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WPXN Blog Archives for 2022-12

An Illinois judge has ruled parts of the Safe-T Act unconstitutional

(Kankakee County-jm) – An Illinois judge has ruled parts of the Safe-T Act unconstitutional. In a ruling announced late Wednesday night, Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled the bail reform and pre-trial release provisions unconstitutional and therefore will not go into effect January 1st in the 65 counties that were part of the lawsuit against the state. Other provisions of the law including body cameras and training were upheld. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a statement saying the state will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.


(Springfield-jm) – A new law taking effect January 1st lowers license plate fees for low income seniors. The cost of an annual license plate sticker will drop from $24 to just $10 next month, says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s Spokesperson Henry Haupt. He explains the eligibility requirements…



Illinois Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt. To learn more, visit the Illinois Department on Aging’s website at: il aging dot illinois dot gov, click on “programs” and select “benefit access.”


(Champaign-jm) – An Urbana man allegedly punched a man in the face so hard that he knocked the victim's tooth out. Terren Gaither, 31, was arrested by Champaign County sheriff’s deputies and charged with two counts of aggravated battery alleging he caused great bodily harm to a person while using a deadly weapon. Police say the victim, a 42 year-old man, said Gaither became upset with him for keeping a truck too long and lashed out by hitting him across the face several times with a hard object. Officials say the injuries include a right eye that was swollen shut, a cut to the right eyelid, a cut under the eye, a cut under the lip, a missing tooth, and a cut on the side of the head.


(Washington-jm) – How many acres will U.S. farmers plant of soybeans this spring? Gary Crawford reports…



(Paxton-jm) – A drawing was held Wednesday morning to determine the position of two contested races in the April election for Paxton Alderman in Wards 2 and 4. For Ward 2, newcomer Joe Reinhart will appear first, while incumbent Paul Crutcher will appear 2nd. In Ward 4, incumbent Jonas Hoedebecke will appear first, with newcomer Kristin Larson 2nd.


(Urbana-jm) – Champaign County Circuit Clerk Susan McGrath is announcing a phone issue in her office. McGrath says employees can call out, however, the office can’t receive incoming calls. The issue was first detected before Christmas but the company that handles the county’s communication devices has yet to determine what the problem is.


(Rantoul–jc)  What is in the future for area communities as we transition into 20-23? That is a question WPXN news posed to area civic and business leaders. Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith says the village continues to grow and and seeing positive economic growth and that is going to continue for years to come…



Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith


(Springfield-jm) – The state minimum wage is increasing January 1st. Starting next year, the minimum wage in Illinois will be $13 an hour. This is the fifth increase since a law was passed in 2019, bringing the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour by 2025. State Department of Labor Director Jane Flanagan…



State Department of Labor Director Jane Flanagan. Workers under 18 who work less than 650 hours a year will earn a minimum wage of $10.50 an hour.


(Urbana-jm) – The Urbana Police Department is searching for a person of interest in a recent retail theft at a local Walmart store. The police department shared an image of the person from video footage on Facebook, and are asking that anyone who can identify the person or has additional information or video footage of the incident can contact police at 217-384-2320.


(Washington-jm) – What are some of the concerns for agriculture due to last week's arctic cold front that covered most of the country? Rod Bain reports…



(Rantoul-jm) – Rantoul residents will have a referendum on the ballot in April. The referendum would seek to reverse a 2018 referendum that called for trustees on the village board to be elected by districts instead of at large. The change went into effect last year. Proponents say trustees were elected with too few votes while opponents say the system allows for better representation of the village.


(Champaign-jm) – A man was cited for reckless discharge after police said he shot himself in the leg Tuesday night. According to Assistant to the Chief of Police for Community Services Joe Lamberson, Champaign Police responded to a report of shots fired around 9:39 p.m. When officers arrived to the 1200 block of Anthony Drive, they found a man with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg. After speaking with the subject, they determined the wound was self-inflicted “following the discharge of a firearm.”


(Rantoul–jc)  What are the hopes and dreams of area civic and business leaders as we head into 20-23? We asked that question of Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery. The local chamber is looking to raise money in early 20-23 for a dog park in Rantoul…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery

State and local police are continuing their campaign against drunk driving through January 2nd

(Springfield-jm) – State and local police are continuing their campaign against drunk driving through January 2nd. The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” effort is underway for the holidays. Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel says unfortunately, DUI deaths are on the rise…



IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Police will also use increased patrols to identify speeders, those not wearing a seatbelt and distracted drivers.


(Kankakee County-jm) – A Kankakee County judge is expected to make a ruling today on the constitutionality of the Safe-T Act. Among the chief complaints of the act is the elimination of cash bail in the state on January 1st. The judge heard the case last week. Several states attorneys and sheriff’s sued the state over the law claiming it is unconstitutional, however it was agreed upon to merge them all into one case.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is awarding nearly 350 thousand dollars in grants to groups around the state. The grants are issued quarterly and this round is going to six different organizations, says Director Terry Prince…



Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Terry Prince. The money is going to groups like AllenForce in Plainfield which works with women who have experienced sexual trauma in the military and the Fishing for Freedom Fishing Tournament in Quincy.


(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers is asking assistance with a wanted suspect, 47-year-old Evelyn Bellamy. Police said Bellamy is 5’1”, weighs 185 lbs. and has black hair and brown eyes. She has two warrants for her arrest, the first is for failure to appear- felon possession/ use of a weapon. Bond was set at $7,500. The second warrant is for failure to appear- retail theft, with bond set at $5,000.


(Washington-jm) – The value of farmland is continuing to rise in many markets. Gary Crawford reports…



(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign Driver Services facility was temporarily closed due to a frozen pipe that burst. Officials say that the facility was closed during the clean-up, and will reopen today


(Paxton–jc)  What are expectations and hopes for the new year. WPXN news asked area Civic and Business leaders that question. Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Austin Curtis wants to see more growth in local businesses…



Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce President Austin Curtis


(Springfield-jm) – The state is getting a few new designations in 2023. Among the new laws taking effect in January include naming Dolostone as the official state rock of Illinois and choosing the Eastern Milksnake as the official state snake. Senator Dave Severin sponsored that bill last spring, saying the name came from a very old belief that the snakes could milk cows…



State Senator Dave Severin. Additionally, the official state theatre will now be the “Theatre in the Park” at Lincoln’s New Salem Historic Site and August 1st is dedicated as Sweet Corn Appreciation Day in Illinois.


(Undated-jm) – The price of gas continues to drop in Illinois according to Gasbuddy. The average price of gas in Illinois has fallen 11.7 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $ 3.14 per gallon. Prices in Illinois are 66.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 20.2 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.


(Springfield-jm) – The University of Illinois Extension Office is offering a few ideas on what to do with your Christmas tree once you’re ready to take it down. Christmas trees can have a second life after the holidays says U of I Extension Horticulture Educator Chris Enroth…



U of I Extension Horticulturist Chris Enroth. That means not dumping the tree on someone else’s property or in a public lake or ditch. Enroth says many communities have a pick-up program where the trees are turned into mulch. You can also use Christmas trees as firewood but only for an outdoor firepit because of the resin in evergreens.


(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign man is facing multiple charges after he went on a tirade at a family members home and destroyed several items. Police responded after a female resident called them after Mario Pettigrew became upset when a trip to the store did not go as scheduled. The woman told police Pettigrew started throwing things around then grabbed a large knife and threatened her with it. Pettigrew damaged two TVs, a stove and a mirror as well as urns of two family members. Police located Pettigrew thanks to a GPS device he had been ordered to wear from an unrelated robbery and domestic battery case. The judge set bond at $200,000. He was charged with unlawful use of weapons by a felon, criminal damage to property, aggravated assault and violation of pre-trial conditions. He is due back in court January 18th.


(Washington-jm) – Will corn growers boost acreage in 2023? Gary Crawford reports…



(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance from the public regarding a bank robbery. The Champaign Police Department says they responded to the First Financial Bank located at 1205 S. Neil Street on December 19, for reports of a bank robbery. Police say upon arrival, officers learned a suspect entered the bank, displayed a note indicating the presence of a handgun, and demanded money. The suspect was described as a white male with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a black hat, white face mask, dark blue vest, long-sleeved gray shirt, jeans, and black gloves.


(Gibson City–jc)  What does the future hold and what are the hopes for the new year. WPXN news talked to 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett about issues for the new year…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. 

Legislation capping pawnbroker interest rates may come up when lawmakers return to Springfield in early January

(Springfield-jm) – The farm bureau continues to ask for both sides of the political spectrum to work together for the sake of America’s agricultural livelihood. Agriculture has benefited from consistent support on both sides of the aisle, in Washington D.C. and at the Illinois statehouse. The start of 2023 means the beginning of conversations and the crafting of a new farm bill for 2024. Three issues emerged at the top of the list of concerns. Members were loud and clear about the need to keep crop insurance where it is. Legislators and consumers have called for conservation measures. Another major area of concern for Illinois farmers is international trade.


(Springfield-jm) – Legislation capping pawnbroker interest rates may come up when lawmakers return to Springfield in early January. A law limiting payday lending and short term auto title loan interest rates to 36 percent currently does not cover pawn shops, where people bring in an item in exchange for a loan. Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago wants to close that loophole…



State Senator Jacqueline Collins of Chicago. Collins says pawnbrokers charge exorbitant rates that people can’t afford to pay back. Opponents in the industry say the cap would put them out of business.


(Champaign-jm) – One of Promise Healthcare’s Champaign locations is moving. The clinic on Walnut Street is moving to South Neil Street. The new location will handle mental health and social services starting January 3rd. The group says the new location will also allow for future expansion of primary medical care services but also adding dental services.


(Undated-jm) – A quick burst of winter weather yesterday evening brought slick roads to the area. Illinois State Police reported they responded to several slide offs. Some untreated roads may still be slick this morning.


(Paxton-jm) – The Ford County Board of Health invites public comments regarding the intent to create and set a fee for the Farmers' Market Permit in Ford County beginning January 1, 2023. Information regarding Farmers’ Market permitting in the Illinois Compiled Statutes under the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. The public can commit through January 16th by emailing lsample at ford county phd dot org.


(Springfield-jm) – The latest update on Illinois’ economy going forward offers a wide range of possibilities from an economic soft landing to a full-scale recession. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability provided an update on the 2023 forecast and said it is increasing its fiscal year 2023 revenue outlook to just over $51 billion. That is only $259 million above fiscal 2022 final levels. They cited strong gains in revenues for the first third of the fiscal year necessitating an increase in the fiscal 2023 revenue outlook. However, a conservative outlook for the remaining two-thirds of fiscal 2023 will be assumed at this time because of several factors, including COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and high gas prices, which affects consumer spending.


(Springfield-jm) – The State Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters that deer baiting is illegal in Illinois. Conservation Police have been issuing numerous warnings and citations to deer hunters using bait like corn and molasses, says Spokesperson Jayette Bolinski…



Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson Jayette Bolinski. Bolinski says deer baiting also violates an important hunting ethics standard, fair chase. That means the animal is given a sporting chance and is not tricked or lured.


(Undated-jm) – A rise in flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases infecting children has led to an unprecedented run for over-the-counter pain relief medications for children. Parents trying to soothe symptoms for their sick children are running into empty shelves at pharmacies and creating a scramble to find basic medications. Two of the nation’s biggest pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, announced purchase limits for some of the children’s medication to keep it in stock. CVS is limiting in-person and online purchases to two children’s pain relief products, while Walgreens has a limit of six per online purchase.


(Undated-jm) – Illinois homes sold faster in November 2022 than they did in November 2021, while year-over-year inventory fell. The statewide median price shifted lower and home sales were down compared to the year before, according to data from Illinois REALTORS. The average Illinois home sold in 30 days in November, compared to 31 in November 2021. Statewide home sales in November totaled 10,374 homes sold, down 30.0 percent from 14,824 in November 2021. The statewide median price went down 2.8 percent to $243,000 in November compared to $249,900 in November 2021. The number of homes for sale statewide was 24,279 in November compared to 27,692 in November 2021, an inventory decline of 12.3 percent.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is ready to tackle the roads as a winter storm moves into the state

(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Transportation is ready to tackle the roads as a winter storm moves into the state. While forecasted snowfall totals are expected at 2-5 inches, the roads will likely still be treacherous, says IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel…



IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. To make matters worse, IDOT says when it gets so bitterly cold, salt and other road treatments don’t work. The transition from rain to snow is expected to occur around mid-day and rapidly deteriorate. Temperatures are expected to drop 15-20 degrees in a matter of an hour or two leading to flash freeze. Winds are expected to pick up leading to blizzard like conditions. Wind chill values of 25 to 35 below zero are expected. A winter storm warning is in effect starting at noon today and going through 6 am Saturday morning. Check getting around illinois dot com for the latest road conditions.


(Springfield-jm) – More than five million Illinoisans have now received their income and property tax rebates under Governor J-B Pritzker’s Family Relief Plan. 96 percent of rebates to qualifying taxpayers have been sent out, totaling over one billion dollars, says Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Maura Kownacki (kuh-nacky)...



Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Maura Kownacki. Less than four percent of taxpayers may still be awaiting their rebates. In most cases, this is because they either filed their state income tax returns later in the year or are responding to questions from the department.


(Rantoul-jm) – Rantoul Sports Complex is officially one of the best complexes in the country. The American Sports Builders Association named the facility this year’s most distinguished sports facility. The award recognizes complexes that display construction excellence. It is home to many fields for football, baseball, rugby and even quidditch. The facility hosted more than 350,000 people this year. It’s expected the complex will have more than one million people using the fields by the end of 2023.


(Urbana-jm) – A Potomac man has been sentenced to 38 years in prison for shooting at a Champaign County Sheriff’s deputy nearly two years ago. John Bennett pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm, a crime that carries a maximum of 45 years in prison. The charge and prosecution stems from an incident on February 21, 2021 in which Bennett was a passenger while his girlfriend was the driver during a traffic stop in Urbana; Bennett did not cooperate during the traffic stop and his girlfriend fled. After getting onto the highway, Bennett leaned out the window of his girlfriend’s car and fired at a deputies squad car. The chase involving Bennett ultimately led other deputies from Champaign County and Illinois State Troopers to become involved. Vermilion County Sheriff’s deputies also joined the pursuit when it entered that county. During the chase, 911 dispatchers received a call from Bennett’s girlfriend who said he was threatening to shoot her if she did not stop. The car was eventually brought to a stop on Illinois Route 49 after the tires were blown out using a spike strip. Bennett’s girlfriend got out of the car, but Bennett refused to get out of the car and threatened to kill himself, starting a three-hour standoff.


(Springfield-jm) – All year long we’ve seen the terrible pictures coming out of Ukraine following the Russian invasion of that country. A lot of people may be surprised to learn that Illinois taxpayers invest money in Russia that might be going to support their war effort. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about changes ahead…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Watseka-jm) – The Iroquois County Board voted to approve a tax levy that represents a 13.7% increase over last year. The proposed corporate and special purpose property taxes levied are at $5,936,858.  It's due to a rise in equalized assessed value and rising home values.The effects of the levy is way more than just the county government portion. School districts and other bodies of government make up 70% of the property tax bills. And the EAV poses the same concern for those units of government too.


(Rantoul–jc)  –  what is on the christmas wish list of local leaders. That question was asked of Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery. She wants to see member involvement and member growth…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Police is urging the public to stay off the roads during the incoming winter storm. Combine snow and very cold temperatures and it’s going to be pretty ugly out there, says Trooper Haylie Polistina…



Illinois State Trooper Haylie Polistina. If you do slide off the road or get into an accident, Polistina says you should stay in your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on and call 9-1-1. A winter storm warning goes into effect starting at noon today through 6 am Saturday morning. Winds of up to 50 mph will bring blizzard like conditions. 2-5 inches of snow is expected. The changeover from rain to snow is expected to occur around the mid day hours with conditions deteriorating rapidly. Temperatures are expected to drop 15-20 degrees in a matter of an hour or two. Wind chill values of 25 to 35 below are expected from tonight through the weekend. Check getting around illinois dot com for the latest road conditions.


(Springfield-jm) – Freshman enrollment is up at Illinois public universities. There’s been a five percent increase in the number of freshmen enrolled this school year. That compares to a decrease of more than two percent nationally says State Board of Higher Education Spokesperson Jose Garcia…



State Board of Higher Education Spokesperson Jose Garcia. Garcia says enrollment of Latino and African American students increased significantly this fall. Universities seeing the highest percentage of overall student growth: Governor’s State, Northeastern Illinois and Western Illinois.


(Paxton-jm) – Loda Immanuel Lutheran Church is the latest organization to receive a $1,000 check from Paxton IGA. It’s part of their charitable rebate program, which provides $1,000 to a nonprofit organization in return for the organization collecting $200,000 in IGA receipts. This represents the 58th organization that has qualified for a $1000 check since the program started in September 2009.


(Thawville-jm) – A Will County woman who was the founder of an animal sanctuary in Iroquois County was sentenced to probation for animal cruelty. 40-year-old Corrine DiLorenzo will serve a year and a-half probation, pay a $500 fine, and serve community service time. DiLorenzo was originally charged for Aggravated Animal Cruelty in 2019. She later chose to go with a lesser misdemeanor charge. DiLorenzo founded the animal sanctuary at Thawville where hundreds of animal carcasses were discovered in a shallow grave in 2019. DiLorenzo has remained free since posting a $10,000 bond. Earth Advocates – a non-profit animal sanctuary, set up shop in Thawville. Back in 2019, a grand jury indicted her after she allegedly caused the death of several animals.


(Paxton-jm) – A blood drive will be held on December 26th in Paxton. Coordinator Kevin Hanson says they have gifts for those who donate…



Local blood drive coordinator Kevin Hanson.


(Urbana-jm) – State Representative Carol Ammons of Urbana announced that she will be applying to fill the Senate seat previously held by Senator Scott Bennett. Bennett died unexpectedly on December 9 from a brain tumor. The decision over who replaces Bennett falls to the Democratic Party Chairs of Champaign and Vermilion County, but Champaign’s Democratic Party will ultimately have way more weight in the decision. The total number of votes is split based on the number of voters from each county in the most recent primary election. 


(The Center Square) – Illinois' population has been shrinking for years as more people leave the state than arrive. Did the trend continue this past year? Residents will learn today when the latest U.S. Census data on population is released.Estimates over the past decade show about 400,000 fewer people in Illinois from eight consecutive years of decline. In the Decennial Census, Illinois lost around 18,000 people. The state lost a seat in the upcoming U.S. Congress because of the population decline. Months later, another survey suggested the Census undercounted Illinois by around 2 percent. This past summer, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said the state is growing.


The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging the public to take advantage of its winter road conditions website before traveling

(Washington-jm) – Illinois is set to receive more than a quarter of a billion dollars in grants from the federal government to expand the reaches of broadband internet in the state. In a news conference hosted by the White House Tuesday, federal officials announced Illinois has been approved to receive $253 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to offer broadband internet. In addition to the ARPA funds, Illinois is also getting an additional $6,515,352.64 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to expand Internet access and digital equity in the state.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging the public to take advantage of its winter road conditions website before traveling. With the first major snowstorm of the season on the way, IDOT’s Paul Wappel recommends checking: getting around illinois dot com…



IDOT Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Wappel says families should also make sure their car is well stocked with emergency supplies like blankets, a windshield scraper, flares, a flashlight and first aid kit. A winter storm watch will kick in tomorrow and run through Saturday morning. Snow amounts of 2-6 inches is possible with wind gusts over 50 mph is possible. Another major part of this system is the frigid and possibly record temperatures. Daytime highs are expected to be in the single digits with lows below zero. Combine that with the winds and weather forecasters say wind chill or real feel temperatures could be as low as 30 below zero.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul wants the public to watch out for online scammers. The holidays are a time ripe for scams, says Attorney General Raoul. He recommends making sure retail websites are the real deal and checking reviews of the businesses before placing an order…



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul says you should also be careful making payments to people you don’t know through apps like Venmo or Paypal since you won’t have the same level of protection as credit cards. 


(Rantoul-jm) – The Rantoul Police Department and US Marshalls Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested two Champaign juveniles, ages 14 and 16, on Tuesday for the offenses of murder and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.  The arrests come as a result of the ongoing investigation in connection to the shooting death of 34-year-old DeCarlo Douglas of Urbana, in Rantoul on November 20.


(Champaign-jm) – Champaign Police are asking for the community’s help in finding the person who robbed a bank. The robbery happened at First Financial Bank located at 1205 South Neil Street. Officers responded there and learned that a suspect had entered the bank, displayed a note that indicated they were armed and demanded money. The suspect then left with an undisclosed amount of money. There were no injuries and no evidence that a gun was ever displayed or fired.


(Champaign-jm) –  A Champaign man is facing drug and gun charges. Jordan Johnson was arrested by the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force following a court authorized search of the home he shares with his girlfriend, her children and sister. Police say he allegedly sold cocaine and fentanyl to a person working with police. The search turned up 30 grams of cocaine with a street value of $3,000; a 9 mm handgun and ammunition; a bottle containing 28 pills believed to be fentanyl and a digital scale. Johnson is charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of cocaine, unlawful use of weapons by a felon and violation of his sex offender registration. He is due back in court January 4th.


(Washington-jm) – How did the tradition of the Christmas tree get started? Here is one of several possible theories. Gary Crawford reports…



(Kankakee-jm) – The state's controversial SAFE-T Act is set to end cash bail for many crimes in Illinois January 1. Tuesday, a Kankakee County judge heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the measure. Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe argued the SAFE-T Act is unconstitutional because it violates the state's single-subject law, which confines legislation to only one subject. In addition, he argued that the whole measure is invalid because a provision related to redistricting maps is included. Darren Kinkead, who argued on behalf of the state, claimed the measure does not violate any single-subject laws because the redistricting is about prisoners and would be included as a part of the criminal justice system. The judge said he would render a decision in this case by December 28, just days before no-cash bail takes effect.


(Springfield-jm) – Hearings continue on the proposed ban on assault weapons. A House committee heard from law enforcement leaders about how officers are outmanned compared to criminals with assault-style firearms. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart…



Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Opponents testified that the legislation is unconstitutional, including the portion that raises the age to get a FOID card from 18 to 21. They say that means a 20 year old can’t hunt without adult supervision.


(Washington-jm) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an investment of $9.5 million to support the scale-up of sustainable bioproduct manufacturing in the United States. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was one of the awardees. U of I was awarded for a project that proposes to convert swine manure and other organic feedstocks into bio binders for asphalt that increase the quality of recycled asphalt pavements. If commercialized, benefits include reduced landfill waste, reduced disposal costs for asphalt and food waste, and low-cost products.


(Springfield-jm) – This holiday season, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs is suggesting the gift of a college education for the children in your life. Opening or contributing to a Bright Start 529 College Savings account is a great alternative to toys that will quickly be tossed aside, says Treasurer Frerichs…



State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Anyone can open an account so it’s a great gift from grandparents, aunts, uncles and more, says Frerichs. He notes that a child is three times more likely to attend college if they know they have a savings account to help cover costs.


(Savoy-jm) – The Champaign County Sheriff's Office is seeking public assistance in solving a retail theft and battery to a store employee at the Walmart in Savoy. 

On December 15, a suspect entered Walmart, placed a hoverboard and scooter into a cart, and started walking toward the exit. An employee asked the unknown suspect for a receipt and the unknown suspect ran out of the store with the items. The employee followed the suspect into the parking lot and took pictures of the unknown suspect. Officials say once the suspect realized the employee was using their cellphone to take pictures of him, the suspect battered the employee and stole the employee's phone. 


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois Police Department reported that two new students were collectively scammed out of more than $230,000 in recent months. Officials said in the first scam, a student received a call from an unknown person who, impersonating a representative from a parcel delivery company, claimed the company had a package containing illegal items that was addressed to the student. The student was told that he needed to pay $100,000 to avoid prosecution from a foreign police department. The second student reported being called by an unknown person who claimed a phone number connected to the student was involved in sending fraudulent messages and she needed to report it to a foreign police department. The student then spoke several times with someone posing as a foreign police officer, who threatened the student with extradition and the freezing of her parents’ assets if she didn’t deposit money in a foreign bank account. The student proceeded to wire $110,000 to the account.


(Sibley-jm) – A Ford County wind farm has been sold, as the former developer is looking to build another wind farm in Piatt County. During questioning by the Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals, developers acknowledged they no longer owned the wind farm near Sibley after they were asked what the safety procedures were for that particular wind farm. Earlier this year, Ares Management Corp., headquartered in Los Angeles, acquired a majority stake in Apex Clean Energy. In May, Orsted agreed to acquire Ford County Wind from funds managed by Ares. Orsted is a Danish multinational power company based in Fredericia, Denmark. The 121-megawatt, 43-turbine wind farm was built near Sibley.


(Washington-jm) – Milk production this year is running just a bit higher than a year ago at this time. Gary Crawford reports…



(Rantoul–jc)  –  It’s Christmastime and we asked area leaders what is on their Christmas Wish List.  Community Service Center Executive Director Cindy Crawford provides a wish for the Rantoul based center…



Community Service Center of Rantoul Executive Director Cindy Crawford

Illinois is going to get a double dose of winter weather this week

(Undated-jm) – Illinois is going to get a double dose of winter weather this week. A powerful winter storm is expected to drop up to a foot of snow in some areas of the state on Thursday and Friday. In its wake is a polar plunge that could send wind chills down to 20 degrees below zero by Saturday morning. Bitterly cold temperatures are expected for the holiday weekend. The arctic air won’t last long. A warming trend is forecasted for the following weekend with highs in the 50s and 60s around the state.


(Kankakee County-jm) – Opening arguments are set to begin today in an Illinois courthouse over a lawsuit that calls the criminal justice package known as the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional.  Dozens of state’s attorneys and law enforcement officials around Illinois filed lawsuits, which were combined and will be heard in Kankakee County. The lawsuit revolves around whether the law aligns with the Illinois Constitution, both in its content and how it was passed by lawmakers. The abolishment of cash bail January 1 has been a major sticking point in the SAFE-T Act. Those taking part in the lawsuit have claimed in their briefs that the state constitution interprets bail to include a monetary amount that cannot be abolished altogether without running afoul of the constitution. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that made changes to the legislation, including verbiage which widens the definition by which a criminal defendant could be kept in jail pretrial because they’re deemed to be dangerous.


(Springfield-jm) – The “Support Through Loss” Act takes effect January 1st, expanding bereavement leave rights for Illinois workers. Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake sponsored the legislation which ensures those who have suffered a miscarriage, failed adoption or fertility treatment and similar events get time off to grieve…



State Senator Melinda Bush. The law allows for up to 10 workdays of unpaid leave. It also requires employers to provide leave after the loss of a family member to spouses, domestic partners, siblings, step-parents and grandparents.


(Urbana-jm) – A new University of Illinois initiative is turning food from its dining halls into energy. University Housing is partnering with the Sanitation Protection District to take nearly 20,000 pounds of leftover food scraps every week. The food is then turned into fertilizer and other energy sources.


(Champaign-jm) – The Salvation Army of Champaign County has raised a total of $106,710 at local kettles, meeting 70% of their 2022 red kettle goal this season as of Monday. The Salvation Army of Champaign County said they served more than 65,000 individuals last year, providing critical services including food, shelter, help with utilities, rent, homeless aid, poverty-reduction programs, youth and senior services, employment assistance, and much more.


(Washington-jm) – What are some of the trends associated with our nation's farms and ranches per the latest edition of an annual USDA report? Rod Bain reports…



(Mahomet-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers is looking for assistance from the public in solving an attempted theft that resulted in criminal damage. Officials said that during the overnight hours of November 21, someone tried to steal two classic cars from Two Lane Motors in Mahomet. Though the suspect(s) were not successful in stealing the cars, they did cause extensive damage to the cars during the attempt.


(Undated-jm) – Travelers in Central Illinois and across the region can expect to face an impactful winter storm later this week. This will bring headaches to those traveling before Christmas. A large storm system approaches the Midwest and Great Lakes starting Wednesday with impacts lasting into the weekend. Those with flights should plan ahead and be aware of changes with airlines. Impacts will not be limited to just snow, but will be worsened by the extreme cold and strong winds coming our way. It will only take a few inches of snow to cause problems. Strong winds will cause blowing and drifting of snow through the weekend, and Thursday’s mild start will allow for a “Flash Freeze”, where a sudden and drastic drop in temperatures causes pavement moisture to freeze under the incoming snow.


(Springfield-jm) – One of the sponsors of an Illinois bill to ban certain semi-automatic guns and magazines of more than 10 rounds is listening to both sides of the argument. Illinois state lawmakers will again hold a hearing on a bill to ban certain semi-automatic guns and magazines with more than 10 rounds during a hearing scheduled for this morning. Others have said law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be punished for the actions of “criminals and psychopaths.” At today’s hearing for House Bill 5855, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly is expected to testify. The proposal would require anyone in possession of any of around 100 firearms to register them with Illinois State Police within 300 days of the bill’s enactment. 


(Springfield-jm) – Research out of the University of Illinois looks at the high suicide rate among farmers. Recent data from the CDC shows that farmers are twice as likely to take their lives as those working in other professions. U of I Agricultural and Biological Engineering Professor Josie Rudolphi says there are so many uncertainties in the farming industry that cause extra stress…



U of I Agricultural and Biological Engineering Professor Josie Rudolphi. Another problem is lack of access to mental health care and farmers not seeking help. Rudolphi says they found that older farmers are at higher risk of suicide. She says they want to continue their research to identify other risk factors.


(Champaign-jm) – A new marijuana dispensary is coming to Champaign. Building permits were issued to Cloud 9 Cannabis for a dispensary on Town Center Boulevard. It will be the fourth dispensary in Champaign-Urbana.


(Danville-jm) – A driver was involved in a deadly crash after speeding through the streets of Danville in a stolen car on Monday.  Danville Police report that an officer was traveling eastbound on Main Street when he observed a black colored Mercedes sedan at approximately 12:25 a.m. A chase ensued. The officer observed the Mercedes leave the roadway, and struck a tree. The 24 year old driver was extricated from the car and declared deceased on scene. During the follow-up investigation, Danville Police learned the Mercedes sedan had been reported stolen from Tilton.


(Washington-jm) – What's behind the slowdown in food price inflation? Gary Crawford reports…



(Danville-jm) – The second of four individuals has been sentenced for the murders of two teens in Vermilion County. Camarion Halthon, 19 of Danville, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murders, of Wyatt Bailey and Clayvonte Sloan. Attorney General Kwame Raoul says Halthon was part of the group committing a robbery during a drug sale. Bailey was shot in both legs and the chest, and Sloan was shot in the lower abdomen. Both men died from their injuries. On July 26, a jury found Dustin Cooper, 18, of Danville, guilty of the first-degree murders of Bailey and Sloan and  sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The Illinois Conservation Police is joining other law enforcement agencies in beefing up DUI patrols for the holidays

(Springfield-jm) – COVID cases are increasing and the Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people to take precautions to protect themselves and others. 86 counties in Illinois are now at an elevated risk for transmission of the virus. That compares to 74 last week. 43 counties are considered high risk and more than 17 hundred patients were in the hospital with COVID. But State Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark says that’s not the only concern…



State Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark. Clark urges everyone six months and up to get the bivalent COVID booster and annual flu shot. She says if you get sick, stay home and contact your doctor to see if a COVID treatment would be helpful.


(Washington-jm) – U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger bid farewell to Congress by criticizing Republicans and Democrats for not putting the country ahead of politics. Kinzinger, who represents Illinois’ 16th District, did not run for reelection. 

In his farewell address on the House floor, the Republican said the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan now embraces lies and deceit. He accused Democrats of playing political games this election year by pumping millions of dollars into the primary campaigns of candidates supporting former President Donald Trump because they would be easier to defeat in the general election.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Conservation Police is joining other law enforcement agencies in beefing up DUI patrols for the holidays. The “Drive Sober, Get Pulled Over” campaign is underway and runs through January 2nd. State Conservation Police Lieutenant Curt Lewis says they will have zero tolerance for drunk and high drivers…



Illinois Conservation Police Lieutenant Curt Lewis. Lewis says officers will also be helping out with highway patrols. He asks if you see an impaired driver to pull over and call 9-1-1.



(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign man is facing multiple charges following a crime spree. Tyler Faulkner is accused of breaking into the Original Pancake House Wednesday morning. The restaurant is owned by his father and Faulkner was fired back in January. Police say he took $850 cash and also tried to set the restaurant on fire. It was discovered around 4:30 that morning. A short time later, firefighters were called to Faulkner’s home on Duncan Road, for a fire. When they arrived, the house was fully involved. Investigators found accelerants in two places at the home. About 2 hours later, U of I police responded to a burglary at a marijuana dispensary on campus. An officer spotted Faulkner hitting the window of the dispensary with a shovel. Faulkner is charged with residential arson, burglary and criminal property damage. He’s being held on a $500,000 bond.


(Springfield-jm) – Every week we hear more about the Safe-T Act and a court is expected to hear a lawsuit over the controversial law that eliminates cash bail on January 1st. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City has the latest…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Urbana-jm) – An Urbana man is accused of breaking into the same church twice. Willie Fulford is charged with two counts of burglary. He’s accused of breaking into the church on October 31st and November 25th. On October 31st, police responded to an alarm twice at the church, the second time, finding a door open and the church president noticing two video cameras, a speaker and a keyboard stolen. On November 25th, a speaker system and percussion pad valued at over $2,000 were stolen. Surveillance cameras identified Fulford as the suspect. He was arrested after an officer, knowing Fulford was wanted in four other cases, was spotted.



(Champaign-jm) – Two men have been arrested for stealing packages in Champaign. Police say an Uber driver saw a man trying to get into apartment buildings on White Street. After several unsuccessful attempts, he got into one and came out with a package and handed it to another man. Ronald Smith and Dytrell Thomas were identified as the suspects and charged with burglary. 


(Washington-jm) – Milk product imports and exports and class price adjustments were part of this month's USDA outlook for that commodity and its products. Rod Bain reports…



(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Lottery is urging families to avoid giving instant tickets to children this holiday season. Lottery tickets make good stocking stuffers, but not for kids says Bill Johnson with the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling…



Illinois Council on Problem Gambling’s Bill Johnson. The group is working with the state lottery to promote responsible gifting.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Police have commissioned 42 new troopers from a cadet class at the Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield. The newest troopers completed a 28-week program of physical and classroom instruction, which included training in domestic violence, firearms and criminal law. The total number of troopers added since 2019 now stands at 368.



(Springfield-jm) – The State Board of Education is launching a new online tool to show how federal pandemic relief money is being spent in Illinois. The state received nearly $8 billion through three rounds of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or “ESSER” funding to help get schools and students back on track. The Board’s Deputy Operational Education Officer Krish Mohip says this new dashboard makes it clear how that money has been used…



State Board of Education Deputy Operational Education Officer Krish Mohip. The dashboard lists spending in areas like teacher salaries, food services and student mental health support. You can check it out online at: isbe dot net.


(Champaign-jm) – More details have been announced for Senator Scott Bennett’s memorial service. According to a release from his office, the memorial will take place today at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Doors will open at 9 a.m. before the ceremony starts at 10. Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs, UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones, Senate President Don Harmon, State Representative Tom Bennett, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and Champaign mayor Deborah Frank Feinen are all scheduled to attend the ceremony.


(Paxton-jm) – A blood drive will be held on December 26th in Paxton. Coordinator Kevin Hanson says they have gifts for those who donate…



Local blood drive coordinator Kevin Hanson.


(Paxton-jm) – A Paxton woman was arrested on drug charges. 36-year-old Kristina Lopez faces drug and traffic charges following a traffic stop by Paxton Police. Lopez was found in possession of more than 7-grams of meth when stopped for driving with a missing license plate. She had a suspended driver’s license. She was also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.



(Champaign-jm) – A few weeks ago, a Salvation Army kettle was stolen in Savoy. It has now been found and returned to the organization in Champaign. The kettle was found in an Urbana dumpster recently. The Salvation Army says they’re happy to have back. Urbana Police are investigating the stolen red kettle, but the Salvation Army has not pressed charges.


(Washington-jm) – The mailboxes of millions of farmers will soon be filled with more than just holiday cards and catalogs. Gary Crawford reports…



The state's 2023 Cover Crop Program will start accepting applications today

(Springfield-jm) – The state’s 2023 Cover Crop Program will start accepting applications today. The “Fall Covers for Spring Savings” program opens at 8 am, and Brian Rennecker with the Illinois Department of Agriculture says there is some urgency to apply…



Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Brian Rennecker. Last year the program filled up in about 10 hours. Rennecker says farmers need to certify that their cover crops are approved by their local Farm Service Agency before applying. The application is available on the State Department of Agriculture’s website.


(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed charges against a second teenager in connection to a shooting that left another teenager dead last month. Thomas Woodson, 16 of Urbana, was charged on Wednesday with six adult counts related to the death of 18-year-old Nizeri Carter on Nov. 4. Those counts consist of four for murder, one for attempted murder and one for aggravated discharge of a firearm. Woodson and 17-year-old Keshawn Brown are accused of shooting Carter multiple times in the area of Elm Street and Bradley Avenue the evening of November 4. Carter later died from her injuries at the hospital.


(Champaign County-jm) – Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is coming to you if you need help with your energy bills. The Champaign Regional Planning Commission is showing off its new outreach truck to help underserved communities in Champaign County. It includes four workstations, computers and a sound system.


(Springfield-jm) – There were some revenue projections released for Illinois recently. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about what they say and what it means…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign County democrats office is handing out memorabilia to show support for Scott Bennett. You can go by the office and pick up yard signs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. Bennet passed away on Friday from complications of a large brain tumor. Bennett represented the 52nd district which covered Champaign. Bennett has held that position since 2015.


(Woodland-jm) – Water samples tested OK and the State of Illinois has given the all-clear for the Village of Woodland to lift its Boil Order.  A switcher went bad last Saturday, forcing officials to drain the water supply.  The water pressure has stabilized and the boil order ended Wednesday morning.


(Hoopeston-jm) – Hoopeston Police have arrested 26 year old Haley Edwards of Hoopeston on possession and intent to deliver charges after allegedly finding several methamphetamines, heroin, and controlled substances in her vehicle at the Casey’s at 912 South Dixie Highway.  Edwards is also facing charges from a hit and run accident on December 10th, followed by charges of filing a false police report concerning a stolen vehicle.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Human Services is launching a new campaign to help people who have a gambling problem. The campaign is called “Are You Really Winning?” and hi-lites the signs of addiction says Spokesperson Patrick Laughlin. This includes asking yourself questions such as…



Illinois Department of Human Services Spokesperson Patrick Laughlin. The campaign also focuses on resources such as a 24 hour confidential helpline at: 1-800-gambler and the website: are you really winning dot com.


(Champaign-jm) – Champaign Police responded to a report of a burglary at The Original Pancake House on Wednesday. Police were called just before 5:30. The restaurant was closed yesterday but is expected to reopen today. It’s unknown at this time if anything was taken.


(Urbana-jm) – NASA is turning to the University of Illinois for help. U of I’s Beckman Institute was recently awarded $1 million that will be used to research how to keep astronauts healthy during long space missions. Astronauts can lose up to 20 pounds of muscle mass during space travel. U of I researchers believe exercise-based therapy sessions can help to prevent muscle or recover it. The research might be helpful to more than just astronauts. People with disabilities could benefit from exercise therapy as well.


(Rantoul–jc)  The Community Service Center and its volunteers are busy today and tomorrow with their annual Holiday Bureau which places toys for Christmas in the hands of children in the area along with some holiday food for their families. The local charity group is helping more than 400 children in the Rantoul area this year. Community Service Center Executive Director Cindy Crawford says they are working with the Meijer store on North Prospect in Champaign with a giving campaign through the end of the month and anyone donating this Saturday, Meijer Stores are doubling their donation …



Community Service Center Executive Director Cindy Crawford.


(Champaign-jm) – An Urbana man was arrested, after allegedly looking at child pornography at the Champaign Public Library. James Tippett, 68, admitted to the Champaign police he was watching pornographic videos on a library computer. Police say an individual at the library had witnessed him looking at the videos, recorded him, and contacted the police. Tippet was charged with four counts of child pornography.


(Champaign-jm) – Two people shot in Champaign have been released from the hospital. A 48 year old and 28 year old were shot in Champaign Tuesday night near Beardsley and Prospect Avenues. Both victims were shot in the leg. No arrests have been made. 


(Urbana-jm) – A 16-year-old Urbana High School student has pleaded guilty to felony disorderly conduct, after admitting she sent threatening emails to the school last month. The 16-year-old admitted that between November 15 and 28 she sent several alarming emails to one teacher threatening to kill her and her students while at school. She currently faces penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison; her sentence will be determined by Department of Juvenile Justice authorities on January 25. Police also arrested a second female, also 16-years-old, from Chicago on November 22 for admitting to making threatening calls to the high school. The Chicago teen's sentencing is scheduled for January 9.


Illinois Department of Public Health says it's not too late to get your COVID-19 booster and flu shot

(Iroquois County-jm) – 2 people are dead following a 4 vehicle crash near Del Ray Monday. Illinois State Police say Paxton Police and Ford County Deputies were pursuing a car driven by 44 year old Krista Woltz-Hernandez of Buckley, southbound on Route 45, when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center line and struck a northbound vehicle driven by 65 year old Julie McGowan of Rantoul head-on. The impact sent Woltz-Hernandez vehicle into another northbound vehicle driven by an Onarga man. The impact of that collison, caused Woltz-Hernandez car to flip several times. A fourth vehicle ran over debris from the accident. Woltz-Hernandez and McGowan were pronounced dead at the scene. The Onarga man was taken to the hospital for his injuries. The occupants of the fourth vehicle were uninjured. Illinois State Police are still investigating the crash.


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s not too late to get your COVID-19 booster and flu shot. There was an uptick in COVID cases after Thanksgiving and flu activity is high in Illinois. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure you are vaccinated before you get together with friends and family, says State Public Health Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark…



State Public Health Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark. Ages 6 months and up are eligible to get the flu shot and COVID booster, and both can be given at the same time. Clark urges those that do get sick to stay home and wear a mask if they are around other people.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grew by $9.8 billion, or 7.5 percent, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, due in large part to market losses in a volatile economy. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability reported that the total unfunded liability in the state’s five pension funds reached a total of $139.7 billion, leaving them with a funded ratio of just 44.1 percent. All told, the five pension funds had combined liabilities of $248.8 billion June 30 and total assets of $109.1 billion.


(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign man is facing charges following a drug bust. Samuel I. Bellettiere, 24, was arrested at his home on Breen when the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force executed a search warrant. The search turned up marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and pills, THC gummies and cartridges and packing materials for both marijuana and mushrooms. $5,500 in cash was also recovered.


(Danville-jm) – Wreaths Across America honors those buried in national cemeteries in all 50 states including the Danville National Cemetery. On Saturday 4,000 wreaths will be laid on graves with a special wreath honoring State Senator Scott Bennett. Bennett died last week from a brain tumor at the age of 45. Senator Bennett was a supporter of Wreaths Across America and provided assistance whenever the group contacted his office. The ceremony will begin at the Danville National Cemetery Saturday at 11am. Wreaths will be placed on graves as soon as the ceremony ends. In 2021, 2,000 wreaths were placed on graves. This year 4,000 will be available all through local donations.


(Ashkum-jm) – District 21 Illinois State Police will be conducting Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols ahead of the Christmas holiday. WPXN’s Jason Madden reports…



(Campustown-jm) – Champaign County Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help in solving a theft and battery incident that happened in October. Crime Stoppers officials said that at 2:10 a.m. on October 30, a man was walking in the area of Green and Fourth Streets when someone came up from behind the victim and grabbed the food that was in his hand. The victim ran after the offender, who proceeded to attack the victim with three other people. Before fleeing west on Green Street, the offenders also took the victim’s phone.


(Springfield-jm) – The State Board of Education says high-impact tutoring is helping students get back on track after the pandemic. The intensive tutoring initiative is speeding up learning recovery in 72 Illinois school districts across Illinois says the Board’s Jennifer Kirmes. She says in this type of program, tutors and students meet several times a week, for at least 30 minutes at a time…



State Board of Education’s Jennifer Kirmes. Many districts are already using this program to help struggling students while others will be in the future.


(Springfield-jm) – The average gas price in Illinois has fallen 17.8 cents per gallon in the last week according to GasBuddy's survey of 4,378 stations in Illinois. Prices in Illinois are 73.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 1.4 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average price of gasoline has fallen 14.4 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.21/gallon.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is urging the FCC to help cut down on those annoying automated text messages. The robo-texts are often scams, says Raoul, who has joined his counterparts across the country in asking the federal government to address the problem…



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. The group also wants the wireless industry to develop call authentication technology for text messages so people know if they are real or not and law enforcement can investigate the source.


(Urbana-jm) – A non-profit in Champaign is one of many working on a unique solution to battle homelessness in Champaign County.  They hope to create “Hope Village,” a community of tiny houses for those experiencing homelessness.  Champaign County Healthcare Consumers, Carle Foundation Hospital and the University of Illinois are teaming up to propose the idea to Urbana City Council. They’re asking for $2 million from the city’s $10 million worth of ARPA money. If approved, they would aim to build 30 houses somewhere in Urbana for people who need a permanent place to live.


(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign Fire Department responded to a fire at a multi-family apartment building Tuesday afternoon. Crews were called to the building in the 200 block of Kenwood Road. Someone passing by saw fire coming from the three-story building.  Firefighters reported smoke and fire coming from a third-floor apartment. They were able to contain the fire primarily to that apartment.  The cause of this fire has not been determined.


(Paxton-jm) – A blood drive will be held in Paxton on December 26th. Local coordinator Kevin Hanson talks about how the blood drive works…



Local blood drive coordinator Kevin Hanson.


(Champaign-jm) – More changes are coming to Marketplace Mall in Champaign. Dick Sporting Goods and Field and Stream will be closing in January. The closure is only temporary, to allow for the space to be remodeled before reopening as a new concept store for Dick’s Sporting Goods called House of Sport. Dick’s new concept store currently has three locations nationally, and all feature interactive sports activities within a sports store setting. 

Illinois drivers will see increased gasoline taxes next month

(Springfield-jm) – Illinois drivers will see increased gasoline taxes next month, with another increase six months after that. Motor fuel prices in Illinois are down nearly 70 cents a gallon since this time last month. However, the state is set to increase the fuel tax January 1 by 3.1 cents a gallon, for a total of 42.3 cents per gallon, second highest in the U.S. Another increase will occur in the summer on July 1. In Governor J.B. Pritzker's first year as governor, he signed legislation doubling the per-gallon tax from 19 cents to 38 cents with annual increases every summer tied to inflation. Since then, the state has seen some of the highest fuel prices in the nation due to inflation and other factors. As of Monday, Illinois fuel prices average $3.45 per gallon, which is 20 cents higher than the national average of $3.26 per gallon. In the spring, legislators approved a budget that included various tax rebates and freezes. The grocery tax was suspended for 12 months. The gas tax increase set for July 1, 2022, was delayed to January 1, 2023. Pritzker and Democrats said the move was an effort to bring tax relief to Illinois families. 


(Springfield-jm) – Updates to a law regulating a worker’s meal and rest breaks take effect January 1st. A few changes are coming to the One Day Rest in Seven Act, says Illinois Department of Labor’s Marina Faz-Huppert (fas-hoopert), meant to clarify the rules for workers with schedules that don’t follow the traditional Sunday through Saturday week…



Illinois Department of Labor’s Marina Faz-Huppert. Businesses must post a sign alerting workers of the updates. The department will have samples on its website available for download.


(Paxton-jm) – All six Paxton aldermen whose seats are up for election next April filed paperwork Monday to run as candidates, along with a couple of newcomers. Filing their nominating petitions at City Hall as of late afternoon Monday were incumbents Deane Geiken for a four-year term in Ward 1, Paul Crutcher for a two-year term in Ward 2, Justin Withers for a four-year term in Ward 2, Rob Pacey for a four-year term in Ward 3, Mike Wilson for a four-year term in Ward 4 and Jonas Hoedebecke for a two-year term in Ward 4. Joining them were newcomers Joe Reinhart for a two-year term in Ward 2 and Kristen Larson for a two-year term in Ward 4. Candidates for the elected positions must file the required paperwork by 5 p.m. Monday, December 19, for their names to appear on the ballot.


(Paxton–jc)  License plate readers and working with the state police and local authorities is set to be a topic for the Paxton city Council when they meet tonight. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says the readers do not take pictures of the drivers, they are used when a vehicle is involved in a crime…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. The Paxton City Council meets tonight at 7 on the second floor of city hall. 


(Champaign-jm) – A Champaign woman who purposely lied to police to protect a male friend has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Angel Freeman pleaded guilty in November to obstructing justice, admitting she lied to police about a loaded 9 mm gun that had been modified to make it fully automatic was hers. Police say the gun actually belonged to Rockeith Brown, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for unlawful use of weapons. 


(Urbana–jc)  A Building at the Own Your Own Storage business along Route 45 in Urbana is a complete loss. Firefighters from several districts were called to the area on Monday morning. No damage estimates were provided as an investigation into the cause of the blaze, continues. 

(Rantoul–jc)  The Holiday Bureau is a program that is run by the Community Service Center in Rantoul. The event helps place toys in the hands of kids and also provides a free grocery outlet for families in the Rantoul area. Community Service Center Executive Director Cindy Crawford says the Holiday Bureau is set for later this week…



Community Service Center of RantouL Executive Director Cindy Crawford.

Over 400 kids will receive Christmas gifts with this year’s version of the Holiday Bureau in Rantoul. 


(Springfield-jm) – A new survey shows there has been a sharp increase in the number of Illinois small businesses implementing hiring freezes or laying off workers. Alignable’s December Hiring report reveals that 82% of small businesses in Illinois won’t be adding staff, the highest percentage in the country.  Nationwide, an average of 74% of small business employers have instituted hiring freezes until at least the spring of 2023, up 12 percentage points from November. The reasons include they can’t afford to hire full-time permanent employees because of inflation, reduced revenues, high labor costs and fears of recession. Agriculture, real estate and finance were the top three industries implementing hiring freezes.


(Springfield-jm) – The first of several hearings on the proposed ban on assault weapons was held Monday. House lawmakers heard from several supporters of the ban, including the mayor of Highland Park, where the deadly 4th of July shooting occurred. Parade-goer Lauren Bennett also testified. She was shot multiple times that day…



Highland Park Parade-goer Lauren Bennett. The legislation also bans high-capacity magazines and raises the age to get a FOID card from 18 to 21. Lawmakers supporting the bill say it needs to be passed now but stressed that more will need to be done to combat gun violence. The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.


(Buckley-jm) – A Buckley home was damaged by fire Monday. Crews from Buckley, Loda, Paxton, Cissna Park, Onarga and Gilman responded to the fire on South Oak Street. Crews battled the fire for several hours. There’s no word on the cause of the fire or how much damage was done.


(Paxton–jc)  Businesses in the city of Paxton are seeing more shopping traffic, both from local citizens and those from area towns and surrounding countryside. Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dawn Stack says events like the Wine and Chocolate Walk, to the Swine and Dine and other shop local events continue to bring shoppers to the city…



Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dawn Stack.


(Champaign-jm) – Services have been announced for Senator Scott Bennett. A celebration of life will take place on Monday, December 19th at 10 am at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Senator Bennett died Friday from complications of a brain tumor. Flags around the state have been ordered at half staff.


(Washington-jm) – How long will the current U.S. avian influenza outbreak last? Gary Crawford reports…



The Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office is stressing the importance of safety with holiday decorations

(Springfield-jm) – Young children can now receive the bivalent COVID-19 booster shot. The CDC is expanding use of the booster, which targets the original COVID-19 virus and the Omicron variant, to kids ages 6 months through 5 years. State Public Health Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark explains how this will work…



State Public Health Infectious Disease Chief Heidi Clark. Kids now getting the Pfizer vaccine would receive the booster shot as their third dose. IF they have already had all three Pfizer shots, they wouldn’t need the booster, says Clark. According to the CDC, the vast majority of this age group has not been vaccinated at all.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois sportsbooks have reached another milestone.  October marked the first time the Illinois sports betting handle surpassed the $1 billion mark in a single month. Illinois is just the fourth state in U.S. history to produce a billion-dollar monthly handle from sports betting, joining New York, New Jersey and Nevada to reach that plateau.  In October, Illinois' sportsbook handle increased 24% from September’s handle of about $832 million. Three major sports leagues were in play – the NFL, the NBA and the NHL – giving Illinois sports bettors plenty to choose from. Nearly $360 million was bet on NFL games by Illinoisans last month. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, licensed sports books also set a record with more than $100 million in revenue for the month. So far this year, Illinois is second in the country in revenue at nearly $628 million and third in handle at nearly $7.7 billion.


(Springfield-jm) – This is Universal Human Rights Month and an Illinois Senator is reflecting on what that means. Senator Celina Villanueva of Chicago chairs the Senate Human Rights Committee and describes what the month is all about…



State Senator Celina Villanueva of Chicago. Villaneuva says one major human rights issue right now is the busing of asylum seekers from Texas. She says she’s thankful Illinois is providing shelter and resources to those arriving here and urges everyone to use their voice to ensure others are treated equally.


(Savoy-jm) – The Salvation Army is asking for help after a Red Kettle was stolen in Savoy. The person who stole the kettle, took the kettle, pole and base. It’s estimated $400-$500 was in the kettle when it was taken.


(Ashkum-jm) – District 21 Illinois State Police will be conducting distracted driving enforcement patrols tonight. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…



(Saybrook-jm) – The Village of Saybrook is under a boil order until further notice due to a water main break. Residents West of the corner of Stout and West Harrison Streets will be impacted. Jensen, Harper, and Lawrence streets are also affected.  The village will send water samples into the state today.


(Gibson City-jc) – 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington announced earlier this week he is retiring from the post come early January. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City threw his hat into the ring earlier this week. He talks about hopefully replacing those big shoes of 53rd District Senator Jason Barickman…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. 


(Urbana-jm) – An Urbana man is facing several charges following a traffic stop. Clifford Like is charged with armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, possession of a stolen gun and possession of a controlled substance. Police say an officer stopped Like’s vehicle for alleged traffic violations. As the officer approached, Like took off on foot before being apprehended. Officers located a loaded, stolen pistol, two pills in his pocket and 8 grams of cocaine in his vehicle. Bond was set at $500,000. He’s due back in court December 21st. If convicted of the most serious of the charges, he faces 6 to 30 years in prison.


(Washington-jm) – Friday's new USDA round of crop forecasts shows a larger than expected cotton crop and slightly lower price prospects for several crops. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker has signed legislation tackling a loan to the state’s unemployment trust fund into law. The fund that pays out unemployment benefits was depleted during the pandemic as many people lost their jobs. The state had to take out a federal loan to shore up the fund and this law pays that money back and ensures benefits will be available when needed. The Governor announced the one point eight billion dollar bipartisan deal during the veto session…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says this will save taxpayers nearly 20 million dollars in interest payments due in September of 2023.


(Springfield-jm) – A new report shows that many Illinois residents are going out of state to purchase their cigarettes, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. A joint report by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Tax Foundation shows that due to Illinois' high sales taxes on tobacco, many residents have been smuggling in the product from other states.  Illinois had the biggest increase in smuggling from 2019-2020, the report said. Net cigarette smuggling increased by more than 14 percentage points for 2020, resulting in a smuggling revenue impact loss of $334 million. Illinois has an excise tax of $2.98. Taxes in neighboring states are lower, with Wisconsin's tax at $2.52, Iowa's at $1.36, Indiana's at $1.00, Kentucky's at $0.60 and Missouri's at $0.17. 


(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is stressing the importance of safety with holiday decorations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, over one third of home decoration fires are caused by candles, especially at this time of year. State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz recommends using battery operated candles instead…



State Fire Marshal Spokesperson J-C Fultz. Fultz also reminds to make sure string lights are in good shape and that you follow the recommendations for how many you can string together. He notes it’s important to keep your Christmas tree well watered so it doesn’t dry out and present a fire hazard.


(Urbana-jm) – A holiday favorite has returned to Urbana. Candlestick Lanes is now open to the public. The tradition started over 50 years ago. It gives families the chance to walk around the neighborhood and look at holiday decorations.


(Springfield-jm) – We’re starting to see more electric cars on the road, but now Illinois might be a hub for a different kind of EV manufacturing. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about what we are building in the state…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.


(Champaign-jm) – CRIS Healthy Aging, an organization that helps older adults in Champaign and Vermilion Counties remain independent and healthy in their own homes has merged with Carle Health. The Champaign location offers senior information services, caregiver support, memory care programs, grandparents raising grandchildren program and more while the Danville location offers those services plus nutrition and adult protective services.

(Rantoul–jc) Local businesses in Rantoul are seeing a good holiday shopping period. From the Rantoul Wal-Mart on the village's west side to Rural King on the east side, business is busy. Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery also says there are some shops ready for expansion…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery.


(Ford County-jm) – A public hearing to approve a proposed property tax levy increase for Ford County for FY 2023 will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Board Room. The county is requesting a 13 percent property tax increase. 



(Washington-jm) – USDA is preparing a special risk assessment report to help guide poultry producers' responses to the ongoing avian influenza outbreak. Gary Crawford reports…



Illinois is the least tax-friendly state for middle-class families

(Springfield-jm) – Annual road tests for senior citizens will now begin at the age of 79 rather than 75 under a measure Governor J.B. Pritzker signed. The measure also has the Illinois Secretary of State studying the safety of removing road test requirements for certain ages and allows for the issuance of specialty license plates for retired statewide officers.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is urging quick passage of the latest proposed ban on assault weapons. The measure bans assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire devices, and raises the age to get a FOID card from 18 to 21. The Governor wants lawmakers to get it done…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The bill’s sponsor is pushing to pass the ban when lawmakers return to Springfield the first week of January.


(Urbana-jm) – The long-standing tradition of Dial-a-Carol has returned to Snyder Hall. For the 62nd year, students have gathered at Snyder Hall on the University of Illinois' campus around tables, computers, and phones to sign Christmas carols and holiday classics to callers via their Dial-a-Carol line. Dial-a-Carol runs through December 14. People can call at all hours of the day and someone will be there to answer the phone to sing. To request a song, call (217) 332-1882.


(Paxton-jm) – The Johnson residence on Paxton’s west side is lit up again this year. After taking a couple year hiatus, Lighting Up Paxton is back. Victor Johnson talks about this year’s display…



Lighting Up Paxton Founder Victor Johnson. You can see the lights on West Patton Street every night starting at 5pm ending at 10 Sunday through Thursday and 11 on Friday and Saturday night.


(Undated-jm) – The Illinois Department of Employment Security has released October unemployment numbers. Champaign Counties fell from 3.8 percent to 3.7 percent and Vermilion Counties fell from 5.3 percent to 5.1 percent. Ford and Iroquois Counties both saw their unemployment rate rise slightly. For Ford County, their rate rose from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent. Iroquois Counties rate increased from 3.6 percent to 3.8 percent.


(Washington-jm) – Farm households are seeing median Incomes rising this year, even as income from the household's farm operation is below a year ago. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – Illinois is the least tax-friendly state for middle-class families, according to a new report from Kiplinger. The annual state tax analysis reviews tax friendliness of all states and finds Illinois has the second-highest property taxes, and among the highest combined sales tax with above-average income taxes costing middle-class families more than any other state in the country.


(Springfield-jm) – The state is pumping more money into increasing shelter for the homeless this winter. The Illinois Department of Human Services is announcing an additional $5 million to expand access to emergency shelters says Spokesperson Marisa Kollias…



State Department of Human Services Spokesperson Marisa Kollias. Kollias says the need is especially great in the Chicago suburbs, where emergency shelters are full and over 700 people including domestic violence survivors are on waiting lists.


(Champaign-jm) – The city of Champaign is having a holiday tree collection. This free collection program is available to all residential properties within the City's corporate limits. The date has been set as Monday, January 9, 2023.


(Rantoul–jc)  –  The Community Service Center in Rantoul is hosting their annual Holiday Bureau to help get toys to families and food to their tables this holiday season. Community Service Center Executive Director Cindy Crawford says they are reaching over 400 kids next week…



Community Service Center of Rantoul Executive Director Cindy Crawford.


(Ford County-jm) – The Ford County Sheriff’s Office has released their November activity report. During the month, deputies issued 8 citations for speeding and 1 each for disregarding a traffic device, driving on a suspended registration, driving on a revoked license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Deputies also handled 12 reports of a suspicious person, 10 domestic issues, 5 suspicious vehicles, 3 animal complaints, 2 each of abuse and theft and 1 each of trespassing, stolen vehicle, phone scam, harassment, fight in progress, criminal damage to property and burglary.


(Paxton-jm) – A blood drive will be held again in Paxton later this month. Local coordinator Kevin Hanson talks about the event…



Local blood drive coordinator Kevin Hanson.


The Parkland College Theatre will perform A Christmas Story today through Sunday.


Gifford's Lighted Christmas parade will be held on Sunday at 5 pm.


Nearly two thousand new U-S Citizens were sworn in during a ceremony in Chicago Wednesday

(Washington-jm) – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is fully vaccinated and double boosted, is working remotely after testing positive for COVID-19. The junior Illinois senator said she has mild symptoms and will work in isolation through the end of the week.


(Springfield-jm) – Nearly two thousand new U-S Citizens were sworn in during a ceremony in Chicago Wednesday. The 1,984 candidates represent 120 countries around the world, swearing their oath to America at the naturalization event at the Wintrust Arena. Governor J-B Pritzker offered remarks…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor spoke of his own family history and the immigration of his great-great grandfather Nicholas Pritzker to Chicago, fleeing anti-semitic violence at the age of 9.


(Paxton-jm) – Three Ford County officials have officially been sworn in for their new term. Ford County Clerk Amy Frederick and County Treasurer Krisha Whitcomb were sworn in for new 4 year terms. Also sworn in is new sheriff Chad Johnson. He replaces Mark Doran who retired.


(Urbana-jm) – The Champaign Corner has released new information about the death of the Urbana Middle School student. Lucas Cristobal, 12, was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m. in the Carle Hospital Emergency Department. Preliminary results from an autopsy performed Wednesday, at the Champaign County Regional Autopsy Facility, indicate he died from a previously undiagnosed medical condition.


(Gibson City–jc)  With the announced retirement of 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington, the seat for the local Illinois State Senate position needs to be filled.  One local representative has thrown his hat into the ring. He is 106th district State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. WPXN News talked with Bennett on Wednesday. Bennett says he has the experience to represent the people of the 53rd Senate district…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. The decision for the appointed position will be made by the Republican County Chairman and the timetable is sometime soon. 


(Champaign-jm) – After months of negotiating, the Champaign Township purchased C-U at Home's building at 70 E Washington Street. The new Strides Shelter will act as a low-barrier shelter for those in need. CU at Home is going to continue to rent a small piece of this building for their women's shelter as well. The Strides Shelter is set to open December 12th. The Strides Shelter will be open 24/7 and every day of the year.


(Kankakee-jm) – Work and full closures of I-57 in Kankakee scheduled for overnight tonight have been canceled until further notice. Contractors involved were forced to cancel and plan to reschedule at a future date. The Illinois Department of Transportation work is to accommodate work on the north half of the Waldron Road/Maple Street bridge.


(Washington-jm) – Latest trade numbers show U.S. agricultural exports have started the new fiscal year on a pretty strong note. Gary Crawford reports…



(Paxton –jc)  –  Paxton City leaders continue to learn more about license plate readers and the Flock company that would provide the equipment and expertise with the readers. The village of Rantoul has put the license plate readers in operation and have solved several crimes with the technology. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold says council members are looking to discuss the program when they meet next week…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold


(Springfield-jm) – There are some changes coming to your child’s education starting next year. Starting January 1, middle and high school students will receive one excused absence per year to attend a civic event sponsored by a governmental entity or a nonprofit organization that is open to the public. ISBE will also require districts to develop a plan to expand access to accelerated placement programs. Officials said that starting next school year, districts must automatically enroll high school students who meet or exceed standards into the next level course unless parents opt their students out.


(Springfield-jm) – Governor J-B Pritzker is celebrating the opening of the first social equity marijuana dispensary. The state has awarded 192 conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses as part of the social equity program, and three of those are now fully licensed. First to open was Ivy Hall in Chicago. Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is committed to ensuring minorities have a place in the thriving industry…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Officials say they hope to see the rest of the social equity applicants that have received a conditional license become fully licensed in the coming months.


(Pontiac-jm) – Correctional officers in Pontiac are hitting the picket line to protest what they said is a severe understaffing and, as a consequence, reduced safety. This protest comes just weeks after a pair of officers working in the Pontiac Correctional Center were attacked by an inmate armed with an improvised metal shank. One of the officers was stabbed in the neck and almost died. Pontiac Correctional Center is authorized to have 1,140 employees when fully staffed, but there are currently just 600 in paid status.


(Urbana-jm) – Carle Foundation Hospital saw a record number of patients last week as respiratory illnesses spread. From November 27 to December 3, Carle says they saw the highest number of patients ever. In one day, they saw 353 people in the emergency department. They’re averaging about 300 people daily, compared to the average of 250.


(Rantoul–jc)  –  It’s time to shop local. That is the word from members of the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce. Executive Director of the Rantoul Chamber, Amanda Vickery says to shop in town or the next town over to support local merchants this holiday season and beyond…



Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Vickery


(Champaign-jm) – The Champaign and Urbana Fire Departments responded to a fire inside a tank undergoing removal at the Abbott Power Plant on the U of I campus, Wednesday morning.  Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire contained to the tank.  


(Paxton-jm) – The Ford County Board re-organized this week re-electing Debbie Smith as Chairman.  The 11-member Board favored Smith for the leadership post. The membership also retained Cindy Ihrke as Vice-Chairman.  Two newcomers make-up the 12-person Board, including Carson Vaughn of Paxton of District 1 and Sarah Mussman of Gibson City of District 3.  


(Washington-jm) – South America will take center stage for this week's new USDA crop supply and demand forecasts. Gary Crawford reports…



The federal government is extending the real ID deadline for another two years

(Springfield-jm) – After lawmakers approved amendments to the SAFE-T Act that eliminates cash bail in Illinois, a lawsuit challenging the measure’s implementation will now be heard December 20, just 11 days before no cash bail is to take effect. Before leaving for the year, state lawmakers approved amendments to the sweeping criminal justice reform legislation that abolishes cash bail starting January 1. The amendments add a slew of serious crimes people can be held for pending trial. It was scheduled to be heard in a Kankakee County court Wednesday. Amended briefs are due at the end of the week. A ruling is expected December 28, just three days before no cash bail goes into effect.


(Springfield-jm) – The State Board of Elections is certifying final election figures and says turnout for the November midterms was 51 percent. That’s the fourth lowest turnout for a midterm in the past 40 years, says Spokesperson Matt Dietrich.  The highest was 65 percent in 1982. He notes that there was a slight decline in people voting early in person, but the number of vote by mail voters doubled from 2018…



State Board of Elections Spokesperson Matt Dietrich. Dietrich also says the constitutional amendment on Illinois Workers Rights passed with just over 53 percent of the vote.


(Urbana-jm) – The University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute announced receipt of a $200,000 grant from technology company Google. The money will be used to expand the program’s efforts of developing diverse technology talent in Chicago by supporting tuition for 10 teachers next summer.


(Washington-jm) – Income from livestock and livestock product sales is up dramatically this year. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) – There will be a new state Senator representing the area. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman announced Monday he is retiring. Barickman has served the 53rd District for 12 years.


(Paxton–jc)  Work in the downtown area of Paxton continues this holiday season. Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold continues to work on redevelopment agreements with businesses and growing businesses near the Interstate 57 interchange is also on the radar…



Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold


(Danville-jm) – As the Vermilion County Board re-organizes it will be missing two long-time leaders.  Steve Fourez and Dr. Wesley Bieritz decided not to seek re-election. Both men are Republicans and both have served as the head of some county board committees. Dr Bieritz has served the county since 1977 and spent the last 8 years on the board. Fourez has been serving as chairman of the County Board Finance and Personnel Committee which this year held a record number of meetings to improve the salaries of county employees.  He has served on the County Board for 16 years.


(Springfield-jm) – A group of Illinois lawmakers is calling for an end to a House practice that allows many measures to be voted on with one vote and little discussion. The Illinois Freedom Caucus, a group of downstate Republicans, said the practice enables House leadership to pass hundreds of bills with a single roll call vote. The practice is used every year in the Legislature, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, to pass a variety of bills. The Illinois Freedom Caucus released a statement calling for the end of the practice altogether, claiming it is against the public's best interests. The Illinois Freedom Caucus is comprised of Adam Niemerg of Dietrich and state Reps. Chris Miller of Oakland, Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, Blaine Wilhour of Beecher City, and Dan Caulkins of Decatur.


(Springfield-jm) – The federal government is extending the real ID deadline for another two years. The deadline had been this May, but you now have until May of 2025 to get the real-ID. At that time, it will be needed for those who fly domestically but don’t have a passport, and for people visiting military bases or secure federal facilities. There’s plenty of time to get the real ID, but Illinois Secretary of State Spokesperson Henry Haupt says if you want to get it taken care of…



Illinois Secretary of State Henry Haupt. That list has all the things you will need to bring with you, including proof of residency and signature. That website again is real id dot il sos dot gov.


(Urbana-jm) – A life-saving medicine is more accessible on the University of Illinois campus now thanks to the Illinois Department of Human Services. In a Mass Mail to the campus community, Awais Vaid, Director of McKinley Health Center, said an IDPH distribution program is putting NARCAN at several campus locations to treat an opioid overdose. Vaid said that the U of I campus has not had a reported overdose recently, but the broader Champaign-Urbana community has.


(Washington-jm) – By the end of this year will have generated huge income numbers for the ag. Sector. Gary Crawford reports…



(Champaign-jm) – Champaign County’s first Democratic sheriff since 1934 was sworn into his second term at the county courthouse. Sheriff Dustin Heuerman is the first democrat to take the oath of office since former Sheriff Fred Shoaf held the office for one term from 1930-1934. The largest ongoing project is the consolidation of the Champaign County jail facilities in Urbana. After a decade-long, $20 million debate, in 2021 the Champaign County Board approved Heuerman’s plea to close the increasingly run-down downtown jail and expand the satellite jail in its place. He expects to see that project through by the end of 2024. The Sheriff’s Office would need to hire 10 to 15 more correctional officers to adequately staff the new facility, including existing gaps.


(Rantoul–jc)  Tourism remains a top priority for leaders in the village of Rantoul. The Sports complex has completed its second year of operation and now is the busy time for Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch just west of the village. Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith says that Hardy’s helps bring visitors from all over the country to the local reindeer ranch…



Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith


(Champaign County-jm) – The Champaign County Crime Stoppers is seeking assistance regarding an aggravated battery. On September 17, two males battered a male inside One Stop Food and Liquor located at 701 North Neil Street in Champaign. Officials say they have identified one of the suspects but are asking for assistance in identifying the other suspect captured on video. Crime Stoppers says the suspect appeared to be a black male, last seen wearing a gray Super Mario Brothers t-shirt and black Adidas pants.

New legislation banning assault weapons may be on the docket when Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield in January

(Springfield-jm) – 63 Illinois counties are now considered at an elevated risk for COVID-19 transmission. That’s up from 46 counties the previous week. Illinois Department of Public Health Spokesperson Mike Claffey says the increase was expected this time of year…



State Public Health Spokesperson Mike Claffey. Claffey says many of those beds are taken up by kids with serious cases of RSV, another respiratory illness. He stresses that it is not too late to get your flu shot and the bivalent COVID booster.


(Springfield-jm) – A banking group says Illinoisans should keep their guard up during the holiday season to protect themselves from cases of fraud.  The Illinois Bankers Association reports incidents of fraud are on the increase. One of the most common forms of identity theft is check fraud. Reports of check fraud in Illinois have increased by nearly 70% this year and have jumped over 300% since 2014.  

Common ways check fraud can occur include stealing a blank check from a checkbook, using a disposed canceled check, or a check placed in a mailbox. The IBA said other ways to prevent check fraud include making sure to properly dispose of checks, filling out checks properly without using abbreviations, and if using digital checks, use a bold font that is more difficult for someone to replicate. 

The IBA said other types of fraud also prevalent during the holidays include online shopping scams involving peer-to-peer payments, or P2P payments. P2P transactions are electronic money transfers made directly to another person, using money transfer applications such as PayPal, Zelle and Venmo. They advise consumers to confirm all details such as name, email and phone number before sending money, and never send money to a stranger or let a stranger access your phone.  

(Springfield-jm) – New legislation banning assault weapons may be on the docket when Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield in January. The “Protect Illinois Communities Act” is the product of a House working group. Representative Bob Morgan of Deerfield is sponsoring the measure and explains what it does…



State Representative Bob Morgan of Deerfield. Current owners of assault weapons would be able to keep them under the bill, but would have to get them registered. Morgan was at the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park. He hopes to get this passed during the “lame duck” legislative session early next month.


Champaign-jm) – The Champaign Park District has a new director. Sarah Sandquist has been hired as the new director, replacing Joe DeLuce who is retiring at the end of the year. Sandquist comes from Fishers, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis and was a graduate of the University of Illinois. Her first official day is today but will take on all responsibilities January 1st.


(Champaign-jm) – A Bloomington medical practice will be joining the Christie Clinic group in the spring. Medical Hills Internists and Christie Clinic signed a letter of intent that would go into effect April 1st. The addition will add 13 more primary care doctors and 50 clinical staff.


(Washington-jm) – Participant feedback is part of the process used by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in developing future agricultural trade missions, including those being planned for next year. Rod Bain reports…



(Paxton-jm) – Hundreds of shoppers came to the city of Paxton on Friday night for a three hour kick off holiday sales event. The Paxton Area Chamber of commerce along with PRIDE in Paxton held the annual bag sale with a preview Friday night.

Music, Santa and Frosty the Snowman also highlighted the event. The Paxton Holiday Bag sale continues throughout the city, today. 


(Springfield-jm) – Participating in the state’s AIDS drug assistance program will have access to a new treatment next year. Starting in January, program coverage will include the HIV treatment drug Cabenuva says State Public Health Spokesman Mike Claffey…



State Public Health Spokesperson Mike Claffey. The hope is that more people will use this medication and as a result, transmission of the virus will decline. According to the Department of Public Health, about 36 thousand people in Illinois are living with HIV and nearly half are enrolled in the assistance program.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois continues to sweeten the deal in an effort to attract electric vehicle makers and related companies to the state.  Legislation was approved the final day of session year, which would extend up to 30 years in payroll tax credits for those who work in Illinois under the Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act. The companies receiving the breaks can receive a state income tax credit of 75% or 100% of payroll taxes withheld from each new employee and 25% or 50% for current employees.  The REV Act changes also modifies the definition of electric vehicle component part manufacturer in an effort to attract more EV parts companies, and grants the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity the power to determine the conditions and procedures for renewing the REV Illinois Credit.


(Springfield-jm) – Lawmakers and advocates want more to be done to combat the growing number of Fentanyl related deaths. During a press conference at the capitol, the group discussed the need for more awareness about how deadly fentanyl is, saying its 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and heroin. Representative Rita Mayfield of Waukegan says the issue of addiction needs to be addressed head on and discussed freely…



State Representative Rita Mayfield of Waukegan. Others talked about how NARCAN, which can counteract an overdose, needs to be more readily available and the need for primary care doctors and substance abuse specialists to work together to help patients battling an addiction.


(Champaign-jm) – A large fire broke out Saturday evening in Champaign just before 9 p.m. The fire occurred at 112 E. Hill Street in Champaign. Officials say the fire began in a large detached garage fire at the address. It then spread to a two-story single family home on the property. The cause of the fire has not been determined. No one was home at the time the fire started, and no firefighters were injured.


(Mahomet-jm) – A Champaign County judge reduced the sentence of a man who killed a bicyclist and injuring another in Mahomet and then fled. Robert O’Malley had been sentenced to 13 years in prison for the October 2020 death of Dr. William Schuh. O’Malley also struck Schuh’s adult daughter who was riding with him and his wife. O’Malley fled but was later found. A judge reduced the sentence by a year after finding O’Malley was remorseful for his actions.



(Washington-jm) – USDA's new farm income forecast has quite a bit of happy holiday news in it. Gary Crawford reports…




(Rantoul-jm) – Rantoul kicked off the Christmas holiday season Friday night. The village held their annual lighted Christmas parade. Other festivities included carriage rides and Santa’s workshop.

Illinois lawmakers approved updates to the Safe-T Act Thursday

(Paxton-jm) – Paxton first responders had a busy afternoon and evening Thursday. Crews were called to a semi accident on I-57 southbound near mile marker 263 just after 3pm after a semi lost control and struck a guardrail causing it to block both lanes and puncturing the fuel tank. Traffic had to be diverted at Buckley for several hours. Then around 7pm, crews were called to a single vehicle rollover accident on Route 115 at 600 north. There’s no word on if there were any injuries in either incident.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois lawmakers approved updates to the Safe-T Act Thursday, attempting to clarify the controversial law. The revisions address what happens when the no cash bail provision of the act takes effect January 1st, when exactly police can arrest someone for trespassing and more. During a long debate, Glenview Representative Jennifer Gong Gershowitz reminded her colleagues why the act is needed, to fix what she calls a broken justice system…



State Representative Jennifer Gong Gershowitz of Glenview.  Opponents argue that even with the changes, the Safe-T Act and elimination of cash bail will harm public safety. That wasn’t the only big vote Thursday to come out of Springfield. Illinois House lawmakers approved a plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 1698 is the final step in paying down approximately $4.5 billion in debt to the federal government that the state’s unemployment trust fund incurred since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders shut down the state’s economy and sent unemployment rates skyrocketing. State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur…



State Representative Dan Caulkins of Decatur.


(Campustown-jm) – A business near the University of Illinois was robbed out of almost $40,000 after police said several of their checks were stolen from the mail and altered. The checks are believed to have been stolen at some point after they were dropped off at the post office at Third and Green Streets. Police said the amounts and payee information on the checks were altered and were then illegally cashed. The business had eight checks stolen and altered.


(Paxton-jm) – This week’s Scott’s Tips for Success has to do with holiday safety. Scott Allen with Paxton Hardware and Rental has these tips…



Paxton Hardware and Rental’s Scott Allen. We’ll have more previews of Scott’s show on our news at noon, 4 and 5. You can hear Scott’s Tips for Success Saturday morning during On the Sidelines around 7:30.


(Urbana–jc)  Another threat to students and teachers at Urbana High School has led to an arrest. Police say that a 16 year old Urbana High School student was taken into custody on Wednesday. The threats included a bomb threat. The teen was also charged with aggravated battery to a police officer after police say she struck an officer during the arrest.  Anyone with information about the threats at Urbana High School are asked to call Urbana Police at 217-384-2320 or report information to Champaign County Crime Stoppers.


(Washington-jm) – How did a month-over-month decline in what crop producers received for prices for their commodIties impact USDA's latest Agricultural Prices index? Rod Bain reports…



(Springfield-jm) – The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced the state has been awarded $86 million in federal funding to strengthen the state’s public health workforce and infrastructure. IDPH officials said the CDC funds will support efforts to promote and protect health and address health disparities in communities throughout Illinois. The funding from the American Rescue Plan Act will support efforts to recruit, retain, and train the public health workforce, including frontline workers such as epidemiologists, contact tracers, laboratory scientists, and community health workers.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois lawmakers approved updates to the Safe-T Act Thursday, attempting to clarify the controversial law. The changes spell out when police can arrest someone for trespassing, what will happen to people currently in jail when the cash bail system ends January 1st, and the standards for detaining someone accused of a crime. Representative Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis says the act still doesn’t do enough to protect the public and reminds the law is being challenged in court…



State Representative Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis. Supporters say the Safe-T Act, and especially eliminating cash bail is needed to improve equity in the justice system. It’s now up to the Governor to sign these revisions into law. Also at the capitol, Illinois House lawmakers approved a plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Senate Bill 1698 is the final step in paying down approximately $4.5 billion in debt to the federal government that the state’s unemployment trust fund incurred since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders shut down the state’s economy and sent unemployment rates skyrocketing. State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian was one of those House Republicans who worked on the bill and spoke in favor of it on the House floor…



State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.


(Rantoul-jm) – A Rantoul man has been sentenced to 30 months probation for having a gun with a defaced serial number. Adrian Rangel pleaded guilty to that charge in Champaign County court. In exchange for his guilty plea, more serious charges of firing a stolen gun in December 2021. 


(Paxton–jc)  The Shops and business owners continue to be ready for this current holiday shopping period. The new Streetscape program and re-development of dozens of businesses in Paxton has caused excitement for local brick and mortar businesses, says Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dawn Stack…



Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dawn Stack. A four day holiday bag sale starts today in the city. The four day event also has a 3 hour kick off event…tis the season to shop Paxton event on Friday from 5pm to 8pm WPXN will be broadcast live on Friday at 5 in downtown Paxton.


(Urbana-jm) – A University of Illinois student is out of $90,000 after University Police said they were scammed by someone on the phone. Officials said that the student received a string of calls throughout November from someone claiming to be a representative of the Chinese Embassy. The caller told the student that their passport was connected to international crime and threatened the student with deportation. The student paid off the threat on November 21 after two-and-a-half weeks’ worth of calls.


(Washington-jm) – For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing proposed blending volumes under its Renewable Fuel Standard for multiple years. Rod Bain reports…




The Cissna Park FFA Scholarship Auction will take place this evening with dinner at 4pm and the auction starting at 6pm


The 2022 Light Up Rantoul Christmas parade will take place tonight at 6 pm.


Parkland College’s Staerkel Planetarium Kaler Lecture Series will be held tonight with U of I Entomology Professor Nicholas Anderson talking about Trophic Interactions Among Insects starting at 7 pm. Cost is $2.


The Paxton Business Open House and Bag sale will take place today through Monday.


The Paxton Park District will hold their breakfast with Santa on Saturday from 8 to 10 am at the Paxton Civic Center.


The Paxton Emergency Response Service’s Cookies with Santa will take place on Saturday from 1-2:30 at their station at 134 W. State Street. Bring your kids to visit with Santa and get cookies. The event is free.


Thawville will host their lighted Christmas parade on Saturday starting at 5pm.


The Gibson Area Music Foundation will hold their performance of Messiah on Sunday at 3pm at the Gibson City Bible Church.


The deadline to renew driver's licenses, ID cards, and permits is today

(Paxton-jm) – Paxton Buckley Loda High School will have a new principal next year. Clara Peterson Elementary School Assistant Principal Hannah McDermaid has been selected by the district to lead the high school following Travis Duley’s move to Superintendent following the retirement of long-time Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Chicago-jm) – A new ruling is removing some legal pressure from the Department of Children and Family Services. The Cook County Circuit Court has ruled 12 times DCFS director Marc Smith should be held in contempt of court for failure to place kids stuck in residential treatment centers or specialized foster homes. But in a ruling released Wednesday, the First District Appellate Court reversed or vacated these orders in 10 of these cases, finding the court orders were “erroneous”. “The court could reasonably have been frustrated by the pace of Director Smith and DCFS in finding appropriate placements for the minors, the record belies the trial court’s written finding that Director Smith and DCFS “ignored” the court’s orders,” the ruling said. The ruling was still critical of the department and called their methods “seemingly inefficient and clearly ineffective.”


(Springfield-jm) – A new historical marker outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield commemorates two major announcements made by former President Barack Obama. Governor J-B Pritzker was on hand to dedicate the plaque, marking Obama’s announcement in February 2007 that he was running for President…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The plaque also remembers President Obama’s announcement in August of 2008 that Joe Biden would be his running mate.


(Springfield-jm) – The deadline to renew driver's licenses, ID cards, and permits is today, but it does not apply to commercial driver's licenses or CDL learner's permits. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White originally extended the renewal period due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but with the pandemic sticking around, he added several more extensions.  During the pandemic, the Illinois Secretary of State's office expanded online renewals, and they're continuing to mail out letters with a PIN number attached so eligible drivers can renew their license from their phone or computer.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ office is holding an online auction of unclaimed property next week. The auction begins Monday, December 5th and runs through the 9th. It features more than 450 items that were left behind in old safe deposit boxes, says Treasurer Frerichs…



State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. To preview the items, visit the website: ibid dot illinois dot gov and click on “storefronts” to find the treasurer’s auction.


(Undated-jm) – A brand of Children's clothing sets being sold online and in stores nationwide such as TJ Maxx, Amazon, Ross, Burlington, and elsewhere are being recalled because they contain levels of lead that exceed the federal lead content ban. The recall involves Bentex children’s clothing sets in nine different Disney themed styles. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said the items were recalled on November 23 and impacted about 87,000 units. The sets were sold from November 2021 through August 2022.


(Washington-jm) – Food price inflation pressures will likely continue in 2023. Gary Crawford reports…



(Paxton-jm) – Two people have been arrested following a drug raid in Paxton. Megan Hawk and Louis Berg were charged with a class x felony possession of meth, class 3 felony possession of meth and a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia after police executed a search warrant at their home on North American Street. Officers found 522 grams of liquid meth and several items of drug paraphernalia


(Champaign–jc)  Emergency officials were on the scene of a disabled vehicle along Interstate 57 at the I-74 exchange this morning. Police say a property damage accident happened around 5am and the vehicles blocked traffic in the area. The area has been cleared and traffic is back to normal. Police continue to remind the motoring public to take extra caution in construction zone area. 


(Undated-jm) – Tuesday, the Illinois State Police issued citations in three separate traffic crashes involving move over law violations. Two of the three crashes involved IDOT vehicles. The first crash occurred on Interstate 70 eastbound near milepost 64, near Vandalia. The second crash occurred on Interstate 94 northbound near 142nd Street in Chicago. The third crash involved vehicles belonging to a private contractor performing roadway work on US 67 northbound at US 34 in Warren County.  Injuries were reported in two of the three crashes. The at fault drivers in all three crashes were cited.


(Springfield-jm) – Illinois House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday cutting financial ties with Russia. The measure has been in the works for months, aimed at showing support for Ukraine as the war with Russia continues. It requires divestment of state funds from any Russian banks or companies, says Representative Lindsey LaPointe of Chicago…



State Representative Lindsey LaPointe of Chicago. The bill also requires colleges and universities to disclose any Russian -related donations or endowments and creates task forces to look into potential real estate laundering schemes and Russian interference in Illinois elections.


(Springfield-jm) – Changes to the SAFE-T Act’s no-cash bail provision set to take effect January 1 have been filed and Illinois state lawmakers are aiming to get it across the finish line today. The measure was passed in early January 2021 along with other provisions of the SAFE-T Act. While there have been several trailer bills since then, concerns have been raised about conflicting language leading to its implementation as well as what crimes are and are not eligible for pretrial release. Dozens of state’s attorneys and sheriffs across the state have sued to block the law’s implementation. That case is to be heard next week in Kankakee County.


(Springfield-jm) – The annual statewide art contest is asking children across Illinois to share their visions of “Home.” The contest is sponsored in part by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Executive Director Christina Shutt says kids in grades kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible and may submit a two-dimensional work of art depicting their own sense of home…



Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Executive Director Christina Shutt. Winners and runners-up in each age group will have their work displayed at the library and museum. Entries are due by January 12th. More information is available online at: president lincoln dot illinois dot gov.


(Paxton-jm) – There’s a new sheriff in town. Today is the first official day for new Ford County Sheriff Chad Johnson. Johnson takes over following the retirement of Mark Doran. Johnson previously served as a captain in the Paxton Police Department.


(Washington-jm) – The USDA has just lowered its 2023 forecast for U.S. agricultural exports and raised the forecast for imports. Gary Crawford reports…



(Champaign-jm) – For the eleventh year in a row, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has recognized the City of Champaign for its inclusive LGBTQ+ laws, policies, and services. Wednesday the Foundation released its 11th Annual Municipal Equality Index, which ranked Champaign, Chicago, and Rockford as the highest rated cities in Illinois. The City of Champaign’s MEI score of 100 reflects a six point increase since last year.


Santa will be making a couple of stops in Paxton Saturday…Santa will be at the Paxton Park District Civic Center for breakfast with Santa from 8-10…he will also be at the Paxton Emergency Response Service for Cookies with Santa from 1-2:30. 


This weekend is also the business open house and bag sale in Paxton.


The Parkland College Theatre will perform A Christmas Story December 1st-4th and 9th-11th.


The Cissna Park FFA Scholarship Auction will take place on Friday, December 2nd.


The 2022 Light Up Rantoul Christmas parade will take place on Friday, December 2nd at 6 pm. WPXN”s Becky Puetz will be broadcasting live at the event tomorrow night at 6pm. 



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