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September 1, 2014, 6:33 pm
970 WMAY News

Long-Awaited Fracking Rules Released

Long-awaited new rules on fracking have been submitted by state officials. 


The updated rules from the Department of Natural Resources are intended to provide greater environmental protection and more transparency for the public when companies use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from far below the Earth’s surface. 


The proposed rules must still go through a public comment period of at least 45 days.  Oil and gas companies have been angry about lengthy delays in getting those rules in place.


Attorney General Investigating Alleged Abuse Of Buffet Restaurant Workers

That Chinese buffet restaurant you like might be serving up some violations of labor laws. 


Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating widespread complaints that immigrant workers at those buffet places are being subjected to long hours with no breaks, no overtime pay, and substandard living conditions. 


Madigan isn’t naming any specific establishments yet, but says some of those under scrutiny are in Central Illinois.

Dana-Thomas House Hit By Flooding; Staff Still Assessing Damage

Thursday’s torrential rains have caused some damage at the historic Dana-Thomas House. 


The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home was closed to visitors Friday after flooding that affected the basement of the structure… where the home’s bowling alley and billiards room are located. 


State historic preservation officials say fast action by staffers and cleaning crews minimized the damage… but it’s unclear yet if any of the floors or other items will need restoration work.


It's unclear when the home will reopen.  Anyone hopnig to visit this weekend should call ahead at (217) 782-6776 for updates.

Heavy Rain Causes Flooding Through Springfield Area

It’s becoming increasingly common in Springfield… an intense downpour followed by widespread flooding.


Most of the waters have receded now, but getting around the city Thursday night proved to be enormously challenging after two-and-a-half inches of rain fell in about an hour. Numerous streets and viaducts were flooded… several cars were stranded in water up to their windows on South Sixth Street, just south of the Hoogland Center for the Arts.


The Hoogland and other downtown buildings also experienced flooding as storm sewers were overwhelmed. And many people are still trying to get water out of their basements this morning.

State Retirees Won't Pay Health Insurance Premiums Beginning October

State government retirees won’t have health insurance premiums deducted from their pension checks, starting October 1st.


A Sangamon County judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from taking that money… but the ruling came down too late to add the money back into September checks.


The state has been collecting those premiums since last year and will apparently have to refund the money with interest… although it’s not clear how or when that will happen.


Judge Steven Nardulli’s ruling is based on the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision which found that free or subsidized health care benefits for public sector retirees are protected under the state constitution.

Student Immunization Deadline Today

Today is the day… students in District 186 must have proof that they have all their required vaccinations by the end of the day, or they won’t be allowed to return to class on Tuesday, after the holiday weekend.


District officials did not have an updated count Thursday of how many students still haven’t turned in that paperwork, but say the number is dropping every day.


Sangamon County public health officials say they were told earlier in the week that as many as 800 students didn’t have the paperwork on file at that time.


The health department held a vaccination clinic Thursday… and another one, by appointment only, is planned for today at SIU Healthcare. To schedule an appointment, call 545-8000.

Higgins Expected to Challenge McMenamin in Ward 7 Race

One of the Springfield aldermanic races next spring could have a familiar feel.


As 970 WMAY News was the first to report, Maldaner’s Restaurant owner Michael Higgins is seeking a rematch against Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin.


McMenamin beat Higgins and another challenger in a three-way race in 2011.


Higgins plans a formal campaign announcement in September. McMenamin is also expected to seek re-election next year.


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