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July 25, 2014, 8:41 am
970 WMAY News

Remains Are Not Those Of Missing Springfield Woman


Dental records confirm that the remains found in Rochester last weekend are not a Springfield woman who disappeared more than six years ago. 

 

Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says the remains did not match the records of Michelle Miles Bianco, who was 43 years old when she was last seen in April of 2008.  The confirmation leaves police no closer to determining the actual identity of those remains, believed to be of a woman in her 30s. 

 

Investigators are now reviewing missing persons cases across Illinois, and hope DNA testing of the remains can shed more light on the mystery.

 

Two Charged In Downtown Parking Lot Murder


Two men have been charged with murder in the stabbing death of another man in downtown Springfield in May. 

 

A Sangamon County grand jury indicted 27-year-old Raymond McBride and 18-year-old Christopher Coleman on charges of first-degree murder.  They’re accused of fatally stabbing James Goins in a downtown parking lot and stealing his car, which was recovered the next day outside a Springfield motel. 

 

Both men were already in custody on unrelated charges when the indictment came down.

 

Springfield Posts Best Job Numbers In State


Springfield has the lowest jobless rate among all of Illinois’s major metropolitan areas, according to the latest state figures. 

 

The local rate of 6.1% in June was slightly higher than May… but well below the nearly 8% rate in June of 2013.  Springfield also led the state in overall year-to-year job growth… adding a net 1500 jobs since June of last year.  That puts total employment at its best levels locally since before the recession.

Illinois Credit Outlook Shifted To ''Negative'' Over Worries About Pensions, Budget


There are new warnings that Illinois’s weak credit rating could be lowered even further… unless the state fixes its financial problems. 

 

Standard and Poor’s says another downgrade is likely if the recent pension reform law is struck down by the courts… and if the state fails to address the “structural imbalances” in its budget.

 

Illinois’s current A-minus rating is already the worst among the 50 states.

 

BGA Sues IHSA For Access To Financial Records


A lawsuit is seeking access to the financial records of the Illinois High School Association. 

 

970 WMAY’s watchdog partner, the Better Government Association, filed that suit, which contends the IHSA should be subject to public records laws because it performs a governmental function and derives much of its revenue from competitions involving taxpayer-funded public schools. 

 

The IHSA… which oversees high school athletics and a number of other extracurricular events… says it is a private organization, and membership is voluntary.

Business, Labor Demand Faster Action On Fracking


Business and labor groups are pushing Governor Pat Quinn for faster action on rules that would allow fracking to begin in Illinois. 

 

Quinn approved an agreement more than a year ago to allow the technique to extract oil and natural gas from deep below the Earth’s surface.  But the Department of Natural Resources still hasn’t drafted the rules needed to govern the practice… or even hired all the staff it says it needs to finish the job. 

 

A pro-fracking coalition says the delays are costing the state jobs… and suggest that Quinn may be dragging his feet in order to appease political supporters who have raised concerns about the safety of fracking.

 

Rauner Ad Criticized For Use Of Fake Headlines


A campaign ad from Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is being called into question for tailoring - and even making up - headlines from news stories to make them appear more negative about Governor Pat Quinn. 

 

The ad displays negative headlines about Quinn’s record on jobs and taxes… but the headlines on screen don’t match the actual headlines used in the stories that were cited. 

 

Quinn says the ad is part of, quote, “a pattern of dishonesty” by Rauner.

State Faces Credit Downgrade Unless Pension, Budget Messes Are Fixed


There are new warnings about bad things to come unless Illinois gets its fiscal house in order. 

 

Standard and Poor’s says another credit rating downgrade is likely unless the state addresses its pension and budget issues.  Part of the outcome hinges on whether the courts uphold or reject the state’s pension reform law, but S&P says the state must also correct “structural imbalances” in its budget.

BGA Sues IHSA For Access To Financial Records


A lawsuit seeks to open up the books on the governing body for most high school athletics and extracurriculars in Illinois. 

 

970 WMAY’s watchdog partner, the Better Government Association, filed suit this week calling for disclosures about the Illinois High School Association’s $11 million annual budget. 

 

The BGA says the IHSA should be subject to public records laws because it performs a governmental function and generates income from events primarily involving taxpayer-funded public schools.

 

Business, Labor Demand End To Delay Of Fracking Rules


Business and labor groups say it’s time for Governor Pat Quinn’s administration to end the delays and approve rules to allow high-pressure hydraulic fracturing to get underway in Illinois. 

 

It’s been more than a year since Quinn approved an agreement to allow fracking with state oversight, but the Department of Natural Resources still hasn’t drafted rules for those operations. 

 

The Illinois Manufacturers Association accuses the governor is kowtowing to Chicago-area voters who are concerned about the environment… at the expense of jobs and energy production statewide.

Korean War Museum Seeks Second Chance To Attract Visitors


Springfield’s Korean War National Museum is hoping for a fresh start. 

 

The institution held a ribbon-cutting to mark its “reintroduction” to the public Thursday.  Museum officials say the facility has not gotten the attention it deserves, and they are hoping to spur more interest in exhibits and memorabilia that honor those who fought under grueling conditions in Korea more than 60 years ago.

Springfield Leads State In Job Growth Over Past 12 Months


Springfield’s unemployment rate in June edged up slightly from May… but is well below where it stood in June of 2013. 

 

Last month’s local jobless rate was 6.1%... an increase of one-tenth from the month before.  But the rate stood at 7.9% a year earlier. 

 

Springfield also leads the state in overall job creation over the past 12 months… with a net increase of 1500 jobs since June of last year.

Rochester Resident Who Found Remains Not Suspect In Woman's Death


The Rochester resident who discovered human remains in a garage last weekend is not considered a person of interest in the case, according to Illinois State Police. 

 

Investigators say the skeletal remains are those of a white woman between 30 and 40 years of age… and they continue working to make a positive identification and to determine who may have killed her. 

 

Springfield police say the remains do not appear connected to any of their missing person cold cases.  Sangamon County officials are awaiting test results to see if there may be a connection to Michelle Miles Bianco… who was 43 years old when she disappeared in 2008.

Cop Impersonators Rob Man At Gunpoint


Police are looking for three men who allegedly used a red light to pull over a driver on Interstate 55 near Raymond and rob him at gunpoint Tuesday night. 

 

Authorities found that driver bound and gagged inside his box truck along the interstate.  He told authorities a vehicle with Illinois plates used a flashing red light to get him to pull over.  Three men inside the vehicle, wearing masks and carrying guns, then approached him and stole more than $5500 in cash and other items.

 

Police say if someone attempts to pull you over, and you aren’t sure it’s actually a law enforcement official, you should call 911 to verify the stop before pulling over.

Man Convicted Of Drug-Induced Homicide For Role In Heroin Death


A Springfield man has pleaded guilty to a charge of drug-induced homicide in the heroin overdose death of a man whose body was found in a parking lot at Southwind Park, hours before a large Halloween event there. 

 

28-year-old Gary Clark admitted providing the heroin that killed 43-year-old Daniel Buehrle (BUR’-lee) of New Berlin in October of 2012. 

 

The State Journal-Register reports it’s the first time in Sangamon County that someone has been tried and convicted on the charge of drug-induced homicide.

Environmentalists May Seek To Physically Block Fracking In Illinois


An anti-fracking activist says environmental groups are preparing to physically disrupt fracking operations if the practice is allowed to move forward in Illinois. 

 

Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Will Reynolds said that sort of civil disobedience may be necessary if the state doesn’t rethink its policy to allow deep drilling for oil and gas… a practice that Reynolds says is linked to pollution and dangerous earthquakes. 

 

Pro-fracking groups plan a Springfield news conference Thursday to urge faster action by the Quinn administration to let fracking get underway in Illinois.

Emails Suggest Politics Played Role In Anti-Violence Program


Emails recently released by Governor Pat Quinn suggest that politics was a factor in some of the funding decisions made under the governor’s troubled anti-violence program. 

 

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an email exchange indicates that a suburban Chicago agency which had been scored as the best choice to receive grant funding under the program saw some of its money diverted elsewhere… because the mayor of Maywood was having a political dispute with officials of that agency. 

 

The governor’s office says the people involved in that email chain are now gone… and says new oversight has been added to the state grant process.

County Still Waits To See If Remains Match Missing Woman From 2008; No Connection Found To Any Springfield Cases


Sangamon County authorities say they have one missing persons case that might match up to the remains found this week in Rochester. 

 

Those remains have been identified as belonging to an adult white female.  The only pending missing persons case involving a missing female in Sangamon County is the 2008 disappearance of Michelle Bianco.  The coroner’s office says it could take several days to check dental records to see if there’s a match. 

 

Springfield police say they don’t believe the remains match up to any of their missing person cold cases.

 

Sheriff's Office: Armored Vehicle Worked Just Like It Was Supposed To


The Sangamon County sheriff’s department is defending its use of its new military-style vehicle to end an armed standoff near Riverton Tuesday. 

 

The 37,000 pound MRAP vehicle rolled up to the door of the trailer where an armed man had allegedly pointed his gun at a neighbor and at police.  Within minutes, the man surrendered peacefully.  Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the vehicle had exactly the intended effect. 

 

Campbell admits there are no set procedures for when and how the heavily-armored truck will be deployed… because he says the department doesn’t want to tie its own hands.

Sheriff Uses MRAP Armored Vehicle to End Standoff Near Riverton


An armed standoff at a mobile home park near Riverton has ended peacefully.

 

The incident started Tuesday evening when a man called police to say someone had pointed a gun at him in the Lincoln Place mobile home park. When deputies arrived, the armed man allegedly pointed his weapon at them, too.

 

Officers retreated and called in the tactical response unit and hostage negotiators.

 

After around four hours, the sheriff’s office brought in its recently-acquired MRAP… Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected… armored vehicle. The vehicle pulled up next to the suspect’s home and shined spotlights inside.

 

Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the man then came out, laid down his weapon and surrendered.

 

The mobile home park was locked down and some residents were evacuated for hours, but everyone has now been allowed to return to their homes.

Autopsy of Human Remains Fails to Answer Most Questions


An autopsy indicates that the skeletal remains discovered in a garage in Rochester last weekend are those of an adult white female.

 

But it did not indicate her identity, or how or when she died. Coroner Cinda Edwards says an anthropologist was brought in to help determine the race and gender of the remains.

 

Now DNA samples and X-rays will be used to match the remains against any missing persons cold cases in the area. Edwards says she believes the death is a homicide.

 

Illinois State Police are handling the criminal investigation.

Subsidies for Health Insurance Will Continue in Illinois Despite Court Rulings


Officials with the state programs that are encouraging people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act says nothing has changed… despite a court ruling Tuesday threatening the federal subsidies for low-income enrollees in states like Illinois.

 

A federal appeals court ruled those subsidies only apply to states that set up their own insurance exchanges… not those like Illinois that steered residents to the federal exchange.

 

However, a second appeals court reached the opposite conclusion in a separate case Tuesday.

 

Get Covered Illinois says for now, subsidies will continue as the rulings are appealed.

Quinn Signs Capital Bill, Includes Millions for Springfield Area Roads Projects


Governor Pat Quinn has signed a billion-dollar capital construction bill that allocates millions of dollars for Springfield-area projects.

 

Among the work to be funded under the updated public works plan is a $22 million resurfacing of Interstate 72 between New Berlin and Springfield, $4.6 million for resurfacing and bridge deck repair on I-55 near Lake Springfield, and $3.7 million for resurfacing of Veterans Parkway between J. David Jones Parkway and Jefferson.

States Attorney Issues No Confidence Letter to Block ISP Trooper Testimony


The St. Clair County state’s attorney has issued a “no confidence” letter stating that an Illinois State Police trooper can no longer be called as a witness by prosecutors in criminal cases.

 

Trooper Bradley Wilkin is currently on restricted duty after being accused of choking a motorist during a traffic stop.

 

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Wilkin has had a history of questionable incidents… including a training simulation in Springfield that had to be halted when Wilkin allegedly fired deliberately in the direction of participants who were playing the role of hostages in the exercise.

Howlett Building Expected to Reopen


Springfield’s Howlett Building is scheduled to reopen today, one day after a small mechanical fire closed the building.

 

Secretary of State offices in the Howlett were closed Tuesday because the fire disabled the building’s air conditioning system.

Armed Standoff Ends Peacefully Near Riverton


UPDATE: A nearly four-hour standoff in a mobile home park near Riverton has ended peacefully.

 

Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the suspected gunman surrendered to authorities after the county deployed its MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) military-style vehicle.  The large armored vehicle pulled up to the man's door, and shined spotlights inside.  Campbell says it appears the suspect was intimidated, prompting him to come outside, lay down his weapon and surrender to authorities.

 

He says no shots were fired and no one was hurt.  Residents are being allowed to return to their homes in the Lincoln Place mobile home park.

*********************

 

[Here is our earlier story on the standoff:]

 

Hostage negotiators are on the scene of a standoff at a mobile home park near Riverton. 

 

The incident began around 6pm Tuesday when a man in the Lincoln Place park called police, saying another man had pointed a gun at him.  Sangamon County deputies responded, and Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the armed man then pointed his gun at an officer.  Deputies retreated and called in the tactical response unit. 

 

Several adjacent mobile homes have been evacuated as police try to bring a peaceful end to the standoff.  Campbell is asking everyone to stay away from the Lincoln Place mobile home park… and says any residents currently at home in the park should stay indoors for their safety.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY and wmay.com for updates on this developing story.

Autopsy Identifies Remains As Those Of White Female, But Few Other Details Emerge


An autopsy reveals that the skeletal remains found in a garage in Rochester over the weekend are those of a white female.  But there’s still no information on the identity of the woman, her exact cause of death, or when she died. 

 

Coroner Cinda Edwards says the death appears to be a homicide… and that the victim died quite some time ago.  The coroner’s office will use DNA samples and X-rays in an ongoing effort to identify the victim, while state police handle the criminal investigation.

Health Insurance Subsidies For Illinoisans In Jeopardy After Court Ruling


Tens of thousands of Illinoisans who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act could be on the hook for the full cost of their premiums… with no help from federal subsidies… because of a federal appeals court ruling. 

 

That three-judge panel ruled two-to-one that the subsidies are only available to states that set up their own insurance exchanges… not to those like Illinois that steered residents to the federal exchanges.

 

The White House says the subsidies will continue for now.  The ruling is certain to be appealed.

 

Quinn Signs $1 Billion Capital Bill; Millions Set Aside For Springfield-Area Projects


Governor Pat Quinn has signed a billion-dollar capital construction bill that allocates millions of dollars for Springfield-area projects. 

 

Among the work to be funded under the updated public works plan is a $22 million resurfacing of Interstate 72 between New Berlin and Springfield, $4.6 million for resurfacing and bridge deck repair on I-55 near Lake Springfield, and $3.7 million for resurfacing of Veterans Parkway between J. David Jones Parkway and Jefferson.

GOP Attorney General Candidate Accuses Lisa Madigan Of Putting Family Before Constitution


The Republican challenger for attorney general says Democratic incumbent Lisa Madigan is showing more loyalty to her father’s political agenda than to the state constitution. 

 

Madigan’s father… House Speaker Mike Madigan… was a chief architect of the state pension reform law that is currently facing legal challenges.  Lisa Madigan is fighting those challenges… but Republican opponent Paul Schimpf says parts of pension reform are clearly unconstitutional, and contends that Madigan should have refused to defend the law.

Howlett Building Closed After Small Tuesday Morning Fire, Expected to be Open Wednesday


The Howlett Building downtown will be closed today because of a small fire.

 

A message posted to CyberDriveIllinois.gov says the building is closed Tuesday because of mechanical issues caused by a small fire.

 

Henry Haupt with the Secretary of State’s office says Springfield’s Fire Department responded to the fire shortly after 1am Tuesday morning and the damage was minimal.  Haupt also says there is no air conditioning, but no further information was available.

 

Normal hours and work schedules are expected to resume Wednesday.

Autopsy Today on Body Found in Rochester


An autopsy will be held today on human remains discovered over the weekend at a home in Rochester.

 

The discovery was made on Saturday as residents of the home were cleaning out items. Rochester authorities called in Illinois State Police to take over the investigation.

 

There was no immediate word on the gender of the remains or how long the person may have been deceased.

School District Reminds Parents of Vaccination Requirements for Balanced Calendar Schools


The clock is now running for students of Springfield’s two balanced calendar schools.

 

Those students now have just 10 days to show proof of proper vaccinations, or they will be prohibited from attending school until the paperwork is in.

 

School board officials are reminding all other parents to take action now to make sure their children have the required vaccines before classes start in the rest of District 186 next month.

 

Free school physicals and vaccinations will be offered at Washington and Jefferson Middle Schools on August 4th and 5th… and at Springfield High School on August 9th.

School Board Continues Televising Meetings, Seeks Sponsors for Next Year


Springfield school board meetings will stay on TV for this year… but their future beyond that may depend on whether the district can line up sponsors for its educational access channel.

 

Funding for Channel 22 on the Comcast system was cut from this year’s budget, but the school board agreed to restore the money because of public interest in keeping the board meetings and other video of district events on the air.

 

Sponsors would not be allowed to run commercial messages, but would be allowed to make a statement of support for Springfield public schools.

 

Prices for the various levels of sponsorship have not yet been set.

 

Candidate Rauner Open to Tax Rate Negotiations


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is opening the door to discussions after the election on where the state income tax rate should be set, in the short term… even as he continues to call for a four-year phased reduction down to three-percent.

 

Rauner tells the Chicago Tribune that voters shouldn’t worry too much about rates in the short term… because in the long run, he says he will significantly reduce the income tax burden and create a more favorable economic environment for business.

 

Rauner’s statement leaves open the possibility that he will ask the legislature to extend the current 5-percent income tax rate past its scheduled expiration at the end of this calendar year.

 

If the rate rolls back to 3.75 percent as scheduled, it could create a huge budget gap in the current fiscal year.

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