Friday, December 29, 2017

Normal Posts Snow Parking Ban

A snow parking ban will go into effect on all streets within the Town of Normal effective 2:00 p.m. Friday, December 29, 2017 and will remain in effect until 7:00 a.m. Saturday, December 30, 2017. The Normal Police Department may ticket vehicles parked on the street.

When a parking ban is activated, no parked cars are permitted on any streets in the Town of Normal. Cars must be moved off the streets to a driveway, garage or parking lot. Residents who do not have a driveway or garage may park their cars for free in the parking lots of the Town of Normal Parks and Recreation Department parks, including but not limited to: Anderson, Fairview, and Underwood.

A snow parking ban is activated to allow snow plow crews to clear the entire street including parking areas. For your safety, when approaching operating salt vehicles, stay at least 100 feet behind the equipment. It is inadvisable to pass salt or plow trucks.

Bloomington Snow Route Parking Ban

The City of Bloomington Snow Route Parking Ban will go into effect at noon (12:00p.m.) today, December 29, 2017, due to the forecasted snow. Residents can obtain updated information on snow operations progress, a listing and map of all designated snow routes, and the complete snowremoval program at www.cityblm.org/snowwww.cityblm.org/snow

Winter Weather Advisory

The National Weather Service is posting a Winter Weather Advisory for most of western and parts of central Illinois through tonight. Forecasters are expecting anywhere about three inches of snow in a line from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Bloomington-Normal.










Missing Woman's Family Thanks Social Media For Her Return

The family of a now-found central Illinois woman is thanking social media for her return. Carmon Edwards' family yesterday released a statement that said had it not been for the quick reaction of people posting on Facebook and Twitter, Edwards may have not been returned to her family. Police say Edwards suffers from a recent cognitive decline, and got lost on her way to a family gathering in Pekin. A man found her wandering in Mattoon on Christmas Day, over 100 miles away from where she was supposed to be.

Bloomington: Former Arena Managers Aren't Entitled To Commissions

Lawyers for the city of Bloomington are asking a judge to toss out a lawsuit from the now-indicted former managers of the city's coliseum because they say it's a distraction. Bloomington yesterday responded to a lawsuit that claims for the former arena managers are owed 68 thousand-dollars in commissions, from after their contract expired. Lawyers for the city says the agreement ended in March of last year, and they say that the former coliseum managers are cherry-picking which parts of their contract they are using in the case.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Missing Bloomington Woman Found In Mattoon

It's a happy ending for a missing Bloomington woman. The Illinois State Police say that a man from Mattoon found Carmon Edwards wandering around his hometown on Christmas Day. Edwards' family reported her missing on Monday when she didn't arrive in Pekin. Troopers say Edwards is suffering from a recent cognitive decline, and somehow ended up getting turned around and drove to Mattoon.

Central Illinois Hospital Seeing Uptick In Flu Cases

The flu is still hitting folks in central Illinois hard. OSF, which operates hospitals and clinics across the middle of the state, yesterday said that they've seen about 150 cases over the past week in just Bloomington-Normal. The Illinois Department of Public Health says over 100 people have had to be hospitalized because of the flu so far this season. Doctors are still telling people to get a flu shot.

Illinois Appellate Court Strikes Down Some DUI Blood Draws

Get a warrant. That's the basic takeaway from a new court ruling that says some DUI blood draws in Illinois are unconstitutional. The ruling came this week as part of the appeal of a 2009 murder conviction. The defendant, Ralph Eubanks, says police took his blood and urine without his consent. The court ordered a new trial in the case.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Missing Bloomington Woman Found Alive

A missing Bloomington woman has been located and is safe. The Pantagraph reports a post on the Mattoon Police Facebook page indicates 53-year-old Carmon D. Edwards was found, but did not provide further details. Officials with the Illinois State Police District 10 in Pesotum notified BPD that she walked into their headquarters with a Good Samaritan from Mattoon and appears to be in good health. Her abandoned car was located in Mattoon early this morning.

Power Outage Update

A major power outage that was caused by fault on a power line that affected a substation disrupted power to nearly 6000 people. Electricity was cut off at 6:38 a.m. for customers on the south and east sides of Bloomington, and the south end of Normal. Power is expected to be returned shortly.

Bloomington Civilian Police Panel to Conduct Outreach Events

Bloomington's Civilian Police Panel will be holding community outreach sessions every three months to help police-community relations. Members say opening dialogue could help prevent potential problems between neighbors and officers. The board will also prepare brochures to explain how to file complaints against officers and how to communicate with board members and the police chief.

Castle Buys Limelight Eventplex

The Castle Theatre has purchased the Limelight Eventplex music venue in Peoria. When it reopens under its new ownership in March, it will be named the Monarch

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Missing Woman

The Bloomington Police Department needs your help in locating a woman last seen about 11 a.m. Christmas Day.

53-year-old Carmon D. Edwards, who may be suffering from a recent cognitive decline, was reported missing Monday. Police say she was driving her light gold (champagne) colored 2004 Mitsubishi Galant with Illinois license plate 8219185. Carmon was believed to be traveling toward Washington and/or Pekin for a family gathering.


Carmon is white, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds, and has hazel eyes and brown/reddish hair. She may have been wearing blue jeans and a dark blue coat.

The Bloomington Police Department is working jointly with the Illinois State Police on this case. Anyone with information is asked to contact Bloomington Police Department at 309-820-8888 or Det. Jeff Engle at 309-434-2371.

CDC: Illinois Among States With Widespread Flu Activity

Add Illinois to the list of states with widespread flu activity. The Centers for Disease Control on Friday said that Illinois is among 23 states which have been hit hard by the flu this season. Doctors say a flu shot can still help, even if the vaccine this year is a little less effective than in years past.

Another Delay For High Speed Rail From Chicago To St. Louis

Its likely going to be another two years before Amtrak trains can hit top speeds along the high speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago. Amtrak officials last week said that they want to delay full implementation of the faster trains in Illinois until they can install positive train controls along the entire line. Amtrak says it wants to add the safety measures to make sure another crash like the crash in Washington state doesn't happen again.

Obama Day One Of Illinois' New Laws For 2018

One of Illinois' new laws for the new year will create Barack Obama Day. Lawmakers during the spring approved a plan to make the former president's birthday, August 4th, a holiday. The banks and state offices will be open, but because most schools have not yet begun, school kids in Illinois will not get the day off school.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Bloomington Posts Snow Route Parking Ban

The City of Bloomington has issued a Snow Route parking ban starting at 2:00 PM on Sunday, December 24, 2017 due to active snowfall in our area. The parking ban will be in effect until Monday, December 25, 2017 6:00 AM.

Even if your street is not designated as a snow route, we are encouraging all residents to park off the street; keeping the streets free from parked cars will allow our plow drivers a more efficient and safer snow removal operation. Our priority is to keep our Citizens and City workers safe and sound.

Residents can obtain updated information on snow operations progress, a listing and map of all designated snow route, and the complete snow removal program at: www.cityblm.org/snow

Friday, December 22, 2017

Central Illinois Man Accused Of Trying To Shoot Woman

Prosecutors in Bloomington say a misfire is the difference between weapons charges and possible murder charges.  The McLean County State's Attorney's office yesterday filed weapons and aggravated battery charges against Walter Sweeney.  Police say Sweeney tried to shoot the tire of a car that a woman he was fighting with was driving.  When the gun didn't fire, officers say he pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger.  They say it once again didn't fire.

Miller Park Zoo Loan

Bloomington just approved Miller Park Zoo for a $900,000 loan. The zoo plans to use that loan to make needed renovations to help answer the requests of customers. This is the zoo's first major infrastructure project.  The money gives the zoo the opportunity to build additional parking lots, a concession stand, and some very much needed improvements like a new roof for our entrance building.  The zoo plans to start construction mid-summer with the hope of finishing up by this time next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Illinois Jobs Dip in November; November Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent in November and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -1,100 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. October job growth was revised up to show a larger gain (+9,300 jobs) than initially reported (+3,400 jobs).

November’s monthly payroll drop kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average gains of +100 jobs per month from September to November, while the six-month trend shows an increase of +800 average monthly job gains from June to November. The 3-month was better than reported last month, though the 6-month change showed less strength.

“Illinois employment growth saw a lot of over-the-month ups and downs this past year.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “But payrolls overall have increased by about a half-percent over the year to date, which is an additional 23,900 jobs.”

“Our focus remains on creating a business-friendly environment that is conducive to opportunity,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “While we are still growing slower than the nation, Illinois is seeing the benefits of a pro-business administration that is committed to fostering innovation, attracting investment and creating jobs.”

 In November, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+6,300); Manufacturing (+2,200); and Construction (+2,100). The three industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Government (-2,800); Financial Activities (-2,200) and Other Services (-2,100).

Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +25,900 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in November: Financial Activities (+13,600); Professional and Business Services (+9,500); and Education and Health Services (+7,400). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Government (-8,000); Leisure and Hospitality (-1,800); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-1,400). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.4 percent over-the-year in sharp contrast to the nation’s +1.4 percent over-the-year gain in November.

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.8 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for November 2017, which held at 4.1 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.9 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.8 percent. At 4.9 percent, the Illinois jobless rate is -0.8 percentage points lower than January 2017.

The number of unemployed workers dipped -1.0 percent from the prior month to 313,800, down -16.2 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force increased 0.3 percent over-the-month and declined by -0.9 percent in November over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

One Person Hospitalized After Incident at Vets and College Ave

Traffic was snarled on SB Veterans Parkway at College Ave just after noon Thursday as police and EMT's attended to a driver in physical distress on the scene after a small accident near that intersection.  EMT's were seen applying CPR before the victim was taken by ambulance to OSF St, Joseph.  The name of the victim and the victim's condition have not yet been released.   Updates coming.....

NPD Arrest Man Armed with Gun and Hammer

Normal Police Department were called Thursday morning to the 1700 block of Fredrick Lane for a report of a man armed with a gun and a hammer.  With assistance from the Illinois State Police, officers located a victim and a suspect, Walter I. Sweeney in the 1500 block of North Main Street.  A handgun and ammunition were also located in the area.  Preliminary investigation revealed that Sweeney confronted the victim and displayed a handgun.  During the confrontation Sweeney allegedly pointed the handgun at the victim and the occupied vehicle.  Witness accounts also allege that Sweeney pulled the trigger on the handgun, but it failed to discharge.  No injuries have been reported and no shots were fired.  Sweeney was arrested and is being held pending review by the McLean County States Attorney on charges of Attempt Aggravated Discharge of Firearm/Occupied Vehicle and Aggravated Battery/Public Place. No bond has been set as of this release.

NWHS Football Coach Hess Hangs it Up After 15 Years

After 15 seasons as Normal West High School football coach, Darren Hess announced Thursday he has resigned. Hess had a 96-56 won-loss record and his Wildcats made the playoffs 12 times along with winning a pair of Big 12 Conference championships

Flu Kills 2 in McLean County

Two people in McLean County are dead after contracting the flu virus. The McLean County Coroner confirms the deaths. Both cases are unrelated, but happened within the past two weeks. One victim was elderly in assisted living, and the other in their 20's and visiting from out of state.

Illinois Loses People, No Longer Fifth Largest State

Illinois' exodus of people is now very visible. The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau says that the state lost over 33 thousand people since July of last year, dropping Illinois to the sixth largest state in the country. Pennsylvania is now larger. Just over 12-point-eight million people live in Illinois. That's down by almost 100 thousand since 2013.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Roush Pleads Guilty to Killing Her Mother

22-year-old Christine Roush pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to first-degree murder in the stabbing death of her mother in July. The Pantagraph reports Roush was charged with killing Teresa Ann Poehlman by stabbing her and then leaving her body in a secluded area of Funks Grove Nature Preserve. She faces 20 to 60 years in prison when she is sentenced. Co-defendant Matt Isbell is also charged with murder in the death of Poehlman. His trial date is May 7.

Work To Begin Next Year On New Central Illinois Wind Farm

More wind turbines are coming to central Illinois. Planners yesterday announced that they hope to start work in 2018 on a 124 turbine wind farm in north McLean County. The turbines will dot the landscape between Chenoa and Lawndale. The hope is to have the turbines operational by 2020.  Planners say they'll produce enough power for almost 70 thousand homes.

Illinois Congressmen Split On Party Lines In Tax Overhaul Vote


Illinois' congressional delegation voted pretty much how you'd expect on the nation's first tax overhaul in decades.  The state's eleven Democrats all voted against the proposal while the state's seven Republicans all voted for the plan.  Republicans say the reform package makes it simpler for people and cheaper for companies to pay their taxes.  Democrats say the plan gives too much to the wealthy.

NCHS Football Coach Steps Down

Wes Temples resigned Tuesday as NCHS’ head football coach after 10 highly successful seasons, citing a desire to pursue a master's degree in administration and spend more time with his family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bloomington Wants More Time To Study Welcoming Ordinance

City leaders in Bloomington say they want more time to study a proposed welcoming ordinance. Dozens of people turned out last night to both support and oppose the plan to declare the city welcoming to people who aren't in this country legally. One issue is that the city's police chief says he has no problem with welcoming people, but he doesn't want an ordinance that stops his officers from working with federal law enforcement officials.

Normal Debt Refinancing

The Town of Normal is on track to save just over one million dollars over the next two decades, after voting to refinance some of its debt. The council approved refunding bonds to reduce the interest rate, saving about $52,000 per year. The bonds are set to be paid off in 2039. A total of about $1.15 million will be saved. The council also approved spending about  $50,000 in funding over the next three years  for the McLean County Small Business Development Center.

New Law Allows For Pet Custody In Divorces In 2018

One of Illinois' new laws for the new year allows divorcing couples to ask for custody of their pets. The law, authored by state Senator Linda Holmes, provides for pet custody, including joint custody. Holmes says the law goes beyond the idea of simply who 'owns' a dog

Monday, December 18, 2017

VenuWorks Asks Boomington City Council for $375K Cash Transfer

VenuWorks, the new managers of city-owned arena, are asking the city for a $375,000 cash transfer to keep the facility's books in the black. VenuWorks claims a lull in sponsorships, a low number of bookings and home hockey games along with bad publicity over the previous management's embezzlement allegations as some of the reasons for the arena's bleak situation. The council will consider the request when it meets in regular session at 7 p.m. Monday at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

Special Bloomington City Hall Meeting at BCPA: Welcoming Status

Tonight's Council discussion about declaring Bloomington a city that welcomes all immigrants, regardless of their legal status, has been changed from City Hall to the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. Aldermen will discus whether the city should adopt a resolution or an ordinance during this council work session. The council also will have a voting session that night.Auditorium doors are anticipated to open 30 minutes prior to the start time.

Illinois Flyers Impacted By Atlanta Outage

You can add Illinois flyers from Chicago to Bloomington to the list of people dealing with the after-effects of the power outage at Atlanta's airport. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights yesterday after a sudden power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Many of those flight were to or from Chicago or other Illinois airports. Crews are blaming a fire under the airport for the power outage. It will be later today before everyone is back on schedule.

Illinois Gas Prices Cheaper Than Last Month

Drivers in Illinois are paying a bit more for gas this week, but the cost to fill their tanks is less than last month. GasBuddy.com's latest report over the weekend said the average price for a gallon of unleaded in the state is two dollars and 49 cents. That's about nine cents more expensive than last week, but 14 cents cheaper than last month. Drivers in Cook County are paying the most at two-65 a gallon. Drivers in southern Illinois' Wayne County are paying the least at two-15.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Brandt Now Owns the Plant

It’s official: Brandt Group of Companies now owns the former Kongskilde Industries plant north of Normal. The agriculture equipment manufacturer based in Canada plans to eventually bring up to 500 jobs to the Hudson facility.  The Pantagraph reports more than 1,000 people have applied to work at the Brandt plant, which is expected to employ between 50 and 70 when production picks up again, probably in early March.

Cook County Commissioner Seeks to Have U.N. Troops in Chicago

President Donald Trump’s implicit threat to put the National Guard on the streets of Chicago to tackle the city’s violence problem attracted widespread ridicule earlier this year. But if the soldiers were instead wearing the sky blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers there might not be such a problem, according to Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who flew to New York on Thursday to discuss what he described as a “quiet genocide” in Chicago’s black community with the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general for peace-building support.

SEE FULL CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARTICLE   

Illinois Supreme Court Will Hear Beaman Appeal

The Illinois Supreme Court is changing its mind about an appeal from a man wrongfully convicted of murder.  The court yesterday said it will hear arguments from Alan Beaman that he should be allowed to sue former Normal Police investigators for their role in his conviction.  A jury found Beaman guilty of the 1993 murder of his ex-girlfriend, but he was later exonerated because a court said the evidence against him was less than convincing.

Widower Gets $4.78M in Med-Mal Case

A McLean County jury awarded a former Pontiac man $4.78 million in damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit related to the death of his wife. The Pantagraph reports the verdict in favor of Nathan Cain, now of Missouri, followed a nine-day trial involving a lawsuit against Dr. Thomas Deweert and Digestive Disease Consultants of Normal. The jury deliberated about six hours over two days.

Cook County Commissioner Seeking U.N. to Quell Chicago Violence?

President Donald Trump’s implicit threat to put the National Guard on the streets of Chicago to tackle the city’s violence problem attracted widespread ridicule earlier this year. But if the soldiers were instead wearing the sky blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers there might not be such a problem, according to Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who flew to New York on Thursday to discuss what he described as a “quiet genocide” in Chicago’s black community with the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general for peace-building support. SEE FULL CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARTICLE

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Proposed Sports Complex

A new sports complex may be coming to the Twin Cities. Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says the city would consider participating in developing a multi-use facility but it's unwilling to use city money to pay for it. The complex would be in West Bloomington near the intersection of the Crossroads Centre. For a plan to be set in place, Bloomington-Normal and a private entity would enter into an intergovernmental agreement. If approved Renner believes the complex would have quite the economic impact on the community.

CIRA Users Could Pay More to Fly

Flights out of Central Illinois Regional Airport may become more expensive if congress approves a proposal that could charge every passenger a fee of $8.50. The fee is called a passenger facility charge and it's used to fund projects or services at an airport. Currently the fee sits at $4.50 but the new proposal would raise it four dollars. CIRA officials hope the measure passes but say they may not raise it at their airport to the maximum.

Illinois Pension Burden Highest In America

Illinois is at the top of the latest list on public pensions. But that's not a good thing. Fitch Ratings' released its 2017 pension report on Tuesday and it says Illinois has the worst pension burden in America. Illinois' pension debt actually rose a bit over the past year, Fitch puts the price tag at 151 billion dollars in pension liabilities.  Fitch says that's equal to nearly 23 percent of all of the income earned by taxpayers in Illinois last year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chenoa Mayor Defends Turkey Shootings

A lot of folks in Chenoa aren't buying the explanation from their mayor that shooting a handful of wild turkeys was the right thing to do. Mayor Chris Wilder on Monday said not only was he right to order the shooting of the birds because they were a nuisance, but he had permission from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Neighbors say just because DNR okayed taking the birds, they have to wonder why a non-Chenoa employee shot at the birds with a handgun during the middle of the day last Saturday about a block from a crowded public school.

Rivian Announces Strategic Partnership and Vehicle Plans for 2020

The company that plans to produce electric vehicles at the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal has secured a major investor and is offering the first details about what kind of vehicles it plans to build. New York City-based Sumitomo Corporation has announced it has made a strategic investment in Rivian Automotive. Rivian plans to build an electric-powered five-passenger truck in 2020 followed by a seven-passenger SUV.

Governor Rauner Visits Exelon Plants, Gets Rousing Support

It's always a treat when the governor visits your office, it's something extra when the man who saved your job drops by. Governor Bruce Rauner got to be both yesterday when he visited Exelon's nuclear power plant in Clinton. The governor helped shepherd a plan through the statehouse to save the plant. One worker at the plant yesterday told the governor that she wouldn't still be here if not for the work to save the plant.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Questions Linger After Turkeys Shot In Chenoa

Some folks in the small central Illinois town of Chenoa want answers about why someone shot their neighborhood turkeys. Chenoa resident David Cummings told "The Bloomington Pantagraph" that the city apparently authorized someone to shoot three of four turkeys that had taken to wandering through town. The worry is that the birds were snot near a local school during the middle of the day last Saturday when kids were in the building. Cummings and a handful of others say they want to know who gave the order to shoot, and why the birds were shot there.

Oath? What Oath? Oh, THAT Oath!

Bloomington Mayor Renner acted surprised about the Oath of Office issue: the oaths taken by he and several alderment omitting the phrase  "to support the Constitution of the United States and the State of Illinois.." The Illinois Municipal Code specifically states that the verbiage for all Oaths of Office is in the Illinois State Constitution. The excuse that was given for taking the Oath of Office without that phrase was that the City of Bloomington have some “old Oath of Office documents” laying around.  Renner  and the other aldermen were reportedly sworn in again using the full oath in private.

Bloomington Tax Levy Stays Steady

The 2017 property tax levy for the city of Bloomington will remain at $20.6 million, but the City Council last night approved slight levy hikes for the City of Bloomington Township and Bloomington Public Library.