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September 16, 2014, 12:29 pm
970 WMAY News

North Mac Schools Closed Today, Carbon Monoxide Detectors to Be Installed

There is no school today in the North Mac school district, while all schools there undergo a health-life-safety check.


Officials want to make sure there are no other hidden problems like the faulty gas water heater that caused a carbon monoxide leak at North Mac Intermediate School in Girard… sending well over 100 students and staff to area hospitals.


Most of them have now been released, although at least three people were admitted to St. John’s Hospital for overnight observation.


First responders from a three-county area, along with Girard residents with medical training, rushed to the scene to help students suffering from headaches and nausea from the leak.


There were no carbon monoxide detectors at the school, and no requirement for them… but the devices are likely to be installed in the days ahead.

New Dist. 186 Teachers' Contract Costs $1.5 Million in Additional Pay Increases

Springfield teachers have a new contract.


The Springfield Education Association and the school board both ratified that one-year deal Monday night.


It provides an across-the-board $500 pay raise, along with “step” increases based on years of service.


SEA president Crysta Weitekamp says teachers believe they deserve more, but understand the budget crunch the district faces.


The pact will cost the district $1.5 million in additional pay.


That would still leave close to a million dollars in cash reserves at the end of the year, if the state makes good on its funding promises.

School Security to be Focus of Sit-down Between District and Springfield's Police Chief

Springfield school officials plan to sit down with police chief Kenny Winslow this week to discuss security issues at school… and beyond.


The district has seen two incidents of students bringing guns to school since the start of the school year, less than a month ago.


Superintendent Jennifer Gill thinks the students were not intending to use the guns at school… and were carrying them for protection against threats out on the street after they left school grounds.


She says it’s a problem for the school district, and for the community as a whole, to try to fix.

Two Dozen Students Kept From Classes at Dist. 186 Lack Proof of Immunization

Twenty-five District 186 students are still being held out of class for lacking proof of immunizations... two weeks after the deadline set by the district.


That's far fewer than in recent years, because of an intense public relations push to remind parents of the earlier deadline to get the required shots.


School board president Mike Zimmers says he doesn't know what's wrong with those 25 families and why they haven't taken care of the problem... but Superintendent Jennifer Gill says there are lots of different reasons, and the district is working with each of those families to fix the problem and get the kids back in school.

Durbin Doesn't Back Down for Criticizing Companies Contemplating Inversion

Republican Jim Oberweis accuses Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of “bullying,” but Durbin makes no apologies for his tough talk against American companies who are contemplating moving their headquarters overseas.


Durbin has called companies like Walgreen’s and Burger King “unpatriotic” for considering the strategy called “inversion.” Walgreen’s dropped the idea after Durbin publicly berated the Illinois-based corporation.


Durbin says it’s his job to stand up against companies who want to turn their back on America.

Years Old Video of Lawmaker Throwing Papers Passionately Resurfaces in Political Ad

A viral video that became an Internet sensation a couple of years ago has popped up again… in a race for an Illinois congressional seat.


The video shows state lawmaker Mike Bost throwing papers and yelling on the House floor.


Now Bost is running against Democratic Congressman Bill Enyart… and Enyart has a new ad showing the tirade while calling Bost “Meltdown Mike” and saying he would make Washington worse.


But Republicans say the ad may help Bost by showing his passion and fire.

More Than 100 Taken To Hospital After Gas Leak At Girard School

Dozens of students are recovering from the effects of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning at the North Mac Middle School in Girard. 


The school was evacuated and multiple emergency responders were called in after students began complaining of feeling nauseous.  More than 100 students were reportedly sickened, and many of them were transported to Springfield hospitals. 


The leak was traced to a faulty water heater at the school.  All North Mac schools will be closed Tuesday for a complete health-life-safety check.


District 186: Gun Incidents Prompted By Students' Fears Away From School

Two separate incidents of students bringing guns into Springfield schools appear to have been motivated by the students’ fear of dangers awaiting them after school, and off of school grounds. 


District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill says there’s no indication the students had any aggressive intent toward anyone at the school. 


The district has beefed up security… and is conducting random sweeps of classrooms this week in hopes of deterring students from bringing weapons or any contraband into the building.


Aldermanic Candidate Warns Against CWLP Rate Hike

A candidate for Springfield alderman warns against raising city electric rates to deal with a financial crisis at City Water Light and Power. 


The utility says a rate hike may be inevitable as it faces an $8 million shortfall in its electric fund.  But Ward 8 candidate Ernie Slottag, appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” says a rate hike is a permanent solution to what may be a temporary problem. 


Slottag… who is challenging incumbent Kris Theilen in Ward 8… also says he has no problem with imposing a residency requirement on new city hires.

Dozens Of Students Sickened By Carbon Monoxide At North Mac Middle School In Girard

UPDATE (12:30pm): The carbon monoxide leak appears to have been caused by a flue that came loose from a water heater.  All North Mac schools will be closed Tuesday for a complete health-life-safety check.


UPDATE (11:35am): St. John's Hospital has received 21 patients from the carbon monoxide leak at North Mac Middle School. The hospital says 15 of those patients are "stable," two are listed in fair condition, and four are being assessed. More patients may be arriving, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Memorial Medical Center has received 25 students; there is no breakdown yet of their conditions.  MMC is asking parents or guardians of North Mac students who are checking on their child's status to call 788-3333.  You must provide the first and last name, gender and date of birth of the child.  Parents and legal guardians can also report in person to the registration desk at Memorial's Emergency Department.


[ORIGINAL STORY:] An apparent carbon monoxide leak has sickened between 65 and 100 students at North Mac Middle School in Girard.


Multiple agencies responded to the scene Monday morning, including a dozen Springfield firefighters who were dispatched to assist with traige and treatment on the scene.  There was no immediate word on the conditions of those who were sickened by gas, although officials tell News/Talk 970 WMAY that some of the students were expected to be transported to Springfield for additional treatment.


Stay with News/Talk 970 WMAY for updates on this developing story.

Increased Security Expected at Springfield Public High Schools

Students in Springfield’s three public high schools could see much tighter security in the days ahead… including the possibility of law enforcement searches of classrooms, lockers and backpacks.


Those searches could include the use of metal detecting wands and drug-sniffing dogs.


Random searches are allowed under school board policy… but are likely to be stepped up after two separate incidents of students bringing guns into a high school.


No one was hurt in either incident, the latest of which happened last Friday at Southeast High School.

Report: Bel-Aire Motel Owner Dies in Florida

The owner of the embattled Bel-Aire Motel has reportedly died in Florida.


The State Journal-Register says news of Gopal Motwani’s death was confirmed by Motwani’s son, who declined any further comment.


Motwani had been trying to sell the residential motel, which has been the target of city enforcement actions to crack down on hundreds of alleged building code violations.


Motwani’s wife is a co-owner of the motel, which the city wants to have condemned and torn down.

Latest Chicago Tribune Poll Gives Quinn Lead Over Rauner

It’s some of the best news Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign has gotten in a while… a new Chicago Tribune poll over the weekend gives Quinn a sizable lead over GOP opponent Bruce Rauner.


The Tribune survey of 800 voters found 48-percent supporting Quinn, 37-percent backing Rauner, and five-percent planning to vote for Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm.


The numbers suggest Quinn’s attacks on Rauner may be working… 49-percent of those surveyed said Quinn was more in touch with the concerns of average voters, while only 30-percent said that of Rauner.

Education Groups Weary of Rauner Plan to Shift Towards Merit Pay

Even some education reformers are raising questions about Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner’s education plan.


Rauner’s plan calls for moving teachers toward a merit pay system, and bringing an end to teacher tenure.


The groups say the state should evaluate recent changes it has already made in teacher evaluation and compensation before making sweeping new moves.


Those changes do call for student test scores to be among the factors used in teacher evaluations, which can in turn be used to make decisions about pay and tenure.

Security To Be Tightened, Sweeps Expected At Springfield's Public High Schools, In Wake Of Gun Incidents

Expect tighter security… including possible sweeps for contraband… at Springfield’s public high schools in the days ahead. 


An unloaded gun was recovered at Southeast High School Friday… the second incident involving a student and a firearm in District 186 so far this school year. 


Superintendent Jennifer Gill says student security is the highest priority… but so far, the district is apparently not considering installing metal detectors at the high schools.

New Springfield Teacher Contract To Come Up For Vote Monday

The Springfield school board is expected to vote Monday night on a new teachers contract… and, as usual, the board will not release any details about the agreement until after the vote. 


The board and the Springfield Education Association have been in talks for months… and reached a tentative agreement earlier this week. But neither side is discussing the length of the contract, or how much it will cost the district in additional pay.


The union will hold its own ratification vote for the contract Monday, just before the school board takes final action.

Fired IDOT Workers Sue; Other Questionable Hires Still On State Payroll

A group of 50 IDOT workers are suing over their firing last month… saying their jobs were eliminated only to provide political cover for Governor Pat Quinn as he seeks re-election. 


The workers were laid off following an investigation that indicated they, and perhaps as many as 200 others, got their jobs improperly because of political connections instead of merit.  The lawsuit filed this week demands the state turn over information that the workers say will show they were unfairly fired.


Meanwhile, more than 160 people who may have been improperly hired as “staff assistants” at IDOT are still on the job in different job titles.  That’s according to a review of state records by the Associated Press.  Some of those hires date back to 2002. 


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has called for those workers to also be fired, but IDOT says there are no plans to do so.


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