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Damage Mounts To Child Services

Sep 15, 2015

A leading child advocacy group says even if state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner end the budget impasse, the damage is already done to numerous services, like afterschool programs and efforts to prevent infant deaths. Voices for Illinois Children has released a report outlining more than 60 programs and services being affected. Advocates say it represents at least $3.5 billion.  

The Democratic-controlled Legislature and the first-term Republican governor remain deadlocked on a spending plan for the July 1 fiscal year.  

City of Bloomington

A key piece of funding that could go a long way to help solve the City of Bloomington structural deficit and help fund other initiatives is being discussed by Bloomington Aldermen. Mayor Tari Renner joined WGLT's Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas.

Pumpkin Crop "Disappointing"

Sep 15, 2015
Libby's

A large canned pumpkin manufacturer says yields in Illinois appear to be less than anticipated this year. Roz O'Hearn is corporate and brand affairs director for Libby's, which grows most of its pumpkins in central Illinois. O'Hearn says the yield could be off by as much as a third, and the company is disappointed. O'Hearn says weather could further reduce yields. The harvest is underway now through October or early November. However, O'Hearn says the company thinks it will have enough pumpkin to meet fall holiday demand. Libby's has run a processing plant in Morton since 1929.

Kotowski Leaves State Senate

Sep 15, 2015

State Senator Dan Kotowski says he's stepping down from the Illinois Senate next month to become president of a nonprofit group that benefits at-risk children and families. Kotowski says his last day representing the 28th District in Chicago's suburbs will be October 5. The Park Ridge Democrat has held the seat for nine years. Kotowski will be president and CEO of ChildServ, which has offices in Chicago, Elgin, Naperville and Waukegan and also does work in Chicago's southern suburbs. The nonprofit provides family support groups and youth group homes, among other services.

Federal prosecutors say Aaron Schock has "deceptively refused" to hand over all of the documents they've subpoenaed as part of an investigation into the former congressman. Assistant US Attorney Timothy Bass wrote documents not yet turned over include emails between Schock and congressional staffers, his campaign treasurer, his friends and sister. The Peoria Republican has turned over about 10,000 financial records. He is to make another nearly 3,000 records available by Thursday for a judge to decide if they will be given to prosecutors.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

In a month and a half, the new Illinois Wesleyan University President will take office. Eric Jensen is the current Provost at Hamline University in Saint Paul Minnesota. Just after the announcement of the presidency happened at IWU, Charlie Schlenker talked with Jensen about his vision of higher education, hopes for IWU in Bloomington and why he wanted the job.

There's an effort to broaden a program designed to help take the sting out of court cases involving custody and divorce. WGLT's Willis Kern has more with two officials who oversee a team of specially-trained mediators.  

The 11th judicial circuit includes Ford, Livingston, Logan and Woodford counties in addition to McLean. The family court mediation program is in its second year.

WGLT

The next president of Illinois Wesleyan University will be Eric Jensen. Jensen is currently the the Provost of Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Hamline has nearly 5,000 students in its liberal arts, business, and education programs. It also has a law school. Jensen has also taught economics and overseen a policy program at William and Mary, the nation's second oldest University.

Bloomington Council Highlights Priorities At Weekend Retreat

Sep 14, 2015
WGLT's Michael Hill

Bloomington council members are beginning to narrow down their priorities for the next fiscal year. Aldermen met with Mayor Tari Renner and city staff during a retreat over the weekend to discuss the city's goals for the future. Renner said the group is committed to working together on those goals.

"We really are beginning to know, and work, like each other and move forward and that's only good news for our great community."

Human Service agencies in Central Illinois are calling on the state leaders to put aside their differences and put a budget in place. IPR's Tanya Koonce reports.

15 nonprofit groups united in Peoria to say the vulnerable people they serve are at risk, and so are their employees. Matt George is the CEO of the Children’s Home. Speaking for the group he says they need a budget, and they need it now.

“People are in pain!”

George says the group is speaking for people those whose voices are not being heard.

A federal judge has given lawyers for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert more time to file pre-trial motions in his hush-money case. Attorneys for the Illinois Republican and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion Thursday asking for a two-week extension of Monday's filing deadline.

The two sides say they've been discussing issues Hastert's lawyers may raise. They say the extension may give them time to address those issues so the motions won't be necessary. U. S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin granted the motion Friday without comment.

Schock Appears

Sep 11, 2015

Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has made a rare public appearance since resigning from his congressional seat earlier this year amid an intensifying spending scandal.  
 

Crain's Chicago Business reports the Republican attended a Navy Seal Foundation fundraiser Wednesday at a Chicago hotel with other high-profile guests. His appearance came on the eve of a special election to replace him, won by Republican State Senator Darin LaHood.  

Illinois Wesleyan University is getting set to name its next President. The school in Bloomington has announced a news conference Monday to unveil the selection to replace Richard Wilson. The search has been ongoing since Wilson announced in December of last year that he would retire when a successor was named.

Wisconsin Republican Governor and Presidential Candidate Scott Walker stopped in Eureka to unveiled his "on day one" campaign platform at President Ronald Reagan's alma mater. IPR's Cass Herrington reports.

Walker spoke from the stage where the 40th president gave his first political speech as a college freshman. Walker likened himself to Reagan who he calls a fighter for small government and American values.

Staff / WGLT

People in Uptown Normal will be spending part of their time looking up on Saturday. Way up. WGLT's Mike McCurdy has more on the weekend celebration observing the Town’s 150th birthday and the Town’s circus history. McCurdy talks with someone with a storied history in the circus.

The Normal 1-5-0 celebration continues with stories and dramatic presentations this weekend. GLT continues its coverage of the Sesquicentennial here on Sound Ideas. Voices from the Past is presented by the Illinois Voices Theater, which also does the Cemetery Walk for the McLean County Museum of History every year. The show happens three times on Sunday at the Normal Theater. Charlie Schlenker talks with John Kirk and Judy Brown about dramatic moments from the history of Normal including a sketch about the Dillon Stables.

ISU Alum Gets Lead Role In New Play

Sep 10, 2015

A new play is being developed about the talented and tormented performer Oscar Levant and the lead role is already filled by Emmy Award-winner, and ISU alum, Sean Hayes. Producers including Beth Williams and Barbara Whitman say a stage biography is in the works about Levant, a pianist who was known for his roles in films such as "An American in Paris" and "The Band Wagon." Levant, who died in 1972, wrote dozens of musical compositions, and did stints as a television talk show host and radio game show panelist, where he earned popularity with his broad knowledge and biting, cynical wit.

As the budget stalemate continues, Republican State Representative Bill Mitchell of Forsyth says the state needs a budget, and that means the Governor and legislators have to compromise. Mitchell isn't pointing the finger at any one party for the impasse:

NIU Enrollment Down, Retention Up

Sep 10, 2015

The number of students enrolled at Northern Illinois University has dipped slightly, but retention rates are improving. The university reported an enrollment of 20,130 students, a decrease of about 2.3 percent from last year. NIU President Doug Baker says: "We are not where we want to be, but there are encouraging signs of progress." The one-year retention rate for last year's freshmen increased 1 percentage point, to 72 percent. Baker says the university also has been recruiting higher-achieving students.

District 87

Population loss, economic activity, property values are all elements of the Bloomington Normal community that will change with the looming closure of the Mitsubishi Auto Plant. GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with District 87 School Superintendent Barry Reilly about how he is assessing those variables.

Hear Bloomington Schools Superintendent Barry Reilly talk about the implementation of the high speed wi-fi initiative for low income children in District 87.

Astronomers are still nearly giddy with the revelations coming from the ten year mission to Pluto. Linda French of IWU is one of them. She knows most of the team on the New Horizons mission. French tells GLT's Charlie Schlenker she has been blown away by the latest discoveries. Linda French speaks at the McLean County Museum of History tomorrow at noon.

Comptroller Leslie Munger says Illinois' unpaid bills backlog could potentially jump past $8 billion by next year without a state budget. Munger reiterated the consequences of having no spending plan to legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Both sides remain at impasse for the July 1 fiscal year. Most of the state's money is being spent through court orders, which Munger says continues at unsustainable rates. There's also less revenue with a rolled back temporary income tax increase. Munger says the backlog is $5.5 billion and could outpace $8.5 billion by December's end.

More Legionnaire's Cases In Quincy

Sep 9, 2015

Ten people in western Illinois now have died from Legionnaires' disease after a state veterans home in Quincy reported two new fatalities among its residents. An outbreak first identified in late August has sickened 53 residents at the home. State and local public health officials have not disclosed how the 10th victim contracted the disease, a severe form of pneumonia. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to treat the home's water systems with a chemical disinfectant. An agency spokesman could not immediately answer why that step had not been taken sooner.

Twittergate Finalized

Sep 9, 2015

The Peoria City Council has approved a $125,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by a man whose home was raided by police over a fake Twitter account he created depicting the mayor as a lewd fan of drugs and alcohol. There was no discussion. When the deal was announced last week, attorneys for 30-year-old Jon Daniel of Peoria called it ``a civics lessons'' for governments around Illinois that parody isn't cause for a police investigation. The deal includes no admission that Peoria did anything wrong. Daniel has said he is satisfied with the settlement.

A central Illinois judge has convicted a former Pekin woman of intentionally depriving two dogs of food and water until they died. 43-year-old Regina Robards was found guilty of the felony charges of aggravated cruelty to a companion animal. She faces up to three years in prison when she's sentenced Oct. 29. The case started in November when her landlords found the dogs' emaciated remains. Robards' defense attorney Maureen Williams told Tazewell County Judge Paul Gilfillan that Robards wasn't pleading guilty. But Williams didn't present a defense. Robards remains free on bond.

Two lottery winners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Illinois Lottery, which stopped paying out large prizes because there's no state budget. The lawsuit by Rhonda Rasche and Danny Chasteen seeks class action status. Rasche is awaiting a $50,000 payout. Chasteen won $250,000. Last month the state comptroller's office said that without a budget for the July 1 fiscal year, there wasn't authority to write checks over $25,000 and payments would be delayed. The lawsuit says the lottery still pays wages and seeks a court order to stop ticket sales until Illinois pays.

Peoria Economy Grows, Slowly

Sep 8, 2015

Second quarter growth returned the Composite Index of local business and economic conditions to year earlier levels and cut the unemployment rate to 5.5%, on par with the rest of the nation. That's what the latest Peoria Area Economic Index shows. The index, from the Bradley University College of Business, tracks 30 economic indicators in it's quarterly assessments. Bernard Goitein is the chief author of the report. He says the unemployment rate is 1.3-percentage points lower than in the previous quarter.

Jazz vocalist and lyricist Lorraine Feather has been quite busy in the last few years.

The McLean County Health Department is looking into cases of mumps in the area. Department Director Walt Howe says the ages of the sick people range from 19 years old down to less than a year.

Howe says they cannot yet label it an outbreak because investigators have not linked the cases. He also says workers will be looking at possible connections to the University of Illinois which has had more than 100 cases of mumps this year, the bulk of the reports in the state.

Delays Keep Market Street Closed

Sep 3, 2015
cityblm

Twin city drivers anxious to begin using West Market Street again following railroad trestle work will have to wait a bit longer. The rail upgrade was originally supposed to begin in the fall of 2014, but was repeatedly delayed. Work by Union Pacific, owner of the tracks, finally began this spring and completion was estimated for Labor Day. Now it looks more like Halloween, maybe. Bloomington City Engineer Jim Karch says one reason for the delay is a change the city sought to increase visibility by employing a 'sloped wall,' replacing the old vertical retaining wall:

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