Illinois | WGLT

Illinois

Headlines from around the state, curated by the GLT 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.

After decades of growth, the number of men and women in the Illinois prison system has declined sharply in the last several years. A complex blend of decisions is behind the drop — ranging from the highest reaches of power in the General Assembly down to individual police on the beat.

More counties appear on an anti-poverty group’s watch and warning lists this year than last.

Of the state’s 102 counties, 67 are on a watch list — or more serious warning list — created by the research arm of the Heartland Alliance, which works on social issues in areas that include poverty. That’s up from 52 last year.

This year, 14 counties throughout the state made the severe warning list.

One person is dead after a semi tractor-trailer struck another semi broke down on the side of Interstate 74 on Wednesday afternoon.

Proactive measures by community health organizations helped make a dent in Peoria County’s overdose death numbers last year. 

That’s according to Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson. 

The 2018 Mortality Report shows that Peoria County saw a 22 percent drop in overdose deaths from 2017. Hendrickson says there are a few factors at work.

The band Confederate Railroad will play southern Illinois after all.  Just not at the Du Quoin State Fair.  

Peoria native and feminist icon Betty Friedan received a tribute across the street from her childhood home.

There are a lot of different ideas for filling the grocery gap on Peoria’s South Side and East Bluff. 

Illinois farmers now have until July 15 to officially say they won’t be planting crops this year. A key deadline has been extended for claiming some types of crop insurance.

It's been one of the wettest springs in state history. Just last month alone, Illinois averaged more than five inches of rainfall, a whole inch above normal. It’s been so wet for so much of the planting season, farmers across the state haven’t had much of a chance to get their crops in the ground.

A Peoria business owner says he will rebuild a statue on the city’s South Side dedicated to those who lost their lives to violence. 

UFS Downtown Outlet owner Pierre Serafin and his partner Tom paid $15,000 for the ten-foot tall statue of Jesus at Serenity Memorial Park that was vandalized yesterday.

Serafin says he was heartbroken, but the statue will get fixed one way or another. He has already ordered some replacement parts from the statue’s craftsmen in Italy. 

The new director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said during a legislative hearing in Chicago on Monday that the agency plans to revise its policy regarding what books can and cannot enter the prison. 

Local police will permanently have to report data on the race of people they pull over or search under a new law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy  is working to craft policies to cut down on firefighter exposure to carcinogens.

Copyright 2019 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

The Illinois State Armory is perhaps the largest state-owned building that no longer has a purpose. The 200,000-square foot behemoth was once a fixture of life and culture in downtown Springfield, and a central component to the State Capitol complex.

But, the more than 80 year-old building is a shell of what it once was. It’s fallen into disrepair.

That may soon change now that state lawmakers devoted $120 million from the latest infrastructure bill to fix up the place. 

As President Donald Trump pushes for a question about citizenship on the census, a Republican Congressman from central Illinois is avoiding taking sides on the issue.

Republican Congressman Rodney Davis said he could go either way on whether U.S. residents are asked if they are citizens on the decennial survey.

A plant pathogen that causes an invasive tree-killing disease has been found in Illinois. 
 
The Illinois Department of Agriculture says the pathogen that causes sudden oak death has been confirmed in ornamental plants at 10 Walmart stores and one Hy-Vee. 
 
The issue first emerged with rhododendrons at an Indiana Walmart in late May. 
 
Agriculture officials traced the pathogen to plans from nurseries in Washington and Canada sold through an Oklahoma store.  Officials received shipping records and found that 18 states over

The state of Illinois  is expected to hire more than 300 training and technical  staff members in an attempt to bring down a backlog of unprocessed Medicaid applications.

The  General Assembly also approved a bill this spring aimed at addressing problems with the Medicaid program. Those include a high denial rate cited by providers and the application processing backlog – which has reached over 100,000.  

One Central Illinois company wants to make it easier for schools to recycle food waste.

Better Earth Logistics is rolling out a new composting program for schools in Peoria and Tazewell counties. Co-founder Luke Rosenbohm said he wants to teach future generations how to cut down on wasted food. 

“America is one big pothole.”

That’s according to Obama-era Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

The Peoria Republican said Congress needs to look to his home state for inspiration on how to improve the condition of the nation’s roads, highways, and bridges.

"We need to take a page out of the Illinois book, and 30 other states around the country that have raised their own gas tax, and get a bold bill with a good vision," said LaHood. 

State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) said he is displeased with the way the capital bill quickly took shape. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a $45 billion infrastructure upgrade plan into law last month. 

“There was thousands of pages of bills introduced in a matter of hours that spent over $40 billion that we were supposed to vote on without anybody reading it. That’s bad form," he said. 

The Republican legislator said lawmakers were asked to vote on doubling the state motor fuel tax without getting a chance to actually know which projects would benefit. 

Public health officials are warning pool-goers about an uptick in infection from a water-based parasite.

A Peoria woman headed the wrong way on the interstate died when her vehicle collided with an RV on Saturday.

The Illinois State Police said Judy McLeese, 64, was headed west on eastbound Interstate 74 near Gale around 7:45 p.m. when her vehicle collided head-on with an RV. McLeese was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said McLeese was not wearing a seatbelt and likely died instantly. It is unknown why she was travelling the wrong way on the interstate. 

The driver of the RV was not injured. 

The Illinois State Board of Education has decided to review the slate of standardized tests students take, to try to make sure the exams align with each other.

Currently, kindergarteners are evaluated by one test, then elementary students with another, and high school juniors with a third. All those tests measure different concepts, making it difficult to see where the curriculum needs to be improved.

Amanda Elliott, legislative affairs director with the state board, says the current system causes many districts to implement additional tests.

The Illinois State Board of Education has decided to review the slate of standardized tests students take, to try to make sure the exams align with each other.

Currently, kindergarteners are evaluated by one test, then elementary students with another, and high school juniors with a third. All those tests measure different concepts, making it difficult to see where the curriculum needs to be improved. 

Amanda Elliott, legislative affairs director with the state board, says the current system causes many districts to implement additional tests.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria is preparing for the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen after a  miracle was attributed to him.

Two Illinois State Police troopers were injured while attempting to arrest a Peoria man during a traffic stop near Morton on Thursday evening.

Police said a car driven by Damien Grant, 30, was pulled over at 5:15 p.m. for a traffic violation. During the stop, a trooper said they saw "criminal activity" happening in the vehicle. A second trooper arrived to help search Grant's vehicle, and a loaded handgun was found. 

A recent incident in Chillicothe now has the park district asking: just what are the state’s rules for breastfeeding in or near a public pool? 

On Tuesday, a woman was breastfeeding her daughter while dipping her feet in the water at Shore Acres Pool. An employee asked her to cover up or go somewhere else. The woman claimed this broke the law. 

Chillicothe Park District Executive Director Kevin Yates said mothers are allowed to breastfeed at all of their facilities. But he said there’s a discrepancy in Illinois law when it comes to nursing near a pool. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Illinois to help Chicago with its ballooning pension payments, which are squeezing other priorities in the state budget.

Copyright 2019 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Flooding on the Illinois River has claimed a toll on another annual event. 

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