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News Around Illinois – Aug. 4, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 4, 2020.

Crews Rescue Ostrich Injured In Fall Into Illinois Ravine

O’FALLON, Ill. (AP) — An ostrich that escaped from a southwestern Illinois farm was rescued after the 300-pound (136-kilogram) bird fell into a ravine and was injured, fire officials said. A veterinarian tranquilized the ostrich before four members of a fire rescue crew entered the ravine near O’Fallon and strapped the bird to a board before it was hauled from the ravine Monday evening using a pulley system. O’Fallon Fire Chief Brad White said the ostrich had fallen about 15 feet (4.6 meters) into the ravine and suffered a long neck laceration that caused it to lose “a good amount” of blood. After its rescue, the ostrich was treated by the veterinarian and returned to its owners at a nearby farm, White told the Belleville News-Democrat. The bird’s owners have about a dozen ostriches that they raise as meat for people who have Lyme disease and cannot consume red meat, he said. – Associated Press

Utility Costs To Soon Catch Up With Consumers Due To COVID-19

The looming end to a statewide rent moratorium is not the only thing sparking financial fear. A ban on utility shutoffs can’t last forever—and a lot of renters and homeowners are behind on their bills. When pandemic fears ramped up in mid-March and Gov. JB Pritzker implemented his first shelter-in-place executive order, the state told utility companies they couldn’t turn off someone’s water or electricity, nor could they charge late penalties. That doesn’t mean utility bills went away. Town of Normal Water Director John Burkhart said unpaid or partially-paid bills are stacking up. “At some point in time, that balance will need to be paid in full, or it will incur costs from the late fees and penalties again, and it could be subject to a shutoff,” he said. When the moratorium ends, it will affect a lot of people. Burkhart said a recent snapshot of delinquent accounts showed nearly 1,000 Normal households are behind on their payments. He said that number is usually closer to 400 or 500. – Dana Vollmer, WGLT

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Says Rep. John Cabello’s Comment Unacceptable

Over the weekend, State Representative John Cabello replied to a Facebook user who asked him if, “now is it time to lock and load? Asking for a friend.” Cabello replied to the comment by saying, “not yet but be ready.” Winnebago State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross said in a press release that the representative’s rhetoric is unacceptable. She said that, “In my office, if anyone made comments of that nature, they would no longer be employed by my office.” Cabello released a statement on Facebook saying that his comment had been misconstrued. Cabello has served as a police officer and detective. – Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, WNIJ

Asian Carp Could Play A Role In Tackling Food Insecurity

Food insecurity and the invasive Asian carp are two familiar, longstanding issues for Peoria. But a new stakeholder group believes they’ve discovered a way to use one problem to solve another. The idea of serving Asian carp from the Illinois River at the dinner table isn’t a new one, but previous efforts to convince people to chow down on the fish have floundered. A group of community stakeholders is trying a new approach. They see an opportunity to partner up the new Midwest Fishing Co-op targeting the invasive fish with groups combating food insecurity. “We want to provide them with a fresh, good-tasting product which is very healthy, very high in the Omegas. It has high in protein, and it has a very high iron content,” said East Peoria businessman Roy Sorce, whose facility on the Illinois River’s banks forms a central component of the new Co-op’s supply chain. Sorce recently received approval to quickly freeze harvested fish from the river for shipment to processing facilities. The minced, still-frozen fish are then returned to his business for storage and sale. The co-op is expected to harvest up to 15 tons of Asian carp from the Illinois River each year, stretching from Starved Rock State Park in the north to Peoria in the south. – Tim Shelley, WCBU

East Peoria’s Annual ‘White Trash Bash’ Garners National Headlines Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and record single-day counts of new cases, hundreds of people gathered along the East Peoria riverfront last Saturday for the annual “White Trash Bash.” Photos of the gathering, as well as local media reporting from the scene, show an absence of face coverings or social distancing that public health officials emphasize are the best ways to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Just last week, Gov. JB Pritzker came to Peoria to warn the region was potentially just days away from renewed restrictions as positive case counts and hospitalizations spike. The Fon du Lac Park District Police Department, which operates one of the only maritime police agencies in the region, asked those gathering to use “common sense and social distancing” ahead of the event. On Monday, park district Director Mike Johnson issued a statement saying the police agency doesn’t have authority to enforce Pritzker’s restrictions on crowd sizes and protective measures designed to limit the virus’ spread. “Our maritime duties during this event were to deter crime as outlined in the Illinois Compiled Statutes and respond to water-related emergencies, i.e. boating incidents, injuries, etc.,” said Johnson. – Tim Shelley, WCBU

Proposal to Name New Middle School After C.T. Vivian

A couple elected leaders in Macomb say the community’s new middle school should be named after the Reverend C-T Vivian. The civil rights activist grew up in Macomb. He died July 17 at the age of 95. Board of Education member Jim LaPrad read a statement during the most recent school board meeting to voice his support for naming the building after Dr. Vivian. He later elaborated on his statement during an interview with Tri States Public Radio. He pointed out Vivian was a leader in the non-violent American Civil Rights movement and that President Obama awarded Vivian the Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor. – Rich Egger, WIUM

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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