Springfield police say a man was being chased by a pit bull when he was struck by a car along South Grand Avenue Thursday night.
The man suffered minor injuries. The dog was also struck by the car and was taken by animal control.
Police say the pit bull had a chip implanted, identifying its original owner. But that person now lives in Chatham and told authorities the dog had been taken from her by animal control a year ago. Residents along South Grand told police the dog had been running loose and acting aggressively in that neighborhood for a while.
Riverton’s fire chief says investigators have not found any sign of a smoke detector in an apartment where a woman died in a fire early Thursday.
Chief Louie Rogers says damage to the apartment was extensive, but that investigators will usually find some remnants of a detector, and so far have found none.
An autopsy indicates that 24-year-old Brittany Sullivan died of smoke and soot inhalation, although some test results are still pending.
It’s the weekend to change your clocks… and change your batteries.
State fire officials say that when you “spring forward” one hour into Daylight Saving Time this weekend, you should also replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Officials say 60-percent of fatal fires are in homes without working smoke detectors.
It’s the classic good news-bad news scenario.
Springfield’s Ronald McDonald House is announcing a significant renovation that will allow it to serve more families every night, and will update the interior and exterior of the 28-year-old home. But the $1.2 million project will force the closure of the home for four months or more.
The House provides shelter and other assistance to families who have children in one of the city’s major hospitals… but is often filled to capacity. The project will add two more family rooms. The home is slated to be closed from June to October… a fundraising campaign to support the renovation effort is also now underway.
It’s a project that has gone on for decades… and cost tens of millions of dollars. And Mayor Mike Houston says that’s one reason the city shouldn’t give up on the Hunter Lake project.
Houston says after all that time and money, he is determined to keep pushing for an answer from regulators, once and for all, about whether the second lake can be built. And Houston says he will keep pursuing Hunter Lake because any of the other available options for a backup water supply are likely to be even more expensive than building the lake.
Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello still hasn’t decided if he will follow the lead of several of his counterparts around the state and offer marriage licenses to gay couples… even before the state’s new same-sex marriage law takes effect.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser says the decision is up to Aiello… but warns that issuing the licenses now could lead to legal challenges over the validity of the documents.
Aiello says he is considering going ahead with the licenses… but including a disclaimer that he hopes would protect the county from being sued at some point down the road.
The war of words over Springfield’s pension funds is escalating. Mayor Mike Houston says a recent study of the funds that ranks Springfield as worst in the state is based on inaccurate and incomplete data.
But Alderman Joe McMenamin… who brought that study before the City Council… says even after correcting some errors, the study still shows Springfield tied for the bottom.
Houston accuses McMenamin of offering no ideas to reduce the city’s unfunded liability, but McMenamin says he is offering concrete proposals… such as his latest call for a city wage freeze.
McMenamin is also asking voters next year to elect aldermen who will help him tackle the pension crisis.
The Houston administration wants to enter into a three-year deal with NAPA Auto Parts to provide all of the parts that will be needed by the city’s new consolidated vehicle maintenance garage.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Houston said the $3.75 million deal would save the city money because NAPA would maintain the inventory and the company’s employees… not city workers… would be in charge of overseeing it.
Houston defends the proposal to go with a major national supplier… saying a local company would not be able to provide the volume and variety of parts the city will need.
Authorities have identified the woman who died in an apartment fire near Riverton early Thursday. 24-year-old Brittany Sullivan was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire on Old Route 36.
An autopsy is planned for today. A boy who lived in the home was injured and was first taken to the burn unit at Memorial Medical Center before being transferred to the pediatric ICU at Saint John’s.
Authorities say Sullivan’s husband escaped the flames but was unable to rescue his wife. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
More acts are being announced for this year's Illinois State Fair.
Fair officials say the classic rock band Boston will perform in the Grandstand on August 12th. A couple of other '70s bands... Sweet and April Wine... will also appear on the same bill.
Country singer Jake Owen has also been booked for August 16th. The fair previously announced that country band Florida-Georgia Line will perform on August 10th.
Tickets for Grandstand shows go on sale through Ticketmaster on April 12th... and will also be available at the Grandstand ticket office in June.
It will apparently be up to Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello alone to determine if the county will issue marriage licenses early to same-sex couples.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser has sent Aiello a letter raising concerns that such marriage licenses issued before June could later be declared invalid, since the state’s new same-sex marriage law hasn’t taken effect yet. But Milhiser says the final decision rests with Aiello as a matter of policy, not of law.
Aiello says he hasn’t decided what to do… but is considering issuing the licenses with a disclaimer warning of the potential legal difficulties.
Even as more Illinois counties start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Springfield’s Catholic bishop isn’t giving up hope that the controversial new law can someday be overturned.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has been one of the most outspoken critics in the state against same-sex marriage… even conducting prayers of exorcism on the day the bill was signed into law last November.
In an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Paprocki acknowledged that it’s unlikely the new law can be stopped in the short term. But he contends society is becoming more opposed to abortion, 40 years after Roe vs. Wade, and says he hopes someday the same shift occurs about same-sex marriage, too.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston thinks there’s an ulterior motive behind a disputed study of the city’s pension liabilities.
That study from the Illinois Policy Institute has drawn pointed criticism from Houston and others, who suggest the conservative think tank intentionally cherry-picked data to cast the city in the worst possible light. Appearing live on 970 WMAY, Houston suggested the reason could be that backers of the IPI have a vested interest in steering workers from their current defined benefits plans to a 401-k style system. But the mayor also acknowledged that his theory is just “speculation.”
Amid growing criticism over a pension study he brought before the City Council, Springfield Aldermen Joe McMenamin is fighting back.
McMenamin arranged for the Illinois Policy Institute presentation that argued that Springfield had the worst pension crisis of any city in the state. The Houston administration has attacked the numbers, saying the IPI improperly added in factors that shouldn’t have been considered.
McMenamin concedes the point… but says the group fixed that error and crunched the numbers again, and says Springfield still tied for worst. McMenamin says he’s trying to fix a serious problem but can’t do it alone… and says he will need the help of voters next year to elect more reform-minded aldermen.
A woman is dead and a child is badly burned after an apartment fire near Riverton early Thursday.
That blaze broke out in a 3-unit apartment building on Old Route 36 near Camp Butler around 4:30am. The adult female victim died of her injuries, while the child was taken to the burn unit at Memorial Medical Center and later transferred to the pediatric ICU at Saint John's. An adult male in the home was not injured.
The names of the victims have not been released. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello says, quote, "we might as well do it now and get moving on it."
But Aiello isn't moving ahead yet with issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Despite a directive from Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week telling county clerks that it's OK to issue the licenses even before the state's new same-sex marriage law takes effect, Aiello says he wants input from State's Attorney John Milhiser, the county's top legal officer.
Milhiser says there are big questions about whether a marriage license issued before the new law's effective date could be challenged later in the event of a divorce or death.
Aiello says he could begin issuing licenses within days... if all of the legal questions get ironed out.
Gun rights advocates say the state's new concealed carry law isn't the end of their fight... it's only the beginning.
Thousands of gun owners took part in an annual lobbying day in Springfield Wednesday... where they called for changes to the concealed carry law that was passed just last year.
Those changes could include a reduction in the number of places where firearms are still banned under the law... such as parks, libraries, and mass transit buses and trains.
The head of the State Rifle Association says such designated "gun-free zones" are an invitation to criminals to rob or harm people.
Springfield's interim school superintendent says the district did its due diligence... and didn't give anyone special treatment... when it hired Lanphier High School basketball coach Blake Turner years ago, despite an extensive arrest record.
The Illinois Times revealed last week that Turner had multiple arrests on charges ranging from drugs to violent assault in the years before he was hired as an assistant coach in 2008.
Some of the charges were felonies... but were either dismissed or were pleaded down to misdemeanors.
Interim superintendent Bob Hill tells the State Journal-Register that the incidents were thoroughly researched before Turner was hired, and the decision was made to give him another chance.
Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard is taking heat from his opponents for his close ties to the biggest public sector unions in the state.
Dillard has received endorsements... and promises of financial support and manpower... from the state's two biggest teachers unions and the top state workers' group.
Dillard says that's because he will treat those workers with respect and fairness.
But GOP opponents Bruce Rauner and Bill Brady accuse Dillard of selling out taxpayers for political gain.
A lot of people are touting the advantages of early voting... but one candidate for governor isn't necessarily among them.
Republican Kirk Dillard says it's not always a good idea to cast an early ballot.
Dillard says many issues could still bubble up that'll change voters mind in the competitive race.
Early voting runs through March 15. The primary is March 18th.
Gas prices are shooting up even higher across Springfield.
Prices began jumping to $3.69 a gallon at some local stations Wednesday morning… a jump of 20 to 25-cents a gallon. Despite the increase, gas price tracker websites say the prices around the state are still about a dime lower than they were on average a year ago.
Another huge public sector union is giving its support to Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard.
AFSCME… the biggest state employee union in Illinois… says Dillard has a proven track record of service and understands how state government works. The state’s two big teachers unions have also endorsed Dillard… who opposed the pension reform law that unions are suing to block.
The endorsements provide a sharp contrast between Dillard and GOP frontrunner Bruce Rauner… who has campaigned hard against what he calls the corrupt influence of “government union bosses.”
One of the top local Republican vote-getters in recent years is coming out in support of Wes Barr in the tight GOP race for Sangamon County Sheriff.
Former state senator Larry Bomke says Barr is uniquely qualified for the job of sheriff. Bomke compares Barr’s qualities to those of incumbent sheriff Neil Williamson… who was appointed to that job more than 20 years ago, when Bomke was county board chairman.
Williamson, of course, is supporting Barr’s Republican primary opponent, Undersheriff Jack Campbell.
Same-sex couples in Sangamon County could be able to legally wed as early as next week.
County Clerk Joe Aiello says he expects to get a final green light to issue marriage licenses to those couples any time now. Aiello is waiting for a final OK from State's Attorney John Milhiser, the county's top legal officer, but he thinks recent court rulings and advice from the Illinois Attorney General make it virtually certain that he will get that authorization.
But other experts say jumping the gun on issuing licenses could create serious legal complications with divorces and probate down the road. Milhiser says he’s still studying the legal issues involved.
Dozens of teaching positions and other jobs will be slashed in Springfield public schools next year, as the school board adopts more than $5 million in cuts in its ongoing effort to balance its books.
Many of those cuts are at the high school level, where changes in teaching schedules will allow the same number of courses with fewer instructors. But the board also approved cutting middle and elementary school positions, librarian jobs, and multiple special education staffers.
And even those cuts may not be enough, depending on the outcome of state budget negotiations and upcoming talks on a new teachers contract for District 186.
All four Republican candidates for governor say they would reinstate Illinois’s death penalty if elected.
Capital punishment was among the social issues discussed in the latest debate among the four GOP hopefuls. Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in 2011.
The Republican contenders mostly dodged a question about abortion, saying there was very little a governor could do on the issue. But GOP frontrunner Bruce Rauner said that while he considers abortion a tragedy, he says it should be a decision left to a woman, her family and her doctor… not to the government.
Springfield aldermen have rejected a resolution declaring support for building a second lake to serve as the city’s backup water supply.
The resolution earned only four “yes” votes, with five aldermen voting “no” and one… Alderman Joe McMenamin… abstaining. McMenamin says the vote should have waited until a new round of studies is complete.
The vote will do nothing to end the years of haggling over a new water supply. City Water Light and Power says it’s still essential to find a secondary water source… and no matter what is ultimately chosen, the utility says a big water rate hike will be needed to pay for it.
Undersheriff Jack Campbell says if he’s elected sheriff, he would be more engaged in day-to-day operations than the current officeholder… his boss, Sheriff Neil Williamson.
Campbell says he has learned the job from “the bottom up,” working his way through the ranks… while Williamson entered the sheriff’s department at the top, having been appointed to the job after years as a Springfield cop.
Campbell is also disputing claims from critics that he was named undersheriff by Williamson just so he could stay in the sheriff’s department while running for Williamson’s job. He says the change in title several years ago was based on his job duties and did not affect his eligibility to run.
Sangamon County will be the first major battleground in the looming legal fight over pension reform.
The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered four separate lawsuits challenging the new law to be consolidated into one case, to be heard in Sangamon County.
Various groups representing public sector employees and retirees have sued, saying the law approved late last year is an unconstitutional diminishment of the benefits they have been promised.
Putting all four cases together in Sangamon County could help the litigation move more quickly… although all parties agree that the cases will eventually return to the state Supreme Court for a final decision.
With primary day just two weeks away, Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard is picking up more key support.
The Sangamon County Republican Party has thrown its official endorsement behind Dillard… one of several key endorsements made by the party Monday night.
But the local GOP decided not to take sides in the hotly-contested race for Sangamon County Sheriff… saying the contest between Wes Barr and Jack Campbell is too close to call.
Dillard, meanwhile, picked up another key union endorsement, winning the backing of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Sangamon County’s DIRT team is celebrating the first anniversary of its second time around.
The drug interdiction team set up through the sheriff’s department was originally created to battle a surge in methamphetamine cases in the county… but was later disbanded because of budget cuts.
Sheriff Neil Williamson reinstated the team one year ago this week… but this time, the focus has been on marijuana, cocaine, and heroin sold through local drug houses.
In the past year, the unit has seized nearly 5,000 grams of pot, 480 grams of cocaine and 32 grams of heroin, along with cash and guns.
Even though winter still feels like a long way from being over, the National Weather Service is looking ahead to spring.
Tornado sirens will sound this morning at 10am as part of a statewide severe weather emergency preparedness drill.
Even though tornadoes can strike anytime of the year… such as the twister that hit eastern Sangamon County late last month… springtime is considered peak season for the potentially deadly storms.
This year’s Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day is going to be a celebration, according to one of the organizers.
Valinda Rowe from IllinoisCarry.com says the annual lobby day will focus not just on pending legislation and court battles but also on past successes.
Rowe says she has personally been involved in lobbying lawmakers to bring about concealed carry in the state, and though she says it’s not a perfect law, the first permits being mailed out over the weekend means this year’s I-GOLD will be upbeat.
Thousands of gun owners from across the state are expected to converge on Springfield with a rally at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Wednesday morning and then an early afternoon march through the streets of Springfield to the capital building to lobby lawmakers.
Illinois’ governor is touting the Land of Lincoln’s 3rd place ranking on a list of states for new and expanded businesses.
Governor Pat Quinn says it’s as signs of an economic resurgence.
A press release from Quinn’s office also says that Chicago is ranked the number one metro market in the country for new and expanded corporate facilities, according to “Site Selection” magazine which is a corporate real estate and economic development publication.
Quinn says the new rankings along with last week’s announcement of a new Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute in Chicago is proof Illinois is making a comeback.
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