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WPXN Blog Archives for 2022-01

Governor J-B Pritzker will give his annual budget address this week

(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 15,453 new Coronavirus cases and 120 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate fell to 12 percent. Ford County reported 186 new cases. Champaign County reported 583 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 183 new cases and 2 additional deaths.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker will give his annual budget address this week. The address will be held at noon on Wednesday, and unlike last year’s virtual event, the Governor says it will be in person before the House and Senate…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Illinois lawmakers head back to Springfield on Tuesday after canceling session for a few weeks because of the pandemic. WPXN News will have coverage of the Governor’s address and reaction from area lawmakers on our afternoon news Wednesday and our Thursday morning news.


(Rantoul-jm) – A Rantoul home was damaged by fire early Saturday morning. Crews from Rantoul, Gifford and Thomasboro were called to the fire in the 1500 block of Eater Drive. No word on if there were any injuries or the cause of the fire.


(Champaign County-jm) – A Minnesota man is facing multiple charges following a traffic stop on I-57 near Pesotum. Tom Tramble was stopped for speeding by state troopers. He presented two fake names to the trooper before giving his real name which came back revoked and had several warrants for identity theft and burglary among others. They also found a loaded 9 mm handgun, 34 grams of cocaine, 12 grams of meth, 117 pills of oxycodone and 25 pills of alprazolam. Tramble was charged with armed violence, possession with intent to deliver cocaine and meth.  


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Republican lawmakers are calling for changes to the police reform law. Democratic lawmakers approved the changes last year at the request of the Black Caucus. One year later, Republicans and some Democrats are looking to make changes to the bill, says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.



(Urbana-jm) – The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is one step closer to getting out of its run-down headquarters. The county board in a 16-5 vote, gave County Executive Darlene Kloeppel the OK to purchase the County Plaza building at 102 East Main Street for $2 million. There was no immediate word on when the sale would close, but it might take up to a year for the sheriff’s office, which is just east of the plaza building, to move in. That’s because the building needs extensive renovations. The plaza building has five stories and about 88,000 square feet, leaving room for other county offices to move in if needed. The jail inmates at the downtown sheriff’s facility are expected to move to an expanded satellite jail.


(Urbana-jm) – It’ll cost incoming freshmen at the University of Illinois nearly 2% more than before after the university’s board voted to increase tuition. The increase was approved by the board of trustees for all U of I campuses. Tuition will increase 1.8% for the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses. Tuition will increase 1.5% at the Springfield campus.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Revenue is reminding eligible taxpayers to make sure they claim the earned income tax credit when they file their returns this year. The earned income tax credit can mean significant savings for qualifying low to moderate wage earners, says Agency Spokesperson Maura Kownacki…



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Maura Kownacki. If you qualify for the federal earned income tax credit, you will automatically qualify for the Illinois credit, but Kownacki says many people don’t take advantage of this on their state return.


(Champaign County-jm) – Champaign County Sheriff’s police are investigating a string of break ins in the eastern part of the county. Studio 308 in Gifford and Mean Mugz Bar and Grill in Ogden are the latest places to be broken into. Three businesses in St. Joseph was also recently broken into.


(Urbana-jm) – A Champaign man has been acquitted of selling drugs that were found in the home he was in. A jury deliberated for a little over an hour before returning the not guilty verdict on all charges against Billy Palmer. When police searched his house they found almost 23 grams of cocaine and several fake $100 bills. Palmer claimed the drugs were being sold from his brother.


(Gifford-tr) – Land Prices have continued to go up around the country and Illinois is no different. Jerry Wallace from Wallace Land and Auction says the prices he is seeing even out in the state of Iowa are crazy… 



Wallace Land and Auction Spokesperson Jerry Wallace.


(Champaign-jm) – A record number of homes were sold in Champaign County last year. The Champaign County Association of Realtors says they broke their record for home sales in 2021…again. 3,325 properties were sold. That’s 7.29% higher than the number sold in 2020. The average price was up 9% at $207,036.


(Paxton-jm) – The city of Paxton will be receiving federal CARES money to go toward infrastructure projects. Mayor Bill Ingold says some of that money will go to work at the city’s wastewater plant…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. 


updated(Undated-jm) – A new monthly survey of bankers in parts of 10 Plains and Western states shows the region's rural economy remains strong. However, bankers say they have growing concerns about the rising costs associated with running farms.  The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index fell in January to 61.1 from December's 66.7. Any score above 50 suggests growth. Bankers say high inflation is affecting the prices of farm supplies, from fuel to fertilizer. The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.


Governor J-B Pritzker is kicking off a new initiative to get students ready for a job in the construction trades

(Danville-jm) – A Rantoul man will learn in March how long he’ll be in prison for a beating and sexual assault of his estranged wife. A Vermilion County jury on Thursday found 57 year-old Darren Monroe guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated domestic battery. The man faces nine to 44 years in prison to be served at 85%, and he will be on the sex offender list for life. Sentencing is March 16. Monroe will be in jail until then. State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy said in December 2019, Monroe came to the victim’s home, beat her, and sexually assaulted her. Lacy said at trial, Monroe admitted to beating the woman but claimed she sexually assaulted him.


(Springfield-jm) – Republicans in the Illinois Senate are pushing for tougher government ethics reforms. The GOP Senators say last year’s ethics bill didn’t go nearly far enough to weed out corruption. They are releasing their own plan that addresses several concerns. That includes extending a ban on legislators working as lobbyists to one year after leaving office, says Senator Terri Bryant of Murphysboro…



State Senator Terri Bryant of Murphysboro. Bryant says they also want to prohibit a sitting lawmaker’s spouse or children from lobbying the legislature.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 14,422 new Coronavirus cases and 149 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate continues to fall, down to 13.8 percent. Locally, Champaign County reported 227 new cases. Vermilion County reported 174 new cases. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report Thursday.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is announcing nearly 220 million dollars in Rebuild Illinois money for downstate transit and port projects. The Governor stopped in the Metro East area to tout the critical infrastructure funding…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Local projects receiving funding including $8 million to the Bloomington Normal Public Transit System for electric buses. Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District is receiving $2.1 million for phase 2 of a solar array expansion project. C-Carts will also receive $134,000 for vehicle replacement. 


(Champaign-jm) – Two Champaign area police officers have been recognized by the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge for their roles during and following a May 19, 2021 shooting incident that took the life of fellow officer Chris Oberheim. Officer Jeff Creel received the FOP’s Valor Award and Officer John Wright received the Fraternalism Award during a special presentation in Champaign. Champaign Police Officers Chris Oberheim and his partner Jeff Creel responded to a domestic abuse call on May 19, 2021 and were fired upon by the suspect. Oberheim was killed and Creel severely wounded. Officer Creel was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm but still managed to return fire as he was trying to save Oberheim. The suspect also died during the exchange of gunfire. 


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois GOP lawmakers are calling for changes in the new police reform law. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says the changes don’t keep people safe…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.


(Mahomet-jm) – The Bulldog Blueprint team recently wrapped up a community survey as a way to gauge interest in voting for or against a tax increase that might address some of the capacity issues in the district. The committee says that although plans are not finalized, the funds needed to add classroom space in the Mahomet-Seymour School District will result in a property tax increase until 2042. When walking through the Bulldog Blueprint survey, responses to whether or not a taxpayer would approve of or oppose a $95 to $100 million referendum lead in two different directions. Those who oppose, strongly oppose or don’t know are asked if they would support the measure, knowing that a $150,000 home would see a $41/month increase in taxes. The median market value of a home in Mahomet-Seymour is approximately $218,000.


(Crown Point, Indiana-jm) – Prosecutors say an Illinois man was surfing a pornographic website moments before his tractor-trailer collided with a tar tanker near Lowell, killing the road construction worker who was driving. Clark Johnson, 69, of Hoopeston was charged with reckless homicide, two counts of criminal recklessness, and three counts of misdemeanor distracted driving. The Post-Tribune reports Johnson was ordered held on a $4,000 cash bond. The crash occurred on August 25, 2020, on U.S. 41 in Lowell.


(Springfield-jm) – House Republican Leader Jim Durkin is calling for an overhaul of the State Prisoner Review Board. Leader Durkin says the board needs to put the needs of crime victims before that of inmates and parolees…



House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Durkin is pushing for five members of the board to have law enforcement or prosecution experience, a higher threshold for granting parole to those convicted of first degree murder and for victims to have a stronger voice at board hearings.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is kicking off a new initiative to get students ready for a job in the construction trades. The Governor announced a yearly 10 million dollar investment in the “Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program” earlier this month and grants have been awarded to groups around the state…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Grantees are already recruiting a diverse group of participants and are expected to help more than one thousand people get a jump start on a career in the construction industry.


(Champaign-jm) – A 17-year-old boy has recently been arrested in connection with a homicide investigation that started in October, 2021. Champaign Police were dispatched to an area near the intersection of Bradley Avenue and County Fair Drive at around 12:25 a.m. on October 31, 2021 in response to a reported shooting with injuries. When police arrived at the scene, they saw several vehicles departing the scene and individuals fleeing on foot before they located 20-year-old Brandon Kelly with multiple gunshot wounds. Officers rendered medical aid until Kelly was taken to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.  According to police, there had been a large gathering in the parking lot of Parkland Pointe Apartments when 17-year-old Tony Brock approached Kelly on foot and shot him multiple times at close range before fleeing on foot.   


(Paxton-jm) – The city of Paxton has approved a dispatch agreement for emergency services with Ford county. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says it's a cost effective move…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.


(Springfield-jm) – Central Illinois organizations were among those receiving a slice of $47 million in newly-announced broadband expansion funding. Among the local projects include $117,000 to Mediacom for work near Dewey and nearly $604,000 to Comcast for work in Vermilion County.


The Onarga Public Library is collecting donations for G.O.D’s Food Pantry during the month of January.


The Watseka FFA Alumni Scholarship Auction will take place on Sunday. Doors open at noon with the auction starting at 1 pm.


New legislation reinstates the death penalty for those convicted of murdering a police officer in Illinois

(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign firefighter was seriously injured and a dog has died after a house fire Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called at approximately 2:22 p.m. to the 300 block of Flora Drive after a neighbor reported the fire. Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the single-story home when firefighters arrived on the scene. While fighting the fire, a firefighter emergency was declared, and one firefighter was taken from the building. The homeowner was not at home at the time of the fire.



(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 15,732 new Coronavirus cases and 143 additional deaths. The seven day positivity rate fell to 14.6 percent. Champaign County reported 630 new cases and 2 additional deaths. Vermilion County reported 237 new cases. Ford and Iroquois Counties did not have a report Wednesday.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is trying to raise awareness about human trafficking. In the last fiscal year, DCFS investigated 309 allegations of child trafficking. Incidents are probably higher, says Spokesperson Deborah Lopez, since so many go unreported. With that in mind…



DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. Signs include an adult controlling and speaking for a child, a child that seems out of place given the time of day or night or who is performing inappropriate work for their age. To report suspected cases of trafficking, call 1-800-25-abuse.


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois Police Department is investigating three car thefts that happened this week in Campustown. The first theft happened Monday at 7:30 p.m. at 601 South Sixth Street. Two more happened the next day just a block away from the previous theft at 601 East Green Street; one at 3:09 p.m. and the other at 7:45 p.m. In at least two of these cases, the cars were left running and unattended when they were stolen.


(gordyville–jc)  – Today is day two for the 20-22 run of the Midwest Ag Expo at Gordyville USA near Gifford. Over 175 different booths that represent everything agriculture are on display from 8-30am to 3pm..  Premier Cooperative’s Eddie Hannagan says those attending the show today can learn about an  upcoming meeting they will have for farmers…



Premier Cooperative’s Eddie Hannagan

Todays show hours are from 8-30am to 3pm. The Midwest Ag Expo is free to attend and free parking too.


(Paxton-jm) – Paxton city crews continue to do stump removal. Crews began on the north part of the west side and are working their way south. After that is done they will move to the east side and start in the north part and again work their way south.


(Washington-jm) – Will this year bring a change in the upward spiral of retail food prices?  Gary Crawford reports…



(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign Federation of Teachers on Wednesday night overwhelmingly voted to move forward with the process to go on strike. The final vote was 91% in favor. Teachers say they will be at school for the rest of the week and next week, but they’re putting together plans on what is to come next. The next collective bargaining meeting is on Friday.


(Gordyville-jc)  When you go to this year’s Midwest Ag Expo, you will see a working grain system from I-G-S-E of Cissna Park. IGSE’s Aaron Kaeb talks about the display at the expo in Gordyville…



Illinois Grain and Seed Equipment of Cissna Park’s Aaron Kaeb


(Springfield-jm) – New legislation reinstates the death penalty for those convicted of murdering a police officer in Illinois. The bill comes from Senator Darren Bailey of downstate Louisville, who says over the past three years, Illinois has lost 25 officers in the line of duty…



State Senator Darren Bailey of Louisville. A similar measure will be filed in the House by Representative Blaine Wilhour of Effingham.


(Champaign-tr) – Parkland College will observe Black History Month in February with month-long virtual and in-person events featuring black health and wellness as the theme. Parkland is inviting all community members to the events. Most events will have attendance restrictions, and some may only have virtual options. Session links will be available at parkland dot edu backslash BHM. 


(Paxton-tr) – Sign ups are now available for 6th-8th grade Junior High Basketball for boys and girls. Youth Soccer sign ups are also available, Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans says the programs are doing well and that even baseball signups are quickly approaching… 



 Paxton Park District Director Cody Evans.


(Mahomet-jm) – The Mahomet Public Library knows that its facility is too small to accommodate its constituency. It was apparent in 2007 when they built a 13,000 square-foot building, needing a 24,000 square-foot building. Today library staff estimates that the facility needs to be about 27,000 square feet. At this time, the library board and staff have decided to move forward with applying for a Public Library Construction Act Grant, one of which could pay up to 49-percent of the cost of an addition. If secured, the library would begin fundraising efforts, look into wrap-around bonds, and tap into some reserves to realize the vision. 


(Washington-jm) – Time is running out for eligible producers to apply for the USDA program covering forage losses in 2021 due to drought or fire. Rod Bain reports…



The Paxton Emergency Response Service will host their chicken and noodle supper tonight from 5-7 pm at their building at 134 W. State Street in downtown Paxton under the water tower. Meal includes chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread, dessert and drink for $10.

Republican members of the Illinois General Assembly are wanting to address police reform

(Springfield-jm) – Announcing an agreement with unions representing Illinois educators about paid COVID-19 leave for vaccinated school staff, Governor J.B. Pritzker has vetoed a bill that was opposed by some school management groups.  Among the initiatives Pritzker’s office announced is paid administrative leave for every employee of a public school district, public university, and public community college who is fully vaccinated. Because the initiative renders House Bill 2778 moot, Pritzker said he vetoed the bill. 


(Springfield-jm) – Equal Pay Act reporting requirements for large businesses in Illinois begin March 24th. Under new state laws, private employers with more than 100 workers must file for an equal pay certificate with the Illinois Department of Labor. Assistant Director Jason Keller says due to the volume of businesses in Illinois, emails will go out in groups giving employers at least 120 days notice to comply. The first batch has already been sent…



Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller. Keller notes it could take more than a year for an employer to receive notification from the department. This new requirement affects at least 47 hundred businesses in Illinois.


(St. Joseph-jm) – Tuesday break-ins at St. Joseph businesses are under investigation. According to Champaign County deputies, the crimes occurred at Country Chics, Salon 192 and Geschenk Coffee, Cafe & Gifts. Authorities responded to the business and could not find a suspect. They said they learned the same suspect broke into the other two businesses. In at least one business, an undisclosed amount of cash was stolen. The suspect entered the businesses either through forcing open doors or breaking a window, authorities said. 


(Springfield-jm) – Republican members of the Illinois General Assembly are wanting to address police reform. The Democratic controlled General Assembly passed reform legislation that Republicans say put more people at risk. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington says the rise in violence is leading to long-time police officers being very discouraged…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.


(Urbana-jm) – Moving into the second year of the pandemic and a new normal, the University of Illinois is discussing the future of higher education. The senate conference discussed moving forward and they think many teachers will embrace online learning or hybrid options. Officials also report greater attendance in meetings online. They're also looking at long-term options for faculty to work remotely.


(Washington-jm) – USDA's January WASDE report shows high prices for U.S. dairy products. Stephanie Ho reports…



(Springfield-jm) – As concern grows over children's mental health amid the pandemic, a new Illinois law allows kids to take five mental health days each year. These are classified as excused absences, meant to assist children get help if they need it. The law says kids don't need a doctor's note to take these mental health days. Students and parents will need to explicitly state that they're using this type of absence when they call in to their school office.


(Springfield-jm) – As you’re trying to stay warm this winter, the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office has a few safety tips to keep in mind. There are plenty of hazards when it comes to heating your home so it’s important to stay on top of things like having your furnace serviced regularly, says Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz…



State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Another concern is carbon monoxide poisoning, so Fultz says you should install and check CO detectors regularly. Illinois fire departments responded to nearly 11 thousand carbon monoxide leaks in 2020.


(Watseka-jm) – Wanda Kendall Elementary School in Watseka is working to replace library books lost in a devastating flood. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation presented them with a grant worth $1,850. The money will be used to restock the library shelves for kids in preschool through first grade. In 2018, Watseka was hit by a massive flood. The damage permanently ruined thirty five percent of Wanda Kendall’s library books. 


(Buckley-tr) – Christ Lutheran High School will be hosting a drive thru, free will donation spaghetti lunch on Sunday February 6th from 11am-1230pm. CLHS Director Sandy Spitz says there will even be white cake for dessert… 



CLHS Director Sandy Spitz.


(Mahomet-jm) – The Mahomet-Seymour School Board has entered into an agreement with Educational Leadership Solutions to conduct a search for a new Superintendent of the Mahomet-Seymour School District after Lindsey Hall announced her resignation/retirement late in 2021. Final interviews with three candidates are expected to take place early in March with a contract by March 25.


(Washington-jm) – A reduction in U.S. pork exports is dominating USDA's forecast for an overall reduction in U.S. meat exports in 2022. Stephanie Ho reports…



Monday marked the two year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 reported in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) – Despite being scheduled to head back to Springfield this week, the Illinois House has canceled session days. A statement from the House Speaker’s office said “with cautious optimism” COVID-19 has peaked, the House will return the following week. The Senate already had this week scheduled off.


(Springfield-jm) – Monday marked the two year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 reported in Illinois. That initial case in January of 2020 was a Chicago woman who had returned from a trip to Wuhan, China. Since then, more than two point eight million people have tested positive and over 30 thousand have died. Cases and hospitalizations reached record levels this month, although the surge seems to have peaked. During a recent COVID briefing, Governor J-B Pritzker reminded how serious the pandemic remains…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says those that are most sick continue to be unvaccinated. At the most recent count, over 52 hundred patients were in the hospital with COVID-19. Since Friday, the state reported 64,591 new cases and 310 deaths. Vermilion County reported 639 new cases and 4 additional deaths. Iroquois County reported 311 new cases and 3 additional deaths. Champaign County reported 1,583.


(Urbana-jm) – The U of I approved a $50 million building project. The Undergraduate Library will be completely gutted soon. They’ll start construction to turn it into a new facility. The archives, special collections, and rare books will be moved there. Some of the university’s oldest documents need to be stored in climate-controlled rooms. so the updated building will help preserve them and open up new teaching spaces. The main library on campus will also be redesigned. The money will primarily come from donors, endowments, and a deferred maintenance fund.


(Springfield-jm) – There has been a lot of news about Illinois being in debt over the years. Now we’re hearing about another program that is in growing debt. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about what is happening with unemployment insurance…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Danville-jm) – A request to use $500-thousand dollars in county funds to renovate homes of owners who meet certain income requirements is still being reviewed.  The Vermilion County Land Bank requested the funds in November to help replace roofs, porches, siding and other areas.  The money would come from the $14-million dollars in federal rescue funds the county is receiving due to the pandemic. The goal of the Land Bank is to help rehabilitate homes so that they can remain owner-occupied and prevent their demolition in the future. The county hasn’t decided what they will do with the money.


(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance from the public regarding a battery/disorderly conduct. According to investigators, a man approached an Asian woman while she was walking her dog in Hessel Park at around 2 p.m. on December 27. She became alarmed by his actions and began to video record their interaction. The man made obscene gestures and remarks to her. As the lady tried to walk around the man, he slapped the phone out of her hand.

The man is described as a middle-aged, white male, wearing a baseball cap, blue zip-up hoodie, blue jeans, white sneakers and glasses.


(Springfield-jm) – According to an annual report released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Illinois is lacking when it comes to traffic safety laws. Fatal traffic incidents are the highest they've been in Illinois in 17 years. In 2021, there were 1,361 traffic fatalities across the state. Among the recommendations from the group includes: requiring helmets on motorcycles, make booster seat requirements for children stricter, make the minimum age for a learners permit 16, stronger nighttime driving restrictions, stronger passenger restrictions and making the minimum age for an unrestricted license 18. 


(Champaign County-jm) – Several positions are up for election in Champaign County. At the county office level, the county clerk, sheriff, treasurer and county executive are up for election. Also every member of the county board is up as well.


(Paxton-jm) – A contract has been awarded for phase one of Paxton’s streetscape project with work expected to begin this spring. Mayor Bill Ingold says they are working on phase two of the project…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold.


(Mahomet-jm) – Mahomet police want to be the latest area department to add license plate readers to its crime-fighting tool-belt. The department has applied for grant money to buy nine of the devices. They would cost $2,500 per reader per year. If they can’t get the grant money, it’ll include it in next year’s budget he brings to the village board. Law enforcement in Champaign, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, the University of Illinois and Rantoul all use or will use the technology, while Urbana elected leaders said no.



(Champaign-jm) – 52nd District State Senator Scott Bennett has been awarded the Friend of Agriculture award from Illinois Fertilizer Association.

Lawmakers are hoping teen truckers will be a solution to shortages across the nation

(Rantoul-jm) – A Rantoul home was severely damaged by a weekend fire. Families in 4 apartments were displaced. Crews were called to the 100 block of West Letchworth just after 7 pm Saturday evening. Thomasboro and Gifford firefighters assisted Rantoul firefighters. No word on the cause of the fire.


(Springfield-jm) – Lawmakers are hoping teen truckers will be a solution to shortages across the nation. Right now, you have to be at least 21 to drive a semi-truck over state lines, but congress is proposing dropping that age to 18. That’s because of the extreme shortage of truck drivers across the country. The head of the American Trucking Association said the industry needs about 80,000 more drivers, and that’s why they want to reduce the age. Right now, several states, including Illinois, give commercial driver’s licenses to people who are at least 18, but they can’t drive over state lines until they’re 21.


(Springfield-jm) – A new report is highlighting the success of a recent law that helps service members obtain their state professional license more quickly. The law expedites the process of getting licensed in Illinois for occupations like physicians, nurses, unarmed security guards and cosmetologists. This is so important for active duty members and their spouses says State Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Secretary Mario Treto…



State Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Secretary Mario Treto. The Department helped 862 service members and their spouses through the licensure process last year, tripling the amount that took advantage of the initiative during the first year in 2020.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 40,642 new cases and 137 additional deaths Friday. Champaign County reported 1,549 new cases. Vermilion County reported 366 new cases and 5 additional deaths. Ford County reported 245 new cases. Iroquois County did not have a report.


(Rantoul-jm) – Child molestation charges has been filed against a Rantoul man who is currently serving time for aggravated criminal sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.  Jorge Elvir-Reyes is serving four years behind bars in Canton. On Thursday, he was arraigned on four charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, The News-Gazette reports. He's accused of molesting a girl under 13 at his Rantoul home between May 2018 and May 2019. 


(Buckley-tr) – Christ Lutheran High School will be participating in the National Lutheran Schools Week Celebration as will many Lutheran schools across the country. It started yesterday and lasts all week. CLHS Director Sandy Spitz shares more on how they will be celebrating in Buckley…



CLHS Director Sandy Spitz.


(Thomasboro-jm) – After split discussion and public comment, the Thomasboro School Board voted to keep the mascot, "Indians." In late 2021, the school board sent a notice of a plan to discuss the mascot to make sure it was appropriate.


(Washington-jm) – There are some big numbers in USDA's latest report on cattle feedlot activity. Gary Crawford report…



(Springfield-jm) –  Illinois Air National Guard members are facing being discharged from service if they don't get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Illinois Air National Guard's vaccine deadline was December 3, 2021. Right now, 96% of members are vaccinated, with 3% asking for exemptions, and 1% are simply refusing and haven't submitted an exemption request. The Department of Defense issued a memorandum on August 24, requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all active duty, Ready Reserve, including the National Guard.


(Urbana-jm) – The U of I is mourning the loss of a beloved dean. Former dean Clarence Shelley died. He took on a number of roles over the years, from dean of students, to special assistant to the chancellor. He played a major role in “Project 500,” which was the university’s first big effort to ensure equal education opportunities. He encouraged U of I to bring in students who were underrepresented. Those who knew him say he was a leader.


(Washington-jm) – The agricultural trade front is very active right now and it includes talks with China on shortfalls in Phase I purchase commitments. Gary Crawford reports…



(Danville-jm) – There will be fewer precincts outside Danville but within Vermilion County for this year’s elections.  Members of the County Board approved an ordinance reducing the precincts from 55 to 38. The reduction is due to the difficulty in finding election judges.


(Undated–jc)  Tax time is here. WPXN’s Tyler Robinson has the details…


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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