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.