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WPXN Blog Archives for 2021-12

Driver's services facilities will be closed for a few weeks because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois' minimum wage will increase to $12 an hour starting Saturday. This is part of legislation signed by Governor JB Pritzker back in 2019 that will increase the minimum wage each year until it hits $15 an hour in 2025.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing that driver’s services facilities will be closed for a few weeks because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities statewide will be closed from January 3rd through the 17th out of concern over the rising number of new infections, says Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. Haupt says you can do things like renew your license sticker, get a duplicate license or ID card and some can renew their driver’s license online. The website is; il sos dot gov.

 

(Undated-jm) – Turning to yesterday’s COVID numbers, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 21,098 new cases and 50 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate rose to 13.2 percent. Champaign County reported 564 new cases. Vermilion County reported 58 new cases and 3 additional deaths.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinoisans could potentially see some financial relief from the rising cost of inflation. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City explains a proposal by Republicans…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Champaign-jm) – People who don’t want to follow new COVID rules to get into University of Illinois athletic events will not be given a refund, the athletic department said. Officials on December 22 announced the new policy for any public, university event over 200 people. It’s effective January 1. Anyone 12 and older must show proof of COVID vaccination or a recent negative test. The athletic department encouraged fans to arrive early in anticipation of lines as staffers check each person’s status. That could include being asked to show identification. For children without an ID, parents may be asked to verify their identity. Screening will start 90 minutes before the event starts.

 

 Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is releasing the identity of a male teen who has died from a gunshot wound he received during a shooting incident last night in the 1600 block of Hunter Street in Urbana. Jordan Atwater-Lewis, age 17, of Urbana, Illinois was pronounced dead at 9:22PM Wednesday night in the Carle Foundation Hospital Emergency Department. The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the head. An autopsy will be conducted later today at the Champaign County Regional Autopsy Facility located in Urbana, . This death is under investigation by the Urbana Police Department and the coroner’s office.

 

(Springfield-jm) – State officials are urging caution as you celebrate the New Year’s holiday. The pandemic rages on, so it’s important to take precautions, says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The latest daily COVID-19 totals include more than 21 thousand new cases, the second highest for the entire pandemic. 50 additional deaths were also reported. 8 of the state’s 11 designated regions now have less than 25 ICU hospital beds available. The seven day positivity rate rose to 13.2 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 564 new cases. Vermilion County reported 58 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report Wednesday.

 

(Gilman-tr) – The Iroquois West School District met for their December meeting, Iroquois West Superintendent Angelo Lekkas shares more on the tax levy approval…

 

 

Iroquois West Superintendent Angelo Lekkas.

 

(Paxton-jm) – The Ford County Courthouse’s rear door, which is used by people with disabilities to access the building, is expected to be replaced in 2022. The handicapped-accessible door is starting to show its age. The public building commission now wants a long-term solution and is asking the sheriff to obtain bids to replace it. Once bids have been received the commission will review the bids and award a contract.

 

(Springfield-jm) – A horticulture expert at the University of Illinois Extension is offering some ideas about what to do with your live Christmas tree. Most communities have some sort of recycling program for trees, offering curbside pick up. But you can also place the tree in your backyard and fill it with goodies or use it as firewood, says U of I Extension’s Richard Hentschel…

 

 

U of I Extension’s Richard Hentschel. Additionally, Henschel says you can cut the branches off and use them as mulch to protect your plants.

 

(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District shared that asymptomatic and non-severe close contacts need to be tested at testing sites that are not coordinated by OSF or Carle. Instead, those who are asymptomatic are encouraged to get tested at one of the SHIELD testing sites or the Marketplace Mall testing site.

 

Governor J-B Pritzker is urging communities to put their own COVID-19 restrictions in place if necessary

(Springfield-jm) – The Department of Children and Family Services is already facing a shortage of proper foster homes, some kids are even forced to stay in offices. Now, lawmakers are concerned that some kids are being blocked from proper placements because of false behavior reports. A new bill filed in the Illinois House would create a review commission to help sort out the truth and get more kids into proper care. The commission would be made up of nine people who have experience with the foster care system, appointed by the governor.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is urging communities to put their own COVID-19 restrictions in place if necessary. With some areas running out of ICU beds, the Governor says local leaders may want to crack down even further than the state’s current indoor mask mandate. He points to a new vaccine requirement for entering certain businesses taking effect in the Chicago area next week…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Every county in Illinois is currently rated at high risk for transmission of the virus. Tuesday the state reported 20,804 new cases and 96 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate rose to 12.4 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 641 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 115 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report Tuesday.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Labor is reminding the public about some new laws taking effect in the new year. One new law expands what’s called the VESSA Act to cover more than just victims of domestic violence says Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller…

 

 

Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. Another law makes trampoline courts subject to inspection by the state, just as amusement park rides must be checked before they can start operating.

 

(Champaign-jm) – A homeless man awaiting trial on 3 separate theft cases is facing more charges for allegedly stealing from two more stores. Sean Cox is charged with burglary for allegedly stealing 9 tools from Menards valued at over $1,500 and a speaker from Best Buy valued at $800. Cox is currently also charged with stealing on three different days in July. If convicted he faces 3-14 years in prison. 

 

(Washington-jm) – This past year's hikes in food prices have been bigger than average, but smaller than in some years. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois travelers have the chance to make their voices heard. The Illinois Department of Transportation is asking for feedback on the state's transportation system through its annual survey. The Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey seeks feedback on topics such as road conditions, ice and snow removal, commuting habits, and driving behaviors. Participants will also be asked about the cleanliness of roads, electronic message boards, traffic signal timing, whether their travel habits changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which area they think is the most critical for Illinois to invest in, and more.

 

(Springfield-jm) – A new state law taking effect January 1st will ensure kids can pursue the long-standing tradition of setting up a lemonade stand. 12 year old Hayli Martinez of Kankakee inspired the measure after her stand was shut down by local public health officials. She testified before a Senate committee back in March…

 

 

Hayli Martinez of Kankakee. Under the law, state and local public health departments cannot require a permit or regulate the sale of lemonade and other non-alcoholic drinks by kids under 16.

 

(Penfield-jm) – An Indiana construction company has been awarded the contract to upgrade a pond at Middlefork Forest Preserve near Penfield. White Construction submitted a bid of $603,000 to remove silt build up, increase the depth of the pond, remove the island and improve the beach area. Crews hope to start work soon and have the majority of the project done by the time camping season, begins in May.

 

(Washington-jm) – After two straight years of above average food price increases, what's in store for food shoppers in the new year? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

The state is launching an effort to expand COVID-19 testing availability and booster shot sites amid the recent jump in new cases

(Mahomet-jm) – An Arrowsmith man is dead following a crash in Mahomet Monday. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup says 70 year old William Rigsby died at the scene of the accident at Route 150 and Oak Creek Road in Mahomet. Authorities say Rigsby was traveling westbound on Route 150 when he crossed into the eastbound lane and struck an eastbound pickup truck with a trailer. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The state is launching an effort to expand COVID-19 testing availability and booster shot sites amid the recent jump in new cases. Beginning January 3rd, the state’s free community based testing sites will be open six days a week to accommodate the rising number of people wanting to see if they have the virus. Additionally, vaccination efforts are increasing, says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The move also includes the testing site at Marketplace Mall in Champaign. The Governor invites local organizations to host a vaccine clinic. More information is available online at: dph dot illinois dot gov. Click on COVID-19 updates then vaccine clinic application. Locally since Thursday, the state reported 55,958 new cases and 153 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate spiked to 11.7 percent. Since Thursday, Champaign County reported 892 new cases. Iroquois County reported 155 new cases and 2 additional deaths.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Champaign police are investigating a weekend stabbing. Police were called to CU at Home after a person showed up to the homeless shelter with a stab wound. They say the stabbing did not occur at the homeless shelter.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Inflation has brought the price of most products and services up this past year. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City looks at how that’s affecting you…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Urbana-jm) – A homeless man is behind bars after he allegedly broke into and stole from a campus apartment while University of Illinois students were gone for break. According to the News-Gazette, Champaign police used surveillance video from an apartment building in the 500 block of South Locust Street to identify Daniel Bailey as one of two men seen inside the building taking items last week. Earlier this month, Bailey pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery for trying to rob a UI student at an ATM inside a campus bar November 16 while insinuating that he was armed. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation and two weeks in jail.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker says how the pandemic continues into 2022 depends on all of us. Between the Delta and Omicron variants, new cases have been increasing in recent weeks and as of last night, more than 47 hundred COVID-19 patients were in the hospital. The key to getting through this surge is to get your shots, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. At least four regions of the state have less than 10 ICU beds available. Ezike says masking up and getting tested is also vital as the pandemic continues into the new year.

 

(Undated-jm) – OSF HealthCare is hoping those in the community without COVID-19 symptoms stop coming into their facilities for COVID-19 testing. Doctors with OSF HealthCare attribute their request to the rise in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated. This applies to all OSF facilities.

 

(Paxton-tr) - The Paxton Buckley Loda school district has a few plans in motion to upgrade classrooms with more electrical outlets. Since the district embraced more technological forms of learning, students are requiring more electricity to power the technology, says PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure…

 

 

PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

(Champaign-jm) – A 20-year-old man was arrested in relation to a shooting that happened at the Golden Hour convenience store last week. Officers said Rashard Montgomery went to the police station to report that he had been outside the Golden Hour at around 1:50 p.m. on Tuesday. According to Montgomery, he was waiting outside while his friend went into the store. He heard gunshots coming from the store so he got out of his car to go check on his friend. When they met up inside the Golden Hour, this friend told Montgomery that 18-year-old Randy Willis had fired shots at him. This prompted Montgomery to exit the store and fire shots in the direction of a car that Willis just entered. Both Montgomery and Willis are being held in the county jail in lieu of $200,000 and $250,000 bonds.

 

The fight over legislative redistricting maps continues to play out

(Springfield-jm) – With a budget of around $300 million, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol plans a multi-stage, multi-year plan to renovate the north wing of the Illinois State Capitol. The plan includes a new entrance to screen visitors and create more underground parking, tunnels and an underground conference space. The total project will take years to complete.

 

(Springfield-jm) – A look back at Illinois weather this year. 2021 started off very cold, with Dixon, DuQuoin and Mount Vernon experiencing their chilliest February’s on record. Low included minus 21 degrees in Mount Carroll and Negative 17 in Aurora. State Climatologist Trent Ford says spring and summer brought plenty of rainfall to central and southern Illinois…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. Ford says humidity was higher than normal in July and August, October was pretty soggy and November ended up being mild. So far December has been 8 to 14 degrees warmer than normal and has included a tornado outbreak.

 

(Undated-jm) – Illinois recorded a record number of COVID-19 cases Thursday. The state reported 18,942 new cases and 78 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate continues to rise, now at 8.6 percent. Locally Thursday, Champaign County reported 277 new cases. Vermilion County reported 26 new cases and 1 additional death. Ford County reported 77 new cases. That was the last report from the state before the Christmas holiday weekend. Numbers for Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be released today.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The fight over legislative redistricting maps continues to play out. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman talks about where things stand…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

(Rantoul-jm) – A Rantoul man wanted in a Vermilion County shooting case has been charged with weapons offenses in Champaign County. A judge ordered Danny Bryant be held on $150,000 bond after his arrest by U-S Marshals. Prosecutors say marshals went to his home to arrest him on charges of aggravated discharge of a gun in a Vermilion County case. They found him in a vehicle nearby with a loaded Ruger handgun in his pocket. If convicted of the gun charges, he faces an extended term of three to 14 years in prison due to his prior convictions. Bryant is due back in court January 4th.

 

(Washington-jm) – The latest USDA report shows that the nation's hog producers are being very cautious in making any moves that would alter production very much. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois is doing a better job than most other states when it comes to showing where federal tax dollars for COVID relief are being distributed. GoodJobsFirst.org reports Illinois is one of six states in the country providing a detailed website to show where the billions of dollars are going.

 

(Springfield-jm) – A new law taking effect January 1st aims to end hairstyle discrimination in schools. The measure prohibits school dress codes from banning natural or ethnic hairstyles such as braids, afros and dreadlocks. It was championed by Senator Mike Simmons of Chicago and signed into law back in August…

 

 

State Senator Mike Simmons of Chicago. The law applies to both public and private schools in Illinois.


(Ford County-tr) – 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has officially announced his bid for re-election. Tom Bennett says he will continue to build what he's started and maintain focus on the 106th district even with the new census in effect… 

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Ludlow-jm) – A Ludlow man with a pending criminal case for allegedly possessing a stolen motor vehicle has been arrested for allegedly stealing another. George Whitlock was wanted for failing to appear in court on that case and others when he was arrested. Champaign County sheriff’s deputies were notified by a Gifford man that his 2016 pickup truck and trailer were stolen from a farm field last Tuesday. Not long after, the truck and trailer were spotted in Rantoul. Police stopped it and arrested Whitlock, who was alone in the truck and unable to explain how he came to be in possession of it. Deputies had been told there was a cased gun in the truck when it was stolen. They found that gun, loaded, in Whitlock’s coat pocket. They also found methamphetamine on him. He’s charged with armed violence, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, possession of a stolen firearm, aggravated unlawful use of weapons and possession of methamphetamine. Bond was set at $150,000.

 

 

(Washington-jm) –  The new USDA Cattle on Feed report was pretty much what most analysts expected. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

State and local police are boosting patrols this holiday season

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16,581 new Coronavirus cases and 66 additional deaths Wednesday. The seven day positivity rate jumped to 7.9 percent. Champaign County reported 427 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 99 new cases and 3 additional deaths.

 

(Springfield-jm) – State and local police are boosting patrols this holiday season. Expect to see an enhanced police presence, roadside safety checks and special details, as law enforcement looks for drunk drivers, speeders and other offenders. Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel says the public can assist as well…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. More than 12 hundred people have died on Illinois roads this year, an increase over 2020.

 

(Undated-jm) – Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing all drivers services facilities open Monday through Friday are closed today and tomorrow for the Christmas holiday.

 

(Urbana-jm) – A Champaign man accused of killing a boy in July faces new charges, including one that claims the man performed a sex act on the boy’s body. Fifty-six year-old Daryl VanDyke had a court appearance to be arraigned on the new charges filed by the prosecutor. There are three counts of murder and one charge alleging sexual abuse of a corpse. If convicted of murder, VanDyke faces 20 to 60 years in prison. However, he could see life in prison if prosecutors prove certain elements of the charge, and the judge chooses a life sentence. VanDyke is accused of killing 14 year-old Steven Butler III with an axe or some other edged tool. Bicyclists found the boy’s body off of High Cross Road in Urbana on July 30.

 

(Urbana-jm) – Five people appeared in court on Wednesday in relation to a robbery and murder that was staged to look like a home invasion. Monday night, Jaquan Shorter, Ryan Mason, Erion Davis-Murdock, Kareasha Alston and Shaniquh Johns allegedly lured Trenton Jones to a home on North Division Avenue to rob him. One of the five shot Jones and stabbed him with a bayonet attached to a World War II-era rifle. Johns allegedly called 911 to say the incident was a home invasion. Officers arrived and later pronounced Jones dead at the scene. Each person faces four counts of first degree murder, with each count carrying a penalty of 20-60 years in prison if convicted. 

 

(Washington-jm) – How much of the country will see a White Christmas this year? Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Minneapolis-jm) – Three members of a Ford County militia group who firebombed a Minnesota mosque in 2017 will be required to pay $10,500 in restitution to a man who was present when the bomb went off and says he lived in fear for months afterward. In updating our story, during a restitution hearing in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, a man identified in court documents only as “H.J.” testified that he was scared to go home or to work for “at least six months” following the August 5, 2017, bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., because he was worried that those responsible for the attack, who had not yet been arrested, might find him. The man requested restitution of $5,000 to cover his hotel costs and other expenses over the six-month period, although he said that amount represents only a “fraction” of what he had to spend. He also requested $5,500 in restitution for lost wages. 

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Tollway is working to make travel a little more convenient over the holidays. Temporary maintenance and construction lane closures will be suspended during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to help ease congestion. Tollway Spokesperson Dan Rozek recommends I-Pass holders add the license plate of any out of town guests to their account so their visitors don’t have to worry about tolls. Additionally…

 

 

Illinois Tollway Spokesperson Dan Rozek. More information is available online at: get ipass dot com. Rozek adds that if you need roadside assistance on the tollway, you can call star 9 9 9.

 

(Champaign-jm) – OSF HealthCare is proud to partner with three well known student athletes in Urbana-Champaign to promote OSF OnCall Urgent Care and OSF HealthCare Medical Group - Pediatrics in Savoy. College basketball stars Kofi Cockburn and Da’Monte Williams teamed up to say while “monster dunks” or “hitting nothing but net” is easy for them, OSF OnCall Urgent Care is also easy, with 24/7/365 virtual care options and affordable, convenient care for minor illnesses and injuries. Volleyball star Megan Cooney also got in on the action to remind parents that when they need someone in their court for support, they can count on OSF Pediatrics.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Two arrests have recently been made in connection to an investigation of a homicide that happened at Champaign Park Apartments on October 20. Champaign Police were dispatched to the 200 block of Kenwood Road for the report of a shooting with injuries at around 10:40 p.m. on October 20. When officers arrived at the scene, they found 19-year-old Acarrie Ingram-Triner with a life-threatening gunshot wound to her lower neck. She died at the hospital. Police say Arieana Colbert shot Ingram-Triner. Quincy Hayes, who was present during the shooting, provided false information about the incident to investigating officers and detectives.

 

(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign man will be on probation for 30 months after admitting in court to holding his ex-girlfriend against her will. 21-year-old Shemar Harris pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful restraint. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed other charges, including some that claimed Harris sexually assaulted the victim.

 

(Washington-jm) – What's driving food price increases? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Livingston County-jm) – An Odell man has been sentenced to 135 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Cory Melvin has been found guilty of five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor under the age of 13.

 

Loud noise heard in central Illinois turns out to be Fighter Jet's sonic boom

(Springfield-jm) – Firearm deer hunting season started strong in 2021, but didn’t outpace last year’s totals. The 2021 preliminary harvest for the 7-day Firearm Deer Season ended with 71,675 deer reported, compared to 77,160 deer harvested in 2020, a difference of 5,485.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is explaining that loud boom heard across Central Illinois Tuesday. The sound could be heard all across a large swath of the state, leaving many wondering if it was an earthquake or explosion. Neither says IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. She says upon investigation, it was determined the noise came from an F-15 fighter jet in the airspace above Central Illinois that course corrected, causing a sonic boom…

 

 

IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. 

 

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,264 new Coronavirus cases and 63 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate continues to rise and now stands at 7.6 percent. Champaign County reported 269 new cases yesterday.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The state minimum wage increases January 1st. 2022 is bringing a one dollar raise, from 11 to 12 dollars an hour for minimum wage workers. Those under 18 will earn 9.25 and tipped workers will be at 7.20 an hour, says Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller…

 

 

Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller.

 

(Normal-jm) – Days after the University of Illinois made a similar move, Illinois State University announced Tuesday it will hold most all classes online from January 10-21 as a COVID precaution. An online message from ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy said students must provide proof of a negative COVID test within three days of returning to campus for the spring semester. The test must be “administered by a healthcare provider.” In other words, a self-administered rapid test will not be allowed. Students can return to their campus residence hall or apartment for the period of online classes, but they are not required to. ISU faculty and staff must take an on-campus COVID test within one week of returning. Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated must do a weekly, on-campus COVID test.

 

(Ford County-tr) – 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has officially announced his bid for re-election. Tom Bennett says he will continue to build what he's started and maintain focus on the 106th district even with the new census in effect… 

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City

 

(Paxton-tr) – Pride in Paxton has released the winners of the house decorating contest. 1st place went to Federated Church. 2nd place went to Julie and Brian Stagen and 3rd place went to Kim and Bob Fancher.

 

(Springfield-jm) – New laws in Illinois will affect sports wagering in one of the biggest markets in the country. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law several gambling measures. One allows bettors to place wagers on in-state college teams, but not on individual athlete performances or in-game action. The bets can’t be placed online and must be made in-person at state-licensed sportsbooks.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Tornado patterns across the country are changing. State Climatologist Trent Ford says there’s been an increase in tornadoes over the last 40 years, and a shift from the traditional hotspots like the Great Plains states to the mid-South and Southern Midwest. Is climate change to blame?...

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. Ford says while tornadoes are most prevalent in the spring in Illinois, they can occur at any time of year.

 

(Champaign-jm) – An 18-year-old man was shot and is in stable condition, according to Champaign Police.  The shooting happened Tuesday at 1:52 p.m. in the 300 Block of Bloomington Road. Champaign Police said while officers were on scene, a 18-year-old who was shot in his lower extremities was taken by a personal vehicle to an area hospital.  In a preliminary investigation, officers said a silver vehicle and a red vehicle arrived at separate times in the parking lot at Golden Hour. Police said the 18-year-old got out of the silver vehicle and entered the business. As he exited, a person inside the red vehicle exited the car and walked into the business. Police said the 18-year-old and the other person had a disagreement while passing. Both showed a handgun and started firing at each other. 

 

(Undated-jm) – Several area counties are eligible for disaster assistance following recent storms. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett discusses assistance available…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Urbana-jm) – One person is dead and four others are facing charges in an Urbana home invasion Monday night. Around 7:23 p.m. Monday, officers responded to the 900 block of North Division Avenue. They found one victim lying on a bedroom floor unresponsive. That person was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was identified as Trenton Jones. He suffered gunshot and stab wounds to his chest. Police arrested four people, and they are expected to face formal charges in court.

 

The University of Illinois announced the first week of the spring 2022 semester will be online

(Springfield-jm) – The number of COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals is at its highest level in nearly a year. As of Sunday night, there were 3,960 people admitted with COVID, the most since December 31st of 2020. Of those in the hospital, 811 were in the ICU and 432 were on ventilators. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says there’s a common denominator among the patients…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. 8 out of 11 regions of the state have less than 30 ICU beds available. Since Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 31,459 new cases and 111 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate spiked to 7.1 percent. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 507 new cases. Vermilion County reported 97 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Iroquois County reported 155 new cases.

 

(Hoopeston-jm) – The City of Hoopeston is mourning the death of their mayor. Bill Crusinberry passed away after a battle with cancer. Crusinberry announced early this month he would be resigning for health reasons.

 

(Urbana-jm) – The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois announced on Monday that its Blue Waters supercomputer will be shut down on December 31. Blue Waters, fully operational since 2013, held the distinction of being the fastest supercomputer on a university campus worldwide for six years. Intended to operate for only five years, Blue Waters’ operational lifespan was stretched to nine years, during which the computer aided in thousands of scientific and engineering discoveries. The NCSA is planning to build off Blue Waters’ success by commissioning Delta, a new supercomputer, in 2022.

 

(Paxton-tr) – Many local projects such as addressing drainage issues and the purchase of an Air Burner were discussed at Paxton’s Tuesday Meeting. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says that many of these issues will be prioritized as the new year approaches…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance from the public regarding a shooting that happened on November 12. Champaign Police said they were dispatched to Oakwood Trace Apartments on Third Street at around 9 p.m. in response to a reported shooting. When they arrived at the scene, officers learned that several apartments had been struck by gunfire and numerous spent shell casings were located. A short time later, a 40-year-old woman arrived at Carle Hospital with a single gunshot wound.

 

(Gibson City-jm) – 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has announced he will run for re-election. Bennett made the announcement today. Bennett has been a state representative since 2015.

 

(Gibson City-jm) – Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On December 13th, Spencer Miller of Bellflower was arrested for an in-state warrant. 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) – Iroquois County is seeking applications to distribute over $5.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding. The funding is for qualified businesses, not for profit entities and projects based on American Rescue Plan rules. Applications are available on the counties website.

 

(Paxton -tr) The city of Paxton is looking at a potential tax rate drop of nearly 17 cents. With property values in the area going up, PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure says it's important to take note… 

 

PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure.

 

(Danville-jm) – A FedEx facility is coming to the City of Danville. The new ground distribution center will be a 217,000 square-foot facility. FedEx hopes to have it operational in the fall of 2022. 150 and 180 new full time jobs will be created alongside hundreds of part time and seasonal positions.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois announced the first week of the spring 2022 semester will be online. Chancellor Robert Jones sent out a mass mail making the announcement that in person classes are tentatively scheduled to resume January 24th. Additionally, because of the spike in cases, faculty and staff, even those fully vaccinated, must show two negative on campus COVID test results when they return.  The campus is still considering whether or not to require COVID booster shots for the spring semester.

 

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's Office is again extending expiration dates for state driver's licenses and ID cards

(Springfield-jm) – With nearly $2 billion in total adult-use cannabis sales in the past two years, Illinois has collected $526 million in sales taxes. A quarter of that is set to go to community-based programs in areas of the state negatively impacted by the war on drugs. The Pritzker administration announced $45 million in grant opportunities with details at R3.Illinois.gov.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent last month, but the states’ percentage of eligible workers either working or seeking work remains lower than before the pandemic. The state’s labor force participation rate was 62.8 percent in October. In October 2019, the labor force participation rate was 64.2 percent.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is again extending expiration dates for state driver’s licenses and ID cards. The additional three month extension is due to continued concerns about the pandemic and not overloading driver’s facilities with lots of people needing to renew. That means there’s no need to rush in, says Secretary of State Spokesperson Beth Kaufman…

 

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Beth Kaufman. This does not apply to CDL’s and White’s office says this will be the final extension. Some motorists can renew their license online at: il sos dot gov.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,765 new cases Friday. The state also reported 52 additional deaths The 7 day positivity rate jumped to 6.2 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 249 new cases. Ford County reported 30 new cases. Vermilion County reported 304 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of deaths to 226.

 

(Buckley-tr) – Wreaths Across America Honored Veterans Saturday with honorary wreaths hung upon each patriot's grave. Buckely Wreaths across America coordinator Wayne Wagner shares the Wreaths across America motto…

 

 

Buckley Wreaths across America coordinator Wayne Wagner.

 

(Washington-jm) – USDA's latest pork production forecast indicates an increase in numbers for both 2021 and 2022, compared to the previous month's report. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – Thousands of Illinoisans, especially in rural areas, still lack sufficient access to broadband service, but that is about to change. A new report from the Pew Charitable Trust highlights several states that are using American Rescue Plan Act funding for broadband. Illinois is set to receive $100 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand rural broadband.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Republican Party is reacting to reports from the New York Times that Governor J.B. Pritzker is privately discussing running for president in 2024. While Pritzker denies that, the paper says they stand by their reporting. Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy said in a statement Pritzker should focus more on fixing the state’s problems “instead of dreaming of the White House.”

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Transportation is looking for your opinion on traveling in Illinois. IDOT is launching its annual survey, looking for input from the public on a variety of topics, says Spokesperson Paul Wappel…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. You can access the survey online at: idot dot illinois dot gov.

 

(Paxton-tr) – The bids for the streetscape project are now in and being considered by the town board here in Paxton. Engineers have now given their input and Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold has the details…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

(Washington-jm) – 2022 could bring increased broiler production, but higher prices as well. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

The Illinois State Police is launching FOID card kiosks

(Springfield-jm) – One good reason to get the COVID-19 booster shot, the Omicron variant, says the Illinois Department of Public Health. If you’ve had both your shots but aren’t really concerned about getting the booster as well, the new variant should make you reconsider, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says early reports show that once boosted, the vaccine still gives about 80 percent protection against the Omicron variant. The latest count of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois is 11,858. That’s the highest daily total in over a  year. Champaign County reported 248 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties did not have a report Thursday.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is signing a new law that sets up a state licensing system for midwives in Illinois. The Governor says reproductive health is not a one size fits all, and that expectant mothers deserve options…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The new law takes effect next fall, establishing standards a person must meet before being licensed as a certified professional midwife in Illinois.

 

(Ford County-tr) – Many small towns throughout Ford County are getting a dose of holiday cheer this year. The 2021 Santa Road Rally just might be coming through your town tomorrow. From Paxton to Roberts to Stelle, the 2021 Santa Road Rally is about helping small towns celebrate Christmas this year. 2021 Santa Road Rally spokesperson Tim Nuss explains what the rally means to him.. 

 

 

Ford County Santa Road Rally Spokesperson Tim Nuss.

 

 

(DeWitt County-jm) – All are cordially invited to begin New Year's Eve at the C.H. Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum in Clinton. The mansion will be beautifully staged to welcome the new year, light refreshments will be served, festive music will fill the rooms, and clippings of DeWitt County's New Year's Eve celebrations of the past will be displayed throughout the mansion. This special event will take place December 31, 5-7pm at the C.H. Moore Homestead and  DeWitt County Museum  Admission of $5 per person will be collected at the door.

 

 

(Onarga-tr) -- The Onarga Christmas parade will end with a special presentation at the Onarga Theater from 6-8pm this Saturday. Santa’s Winter Wonderland will come alive again for all the kids to enjoy, as well as Santa himself says Onarga parade spokesperson Fred Walraven...

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Police is launching FOID card kiosks. There are now three manned kiosks around the state, at the State Police office in Lockport, Springfield and DuQuoin. Trooper Josh Robinson says they will serve as another option for those who don’t want to go through the FOID application or renewal process online…

 

 

Illinois State Trooper Josh Robinson. The kiosks are open Monday through Friday from either 8 to 4 or 8:30 to 4:30 but will be closed over the lunch hour.

 

(Georgetown-jm) – A Vermilion County man has been sentenced to five years in prison for possessing child pornography. Cory Taylor pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of child pornography and received the sentence in Vermilion County court.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers return to the state capitol next month for the spring session. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City previews the session…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Developmental Services Center in Champaign announced its annual Tree of Hope and Recognition Event. The annual Tree of Hope event is the DSC's largest fundraiser each year. Donations from the local community provide support for more than 1,100 children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or delays in Champaign and Ford counties. The Tree of Hope is located on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Marketview Drive in Champaign. A bulb is lit with every $50 in donations between now and January 21, 2022.

 

(Onarga-tr) -- The Onarga Christmas parade will end with a special presentation at the Onarga Theater from 6-8pm this Saturday. Onarga parade spokesperson Fred Walraven would like to extend an invitation to all residents who wish to enter…

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.

 

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccine being available in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) – Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccine being available in Illinois. More than 18 million doses have been administered in Illinois over the past year, and 63 percent of all state residents are now fully vaccinated. Still, we can do better, says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike urges those who haven’t gotten their shots to talk to their doctor about any concerns. On average, more than 67 thousand doses are administered each day. Illinois reported 9,784 new cases and 79 additional deaths Wednesday. Locally, Champaign County reported 270 new cases and 1 additional death. Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties did not have a report.

 

(Ford County-tr) – A local family and friends will be rallying this Saturday, December 18th at the PBL High School parking lot for what they call the 2021 Santa Road Rally. The group of family and friends will travel throughout Ford County. Santa Road Rally Spokesperson Tim Nuss has more…

 

 

Ford County Santa Road Rally Spokesperson Tim Nuss. 

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- The Buckley Fire and Ambulance Department is looking for more volunteers. The department will host an EMT class starting January 20th and running Mondays and Thursdays from 6-9 pm until May. The class will be held at Christ Lutheran High School. For more information call 217-249-4888.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- High inflation is impacting every aspect of our lives. Besides affecting individuals it's also affecting the state says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City...

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) – Carle health is giving employees until January 4th to get their first COVID vaccine dose and have their second one scheduled or face losing their job. A memo sent down from hospital leadership says those that don’t comply will have two unpaid weeks in which they will be ineligible to work. If they still decline the vaccine they will be out of a job.

 

 

(Washington-jm) – What is behind USDA's forecasted reduction of milk production for 2021 and 2022? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Champaign-jm) – Parkland College will soon launch a new career-skills pathway for area high school students. Trustees also approved a new career pathway for the college's Early College and Career Academy, culminating in the new Precision Agriculture Fundamentals certificate. This six-credit hour certificate will prepare graduating high school seniors for internships or entry-level employment in precision agriculture, and will allow stacking with other Parkland agriculture credentials such as the Precision Agriculture Technology certificate or the Precision Agriculture associate's degree.

 

(Onarga-tr) -- Onarga residents are celebrating the holidays this year by organizing with Gilman residents as both towns host Christmas parades back to back on Saturday. Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven details how this came about…

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven, For more details or to inquire about parade entry, call Fred at 815-471-4576.

 

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois State Board of Education recently released their 2020-2021 report card. One of the data points released in the report is how much each district spends per student on average. Looking at schools in the WPXN listening area: Armstrong Ellis $17,000 per student, Armstrong Township High School $30,000, Champaign $14,000, Cissna Park $12,000, Fisher $11,000, GCMS $14,000, Gifford Grade $10,000, Hoopeston Area $13,000, Ludlow Grade $20,000, Mahomet Seymour $9,600, Milford $14,000, PBL $12,000, Potomac $12,000, Rantoul City Schools $13,000, Rantoul Township High School $15,000, St. Joseph Ogden High School $11,000, St. Joseph Grade School $9,700, Thomasboro $16,000 and Urbana $15,000.

 

(Washington-jm) – What adjustments were made to USDA's beef production and price forecasts for this month? Rod Bain reports…

 

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service will hold their all you can eat chicken and noodle supper tonight from 5-7 pm at their building located at 134 W. State Street. Meal includes chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread dessert and drink for $10.

 

Chatsworth’s Lighted Christmas parade will take place tonight starting at 6 pm.

 

The state's minimum wage is set for another increase at the first of the year

(Springfield-jm) – The state’s minimum wage is set for another increase at the first of the year. Beginning January 1, 2022, employers will have to pay at least $12 an hour, up from $11. A dollar per year increase ends in 2025 at $15 an hour. Also starting January 1, tipped employees go from $6.60 an hour to $7.20. Youth workers less than 650 hours per year get $9.25 an hour, up from $8.50.

 

(Springfield-jm) – More people are getting tested for COVID-19 than ever before. The number of tests run has soared this month, hitting a pandemic high of nearly 234 thousand on Saturday. Testing, social distancing, getting vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask is still vitally important as cases rise, says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The latest daily totals include 7,390 new cases and 28 additional deaths. Over 36 hundred COVID patients are currently in the hospital. Locally, Champaign County reported 197 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 19 new cases and 4 additional deaths. Ford County reported 157 new cases. Iroquois County did not have a report.

 

(Roberts-jm) – Water is once again flowing in Roberts. The village issued an emergency order after the well quit working Monday. A company fixed the issue Tuesday and the village is under a boil water order until further notice.

 

(Springfield-jm) – As you wrap up your online holiday shopping, a consumer economics educator with the University of Illinois Extension Office has some tips for protecting yourself and your wallet. One thing you can do is use a credit card to make your purchases, instead of a debit card, says the U of I Extension’s Kathy Sweedler. That way you can cancel or put a hold on any suspicious charges, and your financial liability is much lower…

 

 

U of I Extension’s Kathy Sweedler. Sweedler also advises only buying online from trusted retailers and making sure the bar on top has the lock symbol or the web address starts with https, signaling that the connection is secure.

 

Illinoisans are getting a good view of the best meteor showers of the year.The Geminid meteor shower started last month, but its peak was expected early Tuesday, producing up to 120 meteors per hour. NASA said the best time to see shooting stars will be when the radiant is highest in the sky around 2 a.m. The meteor shower is expected to continue until Dec. 24.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service will hold their all you can eat chicken and noodle supper on Thursday, December 16th from 5-7 pm at their building located at 134 W. State Street. Meal includes chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread dessert and drink for $10.

 

Chatsworth’s Lighted Christmas parade will take place on Thursday, December 16th starting at 6 pm.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois’ unfunded public employee pension obligations have increased by more than $120 billion in 25 years. And while a recent report shows strong returns on investment, the unfunded ratio is between 42 and 46 percent. Actuaries recommend funding pensions 100 percent over several years. Pritzker’s administration said in a letter the state’s goal of 90 percent must be sufficient because of ongoing fiscal constraints.

 

(Urbana-jm) – A Rantoul man will serve 10 years behind bars for trading child ponography images online. Prosecutors said Alan Dodd, traded images of child pornography depicting prepubescent children on multiple social media applications. Dodd pleaded guilty on August 12th to charges of distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. Dodd faces federal supervised release for 10 years and must register as a sex offender. 

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding the public about fire safety over the holidays. As you deck the halls, you should also consider any potential hazards, says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. He has this advice…

 

 

State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Another big area of concern is candles says Fultz. The top days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service will hold their all you can eat chicken and noodle supper on Thursday, December 16th from 5-7 pm at their building located at 134 W. State Street. Meal includes chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread dessert and drink for $10.

 

Chatsworth’s Lighted Christmas parade will take place on Thursday, December 16th starting at 6 pm.

 

State Senator Darren Bailey has announced his running mate in the upcoming race for governor of Illinois

(Roberts-dg)- The latest update on the Village of Roberts well situation is that the well company has assessed that the electrical checks are fine, which means the issue is within the well itself.  They have set up a crane and are prepared to take a look at the well today. Roberts Mayor Matt Vaughn urges all residents to conserve water, so the tank pressure will not drop to unsatisfactory levels which will lead to boil orders and additional complications. Additional updates will be posted today on the Village’s facebook page as it becomes available.

 

(Rantoul-jm) – Rantoul police are investigating a report of shots fired in the village Monday afternoon. Police were called to the 1000 block of Pinecrest Drive just after 3:30. When they arrived they found around 100 spent shell casings and several live rounds of ammunition in the road. Police believe multiple suspects, in separate vehicles, were shooting at each other. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul police.

 

(Springfield-jm) – State Senator Darren Bailey has announced his running mate in the upcoming race for governor of Illinois. Senator Bailey will be joined by Stephanie Trussell, a conservative talk show host. Trussell would serve as Lieutenant Governor if Bailey were to win the 2022 election.

 

(Springfield-jm) – As you wrap up your online holiday shopping, a consumer economics educator with the University of Illinois Extension Office has some tips for protecting yourself and your wallet. For starters, U of I Extension’s Kathy Sweedler recommends using a credit card rather than a debit card…

 


U of I Extension’s Kathy Sweedler. Other advice includes only shopping online with trusted retailers and making sure the browser has the lock symbol or reads https which signifies a secure connection. Sweedler says you should also check bank and card statements carefully for any unusual activity.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Champaign Police are investigating a deadly shooting that happened just after noon Monday. Police were called to the area of 5th and Vine for a report of shots fired. When they arrived they found a 26 year old male with life threatening injuries. The individual was taken to the hospital where he later died. Coroner Duane Northrup identified the victim as Daveyonta Fairman,

 

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 19,514 new Coronavirus cases and 105 additional deaths since Friday. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 400 new cases. Iroquois County reported 186 new cases. Vermilion County reported 134 new cases and 3 additional deaths.

 

 

(Onarga-tr)-- The Onarga Christmas parade will end with a special presentation at the Onarga Theater this Saturday from 6-8pm. Santa’s Winter Wonderland will come alive again for all the kids to enjoy, as well as Santa himself says Onarga parade spokesperson Fred Walraven...

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven. For more details or to inquire about parade entry, call Fred at 815-471-4576.


(Gibson City-jm) – A local hospital will pay about $292,000 to resolve allegations claiming it failed to return overpayments it received.  Prosecutors said Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City took in these overpayments between March 9, 2014 and March 24, 2020 from Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs. The hospital was accused of violating the False Claims Act by failing to return the money. The hospital was accused of knowingly retaining the overpayments pursuant to alleged practices of keeping overpayments that were under $10, were over one year old, were duplicate payments, were improperly applied toward separate claims, and/or were payments for which the payer had not requested a refund three times. Gibson Area Hospital fully cooperated with the investigation and terminated several employees.

 

(Washington-jm) –  A new USDA Rural Development guaranteed loan program offers support for eligible processing facilities to strengthen their food supply chain infrastructure. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – A new report says Illinois’ use of remaining federal stimulus dollars will be key to the state’s economic success in 2022. Fitch Ratings' outlook for Illinois’ and U.S. states and local governments in 2022 is neutral relative to surprisingly strong 2021 underlying business conditions. Governments with slower or stagnant revenue growth prospects may see an emerging or growing mismatch and increased pressure on budget-balancing tools, Fitch said.

 

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding the public about fire safety over the holidays. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. And, the top three days for candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day…

 

 

Illinois State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Fultz also recommends making sure all light strands are in good shape, with no worn or broken areas and to make sure you don’t have too many strands hooked together at once.

 

(Urbana-jm) – University of Illinois Police arrested a person accused of robbing a person at gunpoint. Police say it happened just before 7 pm near 6th and Daniels. No other information was released.

 

(Onarga-tr)-- The Onarga Christmas parade will end with a special presentation at the Onarga Theater this Saturday from 6-8pm.  Spokesperson Fred Walraven would like to extend an invitation to all residents who wish to enter…

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven. For more details or to inquire about parade entry, call Fred at 815-471-4576.

 

(Dewey-jm) – A Dewey man has been sentenced to two months in jail and four years of probation for having cocaine.A Champaign County judge ordered Shane Burdette that sentence after he pleaded guilty to having more than an ounce of cocaine. He must also undergo a substance abuse evaluation and perform 50 hours of public service. Burdette admitted to having about 40 grams of cocaine in his home.

 

(Washington-jm) – Export dollar values for bulk agricultural commodities are mostly up this year, but what about actual tonnages? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

Severe weather rolled through the area Friday night causing damage. Tornadoes were reported

(Undated-jm) – Severe weather rolled through the area Friday night causing damage. Tornadoes were reported in southwestern Illinois including one in Edwardsville that struck an Amazon factory killing six people. Tornadoes were also reported near Shelbyville and Mattoon.  Here storms brought down trees and power lines.

 

(Springfield-jm) – New cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, with more than 49 thousand reported over the past seven days. That’s a significant increase over the 42 thousand plus reported the week before and the 21 thousand the week before that. An additional 266 people have died and more than 32 hundred COVID patients are currently in the hospital, the highest number since back in January. Governor J-B Pritzker says everyone needs to continue to take precautions…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says communities seeing gi spikes may want to enact their own stricter mitigations. Friday, 7,531 cases were reported in the state along with 35 additional deaths. Locally, Champaign County reported 192 new cases. Vermilion County reported 176 new cases and 3 additional deaths bringing their total deaths to 218. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report.

 

(Rantoul-jm) – A Rantoul man has been arrested following a shots fired incident Thursday. Rantoul Police were called to the 1100 block of Falcon Drive just before 11 am for a report of shots fired. Witness information and information from a license plate reader led to the arrest of Adrian Rangel. He is charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a valid FOID card.

 

(Champaign-jm) – A Springfield man is facing multiple charges after police found a stolen loaded handgun while investigating a shoplifting. Police were called to the Walmart in Urbana after a loss prevention officer at the store caught Linnez Blount removing the security wrap from video games. Blount admitted that he was going to steal them to sell. As officers were searching Blount they found a 9 millimeter handgun with 17 rounds in the magazine. He is charged with possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful use of weapons by a felon and burglary.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Board of Education has released their 2020-2021 school report card. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says there were some very disturbing numbers in the report card…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers are seeking the public's help in solving a burglary at a construction business. Between November 15th and 16th, two men entered CU Under Construction and stole numerous tools. One suspect is described as a black male with a goatee with short hair, wearing a white  hoodie. The other suspect was a white male with balding or short hair wearing a gray shirt.

 

(Washington-jm) – Much of USDA's World Supply and Demand Estimates for Soybeans features news and notes from China. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – More communities will be eligible for gun violence prevention grants under a bill signed Friday by Governor J-B Pritzker. The measure is a follow up to the Reimagine Public Safety Act, and will bring funding to areas especially struggling with gun crimes. The idea is to get to the root of the problem, says Chicago Senator Robert Peters…

 

 

State Senator Robert Peters of Chicago. The law gives the new Office of Firearm Prevention more flexibility to award grants.

 

(Champaign-jm) – Champaign Police responded to several late night calls over the weekend. The first incident happened Saturday at 8:56 p.m.. Champaign Police responded to North 5th St. and East Bradley Ave for a shots fired report. Officers located more than 50 shell casings and police were told a 19-year-old male arrived at a hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his left arm. The second incident happened Sunday at 12:38 a.m.. Champaign Police responded to the 100 block of North Walnut St. for a report of a shooting involving injuries. A 29-year-old male had a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his lower left leg.  The third was Sunday at 1:01 a.m. Champaign Police responded to the 700 block of Hollycrest Dr. for a shots fired report. A 22-year-old male has a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his left arm and a graze wound on his stomach.

 

(Paxton-jm) – Hundreds of people showed up for Paxton’s candy cane lane Friday night in Paxton. An estimated 500 people turned out for the second year event. Organizers plan to bring it back again next year.

 

(Rantoul-tr) -- The Rantoul Youth Center will be hosting a breakfast alongside a meet and greet with Santa on December 18th from 8am-10am. Rantoul Recreation Department Head Luke Humphrey has the details…

 

 

 Rantoul Recreation Department Head Luke Humphrey. Reservations are required. The deadline is today and can be made by calling 1-217-893-5703. 

 

(Urbana-jm) – Police said a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was arrested after admitting that he was involved in the “trading” of pornographic images involving children. According to University Police, 19-year-old Daniel Meyka was arrested at 9:10 a.m. Thursday at Saunders Hall at 902 West College Court after detectives obtained a court-approved search warrant for his residence hall room.

 

(Washington-jm) – The U.S. continues to buy more and more agricultural products from other countries. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

Governor J-B Pritzker says he's not planning to institute a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate like the one in New York City

(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker says he’s not planning to institute a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate like the one in New York City. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is enacting a mandate for private sector workers. The Governor was asked if that’s something we could see in Illinois…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Just over 66 percent of Illinoisans ages five and up are now fully vaccinated. Over the past week, an average of nearly 70 thousand doses are being administered each day.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – An Illinois lawmaker has decided not to pursue a bill that would have unvaccinated people pay all their own COVID-19 hospital expenses. Representative Jonathan Carroll announced on Thursday that based on feedback and further reflection, he would no longer push the bill. The bill would have made it so if you get COVID-19 and you are unvaccinated, you would have to pay out of pocket for all COVID-19 related expenses if you were eligible for the vaccine.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – Harvest totals were down this year for the annual firearm deer hunting season. Hunters took 71,675 deer over the two weekends of the firearm season in Illinois. That compares to more than 77,000 deer harvested last year. State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Tim Schweizer looks ahead…

 

 

State Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Tim Schweizer. The muzzleloader-only deer season is this weekend and archery season continues through January 16th. You can find more dates and other information online at: hunt illinois dot org.

 

 

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 9,301 new cases and 54 additional deaths. Champaign County was the only county to report Thursday. They reported 208 new cases.

 

 

(Loda-Clarence-tr) – The Kaeb Family will be hosting their third annual drive through nativity scene near Loda tonight and tomorrow. Kaeb Nativity Spokesperson Val Kaeb details how to get there from Loda…

 

 

Kaeb Nativity Spokesperson Val Kaeb.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign City Council sat down for a meeting this week to discuss the police hiring process at a time where the department is down 20% of its workforce. The council shared different preference points they would like to address in hiring, but also shared the urgency in getting the hiring done. The Champaign Police Department is down 25 of its 125 staff members. The department is also looking for a new chief of police after Anthony Cobb retired.

 

(Urbana-jm) – The city of Urbana is looking for feedback from community members on where it should spend resources to improve equity and quality of life. The city is sharing a survey for its Equity and Quality of Life Project which is aimed at underserved communities. The project will use $2 million to invest in small infrastructure projects such as street lights and sidewalks. 

 

(Washington-jm) – The Agriculture Department has announced updates regarding two of its dairy risk management programs for 2022. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

The Candy Cane Square event on Paxton’s Northwest side runs from 6 to 8pm

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is reminding families about the state’s school safety hotline. Anyone who sees or hears something concerning can report it to Safe Two Help Illinois via text, phone call or online. This is especially important right now says IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark…

 

 

IEMA Spokesperson Rebecca Clark. Safe Two Help isn’t just for suspected school violence, students can also reach out about depression, bullying, anxiety and self-harm. The website is: safe, the number 2, help il dot com or text 7-2-3-3-2.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – A task force with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority stalled out in trying to advance proposals to the General Assembly on whether people can bring lawsuits against individual police. After two opposite proposals both failed to advance, the committee took a pause. It’s unclear if the group will make the end-of-the-month deadline to produce a report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – Need extra money this holiday season? Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs is urging the public to check the I-Cash database. The office is in charge of unclaimed property, long forgotten in safe deposit boxes or bank accounts. Treasurer Frerichs says an estimated one in four people who search the database find something…

 

 

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. To see if you have any money or property waiting to be claimed, visit the website: illinois treasurer dot gov and click on i-cash.

 

Updated

(Loda-Clarence-tr) – The Kaeb Family will be hosting their third annual drive through nativity scene near Loda tonight and tomorrow. Kaeb Nativity Spokesperson Val Kaeb details times of operation…

 

 

Kaeb Nativity Spokesperson Val Kaeb.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A brand new first of its kind imaging study is coming to Champaign-Urbana. Carle has partnered up with the University of Illinois, to conduct the Champaign-Urbana Population Study. A study that will use the new, jointly acquired unique technology, the Siemens MAGNETOM Terra 7 Tesla MRI to collect information about the brain’s structure and function across a diverse group of volunteers. Leaders of the study will gather information on ways to improve our understanding of brain health and how the brain changes over time, and hopefully the findings will support the translation of technology to improve clinical outcomes.

 

(Watseka-jm) – A Watseka woman is facing multiple charges. Madison LeClair was arrested on felony charges of fleeing and eluding, speeding, leaving the scene of an accident and disobeying several stop signs. LeClair was also wanted on an Iroquois County warrant.

 

(Washington-jm) – As expected, there were very few changes from last month in USDA's new round of crop reports. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

A Live Drive Thru Barn Nativity will be held today and tomorrow from 5-9 pm at the Kaeb Farm located at 170 N 800 E near Loda.

 

Gibson City will hold a Christmas Salute tonight and tomorrow at North Park.

 

The Candy Cane Square event on Paxton’s Northwest side runs from 6 to 8pm

Lawmakers and education officials are calling for more cash to be sent into the classroom

(Springfield-jm) -- Lawmakers and education officials are calling for more cash to be sent into the classroom through an evidence-based funding formula. It sends millions of dollars into Illinois schools to help meet students' needs, but as of right now, it’s not fully funded. This funding model is essentially an algorithm that sends dollars to the Illinois districts that need it most. Without full funding, it means less money is going into your child’s education. The education advocacy group Stand for Children says the model still falls $6.8 billion short of being fully funded. Lawmakers say school districts are already working hard to recover from the pandemic and fully funding this formula could help get them back on track.

 

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,658 new Coronavirus cases Wednesday and 14 additional deaths. Locally Champaign County reported 44 new cases. Vermilion County reported 110 new cases. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report.

 

(Washington-jm) – The trade numbers just in for October have surprised some analysts. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) – Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman released the county results of a statewide effort to crack down on unbuckled driving over the Thanksgiving holiday. Heuerman says that Champaign County deputies issued six tickets to drivers for seat belt violations. In addition, they issued three speeding tickets, three distracted driving tickets, two tickets for driving with a suspended/revoked or non valid driver’s license and four tickets for other infractions.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois GOP members are still blasting their frustrations over two controversial pieces of legislation approved during the fall veto session. One of the pieces approved was the undoing the parental right of notification of abortion act. The other controversial piece came as a result of the COVID pandemic says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) – A Champaign environmental watchdog group said it won’t be until 2033 until Vistra Energy removes coal ash from the former Dynegy plant near Danville. It’s the latest development in the years-long debate over the coal ash, which environmental groups said is polluting the Middle Fork River. Dynegy, now Vistra, has long-resisted efforts to completely remove the coal ash. However, it recently agreed to do so as a result of a lawsuit. Prairie Rivers Network said Vistra’s plan involves demolishing the power plant to create a landfill, then moving the coal ash there. The landfill would be outside of the river’s floodplain. Vistra will hold two public meetings today to get residents’ feedback on the plan.  The meetings are at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Davis S. Palmer Arena in Danville.  Residents can also join via Zoom. You can sign-up online.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new law is aiming to protect your student from sexual abuse. Governor JB Pritzker signed Faith's Law. The bill was named after Faith Colson, who was sexually assaulted while in high school in Schaumburg, Illinois. Faith's law requires all school districts have a code of conduct and a resource guide for parents on what they can do if their child is a victim of sexual abuse.

 

(Gibson City-tr) -- The Gibson City Christmas Parade will remain stationary this year in the city's north park after last year's success. Gibson City Parade Spokesperson Susie Tongate gives a rundown of what to expect this year…

 

 

Gibson City Parade Spokesperson Susie Tongate.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) – Vermilion County Animal Control said it’s seen an increase this year in abuse, neglect, and hoarding cases. The group says it's not just the numbers but the severity of the cases. They say if you suspect an animal is being abused, reach out to your local animal control.

 

(Rantoul-tr) -- The Rantoul Youth Center will be hosting a breakfast alongside a meet and greet with Santa on December 18th from 8am-10am. Rantoul Recreation Dept Head Luke Humphrey has the details…

 

 

 Rantoul Recreation Dept Head Luke Humphrey. Reservations are being requested for this event by December 13th. Please call 1-217-893-5703 for availability. 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) – The Vermilion County community of Hoopeston will have a new mayor. Current Mayor Bill Crusinberry announced Tuesday night he is resigning due to health issues. 

 

(Washington-jm) – Rapidly rising input costs and delivery delays continue to make problems for farmers and the people who sell those inputs to producers. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

The first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is in Chicago

(Chicago-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health along with the Chicago Department of Public Health are announcing the first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The individual is a Chicago resident and was a contact of another Omicron COVID positive case from another state. IDPH says the individual is fully vaccinated and had their booster shot and did not require hospitalization.

 

(Springfield-jm) – As COVID-19 cases increase, Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is taking steps to tackle the problem. It’s mostly the delta variant leading the surge, says the Governor, who has been talking with hospital leaders around the state…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says they are also trying to address the shortage of healthcare workers. The latest daily total includes more than 7 thousand new cases and 78 additional deaths. That’s the highest one day death toll since last February. Locally, Vermilion County reported 107 new cases and 1 additional death bringing their total number of cases to 16,452 and deaths to 215. Champaign County reported 227 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 31,227 and deaths to 217.

 

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois lawmakers are proposing legislation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Teutopolis Representative Adam Niemerg (knee-merg) has introduced the “Freedom Act,” making it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their vaccine status…

 

 

State Representative Adam Neimerg. On Monday, Representative Jonathan Carroll of Northbrook introduced a bill requiring those who have not been vaccinated against COVID to pay for their own medical bills if they contract the virus.

 

(Onarga-tr) -- Onarga residents are celebrating the holidays this year by organizing with Gilman residents as both towns host Christmas parades back to back on December 18th. Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven details how this came about…

 

 

Onarga Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven, For more details or to inquire about parade entry, call Fred at 815-471-4576.

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City police have released their recent activity report. On December 2nd, Bradley Orcutt of Urbana was arrested and charged with driving while revoked, open container of alcohol on public way and adult use cannabis in a motor vehicle. Also on December 2nd, Allen Burgin of Urbana was arrested on an in state warrant.

 

 

(Washington-jm) – Biofuel producers hurt by the pandemic should be getting some help soon from the USDA. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) – The state is launching a new 42 million dollar water assistance program for low income Illinoisans. The effort is for those facing disconnections or who have 250 dollars or more in overdue water and sewer bills. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Sylvia Garcia says to qualify, applicants need to be making 200 percent of the poverty level or less…

 

 

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Slyvia Garcia. Applications for water assistance and other programs are available online at: help illinois families dot com.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing 94 million dollars in funding to improve public airports throughout Illinois. Combined with local funding, the investment will pay for 96 projects statewide, says the Governor…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Several local airports are receiving funding for projects. Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington is receiving $3.7 million to rehabilitate the entrance road. Willard Airport in Savoy is receiving $2 million: $1.5 million to rehab the entrance road and employee parking lot and $500 thousand to rehab general aviation aprons. Vermilion Regional Airport in Danville is receiving $850 thousand: $350 thousand to rehab the entrance road and $500 thousand to upgrade the perimeter fence. Rantoul Aviation Center is receiving $200 thousand to acquire snow removal equipment. 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The University of Illinois Police Department is investigating a robbery that took place early Sunday morning on campus. Officers say that between midnight and 2 a.m. a U of I student riding an electric scooter was confronted by a suspect on Peabody Drive between Fourth and Sixth Streets. The suspect displayed what the student believed to be a knife and demanded the student place his property on the ground. The student threw the scooter at the suspect and ran from the scene. No injuries were reported.

 

(Washington-jm) – Maintaining exports in a time of economic uncertainty will be a major key to the success of U.S. farmers in 2022.  Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

The University of Illinois is recommending students and staff get their COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible

(Springfield-jm) -- Applications for rental assistance in Illinois are now being accepted. This is the second round for the up to 25 thousand dollar grants and its estimated the money will help more than 32 thousand additional households. State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kristin Faust explains who is eligible…

 

 

Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kristin Faust. To get started, visit the website: illinois housing help dot org. There you will also find a list of community organizations that can help with the application process.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 19,110 new Coronavirus cases since Friday and 85 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate fell slightly to 5.4 percent. Champaign County reported 397 new cases. Iroquois County reported 192 new cases. Vermilion County reported 161 new cases. Ford County did not have a report.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Schools around the area continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are back in the classrooms this fall after being remote most of last school year. Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio talks about how his district is doing with the pandemic…

 

 

Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio.


(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois System is recommending students and staff get their COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible. As the U of I System begins to plan for the spring semester, officials are pushing for students and staff to do their part to keep COVID-19 cases down. University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen says each university will be issuing its own detailed guidance in the future. While university system officials are recommending the booster shots, there was no mention of making them a requirement for enrollment.

 

(Thomasboro-jm) -- A Thomasboro man who allegedly molested a child several years ago is being held in the Champaign County Jail. 70 year old Warren Grob Jr was arrested by Thomasboro police in connection with an investigation that began in early October when a teen told relatives that he had allegedly been sexually molested by Grob. The alleged incidents occurred between January 2011 and December 2014 when Grob acted as his caretaker at Grob’s Thomasboro home.Grob was formally charged Monday with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Judge Ronda Holliman set Grob’s bond Sunday at $400,000. If convicted of the more serious Class X felony charge, Grob faces six to 60 years in prison. 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA analysts face a tough job this week as they try to make this month's Ag. Supply and Demand forecasts in a time of rapidly changing economic conditions. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new Illinois bill could mean higher bills for those who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19. Representative Jonathan Carroll of Buffalo Grove, filed a bill Monday that would amend the Illinois Insurance Code. The bill states that anyone who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated must pay their health care expenses out-of-pocket if they become hospitalized due to COVID-19 symptoms.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is announcing a significant decrease in the backlog of FOID cards that need to be processed. Thanks to a lot of hard work and hiring more analysts, Trooper Jason Wilson says they’ve managed to get the time it takes to renew a FOID card down to a little over a month...

 

 

Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson. Wilson says they understand how frustrating the wait has been for FOID card holders and applicants but that this is a step in the right direction.

 

(Gibson City-tr) --  The Gibson City Christmas Parade will feature many extra activities for the family to enjoy like food vendors, horse and carriage rides, and even an artificial Ice rink. Prairieland CEO Brock Philips shares more about the ice rinks availability… 

 

 

 Prairieland CEO Brock Philips. 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- A man will spend a half dozen years behind bars for burglary. The Vermilion County State's Attorney says Dimitri Coffey used a sledgehammer and spade to make a hole in the wall of an abandoned building next to Gold Rush Pawnbrokers. Coffey then climbed into the business and stole various items. The pawn shop owner was live-streaming the security surveillance camera while the crime was taking place and contacted local police. Coffey must serve at least 50% of his sentence and serve one year of parole after he is released.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping to make it easier for you to shop local this holiday season. Director Amanda Vickery says they have created a holiday guide on the many shops in the village…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Urbana police are investigating a shooting that sent two people to the hospital. Officers responded to the parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall on Saturday night just before 9 pm. Police say several shots were fired. A 22-year-old man and 23-year-old man later showed up at the hospital with gunshot wounds. Authorities say both victims are expected to be okay.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- A challenging two years for ag producers has led to innovations and flexibilities from the crop insurance industry to help growers mitigate these circumstances. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

Unemployment numbers in the area continued to fall

(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police are investigating an officer involved shooting in Iroquois County Friday. According to a release from the state police and Iroquois County Sheriff’s office, deputies were called to a rural Danforth residence around 9:40 Friday evening for a disturbance. The male suspect had left before deputies arrived but then returned and took actions that threatened officers and another person. The deputies discharged their weapons, injuring the suspect, who was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive. 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 7,558 new cases and 36 additional deaths. Champaign County reported 190 new cases. Vermilion County reported 108 new cases and 1 additional death. Ford County reported 49 new cases. Iroquois County did not have a report Friday.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The Agriculture Secretary Friday gave an update on the process to implement pandemic assistance payments to biofuel producers. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- A man who police said fired a gun at a woman in an argument in Champaign is behind bars.  20-year-old Kelvin K. Jones of Champaign is charged with two aggravated discharge of a firearm counts. They allege he shot at a woman's vehicle and in her direction Thursday.  Prosecutors reported the shooting was at about 6:20 a.m. Thursday in the 1400 block of Winding Lane. According to authorities, the woman went to this location to try and resolve an earlier argument with Jones. As they talked from their vehicles, which were parked next to each other, the argument became more intense. That's when Jones allegedly fired a gun.  

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area state representative has been appointed to a state committee on conservation. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City discusses his role on the committee…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul man who authorities said sexually molested a young girl is in Champaign County custody.  Edward Gonzalez-Guillen, 19, is charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. According to authorities, the sexual activity that happened between the suspect and victim was in October. Gonzalez-Guilllen knew the victim's family and was a guest in her home earlier in 2021, a Rantoul police report said. In mid-October, the mother saw the girl getting out of the suspect's car and pulling up her pants, the document added.  He faces 12 to 120 years in prison if he's found guilty. He is due back in court January 25th.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters were called to a vehicle fire Saturday. Emergency personnel were called to the fire at the I-57 ramp at the Paxton exit just after 11 am. No injuries were reported.

 

(Washington-jm) -- Farmers are likely trying to plan now for how to protect themselves against possible moderating crop prices next year and much higher production costs. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Unit 4 district officials said someone made a claim a gun was involved in fights that occurred at Central High School, forcing a lockdown of the building.  An updated statement said there were "several fights" Friday morning at the school. A "very large group of students" rushed out of the school at one point and one student yelled that a gun was involved, the district said. No weapon was found.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul Township High School leaders are looking at fighting some property tax appeals. Superintendent Scott Amerio talks about why the district fights the appeals…

 

 

Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Unemployment numbers in the area continued to fall in October. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate in Champaign County fell from 4.9 percent to 3.7 percent. In Ford County, the unemployment rate fell from 4 percent to 3.2 percent. In Vermilion County, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 5.1 percent. In Iroquois County the unemployment rate fell from 4.3 percent to 3.4 percent.

 

A Live Drive Thru Barn Nativity will be held Friday, December 10th and Saturday, December 11th from 5-9 pm at the Kaeb Farm located at 170 N 800 E near Loda.

 

Gibson City will hold a Christmas Salute on Friday, December 10th and Saturday, December 11th at North Park.

 

There are tips to help avoid overspending on holiday gifts this year

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a significant increase in COVID cases Friday. The state reported 11,524 new cases and 40 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate rose to 5.7 percent. Vermilion County reported 77 new cases. Champaign County reported 268 new cases. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Here’s some tips to help avoid overspending on holiday gifts this year. The best thing you can do to stay within budget is to get organized, says University of Illinois Extension Consumer Economics Educator Kathy Sweedler…

 

 

University of Illinois Extension Consumer Economics Educator Kathy Sweedler. Sweedler also suggests buying group gifts for a family or household instead of several individual gifts and advises against taking out a vehicle title or payday loan to purchase presents since fees and interest rates are usually quite high.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Thanks to a federal grant, Parkland College's Child Development Center will be able to offer childcare stipends to full- or part-time students who are also parents. Parkland College students can apply for and receive help through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant, designed to support the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based childcare services. With the grant, full-time student-parents could qualify for 100-percent tuition coverage, while part-time student-parents could receive a prorated amount of coverage based on number of credit hours per semester. The grant will also expand the Child Development Center by two additional rooms to increase capacity, broaden comprehensive support services, and raise awareness of resources to single parents and pregnant students.

 

 

(Champaign-Vermillion County-tr) -- Donations are being accepted for Faith in Actions Christmas bag outreach program at OSF Healthcare in Champaign. Christmas Bag Spokesperson Nicole Dowling details how to donate…

 

 

Christmas Bag Spokesperson Nicole Dowling. 

 

 

(Hoopeston-jm) -- A Hoopeston school is shutting down because of COVID-19. Hoopeston Schools Superintendent Robert Richardson sent out a letter to parents stating John Greer School will be closed until December 8th because of COVID staffing issues. The district says all the other schools in the district are open.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Rising farm production input costs are becoming a major factor influencing producers' plans for next year. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul and CVS Health are announcing new safety measures to help reduce pharmacy robberies in Illinois. All 392 CVS pharmacies in the state will be equipped with time delay safes for storing certain drugs. This will make it difficult for thieves to rush in and steal narcotics, says CVS’s General Counsel Tom Moriarty…

 

 

CVS’s General Counsel Tom Moriarty. Attorney General Raoul says they are seeing gangs target pharmacies to steal opiates and sell them on the street or online to finance their illegal activities.

 

 

(Oakwood-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will again host a mentored archery deer hunting opportunity for adults and youth at Kickapoo State Recreation Area December 21 through January 9. Participating hunters will be provided access to sections of the recreation area otherwise closed to archery deer hunting. Adult and youth hunters with less than three years of deer hunting experience and who have not been successfully drawn in the mentored deer hunt program previously, which will be verified by IDNR license records, may apply. Hunters drawn in the lottery will be assigned a hunting location and allowed to hunt Tuesday through Sunday within an assigned week.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul will ring in the Christmas season tonight. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery talks about everything happening tonight…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery. Becky Puetz will be broadcasting from the parade tonight.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Urbana Park District is asking ATV riders to stop riding through Weaver Park. Weaver Park is a natural area where people can walk trails and observe and enjoy wildlife. Urbana Park District says the ATVs are creating ruts and destroying the trails.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- What will 2022 bring in terms of crop prices and input costs? Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Gibson Area Hospital today from 9:30-2:30.

 

Rantoul’s lighted Christmas parade will take place tonight at 6 pm.

 

The Paxton Emergency Response Service will hold their cookies with Santa on Saturday from 1-2:30 at their building located at 134 W. State Street.

 

The St. Joseph Church of Christ will hold their Winter Wassail on Saturday from 4-9 pm.

 

St. Joseph will hold their lighted Christmas parade on Saturday at 5pm.

 

The Neverly Brothers will perform on Saturday at 7 pm at the Melvin Community Hall.

 

The Gibson Area Music Foundation will host their annual Christmas program on Sunday at 3pm at the Gibson City Bible Church.

 

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that the ramp from southbound Interstate 57 to eastbound Interstate 74 will close for an indefinite amount of time

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois reported the highest single day of COVID cases in months after 6,119 positive cases were reported Wednesday. Champaign County reported 169 new cases. Vermilion County reported 87 new cases and 4 additional deaths.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul will officially kick off the holiday season tomorrow with a parade and other activities downtown. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery talks about the parade…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery. Becky Puetz will be broadcasting the parade live tomorrow evening. The parade steps off at 6pm

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that the ramp from southbound Interstate 57 to eastbound Interstate 74 will close for an indefinite amount of time starting yesterday. People driving southbound on I-57 wanting to get on eastbound I-74 will be directed to pass the I-57/I-74 interchange and exit on Curtis Road Exit 232. Drivers will be directed to get on northbound I-57 at Curtis, drive back to the interchange and get on eastbound I-74 using the northbound I-57 ramp. IDOT said the closure is necessary to complete a new, temporary connection between the highways as well as the construction of embankments and bridge piers for a new flyover bridge. The upcoming closure is part of a larger reconstruction of the interchange.

 

 

(Paxton-tr) -- Plans are being set in motion in Paxton for a much needed update to the water treatment plant south of town. After 57 years, Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold is looking to take the steps to modernize the treatment plant…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A long-running tradition at the University of Illinois is returning to phones next week. From December 9 to December 15, University Housing will host its annual Dial-A-Carol, an on-demand Christmas caroling service performed by University Housing residents, faculty and staff originating from Snyder Hall. Dial-A-Carol is University Housing’s longest tradition; 2021 is the 61st year it is happening. People can call 217-332-1882 starting at 12:01 a.m. on December 9 to request a carol. The hotline will be active for 24 hours a day until 11:59 p.m. on December 15.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The final farm income picture for 2021 is shaping up even better than had been expected. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Santa will be making a visit to the village of Rantoul tomorrow evening. The village’s Christmas parade kicks off at 6pm. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery says there will be plenty of other activities taking place in downtown…

 

 

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery. You can hear the parade tomorrow evening at 6 here on WPXN.

 

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- A Vermilion County man is facing child pornography charges. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office says Mark Kerkering of Henning is facing three counts of dissemination of child pornography and 10 counts of possession of child pornography. If convicted Kerkering faces 48 to 250 years in prison.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Township High School district approved their tentative tax levy in November. Superintendent Scott Amerio says there is some good news for taxpayers in the district…

 

 

Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio. The board is expected to approve the final levy numbers at this month's meeting.

 

(Ford County-jm) -- A proposal to allow recreational cannabis businesses to set up shop in unincorporated areas of Ford County will be considered by the Ford County Zoning Board of Appeals this month. The group will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday, December 6, in the conference room in the basement of the sheriff’s office in Paxton regarding the proposal.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Farmers this year are getting a much smaller share of their income from direct government payments. Gary Crawford reports…

 


 

The Ford County Public Health Department will hold a Medicare Open Enrollment Assistance event at the Piper City Library today from 10 to noon.

 

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Gibson Area Hospital on Friday from 9:30-2:30.

 

Rantoul’s lighted Christmas parade will take place on Friday at 6 pm.

Medicare open enrollment is open until December 7th

(Springfield-jm) -- While federal officials are taking action in response to reports of the COVID-19 omicron variant in other countries, such as limiting travel from some African countries, the state of Illinois has yet to track any such cases. The Illinois Department of Public Health variant tracker has yet to post an omicron line item. 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Medicare open enrollment is open until December 7th for those wanting to look at their current plan. You can visit medicare dot gov to look at your current plan and compare other plan options. The Ford County Public Health Department even has people available that can help…

 

 

Ford County Public Health Department Administrator Lana Sample.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,714 new Coronavirus cases and 23 additional deaths Tuesday. The seven day positivity rate rose to 5.2 percent. Champaign County reported 216 new cases and 1 additional death. Vermilion County reported 270 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report.

 

(Iroquois County-tr) -- Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka is partnering with Toys for Tots to bring the joy of Christmas to less fortunate children. Toys for Tots Spokesperson Bill Nutter shares details about the partnership…

 

 

Toys for Tots Spokesperson Bill Nutter. For more information on how to donate, contact Bill Nutter at 815-471-0129 or go to ToysForTots.org. 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Another new area code is being announced for Illinois. The Illinois Commerce Commission said the 861 area code will be added to areas served by the 309 area code sometime late next year or early 2023. That will cover areas in Peoria, McLean, Rock Island, Tazewell, Knox, Henry, Woodford, Fulton and McDonough Counties.

 

(Washington-jm) -- The new USDA price index summary shows most farm prices cooling off in October, but still comfortably higher than a year ago. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is among 40 states that received a failing grade on child and youth sex trafficking, according to the 2021 Report Card on Child and Youth Sex Trafficking from Shared Hope International. The organization looked at six main categories, including criminal provisions, identification of and response to victims, access to justice for trafficking survivors, and prevention and training.

 

 

(Champaign-Vermillion County-tr) -- Christmas bags are being prepared by Faith in Action at OSF Healthcare in Champaign for seniors who may be lonely in Champaign and Vermilion County. Christmas Bag Spokesperson Nicole Dowling gives a list of acceptable donation items…

 

 

Christmas Bag Spokesperson Nicole Dowling. Donations are being accepted until December 3rd.

 

(Gibson City-tr) -- The Gibson City Christmas Parade will remain stationary this year in the city's north park after last year's success. Gibson City Parade Spokesperson Susie Tongate gives a rundown of what to expect this year…

 

 

Gibson City Parade Spokesperson Susie Tongate.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Vermilion County Clerk Cathy Jenkins is announcing nominating petitions for the 2022 general primary election will be available starting January 13th. Filing runs March 7-14. The primary election will take place June 28th.

 

(Washington-jm) -- Small scale local producers now have a crop insurance product designed with them in mind. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

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