Friday, March 31, 2017

Normal Police Looking for Suspect in Liquor Store Robbery

Normal Police are looking for a man with a gun and a mask who robbed University Liquors. Police say it happened yesterday afternoon. NPD has a picture of the robber, but you can't clearly see his face. Officers say if you know something, please call them

Will Normal's Gordmans Stay or Go?

No one knows if Normal's Gordmans will be one of the stores that's going to close. A new company is buying the retail outlet, and says it will close about half of the Gordmans stores across the country. Gordmans filed for bankruptcy earlier this month

Home Sales Up

Home sales in Bloomington-Normal are up from last year. The Realtors Association released February’s numbers this week. A dearth of available homes drove up prices for buyers. 140 homes were sold in the Twin Cities in February, compared to 118 last year.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ISU Holding the Line on Tuition Costs

ISU wants to keep tuition flat next year. President Larry Dietz is recommending no tuition increase for the fall. He's also asking trustees to keep housing and fees flat. Dietz says the school is trying to manage it's way through Illinois' budget crisis It costs about 28-thousand dollars a year, all-in, to attend ISU

ISU: Mumps Outbreak

Campus leaders at Illinois State University are the latest to deal with the mumps. Doctors this week confirmed three cases at the school. They expect more to follow. ISU is telling students to wash their hands, clean their dorms, and get up to date on their vaccinations.

Dems: Comeback Agenda

There's another 'agenda' at the Illinois Capitol, this time from Democrats. Lawmakers yesterday unveiled what they're calling the Comeback Agenda as a way to try and get closer to a state budget. But most of the proposals have very little to do with paying Illinois' mountain of unpaid bills. The Comeback Agenda's first priorities are public funding for political campaigns, a tax increase on big companies, and more child care for parents in college.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Schock's Shocker

Lawyers for former Congressman Aaron Schock say the federal government crossed the line when it used a staffer as an informant. Newly released court documents paint a picture of a staffer for Schock wearing a wire and turning over a mountain of evidence. Prosecutors aren't commenting on Schock's lawyers' claims. Schock is facing a trial this summer on charges that he abused government and campaign spending accounts for his own gain.

Tiritilli Talks Change for Normal

The toughest part about convincing people there's a need to change Normal is convincing people there's a need to change. But candidate for mayor Marc Tiritilli says once he explains the town's finances to voters, most see the need right away. But Tiritilli says that's the easy part of his campaign. The hard part is running into the status quo mentality about government in Normal. Tiritilli says there needs to be some balance and sanity in Normal. He says uptown is great, but the town can't afford to continue to pay for all of these projects.

Brady Budget Bill

Sen. Bill Brady Tuesday jump-started the conversation to end a two-year budget impasse as he introduced a full and balanced Fiscal Year 2018 budget that protects the state’s highest priority programs, reins in spending and eliminates two-thirds of the state’s mountain of unpaid bills.

Brady’s proposal provides for selling revenue bonds totaling $6 billion to significantly reduce the state’s backlog of unpaid bills and saving the state millions of dollars in late-payment interest costs. The overall proposal will take the total owed back to the June 2015 level of about $4.4 billion. The proposal also includes a hard-spending cap of roughly $36 billion in general funds.

It fully funds the school aid-formula and includes many of the budget-balancing measures proposed by Governor Rauner in February, including the $1.3 billion in pension reform savings, sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago and $435 million savings in restructuring of the state employee group health insurance program. It also includes new across-the-board cuts totaling nearly $800 million and holding MAP grants to their current level.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Accident Involving First Student Bus Spawns Lawsuit

34-year-old Christopher Beck of Bloomington, who was seriously injured when his motorcycle collided with a school bus carrying Unit 5 students, has now filed a lawsuit against First Student and the bus driver, who he accuses of violating Illinois traffic laws. Beck was southbound on Bunn Street on Oct. 17 when his motorcycle struck the front driver's side of the bus as it was making a right turn from Hazel Street.

New Poll: Most People Want Marijuana Legalized In Illinois

Three-quarters of voters in Illinois want to see marijuana decriminalized. Two-thirds want to see it legalized all together.  A new poll, released yesterday, by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says there's overwhelming support for legal marijuana in the state.  A majority of both Republicans and Democrats support legalization, though there are some differences in opinions between older and younger voters.

IL Out Migration Update

New U.S. Census data shows people are leaving Illinois, and the heart of the state is no exception. Census population estimates show McLean County lost 748 residents. The data shows 58,456 people total left Illinois over the same one year period.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Salamone Memorial

Tina Salamone was the director of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts building in Bloomington. She died suddenly of a heart attack on March 25th at the age of 58. A memorial was held at the BCPA Sunday where many of her friends and family showed up to talk about her life's work.

Home Invasion Stabbing

23-year-old Justin R. Roof  faces felony charges after he forced himself into a house and then stabbed a man in the eye. Roof is charged with two counts of home invasion, a Class X felony, as well as residential burglary, a Class 1 felony. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony.

Downstate Illinois' First Portillo's To Open In May

Downstate Illinois' first Portillo's is about two months away from opening. Developers in Champaign say the restaurant in that city should open sometime in May. Champaign and Normal are both getting the Chicago style hot dog joint. Normal paid a developer two-million dollars to bring it to town, Champaign didn't pay a thing.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Judge Orders Paychecks For Lawmakers

Illinois doesn't have a budget and is drowning in almost 13-billion dollars of unpaid bills, but at least state lawmakers are being paid. A judge yesterday ordered the state to pay lawmakers. Illinois' former Comptroller last year put lawmakers at the back of the line of the state's unpaid bills. Illinois lawmakers have been paid just once since June.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Portillo's Update

The town of Normal issued demolition and building permits Tuesday for 202 Landmark Drive, where a Motel 6 is being torn down and where Portillo's will go up. The demolition is underway at this time but our Portillo's Chicago-style hot dog restaurant is not set to open until August.

Lawmakers Propose Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In Illinois

You could fire up a joint legally if two new bills introduced by two Chicago Democrats gets passed.   The two bills would allow adults over 21 and to possess, grow, and purchase a limited amount of marijuana. The state would license and regulate businesses growing, processing, testing and selling cannabis to adults, and ant tax it, too, at a rate of $50 per ounce at the whole sale level. You’ll get hit with a 6.25 percent sales tax.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rauner: Replace Prison Tower Guards with Cameras

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to replace guards in watchtowers with closed-circuit cameras at nearly two dozen lower-security Illinois prisons, an effort to cut expenses for a cash-strapped state that has gone two years without a budget. The administration is projecting $4 million in annual savings through reduced overtime-pay and more efficient management strategies. No security guards will be laid off.

Shirley Man Faces 9 Felony Child Porn Charges

A 20-year-old Shirley man faces 9 felony child porn charges in McLean County.  More than 800 images of child pornography allegedly were found by police on Austin Graf's cell phone. Graf is accused of possession and solicitation of child porn.

Obama's Birthday Won't Be a State Holiday...For Now

Former President Obama's birthday won't be designated a holiday in Illinois anytime soon.  A proposal that would close state facilities and schools each year on August 4th was voted down yesterday by Illinois House members.  Opponents raised concerns about the measure including the economic impact of shutting down state buildings on holidays.  Illinois Representative Sonya Harper did use a parliamentary move to keep the proposal alive for another try.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BPD Seeks Information in Weekend Shootings

Bloomington Police are looking for help in solving a weekend shooting. It happened very early Saturday morning at the Econo Lodge. Officers say two people were hurt, neither with life threatening injuries Police say if you know something, please call.

Normal Changing Public Comment Policy--Somewhat

Normal is changing its public comment policy. --Somewhat-- Town leaders last night voted to do away with the 45-day limit. The Illinois Attorney General told the town that violated Illinois’ Open Meetings law. But Normal is still limiting people to talking about only what is on the council agenda.

Clinton Man Killed

An 85 year old Clinton man was killed early Monday morning after being struck by a car near the Casey’s store at the intersection of Illinois 54 and East Washington Street. The man is identified as WIlliam Towns of Clinton.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New U Of I Coach: We Will Win

The new men's basketball coach at the University of Illinois is promising victories. Brad Underwood told fans over the weekend that "we will win." Underwood comes to the U of I from Oklahoma State University, but spent a decade in the state as coach at Western Illinois University. Reports say Underwood has a six-year contract worth three-million dollars a year.

Illinois' Unpaid Bills Hit Milestone

Illinois' total of unpaid bill is enough to saddle every man, woman, and child in the state with a thousand dollars of debt. The state's comptroller on Friday said Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills hit 12-point-eight billion dollars. Comptroller Susana Mendoza says Illinois is in the middle of a "historic financial meltdown" that's only expected to get worse.

Michigan Police Catch Sexually Violent Central Illinois Fugitive

The manhunt in over for a sexually violent fugitive from central Illinois. Deputies in Wakefield, Michigan say they arrested David Hermosillo over the weekend. Hermasillo slipped his ankle bracelet in Bloomington-Normal earlier this month and was on the run. Prosecutors in central Illinois say they want Hermasillo back in a local courtroom, but don't know when it'll happen.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ordinance Presented to Protect Illegal Immigrants Locally

An ordinance that would prohibit local police from working with federal immigration officers was formally presented Thursday by advocates who believe immigrants face a greater chance of deportation under the Trump administration. The ordinance is being pushed by Illinois People's Action.

A.G.: Normal Needs to Adopt New Town Comment Policy

The Illinois Attorney General is the latest to tell the town of Normal to allow people to speak at town meetings more often The AG ruled the town's comment policy, which limits people to just one chance to speak every 45 days, violates Illinois' open meeting rules. The Attorney General says Normal needs to adopt a new policy.

POLL: No to Soda Tax

Whether you call it soda or pop, a new poll says most people in Illinois don't want it taxed. The poll, released yesterday, asked voters about a proposal to tax sugary drinks. The survey says 62-percent of voters in Illinois oppose the idea, just 34-percent support it. Some lawmakers want to add a penny-per-ounce tax as a way to bring-in money and decrease obesity.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bloomington Mayoral Debate Recap

The two candidates for mayor in Bloomington agree that the city needs more jobs, better roads, and to somewhat cooperate with Normal.

They disagree on how to do that. Mayor Tari Renner and Alderman Kevin Lower met for another debate last night, hosted by Cities 929.

The biggest disagreements are on the role of economic incentives and how much the city has to pay to lure businesses to town.

And there’s always a disagreement between the two over ‘quality of life’ projects.
Voters will make their choice April 4th.

POLL: Not Good for Rauner. Worse for Madigan

Voters in Illinois don’t really like either Governor Bruce Rauner or House Speaker Mike Madigan. But a new poll says they dislike Madigan a little bit more. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute report, released yesterday, shows 58-percent of voters disapprove of Governor Rauner’s performance. While 61-percent say they disapprove of Madigan.

Motor Voter Bill Approved by State Senate Panel

Lawmakers in Springfield are working on a new plan to update your voter registration when you renew your drivers license. An Illinois Senate panel yesterday approved an automatic voter registration plan. Governor Rauner vetoed a similar idea last

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CIRA: Soccer Teams Need to Find New Venue...Soon

Soccer players in Bloomington-Normal need to figure out a new place to play. Soon. That's the word from airport managers who say continuing the lease of field near the Central Illinois Regional Airport isn't a long term solution. A meeting yesterday went over the situation again. Normal City Manager Mark Peterson says supporters need to find more time. No one is guessing if voters in the twin cities will tolerate a 16-million dollar soccer complex.

Merchant's Group Opposes Bill That Would Raise Threshold for Felony Theft

The group that represents Illinois' shopkeepers says its worried about the message lawmakers may be sending to shoplifters. The Illinois Retail Merchants' Association yesterday told lawmakers that its a bad idea to raise the threshold for felony theft to a thousand dollars or more. Right now its at 300-dollars. The Merchants' Rob Karr says thieves will steal up to the threshold, and will only steal more if that threshold is higher.

2018 Gov's Race Could Feature Two BIllionaires

Illinois' next governor's race could be a choice between two billionaires. Democrat JB Pritzker yesterday announced an exploratory committee for a run next year. Pritzker is seen as someone who can counter Governor Rauner's personal fortune with his own. Pritzker is the latest Democrat to move toward a showdown next year. The Democratic primary will be in March of next year

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

City Mgr Hales Passses on New Gig in Wisc.

He says, "Thanks, but no thanks"....Bloomington City Manager David Hales is withdrawing from consideration as one of three finalists to replace the retiring city administrator in Racine, Wis.
The twin cities will lose its Gordmans. But no one knows when. Gordmans yesterday confirmed they'll have to close all 110 of their stores as part of their bankruptcy. No word when the store in Normal will close.

Bike-Share Program Starts Next Week

A new bike-sharing program is set to launch in the Twin Cities next week. Bike Share 309  allows residents and visitors rent bikes at nine locations scattered across Bloomington and Normal with their smart phone. Fees are $3 hourly, or $40 a year for an annual membership that includes at free 1-hour bike ride with each use.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter Weather Advisory Until 7pm

Light snow will continue through the morning before mixing with rain south of I-74 this afternoon. Storm total snowfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected along a Canton to Minonk line...and 3 to 5 inches along a Galesburg to Lacon line. Expect slick and slushy roads for the morning commute. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and plan on extra time to arrive at their destinations.

Possible New State Taxes

You may soon pay sales taxes on cable TV and streaming, tattoos, and your next oil change. Illinois lawmakers are considering a plan to expand the base of the state's sales tax. Right now the state doesn't tax many services, lawmakers this week could vote to change that. But there's plenty of opposition in Springfield. Critics say some of the new taxes will hurt the people least able to pay.

Illini & Redbirds in NIT

It's the NIT, not the NCAA Tournament for ISU--The Redbrids yesterday didn't get an invitation to the Big Dance But ISU will get at least one more game. The Birds host UC Irvine Wednesday at home. The U of I is also in the NIT.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Illini: Groce is Gone

 Illinois is looking for a new men's basketball coach after announcing Saturday it had fired John Groce after five seasons. Under Groce, the Fighting Illini went 95-75 and made its lone NCAA tournament appearance in 2013, his first season after replacing Bruce Weber.

Winter Weather Advisory for Snow

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a
Winter Weather Advisory for Snow, which is in effect from 10 PM this
evening to 7 PM CDT Monday.

* TIMING...Snow will develop west of the Illinois River by late
  evening...then will spread eastward across the Advisory area
  overnight. The snow will be heaviest late tonight into Monday
  morning. Snowfall amounts of 3 to 4 inches are expected along a
  Canton to Bloomington line...with 5 to 6 inches possible further
  north from Galesburg to Lacon.

* MAIN IMPACT...Expect snow-covered and slick roads for the Monday
  morning commute. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and plan
  on extra time to arrive at their destinations Monday morning.

Friday, March 10, 2017

BPD Looking For a Sexually Violent Person

Bloomington police are looking for 50-year-old David Hermisillo who is listed as a sexually violent person and whose ankle tracking device was cut off, and they are warning the public to consider him armed and dangerous. Hermosillo is described as Hispanic, 6' 1" , 225 pounds, bald and having brown eyes. Hermosillo's tattoos include a rose on his left hand; a heart, panther, skull and rose on his left arm; a Tasmanian devil on his chest; and a hat with a crown above it on his back.

State Farm Layoffs

The twin cities' largest employer is announcing layoffs. In a state-mandated letter to the City of Bloomington on February 22nd, State Farm warned of a future layoff. Originally, 54 employees from Corporate South stood to lose their jobs in April. As of today, that number is down to 35. State Farm says it's working with the affected employees to find other positions within the company. Despite the layoff announcement, State Farm remains committed to Bloomington.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chateau Could Reopen in About 10 Days

The Chateau Hotel and Conference Center could re-open in a week to 10 days after fixing an alarm system.  Reports indicate that system stopped working sometime in early November. The hotel was closed Wednesday by the city after a contractor notified them that the fire alarm system was not operating. The hotel's ownership still owes the city about $100,000 in back taxes with full repayment scheduled for this spring.