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WPXN Blog Archives for 2022-01

House Republicans are seeking to repeal last year's criminal justice and police reform bill

(Watseka-jm) – Bond was set Thursday at $25,000 for the man accused of shooting a person in the head in Loda Wednesday. Colton Johnson went before an Iroquois County judge where he was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm. Johnson is accused of shooting a 19 year old in the head. That person remains in the hospital in critical condition.


(Springfield-jm) – Tax filing season begins next week. It’s that time of year again says Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Maura Kownacki…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Maura Kownacki. If taxpayers file an error-free return and choose direct deposit, they should receive their refund in about four weeks. Income tax returns are due by Monday, April 18th. Visit tax dot illinois dot gov for more information.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 23,246 new cases and 198 additional deaths Thursday. The seven day positivity rate fell to 14.8 percent. Champaign County reported 190 new cases. Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties did not have a report.


(Springfield-jm) – House Republicans are seeking to repeal last year’s criminal justice and police reform bill. The so-called “Safe-T Act” included several changes such as ending cash bail and addressing police misconduct. Since then, crime has skyrocketed, says Westmont Representative Deanne Mazzochi…



State Representative Deanne Mazzochi of Westmont. Mazzochi and her GOP colleagues have introduced a resolution urging the repeal of the Safe-T Act and are asking Democrats to come back to the drawing board.


(Urbana-jm) – Urbana Police were dispatched to the intersection of Vine and Water Street at around 1 p.m. on Thursday in response to a report of a vehicle vs. pedestrian traffic crash. According to officers, a Dodge pickup truck driven by a male occupant was driving eastbound on Water Street. The driver of the pickup truck was attempting to turn left onto Vine Street. When he turned left in order to enter the northbound lanes, he struck a pedestrian who was crossing Vine Street while traveling westbound. The pedestrian was traveling on a motorized scooter. They were taken to the hospital in critical condition.


(Rantoul-jm) – Another Rantoul school is closed because of COVID concerns. Superintendent Scott Woods sent an email out saying Eastlawn Elementary would be closed today. The district announced Wednesday that Pleasant Acres Elementary would be closed yesterday and today. Both schools are expected to reopen on Monday.


(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign Fire Department responded to a fire in an apartment complex Thursday afternoon. According to officials, fire crews were called out to 710 W. Church St. around 12:27 p.m.  after someone walking by reported the two-story apartment building was on fire.  The cause of this fire is still undetermined as investigators remain on the scene conducting their investigation.  


(Washington-jm) – The Agriculture Secretary vehemently denies the charge that the Biden Administration is dropping its support of the biofuels industry. Gary Crawford reports…



(Watseka-jm) – Up for election in Iroquois County will be Sheriff Clint Perzee, a former investigator for the sheriff’s office who was appointed to replace the retired Derek Hagen as sheriff last fall; County Clerk & Recorder Breein Suver, who was appointed to replace the retired Lisa Fancher in 2020; and Treasurer Kurt Albers, who is in the final year of his first four-year term. Also, all 16 members of the Iroquois County Board will be up for election, four in each of the four districts, including District 2 members John Shure and David Penny, both of rural Buckley, and Barbara Offill and Steve Huse, both of rural Gilman; and District 3 members Charles Alt and Thomas Lynch, both of Cissna Park, and Paul Bowers and Donna Crow, both of Milford.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing a new round of Back to Business grants for small businesses in Illinois. The latest round is more than 111 million dollars, says the Governor, funding over 29 hundred grants to businesses still recovering from the pandemic…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The deadline to apply for Back to Business grants has passed but grants will continue to go out to previous applicants until funds are exhausted.


(Springfield-jm) – New legislation aims to help smartphone app companies based in Illinois. Currently, you can’t purchase an app on your phone unless you go through Google or Apple, which takes as much as 30 percent of the developer's profits. This new bill, called the Freedom to Directly Subscribe Act, cuts out the middleman, says Senator Robert Peters of Chicago…



State Senator Robert Peters of Chicago. Supporters say this would help more than creators of games and other apps. For example, it will save newspaper companies money by letting them directly sign up digital subscribers.


(Urbana-jm) – Urbana Police said that four people have been arrested following a fight at Urbana Middle School Thursday afternoon. According to police, three juveniles and one adult were arrested for mob action. Officers said that they responded to a fight at the school after 3:30 p.m. and had to use pepper spray in order to break it up.


(Champaign-jm) – Champaign police said no victims have come forward after a witness reported shots fired between two vehicles late Thursday morning. Police say a dark gray SUV was going southeast on Bloomington Road toward State Street. When the vehicle was stopped at the intersection, a dark-colored sedan drove past it, and someone fired a gun. Newell said someone in the SUV returned fire. Police found shell casings and shattered glass believed to be from the vehicles, but no property was damaged. Police have no information on the suspects.


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois cited American inflation in deciding to increase tuition. The News-Gazette reports trustees will raise tuition and housing costs for incoming freshmen. It's the second increase in tuition in the last eight years and follows a period of stability for undergraduates who are residents of Illinois, which happened from 2015 to 2019.  Base tuition is expected to go up by 1.8 percent, or about $220, to $12,474 a year. Those who are incoming freshmen will pay an increase of about 1.8 percent in room and board fees. Miscellaneous fees for all students are expected to go up by $52. 


(Washington-jm) – There may not be a quick fix for current very high fertilizer prices. Gary Crawford reports…



(Urbana-jm) – Urbana is the latest Central Illinois city to search for a new police chief after chief Bryant Seraphin announced his retirement on Thursday. Seraphin will step down on March 25. He’s been with Urbana Police for 27 years and has been chief since 2018.


The Loda American Legion will hold their fish and chicken fry tonight from 4-6 pm.


State officials are cautiously optimistic about the recent decline in COVID-19 numbers in Illinois

(Loda-jm) – A 19 year old man is in critical condition after a shooting happened early Wednesday morning. Police received a 911 call from a resident in Loda, requesting an ambulance for a subject who was bleeding from the head. When officers arrived at the scene, they found a victim who suffered from a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to an area hospital. 22 year old Colton Johnson was arrested and charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm.


(Rantoul-jm) – Rantoul City Schools announced on Wednesday that Pleasant Acres Elementary School will be closed today and tomorrow due to a high rate of COVID-19 cases within the Pleasant Acres population. The school will not be transitioning to remote learning on those days. In a letter to parents, Superintendent Scott Woods said the decision was made to close Pleasant Acres after consulting with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. The decision affects only Pleasant Acres. Pre-K, Northview, Broadmeadow, Eastlawn and J.W. Eater Junior High will all remain open.


(Washington-jm) – USDA's January WASDE report forecasts continuing strong prices for meat products. Stephanie Ho reports…




(Watseka-jm) – Iroquois County leaders have approved the first round of applications for distributing American Rescue Plan funds. $350,000 will go to the Eastern Illinois Mutual Aid Fire Association to build a multi use facility to house equipment and create a training facility in the county. $136,000 will go towards a full body x-ray scanner for the sheriff’s office, $18,000 for video court and telehealth at the jail and $18,600 to the Ford-Iroquois 4-H Foundation for their enrollment fee program.



(Urbana-jm) – The Champaign County Sheriff's Office could be moving to a new building if it is approved by the county board. Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said the county is looking to move the office next door. The location would be at the County Plaza Building, which is across the street from the current sheriffs office and the courthouse. The building would offer more space for law enforcement and other county offices. The move would cost around $2 million, and the funding is still being discussed by the county executive.


(Springfield-jm) – State officials are cautiously optimistic about the recent decline in COVID-19 numbers in Illinois. Over the past week there has been a drop in the number of new COVID cases, ER visits and hospitalizations signaling the Omicron surge may have peaked. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet…



State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. At last count, there were more than 65 hundred Illinois COVID patients in the hospital and just 10 percent of ICU beds statewide are available. Ezike says the health care system is still under tremendous pressure with so many cases of the virus. The state reported 26,491 new cases Wednesday and 160 deaths. The state’s seven day positivity rate fell to 15 percent. Champaign County reported 700 new cases and 5 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 325 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report.


(Urbana-jm) – A small U-Haul truck crashed into a cannabis store around noon on Wednesday. Police were dispatched to 105 East University Avenue in response to a reported car accident. When they arrived at the scene, they found a U-Haul crashed into the front of the nuEra store in Urbana. The driver was driving into the parking lot when he lost control and hit the store, resulting in some exterior damages, including broken glass windows.


(Washington-jm) – USDA makes small changes in the outlook for U.S. meat production.  Stephanie Ho reports…



(Champaign-jm) – After freezing tuition for in-state undergraduate students in six of the past seven years, the University of Illinois is proposing a tuition hike for the 2022-2023 school year. School trustees met in a committee Wednesday to discuss the matter, then final approval is expected at the full trustees meeting today. A document prepared for trustees proposed a 1.8% increase for in-state undergraduate students on the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses and a 1.5% increase on the Springfield campus. For out-of-state and international undergraduate students on all three campuses, the hike ranged from 1.5% to 2.5%.


(Urbana-jm) – A Champaign man accused of shooting another man in the chest during an altercation in June has been formally charged. Bruce Stennis allegedly threatened to shoot a woman he had dated if she was seen with another man. On June 12th Stennis allegedly shot Montez Jones after he found him and the woman in a car near her home. He is charged with first degree murder and faces a minimum of 45 years in prison if convicted.



The Paxton Emergency Response Service is postponing their chicken and noodle supper from tonight to next week on Thursday due to unforeseen circumstances.

Additional Illinois gas tax being opposed by group representing gas stations

(Springfield-jm) – A measure that would allow all municipalities in Illinois to tack on a local gas tax on top of the state’s gas tax is being opposed by the group representing gas stations. The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association said Illinois already has the second-highest gas taxes in the country and House Bill 4424 could make that even higher.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 93,343 new cases and 251 additional deaths since Friday. The state did not have a report Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday. Locally since Friday, Champaign County reported 2,776 new cases and 4 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 49,995 and deaths to 245. Vermilion County reported 1,062 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 24,089 and deaths to 251. Iroquois County reported 377 new cases and 2 additional deaths bringing their total number of cases to 6,325 and deaths to 94. Ford County did not have a report.


(Springfield-jm) – Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie is renewing his call to empower Illinois voters. GOP Leader McConchie has a package of constitutional amendments that he says provides the government with the needed checks and balances…



State Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie. One of the amendments creates an independent commission to draw legislative districts while another lets voters initiate referendums on newly passed laws. A third gives voters the ability to recall elected officials including legislators and local government leaders.


(Urbana-jm) – An Urbana man is facing up to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and firearms charges. Curtis Coleman admitted he had been selling drugs out of an apartment in the 1800 block of Oliver Drive in Urbana. He also told the judge he had multiple firearms despite being a convicted felon. A search of his home turned up approximately 200 grams of cocaine as well as marijuana and crack cocaine.


(Washington-jm) – South America dominates the global outlook for corn. Stephanie Ho reports…



(Danville-jm) – Vermilion County has become the latest to back the Illinois Second Amendment Preservation Act.  The board got a standing ovation after approving the ordinance. Nineteen voted ‘yes’, four ‘no’, and four board members were absent. Some board members argued that the county does not need any more laws for law-abiding citizens. Those voting against the ordinance were Robert Boyd, Phearn Butler, Diane Frazier-Brennemen, and board vice-chairman Craig Golden.


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois is looking for participants in a study to investigate the relationship behind diet, gut health and metabolic health. Participants will be chosen among healthy adults aged 30 to 60 years who are not taking medications that affect gastrointestinal function. Additional exclusions also apply and people interested in participating are advised to contact study organizers for further details. The study will consist of a 12-week dietary intervention period where participants will eat a provided pre-packaged snack two times per day. Snacks will be picked up from the testing site once per month. Participants will be asked to visit a lab three times during the study to complete questionnaires, DXA scans, liver ultrasounds and blood draws. Six stool samples will also be collected.


(Springfield-jm) – A new report from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools says that Illinois’ educator shortage is worse than ever before. The 2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey details the perspective of 663 school districts across the state, representing 78% of Illinois’ public schools. 88% of responding superintendents say they have a teacher shortage problem, and 77% say they believe it will get worse. 96% of superintendents say they have a shortage of substitutes, and 90% expect it to get worse.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is urging snowmobilers to focus on safety this winter. Riders need to make sure their snowmobile is in good running condition and wear the proper clothing and equipment like helmets, gloves and goggles, says DNR Safety Education Administrator Jeff Hopkins. He says when people get into trouble, it’s often because they don’t know the land very well and run into fences or try and cross bodies of water…



Illinois Department of Natural Resources Safety Education Administrator Jeff Hopkins. Hopkins says another big problem is people drinking and snowmobiling. He recommends always riding with someone else and keeping an eye on the weather.


(Washington-jm) – USDA is estimating increased domestic soybean production. Stephanie Ho reports…



(Kankakee County-jm) – A Champaign man was arrested in Kankakee County on multiple charges. Justin Collins was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, driving while license suspended and speeding 15-20 mph over the limit. Collins was stopped for multiple traffic infractions on I-57 near Kankakee.


(Champaign-jm) –  Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance from the public regarding a burglary. According to police, on January 6, two suspects broke into an ATM at Central Illinois Bank located at 2913 West Kirby Avenue at around 3:30 a.m.. Police said the offenders were driving a stolen maroon/silver Ford F350 pickup truck and made away with an undisclosed amount of money. Surveillance video captured the suspects at the ATM. They appeared to be two men wearing hoods, masks and gloves.


Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is running for Governor of Illinois

(Springfield-jm) – Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced on Monday he is running for Governor of Illinois. The former prosecutor has also chosen State Representative Avery Bourne of Morrisonville to serve as Lt. Governor should he win the election.


(Springfield-jm) –  House Bill 2778 required districts to provide COVID-19 administrative days to any school or college employee for absences related to the virus-like quarantining, illness, or testing. In a letter to the Illinois Education Association, Governor JB Pritzker says he plans on vetoing the bill. The bill also would allow hourly employees to get paid if their school went remote due to an outbreak. The Illinois Education Association is working with the Governor to come to a resolution.


(Washington-jm) – Several nations in the IndoPacific region have a growing middle class - an opportunity for our nation to increase agricultural exports in that part of the world. Rod Bain reports…



(Hoopeston-jm) – The City of Hoopeston announced that starting today, City Hall will be closed to the public for at least two weeks. City officials said the closure is necessary to keep city workers healthy amidst increasing case numbers of COVID-19. City Hall is tentatively scheduled to reopen on January 31.


(Springfield-jm) – There was a mixed report released last week when it comes to the state’s finances. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about the report…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Paxton-jm) – There will be a new Sheriff for Ford County come November. Incumbent Mark Doran announced he will not seek re-election. Paxton Police Captain Chad Johnson announced he will run for the position. Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker and Clerk and Recorder Amy Frederick are both seeking re-election. There will also be new four-year terms on the line for all 12 members of the Ford County Board. Four seats in each of the three county board districts will be up for election, including those held by District 1’s Debbie Smith of Paxton, Gene May of Paxton, Jason Johnson of rural Paxton and Tom McQuinn of rural Paxton; District 2’s Cindy Ihrke of rural Roberts, Ann Ihrke of rural Buckley, Lesley King of Piper City and Tim Nuss of Roberts; and District 3’s Chase McCall, Chuck Aubry, Dr. Bernadette Ray and Randy Ferguson, all of Gibson City.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois will receive $1.4 billion to help upgrade its deteriorating bridges under the federal infrastructure law approved in November. The state’s Democratic congressional delegation said Friday that the funding over five years will include $274.8 million in Fiscal Year 2022. Illinois’ allotment is part of a $27 billion program to repair and upgrade roughly 15,000 highway bridges nationwide that President Joe Biden was announcing Friday.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois unemployment insurance trust fund is about $4.5 billion in the red because of the large number of people who filed for unemployment during the pandemic of the past two years. The state still has billions in American Rescue Plan Act money to spend. One of the permitted uses is paying back debt. Every week the debt grows by $2 million because of interest on the money. Thus far state Democrats have been unwilling to use federal dollars to pay back federal debt saying they are holding out hope that the federal government will offer help or forgiveness for some of this debt.



(Washington-jm) – The year that just ended is the 4th warmest on record -- or, in other words, since 1895. Stephanie Ho reports…



(Kankakee-jm) – Authorities in northeastern Illinois are investigating seven fentanyl overdose cases over 24 hours that left two people dead. The Kankakee Police Department and Kankakee County Coroner's Office say the two victims who died were a 20-year-old female and a 37-year-old male, both of Kankakee. The Kankakee Daily Journal reports that authorities did not have the conditions of the other five. Coroner Bob Gessner says it's the first time there have been so many cases in a short period of time. Police say it appeared the individuals had been together Thursday and was followed by several calls to authorities on Friday.


(Ford-Iroquois-tr) – The past two years have proved difficult for the agriculture economy. Ford/Iroquois County Farm Bureau Manager David Treece says there is a lot of talk about supply chain issues and availability of inputs for next year's crop….



Ford-Iroquois Counties Farm Bureau Manager David Treece.



(Fithian-jm) – State Representative Mike Marron has announced he will seek a third term in office.  The Republican from Fithian represents voters in the 104th District of the Illinois House. Marron cited his current and past support from both business and labor interests as a factor in his decision to run again.  He says the state needs more consensus builders in a time where our country is facing unprecedented division.


Six million dollars in grants to libraries trying to cope during the pandemic

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 29,639 new COVID cases Friday and 63 additional deaths. Champaign County reported 450 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Ford County reported 279 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 392 new cases and 2 additional deaths.


(Champaign-jm) – Authorities believe three Champaign teens were involved in the murder of a Chicago man who was driving for Lyft in Urbana. The third suspect is still sought in the investigation.  Investigators had already arrested two Champaign suspects, who are at age 16 and 17. Each had bond set at $3 million on Friday, and both faces charges of first-degree murder.  The shooting happened Wednesday evening. Authorities found 29-year-old Kristian Philpotts on South Vine Street near Burkwood Court. The third teen is known to the other two, police said. Both of the arrested teens face adult charges in the case. They face 45 to 85 years behind bars if they are found guilty. 


(Springfield-jm) – Last year was warmer and wetter than normal in Illinois. Mark 2021 as the 10th warmest year on record in Illinois, with temperatures averaging 53.7 degrees. This despite a record breaking cold February. State Climatologist Trent Ford says along with the mild temps came more severe weather last year…



State Climatologist Trent Ford. 2021 was the 37th wettest year on record, with precipitation amounts varying widely across the state.


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is expected to welcome tens of thousands of students back to campus for the new semester. The return comes at a time of record high cases in many parts of the country due to omicron variant. But starting this week, students will begin the semester with remote learning. Students will have to provide a negative test to get back on campus for the semester. Over the break, the University of Illinois system announced a booster requirement. Those who refuse to get boosted and vaccinated must be approved by the university and go through testing every other day they are on campus.


(Paxton–jc)  –  The contracts have been signed, and let the work begin. City of Paxton officials say the contract for the streetscape project is now in the hands of the contractor. Work is expected to begin when the weather warms this Spring. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says he is grateful that the project is moving forward and within cost projections…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.


(Washington-jm) – How do USDA's January crop reports see the domestic situation for corn? Stephanie Ho reports…



(Springfield-jm) – Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is announcing six million dollars in grants to libraries trying to cope during the pandemic. The money is being awarded to 211 school, public and academic libraries in Illinois, for three different purposes. Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt says one helps libraries provide the resources for people to come in and look for a job. A second is for libraries to circulate internet hotspots and offer more digital services…



Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. The grants are funded by state and Federal sources including the American Rescue Plan. Locally, the University of Illinois is receiving nearly $50,000. The Moyer District Library in Gibson City is receiving just over $11,000.


(Melvin-jm) – For the first time in more than a decade, the Ford County Fair Board will have a new leader. Kirk Miller decided to not run for re-election, having served as president of the board since 2009. Steve Meenen will take Miller’s place. Miller will remain on the fair board. The Ford County Fair runs June 12-18.


(Washington-jm) – What is USDA's latest global outlook for soybeans? Stephanie Ho reports…



Illinois lawmakers will return to the state capitol in Springfield today

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois lawmakers will return to the state capitol in Springfield today for one day this week. The Legislature was scheduled to be in session on Tuesday and Thursday this week, but those days have been canceled out of concern of COVID-19. It’s unclear if lawmakers will return next week. They’re scheduled in session through April 8.


(Springfield-jm) – FOID and concealed carry license holders can now receive notices electronically. Instead of getting paper notices in the mail, you can sign up for email or text notifications. Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says it’s part of ongoing efforts to modernize the process…



State Police Director Brendan Kelly. If you already have an account, you can sign up for email or text notices by visiting the website: i-s-p-f-s-b dot com and click on my profile. If you don’t have an account, you can create one on the website as well.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 24,4223 new Coronavirus cases and 79 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate is up to 17.6 percent. Champaign County reported 593 new cases bringing their total to 40,097. 34,734 have recovered, over 5100 are in isolation and 44 are hospitalized. Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties did not have a report.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker says he’s asking the Illinois Attorney General to investigate shady COVID-19 testing sites. The Governor says pop-up and fly-by-night testing operations are an enormous problem, with some people not even getting their results back…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. For a list of testing sites near you, visit the website: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov.



(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons was sworn in as the county recorder of deeds, officially merging the two positions for the first time. The voters decided to eliminate the recorder position in 2021, saving the county some money by cutting a salaried official. This is something former recorder Mike Ingram was in favor of.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced that it's adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to shorten the interval from 6 months to 5 months for when people who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can get a booster dose. Only people who received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during their primary series can now receive an mRNA booster dose 5 months after their second shot. The booster interval remains the same for those who received the Moderna vaccine, 6 months or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary series. Additionally, the CDC is recommending that moderately or severely immunocompromised children ages 5-11 receive a third dose of vaccine 28 days after their second dose. At this time, only Pfizer-BioNTech is authorized for children.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois House Republicans are raising concerns about the new vaccine mandate in Chicago and Cook County. Proof of vaccination is now required to enter certain establishments like bars, restaurants and gyms in the city and surrounding county. But Representative Tom Morrison of Palatine says business owners aren’t happy…



State Representative Tom Morrison of Palatine. House GOP members say this will also stifle tourism, as out of towners not knowing about the mandate visit and find themselves unable to go into many places.


(Springfield-jm) – Women can now get birth control without a prescription in Illinois. Under a new state law, specially trained pharmacists can dispense a year’s worth of hormonal contraceptives like the pill, ring or patch. It was sponsored by Representative Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg who spoke at the bill signing in July…



State Representative Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg. Mussman says this increases access to important medication for women.


(Champaign-jm) – State Senator Scott Bennett will be hosting community blood drives in Urbana and Danville this week to address a widespread blood shortage. The blood drives will take place until Saturday at the Urbana Donor Center, located at 1408 West University Avenue, and the Danville Elks Donor Center, located at 300 East Liberty Lane. Hours vary by day and location.


A federal court panel sided with Democrats over challenges of their legislative maps for the next ten years

(Springfield-jm) – A federal court panel sided with Democrats over challenges of their legislative maps for the next ten years. The court ruled against the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the NAACP and Illinois legislative Republicans. The maps are now in place for the next ten years.


(Springfield-jm) – COVID-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high. At latest count, nearly 63 hundred people were in Illinois hospitals with the virus, the most ever since the pandemic began. Governor J-B Pritzker says the situation is dire and that healthcare workers are at their breaking point…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. On average, 550 people with COVID in Illinois are admitted to the hospital each day, 90 percent of whom are not vaccinated. The Governor continues to plead with the public to get their shots, mask up and get tested if they have any symptoms. Since Thursday, the state reported 89,195 new cases and 177 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate now stands at 17.5 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 2,098 new cases. Iroquois County reported 238 new cases and 5 additional deaths, bringing their total deaths to 89. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report. 


(Paxton-jm) – Two Paxton men have been arrested for burglarizing storage units in Paxton. Steven Harding and Chad Minnick were arrested on charges of burglary, theft and criminal trespass to real estate after police conducted search warrants at three properties on the northeast side of town. At the three properties, police found items that were identified stolen from the storage units at 3 Centennial Drive, behind the Subway. Police were notified of the theft on Christmas Day.



(Washington-jm) – Republican U.S. Representative Mary Miller of Illinois has announced she’ll mount a primary challenge against five-term Representative Rodney Davis. She made her announcement after receiving an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Miller was first elected in 2020. While members of Congress don’t have to live in the district they represent, Davis of Taylorville raised it as an issue. Davis is also a strong Trump supporter and co-chaired his 2020 reelection campaign. The Illinois primary is in June.



(Springfield-jm) – Champaign, Ford and Iroquois Counties were recently added to a disaster declaration for severe weather in December. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about assistance that is available…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(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.


(Washington-jm) – The Department of Agriculture and the Justice Department are taking actions to work more closely on competition and anti-trust issues. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – If you are tired of having to correspond with Illinois State Police via United States Postal Service delivered mail about your FOID card or CCLs, there are two new options. ISP is now offering a choice between emails and/or text messages.


(Springfield-jm) – COVID-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high. As of Sunday night, close to 63 hundred Illinois COVID patients were in the hospital. That’s even higher than the hospitalization rate seen before vaccines were available. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says the healthcare system is overloaded…



State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Dr Ezike says about 90 percent of COVID patients in the hospital have not been vaccinated. She is renewing her call to get the shots, get tested if you may have been exposed or have symptoms, avoid crowds and wear a mask. Since Thursday, the state reported 89,195 new cases and 177 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate now stands at 17.5 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 2,098 new cases. Iroquois County reported 238 new cases and 5 additional deaths, bringing their total deaths to 89. Ford and Vermilion Counties did not have a report. 


(Champaign-jm) – After a record amount of gun violence in 2021, the Champaign community is trying to rally against the violence in the new year. Champaign city leaders have shared how residents are refusing to back down from the ongoing violence. The goal of the city is to get cooperation between the city, police, and residents to lean on each other heading into the new year.

(Springfield-jm) – Ford County Fair Queen Jolee Hastings will be competing in the 2022 Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs State Queen Pageant at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois. The dates for the competition are Thursday, January 13 through Sunday, January 16, 2022. Hastings will be competing with 70 other County Fair Queens for the title of Miss Illinois County Fair Queen 2022.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Republicans continue to criticize the state’s handling of the COVID pandemic. Almost two years into the pandemic, the General Assembly has not been brought in to make decisions on how the state responds to the pandemic and 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington thinks that will likely continue…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.


(Ford County-jm) – The Ford County Sheriff’s office has released their December activity report. During the final month of 2021, deputies responded to 10 traffic accidents and issued 6 citations for speeding, 5 for driving on a suspended or revoked license, 3 for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, 2 each for disobeying a stop sign, reckless driving, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and 1 each for illegal transportation of alcohol and failure to notify of an accident. Deputies also responded to 12 domestic issues, 11 reports of suspicious activity, 4 reports of damage to property, 3 reports of theft, 2 each of death investigations, fraud and missing persons and 1 each of harassment and trespassing.


(Washington-jm) – The government is launching a variety of new actions to boost competition in agriculture.  Gary Crawford reports…



New Covid rules, including some closures, will go into effect in Illinois starting today

(Bradley-jm) – Both suspects wanted in the shooting of two Bradley police officers, one fatally have been arrested. Darius Sullivan was arrested in Indiana Friday morning. Xandria Harris turned herself into Bradley Police over the weekend.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Legislature is scaling back it’s January session dates due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The House and Senate were both scheduled to be in for three days this week but will now only meet on Wednesday. Legislative leaders say the following week may be canceled as well. Session usually begins with several committee hearings, which can be held remotely. Governor J-B Pritzker was asked recently about his goals for lawmakers in 2022…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn in early April, a full month and a half before the usual end of session date of May 31st.


(Roberts-jm) – Firefighters from several area departments battled a house fire in Roberts Sunday morning. Crews from Roberts, Melvin, Thawville, Buckley and Loda were called to the fire at 113 W. Green Street just before 7 am. No word on the cause of the fire.


(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.


(Washington-jm) – Cattle producers may get a little more money for steers in the new year. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – The country is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases to the highest levels on record. In response, new rules, including some closures, will go into effect in Illinois starting today. Governor J.B. Pritzker is urging Illinois hospitals to delay elective surgeries and non-emergency procedures to keep more beds open, anticipating a wave of COVID-19 patients. Also starting today, all Illinois Secretary of State offices, including driver services, will be closed until at least Jan. 18.  Online transactions will remain open for all departments to conduct office services. All expiring driver’s license and ID card expiration dates have been extended to March 31, 2022. Chicago will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor venues. That includes restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues like sport entertainment arenas. The rules apply to everyone age 5 and older, but doesn’t apply to those in the venue less than 10 minutes, like those getting takeout.


(Springfield-jm) – A new study out of the University of Illinois looks at the best ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19 on airplanes. Researchers specifically looked at aerosol transmission of the virus, finding it spreads in all directions, says U of I Aviation Risk Expert Sheldon Jacobson…



U of I Aviation Risk Expert Sheldon Jacobson. Jacobson says choosing a seat in the back where no one is behind you may be preferable over just avoiding the middle seats. He notes it’s also important for airlines to try and seat families together.


(St. Joseph-jm) – St. Joseph firefighters were called to a New Year’s Eve house fire. Crews were called to the fire on Marilyn Drive just before 11pm Friday night. The house is a total loss.


(Undated-jm) – Winter weather over the weekend brought rain, snow, ice and slick roads. Many slide offs and accidents were reported. Half an inch to just over 2 inches of snow were reported in the WPXN listening area.


(Washington-jm) – Hog producers seem to be approaching the new year with a "Wait-and-See" Attitude. Gary Crawford reports…



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