Illinois | WGLT


Headlines from around the state, curated by the WGLT newsroom. If you want more state news, listen to Illinois Public Radio's The 21st on Mondays-Thursdays at 11 a.m., and Statewide at 11 a.m. Fridays.

WIU Board to Delay Decision on Budget Cuts

Dec 21, 2015

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will wait until next month to vote on a massive budget cutting plan.  In a letter issued Tuesday to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said he wants more time to come up with a proposal that threatens the livelihood of fewer people.

“When I look at the personnel, it almost brings tears to my eyes to look at what we’re having to do here,” Dr. Thomas said in an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

Bloomington firefighters were unable to save a house that was engulfed in flames shortly after 9 PM Friday night. The home at 2309 Rainbow Ave. was destroyed. Extra firefighting equipment and assistance from the Normal Fire Department was called in to assist. 

Champaign Police Officer Embroiled In Controversy

Dec 18, 2015
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Media

The city of Champaign has agreed to settle a second lawsuit filed against the Champaign police department in a case involving the same officer. The department had tried to fire Officer Matt Rush, but he’s back on patrol, thanks to a police union arbitrator.

As IPR's Hannah Meisel reports, documents just released explain why Rush kept his job.

afromusing / Flickr

WBEZ, Chicago Public Media will take over operation of 91.1 FM at midnight on Saturday.  WBEZ will pay Kankakee Community College 250-thousand dollars, and extend the college underwriting considerations for 5 years.  The two parties finalized the agreement yesterday afternoon.

City council members have signed off on a $225,000 settlement to a second lawsuit that accuses a Champaign police officer using excessive force. The council approved the settlement unanimously yesterday amid a demonstration that saw about 150 protesters march from the police station to the city building. They were calling for the dismissal of officer Matt Rush and the approval of a civilian review board. Rush faces separate lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force filed by three plaintiffs.

A suburban Chicago teenager accused of beating a Sikh man has pleaded guilty to a hate crime. The 17-year-old from the village of Willowbrook pleaded guilty Dec. 7. The confrontation occurred in September along a road in Darien. Fifty-three-year-old Inderjit Mukker of Darien says the teen was cutting him off and calling him a ``terrorist'' and ``Bin Laden.'' Prosecutors say when they both pulled over the teen punched Mukker in the face. The Sikh Coalition rights group says Mukker suffered a broken cheekbone and cuts requiring stiches. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8 in juvenile court.

Snow Still Possible For Christmas

Dec 16, 2015

Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel says a "white Christmas'' may still be ahead.  He says that, in general, the odds of at least an inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25 are about 40 to 60 percent in the northern third of Illinois, 20 to 40 percent in central Illinois, and zero to 20 percent in southern Illinois.  One of the biggest Christmas Day snowfalls was in Chicago in 1951 with 17 inches. Rockford had 14 inches of snow in 1951 and again in 2000.  Angel works at the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Fire officials say they do not yet have a damage estimate for a manufacturing plant outside Galesburg that caught fire yesterday afternoon.  The call for a fire at a Midwest Awnings Inc. plant went out around 2:30 p.m. on Monday and area fire crews responded. The company has a manufacturing plant in Cameron, which is a few miles from the Galesburg Municipal Airport. 

Two people have died in a head-on crash near Peoria.  Authorities responded to the scene late yesterday afternoon after a vehicle traveling eastbound on U.S. Route 24 in Bartonville went across the westbound lanes, up an embankment and then across the westbound lanes again before colliding with another vehicle.  

The victim's identities weren't available Monday night.

Illinois Amtrak Ridership Drops

Dec 14, 2015

Amtrak says that its passenger numbers in Illinois fell to about 1.3 million in the latest fiscal year, or a decline of about 4 percent.  The passenger rail service attributes the drop to low gasoline prices and high-speed rail construction between Chicago and St. Louis. The construction forced periodic use of chartered buses on the route.  

Missing Man Found Dead

Dec 11, 2015
Bloomington Police Dept.

Bloomington police say the body of a man reported missing has been located. The body of 21 year old Ryan Kindig was found yesterday afternoon in a shed on his property. Police say there is nothing to indicate foul play. Kindig had last been seen in Champaign last Saturday. He was reported missing by family members the next day. He was last spotted in Bloomington Friday after an argument with family members.

Bloomington Police Dept.

Bloomington police are seeking the public's help in locating a man who was last seen by acquaintances last weekend. 21-year old Ryan Kindig was last seen in Champaign on December 5th. He was reported missing by family members the next day. He was last spotted in Bloomington Friday, Dec. 4th after an argument with family members.

Escapees Recaptured

Dec 7, 2015

Prison officials say two escaped inmates have been captured in southern Illinois about a mile from the facility where they'd been held. The Illinois Department of Corrections says 25-year-old Jerrette Reed and 20-year-old Kevin Rivera were apprehended without incident just before 9 a.m. Monday in a field west of the Dixon Springs Impact Incarceration Program. Staff noticed the men missing at 5:50 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, the men were being taken back to the facility, fed and given a medical examination before being transferred to a maximum security prison.

Ted Eytan / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Education says a deal approved by a suburban Chicago school district allows a transgender student to use a girls' locker room and does not require her to use a privacy curtain, although the student has said she will do so. The federal agency's view of the agreement appears to conflict with a statement released Wednesday by Township High School District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates after a school board vote.

Harvesting This 'Old House'

Dec 3, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

The city of Bloomington has a partner in its efforts to refocus resources and energy into maintaining and improving older neighborhoods. The Old House Society receives tips from the city on homes that face the wrecking ball, and members of the non-profit organization swarm like locusts in search of items worth saving. WGLT's Jim Browne went along on one recovery mission to see how it's done.

Holiday Retail Sales Expected To Increase

Nov 26, 2015

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.  IPR's Bill Wheelhouse reports:

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further ... all the way to "junk" status.  Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.  Because they can raise taxes, states are generally considered safe, and mostly have high ratings.

Many agencies and organizations that rely on state funding are hard hit by the budget stalemate in Springfield.  The state isn’t mandated to fund higher education the way it must fund K-through-12 education, and the state’s colleges are feeling the pinch.  IPR's Heather Claborn reports.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr via Creative Commons

One of the framers of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act says that law ushered in many physical accommodations for the disabled, but failed in some ways to change society's attitudes about people with disabilities. Nationally-known advocate Marca Bristo told a Bloomington audience last night that educational and employment opportunities remain a challenge for the disabled.

Prosecutors have frozen the bank accounts of the wife of a northern Illinois police officer who authorities say killed himself after years of embezzling from a police-sponsored youth program.  Attorneys for Melodie Gliniewicz say she can't pay her mortgage, medical bills and other expenses because of a freeze order on her accounts. The freeze went into effect a day after Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's suicide and thefts were revealed.  

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

The estate of a McLean County worker killed in a Law and Justice center elevator accident earlier this year is seeking a jury trial that could result in damages against various defendants, including the McLean County Public Building Commission. The estate of John Hoeniges filed a complaint in McLean County court against the Commission and two firms hired to inspect and maintain the L & J elevators, Indiana-based Stuard and Delaware-based Kone.

The counts allege wrongful death and negligence. 

Illinois authorities are urging hunters to be safe as firearm deer-hunting season gets underway.  The seven-day season starts Friday for a three-day period. A final four-day period starts Dec. 3.   The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says there were 20 hunting accidents in all of 2014, with two deaths. Ten of the incidents involved falling tree stands.  IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal says this is the busiest hunting season of the year. He adds the best way to enjoy it ``is to be aware, be alert and be safe.''  

Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg will suspend adult education classes Jan. 1 because of the state budget crisis.  College President Lori Sundberg says the state-funded adult education, English as a second language, and literacy programs are up in the air because lawmakers in Springfield have been unable to agree on a spending plan. Sundberg says the school is the "sole provider''; there are no other places in the area for coursework. Sandberg remains a testing site for the GED.  

More items seized from the former Dixon comptroller who was convicted of stealing nearly $54 million from the northern Illinois city will be auctioned off. The second online auction of items that once belonged to Rita Crundwell will begin Tuesday. A recent auction of an English riding saddle, spurs and other items raised nearly $47,000 and the next auction that runs through Dec. 1. will include Crundwell's collection of belt buckles. A sealed bid auction is also underway for Crundwell's horse show trophies. Auction proceeds will go to the city.

No Legislative Summit This Month

Nov 16, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner has postponed the Nov. 18 budget summit because a family matter will prevent House Speaker Michael Madigan from attending. Rauner deputy chief of staff Mike Schrimpf says that the meeting will instead be held Dec. 1 in Springfield. The change came shortly after Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, released a statement saying he needed to attend an out-of-state family funeral next week. Schrimpf offered the governor's condolences. The much-anticipated meeting will be the first time in months that the Republican governor and the four legislative leaders have met.

U Of I Trustees Approve $600,000 Settlement With Salaita

Nov 13, 2015
Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

The University of Illinois and professor Steven Salaita have reached a $600,000 settlement, but he will not be teaching at the U of I. Including legal fees, the total will be $875,000, according to his attorneys.  University trustees approved the settlement on an 9-1 vote at their meeting today in Chicago. 

In a press release, the U of I says Salaita will receive the lump sum payment, and the university has also agreed to pay his attorneys for any legal costs he has incurred.  The proposed agreement stipulates that it does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the U of I.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Bloomington's West Market Street at the Union Pacific railroad bridge is now open. Construction crews took down the barricades at 1pm yesterday afternoon. The street had been closed since late March to allow for the tear down and replacement of the bridge to accomodate high speed rail and increased freight traffic. The construction was originally scheduled to end in June, but a miriad of reasons, including rainy weather and bad soil, pushed the completion date back a number of times.

Jeff Bossert / IPR

The man credited as the "father of accessibility" at the University of Illinois has died. Tim Nugent passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 92. The news was confirmed by the U of I’s College of Applied Health Sciences and Savoy United Methodist Church.

How do you get a 17-year-old to confess to a crime he didn’t commit? Turns out it’s not that hard.

Bloomington police are investigating the death of a man who was found on the city's south side Sunday. Shortly before 1 p.m., police responding to a well-being check found a 49-year old man unresponsive on gravel in the 400 block of South Madison street. He died less than two hours later.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis says the man died from blunt force trauma following an apparent fall. The victim's name is being withheld pending notification of relatives. The coroner's office and Bloomington police continue to investigate.