Sangamon County

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The Springfield area is mirroring national statistics on home sales.     

The latest monthly report from the Illinois Association of Realtors shows February home sales in Sangamon county totaled 153. That is an increase of 4.1% over the same time last year.  Those numbers fall in line with national statistics showing an increase of 4.7% in existing homes.

Illinois's numbers overall weren't as good. Sales were by 1.7% statewide.

In Sangamon County, the median home price was nearly $2,000 lower then a year ago. The median price in Sangamon County was $116,900.

ilcourtclerks.org

After 19 years as the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Tony Libri is stepping down at the end of the month.

Libri, who also previously served as Sangamon County Auditor before becoming Circuit Clerk and made an unsuccessful run for Springfield mayor, did not give a reason for his retirement.  A statement says he will be able to spend more time with his family.

The Sangamon County Board will appoint a new circuit clerk to fulfill the remainder of Libri's term.  That post will then be up for election in 2016.

A new survey shows what Sangamon County residents think about their areas where they live.  Bill Wheelhouse talked with Ashley Kirzinger of the UIS Survey Research Office about the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission's Neighborhood Survey.

To view the survey click here

VisitSpringfieldIllinois.com

Historic sites. Abraham Lincoln. Food. Location. 

Whatever drives people to Springfield, the capital city is rebounding when it comes to tourism. 

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The number of home sales in the Springfield area set a record last month.  The average price per home was also an all time high.

The real estate market continues to recover, coming out of the recession.  The Capital Area Association of Realtors says June numbers show a nearly 30 percent jump in homes being sold, compared to the same period a year ago.  And it's a good time be a seller.  The median home sale price was above $136,000.  Both are all time marks.  

It's possible the severe winter resulted in pent up demand.     

co.sangamon.il.us

Same sex couples in Sangamon County will be able to get their marriage licenses early.

Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello says his office will begin issuing marriage licenses on Friday in order to accommodate ceremonies taking place this weekend.  He says the office will be open during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
However, Aiello says a couple's marriage won't be legally valid until the date the same-sex marriage law goes into effect, this Sunday.

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Sangamon County employers have a positive outlook about the economy.  The University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office polls businesspeople twice a year for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. 

This spring's results mark the first time since 2012 that expectations were as high.   However, just over half of  those responding expected employment to stay the same in the county in the next year.     

Hannah Meisel

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner says common perceptions about him have it all wrong: he's not against unions and he doesn't want to take away public workers' pensions. Rauner was in Springfield Tuesday for a Sangamon County Republican Foundation fundraiser.

Unions worked hard to prevent Rauner from getting the GOP nomination --- and why not. He constantly talked during the primary about how "government union bosses" were to blame for much of Illinois' ills.

But since he became the nominee, I've yet to hear him publicly use the phrase. I asked him:

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The Sangamon County Auditor says his experience at the county level makes him most qualified to be the city's top executive.

Spring rain held off at Lincoln Park as Paul Palazzolo officially announced his intent to run for mayor of Springfield next year.

Palazzolo served as Sangamon County Auditor since 2002 and says he has a track record of transparency.
Four years ago he said he was running for mayor, but dropped out after failing to get the backing of the county's GOP organization.  The mayor's office is officially non-partisan.    

springfield.il.us

The company that manages Springfield's workers comp caseload wants to go outside the county for a key hire.  City aldermen questioned that move last night.

The contract with Triune Health Group says the nurse representative it used must be in Sangamon County.  The company says the job is highly specialized and it can't find anyone within the county who is qualified.

Instead, the firm wants to use a nurse in Macon County.  Some aldermen at the committee of the whole meeting were left scratching their heads, since the Springfield area has a wealth of healthcare workers. 

Voters in four Illinois communities, including Rochester, go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give their  town councils  more power. 

The villages want to become home rule communities, which gives them more authority to raise taxes and pass laws.  The Illinois Association of Realtors is against the change.   Association President Phil Chiles says if voters approve home rule, they could regret it later.

co.sangamon.il.us

The Sangamon County Clerk says he's still unsure it would be legal for him to issue same sex marriage licenses before a new law takes effect in June. 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a court ruling in Cook County opened the door for all Illinois' county clerks to issue the licenses immediately.  Some have started doing so.  But there are differences of opinion.  Like in Sangamon County, Clerk Joe Aiello says he's waiting.

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has confirmed  at least 7 tornadoes developed in central and east central Illinois  during the late afternoon hours of February 20th.  Two reports of the confirmed  tornadoes were in Sangamon County. An NWS Lincoln damage assessment team is  still out doing surveys on the other tornadoes.
 
 
  .Divernon, IL Tornado (Sangamon County)...
 
  RATING:                 EF-0
  ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:    80 MPH
  PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/:  0.2 MILES
  PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/:   75 YARDS
  FATALITIES:             0

Source=http://www.flickr.com/photos/senoranderson/2245216631

It might surprise you to learn Sangamon County ranked 80th out of 102 Illinois counties when it pertains to health outcomes.  That's according to a survey by the County Health Rankings and Roadmap program.

After all, Springfield is known for quality medical care.  But apparently, more work can be done. 

Last month, a local panel put together a list of recommendations designed to make Sangamon County governmental units work better and, in some cases, save money.  Voters helped create the Citizens' Efficiency Commission of Sangamon County through an earlier referendum.  They have another chance to keep the effort going in the March election.

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Education shows up in recommendations from the Sangamon County Citizens' Efficiency Commission.  A focus is on transportation, a costly part of school budgets.  

The commission recommends increased collaboration between District 186 and the Springfield Mass Transit District. From the report:

Sangamon County reports that portions of the following roads are closed due to drifting snow. 

CH 40 – W. Loami Road from Chatham to Morgan Co. line.

CH 45 – Johns Creek Road from Loami to Thayer Rd.

CH 6 – Thayer Road from Morgan Co. line to Thayer.

CH 47 – Prairie Creek Road from Pleasant Plains Road to Farmingdale Road.

CH 10 – Pleasant Plains Road from Old Jacksonville Road to Pleasant Plains.

CH 48 – Prairie School Road from Sherman Road to Logan Co. line.

CH 16 – Buffalo Hart Road from IL 54 to Logan Co. line.

It's likely you or someone you know have struck a deer.   While it seems as though they are always wandering into the road, the actual number of deer-vehicle accidents was down last year.  

State Farm Insurance has already predicted another decline based on claims filed.   The company attributes the expected decline in accidents to a smaller deer population and increased driver awareness.  It says Illinois drivers have less chance of hitting a deer than the national average.  

In Sangamon County last year, there were 335 accidents, 75 fewer than the year before.  

What do Sangamon County employers see in the year ahead?  The fall economic outlook survey shows they have a positive outlook about their individual business and sector, but not about the overall economy.  As for jobs, nearly half expect employment rates to stay stagnant.  

The issue of video gaming machines has created a divide in the town of Auburn. 

Mayor Barb Stamer cast a tie breaking vote against gambling earlier this year.  Now, she's changed her mind.  (UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Tuesday) The matter came up at Monday's Auburn City Council meeting and Stamer cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.

Towns small and large have had to decide whether or not allowing the machines is worth the cut the communities will receive from gamblers.

Stamer spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford on Illinois Edition:

While most say the county is a good place to live, work and raise kids, it's not all a rosy picture.  It found crime is a concern, most want better roads and additional events like outdoor festivals and farmer's markets.  But overall, the reviews were positive. 

Dr. Ashley Kirzinger is Director of the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office which called and asked residents more than 100 quality of life questions.  She says it was surprising to find younger people have a brighter outlook for Sangamon County.

roe51.org

Regional Offices of Education have often been an overlooked area of government.  But the elected positions have unwillingly been in the spotlight over the last couple of years when Governor Pat Quinn tried to eliminate them.  A compromise with the legislature resulted in a consolidation of the offices that is underway now.  44 offices are required to drop down to 35.   In Sangamon County, an agreement was reached this month to merge with Menard County starting in 2015.

The survey of employers find many have positive expectations for their own firms, but have a negative overall outlook for the coming year.  Ashley Kirzinger, Director of the UIS Survey Research Office, spoke with us about the findings:

The survey is sponsored by the University of Illinois Springfield's Chancellor's Office, the Center for State Policy and Research at UIS and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.