News Around Illinois – December 23, 2019

News Around Illinois Cover

Rantoul To Vote Monday Night On Sports Complex

RANTOUL – The Rantoul Village Board is holding a special meeting Monday night, where they’ll vote on an agreement to acquire land for a 65-acre outdoor sports complex. The resolution calls for the village to lease the site south of the Rantoul Walmart for the first six months, with the expectation of buying it after that. The total price is $860,000, plus 33 acres of property through a land swap involving the Rantoul Park District. Rantoul Mayor Charles Smith says they hope the sports complex will spur both commercial and residential development nearby. He says preliminary site development could begin next month. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Grants Available For Children To Visit Lincoln Presidential Library

Schools in five central Illinois counties can apply for grants for visits to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The John Ullrich Foundation is providing grants to cover transportation and admission costs for students in grades 4 to 12 in Coles, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties. Schools must apply by January 31. – Reginald Hardwick, Illinois Newsroom

WIU Student Sentenced For Fraud Against Amtrak

Sentencing is now set for April for a former student at Western Illinois University who was accused of cheating Amtrak. On Friday, Ryan Minter from Calumet City pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Federal prosecutors say from 2016-2018, Minter used stolen credit card information to buy Amtrak tickets online, sold them at a discount to other WIU students for travel between Macomb and Chicago, and then kept the money – believed to total more than $15,000. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison. – WVIK News

Congressional Candidate Drops Out

PEORIA – 18th Congressional District Democratic candidate Mark Haasis is ending his campaign. In a Facebook post, Haasis says some medical issues have come up that will “take him off the battlefield for too long.” He says he will refund campaign contributions. This leaves incumbent Republican Representative Darin LaHood effectively unopposed in the November 2020 general election for the conservative Central Illinois district. – Tim Shelley, WCBU News

Transgender Prisoner Treatment Must Change Under Ruling

SPRINGFIELD – A federal judge has ordered Illinois state prisons to immediately overhaul their medical policies for treating transgender inmates. The ruling came Thursday, partway through a class-action lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections. The prisoners named in the suit allege that the department denied them medication and other forms of care for gender dysphoria. The department has until late January to devise a plan for bringing its policies up to internationally recognized standards of care. The department declined to comment. – Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Pair From Alabama Face 9 Murder Counts In Illinois Shooting

SPRINGFIELD — A man and woman from Alabama were charged Saturday with killing three people in southwest Illinois, authorities said. Brady Witcher, 41, and Brittany McMillan,28, face nine counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Shari Yates, 59, and her 30-year-old son, Andrew Brooks, in their home, along with another man, John McMillian, 32. Police in Bethalto, Illinois, discovered the bodies Thursday night after they were asked to check on the well-being of the residents. – Associated Press

Faster Ill. Teacher-Training Takes Aim At Classroom Shortage

WAVERLY — A nonprofit teacher-training program is using a $750,000 addition to the state budget to speed up certification to address a rampant teacher shortage. Golden Apple is recruiting college students not studying education and professionals with bachelor’s degrees seeking a career change to join “Accelerators.” It provides a $30,000 stipend and yearlong on-the-job training in a school with high teacher vacancies while the candidate takes coursework to be licensed in 15 months. Increasing public school enrollments and slipping interest in a sometimes-burdensome teaching field is prompting experts to estimate the state will have a shortage of 20,000 teachers by 2025. – Associated Press

Re-established Springfield Brewer Fixes Fairgrounds Pavilion

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Fair’s popular food court will be renovated for 2020 with a $10,000 donation from Reisch Charities. The Food-A-Rama roof will be repaired, its superstructure sandblasted and freshly painted. Reisch Charities is financed by sales of a historic Springfield beer, that the company began brewing again this year with the sole purpose raising money to maintain city landmarks. John Slayton, chairman of the Illinois State Fairgrounds foundation, said Reisch offered the money to fix a fairgrounds facility and state officials chose Food-A-Rama. – Associated Press

Chicago Police Reduce Publicly Funded Security For Ex-Mayor

CHICAGO — Chicago police have reduced taxpayer-funded security for a former city mayor but eliminated detail for current city officials. The Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago Police Department conducted threat assessments for former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Clerk Anna Valencia and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin. Although the police reviewed security for Emanuel, officials say the department did not perform a threat assessment on the risk posed to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who continues to have security detail more than eight years after he left office. The department indicates that Emanuel was never at risk of losing his detail. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has defended the practice, saying she thinks it’s appropriate and necessary, even for Daley. But opponents have criticized it. – Associated Press

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