Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

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Statehouse
8:23 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Illinois Delays Start Of Tax Filing

Credit flickr/jmorgan

Illinois revenue officials say residents won't be able to file their 2013 income taxes until the end of January _ a two-week delay.  

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Regional
4:52 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Search Of Judge's Pike County Cabin Turned Up Drugs, Guns

Former Judge Michael Cook
Credit booking photo

A search by federal agents of a cabin owned by an Illinois judge turned up drugs, guns and ammunition.  
The search of former Judge Mike Cook's Pike County hunting cabin came two months after Associate Judge Joe Christ died last year of a cocaine overdose in the cabin's bathroom. Cook was in custody at the time of the search.

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Regional
5:02 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Archdiocese Of Chicago Apologizes To Abuse Victims

Credit wikipedia.org

The Archdiocese of Chicago is apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Bishop Francis Kane offered the apology during a news conference Wednesday to discuss church files on sex abuse cases that are being released.

The documents involve 30 former priests with substantiated abuse claims against them. The files are being handed over to attorneys for victims as part of a settlement.

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Transportation
1:33 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Few Citations Issued For Violating New Cellphone Law

Credit npr

Illinois police departments say officers are using discretion about whether to cite drivers who are breaking the state's new ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.  

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports law enforcement agencies appear to be giving drivers latitude if they're caught violating the new law.  
The measure took effect Jan. 1.  

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

1,200 Immigrants Get Illinois Drivers Licenses

Credit wikimedia

Hundreds of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally now have Illinois driver's licenses.
 
The Illinois Secretary of State's office says more than 1,200 immigrants have
received licenses since December under a new state law.
 
Immigrants can currently take license tests at 14 locations across the state.
Secretary of States spokesman Dave Druker says 36 locations will offer license
tests by the end of the month.
 
The licenses are valid for three years and may be used only for driving. They

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Higher Ed
4:56 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Former U Of I Band Director Pleads Guilty To Theft

Robert Rumbelow
Credit news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

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Statehouse
10:14 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Counties Cleaning Up Voter Rolls

Credit wikimedia

State election regulators say more than a dozen Illinois counties have purged their voter registration rolls to remove the names of people who've died or moved away.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/19rHR6b ) 17 counties and the city of East St. Louis fixed problems on their lists of registered voters.  
County clerks are required to purge voter rolls every two years. But some counties say there isn't enough money in the budget to cover the sometimes costly review.

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Transportation
8:27 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Springfield Airport Makes Upgrades

Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport underwent $5.3 million in improvements last year.  

Springfield Airport Authority Chairman Frank Vala said Monday that the upgrades were necessary to maintain a ``safe, modern and user friendly facility for all airport users.''  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1eEgDsy) that the improvements included taxiways, roadways, safety fences and restrooms. The airport also added a solar-thermal collection system to reduce water-heating costs.  
The airport plans nearly $7.6 million in improvements for this year.

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Health Desk
8:18 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Than 61K Illinois Residents Pick Health Plans

Credit Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

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Election 2014
5:03 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Minimum Wage Is A Campaign Issue

Credit flickr

Raising Illinois' minimum wage has emerged as the first significant campaign issue for candidates hoping to become Illinois' next governor. And it could take center stage throughout the year.  
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to raise the $8.25 hourly rate to at least $10 by year's end. But a coalition of business groups that worry raising the rate would kill jobs say they'll try to stop the efforts.

Next month there'll be an Illinois Manufacturer's Association forum where organizers say minimum wage will be a main topic.  

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Harvest Desk
4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Planting Less Corn In 2014

Falling corn prices and questions about ethanol demand could lead Illinois farmers to plant fewer acres of corn this year.  

Patrick Kirchhofer is manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. He tells the (Peoria) Journal Star that farmers are instead taking a closer look at soybeans this year. That's after several years of increasing corn production fueled by higher prices.  

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Regional
4:24 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Cold Weather Impacted Blood Supply

Health officials are putting out the word that supplies are running low after blood drives in Illinois were canceled because of this week's winter weather.  
At the Central Illinois Community Blood Center in Springfield, officials say there have been about 600 fewer donations.  
And in the St. Louis area, more than 30 different blood drives were canceled.  

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Regional
3:39 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Federal Aid Denied To Tornado Damaged Counties

Credit Peoria Public Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a request for aid to local governments in Illinois after deadly tornadoes swept the state in November.  

FEMA sent a letter on Thursday to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency saying that damage after the storms wasn't severe enough to warrant federal help. The storms left at least 7 people dead statewide and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.  

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Sports
10:23 am
Thu January 9, 2014

U Of I Athletic Director Could Get A Raise

Mike Thomas
Credit University of Illinois

University of Illinois trustees are considering giving Athletic Director Mike Thomas a raise and a contract extension.  
Trustee James Montgomery said Thursday that under the proposal Thomas' base pay would be increased to $554,000 and extended by two years. Thomas was hired in 2011 on a five-year contract with a base salary of $475,000.  

A trustees' committee will consider the proposal Thursday in Chicago. Any changes would eventually have to be approved by the full board of trustees that governs the university.  

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Business
8:41 am
Thu January 9, 2014

One-Third Of Illinois Homes "Underwater"

A third of Illinois homes are "underwater".
Credit debt.org

A new report says almost one-third of Illinois homes are ``deeply underwater'' meaning that they're worth at least 25 percent less than what's owed on the loans. 

The report released Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac says that represents almost 775,000 Illinois homes. The report is based on data from December.  

Only Nevada and Florida fare worse, with 38 percent and 34 percent of homes deeply underwater, respectively. 

But the report has some good news.

Nationally, the percentage of deeply underwater homes is falling.  

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Statehouse
7:42 am
Thu January 9, 2014

State Pension Shortfall At $100.5 Billion

A state report shows the amount of money taxpayers owe five state pension plans hit $100.5 billion on June 30.

But that's $3 billion less when not using a counting method adopted five years ago that made the pension picture brighter.  

Auditor General William Holland released a report Wednesday that estimates the total retirement-fund debt based on a process called ``smoothing'' _ considering gains and losses during the past five years.  

Without smoothing and instead considering current market value of assets, the total unfunded liability is $97 billion.  

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Business
6:02 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Auto Insurance On The Rise

Illinois drivers should get ready to pay more for insurance.  
Crain's Chicago Business reports (http://bit.ly/1ggCmGt ) major insurers in Illinois are raising rates.  
Northbrook-based Allstate says in a regulatory filing that rates for customers will climb between 2.5 and 3.5 percent later this month.  
Esurance rates are rising about 3.2 percent in late January, while Geico expects to boost prices by 2 to 3 percent in March.  

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Statehouse
5:56 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Quinn Backs Corrections Director

Director Godinez
Credit WBEZ

Gov. Pat Quinn is supporting his prisons director after a Republican challenger called for the director to be fired.  
 Sen. Kirk Dillard is a GOP candidate for governor. He said Wednesday that Democrat Quinn should fire S.A. ``Tony'' Godinez  for hiring a man with arrests and apparent one-time gang ties.  

Dillard says it's ``outrageous'' that ex-gang members are ``running the prisons.''  
Xadrian McCraven  was an $111,000-a-year senior policy adviser to the Department of Corrections' parole chief before he was fired Friday.  

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Statehouse
7:46 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Quinn's Running Mate Remains in Connecticut Until March 1

Paul Vallas
Credit pbs

Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate will continue working in Connecticut until March 1, just before Illinois' primary election.   The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/19SJTfX ) Paul Vallas will keep working as superintendent of Bridgeport public schools.  

Vallas submitted his resignation to Bridgeport officials on Dec. 31 and is required to give a 60-day notice.  
Illinois' primary election will be held March 18.  

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Statehouse
3:37 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

11,000 Apply For Concealed Carry Permits So Far

The online application system to apply for permits was officially launched in Illinois on Sunday. On Monday, Illinois State Police said they had received 4,525 applications for concealed carry permits were received within 24 hours. The other 6,500 applications came from firearms instructors who the state let apply early for permits to help test the functionality of the online application system.  

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Around the Nation
6:08 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Boeing Machinists Approve Contract To Secure 777X Work

Boeing workers cry after learning that the Boeing machinists union voted to accept the company's latest contract offer to keep the assembly of the Boeing 777X airplane in Washington state.
Ted S. Warren AP

The stakes were high and the vote was close as Boeing production workers agreed to concede some benefits in order to secure assembly of the new 777X airplane for the Puget Sound region.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Boeing hailed Friday's vote, which proponents said solidifies the aerospace giant's presence in the Seattle area.

"Tonight, Washington state secured its future as the aerospace capital of the world," Inslee declared.

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Music News
9:52 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Phil Everly Of The Everly Brothers Dies At 74

The Everly Brothers, Phil, left, and Phil, perform in 1964.
AP

Phil Everly, who with his brother Don formed an influential harmony duo that touched the hearts and sparked the imaginations of rock 'n' roll singers for decades, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan, died Friday. He was 74.

Everly died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a Burbank hospital, said his son Jason Everly.

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Lincoln
3:13 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Author Of Mystery Lincoln Letter Identified

Credit ALPLM

It's been more than 25 years since workers renovating Abraham Lincoln's home found a letter fragment in a mouse's nest inside a wall.  
But researchers think they've finally identified the author of the mystery letter as newspaper editor Andrew Johnston.  

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Regional
6:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Wolves Could Be Slowly Moving Back Into Illinois

Credit fws.gov

A modest but perceptible uptick in the number of wolves roaming in from Wisconsin has forced Illinois to begin considering the possibility that permanent wolf populations could take hold.  

Illinois' wolves were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. But since a first confirmed sighting in 2002, wolf sightings have gone from rare to regular. There have been at least five the last three years.  
Nearly all are thought to have come from Wisconsin, which has more than 800 wolves.  

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Statehouse
2:23 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Law Limits Use Of Disabled Parking Placards

A state law taking effect yesterday limits the use of free on-street parking by the disabled.  
Now, only motorists whose impairments prevent them from being able to pay a meter can park for free in those spots.  

Before, anyone with a disability parking placard could do so.  
Now, motorists will have to get statements from doctors affirming they cannot feed parking meters, for example, because they use wheelchairs or cannot walk more than 20 feet.  

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Statehouse
2:10 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

State Retirees Sue Over Pension Law

A group of retired state employees has filed a lawsuit challenging a new Illinois plan to eliminate the state's $100 billion public pension shortfall.  

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Lincoln
10:58 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Attendance Up At Lincoln Presidential Museum

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

Officials at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
and Museum say attendance was up more than 7 percent in 2013, thanks in part to the popularity of Steven Spielberg's film ``Lincoln.''
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/Km7rhf ) nearly 314,000 people visited the museum through November. That's about 10,000 more visitors than in all of 2012. Attendance is on pace to be the highest since 2010.
 
In 2009 _ the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth _ more than 600,000 people
visited the Springfield museum.
 

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Statehouse
10:55 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Justices Get Campaign Money From Groups Involved In Pension Battle

Credit flickr/RandyvonLiski

A published report says groups with ties to the pension-reform law adopted last month have contributed close to $3 million to Illinois Supreme Court justices who might decide its fate.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1aqJQ5n ) that six of seven justices have taken money in the past 13 years from labor unions, business groups and a political committee controlled by Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.  
Retired teachers have sued to stop the pension-reform plan that cuts retiree benefits to reduce a $100 billion debt.  

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Regional
6:39 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Thousands Of Tornado Victims Apply For Federal Help

Credit wikimedia commons

Illinois officials say more than 2,000 people in counties declared federal disaster areas after tornadoes struck in November applied for federal assistance.  
Gov. Pat Quinn visited the central Illinois community of Washington on Tuesday.
 
His office says more than $1.6 million in federal grants and more than $5.6 million in low-interest loans have been approved.  
Washington was hit hard by one of the roughly two dozen tornadoes that struck on Nov. 17. Seven people died and thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed.  

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Education
1:44 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

John Wood Community College To Get Worker Training Money

Credit John Wood Community College

Two Illinois colleges will share in a $29 million federal grant to retrain unemployed workers for high-skill jobs in transportation, distribution and logistics.  
Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey will lead a consortium of nine colleges in eight Mississippi River states with the goal of placing people in jobs and boosting economic development.  

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