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.

LaSalle Veterans Home Administrator Fired, Nursing Director Placed On Leave

Dec 7, 2020
Andre speaks at hearing
Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced Monday that LaSalle Veterans’ Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech has been fired after a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle facility has resulted in at least 32 resident deaths. 

The interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield will stay in that role for a longer period.   

The university announced Monday that Karen Whitney will have her contract extended until June 2022. 

The two candidates for Peoria mayor facing challenges to their nominating petitions say they are optimistic about remaining on the primary ballot.

The Tri-County region is reporting 825 additional COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths over this past weekend.

Kelly McEvers is a two-time Peabody Award-winning jounalist and host of the Embedded podcast. She is the former host of All Things Considered. Kelly was raised in Lincoln, IL and has a B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She talks about this and more with Community Voices' Bea Bonner and Randy Eccles.

A group of Illinois Republican lawmakers is demanding Gov. J.B. Pritzker call a special session of the General Assembly to deal with persistent state unemployment system issues.

Nearly 300,000 fraudulent unemployment claims have been made in Illinois this year.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and OSF HealthCare are finding some early success using virtual reality technology to remotely train medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Shelley spoke with OSF Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center's Dr. Teresa Riech about the program.

WCBU's On Deck has everything you need to know to start your day for Monday, December 7, 2020. Our top story is about how COVID-19 has drastically changed the way research and education have been conducted. Researchers and educators everywhere have had to become more innovative in their practices to ensure success. You'll also hear how the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and OSF HealthCare are finding some early success using virtual reality technology to remotely train medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic.


UPDATE 3 p.m. Monday | 19-year-old Tyrhon Erving, 19, of Peoria was the victim in Saturday night's fatal shooting at the Hollow Creek Apartments.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says Erving suffered a gunshot wound to his upper body, and likely died instantly.

Peoria police arrested three men in connection for first degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the shooting.

CLASSICS: Auntie Mame

Dec 5, 2020

Former State Sen. Marty Sandoval (D-Chicago) died Saturday after a battle with COVID-19, nearly a year after resigning from the legislature amidst an ongoing federal corruption probe involving Democratic politicians and other power brokers from Chicago’s City Hall to Springfield.

Gov. JB Pritzker standing while wearing a mask
Eric Stock / WGLT

Health officials gave an update on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan Friday with potential federal approval anticipated as early as next week.

Illinois is preparing to receive its first shipment of Coronavirus vaccines by mid-December, which will be given to hospital and healthcare workers in the 50 counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita, plus the city of Chicago.

This week, investigations began into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the La Salle Veterans' Home investigation, while Michael Madigan continued to lose support for his role as House Speaker in his own caucus amid the ComEd bribery scandal.

Rachel Hinton of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

Two Peoria mayoral candidates face petition challenges in their attempt to appear on the February 2021 primary ballot.

Some central Illinois counties should expect to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of this month.

The grim consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to grow as Tri-County health officials on Friday reported eight new deaths in one day.

The latest fatalities bring the death toll for Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties to 277 since the start of the pandemic, with 65 added in the last two weeks – and 20 in just the past three days.

The region added 356 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the tally to 19,431 since mid-March. Peoria County has produced more than half of the cases (9,941) and almost half of the deaths (138).

Peoria-area hospitals are seeing more bed space used by COVID-19 patients, but it's been manageable--so far.

Dr. Samer Sader is chief medical officer for UnityPoint's central Illinois hospitals.

"We have had a significant increase in the numbers of patients who are requiring hospitalization," Sader said. "This has been going on for the last few weeks. Every few days, we seem to get a little bit better, and then we immediately have a bit of a spike again."

The Illinois Senate Democrats will keep their new leader in the new year. Don Harmon of Oak Park became Senate President earlier this year when former President John Cullerton retired.

Harmon’s caucus supported him during a private meeting Thursday.  

The Senate Democrats saw a drawn-out internal battle to replace Cullerton, but ultimately Harmon was elected. Since then, however, the caucus seems to have united behind him. There has been more churn in other caucuses.

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the head Thursday evening in the North Valley.<--break->

Officers responded to a call of a man down at Monroe and Lavaille just after 8 p.m.

The man was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police said a group was gathered inside a house when an argument broke out, ultimately leading to the shooting. The suspect ran away before police arrived.

On this week’s episode of Out and About, host Jenn Gordon is joined by William Butler of the Contemporary Art Center to talk about A Small Wonder Gift Shop - a unique pop-up shopping experience at the Contemporary Art Center where you can safely peruse and buy art from over 40 local artists in time for the holidays.

A Small Wonder Gift Shop

WCBU's On Deck has everything you need to know to start your day for Friday, December 4, 2020. Our top story is about how the traditional bell ringing for the Peoria Area Salvation Army is quiet for now, as potential COVID-19 exposure has left the Red Kettle collection stations unmanned. You'll also hear how during the first three months of the pandemic, the number of Americans dying - not just from COVID-19 - increased compared to previous years. That’s according to a recent study led by University of Illinois researchers, involving CDC data.

An Illinois House committee will take the extraordinary step of launching an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home, which has killed 31 residents in the last few weeks.

Thapedi said he was withholding judgment on Pritzker’s actions or the performance of Illinois Department of Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia, with whom he served in the Illinois House for a decade.

After 14 years of negotiations, it appears the City of Peoria and the U.S. EPA have struck a deal on a consent decree outlining a course for the city to correct the combined sewer overflow issues that have long plagued it.

The city council is slated to vote Tuesday on approval of an agreement with the federal regulator over the longstanding problem, wherein raw sewage flows into the Illinois River following heavy rainfall events.

An analysis of COVID-19 data shows not-for-profit nursing homes in Illinois have done a better job at controlling coronavirus infections and deaths than other facilities. But when it comes to choosing one over the other, it's not so simple.  

We'll also get caught up on a political scandal that has shaken Illinois politics. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.<--break->

This week's lineup:

The Tri-County area eclipsed 19,000 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as health officials reported the second-highest increase in infections in one day since the start of the pandemic.

<--break->The region has added 429 new cases in the preceding 24 hours, pushing the tally to 19,075 – a gain of nearly 1,099 in the last three days.

We are incredibly excited to speak with Academy Award winning director, and Central Illinois native, Brenda Chapman. We had the chance to speak with Brenda about her career from her time working in animation during the Disney renaissance to her bring Pixar’s Brave to life. Brenda’s live-action directing debut, Come Away, is out now on any video on-demand platform. This wonderful reimaging of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland will have you filled with whimsy throughout the picture.

FEATURING: Craig McFarland, Brett Rutherford, Vanessa Ferguson

The wallaroo that roamed the streets of Peru on Wednesday afternoon likely will need a new home.

<--break->Chief Doug Bernabei of the Peru Police Department said a man who recently moved to the LaSalle County area owned the marsupial as a pet.

WCBU's On Deck has everything you need to know to start your day for Thursday, December 3, 2020. Our top story is about how the alternative COVID-19 housing site at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in downtown Peoria, has quietly reopened in time for winter. You'll also hear from Steve Roach, an usher known for his antics at the Peoria Civic Center and Dozer Park. His position has been put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Peoria-area shoppers won’t hear bells ringing at the Salvation Army’s traditional Red Kettles for a while.

<--break->The traditional holiday donation collectors normally stationed outside storefronts will not be manned for at least five days as a COVID-19 health precaution.