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August 22, 2014, 8:45 am
970 WMAY News

Two Elderly Men Found Shot Dead at Riverside Park

Two people have been found shot to death in Springfield’s Riverside Park.


The bodies of the two elderly men were discovered Thursday evening. Police did not provide any additional information about the investigation, and there’s no word yet on the identities of the two men.


Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on this developing story.

City Continues Hearings of Bel-Aire Violations, Owner Motions for Dismissal

The owner of the Bel-Aire Motel is fighting back against hundreds of building code citations issued against his property by the City of Springfield.


Attorneys for Gopal Motwani accuse the city of unfairly targeting their client, and question how the number of alleged violations could grow exponentially in just a couple of years.


A city building inspector responds that she also doesn’t know how the violations could grow so quickly… she just knows that they have. Motwani, who lives in Florida, could be facing nearly a million dollars in fines if the city’s allegations stick.


The city hopes to eventually have the property condemned and torn down.

Work Begins on Carpenter Street Underpass for Rail Consolidation

Eventually it will allow for easier access to Springfield’s main hospitals. But in the short term, it could make that access more difficult.


Ground was broken Thursday on the new Carpenter Street underpass at the 10th Street tracks.


The $20 million project is the first major phase of a more-than-$300-million long-range plan to consolidate rail traffic on the 10th Street corridor.


Carpenter Street will be closed during much of the two-year project, which is expected to be completed in September of 2016.

McMenamin: Ferguson Unrest Proves Need for Police Residency

A Springfield alderman is reviving discussion on a couple of his pet issues… and tying them to events in the news.


Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin says one way to deal with a looming financial crisis at City Water Light and Power is for the city to finally follow his suggestion of a wage freeze for non-union employees.


Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Bishop On Air,” McMenamin said the city has to get spending under control, and says freezing non-union wages will give the city more leverage in union contract talks.


He also says the unrest in Ferguson shows why a residency rule should be reinstated for future city hires.


McMenamin contends the police department works best when officers have direct ties to the community.

Police Arrest Homeless Man Who Implied He Had Gun

Springfield police have apprehended a homeless man who had the city’s west side on edge for the last several days.


24-year-old Kyle Maxey created a disturbance on a city bus near Parkway Pointe Tuesday, and implied he had a gun.


He then ran into a nearby hotel, prompting a police search… but Maxey eluded authorities that day.


He was then spotted again Thursday morning, triggering a manhunt that included canine and aerial units.


After several hours, Maxey came out of a cornfield where he had been hiding. No gun was found.

Poe to Travel For Blood Disorder Treatment

A Springfield lawmaker will travel out-of-state in the weeks ahead for a stem cell transplant that could cure a blood disorder.


Representative Raymond Poe tells the State Journal-Register that the transplant will take place in Texas over a three-week period, to replace bone marrow that will be destroyed during chemotherapy that he will receive as part of his treatment for a condition called MDS.


That syndrome is described as a “low-level” cancer of the stem cells that generate blood cells. Poe’s doctor says the Republican lawmaker’s prognosis is good.

Schock Says ISIS Must Be Destroyed, Not Contained

A local congressman says the U.S. should adopt of policy of destroying the terror group ISIS.


And while Congressman Aaron Schock won’t commit to supporting the reintroduction of American ground forces in Iraq to battle those terrorists, he invites President Obama to make a case for doing exactly that.


The Peoria Republican says ISIS is more dangerous than al Qaeda, and says the U.S. needs a more aggressive policy to neutralize the threat it poses.


But Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin opposes using ground troops in Iraq, and Obama has already said that isn’t an option.

Statewide Unemployment Numbers Fall in July

July unemployment numbers are in and it's good news across Illinois.


For the fourth consecutive month, unemployment rates fell in every metro area in the state and most figures are at six-year lows, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). In the Springfield area, the unemployment rate for July was 6.5%, down from 8.1% in July 2013. Decatur, while still with a high unemployment rate of 9.5%, improved from a 13% rate one year ago.


All 102 Illinois counties saw their unemployment rates fall, for the second consecutive month. The statewide unemployment rate for July 2014 was 7%, down from a peak of 12.2% in January 2010. Nationally, the unemployment rate for July 2014 was 6.5%, down from 10.6% in January 2010.

Bel-Aire Attorneys Want Building Code Citations Dismissed

Attorneys for the owner of the Bel-Aire Motel have filed a motion to dismiss building code complaints against their client. 


During a hearing on those alleged code violations, the attorneys alleged that city officials are biased against Gopal Motwani and are piling on violations unfairly.  City officials insist they are just enforcing the law and trying to eliminate health hazards in the rundown building. 


Motwani could face nearly a million dollars in fines if the city’s complaint is upheld.

Ground Broken On 10th Street Underpass At Carpenter

It’s just the first phase of a long… and expensive… project. 


But work is now getting underway to build a new underpass on Carpenter Street at the 10th Street tracks.  Officials say the project will improve safety for drivers, pedestrians, and railroad crews… while allowing direct access to Springfield’s main hospitals without the risk of being stopped by a train.  But during construction, Carpenter will be closed to traffic.


The $20 million project is expected to be completed by September of 2016.

Schock Calls For ''Destruction'' Of ISIS

An area congressman is sounding a belligerent tone against the terrorist group that apparently beheaded an American journalist.


Republican Aaron Schock says he now considers the Islamic State group to be more dangerous than al Qaeda, and says the U.S. policy should be one of destruction… not containment.


But Schock says it’s up to the president to decide if American combat forces would have to return to Iraq to defeat the terrorists.

Rauner Wants Fast Supreme Court Review Of Term Limits Ruling

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has filed an emergency petition asking the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene immediately and allow his term limits proposal to go forward. 


Rauner has been trying to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot… but two courts have now ruled the measure violates the constitution. 


Rauner says the high court should honor the will of the people and allow them to vote on a measure that gets widespread support in most polls.

CWLP Financial Worries Lead McMenamin To Call For Non-Union Wage Freeze Again

If you wind up having to pay more on your City Water Light and Power bill, a Springfield alderman says city employees should have to take a hit, too. 


Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin is once again calling for a pay freeze for non-union employees.  McMenamin points to the fiscal issues at CWLP and says the city needs to get a handle on expenses. 


He contends that freezing pay for non-union workers will give the city leverage in contract talks.


Ferguson Unrest Prompts Springfield Alderman To Raise Residency Rule Issue

The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is giving more ammunition to Alderman Joe McMenamin’s call to reinstate a residency rule for new city government hires. 


Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Bishop On Air," McMenamin said the police department should reflect its community… and said officers can more effectively police the area when they have roots and ties here. 


McMenamin has pushed to require future hires to live within the city limits, but after early setbacks, he’s indicated that he won’t try to pass it again until a new city council is seated.

Authorities Renew Search For Possible Gunman Roaming West Side

For the second time this week, police have been searching on the west side for a man who may be roaming the area with a gun. 


The agitated man alarmed bystanders Tuesday when he attempted to board a city bus near Parkway Pointe, and implied he had a weapon.  He then ran into a Westside hotel, but eluded police. 


A man believed to be the same individual was spotted in that area again Thursday morning… canine and aerial units were called in, but the man could not be immediately located.

Powder Scare At State Library Proves Harmless

A brief scare at the Illinois State Library has turned out to be harmless. 


The building was closed temporarily after staffers found a white powder in a package that had been sent to the facility in downtown Springfield. 


The package had a Bolingbrook return address, and after locating the sender, authorities determined that the powder was harmless and had been accidentally placed in the envelope.

Term Limits Initiative Struck Down by Appellate Court Days Before Ballot Certification

The drive to put a term limits amendment on the November ballot has hit another wall… but supporters aren’t giving up yet.


An Illinois appeals court has agreed with a lower court that the term limits amendment violates the Illinois Constitution because it goes beyond the “structural and procedural” changes that ballot measures are supposed to address.


The amendment championed by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner also attempts to cram several unrelated items into a single amendment, according to the court.


Rauner is urging the Illinois Supreme Court to hear his appeal and allow the amendment to go forward. But Friday is the scheduled deadline to finalize the fall ballot.

Candidates Using Social Media to Stake Claims in Upcoming Elections

More candidates are staking their claims for next year’s local elections.


Springfield school board member Adam Lopez announced earlier this week on Facebook that he would seek re-election, rather than running for a different office.


Meanwhile, deputy city clerk Rianne Hawkins has a Facebook page touting her candidacy for the city clerk’s job, even though she hasn’t formally announced her campaign yet.


Current city clerk Cecilia Tumulty has to step down next year because of term limits.

Sangamon County Board Approves Carlock Death Settlement

The Sangamon County Board has approved a multi-million-dollar settlement with the family of a county jail inmate who died after a struggle with jail guards back in 2007.


Paul Carlock… also known as “Klutzo the Clown”… was being held on child porn charges when he had that altercation with jailers.


He died later at the hospital. The county does not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, but county officials say settling now is cheaper than continuing to fight the case in court. Carlock’s family will receive more than $2.5 million.


The county has also spent in excess of $2.6 million in legal fees.

Possible Medical Marijuana Dispensary for Downtown Given Initial Approval by City

A top city official indicates that a medical marijuana dispensary could wind up in the heart of the city’s downtown Lincoln district.


Corporation counsel Todd Greenburg tells 970 WMAY that the proposed site for a dispensary would be “west of City Hall” and near Lincoln’s Home.


The Lincoln Home site… which sits on federal land… is actually directly south of City Hall, but a small sliver of downtown where a dispensary could legally be located runs from the Lincoln’s Home area to near the Old State Capitol.


Such dispensaries cannot be closer than 1,000 feet to schools, day cares, or areas zoned primarily for residential use.

This Year's Ethnic Village on Fairgrounds Canceled

A longtime Springfield tradition is coming to an end.


The State Journal-Register reports the Ethnic Festival has been cancelled.


The event used to draw tens of thousands of people to the State Fairgrounds over the Labor Day weekend, but participation by local groups has dropped off and crowds have dwindled dramatically in recent years.


Organizers say they may try to relaunch the event on a smaller scale next year, perhaps at a different location.

Appeals Court Rejects Term Limits Amendment

Bruce Rauner's effort to get a term limits amendment on the November ballot has suffered another setback.


An Illinois appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling which finds the proposed amendment is unconstitutional, because it is not confined to "structural or procedural" changes in legislative operations, as is required by the Illinois Constitution.

Rauner says the measure has widespread public support, and thinks voters should be allowed to have their say on it.  He has indicated he will appeal to the state Supreme Court, but a deadline to certify the November ballot is just days away.

Rauner Fights Back Against Outsourcing, Cayman Claims

“Not every job should be in America.”  That statement comes from Republican Bruce Rauner… defending his former company’s work helping other companies set up overseas operations. 


Rauner says an overseas presence is often essential for companies competing in a global marketplace… and says right now, those companies can’t be competitive in Illinois’s business climate.  But Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign accuses Rauner of “outsourcing” American jobs overseas.


Rauner also dismisses Quinn's criticism over press reports that Rauner put part of his fortune in Cayman Islands accounts as a tax shelter.  Rauner calls it a "red herring" and says it is not an important issue in the race for governor.

Scherer: Balance The Budget By Cutting Waste

With a possible multi-billion-dollar state budget gap looming, State Representative Sue Scherer says the answer is to cut waste… and then cut some more waste. 


Scherer says she “absolutely” believes that there may be billions of dollars wasted in the state budget… and says she will be diligent in identifying it. 


Scherer is opposed to extending the temporary income tax increase that expires at the end of the year.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Could Wind Up In Abe's Backyard (Almost)

We could soon find out if Abe Lincoln and pot go together. 


Springfield’s corporation counsel says the proposed location for a medical marijuana dispensary is somewhere in the vicinity of Lincoln sites, and west of City Hall. 


That could put it near sites like the Old State Capitol or Lincoln’s Home.  That area is one of only a handful of locations in Springfield where a dispensary could go without violating state rules against being too close to schools or day care centers.

New Bel-Aire Hearings Convene Thursday

The owner of the Bel-Aire Motel could face nearly a million dollars in fines as a new round of hearings gets underway Thursday over hundreds of alleged building code violations. 


Mayor Mike Houston’s administration sees those code hearings… and the threat of massive fines… as the best way for the city to gain control of the rundown facility so that it can be condemned and torn down. 


City corporation counsel Todd Greenburg says the city will also continue to put together a chronic nuisance case against the Bel-Aire, as directed this month by the city council.


Ride-Sharing Service Intensifies Fight Against New Regulations

A ride-sharing service that is taking off in Chicago… and considering expansion to other parts of Illinois… is turning up the pressure in hopes of stopping a bill that would impose more regulations on the industry.


The head of Uber says the proposed regulations on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk would stifle the growth of his business and could force the company to rethink its Illinois presence. 


Uber is a smart-phone app that allows people to connect with drivers who can provide rides.  But Uber drivers currently don’t have to have the same licenses that are required for traditional taxis.

Blood Center Cuts Ribbon, Seeks Donors

The Central Illinois Community Blood Center has cut the ribbon on its new administrative headquarters.  But that isn’t fixing its biggest immediate need.


Blood supplies are still alarmingly low… because donations have dropped off sharply over the summer.  The center is asking anyone who can, to give blood before the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 


Blood donations are still accepted at the blood center’s original location on South Seventh.

Springfield NAACP to Convene Public Meeting Next Month in Aftermath of Ferguson Unrest

Some of the tensions that have been erupting in Ferguson, Missouri, in recent days are also a daily fact of life in Springfield… according to the head of the local NAACP branch.


And now the group is convening a community meeting next month to address, and try to defuse, some of those issues.


Teresa Haley says young black men often complain that they are unfairly targeted and harassed by Springfield police. She says there needs to be a frank community discussion… and a commitment on both sides to treat each other with respect.


That meeting is planned for September 4th from 6 to 8 pm at Southeast High School.

CWLP Electric Fund Faces Another Technical Default

City Water Light and Power is facing another big financial crisis… and chief engineer Eric Hobbie warns another electric rate hike is all but inevitable.


The utility is facing a steep drop in revenue because of the relatively cool summer… and that could lead to another technical default on its debt.


The fiscal impact of a second default… and the effects of costly new regulations… will almost certainly force the utility to raise rates to bring in more revenue, according to Hobbie.

Springfield's Medical Pot Zoning Won't Come Until October

Springfield is one step closer to approving rules that would allow medical marijuana businesses in the city… but final approval could still be months away.


Aldermen voted Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that allows the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to hold a public hearing on the proposed rules, which will dictate where cannabis growing and dispensing operations will be allowed.


After that hearing, the commission will make recommendations and send the issue back to aldermen. That’s a process that could take months… but the window to apply for state licenses for such businesses is only weeks away.

Gun Charges Against Springfield Store Clerk Declared Unconstitutional

A Springfield store clerk’s conviction on weapons charges has been overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court… which says the law under which he was convicted was unconstitutional.


Ahmed Altayeb grabbed a gun from behind the counter of the Handy Pantry on West Cook and opened fire on a man who was stealing liquor from the store. The robber fled and was not injured, but Altayeb was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. His attorney argued that the statute violated Altayeb’s 2nd Amendment rights.


The State Journal-Register reports Altayeb is a legal immigrant from Yemen… but faced deportation after his conviction. His attorney hopes those proceedings can be stopped, now that the conviction has been thrown out.

Rauner Calls for State Supreme Court to Take Up Term Limits Case

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is calling on the state Supreme Court to pick up the pace and make a fast final decision on whether a term limits amendment will be allowed on the November ballot.


The deadline to finalize the ballot is rapidly approaching… and Rauner’s term limits proposal is still in limbo, after being ruled unconstitutional by a lower court earlier this summer.


Rauner says he’s upset that the high court didn’t hear a direct appeal of that ruling… and says the courts should stop dragging their feet and make a ruling.


Rauner says the term limits proposal is very popular among Illinoisans, and they should have a chance to vote on it.

NAACP Calls Town Hall Meeting For Sept. 4th To Address Tensions Between Police, Black Community

What’s been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, could just as easily happen here… according to the head of the Springfield NAACP. 


But a town hall meeting planned for next month is intended to reduce those tensions and address the underlying issues of relations between police and Springfield’s black community.  Teresa Haley of the Springfield branch says young black men in particular feel that they are the victims of harassment by local police.


That meeting is set for September 4th from 6 to 8 pm at Southeast High School.


Local Leaders Push For Passage Of School Funding Reform Bill

A renewed push is underway to win approval of a bill to radically revamp school funding in the state. 


Community leaders and Springfield school officials are supporting Senator Andy Manar’s Senate Bill 16… which requires that most state school aid be allocated on the basis of need.


Representative Sue Scherer is a supporter of the bill in the House.  She says it’s unfair that local students compete with suburban Chicago kids for jobs… after getting educated in schools that are much less well-funded.


Sheriff: No Wrongdoing, But Changes Were Made After Jail Death

Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson insists his jailers did nothing wrong in a 2007 incident that led to the death of an inmate… and now a possible $2.5 million settlement with the inmate’s family. 


But Williamson also says changes have been made in jail operations since Paul Carlock’s death seven years ago.  The accused child pornographer had struggled with jail guards before he died.


Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the settlement makes sense to prevent future expense for county taxpayers.

Police Search For, Can't Find, Man With Gun

Springfield police are scratching their heads about a man who reportedly attempted to board a city bus... and then ran into a west-side hotel... while implying that he had a gun.


The incident happened on Freedom Drive near Parkway Pointe Tuesday, when the man attemped to get on the bus. The agitated man reportedly kicked a window and implied that he had a gun, then got off the bus and ran into the Fairfield Inn.


Springfield police arrived and searched the hotel, but couldn't find the man.  They suspect he fled before they arrived.  They're asking anyone with information about it to call the police department.

State Police Stress Safety Around School Buses

You may be like a lot of drivers… not quite clear on the rules regarding when you’re required to stop for a school bus. 


Illinois State Police are issuing a reminder about safety around school zones, and especially around stopped buses.  The agency notes that you must always stop when you are behind a bus that is stopped with its stop arm extended. 


If you are approaching the bus, you’re only required to stop if it is not a divided roadway with multiple lanes in each direction.


Rauner Pushes For Fast Supreme Court Action On Term Limits Appeal

The committee that is pushing for a term limits amendment to the Illinois Constitution is now pushing the Illinois Supreme Court to act quickly to hear the case. 


That proposed amendment was tossed off the ballot several weeks ago… and now time is running out to get that ruling reversed before ballot deadlines kick in. 


Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner says the Supreme Court should not ignore thousands of people who want term limits for lawmakers.


Ice Bucket Challenge Catches Mayoral Candidates, Radio Personalities

The “ice bucket challenge” continues to pick up steam across the Internet… and around Springfield. 


Mayoral candidate Jim Langfelder has issued the challenge to his opponents, Mayor Mike Houston and county auditor Paul Palazzolo, to dump a bucket of ice water on their own heads.  It’s all part of a fundraising effort for the fight against ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 


970 WMAY’s Jim Leach and Greg Bishop have also gotten the challenge… and plan to carry it out live on the air Wednesday.

Sangamon County Board Committee Offers to Settle Carlock Death Case

Sangamon County taxpayers could be on the hook for more than five-million dollars in the death of an inmate in the county jail.


The State Journal-Register reports a county board committee has approved a $2.5 million settlement with the family of Paul Carlock.


The child pornography suspect… who had worked as a children’s entertainer under the name “Klutzo the Clown”… died in 2007 after a struggle with jail guards.


In addition to the settlement, the county has also incurred another $2.6 million in legal fees… but officials say those costs would go even higher if the case went to trial.


In the proposed settlement… which must still be approved by the full county board… the county does not admit wrongdoing.

Investigators Release Name of Human Remains Found in Rochester

One mystery solved… but a much bigger one remains. Forensic investigators have identified the skeletal remains found in a Rochester garage last month.


Dental records were used to confirm the remains of 43-year-old Tracy Trimby of Decatur.


Trimby had a long criminal record, including drug charges, but had not been the subject of an active missing persons investigation.


There’s still no information on how or when she died, or how her body ended up in Rochester.

Teachers and School Admin Still Working on Teachers' Contract

School is back in session in District 186… even though a new teachers’ contract has not been finalized.


Superintendent Jennifer Gill says talks have moved a bit more slowly in recent days… since members of the union’s bargaining committee are working teachers who have been preparing their classrooms for the start of school.


Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Gill said both sides agreed to, quote, “work smart, not fast” in order to craft an agreement that makes sense.


Teachers are still working under the terms of the one-year contract that was approved last summer.

Southern View Principal Resigns to Take Job in Michigan

There’s already been a shakeup at one Springfield school.


Southern View principal Reiko Hurd abruptly resigned last week to take a job in his hometown in Michigan.


School board member Donna Moore said she was “reluctantly” voting to accept the resignation, because she thinks administrators should fulfill their contracts, but agreed it could be awkward to force Hurd to stay.


Grant Middle School guidance dean Bob Mitchell has been appointed to take over as principal at Southern View, a balanced calendar school whose school year started last month.

Enos Park Neighborhood Association Sues Problem Property Owners

A Springfield neighborhood association is taking action on its own against rundown properties in its part of town.


The Enos Park Association has filed suit against the owners of several properties, accusing them of creating a nuisance and a health hazard that is hurting the value of other homes in the area.


The group’s suit seeks to force repairs, demolition… or to have the properties turned over to a “receiver” who will be responsible for it.

More Ideas for Smooth and Safe Traffic Through Downtown Springfield

More ideas are surfacing about how to make traffic move more smoothly through downtown Springfield.


Two groups have been brainstorming proposals including a slower speed limit downtown… and prohibiting right turns on red at busy pedestrian intersections. Now Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman has offered another possibility.


Cahnman says the city could look at moving to “reverse angled parking,” where a driver would back into an angled on-street space.


Cahnman says it wouldn’t be any more difficult to park that way than it currently is to parallel-park… but he says it would be easier and safer to leave the space.


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