Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dems, Rauner Come to Short-Term Agreement

According to the State Journal-Register, Illinois lawmakers began voting Thursday on a stopgap spending deal that would ensure schools open in August and fund state services for the next six months.

After days of negotiations, lawmakers said Wednesday that Democratic leaders and Republican Bruce Rauner had crafted a plan. The votes came Thursday on the last day of the fiscal year.

The deal would bring certainty to schools and relief to cash-strapped colleges and social service providers. But it also means the state will enter a second fiscal year without a full spending plan in place, setting up a high-stakes November election that will influence budget discussions.

The agreement also provides Chicago some relief on pension payments for teachers, an idea Rauner had resisted until Democratic lawmakers agreed to lower the amount they wanted.

Information provided by the State Journal-Register

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Businesses that Offer Services to the Disabled Suffering Too

More human services will lose their jobs and more people with disabilities will experience delays in services if the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner fail to pass budgets for the fiscal year ending Thursday as well as the fiscal year ending Thursday as well as the fiscal year beginning Friday.

A recent article in The Pantagraph cited three businesses who provide important services that are being profoundly affected by the lack of budget: LIFE Center for Independent Living, Advocates for Access, and PACE incorporated.

LIFE CIL, which assists 2100 people over multiple counties has had to close its Bloomington and Pontiac offices one day a week. They're currently owed $108,000 by the state.

Advocates for Access is owed $210,980 and has three vacant positions they cannot fill.

PACE Inc., which helps in five counties, is owed $162,000 and has had to move employees to part-time or have furlough days, along with laying off a couple employees.

It's getting to the point where the state is beginning to crumble and both sides need to work on a compromise instead of playing a game of chicken. The way the state's elected officials have handled this situation is at best embarrassing and petty, at worst it's destroying the state infrastructure, citizens livelihood and crushing schools and universities -- along with the businesses  the disabled.

Rauner released a statement calling on Democrats in the General Assembly to pass a stopgap funding measure to at least carry the state through December.

Information provided by The Pantagraph

'Daily Show' Correspondent Goes to Springfield Amidst Illinois Budget Mess

Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" featured Illinois' messed-up budget situation in a six-minute segment aired on Tuesday night's show.

"Daily Show" correspondent Jordan Klepper followed up on a piece he did last fall about the state not paying lottery winners due to the budget standoff.

He talked again to a couple from Oglesby, in northern Illinois, who eventually received their lottery winnings. The couple, however, lamented the state's continued budget problems, which have led to cutbacks on everything from road construction to education programs.

Klepper came to Springfield and talked to state Sen. Daniel Bliss, D-Evanston, and State Representative Ron Sandback, R-Downers Grove.

After watching the two argue back and forth, Klepper joked that they were a couple of "bickering puppets" while showing a shot of two puppets that resembled the two politicians.

At this point, it pretty much sums up how most Illinois citizens feel about its state's political leaders.

The link for the video is here.

Information provided by The State Journal-Register 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Winning Lottery Ticket Sold in Deer Creek

The search is on for the winner of a $500,000 winning Lucky Day Lotto drawing sold at the Deer Creek Casey's General Store.

Lottery officials say the winning ticket was purchased Monday night at the store, located at 312 E. 1st Ave. and matched all five numbers – 11, 20, 21, 27 and 45. As of Monday morning, the winner has not come forward.

The store will receive a bonus of $5,000.

Winners are encouraged to immediately sign the back of their ticket and keep it in a safe place until they visit one of the Lottery’s five prize centers in Chicago, Des Plaines, Rockford, Springfield or Fairview Heights. Winners have one year from the original drawing date to claim their prize.

Lucky Day Lotto drawings are held twice a day, seven days a week. On average, more than 19,000 players win prizes ranging from $1 to $200 in each drawing, lottery official says.

Information provided by The Pantagraph

Rauner Aims for Stopgag Budget, Blasts Dems Education Plan

Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing a stopgag budget to fund schools, universities and other state services amid an ongoing fight with Democrats who run the Legislature.

The Republican On Tuesday ripped a Democratic plan to fund schools in the new fiscal year that begins Friday, repeating criticism that it amounts to a "bailout" of Chicago Public Schools.

Democrats argue their plan treats Chicago schools the same as every other Illinois district.

"I have said it before, and I'll say it again today: we must not bail out a broken system that refuses to change the way it does business," Rauner said in a statement. "Forcing Illinois to raise its income tax to bail out CPS is fundamentally unfair to our school children, parents, homeowners, and small business owners across the state."

Rauner says Republican legislative leaders plan to file their own proposals Tuesday.

They would fund K-12 education, road construction and other programs for a full year even if lawmakers don't agree on a new state budget by the Thursday night deadline.

Information provided by the Springfield Journal-Register

GOP Candidate Drops Out of Decatur Race

Cindy Deadrick Wolfer suspended her campaign as the Republican candidate against state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, according to the Springfield Journal-Register.

Wolfer did not give a reason as to why she is suspending her campaign, but did release a statement thanking friends and family for support while addressing problems in the state saying she had "not only witnessed, but experienced the many issues that impact the viability of a thriving State of Illinois."

The withdrawal leaves Scherer unopposed in the 96th House District, which includes part of Springfield.

Information provided by the Springfield Journal-Register

Monday, June 27, 2016

Second Year Without Budget is Coming

There is less than one week left before the Illinois' fiscal year ends.

With no signs of a budget deal, state legislators are on the verge of having a double default. July 1 will be the two-year mark since Illinois last adopted a budget. The courts have ordered many agencies to be paid. But schools, colleges, and human service agencies do not have their funds for the coming year.

One rank and file senator said the problem isn't with the General Assembly, but the leaders.

"I didn't think we'd ever get to this level of dysfunction that we've gotten to," said State Senator Dave Koehler. "Those of us in the rank and file we're pushing [to get things done]."

Koehler says there's disagreement among leaders over school funding levels.

Gov. Rauner says he will not approve a budget until Democrats adopt some items in his turnaround agenda.

Information provided by CINEWSNOW

Proposal Hopes to Bring Microbrew Production to Bloomington

The City Council will consider making a change that would allow small-scale production of everything from craft beers to to artisan candles without forcing businesses to go to a manufacturing district, The Pantagraph reports.

In a memo to prepared for the council, city planner Katie Simpson said city staff had received numerous inquiries regarding small-scale production and retail including "microbreweries and other small-scale manufacturing."

When the matter came to the planning commission in May, Simpson said, "Whether you make beer or cheese or soap or jewelry or something of that nature, there needs to be space for them to produce that and sell it on a scale a little bit larger than your home, but not as large as a warehouse."

City staff and the planning commission are recommending the council approve the change when it meets in regular session at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

Information provided by The Pantagraph 

House Fire on N. Lee Street

One adult and 5 children are without a home today after a fire at their residence at 1406 North Lee Street in Bloomington early Monday morning. Bloomington and Normal fire crews battled the blaze at about 1:40 am. The Red Cross was notified to assist the occupants of the home. One person was transported from the fire scene with a non-fire related medical issues. Damage is estimated at $125,000. Fire Investigators said the blaze began in the kitchen and have listed the cause as undetermined at this time.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tornado Aftermath: Governor to Visit Pontiac

The town of Pontiac is in recovery mode after an EF-2 tornado ripped through it late Wednesday night.

It touched down around 10:15, leaving four people hurt, two of which were seriously injured. On top of that there has been significant property damage and vehicles destroyed.

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a statement Thursday, saying:

"Given the reports of tornado touchdowns across north-central Illinois last night, we are fortunate things are not worse and are thankful there were no fatalities.

Diana and I are thinking of those who were injured or suffered property damage in the storms and send our prayers to you."

The governor is expected to visit Pontiac on Friday.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Local Police on Manhunt for Alleged Sexual Predator

Bloomington-Normal police are asking for help finding a man accused of sexually abusing at least two teens, and there could be more victims.

Deondre Watts, 24, is facing several charges, including aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between 13 and 18.

Authorities say he made contact with kids in faith-based settings such as churches, in both Bloomington and Normal.

Anyone with information should call the police or contact Crime Stoppers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pontiac Storm Update: 'Frightening' Tornado Causes Damage to Businesses, Vehicles

A few mobile homes and a couple of businesses were severely damaged in Pontiac during Wednesday's storms.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m. CDT, a large tornado moved into the town, which is roughly 35 miles from Bloomington-Normal. The tornado ripped off the side of a Shell gas station, tossing mangled metal and wood around, according to ABC7. Some pieces shattered the windows of parked cars.

The glass hit one person, but the the injuries were minor.

"It was frightening. Frightening and sudden," longtime Pontiac resident Barbara Hetelle, said. "My husband and I were able to get home and immediately rushed to the crawlspace to wait out the storm."

The driver of a semi parked at the gas station suffered a dislocated shoulder after the winds blew his truck over onto its side.

Storm spotters reported seeing power flashes before much of the town of over 12,000 lost power, and chasers who followed the storm into Pontiac saw destroyed mobile homes at a trailer park. According to the fire chief in Pontiac, two children inside a mobile home suffered minor injuries, according to WGN. A neighbor ran to the aid of a woman was trapped in the rubble.

Meanwhile, workers at the BP station near I-55 were unharmed as they heeded the warnings and found shelter in their store.

The station's large awning that covered some fuel pumps was ripped from the ground and landed on two semi trucks. One, a tanker, was knocked over on its side.

Click on this link for the video of the women who rode out the storm at the gas station

Rare Bird Coming to Miller Park Zoo

A new flamingo exhibit will be open to the public this Friday at Miller Park Zoo. 

Flamingos, who are a type of shorebird, or wader, are part of the Phoenicopteridae family. They are a very interesting and even peculiar bird, typically stand on one leg while tucking the other leg beneath the body as a way to conserve body heat. 

Miller Park Zoo have over 20 of the wading bird and are one of only 13 zoos across the country that have flamingos, with the closest one being in Cincinnati. 

Adults who wear pink on Friday will pay just $4.95 and kids age 3 to 12 pay just $3.95. In addition, free pink sno-cones will also be given out to celebrate the zoo's very first Flamingo Friday. 

Information provided by The Pantagraph

Storm Threat Outlook Brought to you by Snyder Insurance and Nordine Remodeling

Thunderstorms will develop late this afternoon and evening in advance of an approaching 
low pressure system. The greatest risk for severe weather will likely be north of the I-74
corridor between 5pm and 10pm. Damaging wind gust in excess of 70 ball-sized hail
and isolated tornadoes will be possible. Depend on Cities 92.9 for updates.

Another State Service Bites the Dust Due to Lack of State Budget

The director of the primary provider of outpatient mental health services in DeWitt County says it will shut July 1 because Gov. Bruce Rauner and General Assembly Democrats refuse to agree on a state budget.

Executive Director Lynn Scoville says the DeWitt County Human Resource Center board voted to stop providing services after June 30. 

The center serves about 500 people.

Its services include outpatient therapy and counseling and crisis intervention. According to The Pantagraph, the center is trying to see if other health providers can take over its programs. DeWitt County mental health board administrator Sharon Mills says no other agencies in the area provide the same services.

The center receives about 65 percent of its funding from the state and federal government. Illinois has been without a budget since last July and state grants haven't been paid.

Information provided by The Pantagraph and the Associated Press 

Severe Weather Outlook

Showers and thunderstorms. Some storms could be severe, with large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rain. High near 89. ...Sponsored by Snyder Insurance Nordine Remodeling

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Disgraced Politician Reporting to Prison Soon

A Wednesday deadline for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to report to a federal prison in Minnesota is fast approaching although he could report before then.

A judge ordered the 74-year-old Illinois Republican to enter prison no later than 2 p.m. Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month sentence in his hush-money case.

Inmates-to-be usually wait until just before the deadline to report. But Hastert has sought to avoid the media glare and could choose to report early to elude TV cameras.

A defense lawyer confirmed Hastert would report to the Rochester facility. But it's not known if Hastert will travel about 350 miles from his Plano home to Rochester by car or plane.

Hastert's case revealed he sexually abused several boys when he coached wrestling at an Illinois high school.

Information provided by the Associated Press

Local Family Loses Home in Fire

A family home in Heyworth was completely destroyed by a fire last Saturday around 5:00 p.m.

The fire broke out at 5273 County Road five miles north of Heyworth. According to The Pantagraph, the home belonged to the Nelson family.

Making it an even more difficult experience is the fact that the family has a son with several health conditions and all of his medical supplies were destroyed. The child has had at least 14 surgeries, including one last week in Indianapolis.

Among the items destroyed was Nova Chat Communication Device, an expensive device that helps the child communicate with people.

When firefighters arrived, the house was completely engulfed in flames. According to Randolph Fire Chief Dennis Powell, "it was just total destruction."

As of right now the family is staying at a Bloomington hotel.

Investigators have yet to determine a cause.

Information provided by The Pantagraph 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Illinois Prison Possibly Shutting Off Water Due to Budget

One small Central Illinois community is considering shutting off water to its prison because it's owned nearly $370,000 from the state during the yearlong budget stalemate between Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The Mount Sterling City Council plans to vote Monday on whether to cut off at Western Illinois Correctional Center, its medium-security prison, which houses 1,800 inmates. The Quincy Herald-Whig reported Sunday the city of 1,900 residents is among three Illinois communities with prisons that are waiting for payments from the state.

The two other municipalities, Clayton and Pittsfield, are owed about $26,000 and $104,000 respectively but are not considering pulling the plug on utilities at its prisons.

Mount Sterling Mayor Dane Flesner is opposed to cutting off water to the prison because they would lose 400 jobs if inmates are relocated and the prison closes. It's possible Flesner could be the tie-breaking vote if the six council members deadlock.

In an email statement to the newspaper, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said officials "are hopeful that the city of Mount Sterling, and all of our vendors, will continue to work with us during these challenging times."

Information Provided by the Associated Press

Bloomington Store Owner Charged After Allegedly Selling Synthetic Pot

Fifty-year-old Naiel Asad, of Peoria, has been charged with selling synthetic marijuana after Bloomington Police seized drugs, money, and over $40,000 from his Peoria residence and the Bloomington convenience store he owns. 

The drugs, commonly known as "spice" - a synthetic marijuana - were purchased by two undercover officers say out of the Price Rite Food Mart at 706 N. Clinton in Bloomington, according to local police. 

Officers seized large amounts of spice, two handguns, a vehicle, and 44 thousand dollars in cash. 

Asad is being charged with delivery of a controlled substance by a church and money laundering. 

His bond is currently set at $500,000. 

Information provided by The Pantagraph and various news outlets. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Proposed Short-Term Budget Would Pay Lottery Winners

Illinois lottery officials say they support a short-term budget proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner because it would pay lottery officials, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The state of Illinois remains without a budget after Rauner and Democratic leaders couldn't come up to an agreement. Last year Illinois lottery winners sued when the state withheld winnings because of a lack of budget. A patchwork plan allowed lottery winners to eventually be paid but it expires June 30, the end of the budget year.

Illinois spokesman Stephen Rossi tells the Daily Herald that lottery ticket prizes will be paid but it expires June 30, the end of the fiscal year on June 30. He says the lottery supports a short-term budget that Rauner proposed that would pay winners. Rossi said the lottery encourages Democrats to pass it.

Information provided by the Springfield State Journal-Register

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Hotel Coming to Normal

Normal will soon have a new hotel. The Radisson Hotel on Traders Circle in north Normal will have its groundbreaking at 11 a.m. next Tuesday.

Town Manager Mark Peterson said the upscale hotel will have 160 rooms, a 12,000 square foot conference center, and some sort of food service, most likely a restaurant.

The construction will take roughly nine months to complete with an expected budget of 18 million dollars. However, none of the costs will come from the city.

The hotel, which has been vacant for nearly a decade, was formerly a Holiday Inn.

Information provided by WHOI-19 

'Uncertain Future' For State Transportation

This year's road construction faces an uncertain future if Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly don't agree to authorize transportation spending by the end of June, according to the Illinois State Journal-Register as well as representatives of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition.

"The budget impasse has really put all sorts of funding at risk, but transportation is unique in that we are very time sensitive even more so I would say than education, which has gotten an awful lot of attention," Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Transportation Center and co-chairman of the coalition, said during a news conference Thursday.

Approximately $1.8 billion is required this year, with about 80 percent coming from federal sources.

According to  Michael Kleinik, executive director of the Chicago Laborers District Council, without the state authorizing this spending, there will be an immediate loss of 25,000 middle class jobs and cost taxpayers $3 million a day to keep motorists safe around closed construction sites.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Emergency Funding Will Soon Be Cut Due to State Budget

There is even more fallout from the lack of progress on the state budget deal.

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced Tuesday that the state has lost millions of dollars in investment income because of the budget stalemate in Springfield. It will be a full year in July that the state has been without a budget.

The political standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and General Assembly Democrats has seemingly no end in sight. 

Without a deal by the start of the new budget year on July 1, more than $9 billion in emergency funding that's kept universities, domestic violence shelters and food stamps going will run out. 

There is no funding for primary and secondary schools which could put opening on time in jeopardy. 

On Tuesday House Speaker Michael Madigan announced the House will not be in session today. Madigan said bipartisan working groups will continue to meet and discuss some of the key issues standing in the way of progress. 

Rauner addressed the annual meeting of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Wednesday and said he will not back down from his push for pro-business, union-weakening reforms. 

Illinois State Museum Admission Fee Accepted, Set to Reopen July 2

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield in on track to reopen in early July after a legislative panel Tuesday approved a proposal to allow it to charge an admission fee.

The bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to allow the Department of Natural Resources to go ahead with the admission fee that Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration said is necessary for the museum to reopen. The panel did not discuss the issue before voting on it.

DNR said it will charge a $5-per-person entrance fee to the museum, which previously was open free to the public. Children under 18, seniors and veterans will continue to get in for free.

The museum was closed to the public at the end of September to save the state money, though the staff was kept on the job. Since then, 30 employees - or about half of the staff - have left voluntarily. Interim director Michael Wiant has said the facility can reopen with its existing staff.

In February, Rauner said the museum could reopen if ways were found to make it less reliant on state funding. That included charging an admission fee for the first time, but also making greater use of private contributions and underwriting. So far, the admission fee is the only component being implemented.

At the time, Rauner said the state spent about $6 million a year on the museum, which drew about 200,000 visitors annually. State officials hope that getting the museum reopened by July 2 will allow it to be open enough hours this year to keep its accreditation.

Information provided by the State-Journal Register

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bill Hopes to Save Lifes by Allowing Police to Carry Allergy Auto-Injectors

A bill is awaiting action from Gov. Bruce Rauner that would give Illinois police training and authorization to carry epinephrine auto-injectors to help with severe allergic reactions.

The measure is named after Annie LeGere, a 13-year-old Elmhurst girl who died after having a severe allergic reaction at a sleepover, according to the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies in children have grown 50 percent from 1997 to 2011.

Annie's mother, Shelly LeGere, said she has made it her mission to equip first responders with the injectors like the EpiPen. School nurses and other school employees are legally allowed to use the injectors.

"Had the officer who was first on the scene (for Annie) had an EpiPen, our life would be different right now," LeGere said. "But that's no one's fault because it was against the law for them."

The governor's office said Monday that the bill is under review. Rauner has 60 days to sign, veto or do nothing with the bill. If Rauner does not act on the bill, it would automatically go into effect in 2016.

LeGere is hopeful that Rauner will sign the bill into law at Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst, where Annie attended school.

Information provided by the Associated Press

Champaign-Urbana Father Charged in Shooting Death of Son

An Urbana man has been charged in the shooting death of his son. According to the News-Gazette in Champaign, 66 year-old David Farrell was charged Monday with three counts of first-degree murder in the Sunday shooting of his son, Matthew Farrell. 

David Farrell does not yet have an attorney. He has not entered a plea and remained in jail Monday in lieu of a $1 million dollar bond.

Urbana police say they were called to a domestic disturbance at the elder Farrell's home late Saturday night. Three hours later they returned to investigate a reported shooting and found Matthew Farrell shot and lying in the street outside the house. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Autopsy results are pending. 

Information provided by the Associated Press and The News-Gazette

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mautino Inquiry Postponed

The State Board of Elections is delaying its decision on whether to suspend a review into the campaign spending of Auditor General Frank Mautino pending a separate federal probe.

The spending scrutiny covers the Spring Valley Democrat's former time as a legislator, including more than $200,000 spent at an alderman-owned service station. The board is asking for Mautino to explain expenditures because of a citizen complaint.

Mautino has acknowledged cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's office. His attorney, Anthony Jacob, told the board Monday that the investigations are parallel and the request for the board to suspend pending the probe is routine.

However, board members have said they haven't been give a reason as to why it's necessary to suspend.

Information Provided By The Associated Press

Bloomington Man Injured in Early Morning Shooting

An unidentified man was shot early Monday morning while walking down the street near the corner of Olive and Euclid. 

Most details are unavailable at this time, however police say the man was taken to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and his condition is believed to be serious. Though witnesses told police they heard multiple shots fired, the man was found to have been hit just once. 

Bloomington police are asking anyone with any information to please call 309-820-8888. 

We will update the story as more details become available. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Quarters From 1970 Might Be Worth Way More Than 25 Cents

Is your car full of change? Or perhaps you have a coin jar or purse? If you do, you might be sitting on thousands of dollars.

According to various news outlets, a batch of 1970 quarters are being auctioned from anywhere between $2,500 and $35,000.

The quarter is a part of a batch struck over Canadian coins with the misprinted date of 1941. But look carefully as the imprint is reportedly difficult to see and many might even need a magnifying glass to see the faint trace.

The 1941 date should be seen underneath the word dollar and will be upside down as well. Right now one of the coins has a $35,000 bid on eBay.

The quarters are very rare but even though it's a bit of a coin toss, it could pay off.

Hold Off On Buying That Lottery Ticket

More bad news regarding the non-existent state budget as Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger has announced that without a new budget agreement, the state will stop paying lottery winners (again) after July 1.

But that's not all: According to Munger, "Businesses and organizations...face the very real possibility of having to go to court in order to get paid in the absence of a stop gap budget and this is inevitably going to cost taxpayers of Illinois even more in legal fees."

Oh! And probably more important, money for 911 call centers and college grants will also dry up.

So to reiterate: the state no longer has money for 911 call centers, schools, grants, lottery winners and state citizens will have to pay taxes for legal fees. Why? Because a bunch of grown men with giant egos can't play well with others and selfishly refuse to compromise on a state budget.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Illinois Credit Rating Ranked Two Levels Above 'Junk'

Moody's Investors Service, a major credit rating agency, has downgraded Illinois' rating to two levels above "junk" status, citing the "political gridlock" that's prevented the state from getting a balanced budget in a year.

Illinois' rating was lowered by one level, to Baa2, due to the $26 billion in debt. The downgrade also affects $2.75 billion in revenue bonds. Moody's noted Illinois' bill backlog is likely to exceed a previous record of $10 billion.

Illinois already had the worst credit rating of any state before the absurd standstill between Gov. Bruce Rauner and General Assembly Democrats. Lawmakers adjourned their spring session last month without approving a budget for the second straight year.

The lower rating also means taxpayers will pay more when Illinois borrows money.

Information provided by the Associated Press

ISU Business Development Center to Close Due to Non-Existent State Budget

For the past 11 years, the Illinois State Business Development Center at ISU has helped entrepreneurs create 187 new businesses and 889 jobs around the area.

However, due to lack of funds caused by the state budget stalemate, the center will close at the end of the month. According to The Pantagraph, the director of the center, Elizabeth Binning, will leave the university as well.

The center, which was federally funded, had been working with roughly 150 businesses and entrepreneurs a year.

It's another hit for education as the state has been without a budget for nearly a year because Gov. Bruce Rauner and General Assembly Democrats refuse to agree on anything.

Illinois Governor Sued by Wife's Nonprofit

Bruce Rauner's wife Diana campaigned enthusiastically for the Republican multimillionaire businessman during his 2014 bid for Illinois governor. Now the child-advocacy group she leads is among 82 social service providers suing her husband's administration for payment of over $130 million locked up in Illinois' unprecedented budget fight with Democratic legislative leaders. The awkward situation has raised eyebrows and drawn some jabs about her twin roles as first lady to Illinois' first Republican governor in over a decade and as a longtime social services advocate in Democratic-leaning Illinois.

Hello, Japan Comes to CDM

Children in the BloNo will get the chance to experience Japanese culture this summer, thanks to several grants given to the Children's Discovery Museum.The museum received $14,000 from the Freeman Foundation and the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation. The money will bring programming to support the Hello, Japan! traveling exhibit this summer. The exhibit runs June 24 to September 11. 

Local Bike Group Urges Safety on the Streets

Bike BloNo members say incidents like the one in Kalamazoo that killed several people and injured others don't happen often, but can happen anywhere. They're urging drivers to stay aware and pay attention. Bike BloNo says the safest place to ride is always on the road. You're more likely to get hurt by a car or another person when riding on the sidewalk.For cyclists, they say be predictable. Don't ride against the flow of traffic or zig-zag through vehicles, and whenever possible, use the bike lane. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Birth Center of Bloomington-Normal Prepares to Open

The Birth Center of Bloomington-Normal is almost ready for new patients. It's the first free-standing birth center in central Illinois and it will provide midwife-led care to healthy women in a welcoming environment. The new Birth Center is designed to help women feel at home with medical equipment placed out of view.

out of sight.

Immersion Arcade

BloNo is about to get a brand new kind of gaming experience, as Immersion Arcade, a virtual reality arcade, prepares to launch next week.The start-up says, eventually, they'd like to bring an educational aspect to the business. Immersion Arcade will test out its business this summer at Swinger's Grill. The company also has a mobile arcade it can bring to parties or businesses.

Gov. Rauner Talks School Funding in Bloomington

Gov. Rauner toured McLean County's Regional Alternative School Tuesday before addressing administrators about the school funding budget battle. It’s a battle hurting public schools across the state where many will use reserves to get through the fall semester. The governor wants to pass a standalone education bill separate from the budget that will fully fund public schools this coming year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Budget: EIU Facing Temporary Layoffs

Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman says that while the school is not planning more mass layoffs to cope with the continued lack of a state budget more cost-cutting may be required. That could include short-term layoffs. The Charleston school has been among the hardest hit by continued standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly over state spending. More than 400 EIU employees have lost their jobs.

Pot for PTSD?

A new condition could be added to our medical marijuana program by the end of this week if Governor Rauner signs off. After months of battling to get their condition added to the Illinois' medical marijuana program, victory finally looks to be on the horizon for those patients suffering from PTSD.

Normal Sells Two Blighted Houses at a $250k Loss

The Normal Town council approved the sale of the houses on School Street to two local buyers who plan to renovate the properties back into single family homes. The house at 614 sold for $45,000. The house at 513 sold for $70,000. The town did lose about $250,000 on the sales, but city leaders say it was for the best to help further stabilize that neighborhood and address long standing issues that were involving their inspections and police departments. 

EIU Looks at Temporary Layoffs During Budget Battle

Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman says that while the school is not planning more mass layoffs to cope with the continued lack of a state budget more cost-cutting may be required. That could include short-term layoffs. EIU has been among the hardest hit by continued standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly over state spending. More than 400 EIU employees have lost their jobs.

New Condition For Medial Marijuana to be Added Pending Governor's Signature

A new condition could be added to our medical marijuana program by the end of this week if Governor Rauner signs off. After months of battling to get their condition added to the Illinois' medical marijuana program, victory finally looks to be on the horizon for those patients suffering from PTSD.

Normal Sells Two Blighted Houses at a Loss of Nearly $250K

The Normal Town council approved the sale of the houses on School Street to two local buyers who plan to renovate the properties back into single family homes. The house at 614 sold for $45,000. The house at 513 sold for $70,000. The town did lose about $250,000 on the sales, but city leaders say it was for the best to help further stabilize that neighborhood and address long standing issues that were involving their inspections and police departments.

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Change Boxes for Area Buses

Bus riders in Bloomington can now receive change with new fare boxes that were installed Friday. The electronic fare boxes replace the manual ones used on the Connect Transit buses.

Area Dog Flu Cases Decreasing

Dog Flu cases have begun dying down in Mclean County after reaching a peak of more than 1,000 infected dogs last month. There have been no new cases reported in the last two weeks, but veterinarians still stress caution. Vets advise pet owners not try and self-medicate, since the flu can be deadly in some dogs. If your dog shows symptoms like coughing, lack of energy, or lack of appetite you should call your vet

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

No funding for public schools as bill dies

A nearly $16 billion bill for public schools fell in the Illinois House late Tuesday, just after the Senate had passed it.
The bill was overwhelmingly voted down, by a 24-92 vote. Disagreement among the legislature-controlling Democrats derailed two bills their leaders introduced after disregarding Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's stopgap budget proposal in both chambers Tuesday. 

The Democrats proposed K-12 funding for fiscal 2017 starting July 1 amounting to 15.7 billion, $900 million more than last year. Chicago Public Schools would receive $475 million, almost half of the additional funding, including $270 million of low-income student aid and $205 million of pension contributions. 

"This is a Chicago bailout to the detriment of the rest of Illinois," Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, said before the vote. 

The failure to resolve the state's budget crisis risks further deterioration of the state's bond ratings and funding for schools, state universities, social services and other government entities. Suffering from the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. and residents leaving for other states, the government of the the fifth most populous state has been on auto-pilot appropriating money only sporadically. The legislature left without a budget plan for now, but Rauner is planning a two-day tour of the of the state to calling on lawmakers, specifically Democrats, to return to get this bill, among others, passed. 
Illinois has operated without a budget for 11 months and is the only state in the nation without a spending plan for the current fiscal year.

Information provided by the Associated Press and Medill News Service