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October 1, 2014, 7:22 pm
970 WMAY News

Woman Dies In Crash On Route 29 North Of Edinburg

One woman is dead following a collision between a van and a tractor-trailer on Route 29 just north of Edinburg.


Witnesses told Illinois State Police that the van driven by the woman was traveling in the wrong lane on a two-lane stretch of the highway.  She swerved off the road and then swerved back on, striking the rear of the trailer.  Both vehicles came to rest off the road.


The name of the victim was not immediately available.  The crash closed Route 29 for several hours while the investigation continued.

Health Officials: No Local Cause For Alarm From Ebola

“The risk is extremely low.” 


That’s the assessment of Sangamon County Public Health Director Jim Stone, assessing the relative danger now that the Ebola virus has been diagnosed in the U.S.  Stone says it would require contact with the bodily fluids of someone who had contracted the deadly virus. 


Appearing live on the News/Talk 970 WMAY News Feed, Stone said public health officials and doctors have been educated on what to look for and will be monitoring for any sign of a growing outbreak.


Fire Chief: Storage Tanks Linked To Oil Spill Were Not Up To Code

The waste oil storage tanks that ruptured during a fire last month in Jerome were apparently not up to state code… according to Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin. 


But the problem wasn’t caught ahead of time because Springfield only has authority to fight and investigate fires in communities like Jerome… not to inspect for fire hazards and violations. 


And that problem is likely to continue, even as Springfield works to approve new fire protection contracts with Jerome and other local communities.  Fustin says it has taken years to work out the contracts, and he’s reluctant to reopen the talks now.

Governor Candidates Clash On Timing Of Tax Vote

Governor Pat Quinn says he will use the lame-duck fall veto session after the November election to push the legislature to make the temporary state income tax increase permanent. 


But in a questionnaire for the Better Government Assocation, Republican opponent Bruce Rauner says nothing should happen until the new General Assembly is seated in January. 


However, Rauner has left the door open that he might sign a temporary extension of the current 5% rate in January… to get the state through the current fiscal year.  Rauner eventually wants to cut the income tax rate to 3% over four years.

Hope Institute Director On Leave; DCFS Halts New Admissions To Springfield-Based Agency

The director of Springfield’s Hope Institute is on administrative leave… and the residential facility for developmentally disabled people is not being allowed to accept any new admissions for the time being. 


DCFS has halted new admissions to Hope because the agency has reportedly been slow in providing information to the state about the progress of residents. 


A Hope Institute spokesman won’t discuss the reasons Karen Foley was placed on leave, but says the school is implementing a new online system to transmit info to DCFS more quickly.

Springfield-Chicago Flights Back On Track; Airport Assesses Losses From Disruption

Flights between Springfield and Chicago are nearly back to normal in the aftermath of last week’s air traffic disruptions. 


Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport director Mark Hanna says none of Tuesday’s scheduled arrivals or departures had been cancelled… although some were running late. 


Now the next step for the airport is to calculate the financial losses it suffered because of the multiple cancelled flights since last Friday.  Hanna says the airport may ask Congress for federal aid to recover some of its lost revenues related to the security breach at that FAA center.

McFarland Questions Need For Metal Detectors At High Schools

A Springfield school board member is raising doubts about the need for metal detectors at the city’s high schools. 


Scott McFarland says the schools are safe… despite two incidents this school year of students bringing guns into high schools.  And he says the metal detectors could create logjams at school entrances that could pose other safety problems for students. 


McFarland… who announced this week that he is running for City Council… says he will keep an open mind when the school board discusses metal detectors next week.

IHSA To Boycott Legislative Hearing

The Illinois High School Association is boycotting a legislative hearing this week into the organization’s finances. 


Some lawmakers are demanding more transparency from an association that has tight control over most sanctioned athletic events at high schools around the state.  But IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman says he’s been told the association won’t be allowed to testify or call its own witnesses at that hearing on Friday, so he's skipping the event.

Manar Accuses Audit Commission Of Grandstanding In NRI Investigation

A state legislative commission will resume its hearings next week into Governor Pat Quinn’s controversial anti-violence program… but at least one commission member predicts the hearing will be mostly grandstanding with very little in the way of productive solutions. 


Democratic State Senator Andy Manar says the Legislative Audit Commission’s job is to recommend policy changes to prevent future problems like the alleged misuse of money in the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.  But he says the commission has been acting more like a team of criminal investigators… which he says is not its job.


Manar appeared live Tuesday in the Newsmaker Spotlight on the News/Talk 970 WMAY News Feed.


Urban Flooding To Be Subject Of Public Hearing In October

A public hearing on a big local problem… urban flooding… is on the agenda for October… which is National Community Planning Month. 


The Regional Planning Commission says that hearing on October 23rd at the Sangamon County Building will feature an expert who can offer ideas on how to reduce flooding in areas like downtown Springfield. 


The commission is also offering a downloadable activity book for kids to help spur their interest in their communities and the need for proper planning.

Quinn Touts Affordable Care Act Numbers

Governor Pat Quinn is touting what he calls the success story of the Affordable Care Act, one year after it was implemented. 


Quinn says more than 685,000 Illinoisans now have insurance that didn’t have it a year ago.  More than two-thirds of that total was signed up under the expanded Medicaid program, but more than 200,000 people purchased policies through the health insurance exchanges.

Business Owners Generally Optimistic About Local Economic Outlook

Springfield-area business owners continue to be gradually more optimistic about prospects for the local economy. 


The latest Economic Outlook Survey conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield finds a six-point gain in positive expectations for the next 12 months.  Only one in five business owners expect the local economy to get worse in the coming year. 


Business owners point to the quality of health care locally as the biggest asset for doing business in Sangamon County… while “total state taxes on business” is seen as the biggest liability.



Springfield School Board Member Sets Sights On City Council

A Springfield school board member says he can do more to help city schools, and neighborhoods, by serving on the City Council instead. 


Scott McFarland has launched his campaign for the open seat in Ward 4.  He made the announcement Monday at a North End shopping plaza where several of the available retail spaces are vacant. 


McFarland says he will work for more economic development and infrastructure improvement for the North End… including expanded use of TIF districts to fund that effort.  But McFarland says he will also seek to have a portion of TIF funds rebated back to the school district.


Durbin, Oberweis Meet, Clash On Issues Including Guns

A rare joint appearance by the major party candidates for U.S. Senate highlights the sharp differences between them. 


In a conversation before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis clashed early and often.  The two split on issues like background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and on the Internet. 


Durbin says it would reduce crime, but Oberweis doubts that… and says the checks raise fears about a federal database of gun owners.


Legislative Hearings On Anti-Violence Program Can Proceed

An Illinois legislative commission has a green light to proceed with its own hearings into Governor Pat Quinn’s anti-violence program and allegations that it misspent millions of tax dollars. 


Those hearings had been put on hold while federal prosecutors in Springfield conducted their own investigation.  But the committee chairs say U.S. Attorney James Lewis has told them they can proceed with their hearings, tentatively scheduled to start October 8th in Chicago. 


Former top Quinn administration staffers could be called to testify about the program…less than a month before Election Day.

Manar, Colleagues Spar Over School Funding Reform

Some Illinois lawmakers are squabbling openly about a school funding reform plan. 


State Senator Andy Manar’s bill would require most state education dollars to be allocated on the basis of need… which would take funding away from wealthier districts and shift it to poorer ones.  The bill has hit a roadblock in the House, where members representing those upscale districts are trying to derail the legislation. 


Manar says those opponents shouldn’t pretend that they care about fairness in school funding.  But Representative Ron Sandack says lawmakers need to find a different approach that doesn’t, quote, “crush suburban schools.”

Ball-Chatham Schools Reject Request To Remove Controversial Graphic Novel From Reading List

The Ball-Chatham school board has unanimously rejected a parent’s request to eliminate a graphic novel from the approved Glenwood High School reading list. 


The book… “Persepolis”… is author Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical account of growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran.  The book is critically-acclaimed, but is also controversial because of graphic images and themes. 


The State Journal-Register reports that a parent complained about the tone and images of the book, but school board members agreed with principal Jim Lee that it’s OK to present challenging material to students.


Not Many Takers For State Airplanes

An attempt to sell off half the state’s fleet of airplanes isn’t finding many takers. 


Governor Pat Quinn’s administration has put eight planes and one helicopter up for sale in an online auction, to reduce the cost of maintaining the fleet. 


But the Quad-City Times reports only two of the aircraft sold Sunday… the two cheapest, going for around $65,000 each.  More expensive planes, including one with an estimated value of more than $2 million, got no bids.

Springfield School Board Member Giving Up Seat To Run For Alderman

A Springfield school board member says he thinks can accomplish more… for schools and for the rest of the community… as a city alderman. 


Scott McFarland has announced that he will seek the Ward Four seat being vacated by Frank Lesko, who is running for city clerk. 


McFarland says one of the most important issues is to stabilize finances at City Water Light and Power… and says everything should be on the table, from budget cuts to the possibility of rate increases, but only as a last resort.

Economic Outlook Positive Among Local Business Owners

Most Springfield business owners think the local economy will get better in the next year… or at least that it won’t get any worse. 


The latest Economic Outlook Survey of local companies has been released, and it shows more than a third of those surveyed expect economic growth in the coming year… but more than 40-percent only think the economy will stay the same.  Just 20-percent are predicting economic declines over the next 12 months.


Manar Pushes Back Against Attempt To Derail School Funding Revamp

State Senator Andy Manar is fighting back against efforts to water down his school funding reform bill. 


Senate Bill 16 would allocate most state education dollars on the basis of need… which would divert money away from wealthier school districts and toward poorer ones.  It has already passed the Senate, but has run into objections in the House from lawmakers representing those wealthier districts. 


Manar says his bill is a move toward “fundamental fairness”… and says those who oppose his bill should stop pretending that they want a more fair system.

Old Charge Resurfaces In Congressional Race

As Election Day gets closer, more dirt is coming out about some of the candidates in the November races. 


The Huffington Post reports that a check of records about state lawmaker and congressional candidate Mike Bost reveals he was arrested and stood trial for shooting a dog after the animal bit his 4-year-old daughter.  Police reports on the 1986 incident say Bost shot the beagle while it was penned up in a neighbor’s yard… however, Bost was acquitted of the charge by a Southern Illinois jury. 


Bost is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Enyart in the 12th Congressional District.


Durbin, Oberweis Duel Over Guns

The candidates for U.S. Senate have many disagreements… and most were on display when the two met before the Chicago Tribune editorial board Monday. 


Democrat Dick Durbin favors universal background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and elsewhere.  But Republican Jim Oberweis opposes the idea, citing fears that it could lead to a federal database of gun owners and expressing doubt that the checks would really reduce crime.


Mother Convicted In Clinton Lake Drownings Fights For Custody Of New Kids

The woman who spent five years in prison for her role in the drowning deaths of her three children in Clinton Lake is now out of prison… and mother to three more children. 


But the Bloomington Pantagraph reports the state took custody of the children of Amanda Hamm… who is now married and goes by the name Amanda Ware… because of her previous child endangerment charge. 


Ware and her husband are now fighting in court to have the children… ages 4, 2 and six months… returned to them.

Durbin Wants Security Review After Arson Fire Disrupts Flights Across U.S.

Friday’s arson fire at an air traffic control center near Chicago is still having an effect on flights around the Midwest. 


And U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says the incident has exposed a vulnerability in the system that is designed to safely coordinate thousands of flights in crowded airspace every day. 


Although Friday’s fire appears to be the work of a disgruntled employee – and not related to terrorism -- Durbin says he and other senators will ask for a security review of FAA practices to prevent future sabotage that could cripple air travel around the country.



Callis Blasts Davis On Minimum Wage, Social Security

The challenger in the 13th Congressional District is attacking incumbent Rodney Davis for his stance on the minimum wage and Social Security. 


Democrat Ann Callis says Davis has voted against increasing the minimum wage, a position which she says hurts women and working families.  Callis says raising the minimum wage will give the poorest people more buying power, and would bolster the economy. 


Callis also accuses Davis of supporting a GOP plan to privatize Social Security.  But when asked how she would improve the solvency of entitlement programs, Callis said there should be a bipartisan panel to make recommendations for the future of Social Security and Medicare.


Suspect Arrested In Shooting At Weekend Cookout

Springfield police have made an arrest in a weekend shooting at a neighborhood cookout. 


The State Journal-Register reports 39-year-old Jermel Oneal has been charged with attempted first-degree murder.  He’s accused of shooting a man in the face when an argument broke out during that cookout outside an apartment building on West Capitol Avenue. 


The victim… whose name has not been released… is reportedly in critical condition.

Obama To Campaign For Quinn This Week

President Obama will travel to Illinois this week to campaign for Governor Pat Quinn. 


Details of the President’s appearances with Quinn haven’t been announced yet, but Obama is expected to be in Chicago Wednesday night and Thursday. 


First Lady Michelle Obama is also scheduled to campaign in Illinois for the governor early next month.

Route 66 Festival Closes Out Successful Weekend Run

Organizers say this year’s International Route 66 Mother Road Festival may turn out to be the biggest yet.


Exceptional weather was one key factor in the big turnout for the show… which drew hundreds of classic cars from across the U.S. and Canada. 


This was the 13th year for the downtown street festival, which wrapped up Sunday afternoon.


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