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July 31, 2014, 4:27 am
970 WMAY News

Positive Identity on Human Remains Found in Rochester, Investigation Continues

llinois State Police Investigators today announced they have positively identified female skeletal remains that were found on July 19 in Rochester.


An autopsy conducted by the Sangamon County Coroner confirmed that the remains matched the description of a 43 year old white female from Decatur. Positive identification was made using forensic evidence.


Next of kin has been notified but the victim’s name is not being released at this time by law enforcement pending the investigation.


The motive and manner of death have not been determined and the investigation remains on-going by the Illinois State Police, Sangamon County Coroner’s Office and Rochester Police Department.

More Arrests After Tuesday's Fight, Shooting, Chase, Car Crash Incident

Three other people facing charges in the aftermath of Tuesday evening's shooting that lead to a high speed car chase between two groups of twenty-somethings.


970 WMAY reported early Wednesday morning that two individuals arrested in a wrecked vehicle were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated use of a weapon.


Their SUV that had flipped over landing on top of new vehicles in a dealership parking lot on Dirksen after traveling at high speeds down S. Grand.


Three occupants of the another vehicle were arrested and charged separately with cannabis possession, aggravated battery and driving with a suspended license. Police say the incident stemmed from a fistfight at 14th and Cass.

Bel-Aire Foreclosure Proceedings Could Take Two Years

Springfield City Officials says there’s no quick fix to addressing the issues of the Bel-Aire Motel and it may take more than two years to get foreclosure proceedings moving forward.


During Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole, aldermen debated a measure that would use a chronic nuisance provision to work towards closing down the troubled residential motel.


But, the city’s legal department says the provision won’t work for the Bel-Aire. Instead Houston Administration Officials will continue to levy fines and liens against the absentee owner in hopes of getting foreclosure proceedings, but corporation counsel Todd Greenburg says that could take two years.

PILOT for Pensions Plan to Get Tweak

Aldermen will tweak a proposal to give an infusion of cash reserves from city coffers to Springfield fire and police pensions.


The original proposal would take just over two-million-dollars of Payment in Lieu of Tax money from the corporate fund to assist in paying down the growing unfunded liability of public safety pensions.


Alderman Joe McMenamin says he’ll motion to change the ordinance to give one-million-dollars to the public safety pension funds instead of two-million-dollars as was originally proposed.


The ordinance could be amended and passed next week.


The City Council will meet Wednesday next week because of the National Night Out scheduled for Tuesday.

Dist. 186 Not Renewing Contract with SPD for School Resource Officers

A Springfield School Board member says that a measure to scrap a contract with Springfield Police is a cost savings measure and will not disrupt student and staff safety.


Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty revealed that District 186 will not be renewing a nearly quarter-of-a-million dollar school resource officer contract.


School Board member Scott McFarland says instead the district will enter into contracts with off-duty officers.


That is expected to save the district $180,000.


McFarland says its part of the efforts of the district to shore up a lack of funding from the state to the tune of $5 million.

Three People Recovering After Shooting, Vehicle Crash, on City's East Side

Three people are recovering from non-life threatening injuries after a high-speed chase following a shooting. Springfield Police say reports of shots fired at around 11th and S. Grand came in late Tuesday evening. Officers observed one vehicle traveling down S. Grand at 90 mph followed by another vehicle. One vehicle then flipped and landed on several new vehicles in the S&K Parking Lot on Dirksen. Two occupants from that flipped vehicle were taken to the hospital and charged with aggravated discharge of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon. Another individual in the other vehicle had a bullet graze wound to his back and is said to be recovering. Police continue to investigate the incident.

Springfield Police Get Help from Feds in Pipe Bomb Investigation

Springfield Police are getting help from the Feds in their investigation of a pipe bomb found in downtown Springfield early Monday evening, and though not many details have been released, Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow says it appears someone may have attempted to detonate the explosive ... but failed.


The multi agency investigation was spurred on by the cylindrical device being located near a building on E. Washington.


Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad crews disarmed the device with a high-pressure water cannon.


Winslow says police are following every lead they can, including reviewing area surveillance footage with the help of the FBI and ATF.

Suspect Dead, Pana Cop Injured, After Tuesday Morning Shootout in Pana

An armed suspect is dead and a Pana Police officer is recovering from non-life threatening injuries after an early Tuesday morning shootout.


A report from the Illinois State Police says Christian County law enforcement responded to a “man with a gun” call. An unidentified Pana officer was shot after entering a home.


The armed suspect then fled to the residence’s roof, where after several hours he set a fire, shot at other police and then was fatally shot by law enforcement.


Three other individuals in the house were detained and questioned. Police haven’t disclosed any motive for the shooting incident.


The dead suspect has been identified as 25-year-old Josh Edwards of Pana.

Houston Admin Says There's No Quick Fix to Address Bel-Aire Motel

Despite hundreds of call over the past year-and-a-half, some leading to arrests on battery, assault, drugs and other charges, the city may not be able to do much about the Bel-Aire Motel right away ... that’s according to officials with the Houston Administration.


During Tuesday’s Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole, Police Chief Kenny Winslow said they couldn’t find any one individual from one individual unit at the residential motel that fit the criteria for being a chronic nuisance.


Corporation Council Todd Greenburg says that the city will be leveling 700 code violations against the out-of-state owner in administrative court late next month.


Alderman Cory Jobe’s ordinance to use a chronic nuisance provision against the Bel-Aire is on the debate agenda for possible passage next week.

Plan to Use Excess Money for Public Safety Pensions to Get Reworked

A measure to take excess Payment In Lieu of Tax money from the city's Corporate Fund to help pay down some of the mounting unfunded public safety pension liability may get reworked.


Alderman Joe McMenamin says he will introduce an amendment the ordinance next week.


Several Alderman and Houston administration officials contend there is uncertainty in the city’s reserves with big costs ahead for things like a firetruck or an EPA cleanup bill.


The city’s Chief Utilities Engineer says that PILOT money may be diminished by the mild summer and cheaper natural gas prices cutting into wholesale electricity sales.


Aldermen will discuss the measure to use excess money in city coffers to pay on the city’s fire and police pensions.

Parsons Back in Court in October

Jeff Parsons will be back in court this October to answer to claims he knowingly took more than $3.8 million out of his company when the business was broke.


The State Journal-Register reports the THR & Associates founder’s trial comes after several debt relief requests were denied when bankruptcy trustees alleged Parson attempted to defraud the court by hiding assets.


The new trial date is set for October 29th.

SPD: Someone May Have Tried to Detonate Pipe Bomb Downtown

Springfield Police say someone may have tried but failed to detonate a pipe-bomb in downtown Springfield Monday evening.


Without revealing too much of the ongoing investigation, Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow says there was an indication that someone may have tried but failed to explode the device. Police continue to look for leads in how a pipe bomb ended up downtown.


Winslow said someone called police to report the device. Once police arrived to the scene at 600 E. Washington, they set up a perimeter and called in the Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad.


Winslow says SPD is working with the FBI and the AFT to review surveillance footage and other clues, but didn't want to divulge much more about their investigation. Secretary of State Police detonated the device Monday evening. 


Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers.

Armed Suspect Dead, Pana Cop Recovering, Three Detained for Questioning After Early Morning Shooting

An armed suspect is dead, and a Pana Police officer is recovering after being shot after an early morning outside of Pana Tuesday.


An Illinois State Police press release says Christian County Sheriff's officers responded to a "man with a gun" call.


Responding to the call, a Pana Police was shot inside a house. The suspect then fled to the roof. The Sheriff then requested Illinois State Police Air Operations to attempt negotiations. That's when the suspect set a fire, shot at police who then returned fire fatally striking the unidentified suspect.


Three other individuals in the house were detained for questioning. State Police say they have not determined a motive.


Christian County says Illinois State Police are handling the investigation.

Green Toyota backing the Hero 9-11 App

At least one area high school will accept a $2500 dollar contribution from a local auto dealer to set up an app that could save lives in the event of a school shooting.  Green Toyota will give Ball-Chatham schools the money to set up the Hero 9-11 system at Glenwood High School.  Green Toyota has also offered to set up the system at Sacred Heart-Griffin and the three district 1-86 high schools, but those four schools have not made a final decision.  The app would trigger an alert on a smart phone to law enforcement within a 10-15 miles radius of the effected school, allowing both on and on duty officers in the area to respond to the distress call.  The app would only be able to be activated by teachers and only while they are on school property.

Police Respond to 600 Calls at Bel-Aire Motel in Year and a Half

In the past year-and-a-half, police were called to the Bel-Aire Motel 600 times … 100 of those calls are grounds for the beleaguered Springfield landmark to be considered a chronic nuisance.


That’s according to new numbers gathered by Alderman Cory Jobe in an effort to shut down the motel.


Jobe will present more details about the hundreds of calls to the Bel-Aire during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole where aldermen will consider an ordinance to use a chronic nuisance code to shut the facility down.


The Houston administration says they are already working the legal channels to address the issues at the motel.

Sheriff's Office Corrects Gender of Victim of Crash on Waverly Road

It was a man, not a woman that died in a single vehicle accident late Monday evening.


The Sangamon County Sheriff’s office is correcting initial reports of that accident saying law enforcement learned it was a 35-year-old male occupant that was later pronounced dead when the 2004 Jeep Cherokee crashed on Waverly Road in the southwest part of the county.


Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell says accident reconstruction crews continue their investigation.

Quinn Signs Nonbinding Millionaire Surcharge Referendum

Voters will get the chance to sound off on the so-called millionaire surcharge this November, after Governor Pat Quinn signed the nonbinding referendum into law.


The measure would ask voters if higher income taxes should be levied on residents making more than a million dollars in order to pay for education.


A measure from House Speaker Mike Madigan to impose a surcharge on millionaires in the state failed to get enough support in the general assembly.


Critics of the non-binding referendum say it’s a ploy by democrats to get their base to the polls.

Investigation Concludes, Ban on Admissions Continues at Hope

An investigation at Hope Institute for Children and Families has been resolved saying there was abuse or neglect, and the state ban on new admissions to the school for the developmentally disabled on East Hazel Dell continues.


The case trigged by a student’s injury back in November indicated an incident of abuse with Hope firing an employee believed to be involved.


The Sangamon County State’s Attorney says no criminal charges have been filed, according to the State Journal-Register.


Hope officials continue to work on a corrective-action plan, including staff training and better record-keeping.

State Fair Managers Disciplined for Beer Ticket Gifting

Two state fair managers have been disciplined for their roles in improperly gifted beer tickets, according to a summary judgment from the Executive Ethics Commission.


Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick, who was suspended for two days and fined $1,000, is said to have accepted over $500 in free beer tickets from vendors.


The judgment issued late last week says Bliefnick gave those tickets to employees of the Department of Agriculture.


Meanwhile former DuQuoin State Fair manager John Rednour was fined $5,000 for accepting several thousand beer tickets from vendors. Rednour was asked to step down from his position.

Investigation Continues Into Fatal Single Vehicle Accident

A fatal accident on Waverly Road late Monday claimed the life of a female occupant.


The single-vehicle crash is under investigation. Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell say it’s unknown whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Police Respond to IED in Downtown Springfield

Springfield Police and the Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad responded to a report of a suspicious device Monday evening in downtown Springfield.


Police say the device found at the 600 block of E. Washington was an improvised explosive device.


A press release says police responded to a report, established a perimeter and the bomb squad rendered the device safe. An investigation is ongoing.

Complaint: Chicago Doctor Faked Pot Paperwork

A Chicago Doctor faked pot paperwork, according to a complaint from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.


The complaint says Dr. Joseph Strakman charged patients $250 to get a certificate for medical marijuana. One patient got a certificate with a state seal, but the state hasn’t issued any medical cannabis permits.


A statement from IDFPR says the state will prosecute doctors attempting to work outside of the medical marijuana pilot program.

Road Salt Costs to Impact County Highways

It could cost more to salt winter roads in Sangamon County after the state’s Central Management Services announced it was unable to obtain supplies for nearly 200 cities and counties.


The previous brutal winter hit road salt supplies and drove up prices.


That could impact county highways, but the State Journal-Register reports Springfield Public Works extended their previous contract for road salt and have new equipment that cuts down on how much salt is used on freezing roads.

One Woman Dead In Single-Vehicle Crash On Waverly Road

A one-vehicle wreck on Waverly Road Monday night has taken the life of a female occupant of the vehicle.


Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell says authorities were notified of the wreck just after 9:30pm Monday night.  Accident reconstructionists were on the scene late Monday to determine what happened.


Campbell says it is unknown whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

''Improvised Explosive Device'' Found On Downtown Street; Item Safely Defused

Springfield police are investigating an incident in which an apparent pipe bomb -- described as an "improvised explosve device" -- was located on a downtown street.


The device was found in the 600 block of East Washington at around 6:20pm Monday evening.  Police established a perimeter around the device and called in the Secretary of State's Bomb Squad, which safely defused the device.


There was no immediate information about who may have planted the device or why.  Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Crimestoppers at 788-8427.

State Fair Managers Disciplined For Beer Ticket Scandal

Managers of Illinois’ two state fairs have been disciplined for taking beer tickets in violation of the state Ethics Act’s ban on gifting.


DuQuoin Fair Manager John Rednour and Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick were given summary judgments by the Executive Ethics Commission late last week.


The decision sites Rednour getting several thousand beer tickets from a vendor for free.


Bliefnick is said to have taken hundreds of dollars in beer tickets from vendors for free and distributing those tickets to Department of Agriculture employees.


Bliefnick was suspended for two days without pay and ultimetly fined $1,000. Rednour is no longer employed by the State of Illinois and was fined $5,000.

Aldermen and Houston Administration Differ on Timing for Extra Funding of Public Safety Pensions

A Springfield Alderman says the time is right to use an excess of money in city coffers to help pay down public safety pensions, but the Houston Administration says they’re remaining cautious.


Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin says the excess of more than $2 million in Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, from the public utility should be split between the unfunded liability for Police and Firefighters.


But, Budget Director Bill McCarty says there are too many uncertainties in the future.


McCarty says beyond the potential $1.5 million EPA bill, and more than half-a-million unbudgeted for a new fire truck; there is also a loss of money from a telecommunications tax and other revenue lines.


Alderman will debate the ordinance Tuesday during the Committee of the Whole.

Change to Ward Map In Front of Aldermen This Week

A proposed change to Springfield’s approved ward map is about keeping an historic neighborhood together, not about politics, according to supporters of the measure.


Michelle Higginbotham from the Enos Park Neighborhood Association says a proposal from Alderman Sam Cahnman to make minor changes to Ward 3 and Ward 5 keeps Enos Park from being split between the two wards and is intended to give the neighborhood one point of contact at the city.


Opponents of the measure say changing the map now sets a precedent they’re not willing to set.


Aldermen will debate the proposed change during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole.

Detours Expected Around Several Springfield Streets Because of Utility Work

The installation of fiber optic lines is closing 3rd Street between Capitol Avenue and Jackson Streets in Springfield starting Monday.


The city encourages a detour along 2nd street. The work is expected to last one week, weather permitting. Meanwhile construction on a sewer cave in will close parts of 9th Street at South Grand Avenue.


The southbound lane on 9th street will only be able to turn right onto South Grand and detour the closure while the two left lanes of South Grand will be closed. Work is expected to take about a week.


A press release from the City of Springfield says motorists should plan for an alternative route and disregarding “Road Closed” or “Do Not Enter” signs are subject to a $250.00 fine.

Springfield Aldermen to Consider PILOT Money for Public Safety Pensions

Springfield Aldermen will decide this week how to act on a measure to give more money to the police and fire pension funds.


The ordinance sponsored by Aldermen Joe McMenamin, Steve Dove and Tim Griffin would take Payment in Lieu of Taxes—or PILOT money—that exceeds budgeted amounts and transfer it from the corporate fund to the police and fire pension funds.


Springfield aldermen will debate the measure that would transfer over two million dollars to the two funds Tuesday during the Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole.

BGA: Questions Arise Over Legislative Inspector General's Relationship with Legislative Leaders

A report from the Better Government Association raises questions about a recently appointed legislative inspector general.


The report says William Roberts’ experience as a state’s attorney, chief aide to a governor, and a registered lobbyist may be overshadowed by the financial and political ties his law firm has with leading democrats and republican legislators.


BGA says the Chicago-based law firm Roberts worked for, Hinshaw and Culbertson LLP, had a contract with House Speaker Mike Madigan for six years in the early 2000s, with Roberts representing Madigan during an investigation about misuse of state resources.


That investigation ended in 2005 with no charges filed. Roberts is a past Sangamon County State’s Attorney and also a U.S. attorney who was an aide to former Governor Jim Edgar.

Central Illinois Counties Vying for Cameras in Courtrooms

More cameras could be headed to courtrooms in Illinois as part of the ongoing pilot program with half a dozen counties in Central Illinois requesting participation.


The Associated Press reports participation requests should be submitted to the state’s Supreme Court by this fall. Sangamon, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Morgan and Scott counties hope to join 40 other counties that are already taking part in the pilot program.


Critics of the program say cameras in courtrooms can be disruptive and undermine a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Southern Illinois Prison Guard Suffers Concussion After Altercation with Inmate

A southern Illinois prison guard is recovering from a concussion after an altercation with an inmate.


he St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the prisoner head butted the guard Friday morning at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna.


The inmate has been transferred to a maximum security facility while an investigation is ongoing.


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