Friday, May 26, 2017

BPD: Man in Custody for Stabbing Death at a West Side Hotel

Bloomington Police say they have a suspect in custody for what they're now calling a murder at a west side hotel. Officers yesterday arrested Kyle Brestan for the murder of Shannon Hastings. Police originally called her death 'suspicious' but n
ow say she was stabbed to death.

Chicago's Population Shrinks for Third Straight Year

The moving trucks continue to leave Chicago. The latest census report released yesterday shows Chicago shrank for the third straight year. The report says just over eight thousand people left the city. Chicago was the only top 20 city in America to once again lose people.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

VIDEO: Tiritilli Will Not Seek Recount in Normal Mayor's Race

In a press conference heard live on Cities 92.9 Tuesday, Mayoral challenge Marc Tiritilli announced he will no longer seek a full recount. Tiritilli cited money, the affect it would on the community and the numeric likelihood that 12 more voted could be captured appeared to be getting small.

Watch the Facebook Live recording of the entire press conference here:

BHS to Get $8M in Upgrades

Over the next year, Bloomington High School will see $8 million in facility upgrades. The District 87 School Board unanimously approved a bond sale last night that will cover infrastructure improvements like a new HVAC system. An artifcial turf will be installed on the football field, turning it into a multi-use field. Soccer games and P.E. classes will be able to use it, without fear of wear and tear. The bonds will also pay for renovations to the fine arts classrooms. Choir and orchestra classes will move into larger, renovated spaces. An addition will also be built to the high school, in order to house its growing band program

Now, The House Looks at the State Budget

Lawmakers in the Illinois House say they're looking at the plan to raise nearly five-and-a-half billion-dollars in taxes. But no one is saying when, or if a vote may come. Democrats in the House yesterday said they're reviewing the plan that passed the Senate on Tuesday. Lawmakers are supposed to have a budget in less than a week

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Man Who Shot Himself on I-74 Identified

One man is dead after a police chase on interstate 74. Police say Paul Smith of Brimfield had been involved in a domestic situation in the Peoria area. He was wanted on at least 5 charges. Smith was said to be in possession of a gun and had taken off on I-74 toward Bloomington. A police officer from Deer Creek heard a description of the suspect's vehicle and saw him on the interstate. The chase ended between Carlock and the exit for Mitsubishi Motorway. Smith shot and killed himself after stopping.

Senate Dems Ram $5B in New Taxes Through

Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they don't want anything to do with five billion-dollars in new taxes. Democrats in the state's upper chamber approved the tax hikes yesterday. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said the tax increases do nothing to help families in the state, particularly when it comes to Illinois' property taxes. Democrats say the tax increases will 'stabilize' the state.

Rauner: Proterty Tax Freeze is a Must

Governor Rauner's list of budget 'must haves' is down to one: A property tax freeze.  The governor took to Facebook yesterday to insist on "long term" property tax relief "with local control."  He doubled-down on the message after Senate Democrats approved five billion-dollars in tax increases.  Rauner says he won't sign a budget that doesn't include property tax relief.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Bloomington Traffic Commission...Yet

Bloomington isn't getting a transportation commission just yet. City leaders last night couldn't agree to a plan to add a layer of bureaucracy to decisions about stops signs and speed limits. Alderman Diana Hauman said she's heard a number of complaints about the plan. Mayor Renner says the commission will follow the recommendations of professional staff. The idea is to let people tell commissioners about their roads, stop signs, and speed limit questions.

BPD Investigating a Suspicious Death

Bloomington Police won't say why they think a Peoria woman's death in a Bloomington hotel is 'suspicious.' Investigators say they're waiting for toxicology results in Shannon Hastings' death. Officers found her in a west side hotel on Sunday.

Trump Offers Condolences to Victims in Concert Blast; Calls Those Who Attack Innocents 'Evil Losers'

President Trump on Tuesday—standing beside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem—offered his condolences to the victims in Monday night’s terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert in the U.K., and went on to excoriate the attacker, calling those who attack the innocents “evil losers in life.”

Trump made the remarks during a brief media address with Abbas. He began his remarks by saying the U.S. stands in solidarity with the people of the U.K., but then he took aim at the attacker.

“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life,” Trump said. “I won’t call them (attackers) monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are, they’re losers.”

The White House said Trump was being kept updated on the attacks in Manchester, England, by his national security team.

Monday, May 22, 2017

State Budget Update

The Grand Bargain is at a stand still in Springfield.  Illinois' budget is made up of an outline for spending $36.5 billion; legislation with legal language to implement it; and the key component, an income tax increase and expansion of the state sales tax. When Senate Democrats put it up for a vote on Wednesday, it was approved 31-21 — with no Republican votes. And Democratic votes fell off when implementation language went up, falling short by three votes, 27-24. That dissuaded Democrats from making a run at the tax increase.Only a few days remain in this session to get a budget passed. Illinois has gone two years without one.

Obama Holiday Headed To Governor's Desk

Barack Obama's birthday could become a holiday in Illinois, but you won't get the day off of work or school. The Illinois House on Friday approved a plan to make the president's birthday, August 4th, a commemorative  holiday. People get the day off only for official state holidays. The plan unanimously passed the House.

Urbana Police Looking For Attempted Child Snatcher

Police in Urbana are looking for the driver of a van they say tried to snatch a 12-year-old girl over the weekend. It happened Saturday night in a rural Urbana neighborhood. Police say the driver got out of a white work van and started chasing the little girl. Neighbors say they're terrified, but say they're keeping an eye out for the driver or his van.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Plan for Expanding Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority Taxing Power Gets Cold Shoulder

A plan to expand the taxing power of the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority is going nowhere fast with Senator Jason Barickman. Officials with the BNAA wants legislation allowing the authority to tax all of McLean County and to dramatically increase tax rates, but he will not, Barickman said in a letter.

State Budget Crunch Drags On

Illinois Senators only have two more weeks to wait. But Senate President John Cullerton yesterday said he's willing to hold-off on more budget votes to give lawmakers a chance to come to terms on the 'grand bargain.' Republicans and Democrats have been talking since January and still aren't on the same page. Lawmakers are supposed to have a state budget by the end of the month.

Edgar: State Needs to Raise Taxes. Go on Spending Diet

Former Republican Governor Jim Edgar says Illinois will have to raise taxes. The former governor told a crowd at the University of Illinois yesterday that Illinois is going to need new money to pay off its mountain of unpaid bills. Edgar said Illinois should also go on a spending 'diet,' but he didn't offer any suggestions on where to cut spending.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Report: Nude Photos of Former Area High School Students Found Posted on a Website

Nude photographs of former students from several area high schools appear to be circulating on a foreign-based website. WMAQ-TV in Chicago reports the photos were posted on Anon-IB, a website where people request nude photographs by posting a woman's name, high school and graduating class.The NBC station's investigation found images bearing the names of 67 Illinois high schools, including  Bloomington High School. The site also served as a repository for stolen nudes of celebrities and female Marines.

New Information in the Mellor Murder Case

It was a fight and a struggle that left the husband of a former Bloomington High School teacher dead. Court documents in Sarah Mellor's murder case paint a picture of a tragic fight the night her husband died. Investigators say Mellor felt threatened after she and her husband argued, they then fought, and he ended up being stabbed in the chest. Authorities say the two didn't have a history of domestic violence. Mellor pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier this week.

Illinois' Budget Bargain is Falling Apart

Democrats in the Illinois Senate yesterday muscled through parts of what they hope will be a state budget, specifically a plan that'd spend four billion-dollars more than the state has. But Democrats didn't vote for spending cuts that Republicans want. Both sides are now blaming each other for the lack of a bargain.

Schock's Attorneys Ask for Continuance Until Next Year

Attorneys for former Rep. Aaron Schock are asking for his fraud trial to be delayed until next year. In a filing with the court, Schock's attorneys say, “a continuation of the trial date is appropriate in this case given its complexity … failure to grant a continuance would … deny Mr. Schock the reasonable time for effective preparation.” According to the defense, federal prosecutors do not oppose the motion. A scheduling conference is expected Friday. Schock is facing a 24-count federal indictment, accused of using his public office for personal profit.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Judge Rules Zimmerman Cannot Challenge Search Warrants in His Murder Trial

Judge Scott Drazewski ruled Wednesday that Kirk Zimmerman, the 58-year-old Bloomington man charged with killing his ex-wife Pam Zimmerman in November 2014, is not entitled to a hearing on his challenge to 15 search warrants issued in his murder case. The Pantagraph reports the decision came after arguments this week from the state and Zimmerman's defense attorney John Rodgers which stated if the search warrants were tainted because of improper affidavits, the evidence collected from those searches is also tainted. Judge Drazewski ruled sufficient cause existed for the warrants.

Changes Coming to Eastland Mall

Eastland Mall is looking to reinvent themselves. Bloomington City Manager David Hales is highly involved with the repositioning process, Hales tells WMBD TV that there will be retail, but they are looking to bring more entertainment and eating venues. The owner’s of the Eastland Mall, CBL and Associates Properties, say it's too early to inform the public about some of the entertainment prospects and stores it's recruiting, but Bloomington City Manager David Hales mentioned that negotiations have been aggressive.

Breakfast Restaurant to Take Over Wild Berries Location This Fall

A new breakfast eatery will take over the former Wild Berries location this fall. The Original Pancake House will occupy half of a two-tenant building in the 100 block of Veterans Parkway. Ground will be broken within a few weeks with an opening date expected in early November.

Train Derailment in Elkhart Pushes Some Amtrak Riders to Buses

Amtrak riders between Chicago and Springfield will have to take the bus for a few more days. Union Pacific officials yesterday said it could take a few days to clear the wreckage from a train derailment north of Springfield. Police say 18 cars from a freight train jumped the tracks near the tiny town of Elkhart Monday night. No one was hurt, but the wreck is disrupting both Amtrak and freight trains service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Normal Recount Update: Tiritilli Files FOIA Request for Voter Signatures

Marc Tiritilli has filed a Freedom of Information request for more than 4,000 voter sign-in cards in voter precincts not reviewed in a recent discovery recount. The gap between the two candidates was still 11 votes following the recount. Mayor Chris Koos says he will continue to request affidavits from voters to verify the election results are accurate. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said she the FOIA request will likely be granted after final verification of its legality.

Bloomington Police Review Boar a No-Go, for Now

The Bloomington City Council isn't sold on a citizen police review board just yet. Advocates crowded city hall last night to ask for a role in reviewing the city's police--alderman say they're not sure there's a problem with the status quo. Advocates say they want to have a seat at the table to avoid a tragedy down the road.

Mellor to Plead Guilty to 2nd Degree Murder Charges

Lawyers for a Bloomington teacher say she's pleading guilty to murder charges for the chance to avoid prison. Sarah Mellor yesterday agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder charges for stabbing her husband to death at a Woodford County campground last fall. Mellor's lawyer says they agreed to the plea when prosecutors offered to drop first degree murder charges in exchange for a second degree charge that could earn Mellor just four years of probation. She'll be sentenced in July.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Improvements Coming to Champion Fields

You will soon be able to grab some shade during the games at Champion Fields. The town of Normal will replace their bleachers and install new shade structures by the end of June, pending City Council approval. The project will total $266,000, which is below the budget of $350,000.

BPD Seek Leads in Weekend Shooting

Bloomington police are searching for leads in a weekend shooting in the 600 block of North Main Street that left one person wounded. The victim is a 34-year-old male recovering at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center from gunshot wounds to his legs.

Bloomington City Council to Hear Request for Police Review Board

Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal wants to see a police review board created comprised of members of the community  to look into  public complaints about Bloomington police officers. The idea has support from Not In Our Town, YWCA McLean County, NAACP Bloomington-Normal and the Central Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Bloomington City Council plans to discuss issue tonight.

LaHood Confident Congress, FBI Can Handle Russia Probe

One central Illinois Republican congressman says there's no need for an outside probe. Congressman Darin LaHood late last week said he's confident Congress and the FBI can continue the investigation into Russia and the 2016 election. LaHood said the review of what happened didn't stop when President Trump fired James Comey last week. LaHood used to work for Comey when he was a prosecutor with the Justice Department.

Police: Man Hit By Train May Have Been Taking Selfie

Investigators believe a man who was hit by a train in Springfield over the weekend may have been trying to take a selfie.  Police say the victim was holding his phone up in the air when the incident happened Saturday near the Third Street tracks at Adams Street.  The man was critically injured.

Friday, May 12, 2017

BPD Seeks Info on Man Wanted in Beating Case

Bloomington police need your help finding a man who allegedly beat a woman. Ronald Johnson is facing charges of aggravated battery, hate crime, public indecency and disorderly conduct. He is wanted for the beating of a woman in downtown Bloomington on April 16th. Police believe Johnson may have relocated to Chicago. If you have any information about Johnson's whereabouts, you are asked to contact Bloomington Police

U of I to Spend $60-million to Lure Professors

The University of Illinois isn't letting the state's budget crunch get in its way.  The school yesterday announced a plan to spend 60-million dollars over the next three years to lure new professors to campus.  U of I President Tim Killeen said the school "must - and shall - remain a magnet for stellar academic talent."  The 20-million dollars a year is earmarked to recruit between ten and 15 professors each year.

Free Alcohol at First Fridays Subject of a Liquor Commission Hearing Set for June

First Fridays have been a tradition in Bloomington for more than a decade. Often, businesses will stay open late, hold deals, and sometimes offer a complimentary drink to customers. There are no recorded incidents related to the free alcohol. A local bar owner recently complained about the practice, causing the city to take a look at the policy. The Bloomington Liquor Commission will hold a  hearing on the issue in June.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Normal Mayor's Race Discovery Recount Completed

Marc Tiritilli isn't giving-up, yet, in the race for Normal Mayor. McLean County's clerk yesterday wrapped-up counting the ballots in the razor-thin race for mayor. Tiritilli may have lost a vote in the first recount. Though he says he's looking at asking for a full recount.

Storms Recap

Storms last night dumped rain on central Illinois, but some communities got more than that. The National Weather Service reported a touchdown of a small and brief tornado in Washburn around 7:00 last night

Full State Budget is in Doubt

The chances are growing slimmer that Illinois will get a full state budget this year. Republicans in the Illinois Senate last night balked at the latest 'grand bargain' because it still spends too much. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says he's tried to compromise. Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno says the Democrat's plan has too many tax increases and not enough spending cuts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Normal Mayor's Race Recount Update

The recount in Normal could end today. Marc Tiritilli didn't close the 11-vote gap with Mayor Chris Koos in yesterday's first day of counting. There could be some wiggle room left though, Tiritilli is looking at challenging possible under votes. Mayor Koos says he's preparing to defend a challenge to a number of voter signatures.

Die-In for Obamacare

The Grim Reaper showed up and a lot of people got to hold their tombstone. But yesterday's 'Die In' for Obamacare did little to move the conversation forward. The crowd instead relied on the well-beaten Democratic talking points to try and scare people away from the Republican plan to move past Obamacare.

IL U.S Senators Weigh in on Comey's Firing

Illinois U.S. Senators say they're troubled by President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Both Democrats Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth say the president's move raises questions about the probe into Russian actions in the November elections. Durbin yesterday said there needs to be an independent investigation, with or without an FBI director.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Discovery Recount Underway in Normal Mayor's Race

A partial recount of the 6,336 votes cast in the Normal Mayoral race began this morning at the McLean County Clerk's Office in what is described as a "staff discovery."  This partial recount lets challenger Marc Tiritilli look over ballots from seven precincts so he can gather evidence to possibly go court to seek a full recount.

Rep Davis' Office in Normal the Scene of Protesters

About 30 people protested at U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' office at 104 W. North St. in Normal as Davis held open office hours. Many held up signs in support of Obamacare. Last week, Davis voted on the House measure to repeal and replace the former president's signature heath care law.

Obamacare Proponents to Hold Die-In Tonight

Stand Up for Social Justice will hold a healthcare "Die-In" vigil Tuesday night at 5:30 PM, in front of the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts  to demonstrate the impact of the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Participants in the die-in will lie down, and hold gravestones with examples of who they believe would die if the affordable care act is replaced. Representatives Rodney Davis, Darin LaHood, and their staffs have been invited to attend by the event organizers.

BPD Arrest Teens in Vandalism Spree

Bloomington Police say they're still trying to figure out if a group of young people arrested over the weekend for destroying some lights near McGraw Park are also responsible for graffiti, including a swastika. Officers arrested the teens very early Sunday morning. Neighbors say the group smashed a number of lights and tried to break into a car. Police say they also found the graffiti, but can't say for sure the same group is responsible for both.

Ground Broken for New Jail

McLean County leaders hope to have the new jail ready to go in a year. Sheriff Jon Sandage broke ground on the new jail yesterday. The expansion will cost 39-million dollars and add 225-beds. The main focus of the expansion is to add a mental health wing, and deal with an explosion of people in McLean County's jail for mental health or drug addition reasons.

State Budget Update

Republican leaders at the Illinois Capitol say they've seen this movie before. House Republican leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno yesterday said they've seen Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan announce a commission to study an issue, only to kill the plan weeks later. Madigan yesterday announced a panel to look at Governor Rauner's Turnaround Agenda. Radogno says it's a ploy.

Monday, May 8, 2017

House To Get Automatic Voter Registration Plan

 A new plan to automatically register voters in Illinois is half-way to becoming law.  The Illinois Senate last week approved the proposal.  A similar plan failed last year after the Secretary of State's office said Illinois may have trouble with automatic voter registration and the Real ID Act.  State Senator Andy Manar says those worries have been addressed.

Candidate Biss Distancing Himself From Madigan

The only lawmaker running for governor in Illinois is running away from the Statehouse's most powerful Democrat.  Senator Daniel Biss over the weekend said he thinks House Speaker Mike Madigan has been in power too long.  Biss is distancing himself from Madigan, who is hugely unpopular with Illinois voters.  He's the only Democratic candidate so far to take such a public stance.