporation reported 4th quarter earnings of $28.3 million. The Champaign based bank said it had earnings of 62 cents per share which surpassed Wall Street expectations of 57 cents per share. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  Landowners wishing to enroll acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up have until February 12th to do so. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Rifle Association says the Pritzker administration is operating outside of state law with continued delays in processing Firearm Owner Identification Card and Concealed Carry License applications. The average wait for both is around 122 days when it’s only supposed to take 30 days for FOID and 90 days for CCL. Illinois State Police says there were 175,751 new FOID applications and 25,518 CCL backlogged.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The total cost of smoking in Illinois is more than $2.6 million per smoker, according to consumer finance website WalletHub. The total cost includes hundreds and thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs, healthcare costs and lost income per smoker, among other factors. Across the country, Illinois came in at No. 41.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he expects COVID-19 vaccine shipments to ramp up in coming weeks. The Governor says Illinois hasn’t received nearly as many doses as he’d like, but that he got some good news this week…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Additionally, Governor Pritzker says the Biden Administration is committing to minimum dose amounts set every three weeks so that states can better plan how many vaccination appointments can be offered. The Governor says in the past, they wouldn’t know how many doses were arriving until just a few days ahead of time.



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,751 new Coronavirus cases and 81 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 112 thousand 181 and deaths to 18,964. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 12,977 have recovered, 487 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,315 have recovered, 639 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 552 cases are active with 22 hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,606 have been removed from isolation and 175 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,562 have been released from isolation, 45 remain in isolation and 4 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,459 have recovered and 1,248 cases are active.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- If you have already had the COVID-19 virus you might have some immunity but it isn’t sure how long that immunity will last. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson says that even if you have had the virus, you should still get vaccinated… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Carle Health is loosening some of its restrictions for visitors and support persons at all of its locations. All visitors and support persons are required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth at all times while inside the facilities. Non-medical disposable and fabric masks are acceptable. In addition, Carle says support persons must be over the age of 18, except in end-of-life situations or if the support person is a patient's parent. Outpatient appointments and procedures will allow two support persons for patients under the age of 18, or one support person for an adult patient when social distancing can be maintained. Visitors need to use approved entrances, go directly to their patient room, and limit their movement throughout the facility.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush, a travel baseball and softball program is hosting a fundraiser. The prizes are $3,000 for 1st place, $1,500 for 2nd place, $500 for 3rd place, and there will be 5 $100 winners. Spokesperson Ryan Birch has the details on how to get tickets… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Birch. The winning tickets will be drawn on February 15th. 

 

 

(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.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA is expecting milk production this year to increase.  Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

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The variant COVID strain B-117 has been confirmed in a Vermilion County resident

(Vermilion County-jm) -- The Vermilion County Public Health Department is reporting the variant COVID strain B-117 has been confirmed in a Vermilion County resident. The health department did not release any details on the resident who has the variant. It could be the first case outside of the Chicago area. The strain is believed to be more contagious than the normal strain.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 3,667 new cases of Coronavirus and 87 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 108 thousand 430 and deaths to 18,883. Locally McLean County reported 69 new cases bringing their total to 13,604. Ford County reported 4 new cases bringing their total to 1,414. Champaign County reported 46 new cases bringing their total to 16,012. Vermilion County reported 109 new cases bringing their total to 7,359. Livingston County reported 17 new cases bringing their total to 3,821. Iroquois County reported 10 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,654 and deaths to 57. Kankakee County reported 18 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,846 and deaths to 168.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ tax filing season begins Friday, February 12th. You can start filing both your state and federal taxes on the 12th, and Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman encourages people to do that electronically…

 

 

Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Terry Horstman. Those filing an I-L 10-40 can do so for free on the: my tax dot illinois dot gov website. There you can also check the status of your refund. The tax filing deadline is April 15th.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved their ask for the coming state budget and they’re looking for a 4.5 percent increase. The proposed budget for the state’s system of higher education is $2.1 billion, which is $92 million higher than the existing spending plan. The board’s chairman John Atkinson said the increased budget is a “down payment” on a strategic plan focused on “equity, affordability and attainment.”

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- January 1st of this year, a new law went into effect in Illinois to cap insulin prices at $100. 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign, one of the sponsors of the bill, talks about what diabetic patients spent on insulin before the start of the year… 

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The chancellor for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pleading students and staff to adhere to a request he made last week. Chancellor Robert Jones asked the campus community to refrain from any non-essential activities until February 8. If requirements are not satisfied, Jones said students may lose access to university Wi-Fi, Zoom, Compass and other technology.

 

(Undated-jm) -- Planting season is a couple months away but farmers and producers are still busy preparing for the upcoming season. Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece says there is plenty of training opportunities available…

 

 

Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau Manager David Treece.

 

 

(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 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.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 3,667 new cases of Coronavirus and 87 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 108 thousand 430 and deaths to 18,883. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 12,934 have recovered, 500 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 15,250 have recovered, 656 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 569 active cases with 22 hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,592 have been removed from isolation and 164 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,555 have been released from isolation, 39 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,441 have recovered and 1,237 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new online tool may help people detect the symptoms of COVID-19 sooner. The loss of taste and smell is one of the main signs of the virus, but you may not consciously notice it right away says University of Illinois Food Science Assistant Professor Yanina (jah-nina) Pepino. The online smell and taste challenge asks users to track their senses daily first thing in the morning…

 

 

University of Illinois Food Science Assistant Professor Yanina (jah-nina) Pepino. If you see a dramatic reduction in your sense of taste and smell, that could be a sign of COVID says Pepino, and means people may be able to quarantine or seek testing a little quicker. You can access the test at r-i-e-c-h dash check dot de.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new report highlights highway safety laws a safety group says Illinois needs to improve. In its 2021 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety looked at 16 laws considered essential to traffic safety.  The organization gave every state a rating in five categories: Occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driving, impaired driving and distracted driving. Illinois received a “caution” grade for lack of recommended safety laws, including a motorcycle helmet law and a booster seat law. The state received good marks for having restrictions on using cell phones, an open container law, and a rear-facing child seat requirement through the age of 2 law.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House has a new leader. After more than three decades the Illinois House will be led by someone other than Mike Madigan. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says he looks forward to working with Speaker Chris Welch…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- The City of Hoopeston is announcing city hall will be reopening to the public with some restrictions. Starting February 1st city hall will reopen to the public but no more than 10 people will be allowed at one time and masking and social distancing will be required. Hours will be limited to 8 to 2 Monday through Thursday and 8 to 11 on Friday.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the Melvin ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Medicaid expansion facilitated by the Affordable Care Act led to increases in the identification of undiagnosed HIV infections and in the use of HIV prevention services such as preexposure prophylaxis drugs, says new research co-written by a team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign experts who study the intersection of health care and public policy. The research by Dolores Albarracín, a professor of psychology and of business administration at Illinois, and Bita Fayaz Farkhad, an economist and a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Illinois, found that expanding eligibility for Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income individuals, was associated with a 13.9% increase in HIV diagnoses.

 

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The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be careful as winter weather impacts travel across the state

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be careful as winter weather impacts travel across the state. Depending on where you live, you may be seeing rain, sleet or heavy snow. IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda has this advice if you have to travel and the roads are bad…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda. I-DOT will be out salting and treating roads, plowing snow and responding to emergencies. Castaneda urges drivers to give snowplows a wide berth on the road so they can do their job. You can check the latest road conditions at getting around illinois dot com.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is among the worst states to retire in, according to WalletHub. The consumer finance website ranked Illinois No. 41 of all states to retire in. They based the ranking on affordability, quality of life and healthcare.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing a new COVID-19 vaccination webpage. The information is on the state’s coronavirus dot illinois dot gov website, and features a searchable database of vaccination sites, eligibility guidelines, frequently asked questions and more. Governor Pritzker again asks the public for patience during the vaccine rollout, noting that additional community sites are coming on line, as well as local pharmacies…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Again the website is: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov. Governor Pritzker reminds that more than three million Illinoisans are eligible for the vaccine in this next round.


 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,944 new Coronavirus cases and 49 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 104 thousand 763 and deaths to 18,798. Locally since Friday, McLean County reported 133 new cases and 10 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 13,535 and deaths to 146. Ford County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 1,410. Livingston County reported 42 new cases bringing their total to 3,804. Champaign County reported 279 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 15,966 and deaths to 106. Iroquois County reported 21 new cases bringing their total to 2,694. Kankakee County reported 84 new cases bringing their total to 11,828. Vermilion County reported 220 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 7,250 and deaths to 91.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the 102nd General Assembly gets underway members will face a number of issues. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron says the FOID card backlog is one of the main issues he hopes to address…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois announced they will be canceling in-person activities for their 2021 Moms Weekend. The move was prompted by the continuing pandemic. Moms Weekend was scheduled for April 9-11. 

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- The Illinois Department of Employment Security has seen a large influx of applications since the pandemic began. A lot of the applications were from people who have never applied for IDES benefits before, and have had steady employment says 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign… 

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign. 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Absent a widely available vaccine, mitigation measures such as stay-at-home mandates, lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders have been the major public health policies deployed by state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. But given the uncertain duration of such policies, questions have been raised about the potential negative mental health consequences of extended lockdowns with indefinite end dates. But according to new research co-written by a team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign experts who study the intersection of health care and public policy, the negative mental health effects of such lockdowns are temporary and gradually decrease over time as people adjust to their “new normal.” The researchers found that social distancing policies correlated with immediate increases in interest in obtaining information about “isolation” and “worry” – but those effects tapered off two to four weeks after their respective peaks.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On January 18th Derrick Akerlund of Loda was arrested on an in state warrant. On January 22nd, Dylan Welch of Gibson City was arrested for driving while license revoked.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be careful as winter weather impacts travel across the state. The area is expected to see freezing rain and snow and IDOT is ready with more than 18 hundred trucks and equipment statewide to treat and plow the roads. Spokesperson Maria Castaneda says drivers should watch for slick spots especially on bridges and overpasses…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda. Before you head out, IDOT suggests checking the latest winter road conditions at: getting around illinois dot com.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  Governor J-B Pritzker announced new investments by the State of Illinois to help more small businesses access federal COVID-19 emergency programs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will direct a $3.4 million investment to expand community navigator outreach programs and technical assistance services provided through the State’s Small Business Development Centers. These investments are designed to help more businesses take advantage of billions of dollars of financial assistance recently made available through the renewed Paycheck Protection Program, and with other federal programs set to launch in the coming weeks.  

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A record 15 billion dollars is invested in Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ College Savings Programs. Both Bright Start and Bright Directions help families save for college, and be used to cover everything from tuition to books and room and board says Treasurer Frerichs…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Frerichs says there are currently 733 thousand accounts worth 15 billion dollars. Since 2015, families have used the money to pay for nearly five billion dollars in college expenses. Learn more at illinois treasurer dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois’ COVID totals now stand at 1 million 104 thousand 763 confirmed cases and 18,798 deaths after the state reported 2,944 new cases and 49 deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 12,828 have recovered, 539 are in isolation and 22 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,574 have been removed from isolation and 165 cases are active. Champaign County reported 15,209 have recovered, 651 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,536 have been released from isolation, 46 are in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 10,417 have recovered and 1,244 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 559 cases are active with 22 hospitalized.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two shots for the vaccine to be 95% effective. If you only receive the first of the two doses within the 21 or 28 day time frame, you may not be as protected. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson. If you receive your first dose at Hudson Drug and Hallmark, you will be notified by an automated phone call or text message that you are due for your second dose. 

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released results of recent nighttime enforcement patrols. The patrols, conducted over the weekend in Kankakee County, netted 4 citations for registration offenses, 15 for driver’s license offenses and 3 for insurance violations.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton park district officials are hoping to bring back some adult and youth activities. Park district activities have been on hold because of the pandemic but Director Cody Evans says they want to offer programs for the community…

 

 

Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.

 

 

(Thomasboro-jm) -- A Thomasboro man has been selected to the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Board. Dustin Ehler with Ehler Brothers in Thomasboro was one of two recently elected board members. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Mediacom is announcing they are donating $10,000 to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. The donation is part of a larger $100,000 donation to combat hunger and assist families. Mediacom has local offices in Rantoul and Pontiac and a technical operations center in Mahomet.

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All sports are now allowed in regions that have reached Phase 4 COVID mitigations under new guidelines from the IDPH

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois had another 109,000 initial unemployment claims filed last week, which is up nearly 14,000 from the week before, the total number of insured unemployed dropped from 349,000 to 325,000. There were 29,000 claims filed last week in Illinois for independent contractors, nearly double what was filed the week before for a total of 191,500.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly all Illinois businesses responding to a National Federation of Independent Business survey want COVID-19 liability protection. The NFIB of Illinois said nearly 91 percent say Illinois tax policy should mirror the federal provision allowing pandemic losses. Nearly 80 percent of surveyed businesses want the legislature to clarify the powers of the governor to declare emergencies. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the entire state moves into Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout today, Governor J-B Pritzker is urging everyone to be patient. More than three million Illinoisans fall into the 1B category, including those 65 and older and essential workers such as teachers and first responders. But, Governor Pritzker says doses are not arriving as quickly as he would like…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says vaccine deliveries should ramp up in the coming weeks under the Biden Administration and that more vaccination sites will be available in Illinois assisted by the National Guard, local health departments and pharmacies. A state website will also be launched with more vaccine information.


(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers during the lame duck session passed a controversial criminal justice and police reform package. Many GOP lawmakers voted against the measure citing a rushed process to push it through and the concerns it will negatively impact police departments and put communities at risk. One piece of the legislation would end cash bail says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- A Savoy lawyer has been suspended by the state. William Layne Roberts’ license was suspended for 60 days by the state Supreme Court. They say Roberts illegally practiced law after he failed to comply with minimum continuing legal education required to continue to practice in the state.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is answering questions on the rollout of the COVID vaccine. The Governor recently gave approval for those 65 and older to receive the vaccine once an area is done with Phase 1A. Megan Reutter, Community Educator at the Ford County Public Health Department says its hard to determine a timeline to get everyone vaccinated…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Mobile Home Privilege tax bills will be sent out in the coming months. Treasurer Kurt Albers says tax bills will be mailed out the first week of March. Anyone with questions is asked to call Albers office at 815-432-6985.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Republicans and business groups continue to push back against a push to decouple the state’s tax code from the federal tax code when it comes to claiming pandemic losses in tax liabilities. A measure Democrats failed to pass in the previous General Assembly could mean $500 million in more tax liability. The measure is expected to come back up when lawmakers return on February 2nd.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House spent more than $180,000 in taxpayer money to rent out the Bank of Springfield Center during the lame duck session earlier this month. While it's unclear whether future sessions with lawmakers will be held at the Bank of Springfield Center, the daily rate including rent and other expenses, like security comes out to about $30,000 a day.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- All sports are now allowed in regions that have reached Phase 4 COVID mitigations under new guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says she has been getting many emails and calls from students, parents and coaches, and knows how important school sports are to youth development. She offers some good news for regions now in Phase 4. All sports, including basketball and football can be played…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Visit: dph dot illinois dot gov slash covid 19 and click on sports safety guidelines for more information.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state reached two milestones over the weekend in the fight against the Coronavirus. The state now has 1 million 101 thousand 819 cases and over 600 thousand vaccines have been administered. The seven day positivity rate is at 6 percent and 18,750 people have lost their lives due to the virus.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Could the state use the same testing as what the University of Illinois uses? That is a possibility as 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the Governor is willing to try and make it available statewide…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City firefighters were called to an electrical fire Sunday evening. Crews were called to the fire in the 200 block of South State Street around 7:30 pm.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- When the time comes for the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination, and the final phase or the phase where it will be available to the general public, it is hard to guess how many doses will be available. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson describes the ordering process… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(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.

 

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Dozens of Illinois restaurants urging President Joe Biden for relief

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Senate has canceled its legislative session for next week. In a statement, Senate President Don Harmon and Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie said they are working to develop policies and best practices to allow the Senate to safely conduct business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next time the Illinois Senate is scheduled to meet is Tuesday, February 9th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Now that there’s a new president, dozens of restaurants from across Illinois have joined with hundreds of others from across the country in urging President Joe Biden for relief. One request a group of 104 restaurant owners from the state asked the incoming administration last month was to lift the 25 percent tariff on food, wine and spirits from Europe.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Conservation Police is seeking the public’s input on enforcement efforts and recreational activities. A new survey has been launched, asking people about things like their interactions with Conservation Police, favorite activities and how often they visit state parks says Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert…

 

 

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Rachel Torbert. The survey is open through February 15th. You can take it online at dnr dot illinois dot gov and click on law enforcement or on dnr’s facebook or twitter page.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois has 1 million 86 thousand 333 Coronavirus cases and 18,520 deaths. Champaign County reported 73 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 15,631 and deaths to 104. Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 1,400. Iroquois County reported 8 new cases bringing their total to 2,620.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A major and controversial piece of legislation passed during the lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly, reforms the law enforcement and criminal justice system. The legislation would end cash bail, mandate body cameras and increase training. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington voted against the measure and says he worries it will have negative impacts on area communities…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(LeRoy-jm) -- A Mahomet woman is behind bars in McLean County on several charges. LeRoy police arrested 36 year old Danielle Tarter on charges of burglary, forgery and resisting arrest. Police say Tarter allegedly tried to pass off a fake check at the LeRoy IGA. It’s believed other businesses between Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal were also victim of this check fraud scheme.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday voted to freeze tuition for incoming in-state freshmen and non-resident undergraduates for the 2021-22 academic year. Trustees also approved modest increases in the cost of room and board. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An area Congressman is explaining his reason for voting to impeach President Donald Trump. Adam Kinzinger joined a handful of Republicans to impeach the President following an attack at the U-S Capitol earlier this month…

 

 

Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- President Joe Biden's administration has extended a pause of payments on federal student loans through at least September.  The pause gives even more relief to America's 42 million student loan borrowers. The interest rate will be kept at 0 percent. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Public and private universities in Illinois received nearly $550 million in federal COVID-19 relief, according to the U.S. Department of Education. An allocation spreadsheet shows nearly 90 institutions got federal funds ranging from $29,000 for the private non-profit Spertus College of Judaica to $47 million for the University of Illinois Chicago. U of I Urbana-Champaign received $44.6 million.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What do USDA crops reports say about production estimates for South America? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation are taking sides on the proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act. The measure filed by Illinois Democratic U.S. Representative Brad  Schneider and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin gives federal agencies more tools to investigate what proponents say is a domestic terrorism threat. Peoria Republican U.S. Representative Darin LaHood said there are legitimate concerns the measure could impede on people's civil liberties.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- U-S Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is encouraging rural EMS agencies to apply for new SIREN grant program funds. The funds help rural fire and EMS departments in retaining and recruiting new members as well as funding for new equipment purchases.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A little more than a year after Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis, legal-aid groups are working to help residents get past cannabis convictions expunged through a state-funded program called the New Leaf Initiative. Lily Bohlke reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,979 new Coronavirus cases and 123 additional deaths Thursday. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 14,831 have recovered, 696 are in isolation and 27 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,498 have been released from isolation, 63 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new General Assembly was sworn in last week. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron talks about his primary focus during the 102nd General Assembly…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- One person was injured after a semi crashed into the median on I-74. The crash happened yesterday afternoon, on I-74 west near milepost 193 near St. Joseph. Illinois State Police said a tanker semi truck rear ended a vehicle, then crashed into the median. Authorities said the driver of the semi was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot in Mahomet…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois is taking precautions as students return for the spring semester. In a message to students, Chancellor Robert Jones said their Shield Team is predicting an increase in COVID-19 cases as more people get back to campus. Students are asked to participate only in essential activities until February 8. Those activities include: taking COVID-19 tests, going to class, buying groceries, going to work, individual outdoor activity, attending religious services and getting medical attention. The chancellor said students should also refrain from traveling outside the Champaign-Urbana area once they arrive on campus. Jones also cautioned about the UK variant and the potential of it coming to campus.

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston police are investigating an assault. Police say they were called to a residence in the 600 block of East Penn in reference to a male causing problems. Officers arrested Bradley David and charged him with aggravated assault.

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Region 6 of the Governor's Restore Illinois plan could move to Phase 4 today

(Springfield-jm) -- Of the more than 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that have been administered in Illinois, about 340 people have self-reported adverse reactions – that's about 0.07 percent of the people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least two deaths have been reported in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine in Illinois, according to data, which the CDC notes are unverified.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Region 6 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan could move to Phase 4 today if the region meets all the metrics necessary. Currently the region is in Tier 1 mitigations but could go to Phase 4 which would loosen those regulations. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging everyone to continue following safety precautions as regions of the state move through different levels of COVID mitigations. There have been a lot of changes over the past few days with some areas shifting to another tier or phase, and others just doing their own thing. Regardless, Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says everyone still needs to socially distance and wear a mask…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. You can look up which level your region is currently under and what restrictions: dph dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois reported 4,822 new cases and 107 additional deaths Wednesday. Locally, Champaign County reported 101 new cases bringing their total to 15,558. Ford County reported 1 new case and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,398 and deaths to 41. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,612. Vermilion County reported 307 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 7,030 and deaths to 90.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The long term effects of the COVID pandemic are still unknown however the short term effects have included an influx of unemployment claims and shuttered businesses. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says COVID is real but there needs to be a plan to keep businesses open while continuing to deal with the pandemic…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Wednesday received a recommendation from U of I System leadership that would freeze tuition for incoming in-state freshmen and non-resident undergraduates for the 2021-22 academic year. The proposal also includes modest increases in the cost of room and board for undergraduate students who live on campus. It will go before the board of trustees today.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state Senator is recapping the lame duck session. One of the major legislative pieces that passed was the police reform law. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman talks about the bill…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman. Senator Barickman says he voted against the legislation because he felt it was rushed through the General Assembly and that it would put the public at risk and the impact to communities.

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- The village of Buckley could update and code their ordinances. Village trustees were approached about the idea earlier this month. If they decide to move forward with it it would cost them about $7,000.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- About 1.6 million Illinoisans with a Facebook page who joined a class-action lawsuit could get about $350 in the coming months as part of a settlement. The checks are from a $650 million settlement that alleged the social media giant violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. One out of every five eligible Facebook users filed a claim before the November 23rd deadline.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education is expressing concerns about new graduation mandates approved by lawmakers last week. If signed into law, the large education bill passed during the lame duck session will require high schoolers take two years of laboratory science, a computer literacy course and two years of a foreign language. Board Member Susie Morrison…

 

 

State Board of Education Member Susie Morrison. Morrison suggests they review all graduation mandates to see if any changes need to be made. The board also discussed its spring legislative agenda which includes addressing teacher misconduct and making sure students that have been suspended have access to remote learning while they are out of school.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois has 1 million 81 thousand 354 Coronavirus cases and 18,398 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Champaign County reported 14,774 have recovered, 682 are in isolation and 30 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,490 have been released from isolation, 63 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 432 cases are active and 16 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- The Illinois Department of Employment Security has also seen an influx of applications for unemployment benefits. Illinois, before the pandemic, had an employment rate of 5%. With the pandemic, the rate has skyrocketed.  52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett says a lot of the backlog is a staffing issue, and outdated computers… 

 

 

 

52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The organizers of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon announced Wednesday the event scheduled for April 29th through May 1st is canceled. Organizers cited the ongoing pandemic for the reason behind the cancelation. They are hoping to announce a possible fall race by April 1st.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Rush, a travel baseball and softball program is hosting a fundraiser. The fundraiser is similar to a cash bash, where the winners will take home money. Spokesperson Ryan Birch has the details on the prizes… 

 

 

Rantoul Rush Spokesperson Ryan Birch. There is not a limit to the amount of tickets that will be sold. 

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- Iroquois County Treasurer Kurt Albers is announcing the Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program. The program allows qualified seniors to defer all or part of their 2020 property taxes up to $5,000. The request must be filed by March 1st. To qualify, residents must be 65 and over by June 1st, have a total household income under $55,000 and lived on the property at least three years.

 

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said President-elect Joe Biden's stimulus plan will help close Illinois' multi-billion dollar budget hole

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said President-elect Joe Biden’s stimulus plan will help close Illinois’ multi-billion dollar budget hole. Illinois is facing a $4 billion budget hole. Many oppose sending untethered federal funds to states that have spent as if there were no budget crunch, calling Biden’s plan a bailout for reckless spending governments.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- 2020 was warmer and wetter than average in Illinois. Statewide total precipitation was nearly 42 inches last year. That’s more than four inches above normal and makes last year the 23rd wettest on record in Illinois. State Climatologist Trent Ford says 2020 started off wet across Illinois and a few areas saw some winter downpours…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. The second half of the year was much drier, especially in northern and central Illinois. 2020 was the 21st warmest year on record, with temperatures close to two degrees above average.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,318 new cases of Coronavirus and 33 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 76 thousand 532 and deaths to 18,291. Locally since Friday, McLean County reported 180 new cases bringing their total to 13,155. Ford County reported 25 new cases bringing their total to 1,397. Champaign County reported 242 new cases and 7 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to  15,457 and deaths to 102. Iroquois County reported 33 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,607 and deaths to 56. Livingston County reported 64 new cases bringing their total to 3,653. Kankakee County reported 192 new cases and 5 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,585 and deaths to 166.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The 102nd General Assembly was sworn in last week in Springfield. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says he hopes for change in the new session…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Oakwood-jm) -- A Rantoul teen was identified as one of two teens shot to death in Oakwood over the weekend. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says 15 year old Clayvonte Sloan died at Carle Foundation Hospital from his injuries. Vermilion County Coroner Jane McFadden says 19 year old Wyatt Bailey of Oakwood was the other victim. Three juveniles and an adult face 8 counts of murder and one count each of armed robbery, robbery and mob action. Police believe Sloan and the suspects intended to rob Bailey in a drug deal when a struggle ensued and Bailey and Sloan were shot.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An area Congressman is sharing his thoughts on the attack at the U-S Capitol earlier this month. Congressman Adam Kinzinger explains why he joined some other Republicans in impeaching President Donald Trump…

 

 

Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois was named the top soybean state again in 2020. The state reported 605 million bushels this year. That topped last year’s total of 532.4 million bushels.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved Ameren Illinois’ request for a rate hike for natural gas. Starting in February, consumers can expect to see about an increase of about $2.30 on their bill.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- One recent winter trend is for cold air to bookend the season -- at the beginning and the end, but not in the middle. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More changes could be coming to Illinois nursing homes in 2021. Facilities will have to release information on staffing levels and violations to the public. This is part of a new set of rules approved by Illinois lawmakers to improve quality of life in nursing homes. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs office is urging small non profit groups to apply for grants through the charitable trust program. In this first grant cycle, up to 250 thousand dollars is available to be split between 10 non profits…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Groups should apply online at: il charities trust dot com. The deadline is March 31st.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois’ COVID numbers now stand at 1 million 76 thousand 532 and deaths at 18,291 after the state reported 4,318 new cases and 33 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 12,270 have recovered, 730 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,700 have recovered, 655 are in isolation and 30 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,477 have been released from isolation, 71 remain in isolation and 3 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,392 have been removed from isolation and 198 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 9,984 have recovered and 1535 cases are active.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department is offering home radon testing kits. According to the CDC radon causes nearly 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U-S. The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department says nearly 48 percent of homes in the county have high radon levels. The kits are available Monday through Friday 8 to 4 at the health department in Champaign and cost just $6.

 

 

(Springfield-cf)-- The Illinois State Police have a massive backlog of FOID card applications. 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign says there are two issues, the pandemic, and the lack of personnel…

 

 

 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- 12 Illinois sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places including two locally. The Champaign Downtown Commerce District and the Glenwood School near Cissna Park were added to the list. The Glenwood School is a one room schoolhouse.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County voters will be asked to approve a referendum on the April consolidated election ballot: Should the office of Recorder be eliminated. The issue has been brought up before but will now go before voters. The duties of the office will be transferred over to the Clerks office.

 

(Washington-jm) -- What agricultural commodity will USDA be focusing on this year? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

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WPXN Listening Area has moved to Tier 1 which includes indoor dining

(Undated-jm) -- Indoor dining is allowed again across the WPXN listening area with some capacity restrictions. Governor J-B Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Monday, Region 6 which includes Ford, Iroquois, Champaign and Vermilion Counties, reached the metrics needed to move to Tier 1. Restrictions include indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, gatherings of 25 or less and indoor group fitness classes are permitted.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are coming up with their own proposals to handle the delays in the renewal of FOID cards. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City is among those offering up proposals. He talks about some of those proposals…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- In an update to a story we brought to you yesterday morning, a Champaign County Judge has ruled in favor of County Executive Darlene Kloeppel’s lawsuit. Kloeppel’s suit argued she had the authority to make appointments to elected positions, not the county board chairs. The dispute came about after a resignation on the county board.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Nicor is extending pay arrangements for struggling small businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic. The company is offering emergency relief grants of up to $500. For more information, contact Nicor.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is preparing for the rollout of the COVID vaccine to the public and answering questions. The health department already has a waiting list going and will be utilizing several methods of communication in updating the vaccination process says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston animal shelter is expanding. The Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team is expanding their area for dogs. The new expansion will allow for 20 more spaces.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- There have been big changes in USDA's forecasts for corn. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The state announced Region 6 which includes Ford, Iroquois, Vermilion and Champaign Counties can move to Tier 1 in the COVID mitigations which means the return of indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. So what is the next mitigation step? A region can move to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan if they meet the following metrics: a test positivity rate equal to or less than 6.5 percent for three consecutive days as measured by the 7 day rolling average, 20 percent or greater available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average and no sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- A big question or concern with the COVID vaccination is the cost associated with the two doses. The federal government has made the vaccination free for everyone including those without health insurance. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson. 

 

 

(St. Joseph-jm) -- The calendar may say its January but one area community is announcing dates for spring garage sales. Townwide garage sales will take place April 8th through the 10th in St. Joseph.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A Gibson City business is moving. Drummer Creek Catering is opening at the Railside Golf Club. The business will also run the banquet room at the club.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the Elliott ballot…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating a weekend shooting that left 1 person injured and 5 people behind bars. Police say they were called to the 1300 block of Doolittle Boulevard just after 9:30 Saturday evening for a report of shots fired. While there they received a report that a victim from the shooting was in Champaign with wounds to his back, hip and hand. The investigation led police to a residence on Doolittle where a search warrant was executed and 4 guns were located. Arrested were 24 year old Draylin Turner, 20 year old Donnell L. Robinson, 26 year old Sarah Carroll and 20 year old McKinze Hawk all of Rantoul and 18 year old Dontrell Robinson of Humboldt, Tennessee. All five subjects were interviewed and transported to the Champaign County Correctional Center for weapons offenses.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What is the world picture for soybeans? Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

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The variant COVID strain found in the United Kingdom is now being confirmed in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- For every Illinoisan who moved a trailer of belongings into Illinois, two others moved out.  United Van Lines, the nation’s largest mover, released their annual National Migration Study. Despite the pandemic upending many industries and untethering workers from a corporate office, the company found Illinois has remained one of the nation’s most pronounced exporters of people. In the 44th installment of its study, United Van Lines found Illinois tied with New York and New Jersey with 67% of customers in those states moving out compared to those moving in. In terms of raw numbers, the company reported 5,782 total moves in Illinois, with 3,840 of those being outbound.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The variant COVID strain found in the United Kingdom is now being confirmed in Illinois. The new strain was first found in Colorado about two weeks ago and has been popping up in several other states. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says it’s not unexpected, but cautions…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says this new variant will likely become the predominant strain in coming months.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting the state’s total number of COVID cases is now at 1 million 68 thousand 829 and deaths are at 18,208 after the state reported 5,343 new cases and 130 additional deaths Saturday and 4,162 new cases and 29 additional deaths Sunday. The seven day positivity rate is down to 7.1 percent. 3,408 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 720 patients were in the ICU and 387 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators and just over 487,000 vaccines have been administered.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department is encouraging the community to get the COVID vaccine once it is widely available. The health department held their first vaccination clinics last week with more to come. Champaign Urbana Public Health Administer Julie Pryde talks about the importance of becoming immunized…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Woodworth man has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for cutting a man with a knife in Urbana. James Munson pleaded guilty in Champaign County court to aggravated battery. Police say Munson slashed a man in the face in November with a kitchen knife after an argument. 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for possessing cocaine. Antoine Dorris received the sentence after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Dorris admitted to having half a gram of cocaine on him when police stopped to talk to him about a suspected theft at Walmart. In exchange for his guilty plea, 8 other cases against Dorris for either theft or burglary were dismissed.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Community Educator Megan Reutter (Righter) talks about this months challenge…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County's Committee of the Whole met for the first time this year and it is starting to address the growing concerns surrounding animal control. Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz was brought in to investigate the county’s animal control and review its policies and procedures. She reviewed the policies and procedures and offered some suggestions such as increased funding, enhancing some of the policies and possibly creating a social media page to display animals they have received.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- An iconic landmark at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet is coming down. The Swiss Valley Shelter is being demolished because of structural deterioration and its location within the Sangamon River floodplain. The Swiss Valley Structure was constructed in 1958.

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  How did 2020 rank on the list of warmest years? The official numbers have just been released. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Latest agricultural export numbers are spurring some optimism about the year ahead. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- New research at an Illinois college is taking a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of Illinoisans. Three psychology students at Monmouth College researched how social distancing and other measures caused by the pandemic has influenced the mental health of college students and the general public. 138 participants, primarily college students were surveyed for the research. Social distancing along with the elimination of many team sports and organizations has had a negative effect on the mental health of students.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Three of the state’s 11 designated regions are now able to lift a few COVID-19 mitigations, but no indoor dining is allowed yet. Due to declining numbers, Regions 1, 2 and 5 are dropping from Tier 3 mitigations, the strictest COVID rules, to Tier 2. That includes counties in Northern, North-Central and Southern Illinois…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says most of the state’s other regions are on track to move to Tier 2 in the coming days. He is also announcing that when areas move to Tier 1, limited indoor dining will be allowed. Test positivity rates, hospitalizations and ICU bed availability will dictate when regions can move to a different tier and eventually to Phase 4 of the Governor’s “Restore Illinois” plan.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ COVID total now stands at 1 million 68 thousand 829 and deaths are at 18,208. The seven day positivity rate is down to 7.1 percent and 487,040 vaccines administered. 3,408 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 720 patients were in the ICU and 387 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered in phases to the general public, health care workers, and immunocompromised individuals. After the healthcare workers are vaccinated, the next phase will be immunocompromised individuals, or individuals over 65 says Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson...

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A Rantoul woman who was allegedly driving a stolen vehicle while under the influence of drugs has been charged. Lanee Winston was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and driving under the influence of ecstasy. State police say they received multiple calls about a Jeep almost hitting several other vehicles on I-74. Troopers stopped the vehicle and found Winston under the influence with two young children in the car. The vehicle police learned had been reported stolen in Rantoul. Bond was set at $10,000. She is due back in court February 25th.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- An area sheriff is speaking out and thanking local legislative leaders for voting against the recently passed criminal justice and police reform bill. Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran released a statement thanking Senator Jason Barickman and State Representative Tom Bennett for voting against the measure. Sheriff Doran says the legislation makes lives and property less safe.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Coronavirus pandemic has caused issues with not just the backlog of unemployment claims and subsequent fraud but also delays in the renewal of FOID cards. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says those two topics were the most complaints his office has received…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- Mediacom has moved to downtown Rantoul. Mediacom will open their doors at their new location today. As part of its move, Mediacom will add Saturday hours to provide customers with in-store assistance from 10am to 2pm. The new location is 211 E Sangamon Ave. which was previously occupied by the Goodyear Tire Center. 

 

 

(Champaign-cf)-- Parkland College and Giertz Gallery will host a virtual art competition for District 505 kids aged 7 to 18. The Celebrate the Arts! Youth arts competition will run until Thursday March 3rd. Students have a chance to win full summer 2021 scholarships for either College for Kids camp or a Summer Discovery Camp. Each of the three age categories will have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, as well as honorable mentions. A full list of rules can be found at parkland.edu/youthartcompetition.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What will 2021 hold for the ethanol industry? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What is one of the hottest agricultural commodities right now? Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

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Nearly 97,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week.

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly 97,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment claims last week. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that’s more than 51,000 more than filed the week before. Illinois now has 362,000 insured unemployed individuals, an increase from 330,000 from the week before.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is asking the public to learn the warning signs of trafficking. DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith says child trafficking happens all over Illinois and the average age of victims is 14. Here’s what you can do…

 

 

DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith. If you suspect a child is being trafficked, call 9-1-1 and the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,652 new cases and 88 additional deaths Thursday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 52 thousand 682 and deaths to 17,928. Locally, McLean county reported 32 new cases bringing their total to 12,829. Champaign County reported 70 new cases bringing their total to 15,097. Ford County reported 6 new cases bringing their total to 1,364. Iroquois County reported 10 new cases bringing their total to 2,544. Kankakee County reported 35 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,393 and deaths to 161. Livingston County reported 36 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,540 and deaths to 63.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Two schools in the Gibson City Melvin Sibley School District are going remote for the next two weeks. Starting today students at GCMS Middle School and High School will be remote learning through the 22nd. The district says the move comes as a significant number of staff and students are quarantined.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is answering questions when it comes to the rollout of the COVID vaccine. One of those questions surrounds who gets vaccinated and when says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter…

 

 

Reutter explains who is eligible to receive the next round of vaccines…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is working to help students in the state complete financial aid applications for the fall. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is adding initiatives to its college outreach programs. ISAC is extending its support to help address the complications students may face during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to meet the state's new mandate for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A law took effect with the 2020-21 school year that requires public high school seniors to fill out the FAFSA, or, if eligible, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, before receiving their high school diploma.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As a new Illinois General Assembly begins, the President of the State Senate is touting the emergency of virtual hearings. Last Spring, members of the state Senate adopted a remote meeting rule, letting them hold 32 Zoom hearings over the summer and fall months. Senate President Don Harmon says this has been an unexpected positive to come out of the pandemic…

 

 

Senate President Don Harmon. The House did not approve a similar rule so members were not able to meet virtually. A bill letting both chambers act remotely during an emergency did not come up during this week’s lame duck session.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 52 thousand 682 cases and 17,928 deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,820 have recovered, 854 are in isolation and 21 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,179 have recovered, 825 are in isolation and 30 hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,461 have been released from isolation, 43 remain in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,876 have recovered and 1,356 cases are active. Livingston County reported 3,230 have been removed from isolation and 247 cases are active.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department held their first COVID vaccination clinic this week with more to come. The county is starting to vaccinate those 75 and older. Champaign Urbana Public Health Department Epidemiologist, Awais Vaid talks about the importance of herd immunity…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released results of recent patrols. During Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols, troopers issued 32 safety belt citations and 1 child restraint citation. During Nighttime Enforcement Patrols, troopers issued 2 drug or alcohol related citations, 4 each for registration and driver’s license violations and 3 for insurance violations.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local reaction from the General Assembly’s passing of a criminal justice reform bill continues to come in. 105th District State Representative Dan Brady reacts to the bill…

 

 

105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- There are two vaccines on the market currently, and they both require two doses. The dose times vary with the two vaccines after taking the first dose. Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson has the details on the times you need to take the second dose as well as if you receive your first dose at Hudson Drug and Hallmark, how they will notify you for your second dose…  

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

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Representative Chris Welch of Hillside, elected new Illinois Speaker of the House

(Springfield-jm) -- It’s the end of an era in Illinois, as a new house speaker is elected. With the exception of just two years, Mike Madigan has served as Speaker of the Illinois House since 1983. That changes as House Democrats elect the first African American speaker, Representative Chris Welch of Hillside…

 

 

New House Speaker Chris Welch. In a written statement, Speaker Madigan said it’s time for new leadership in the House and that with such a diverse caucus full of young leaders, he’s confident Illinois remains in good hands.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,862 new Coronavirus cases and 97 additional deaths Wednesday. Locally McLean County reported 86 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,797 and deaths to 134. Champaign County reported 108 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 15,027 and deaths to 93. Livingston County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 3,504. Ford County reported 2 new cases bringing their total to 1,358. Iroquois County reported 15 new cases bringing their total to 2,544. Kankakee County reported 44 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 11,358 and deaths to 160. Vermilion County reported 69 new cases bringing their total to 6,743.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers have approved an expansive criminal justice and police reform bill. The measure establishes statewide use of force standards and bans certain techniques. It eventually mandates the use of body cameras, lets suspects in custody make three phone calls and ends cash bail. It’s sponsored by Representative Justin Slaughter of Chicago…

 

State Representative Justin Slaughter of Chicago. Unlike previous version the legislation does not remove qualified immunity for police officers but does create a task force to study the issue. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local lawmakers are reacting to the criminal justice reform bill pushed through the lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly. 105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington shares his thoughts…

 

 

105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- How does the weather look for the last few weeks of January? State Climatologist Trent Ford has those details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- There is a power struggle in Champaign County over who has the power to appoint replacements on the county board. County Executive Darlene Kloeppel filed a suit that she has the county’s ultimate authority not the county board chairman. A judge’s decision could have major implications after DeShawn Williams recently announced he was resigning from the board to become the county’s deputy treasurer.

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts has a new ordinance enforcement officer. Sarah Meyer was hired to replace Janet Walker who stepped down late last year. Walker will help train Meyer in the position.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- After an exhausting lame duck session, a new Illinois General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday afternoon. The legislature faces a daunting year, with the pandemic continuing and a huge budget deficit looming. Senate President Don Harmon says there is much work to be done, such as passing ethics reforms…

 

 

Senate President Don Harmon. Democrats hold a supermajority in both the Senate and the House, where a new Speaker has been elected. Republicans say they want to work to improve the business climate in Illinois and get government spending under control.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 46 thousand 30 cases and 17,840 deaths. 384,658 doses of COVID vaccine have been distributed. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,778 have recovered, 862 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,067 have recovered, 867 are in isolation and 28 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,209 have been removed from isolation and 233 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,381 have been released from isolation, 104 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,828 have recovered and 1,370 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 573 active cases with 18 hospitalized.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A package of bills designed to reduce economic disparities in minority communities is headed to the Governor’s desk. The measures cap the interest rate for payday and car title loans at 36 percent, and require more diversity in awarding state contracts. Employers won’t be able to turn someone down for a job or a promotion solely based on their criminal record says Representative Sonya Harper of Chicago…

 

 

State Representative Sonya Harper of Chicago. Harper says that’s especially true for minorities. Other components address the wage gap for black women and housing for those with a criminal record

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Local lawmakers are reacting to the police reform bill pushed through the lame duck session of the General Assembly yesterday. One of those reacting is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Illinois, as well as the WPXN listening area. There are certain phases of individuals that will be vaccinated first. Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton owner, Andy Hudson, details the first recipients of the vaccine… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Carla Baines as an at-large judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit. Baines became the 1st African American judge to serve in the 11th Judicial Circuit. The 11th Judicial Circuit covers Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean and Woodford Counties.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County's Salvation Army is declaring this year's Red Kettle Campaign a success. The Salvation Army of Champaign County meet its 2020 Red Kettle fundraising goal of $158,000.

 

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The 102nd General Assembly will be sworn in today in Springfield

(Springfield-jm) -- The 102nd General Assembly will be sworn in today in Springfield. Members of the House will be sworn in at the Springfield convention center while the Senate will be sworn in at the capital. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration, Governor J-B Pritzker is activating members of the Illinois National Guard. Pritzker has ordered the activation of approximately 200 Illinois National Guard members. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is now reporting the latest COVID-19 vaccine information on the agency’s website. Recent vaccine data is posted on the dph dot illinois dot gov webpage, showing how many doses Illinois has received and how many have been administered. It’s a good resource says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. To date, nearly 354 thousand doses have been administered in Illinois, with about 24 thousand shots given per day.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,642 new cases and 117 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the states total number of cases to 1 million 40 thousand 168 and deaths to 17,743. Locally, Livingston County reported 37 new cases bringing their total to 3,454. McLean County reported 72 new cases bringing their total to 12,711. Iroquois County reported 5 new cases bringing their total to 2,529. Ford County reported 15 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 1,356 and deaths to 40. Champaign County reported 66 new cases bringing their total to 14,919. Kankakee County reported 37 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,314 and deaths to 157.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Some area health departments are beginning to move to Phase 1B of the COVID vaccination plan. One of those is the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department which held the first of several vaccination clinics this week. Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid talks about reaching herd immunity…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A former Ludlow village trustee remains free on bond after a Champaign County judge declined to increase his bail amount. Ross Radke is facing three felony cases in Champaign County including criminal damage to state supported property for allegedly trying to ram a vehicle through a security gate at Willard Airport, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated battery to a police officer for an incident in Rantoul as well as an incident at the Champaign County Jail. Radke is facing charges in Indiana for a pair of incidents including speeding through a construction site and causing nearly $100,000 in damage as well as a disturbance at an Indianapolis laundromat. He is due back in Champaign County court March 9th.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Nearly a year into the Coronavirus pandemic and the state is still struggling with the backlog of unemployment claims. The pandemic caused a shutdown of businesses while others had to reduce staff to try to make ends meet. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the state was not prepared for the influx of claims…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The City of Paxton has a new alderman. Kendall Cox was sworn in last night for Ward 3.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA has issued its "final" production estimates for the 2020/2021 crops of corn and soybeans. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An emergency rule for businesses to enforce masks and social distancing in Illinois stands after a 12 member panel of lawmakers failed to block an emergency mask rule. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules took up the issue yesterday. The order is in effect until June or unless the Governor repeals the rule.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Local Congressional members are split on whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump following last week's deadly attack at the nation's capitol. 16th Congressional District Congressman Adam Kinzinger announced he supports efforts to impeach the President saying the President encouraged the group to storm the U-S capitol to stop the counting of the electoral vote. Meanwhile 15th Congressional District Congresswoman Mary Miller denounced the violent attack and called it a sad day in our nation’s history but said impeaching the President would further divide the country. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 40 thousand 168 coronavirus cases and 17,743 deaths after the state reported an additional 66 hundred cases and 117 deaths Tuesday. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 3,182 have been removed from isolation and 210 cases are active. McLean County reported 11,654 have recovered, 892 are in isolation and 34 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,373 have been released from isolation, 97 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 14,031 have recovered, 796 are in isolation and 27 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,763 have recovered and 1,384 cases are active.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is updating the public on the county’s vaccination process and answering questions people may have. One of those questions is whether you can get the vaccine in a different county says Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter…

 

 

Reutter adds that some counties may differ on the phases depending on the number of doses they receive…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign County State’s Attorney is reviewing the county’s animal control policies after a dog was improperly euthanized last month. Both the county board chairman and county executive have asked for an investigation into the matter. A dog was turned into animal control on December 18th, two days before Christmas the owner contacted animal control and made arrangements to pick up the dog the Monday after Christmas however, the dog was euthanized before that could happen.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- One of the issues facing state lawmakers is the state’s economy. Illinois lags most of the country when it comes to its economics according to 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda School Board will meet tonight where members will consider amending the FY21 budget as well as hear a report on the 2020-2021 extended school year and K-12 summer school and consider approving the 2021-2022 school calendar. The PBL School board meeting gets underway at 6.

 

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Regions of Illinois successfully containing the virus may be able to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced on Monday that he is suspending his campaign to retain his seat as House Speaker. However, he also says it is not a withdrawal. The 78-year-old Chicago Democrat directed House Democrats to work toward finding a replacement.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Regions of Illinois successfully containing the virus may be able to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday. Some areas of the state may be getting good news later this week, and be able to open some things back up says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Those metrics include test positivity rates, number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU beds available. The entire state has been under Tier 3 mitigations since late November.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,776 new Coronavirus cases and 53 additional deaths Monday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 1 million 33 thousand 526 and deaths to 17,627. Locally, Ford County reported 14 new cases bringing their total to 1,341. Champaign County reported 312 new cases bringing their total to 14,853. Iroquois County reported 36 new cases bringing their total to 2,524. Vermilion County reported 91 new cases bringing their total to 6,674. McLean County reported 278 new cases and 10 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,639 and deaths to 131. Livingston County reported 77 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,417 and deaths to 62. Kankakee County reported 110 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 11,277 and deaths to 156.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A chain of stores with locations in the area is closing. Stock and Field announced Monday they are closing all of their stores including their locations in Gibson City, Watseka, Danville and Tilton. The stores used to be called Big R before they were bought out by Stock and Field.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Paxton City Council and Rantoul village boards both meet tonight for their first meeting of 2021. The Rantoul village board will meet at 6 where they will consider an easement agreement for a solar project, consider an agreement for Maplewood Drive improvements and discuss the Forum Fitness Center renovation and expansion. In Paxton, the Paxton City Council will meet at 7 where they are expected to consider Mayor Bill Ingolds appointment to Ward 3 and consider the purchase of a backhoe and pickup truck. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6 with the Paxton city council meeting getting underway at 7.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- January 1st normally brings hundreds of new laws however because of the Coronavirus pandemic only three new laws went into effect. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about the new laws…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- An effort to impose term limits on Rantoul government members has stalled. Not enough signatures were gathered on a petition for a referendum to hit the ballot. The proposal would have put a two year consecutive term on the mayor, village board and village clerk positions.

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department will begin distributing the COVID vaccines this week. Although time slots are already full the health department is distributing information on the vaccine. Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid talks about the two vaccines…

 

 

Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

 

(Washington-jm) -- U-S Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced Monday more than $843 million in federal funding will be coming to the state to help support expanded COVID testing and vaccine distribution in Illinois. $574 million will go towards COVID testing while $90 million will go towards vaccine distribution. The rest will go to the City of Chicago for their COVID testing and vaccine distribution.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some areas of the state are moving into Phase “1-B” of vaccination distribution. Governor J-B Pritzker says he expects to make a formal announcement later this week about when all of Illinois will move to 1-B, where essential workers and seniors 65 and older can get the shot. But for now…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker urges patience, since more than two million Illinoisans fall into the 1-B group and it will take many weeks to get through them all.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 1 million 33 thousand 526 Coronavirus cases and 17,627 deaths after the state reported an additional 4,776 cases and 53 deaths Monday. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 11,318 have recovered, 1157 are in isolation and 33 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,905 have recovered, 856 are in isolation and 23 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,175 have been removed from isolation and 180 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,351 have been released from isolation, 114 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 9,727 have recovered and 1,384 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 5,972 have been released from isolation, 596 are in isolation and 25 are hospitalized.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Each month, the health department will issue a challenge on their facebook page. Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter talks about what they hope to accomplish with this challenge…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Buckley Loda Education Foundation has received a donation from a local bank. Farmers Merchants Bank of Illinois donated $13,000 to the foundation to go towards technology updates throughout the district. The district will use the money to purchase 20 new machines in the Mac lab.

 

 

(Mahomet-jm) -- The Champaign County Forest Preserve is announcing the opening of a new preserve. The 98 acre Heron View Forest Preserve is the latest preserve for the district and is located along the Sangamon River north of Mahomet between Lake of the Woods and the Sangamon River Forest Preserve. The forest preserve hopes to add more hiking paths as well as access to the river in the upcoming years.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- There aren’t many side effects from the COVID vaccine, but there are a few and they don’t differentiatie that much from the flu shot. Hudson Drug and Hallmark in Paxton Owner Andy Hudson has the details… 

 

 

Hudson Drug and Hallmark Owner Andy Hudson. 

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Iroquois County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue. The property assessment equalization factor, often called the “multiplier”, is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law. State law requires property in Illinois to be assessed at one-third of its market value. Farm property is assessed differently, with farm homesites and dwellings subject to regular assessing and equalization procedures, but with farmland and farm buildings assessed according to standards based on productivity. The equalization factor is determined annually for each county by comparing the sales price of individual properties sold over the past three years to the assessed value placed on those properties by the county supervisor of assessments/county assessor.

 

 

(Washington-jm) --  The federal government's newly-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans can be tailored to meet individual needs. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

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Criminal justice and police reform were the big topic of the day in the Illinois Legislature Saturday.

(Springfield-jm) -- Criminal justice and police reform were the big topic of the day in the Illinois Legislature Saturday. A Senate committee heard testimony on a 611 page bill that makes changes to use of force policies, ends cash bail and eliminates liability protections for officers. Law enforcement is pushing back on several aspects of the bill but Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood says something needs to change…

 

State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood. Additionally, Attorney General Kwame Raoul is rolling out legislation to improve the police certification process and address officer misconduct.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is freezing the implementation of a new set of state business tax credits. The Governor's Office said this is due to the budget crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The expanded state tax credits were set to take effect on January 1st of this year. The Pritzker administration said the new, expanded credits are estimated to cost the state an addition $20 million each year. In addition, Pritzker is calling for a decoupling of Illinois tax law from recently enacted federal business tax changes that he says would cost the state over $500 million.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker announced on Friday more than $275 million in funding has been doled out to hard hit businesses across Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 9,000 emergency assistance grants have been made to small businesses in more than 600 cities and towns statewide through the Business Interruption Grants program. The funds allowed businesses to make payroll, buy PPE, and cover operational costs.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is adopting the N-Double-A-C-P’s 10 shared principals of police reform. The principals recognize the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to build trust between police and communities. Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says they have already put the principals into action…

 

 

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. 

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- The trial date for the former Roberts and Elliott water superintendent has been set for April. A probable cause hearing was held Friday for Paul Theesfield. He is charged with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Theesfield has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to begin April 19th.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is providing an update on the COVID vaccination progress. Ford County Public Health Community Educator Megan Reutter provides the update…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- A county board and a local city council meet tonight. Gibson City leaders will consider replacing a faulty pump at well number 5 at tonights meeting at 7. Also at 7 tonight the Ford County Board will consider setting the per diem rate for mileage as well as considering law enforcement agreements with Roberts, Melvin, Elliott and Kempton. The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council both meet tonight at 7.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- If you think USDA's upcoming winter round of forecasts will be a real snoozer. you may end up being awakened and surprised. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus says now is the time for police and criminal justice reforms. It’s more clear than ever that change is needed says State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago…

 

 

State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago.  Law enforcement says the reforms are being rushed but Sims says nine public hearings have been held discussing these proposals. He adds that discussions are ongoing and changes may be made to the current bills but that he still plans to get this passed before the new general assembly is sworn in on Wednesday.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Inmates across Illinois are part of the next group to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Correctional staffers and inmates will be part of the 3.2 million people that get vaccinated in phase 1B. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, there have been over 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among the Illinois prison population and more than 3,600 among staff members. According to the latest numbers from the Marshall Project, the spread amongst inmates in Illinois prisons is 205% higher than the normal population.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois finished 43rd in a new study by the Tax Foundation that ranked which of the 50 states have the most business-friendly unemployment insurance tax structures. The state’s ranking reflected a drop of three positions from its 2020 ranking, according to the foundation’s analysis, which is part of a wider study titled “2021 State Business Tax Climate Index.” All states and the District of Columbia have unemployment insurance tax systems, which are federal-state programs that fund benefits to newly unemployed workers. Levies on employers fund the systems.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is partnering with the FBI to combat unemployment benefits fraud. The two have formed a task force made up of law enforcement, federal tax officials and more to address the over 350 thousand fraudulent claims filed in Illinois so far. Attorney General Raoul says it’s important they all work together on this…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Thieves have been stealing people’s identities across the country to apply for unemployment benefits. If you get a notice that a claim has been filed in your name, Raoul says you should report it immediately to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

 

 

(Rossville-jm) -- A Rossville World War Two veteran turned 100 over the weekend. Frank Morse celebrated his big day with a drive by parade. Morse served in World War Two and later became principal at Rossville Alvin High School.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The spring legislative session begins this week in Springfield. New members of the General Assembly are expected to be sworn in Wednesday. One of the biggest issues facing members of the General Assembly is the budget says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Two area school boards meet tonight. The Rantoul Township High School school board will meet at 6 where they will consider creating a bass fishing team. At 630 the St. Joseph Community School District will meet where they will hear updates on the solar project, the search for a new middle school principal and property tax projections. The Rantoul Township High School school board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph School District meeting at 6:30.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What were the actual acreages, yields and production of this past season's crops? We'll soon have the answer to that question. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

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COVID-19 cases in Illinois now top one million

(Springfield-jm) -- COVID-19 cases in Illinois now top one million. With the most recent addition of more than 87 hundred new cases, Illinois now has one million 8 thousand 45 cases of COVID infection since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says it’s important that everyone continues to wear a mask, wash hands frequently and avoid large gatherings…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Although most COVID patients have recovered, the state has lost more than 17 thousand people to the virus. Looking at numbers locally from Thursday, McLean County reported 50 new cases bringing their total to 12,139. Champaign County reported 122 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 14,349 and deaths to 92. Livingston County reported 30 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,302 and deaths to 59. Ford County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 1,321. Iroquois County reported 22 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 2,465 and deaths to 53. Kankakee County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 11,109. Vermilion County reported 79 new cases bringing their total to 6,393.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- When House lawmakers return to Springfield today for a lame duck session of the General Assembly, one topic that will be brought up is selecting the next speaker of the house. State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington discusses the election of the speaker…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady. Stay with WPXN News for the latest on the lame duck session.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 47,000 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, nearly 63,000 fewer than filed the week before. But, despite the decline in initial filers from the week before, the U.S. Department of Labor reports there are nearly 16,000 more insured unemployed from the week before for a total of 343,500.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Pritzker administration couldn’t say how much of the $19 billion of unemployment benefits paid out are the result of fraud. When asked, the administration said it has stopped 350,000 fraudulent claims since March 2020. The administration also said it could take weeks to implement the overpayment waiver the federal government approved last month.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives in some aspect. However, coronavirus infections could soon lessen with the new vaccine that has been developed with operation warp speed. Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton details when the vaccine could become available to the general public…. 

 

 

Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House GOP lawmakers are calling for public hearings over the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s handling of the unemployment and unemployment fraud crisis. Thousands of Illinoisans have filed for unemployment benefits because of the Coronavirus pandemic while an unknown number of people in the state have been victims of fraud. 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says it’s beyond time to fix the issue…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police have released December 2020 stats. During the final month of 2020, troopers issued 471 citations and 662 written warnings including 26 DUIs, 27 safety belt citations and 20 criminal arrests. Troopers also responded to 83 traffic accidents.

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans return to Springfield today for the lame duck session. Although the agenda for the session hasn’t been announced, one of the things House members will have to do is select a speaker of the House says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Stay with WPXN News for the latest from Springfield.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois dispensaries sold nearly $670 million in cannabis products in 2020. Despite ongoing pandemic restrictions on other businesses, the 79 licensed pot stores in Illinois finished the year in December with $86.9 million in sales. That was more than $10 million more than was sold in November.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Members of the Illinois House who are going to be sworn in next week won’t have family members with them. That’s part of the COVID-19 protocol laid out by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office for the alternate location in Springfield. The House will meet beginning today in the Bank of Springfield Center as they did in May. That’s also where the new House will be sworn in next Wednesday, but members have been told no guests will be allowed.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- In an effort to promote healthy living, the Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Megan Reutter (Righter), Community Educator at the Ford County Public Health Department, says it will help promote self care…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter. This month’s challenge is Dry January, where they will share non-alcoholic drink recipes.

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Roberts has a new water superintendent. The village board hired Tyler Martin. Martin also manages water for Rantoul and Elliott. He replaces Paul Theesfield who was fired following an incident in Gibson City last month.

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker is lowering the age limit for the next round of COVID vaccinations to 65

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is lowering the age limit for the next round of COVID vaccinations to 65. The state is currently working in Phase 1-A, where healthcare workers and residents and staff of long term care facilities are getting the shot. For round 1-B, front line workers and seniors 65 and older will be vaccinated, instead of the recommended age 75 and older says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Phase 1-B will vaccinate more than three million people in Illinois. Over 207 thousand doses have already been administered.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,569 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 139 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 999,288 and deaths to 17,096. Locally, McLean County reported 72 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 12,089 and deaths to 116. Ford County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 1,309. Livingston County reported 25 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 3,272 and deaths to 58. Iroquois County reported 26 new cases bringing their total to 2,443. Vermilion County reported 93 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 6,314 and deaths to 80. Kankakee County reported 83 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 11,053. The state is expected to hit 1 million cases today becoming the 4th state to reach such milestone.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As members of the Illinois House prepare to return to Springfield tomorrow for a lame duck session ahead of the start of the spring session next week, one of the biggest questions is will House Speaker Mike Madigan retain his powerful position or will there be a shakeup. The questions surround alleged corruption within Madigan’s inner circle says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House GOP lawmakers are calling for hearings into the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s handling of the unemployment crisis and fraud crisis. One of those is 104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian…

 

 

104th District State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session. Local 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says he too has heard talks of a possible tax increase…

 

 

Local 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Representative Bennett says the election of the next speaker of the house will also be key to watch. Stay with WPXN News for the latest from Springfield during the lame duck session. 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Drive thru COVID-19 testing will be coming back to Ford County this month. The testing will take place on January 17th from 8 to 4 at the intersection of Sangamon and Church in Gibson City.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- If COVID-19 numbers don’t spike, Governor J-B Pritzker says regions of Illinois may be able to lift some mitigations come January 15th. The state didn’t see a big increase in cases after Thanksgiving, and the Governor says they are hopeful that trend will hold now that Christmas and New Year’s have passed…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Those metrics include a test positivity rate of 12 percent or less for at least three days in a row. The Governor urges everyone to continue to be careful. The state’s mask mandate has been extended another 150 days.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois topped 17,000 COVID deaths Wednesday and will likely top one million cases today. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,569 new cases and 139 additional deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 999,288 and deaths to 17,096. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 10,960 have recovered, 974 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,422 have recovered, 715 are in isolation and 19 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,077 have been removed from isolation and 138 cases are active. Iroquois County reported 2,260 have been released from isolation, 124 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 607 active cases and 41 hospitalized. Kankakee County reported 8,821 have recovered and 2,077 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning the public about COVID-19 vaccine scams. COVID scams aren’t new, but the approval of a vaccination is now giving con artists more opportunities to fleece consumers says Attorney General Raoul. He says you should ignore emails, texts and calls offering to put you on a list to get the vaccine or asking for your personal information to sign you up for a shot…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul also notes that Medicaid and Medicare will not call people to proactively offer the vaccine and that no one should be asking for your bank account or social security information in relation to the vaccine.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- A newly elected member of the Champaign County Board is announcing he is resigning. DeShawn Williams was elected in November but announced Wednesday he is resigning to become chief deputy treasurer under new county treasurer Cassandra Johnson. His term runs through November 30, 2022.

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Nursing homes will soon face fines if they don't have enough staff to take care of patients

(Springfield-jm) -- Nursing homes will soon face fines if they don't have enough staff to take care of patients. The fines were originally going to start in January, but because of the pandemic, the fines are being pushed back until later in the year. In 2019, legislation was passed allowing the Illinois Department of Public Health to fine nursing homes if their staff-to-patient ratio was too low.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,839 new Coronavirus cases and 126 additional deaths Tuesday bringing the state’s total number of cases to 991,719 and deaths to 16,959. Locally, Livingston County reported 19 new cases bringing their total to 3,247. Ford County reported 19 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 1,290 and deaths to 39. McLean County reported 129 new cases bringing their total 12,017. Champaign County reported 782 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 14,247 and deaths to 90. Iroquois County reported 23 new cases bringing their total to 2,417. Vermilion County reported 227 new cases bringing their total to 6,221.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House members are returning to Springfield later this week for the lame duck session. Because of the COVID pandemic the session will be held at the Springfield Convention Center. But the pandemic has also brought a piece of legislation that would allow the House to meet virtually during emergency situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Representative Dan Brady says he and other GOP members would have an open mind on the issue…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady.

 

(Undated-jm) -- If you are an H&R Block customer, you may not get your second stimulus check right away.  The IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department began issuing the second round of stimulus checks last week.  However, H&R Block customers including some locally, are reporting their payments not ending up in their bank accounts. According to H&R Block, customers who have used the IRS Get My Payment tracking tool may see an account number their payment was issued to that is not theirs. H&R Block customers that used the Refund Transfer option in 2019 may have had their stimulus sent to that temporary account.  The company says they are working to make sure recipients receive their stimulus.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Recent months have shown a significant increase in the amount of food and farm goods China is importing from our nation.  Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to David Harris, Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. The property assessment equalization factor, often called the “multiplier”, is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law.  Assessments in Ford County are at 33.03 percent of market value, based on sales of properties in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Certified Grower Training is now available on the Illinois Department of Agriculture  website.  Under a new state regulation , anyone who works on a farm and handles anhydrous ammonia must complete Certified Grower Training by April of 2022 and once every three years thereafter.  This includes not only farm workers who apply the nitrogen fertilizer to fields, but also those who transport nurse tanks to and from suppliers and those who maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment. The training program can be accessed through a link posted on the website’s homepage. 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The members of the Illinois Senate Republican leadership team have been announced. Senate Republican Leader-Designate Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, announced his appointments ahead of the 102nd General Assembly. The eight senators chosen to the leadership team include: Sue Rezin for Deputy Republican Leader, Jason Barickman as Republican Caucus Leader, Donald DeWitte, Steve McClure, Jason Plummer and Chapin Rose as Assistant Republican Leaders, Dave Syverson and Jil Tracy as Republican Caucus Whips.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 991,719 confirmed Coronavirus cases and 16,959 Coronavirus related deaths after the state reported 6,839 new cases Tuesday and 126 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, Livingston County reported 3,061 have been removed from isolation and 129 cases are active. McLean County reported 10,917 have recovered, 950 are in isolation and 39 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 13,498 have recovered, 659 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 2,253 have been released from isolation, 105 are in isolation and 7 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 613 cases are active.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- House Republicans are offering a plan to draw new legislative districts in Illinois. Based on the 2020 census data, new legislative boundaries will be set across the state this year. Representative Tim Butler of Springfield says they want an independent commission to be charged with the task instead of lawmakers. He says this will ensure the districts are drawn fairly and not just to give one political party an advantage…

 

 

State Representative Tim Butler of Springfield. Under the House GOP proposal, the commission would be made up of 11 members. Seven would have to approve the new map and public hearings would be held to keep the process transparent.

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- Hoopeston police are investigating an attempted burglary. It happened in the 400 block of West Washington Street. Police say someone tried entering a garage on the property causing damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Hoopeston police.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- As the government releases the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one statistic to look at is the Healthy Eating Index.  Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Ford County Fair Association will hold its annual meeting Saturday, January 16th at 8:30 a.m. at the Wall Township Building, which is located at 1498 East 900 North Road in Loda. ?The election of board members and officers will take place at this meeting. In addition, plans for the upcoming Ford County Fair, scheduled for June 13-19, will be discussed. A virtual meeting link will be made available on the fair’s Facebook page closer to the meeting date. The public is invited to attend. Those attending in person are asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, beginning in January. First conducted in 2015, this Census of Agriculture special study will look at local and regional food systems and provide new data on how locally grown foods in the United States are marketed and sold. The results will be available in November 2021. Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail. The deadline for response is February 16, 2021.

 

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The state of Illinois has paid out $19 billion in unemployment benefits

(Springfield-jm) -- The state of Illinois has paid out $19 billion in unemployment benefits. How much of that is fraud hasn’t been revealed. The state’s unemployment agency says fraudsters are using fictitious addresses and they want employers to register with a state data exchange to help combat such fraud. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Illinois finished the year with nearly 339,000 insured unemployed, behind only California, New York and Texas.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A University of Illinois Springfield professor says data suggests almost all K-12 schools should be open, despite COVID-19 concerns. Professor Gary Reinbold reviewed data from nearly a dozen studies on the issue and found children can attend school, even if just part-time, without contributing to spreading the virus. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session. One of the concerns House GOP members like Representative Dan Brady has is the potential for a tax increase to address the state’s budget…

 

 

State Representative Dan Brady. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,059 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. Locally, McLean County reported 299 new cases bringing their total to 11,888. Champaign County reported 626 new cases bringing their total to 14,465. Livingston County reported 99 new cases bringing their total to 3,228. Ford County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 1,271. Iroquois County reported 61 new cases bringing their total to 2,394. Vermilion County reported 169 new cases bringing their total to 5,994. Kankakee County did not have a report.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Megan Reutter (Righter) is the community educator at the Ford County Public Health Department. She explains the challenge…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter. The first challenge is Dry January where they will share mocktail recipes.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Registration is underway for the virtual 2021 Soybean Summit. The summit will be held February 10th, 17th and 24th from 9 to 11:30 am. Registration is free.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County home sales hit a record in November. 236 homes sold in November, up 33 percent from November 2019 when 177 homes sold. The median price rose 14.39 percent to $177,300 from $155,000 in November 19. Pending home sales were up 30 percent and the average number of days on the market was 71 days. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- There are several new things in the latest edition of the federal government's Dietary Guidelines. Stephanie Ho has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House announced that members are headed back to Springfield on Friday. Representatives will hold session and committee hearings at a Springfield convention center, similar to how they did in May 2020. That three-day session cost taxpayers an extra $143,000 on top of the regular costs. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois businesses hoping to get state aid via Business Interruption Grants were largely let down last week. Roughly 8 out of 10 businesses that applied were notified that they wouldn't get any money, something bar and restaurant owners are saying came as a surprise that will likely lead to closures. Governor J.B. Pritzker used the grants as leverage to ensure bars and restaurants obeyed his COVID-19 mitigations, saying anyone who broke his rules wouldn't get state aid.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Drivers Services Facilities open back up statewide today. Doors are opening but mask and social distancing requirements will still be in place. Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker reminds you can hold off awhile if you prefer, since expiration dates have been extended…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker. Druker says you can take care of lots of things online like renewing a license plate sticker or driver’s license for qualifying drivers. The website is: cyber drive illinois dot com.


 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 984,880 Coronavirus cases and 16,834 Coronavirus-related deaths after the state reported 5,059 new cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 10,763 have recovered, 994 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. McLean County also reported 12 additional deaths bringing their total to 113. Champaign County reported 13,465 have recovered, 639 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,049 have been removed from isolation and 122 cases are active. They also recorded their 57th death.  Iroquois County reported 2,224 have been released from isolation, 110 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 795 cases are active and 41 are hospitalized. Vermilion County also recorded 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 79.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the FDA from Moderna and Pfizer have not been approved for use in individuals under the age of 18. Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton has the details on why…. 

 

 

Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Six Ford County students have placed first in national Daughters of the American Revolution contests. 66 students from Tri-Point, PBL and GCMS competed locally. Ava Fehr, Jack Goembel and Josie Klerst from GCMS, Melanie Tamayo and Lainey Bertrand from Tri-Point and Lauren Sawyer from PBL all placed first in national contests.


 

(Undated-jm) -- High school seniors gearing up for college have a shot at $60,000 in scholarship support thanks to Mediacom. Sixty high school seniors will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. The winning seniors are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership. Students have until February 15, 2021 to apply.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An aggressive approach towards opening new markets for U.S. farm and food goods has resulted in specific products finally entering nations via export. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

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The Illinois Department of Public Health warns people about avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams

(Springfield-jm) -- Driver Services facilities are set to reopen across the state this week. Starting on Tuesday, Illinois residents will be able to enter Driver Services facilities. However, there are a few requirements such as wearing a face mask and social distancing.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health warns people about avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams. As COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins, the IDPH warns the public to be on the lookout for signs of potential scams, including: being asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine, being asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list, advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/ unknown sources and marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment. If you believe you have been a victim of COVID-19 fraud, call 1-880-HHS-TIPS, 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 1-800-MEDICARE. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Members of the Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session before the spring session begins on the 13th. One of the major story lines is will Mike Madigan be re-elected as Speaker of the House says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Winter weather helped kick off 2021 over the weekend with a mixture of freezing rain and snow. Freezing rain brought down trees and power lines causing some outages around the area Thursday night into Friday. Over the weekend another system brought snow. Most of the WPXN listening area picked up about an inch of snow while Piatt County saw as much as 10 inches of snow.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Former State Representative Chad Hays is heading back to state government in an appointed position. Hays was appointed in December by Governor J.B. Pritzker to serve as a member of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The board is in charge of administering the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which establishes the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively. Hays represented the 104th district in the Illinois House from 2010 until 2018, when he stepped down.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City’s clocktower at city hall will be getting an upgrade. City leaders approved a $126,000 contract to replace the brick. They hope to start the project this spring.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- It's been an extraordinary year for food shoppers with the largest price increases in years. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- FEMA is giving the state $147 million in grants to reimburse the state for COVID related expenses. The grant funding is part of the recovery efforts in response to the federal disaster declaration of March 31, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency utilized contracts to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment statewide to reduce the threat of COVID-19.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education announced that it has delayed the opening of the 2021 spring assessment window to at least March 15, in response to requests from school districts and stakeholders. The delayed start provides the greatest possible flexibility for schools. The federally required assessments in Illinois are the Illinois Assessment of Readiness for students in grades 3-8; the SAT for students in grade 11; the Illinois Science Assessment for students in grades 5, 8, and 11; the ACCESS for English Learners; and the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment for the 1 percent of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The consolidated election will take place April 6th but several area races are taking shape. WPXN’s Jason Madden takes a look at who is on the ballot…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Champaign County's Animal Control Department will soon be under investigation. Champaign County Board Chair Kyle Patterson said he is launching the investigation. This comes after a dog was mistakenly put down on Christmas Eve.

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- A Champaign woman is facing multiple charges after an incident at Willard Airport. U of I police were called to the airport for a woman ramming her car into a security fence. Police located the vehicle and found an open container of alcohol, marijuana and MDMA pills. Heidi Burns was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, illegal transportation of alcohol, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident and illegal possession of cannabis in a vehicle.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Five candidates have filed for the Parkland College Board of Trustees. Maureen Banks, Jarrett Clem, Bradley Uken and James Voyles all filed for two six year terms. Tim Johnson filed for a two year term.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- An economist says food price inflation will continue in 2021, but at a lower rate than we've seen this year. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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