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Illinois

Escapees Recaptured

Dec 7, 2015

Prison officials say two escaped inmates have been captured in southern Illinois about a mile from the facility where they'd been held. The Illinois Department of Corrections says 25-year-old Jerrette Reed and 20-year-old Kevin Rivera were apprehended without incident just before 9 a.m. Monday in a field west of the Dixon Springs Impact Incarceration Program. Staff noticed the men missing at 5:50 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, the men were being taken back to the facility, fed and given a medical examination before being transferred to a maximum security prison.

Ted Eytan / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Education says a deal approved by a suburban Chicago school district allows a transgender student to use a girls' locker room and does not require her to use a privacy curtain, although the student has said she will do so. The federal agency's view of the agreement appears to conflict with a statement released Wednesday by Township High School District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates after a school board vote.

Harvesting This 'Old House'

Dec 3, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

The city of Bloomington has a partner in its efforts to refocus resources and energy into maintaining and improving older neighborhoods. The Old House Society receives tips from the city on homes that face the wrecking ball, and members of the non-profit organization swarm like locusts in search of items worth saving. WGLT's Jim Browne went along on one recovery mission to see how it's done.

Holiday Retail Sales Expected To Increase

Nov 26, 2015

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.  IPR's Bill Wheelhouse reports:

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further ... all the way to "junk" status.  Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.  Because they can raise taxes, states are generally considered safe, and mostly have high ratings.

Many agencies and organizations that rely on state funding are hard hit by the budget stalemate in Springfield.  The state isn’t mandated to fund higher education the way it must fund K-through-12 education, and the state’s colleges are feeling the pinch.  IPR's Heather Claborn reports.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr via Creative Commons

One of the framers of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act says that law ushered in many physical accommodations for the disabled, but failed in some ways to change society's attitudes about people with disabilities. Nationally-known advocate Marca Bristo told a Bloomington audience last night that educational and employment opportunities remain a challenge for the disabled.

Prosecutors have frozen the bank accounts of the wife of a northern Illinois police officer who authorities say killed himself after years of embezzling from a police-sponsored youth program.  Attorneys for Melodie Gliniewicz say she can't pay her mortgage, medical bills and other expenses because of a freeze order on her accounts. The freeze went into effect a day after Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's suicide and thefts were revealed.  

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

The estate of a McLean County worker killed in a Law and Justice center elevator accident earlier this year is seeking a jury trial that could result in damages against various defendants, including the McLean County Public Building Commission. The estate of John Hoeniges filed a complaint in McLean County court against the Commission and two firms hired to inspect and maintain the L & J elevators, Indiana-based Stuard and Delaware-based Kone.

The counts allege wrongful death and negligence. 

Illinois authorities are urging hunters to be safe as firearm deer-hunting season gets underway.  The seven-day season starts Friday for a three-day period. A final four-day period starts Dec. 3.   The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says there were 20 hunting accidents in all of 2014, with two deaths. Ten of the incidents involved falling tree stands.  IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal says this is the busiest hunting season of the year. He adds the best way to enjoy it ``is to be aware, be alert and be safe.''  
 

Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg will suspend adult education classes Jan. 1 because of the state budget crisis.  College President Lori Sundberg says the state-funded adult education, English as a second language, and literacy programs are up in the air because lawmakers in Springfield have been unable to agree on a spending plan. Sundberg says the school is the "sole provider''; there are no other places in the area for coursework. Sandberg remains a testing site for the GED.  

More items seized from the former Dixon comptroller who was convicted of stealing nearly $54 million from the northern Illinois city will be auctioned off. The second online auction of items that once belonged to Rita Crundwell will begin Tuesday. A recent auction of an English riding saddle, spurs and other items raised nearly $47,000 and the next auction that runs through Dec. 1. will include Crundwell's collection of belt buckles. A sealed bid auction is also underway for Crundwell's horse show trophies. Auction proceeds will go to the city.

No Legislative Summit This Month

Nov 16, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner has postponed the Nov. 18 budget summit because a family matter will prevent House Speaker Michael Madigan from attending. Rauner deputy chief of staff Mike Schrimpf says that the meeting will instead be held Dec. 1 in Springfield. The change came shortly after Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, released a statement saying he needed to attend an out-of-state family funeral next week. Schrimpf offered the governor's condolences. The much-anticipated meeting will be the first time in months that the Republican governor and the four legislative leaders have met.

U Of I Trustees Approve $600,000 Settlement With Salaita

Nov 13, 2015
Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

The University of Illinois and professor Steven Salaita have reached a $600,000 settlement, but he will not be teaching at the U of I. Including legal fees, the total will be $875,000, according to his attorneys.  University trustees approved the settlement on an 9-1 vote at their meeting today in Chicago. 

In a press release, the U of I says Salaita will receive the lump sum payment, and the university has also agreed to pay his attorneys for any legal costs he has incurred.  The proposed agreement stipulates that it does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the U of I.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Bloomington's West Market Street at the Union Pacific railroad bridge is now open. Construction crews took down the barricades at 1pm yesterday afternoon. The street had been closed since late March to allow for the tear down and replacement of the bridge to accomodate high speed rail and increased freight traffic. The construction was originally scheduled to end in June, but a miriad of reasons, including rainy weather and bad soil, pushed the completion date back a number of times.

Jeff Bossert / IPR

The man credited as the "father of accessibility" at the University of Illinois has died. Tim Nugent passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 92. The news was confirmed by the U of I’s College of Applied Health Sciences and Savoy United Methodist Church.

How do you get a 17-year-old to confess to a crime he didn’t commit? Turns out it’s not that hard.

Bloomington police are investigating the death of a man who was found on the city's south side Sunday. Shortly before 1 p.m., police responding to a well-being check found a 49-year old man unresponsive on gravel in the 400 block of South Madison street. He died less than two hours later.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis says the man died from blunt force trauma following an apparent fall. The victim's name is being withheld pending notification of relatives. The coroner's office and Bloomington police continue to investigate.

Burglary Victims Can Claim Stolen Goods

Nov 6, 2015

The Bloomington Police Department says victims of a series of recent burglaries are invited to claim their property. Earlier this week three men were arrested during a burglary, and police say they recovered what they believe is loot from 21 other robberies. The series of burglaries occurred between September and October. The recovered property will be at the Police Department Monday between noon at 7:30pm for victims to claim. An ID will be required.

Illinois Approves More Medical Marijuana Patients

Nov 5, 2015

The number of Illinois patients approved to use medical marijuana continues to climb as dispensaries get ready to sell the drug for the first time.  The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday it has approved 3,300 patients to use medical marijuana in the state's pilot program. That includes 20 children.

Herrin Massacre Victims Recovered

Nov 4, 2015
unknown / Duluth Herald

A southern Illinois town where striking union coal miners clashed with replacement workers in one of the nation's deadliest labor conflicts has completed an effort to identify victims buried nearly one century ago in unmarked graves. Most of the 23 victims of the June 1922 Herrin Massacre were buried in an old pauper's field at the city cemetery. An archaeological team has worked since 2009 to pinpoint those burial locations. The Herrin City Council has voted unanimously to curtail the excavation after the research team located the remaining eight of 16 burial plots under review.

A special prosecutor in southwestern Illinois will review a levee district's repeated use of an auto body shop owned by its president. Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons is seeking the independent review of the business relationship between the Metro East Sanitary District and Andy's Auto Body & Towing, a Madison company owned by district president Andy Economy. The district's executive director crashed his government-owned SUV five times in the past three years.

Champaign Police Get Stun Guns

Nov 4, 2015
junglecat / via Wikimedia

The Champaign City Council has approved the use of stun guns for its police department. Champaign had the only major police department in central Illinois without the stun guns. The vote was 6-3. This isn't the first time the city has considered a stun-gun proposal. Police rescinded a similar request in 2004 after there was pushback from the community. The stun guns will cost about $93,000 for a five-year contract. Public comment before the vote focused on dangers of the stun guns and their high price tag.

Illinois' economy continues to grow, but at a slower rate than it was a few months ago, according to a monthly economic report from the University of Illinois. The U of I Flash Index fell to 105.8 in October from 106 in September. Though any number over 100 indicates growth in the state's economy, this is the third month of decline for the index.

Insurance Companies Sue State Treasurer

Nov 3, 2015

Three insurers have sued Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs over an attempt to seek records on life insurance policies. Frerichs said Monday an audit was sought to find unpaid death benefits because returning unclaimed property is part of his office's mission. Frerichs says beneficiaries might be unaware policies exist. The information received would be checked against a federal death database. The lawsuit filed last week in Sangamon County argues the treasurer doesn't have such authority; benefits are paid if there's a claim and proof of death. The insurers are Chicago-based Kemper Corp.

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

On January first, a new state law will go into effect that addresses police use of force. The law prohibits the use of chokeholds which have led to the deaths of suspects in some cases. GLT's Judy Valente talked with Illinois State University criminal justice professor Jason Ingram who speaks this week on police use of force.

A Cook County judge says he will rule Nov. 6 in a custody battle involving a central Illinois woman who's fighting a state agency's decision to take away her three children. Illinois child-welfare workers took Amanda Ware's three children last year after learning that in 2003 three of her other children drowned. Those children _ ages 6, 3, 2 _ died when the car they were in rolled into a central Illinois lake. Ware, then known as Amanda Hamm, served five years in prison for child endangerment. Her then-boyfriend Maurice LaGrone was convicted of their murders and is serving a life sentence.

A judge has found a central Illinois man fit to go to trial on charges he left his 6-month-old baby daughter to die by abandoning her in a bean field. Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis entered the finding Tuesday for Thomas Boitnott. It means he is now able to understand the charges against him and work with his attorney on his defense. The 24-year-old St. Joseph man was charged in June with attempted murder, child abduction and possession of a stolen vehicle. Authorities say he snatched the baby girl from her mother's St. Joseph apartment. She reported the baby missing.

Amtrak Chi-Indy Run Grows

Oct 27, 2015
Russel Sekeet / Wikipedia

The Chicago company that now runs the Amtrak line between Indianapolis and Chicago has big plans for the route.

Lexington 'Castle' Historic Building

Oct 26, 2015
tlindenbaum / via FLIKR

A fixture off Old Route 66 at Lexington is now a national landmark. Lexington's historic Castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's home to Chuck and Mary Wright, who have spent 3 decades restoring it. The Queen Anne home was built in 1898 by prominent stock horse breeder and farmer David Hyatt Van Dolah. The Castle's ornate limestone and brickwork, gables, and decorative arts, including hand-painted murals and a floating white oak staircase, are just a few of the features of the home that make it remarkable.

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