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News Around Illinois – February 18, 2020

News Around Illinois Cover

President Commutes Prison Term Of Former Gov. Blagojevich

CHICAGO – President Donald Trump says he has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The 63-year-old Democrat is expected to walk out of prison later Tuesday. Trump told reporters the sentence was “ridiculous.” The former governor was convicted of political corruption in 2010, just months after he appeared on Trump’s reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice.” He was convicted on charges included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and trying to shake down a children’s hospital. – Associated Press

Eastern Illinois University Swimmer Talks About Being Detained At Gunpoint In Front Of Team

Jaylan Butler
Jaylan Butler, Eastern Illinois University student athlete ACLU

QUAD CITIES – A lawsuit filed last month against several police officers alleges a college swimmer was subject to excessive force and false arrest during an incident last year. Eastern Illinois University sophomore Jaylan Butler says he was traveling with his swim team last February when they stopped in East Moline. When Butler, the only black student on the team, stepped away from the bus, he was approached by police, who handcuffed him, pressed his face into the snow and pointed a gun to his head.  Butler was eventually let go but says the experience was traumatizing.  “I had a huge breakdown in summertime, I kind of let myself feel the events that had happened and just kind of understanding that I didn’t do anything wrong but it’s okay to feel saddened and angered and upset,” said Butler on Monday’s episode of  WILL’s The 21st Show. Statements from at least two of the police agencies cited in the lawsuit say the allegations are without merit. –Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

First Families Begin Moving Into Bristol Development

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign city officials say the first families began moving into the new Bristol Development over the weekend. The 90-units making up Phase One of the development were built on the site of the old Bristol Place neighborhood on the city’s north side. The last residents were moved out of Bristol Place more than two years ago. Local officials had decided the area was too blighted to save without a total rebuild. The city says former Bristol Place residents were given the first opportunity to move into the new development provided they met its tenant selection criteria. The new Bristol Development is a project of the city of Champaign, the Housing Authority of Champaign County and a private developer. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Climatologist: Climate Change Evident In Illinois

DEKALB – The major effect of climate change on northern Illinois is projected to be large increases in precipitation. These weather events may lead to further agricultural erosion, which strips the nutrient rich topsoil from Illinois’ farmland. State Climatologist Trent Ford says that can potentially cause toxic algal blooms in local waterways. “We’re seeing changes in precipitation, more precipitation overall, but also more intense precipitation that really has significant impacts but also varied impacts on hydrology and how that water is managed,” said Ford. “And that is something that northern Illinois has been dealing with. And the projections suggest that those issues will continue and increase in magnitude into the future.” His office forecasts increasingly wet springs in the coming years. – Claudia Baker, WNIJ News

Illinois State President Creates Role Focused On Diversity

NORMAL — Illinois State University’s president has created a new position focused on diversity and inclusion on campus. The Pantagraph reports that President Larry Dietz appointed Doris Houston as the university’s first assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion last week. Houston is currently the interim director of the university’s School of Social Work. She called the new role a natural fit with her background. Dietz said existing diversity initiatives on campus focus on student and academic affairs. Those efforts often overlap. Dietz said Houston will be responsible for making sure separate efforts know about each other’s work and measuring their effect. – Associated Press

Illinois Officials To Detail Battle Plan Against Gypsy Moth

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois officials’ plan to combat infestations of the gypsy moth will be the focus of several upcoming meetings in the northern part of the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has planned nine open houses to discuss treatment strategies at infested sites, including the use of a naturally occurring bacteria and a pheromone specific to gypsy moths that prevents males from breeding. Officials said there’s no danger to humans, pets or other wildlife. The non-native pest eats more than 250 species of trees and shrubs but particularly feeds on oak leaves. – Associated Press

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