Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

It's our regular recap of the week's top local news stories. Last week:

  • The Normal Town Council approved $500 thousand to tear down a building at ISSCS.
  • A St. Louis judge granted class action status to a suit against State Farm Insurance.
  • The Bloomington City Council is looking for ways to pay for a plan that nearly doubles spending on infrastructure in the city.

Catch up on these stories and more in just five minutes.


Nina Gordon

The Downtown Bloomington Artists present the second annual Art Scavenger Hunt for grade school children on Friday, Oct. 7 beginning at 5 PM in downtown Bloomington.  As part of the First Friday festivities, the scavenger hunt encourages kids to learn about art in their own community. / Flickr

Most metro areas in Illinois saw unemplyment go down last month.  But that doesn't tell the whole story.

12 of the 14 areas had numbers in August better than a year earlier.    But the State Department of Employment Security says most of the job growth has taken place in the Chicago area.

Bob Gough is a spokesman for the agency. 

"They are up over the year more than 4,600 jobs. But the statewide number is up only 3,700 plus jobs.  That means the rest of the state is lagging behind," Gough said.

Tony Webster / Flickr

An eastern Illinois man has been charged with murder in the 1990 death of his wife.  

Police arrested Gregory J. Houser of Monticello on Thursday after a warrant was issued charging him in the death of Sheryl Ann Houser.

Gregory Houser is being held at the Piatt County Jail and expected to be arraigned Monday. He has not entered a plea. Court officials were not sure whether he has an attorney.  

Sheryl Ann Houser was 29 when her 6-year-old son found her strangled with a rope around her neck in the garage of her home near Mahomet in October 1990.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

A published report is questioning the accounts Illinois' top U.S. Senate candidates have given about their whereabouts during the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Chicago Tribune reports  Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has said he was in a meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when Rumsfeld learned a second plane had hit the twin towers. But Rumsfeld was in a different meeting when he heard about the second attack.

David Gill

The independent candidate for Congress in Illinois' 13th district has appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court in an effort to finally get his name back on the ballot.

Judith Valente

Vesper services to mark the passing of day and the onset of evening are a tradition that derives from monastic life, and dates as far back as the 6th century.  Much Vesper music is based on the melodic lines of Medieval Gregorian chant.

Thales / Flickr via Creative Commons

Autumn has arrived, and it brought with it a to-do list that you shouldn't ignore.  Fall is prime time for planting, reviving a lawn and adding a splash of color.   No putting your feet up just yet, said Patrick Murphy, host of GLT's Grow.

Ron Cogswell / Flickr

Attorneys representing the widow of Ernie Banks have withdrawn from a lawsuit over the late Chicago Cubs great's estate.

Elizabeth Banks has been contesting a will that Banks signed three month before he died in January 2015. It left his inheritance to Regina Rice, a longtime friend who took care of his financial affairs.

Elizabeth Banks, who was in the process of a divorce from the 83-year-old at the time of his death, alleged in a petition in Cook County probate court that Rice "isolated and controlled" him in the final months of his life.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Governor Bruce Rauner came into office as a big advocate of charters schools. He promoted the idea again this week during a Facebook live forum, when he seemed to tie school choice to  the state budget. 


MetroNet has issued a new coverage map for Bloomington that includes most of the older neighborhoods previously left out as intended areas of service.

Citations Issued In Pedestrian Death

Sep 22, 2016
Staff / WGLT

The driver who hit and killed a jogger with her car Aug. 23 has been issued two traffic citations. 

Monica Mendoza, a 21 year old Illinois State University student has been cited for disobeying a stop sign and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. 

The crash in late August killed 74-year old Lanny Lobdell as he crossed the intersection at Grandview and Vernon in Normal. Normal Police and Fire Departments found Lobdell pinned under the vehicle. Mendoza was uninjured. 

The McLean County State's Attorney's office is reviewing the case. 

Mike Mantin / Flickr via Creative Commons

The pages of children and young adult's literature are strewn with the corpses of many a mother.  A new collection of essays examines the role of the mother in books for young people and finds that moms can be so much more than what is currently portrayed in a lot of popular fiction.

Group of 25 sits in a circle on the south side of downtown Bloomington courthouse.
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

Tears flowed around a Black Lives Matter talking circle in downtown Bloomington Wednesday night as some 25 residents, most of them white, gathered in response to the most recent fatal police shootings of black men --  Keith Scott, a father of seven in Charlotte and Terrance Crutcher in Tulsa.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit Five is meeting with the State School Superintendent Thursday about the lack of bus drivers and hopes to meet with the Governor soon.

The district has been plagued by late buses since school began.

Rafael Rodrigues / Creative Commons

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner will be part of a central Illinois trade delegation to Cuba put together by former State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Some Illinois Congressmen have said after they have made trips to the island nation that it remains difficult to develop relationships because of the dual currency the Castro regime maintains and because of official government control of marketplaces.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

A new state law that took effect in July has the potential to make life more difficult for County Boards across the state.

McLean County Civil Assistant State's Attorney Don Knapp said the law covers budget adjustments and makes it tougher to change the spending plan.

Public Domain

Women are the pivotal characters in a film festival launching Wednesday at the Normal Theater, but that may not necessarily be a good thing. Femme fatales, or fatal females, usually set the plot into motion. 

Beth Hart is teasing fans ahead of the release of her new album with the iTunes and Spotify release of the title track.  "Fire On The Floor" is another smoldering blues ballad, a style that has become her calling card.  "Fire On The Floor" might be even more intense than her 2012 Kennedy Center Awards performance of "I'd Rather Go Blind" with Jeff Beck.  When asked for a preview of other songs on her upcoming album, Hart said she took a different approach to songwriting on "Fire On The Floor."

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

After an intense and protracted squabble, the McLean County Board approved spending more than $100,000 dollars for a new audio vision system for the county board room.

Opponents argued the matter should be dealt with in the ordinary budgeting process, not as a special or 'emergency' appropriation.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

McLean County government will remain under financial pressure in the next budget year.

County Administrator Bill Wasson has issued a proposal for board review that totals more than 95-million dollars and anticipates further cuts in state funding.

Enrique Dans / Flickr

Governor Bruce Rauner has received a lot of traction with his push for term limits. Voters seem to love the idea just as much as legislators hate it, even if the governor's plan doesn't seem all that practical. 

It's pretty clear Rauner's desire for term limits is at least partially rooted in animus for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who's been a state representative since 1971.

The earliest Illinois could amend its constitution to include term limits is 2018. Only then would the 10-year clock start ticking on lawmakers' careers.

Ralph Weisheit

Sales of homes and condos in Bloomington-Normal continued their recent upward trends last month.

According to figures supplied by the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors, home sales were up 3.3 percent in August compared to the same month last year, and are up five percent year-to-date. 

Creative Commons

A certain Supreme Court decision written 150 years ago still has relevance for us today.

Justice David Davis of Bloomington penned the opinion in Ex Parte Milligan a century and a half ago.

Town of Normal

The town of Normal's new Director of Parks and Recreation comes to the town from Washington, Illinois.

7-year-old Doug Damery, 47, was selected for the post following a ten-week national search. He succeeds Chris Cotten, who left for a similar job in Salina, Kansas.

Damery has headed up parks in Washington since 2003. Prior to that, he worked in Itasca, Illinois and Carmel, Indiana. He'll begin his duties in Normal on November first.

John Alltop / Wikimedia Commons

The Town Council in Normal has approved taxpayers paying about a half million dollars to tear down the old Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children's School Administration Building on Beech Street.

That is in return for the land and in the hope new development will eventually happen.

Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington could spend as much as $8.6 million per year, over a five-year period, on roads, sidewalks, traffic signals and other infrastructure pending the approval of a Capital Improvement Plan. If approved, the plan would nearly double current spending levels.


Bloomington labor leader John Penn has been elected to another term as a Vice President of the Laborers International Union of North America.

Penn became one of 14 Vice Presidents of the Union in 2008 and has now been elected to his second five year term.

Gill Off Ballot Again

Sep 19, 2016
David Gill

A central-Illinois physician has lost another round in his fight to become an independent candidate for Congress.

David Gill says it’s not fair that independent candidates like him have to gather nearly 15 times as many signatures as Democrats and Republicans.

Illinois Supreme Court

A federal judge in Saint Louis has granted class action certification in a civil racketeering case against Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance.

The Clifford Law Office in Chicago alleges State Farm employees ran a dark money campaign to elect Lloyd Karmeier to the State Supreme Court, believing he would support the insurance company once a certain case reached the high court.