Tuesday, October 16, 2018

State Farm Letters

The big red letters spelling State Farm on thier old builing in downtown Bloomington will be coming down soon. A local contractor will handle the job within a couple of weeks. The building is for sale. State Farm officials have not released any updates regarding possible buyers.

Richards Investigation Closed

The City of Bloomington said an ethics complaint filed against Democratic McLean County Clerk candidate Nikita Richards is unfounded. An ethics complaint was filed in September against Richards by Kevin Gerrard.The complaint alleged Richards--a Bloomington city worker--was doing campaign work on taxpayer-funded equipment.

Normal Approves TIF Deal

The Town of Normal is going ahead with a $29.2 million dollar project in Uptown Normal. Monday night the council voted to give an Iowa-based construction firm $8 million dollars in incentives from a TIF to develop a 5-story mixed use building on the northwest part of Uptown Circle. The town of Normal will trade up 300 parking spaces and two town-owned buildings on 104 and 108 E. Beaufort St. to make this happen.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mega Millions Jackpot Likely The Second Largest Ever

The Mega Millions jackpot just keeps growing.  Illinois Lottery officials say tomorrow's jackpot will be just over 650 million-dollars.  That's the second largest jackpot ever.  The lump sum payout for a 654 million-dollar jackpot comes to about 373 million. 

Normal Newest TIF Deal For Uptown Circle on Council's Agenda Tonight

Normal could give up nearly $8 million in future property tax revenue, 300 parking spaces and two historic buildings for uptown's next redevelopment project under a TIF deal. If approved by the town council tonight, Iowa-based Bush Construction would get all that to develop a $29.2 million building on the northeast side of Uptown Circle which would open in summer 2020. The first-floor will be retail with higher-level commercial offices and top-floor for residential space.

Sorry Oprah, Lydia Moss Bradley Is Illinois' Most Influential Woman

The woman who founded Bradley University beat out three former first ladies and Oprah on Illinois' latest Top 200 list.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library yesterday said that bicentennial best-of voters picked Lydia Moss Bradley as the state's most influential woman.  Bradley turned to education after her husband's death, and founded Bradley University in Peoria.  The rest of the top five groundbreaking women are Betty Friedan, Jane Addams,  Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Hillary Clinton.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Another Governor's Debate, Another Series Of Accusations

Voters in Quincy got to hear the same outrage over scandals from the two main candidates running for governor as voters in Chicago did during the last governor's debate.  Governor Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker debated in Quincy last night.  The governor said Pritzker lied, conspired to defraud taxpayers, and could be the next Illinois governor to go to prison.  Pritzker chastised Rauner for being slow to handle the Legionnaires' outbreak at the Quincy veterans home.  This was their final debate.

Bloomington May Merge Public Works and Water Depts

Could Bloomington  public works and water departments merge? Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason has a plan but itwon't be shared until Monday. Gleason is saying that out of respect for the council, he wanted to discuss it there before going public with details.

Joliet to Fire Hales

A separation agreement with Joliet City Manager David Hales is being negotiated. That's according to Joliet city officials. The City of Joliet signed Hales in November to a three-year contract paying $215,000 annually. Hales had been Bloomington's city manager since 2008

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mega Millions Jackpot Growing For Friday's Drawing

Do not be surprised by long lines at the gas station this week.  The Illinois Lottery is expecting to see a lot of people buy tickets for Friday's Mega Millions drawing.  No one won Tuesday's drawing, so the jackpot will be at least 548 million-dollars.  Lotto officials say the lump-sum payout on that would be almost 310 million.  Your chances of winning are also about one in 300 million.

New Poll Gives J.B. Pritzker 20 Point Lead

Another poll in Illinois' governor race is giving J.B. Pritzker a double digit lead. The latest Ipsos poll shows 50 percent of likely voters in the state would vote for Pritzker, while just 30 percent of likely voters say they'd choose Governor Rauner.  Illinois' other candidates, Kash Jackson and Sam McCann, got a combined nine percent in the poll.

Athena Award Winner

This year's Athena award from the McLean County Chamber of Commerce goes to Deb Halperin, director of the university's Action Research Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. She was honored Wednesday night during the Leaders of Distinction reception at the Mariott in Normal

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Illinois Ranked Last For State Finances

Illinois is at the bottom of another list when it comes to state finances.  The Mercatus Center at George Mason University released its new state financial rankings yesterday and Illinois is 50th.  Researchers judged the states on cash solvency, long-run solvency, budget solvency, service-level solvency and trust fund solvency.  Mercatus ranked Nebraska as the best state in the nation.

Rivian to Debut its First Vehicles

You'll get your first glimpse at a Rivian vehicle made in Normal at the Los Angeles International Motors Show in late November and you'll be able to buy a Rivian in Normal in  2020 at it's factory store. That's according to RJ Scaringe, CEO of Rivian, during last night's Community Leaders Dinner presented by the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. The company now has about 65 employees in Normal.

Normal Police Want More Cooperation In Shooting Investigation

Police in Normal say they could use a little help in solving a weekend shooting that sent a 16-year-old to the hospital.  Investigators say neighbors aren't offering any tips that can help them find the shooter.  Normal Assistant Police Chief Eric Klingele says the victim is also being tight-lipped about who shot him.  Klingele says anyone with any information about the shooting can call Crime Stoppers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bloomington Approves Business Regisration Fees and Boat Dock Requirements

The Bloomington city Council approved a couple of measures Monday night, the first was to make businesses register with the city and pay a one-time only fee of $50. The fees could generate more than $200,000 in this first year. In a unanimous vote,  the council okayed the implementation of a new boat dock permitting program at Lake Bloomington to regulate construction standards. If you are looking to build a new dock, you'll have to pay $250 dollars plus an annual fee of $50 to maintain it.

Alligator Found In Lake Michigan

It's not a tornado full of sharks, but it is one of those headlines that will make you scratch your head.  Waukegan Police say they found an alligator swimming in Lake Michigan.  The gator had tape over its mouth, and was found just north of Waukegan Harbor yesterday.  Rescuers aren't sure where the alligator came from, they took the gator to Wildlife Discovery Center in nearby Lake Forest.

Report On Canton Explosion Due Soon

City leaders in Canton could soon know all of the details about the 2016 explosion that leveled the city's Opera House.  The Peoria Journal Star yesterday reported that the NTSB could issue its report on the explosion in the next few weeks.  One person died in November of 2016 when a natural gas line exploded at the Opera House in downtown Canton. Canton Mayor Kent McDowell says a lot of people want to see the report, not to assign blame, but to answer any lingering questions.

Monday, October 8, 2018

eSports Tournament Coming to Twin Cities

Bloomington-Normal will play host to the Sixty-Six Games Esports Tournament on Jan. 12 and 13 at Grossinger Motors Arena. State Farm is the title sponsor.

Bloomington City Council to Consider Business Registration Fee

It could become a bit more expensive to do business in Bloomington. The Bloomington City Council tonight will consider creating a business registration program with a $50 fee. It doesn't stop there. The council will also consider increasing more than 100 fees for a variety of city-issued permits, annual licenses, inspections and services.

Over Two Inches of Rain and More on the Way

There were no reports of damage Sunday despite a late day tornado warning, but the National Weather Service in Lincoln say thunderstorms may continue off and on through Wednesday night. A little more that 2 and a third inches of rain fell on Bloomington received between 1 a.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday. Enjoy it while you can. Monday's forecast calls for sunny conditions and a high of 85 before rain chances reappear.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Illinois Included In National Ground Beef Recall

There's another recall that will have people checking the freezer.  The USDA yesterday announced that six-and-a-half million pounds of ground beef from JBS Tolleson in Arizona is being recalled for E. coli contamination.  Illinois is one of the states covered by the recall.  The USDA says 57 people in 16 states have reported being sick after eating the beef.  The recalled beef has an establishment number "EST. 267" inside the USDA inspection mark.

McLean County Clerk's Debate

They traded accusations and campaign promises at last night's County Clerk's Debate at Heartland Community College. Republican County Clerk Kathy Michael and Democratic challenger Nikita Richards participated in the hourlong debate on public radio station WGLT which was sponsored by the League of Women's Voters. Michael talked about increased cybersecurity and accused Richards of "defamation" in the campaign. Richards talked about more resources and outreach to voters who she believes are underserved and disenfranchised. Both candidates are facing ethics complaints.

Taking "Potty" Shots at Pritzker

Republicans are contending Democrat J.B. Pritzker shouldn’t be elected Illinois governor because of this week's inspector general’s report that Pritzker avoided taxes by yanking toilets out of one of his mansions. Accompanied by a pair of toilets, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, State Sen. Jason Barickman and Congressmen Darin LaHood held a joint news conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Bloomington. They railed on Pritzker and his“scheme to defraud” Cook County of more than $330,000 in improper property tax reductions and refunds.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Toilets, Taxes, Quincy Veterans Home Takes Center Stage At Second Debate

The two major party candidates running for Illinois governor talked about toilets, taxes, and the new investigation into the deaths at the Quincy veterans home, but they didn't have many answers.  Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker debated in Chicago last night.  The two hammered each other over the scandals surrounding their campaigns, Pritzker's toilet scheme and Rauner's handling of the Legionnaires outbreak in Quincy.  As for specifics as to what they'd do if elected, both stuck with their talking points and said nothing that voters hadn't heard before.

Aaron Schock Trial To Be Moved From January

Former west-central Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock won't go to trial in January.  Schock's attorneys and federal prosecutors both agree they need more time to get ready for the case.  Schock is accused of lying on Congressional and campaign finance forms, while living a lavish lifestyle on someone else's dime.  Lawyers are due back in court for a status hearing tomorrow.

Cornbelters Choose a New League

Independent professional baseball is leaving Normal after nine seasons.  Normal CornBelters team president Steve Malliet tells us the team will not play in the Frontier League, but will, instead, will join a college wood bat league for the 2019 season. The team will keep the CornBelters name and log and they will continue to play at the Corn Crib.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

AARP Poll: Almost Half Of People Thought About Leaving Illinois

If you've thought about leaving Illinois, you're not alone.  Illinois's AARP chapter yesterday released a poll that says 49 percent of voters over 25 have thought about leaving.  Seventy-three percent of voters say they know someone who's talked about leaving.  The poll also says 65 percent of voters want the state to pay its unpaid bills and fix its financial problems.  About 60 percent of voters asked by pollsters say they'd support a change in Illinois' tax structure to make that happen.

Pritzker To Repay Cook County Property Tax Money

Illinois governor candidate J.B. Pritzker will repay more than 330-thousand-dollars in property tax breaks he received on one of his mansions in Chicago's Gold Coast.  The billionaire announced the move yesterday following a county inspector general report claiming he took part in a scheme to defraud Cook County taxpayers.  Pritzker received the refunds after his wife asked a contractor to remove the mansion's toilets in order to obtain a property tax reduction.  Pritzker's campaign said he will repay the county by the end of the week.

Man Escapes Mobile Home Fire Safely

Fire damaged a mobile home in southwest Bloomington  at 9 Isabelle Drive in Alexander Estateson Tuesday. The man who lives there was home at the time but got out without injury, firefighters said. His two children were not there at the time. The American Red Cross has been called in to assist the family.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Illinois Enforcing Online Sales Tax Law

It's going to cost you a little more to shop online.  Illinois is one of several states that started collecting online sales taxes yesterday.  The new taxes follow a Supreme Court decision from last year.  Illinois will charge online shoppers six-and-a-quarter percent on purchases, just like in traditional stores.  Many websites already charged the tax, but this new law will make sure the rest do as well.

LIHEAP Application Process Underway

Folks across Illinois who will need help in paying their heating bills this winter are being encouraged to apply for that help now.  The Illinois Low Income Heating Assistance Program, better known as LIHEAP, is taking applications across the state.  Local senior service and social services offices in each county will handle the paperwork.  Applications are due by November 1st, and the first payments will come in December.


Ethics Complaints Against Michael, Richards Set to Proceed

An ethics complaint accusing County Clerk Kathy Michael of alleged misconduct will be forwarded to the state's attorney for review, according to a decision Monday by the McLean County Ethics Commission.  The accusations allege Michael used a county-owned laptop computer for campaign activities and then intentionally damaged the computer to destroy evidence of alleged misconduct. Michael's case could be handled by a special prosecuter. Meanwhile, the City of Bloomington is following up on a request for an ethics hearing against Michael's Democratic opponent and city employee, Nikita Richards, for allegedly using a city-owned laptop computer for shopping and campaign activities. An outside attorney, John Redlingshafer, will investigate the complaints against Richards

Monday, October 1, 2018

Police Arrest Drunken ISU Student For Pointing Gun At Students

Illinois State University police arrested a student who was intoxicated and allegedly aimed a firearm at three other students early Sunday. It all took place at an apartment at 214 W. Willow St.. There were no injuries and the firearm did not discharge. Formal charges are pending.

Bloomington City Council to Hear Comprehensive Overhaul Plan for Zoning

Heads up, If you are a beekeeper or are raising chickens in the city of Bloomington. There are some newly proposed rules that are a part of hundreds of other changes in a comprehensive overhaul plan of Bloomington's zoning ordinance from the city's Planning Commission. The proposal will be presented at a special meeting of the City Council at 6 p.m. at City Hall tonight. 

USDA: Illinois Likely Over-Issued Food Stamps

Federal regulators are warning the state of Illinois about the number of people in the state on food stamps.  The USDA sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Human Services earlier this month, explaining a number of irregularities in how the state manages the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The letter says Illinois looks to have over-issued food stamps.  The USDA says there were 'systematic' concerns about how Illinois verified people enrolled in the program.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Unemployment Rate Falls In 13 Metro Areas

Jobless rates are going down in parts of the state.  Preliminary data released yesterday shows unemployment rates decreased in 13 metropolitan areas from August 2017 to August 2018.  Illinois businesses added jobs in ten metro areas, with the largest increase in Kankakee.  Carbondale-Marion, Springfield and Bloomington lost jobs.

Rauner to Pantagraph: A Massive Auto Plant Would Vve Come to McLean Co, But...

A massive auto plant would have come to McLean County, but the state's burdensome business regulations stood in the way, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday when he met with the Pantagraph's editorial board. Rauner said a $1.6 billion joint venture between Toyota and Mazda that will employ 4,000 workers in Huntsville, Ala., was bound for Central Illinois — but company officials didn't want to deal with rules that make employees at businesses with labor unions join the union.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Both Candidates for McLean County Clerk Have Ethics Complaints Against Them

In a press release via her Facebook page last night, incumbent McLean County Clerk Kathy Micheal, Republican,  revealed she was informed that an Ethics Complaint has been filed against her. Several weeks ago--as first reported on Cities 92.9--a request for an Ethics Investigation against her opponent, Nikita Richards, a Democrat and a city of Bloomington employee, was made by a private citizen.

District 87 Passes Deficit Budget: $2.6 in the Red

The District 87 school board last night approved a 2018-19 budget that calls for a deficit of about $2.6 million in its operating funds. Officials say the trend of budget deficits is manageable for now, but changes in spending and/or revenue may have to be made in a few years if things don't improve.

Most Midwestern Gas Prices Higher

It's not your imagination, gas prices across most of the Midwest are higher this week.  Triple-A says the average gallon of regular gas in Illinois costs two-dollars 93-cents per-gallon.  That's higher than all of our neighbors, and higher than the national average of two-dollars 87-cents per-gallon.  Those prices may be as high as they are because of slowdowns at several refineries across the region.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Shooting Update

Bloomington police continue to investigate a Tuesday morning shooting that left at least one person injured in the 300 block of South Western Avenue. The victim was treated ata local hospital and later released. Police continue to search for a suspect.

Weapons Charges Filed After Bloomington Standoff

Prosecutors in Bloomington are pushing ahead with weapons charges against a local man who they say held police at bay over the weekend for nearly five hours.  The McLean County State's Attorney's office yesterday filed charges against Cody Powell for having a weapon and ammunition without a FOID card.  Bloomington Police say Powell barricaded himself inside his west Bloomington home on Sunday.

Luke Bryan ISU Ag Scholarships

Country singer Luke Bryan recently honored his roots by establishing the Luke Bryan Farm Tour Scholarship at ISU, which provides support for students majoring in agriculture. Four students were awarded scholarship dollars from this gift. Bryan’s scholarship gift is part of the University’s $150 million comprehensive campaign, Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Frontier Airlines Start Flights From Bloomington-Normal

Flyers in central Illinois, you have another option.  Frontier Airlines started their new flights from Bloomington-Normal to Denver yesterday.  Frontier will start flights to Orlando next week.  Central Illinois Regional Airport Executive Director Carl Olson says he hopes the new flights can reverse a six-year-long drop in passengers at the airport.

Early Voting Begins This Week In Illinois

Illinois is still six weeks away from election day, but voters will get to cast a ballot this week.  The Illinois State Board of Elections says early voting begins Thursday.  Voting by mail also starts that day.  Voters can cast their ballot at the courthouse or election office, or specially designated temporary polls.

Bloomington City Council Votes to Increase Punishment for Chronic Property Code Violators

The Bloomigton City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance to impose stiffer fines on those who violate the city's property codes with chronic offenders to be subjected to more inspections. Chronic offenders will also pay the court costs and the minimum fines for each case.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Standoff Ends: Man Surrenders, Child Unharmed

A man surrendered to police and was arrested following a 5-hour standoff. The incident began at about noon Sunday when police say Cody Powell had been reported "threatening people in the area," When police arrived, Powell had barricaded himself inside the home with his son. As police rushed the front door, the child was let go and an officer quickly whisked him away from the home. Powell was seen shortly afterward leaving the home with officers, shirtless and in cuffs.

Clinton Teen Dies in ATV Accident

A Clinton High School student was killed in an ATV crash near Clinton Saturday.14-year-old Kloe Weiss, a freshman, died Saturday evening following an ATV crash near her home. The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:20 p.m. Saturday.

Lawsuit Accuses Five Lincoln Prison Workers Of Sexual Misconduct

A pair of federal lawsuits claims five workers at one of the prisons in Lincoln were all a part of a pattern of sexual misconduct.  WAND TV broke the story on Friday.  The lawsuits claim the workers forced or coerced female inmates at the Logan Correctional Facility into sexual relationships.  They're all facing charges.  Three of the workers have been fired or resigned, while two others are still working at the prison.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rauner, Pritzker Spar At First Debate

Illinois voters' first look at the candidates for governor looked a lot like their campaign commercials.  Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker spent most of the night at last night's first debate jabbing at one another.  The two stuck mostly to their commercial talking points; taxes, spending, the governor's shortcomings and Pritzker's ties to Rod Blagojevich.  The third party candidates, Kash Jackson and Sam McCann were there as well, but mostly blended in the background.

Lincoln Artifact Curator Out Amid Questions About Multi-Million Dollar Hat

The man in charge of Abraham Lincoln artifacts at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is out of a job just days after questions about a multi-million dollar hat resurfaced.  The museum yesterday said that Lincoln artifact curator James Cornelius was fired on Wednesday.  He'd been on leave for months.  Cornelius was named in a news report that said he told FBI agents who wanted to test a hat believed to be Abraham Lincoln's, to disguise themselves as reporters as not to tip anyone off at the museum.

ISU Announces McLean Co Scholarships

The McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship program was announced Thursday by Illinois State University President Larry Dietz during his annual State of the University address. The program will begin in fall 2019, awarding up to four years of free tuition to five students each year. The tuition waivers have a current value of about $50,000 over four years. The scholarships will be awarded based on the student's leadership, community service and civic engagement.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Two Semis on Fire SB I-39 Near Hudson

Two semi trucks caught fire this morning on southbound I-39 near the Hudson exit. One truck was reported to be in the ditch and the other is on the road. Witnesses tell us the fire started as an explosion. The McLean County Coroner's Office is on the scene. Traffic is being re-routed so that emergency crews can put out the fire and secure the scene.

Illinois State Police: Indiana Man Killed After Running On I-55

The Illinois State Police says an Indiana man is dead after running from the police in central Illinois.  Troopers say Zachary Doyle of Hammond, Indiana died Monday night after he ran away from a traffic stop on I-55 near Lexington.  Chenoa Police initially pulled Doyle over for an equipment infraction.  No one is saying why he ran.

Green Top Grocery Co-op Needs $400k or Face Closure

Although weekly sales at Green Top Grocery co-op have increased by 30% since their turnaround plan began in April, officials say they need to raise $400,000 this fall or close. This fundraising effort is part of the store’s turnaround plan after what officials called a disappointing first year of business. This new campaign to raise $400,000 through owner loans runs through Nov. 12. You can be an owner with a one-time purchase of a $200 share. Ownership is not required to shop at the store.

McLean County Gov't to Cut Taxes, Restore Raises, Add Jobs

McLean County officials plan to slightly reduce the county's property tax rate while also adding 16 jobs and restoring raises for non-union employees under a budget proposal presented Tuesday to the County Board. The move, which would be approved this fall,  comes a year after cutting jobs and services to fix a budget deficit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fatal Accident

A 27-year old man is dead after an accident near mile marker 180 on Southbound I-55 near Lexington shortly after 11 last night. The McLean County Coroner has not yet released his name. Details about the accident have also not been released. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

VenuWorks Delivers Report on Losses at Grossinger Motors Arena



VenuWorks, the  company that manages Grossinger Motors Arena, reported their $665,099 loss last night to the Bloomington City Council. Grossinger Motor Arena Executive Director Lynn Cannon says said the arena fell short of their projections this year because the numbers they used were given to them by the city and not former managers. VenuWorks is hopeful that with the right numbers they can help the arena flourish.

For the complete report : http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=19928.

Town of Normal Defends Spending Though Nearly $94 Million in Debt

Town of Normal officials defend the growth a nearly $94 million debt load has brought the community. The Pantagraph reports Mayor Chris Koos as saying, "It's all about being proactive. Sometimes you miss opportunities if your only goal is to be debt-free" He added that  "Most of the debt we've incurred has really driven economic development in the community, although we've done infrastructure debt as well," he said.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Area Red Cross Members Assisting Hurricane Victims

The American Red Cross has 43 people from central Illinois ready at evacuation shelters with food and supplies to assist those affected by hurricane Florence. Members say you can help with blood donations. If you can’t donate blood or want to help out another way, you can text the word “Florence,” to 90-999.

Cornbelt Energy Assisting in Hurricane Relief Efforts

Cornbelt Energy of Bloomington sent a group of 4 trucks and 8 linemen out early Thursday morning to wait out hurricane Florence at a staging area in Virginia today. After that, they will begin clearing the damage and helping to get power restored to the affected area.

Addressing State's Teacher Shortage

The Illinois State Board of Education will consider a seven-point proposal to address the teacher shortage in the state at its Oct. 17 meeting. An Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools survey found 60 percent of school districts reported trouble filling teaching positions and 75 percent had seen fewer qualified candidates than in previous years.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Bloomington Affordable Housing

The Bloomington Council voted to convert the old Bloomington High School building into housing units. The new complex will soon be made into over 50 units for seniors. Leaders say it will first be open to Bloomington residents and veterans 55 years and older. This is part of the city's comprehensive plan to give seniors on a fixed income, affordable housing. The project will cost the developers $17 million and the lease will be set for 10 years.

Twin Cities Has Nationally-Ranked Colleges

Illinois State University remains in the top 100 Best Colleges rankings by U.S. News and World Report at 91st among public national universities and number 171 overall. Illinois Wesleyan University's ranking is 72 this year.

Boys and Girls Club Gets Land for $1

The Bloomington-Normal Boys and Girls Club is about to expand. The Bloomington City Council voted to allow the club to purchase more than three acres inside Sunnyside Park for just one dollar. Leaders said the new space will allow them to build a brand new facility. Officials said they will now work towards creating a contract, which the council will then approve later.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bloomington To Vote On Rental Assistance Program

The city of Bloomington could soon be helping a handful of senior citizens with their rent.  The city's council is set to vote tonight on a nearly 230 thousand dollar program that will help turn Bloomington's old high school into apartments.  Some of those apartments would be earmarked for four senior citizens for a decade.  Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason says the project will both help some seniors, and find a new use for the city's historic high school building.

Senator Durbin: Republicans Need To End Their Silence On Trump

Illinois' senior U.S. senator says it's time for Republicans to speak up about President Trump's behavior.  Senator Dick Durbin was on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, and said that it's unacceptable that Republicans are silent about what he calls the president's unpredictable, unprepared, unstable behavior.  Durbin said that Republicans should be the first ones to speak up. 

Governor Signs Harvest Emergency Order

Farmers across Illinois are getting a little help from the state in getting their crops out of the field.  Governor Rauner last week signed a harvest emergency order that allows farmers to carry heavier weights to market.  The order will allow farmers to move more corn or soybeans in a smaller amount of time.  The order is in effect till the end of the year.

Friday, September 7, 2018

College to Career Goes Live Online

College-bound students and their families now can consult an online program to determine the post-graduate economics of attending school in Illinois. The site is called ILCollege2Career.com and allows students to gauge future earnings from areas of study at a variety of public and private institutions. Students may click on a variety of academic disciplines for an individual school to determine expected salaries, student debt load and more.

IWU E-Sports Ribbon Cutting

Illinois Wesleyan University’s newest sport team held their inaugural opening ceremonies Thursday. The new E-Sports team at Wesleyan cut the ribbon on their brand-new home arena. While this is the team's first year recruiting a varsity class, this is not just a club for buddies to get together and play games. Like most other team sports, members of the program practice four times per week and analyze various games types. The E-Sports team has rivals all over the Midwest. Members added that they looking forward to putting on their home uniforms and winning matches.

Illinois Wesleyan University’s newest sport team held their inaugural opening ceremonies Thursday. The new E-Sports team at Wesleyan cut the ribbon on their brand-new home arena. While this is the team's first year recruiting a varsity class, this is not just a club for buddies to get together and play games. Like most other team sports, members of the program practice four times per week and analyze various games types. The E-Sports team has rivals all over the Midwest. Members added that they looking forward to putting on their home uniforms and winning matches.

Two From Illinois Helping To Write New Farm Bill

Illinois will have a large say in what the new federal farm bill looks like.  Two members of Congress from the state, Quad Cities Democrat Cheri Bustos and central Illinois Republican Rodney Davis, are a part of the committee that started work this week on a new package of farm subsidies and federal nutrition programs.  Bustos says she hopes the compromise plan will be more agreeable to everyone in D.C. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Bloomington Voters To Decide Election Commission's Fate

Voters in Bloomington will get to decide if they need their own election office.  A judge yesterday said a ballot question that would end the Bloomington Election Commission can stay on the November ballot.  Bloomington is one of just a handful of cities in Illinois with its own election office.  Republicans and Libertarians in Bloomington-Normal want to close the commission, and let the county's clerk manage elections in all of McLean County.

Justice Department Takes Schock Case Away From Central Illinois Prosecutors

A new set of federal prosecutors will handle the case against former Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock from here on out.  The Justice Department yesterday removed a team of central Illinois prosecutors from the case.  It's a rare move, but the latest in a series of twists in the case against the former Republican from Peoria.  Earlier this month, the judge in the case was reassigned after emails showed that he communicated with prosecutors.

U Of I To Honor President Obama

The University of Illinois is honoring President Obama for ethics in government.  The university yesterday announced plans to award the former president the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government.  The president will receive the honor next Friday.  There will be a ceremony, and the former president will give a speech, but tickets will not be made available to the public.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

State Farm Buys Naming Rights To Atlanta Hawks Arena

State Farm is adding its name to another arena, this time in Atlanta.  The Bloomington-based insurance giant announced this week that it paid 175-million-dollars to turn the Philips Arena in Atlanta into the State Farm Arena.  State Farm CEO Michael Tipsord said the naming rights will help State Farm build its brand.  State Farm opened a hub in the Atlanta area a few years ago, and the company employs about seven thousand people there

Illinois Confirms First West Nile Death

A man in his 60s from LaSalle County is the first person to die from the West Nile virus in Illinois this year.  The state's Department of Public Health confirmed the man's death yesterday.  The state says, so far this year, 22 people have gotten sick from the virus.  Last year 90 people got sick with West Nile; eight of them died. 

U Of I Football Announces 15-Million-Dollar Gift

The University of Illinois says a new gift will help them return to glory on the football field.  The school yesterday announced a 20-million-dollar gift from H.D. Smith Foundation, 15-million of which will go to upgrade the Fighting Illini Football Performance Center.  U of I leaders say they will name the center the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center in their honor.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Heat Advisory

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has issued a Heat
Advisory, which is in effect until
7 PM CDT Tuesday.

* TEMPERATURE…Highs in the lower 90s Today through Tuesday.

* HEAT INDEX VALUES…Afternoon heat indices peaking from 100 to
107 degrees.

* IMPACTS…The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during
outdoor exertion or extended exposure. The very young, the
elderly, those without air conditioning, and those participating
in strenuous outdoor activities will be the most susceptible.
Also, car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of
minutes.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Heat Advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is
expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity
will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are
possible.

Drink plenty of water, wear light weight loose fitting
clothing, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun,
and check up on relatives and neighbors. Take extra precautions,
if you work or spend time outside.

When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs
and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke
is an emergency, call 9 1 1.

Governor Rauner Signs Free School Lunch Law

School kids across Illinois will no longer miss lunch because they can't pay.  Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday signed a new law that requires schools to give kids a free lunch on days when they don't have money to buy the regular lunch.  The law does allow schools to try and collect payment for school lunches, and if that fails, ask the state for an offset.

Governor Rauner Vetoes Pay Hike For New Teachers

New teachers in Illinois will have to settle for an average salary of just 39 thousand-dollars a year.  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday vetoed a plan that would have paid new teachers across the state 40 thousand-dollars a year.  The governor said a state-mandated minimum pay schedule is not the best way to pay teachers in the state.  Some of Illinois' smaller schools had said they feared the new requirement would put them in a tight spot.

Friday, August 24, 2018

State Farm Closings Could Help Bloomington-Normal

Florida's loss should be central Illinois' gain.  State Farm Insurance yesterday said it will close an operating center in Jacksonville, Florida next year.  A company spokesman said some of those jobs will end up in Bloomington-Normal, where State Farm's headquarters are located.  But some of the jobs will also likely end up in new hubs in Texas, Georgia, and Arizona. 

Connect Transit Gets Improvements

Connect Transit officials announced the "Better Bus Stops for Bloomington-Normal campaign" with a ribbon cutting ceremony early Thursday morning. They say that when it's completed, there will be 157 total stops with new shelters, benches, and ADA compliant landing pads over the next three years. This is all part of a 1.45M federal grant for connect transit that will be used to help purchase zero-emission battery electric buses and to install solar panels at the connect transit maintenance facility.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Treatment, Not Trial For Illinois Man Accused In Waffle House Shooting

The central Illinois man charged with killing four people at a Tennessee Waffle House isn't going to trial anytime soon.  A judge in Nashville yesterday found Travis Reinking unfit for trial.  The judge said he hopes that by getting Reinking treatment for schizophrenia, he will eventually be able to go to trial.  Police say Reinking killed four people during a shooting back in April.

Bloomington Losing Its Sears Store In November

Another central Illinois city is losing another department store.  Sears yesterday announced it is closing its Bloomington store.  In all, Sears announced 46 closings across the country.  Sears says its store in the Eastland Mall will close in November.  The company isn't saying how many workers will lose their jobs. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

State Admits To Billion-Dollar Budget Hole

The state of Illinois is quietly admitting that its balanced budget isn't balanced after all.  The Rauner Administration this month acknowledged a one-point-two billion-dollar structural deficit in an offer to sell 920 million-dollars in state bonds.  The deficit comes from hundreds of millions of dollars that the state 'borrowed' from itself, as well as budget predictions that rely on the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago, and ignore an order to pay 400 million-dollars in promised raises to state employees.

Aaron Schock Wants Trial Moved To Peoria

In addition to a new judge, former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock wants a new courtroom.  Schock's lawyers yesterday asked to move his corruption trial to Peoria.  Federal prosecutors say Schock lied on Congressional and campaign spending accounts to fuel a lavish lifestyle.  The request comes a few days after the court removed the Urbana-based judge who was set to hear Schock's case.

Mollie Tibbetts, Missing Iowa Student, Found Dead

The body of missing college student Mollie Tibbetts was found Tuesday, two sources told Fox News, bringing an end to a more than a month-long search that captured national headlines.

Details about where the body was located were not released. A law enforcement source told Fox News the body was located in Iowa.

Tibbetts, 20, was reported missing in mid-July after she didn't respond to messages from her boyfriend, Dalton Jack. On July 18, she was seen jogging around Brooklyn, Iowa around 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

J.B. Pritzker: Governor Rauner's Plan Would Raise Property Taxes

The Democrat running for governor says his opponent's plan would raise property taxes.  J.B. Pritzker told a crowd in Bloomington yesterday that Governor Rauner's proposal to have local schools and the state's universities pay their own pension costs would pass the cost on to local taxpayers.  Pritzker says the price tag for the change would be in the billions of dollars.

New Texting While Driving Law

A new law signed by the governor now classifies first time texting while driving as a moving violation. This new law takes effect on July 1, 2019.  Previously, a first time offense of texting while driving was considered a non-moving violation and any subsequent offense was a moving violation.

Local Food Pantry for College Students

The Normal First United Methodist Church is joining  Illinois State University and Normal Township to create the first food pantry in Bloomington-Normal, exclusively for college students. National research indicates 40% of students on campus are dealing with a lack of food.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

25-Year Old Woman Charged with Animal Abuse

Animal abuse charges have been filed against a Wapella woman in connection with a video that allegedly shows her abusing a dog. The Pantagraph reports 25-year old Ashlee Kemplin was formally charged Tuesday with abuse to an animal and is due in DeWitt County Circuit Court for an arraignment on Sept. 5. The charges come after an investigation by the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Department following the release of a video on social media of the woman allegedly abusing a husky.

Unit 5 to Fix Diversity Problem

Unit 5 has an under representation of minority teachers and leaders say this is a hurdle they're trying to get around. WMBD TV reports that during the school districts last meeting a local NAACP Chapter called them out for lack of diversity.  Unit 5 says it has been working with local minority groups to find a solution. The district says it's reviewing their hiring process--a practice the NAACP Chapter says is one of the districts biggest issues.

Governor Rauner Promises A Million Dollars For Fairgrounds Coliseum

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner looks to be the biggest donor yet to the Illinois State Fair's foundation.  The governor yesterday said he's donating a million dollars to fix the State Fair Coliseum.  The Coliseum has been closed for the past two years because of structural weaknesses.  The governor says he's working with other donors to fix some of the other needs at the fairgrounds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

McLean County Democrats To Fight Signatures In Election Consolidation Drive

Democratic leaders in McLean County are getting ready to challenge the folks who want to combine the county's two election offices.  Democratic chairman Eric Rankin yesterday said he thinks there are problems with signatures on the petition to consolidate Bloomington's election commission and the county's election office.  Rankin says he thinks Democrats can get the question removed from the November ballot.

Trial Delayed for Rogers

The Sept. 10 trial date for Bart Rogers, a former member of the management team that supervised the city-owned arena, has been postponed until October. Rogers is accused of stealing public money during the time he served as general manager of the firm hired by the city to oversee what was then U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The Pantagraph reports In July, the state filed a new charge against Rogers accusing him of illegally transferring $15,000 in 2013 from a CIAM bank account to Illinois Pro Sports, a company in which he served as a managing partner.

New Report: Only 24 Percent Of Kindergarteners Ready For School

A new report says three-quarters of Illinois kindergarteners aren't ready to start the first grade.  The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday released a report that says only 24 percent of young children are where they're supposed to be when it comes to social-emotional development, language and literacy, and math at the end of kindergarten.  A State Board spokeswoman said the report shows that Illinois has a lot of work to do in getting kids ready.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Report: Downstate Illinois Gets More Than it Pays In Taxes

A new report says Chicago and the suburbs essentially pay for the rest of the state. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University released a report last week that takes a look at which parts of the state get more money from the state, and which parts pay more in taxes. The Institute says downstate Illinois gets anywhere from a dollar-24 to two dollars and 81-cents for every dollar they send to Springfield. Chicago gets 90 cents on the dollar, while folks in the collar counties get only 53 cents per every dollar they pay in taxes.

Illinois' Unpaid Bill Backlog Jumps Almost A Half-Billion Dollars

Illinois' list of past-due bills is getting bigger. Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza's office last week said the state's unpaid bill backlog jumped about a half-billion dollars last week. The comptroller's website says Illinois owes the people who do business with the state over eight billion-dollars. 

New Law Allows Illinois Students To Take More Dual Credit Classes

One of Illinois' newest laws could help high school students in the state get a jump on a college degree. Governor Rauner signed a law on Friday to change the state's school code to allow students to take more dual credit classes. The old law limited how many dual credit courses kids could take. The new law says as long as the classes are taught by qualified teachers, high school students can take as many as they please. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

State Fair Managers Correct Spelling Mistake On Butter Cow

There are a lot of people talking about the butter cow at the Illinois State Fair, but not because it's a beautiful sculpture.  The artists who crafted the cow out of nearly 600 pounds of butter misspelled bicentennial on the cow's plaque.  The double-N is in the wrong place.  The fair's Dairy Building manager, Marla Behrends, says they've fixed the typo and are ready to welcome visitors to the fair through next weekend.

Ameren, Corn Belt Say Power Restored Near Bloomington

It was a blown fuse.  Ameren officials say a pair of fuses in Bloomington failed yesterday and knocked out power to almost 18 hundred customers.  Ameren and Corn Belt Energy said they both had customers in the dark yesterday afternoon.  It took crews about a half hour to get most of the lights back on. 

Illinois Election Managers: 76 Thousand Voters Hacked In 2016

The Illinois State Board of Elections says 76 thousand voters in the state had their information hacked back in 2016, not a half-million.  ISBE Director Steve Sandvoss wrote Governor Rauner a letter last week saying that the FBI's July indictment of Russia hackers mentioned 500 thousand voters having their personal information accessed.  But Sandvoss says the FBI assured him that Illinois had only 76 thousand exposures. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Unit 5 Finances and Your Property Taxes

McLean County Unit 5 is preparing to issue $16.5 million in bonds to help fund operating expenses, including additional staff and programs, over the next two years. According to the Pantagraph, a financial advisor informed the school board Wednesday that the bonds would add about $205 per year for two years to the average priced home in the district.

District 87 Moves Money to Stay Afloat

The tentative budget for 2018-19 reviewed by the District 87 school board on Wednesday night shows an operating deficit of nearly $2.6 million. Transfers from the working cash fund balance have been used to offset deficits. At the rate of transferring funds out of the working cash fund, the district has about three years left in that fund.

Skimmers Found At Central Illinois Gas Station

If you bought gas in Morton, Illinois, you may want to check your credit card statement.  Morton Police yesterday said they found credit card skimmers at two Circle K gas stations in town.  Morton Police say they don't know how long the skimmers were in place, or how many people were victimized.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Survey: Back To School Costs Top 500 Dollars

It's going to cost over 500 dollars to send kids back to school this year.  The consulting firm Deloitte is out with a new survey that says parents will spend, on average, 510 dollars to send their kids back to school this year.  That covers the cost of school supplies, clothes, and computers.  In all, Deloitte's Liz Verrill says parents will spend 28 billion-dollars on back to school shopping this year. 

Butler's Lawyers Seek Change of Venue in Coliseum Case


Could there be change of venue for one of defendants accused of stealing money from the city coliseum? Comments from city officials comparing John Y. Butler and his management firm, Central Illinois Arena Management,  to a Soviet Gulag and to convicted embezzler Bernie Madoff are among the reasons cited in a motion filed Tuesday to move Butler's criminal trial away from McLean County.

Libertarian Candidate For Governor Could Be Jailed Over Child Support

The Libertarian candidate for governor has two weeks to make good on three-thousand dollars in child support or he faces jail time.  A Lake County judge yesterday told candidate Kash Jackson, who's name is Grayson, that he's willing to wait a few weeks to see if Jackson's back child support comes through.  But the judge also threatened to jail Jackson for contempt after a shouting match in the courtroom, where Jackson complained about unfair treatment by the judge.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Normal Approves COLA Increases For City Workers

Government workers in the town of Normal will soon see bigger paychecks.  Town leaders last night approved a nearly two-and-a-quarter percent cost of living raise for 241 city hall workers.  Cops and firefighters have their own raises coming as well.  Normal's town manager says the 381 thousand-dollars for the raises is more than the town planned to spend. 

BBC Coming To Peoria For Story On Fentanyl

Peoria is about to become the face of fentanyl in Illinois.  A BBC crew is due in the city tomorrow to interview people for a story in the city's battle with the opioid drug.  The Peoria Journal Star reported yesterday that Peoria recently saw its 40th overdose death of the year.  The paper says producers also plan to interview managers at the Peoria Recovery Project to see how people are fighting their addictions. 

State Workers Sue To Get Patronage Jobs Back

Eight former state of Illinois workers are suing to get their jobs back, despite a ruling from the state's inspector general that says they never should have been hired in the first place.  The workers were all placed at their jobs by former Governor Rod Blagojevich.  The state's Executive Inspector General ruled in 2014 that they were illegally hired, and Governor Rauner moved to fire them.  The workers' lawyer, Don Craven, yesterday said the eight were fired essentially because they were Democrats. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Christensen Lawyers Defend Trump Meeting Info Request

Lawyers for the man accused of kidnapping a Chinese-born U of I scholar say they don't need all that much information from President Trump about the case.  Brendt Christensen's lawyers on Friday told the federal judge hearing his case that they only want a confirmation as to whether the president spoke to Chinese leaders about the disappearance and death of Ying Ying Zhang.  Christensen is facing the death penalty for her death last year.