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CHESTER, Ill. (AP) - A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections says the lockdown at Illinois' largest maximum security prison will remain in effect through this week.
 
   Tom Shaer says Monday that the lockdown at Menard Correctional Center southeast of St. Louis won't be lifted until an investigation is finished. The lockdown started on Friday following the discovery of a cache of crude weapons and homemade alcohol.
 
   Specifically officials found more than a dozen weapons along with gallons of homemade alcohol and juice and sugar used to make liquor.
   Officials have said IDOC is working to determine how the inmates managed to hoard the items.
 
   Authorities say there is no indication any weapons have been used recently at the prison or that inmates were drinking homemade liquor.
Published in Local News

 

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois man has been ordered to spend nine years in prison for the debilitating 2011 beating of a baby.
 
The Alton Telegraph reports that 26-year-old Matthew Fields of Hartford was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to a count of aggravated battery of a child.
 
Prosecutors say Fields was alone with the then-9-week-old baby in October 2011 when he allegedly shook and squeezed the child.
 
Authorities say the baby sustained head trauma and developmental delays.
 
Fields will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence and must register as a violent offender for 10 years.
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) - The number of acres Illinois farmers devote to corn crops this year is expected to dip slightly amid growers' plans to plant more soybeans statewide.
   The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual forecast released Monday shows Illinois will have roughly 11.9 million acres of corn. That's down about 1 percent from the 12 million acres planted last year. In 2012, the acreage was 12.8 million.
   The USDA says soybeans will make up the difference, with the 9.5 million acres expected to be planted in Illinois coming in 1 percent higher than last year's 9.45 million acres.
   Nationwide, the USDA expects 91.7 million acres of corn to be sown this year, down about 4 percent from last year. Soybean acreage is expected to rise about 6 percent to 81.5 million acres.
 
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - The Illinois State Police are in the midst of a statewide safety crackdown.

 

The push is in memory of State Trooper James Sauter. The southern Illinois resident was killed one year ago today in an accident near Chicago. He was in his squad car, when a semi truck rear-ended his car. “Operation Sauter” will target commercial vehicles cracking down on speeding, drunk or distracted drivers, and seatbelt violations.

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have advanced a proposal to allow bobcat hunting for the first time in more than 40 years.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reports the Illinois House voted 91-20 Thursday in favor of the measure. It now goes to the Senate.
 
Illinois banned hunting of the nocturnal animal in 1972. Bobcats were on the threatened species list from 1977 to 1999.
 
But supporters say the population has made a comeback.
 
Republican state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal of Morrisonville is the bill's sponsor.
 
He says the bobcat population is growing in rural, non-farming areas of western and southern Illinois.
 
The hunting and trapping season would occur sometime between Nov. 1 and Feb. 15. A hunter would be allowed to kill one bobcat per year.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A proposal to impose an additional tax on millionaires is advancing in the Illinois Legislature.
 
A House committee voted 6-4 along party lines Thursday to approve Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposed constitutional amendment. It would tack a 3 percent surcharge onto income over $1 million.
 
The measure now advances to the House floor.
 
Madigan says the tax would raise $1 billion a year for elementary and secondary education - about $550 per student.
 
Republicans say the tax unfairly penalizes Illinois' most successful residents.
 
The issue is expected to be a focal point in the race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner, a wealthy businessman.
 
The candidates present starkly contrasting visions of how to fix Illinois' lagging economy and improve state finances.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) – Legislation that would allow minors and those with epilepsy to use medical cannabis in Illinois is one step closer to law.
 
A Senate committee passed the proposal on Tuesday without opposition.
 
State Sen. Iris Martinez is sponsoring the measure. The Democrat from Chicago says using medical marijuana improves the quality of life for minors suffering from epilepsy.
 
Supporters say consuming oil from the marijuana plant reduces seizures and doesn’t get children high. They say traditional epilepsy medicines are addictive and leave children feeling “stoned.”
 
Opponents say they’re against any measure legalizing marijuana use because it violates federal law. They also say legalizing marijuana for minors contradicts drug prevention programs.
 
The measure amending Illinois’ four-year medical cannabis pilot program now moves to the Senate floor.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for a "rainy day fund" in the Illinois state budget.
 
The Democratic governor made the proposal in his annual budget address Wednesday.
 
He says officials "need to build our reserves to protect taxpayers in the event of an economic downturn or an emergency down the road."
 
It's part of what Quinn says is a plan to provide "stability" in the long-term budget. He also called for "solid spending caps" to ensure the state doesn't defer its financial obligation.
 
He did not say how much money should be reserved in the rainy day fund.
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - The Illinois Department of Employment Security says unemployment held steady across the state in February at 8.7 percent.
 
The department said Thursday that the statewide jobless rate was unchanged from January. The federal government said earlier this month that the nationwide unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent. Illinois has one of the highest jobless rates among U.S. states.
 
The department said Illinois added a net 6,400 jobs in February. That's an improvement from January when the state lost jobs.
 
Companies that work in the professional and business services sector added 10,400 jobs in February and leisure and hospitality employers added 4,000 jobs. But firms in trade, transportation and utilities cut 6,100 jobs.
 
Manufacturing companies continued their decline in January by dropping a net 1,100 jobs.
 
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's mayor and the governor of Illinois are among those celebrating the life of gay rights activist Vernita Gray, who died Tuesday at age 65.
   Gray and her partner, Patricia Ewert, wed in the state's first same-sex marriage in November. Her terminal cancer and her wish to marry convinced a federal judge to order an expedited marriage license. That allowed the couple to get married before the June 1 effective date of Illinois' new same-sex marriage law.
   Gray had worked for gay rights for decades.
   Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Gray's work for equality and civil rights in a statement Wednesday, calling her "an inspiration to all who crossed her path."
   Gov. Pat Quinn says Gray "fought for what she believed in and made a difference for people across Illinois."
Published in Local News
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