Wednesday, November 30, 2016

House Votes Against Automatic Voter Registration Override

You're going to have to register vote just like you always have in Illinois. Lawmakers failed yesterday to override Governor Rauner's veto of an automatic voter registration law. The plan would have had the Secretary of State register people to vote anytime they changed addresses for a drivers license or license plate. The governor says he likes the idea, just not the specifics of that law.

Court Orders State To Turn Over Records For Rape Case

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is being ordered to turn over records related to a woman accusing a man of rape at Illinois State University.  Shawn Childs Junior of Chicago is charged with sexual assault and abuse of an incoming student stemming from an alleged incident at an orientation event over the summer.  The "Bloomington Pantagraph" reports the woman has been a ward of the state since 2010 and prosecutors argued on Monday that ISU police have already provided relevant records.  A status review is set for January.

No Bail Reduction For Former BHS Teacher Accused of Stabbing Her Husband To Death

A former Bloomington high school teacher will likely stay in jail for a while longer. A judge in Eureka yesterday refused to lower Sarah Mellor's million dollar bond, Her lawyers say the former Spanish teacher isn't a threat. Prosecutors are pushing ahead with murder charges against Mellor. They say she stabbed her husband to death at a campground this fall. Mellor's lawyers are raising the idea that they may make an issue of her mental state at the time of her husband's death.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bloomington City Council Approves Next Step in Establishing a New TIF District

The Bloomington City Council took the next step in establishing another TIF District near the city's downtown. Earlier this year, the council expressed an interest in a TIF to help redevelop the former Mennonite Hospital and Electrolux site. An outside consultant recommended expanding the district to cover several other properties, including a B&B that's for sale, a Mexican restaurant, and the city-owned Creativity Center. Monday, the council approve an ordinance that allows city staff to create a redevelopment plan that Alderman will consider next year.

Exelon Update

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to save the jobs at Exelon's nuclear power plants in the Quad Cities and Clinton. He also wants to make sure customers don't pay too much for their power bills. But he doesn't know how to do both. Lawmakers are still negotiating on a deal to provide Exelon state help in exchange for job guarantees at the two plants. The legislature returns to Springfield today.

BPD Investigating 2 Armed Robberies

Bloomington police are investigating a pair of armed robberies several hours apart Monday on West Market Street. Police were called for a reported armed robbery at Pop's Grocery, 918 W. Market St. A masked man held up the convenience store there. In another incident, police were called to a report of an armed robbery at the Circle K at 1210 W. Market St. Police said the suspect had a gun. Police said the suspect in that incident was described as a black male wearing dark clothing and a face mask.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Man Arrested in Bloomington Shooting Incident

A man is behind bars, after a shooting incident in Bloomington. Twenty-nine-year-old Darvell Williams was arrested Saturday night. Police say they were called out to the 2100 block of East Empire, around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday for a report of shots fired. There, officers found two cars and a business had been hit by bullets. Williams was later arrested and charged with Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm,  Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, and Criminal Damage to Property.

Man Shot To Death In Urbana

A man is dead after a weekend shooting in Urbana. An autopsy is set for today for Robert Lee Brown, who police say was shot several times at a home Saturday night. There have been three murders reported in Urbana in the last two weeks. 

Study: Exelon Nuke Plants Save Illinois Customers 360-Million Annually

Supporters of Exelon's latest proposal to keep the nuclear power plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities say they have a new study that shows just how valuable the plants are. Supporters say the two plants save Illinois customers from higher electric bills, to the tune of 360-million dollars a year.

The fate of Exelon's two nuclear power plants is going to get most of the attention in Springfield this week. Lawmakers are back for the final week of veto session. Statehouse insiders say more action on a budget and other issues could come when lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol in January. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

First Student Now Has a Surplus of Drivers for Unit 5 Schools

A few months after a driver shortage, there are now more than enough bus drivers to cover routes at Unit 5 schools. Unit 5 struggled with transportation issues during the first few weeks of school, including overcrowding and late buses. Part of those issues were attributed to a shortage of drivers. There are now 145 drivers available to cover 122 routes with several more drivers in training.

Low Gas Prices Fuel Holiday Travelers

Low gas prices are helping to make this Thanksgiving one of the busiest for travelers in years.  Triple-A says almost 50-million people will travel more than 50 miles this Thanksgiving weekend.

Judge Rejects Lawsuit To Overturn High School Playoff Football Loss

A Cook County judge is rejecting a lawsuit by a northern Illinois high school to overturn its disputed playoff football loss last weekend.  Fenwick was defeated by Plainfield North, 18-17, in overtime Saturday after the referees incorrectly awarded the Plainfield squad an extra play.  Fenwick filed suit but a judge ruled yesterday that she had no authority to change the outcome of the game.  Plainfield North will now play in the Class 7A championship game against East St. Louis on Saturday in Champaign.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Marc Tiritilli to run for Mayor of Normal

Marc Tiritilli is announcing his candidacy for Mayor of Normal in the election on April 4, 2017. He has gathered the required signatures and is eagerly moving on to the heart of the campaign. Tiritilli said he is basing his policies on smarter growth, lower taxes, and better roads.

“The Town is over $96 million in debt. Normal’s sales tax is higher than 92% of the rest of Illinois, yet we still have significant infrastructure needs that are not being addressed. There is enough revenue to reduce debt and focus on town-wide imperatives while still offering relief to the taxpayers. It’s a matter of having better priorities.”

A graduate of Illinois State University, Tiritilli first moved to Normal in 1997 and now teaches physics at Bloomington High School. 

Exelon's Latest Plan: Keep Nuke Plants Open For 10-Years

Exelon says it's willing to keep the Quad Cities' nuclear power plant open for a decade and is willing to drop a controversial rate hike. But the utility still wants financial guarantees from Illinois lawmakers. And a lot of people are opposed to that. Exelon unveiled its latest plan yesterday after Governor Rauner turned a thumbs-down to a massive rate hike earlier in the week. Negotiations are on-going in Springfield, but no one is guessing when or if they'll reach an agreement. 

Bloomington Mayor’s Race

There are 5 candidates are running for mayor of Bloomington. Ian Bayne, Robert Fike, Aldermen Kevin Lower and Diana Hauman, and incumbent Mayor Tari Renner all will be on the ballot. That means the Mayor's race will show up in the primary election. According to state law this requires us to have a primary. The primary is a vote for 1… but the top 2 vote-getters move on to the general consolidated election. The primary is Tuesday, February 28th.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tax Hike for Normal

Residents in the Town of Normal will likely see an increase in their property taxes next year. The town council approved a proposed increase in the tax levy that calls for a nearly two percent hike. That's about $13 dollars for the average homeowner. The extra revenue would be used to fund fire and police pensions, mandated by the state. Two residents did speak out against the proposal, asking the council to look instead at the general fund or sales tax revenue.

Twin Cities Turkey Giveaway

For the third year in a row, Home Sweet Home Ministries and Midwest Food Bank teamed up to give away thousands of free meals to families in need for Thanksgiving. After collecting more than 2,000 turkeys, volunteers spent the last few days handing out the holiday food. Over the weekend, nearly 1,400 meals were given out. On Monday, cars lined the block to pick up the last 600.

Governor's Office Raises Objections to Exelon Plan

The opposition is growing to Exelon's latest plan to save the Quad Cities' nuclear power plant, and raise the cost of electricity. Governor Rauner's office yesterday said it wants to save the Quad Cities plant, but is worried Exelon's proposed legislation would case too many problems. The utility wants not only to keep the plant, but to get a sweetener for coal-fired power plants, and switch to a new pricing plan for its customers. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shocking Details Contained In Aaron Schock's Indictment

Federal prosecutors say former Congressman Aaron Schock kept thousands of dollars from voters who flew to Washington D.C. to see him. The charge is included in the 24-count indictment filed against Schock earlier this month. Investigators accuse Schock of charging voters hundreds of dollars to fly to the nation's capital to hob-nob with him and others. Congressmen are supposed to reimburse voters any excess or donate the money to charity.

Businesses Allowed To Re-Open In Downtown Canton

Things are slowly returning to normal in downtown Canton after a natural gas explosion that killed one person last week. Businesses were allowed to open shop Friday, two days after the incident forced the area to be quarantined. Many downtown businesses sustained shattered windows and other damage. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the explosion.

Reports Criticizes Policies At Illinois Women's Prison

A new report is suggesting inmates at the major women's prison in Illinois are treated too harshly. The report was released by the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women on Friday. It says too many non-violent women at Logan Correctional Center are incorrectly classified as high-risk, and that segregation is over-used.

Friday, November 18, 2016

State Workers Protest New Overtime Rules

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's office says state workers are now going to have to clock 40-hours in a week before they can get overtime. And state workers are furious. Hundreds of public workers across the state took to the streets yesterday for a 'Day of Action.' The move comes after Rauner's office ordered new overtime rules. The workers' now expired contract used to allow for overtime after just 37-and-a-half hours of work.

Bayne to Run for Mayor

Ian Bayne is entering the race for mayor of Bloomington. Bayne Joins Mayor Tari Renner, Aldermen Kevin Lower of Ward 1 and Diana Hauman of Ward 8 in the April nonpartisan election.

Victim in Fatal Fire ID'd

A 56-year-old Bloomington man died in a fire early Thursday in 400 block of Avenue G in the Hilltop Mobile Home park. McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis said Ronald D. Roy died of smoke and soot insulation from the fire. The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Deadly Natural Gas Explosion In Canton

At least one person is dead and ten others are hurt following a natural gas explosion in downtown Canton. Authorities say the explosion took place last night in a building along First Avenue, causing damage to several structures in the area.  Eleven victims were hospitalized and one later died.  The person killed was an Ameren Illinois employee.

Unit 5 Keeps Daniel

Unit 5 inked a three year deal with Superintendent Mark Daniel. The new contract goes through the 2020 school year with an annual base salary of $197,676.

ISU Hate Crimes Investigations

Three incidents on the campus of Illinois State University are being investigated as hate crimes. The most recent threat was against a transgender person. ISU police are also trying to prevent future incidents, which according to the police chief, is possible with help. Campus police want victims of hate crimes or any other incident to know counseling is available, and the help line is open 24-7.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Exelon Ties Rate Hike To Nuke Plant Future

Even lawmakers who want to save Exelon's two endangered nuclear power plants in Illinois think the utility's latest request is a little much. Exelon is asking lawmakers for not only the green energy credits to save the Quad Cities power plant, but a subsidy for coal fired power plants, and a new rate hike that'd charge people based on the peak cost for their power usage. Advocates and even Republican lawmakers in Springfield say the proposal is too much. Exelon says it needs state help to keep 15-hundred jobs at plants in Cordova and Clinton.

New Wind Farm Rules in McLean County

McLean County has a new set of rules for incoming wind farms. Before, the county did not have guidelines specific to wind farms, even though there are several in the county. The county board approved the new standards at a meeting Tuesday morning, to minimize the impact of new farms on people who live nearby. Wind turbines have to be at least 1,500 feet from a home, the can't be taller than 550 feet, and a wildlife study must show minimal impact on the other.

State Budget Prospects Dim

Legislative leaders are putting their heads together again in Springfield but chances for a compromise budget don't appear good.  The sticking point is the same as it was before the election -- Governor Rauner's insistence that a budget include at least some of his pro-business, anti-union reforms, ideas House Speaker Mike Madigan calls extreme.  Madigan suggests another stopgap budget, but Republican leaders Christine Radogno and Jim Durkin are refusing more short-term solutions.  The current stopgap expires at the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

State Veto Session Begins Today

There's going to be plenty of talking about a state budget in Springfield. But don't expect too much movement. Lawmakers return for the annual veto session today. They could take-up Governor Rauner's veto of an automatic voter registration law and a new income threshold for subsidized child care. Lawmakers are also expected to begin discussions about the end of the state's stopgap budget.

Connect Transit Holding Out Faith State Funds Will Come Through

The head of the Twin Cities' bus service says he has faith the state will come through with downstate bus money by the end of the year. But Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson says there are no guarantees. Illinois' budget allows the state to spend the money on downstate buses. But the state simply doesn't have any money in the bank. The Comptroller's office hopes to start seeing money in December.

Bloomington City Council Passes Estimated Tax Levy Increases

The Bloomington City Council passed estimated tax levy increases Monday night, for both the city and the Bloomington Public Library. If the final increases are passed, the library levy will go up by $136,000. That's three cents for a $165,000 home. The money would be used to hire a new, full-time position, that would work on community outreach. The council also passed a resolution, calling for state lawmakers to release funding for all downstate transit stystems. Connect transit says it will be fored to shut down at the beginning of the year, if it doesn't recieve state funding.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lawmakers Return To Springfield This Week

Illinois lawmakers will be back at the Capitol this week, though what they'll actually accomplish remains to be seen. The annual veto session begins tomorrow. Lawmakers could try and act on a proposal to save Exelon's nuclear power plants, and may talk about a full state budget.  But statehouse insiders don't expect much from the legislature this week.

Democrats Decline Governor's Invitation

Illinois' top legislative leaders are once again staying away from each other. Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan is declining Governor Rauner's invitation to a leaders' meeting later today. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says he can't meet today, but is available tomorrow.  The governor wanted the meeting to set the agenda for this week's veto session in Springfield.

Police Report Few Problems With Medical Marijuana In Illinois

The Illinois State Police say they don't know of anyone arrested for abusing their medical marijuana card. Illinois' medical marijuana program passed its one year mark this month. About 12-thousand people are registered as patients. Police say they haven't seen any major problems from any of Illinois' medical marijuana participants.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bloomington Police Investigating Shooting

Bloomington Police are looking for three men they say beat then shot a man on the city's south side last night. It happened a little after 730 in the 15-hundred block of Julie drive. BPD says the victim is expected to survive. They say the attackers beat him, then shot him once in the leg and again in the arm. Investigators are asking for tips.

Rauner Requests Budget Meeting With Legislative Leaders

Governor Rauner is requesting to meet with four state legislative leaders to resume discussions on a broader budget deal.  The governor hopes to hold the meeting on Monday.  It was unclear whether House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton would attend.  Illinois lawmakers are scheduled to be back in Springfield on Tuesday for the beginning of a two-week fall session.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Former Congressman Schock Indicted on 24 Federal Counts

Former congressman Aaron Schock was indicted today on 24 federal counts, including wire fraud and theft of funds. The federal indictment charges Schock with nine counts of wire fraud, five of falsification of election commission filings, six of filing false federal income tax returns, two of making false statements and one each of mail fraud and theft of government funds.

Protests in Bloomington/ISU

Students and citizens angered over the election of Donald Trump as president set off demonstrations at Illinois State University and in downtown Bloomington Wednesday evening. ISU Presidnet Larry Dietz issued a letter Wednesday morning stating that violence and graffiti would not be tolerated on campus

Governor Rauner: Time To Come Together

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says it's time to put the contentious election behind us.  The governor sent out a note yesterday asking voters to "come together and focus on the future and improving the quality of life for every family in our state."  The governor says Illinois has a number of issues it needs to address.

Lockbox Amendment Earn Illinois Credit Warning

The last thing Illinois needs is another handcuff on state finances.  And that's exactly how Moody's Investment Services is viewing the state's lockbox amendment for roads.  Moody's yesterday issued a 'credit warning' for the state because the recently approved amendment will place about 600-million dollars a year off-limits.  Moody's says future lawmakers are now boxed in by their inability to look at gas taxed or road fees as a way to pay for other state needs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bloomington Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Murdering Husband

A Bloomington woman is pleading not guilty to murdering her husband.  Sarah Mellor entered her plea yesterday in Woodford County Court.  She is accused of stabbing Mark Mellor to death last month following an argument at a private campsite near Carlock.  The accused is a Spanish teacher at Bloomington High School.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

LaHood Cruises to Victory

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R) maintained his seat in the House with a decisive victory over Democratic challenger Junius Rodriguez Tuesday night. The Associated Press called the race for the 18th Congressional District shortly after 8:30 p.m., paving the way for a full term in office.  LaHood won a special election in September 2015 to replace resigned U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock for the seat.

Davis Gets Third Term in Congress

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, (R) gets a third term in the U.S. House Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Mark Wicklund of Decatur. Davis campaigned on issues including passage of a national transportation program and helping veterans get jobs.

Duckworth Defeats Incumbent Kirk For Senate Seat

Tammy Duckworth (D) wins the Senate in Illinois.  The Democratic challenger and Congresswoman was elected by defeating Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran who lost her legs during a helicopter attack in 2004.  She was the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Normal Town Council 2040 Vision Plan

The Normal Town Council got a peak at a plan that envisions what the community will look like 25 years in the future in the Normal 2040 Vision Plan. Every five years, a group of citizens creates a plan explaining what they want to see happen in the future. Normal 2040 lays out "quick start" opportunities for the council, like continuing to engage the community in town events, providing free, basic WiFi, and encouraging things like weekend markets and street art. The 2040 Vision Plan will be adapted into Normal's upcoming comprehensive plan. Town leaders say the council has leaned heavily on previous vision plans.

Election Day Is Here

Election Day is finally here.  Polls in Illinois close at 7 p.m.  Voters in line at closing time are still eligible to cast their ballots. Today's the day most voters in Illinois will finally cast their ballots. But over a million voters have already cast a ballot. The Illinois State Board of Elections say early voting in Illinois set a record. One-point-three million people cast a ballot before election day.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Video: Free Taxi Ride to Vote

Normal Water Tank Not So Normal

The Normal water tower on Main Street near Hancock Stadium has been nominated for the Tank of the Year contest sponsored by Tnemec, a company that sells paints often used on water tanks. It's in competition with 235 other decorated water tanks nationally.