Friday, June 23, 2017

State Budget: Madigan Claims Rauner Won't Raise Taxes on His Own

The most powerful Democrat at the Illinois Capitol says the state doesn't have a budget because Governor Rauner isn't willing to raise taxes on his own.  House Speaker Mike Madigan yesterday told reporters in Springfield that he wants to see the governor "work with us" on a tax increase.  The governor has said he's willing to sign a new state budget that includes an income tax increase, but only if Madigan will agree to a property tax freeze

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's Now Grossinger Motors Arena

It's now Grossinger Motors Arena. The announcement coming from a news conference today stating the naming rights of Bloomington's former US Cellular Coliseum will change over to Grossinger Motors Arena under a multi-year deal that runs through 2022. U.S. Cellular’s naming rights agreement ended in 2016 when the company decided to not renew the agreement due to them no longer offering service in the area. After being in Chicagoland since 1928 Grossinger motors came to Normal 4 years ago when they purchased the former Sud’s dealership.

Special Session: $40K for Seven Minutes of Work?

You can't even get a pizza that fast. The Illinois House yesterday gaveled-in and gaveled-out of special session in under ten minutes. Lawmakers are supposed to be in Springfield to talk about a state budget, but the House left their seats after just a few minutes of milling around. Illinois faces a laundry list of consequences if there is no state budget by the end of month. The cost to the state for each day of the special session is estimated at $40,000.

Barickman: llinois House House are Now the Odd Men Out.

Democrats in the Illinois House House are now the odd men out.  Bloomington-Normal Republican Jason Barcikman told Cities 92-point-9 yesterday that everyone else in the Capitol, including Governor Rauner, have put their name next to a budget plan. But Barickman said there's been nothing but silence from Madigan. Barickman says Madigan has a political incentive to not give Governor Rauner a state budget.

Fund Grows for Family of Missing Scholar at U of I

There's now an 80 thousand-dollar fund for the family of a missing University of Illinois scholar. U of I leaders and managers at the U of I Community Credit Union yesterday said online donations hit 80 thousand-dollars to help the family of Yingying Zhang as police search for her. Zhang's father and aunt flew to Illinois from China over the weekend. Police say Zhang disappeared more than a week ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ald. Houman Speaks to the Idea of Felons on Bloomington's Proposed Police Review Board

The city of Bloomington is wrestling with whether to let convicted felons sit on a planned police review board. City council members on Monday all said they support the idea of a citizen's panel to review police conduct. But they don't support a push from advocates to allow felons to have a seat. Alderman Diana Hauman yesterday said she expects a compromise to let some people with long-ago crimes on their records to possibly serve.

Rauner Talks Budget, Unity

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he can live with a tax increase in order to get a new state budget. But the governor also used a speech from Springfield last night to say he will sign the budget only if lawmakers agree to a four year property tax freeze. The governor's comments come as lawmakers return to the statehouse today for what could be a ten-day special session.

Democrats Not Impressed with Rauner's Budget Speech

The Democrats running for Illinois governor say they're not impressed with Governor Bruce Rauner's latest speech. Chris Kennedy, JB Pritzker, Ameya Pawa, and Senator Dan Biss all last night dismissed the governor's speech from Springfield. Biss called the speech an infomercial, while Pewar called the governor a flake. Governor Rauner used the speech to say he could sign a new budget that includes an income tax increase, but only in exchange for a property tax freeze

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Activist Group Wants Convicted Felons on Bloomington Police Review Board

If the people who want a Bloomington police review board get their way, convicted felons could be looking over police officer actions. Bloomington city council members met last night to talk about the idea of a review board: They support it. But activists say convicted felons should be included. City leaders aren't so sure. Mayor Renner says six of the nine council members want a compromise. A final vote on the review board could come next month.

Normal Town Council Chooses Uptown Station Overpass

Normal is all-in on an Uptown Underpass. The town council last night voted to have a consultant look at a nearly 13-million dollar underpass to get people across the tracks at the uptown station. Councilwoman Kathleen Lorenz voted against the plan, she says there's no need to lock the town into the most expensive option without also looking at alternatives.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Woman Charged with Aggravated DUI in Death of Husband: BAC .164

40-year-old Juanita Webster of East Peoria is charged with aggravated DUI in the death of her husband, 37-year-old Andre Webster, in an accident on I-55 near Bloomington Friday morning.  The woman's BAC was .164, which is more than twice the legal limit. She is being held in the McLean County Jail.

Normal to Vote on Train Station Crossing Plan Tonight

"Town of Normal staff recommends proceeding with a public underpass with park." That's according to materials for tonight's Normal City Council meeting when the council will vote on which option for a railroad crossing at the station will be studied further by a consultant and put on track to be built. The underpass is estimated at $12.7 million and an overpass at $8.6 million.

Rep. Davis Shows Shrapnel from VA Shooting on FOX News

Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis has a tiny piece of metal that he says shows the need for everyone to dial down 'the rhetoric.' Davis yesterday showed “Fox News” a piece of shrapnel he says fell out of his baseball bag after last week's shooting at the Congressional baseball practice. Davis said the shrapnel is a reminder of just how real the political terror has gotten in this country.

FBI Offers Reward in Case of Missing U of I Chinese Scholar

The FBI is offering a 10 thousand-dollar reward in the case of a missing University of Illinois scholar. The FBI announced the reward Friday as they continue to search for Yingying Zhang. She went missing more than a week ago, police say she got into a car and disappeared. Zang's family flew to the United States over the weekend to help in the investigation

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fatal Accident on I-55

A 37-year-old man is dead following single vehicle accident on Interstate 55, northbound, near mile marker 161, in Bloomington Friday morning. Andre Webster of West Peoria is presumed to have been the passenger of the vehicle. The presumed driver was transported and treated at a local hospital. The name is being withheld at this time pending further notification of family. This incident remains under investigation by the McLean County Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police.

State Budget Update: Rauner Calls for Special Session

Illinois lawmakers are being called back to the statehouse, to possibly get a state budget. Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday called for a ten day special session to start next Wednesday. Lawmakers are facing a series of negative consequences if they don't come to terms on a budget by July 1st.

No State Budget, No Powerball?

Illinois' lack of a state budget may cost you your shot at millions of dollars. The multi-state group that runs Powerball and Mega Millions yesterday said it will drop Illinois from the lottery games if Illinois doesn't have a budget by the end of the month. A spokesman for the Illinois Lottery confirmed the state may lose the games, but he didn't have a guess as to how much money the state may lose if the games are pulled.

Suspect in PNC Bank Robbery Claims He Did it for Son's Medical Needs

An Indiana man says he robbed a central Illinois bank to get money for his son's medical needs. Prosecutors in Bloomington filed charges yesterday against Zachary Finchum, police say he robbed a local PNC Bank on Wednesday. State Police investigators say Finchum admitted to them that he robbed the bank because he has no money and no food.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bloomington Planning Commission Votes in Favor of Bike Lanes

The Bloomington Planning Commission voted Wednesday in favor of a proposal to add bicycle lanes on Washington Street from Lee Street to St. Joseph Drive after listening to 20 people comment during a two-hour-long public hearing. The final decision will be made by the City Council, possibly at its July 10 meeting.

Unit 5 Signs Virtual Classroom Deal, Approves Amended Budget

The Unit 5 school board approved a $170,880 contract Wednesday with Zdi audio visual company for a virtual classroom project to be implemented at Normal West and Normal Community high schools this fall. . The board also approved an amended budget for the 2016-17 school year which ends June 30. The budget shows a $5.5 million collective deficit in the transportation and education funds, much of which comes from a lack of payments from the state.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rep. Rodney Davis Talks About Shooting Incident in VA

Congressman Steve Scalise and others were shot and injured at a ballpark in Virginia as he and other Senators were practicing for a charity baseball game.

All are expected to survive, but the shooter has died.

The gunman is identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, IL.  He is also described as a supporter of Bernie Sanders whose tweets say "Trump must be destroyed."

Congressman Rodney Davis was at the ballpark when the shots were fired.

Davis tells us, "This political rhetoric and political discourse has led to hate and it's led to gunfire. I never thought I would go to baseball practice and have to dodge bullets. It's got to stop and it's got to stop today!"

19th Economic Outlook for McLean County

From employment and retail sales to new home construction and agricultural output, Ed Scharlau, Vice Chairman of Busey Bank, outlined the local economy during the 19th Economic Outlook for McLean County, hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. Kyle Ham, Chief Executive Officer of Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, also presented his views to an audience of nearly 200 guests.

“We have several reasons to be optimistic,” says Ed Scharlau, Vice Chairman of Busey Bank, “real estate sales are strong, people are spending money and agriculture is still one of the strongest industries in McLean County. The economic indicators show the hard work of various industries to increase the quality of life for our community members and our visitors.”

The county’s agricultural output totaled an estimated $485 million in 2016, up from $474 million the year before, and $441 million is anticipated for 2017. When it comes to corn yields, the county had 218 bushels per acre in 2016. Citing data from Busey Ag Services, Scharlau says “McLean County produced the most corn and soybeans in Illinois and the most corn of any county across the country in 2016.” Meanwhile, values for the most productive farmland—“Class A,” as defined by soil productivity research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—is $10,600 to $13,000 an acre.

Moving to retail sales, they were up slightly at $2.468 billion in 2016 from the previous year at $2.462 billion, according to the sales tax report from the Illinois Department of Revenue. $2.488 billion is anticipated this year. “Automobile sales are strong in McLean County,” says Scharlau, “with 18 cents of every dollar spent to buy or service vehicles.” The number of retailers in McLean County has increased. 4,114 businesses paid sales tax in Illinois last year compared to 4,080 in 2015.

Looking at the housing market, sales increased in 2016—up 2.8 percent over last year, according to the Bloomington-Normal Association of REALTORS®. The estimated average price of a home sold in Bloomington-Normal in 2017 is $175,000 compared to $171,000 last year. New home construction dropped slightly in 2016 with 161 homes (83 in Bloomington and 78 in Normal) built compared to 167 homes in 2015. Scharlau anticipates 165 new homes will be built in 2017.

More people are choosing to call McLean County home. According to the Census Bureau, 35,000 more people have moved to the county in the last 21 years (1995-2016) with 173,000 people living in the community today. Scharlau credits much of the growth to State Farm, “The employer has grown by 4,056 people since 1999.”

McLean County has an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in April of 2017—down from 4.8 percent this time last year and still lower than the state average of 4.4 percent. McLean County has a significantly lower unemployment rate compared to others in Central Illinois, such as Peoria County at 5.4 percent, Tazewell County at 5.0 percent, Macon County at 4.9 percent and Champaign County at 3.8 percent.

New Restaurant to Open on Veterans Pkwy

HuHot Mongolian Grill plans to open at 2103 N. Veterans Parkway. HuHot is a create-your-own Asian stir fry restaurant, You can create your meal and take it up to the big grill in the center of restaurant and watch while it's cooked up.

Downtown Task Force Meets

That newly-formed downtown task force met Tuesday for the first time to talk about ideas to revitalize downtown Bloomington. Among the topics were to improve and promote downtown as a clean and safe place; pursue projects that can serve as additional downtown anchors; ensure that new development compliments the downtown's historic character; and find new ways to utilize the warehouse district. The city wants your ideas for parking.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Missing Witness Prompts Trial Postponement

The trial of 30-year-old Darvell WIlliams of Bloomington, who is accused of attempted murder,  will be postponed a month while law enforcement officials search for the man identified as the target of the shooting. Prosecutors have issued a subpoena for Willie Love. Williams is facing 10 felony charges, including attempted murder after allegedly firing shots on Bloomington’s east side in November.

Federal Funding for Hamilton Road Extension Plan Secured

The plan to extend Hamilton Road between Bunn Street and Commerce Parkway has been in the works for a long time. Now, the city of Bloomington has secured the the federal funding to put the project on track to be finished in the summer of 2021. The cost of the project is estimated at between 13 and 15 million dollars. Federal funding is to cover 80 percent, but the city yet to designate funding for the remaining 20 percent.

BPD to Open the New Community House

The Bloomington Police Department is set to open its new Community House at 824 W. Jefferson this Friday. Police say the house will serve as a place for police to stop by, increase visibility in the area and connect with the community. The house is owned by Mid Central Community Action, and was purchased and rehabbed through a grant to the West Bloomington Housing Collaborative.  The open house will be held from 4-7 p.m., with games, youth activities and food.

BPD Seeks Information in Two Armed Robberies

Bloomington Police are looking for any information they can use regarding a pair of armed robberies early Sunday morning around in the 2600 block of Hull Court. In another incident a woman says two armed males approached her and displayed guns. She got in her car, the males punched her window and then ran away. Police arrested a 14-year-old with a replica handgun and are looking for a second subject described as a black male,  5' 8", slim build and wearing a hoodie.

Dog Flu Returns

First, veterinarians found it in Chicago, now, it’s in central Illinois. Confirmed cases of dog flu are popping up right in our backyard. Vets are sending out a warning to pet owners to take caution when socializing their dogs. This is a new strain of the influenza, so if you've previously had your dog vaccinated, it will not protect your pet. Vets in central Illinois are encouraging pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible.

New Low Income Housing Proposed for Bloomington

The City of Bloomington could soon have more low-income housing. One would be built around Greenwood Ave., near Highland Park Golf Course. Developers are proposing a 54 unit, mixed income housing development. Twenty units would be low-income apartments. Ten of the thouse would be directed toward residents with special needs. The Unit 5 School District, which runs Cedar Ridge Elementary in the area, says adding more familes, particularly low-income families, to the school would strain their already stretched resources. The developer has requested the city adopt a TIF district. The developer is expected to invest about $17 million into the project.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Special Olympian, Barry Mogk, Dies After a Medical Emergency

An adult male Special Athlete died after a medical emergency during a swimming competition at Normal Community West High Saturday. McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis described 43-year-old Barry Mogk's cause of death as a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

High Heat This Week

This is not the week to leave your pets in the car alone. The National Weather Service is warning of dangerously high heat and humidity for most of the state today. Forecasters say folks from St. Louis to Chicago and Danville to the Quad Cities can expect temperatures in the 90s, and a heat index pushing 100 degrees. Their advice is to drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks if you have to work outside, and never leave a dog or cat in a hot car.

Credit Woes for Five Illinois Universities

Five of Illinois' public universities officially have junk credit. Moody's Investors Service over the weekend downgraded Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University to junk. The downgrade follows a downgrade for the entire state of Illinois. Moody's says a lack of a state budget is to blame for the universities' declining credit rating.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Special Olympian Barry Mogk Dies After a Medical Emergency

An adult male Special Athlete died after a medical emergency during a swimming competition at Normal Community West High Saturday. McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis described 43-year-old Barry Mogk's cause of death as a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rauner WiIlling to Call For a Special Session

Governor Rauner says he's willing to call a special legislative session to force lawmakers to approve a budget before the end of the fiscal year.  Rauner is blasting Democrats for wasting time holding hearings on the harm done by the lack of a budget.  He says his heart breaks for those agencies that serve the disadvantaged, including those he and his wife have supported for years.  House Democrat Greg Harris predicts quick action on a budget before the end of the month, but he says passing a budget means little if Rauner doesn't sign it.

Fatal Accident on I-55

One man is dead following a single vehicle accident on I 55 around 1pm Thursday. Responders to the scene found a semi-tractor trailer off the road near mile marker 160. The victim is a 43-year-old man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of family. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday and the incident remains under investigation.

Streator Woman Killed In Accident

A Streator woman is dead following a crash in Livingston County.  The woman was reportedly driving on Route-17 near Route-23 yesterday when she crashed into a guardrail.  She was taken to a hospital in Peoria and placed on life support, but she
died about an hour later.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mayors of Bloomington and Normal Fighting Climate Change

Both Twin City mayors said Wednesday they remain dedicated to fighting climate change. Days after President Donald Trump promised to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, Normal Mayor Chris Koos joined more than 250 American mayors in pledging to stick to the agreement's provisions. Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says he tried to sign online but couldn't due to to high online traffic. He says he will try again later.


Giordano's is Coming to Bloomington in August

It's called "Chicago's Best Pizza" by the Chicago media and many others. Giordano's is expected to open in August in the former Qdoba restaurant at 1505 N. Veterans Parkway in Bloomington. The restaurant will employ about 50, seat about 70 and offer the standard menu of a full-service Giordano's, including stuffed deep dish pizza, sandwiches, soups, salads, appetizers and desserts.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bloomington Man Charged with Murder is Now Also Charged with 7 Counts of Child Pornography

32-year-old Kyle Brestan, who is being held on charges he murdered Shannon Hastings of Peoria in a Bloomingotn hotel room by stabbing her 105 times on May 16th, has now been charged in the McLean County Jail with  7 counts of child pornography. Those felony charges include the the possession and manufacture of child porn.

IL AG: Bloomington Violated Open Meetings Act When it Discussed Ending the Metro Zone Agreement

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan rules that the Bloomington City Council violated the Open Meetings Act when it met in closed session back in February to talk about ending the Metro Zone Agreement with Normal. According to Madigan, the council violated the Open Meetings Act by discussing matters outside the scope of limited exceptions allowed by law. The City says it will likely appeal the decision.

Return of the Mumps

There is another small mumps outbreak affecting people in the Twin Cities. According to the McLean County Health Department, five people, aged 22 through 52, have tested positive for the virus. This outbreak is not related to the one in March, that affected ISU students. Health officials say those without vaccinations, like infants are most at risk.If you're experiencing any symptoms, like a fever, headache, or swollen glands, you should be tested.


Cities 92.9 was proud to participate in B-N beyond on Tuesday at Rivian Automotive.  The McLean County Chamber of Commerce's event is a partnership between local businesses and civic leaders to help facilitate growth and flexibility for local businesses.  This thought was highlighted by keynote Speaker Mick Flemings stressing of the importance that businesses remain strong at adaptation in an ever changing business world.

REPORT: Sexual Assault on a Plane

A Central Illinois woman reported a flight attendant sexually assaulted her on a flight to Bloomington last month Laurel Roberson tells WMBD-TV the attendent touched her chest while she was seated reading a book and later tried to kiss her as she deplaned. Roberson filed a report with police and filed a complaint with American Airlines saying she wants to foster change at the airline but said she’s been given the runaround. American issued a statement that the company is reviewing this case in coordination with Mesa Airlines, which operated the flight

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lincoln Girl,6, Struck By Vehicle Saturday in Bloomington Has Died

A young girl has died in after being hit by a vehicle in Bloomington over the weekend.  6 year old Mackenzie  Brown was found in the street, unconscious, in the 24-hundred block of Bunn Street Saturday afternoon. She was pronounced dead late Monday Morning at OSF St Francis in Peoria. Authorities say the driver will face no charges stemming from the accident.

BPD Investigate Shooting

Bloomington police are investigating a shooting Monday night that wounded on man .  That man was bleeding from a leg wound when he walked into the Thornton Oil station Hershey Road looking for help at about 9:40 p.m..  An Illinois State Police trooper just happened to be there and reported the incident. The man  walked across the intersection from the area of 2207 Todd Drive. Police tell us there were reports of multiple gunshots in that area and that at least one v
ehicle had been damaged.

State Lawmaker Calls for State Constitutional Convention

Illinois lawmakers are calling for a constitutional convention to deal with issues such as the budget impasse.  Representative Tim Butler of Springfield introduced House Joint Resolution 68 on the final day of the session.  If approved, a question would be added to the 2018 General Election ballot asking people in Illinois if a state Constitutional Convention should be called.  The 2018 fiscal year begins on July 1st and lawmakers in Illinois have yet to pass a budget.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Local Case to be Presented to the U.S Supreme Court for Review

A local case is being presented to the U.S. Supreme Court. The High Court is being asked to review a case against 24-year old Normal man to determine the constitutionality of Illinois' rules mandating that sex offenders report all    their internet activity  to police who then disclose that information to the public. The man was 16 in 2010 when he had sex with a 14-year-old girl. As a result, he was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years for criminal sexual abuse, which is a misdemeanor offense.