Monday, October 31, 2016

Local School Report Cards Released

You can now see how your child's school stacks-up. The Illinois State Board of Education is releasing local school report cards today.  The report cards tell parents how their kids' school is performing on state tests, how much the school is spending, and even how many days teachers are absent.  Most kids in Illinois' aren't reading or adding at grade level.  ISBE says between 60-and-70-percent of students aren't where they need to be in math and reading.  You can find your local school report card at

Illinois State University To Offer Cyber-Security Degree

About 125 students are expected in the first cyber-security degree program at Illinois State University. ISU's trustees approved the program at their meeting last week. The new degree will be an off-shoot of ISU's current information technology program.

Most Write-In Votes Won't Count

You're likely wasting your vote if you're planning on writing-in a candidate next week.  The Illinois State Board of Elections is reminding voters that unless a candidate is registered, a write-in vote doesn't count.  You can still vote for your dog for president, but your vote for that office will simply not be counted.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Connect Transit Riders Air Concerns of Possible Shutdown

Connect Transit serves nearly 8,000 people daily in the Bloomington-Normal area, but the service may need to hit the brakes if the state does not pay up soon.  Thursday, dozens of concerned riders voiced concerns during a public forum in Normal. Mike McCurdy, of the board of trustees, warned the board it will "temporarily suspend service” starting December 31, if the state does not provide funding prior to the end of 2016.  The board says part of the funding issue involves $9.2 billion in bills currently on the Comptroller’s desk. The board of trustees plans to take the feedback to legislature and convince the state that public transportation should be higher on the list of priorities.

Mark Kirk Facing Question After Racial Question In Senate Debate

With less than two weeks before Election Day, Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk is dealing with the fallout from another off the cuff remark. Kirk questioned Democrat Tammy Duckworth's heritage and family military service during the debate in Springfield last night. After Duckworth talked about her ties to the American Revolution, Kirk said dryly "I'd forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."

State Police: Don't Drink And Drive This Halloween Weekend

The Illinois State Police are issuing their annual Halloween warning: Don't drink and drive and be on the look-out for trick-or-treaters. Troopers say they're going to step-up patrols this weekend for adults who want to celebrate Halloween or the Cubs game.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Unit 5 and First Student Continue Their Contract...For Now

The Unit 5 school district will continue its contract with its busing company First Student, for now. The Board  voted Wednesday to keep the contract, as long as the two parties can agree on some concessions by November 1. The district has been dealing with busing issues since the school year started, including late and overcrowded buses. First Student and Unit 5 are negotiating penalties for the problems, including financial compensation. If the two cannot agree on terms by November 1, the contract will be terminated.  If Unit 5 terminates the contract, First Student will still provide bus service through June 30, 2017.

Bobcat Hunting Opponents Hope For Bobcat Permits

Thousands of hunters in Illinois want one of the state's 500 bobcat hunting permits.  But so do some people who don't want to see the cats hunted at all.  "The Chicago Tribune" says about 30 environmentalists applied for permits so they could not use them.  Illinois' first bobcat hunting season in decades opens early next month.

Opponents: Vote No On Roads Lock Box Amendment

Opponents of lock box for road money in Illinois say it may sound like a good idea, but they warn the proposal may cause more harm than good.  Voters will decide next month on a constitutional amendment that would hold about 600-million dollars a year for only road construction.  Opponents like the Civic Federation say taking the money out of the state budget will only make Illinois' finances worse.  The opponents say if you want better roads, tell your lawmakers to vote for road projects.  They say there's no need to change the constitution.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Caterpillar Sales Woes Continue

Caterpillar's third quarter numbers were down again, but profit per share was better than expected.

Lower costs are easing the impact of fewer sales, meaning the company's restructuring and cost reduction efforts seem to be paying off.

Sales and revenues for third quarter were $9.2 billion. That's down 16 percent from one year ago.

Taking out restructuring costs, profit per share for the third quarter was 85 cents, down from $1.05 from this time last year.

Cat's Chairman and CEO says economic weakness throughout much of the world is to blame.

Tuesday's announcement showed the same trend as the past four years.

Full-time employment was just over 97 thousand, compared to almost 109 thousand in the third part of last year.

With cuts in the companies flexible workforce are factored in, more than 14 thousand people were trimmed from payroll.

The company says it'll continue to keep an eye on the market and then decide if more cuts will be necessary.

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

Unit 5 Bus Contract Update

Tonight is the last scheduled board meeting before the Unit 5 School Board's deadline to decide on what to do about its busing issues. The district has had troubles with busing company, First Student, since the school year began. Students have complained of overcrowding, getting home late, and being left behind because of full buses. The Board of has until November 1st to decide whether to end its contract with First Student. The company is listed on Wednesday night's agenda as an "action item."

Nearly Eight-Million Voters Ready For Election Day

More people are ready to vote in Illinois than at any point in almost 50 years. The Illinois State Board of Elections says seven-point-99-million people are registered to vote in the state. That's about a hundred thousand voters more than the huge crowds that turned out to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. Illinois last saw this many voters in 1970.

Comptroller Candidates Clash On Televised Debate

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger is blasting Susana Mendoza by linking her to House Speaker Michael Madigan and the state's financial woes.  The Republican official criticized her Democratic challenger for the upcoming November election during a debate last night on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight."  Mendoza fired back by tying Munger to Governor Rauner and presidential nominee Donald Trump.  Munger is fighting to hold on to the post Rauner appointed her to following the 2014 death of Judy Baar Topinka.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rauner Makes World Series Bet With Ohio Governor

Governor Rauner is making a bet with his counterpart in Ohio leading up to the World Series.  Standing in front of Wrigley Field yesterday with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Rauner offered to deliver deep dish pizza and Chicago-brewed beer to Governor John Kasich [[ KAY-sick ]] if the Cleveland Indians beat the Cubs in the Fall Classic.  Kasich countered, saying he will send Rauner fan favorites from Cleveland if Chicago wins.  Game One of the World Series is tonight at Progressive Field.  

Bloomington City Council Votes on Sewers and TIFF District

Bloomington City Council approves $1.7 million dollars worth of sewer work and a new TIF district. The $1.7 million dollars will help the city take a more proactive approach to sewer maintenance. Council also approved a new TIF district Monday night. Those areas give economic incentives to developers. The district covers a little over two city blocks where buildings, like the old Front N' Center, are vacant and falling apart. Alderman Kevin Lower voted against the district saying he doesn't  view the government as the driving force behind any of this. Lower says the council is acting reactionary, rather than being pro-development. The city is hoping the TIF district will help revitalize the vacant area.

Fruin to Retire

A long-time member of Bloomington City Council is retiring. Ninth Ward Alderman Jim Fruin says he's done, when his term term ends in April. Fruin has served the city for the last 24 years, including the last 10 as a council member for Ward 9. He says it's time for a fresh perspective on the council, and he's ready to focus on his second career and family

Monday, October 24, 2016

Historic World Series Won't Be Cheap For Cub Fans

You're going to need thousands of dollars if you want to watch the Chicago Cubs in the World Series at Wrigley Field. Tickets for the Cubs' first series in 71-years are already fetching top dollar. "The Chicago Tribune" reports the average ticket price for a World Series game at Wrigley is over six-thousand dollars each. Games in Cleveland are about three-thousand dollars a piece.

11-Hundred State Employees Getting Bonuses

Just over a thousand state workers are getting a little something extra for a job very well done. Governor Rauner's office says they're awarding eleven-hundred non-union state workers with one time bonus checks of about three-thousand dollars each. All of the workers who'll get a bonus make under 100-thousand dollars and are 'merit-comp' employees not covered by the state's union contracts.

Illinois Pumpkin Crop Looking Good

If Illinois' pumpkins are looking good, chances are everyone else's pumpkins are looking good too. Illinois grows about 90-percent of the pumpkins sold across the country. And farmers say this year's pumpkin crop looks good. They say the right mix of rain and heat has paid over with a bevy of beautiful orange gourds.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Illinois State Board Of Elections: Election Is Not Rigged

The Illinois State Board of Elections is assuring voters the November election is not rigged. The State Board issued an open letter yesterday, trying to roll back claims that somehow the fix is in. The letter explains how the state handles election day, tests voting machines, and guards against any kind of hack. The State Board suggests anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the state's elections should volunteer to be a poll watcher.

Illinois Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

Family and friends are mourning after a soldier from Illinois was killed in Afghanistan.  The Department of Defense announced that Army Sergeant Douglas Riney of Fairview died yesterday from wounds received during an encounter with "hostile enemy forces" in Kabul.  The 26-year-old entered active duty in July of 2012 as a petroleum supply specialist.  His awards include the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

Illinois Loses Manufacturing Jobs, Unemployment Holds Steady

It's now how many jobs Illinois lost last month that stings, it's which jobs. The latest unemployment report shows the state's jobless rate held steady at five-and-a-half percent. But the same report says Illinois lost 800 manufacturing jobs. The national jobless rate is five-percent.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Illinois Isn't Stopping Food Stamps For Able-Bodied Adults

Adults that could be working and don't have children will still get food stamps in Illinois. "The Chicago Sun Times" is reporting Governor Rauner's office will reapply for a waiver that allows able-bodied adults without children to continues to get SNAP benefits.  The waiver dates back to the early days of Pat Quinn's administration and was supposed to be a temporary bridge for people facing long term unemployment.

Illinois Health Care Task Force Finds Small Savings

Governor Rauner's health care savings task force is taking credit for 20-million dollars in savings.  But that's not much compared to the 23-billion the state will spend on healthcare this year.  Task force members yesterday said they found six-thousand ex-spouses or adult children who shouldn't be on the state's employee healthcare rolls.

Prosecutors To Release Dixon Shooting Probe Today

The Illinois State Police are done with their investigation into a police shooting in Dixon last month.  Lee County State's Attorney's Office will release the findings of that investigation later today.  Police say they had no choice but to shoot Justin Llanas as he held a knife to his girlfriend's throat.  Llanas survived the shots, and is now facing a laundry list of charges.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Alzheimer's Association Central Illinois Chapter Conference Held Tuesday Night

If you've ever had a loved one with Alzheimer's, you know how trying it can be for the entire family.

On Tuesday in East Peoria, caregivers from across Central Illinois gathered to learn about the latest research into treating the disease.

The conference also aims to help family members or caregivers from who are supporting a loved one suffering from dementia.

The event was put on by the Alzheimer's Association's Central Illinois Chapter, covering 20 counties.

Among the topics of discussion was how diet could possibly affect development of Alzheimer's.

To contact for information, events, or donations, visit

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

Special Prosecutor to Investigate Expenses of Normal Town Councilman

A special prosecutor has been appointed to review the travel expenses of a Normal City Councilman Scott Preston whose seven out-of-state trips since he was elected in 2013 included frequent orders for room service and a record of tardiness in attending conferences he was paid to attend.

Coliseum At Illinois State Fairgrounds Closing Temporarily

The Coliseum at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is closing down temporarily.  The state Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that the facility is being shut down after engineers discovered structural deficiencies inside.  The Coliseum will remain closed until repairs can be made.

2015 Illinois College Grads Average $29K In Loan Debt

A new study shows two-thirds of recent graduates of Illinois colleges and universities have student debt.  A survey done by the Institute for College Access and Success reveals those borrowers have to pay back just over 29-thousand-dollars on average in student loans.  The group from Illinois is the eighth-most indebted in the nation's class of 2015.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wife Held on $1 Million Bond in Fatal Stabbing of Husband

A Bloomington woman is accused of stabbing her husband to death.  Sarah Mellor was charged with murder yesterday in Woodford County Court, where her bond was set at one-million-dollars.  Authorities say she stabbed Mark Mellor early Sunday following an argument at a private campsite near Carlock.  He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Wife Held on $1 Million Bond in Fatal Stabbing of Husband

A Bloomington woman is accused of stabbing her husband to death.  Sarah Mellor was charged with murder yesterday in Woodford County Court, where her bond was set at one-million-dollars.  Authorities say she stabbed Mark Mellor early Sunday following an argument at a private campsite near Carlock.  He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

18th Congressional District Candidates: 2016 Election Is Not Rigged

Republican Darin LaHood and his Democratic opponent both agree: The 2016 election is not rigged. LaHood and Democrat Junius Rodriguez say Donald Trump is wrong to call the election rigged. Rodriguez says claims like that are why Trump can't be elected. LaHood says despite Trump's sometimes wild claims, he still believes Trump would be a far better President than Hillary Clinton. LaHood and Rodriguez met for a debate last night in Springfield.

Poll Says Illinois Voters Split On Unions

A new poll says Illinois voters like unions, they just wish organized labor had less power in Springfield. The latest poll from Southern Illinois University's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says 57-percent of people asked have at least a somewhat favorable view of unions. But the poll says almost 40-percent of people wish the unions didn't have so much political power. The Institute poll also shows Illinoisans support a Right to Work law by a two-to-one margin.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fatal Stabbing

An investigation is underway into the fatal stabbing of 31-year-old Mark Mellor of Bloomington. Mellor died at the Emergency Room at Advocate BroMenn just after midnight Sunday morning. Officials believe the incident that led to his death may have begun in Woodford County. The Woodford County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police also are involved in the investigation

Rates For Insurance Seekers Through ACA Marketplace Jumping

Premiums for Illinoisans who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace are going up. The Illinois Department of Insurance made that official on Friday with the publishing of its analysis for health plans in 2017. Rates are estimated to jump between forty and fifty percent on average.

Illinois To Add New Bicycle Rule To Rules Of The Road

Drivers will see a new rule about sharing the road with bicyclists when Illinois' Rules of the Road book comes out next year. Suburban State Rep David Harris says he pushed to add a rule that explains when crosswalk lights are flashing, drivers have to yield to anyone walking or riding a bike. Harris says the addition came after a mother of five was run down while riding her bike across a crosswalk.

Rauner Announces Change For One Corrections Facility, Closure For Another

Governor Bruce Rauner is announcing a new purpose for a Southern Illinois youth detention center. Rauner said Friday the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro is re-opening as a "life skills and re-entry" facility where minimum-security inmates can focus on educational, vocational and other types of training. In addition, Rauner announced the closing of the "F House" in Northern Illinois. Rauner says it's the only "roundhouse" prison left in the country and is unsafe and too expensive to operate.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Health Foundation Gives AED Devices Across Central Illinois

A health group has donated automated external defibrillators to police and fire departments in McLean County in Central Illinois.

The Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation gave the AED units to first responders in 14 rural communities this week in Lexington. External defibrillators can be used to revive a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, that is, when their heart abruptly stops beating.

Foundation executive director Kathi Franklin tells the Bloomington Pantagraph the group is working to provide AEDs to all first responders in the region.

Chenoa police received two defibrillators because they serve Chenoa and Gridley.

Receiving one AED each were first responders in Anchor, Arrowsmith, Bellflower, Colfax, Cooksville, Danvers, Heyworth, Hudson, Lexington, McLean, Saybrook, Stanford and the McLean County sheriff department.

Information provided by the Associated Press

Illinois Governor Rauner: I'm Not Endorsing

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he's not backing any candidate in the Presidential race this year. Rauner yesterday repeatedly told reporters he's not endorsing anyone. The Republican governor has stayed as far as he can from Donald Trump this year. But the governor has never actually said he's not going to vote for the Republican nominee.

Eastland Mall Closing For Thanksgiving Day

Eastland Mall in Bloomington won't be open on Thanksgiving Day this year.  The mall's owners announced plans to be closed on the holiday and reopen the following morning on Black Friday.  Department stores, movie theaters and retailers with exterior entrances will have the option to open.

Peoria Man Accused Of Sex Acts With Pet Dogs

A Peoria man is accused of having sexual contact with his pet dogs.  Anthony Danner has been charged with felony counts of sex with an animal.  Authorities say Danner engaged in a sex act with the two animals during March of this year.  Danner was arrested Tuesday and is being held at the Peoria County Jail on 35-thousand-dollars bond.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mitsubishi Palnt Auction Postponed

The auction of the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal and what's in ithas been postponed for a possible "entirety sale." Owners Maynards Industries updated its website for the auction with "auction postponed due to pending going concern entirety sale." No potential buyer was  named  nor was sale price or postponement date mentioned.

Illinois Gets Another Real ID Extension

The state of Illinois now has until October of next year to fully comply with the Real ID Act.  Illinois is one of 14 states that got news of the extension yesterday.  Real ID requires states to change drivers licenses to be more in line with federal policy.  The act also means delays and headaches for people wanting to renew their drivers license.

State Farm Assessing Damage Caused By Hurricane Matthew

State Farm employees will be busy assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.  The Bloomington-based company has thousands of claims from home and auto owners.  Some estimate the storm will result in at least four-billion-dollars in insured property losses.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Teacher Strike Avoided at Eleventh Hour

A teacher's strike in Chicago has been averted, with an agreement reached just minutes before the midnight strike deadline.

Union leaders and school board officials reached a "tentative agreement" on a contract that could extend through 2019. Union President Karen Lewis made the announcement just moments before the deadline.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the agreement would ensure that nearly 400,000 students enrolled in they city's 652 schools could attend class for the foreseeable future.

The agreement averts the second major strike for Chicago teachers since 2012.

The district's nearly 400,000 students had class Tuesday, as scheduled.

Information provided by Week HOI-19

New Poll: 47-Percent In Illinois Think About Moving

 A little less than half the people in Illinois say they'd move if they could. And 20-percent say they might move in the next year. A new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says 47-percent of the people in the state want to leave Illinois. Most say it's because of taxes and problems in state government. Most disturbingly, the poll says almost 60-percent of people in the prime of their careers now want to leave the state.

Dick Durbin Lends His Support To Road Lock Box Amendment

Illinois' Senior U.S. Senator is throwing his support behind a plan that could place hundreds of millions of dollars at the Illinois Capitol off limits. Democrat Dick Durbin says the proposed lock box amendment for roads is a good idea. Supporters say the amendment would stop lawmakers from spending road money on anything but roads. But critics say the idea would also force the state to spend millions on roads, and would erase flexibility from the state budget.

Rauner Responds To Ad Campaign Connecting Him To Trump

Governor Rauner is defending himself after Democrats launched a TV ad campaign aligning him with anti-immigration statements made by Donald Trump.  Speaking at an Hispanic Heritage Month event yesterday in Chicago, Rauner said he is pro-immigration and pro comprehensive immigration reform.  His comments come in response to a Democratic ad campaign that claims Rauner supports Trump, who demeans women, immigrants and the disabled.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Illinois Governor Rauner: Trump Comments 'Appalling'

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is breaking his silence on Donald Trump to denounce Trump's comments on women. Rauner yesterday called Trump's 2005 interview where he talked about grabbing women "disgusting, appalling, outrageous, and beyond any reasonable bounds of decency." But Rauner still isn't saying if he's going to vote for Trump. Rauner has kept his distance from the race for president this year

Dee Brown Resigns From Illinois Basketball Program

Former Illinois basketball star Dee Brown is leaving the program.  The university announced yesterday that he has resigned as the director of player development and alumni relations for personal reasons.  He had served in the position since April.  Brown helped lead the Illini to a runner-up finish in the 2005 NCAA tournament