Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shooter Dead, 2 Injured After shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland

A gunman who shot and wounded two students at Great Mills High School in Maryland was killed Tuesday after engaging an armed school resource officer, an official said.
The shooter was the only fatality. A female student was critically injured and a male student was also shot but is in stable condition at a hospital, authorities said.

Shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland Injures at Least 3 People

At least three people were injured Tuesday morning in a shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland, police told Fox News. The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office said the three victims were taken to the hospital but it was not clear how they were injured or the extent of the injuries. There were no fatalities immediately reported and no information on the shooter.


Voters To Decide Primary Races In Illinois

It's primary Election Day in Illinois, and voters have plenty of candidates to choose from. Polls are open till 7 p.m. Voters across the state will narrow the Republican and Democratic fields for governor, attorney general, and a few congressional races. Locally, voters will decide state rep and state senate seats, as well as countywide posts. The winners of today's races will face off, if necessary, in November.

Deere Chosen As Illinois' Second Most Historic Business

John Deere is one of Illinois' most historic businesses. It's just not the most historic. Voters in Illinois' Top 200 contest picked the state's big green tractor maker as Illinois' second most historic company. Archer Daniels Midland is the most historic. Caterpillar was voted the third most iconic. Voters filled out the rest of the top ten with McDonald's, Walgreens, Rand McNally, DeKalb Ag Research, Sears, State Farm, and Dairy Queen.

SIU Poll: Most Illinoisans Say Criminal Justice System Is Biased

Most people in Illinois say the state's criminal justice system is biased, but not folks downstate. A new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says 55 percent of people asked, say that the criminal justice system is biased against black people. The polls says 63 percent of people in and around Chicago saw a bias, but that fell to 42 percent when pollsters spoke with folks south of I-80. The poll also showed a racial and political split, with Democrats and minorities seeing more bias than Republicans and white voters.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Primary Election Day Is Tomorrow

It's the last full day of politicking in what's already been a jam-packed election season. Voters across the state will head to the polls tomorrow, looking to narrow the races for Illinois governor, attorney general, and some congressional seats. There are also a number of local primary contests that will essentially decide who will be sheriff, state representative, or county leaders.

Report: 2018 Race For Illinois Governor Close To Record Costs

The candidates running for Illinois governor are on pace to spend perhaps 100 million-dollars on TV ads alone. "The Chicago Tribune" reported yesterday that the Republicans and Democrats running for the state's highest office have spent 65 million on TV ads so far, and voters won't make their final choice til November. To put that 65 million in perspective, Governor Rauner spent 63 million-dollars on his entire campaign four years ago.

Taxi 2 Vote

Checker Cab of Bloomington is offering free transportation to voters in Bloomington and Normal Tuesday to and from your polling place from 6am to 7pm. Voters wanting to take advantage of the offer must call Checker Cab a 309-828-0123 to schedule your ride and you must mention "Taxi 2 Vote" to receive the free service

Friday, March 16, 2018

Jobs Report: More Working, Lower Unemployment

Most Illinois cities are seeing more people working and a lower unemployment rate. The Illinois Department of Employment Security yesterday released a city-by-city jobs report for the start of 2018. The Quad Cities, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, and of course Chicago all added jobs over the past year. Springfield, Danville, and Carbondale all reported to the state that they lost jobs since last January.

Get Ready For Campaign Ad Flood

Chances are you're not going to be able to watch much TV or do much online this weekend without seeing a campaign commercial for an Illinois candidate. This is the final weekend before next week's primary, and political parties and candidates themselves are gearing-up. Governor Rauner, and the three top Democrats running for governor are all out with new commercials. But local candidates are also using this last weekend as their chance to get some air time. Don't worry if it all stops, at least for a bit, as of Wednesday.

Federal Prosecutors Say Laws, Not Congressional Rules Matter In Schock Case

Federal prosecutors want a judge to rely on the law, not rules written by congressmen for congressmen when dealing with former Congressman Aaron Schock. The Justice Department filed a response this week to Schock's lawyers who say prosecutors are beyond their scope in trying to charge Schock with a crime for how he reported campaign and congressional expenses. The feds say a court ruling based on a 1995 case, ironically dealing with another Illinois Congressman, is wrong.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Toys R Us to Close All Stores

Toys R Us has told all employees it plans to liquidate all U.S. operations after weak holiday sales. The Washington Post reports as many as 33,000 employees face layoffs after the chain failed to regain stable financial footing following a bankruptcy filing in September. The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that employees were notified remaining outlets will be sold or closed. This includes the Toys R Us on Empire Street in Bloomington.

Federal Prosecutors Charge Four In Bombing Plots

Four central Illinois men are facing federal charges for a pair of bombing plots.  FBI agents arrested Michael Hari, Joe Morris, Michael McWhorter and Ellis Mack yesterday for an August 2017 bombing at a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, and a planned bombing in November of that year at a women's clinic in Champaign.  Investigators say they got a tip about bomb-making materials and weapons at Hari's house.  The FBI says it was during their investigation into the guns that McWhorter admitted his role in the 2017 bombing.  Prosecutors say he said he wanted to scare Muslims out of the country.

Illinois To See Bicentennial Beer Cans Today

The first six packs of Illinois' bicentennial beer will soon be on store shelves. Governor Rauner and members of the state's Bicentennial Commission will debut the beer this afternoon in Springfield. The Bicentennial 1818 Craft Beer is being specially brewed for just this year, to celebrate the state's 200th birthday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

U.S. News And World Report Ranks Illinois Least Stable Statehouse

Illinois is once again at the top of the list of the bottom states in the country. U.S. News and Word Report last week came out with its list of the most and least financially stable states in the country. Illinois leads the worst list. The report looked at pension debt, balanced budgets, cash flow, and the state's credit rating. Republicans in Springfield say given Illinois' fiscal mess, it's not a surprise that the state is ranked dead last in fiscal stability.

Governor Rauner Kinda Clarifies Gun Control Wishes

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is being clear about just one piece of the gun control push at the Illinois Capitol. The governor yesterday told reporters in Chicago that he will sign a law to ban bump stocks. But the governor was less clear about other gun control measures that lawmakers are considering. He would only say that he wants 'bipartisan solutions' on the ideas of state-issued gun dealer licenses, a new law to raise the age to buy a rifle, and a ban on magazines that hold more than ten bullets.

Bloomingotn Public Works Looks for More Road Funds

Bloomington's Public Works Department is looking for more city funds to fix certain roads. The department is looking to decrease the wait time for southbound traffic turning right at the intersection of Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove Road. Public Works was originally looking for $450,000 to fund the project, but at Monday nights city council meeting, the department director Jim Karch proposed they reduce the number to $370,000. City leaders approved that resolution.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Ideas from the Bloomington City Budget Workshop

The Bloomington City Council is looking for ways to trim a budget deficit and fund capital projects. Some are looking at the nearly $5 million the city donates to community needs and programs to close the gap. Ideas discussed Saturday during a budget workshop included fundraisers and community service programs that range from mental health services to the Route 66 visitors center.

Governor May Be Leaning Against Gun Dealer Law

Illinois may not get a new, tougher gun dealer law after all. Governor Rauner has been very quiet about his plans for a series of proposed gun control laws in Springfield. But on Friday the governor told reporters in the Quad Cities that he doesn't want to add 'redundant regulations' on small businesses in the state. Gun supporters say that may be a sign that Rauner won't sign a new plan to create state-based licensees for gun dealers in Illinois.

One Dead, Three Wounded In Champaign Shooting

One man is dead and three others are recovering after a shooting in Champaign.  Police say it happened early yesterday morning in the 700 block of North Hickory Street, on the city's near east side.  Champaign Police say 34-year-old Montrez Vonner died after being hit by a number of bullets.  They say the shooting started with an argument.  The three other victims are all expected to be okay.  Investigators are asking neighbors if they have any tips in the case

Friday, March 9, 2018


Kyle Ham, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, has resigned to take the position as vice president of client services for Core Construction in Morton, IL. Ham’s last day will be April 29. Zach Dietmeier with the E.D.C. tells Cities 92.9 that Mike O’Grady will serve as the interim CEO until the search for a new one is completed. Dietmeier adds that Ham actually submitted his resignation letter a week ago, but the E.D.C. board says it delayed releasing the news to avoid detracting from the annual One Voice lobbying trip to Washington.


South Korea announced Thursday night that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is extending an invitation to meet with President Trump. South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong also announced an upcoming meeting between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader. The extraordinary and unexpected opening came through shuttle diplomacy by a South Korean delegation arriving in Washington Thursday.Trump heralded the development as a “major announcement” after speaking with the South Korean president. Kim has agreed to a suspend missile tests while the talks go on, and there was no insistence that the United States and South Korea suspend joint military exercises.


Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue (CISAR) announces it will close.  CISAR, a not-for-profit shelter and low-cost veterinary clinic at 29738 E. County Road 1400 North, has stopped taking animals and is making arrangements for the animals on hand, though no exact end date is set. The shelter specialized in animals that other shelters wouldn’t take, sometimes due to age or illness. The clinic will remain open.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Pekin City Hall was evacuated Thursday morning after a pipe bomb was found in a safe. Pekin Public Information Office Billie Ingles said police made a meth-related arrest and confiscated a safe from the suspect’s residence. When police opened the safe, a pipe bomb was found. The city hall building, which also contains the police station, was evacuated. The Peoria Police Bomb Squad arrived and sent a bomb robot has been in to retrieve the device. Members of the Peoria Bomb Squad successfully detonated the bomb. No on was injured

Student in Car Crash Dies

Normal Community West High School student. Olivia Sonetz, has died as a result of her injuries suffered in a two-vehicle crash Tuesday night.  The 17-year old from Bloomington was leaving softball practice when the crash occurred at 6:25 that evening  at the at the intersection of Mitsubishi Motorway, and Raab Road. She was initially taken to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, then to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. The announcement of her death was made Thursday morning.

Cause of Apartment Fire Determined

Fire investigators have determined what caused the fire that destroyed a Bloomington apartment complex last month. The Bloomington Fire Department says the Gettysburg Apartment fire was started by a cooking accident. The department now considers the investigation to be closed

Peoria Eyes Tobacco 21 Ordinance

Peoria could raise the age to buy a pack of cigarettes by the end of next month.  The city's Liquor Commission earlier this week approved a Tobacco 21 plan.  Mayor Jim Ardis told "The Peoria Journal Star" yesterday that the proposal could come up for a vote in April.  More than a dozen Illinois cities including Chicago already have laws that ban anyone under 21 from buying any tobacco products.  Advocates say a higher smoking age will keep some young smokers from ever starting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

State Farm Announces Nearly 900 Jobs Will Be Cut

Nearly 900 IT workers will soon be out of a job at State Farm Insurance's Illinois headquarters.  The company yesterday said it is eliminating 890 jobs in Bloomington as part of a company-wide restructuring.  State Farm says it plans to move some new jobs to Bloomington as well, but not nearly as many as it is eliminating.  State Farm has about 15-thousand employees in Bloomington.  The company is not saying when the 890 workers will see their last days with the company.

Chief Heffner Nominated as US Marshall

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner was nominated Tuesday by President Donald Trump to serve as a U.S. Marshal. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Heffner would serve as the marshal for the Central District of Illinois.

New Poll: 89-Percent Think Illinois Heading In Wrong Direction

A new poll says more than eight in ten people in the state think Illinois is heading in the wrong direction.  The poll, released yesterday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, asked registered voters if they think the state, the country and their local community are on the right track.  Pollsters say 89-percent of people said Illinois is headed in the wrong direction and 64-percent said the country is headed down the wrong path, but 54-percent said their local community is on the right track.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Normal Approves Budget

The Normal City Council approved it's spending plan Monday night that features both budget cuts to programs and fee hikes for services such as water, sewer and trash collection starting April 1.There is something new: the town now will send you a monthly water bill. The town currently bills water, and other services, every two months.It comes at an annual cost of  $136,000 which is also generating a job. Ironically, that motion passed just minutes after 24 other town positions were eliminated.

Ives Concerned About Chicago ID Cards

The conservative running for governor in Illinois says Chicago is flirting with voter fraud. Jeanne Ives yesterday said that plans to use Chicago's CityKey ID as an acceptable voter ID invites people who have the ID cards, but who are not legal citizens to vote illegally. Ives said using local ID opens the door to 'literally suborning' voter fraud.

Blues Brothers Voted Illinois' Best Movie For Bicentennial

Sorry, Ferris Bueller, Jake and Elwood are Illinois' most beloved movie stars. Illinois' Bicentennial Commission yesterday announced that voters picked The Blues Brothers as the best movie filmed in Illinois. Ferris Bueller's Day Off came in second, A League of Their Own came in third. The movie category is the first in a series of Top Ten lists that will be created for Illinois' bicentennial. Planners hope to have a Top 200 in pla
ce for the state's 200th birthday in December.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Normal Budget

Normal is set to make a 16 percent drop in town spending in the town's new $102 million budget proposal, which is down $20 million from the year before. Cuts include 24 employees and a big subsidy for trash disposal fees.  Other cuts include the Orlando Avenue police substation, the town's housing rehabilitation program and the Bone grant for historic homes.  Along with some cuts from the town, there will be increases for you for your sewer fees and monthly water bills.  Ending the trash subsidy will mean gradually higher bills for for your trash collection.

Governor Rauner Taps CMS Boss For Quincy Vets Home Fix

The man in charge of buying things for the state of Illinois will now be in charge of fixing the problems at the Quincy veterans home. Governor Bruce Rauner on Friday announced that Michael Hoffman will oversee the state's response to the lingering problems with Legionnaires disease at the home. Hoffman was previously in charge of the Department of Central Management Services, which is the state's procurement agency. Thirteen people at the home in Quincy have died from Legionnaires since 2015, and dozens of others have gotten sick. Four new cases were reported last month alone.

Local Schools Going Green

For several local school districts are going green. Districts including Bloomington District 87, Stanford-based Olympia and McLean County Unit 5 are increasing their green initiatives at school buildings by reducing waste and conserving energy — and cutting expense at the same time.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Rivian Automotive, the electric car startup that bought the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Normal, plans to publicly unveil its first vehicles this year on its way  to bringing a five-passenger truck to the market in 2020. Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe tells The Pantagraph Rivian also plans to announce partners who will use the plant this year as the company hopes to bring in other companies to manufacture at the facility, including as part of Rivian’s supply chain.


Wallethub is a nonpartisan think tank that offers original and often unusual comparisons of states. Its findings are based upon Census data and other numerical values. There is no subjectivity involved, only the subjectivity in deciding which categories to examine. So here’s an Illinois ranking that might surprise you. Illinois is the nation’s seventh most sinful state. By its figuring, Illinois per capita, is the sixth worst state for vanity; the 13th worst for anger and hatred; the 13th again for lust; the 19th worst for jealousy; the 22nd for laziness; and the 24th for vice. The only “sin” on the list where Illinois is better than average, was greed, where it ranked 30th. Presumably, we would commit more of this type of sin if only we had more money. The top three sinful states were Florida, California and Nevada. The least sinful state is Vermont.

Source: Daily Journal Kankakee, IL

Friday, March 2, 2018


A pair of large hurricanes and some severe winter weather is getting the blame for massive payouts at State Farm. The Bloomington-based insurance giant yesterday posted a nearly two billion-dollar operating loss for last year. A statement from the company said a large underwriting loss drove the operating loss. State Farm collected almost 64 billion-dollars in premiums, and paid out almost seven billion to customers. Despite the loss, State Farm managers say the company's overall net worth increased in 2017.


Registered nurse, James Rellihan of Bloomington, is accused of removing opioid patches from the bodies of residents at two local nursing homes. Rellihan is charged with multiple counts of burglary and theft. According to prosecutors, Rellihan removed three opioid patches from a terminally ill man at a Bloomington facility telling the patient, “It will be OK.” Bond is at $50,000.


26-year-old Richard Henderson of Standard pleaded not guilty to charges of concealing a 16-year-old Spring Valley girl’s homicidal death. Diamond Bradley’s body was found in a ditch in rural Putnam County in late January after she was reported missing several days earlier. Bradley died of multiple stab wounds. Prosecutors said Henderson allegedly killed Bradley after a “physical altercation.” Henderson faces one count of concealing a homicidal death. Henderson returns to court March 15 for a status hearing.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Unit 5 School Board President Resigns

Jim Hayek announced his resignation as president of the McLean County Unit 5 school board Wednesday after the board approved the hiring of several school staff to new roles. Hayek, of Normal, said he will leave the board at the end of May to take a new position with State Farm in Phoenix, Ariz.

Normal Revises Library Plans

Normal Public Library officials are considering delaying a new library planned to cost more than $20 million and measure almost 100,000 square feet in favor of an expansion to the current library facility at 206 W. College Ave. The library board approved Wednesday a $14,000 study on a potential expansion that would use grassy land to the south and west of the current building to add as much as 25,000 square feet to the 45,700 square-foot facility on College Avenue. A Chicago-based firm will carry out the study.

Illinois House Passes Several Gun Control Bills

State Representatives pass several gun control bills in the House on Wednesday.  

Some of the bills include reducing access to assault rifles, banning the sale of bump stocks, and licensing gun dealers to make sure all state and federal laws are being followed.

The following was passed in Springfield:

House Bill 1465, which raises the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21
House Bill 1467, which bans the sale of bump stocks and other modifications like those used by Las Vegas shooter to turn an arsenal of semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns.
House Bill 1468, which requires a 72 hour "cooling off" period on all assault rifle sales.
Senate Bill 1657 and House Bill 1273, which ensures all gun shops comply with the these laws, and federal laws, by creating a gun dealer licensing system.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More Charges Again Piano Teacher Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors

More alleged victims have come forward to accuse a Bloomington piano teacher of sexually abusing them as Bloomington police continue interviewing other potential victims.Aaron Parlier was handed three more indictments charging him with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of two minors. Parlier now faces a total of 13 charges involving three alleged victims.

Coroner Releases Cause of Death of Man Found Dead in Parking Ramp

A McLean County Coroner's report says 48-year-old Miguel Orellana of Bloomington died from head injuries suffered from apparently falling down stairs at the Market Street parking deck early Monday. Police discovered his body just past 6 a.m. Monday. The incident remains under investigation.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

TSA Pre-Check Temporary Enrollment Center Event at Central Illinois Regional Airport

Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal invites you to enroll in the popular TSA Pre✓® expedited screening program March 5-9, 2018. The enrollment event hours are 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. each day in Conference Room 1 on the second level of the terminal building at 3201 CIRA Drive, Bloomington. TSA Pre✓® is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and more efficient screening experience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts.

Bloomington Trash Fees Hiked, Service Reduced

If you live in Bloomington, you will pay more to have your trash hauled and you will see a reduction in bulky waste pickup as part of a plan approved Monday to close a $1.1 million annual deficit in the solid waste disposal program. The City Council voted 6-3 to levy a $4 increase for the two larger trash carts, effective May 1st, but the $16 per month fee for the 35-gallon cart remains unchanged.  Beginning May 1, 2019, the per-cart monthly fee will increase 3 percent a year for every cart size.

Bloomington-Normal Bus Managers Still Want Downtown Hub

Bus managers in Bloomington-Normal aren't giving up hope on a downtown Bloomington hub. Connect Transit leaders last night said that they are looking for a new site, after city leaders in Bloomington scuttled the idea of a combo library/bus station earlier this month. Connect Transit GM Isaac Thorne told city leaders last night that he'd rather that they tell him where to build, so they can all avoid another site selection that ends-up nowhere.

Justice Kennedy Slams Illinois For State Support Of Union Dues

One of the nation's Supreme Court justices says he cannot believe the state of Illinois is defending the public sector unions that are draining state resources and demanding ever-higher pensions, paychecks and perks.  Justice Anthony Kennedy yesterday blasted assistant Illinois Attorney General David Franklin for defending AFSCME in its attempt to continue to force all state workers to pay a fee to the union, which Kennedy says supports the union's political action.  Kennedy said that by siding with the union, the state is siding with higher wages, massive government, increasing bonded indebtedness and increasing taxes.  The sharp questions came during oral arguments in the Janus case, which could undue union fees and protections for public sector jobs across Illinois and the rest of the country.