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CHICAGO (AP) - Cook County Clerk David Orr says he'll start issuing marriage licenses immediately for same-sex couples.
 
Orr made the announcement Friday, just after a federal judge ruled gay couples in the Chicago area don't have to wait until June to marry. That's when the state law is set to take effect.
 
Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman's order says there is no reason to delay same-sex marriages. Her finding applies only to Cook County.
 
Orr says he'll keep the downtown Chicago Bureau of Vital Records open an extra two hours on Friday evening - until 7 p.m. He says he's doing that to accommodate any couples who want to get marriage licenses after work. Only the downtown Chicago will issue same-sex licenses on Friday. All Cook County offices will offer licenses on Monday.
Published in Local News

   The strong line of thunderstorms that sped through the St. Louis area Thursday afternoon spawned a tornado in central Illinois, about 50 west of Springfield.  

   Emergency Services officials in Cass and Morgan Counties had reported the twister just before 3 p.m.

   Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack says the storm caused no damage.    

Published in Local News
Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:57

Illinois agriculture census shows loss of farms

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new federal report shows Illinois has lost nearly 1,800 farms, though an increase in the state's agricultural acreage perhaps reflects consolidation.
 
   The findings come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's farming census conducted every five years. The latest figures are as of 2012.
 
   The report shows the number of farms statewide fell by 1,773 to 75,087 between 2007 and 2012. But the farm acreage rose to 26.94 million, up more than 162,000 acres.
 
   The census also showed that the average size of an Illinois farm climbed by 11 acres, to 359.
 
   Nationwide, the report says the number of farms slip 4.3 percent to 2.1 million, with the total amount of agricultural land relatively flat at 922 acres.
 
   The report is used in evaluating and implementing agriculture policies and programs.
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:58

Survey: Illinois has most "green" building space

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A survey finds that Illinois leads the nation in the amount "green" building space it has.
 
The U.S. Green Building Council announced its top states Tuesday for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - or LEED.
 
Illinois certified 171 projects representing 29 million square feet in 2013 - or 2.3 square feet per resident.
 
The Green Building Council says LEED buildings use sustainable building design. They use less energy and water, saving money and reducing carbon emissions.
 
Top LEED projects certified in Illinois in 2013 included the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie; a 57-story tower at 300 North LaSalle Street in Chicago; the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria; Lincoln Hall at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield's Workforce Careers Center at Lincoln Land Community College.
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:09

Man stabbed to death outside of Illinois gun club

MOUNT VERNON, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in southern Illinois' Jefferson County say a man has been stabbed to death outside a gun club.
 
Coroner Eddie Joe Marks says 37-year-old Eric Houser died at a hospital after the altercation Tuesday night at the Mount Vernon Gun and Sportmen's Club.
 
There's no immediate word on any arrests or charges.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The four Republican candidates for Illinois governor are set for another debate ahead of the primary election next month.
 
The Citizens Club of Springfield is hosting a forum Tuesday evening. All candidates are expected to attend. They are Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, businessman Bruce Rauner and state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady.
 
All four appeared at a debate earlier this month in the Chicago suburb of Naperville where the main issues were state spending, taxes and Illinois' business climate.
 
The primary contest is March 18
 
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, is seeking re-election. He faces one primary challenger, activist Tio Hardiman. Quinn's campaign says the Chicago Democrat won't participate in any debates ahead of the primary.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker wants tax soft drinks as part of an effort to promote healthy living.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports the legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Chicago Democrat.
 
Her proposal would charge a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks that are sold in sealed containers.
 
Money generated from the levy would be used to pay for a variety of health services and educational efforts.
 
But Hunter's plan is already drawing criticism from the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes. The group is an alliance of manufacturers, retailers and union workers. They say taxing sodas would hurt the economy and cost the state jobs.
 
Other states have a similar tax, but previous efforts haven't been approved in Illinois.
Published in Local News

 

   Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to follow through on its own proposal to reduce amounts of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline.  
   The EPA wants to reduce by billions of gallons the amount of biofuels required in gasoline sold in America.  The agency says the additive is less necessary with more fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.
   Governor Quinn says lowering the requirement could hurt farmers growing renewable fuel crops, like corn.  His office says Illinois' ethanol industry is one of the nation's largest.  
   Critics say ethanol isn't as environmentally friendly as advertised.  The pressure to grow more crops for ethanol has led to planting in areas that might otherwise be set aside for conservation.  Critics also say diverting crops for fuel has contributed to rising food prices.  
   But ethanol advocates say its essential to American energy independance.
 
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - A federal lawsuit against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford details an ex-employee's sexual harassment allegations, but government watchdog groups say the lawsuit's political corruption claims are just as worrisome.
 
Rutherford is in a four-way Republican gubernatorial primary. He says the allegations are false and politically motivated. He spent Tuesday refuting the claims and questioning the lawsuit's timing.
 
The allegations include forcing employees to do campaign work on state time, which is prohibited.
 
Common Cause Illinois officials say the claims raise questions about Rutherford's leadership. An Illinois Campaign for Political Reform spokeswoman says voters are already corruption weary with two previous governors sent to prison
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Treasurer Dan Rutherford was set to make a big splash in the Republican race for governor this week with his television ads scheduled to hit the airwaves. Instead, he's seeing headlines about allegations of misconduct made by an employee.
 
The Republican called a last-minute news conference last week to say unspecific claims by an employee in his office were untrue and connected to his rival Republican Bruce Rauner.
 
Political experts say the move was risky weeks from the March 18 primary.
 
For one, he opens himself up to more scrutiny. Democratic campaign strategist Pete Giangreco says there are more questions than answers.
 
However, Rutherford could use the attention to his advantage. Political analyst Thom Serafin says it raises Rutherford's exposure level and if handled correctly could benefit him.
Published in Local News
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