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October 24, 2014, 1:46 pm
970 WMAY News Archives for 2012-03

Libri Not Seeking New Term

Tony Libri has read the writing on the wall, and will not seek another term as Sangamon County Republican Party Chairman.


Some of the county’s top Republicans have been calling on Libri to step aside, saying his presence was dividing the party.


But Libri and some of his most vocal critics appear united on a possible successor, former county board member Rosemarie Long.

County Efficiency Commission Makes Recommendations

A commission formed to improve efficiency at all levels of government in Sangamon County has issued its first formal recommendation.


The Citizens Efficiency Commission is calling for the creation of peer networks, where officials with similar duties would get together regularly to share ideas on best practices.


For example, there would be regular meetings of all the county’s mayors, or township road officials. Such meetings are currently not happening on a regular basis, according to the commission.

Warmest March on Record for Illinois

This won’t surprise you at all, but the state climatologist says this was far and away the warmest March on record in Illinois.


The average temperature for the state during March was 54.7 degrees… more than three degrees warmer than the previous record, set back in 1946.

Fatalities Down on Illinois Roadways

The number of deaths on Illinois roadways is down.


According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities declined 26 percent from 2006 to 2010.


That includes a 21 percent drop in deaths related to speeding. The nonprofit Traffic Safety Coalition said Friday that roads were becoming safer because of increased seatbelt use, better air bag technology and red light cameras.

State Moves to Remove Court Supervision for Speeders

State lawmakers think there’s more to do to crack down on speeders.


The Senate has passed a bill that removes court supervision as an option for people convicted of excessive speeding.


Supervision would no longer apply if a driver was going 25 miles or more over the limit in the city, 30 miles or more on the highway.

Sheriff to Undergo Hip Replacement

Sheriff Neil Williamson will be sidelined for a few days for hip replacement surgery. Williamson will undergo a total hip replacement Monday at Memorial Medical Center.


He plans to recuperate at home for up to three weeks after the procedure. Chief Deputy Jack Campbell will handle day-to-day operations until Williamson recovers.

And the Winner is?

One of the three winning tickets for the record 640-million-dollar Mega Millions jackpot was sold in Illinois. It was purchased in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis.


Even if you didn’t buy one there, check your tickets anyway, you might have won a smaller prize. Friday night’s numbers were 2-4-23-38-46, with a Mega Ball of 23.

Online Sales Haulted by Downed Site

At the height of Mega Millions fever Friday, the Illinois Lottery website offering the only online lottery sales in the nation crashed.


The site was down for about half-an-hour, from 3:25 to 3:55 Friday afternoon, just hours before the historic drawing.


Lottery officials insist heavy traffic to the site was not to blame for the breakdown.

Jennifer Watkins a No-show

A woman embroiled in a bitter fight over visitation with her murdered husband’s parents has again defied a court order to let the couple see her daughter.


The State Journal-Register reports Jennifer Watkins was a no-show for a court-ordered appointment to let her daughter visit Dale and Penny Watkins.


Their son Steven was murdered by Jennifer’s grandmother in 2008. The couple is now seeking a criminal complaint of visitation interference against Jennifer.

SPD Conduct a Booze Sting

The Springfield Police Department conducted an undercover alcohol sting Thursday night in an effort to remind merchants that it’s unlawful to sell alcohol to minors – especially now that prom season is upon us when underage individuals try to buy booze. 


A total of 39 businesses were targeted using decoys, but only four sold alcohol to the plants.  Springfield Police Chief Robert Williams says the sting was a reminder that the SPD will continue to be watchful with the hope that  next time, nobody gets tagged with underage sales.

Four Restaurants Busted By ICE

Four Springfield restaurants were caught up in this week’s enforcement actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security agents. 


A total of 19 people were taken into custody, most charged with falsifying immigration documents to obtain employment carrying a charge of up to five years in prison.


Four of the 19 are charged with illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported which if convicted could land them a two year prison term. 


The arrests were made during raids at the three Xochimilco restaurants and at Good Tequila’s on South Sixth.


East Springfield Progress A Good Start

Local leaders say the progress made in East Springfield in recent months is just a start but a good start.


They delivered an update on the revitalization effort Thursday night highlighting new housing starts through the Springfield Project, commercial development near the J-C Penney store, and efforts to address some of the chronic social problems in that area of town.


Erich Bloxdorf of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce says there’s more work to do, but says things are moving in the right direction.

Big Cuts Outlined

Virtually every part of state government would be forced to cut spending under a budget outline approved Thursday by the Illinois House, where even supporters called it a "painful, painful" decision.


The spending plan calls for slashing billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program. Officials acknowledge they don't know how they'll reach that target, but it's likely to involve eliminating services such as dental care or prescription drug coverage for adults.


Other government programs, from schools to prisons to agriculture, would be hit with cuts of about 5 percent. State leaders say government must cut spending dramatically or risk a virtual collapse of key services.

Ultrasound Legislation Pulled

The sponsor of a bill that would have required doctors to offer an ultrasound to women seeking an abortion has withdrawn the legislation… for now.


Representative Joseph Lyons, a pro-life Democrat, says some lawmakers who had indicated support for the bill were absent Thursday, and he wants to wait until they are back before calling the bill for a vote.


Opponents attempted to amend the bill before Lyons withdrew it one proposal would have mandated that doctors provide detailed information to men about potential risks and side effects before prescribing drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.

Finding Literature in Hip Hop

Springfield Public Schools will be offering a new creative writing, literature program for around 75 high school students over the spring.


The Literary Academy will be held over four Saturdays this April and May and will explore Hip-Hop & Rap, lyrics, songwriting and storytelling as modes of expression.


The class will be facilitated by Springfield High School English Teacher and Author, A. D. Carson, whose multi-media novel “COLD” incorporates many of the concepts to be taught curing the course.


The academy is free to Springfield Public School high school students. Those interested may register directly with A. D. Carson at Springfield High School.

Durbin Pushes Know Before You Owe Act

Senator Dick Durbin has co-sponsored legislation in the Nation’s Capital, called the “Know Before You Owe Act of 2012.”


The bill would require schools to counsel students before they sign a private student loan, to let them know if they have any un-tapped federal loan eligibility.


Durbin says in many instances, students haven’t applied for federal aid before applying for private student loans or haven’t exhausted federal aid options.


Through the Act, private lenders would have to certify that the student is enrolled in the school and the amount eligible to be borrowed provide the borrower with a quarterly update on the loan and report information to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about their student loans.

Harris Sentenced 10 Days

Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff has been sentenced to ten days in prison for helping his old boss try to sell President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.


John Harris received his sentenced yesterday at federal court in Chicago.


Harris cooperated with authorities following his arrest in 2008, and he testified against Blagojevich.


Judge James Zagel said he had sympathy for Harris, because of the difficulties of working for a demanding and erratic boss like Blagojevich.

Bullying Law Advances to Senate

The Illinois House has approved a bill that is intended to crack down on bullying in school, and to force school districts to develop and implement policies for dealing with the problem.


The legislation prohibits bullying of students based on a wide range of criteria, including physical appearance, socioeconomic status, or pregnancy.


School districts would be required to have a formal policy on how bullying complaints can be reported, how they will be investigated, and what actions may be taken against students who engage in it.


The bill now goes to the state Senate.

ICE Sweeps Springfield Again

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has made another sweep through the Springfield area.


The State Journal-Register reports 19 people were booked into the Sangamon County Jail over the past two days, apparently on immigration-related charges.


ICE has not returned calls seeking information about the arrests, although callers to 970 WMAY News reported seeing ICE agents taking part in an apparent raid at a Springfield restaurant this week.


Agents have conducted several similar raids at other city food establishments in recent months.

MacArthur Park Apartments Saga Continues

A hearing officer will personally visit the MacArthur Park Apartments next week to evaluate the status of repairs at the troubled complex.


The administrative law judge wants to see for himself what progress the owners are making in correcting numerous city code violations.


The public will not be allowed on the premises during the visit, and a follow-up public hearing will be scheduled for further action.

County Sheriffs Arrest Alleged Shooters

The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office rounded up a few alleged street gang members Tuesday after a vehicle-to-vehicle shooting incident on Tozer Road.


Witnesses in the three thousand block of Winch Road said the occupants of a white four-door shot at another moving vehicle.


A few hours later, deputies and detectives made a traffic stop on the suspected vehicle on West Jefferson, arresting 19-year-old Michael A. Smith, 18-year-old Rovale D. Reese, and 18-year-old Dexter D. Hughes, charging them with reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon.


Authorities say the incident is believed to be in connection to an on-going dispute between two rival Springfield street gangs.

Safety Priority for Sangamon County

Sangamon County government is a much safer place to work after new procedures were implemented to improve workplace safety.


County Auditor Paul Palazzolo says on-the-job injuries are down 30-percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant part of the reduction came within the Sheriff’s Department.


Palazzolo says a recently-created Workplace Safety Board reviewed injury claims to determine the cause of such injuries, and made changes to reduce the likelihood of similar injuries in the future.

Free Heirloom Seeds From Dep. of Ag

Seeds for the Lincoln Tomato were so popular, The Department of Agriculture and the Old State Capitol State Historic Society are bringing them back.


A limited supply of the heirloom variety seeds that date back to the 1920’s are up for grabs beginning at 10am Thursday as part of the History Comes Alive tourism at the Old State Capitol.


More than 500 seed packets were handed out during the week between Lincoln’s Birthday and President’s Day.


The free seeds will be limited to one packet per person. The site at the Old State Capitol will be open until 5pm on Saturday.

Illinois' Museums Bring the State Cash

Illinois museums rake in the cash for the state and employ over six thousand Illinoisans, serving 21 million visitors per year.


That includes 3.4 million school children and just under 200 thousand teachers. The overall economic impact to the state – around $2 billion annually.


The findings are from the Illinois Museums’ Economic Impact Statement released during the annual I.A.M. Day held this month.


Donna Sack, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Museums says the venues are a significant pull to international and out of state visitors, and to the many Illinoisans who visit them.

Mega Millions Hits New Record

The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history now stands at an eye-popping half-a-billion dollars.


No one matched all the winning numbers in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing.


That immediately pushed the jackpot to 476-million dollars, but brisk ticket sales have led officials to bump it up again, to 500-million. And the prize could climb even higher before the next drawing Friday night.

CWLP Employee Allegedly Barks Up Wrong Tree

Abuse of city-owned property, intimidation techniques, irate alderman and anonymous complainants --- it has all the makings of a special investigation by a network news agency, but it’s happening in your back yard.


Details surfaced during Tuesday’s Springfield City Council Meeting of a Springfield citizen who had complained about witnessing a City Water Light and Power employee using city resources, on city time, to trim a tree on private property.


The rate payer saw the truck, took pictures, and called in the truck’s identification numbers. Later the rate payer was confronted at his house by the employee in question and another individual.


The complainant says he felt like he was being intimidated. Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson says the abuse of property is bad enough, but for an employee to intimidate a rate payer is even more alarming.


The complainant, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that he’s not a tree trimmer but he knows about pricing jobs and what he witnessed was theft from the city that worker should be disciplined.


CWLP Chief Engineer and Acting General Manager Eric Hobbie says he has already begun the investigation and will determine the possible discipline once all the facts are gathered. Mayor Mike Houston was also made aware of the complaint but was not immediately available for comment.

Cullen: Competent Attorneys Working for City

The public can be confident that there are competent attorneys working on the city’s behalf regardless of the relationship between the City of Springfield’s Corporation Council and the law firm that is defending the city in workers’ compensation cases, according to Corporation Council Mark Cullen.


An ordinance placed on the debate agenda would accept and agreement to give $150,000 dollars, split between two law firms, to handle the legal work necessary for workers’ compensation claims. One of the law firms is Sorling, Northrup, Hanna, Cullen and Cochran LTD. Along with the other firm, Livingstone, Mueller, O’Brien & Davlin, the contracts were not up for bid because they are considered a professional service contract. Cullen, the city’s corporation council, says the public shouldn’t worry that his former law firm got a no bid contract to work for the city.


During Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the Springfield City Council placed around $245,000 of workers’ compensation claims on the consent agenda. Cullen says that the attorneys defend the city in these cases at a fee of $150 an hour

Harris to be Sentenced

Today is sentencing day for a one-time top aide to former Governor Rod Blagojevich.


John Harris was arrested in December 2008, the same day that Blagojevich was taken into federal custody on corruption charges. But Harris cooperated with prosecutors on the case against Blagojevich, and is expected to get leniency as a result.


Blagojevich is now serving a 14-year prison sentence in the case.

All Eyes on The Lottery

Lottery fever has never climbed so high in Illinois, or anywhere in the U-S. After another rollover Tuesday night, the Mega Millions jackpot has now climbed to 476-million dollars for Friday’s drawing. That is the largest lottery jackpot ever in the United States. The odds of winning the top prize are one in 176-million.


Illinois' neighbor to the east is closely watching the state's new effort to sell lottery tickets online. Indiana officials say they may consider the idea depending on how the program works out. Illinois has started online sales of tickets for its games and the multistate Mega Millions game.

House Committee Investigation on Hold

An Illinois House committee hearing into a lawmaker accused of bribery is on hold while committee members wait to find out how far they can go without interfering with an ongoing federal investigation.


A bipartisan committee of six lawmakers is looking into allegations that Representative Derrick Smith accepted a seven-thousand-dollar bribe in order to intervene on behalf of a day care center seeking a state grant.


The hearing is the first step toward Smith’s possible removal from office. But lawmakers say they want to make sure their inquiry does not disrupt the criminal case against Smith. Smith chose not to attend Tuesday’s hearing at the Capitol.

Traffic: Cokcrell Lane and Peach Tree Drive Closed Thursday

Beginning Thursday, March 29th Cockrell Lane, south of Peach Tree Drive at the Bogey Hills subdivision to Mt. Zion School Road will be closed to thru traffic during a City Water, Light and Power water main extension project and associated road surface repairs. CWLP Water Department crews will be installing a 12-inch main to the Savannah Pointe subdivision to the south.


This road closure to thru traffic will remain in effect until road surface repairs are complete. Motorists are encouraged to plan alternative routes and to slow down and be aware of workers and equipment near the pavement and this work area. This work will be rescheduled in the event of inclement weather.

Early Start For Yard Waste Desposal

The City of Springfield Department of Public Work’s free drop off program for yard waste has been stepped up.


The City reports that due to an overwhelming response to the program, Evans Recycling is prepared to start taking yard waste right away, rather than beginning next month.


Springfield residents may drop off their yard waste right away, Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm. Evans recycling is located at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway.


Curb side yard waste pick up begins Monday, April 2nd and runs through Friday, April 27th free of charge.

Lawmaker Hopes to Change Illinois Eavesdropping Law

Be careful the next time you whip out your cell phone to make a recording of an altercation at a public park or elsewhere on the streets, especially if police are around. You’d be breaking the law if you don’t have everyone’s consent.


The Illinois Eavesdropping Law makes it a felony punishable up to 15 years in prison to record the audio of anyone without their permission in private places like a bathroom but also in public like a neighborhood park.


Several high profile cases have been thrown out by the courts saying the law violates the First Amendment. One state lawmaker is trying to change the law, but her recent attempt failed.


Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Des Plains, says enforcement of the Illinois Eavesdropping Law, as with many other laws, is up to prosecutorial discretion. Nekritz says this particular law is ripe for potential abuse.


A bill that would make the audio recordings of police captured in public exempt from the eavesdropping law failed the house vote 59 to 45. With area republicans voting “no”. Nekritz says those opposed to the bill think it would make an unfair playing field for police and the public. Nekritz hopes to bring a different version of her bill to the house floor soon.


With the NATO Summit planned for Chicago in May, there will be plenty of protestors, police, and news media on the streets. With that comes news cameras and even cell phone cameras ready to capture the action in audio and video. What some people may not know is if they didn’t get everyone’s consent to record, they could be charged with a felony.  Illinois is one of a few states that has this type of law.


The arguments from those opposed to Nekritz’s proposed changes are concerned about a level playing field between the public and police. Nekritz says the issue is bigger than that.


Even though the bill failed, Nekritz says no bill is ever dead in the General Assembly. She hopes to bring back the bill with some changes to get more votes. Area republican representatives Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer voted against Nekritz’s bill. They were not immediately available for comments.

Mesothelioma Case Can Move Forward

The family of a woman who died of a rare form of cancer will be allowed to proceed with their lawsuit, claiming the woman contracted it from asbestos that came home on the clothing of her husband, a longtime railroad employee. The Illinois Supreme Court has reinstated the case, which was tossed out in 2007, the same year Annette Simpkins died of mesothelioma. Her family is suing CSX Transportation, alleging that asbestos used in its railroad operations contributed to her death.

Blago Home Off The Market

Former governor Rod Blagojevich's home is off the market for now. The Chicago home had been put up for sale, with a price tag of over a million dollars, after Blagojevich was convicted of corruption charges last year. But a family spokesman says Patti Blagojevich has decided that selling the home and uprooting her daughters would be too traumatic for them, just weeks after their father went to prison to begin serving his 14-year sentence.

Mega Millions Jackpot Is Up

A near-record-high Mega Millions jackpot has been bumped up again, ahead of tonight’s drawing.


The top prize now stands at 363-million-dollars for a single winner, with a chance that heavy ticket sales could lead to another increase by tonight.


If there is another rollover, the next drawing would almost certainly be the richest in Mega Millions history. But lottery officials warn against going overboard, noting that the odds of winning the top prize remain 176-million-to-one.

Free Yard Waste Drop Off at Evans

Springfield residents … get your yard waste ready!


The Springfield Public Works Department is teaming up with Evans Recycling in a month-long collection beginning in April. The new program is meant to give residents some choices and also save the city from contracting out waste haulers.


The city will do curbside pickup of yard waste. This is different than in past programs where the city contracted the pickup to waste haulers. Residents can also drop yard waste off at Evans Recycling Monday through Saturday from 7am to 3pm at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway past Oakridge Cemetery. Y


ard waste brought to Evans can be loose, in a plastic back to dump, leaving the plastic bag in a nearby dumpster, or you can leave full yard waste bags at the recycler.


Public Works Director Mark Mahoney says that residents are asked to hold off until the fall to take limbs curbside or to the recyclers.

Services Planned for Barnett

Funeral Services have been arranged for a former Chatham, Illinois, Chief of Police.


Roy A. Barnett of Chatham died on Saturday at age 73. Barnett had been chief of police from 1988 through 2009. The wake is scheduled at Kirlin-Egan & Butler Funeral Home, 900 South 6th From 4 to 7pm on Wednesday, with a memorial ceremony on Thursday at 1:30pm.


Barnett retired from the Springfield Police Department and was a life member of the International Chiefs of Police Association, among others.

IRS: Take Time Filing Taxes

The deadline is looming for filing 2011 tax returns and the IRS says people should take their time completing them.


IRS Spokesman Michael Define says the most common errors on tax returns are incorrect or missing social security number, incorrect spelling of the name, math errors, and no signature. About 80 percent of returns are e-filed, so the software does the math.


But Devine says anyone preparing a paper return should review arithmetic for accuracy. And, if arried, both spouses must sign a joint return. Because, Devine says, “an un-signed tax return is like and un-signed check. It’s invalid.”

Airport Short of Revenue Guarantee in Deal with Vision Air

Springfield airport officials are still well short of the revenue guarantees for the short-term air service to Florida that they put in place after the shutdown of Direct Air.


But airport manager Mark Hanna says that emergency deal with Vision Air wasn’t about making money, it was about taking care of customers and preserving their trust in air travel out of Springfield.


Hanna says between 14-hundred and 15-hundred tickets have been sold for flights between now and the end of April, generating about 200-thousand dollars in revenue. But the airport has guaranteed 700-thousand in revenue for Vision Air.


Hanna hopes more tickets will be sold, but says the airport can endure the financial hit while it works to attract a carrier to take over the Florida Gulf Coast route permanently.

Lotto Begins Online Sales

Hundreds of Illinois Lottery tickets have been sold on the first day of online sales. Illinois became the first state to offer online lotto sales yesterday. Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones says online sales will bring in more money for the state.


One of the things that may be fueling online lottery sales is a near-record jackpot for the Mega Millions game. Tuesday’s drawing in the multi-state game carries a jackpot of at least $356 million for a single winner, the game’s third-biggest prize ever.


The top Mega Millions prize ever was 390-million, back in 2007.

Nursing Program in Trouble

A program in Springfield that trains adults to become licensed practical nurses is in danger after the State Board of Education eliminated its funding.


The State Journal-Register reports the State Board cut the 200-thousand-dollar subsidy this year a move it claims it should have taken a decade ago when the agency shifted its focus away from adult vocational programs.


The LPN program at the Capital Area Career Center is now trying to find an affiliation and funding from another state agency.

Texting Teacher Sues Parents

A central Illinois teacher who sent thousands of text and Twitter messages to a student, and gave him gifts, is now suing the student’s parents for seeking an order of protection against her.


Rita Grunloh was investigated for her contact with the male student, but the McLean County State’s Attorney declined to file charges against her even though he said that some people might find the content and number of the messages, quote, “weird or even disturbing.”


The boy’s parents sought and obtained the order of protection, which was later dismissed.


Grunloh wants sanctions against the parents, saying their request for the order was based on information that they knew was not factual.

Airport Short of Revenue Guarantee

Springfield airport officials are still well short of the revenue guarantees for the short-term air service to Florida that they put in place after the shutdown of Direct Air.


But airport manager Mark Hanna says that emergency deal with Vision Air wasn’t about making money, it was about taking care of customers and preserving their trust in air travel out of Springfield.


Hanna says between 14-hundred and 15-hundred tickets have been sold for flights between now and the end of April, generating about 200-thousand dollars in revenue. But the airport has guaranteed 700-thousand in revenue for Vision Air.


Hanna hopes more tickets will be sold, but says the airport can endure the financial hit while it works to attract a carrier to take over the Florida Gulf Coast route permanently.

Students' Deaths Not Linked

One of the two Illinois State University students found dead in their dorm rooms late last week may have had an undiagnosed seizure disorder.


Authorities say the other student died of what they describe as a “non-natural process,” but would not offer additional details.


Officials still say the deaths, which occurred within hours of each other, were not related and did not involve foul play or criminal activity.

Watchdog: Schock Crossed The Line

A political watchdog group says Congressman Aaron Schock “crossed the line” by receiving more than 100-thousand dollars in payouts from his campaign fund for expenses including luxury hotel stays and exercise videos.


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW for short, says its study found more than half the members of Congress have used campaign money to enrich themselves in some way.


A Schock spokesman says some expenditures were billed to the campaign in error and were reimbursed, but the other expenses were legitimate and legal.

Wisconsin Governor Walker Coming to Springfield

He’s a controversial figure in his own state, where he’s now the target of a recall effort. But some business leaders think Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker may be just the answer to Illinois’s fiscal problems.


The State Chamber of Commerce has invited Walker to be the keynote speaker at the group’s Statehouse lobby day on April 17th. An invitation to Chamber members says Walker will serve as a reminder to Illinois lawmakers that “big problems require big solutions.”


Labor unions are already objecting to the visit by Walker, who has been under fire for his efforts to restrict collective bargaining for public sector workers.

Durbin Urges Congressional Intervention in NFL

U-S Senator Dick Durbin thinks Congress may need to intervene in the controversy over “bounty systems” in which professional football players received bonuses for intentionally injuring opponents.


Such a system resulted in suspensions for top officials with the New Orleans Saints this week, but Durbin wants hearings into whether such actions should be a federal crime.


Durbin says in any other setting, paying someone to deliberately injure someone else would result in prosecution, and wonders why the sporting arena should be any different.

Millions in Equipment Missing at Chicago State University

A new state audit says Chicago State University can't find nearly $4 million worth of equipment.


The latest review of financial oversight at the school says the equipment includes hundreds of computers that could contain confidential information.


The school says the number of problems discovered has dropped because of a new administration's ``proactive approach'' to correcting them.

Close Races Rely on Absentee Ballots

They clashed often during their primary battle and the two Democrats running in the 13th Congressional District are still at odds now that the race is over.

Bloomington physician David Gill has declared victory after Tuesday’s initial vote count showed him with a 143-vote lead over rival Matt Goetten. But Goetten says it’s too soon to declare a winner, because not every vote has been counted yet.


Absentee ballots can still be mailed in up to two weeks after the election.


A similarly close race has also taken shape in the 96th House District, where just 70 votes separate Democrats Sue Scherer and Winston Taylor.

Change in Eavesdropping Law Blocked

A bill that would have allowed you to record audio of police performing their duties in public has been defeated in the Illinois House.


The measure was in response to recent cases where Illinois residents have been charged with felonies for making video and audio recordings of officers.


Under the state’s eavesdropping law, all parties involved in a recording must give consent. Even though the bill to change that was defeated, the eavesdropping law still faces a constitutional challenge.

Committee To Investigate Smith

Illinois House leaders have named a special committee to investigate a member who was charged with bribery.


State Representative Derrick Smith was arrested last week for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe. Five House Republicans had requested a committee.


Smith won the primary challenge in his district against a former Republican opponent this week.

Springfield Ideal For Filmmaker

If you’ve ever wanted to see a real movie set, you don’t have to travel to Hollywood this week.


Work continues in Springfield on “Jump In,” a film by local producer and director Kimberly Conner. She says she likes shooting in Springfield because local officials and businesses are very cooperative, and because she can use a pool of local talent for work in front of, and behind, the camera.


Conner also wrote the film, which is scheduled to be released on DVD this summer, although she is still hoping to arrange a theatrical distribution deal.

Races To Close To Call

A couple of races may still be up in the air following Tuesday’s primary.


In the 13th Congressional District Democratic race, Bloomington physician David Gill has declared victory after the vote tally showed him with a lead of fewer than 150 votes. But opponent Matt Goetten (GET’-ten) isn’t ready to concede yet, saying that it’s important for every vote to be counted. There may still be outstanding absentee and provisional ballots that haven’t yet been tabulated.


Another close race came in the 96th House District, where Decatur teacher Sue Scherer (SHEER’-er) finished just 70 votes ahead of Winston Taylor. Taylor so far has not said if he see a recount or challenge the results.

Illinois EPA and Public Health Praises Fluoride Compliance

The Illinois EPA and Department of Public Health awarded several water districts in Sangamon County for maintaining state mandated fluoride levels every month in 2011.


Dr. David Miller, Oral Health Division Chief of the IDPH says water fluoridation can improve overall health for both children and adults, reducing tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person’s lifetime.


Springfield’s CWLP, Curran-Gardner, Illiopolis, and Riverton all received awards for perfect compliance. Pleasant Plains got an Honorable Mention.

New Unemployment Rules

Individuals receiving unemployment will need to make sure they're keeping their papers in order. New, enhanced rules require individuals to comply with measures to ensure they're updating their job skills and actively looking for work. With the latest extension in benefits, those entering their next round of benefits will have to be interviewed and must show examples on the forms provided during the interview, outlining skills assessment and work search history. Those who don't complete the paperwork prior to the interview will risk losing their benefits.

Area Home Sales Up

Local area home sales are up, according to the Capital Area Association of Realtors. They say the median home price is up as well.


For the Month of February, the price of single home sales increased over 15 percent from the same time last year. And sales increased in the same period of time by over two percent.


Association president Todd Musso says conditions in today’s real estate market are very favorable with many down-payment programs for qualified buyers and low interest rates.

Film Shoot in Springfield

Springfield is getting a taste of Hollywood this week, as an upcoming motion picture is shooting at locations around the Capital City.


The film, called “Jump In,” is produced, directed and written by Kim Conner, a Springfield filmmaker. She says she likes shooting in Springfield because it’s easy to get cooperation and to make use of a pool of local talent.


The film is scheduled to be released on DVD this summer, although Conner is still hoping to land a theatrical distribution deal.


The stars include Karen Malina White, who had a recurring role on “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” in the early 19-90s.

Romney Wins Illinois

Illinois has played a key role in Mitt Romney’s efforts to claim the White House.  The state delivered a decisive win for Romney in Tuesday’s primary, giving him momentum and another big boost in his delegate totals. 


In Romney’s victory speech in Schaumburg, he expressed admiration for his Republican rivals and saved his attacks exclusively for President Obama.

Gill Declares Victory in 13th Congressional District Democrat Primary

Victory is declared in the Democrat Primary for the 13 Congressional District as David Gill proclaims victory. 


The Bloomington physician maintains a slender lead over Greene County State’s Attorney Matt Goetten 52 to 48 percent.  Gill had originally raised several questions about ballot problems in Macoupin County but now he's claiming a 150-vote victory with the totals provided by Macoupin County.


Those ballots were completed early Wednesday morning. No word yet on whether Goetten will seek a recount.

New 96th House District Race Set

House Speaker Mike Madigan’s preferred candidate in the 96th House District appears to have barely escaped with a win. 


Sue Scherer holds just a 70-vote lead over Winston Taylor in the district which includes Springfield’s east side, along with parts of Macon and Christian Counties. 


Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman finished a distant third.  If the numbers hold up, Scherer will face Rochester businessman Dennis Shackelford, who won the Republican nomination in the 96th District.

McCann Wins GOP Primary

In the 50th State Senate district, incumbent Sam McCann coasted to victory over Springfield prosecutor Gray Noll.  Noll won Sangamon County with the backing of local Republicans, including Senator Larry Bomke, who decided not to run for another term in the 50th.  But McCann built up an insurmountable lead in the other counties of the newly-drawn 50th.

Countywide Office Holders Hold On for Now

Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser has won a landslide victory over a Republican Party challenger, Ken Tupy.  Another countywide officeholder also defeated a fellow Republican Coroner Cinda Edwards beat challenger Tom Schafer, 57 to 43-percent.

Libri is Confident He Has Support

Republicans hoping to mount a challenge against county party chairman Tony Libri have made some inroads with victories in some key precinct committeeman races. 


But Libri still thinks he can withstand the attempt to throw him out. 


Libri concedes that his opposition won most of the contested races on Tuesday, but says many more precinct committeemen were uncontested, and he thinks the majority of those will stand with him when the party picks its chairman next month.

Single Serve Liquor Ordinance Back to Committee

Single serve containers in a convenience store cooler

A controversial ordinance about the sale of single-serve containers of alcohol is headed back to a Springfield City Council committee. 


Alderman Kris Theilen says the ordinance needs to be reworked.  His original proposal would have banned the sale of 40-ounce bottles, tallboy cans and other individual servings of liquor at gas stations or convenience stores, only permitting them at package liquor establishments. 


Now Theilen says he’s working on a modified proposal that would encourage the use of aluminum or other non-glass containers for such products.  He says careless discarding of the glass bottles creates a nuisance and a danger.

Controversial Coach Language

Coaches in Springfield public schools may have to watch their mouths and mind their matters. 


District 1-86 officials are investigating a parent’s complaint about foul and abusive language directed at high school players by their coaches. 


Superintendent Walter Milton says students should not have to endure demeaning or insulting verbal abuse at any time, and pledges that such conduct won’t be tolerated.

Illinois Votes Today

The polls are now open for today’s Illinois primary. 


In addition to the presidential beauty contest and the chase for delegates among the Republican contenders for the White House, voters will also have their say on congressional and legislative races, two contested GOP primaries for countywide office in Sangamon County, and precinct committeeman selection. 


County Clerk Joe Aiello reminds voters that because of redistricting, they may see changes in their polling place and in the races in which they are eligible to vote. 


Check your voter registration card or contact the county elections office if you have questions.  You can also find out more online through the Sangamon County Clerk's office's website.

Romney Works Springfield Before Primary

GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in Springfield, Illinois, to talk to a packed Charlie Parker's Diner. In this video, WMAY talks with the owner of Charlie Parker's, Mike Murphy and the moment that the former Massachusetts Governor arrived to greet the overflow crowd waiting outside.

Mitt Romney is taking no chances heading into today’s primary.  Despite most polls showing him with a comfortable lead, Romney blanketed the state Monday. 


His stop at Charlie Parker’s Diner in Springfield drew more than 150 supporters, who heard him pledge that he would shrink the size of government and lower taxes. 


Romney acknowledged that the economy is getting bettet but says President Obama’s policies have prevented the recovery from being stronger and faster.

Gordon to Step Down, Joining Hoogland

He’s been perhaps Springfield’s best-known media personality for more than two decades.  But Gus Gordon is leaving the local airwaves. 


After serving as chief meteorologist at Channel 20 since 19-90, Gordon has decided to take a newly-created position as artistic director at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  He’s served in a similar capacity on a part-time basis for the last several years. 


Gordon has produced and starred in numerous productions on the local stage during his time in Springfield.

Cut Impact Statements Deep

Governor Pat Quinn's own documents suggest that his plan to close state facilities would cost Illinois at least 2,300 jobs and $250 million in economic activity. So far, Quinn has filed economic impact statements on eight of the 14 prisons, mental institutions and other facilities he wants to close. When more reports are filed, the total impact could be significantly higher.

Cross: Smith Should Resign

The top Republican in the Illinois House is calling for the resignation of a Democrat who's been charged with bribery.


House Minority Leader Tom Cross says Representative Derrick Smith is embarrassing the chamber and should immediately step down.


Prosecutors allege that Smith accepted $7,000 in exchange for promising to help a daycare center get a state grant.

School Board Approves New Coach

The Springfield School Board has approved the hiring of a new football coach for Springfield High School. RJ Luke was chosen to replace Mike Taylor, who was fired last year over the objections of a number of parents. 


Luke had praise for Taylor’s efforts to build the program, and says he’s looking forward to helping the team advance even further.  Luke spent some playing time in the NFL and Arena Football before turning to coaching. 


He was also slapped with a $900,000 judgment for a fight that injured another man while Luke was a student at Penn State.  He calls it a “life lesson” and says it will help him teach his students about the importance of making wise choices.

Romney Visits Illinois

It’s always a busy place for breakfast, but Charlie Parker’s Diner in Springfield is expecting very big crowds and one VIP this morning.


Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will stop at the popular restaurant early today to meet and greet prospective voters. 


The 7AM appearance is part of an aggressive schedule for Romney, who is leading in Illinois but is looking to prevent an upset by Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s Primary.  

GOP Plays Nice, No Challenges

Mitt Romney’s visit to Springfield comes as new details are emerging about a deal that may have saved Romney from getting kicked off the Illinois ballot. 


It was earlier reported that Romney’s camp agreed not to challenge Rick Santorum’s petitions in ten congressional districts where he was far short of the number of signatures required to have his delegates on the ballot. 


But the Daily Herald reported over the weekend that the deal also averted a challenge to Romney’s own petitions which were notarized in Massachusetts, rather than in Illinois as required by law. 

Duggars Stump for Santorum in Chicago

Rick Santorum took a break from campaigning in Illinois Sunday but sent a large group of surrogates out in his place. 


The Duggar Family stars of the reality show “19 Kids and Counting” appeared at a Chicago area church and spoke to the media about their support for Santorum whose pro-life policies and opposition to birth control reflect the Duggars’ own beliefs.

Chicago Democrats: Keep Seat in Dems Hands

Some Chicago Democrats, including a sitting congressman, are urging voters to cast their ballot for a state lawmaker, despite his arrest last week on bribery charges. 


Congressman Danny Davis and others say it’s important to keep Representative Derrick Smith’s seat in democratic hands.  They say if Smith wins the Primary, he can be replaced by another democratic candidate later. 


Smith is facing a primary challenge tomorrow from a longtime registered republican who filed as a democrat to challenge Smith.  

Fatal Accident Involving Motorcycle

A 33-year-old motorcyclists from Illiopolis is dead after his cycle crashed into a pickup truck Sunday on Old Route 36. 


The 19-year-old driver of the truck told police he looked both ways at an intersection and did not see any traffic coming, so he pulled out onto the roadway. 


The Motorcycle struck the front end of the truck, ejecting the cyclist, who was not wearing a helmet.  He died a short time later at memorial medical center. 


The 19-year-old truck driver was issued several citations.

Teens Arrested at Water Tower

Authorities in southern Illinois say two teenagers have been arrested for allegedly climbing a water tower. After getting a report of people on the tower, officers in Johnston City arrived and tried to get the teenagers down. 


Authorities say a large glass alcohol bottle was thrown from the top of the tower. Authorities say emergency responders went up the tower and retrieved both teenagers with harnesses. 


After the incident, an emergency boil order was issued as a precaution, amid concerns that the teens may have breached the water tank.

New Air Service Starts Saturday

Even if Direct Air can fix its money problems and resume flying later this year, Springfield airport officials say they’re not sure the company can undo the damage caused by this week’s abrupt shutdown. 


In the meantime, the airport is trying to make life easier for people whose travel plans were thrown into chaos by the grounding of Direct Air.  Vision Airlines will temporarily operate twice-weekly flights between Springfield and Punta Gorda, Florida, a popular Direct Air destination. 


The airport authority has agreed to make up the difference if ticket sales fall below a guaranteed minimum level.

Blago Wakes Up in Prison

Rod Blagojevich spent six years as Illinois governor.  Now he’s behind bars, beginning a prison term more than twice that long. 


Blagojevich reported to a low-security prison in Colorado Thursday after a bizarre final 24 hours of freedom in which he delivered a media statement defending his legacy.  He also posed, smiling, for pictures and signed autographs before, during and after his flight to Denver. 


Unless a pending appeal is successful, Blagojevich will stay locked up until he’s transferred to a halfway house sometime in late 2023 or early 2024.

AFSCME Protests Gov. Mansion

Worried state employees are staging informational pickets across Illinois to oppose Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to close prisons and mental institutions. One protest outside the governor's mansion in Springfield yesterday drew workers from the Tamms "supermax" prison, a developmental center in Jacksonville Developmental Center and many other threatened facilities. AFSCME says closures mean fewer Illinois jobs and more dangerous prisons.

Drop in Government Jobs Increases Springfield Unemployment

A sharp drop in local government jobs is a driving factor in the uptick in Springfield’s jobless rate.  Figures for January show unemployment jumped to 8.8 percent substantially higher than December, and also higher than January of 20-11.  The jobless rate grew despite job growth in the retail, construction and health care sectors.

Gas Prices Near Record High

You’re waking up this morning to sharply higher gas prices around Springfield.  The price for a gallon of regular unleaded shot up around 30-cents a gallon overnight, to four-dollars-and-nine cents a gallon at many stations.  It’s not the highest price ever seen for regular unleaded locally but it is getting close to a record.

Fatal Accident Early Thursday

A Springfield man is dead following a car crash early Thursday just west of downtown. 


29-year-old Erik Moore was pronounced dead after being extricated from his vehicle, which had crashed into a state office building at 320 W. Washington. 


The cause of that wreck is still under investigation.

Blago Reports to Prison

Rod Blagojevich reports to prison today to begin a 14-year sentence for corruption, but not before making one last attempt to shape public opinion about his time as governor. 


Blagojevich put up a campaign-style defense of his record during a 15-minute speech to a crowd of supporters and reporters outside his Chicago home Wednesday night.  He said that he helped people, and pointed to initiatives like his All Kids health care program and free mass transit rides for seniors. 


Blagojevich said he took responsibility for his actions, and admitted that he should have shown more “humility” in office.  But he also expressed confidence that his conviction would be overturned on appeal.

State Reworks Aid Bid

State officials are compiling additional data in hopes of persuading the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse itself and provide disaster relief to Southern Illinois. 


FEMA rejected a disaster declaration request that was submitted days after a tornado ravaged Harrisburg, killing seven people.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA inspectors may not have fully evaluated the extent of the damage, but state officials may have also submitted insufficient information. 


Durbin says Illinois has a fighting chance to have the decision overturned, which would millions of dollars in financial aid for the region.

Ron Paul visits U of I

In the aftermath of the Federal Emergency Management Agency denying aid to Tornado Ravaged Southern Illinois, one republican presidential candidate says the agency should operate more efficiently.


Video highlights, plus the uncut press conference afterwards. See more video on WMAY's YouTube channel

Days before Illinois' Presidential Primary, Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul made a stop at Huff Hall n the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he spoke to a crowd of up to four-thousand people.


The candidate talked about his non-interventionist foreign policy, repealing the Patriot Act, the need for sound money and how America should live within its means. He says the same applies for FEMA.


Paul says he would not vote for any more funding for FEMA but he would vote to cut overseas spending to devote those funds to infrastructure improvements in the US. FEMA Denied providing aid to southern Illinois after a tornado swept through the Harrisburg area killing seven people. State officials are hoping to get FEMA to reverse their decision.


And it was like a rock concert with a large enthusiastic crowd chanting the lyrics to their favorite songs, but this wasn't a rock concert, it was a political rally for presidential candidate and the chants were "end the fed," "end the wars," and "bring them home."


With days before Illinois' primary, the Texas Congressman remains in the race even though some poll numbers suggest he is not the front runner and he has yet to snag a top spot in other state caucus and primaries.


Paul says he came to Illinois because young people understand his message and their enthusiasm energizes his campaign.


The crowds turn out to hear Ron Paul. Wednesday evening's event at U of I Urbana-Champaign was originally scheduled for an auditorium with a fifteen-hundred person capacity but that quickly changed as thousands RSVP'd for the free event.


Organizers then decided to move the event to Huff Hall with a forty-six-hundred person capacity and that quickly filled up.


One thing that brings out the crowds is Ron Paul's stance on foreign policy. Paul wants to bring the troops home immediately. How would he do it? "By boat," the congressman said to reporters.


Paul says he is in the race for the long haul to gather as many delegates as possible heading into this summer's national republican convention in Florida. Ron Paul has a full slate of delegates and alternates across Illinois' eighteen congressional districts.

No Challenge Upsets Some

Some of Mitt Romney’s top backers in Illinois are said to be privately upset that his campaign decided not to challenge opponent Rick Santorum’s petitions for next week’s primary a decision that could give Santorum an opening to pick up dozens of delegates here. 


Santorum did not submit enough valid signatures to get his delegates on the ballot in 10 of the state’s 18 congressional districts… but Romney’s state chairman, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, made a deal with the campaigns of the other GOP candidates not to challenge each other’s petitions. 


Rutherford calls that a peace-making move designed to restore party unity after a bruising primary.  But other top Republicans, speaking anonymously to the BuzzFeed website, says that move was more about helping Rutherford’s future political ambitions, and was not in Romney’s best interest.

Scherer Will Move in District if Elected

Legislative candidate Sue Scherer says there’s nothing wrong with her decision to run in the newly-drawn 96th House district… even though she lives just outside the district boundaries. 


Scherer is one of three Democrats seeking the nomination in the district that covers most of Decatur, along with the eastern part of Springfield and part of Christian County.  She tells the State Journal-Register that she only lives five houses down from the district boundary line, and will move into the district if elected. 


The State Constitution allows candidates from outside the district to run in the election after new boundaries are drawn, but requires a winning candidate to move into the district within six months after the election.

Kirk Mentally Sharp

Mark Kirk is mentally sharp, according to an Illinois congressional colleague who visited him in Chicago last weekend. Congressman John Shimkus says he thinks Kirk would be capable of casting Senate votes if the rules didn't require him to be in Washington to do that.


Kirk continues his rehabilitation from a stroke in January.

Direct Air Grounded Until Mid May

If your travel plans over the next couple of months include a flight on Direct Air it’s time to make other plans. 


The low-cost air carrier has suspended operations until at least May 15th, after abruptly canceling flights across its system Monday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded as they were attempting to fly into or out of Springfield. 


The airline has run into financial problems and was unable to pay for jet fuel, forcing it to ground its planes.  Springfield airport officials say they were taken by surprise by the move, and now can only hope the company can fix its problems and resume service.

Stress of Being Stranded

Passengers who were left high and dry by the shutdown of Direct Air say they are facing hundreds of dollars in additional out-of-pocket expenses after scrambling to make other flight arrangements. 


Stephanie Moore Chipman of Springfield says she struggled for hours to find another way of getting home.  She and dozens of others wound up spending the night in Lakeland, Florida, after their flight back to Springfield was cancelled. 


The hotel accommodations were provided by the city of Lakeland, in hopes that the stranded travelers might consider a return trip there someday, despite their frustration over their disrupted travel plans.

Council to Debate Liqour Sales and Pedestrian Bridge

So-called "40's" in a cooler at local convenience store

Springfield aldermen will consider a proposal to restrict sales of 40-ounce bottles of alcohol and other “single serve” liquor packaging. 


The proposal would only allow such containers to be sold at package liquor stores, not at convenience stores or gas stations. 


Alderman Kris Theilen says many people who go into a convenience store to buy “a 40” will wind up consuming it on the street and just throwing the bottle on the ground or in someone’s yard. 


The pedestrian walkway has been closed for because of safety issues

Meanwhile, aldermen will also vote next week on a proposal to begin the process of repairing and re-opening the pedestrian bridge between the two Municipal Center buildings using grant funds specifically for refurbishing gateways to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and other historic sites in Springfield.




Schweska Drops Re-Election Bid

A Sangamon County board member has abruptly decided to drop his re-election bid just days before he was to face a challenge in next week’s primary. 


Democrat Tim Schweska’s decision comes as news surfaced that he was the subject of a police report, alleging that he misappropriated more than six-thousand-dollars from the Saint Andrew’s Society and used the money for personal expenses. 


No charges were filed after the money was reimbursed.  Schweska was supposed to face Marilyn Mancini in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 28th county board district. 


Even though he has withdrawn from the race, his name will remain on the ballot.

More Area GOP Leaders Say Libri Must Go

Still more top Sangamon County Republicans are calling for Tony Libri to step down as party chairman. 


The State Journal-Register reports outgoing state senator Larry Bomke, county treasurer Tom Cavanagh and former Springfield mayor Karen Hasara all say it’s time for Libri to go. 


The officials echoed concerns raised by others that Libri’s demeanor and attitude have created problems. 


Earlier this week in a live interview on 970 WMAY, Libri insisted he would not be forced from his job and said he still has the support of the majority of precinct committeemen.

Direct Air Flights Canceled Monday

There are big questions this morning about the status and future of Direct Air. 


The low-cost carrier that operates flights between Springfield and destinations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Lakeland, Florida apparently cancelled all flights across its system Monday, including one that was scheduled to leave Springfield for Florida. 


There are reports that the company has been experiencing financial difficulties, but so far Direct Air has not returned calls seeking comment about the situation or when flights may resume.

Quinn to Appeal FEMA Decision

Governor Pat Quinn will appeal the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to deny aid to tornado-ravaged parts of southern Illinois. Quinn says the state is doing everything it can to help the affected communities, but some assistance is needed. Seven people died in the town of Harrisburg following last month's storms.

Quinn Cuts Deep

Governor Pat Quinn's prison budget plan includes more than $12 million in cuts to drug-abuse treatment and job training programs. A prison watchdog group in Chicago says eliminating services will leave ex-convicts ill-prepared for life on the streets and could mean they'll wind up back in prison.

Blago to Speak Wednesday

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to give his final public goodbye less than 24 hours before he must report to prison. A spokesman for Blagojevich says the ex-governor will make his statement outside his Chicago home just after 5 p.m. Wednesday. He must start serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption on Thursday.

Firing Not Related to Payout

An investigation has found that an Illinois human services official sped up more than $1,900 in state payments to his wife's company while other vendors waited in 2010. Solomon Oriaikhi was fired from his job at the Department of Human Services last year.


A DHS spokeswoman says the firing was unrelated to the investigation.

Libri Says He's Not Going Anywhere

A defiant Tony Libri says he’s not going to be chased out of his job as Sangamon County Republican Party chairman. 


Libri says a movement to remove him as chairman is born out of egos, and driven by people who aren’t really involved in the party’s day-to-day operations. 


Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Libri said he’s been the target of false and malicious accusations, and says he’s not going to give in to those tactics.


Listen to the interview below


Record Walleye Caught

linois officials have confirmed that a Wisconsin fisherman now holds the record for the biggest walleye ever caught in Illinois waters.


Jim Zimmerman of Beloit snagged the 15-pounder yesterday on the Pecatonica River in northern Illinois.


It's a few ounces larger than the one a Rockford teenager caught on the same river just two months ago. 

FEMA Denies Aid

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied disaster aid to storm-ravaged counties in southern Illinois. FEMA says the damage wasn't ``beyond the capabilities'' of state and local governments. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he "can't believe" the decision, and calls the damage in the Harrisburg area some of the worst he's ever seen.  Governor Pat Quinn's office has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Turmoil in Sangamon County GOP


Sangamon County GOP Chairman Tony Libri

The family feud within the Sangamon County Republican Party continues.  Sheriff Neil Williamson is the latest top Republican to call for the ouster of Tony Libri as party chairman.  Williamson tells the State Journal-Register that he has concerns about Libri's demeanor and the way he treats people.  Libri responds that Williamson's real motivation may be the fact that he wants Chief Deputy Jack Campbell to succeed him as sheriff, while Libri favors Deputy Wes Barr for the job.  But Libri is also under fire from other Republicans for recent controversies.

Flight Attendant Causes Flight Delay

An American Airlines flight was delayed Friday by an altercation that passengers say started when a flight attendant ranted about the plane crashing.


Passengers said several people wrestled the flight attendant into a seat while the plane was still on the ground at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Some passengers called 911, while others used the PA system to beg the pilot to return to the terminal.


Video provided by Associated Press

In a passenger's video obtained by The Associated Press, a woman can be heard sobbing while another woman reassures her, "It's OK ... thank goodness we're on the ground."


A federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing said that airport police determined the incident was a medical issue and not a security threat.

Illinois' First Black Sheriff Passes Away

Roger Walker is being remembered as someone who broke barriers, but was more concerned about protecting his community. Walker became the first black sheriff in Illinois when he was elected in Macon County in 1998.  He was appointed as director of the state Department of Corrections in 2003 and served in that job until 2009.  Walker died in Springfield over the weekend after a long illness.  He was 63.

Noll Endorsed by Former Pension Commissioner

A former head of the State Pensions Commission is endorsing Republican Gray Noll in the 50th Senate district race.  Noll is running against Sen. Sam McCann for the seat being vacated by Larry Bomke, and the two candidates disagree on the best approach to fix the state's pension crisis.  But state retiree and former pensions commission chairman Bob Caldwell says Noll's approach makes the most sense.  Noll says it's unfair and unconstitutional for the state to renege on promised benefits.  He says pension liabilities can be brought under control if the state halts all new spending and devotes new revenues to fixing the problem.

Candidates Come to Illinois

Republican presidential candidates will be heading into Illinois ahead of next week's primary... but so far, none of the candidates are scheduled to stop in Springfield.  Frontrunner Mitt Romney isn't scheduled to arrive in the state until Monday, one day ahead of the voting, but that schedule could change. Newt Gingrich will focus primarily on the Chicago area and suburbs, while Rick Santorum plans stops in northern and southern Illinois.  Ron Paul will visit the University of Illinois campus on Wednesday.

Romney Leads Illinois Poll

A new poll finds Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a slim edge over Rick Santorum in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows likely GOP voters favored Romney over Santorum 35 percent to 31 percent. The poll also says 46 percent of voters noted they could still change their minds before the March 20th primary.

AFSCME Launches Campaign Against Quinn's Proposed Facility Closures

Union starts up website,, to drum up public support for fight against closures, layoffs; new radio ad says proposed shutdowns of prisons, adult transition centers and mental health facilities will make state less safe; ad says Quinn wants cuts to pay for corporate tax breaks 

Storm Sirens Rattle Harrisburg Again; Cleanup Continues From Deadly Twister

Funnel clouds passed near scene of Wednesday's killer storm; Friday's storm system spared southern Illinois, but caused extensive damage and death in Indiana and elsewhere; Harrisburg still cleaning up and planning to rebuild following EF-4 storm that killed six 

Gas Prices At $4 A Gallon In Springfield

Prices have been steadily climbing for days; $3.99; price at most stations is new high for this time of year; experts say multiple factors to blame, but no end to increases is in sight 

Eavesdropping Law Ruled Unconstitutional For Second Time

At issue is Illinois law that makes it a felony to record someone else's voice without their consent; Cook County judge says law may serve to criminalize "innocent conduct"; law has been challenged by people who recorded police officers conducting their duties in public 

Houston: ''I Stepped In It'' Regarding Former Aide's Hiring, But Will Keep Pressing For City Council Approval

Mayor admits hiring former top aide to $95,000 CWLP position may have been public relations blunder, but insists Bob Braasch is right man for job; Houston will seek city council support for appointment at Tuesday's meeting; mayor promises to work on communications skills with aldermen 

Osaka Restaurant Open After Immigration Raid; Four Workers Taken Into Custody

Federal immigration agents executed search warrant at restaurant Wednesday; four workers arrested, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to spell out the nature of the charges; restaurant closed temporarily while warrant was carried out, but has now re-opened 

Aldermen Reach Deal On CWLP Rate Hike, Approve Budget

Compromise deal will raise electric rates 4.75% this year, 2% next year, plus additional charge per electric meter; deal also calls for furlough days, spending reductions at utility; agreement paves way for final approval of budget, just hours before start of new fiscal year 


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