Thursday, May 31, 2018

Lawmakers Pass State Budget, Send it Rauner

The Illinois House gave final approval to a new state budget Thursday which will send the package to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his action. The House approved the two budget bills by overwhelming margins, ensuring a Rauner veto could be easily overridden. One of the bills received 100 “yes” votes while the other received 97 votes. The $38.5 billion operations budget is balanced and does not rely on any new taxes or fees.

Trump Ponders Pardoning Blago

President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of corruption, and pardoning lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart, who served a stint in federal prison after being convicted of charges related to a stock sale.Hours earlier, Trump said on Twitter that he will pardon conservative commentator and Obama critic Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud. The White House announced later Thursday that the pardon had been granted.

Sears Closes 72 Stores

Sears will close another 72 stores, including four in Illinois, as sales plunge and losses grow.Sears has identified about 100 stores that are no longer turning a profit, and the majority of those locations will be shuttered soon. In Central Illinois, the only Sears store closing is in Springfield's White Oaks Mall..

Illinois Lawmakers Inch Closer To State Budget

Illinois lawmakers are one vote away from a new state budget.  The Illinois Senate last night overwhelmingly approved the 38-and-a-half-billion-dollar spending plan.  Both Republicans and Democrats are claiming the budget is balanced and good for the state.  Democrats say the new state budget spends more on schools and Illinois' social services.  Republicans say they were able to demand some spending cuts.  The Illinois House is expected to approve the plan later today.

Illinois House Ratifies ERA Amendment

Illinois has finally signed-off on the Equal Rights Amendment. A number of statehouse Republicans joined the Democratic majority in Springfield last night to approve the amendment calling for equal treatment of women that was first proposed to the states in 1972. The Illinois Senate approved the plan back in April. But the vote is largely symbolic, because the deadline for states to ratify the amendment expired in 1982.

Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas Honored At Illinois Capitol

The northwestern Illinois police officer who stopped a school shooting this month got a hero's welcome at the Illinois Capitol. Lawmakers stopped their work yesterday to honor Officer Mark Dallas, the officer who stopped this month's shooting at Dixon High School. Governor Rauner declared yesterday as Mark Dallas Day in the state of Illinois.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

TIFs and District 87

The Bloomington City Council wants to talk more about proposed guidelines for using TIFs before voting on any changes in how they use them. The resolution was drafted, in part, to address Bloomington District 87's concern about the 23-year life of proposed TIF districts and the financial impact they would have on the school district. The council voted to table the matter until its June 18  work session.

Felony Charges For Macomb Pet Shop Owner

A former pet shop owner is looking at the possibility of three years in prison after police say she left dozens of animals to die in her abandoned store. McDonough County Prosecutors yesterday charged 38-year-old Jessica Spangler with felony animal cruelty. Police say 41 animals died from a lack of food and water, and another 56 animals were rescued. Spangler told police that she asked someone else to look in on the animals. Investigators say her shop didn't have power for almost two weeks before the animals were discovered. 

Bloomington City Mgr Finalists

The three candidates vying for the Bloomington city manager's post were  announced Tuesday as current Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen, Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason and Washington City Administrator Jim Culotta. You will get a chance to meet the candidates at a Meet and Greet on Tuesday June 5 from 5-7pm at Bloomington City Hall. The three will then be interviewed by city staff and the city council.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Springfield's Lincoln Presidential Museum Voted Illinois' Best

Abraham Lincoln's presidential museum is the state's best.  Illinois' bicentennial best-of voters last week picked the museum in Springfield as the top museum on the state's Top 200 list.  The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago came in second, followed by the Field Museum, our own McLean County Museum of History, and the Art Institute in Chicago.  Illinois Top 200 voters will pick the state's best books next.

Federal Judge Orders Illinois To Expand Mental Health Treatment

Illinois' prison managers are not yet saying how they will meet the requirement from a federal judge to do more for mentally ill inmates.  Judge Michael Mihm on Friday said that the Illinois Department of Corrections is harming inmates who are being sent to segregation cells because of behavior problems often because of their mental illnesses.  Mihm says DOC needs to provide those inmates with treatment.  But no one is saying how or when that will happen.

Chicago Sees Spike In Gun Violence Over Memorial Day Weekend

Chicago is coming off another violent Memorial Day weekend.  The "Sun Times" reports at least seven people were killed and over two dozen more were wounded in shootings across the city since Friday. Seven people were killed and over 50 were wounded in gun violence during Memorial Day Weekend last year.
Chicago police made an effort to limit shootings this year by flooding the streets with more than one-thousand additional officers.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bloomington Man Struck By Semi Dies

26 year old Jared J. Kelch of Bloomington was killed early Sunday morning while walking on I-- 74 near Farmer City, He was struck by a semi that also was westbound near mile marker 155 and Old Principal Road near Farmer City. The Illinois State Police and DeWitt County Coroner's Office are investigating.

State Budget Crunch

The clock is ticking for Illinois lawmakers.  The legislature has till the end of the day Thursday to agree on a new state budget.  If they do, it'd be the first time in two years that lawmakers met their deadline.  There is expectation among lawmakers that they can agree on a new spending plan.

Troopers on the Highways in Big Number

Don't be surprised of you see a lot of Illinois State Police cars on the road today.  State Police Director Leo Schmitz says there will be a trooper every 20 miles on I-55, I-57, or I-80 today.  It's part of a national crackdown on speeding, drunk driving, and other dangers behind the wheel.  Schmitz says troopers will be "thick" throughout the remainder of the holiday weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Robbery Seen As Motive In Central Illinois Murder

Prosecutors in LaSalle County say three people from the Chicago area drove to Streator to steal, but ended up killing a mom of three instead.  The LaSalle County State's Attorney's Office yesterday charged 24-year-old Hashim Waite, 21-year-old Ashanti Roberts, and 16-year-old Tamil Adams with murder for Tuesday night's killing of a mother of three.  Investigators say Waite, Roberts, and Adams came down to Streator on a mission to rob 33-year-old Maria Dellatorre's house.  Police say she walked in during the robbery, and was killed.

Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Legislation To Reinstate Death Penalty

Illinois lawmakers are not saying when, or even if, they expect to vote to reinstate the death penalty.  But there is a plan they could vote on.  State Rep. Jerry Costello yesterday said his proposal would only deal with the death penalty, and not the gun control proposals that Governor Rauner also pitched.  Costello says he wants to be able to hold cop killers and mass murderers accountable.

Illinois Top 200 Voters Picking The State's Best Museums

Illinois' latest Top 200 list is all about the state's best museums. Voters are choosing between Chicago's world famous museums and some of the state's lesser known gems. Chris Wills with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says this week's bicentennial best-of list includes everything from Chicago's Field Museum and Art Institute, to the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, to the Children's Museum in Decatur. You can pick your favorite at

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Central Illinois Man Headed To Washington On 1986 Murder Charges

The central Illinois man accused of the 1986 murder of a teenage girl is headed to Washington state to face charges.  Tacoma Police yesterday picked up 60-year-old Robert Washburn.  Investigators say they linked Washburn to the murder of 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian through DNA.  Police in Eureka, Illinois, arrested Washburn earlier this month.  There's no word on when Washington state prosecutors expect to have Washburn in a courtroom in Tacoma.

Senate Approves Normal's TIF Extention Request

The Illinois Senate approved the Town of Normal's request to extend the Uptown TIF District for 12 additional years. The Town of Normal Uptown TIF District was created in 2003 and is set to expire in 2026. The town requested to extend the district through 2038 and worked with all the affected taxing bodies to receive their approval and support for the plan. The legislation now heads back to the House for approval in that chamber

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Vicitim of Fatal Shooting in Streator ID'd

The victim of a fatal shooting in Streator has been identified.  Three suspects are in custody after a shooting in Streator and a high-speed pursuit which ended early Wednesday in Dwight after 33-year-old Maria De la Torre of Streator was shot. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.  One suspect was arrested a short time later, while two others were taken into custody several hours later.The names of the suspects have not been released.

Possible Murder Suspects Apprehended

Three possible murder suspects” are in custody after a search that started late Tuesday in Livingston County. Police in Streator say they were investigating the shooting death of a 33-year-old woman. Police say they were called just before 9 p.m. on a report of shots fired, according to a release from the department. The victim was transported to a hospital in Streator and pronounced dead a short time later. Names of the victim or the possible suspects were not available at press time.

Wanna See a Rivian?

Ready for your first glimpse of a Rivian? The Normal, IL-based automaker plans to  debut its electric pick-up truck and SUV at the LA Auto Show in November, according to bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal in 2017 for $16 million and the the help of local tax incentives and state EDGE credits. The truck will be ready for consumers in 2020 with the SUV targeted for a 2021 commercial debut.

Rauner Office Open To Asian Carp Talks With Other States

Illinois may be getting closer to working with other states in keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.
Governor Rauner said in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month that he's willing to be part of a coalition of states that will pay for an upgrade on the Illinois River to keep the fish out of the lakes.  The Army Corps has a plan that'd cost 275-million-dollars to secure the river.  The governor's office has said for years that the plan is too expensive.  There is no word what the costs would be as part of the coalition.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Charges Against Former Bloomington-Normal Pastor For Child Abuse

A former pastor in Bloomington-Normal is facing charges for the injuries to his two-month-old daughter.
Prosecutors in McLean County filed charges yesterday against 25-year-old Matthew Everly for aggravated battery of a child, reckless conduct, and domestic battery.  Investigators say Everly's two-month-old daughter showed up at the doctor with two broken legs and a broken arm.  If convicted, Everly could spend the next 60 years in prison.

Cause of Fire at University Liquors Determined

It was an electrical fault in a cooler’s refrigeration system that cause the fire May 14th at University Liquors in the 700 block of W. Beaufort in Normal, according to investigators Monday. Damage to the building and its contents is estimated at over $1 million. The business is insured and plans to rebuild and restore it are underway.

Statehouse Democrats Question Governor's Death Penalty Plan

There's not a lot of support at the Illinois Capitol to resurrect the death penalty in the state.  Democrats at the statehouse yesterday grilled the governor's office about the need to bring back the death penalty, and the mechanics of how it would work.  State Rep. Christian Mitchell called the governor's proposal slap-dash, haphazard and pathetic.  The governor's office says Illinois must once again have the ultimate penalty for cop killers and mass murderers.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Illinois House To Hear Governor's Death Penalty Plan

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's office is getting the chance to make the case to reinstate the death penalty.  Lawmakers in Springfield are scheduled today in Springfield to hear the details about the governor's proposal to once again put people to death.  House Speaker Mike Madigan says he wants to give the plan a full hearing, but he's not saying if there is enough support to actually advance the governor's plan.

Accused Dixon School Shooter's Mom Complains Of Bullying

The mother of the accused school shooter in northwestern Illinois says the school ignored her son's troubles before he brought a gun to school.  Julie Milby told reporters that her son, Matthew, had his jaw broken about six months ago.  She also claimed that other students stole from and bullied her son.  Julie Milby says no one at Dixon High School did enough to stop the bullying.  Investigators are looking into reports that she bought the gun her son used in last week's shooting, despite having a felony conviction on her record.

State Fair Karaoke Winner To Open Brett Eldredge Concert

There's a big prize on the line for the winner of this year's karaoke contest at the Illinois State Fair.  State Fair managers last week announced that county fairs across the state will hold regional karaoke competitions.  Those regional winners will then compete head to head at the State Fair in Springfield.  The winner of that contest will then open for Brett Eldredge at his concert on Friday, August, 17th.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Texas High School Shooting Leaves At Least 8 Dead, Suspect in Custody

At least eight people have been killed in a Texas high school shooting Friday, FOX 26 reported. The suspected shooter was taken into custody and the active shooter situation was said to be over. 

Police officers responded to Santa Fe High School around 8 a.m. CDT after reports that a shooter opened fire inside. The gunman appears to be a student, KTRK reports, citing a law enforcement official. Further details of the incident were not immediately available.

"Details will be released as we receive updated information. Law enforcement will continue to secure the building and initiate all emergency management protocols to release and move students to another location," the school district said in a statement.

Merry Ann's Closes

A Twin Cities diner closes unexpectedly. Merry Ann's Diner is popular among Illinois State University students. They closed their doors suddenly and haven't said why. The sign posted on their door says after 7 years, they've decided to close. Merry Ann's Diner locations in Urbana-Champaign will remain open.

Heyworth Man Charged with Soliciting a Minor for Sex

A Heyworth man is charged with soliciting a minor for sex over the internet. Prosecutors told the judge at bond hearing Thursday the minor girl 48-year-old Jason Moyer contacted turned out to be an undercover agent for the Virginia State Police. The Virginia police agent began an online chat with Moyer on a website visited by people interested in sexual relationships between fathers and daughters.

Elbert Found Mentally Unfit to Stand Murder Trial

50 year old Monroe Elbert of Bloomington was found mentally unfit to stand trial Thursday in the October stabbing death of his wife. Elbert is charged with killing Nicole Elbert during a Feb. 5 domestic dispute at the home the two shared in the 600 block of North McLean Street.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Lawsuit Filed By Relative Of Waffle House Shooting Victim

A relative of one of the victims of the Waffle House shooting is suing the central Illinois father who gave the accused shooter his guns back.  Christian Perez, a relative of Joe Perez, one of the victims of last month's shooting in Nashville, yesterday sued accused shooter Travis Reinking's father for giving Reinking the rifle used in the murder spree.  Perez's lawsuit says Jeffrey Reinking is responsible for the shooting because he armed his son despite a track record of mental illness and that the Illinois State Police revoked Travis Reinking's FOID card.

Illinois Lawmakers Look At New Gun Dealer Licensing Plan

Illinois lawmakers are looking to work around Governor Rauner rather than deal with his changes.  State Senator Don Harmon yesterday introduced a new version of the plan to issue state licenses to gun dealers in the state.  Harmon says he wants to deal with gun shops that he says often pump illegal guns into neighborhoods in and around Chicago.  Harmon said both Democrats and Republicans support the idea.  The move comes just a day after Governor Rauner changed another gun-control measure from the Senate.  Harmon says the governor's changes are dead on arrival.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bloomington City's Ice Center Update

The Bloomington city council voted unanimously Monday to allow VenuWorks to pursue their search for a new sponsor for the once-named Pepsi Ice Center. The city however, still has a final say in who that could be and when VenuWorks reports back to them with a proposal, the city will review it, consider it and or approve the new sponsor. If successful, VenuWorks would receive a 5% commission for their assistance. The agreement term is for six months and may be approved for an additional six months by the City Manager.

Bloomington's New Police Chief Sworn In

Bloomington's new Police Chief Clay Wheeler was sworn in last night at the Bloomington City Council. Wheeler has been with the department since 1991. He begins the new position immediately.  Chief Brendan Heffner announced his retirement last Friday and is now the new US Marshall for Central Illinois.

Bloomington Police Ask For Leads In Cold Case

Investigators in Bloomington are asking for new leads in a five-year-old cold case. Police yesterday asked the public for any new information about the murder of 26-year-old Haileigh Eichhorn. Detectives say they are specifically looking for information about the days leading up to her murder in late April or early May of 2013. Bloomington Police made the same request last year, but said they didn't get the tips that they were looking for.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fire at University Liquors

Normal Firefighters out out a fire at University Liquors overnight. The call about the fire came in around 2:30 AM Monday from ISU police. It took 2 hours to put the flames out. No one was injured. The cause is unknown, and the fire is under investigation. However, a fire department spokesman says "due to the extensive damage in the roof, the building is likely to be a total loss." 

Normal Police, FAA Look Into Skydiving Accident

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about a skydiving jump that went wrong last week in Normal. Normal Police and the FAA yesterday said they are still looking into the accident Friday night where a skydiver missed the landing zone at a minor league baseball game and crashed into a parking lot. The skydiver had to be rushed to a local hospital. Police are not releasing the skydiver's name or condition.

Putnam County Murder Trial Could Be Moved

The latest question about a nearly two-year-old murder case in Putnam County focuses on the jury. The judge in Clifford Andersen Jr.'s murder trial last week said he plans to call 300 people to try and seat a jury. If both sides can't agree on a jury, the judge says he may move the case to Tazewell County. Investigators say Anderson beat his sister in law, Deborah Dewey, to death in August of 2016 over what they say was a gambling debt.

I-DOT Wants People To See Motorcycles

It's that time of year, time for motorcycles to roar across Illinois. And it's time, the Illinois Department of Transportation says, for drivers to see motorcycles. I-DOT says awareness, both from people on bikes and people in cars, is the best safety tool on the street. I-DOT says motorcyclists make up just three percent of the people on Illinois' roads, but account for 15 percent of the people killed in accidents on the state's highways.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Central Illinois Man Arrested For 1986 Washington State Murder

A central Illinois man is behind bars and investigators say they may have solved a 30-year-old murder.  The Woodford County Sheriff's Office yesterday said deputies arrested Robert Washburn on a murder warrant from Washington state for the 1986 murder of 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian.  The sheriff's office is not saying what led it to Washburn.  Prosecutors in Tacoma are not saying when they expect to get him back there to be formally charged.

Bloomington's New Police Chief

Bloomington Police Assistant Chief Clay Wheeler is expected to take the helm for outgoing Chief Brendan Heffner.  Wheeler has been with the department since 1991 and was a finalist in the last police chief search. Heffner is leaving the department to take a job as U.S. Marshal for the Central District of Illinois. His last day on the job is today. Wheeler's appointment will be formally recognized during next Monday's city council meeting.

Fatal Crash

A 25-year-old Bloomington man is dead after the car he was in struck a tree just west of the city. The vehicle was heading south on County Road 1000E early Thursday morning when it failed to stop at Illinois Route 9, eventually hitting a tree. Dylan Baerwald, a passenger in the vehicle, died of head injuries. The 23-year-old Bloomington man driving the vehicle was booked for aggravated DUI among other charges and will be formally charged Friday

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Decatur Police Chief Walks Back Dog Euthanasia Comments

Decatur's police chief is trying to change the conversation that one of his detectives started about the future of drug dogs in Illinois.  Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz yesterday told "The Chicago Tribune" that his detective made a "bad choice of words" when he said that some drug-sniffing dogs in the state would have to be put down if Illinois lawmakers legalize marijuana.  Chief Getz said local police departments would have to make "dog by dog" decisions if that day ever comes.  Illinois law allows former police dogs to be adopted, but Getz says there are some people who don't think the dogs would make good pets.

Unit 5 to Celebrate Indigenous People Day

Indigenous people day will be celebrated by students in normal. Several Months ago Kingsley Junior High students sent a memo to the Unit 5 School Board urging them to remove Columbus day and add Indigenous Peoples Day.  The board presented the students with three options, Celebrate indigenous people on the same day as Columbus Day, establish a commemorative holiday to honor indigenous people or celebrate Illinois Indigenous Peoples Day on the last Monday of September. The students chose the latter and after a long debate on the issue the board voted unanimously to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day but also to keep Columbus day.

Illinois ERA Vote Likely Next Week

It's going to be a bit before Illinois lawmakers get to vote on one of the hottest issues of the 1970s. ERA supporters yesterday said it will likely be next week before the Illinois House votes on the Equal Rights Amendment. The supporters rallied at the statehouse yesterday. Lawmakers are being asked to approve the decades-old proposal as a moral victory more than a policy change. But a number of Republicans in Springfield say they fear that ratifying the amendment could lead to policy changes in the future.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Normal's New Manufacturer Still Hiring

They're still hiring at Brandt in Normal.  The new ag implement maker yesterday said they are still looking for people to work on their manufacturing floor.  Brandt is a Canadian company that opened its new facility in central Illinois this spring.  Brandt President Shaun Semple told "The Bloomington Pantagraph" that he hopes to hire 150 people by the end of this year, and be up to maybe 300 employees by the end of next year.