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August 27, 2014, 8:08 am
970 WMAY News

Enhanced Security at Lanphire Day After Student Arrested With Gun

Security will be tighter today at Lanphier High School, one day after a 16-year-old student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to the school.


District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill says the student showed the weapon to several others… but did not threaten those students with it.


A student reported the gun to school officials, who in turn notified police.


Springfield police say the student told them he had the gun for “protection.”


The student was arrested “without incident” and was taken to the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center.

Teamsters Say Fired IDOT Employees Improperly Targeted

The Teamsters say 58 IDOT employees who have been targeted for layoffs because they got their jobs through improper political channels should stay on the job.


The State Journal-Register reports the union is challenging the layoffs, saying the workers are being punished for the improper conduct of higher-ups.


55 of the 58 workers are members of the union… and, of them, 21 are based in Sangamon County, including the daughter of former local Democratic Party chair Todd Renfrow.

Conflict Amid Springfield City Council On How to Hire New Coordinator

There’s some conflict on the Springfield City Council over the hiring of a new council coordinator. Joe Davis… who has held the post for two decades… is set to retire early next year.


Alderman Frank Edwards, who chaired Tuesday’s council committee of the whole meeting, appointed a special committee to oversee the selection of a replacement.


But Alderman Joe McMenamin… who was not chosen to serve on that committee… is objecting. He wants to retain Davis on a contractual basis until after a new city council is elected next spring… and then let them choose Davis’s successor.

Mayor Houston's Medical Pot Tax Idea Extinguished

Mayor Mike Houston’s idea to generate revenue through a special tax on medical marijuana sales appears to be fizzling.


Earlier this month, Houston suggested the city could raise money by using its home rule power to assess an additional tax on top of the one-percent sales tax imposed on the purchase of medication.


But a pro-marijuana activist and the state Department of Revenue both say such a tax would not be permitted under state law.


However, the city would get the proceeds from the one-percent sales tax if a medical marijuana business locates within the city limits.

Springfield's Quaker Steak and Lube Closes Abruptly

There’s still no clear indication about why a Springfield restaurant closed its doors without warning this week.


Quaker Steak and Lube was open on Monday, but stopped operations Tuesday.


The restaurant known for its chicken wings opened next to Scheels in October of 2011.


An initial statement from the restaurant chain offered no reason for the closure, but subsequent statements mentioned the harsh winter, the economy, and the failure of a planned outlet mall to open on schedule.

Scheels Donation to Kidzeum will Fund Kidz Fit Klub

Scheels is giving a big boost to the planned Kidzeum in downtown Springfield.


A $100,000 donation will fund a “Kidz Fit Klub” inside the proposed children’s museum.


Exhibits will include an interactive agility and fitness display to teach kids how and why people exercise.


The Kidzeum… with its focus on health and science… has now raised more than $5 million as it works toward a scheduled opening next year.

Lanphier Student Detained For Possession Of Gun

A Lanphier High School student has been detained by police after it was determined that the student was carrying a gun. 


The unidentified student reportedly displayed the gun to several students, but did not threaten the students with the weapon, according to Superintendent Jennifer Gill.  A student reported the incident to school officials, who notified police.


Word of the incident was relayed to parents through an automated phone call from District 186.  The statement says the matter was resolved "without incident."


The district says it is working with Springfield police on additional security measures to ensure student safety.  The incident remains under investigation.

Houston's Medical Marijuana Tax Idea Goes Up In Smoke

Mayor Mike Houston’s idea of generating revenue by taxing medical marijuana sales in Springfield may be going up in smoke. 


Earlier this month Houston told 970 WMAY that he envisioned using home rule authority to assess an additional tax on medical pot. That would be on top of the sales tax that is already applied to drug sales.


But the state department of revenue says although that one-percent sales tax would go to the city, the medical marijuana law would prohibit any additional city tax on those transactions.


Libertarian Candidate For Governor Wants Access To Debates

He’s officially on the ballot… and now he wants into the debates. 


Libertarian candidate for governor Chad Grimm says he deserves the same opportunity to take part in gubernatorial debates as major party contenders Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner.  Butappearing live on 970 WMAY's "Bishop On Air," Grimm said his requests have not been answered. 


Grimm and his party were allowed on the ballot last week after collecting thousands of valid petition signatures.


Adlai Stevenson Exhibit Coming To Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Work is underway to create a new exhibit at the Lincoln Presidential Library… spotlighting former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson the Second. 


The exhibit will also focus on the Stevenson family political legacy… from former U.S. vice-president Adlai Stevenson the First to former U.S. Senator Adlai the Third.


The Stevenson family donated a number of items for use in that exhibit, but there’s no word yet on when it might open.


Shooting Victim Expected To Recover

Springfield police are investigating a shooting that sent a man to the hospital early Tuesday. 


The victim was shot in the chest… but is expected to recover.  Police say he walked into the St. John’s ER for treatment shortly after he was shot. 


That shooting took place in the 2700 block of South Seventh Street.  There was no immediate information on a suspect or possible motive.


Bell Skeptical Of Scherer's Plan To Cut Waste

The challenger in the 96th House District wants more details about what kind of “waste” his opponent plans to cut to balance the state budget. 


Democratic Representative Sue Scherer said last week that she could make up billions of dollars in revenue by cutting waste from the budget, but did not say exactly where.  Republican opponent Mike Bell says he would start cutting with Medicaid, but agreed more cuts than that would be needed. 


Bell wants three debates with Scherer, but she has so far not responded directly to the request.


County: Avoid Woodside Road During Construction

Sangamon County is recommending that drivers steer clear of Woodside Road for a while. 


A big construction project there is tying up traffic, so the sheriff’s department recommends avoiding Woodside between Iron Bridge Road and Route 4.  The project is expected to last for one to two weeks on Woodside, and another one to two weeks on Iron Bridge. 


The project is also reportedly causing some delays on Chatham Road, too.

Quaker Steak and Lube Closes Abruptly

It was supposed to be one of the original anchor points for the Legacy Pointe development at the south end of Springfield.  But after less than three years, Quaker Steak and Lube has abruptly closed down. 


No immediate explanation was given for the closure… and there’s no indication of any plans to re-open the restaurant, which started up in October of 2011.

Another Hot Day Before Some Relief Later This Week

One more day in the oven… before we finally start to see a little relief.


An excessive heat warning remains in effect through seven o’clock tonight… with heat index readings against expected to be up near 110 degrees.


A registered nurse at Memorial Medical Center’s Express Care says it’s important to drink plenty of water or Gatorade during the high heat… but avoid booze or caffeine, which can actually worsen the effects of heat on you.


Slightly more moderate temperatures are expected for Wednesday and the rest of the week.

Kincaid Mayor Resigns, Village Trustees Appoint Citizen Until Elections

A long saga involving Kincaid’s mayor has come to an end.


Village trustees accepted Doug Thomas’s resignation Monday night, months after he was arrested on multiple criminal charges.


The board appointed Kincaid resident David Oller to serve until new village elections can be held next spring.


Thomas was in his third term as mayor… but is currently facing charges ranging from official misconduct to possession of controlled substances to violating an order of protection.

Report: Former Teacher Sentenced to 7 Years for Fondling Boy

A former District 186 teacher has been sentenced to seven years in prison after admitting that he fondled a young boy in his home more than a decade ago.


59-year-old Steven Battles had taught at several Springfield schools over a 17-year career.


The Illinois Times reports Battles had been accused of inappropriate behavior with students at times before he was fired in 2009. The victim in this case was a friend of his children.

SH-G Mourns Loss of Veteran Teacher Steven Elliott

Students and staff at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School are mourning the death of a popular veteran teacher.


Authorities believe Steve Elliott committed suicide over the weekend.


His body was found at the cemetery in Chatham where Elliott’s son was laid to rest after his death in a car crash eight years ago.


Elliott had taught math at SH-G for 25 years.

Sangamon County Will Continue to Deploy M-RAP in Dangerous Situations

Sangamon County’s mine-resistant armor-protected police vehicle may get used more quickly in the future in dangerous situations involving gunmen, according to Undersheriff Jack Campbell.


The use of such military surplus equipment by civilian police has come under fire in recent days, but Campbell says the M-RAP showed its value when it was used to successfully end an armed standoff earlier this summer.


Campbell says he hadn’t planned to use the huge vehicle until another, smaller armored truck broke down… but now says he would absolutely have it on hand any time police or bystanders are threatened by someone with a gun.

NJ Gov. Christie Campaign for Rauner in Chicago

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says Illinois Democrats will pull out all the stops in their effort to defeat Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner.


While campaigning for Rauner in Chicago Monday, Christie pointed to the fact that the right-leaning Libertarian candidate for governor was certified to appear on the ballot, but a left-leaning Green Party candidate was not.


He also noted that Illinois will experiment with same-day voter registration on Election Day, and expressed doubt that the timing was just coincidental.


Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden appeared Monday at a Chicago fundraiser for Gov. Pat Quinn.

Mortar Round Explosion At Recycling Plant Kills Two Workers

The explosion at a metal recycling plant in Granite City was apparently caused by a live mortar round.


Two workers at Totall Metal Recycling were killed in that explosion Monday morning.


The company handles a variety of different scrap metals… and also has a recycling contract with the U.S. military.

Excessive Heat Warning Remains In Effect

Relief from the heat is in sight… but still in the distance.  An excessive heat warning is in effect until 7pm Tuesday.  


The City of Springfield has made several city buildings available as cooling centers…Municipal Center East is open 24 hours a day, while Municipal Center West and Lincoln Library are open during regular hours.  State Department of Human Services offices are also available as a cooling center during normal hours of operation.


In weather like this, a cold soda… or beer… probably sounds pretty good.  But one medical expert advises against it.  Registered nurse Dennis Danner of Memorial Medical Center Express Care says caffeine and booze will deplete… not replenish… the fluids and nutrients your body needs. 


He says Express Care has been seeing several patients a day with heat-related symptoms, mostly those who work outdoors.

Campbell Defends Use Of Military-Style Equipment By Civilian Police

If you’re worried about too much military hardware in the hands of police, Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell has a simple message for you… have a little faith and trust in your cops. 


Campbell says local agencies are using the equipment sensibly and aren’t going overboard.  Several members of Congress are second-guessing the growing amount of military weapons and vehicles being turned over to civilian law enforcement, but Campbell says their concerns are misplaced.


Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show," Campbell noted that the county used a massive armored vehicle this summer to bring a quick end to an armed standoff at a mobile home park.  Campbell says he hadn’t planned to bring the “M-RAP” out and only did so when another armored vehicle broke down. But he says now, he would deploy it immediately to resolve tense situations with armed suspects.

Langfelder Target Of Phony Twitter Campaign

Springfield mayoral candidate Jim Langfelder has gotten a crash course in campaigning in the age of social media. 


Langfelder had to ask Twitter to take down a fake account that appeared to be impersonating him.  He tells 970 WMAY’s “Bishop On Air” that Twitter agreed the fake account was trying to mislead people and took it down. 


So far, Langfelder says he doesn’t know who was behind the phony postings.

Quinn Vetoes Uber Regulations

Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have imposed new regulations on ride-sharing services like Uber.


That Chicago-based company had threatened to leave the state if Quinn had allowed the regulations to go forward.  Supporters say the proposed rules would have enhanced safety by requiring Uber drivers to submit to many of the same regulations that are currently applied to taxicab drivers.


Quinn issued a statement saying such regulations are usually left to local authorities, rather than being imposed in a "one-size-fits-all" approach at the state level.

Excessive Heat Warning for Listening Area, Heat Index Up To 115

The heat wave gripping Central Illinois isn’t letting go. An excessive heat warning has been issued for the 970 WMAY listening area… running through Tuesday evening.


Afternoon heat index readings could climb as high as 115 degrees… raising the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.


Authorities recommend trying to avoid working out in the sun during the hottest parts of the day, or at least taking frequent breaks in shade or air conditioning.


You should also wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and drink plenty of water.


The City of Springfield has made cooling centers available… Municipal Center East is open 24 hours a day, while Municipal Center West and Lincoln Library are available during normal hours of operation.

Schock and Durbin Caution About Increasingly Militarized Domestic Police

If the idea of military equipment in the hands of police makes you uneasy, you’re not alone.


Several local members of Congress say they also want a closer look at what kind of equipment is being provided to local police, and how it is being used.


Republican Congressman Aaron Schock questions the need for civilian police to have equipment like M-RAPs, the mine-resistant armored vehicle that Sangamon County authorities recently acquired.


Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says local police should have all the equipment they need… but shouldn’t be turned into small armies.

Dozens of Layoffs at IDOT Contradicts Earlier Statements About Hires

In trying to fix one problem, Governor Pat Quinn’s administration may have created another one.


Quinn’s office announced last week that it was laying off 58 employees in the Illinois Department of Transportation, after determining they had improperly gotten their jobs through political connections, rather than merit.


The move contradicted earlier statements that the jobs would merely be reclassified, rather than eliminated. It also raises the possibility that the laid-off workers could file suit against the state.

Despite Failed Ballot Initiative Rauner Continues to Push for Term Limits

The courts have repeatedly ruled against him, but Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner says he’s not done fighting for term limits.


Rauner says he will aggressively campaign on the issue this fall, as he blames the defeat of a proposed term limits amendment on Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan.


Rauner had wanted voters to weigh in on whether lawmakers should be limited to no more than eight years in their seat… but two lower courts and the Illinois Supreme Court all ruled that Rauner’s amendment exceeded what is permitted under the state constitution.


Rauner says term limits have overwhelming public support, and voters should have gotten the chance to be heard.


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