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August 27, 2014, 7:53 am
970 WMAY News Archives for 2012-08

MacArthur Park Apartments Owners Blames City For Lack Of Repairs


Springfield Mayor Mike Houston is disputing a claim by the attorney for MacArthur Park Apartments that the City is behind its 1200 violations. Attorney Don Craven had claimed a lack of police protection at the complex has led to a lack of repairs.

 

Houston said the complex has had only two thefts of copper, and that the repairs are not on the timetable that the building’s owners presented to the city. The building’s owners were fined 13 thousand dollars last year for numerous violations at the complex.

Springfield Police Race Discrimination Settlement Details Emerge


It’s an eight-year-old case of racial discrimination that the city of Springfield is looking to settle once and for all.

 

Springfield Police Department

An ordinance on first reading for the Springfield City Council would settle the case of three white Springfield police officers who worked for the city, voluntarily left, and then came back on for a much longer period of time.

 

They claim they were discriminated against because of their race by not receiving pay equivalent to their seniority and length of service.

 

Two of the officers have since retired and a third, Kevin Groesch, is still employed by SPD.

 

Groesh is receiving $43,000 over three years while the other two are receiving almost $29,000 each, over three years.

 

Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen says the city determined the total amount to settle and the claimants’ attorneys decide who got what. $50,000 goes to their attorneys.

 

The case was originally filed in US District Court in 2004. Cullen says it has since gone to the appeal court twice and he recommended settling as the best way to resolve the matter.

 

Aldermen will determin whether or not to settle the case for $150,000 in a couple of weeks.

 

Cullen says their claim was based on what the policies were at the time and that nobody was singled out for discriminatory action. Cullen also says that the policy hasn’t been cleared up yet because they were all part of a collective bargaining agreement and the policies are not something the city can unilaterally change.

 

The Corporation Counsel recommended the resolution saying the city doesn't believe the policy had any discriminatory impact but because of officers personal circumstances it created a potential dispute that the city would ultimately have to deal with.

 

“A resolution like this was better than taking a chance and going to court,” something Cullen said would cost the city even more money. 

City Could Settle Discrimination Case, and Other Ordinances on First Reading


The City of Springfield could soon settle a racial discrimination case for just over $150,000 with three former Springfield police officers.

An ordinance on first reading for Tuesday’s meeting says the settlement also does not hold any party accountable and that it’s in the city’s best interest to pay the the three men and their lawyers over a three year period.   

 

City of Springfield Ordinance 2012-350

 

Read the ordinance on the city's website here


Aldermen could possibly discuss the issue during Tuesday's city council meeting but won't decide whether to pass the measure for a few more weeks.  

 

Ordinances on first reading are introduced to the city council for the first time during full city council meetings.  Aldermen then meet for the Committee of the Whole where they determine if the ordinance will be on the debate or on the consent agenda.  

 

Other ordinances on first reading

 

Budget Director Bill McCarty says he’s been working since April on an ordinance that would equip multiple city vehicles with propane biofuel conversion systems. McCarty says that the project will equip 26 city vehicles with new systems and that he projects could save $70,000 a year.  He says he has been working with the city's fuel supplier to get a federal grand to help train the city mechanics to install and work on the new systems.

 

The Water Division at City Water Light and Power is requesting a $113,000 contract extension for fluorosilicic acid, also known as fluoride, for the city’s drinking. There is also an ordinance for nearly $90,000 worth of Chlorine for the water purification system. 

 

Some new heavy-duty equipment could be coming to a Public Works project near you with several ordinances purchasing nearly $720,000 of new vehicles. The five vehicles include a two hook lift trucks, a tractor mower, a backhoe, and a barricade truck.

 

The city is also looking to get $318,000 worth of rock salt.

 

Another ordinance that would address several changes to the Land Use Plan for property around Lake Springfield would prohibit sinks and toilets and boathouses, prohibit fences except for around pools and also raise the lease transfer fee from $25 to $100. 

 

And there’s an ordinance on first reading for a nearly $30,000 workers compensation settlement for a Springfield firefighter who got a torn rotator disc in his shoulder while battling a fire. 

 

Review the ordinances online at the City Clerk’s website and stay tuned for extensive coverage of city business with The Council Roundup, Wednesday's at 9 am, only on 970 WMAY, The News and Talk of Springfield.

LIHEAP Fund Applications Start Tuesday


Seniors and people with disabilities can begin applying for winter heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – or LIHEAP next week.

 

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded program for low income families where heating bill payments are made on behalf of households, except for those whose utilities are paid through their rent. Funds will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Tuesday until the funds are exhausted.

 

For a complete listing of administering agencies, visit liheapillinois.com, or call 877-411-WARM.

Springfield Man Finds Muskox Fossil In Low Sangamon River


Something good has come out of the drought situation locally. Tony Blisset of Springfield waded out into the Sangamon River at Riverside Park while on a family outing and discovered a vertebra from an extinct Harlan’s muskox.

 

Blisset and his family brought the bone to the Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center for identification. Museum paleontologists recognized it as a neck vertebra from the large head-butting mammal.

 

Blisset donated the fossil to the museum where it’s on public display.

Quinn Says His Veto on Gambling Expansion Will Stick, Wants to Rework Bill


Now that Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed the Gambling Bill sent to him by lawmakers, he says he’s open to discussing a new plan to expand gambling in Illinois.

 

Quinn says he has an outline of what HE wants to see in a gaming bill and thinks lawmakers should start all over on new legislation. 

 

Quinn feels legislators should start from scratch and put together a new gaming bill based on recommendations he’s made.

 

When legislators return in the Fall Session in November, they may try to over-ride the governor’s veto, but Quinn doesn’t believe they have enough votes to make that happen.

 

Quinn says he wants more regulation of the gaming industry and a ban on campaign contributions from casino operators to be a part of any new legislation.

Coming Rain and Wind Could Be Bad News for Farmers


Despite the drought, rain moving into the area, beginning sometime throughout the day, will be the start to a rainy weekend in Springfield and that could mean bad news for some area farmers.

 

Weather forecasts have possible precipitation today, this afternoon and likely this evening with rain continuing after midnight, throughout Saturday and possibly into Sunday.

 

For some it may be welcomed after the long drought this summer with rain saturating dry fields with several inches or more of rain but it could also be too much in a short period of time. 

 

Plus strong winds could knock over already weak crops.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY for award winning weather coverage.

Labor Day Parade Monday


Springfield area labor unions plan to celebrate Labor Day Monday with a parade that kicks off at 10 am.

 

Supporters can line the streets of Seventh, Jefferson, Fifth, Capital, Sixth and Washington to see a number of unions and other participants.

 

970 WMAY’s Official News Vehicle will be featured in the parade.

Titans Linebacker Has Mono, Two Other Key Players Good To Go


From the WMAY Sports Department -- Chatham Glenwood is down one because of illness but two other strong players are ready to go for tonight’s game against Jacksonville.

 

The report earlier this week said Glenwood linebacker Ryan Elshoff has been diagnosed with Mono and will miss two weeks. 

 

That same report also stated that starting linebacker Dylan Ambrose and starting Defensive Back Matt Meyer had gone home from school on Tuesday with similiar symptoms.

 

WMAY's Mike Wennmacher was able to talk to Head Coach Dan Rourke this week and Rourke said that both Ambrose and Meyer are cleared to play this Friday night verse Jacksonville.

 

970 WMAY will broadcast Friday's game against Jacksonville live from Chatham beginning at 6:30.

 

Decatur Man Wins Million Dollars in Illinois Lottery


Just eight weeks after the birth of his first daughter, a 29-year-old Decatur man won a million dollars in the Illinois Lottery.

 

WAND-TV reports Michael Whiteman picked up his winnings in Springfield Thursday with his fiancé Barbara Holman.

 

Whitman chose a one-time payment of over 600 thousand dollars, saying he has so much to be grateful for.

 

Whiteman says he’s blessed with a beautiful baby girl and now enough money to put a down payment on a new house.

 

The winning ticket was purchased from a Circle K on East Wood Street in Decatur.

Judge Orders Quinn Administration to Prepare for Pay Raises Due AFSCME


Illinois workers may get their pay raises, after all. An arbitrator ruled in favor of AFSCME in a dispute over Illinois worker’s pay raises in a contract with the State from 2011. Governor Pat Quinn hasn’t paid about 60 million dollars in raises because he says the Legislature didn’t appropriate it.

 

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Richard Billik, Jr. has ordered Quinn’s administration to hand over a voucher for 18 million dollars in un-spent payroll money to the State Comptroller in case he rules in favor of the union. Millions of dollars more might also be involved.

Medical Society Endorses Alderman Cahnman's Tan Ban Plan


The issue of teens and tanning beds is back on the front burner in Springfield.

 

The Sangamon County Medical Society has now endorsed a controversial city ordinance that would prohibit anyone under 18 from using a tanning parlor in the city, regardless of whether they have a parent’s permission.

 

Dermatologist Judy Knox says indoor tanning poses an extreme cancer risk that justifies the ban.

 

Alderman Sam Cahnman says he may try to bring the stalled ordinance out of committee as early as next week.

Teachers Unions Endorse State Senate Candidate


A state senate candidate who just picked up the endorsement of both main statewide teachers unions is vowing to fight to preserve the pensions for current and retired teachers.

 

Democrat Andy Manar says teachers have sacrificed enough and should get the pensions they were promised, a view that he says also extends to state workers.

 

Manar says he also wants to end the disparity in funding between the state’s wealthiest and poorest school districts, but says there will have to be a lot of discussion to figure out the best way to make that happen.

Boil Order Lifted for South Sangamon Water System


The boil order that had been in place since early this week for Chatham and other nearby communities has been lifted.

 

The order had been issued for customers of the South Sangamon Water System in Chatham, New Berlin, New City, and Loami.

 

It was caused by a drop in the system’s water pressure, the result of a water main that failed as crews were working on it.

 

But an electronic alert sent out Wednesday night says the order is now lifted.

Attorney General Looking For Price Gouging Gas Stations


Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she’s watching out for any evidence of price gouging by gas stations in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

 

Madigan says she will be checking to see if price spikes earlier this week are the result of legitimate increases in wholesale prices, or if retailers are taking advantage of the crisis to gouge consumers.

 

Gas prices locally shot up around 25-cents a gallon, to four dollars a gallon or more, before Isaac even made landfall this week.

 

But prices have been gradually dropping, down a dime or more from where they were on Tuesday.

Divorce Attorney Testifies at Peterson Trial


Defense attorneys for Drew Peterson have rested their case in the former Chicago-area police officer's murder trial.

 

The defense finished yesterday afternoon after calling witnesses over three days.

 

One of those defense witnesses testified Wednesday that Peterson’s fourth wife told him that Peterson had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

 

That claim from Stacy Peterson to a divorce attorney came just days before she disappeared.

 

But defense lawyers say the testimony shows that Stacy Peterson was willing to lie about Drew to gain an advantage in their divorce case.

Sangamon County Medical Society Endorses Tan Ban In Springfield


Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman will make another attempt soon… perhaps as early as next week… to pass a ban on indoor tanning in Springfield by anyone under the age of 18. His effort has gotten a boost from the Sangamon County Medical Society, which endorses the ordinance sponsored by Cahnman and Alderman Steve Dove.

 

Dermatologists and other medical experts agree that indoor tanning poses a serious health risk to teenagers, dramatically increasing their chance of getting skin cancer. And they say indoor tanning should be treated the same as cigarettes, alcohol and other harmful substances which are kept strictly off limits from minors.

Boil Order Lifted For Chatham, New Berlin, New City, Loami


The South Sangamon Water System has lifted the boil order that was issued earlier this week for customers in Chatham, New Berlin, New City and Loami.

 

The boil order was issued following a drop in the system's water pressure.  An advisory issued to customers Wednesday says the boil order is now lifted, but did not offer details about what caused the pressure drop.

Statewide Teachers Unions Support Manar For Senate


The state’s two major teachers unions are endorsing Democrat Andy Manar  in the 48th State Senate race, based in part on his support for maintaining teacher pensions and preserving education funding.

 

Manar appeared with union officials and a couple of his childhood teachers at a news conference in Springfield. He says that teachers deserve the pensions they were promised, and says the same holds true for other state workers. And Manar says it doesn’t require deep cuts in education funding to make that happen, despite warnings to the contrary by Governor Pat Quinn.

 

Manar is running against Decatur mayor Mike McElroy in the November election.

Hurricane Isaac Could Bring Heavy Rains to Southern & Central Illinois


It’s a slow-moving storm that’s still a long way away, but Hurricane Isaac could be having an impact on Central and Southern Illinois during the upcoming holiday weekend.

 

The National Weather Service is warning that the remnants of Isaac could bring very heavy rains to the region Friday through Sunday.

 

Some models suggest the storm could bring 2 to possibly 5 inches of rain to some parts of the 970 WMAY listening area by Labor Day.

Local Gas Prices Up, Hurricane Isaac To Blame


Hurricane Isaac is already being felt in Springfield, at the gas pump.

 

Prices at most Springfield stations jumped to four-dollars a gallon, or more, Tuesday, with most of the blame going to concerns that Isaac will disrupt oil production and refinery operations along the Gulf Coast.

 

But the surge in prices is not expected to disrupt most people’s travel plans, instead people will simply pay more to do what they had already planned to do.

Quinn Vetoes Gambling Expansion Bill, Override Uncertain


Supporters of a gambling expansion bill say they will try to override Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of the legislation, but the odds are not in their favor.

 

The original bill did not get enough votes to overturn Quinn, who says he is confident his veto will be upheld.

 

Quinn says the bill failed to include enough safeguards against corruption in the gambling industry.

 

But supporters of the bill say Quinn is wrong, and warn that his veto will cost the state millions of dollars and may be the last nail in the coffin of the struggling harness racing industry.

Springfield Park District Could Save Thousands with Ordinance on Consent Agenda


Springfield’s Park District could save several thousand dollars with an ordinance on the consent agenda and it could lay the groundwork for even more cooperation with other governments in the future.

 

Budget director Bill McCarty says that an ordinance allowing an intergovernmental agreement would join Springfield’s Park District with the city of Springfield when purchasing things like supplies and gas.

 

McCarty says that the park district would save between $6,000 and $8,000.

 

Aldermen are expected pass the ordinance next week on the consent agenda.

Local Preference for County Contractors Closer to Passing City Council


Sangamon County vendors looking to do business with the City of Springfield are closer to getting a leg up over out-of-county contractors with a measure moving through the city council.

 

After failing on emergency passage last week, aldermen moved to put Ward 1 Alderman Frank Edwards’ local preference ordinance on the consent agenda.

 

The ordinance would give contractors within the limits of Sangamon County a 5 percent advantage over bids from outside the county.

 

Currently only vendors in the Springfield corporate limits get to come in 5 percent over outside vendors and be considered the lowest bid.

Council Moves for Passage of East Side Schnucks


No discussion, no debate, just a green light for Schnuck’s to proceed with a new store on Springfield’s east side.

 

The fast passage was in contrast to last week’s vote on a west side Schnuck’s, which has run into opposition because it would require bulldozing a large portion of the old-growth trees in Griffin Woods.

 

CWLP Computer Upgrade on Debate Agenda, Costs $1.2 Million


City Water Light and Power could soon be gearing up for a major computer overhaul that will help bring the utility into compliance with new federal cyber-security standards.

 

An ordinance on the debate agenda would update training software, supervisory systems and other alerting operation systems for the utility.

 

The new regulations from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation also call for updated cyber-security measures provided by the nearly $1.2 million update.

 

CWLP Chief Engineer Eric Hobbie says that the new technology would help mitigate any issues that could lead to brownouts.

Sangamon County DUI Detail Cut, Sheriff Says Not Linked To Taser Incident


Sangamon County will no longer have a deputy assigned exclusively to seeking out and stopping drunk drivers.

 

Sheriff Neil Williamson is ending the program because federal grant funding that supported it was sharply reduced for the coming year.

 

Williamson tells the State Journal-Register that the decision was not related to two lawsuits claiming the county’s DUI deputy, Travis Koester, exceeded his authority and improperly Tasered a woman during a traffic stop.

 

Meanwhile, Williamson also plans another attempt to ask voters to approve a countywide sales tax increase to pay for law enforcement.

Senator Kirk Appears at GOP Convention Via Video


It was an emotional high point for the Illinois delegation at the Republican National Convention.

 

Ailing U.S. Senator Mark Kirk addressed the delegation in a videotaped message, where he told them he wished he could be with them.

 

Kirk remains sidelined by a stroke that he suffered nearly eight months ago.

 

In the message, Kirk urged his fellow Republicans to fight hard, telling them the presidential race is one of the most important elections we’ve ever had.

 

The delegation gave a standing ovation at the conclusion of the one-minute video.

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport Receives $2 Million Grant For Improvements


A federal grant worth more than $2 million will pay for improvements to the taxiway and perimeter of Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin announced the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Tuesday.  The money will pay for rehabilitation of the taxiway, and perimeter fencing to prevent unauthorized entry or potentially hazardous incursions from deer or other wildlife.

Springfield Burn Ban Extended To September 3rd


The Springfield Fire Department has extended the burn ban within the corporate city limits as well as other jurisdictions with fire protection provided by the City.

 

The burn ban continues now until September 3rd. The ban is in effect because of the lack of rain, low humidity and wind conditions, combined with unseasonably dry conditions over the past few months.

Rochester Road Re-Opens Wednesday


Rochester Road is opening back up Wednesday. The Sangamon County Highway Department has completed repairs on the section of road between the South Fork of the Sangamon River and Oak Hill Road. The Village of Rochester anticipates repairs to the water main should be completed to allow the road to open.

CWLP Offering High Efficiency Toilet Rebates


City Water, Light and Power is offering its water customers a rebate for purchasing high performance and high efficiency toilets – with the “Water Sense” label. Tom Skelly, CWLP’s Water Division Director says for every 20 to 30 year old commode that is replaced with one of the newer, efficient models can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water per person annually.

 

Rebate funds worth $50.00 are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Tuesday, September 4th. Participating vendors are both Lowe’s locations in Springfield, both Menard’s locations, plus Connor Company and Capitol Group.

Meet The Mayor Session Wednesday Night


Springfield Residents will have another opportunity to voice their concerns to the Mayor.

 

The mayor’s office will be open Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30pm in the mayor’s office for “Meet the Mayor.” It’s a monthly opportunity for Springfield citizens to discuss municipal issues. Appointments are not required and there are no forms to fill out. As with previous sessions, the event is free and open to the public.

 

The mayor’s office is located on the third floor of Municipal Center east, 800 East Monroe.

Local Protestors Don't Get Far at GOP Convention


Protestors from Springfield haven’t gotten very far in getting their message across to Republicans at the party’s national convention in Florida. A group of protestors… including some who traveled to the convention from Springfield… tried to crash the Illinois delegation’s breakfast Tuesday morning.

 

The group says it wasn’t trying to be disruptive, but it wanted to talk to the delegation about key issues like raising the minimum wage. However, the protestors were escorted from the room by police. There were no arrests.

Local Gas Prices Up


With a long holiday weekend approaching, gas prices have taken another big leap higher… an increase that may be tied to the effects of Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm has disrupted oil production and is threatening some southern refineries, and that appears to a big factor in the increase.

 

The price of regular unleaded now sits at nearly four-dollars a gallon at many Springfield stations… some were even higher, pushing them near the all-time record high locally.

Quinn Vetoes Gambling Expansion Bill


Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation that would have dramatically expanded legalized gambling in Illinois.  The bill would have created the first casino in the city of Chicago, added or expanded casinos in other Illinois cities, and allowed horse racing tracks to add slot machines.

 

Quinn says the bill failed to include sufficient regulatory safeguards to make sure that corrupt outside influences did not infiltrate the gaming industry or use their power and money to affect the political process.

 

The veto sets the stage for an override vote in the General Assembly when lawmakers return to Springfield this fall.

Second Planned Schnucks Development Being Considered by Springfield Aldermen


Several ordinances up for Springfield City Council consideration deal with the planned east side Schnucks—one dealing with street offsets and the other would approve the preliminary plan of Schnucks east.

 

This is the second planned Schnucks for Springfield.

 

Last week aldermen approved a sketch map and other plans for a west side Schnucks amid objections from citizens concerned about what’s known as Griffin Woods.

Springfield Could Receive Nearly $1.5 Million in Grants for Community Development


The city of Springfield could soon receive nearly $1.5 million to help improve homes and economic development through the capital city, thanks to community block grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but it’s less than has been received in the past.

 

An ordinance up for consideration for the Springfield City Council would approve the block grant funds from HUD and also Home Investment Partnership Funds.

 

The money would be used to improve housing and economic activity throughout the community, according to Mike Farmer, the Director of Economic Development. He says there are many things the funds will be used for.

 

Farmer says that people interested in receiving funds for improvements should contact his office for eligibility requirements.

 

This is an annual allocation of HUD funds that is based on a formula of population and poverty rates.

 

Farmer says that the annual amount has gone down over the past few years because of economic pressures in Washington D.C.

 

In a separate ordinance, several grants, totally nearly $138,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, would go to Springfield Police.

 

The funds would be used to purchase fully equipped squad cars.

Springfield Aldermen Consider Contracts, Workers Comp Settlement, & Annexation


Springfield aldermen will meet with the Committee of the Whole tonight with a slew of ordinances under consideration.

 

One ordinance would join together the City of Springfield and the Springfield Park Board for the purchase of personal property, services and supplies, including the purchase of gasoline. In the ordinance, the city would charge the Park District per gallon of gas including an agreed upon administrative fee.

 

There’s also an ordinance that would payout $32,000 for a workers compensation claim where a Public Works equipment operator injured his arm while moving equipment off a truck.

 

During Tuesday evening's meeting Aldermen will consider to annex several properties along Estill Drive from the Springfield Airport Authority. The Springfield City Council will also consider annexing property on Fox Mill Lane into the city.

 

Another ordinance that would approve a contract extension with Appliance Recycling Centers of America for $144,000 would allow for the city to recycle refrigerators and freezers. The extension makes the contract for a total of nearly $837,000.

 

Another contract for City Water Light and Power would mean new software for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition for $1.1 million.

State Prison Slated For Closure Will Stay Open Into September


Two state prisons that had been scheduled for closure by the end of August will remain open into September, at least.

 

The state Department of Corrections has ordered workers at the Tamms supermax prison and the Dwight women’s facility to continue reporting to work for now.

 

Governor Pat Quinn’s plan to close the prisons and transfer their populations to other correctional centers is tied up in a court fight and arbitration.

 

AFSCME has sued, saying the move will increase dangerous overcrowding through the rest of the state’s prison system.

SMTD Under New Management


The Springfield Mass Transit District is officially under new leadership.

 

Longtime SMTD board chairman Frank Squires has been named the new managing director of the agency.

 

Squires had been running the mass transit district in an acting capacity since June, when former director Linda Tisdale retired.

 

Squires says he wants to keep building on SMTD’s record of success.

Bond Reduced in Fatal Felony DUI Case


Bond has been reduced for a Springfield woman charged with felony DUI in a crash that killed a passenger in her vehicle.

 

A judge Monday agreed to lower Amber Kline’s bail from one-million down to $750,000.

 

Kline will still have to post 10-percent, or $75,000, to be freed while she awaits trial on those aggravated DUI charges.

 

Kline was driving a car that crashed earlier this month while traveling at a high rate of speed on West Washington.

 

Police say there was open alcohol in the vehicle. 23-year-old Amanda Smith died in that wreck.

Lawsuits Mount in Aftermath of Megabus Crash Near Litchfield


Six lawsuits have now been filed over the crash of a Megabus earlier this month on Interstate 55 near Litchfield.

 

The latest comes from a Missouri woman and her daughter, who were both injured when the bus left the road and hit a concrete overpass support on August 2nd.

 

Leah Crites says not only were she and her daughter Hannah injured, she also claims in the suit that Hannah was traumatized by witnessing the severe injuries sustained by others.

 

One person was killed and 47 people were hurt in that bus crash.

Two Dead After Chicago Hotel Stay, Health Officials Blame Legionnaire's Disease


Two deaths have now been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease among at least eight people who stayed at a downtown Chicago hotel in recent weeks.

 

Health officials in Chicago say the victims were not from Chicago but have not disclosed their hometowns or revealed the conditions of the six people who contracted the illness but survived.

 

Legionnaire’s disease is often linked to pools or other water sources.

 

The pool and spa at the JW Marriott Hotel in Chicago have been drained, and officials say there is no ongoing risk at the hotel.

Boil Order for South Sangamon Water Commission


Several communities near Springfield remain under a boil order today, after a sudden loss of water pressure at the Sought Sangamon Water Commission treatment plant.

 

The malfunction is forcing water customers in Chatham, New Berlin, New City and Loami to boil water until further notice.

Pickleball to Replace Tennis at Iles Park


Tennis is out, pickleball is in at Iles Park.

 

The Springfield Park District says it will begin transforming the tennis courts at Iles Park into eight regulation size “pickleball” courts.

 

Pickleball is described as a paddle sport where a Wiffle ball is hit over a low net, courts are the size of a regulation badminton court.

 

The change is being funded by a local private donor, along with a private grant.

 

The new pickleball courts are supposed to be ready by September 10.

State Drops Plan To Close Prisons By Week's End


Two Illinois prisons that were set to shut down by the end of this week will stay open for now.  The Quinn administration has put the closure plans on hold while a court fight continues over the move. 

 

The Associated Press obtained a letter from the Department of Corrections, directing workers at the Tamms Supermax and Dwight women’s prisons to stay on the job for now.  The letter says there has been a “temporary delay” in plans to close the facilities and move the inmate population to other prisons. 

 

The state and AFSCME are in arbitration over the move, which the union says will endanger inmates and staff.

Local Red Cross Volunteers Sent To Gulf Coast Ahead Of Isaac


More volunteers from Springfield’s Red Cross chapter are fanning out across the Gulf Coast to assist with the response to Tropical Storm Isaac. 

 

Keith Pigg of Sherman was dispatched Monday to Louisiana, where Isaac could make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane sometime Tuesday or Wednesday.  Two other volunteers… Eric Adams of Springfield and Billy Warner of Nokomis… have been sent to Alabama. 

 

They follow others who left last week for Florida and Mississippi, giving the local chapter a presence across the entire Gulf Coast region that could be affected by the storm.  The Illinois Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross says other volunteers are on stand-by to be deployed if needed.

Traditional Labor Day Traffic Enforcement Blitz Planned


It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and yet state transportation and law enforcement officials expect to nab a number of drunk drivers and other offenders with the enforcement blitz they have planned for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY, Shannon Alderman with IDOT says the increased patrols, roadside safety checks and other tactics have reduced DUI accidents and fatalities in recent years… but acknowledges that some people will still drive impaired, despite all the warnings. 

 

Alderman says drunk driving is not an accident… it is a choice that shows careless disregard for human life.

Gov. Quinn Vetoes Legislation Mandating Plastic Bag Recycling


Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation aimed at promoting recycling of plastic grocery bags, saying the legislation blocked local communities from coming up with their own innovative ideas for reducing waste.

 

Plastic bag manufacturers and retailers had supported the bill, which required manufacturers to register with the state and permitted stores only to use bags from registered manufacturers.

 

But the bill also prohibited more stringent local initiatives, including bans on plastic bags.

 

Such bans have been implemented in other major cities and was under consideration in Champaign.

Gov. Quinn Still Mulling Over Gaming Bill


Even though he’s had months to make up his mind, and has been outspoken in his criticism of the bill, Governor Pat Quinn insists he’s still thinking over what to do about a gambling expansion measure that sits on his desk.

 

Quinn must take action by Tuesday night on the bill, which would add new casinos in Chicago and other Illinois communities and allow slot machines at horse racing tracks.

 

Quinn has blasted the bill for failing to include enough safeguards against corruption infiltrating the gaming industry in the state, but supporters of the bill are betting that Quinn can’t turn away from the revenue it would generate.

Illinois Republicans Brace for Isaac While in Florida


Illinois’s Republican delegation is using today’s storm delay at the party’s national convention in Tampa to get better acquainted and get ready for a tighter convention schedule starting Tuesday.

 

Members of the delegation continued to hold scheduled events on Sunday, but Monday’s activities were called off out of concern for the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac.

 

Members of the delegation, including some of the GOP’s leading contenders for governor in 2014, say they will keep busy on Monday away from the convention hall and will be able to jump right into the full slate of speeches and activities on Tuesday.

Quick Defense Expected After Prosecution Rests in Peterson Trial


The prosecution is expected to rest today in the case of former cop Drew Peterson.

 

Then Peterson’s lawyers will mount what they describe as a “quick” defense of Peterson, who is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

 

The defense says it will only need a day or two to argue that Savio died of an accidental fall in her bathtub.

 

That was also the initial conclusion of investigators, until they re-opened the case following the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacey, in 2007.

Aldermen Puts Real Estate Career on Hold, Attending Nursing School


Now we know more about those scrubs that Springfield Alderman Steve Dove wore to last week’s city council meeting.

 

Dove has put his real estate career on hold and is now taking classes at the Capital Area School of Practical Nursing.

 

Dove tells the State Journal-Register that he has spent years around doctors and hospitals while in the company of his father, the late cardiologist James Dove.

 

So Dove says the career change seemed like a natural path.

Blago Sends Wife 22nd Wedding Anniversary E-mail


He couldn’t go out and buy a card, so former Governor Rod Blagojevich had to settle for sending an e-mail to wife Patti for their 22nd wedding anniversary over the weekend.

 

Patti Blagojevich posted the message on Facebook.

 

In the e-mail, sent from the Colorado prison where Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence for corruption, he expressed optimism that an upcoming appeal would be successful.

 

Blagojevich asked his wife what she was doing this time next year, and inquired, quote, “Can I take you out?”

With Gambling Bill Deadline Approaching, Quinn Must Show His Hand Soon


Governor Pat Quinn is still giving no sign of what action he will take on a gambling expansion bill… but he’ll have to show his hand soon. 

 

The deadline for action on the bill is Tuesday.  Quinn has been critical of the bill, which would allow for new casinos and the addition of slot machines at horse racing tracks. 

 

But supporters of the bill say the state cannot afford to turn down the revenues it could generate.

Illinois Republicans Gather In Tampa For GOP Convention, Wait Out The Storm


Illinois Republicans will have time on their hands, as tropical storm Isaac disrupts the first day of the GOP convention in Tampa.  But some may use that time to bolster their own political futures. 
 

Several contenders for governor in 2014 are at the convention, including state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Senator Kirk Dillard and Congressman Aaron Schock.

State Park Superintendents Leave In Droves To Avoid Possible Pension Changes


An exodus of workers worried about pension changes is taking a toll on state parks. 

 

Since late last year, almost one-fourth of the park superintendents have retired, taking with them in many cases 30 or more years of experience.

 

At least 23 park superintendents and another half-dozen assistant superintendents have left the state Department of Natural Resources since late last year. And department officials say they don't know when they will have the money to fill most of those vacancies.

SJ-R Moves Copy Desk, Layout To Rockford


More changes coming to the State Journal-Register. 

 

Starting Monday, copy editing and layout of the paper will be done from a central desk in Rockford, rather than being handled locally in Springfield. 

 

The paper’s executive editor says it’s an increasingly common practice for papers around the country, one that will allow the newspaper to focus on local reporting.

Drew Peterson Lawyers Promise ''Quick'' Defense Of Client After Prosecution Rests


The prosecution case has gone on for weeks… but Drew Peterson’s defense will be measured in days. 

 

Lawyers for the former Bolingbrook cop say they will mount a “quick” defense this week against charges that Peterson murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. 

 

Defense lawyers say her death was an accident.  That was also the original conclusion of investigators, until they reopened the case following the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacey.

Apartment Building Fire Displaces Eleven


No one’s hurt, but eleven people are homeless after fire heavily damaged an apartment building on Ladley Court Saturday. 

 

There’s no word yet on what caused the fire, which sent flames through the roof of the structure. 

 

The Red Cross is helping those who were displaced.

Quinn Signs Law Inspired By Casey Anthony Case


Legislation inspired by the Casey Anthony case has been signed into law in Illinois by Governor Pat Quinn. 

 

The new law, which takes effect January 1st, will require people to report a missing child within 24 hours of the disappearance, or face felony charges. 

 

The law stems from the disappearance of Caylee Anthony, which went unreported for a month.  Her mother Casey was eventually acquitted of the child’s murder.

THR Locked Out Of Another Property


Sangamon County deputies have served another eviction notice for a property occupied by Springfield-based THR and Associates. 

 

It’s the third time in recent weeks the company has been locked out of one of its facilities.  THR operations… including local retail outlets and national gold-buying shows… have shut down in recent days as the company battles lawsuits and fraud investigations.

Springfield Woman Held On $1 Million Bond Following Suspected DUI That Killed Passenger


A Springfield woman is being held on one million dollars bond in a suspected DUI crash last weekend that killed a passenger in her vehicle.

 

22-year-old Amber Kline was arrested at Memorial Medical Center, where she had been treated since the accident last Sunday morning that took the life of 22-year-old Amanda Smith. Two others in the car also suffered serious injuries.

 

Kline is charged with eight felony counts of aggravated DUI. She’s also facing charges of driving on a suspended license, operating an uninsured vehicle, and failure to reduce speed.

Treasurer Rutherford Urges Lawmakers to Reform Pensions to Avoid Credit Downgrade


State Treasurer Dan Rutherford agrees with Governor Pat Quinn that something must be done to fix the $85 billion pension shortfall, and he’s using a recent message from Moody’s to push the case.

 

Moody’s said Thursday that the General Assembly’s failure to reform pensions could lead to another credit downgrade which means it will cost the state more to borrow money.

 

Rutherford dismisses criticism that minority republicans held up passage of pension reform during last week’s one-day special session and the treasurer says he’s using his “bully pulpit” to get the democratic governor and Speaker of the House Mike Madigan to get their party to act.

 

Rutherford says that the pension crisis is a problem for tomorrow that must be resolved today.

Springfield Police Investigating Early Morning Arson of Three Cars


Springfield Police say an arson investigation is ongoing after Police and the Springfield Fire department responded to a call of three vehicles being set on fire in the 900 block of 23rd Street.

 


View Larger Map
The 900 block of 23rd Street in Springfield where three vehicles were found on fire Friday morning

Commander Kenny Winslow says just before 3 AM authorities arrived to the scene where one car parked on a resident’s driveway and two others on both the east and west sides of the street were on fire.

 

Winslow says one victim was interviewed and said her car and the car of her out-of-town daughter were set on fire.

 

The witness had not information on a possible motive or a possible suspect.  The other vehicle belonged to a person visiting someone at Brandon Court.

Murder Case: Person of Interest in Police Custody on Unrelated Charges


Springfield Police say a person of interest in last weekend’s murder outside a Springfield bar is in custody on unrelated charges.

 

Assistant police chief Cliff Buscher says investigators are working to get more information to the States Attorney’s office for possible charges in the case.

 

Early last Saturday morning, police responded to a shooting outside the Sand Trap Bar on 15th and Melrose where 22-year-old Landis Bates was found shot.

 

Buscher says besides Bates’ case, so far this year the 5 shooting incidents with 6 victims have all been solved.

 

Access 4 Fundraiser Hopes to Find More Producers


Springfield area producers hope to raise funds with an event all day Saturday in their continued efforts to bring fresh content to public access channel 4.

 

Can Fest
Can Fest, Saturday from 1p to 1a Sunday at The Tin Can

“Can Fest” at The Tin Can Pub on East Monroe starts at 1pm and will run until 1am Sunday morning.

 

President of Access 4 Producers Group, Ted Keylon, says that there will be live music, Access 4 programs airing on a big screen and live-to-tape interviews with some of the big names in Springfield public access.

 

Keyon also says that the basic problem they’re facing right now is that there is an incredible learning curve because producers never used to do any technical stuff.

 

Access 4 once operated out of the University of Illinois, Springfield under Insight, but then Comcast took over and provided studios on the west side of town. Comcast then cut off funding and things were uncertain until the city stepped in. Currently the city of Springfield operates public access and the producers group produces content independently.

 

Funds will be used for equipment upkeep and video production training for current and new producers. Organizers are asking for a $10 donation at the door.

 

More details can be found online at A4PG.org.  You can also get more informaiton and a schedule of events on the event's Facebook page.

 

You can also see a video produced by Springfield's Communication Director Nathan Mihelich below or at this link.

 

Unemployment up in Springfield, Mixed Bag Across State


Unemployment is ticking upward again in the Springfield area.

 

July numbers from the state Department of Employment Security show the city’s jobless rate climbed to 8.2 percent last month, up from eight percent a year ago.

 

Statewide the numbers are a mixed bag, with year-to-year unemployment down sharply in the Chicago metro area and Rockford, but higher in Decatur, Danville and the Metro East.

TRS Consultant Calls for More Conservative Return On Investment Calculations


It may get even tougher to make the numbers work on any pension deal.

 

The Teachers Retirement System says its consultant is recommending that the pension system adopt more conservative estimates on its return on investments in the years to come.

 

TRS currently assumes an 8.5% rate of return, which is higher than many pension systems around the country are estimating.

 

If the fund opts to assume a lower rate of return, it would be required to reduce benefits or seek even more taxpayer dollars to make the math add up.

 

TRS officials will decide in September whether to follow the consultant’s advice, and if so, by how much.

Alderman Jobe Wants Fines for Failure to Clean Messy Alleyways


Springfield homeowners would have to clean up messes in the alleys behind their houses or face fines, according to an idea being floated by Alderman Cory Jobe.

 

The State Journal-Register reports Jobe wants an ordinance that would require homeowners to remove broken glass, trash and other debris from the area between their rear property line and the alleyway.

 

Fines would be small at first, but would grow each day if a property owner fails to correct the problem.

 

Jobe says any such new law, if approved, probably would not take effect until next spring.

Animals For Autism Charity To Refund Thousands


The operator of a local charity has agreed to refund money to families around the country that paid thousands of dollars to obtain service animals for their children with autism.

 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan accuses Lea Kaydus of Glenarm of operating a, quote, “heartless scam” through her agency, Animals for Autism.

 

Madigan says Kaydus promised to train the dogs to help autistic children and then deliver the animals to those families, but that no animals were ever trained or delivered.

 

She says Kaydus provided pictures of dogs, but that the pictures were several years old and did not depict animals that were actually being trained as service animals.

 

Kaydus has agreed to reimburse more than five-thousand dollars and to comply with charity and consumer fraud laws in the future.

Sangamon County Circuit Clerk Sets Up "Connect With Cash" On Their Website


Sangamon County Circuit Clerk Tony Libri says his office is sitting on checks totaling more than $165,000 that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable. About 1,300 people have unclaimed checks at the Clerk’s Office, averaging around $75.00 each.

 

Libri’s office has set up a list of those names on their website – sangamoncountycircuitclerk.org, and click on “Connect With Cash” to see a list of names the checks for child support and maintenance, bail bond refunds or restitution belong to.

 

The Clerk’s Office will hold the unclaimed checks for seven years, then turn them over to the State Treasurer.

Lottery Warns of a New Twist on Lottery Scam


There’s yet another Lottery scam – this time with a new twist.

 

The latest involves emails alleged to be from Illinois’ recent $218 million dollar Mega Millions winner, offering to give one-point-five million dollars to three “lucky” recipients, if they’ll just send their personal information.

 

Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones says scammers often claim to be law enforcement or government officials – but this scammer claims to be a big Lottery winner.

Sangamon County Gets Infrastructure Funds


Sangamon County will be receiving close to $503,000 to spend on local transportation needs, thanks to a one-hundred-million dollar capital investment, as part of Illinois Jobs Now.

 

The announcement by Governor Pat Quinn’s office is the third installment of five investments to fund municipal, township and county projects statewide. The program has created or supported more than 140,000 jobs since 2009.

Relocation of Residents of Developmental Centers Slow Going


A disability rights activist is complaining about the slow pace of transitioning residents out of the Jacksonville Developmental Center and other facilities slated for closure.

 

Don Moss tells Capitol Fax that the overall population of developmental centers statewide is down by only about 15 residents out of a total population of more than 2,000. He notes that 14 people have been moved out of JDC since April, but at other centers, the population has stayed the same or increased.

 

Governor Pat Quinn has pledged to close the large institutions and move their population to smaller community-based programs, but staff and parents at JDC and elsewhere say the move will jeopardize the well-being of residents.

Sheriff Evicts THR From Second Warehouse


It looks like it could be the end of the roller-coaster ride for Springfield-based THR and Associates.

 

The company which attracted national attention, and lawsuits, for its shows around the country buying coins, gold and collectibles now appears to be in total collapse.

 

Sangamon County deputies served an eviction notice and padlocked the company’s fully-stocked warehouse on Taylor Avenue Wednesday, and the IRS may try to seize the contents for back taxes.

 

More evictions are expected, and the company’s local retail outlets, J. Parsons and Buy Sell Trade, were both closed and locked Wednesday. Company officials did not return calls seeking comment.

 

Sheriff Deputies car and police tape blocking entrance to THR warehouse in Springfield

Sheriff Deputy's car and police tape blocking entrance to THR warehouse in Springfield

New Air Service Announced for Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport


Allegiant Air logo

Local air travelers will still be able to trade a Springfield winter for the warm Florida sun.

 

Allegiant Air has agreed to take over the twice-weekly route between Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport and Punta Gorda, Florida.

 

That service had been offered by Direct Air until that company went bankrupt this spring.

 

Allegiant will kick off the service in November, but is offering an introductory fare of $92.99 one way for flights booked in the next week.

 

If the Florida service does well, Allegiant will look at offering it year-round or adding other destinations, such as Las Vegas.

With Few Months Left, McLean County State's Attorney Won't Prosecute Gun Carry, FOID Laws


The McLean County State’s Attorney says he will no longer bring charges against people accused of violating concealed carry or Firearm Owner ID laws, unless there are some other extenuating circumstances.

 

Ron Dozier says he considers those laws to be unconstitutional, based on Supreme Court rulings.

 

His stand may be largely symbolic, since Dozier only has a few more months in office, but some Illinois prosecutors say they agree with his decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion.

 

However, Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser says he will enforce the laws as written.

Gov. Quinn Signs Steven's Law, Harsher Penalties For Parents Violating Visitation Orders


Legislation named in honor of murder victim Steven Watkins has been signed into law.

 

Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill Wednesday, toughening penalties for parents who violate visitation orders.

 

The new law will allow the court to impose jail time or fines, or suspend the drivers’ licenses, of non-compliant parents.

 

Watkins was killed by his ex-wife’s grandmother in 2008 as he attempted to pick up his daughter for a court-ordered visit.

 

Since then, his ex-wife has defied several court orders allowing Watkins’s parents to see the girl.

Senator John "Doc" Davidson Passes Away at 87


A veteran Springfield politician who served for 20 years in the Statehouse has died.

 

Longtime state senator John “Doc” Davidson passed away after collapsing at his home Tuesday night. He was 87. Davidson served as Sangamon County Board chairman before becoming a senator in 1973. He served until 1993. Davidson was also a chiropractor.

 

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Deputies Serve Eviction Notice On THR Warehouse; Latest Legal Setback For Embattled Company


J. Parsons truck outside of warehouse where deputies served an eviction Wednesday
J. Parsons truck outside of warehouse where deputies served an eviction Wednesday

More problems for the embattled THR and Associates. 

 

Sangamon County deputies have served an eviction notice on the company, locking them out of a 20,000-square foot warehouse on South Taylor.  That warehouse is still loaded with merchandise, but sheriff’s officials say it could be seized by the IRS because of outstanding tax issues involving the company and owner Jeff Parsons. 

 

It’s the second eviction from a THR property in recent days, and more could be on the way.  THR has been battling financial problems for months… including a long line of bounced checks, employee layoffs and the recent closure of its J. Parsons store.

 

Police tape put up at the entrance of the warehouse located on South Taylor in Springfield
Police tape put up at the entrance of the warehouse located on South Taylor in Springfield

 

Allegiant Air Picks Up Springfield-To-Florida Air Service


Air service between Springfield and Florida’s Southwest Coast will resume on schedule this fall… with a new carrier. 

 

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport has reached a deal with Allegiant Air to provide twice-weekly flights between Springfield and Punta Gorda, Florida.  Those flights had been operated in recent years by Direct Air, until it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. 

 

The airport used part of a federal grant to provide incentives for Allegiant to come here… and is still in talks about possible expansion of the Florida service or the addition of more markets, including Las Vegas. 

 

An introductory fare of $92.99 one way is available through next week… more details can be found at www.allegiant.com.

Man Convicted Of Murdering Mother


A Springfield man faces 20 to 60 years in prison after he was convicted in a bench trial of murdering his mother. 

 

Michael Seal was found guilty by Judge Leo Zappa following a two-day trial.  Prosecutors say he stabbed his 53-year-old mother to death in 2009 because she had imposed conditions on him in order for him to live with her… including a rule that he was not allowed to drink. 

 

Seal will be sentenced in October.

McLean County State's Attorney Won't Prosecute Gun Offenses


The McLean County State’s Attorney says he will no longer bring charges in cases that involve violations of Illinois’s concealed carry or firearm owner ID laws.  Ron Dozier says he considers those laws to be unconstitutional, based upon recent Supreme Court decisions. 

 

Dozier says he is not encouraging anyone to violate laws on the books, and police agencies in McLean County say they will continue to arrest people if violations of those gun laws are found. 

 

But Dozier says he will not play a part in prosecuting people for exercising their Second Amendment rights… unless their actions involve other factors such as drinking, drugs or gang activity.

West Side Schnucks Plans Approved Over Citizens Concerns


Over the objections of protestors who want to preserve Griffin Woods, Springfield aldermen have approved a sketch map, the next step in turning a portion of those woods into a retail development anchored by a new Schnuck’s store.

 

More than half-a-dozen people urged the city council to save the woods and its old-growth trees.

 

But Mayor Mike Houston notes the Schnuck’s project would not take up the entire woods, and says the city has to encourage development.

 

Old-growth trees were not the only concern.

 

Ward 7 Aldermen Joe McMenamin says that developing land for a new grocery store could lead to an over abundance of vacant properties in the future, something his Ward is dealing with.

 

Houston says the next step is for the city engineers to finalize plans.

Aldermen Shoot Down Preference for County Vendors That Matched Preference For City Vendors


Springfield Alderman Frank Edwards has hit a roadblock in his effort to make bidding on city contracts more competitive.

 

Edwards proposed an amendment to bidding rules, in its final form, the amendment would give businesses outside Springfield, but within Sangamon County, the same preference that city businesses enjoy.

 

That measure attracted only five votes, but needed eight for approval on emergency passage.

 

It now goes back to committee for another vote early next month.

Aldermen Approve Three Video Gaming Establishments For Springfield


Video gambling is coming to Springfield in a big way.

 

Two Lucy’s Place establishments are coming to town after zoning variances for Lucy’s Places on Denver Drive and North 5th passed the Springfield City Council.

 

Lucy’s Place is a tavern that will also have video gaming devices.

 

Another establishment that could have video gambling was approved by aldermen on South Dirksen Parkway.

 

Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin voted no on all zoning petitions that dealt with establishments wanting to bring video gambling.

 

Video gambling was recently passed by the state and approved to operate in the city of Springfield.

 

Springfield establishments that want video gambling must get a permit from the city for the establishment and for each video gaming terminal.

Springfield Aldermen Approve Fire Truck Purchase and Other Ordinances on Consent Agenda


Springfield aldermen approved the consent agenda which means a new fire truck, gateway improvements for the Madison/Jefferson crossover, and a preliminary sketch map of the West-side Schnuks, among others.

 

The fire truck is a 100 foot ladder truck that the city had originally estimated would cost $1.2 million, but instead are purchasing for $887,000.

 

Several ordinances deal with improvements to the Clear Lake and the Madison-Jefferson crossover.

 

The project is designed by Massie and Massie Associates and is funded mainly by a pass-through IDOT grant using federal monies. A 20% match is being funded with Springfield Green donated funds.

Four Unions Sue Gov. Quinn Over Health Care Premium


The fight over public sector retirement benefits has now landed in court.

 

Four major unions, including AFSCME, have filed suit against Governor Pat Quinn’s administration, arguing that a new law signed by Quinn this summer is unconstitutional.

 

That law requires retirees in the public pension funds to pay a health care premium.

 

Previously, the state underwrote part or all of the retiree’s premium costs.

 

The unions say the constitution guarantees pensions and prohibits laws that impair contractual obligations.

ISAC Meeting Criticized As Political Rally on Public Dime


A former Republican candidate for governor is demanding an investigation into a mandatory meeting for employees of a state agency that he says turned into a political rally.

 

Adam Andrzejewski says that meeting last March at the headquarters of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow-PUSH headquarters featured former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who used the occasion to endorse Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. for re-election.

 

Andrzejewski says the mandatory attendance of workers on state time could violate both state and federal laws.

 

He plans to forward information about the incident to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Unions File Suit Over Retired Workers' Health Insurance


Several public sector unions are suing the Quinn administration over the recent law that requires retired veteran state workers to pay for their health insurance.

 

Governor Pat Quinn signed that law this summer, ending the sliding scale that allowed retirees with 20 years or more of service to get health care with no premium payments. But the lawsuit... filed by four unions including AFSCME, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and Troopers Lodge 41... says that change violates the Illinois Constitution, which guarantees pensions and prohibits laws that impair the obligation of contracts.

 

The suit was filed in Randolph County Circuit Court. It's just the latest in a string of court cases brought against Quinn by public sector unions over his budget-cutting tactics.

New Air Service Coming To Springfield; Details To Be Announced Wednesday


Springfield is about to get more good news about air travel options. 

 

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport has called a news conference for Wednesday morning to announce the addition of new flight service to and from Springfield.  No details about the new service have been released yet. 

 

Airport officials have been working to secure a carrier for regular flights between Springfield and Florida… but a grant that the airport recently obtained also can be used to work on air service to other destinations like Las Vegas or Phoenix. 

 

[Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on this developing story.]

Mandatory Meeting For State Agency Employees Turned Into Political Rally; Watchdog Wants Investigation


A mandatory work session for employees of a state agency last spring instead turned into a political rally for top Democrats… according to a Republican activist who says there should be a full investigation of the incident. 

 

It happened last March, at a weekend meeting at the Chicago headquarters of Rainbow-PUSH, the civil rights organization founded by Jesse Jackson.  The meeting was supposed to salute workers of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for their efforts to help students find scholarships. 

 

But that mandatory meeting included an appearance by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who endorsed Jackson’s son, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., at that event.  Former GOP governor candidate Adam Andrzejewski and his PAC, “For The Good of Illinois,” say that makes it a taxpayer-funded political rally. 

 

He is sending documents about the incident to the Attorney General.  An ISAC official confirms details of the event, and says had the agency known the endorsement would happen, it would not have required employees to attend.

 

Listen to Adam Andrzejewski talk about the case with Saturday Session's Greg Bishop below or download it at this link.

 

Palazzolo Launches Re-Election Bid, Releases Tax Returns


A local candidate is kicking off his campaign with the release of five years of tax returns… but says the move has no connection to the national controversy over presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s decision not to do so. 

 

Republican Paul Palazzolo released the returns at the formal announcement of his re-election campaign.  Palazzolo is running for another term as county auditor. 

 

He says he’s continuing with his tradition of releasing returns because of the financial nature of his office… and because of recent incidents like the alleged embezzlement scheme by a top fiscal officer in Dixon, Illinois. 

 

Palazzolo will face Democrat Chris Boyster in November.

 

Watch Palazzolo's announcement below or at this link.

 

Dist. 186 School Board Members Frustrated with Supt. Milton Over Financial Information


Springfield School Board members are expressing some frustration over difficulty in getting timely financial information from Superintendent Walter Milton and his staff.

 

Board members renewed their requests for updated revenue and expenditure estimates ahead of next month’s vote on a final budget for the current school year.

 

Some members say they’ve made repeated requests for the same information, and note that the district’s own policies require those reports to be made.

 

Board president Susan White says the board may have to get “pushier” to get the numbers it needs.

2012 State Fair was 15-Percent Bigger Than Last Year


Illinois State Fair attendance numbers confirm what most people at the fair already knew, there were a lot more people there this year.

 

Total attendance hit 844,000 over the 10-day run of the fair, an increase of around 15-percent over 2011.

 

The increase came despite a price increase that pushed the cost of an adult admission to seven dollars.

 

Great weather almost every day of the fair helped, but so did a popular Grandstand lineup.

 

Country was the big draw this year, the three biggest shows were Eric Church, Miranda Lambert and Brantley Gilbert.

SEIU Donates To Madigan Controlled Fund Same Day of Special Session


A major union that represents a number of state workers denies any connection between last week’s failure of pension reform and the union’s $97,000 campaign donation to a fund controlled by House Speaker Mike Madigan.

 

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the donation from SEIU was reported on Friday, the same day that Madigan’s House failed to take action on measures aimed at getting the state’s soaring pension costs under control.

 

A union spokesman says the donation was made weeks ago and the fact that it was reported to the State Board of Elections Friday was just a coincidence.

Illinois Prisons Go Green With Fresh Produce Gardens


Illinois prisons are doing their part to “go green” by growing fresh produce. The Illinois Department of Corrections has begun a vocational opportunity for inmates at 23 prisons and several work camps, teaching horticulture skills at gardens on the prison grounds.

 

The Department of Corrections has donated over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to local community food banks, and enough to feed inmates and staff at the facilities. The prison gardens are part of the Department’s recently released sustainability initiative.

EPA Grants Permission For Power Plants To Discharge Hot Water


Several Illinois utilities have sought… and received… permission to discharge extra-hot water from their power plants into the state’s waterways… a move they say is needed to keep pace with the high demand for electricity this summer. But City Water Light and Power officials say they’ve been able to avoid the need to resort to that.

 

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has granted permits to a number of utilities to temporarily allow the practice, even though experts say the 100-degree-plus water can be harmful to fish that are already stressed from the summer heat and drought conditions.

 

But CWLP says it has not needed to do that at its Dallman 1, 2 and 3 plants… and the new Dallman 4 does not use hot water discharge as part of its electric generation process.

Domestic Dispute Temporarily Closes Quik-N-Ez On Stevenson


A Springfield convenience store is open again after an apparent domestic dispute resulted in heavy damage to the store Sunday night.

 

Sangamon County officials say a woman phoned 911 to report that a man was trying to run her off the road in his vehicle. Dispatchers instructed her to go to a well-lit public area, so she pulled into the Qik-N-EZ parking lot at 11th and Stevenson. But then police say the man pulled in behind her, and used his car to force hers into the front of the store.

 

The store exterior and an ice storage chest outside sustained heavy damage, but no one was hurt. The suspect, 19-year-old Jerry Fairley, is in custody on multiple charges. The store re-opened Monday morning after emergency repairs were made.

Springfield's Burn Ban Extended Again


The Springfield Fire Department has extended the Burn Ban for the corporate City Limits of Springfield, as well as jurisdictions which are provided fire protection from the Springfield Fire Department.

 

The burn ban will continue until August 27th.

 

The ban is extended because of insufficient totals of rain, low humidity, and wind with unseasonably dry conditions over the past few months, which could cause a fire to get out of control.

UPDATE: Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson Smashed By Vehicle, Suspect in Custody


Vehicle smashed into Qik 'N' EZ

The vehicle that was smashed into the Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson. 

Cell phone photo by Shawn Binney

A male suspect is in custody after a domestic disturbance ended with a gas station being rammed with a vehicle.

 

The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department says at 8:19 Sunday evening a woman called dispatch saying a man was trying to run her vehicle off the road with his vehicle.

 

Dispatch told the woman to get to a public place.

 

That place was the Qik ‘N EZ off of Stevenson Drive.

 

The male suspect, 19-year-old Jerry Fairley of Springfield, used his Chevy Impala to intentionally push the 22-year-old female victim’s vehicle into an icebox in the front of the store.

 

There is extensive damage to both units and to the front of the store.

 

A third vehicle was also damaged in the incident.

 

The Sheriff’s Department says several agencies responded and Springfield police arrived on the scene with guns drawn and took the male suspect into custody.

The front of Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson Drive The side of Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson Drive
The front of Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson Drive The side of Qik 'N' EZ on Stevenson Drive

Photos by Chris Murphy

 

 

One Dead, Three Seriously Injured In Early Sunday Crash


One woman is dead of injuries sustained in a single-car crash on the far west side of Springfield early Sunday.

 

Three others in the vehicle sustained serious injuries in the crash, which police suspect is alcohol-related.

 

23-year-old Amanda Smith was killed in the crash.

 

Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson says she was a passenger in the car, which was traveling at a high rate of speed in the 5200 block of West Washington.

 

The driver of the car was hospitalized with what Williamson calls "very serious" injuries.

 

Two other passengers were also hurt, one with what Williamson described as a "life-threatening" spinal injury. Williamson says citations and possible charges are pending.

Motorcyclist Identified After Sunday Morning Fatal Accident


A 56-year-old Chandlerville man is dead after his motorcycle collided with a vehicle early Sunday morning at the intersection of MacArthur and Monroe.

 

The coroner's office identifies the victim as James Lyman.

 

Lyman was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which happened just before 1:30am.

 

An autopsy will be held.

 

Springfield police are investigating the accident.

Saturday Morning Shooting Victim Identified


The Sangamon County Coroner has identified the man who was found shot to death outside a Springfield bar early Saturday morning.

 

22-year-old Landis Bates was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center following that shooting.

 

Police found Bates near the Sand Trap bar at 15th and Melrose after responding to reports of shots fired in that area.

 

No one has been arrested yet in connection with the homicide.

 

Springfield police continue to investigate.

Quinn Pushes for Religious Tolerance, Signs Bill For Religious Students


Governor Pat Quinn is calling for greater tolerance of religious differences, as he condemns recent incidents that targeted Muslim and Sikh houses of worship in Illinois and neighboring states.

 

Quinn says recent crimes, including the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and incidents that caused property damage at a mosque and an Islamic school near Chicago, are a violation of the core constitutional principle of freedom of religion.

 

During his remarks at a Ramadan observance in Bridgeview, Quinn also signed legislation allowing college students to receive alternate assignments when their schoolwork conflicts with religious holidays.

Long-time Lombard Village President Dies of Complications With West Nile


The long-time village president of the Chicago suburb of Lombard has died of complications from West Nile virus.

 

76-year-old Bill Mueller died over the weekend, after being hospitalized earlier in the month.

 

Mueller had served as village president for nearly 20 years.

Final Numbers Could Prove 2012 State Fair Bigger Than Last Year


Final numbers won’t be in for a while, but every indication is that this year’s Illinois State Fair will finish up with more attendees than last year.

 

Mild weather and mostly rain-free days boosted the 2012 Fair, which wrapped up last night.

 

Many vendors say the larger crowds also translated into more business for them.

One Woman Dead, Three Others Hurt, In Single-Car Crash; Alcohol Believed To Be A Factor


One woman is dead of injuries sustained in a single-car crash on the far west side of Springfield early Sunday.  Three others in the vehicle sustained serious injuries in the crash, which police suspect is alcohol-related.

 

23-year-old Amanda Smith was killed in the crash. Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson says she was a passenger in the car, which was traveling at a high rate of speed in the 5200 block of West Washington.

 

The driver of the car, 22-year-old Amber Cline, was hospitalized with what Williamson calls "very serious" injuries.  He says her condition has so far prevented her from speaking with investigators about the crash.  Two other passengers were also hurt, one with what Williamson described as a "life-threatening" spinal injury.

 

Illinois State Police accident reconstructionists are working on the case.  Williamson says citations and possible charges are pending.

Chandlerville Man Killed In Springfield Car-Motorcycle Crash


A 56-year-old Chandlerville man is dead after his motorcycle collided with a vehicle early Sunday morning at the intersection of MacArthur and Monroe.

 

The coroner's office identifies the victim as James Lyman.  Lyman was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which happened just before 1:30am.  An autopsy will be held.  Springfield police are investigating the accident.

Authorities ID Man Fatally Shot Outside Springfield Bar


The Sangamon County Coroner has identified the man who was found shot to death outside a Springfield bar early Saturday morning.

 

22-year-old Landis Bates was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center following that shooting.  Police found Bates near the Sand Trap bar at 15th and Melrose after responding to reports of shots fired in that area.

 

No one has been arrested yet in connection with the homicide.  Springfield police continue to investigate.

Prisoner Transfers On Hold For Now


Transfers of inmates out of prisons that are slated for closure will remain on hold through the end of the month. The state has agreed to continue its agreement to halt the transfers… while a court case is pending and an arbitrator reviews the situation.

 

AFSCME had gone to court to block the transfers… saying the move of dangerous inmates out of the Tamms supermax prison to other facilities would increase overcrowding and make those other prisons more dangerous to both inmates and staff. More talks are planned over the next two weeks.

Illniois House Votes To Expel Rep. Derrick Smith


The Illinois House has voted overwhelmingly to expel one of its own members.

 

On a vote of 100-6, the House removed Democratic Rep. Derrick Smith, who is facing federal felony charges for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for steering a state grant to a day care center.  Smith has not been tried or convicted of the charge yet, leading several members to argue that the expulsion vote was premature.

 

But overwhelmingly, House members agreed with Democrat Barbara Flynn Currie, who said whatever the outcome of the criminal case, there was evidence to show that Smith had violated his oath of office and should therefore lose his seat.  The expulsion takes effect immediately.  It was the first time in more than a century that the House had voted to remove one of its own members.

UPDATE: Mayor Houston Approves Residency Referendum Ordinance


Springfield Mayor Mike Houston

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he approves the residency referendum during a press conference in his office Friday morning. 

 

The reconsidered residency referendum passed the special city council meeting Tuesday evening.  Houston said he was uncertain if he would veto the measure after the vote 7-2 vote. 

 

Houston once supported residency but expressed concerns that it would cost Springfield taxpayers millions of dollars in renegotiated union contracts.

 

The ordinance placing the question of a residency requirement for new hires to the city on the November General Election ballot failed the first time several weeks ago but was brought up for reconsideration earlier this week.

 

Even though he called the ordinance "meaningless" Houston approved the measure Friday morning.

 

Listener poll

 

If you were asked today if Springfield should implement a residency requirement, how would you vote?  Follow this link to take the poll.

Republican Day at State Fair Focuses on Unity


Compared to Democrats a day earlier, Illinois Republicans presented the picture of unity during their party’s festivities at the Illinois State Fair.

 

There were no angry protestors like the ones that booed Governor Pat Quinn off the stage at his own fairgrounds rally on Wednesday.

 

GOP speakers urged voters to support Republicans in legislative races, warning that a vote for any Democrat was a vote for Speaker Mike Madigan, and a continuation of the policies that led to the state’s pension crisis.

Topinka Says Tax Increase Should be Extended


State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

Republicans are sticking to their message of smaller government and tax cuts… but a top GOP official is warning that the state may not be able to let its temporary tax increase expire on schedule.

 

The income tax hike approved a couple of years ago is scheduled to expire in 2014. But State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is still wrestling with billions of dollars in unpaid bills… and is expressing concern about cuts in state funding for vital social services.

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Topinka conceded that if she were asked her opinion, she would tell the governor and legislative leaders that Illinois can’t afford to lose the revenue from the tax hike.

 

"I don’t know how they’re going to do that without it," Topinka said, "because you know what’s amazing is even with that tax increase—biggest tax increase we’ve had in the state of Illinois—not a dollar of it has gone to paying the bills."

 

"It’s gone for paying other things. It has not gone to pay the backlog of bills. So, I don’t know if it helps or hurts. It’s been a total neutral for us.”

 

Listen to that interview below or follow this link.

 

 

Topinka has been trying to use her authority as comptroller to move some unpaid bills to the top of the pile, especially for non-profit agencies that contract with the state to provide services to people with disabilities. But she acknowledges that may pose problems for small business who are also waiting, often for months on end, to get the money they are owed from the state.

Pension Crisis Focus of General Assembly Special Session


The pension crisis moves to center stage today at the State Capitol, as lawmakers meet in a scheduled one-day special session intended to begin addressing the state’s 83-billion-dollar unfunded pension liability.

 

But there is no clear consensus on how to start.

 

Even a bill that has already cleared the Senate is in trouble, after Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno withdrew her initial support of it, saying she now believes it won’t be sufficient to avoid a credit downgrade.

 

Republicans also object to an alternate Democratic plan that would shift the state’s pension costs for teachers to local school districts.

House to Vote on Expulsion of State Representative


Before the Illinois House takes up the question of pension reform, members must first decide whether to throw out one of their own.

 

The House will take an expulsion vote against Representative Derrick Smith, who has been charged with bribery.

 

The last time a lawmaker was thrown out of the House was in 1905.

Unemployment Rate Up in Illinois


Illinois' unemployment rate increased again in July with the loss of thousands of government and hospitality jobs.

 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that the July unemployment rate hit 8.9 percent.

 

That's up from 8.7 percent in June and was the second straight increase after nine months of steady decreases.

 

The biggest category of job losses was government work, which decreased by nearly 8,000 last month.

Report: East St. Louis Principal Helped Students Cheat


An investigation has found that an East St. Louis school principal helped students cheat on achievement tests and devised a code to warn teachers about investigators in the building.

 

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Officer Elementary School's former principal Ronald Ferrell allowed students to correct wrong answers on achievement tests.

 

And teachers told investigators that Ferrell showed them how to pry open the Illinois Standards Achievement Test to see what was on it.

 

The report, released by East St. Louis School District 189, says Ferrell broadcast a code on the intercom if investigators were in the building.

 

The code was "Mr. Lincoln, please come to the office."

Early Thursday Four Vehicle Crash Closes Section of I-55 Temporarily


A four vehicle crash early Thursday morning led to one lane of Interstate 55 being closed down for nearly four hours at the Rail-Splitter rest stop.

 

Police say that a tractor trailer pulled out of the rest stop into northbound traffic when another vehicle side-swiped the truck, significantly damaging the front end and puncturing the gas tank.

 

That second vehicle then veered left across both lanes and struck the median cable and then back to the right to hit another semi truck where it lodged under the trailer. The second vehicle’s tire detached upon impact and hit a forth vehicle.

 

The tractor trailer driver from Tinley Park and another driver from Sherman were transported to the hospital for minor injuries. After police, EMS, several area fire departments and the EPA arrived on the scene, the other two drivers, one from South Carolina and the other from Arkansas, were able to leave the scene without injuries.

Governor Quinn Urges Republicans to Act on Pension Reform


A day after being heckled by union employees during Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, Governor Pat Quinn urges republican lawmakers during Republican Day to “rise to the occasion to pass comprehensive pension reform” for the state.

 

In a statement released Thursday Quinn says that a measure similar to what Republicans supported at the end of the spring legislative session has been introduced by Rep. Elaine Nekritz.

 

That measure would gradually shift teacher pensions from the state to local districts over 12 years. The Governor says inaction on pension reform is the greatest threat to property taxpayers.

 

Quinn called lawmakers to a special session Friday to act on pension reform.

 

The House was already scheduled for a Friday session to vote on possible expulsion of Representative Derrick Smith who is accused of accepting a bribe.

Top Republicans Skeptical That Special Session Will Produce Pension Plan


Top Illinois Republicans are doubtful that anything of substance will be accomplished during Friday’s special legislative session on the budget crisis. 

 

Several who appeared on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show” during Republican Day at the State Fair say a lack of leadership from Governor Pat Quinn makes it unlikely that a serious deal can come together… and they contend Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan would rather put off tough pension decisions until after the November election. 

 

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (rah-DOH’-nyoh) says she wants to see a comprehensive plan that covers all five public pension systems… something that the current proposals do not do.  But she opposes the idea of shifting teacher pension costs from the state to local school districts.

 

Radogno and the other legislative leaders will meet with Quinn Friday morning, just hours before the one-day special session.

Topinka: State May Have No Other Choice But To Extend Tax Increase


Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she doesn’t see how Illinois will be able to make progress toward paying its backlog of bills and supporting vital services without extending the state’s income tax increase.  \

 

That temporary tax hike is scheduled to end in 2014… but Topinka notes that even with the revenue it brought in, the state is still not reducing its load of overdue bills and is having to make damaging cuts to social services. 

 

She says that she doesn’t expect to be included in negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders on the future of the tax hike… but says that if she were, she would tell them that the state will need that revenue to balance its books in the most responsible, least damaging way.  [Topinka appeared live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show” during Republican Day at the State Fair.]

Gov. Quinn Gets an Earful at State Fair's Governor's Day


The pork kabobs and ribeye steaks weren’t the only things grilled at yesterday’s Illinois State Fair during Governor’s Day. Governor Pat Quinn was of many politicians who were greeted with boos and the wrath of protestors at the fair. A large group of union workers upset about pension reform plans that could sharply reduce their retirement income shouted at the Quinn before, during and after his speech at Governor’s Day.

 

Quinn made it clear that he will try to enlist public opinion against the unions and their push to keep a pension system Quinn suggested is too generous. He says he will ask the public which is more important—public education or lavish public pensions.

 

The jeers continued though the rally which was cut short as the crowd drowned out most of the speakers. Union workers also demonstrated outside the fairgrounds, distributing carboard fans and pom-poms printed with anit-Quinn slogans. State police stopped many people from bringing the fans onto the fairgrounds, citing a fair policy against displaying signs on the grounds. But that didn’t’ stop an airplane from flying over the rally, trailing a banner that read “Governor Quinn, unfair to workers.”

 

The hostile reception has become commonplace for politicians this year as candidates from governors to presidents in both parties are hearing from a frustrated electorate.

 

Governor Quinn did make a monumental gaffe during his speech yesterday, declaring President Obama was dead and gone. He meant to say Osama, and amid confusion from the crowd, Quinn corrected himself to say that Osama bin Laden is dead.

 

Chris Harris Claims Self-Defense in Beason Murder Case


One of the two men charged in the 2009 deaths of a central Illinois family now claims he killed one of the victims in self-defense.

 

Lawyers for Christopher Harris of Armington filed court documents yesterday claiming Harris was justified in using force against 14-year-old Dillen Constant.

 

Constant, two of his siblings and their parents were found bludgeoned to death in their home in Beason.

Long Lines of Young Immigrants File For Work Permit Information


Thousands of illegal immigrants in the Chicago area and statewide filled out applications to stay in the country with a work permit.

 

The immigrants were responding to an executive order from President Obama allowing some younger illegals to stay in this country, provided they met certain guidelines.

Months Long Caterpillar Strike Could Come to End


A strike by hundreds of Caterpillar workers in Joliet may be ending.

 

Caterpillar says it has reached a tentative 6-year contract agreement with the striking machinists.

 

They walked off the job in May, seeking better wages and health benefits.

All of Illinois Designated For Drought Relief


What would it take to end the drought? Nine to fifteen inches of rain over a month, according to experts.

 

While Central Illinois is expecting rain today, the outlook after today calls for more dry but cooler weather into early next week.

 

Meanwhile, all of Illinois is now eligible for drought relief after 14 counties were added to the designation list.

Unions Give Governor Quinn Cold, Angry Reception On Governor's Day At The Fair


An angry crowd of union workers may not get what they are looking for in a pension reform plan, but they did manage to force an early end to Governor’s Day events at the Illinois State Fair.

 

Governor Pat Quinn was dogged by hecklers throughout the grounds… from lunch at the pork patio to his rally on the Director’s Lawn at the fairgrounds. The rally, which had been scheduled to run for more than an hour, ended after less than 20 minutes, as Quinn and other speakers were drowned out by the jeering crowd.

 

The union workers say Quinn’s pension reform plans are unconstitutional and unfair. But in his speech to the crowd… which lasted only around two minutes… Quinn predicted that the public would side with him, rather than with workers trying to protect benefits that Quinn says the state can’t afford.

 

Watch video of protesters at the Illinois State Fair's governor's day here

Residency Referendum Reconsideration Passes Springfield City Council


Springfield voters may get to let aldermen know their views on a residency requirement for future city employees.

 

Aldermen reversed course Tuesday night and approved placing a non-binding referendum on the November ballot.

 

That proposal failed on a tie vote just a week ago, but when Aldermen Joe McMenamin and others requested a re-vote, it passed on the second try, 7-2, with Alderman Kris Theilen voting “present.”

 

Mayor Mike Houston opposes the residency requirement, saying it would be too costly to renegotiate the residency issue with the city’s 23 labor unions.

 

But, he hasn’t said yet if he will veto the referendum.

 

What do you think?

 

If you were to vote today on the referendum, how would you vote?  Follow this link to take the 970 WMAY Poll and comment on the referendum.

Sangamon County Passes Referendum for Electric Aggregation


Unincorporated areas of Sangamon County will vote in November on whether to establish a “power aggregation” plan that would give residents in those areas an alternative to Ameren for their power.

 

State law allows the establishment of such arrangements, which are intended to lead to negotiated lower rates for power.

 

The county board approved the referendum for unincorporated areas, but a number of municipalities will have similar ballot measures in November.

 

Springfield will not, since City Water Light and Power customers are not eligible to enter into power aggregation plans.

Governor's Day Festivities to be Met By Protestors


Today is Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, but protestors may be crashing the party.

 

Union representatives plan to stage demonstrations at the fairgrounds today, particularly on the issue of pensions.

 

A coalition of public sector unions says Quinn’s proposals for pension reform are unconstitutional.

 

The group has offered its own pension proposal, but the governor’s office says the idea is a non-starter that wouldn’t fix the pension mess anyway.

Mistrial Being Considered Again For Drew Peterson Trial


The judge in the Drew Peterson case is once again considering declaring a mistrial, after a prosecutor started a line of questioning that had been strictly prohibited by the judge.

 

Judge Edward Burmila angrily chastised the prosecutor after she asked a witness whether Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, had sought an order of protection against him.

 

Peterson is charged with killing Savio.

 

The judge in the case could declare a mistrial with prejudice, meaning Peterson would go free and could not be retried for Savio’s death.

Aldermen Pass Residency Referendum


Aldermen passed an ordinance that will place a referendum on the November General Election Ballot asking Springfield voters if there should be a residency requirement.

 

The ordinance to reconsider the non-binding referendum passed 7-2 with one voting present.

 

Last week aldermen voted on the original ordinance where it failed with Mayor Mike Houston casting the deciding no vote.  Because Alderman Doris Turner was on the prevailing side of that vote, she is allowed, by council rules, to call for the question to be reconsidered.  

 

Springfield Mayor Houston tried amending the ordinance to strike all the language from the ordinance and replacing it with language that essentially would have called the question of residency for aldermen to vote up or down.

 

That amendment failed leading to aldermen to vote for the original referendum.

 

Aldermen Cory Jobe and Aldermen Tim Griffin voted no with Aldermen Kris Theilen voting present.

 

 

Republican Congressional Candidate Distances Himself From Ryan Budget


A local Republican congressional candidate says he’s not tied to the budget plans of GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan… despite the efforts of Democrats to link the two.

 

Rodney Davis says he agrees with Ryan’s philosophy of trying to bring entitlement spending under control and reduce runaway federal deficits… but isn’t necessarily committed to Ryan proposals like converting Medicare to a voucher-style system.

 

Davis’s Democratic opponent, David Gill, has tried to paint Davis as an unequivocal backer of Ryan’s budget plan.

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport Gets Grant To Expand Destinations


Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport is getting a quarter-million-dollar federal grant to help it expand travel options for local flyers.

 

The money can be used to offer incentives such as marketing or ground services… like ticket-takers or baggage handlers… in order to attract carriers who would operate regular flights between Springfield and certain destinations. Airport director Mark Hanna says the top priority is to find a carrier to resume the seasonal service to Florida that ended when Direct Air went bankrupt.

 

The grant could also be used to establish regular service to Las Vegas or Phoenix, if the airport can find an interested carrier.

Dist. 186 Deficit Budget Grows to $11-million


The Springfield School Board has taken the next step toward approval of a deficit budget, one where the red ink could run even deeper than originally thought.

 

School board members learned Monday that the district will get less state aid than anticipated, leading to a deficit for the current school year of around 11-million dollars.

 

Board members agreed to post the budget for a 30-day public review period before final action next month, even though several board members say they don’t have confidence in the numbers, which have been revised several times by Superintendent Walter Milton’s administration.

Unions Propose Pension Fix, Includes More Employee Contributions


Public sector unions are offering their own alternative pension reform plan, one in which state workers and teachers would agree to pay more toward their own pensions, if the state guarantees that it will make all of its required pension payments in the future.

 

The unions say the plans currently up for discussion during Friday’s special legislative session are unconstitutional, but say the pension crisis can be fixed through a combination of state payments, increased employee contributions, and the closing of millions of dollars in corporate tax loopholes.

AIG Plans to Phase out Springfield Center


Hundreds of jobs could be on the line at Springfield’s AIG Insurance service center.

 

Company officials have reportedly notified employees of plans to phase out the center over the next few years.

 

There is no exact timeline for when those jobs will be eliminated.

 

The company, which took over the former Springfield-based Franklin Life Insurance years ago, employs more than 300 people at the service center.

Pedestrian Killed By Car on I-72 Identified


The woman who was killed when she was struck by a car on Interstate 72 early last Friday has been identified.

 

Coroner Cinda Edwards says fingerprints were used to identify 31-year-old Starlett Walton of Springfield.

 

She had not been carrying ID when she was struck and killed as she walked in the roadway near New Berlin around 4:45 am Friday.

 

Edwards says it appears that Walton had been trying to make her way from Jacksonville to Springfield when she was hit.

 

The coroner’s office is still waiting for toxicology test results.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Being Treated For Bipolar Disorder


The Mayo Clinic has confirmed that it is treating Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. for bipolar disorder.

 

It’s the most detailed diagnosis yet of the congressman’s condition since he took a leave of absence back in June.

 

The clinic in Minnesota had previously revealed that Jackson was being treated for depression and gastro-intestinal issues.

 

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which the patient may alternate between periods of severe depression and a manic state characterized by euphoria and bursts of energy.

 

It’s still unclear when Jackson will be returning to his Capitol Hill duties.

DISH Customers Could Lose Newschannel 20 Because of Dispute


DISH Network is warning that its customers could lose access to ABC Newschannel 20 this week, because the TV station’s parent company is demanding more money to let the satellite provider retransmit its signals.

 

A press release from DISH says Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns Channel 20 and stations in more than 40 other markets, is asking for more than any other over-the-air broadcaster in the country.

 

Unless the companies can reach a deal by Wednesday, DISH says it will have to block Channel 20 and all other Sinclair stations.

State Unions Offering Their Own Fix For Pension Liability


The State’s leading public employee unions are offering their own proposal to fix the state’s pension crisis.

 

Unions representing state workers, teachers, and others say the current plans that could come up in a special legislative session this week are unacceptable. They want language that would guarantee that the state would make all its scheduled contributions to pension funds.

 

The unions say if they get that guarantee, along with a promise to exempt current retirees and action to close corporate tax loopholes, then current public sector workers would agree to pay more to keep their existing pension benefits. The legislature meets Friday in a one-day special session aimed at addressing the state’s 85 billion dollar unfunded pension liability.

Divernon Extends Burn Ban


The Divernon Fire Protection District has extended the Burn Ban within their District boundaries, which includes the Village of Divernon, Town of Glenarm, Comanche Village and the surrounding rural areas.

 

Officials say because the weather outlook for some time to come is not favorable and will continue to increase the chances of a fire starting and getting out of control, they’ve extended the ban through August 19th.

Red Cross Offers Safety Tips For Fairgoers


It’s been a relatively problem-free Illinois State Fair so far, and the American Red Cross wants to keep it that way.

 

The Illinois Capital Area Chapter has issued some guidelines to help people avoid injury while attending the fair. They include paying attention to weather warnings and seeking shelter if storms move into the area… going easy on the alcohol… and for parents, listening to your kids if they say they’re too scared to go on a ride.

 

The Red Cross says a scared child may ignore safety instructions or try to get off a moving ride.

Veterans Bills Signed On Veterans Day of Illinois State Fair


Veterans who apply to become conservation police officers will now be able to get credit for their military experience instead of being required to have a college degree, under legislation signed by Governor Pat Quinn during Sunday’s Veterans Day observance at the Illinois State Fair.

 

That was one of several new bills affecting veterans that the governor approved on Sunday.

 

State Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren says Illinois is making progress in helping veterans overcome the challenges they face when they return from military service, but says there is still a lot of work to be done to bring down unemployment among veterans and to help them deal with physical or emotional injuries from combat.

Quinn Pushes For Complete Pension Reform for Friday Special Session


Governor Pat Quinn says lawmakers will reach a deal on pension reform during their one-day special session this week, because he thinks they will realize they are running out of options.

 

Quinn says lawmakers have been able to come together this year on other critical issues, like Medicaid reform, and believes they can do it again.

 

The legislature returns Friday for a one-day session, which will also include a House vote on the expulsion of Representative Derrick Smith, who is accused of bribery.

Pilot Dumped Fuel Before Crashing in Taylorville


Eyewitnesses say the pilot who died in the crash of a small plane in Taylorville over the weekend took heroic action to ensure that no one was hurt on the ground.

 

30-year-old Brandon Sparrow dumped fuel from the plane and appeared to steer it away from buildings on the ground as it crashed into the backyard of a home in a residential area.

 

A group of skydivers had just jumped from the plane before it crashed, they all got out safely, and no one else was injured.

Suspect in Chicago Mosque Pellet Gun Attack Arrested


Authorities have arrested a 51-year-old man and accused him of firing shots from an air rifle at a suburban Chicago mosque during crowded Ramadan services over the weekend.

 

But David Conrad may not be facing hate crime charges.

 

He reportedly has complained for years about lights, noise and parking problems related to the mosque, which is located near his home in Morton Grove.

 

No one was hurt, but members of the mosque say the shots narrowly missed a security guard and caused some damage to the building exterior.

Quinn Expresses Confidence In Outcome Of Special Session On Pensions


Governor Pat Quinn says he thinks lawmakers will come together to pass pension reform during a special session this week… because they have no other choice. 

 

Quinn says the mounting unfunded pension costs are, quote, a fire bell in the night… and believes the same spirit that led to a Medicaid reform plan last spring will produce a compromise on pensions now.

 

The governor has been trying to get the legislature to agree on pension reform measures for months without success.  He did not say what may have changed that would allow a deal to be finalized during Friday's one-day special session.

Witnesses Call Pilot Of Doomed Plane A Hero; Feds Will Investigate Taylorville Crash


Eyewitnesses say the pilot who lost his life in a plane crash in Taylorville Saturday was a hero, who did everything he could to avoid casualties on the ground. 

 

30-year-old Brandon Sparrow of Augusta died when the plane crashed into a residential neighborhood, shortly after a group of skydivers had jumped from it safely.  According to witnesses, Sparrow dumped his fuel and tried to steer the plane away from homes.  No one on the ground was hurt. 

 

The Federal Aviation Administration is compiling information about the crash.  The agency will turn its findings over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which will make a determination on the cause.

Alderman McMenamin Wants Special Meeting To Reconsider Residency Rule


Springfield Alderman Joe McMenamin isn’t letting a defeat in the city council this week slow him down.

 

Just days after he failed to win approval for an effort to put an advisory referendum on the ballot, McMenamin has requested a special city council meeting for this Tuesday to reconsider the proposal. He wants voters to say whether or not the city should impose a residency requirement for new city workers. The measure failed this week.on a 5-5 tie, with Mayor Mike Houston casting the vote that kept the measure from passing. But McMenamin says he’s found the sixth vote needed to put the question on the ballot.

 

Aldermen Doris Turner and Frank Edwards joined McMenamin in seeking the special meeting for a revote on the non-binding referendum

Asian Carp Unveiled At Illinois State Fair Saturday


Asian Carp is coming to the Illinois State Fair. On Saturday, The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be unveiling Asian Carp Smoked BBQ sliders, and Asian Carp corn fritters to try to create a local market for the invasive species.

 

Fair visitors are invited to sample the food, while they learn about the efforts to protect the Great Lakes from the fish by building an understanding of how a market for the Asian Carp can help manage the population.

Governor Pays For His Own Fair Ticket. Says It's Still A Bargain


As he has every year since becoming governor, Pat Quinn attended Opening Day of the Illinois State Fair Friday… after paying for his ticket out of his own pocket. But it cost the governor more this year… with the adult ticket price now up to seven dollars.

 

Quinn says it’s still a bargain, considering all of the exhibits and entertainment waiting inside the fairgrounds. Fair officials hope milder weather will bring large crowds out, regardless of the ticket price hike.

 

The fair runs through Sunday, August 19th.

Governor Says Prisons Are Off Limits To Reporters


Governor Pat Quinn says Illinois prisons are no place for the prying eyes of reporters.

 

Quinn is defending his administration’s refusal to let the press in for a first-hand look at conditions in some of the state’s most notorious prisons. Inmates and prison guards complain that overcrowded, dirty conditions are creating a volatile, dangerous situation.

 

The governor says safety is the top priority of his Corrections Department… but says prisons, quote, “are not country clubs” and don’t need visitors walking around.

Pedestrian Killed On I-72 Near New Berlin


Police say a pedestrian who was walking in the roadway on I-72 near New Berlin is dead after being struck by a car. It happened around 4:45 this (Friday) morning. A driver called police to report that he had struck someone who was walking in the roadway. Police are investigating why the individual was in the road… the identity of the victim has not been released.

VIDEO: Crime Stoppers Looking for Credit Card Theft Suspect


Suspect in credit card theft, image taken from files provided by Crime Stoppers
Suspect in credit card theft, image taken from files provided by Crime Stoppers

Crime Stoppers of Sangamon and Menard County is looking for a suspect wanted for stealing credit cards from several area hospitals and medical centers between July 9th-23rd.

 

The suspect, seen in the below video or linked here, made purchases at numerous local stores and is described as a white male with short hair, a mustache and is between 5'8'' and 5'11''.

 

If you have information on this, or any crime, contact Crime Stoppers by calling 217-788-8427, or text the tip--"TIP627" the message and send it to CRIMES.

 

You can find out more information about Crime Stoppers of Sangamon and Menard Counties by visiting www.CashForTips.us.

 

State Fair Time is Here


State Fair time has arrived.

 

A lengthy parade of floats, bands and politicians kicked off the fair last night.

 

Governor Pat Quinn will cut the ribbon to officially open the event at 9:30 this morning.

 

Today is County Fair and Horse Racing Day.

 

Country singer Eric Church is in the Grandstand tonight.

 

Fairgoers will also get the chance to see work continuing on the fair's Butter Cow.

 

The partially-finished butter sculpture was unveiled Thursday, but artist Sharon BuMann will complete it over the next several days, in full view of spectators.

Quinn Push Lawmakers To Go All The Way On Pension Reform


Governor Pat Quinn is urging lawmakers to avoid half-measures during next week's special session on pension reform.

 

Quinn wants the legislature to adopt a bill that would make pension changes for state workers, lawmakers and teachers.

 

Teachers were intentionally left off a bill that cleared the Senate in the spring out of concerns that controversial changes to their pensions would kill the chances to reach a deal on other parts of pension reform.

 

Quinn says the state's unfunded pension liability is growing by millions of dollars each day, and lawmakers have to stop delaying and start acting on the problem.

Gravel Pit Infrastructure Not Set Up, State Fair Won't Drain Lake


A recent study of Springfield’s gravel pits says that the city could pump 13 to 18 million gallons a day, but as of right now City Water Light and Power does not have a system set up to get the water if needed.

 

The study conducted last year and the report presented this week to Council Members only looked at Springfield’s gravel pits and did not evaluate the possible effects on other cities’ nearby water reservoirs.

 

Even if Springfield would need to get water from the gravel pits, Water Director Tom Skelly says Springfield doesn’t have the infrastructure in place.

 

Skelly says it would be a physically and logistically difficult project. It’s a ten mile distance from the gravel pits to the lake and he says that if needed they could get portable pumps and a series of pipelines set up, but as of right now there are no plans to get water from the gravel pits.

 

Meanwhile, concerns that Springfield’s lake levels will drastically drop because of the Illinois State Fair being in town are overblown wives tales, according to the city’s water official.

 

During the drought, some may have been concerned about how low the lake could get because of the water demand during the State Fair. Skelly says that there is an increased demand from the fair grounds during the annual State Fair, but it’s not as drastic as some people may fear.

 

Skelly says that the average production at the water plant is 22 million gallons a day and 160,000 gallons is a small amount and is not a big deal. Several weeks ago, the water plant produced a record 40 million gallons in one day.

Attorney General Offers House Of Hazards At Illinois State Fair


Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s tent at the State Fair this week will highlight hazards that could be threatening your children… right under your nose.

 

The A.G.’s tent is billed this year as the “House of Hazards,’ and the focus is on readily available, but dangerous, items. In particular, Madigan wants to alert parents to the ongoing hazard of synthetic drugs, manmade chemicals that can still be purchased in many convenience stores, even though the state has banned them.

 

Madigan’s office has conducted stings, resulting in stores voluntarily turning over their inventory of the drugs. But she says the crackdown could start leading to criminal charges against sellers… and will also target manufacturers of the drugs. Madigan’s tent also focuses on product safety and the dangers of Internet predators.

Butter Cow To Be Completed As Fair Starts


The butter cow will again be on display for Illinois State Fair visitors before it’s even completed. The fair has unveiled the butter cow as a work in progress.

 

The sculptor will finish it over the first several days of the fair as spectators watch. Fair officials are also touting a redesigned Department of Agriculture tent, just inside Gate 2 of the fairgrounds.

 

 

CWLP Cautions Boaters Of Shallow Water Hazards In The Lake


City Water, Light and Power is cautioning boaters at Lake Springfield to use caution when boating in the lake. Low water levels increase the risk of damage in areas where water is more shallow than normal.

 

The utility is placing barricades at some of the docks at Lindsay Boat Launch because of the low water level. Boaters are encouraged to use caution at all docks in areas where the shallow water could cause problems from unseen hazards like logs or other debris.

 

CWLP is also encouraging the public to call their security office at 757-8600 to report any such hazards.

State Health Department Offers Free Dental Screening For Kids At The Fair


The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging parents and caregivers that now is a good time to schedule dental exams for children. Illinois law requires school children entering Kindergarten, 2nd and 6th grades have a dental exam before the start of the school year.

 

The IDPH will be providing free dental screenings during weekdays at the Illinois State Fair from 10am to 3pm in the Department’s Wellness on Wheels mobile health van. The vehicle will be located in Happy Hollow, next to the Illinois Building on the Fairgrounds.

Springfield Mulling Pumping Water From Gravel Pits


The City of Springfield could pump up to 18 million gallons a day from the gravel pits, according to a recent study conducted for the city by Layne Christensen.

 

In a presentation to the Springfield City Council, Aldermen heard from engineers who surveyed the city’s gravel pits to determine the viability of gravel pits in times of drought.

 

The report says that Springfield could pump between 13 to 18 million gallons a day for up to 18 months from the pit before it becomes no longer viable.

GE Recalling Dishwashers


GE is recalling more than a million dishwashers sold around the country between 2006 and 2009… and are recommending that people who have those appliances unplug them and stop using them immediately.

 

The affected brands… including GE, Adorna, Eterna, Profile, and Hotpoint… have a malfunctioning heating element that poses a fire risk. Customers with affected brands should not contact the store where they purchased it. Instead, you can get information online at geappliances.com/recall .

Drought Management Plan Gives Mayor Ultimate Authority


The power to impose even more stringent water conservation measures in Springfield now rests entirely in the hands of Mayor Mike Houston.

 

The city council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve an emergency measure that lets the mayor implement a series of steps if lake levels continue to drop because of the ongoing drought.

 

More severe limits on outdoor water use, and a surcharge on water bills… are possible if the dry spell continues.

 

The measure lets Houston impose, and lift, those restrictions without having to keep going back to aldermen for permission.

Residency Referendum Fails Springfield City Council


Another setback for the effort to impose a residency requirement on new city workers in Springfield.

 

Alderman Joe McMenamin’s attempt to put the question on the ballot for city voters failed on a 5-5 tie Wednesday.

 

Mayor Mike Houston joined four aldermen in opposing the non-binding referendum.

 

Houston says any new residency rule would have to be negotiated with the city’s employee unions, which could demand costly concessions from the city in exchange for agreeing to a residency requirement.

Inmate Transfer Stalled In Ongoing Legal Battle


The state has temporarily halted transfers of inmates out of the Tamms supermax prison in Southern Illinois, while a legal battle continues over Governor Pat Quinn’s plan to close the prison.

 

State officials agreed to halt the transfers in order to give AFSCME time to respond to a state motion to dismiss the union’s lawsuit.

 

In the meantime, the state and the union will meet with an arbitrator next week in an attempt to resolve safety concerns about the inmate transfer.

 

AFSCME says moving dangerous felons out of Tamms into other prisons will just add to overcrowding in those other facilities, and put inmates and prison workers at risk.

Springfield Mom Charged With Murder in Daughter's Death


A Springfield woman has now been formally charged with murder in the death of her one-year-old daughter.

 

The girl, Azalin Fite, was found dead inside an apartment at the MERCY Communities project on South 19th late last month.

 

Workers at the apartment complex also found the baby’s mother, 21-year-old Samaria Williams, incoherent and injured from what appear to be self-inflicted stab wounds.

 

Prosecutors believe Williams may have taken a drug overdose.

 

She was arrested after her release from the hospital.

 

Her defense lawyer has asked for a mental competency evaluation.

Thompson: Former Governor Ryan Will Move to Halfway House Early Next Year


Former Governor George Ryan will get out from behind bars a little bit ahead of schedule.

 

Ryan’s lawyer, former Governor Jim Thompson, says Ryan will be released to a Chicago halfway house early next year, about five months before his scheduled parole in July of 2013.

 

Ryan will be on a work release program. He’ll have to report to a job during the day and then come back to the halfway house at night.

Patti Blagojevich Frustrated Over Delay of Appeal Process


The wife of imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagojevich is expressing frustration at the slow pace of his appeal for multiple convictions on corruption charges.

 

Patti Blagojevich says the appeal cannot proceed until official transcripts of the trial are completed, something which still hasn’t happened even though the trial ended more than a year ago.

 

The former first lady says the couple’s two daughters miss their father, and complains that he’s missing milestones in their lives while he waits for the trial transcripts.

Aldermen Pass Drought Management Plan


During emergency passage, Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance that would give the mayor the authority to enact stricter water conservation measures that would be associated with Springfield’s lake levels.

 

The drought management plan has six stages associated with how low the lake is below full pool.

 

At four feet below, or stage four, the first of three schedule surcharges would kick in on anything over around 3,500 gallons of water a month for residential customers.

 

At stage five, or five feet, a higher surcharge would kick in and an even higher charge at stage six.

 

Read the entire ordinance here

Study: Springfield Could Pump up to 18 Million Gallons a Day from Gravel Pits


The City of Springfield could pump up to 18 million gallons a day from the gravel pits, according to a recent study conducted for the city by Layne Christensen.

 

In a presentation to the Springfield City Council Wednesday, Aldermen heard from engineers who surveyed the city’s gravel pits to determine the viability of gravel pits in times of drought.

 

The report says that Springfield could pump between 13 to 18 million gallons a day for up to 18 months from the pit before it no longer becomes viable.

Mayor Breaks Tie, Residency Referendum Fails Springfield City Council


An ordinance that would put the question of residency to voters on the November ballot failed to get enough votes Wednesday as Mayor Mike Houston cast the deciding no vote.

 

Aldermen McMenamin’s proposed ordinance drew support from several residents, including former Springfield Mayor Ozzy Langfelder, who addressed the council Wednesday.

 

However, Houston, also a former Mayor, says that the city has 23 different union contracts and only one has negotiated the issue of residency.

 

If the issue of residency was a possibility, Houston says it would cost the city money to renegotiate those contracts.

Fuel, Mail and an Accident Settlement Passed on Consent Agenda


During Wednesday's Springfield City Council meeting, Aldermen approved the consent agenda which included a three-year, $2.25 million dollar contract with Lincoln Land FS for automotive fuel and a three-year contract worth $135,000 with Quicksilver Mailing Services.

 

They also approved a lawsuit settlement worth $50,000 in a case involving a Springfield Police car and a Springfield Housing Authority van.  

 

Ordinances on the consent agenda are considered not controversial and are passed all together with one vote. 

Springfield Fire Station #9 To Relocate Temporarily


The Springfield Fire Department announced that Fire Station #9 at 2405 South Chatham Road will be temporarily closed August 13th until August 20th to accommodate the first stage of interior remodeling of the living quarters.

 

Engine 9 and the assigned personnel will be relocated to the State Fairgrounds for coverage of the Illinois State Fair. In the interim, there will be three fire stations covering the area in which Fire Station 9 currently operates – Chatham Road and Lawrence Avenue, Koke Mill Road, and Glenwood.

Ryan May Get Early Release After All


Former Governor George Ryan may be getting out from behind bars early after all.

 

Ryan’s attorney… former Governor Jim Thompson… tells the Kankakee Daily Journal that Ryan will likely be released to a Chicago halfway-house early next year… about five months ahead of his scheduled July 2013 parole date. Ryan, who is 78, will work during the day and then return to the halfway house at night.

 

But Ryan… who is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for corruption… hasn’t given up on trying to win his outright freedom early. Thompson says even though Ryan lost yet another appeal this week, he may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to have the conviction overturned.

Patti Blagojevich Anxious For Rod's Appeal


Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich is tired of waiting around for her husband’s appeal to be heard.

 

The wife of convicted ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich says the pace of progress in the case has been incredibly frustrating. Patti Blagojevich says the couple’s two daughters miss their dad. Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence for corruption in a Colorado prison.

Quinn Defending Corrections Information Leak Probe


Governor Pat Quinn is defending the state police investigation of corrections officers inside the supermax prison that Quinn plans to shut down.

 

Sources tell the Associated Press that investigators have tried to question prison staffers about leaks of information regarding the shutdown and the transfer of inmates. Quinn says that if laws are broken, then the people close to the incident should expect to be questioned.

 

Quinn did not elaborate on what laws may have been violated in the information that may have gone to members of the press.

Inmate Transfers From Tamms On Hold


Transfers of inmates out of the Tamms Correctional Center are on hold until at least next week.

 

AFSCME went to court this week seeking an injunction to halt the transfers. Lawyers for the state want their lawsuit thrown out of court… but agreed to temporarily stop moving inmates in order to give the union time to respond to the state’s motion to dismiss.

 

The union claims that transferring dangerous inmates from the Tamms supermax facility to other prisons will increase overcrowding and put inmates and prison workers in danger.

Early Morning Fatal Accident North of Springfield


An unidentified 51-year-old Glen Carbon man is dead after a two vehicle crash on I-55, just north of Springfield early Wednesday morning.

 

Just before 1 AM Illinois State Police say the two trucks, both carrying trailers, were traveling north bound when, around mile marker 110, one truck rear ended the other truck for unknown reasons.

 

Police say there is an ongoing investigation.

Springfield Establishments Seek State Video Gambling License


Bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, they’re all on the list of the first local establishments to apply for licenses that will allow them to operate video gambling machines on their premises.

 

Nearly 40 Springfield clubs and businesses are seeking state licenses for the gaming machines.

 

They include five local Qik N EZ locations, American Legion and VFW posts, and the Godfather’s Pizza on Dirksen Parkway.

 

There’s no timetable yet for when the state will grant licenses and allow businesses to start operating the video gaming terminals.

AFSCME Moves to Block Quinn From Transferring Inmates From Tamms


A hearing is set for today in Southern Illinois on a request by AFSCME for an injunction against the Quinn administration.

 

The union wants a judge to block the governor from continuing to transfer inmates out of the Tamms Correctional Center and other prisons that Quinn has slated for closure.

 

Union officials say the transfers are adding to dangerous overcrowding in other prisons, putting inmates and staffers at risk.

 

AFSCME wants the court to order a halt to any moves to close the prisons until issues of safety and other concerns can be worked out through the grievance process.

 

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the Illinois State Police are conducting a criminal investigation at the Tamms Correctional Center about the process of closing the prison. 

United Way Grants Funds to Preschool Screening Program


A local program that screens preschoolers to see if they’re ready for kindergarten will reach twice as many children now, thanks to a grant from an endowment fund.

 

The Community Child Care Connection oversees the program, which will now be able to screen up to one-fourth of children in Sangamon County between the ages of three and five.

 

The screenings will help schools and day care centers develop curriculum to make sure children are better prepared for school. The $73,000 grant comes from the United Way Communityworks fund.

Eisenhower Pool Will Close For Maintenance August 31st


The Springfield Park District will be closing Eisenhower Pool on August 31st for scheduled repairs and maintenance.

 

The pool’s weekday morning and noontime lap swim hours will be scheduled at the outdoor Nelson Center pool located in Lincoln Park until Eisenhower re-opens.

 

The facility is expected to reopen once the work is completed.

State Fair Offices Extend Hours For Mega Pass Purchases


Haven’t gotten your Mega Pass yet for the upcoming Illinois State Fair? Well, it’s not too late.

 

The Illinois State Fair has scheduled evening hours this week for a last-minute purchase. The office in the Emmerson Building on the Fairgrounds will be open daily through Sunday, August 12th from 8am to 7pm.

 

Mega Passes sell for $65.00 and serve as a ticket for unlimited rides at Adventure Village and the Carnival Midway all eleven days of the fair, including Preview Night. Purchases can be made with cash or credit card as payment, but no personal checks.

AFSCME Asks Judge To Block Inmate Transfers; Says Quinn Administration Is Adding To Dangers In Prison System


AFSCME is going to court in an effort to stop the Quinn administration from transferring more inmates out of prisons that are being targeted for closure. 

 

The union is seeking an injunction that would block further inmate transfers until a union grievance can be heard.  AFSCME says the transfers are adding to dangerous overcrowding in other prisons… putting staff and other inmates at risk. 

 

A court hearing on the union’s injunction request is set for Wednesday morning in Alexander County Circuit Court.

Pre-Kindergarten Screenings To Expand


A program to screen preschoolers to make sure they’re ready for kindergarten is being expanded. 

 

The program started three years ago as part of the local Continuum of Learning, and screens roughly 900 three-, four- and five-year-olds each year.  But a $73,000 grant from an endowment fund established by the United Way will allow that program to double… reaching nearly one-fourth of the eligible preschoolers in the county. 

 

The screening is intended to identify areas where children may be lacking and help develop curriculum to meet those needs.

Seven-Period Day Could Be Thing of the Past for Dist. 186 High Schools


The seven-period day in Springfield’s public high schools could become a casualty of the district’s budget crisis.

 

District 186 moved to a seven-period schedule three years ago in order to give students more course options and to allow the district to impose stricter requirements for graduation.

 

Superintendent Walter Milton says reverting back to the old schedule would not leave students better prepared for college, but it would save more than a million dollars a year at a time when the district needs to find as much as 12-million in savings over the next two years.

School Board Votes Down New Scoreboards


The Springfield School Board has rejected a proposal for new scoreboards at Memorial Stadium and other school athletic fields, even though district officials say the scoreboards could have eventually paid for themselves.

 

District athletic officials wanted to the new scoreboards, which would include delay-of-game clocks and electronic message boards that could be programmed to display advertising.

 

Officials think they could sell enough ads for the scoreboards and electronic displays to pay for the equipment and have money left over.

 

But the board refused to approve the initial cash outlay on a 3-3 vote.

Former TV Reporter Could Fill Ballot Spot for County Board


A former TV reporter could be appointed to fill a ballot vacancy in a Sangamon County Board race this November.

 

The State Journal-Register reports Catie Sheehan Gibson could be appointed this week to replace Bill Moss as the Republican candidate in county board district 28.

 

Moss dropped out of the race because he is moving out of that district. Gibson was a reporter at Channel 20 for three years and now works as a spokesperson for State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

 

She would face Democrat Marilyn Mancini this fall.

Gray Taken Off Ballot for 50th Senate District


Bob Gray is off the ballot

The candidate who sought to mount an independent challenge to Republican State Senator Sam McCann in the 50th State Senate District has been kicked off the ballot.

 

Bob Gray was removed after a hearing officer ruled that he was 186 valid signatures short of the 3,000 needed to be added to the ballot.

 

The decision means McCann will run unopposed for the seat currently held by Larry Bomke.

Davis Backs Schock's Plan To Exempt Taxes on Olympic Medal Winners


13th Congressional Candidate Rodney Davis

A local congressional candidate is joining the call for tax breaks, for Olympic champions.

 

Republican Rodney Davis says he agrees with Congressman Aaron Schock that Olympic medalists should be exempt from taxes on the money they earn for winning at the Games.

 

Gold, silver and bronze medalists get cash up to $25,000 for earning a spot on the podium, but American athletes see more than a third of that eaten up in federal taxes.

Congressional Candidate Calls For Olympian Tax Breaks


A local congressional candidate supports Congressman Aaron Schock’s call for a tax break for Olympians. Republican Rodney Davis agrees with Schock that Olympic medalists shouldn’t face a tax bill as the price for their competitive success.

 

Olympic winners get up to $25,000 for winning a gold medal… but the federal government claims more than a third of that in taxes. Schock and Davis say that most Olympic athletes must invest huge amounts of their own money to train and work their way toward the Olympics… and shouldn’t be penalized for their success.

Former Governor Ryan Stays In Prison


Former Governor George Ryan may have lost his last chance to get out of prison early.

 

A federal appeals court has rejected Ryan’s latest attempt to have his corruption conviction overturned. Ryan’s lawyers had argued that Supreme Court rulings on the so-called “honest services” law were directly tied to the charges brought against the former Governor, and should lead to his conviction being reversed.

 

The appeal was seen as Ryan’s best hope of getting out of prison before his scheduled release next year.

Springfield Students To Take Part in Student Gallop Poll


Springfield District 186 students will get the opportunity to participate this fall in the National Student Gallop Poll – a survey that measures, encouragement, hope, and wellbeing.

 

The poll is designed for students in grades five through twelve and is administered on-line. Gallop identifies the categories as being reliably measured and have a relationship with, or impact on educational outcomes.

 

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Quantum Growth Partnership has teamed up with District 186 in the effort for the common goal of improved student performance – which subsequently leads to improved economic outcomes.

Springfield's Burn Ban Extended


The Springfield Fire Department has extended the burn ban within the corporate city limits as well as other jurisdictions with fire protection provided by the City.

 

The burn ban continues until August 13th. The ban is in effect because of the lack of rain, low humidity and wind conditions, combined with unseasonably dry conditions over the past few months.

New Berlin's Brooks Fails To Qualify For Olympic Discus Finals


A local Olympian’s dreams of gold have come to an end. 

 

Lance Brooks of New Berlin failed to qualify for the men’s discus finals in London. Brooks finished 21st in the preliminary rounds Monday… he needed to be in the top 12 in order to compete in the finals. 

 

His best throw was just over 61 meters… about two meters short of the cutoff mark.

Quinn Says Pensions Payments Could Overshadow Funds for Education


Some pain now… or more pain later.

 

Those are the choices being laid out by Governor Pat Quinn as he tries to ramp up pressure on state lawmakers to take action on the state’s pension crisis.

 

Quinn says a new analysis shows that unless reforms are implemented, the state will soon spend more on pension costs than it does on education, forcing steep budget cuts to schools.

 

Quinn has called lawmakers back into special session on August 17th and is pushing them to pass measures, including one that would pass the state’s share of teacher pension costs back onto local districts.

Kirk Updates Constituents on Stroke Progress


U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has released a second video offering more details of Kirk’s rehabilitation from a serious stroke in January.

 

The video shows Kirk relearning how to walk and climb stairs.

 

In the video, Kirk talks of his daily consultations with staff and colleagues on Senate issues.

 

He says he released the video to update constituents and to show other stroke victims that they can recover from its effects.

 

Durbin Throws His Support Behind Gill for 13th District Race


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin acknowledges that it's not surprising that he would endorse his fellow Democrat, David Gill, in the 13th Congressional District race.

 

But Durbin says the endorsement is about more than partisan politics.

 

Durbin says he is choosing Gill because Gill stands in opposition to the Republican budget plan put forward by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

 

Critics say the Ryan budget would privatize, and ultimately phase out, Medicare, and would cause serious financial damage to hospitals which rely on Medicare dollars.

Durbin Agrees With Quinn on Ban of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Ammo Mags


Senator Dick Durbin sides with Governor Pat Quinn on a move to ban assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

 

When asked if he supports the move, the senior Illinois senator says that he’s long supported banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ever since he’s been in congress.

 

Several proposals would make it illegal to sell, transfer or own ammunition magazines of more than ten rounds.

 

When asked what the limit should be, Durbin said he doesn’t know.  He says that there is no legitimate hunting or sporting need for a 100-round magazine like the shooter in Colorado had. 

 

Gun advocates say that the real reason for the second amendment is for self defense, not for hunting of for sport.

 

Last week Governor Quinn singed an amendatory veto to a bill regulating online ammo sales in the state.

 

In that veto, Quinn moved to ban assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. Illinois lawmakers must approve his amendatory veto for that to take effect.

 

Dubin also says that Americans have the right to bear arms, but only under the limitations lined out by the government.

 

Video provided by Greg Bishop

Victim of Fatal Child Care Center Van-Semi Accident Identified


Authorities have released the name of the student who died when a child care center van collided with a semi in Christian County Friday.

 

14-year-old Lucky Hamilton of Assumption was one of two people killed in that crash.

 

The van driver, 40-year-old Daniel Kennell of Taylorville, was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Four others in the van are expected to recover from their injuries.

 

The vehicles crashed at a rural intersection where there were no stop signs.

High Gas Prices Expected to Decline, Gradually


Gas prices that soared around Illinois in the past week should gradually decline over the course of the next several weeks, according to a website that tracks the subject.

 

Gasbuddy.com attributes last week’s price spike to a pipeline spill in Wisconsin last month that affected Midwestern oil supplies.

 

The price of regular unleaded jumped to nearly four-dollars a gallon through much of downstate Illinois, and peaked at an average of $4.25 a gallon in Chicago.

Kirk Releases New Video Detailing Recovery From Stroke


U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's office has released a second video offering new details about Kirk's recovery from a debiliatating stroke in January.

 

The heavily-produced and edited video features Kirk discussing milestones in his rehabilitation, including work in improving his speech and mobility.  In the video, he talks about conversing with his staff daily, meeting with congressional colleagues, and working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin to choose a new U.S. Attorney to succeed Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago.

 

Kirk says he is releasing the video to show other stroke patients and their families that they can recover.

 

Durbin Endorses Gill In 13th Congressional District Race; Blasts GOP Opponent Davis For Support Of Paul Ryan Budget Plan


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin acknowledges that it's not surprising that he would endorse his fellow Democrat, David Gill, in the 13th Congressional District race.  But Durbin says the endorsement is about more than partisan politics.

 

Durbin says he is choosing Gill because Gill stands in opposition to the Republican budget plan put forward by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  Critics say the Ryan budget would privatize, and ultimately phase out, Medicare, and would cause serious financial damage to hospitals who rely on Medicare dollars.

 

Both Gill and Durbin acknowledge that there will have to be changes to Medicare to keep the program solvent, but say the Ryan approach -- which is supported by Gill's GOP opponent Rodney Davis -- is too drastic and harmful.

Gas Price Spike Linked To Wisconsin Oil Spill


Last week's sharp increase in gas prices around Illinois has been tied to a pipeline break in Wisconsin last month that spilled more than a thousand barrels of oil, affecting Midwestern supplies.

 

Prices soared to nearly four dollars a gallon downstate, and peaked at around $4.25 a gallon in Chicago.  The website gasbuddy.com predicts that the price spike will gradually subside over the next three weeks.

VIDEO: Durbin Talks Disaster Aid, Hobbie Talks Water Conservation


Friday afternoon, Senator Dick Durbin toured Springfield's water processing facility and also reviewed Lake Springfield's levels.  He and Hobbie talked about the drought, what the federal government can do and what water conservation measures Springfield is taking.  Watch the video below:

 

Man Dies Of Injuries In Multi-Vehicle Accident Thursday


The Sangamon County Coroner’s office has released the name of a man who died after a multiple vehicle accident on Chatham Road Thursday.

 

77-year-old Donald R. Lawler was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center following the accident. An autopsy performed indicates Lawler died from multiple injuries to the chest do to the collision.

Senator Durbin Says He'll Try To Help Spfld. With Second Water Source


Current lake levels for lake Springfield are at about 2 ½ feet below normal even with the recent rain. It’s bad, but not the worst Springfield has seen, and has some people asking about a second water source for the capital city.

The current levels of Lake Springfield at about 2 1/2 feet below normal

The current levels of Lake Springfield at about 2 1/2 feet below normal

The decision to move forward with a second water source for Springfield is a local issue that must be worked out by the Mayor and aldermen, not by the Federal government, according to Senator Dick Durbin.

 

But, if the decision was to move forward with the permitting process, Durbin says he would be glad to get involved.

Senator Dick Durbin (left) & Chief Engineer at CWLP Eric Hobbie (right)
Senator Dick Durbin (left) & Chief Engineer at CWLP Eric Hobbie (right)

 

Durbin reviewed recent and historic data about the lake’s levels and toured Springfield’s water treatment plant Friday and says as far as the lake levels, the most the Federal government can do is encourage water conservation.

 

The current lake levels are in line to match up with the drought of 1988.

 

It's yet as bad as the drought in the 1950s.

Dehumidifier Recall


Kenmore is recalling 35, 50 and 70 pint dehumidifiers that were sold exclusively at Sears.com and Kmart.com from 2003 to 2009.

 

The units have a Kenmore logo on top. They’re between 21 and 24 inches tall, around 15 inches wide and about 13-1/2 inches deep with fan and humidity controls either on the top front or by remote control. The dehumidifiers were manufactured in China. They may overheat, smoke, melt and catch fire.

 

The firm has received 107 reports of incidents with over 7 million dollars in property damage – and three reports of smoke inhalation injuries. Nearly 800,000 units have been recalled. For more information contact the Recall Fulfillment Center at 855-400-4641.

CDC Says Use Caution Around Pigs At the Fair - New Strain of Swine Flu


The Centers for Disease Control is urging fairgoers to be careful around pigs because of a new strain of flu spreading to humans.

 

Officials say 29 human cases of the new strain of swine flu have been confirmed in the U.S. in the last year – most of them children. Ten of the 12 cases confirmed just this week were linked to the Butler County Fair in Southwest Ohio, which ended last weekend.

 

Fairgoers are advised to wash their hands and avoid taking food and drinks into livestock barns. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should be particularly careful.

FEMA Releases Tornado Video To Prepare Schools


The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is encouraging school personnel to become familiar with emergency procedures since school will starting up in a couple of weeks.

 

They’ve released a new video called “Tornado Preparedness for Illinois Schools” that outlines steps for identifying shelter spaces within school buildings and other tips for severe weather emergency planning. The video also includes a pre-tornado season to-do list for schools, which can be used as a guideline for training, establishing protocols, and assigning responsibilities to staff members.

 

The video can be obtained by visiting www.Ready.Illinois.Gov.

Springfield Police Will Respond To ACLU of Illinois Plate Reader Request


The Springfield Police Department plans to respond to a request from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois for information about the license plate reading cameras, even if the department doesn’t have them yet.

 

Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher says that the cameras are ordered and they should be receiving them soon. In the meantime, Buscher says police will respond to as many questions in the request as possible and will stay in touch with the organization.

Victim of Megabus Crash Identified


Illinois State Police have identified the victim from Thursday’s Megabus crash on I-55 near Litchfield as 25-year-old Aditi Avhad of India.

 

The accident also injured 38 other passengers who were treated at hospitals in Litchfield and in Springfield.

 

A spokesperson for Megabus says there are unconfirmed reports that the accident resulted from a blown tire that caused the bus to leave the road and slam into an overpass support column.

One Dead in Fatal Accident on Chatham Road


Another fatal accident is being reported—this time in Springfield on Chatham Road.

 

Reports indicate that an unidentified man died after the vehicle he was driving crossed the center line on Chatham Road between Old Jacksonville Road and Laurell, side swiped three vehicles and then hit a forth vehicle head on.

 

Authorities could not say if the man died because of the wreck or from some kind of medical condition.

 

An autopsy is planned today. No other passengers suffered severe injuries.

Michigan State Police Investigating THR


More bounced checks are reported as Springfield based Treasure Hunters Roadshow hits yet another snag in their storied business operations.

 

The State Journal-Register reports that Michigan State Police are investigating the company for fraud because of $4,000 in bounced checks.

 

Michigan State Law makes it a felony to bounce three or more checks within a ten day period.

 

THR has been under fire recently from past employees claiming their pay checks bounced.

 

THR says that the bounced checks are caused from confusion surrounding a recent bank switch.

Illiopolis Under Boil Order Until Further Notice


The residents of Illiopolis are under a boil order until at least mid-day today after a 60-year-old water main failed Wednesday.

 

That break caused officials to shut off water service for up to six hours.

 

Customers should continue to boil water until further notice.

At Least One Dead From MegaBus Crash Near Litchfield


Illinois State Police report at least one person has died as a result of a double-decker MegaBus crash on I-55 near Litchfield. Trooper Doug Francis says one person was killed in the wreck.

 

The bus which was carrying 81 passengers bound from Chicago to Kansas City blew a tire, slamming head-on into a concrete bridge support Thursday afternoon. It’s reported that four people were flown by helicopter to a trauma center.

 

Memorial Medical Center spokesman Michael Leathers says their hospital treated two patients. Brian Reardon, a spokesman for St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield says 21 patients were treated there, some of which were treated and released. Others had moderate injuries such as bone fractures.

Multiple Injuries in MegaBus Crash On I-55


Illinois State Police responded to an accident involving a double-decker MegaBus which blew a tire and crashed into a concrete piller on I-55.

 

Multiple injuries reported in that crash which happened about 3 miles south of Exit 60, five miles North of Litchfield. Amanda Byers, a spokeswoman for the MegaBus says it was carrying 81 passengers bound for Kansas City from Chicago when it crashed.

 

Traffic stopped in both directions on I-55 between Exit 52 northbound and Exit 60 southbound.

Schock Wants Olympians Free From Taxes


Congressman Aaron Schock wants US Olympians to not pay federal taxes on the medals they bring home from the London Games.

 

In companion bills introduced in the House by Schock and in the Senate by Florida’s Marco Rubio, US Olympic athletes would be exempt in paying federal taxes on the cash prizes they receive upon winning medals at the international games.

 

Gold recipients receive $25,000. Silver recipients get $15,000 and Bronze winners get $10,000.

 

As the law stands now, the IRS takes 35 percent of the cash prizes.

Agricultural Disaster Approved For 50 Additional Illinois Counties


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 98 of 102 Illinois counties as disaster areas. Approval of the governor’s latest request means federal disaster assistance is now available to help farmers in an additional 50 drought-stricken Illinois counties.

 

According to the State’s Water Survey, precipitation throughout Illinois averaged just 12-point-6 inches from January to June, making the first half of the year the sixth driest on record. Additionally, each month this year has had above normal temperatures, making this the warmest year on record.

 

Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance should contact their County Farm Services Agency offices.

Comptroller Urges Struggling Non-Profits To Call Her Office


Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka says Illinois Non-For-Profit Agencies are the backbone of the State of Illinois – their services making all the difference when it comes to quality of life of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

 

Topinka says government budget cuts and state payment delays have created staggering fiscal challenges for many service agencies. She’s urging agency leaders to contact her office before cutting services or closing their doors.

 

Vendors can contact their office online at illinoiscomptroller.com, or calling their consumer affairs hotline at 855 - IL – ASK – US.

Whooping Cough Cases Up In Illinois - Kids Must Be Vaccinated


Illinois Health Care providers are seeing a large increase in pertussis cases – commonly known as Whooping Cough, in Illinois and around the country.

 

In conjunction with National Immunization Awareness Month, the Department of Public Health is reminding parents and health care providers of the new Whooping Cough vaccine requirement for the 2012-13 school year.

 

All 6th and 9th grade students are required to show proof they’ve had an immunization against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or they must show proof that they have an appointment to get the vaccination. Those with medical or religious exemptions must have that on file. Students who don’t will not be able to attend school.

More Conservation Measures Could Go to Mayor


Springfield has new water conservation measures and aldermen could soon give all authority to enact tougher measure to the mayor.

 

A proposed ordinance from Mayor Mike Houston would change the city’s drought management plan to allow for the mayor to make the executive decisions.

 

Houston says the proposal is a six-stage process with a different stage linked to the number of feet the lake levels have dropped.

 

Currently, Houston says, we would be considered in stage three with the lake down three feet.

 

In the proposed ordinance, the surcharges kick in at stage four and are set up in three different schedules coinciding with how severe the drought is. 

 

The next stage would be when the lake is down four feet and then a surcharge would kick in on any water used that’s above what’s considered the standard lifeline of 3,500 gallons.

 

Houston introduced the ordinance setting up the new policy during Tuesday special city council meeting where aldermen voted on other water conservation measures. 

 

The ordinance will be up for emergency passage during next week’s council meeting.

 

That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday as Tuesday is the National Night Out.

Water Conservation Measures Passed by Aldermen


Springfield has new water conservation measures in place that is meant to get residents in the mindset of conserving when they can.

 

The special city council meeting Tuesday dealt with the one ordinance where several aldermen attempted, but failed, to amend the issue of washing cars at home, car wash fundraisers and even fees associated with getting watering permits and pumping water from the lake.

 

One thing Aldermen Chris Theilen wanted to make clear is that your vegetable garden is safe.   The ordinance allows residents to use buckets and irrigation systems to water their gardens everyday. 

 

The ordinance lines out specific watering times for residents.

 

Odd number homes can water Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the non-peak times of 7pm to 8am and even number homes can water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during the same non-peak times.

 

Violating the ordinance will in a first conviction fine of $50, a second conviction fine of $100 and a third conviction fine of $500.

Three Laid Off at CWLP


The City is still following recommendations from a recent efficiency study with the layoffs of three City Water Light and Power employees.

 

Mayor Mike Houston says that the layoffs on Friday were based on last year’s Maximus study. 

 

The mayor says that all three jobs were administrative services and two of the jobs were specifically listed by Maximus as supervisory positions that should be cut to save money.

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