Monday, September 25, 2017

Homicide Person of Interest Nabbed in Bloomington

A 40-year-old Missouri man was arrested Sunday in Bloomington in connection with a homicide investigation in Missouri. Deacon Zelch of Bourbon, Missouri, was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Services at a residence on Van Schoick Street near Bloomington’s Miller Park on Sunday afternoon.

Governor Rauner Vetoes Cursive Mandate

Illinois school kids will be spared from lessons on cursive. Governor Bruce Rauner on Friday vetoed a proposed state law that would require students to learn formal handwriting skills. The governor says the cursive requirement is just another unfunded mandate from Springfield, and doesn't help Illinois kids in the realities of 2017. Supporters of the idea said young people need to learn to read and write in cursive to be able to sign legal documents

Bloomington Streets Update

The city of Bloomington is spending $3.8 million to resurface 18 streets and six alleys and nearly another $1 million for sidewalk improvements by the end of the current construction season. The streets resurfacing and sidewalk projects are being funded with $2.4 million the city receives from the 4-cent motor fuel tax and $2.4 million from the quarter of the 1-percent sales tax increase designated solely for streets and infrastructure.

Record Heat Should End By Midweek

Illinois' record September heat should end by midweek. The National Weather Service says more heat records may fall across the state today and tomorrow. But by Wednesday temperatures will start to cool down, and most of Illinois should see a return to more seasonal temperatures with highs in the low 70s by the weekend.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Coroner Confirms ID of Remains Found in Tazewell Co.

Tazewell County Coroner James Baldi confirmed early this morning that remains found in rural Tazewell County in July belonged to missing teenager, Robert Bee, Jr. Bee was 13 when he ran away from his Pekin home in November 2016, when being seen by a truant officer. His remains were found on July 24 about two miles away. A man discovered the skeletal remains while mowing his property near Route 29. Investigators believe the remains were in the woods behind the property, but some were moved by animals onto the man's property.There's no word on a cause of death. the case remains under investigation.

Source WEEK TV

Friday, September 22, 2017

Report: Most Illinois Cities Gain Jobs, Just Not Enough

Illinois' economy is still stuck in the mud. The latest report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security says most cities in the state added jobs over the past year. But IDES boss Jeff Mays yesterday said they didn't add enough. The report says Illinois as a whole added about 25 thousand jobs between last August and last month. But 20 thousand of those jobs came in Chicago or the suburbs. Mays says the state's economy is stuck in neutral.

State of the University Address

The president of Illinois State University is encouraging the community to stay confident during his 4th annual State of the University Address. Larry Dietz said with the damage of the 2-year Illinois budget impasse, ISU is trying to recover and prepare in the event it occurs again. He said the university is also taking time to revise its strategic plan. Dietz also announced he is seeking a mid-year salary increase for those who qualify, and a promotion salary enhancement for full-time associate professors

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Obmacare Rates to Spike in 2018 for Illinois

A report from an Illinois agency says residents who buy insurance on the state’s health care exchange could see rate increases for the lowest-priced plans by 2018. The Chicago Tribune reports the state Insurance Department submitted rates to the federal government Wednesday. The rates would jump by 16 to 37 percent, increasing the average cost of the lowest-priced silver plans by 35 percent statewide.

Collins In Custody for Fatal DUI Also Faces Home Invasion Charges

The man accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash in Bloomington is now facing charges in connection to a crime in Normal.  Jakeb Collins is the second person to be arrested for a home invasion and armed robbery on the 400 block of South Oak Street in Normal that occured about ten months ago. A second suspect, Shaquar Rhone, was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Father Kills Two Children, Sets Fire, Then Kills Self

Bloomington Police tell us that all three victims in Tuesday's house fire died before the fire was fully involved.

BPD says Eric Ringenberg was seen on home surveillance video hiding cell phones before he set the fire. The surveillance video shows him strangling his two small children, before starting the fire in the home's basement. Then he killed himself.

Pamela Ringenberg, Eric's wife, woke up in her bedroom when the fire alarm went off. Home surveillance video shows her searching for family members and a phone to call for help before fleeing the home. She suffered from smoke inhalation.


Houchin Family Alpacas Participates in National Alpaca Farm Days

Compared to most livestock in North America, alpacas are relatively new. First commercially imported in 1984, many people have seen alpacas on their favorite television shows or on the news, but have never met one in person. Now is your chance!

On September 23rd and 24th, alpaca owners from across the United States and Canada will invite the public to come to their farm or ranch to meet their alpacas and learn more about these inquisitive, unique animals, the luxury fiber they produce and why the alpaca business is perfect for environmentally conscious individuals.

From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday September 23 and 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday September 24, Houchin Family Alpacas will welcome guests to join them for many activities including, getting up close and feeding the alpacas, spinning and felting demonstrations, shop for all natural alpaca products, and learning about raising and owning alpacas.  All for FREE.

Houchin Family Alpacas is located at 16708 E 400 North Rd., Heyworth, IL  61745


To find out more about National Alpaca Farm Days visit www.AlpacaFarmDays.com. To learn more about Houchin Family Alpacas, visit www.HouchinFamilyAlpacas.com.

Bloomington City Mgr Hales to Take a Job in Joliet

Bloomington will soon need a new city Manager. David Hales is leaving his post to become the Joliet City Manager. The Joliet City Council voted Tuesday to authorize his new contract for $215,000. Hales was making $189,000 in Bloomington, where he has served since 2008

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bloomington Fatal Fire Update: BPD: Fire Intentionally Set

Three people are dead after a fire early Tuesday on Brittany Court in Bloomington.

A joint press release from the Bloomington Police Department, Bloomington Fire Department and McLean County Coroner's Office said three people were declared dead at the scene of the fire at 4:15 a.m.

At a press conference Tuesday at noon,Bloomington Police Chief Hefffner stated, "The fire was intentionally set, but isolated and there is no immediate threat to public safety."

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis described the victims as a middle-aged male, a toddler and an infant.

The identities of the three victims are being withheld pending notification of their families.

After the press conference, Fire Chief Brian Mohr said a woman was hospitalized but did not elaborate.

The Bloomington Police Department Criminal Investigations Division is conducting an investigation with the fire department and coroner's office.

Fire Kills 3 in Bloomington

Three people are dead after a fire early Tuesday on Brittany Court in Bloomington.

A joint press release from the Bloomington Police Department, Bloomington Fire Department and McLean County Coroner's Office said three people were declared dead at the scene of the fire at 4:15 a.m.

The identities of the three victims are being withheld pending notification of their families.

The Bloomington Police Department Criminal Investigations Division is conducting an investigation with the fire department and coroner's office.

Illinois Delegation Heads To Seattle For Amazon Pitch

Illinois' pitch to land the new Amazon headquarters in heating up. A combination state/city of Chicago delegation left yesterday for Seattle to look around. A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel yesterday said the delegation isn't going to Seattle to meet with anyone at Amazon. Rather the group is going to see what the city offers Amazon's current headquarters, so Illinois can better tailor its pitch for Amazon's second headquarters.

Town of Normal to Offer Early Retirement to Some Workers

The Town of Normal tightens the belt on its budget for next year by introducing an early retirement package. The council unanimously passed the proposal on Monday. The program is voluntary and gives certain employees financial incentives to retire early. Right now, there are 18 employees eligible. Afterward, the town will likely not fill those positions left vacant. City Manager Mark Peterson blames the shortfall on the end of the Metro Zone agreement and less in tax revenue.

Bloomington City Council Talks Sewers Monday

A majority of the Bloomington City Council is in favor of a quick increase in sanitary and storm water sewer rates. At a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, most of the council said they want to see a more drastic hike next fiscal year. If the proposal passes, both sanitary and storm water rates would cumulatively increase by 44 percent. The average household would go from paying $13.85 to $19.91. Alderman could vote as early as next week to decide when the higher rates would kick in

Monday, September 18, 2017

Social Media Apps Linked to 2 ISU Sex Crimes

Illinois State University police are investigating two sexual crimes linked to two separate social media apps: Tinder and Snapchat

Police tell us a man attempted to extort a female student with nude images of her. The two met on the dating app Tinder and communicated via Snapchat. That incident was reported Sept. 7.

Later, a sexual assault was reported Sept. 15 involving a victim who said the crime was committed by a male student. The victim said they met on Tinder and talked with via Snapchat.

To be clear, the two cases are unrelated.

Fed-up Illinois Lawmakers Streaming for the Exit in Big Numbers

Illinois residents aren’t the only ones throwing up their hands at the gridlock and increasingly polarized politics that have defined state government in recent years. More and more, fed-up and frustrated Illinois legislators are heading for the exits. More than two-dozen legislators — about 15 percent of the General Assembly — have either resigned months into the current session or said they won’t seek re-election. They are Democrats and Republicans, rank-and-file moderates and those in leadership posts, including House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, who said last week that she’s ending her nearly 40-year legislative career when her term expires.

New Gas Tax?

Sources say 4 legislative leaders will meet this week to discuss a gas tax increase and new service taxes this week as part of a statewide capital projects plan, but spokespersons for GOP legislative leaders denied any such discussions were scheduled. Illinois' current gas tax of 34.01 cents per gallon already is among the highest in the country.

Governor Vetoes Plan That Would've Expanded Police, Fire Pension Transfers

Illinois lawmakers will have to decide if they want to override the governor on a pension plan that could add more stress to the already fragile police and fire pension programs in Illinois. Governor Rauner last week vetoed a proposal to allow downstate police officers and firefighters to transfer up to six years of credit into their pensions. The governor said many downstate police and fire pension plans are in danger of running out of money. He said adding more stress on to those retirement funds could break them.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

BPD Clears Up Confusion in Deadly DUI Case

Bloomington Police are clearing up the confusion by now saying a second man was the driver in a fatal hit-and-run crash on the city’s southeast side—not 54 year old Darin Scott,  the suspect that authorities initially announced in a press release. 22-year old Jakeb Collins of Bloomington was allegedly behind the wheel of a red mini van Wednesday morning that crashed into a another vehicle on Morrissey Drive at Chrisman Lane killing a 79-year-old Indiana woman and injuring a man. Collins was charged Friday with leaving the scene of an accident involving a fatality. Scott, however, was arrested in a separate DUI incident n Wednesday--his second in a month.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Standoff in Pontiac Ends

A 2-hour standoff with police Friday ends with no injuries and a Pontiac man facing preliminary weapons and aggravated assault charges after his surrender to officers The Pantagraph reports Pontiac police were called at 10:42 a.m. to an apartment building in the 400 block of West North Street for a report of a man pointing and firing a gun from a third-story window. 33-year-old Justin A. Doan refused to leave the building and would not allow a woman with him to speak with police, according to a statement from the Pontiac Police Department. Two residents were removed from the building and police spoke by phone with Doan. The standoff ended shortly after 1 p.m. when Doan and the woman left the building. The investigation is ongoing and more charges may be filed.

A.G. Madigan Will Not Seek Re-Election

A political stunner! Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she will not run for re-election next year.

Madigan made the surprise announcement even though she had previously said she plans to seek another term.

The popular attorney general was first elected in 2002. Her statement Friday did not include her future plans, which leave many people speculating.

Madigan will serve out her fourth term in office, serving since 2003. Her father, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan said he's proud of what his daughter has accomplished

Another Arrest Made in Fatal Hit and Run

A second arrest has made in fatal Bloomington hit and run. 22-year-old Jakeb C.S. Collins now faces charges in connection with Wednesday's deadly hit and run on Morrissey Drive in Bloomington.  Collins was arrested Thursday for leaving the scene of an accident in connection with the accident that left 79-year-old Phyllis Graver of Carmel, Ind. dead and another person injured. Darin Scott, 54, was arrested Thursday on DUI charges--his second DUI in a month--in connection with the crash.

Bloomington Man Charged In Deadly DUI Accident

A Bloomington man will likely stay behind bars after his second DUI in a month killed a woman. Darin Scott is due in court today to answer for a deadly Wednesday wreck that killed one woman and injured another man. Police say that wreck is Scott's second drunk driving wreck in a month, he was arrested on August 14th after another crash in Bloomington. Jail records show Scott paid 100 dollars and left jail after the August wreck.

Latest PARCC Test Scores Show Slight Reading Gains, Math Declines

More than 60 percent of school kids in Illinois still can't read or add at grade level. But the latest standardized test scores in the state show some slight gains. The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday released the latest PARCC scores. The results show students in third through eighth grade did slightly better, as in a few tenths-of-a-percent better, on the reading test. Students in the same grades did slightly worse on the math test. Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith yesterday said the scores show the state has built a 'solid foundation.'

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Body of Man Found in Creek off Constitution Trail ID'd

The body of the man found in a creek by the Constitution Trail has been identified as Marcus D. Bivens, age 33, of Bloomington, Illinois.

 Preliminary autopsy findings indicate that Bivens died from drowning. There was no assault, strangulation, infection, recent significant trauma, or tumor. Toxicology results are pending.

The circumstances of the man’s death remain under investigation by the Normal Police Department and the McLean County Coroner’s Office.

Anyone who traveled through this area, including the Constitution Trail, over the past 3 days and believes they may have information on this case, is asked to contact Detective Brad Park, 309.454.9527, or bpark@normal.org.


Bloomington City Mgr Hales is a Finalist for Joliet Gig

Bloomington City Manager David Hales certainly has a lot of resumes out there. The Joliet Herald-News is reporting that Hales is a finalist for the same job there. Several weeks ago it was reported Hales was a finalist for the same position in Topeka KS

District 87 School Board Approves "Welcoming School" Resolution

School-aged kids concerned about deportation based on their family’s citizenship status were told they have nothing to worry about while attending Bloomington District 87 schools. The District 87 school board approved a resolution on Wednesday saying as much. Superintendent Barry Reilly says there are “probably” students enrolled in District 87 who come from illegally immigrated families, but says he hopes the resolution will alleviate any worries those students may be feeling after recent changes to DACA.

BPD: Man Arrested in Connection with Fatal Accident

54 year-old Darin Scott of Bloomington is in police custody in connection with a fatal two-vehicle crash Wednesday morning on Bloomington's southeast side in the area of Morrissey Drive and Chrisman Lane. One person was killed and the other was seriously injured.  The Pantagraph reports Scott was arrested Wednesday on preliminary charges of aggravated DUI causing death, improper lane usage, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Governor Rauner Talks To Amazon About New HQ

Governor Bruce Rauner is personally leading the sales pitch to bring Amazon's new headquarters to the state.  The governor's office yesterday said the governor reached out himself to speak with Amazon executives about a second headquarters for the online retail giant.  Developers in Chicago are already pitching specific sites.  Rauner's office didn't offer any details about the governor's proposal to land the new roughly five-billion-dollar headquarters and the 50 thousand jobs that'd come with it.

NPD: Body Found Near Constitution Trail

Normal Police are asking anyone who's walked the Constitution Trail near South Veterans Parkway in the past three days to think if they've seen anything out of place. Officers found a man's body in a creek by the trail yesterday afternoon. NPD investigators aren't identifying the man or saying how he died. An autopsy is scheduled for today that could provide some more answers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BPD: Fatal Accident, Looking for Driver That Left the Scene

One person is dead following a crash Wednesday near the area of Morrissey Drive and Chrisman Lane and police are searching for a vehicle seen leaving the scene.  Two people were found in a vehicle there with serious injuries--one of the occupants later died at the scene. Witnesses told police the other vehicle left the scene, traveling north on U.S. 150. No other informationwas released about that vehicle., but the police need your help. Contact Det. Tim Power at 309-434-2579 or tpower@cityblm.org.

Labor Day 2017 Safer On Illinois Roads

 A lot of people apparently listened this year when the Illinois State Police said buckle up, slow down, and don't drink and drive. State Police Director Leo Schmitz announced yesterday that traffic deaths on the roads this Labor Day weekend were down. Schmitz said five people died on Illinois roads over the Labor Day holiday. That's down from 19 last year. Troopers were busy however, the State Police issued just under seven thousand tickets between Friday and Monday of the long holiday weekend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sorensen Sentenced to One Year in Prison on Wire Fraud Charges

It's one year in prison for former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman handed down the sentence Tuesday in Chicago. Sorensen pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges back in November to conspiring with co-defendant Navdeep Arora to defraud a Chicago consulting firm of unearned consulting fees. According to terms of the plea agreement, Sorensen and Arora are responsible for restitution of $490,975 to that company.

Area Colleges and Universities Make the US News and World Report List

Several area higher learning institutions are touting their rankings in the annual U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges list. Illinois State University placed 83rd in the nation for best public university. Illinois Wesleyan University and Knox College tied for 71st best national liberal arts college. Bradley University was rated the seventh best regional university in the Midwest. Eureka College placed 26th for best regional college in the Midwest.

Bloomington Mayor Still Not Back At City Hall

Bloomington's mayor isn't back in his seat at city hall.  Mayor Tari Renner missed his second straight city council meeting last night.  The mayor took a leave of absence last month for undisclosed medical reasons.  City leaders say they're managing the city in the mayor's absence.  Renner's leave comes amid an investigation from the Illinois State Police into how and why the city paid for his girlfriend to attend a Sister Cities event in Japan earlier this summer.

Bloomington City Council: Of Signs and Sewers

Signs and sewers were the hot topics at Bloomington's city council meeting Monday, again without Mayor Renner. The Bloomington council got the chance to see designs for new way-finding signs for the city's downtown on Monday. The signs will help visitors navigate the city's center, pointing them to local attractions and parking.  At a special session, Public Works Director Jim Karch proposed a gradual fee increases for sewer and storm water over five years.  Council members are split over whether the increase should come sooner, so the work can be done more quickly.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fallen Sailor Laid to Rest

Fallen sailor Logan Palmer was laid to rest Monday. Palmer, 23, died Aug. 21, one of 10 sailors lost on the warship USS John McCain after a collision with a tanker near Singapore. Rev. Mark Cooper told hundreds of mourners at the service that Palmer died a true hero, surviving the initial collision, but staying in harm's way to try and help his fellow shipmates.

One Candidate for McLean County Board Is Out and Another One Is In

After being informed by McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre (R - District 5) that only Republican Party members will be considered for the vacancy for County Board District 7, Bennett Morris has chosen to withdraw his name from consideration for the appointment.  Morris, an advocate for citizen involvement in local government and Chair of the McLean County Libertarian Party, had applied for the appointment to fill the vacancy created after long time board member Rich Buchanan retired.

Meanwhile, Steve Suess, a Bloomington resident and member of the Libertarian Party has announced his intention to run for McLean County Board in District 8 in the 2018 generall election. Suess will be running on several platform initiatives, but his primary goal is to increase public participation and access to information in county government. In conjunction with his political campaign, Suess is starting the #GiveMcLeanAVoice social media campaign, intended to help spread the message of greater public access and participation in McLean County Government

Illinois Governor Lands In Japan To Start Asian Trade Trip

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is starting his Asian trade mission in Tokyo. The governor landed in Japan yesterday, he's on an eight day swing through Japan and China. Rauner said it's "vital" to secure a solid relationship with Japan. Illinois is home to over 600 Japanese companies, and the governor office says those companies are responsible for almost 50 thousand jobs in the state.

Ameren Taking Open Comments on Adding Power Lines

Ameren officials want you to tell them where the company should add power lines connecting two existing substations and a new substation to be built by 2021 here in Bloomington-Normal. Ameren started taking comments at an open house last week at Illinois State University. The company plans two more public sessions, in October and November, and also is taking comments at mcleancountyreliabilityproject.com.

Cemetery Walk: WW I Theme

2017 marks the centennial of the United States entry into World War one.  As such, the Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington is holding a walk with an appropriate World War one theme. The focus will be on those from McLean County who played a vital role in the war efforts. Costumed actors will perform at different stops along the walk. Dates are Sept 30th, Oct 1st, 7th and 8th. Tickets are availble by calling 309-827-0428

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Illini Win 20-6

The Illini are now 2-0 in the young 2017 season after handling the Western Kentucky HIlltoppers 20 to 7 Saturday night. The University of Illinois has made an offer to move next week's football game from Tampa, Florida, to Champaign due to Hurricane Irma. Listen to Cities 92.9 for details. THe Illini Play Here!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Prosecutors Seek Jail Time for Sorensen

Federal prosecutors say they will ask that former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen serve about two years in prison when he is sentenced Tuesday on wire fraud charges. Sorensen pleaded guilty back in November to conspiring with co-defendant Navdeep Arora to defraud a Chicago consulting firm of unearned consulting fees. The Pantagraph reports that according to terms of the plea agreement, Sorensen and Arora are responsible for restitution of $490,975 to that company.


Source: Pantagraph

Looking for Vandals That Hit Local Cemetery

A Bloomington cemetery is looking for answers after a vandalism strike. Some old tombstones were spray painted at the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery on Tuesday night, and again Wednesday night. They were hit with letters, numbers and symbols in black spray paint. Some beer and vodka bottles were found near the tombstones. The cemetery asks that anyone with information, call the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery at (309)-827-6950

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mayor Renner is Back...Sorta

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner will not be attending his regularly scheduled open house on Friday or any meetings next week, but he tells the Pantagraph he will be "back in full swing" soon. Renner says arrangements have been made for the next few days of events/meetings.  Renner added that he will be talking to friends and family over the weekend to decide exactly when to totally come back.






Source: Pantagraph

State Farm Announces 500 Thousand Dollar Red Cross Donation

State Farm is reaching into its pocket to help folks in Texas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Bloomington-based insurance giant announced a half-million dollar gift to the American Red Cross yesterday. Spokeswoman Missy Dundov said the money is in addition to the one million-dollars that State Farm gives to the Red Cross each year.