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News from the Illinois Valley

Starved Rock offering guided hikes this winter

Posted by wlpo on December 20, 2014

While you won’t see frozen waterfalls or snow-covered canyons, you could see majestic bald eagles by taking a hike at Starved Rock State Park.

Every Saturday and Sunday through March, guided winter hikes will leave out from Starved Rock Lodge at 11 in the morning. The hike will be over four miles round trip and will end up back at the lodge at around 2 in the afternoon.

Remember to bring a camera, binoculars and hats and gloves. Tickets are $12 a person.

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Santa Claus is coming to Utica

Posted by wlpo on December 20, 2014

It’s time for another parade in Utica. This one centers on Santa Claus.

The village of Utica and Utica Fire Protection District are sponsoring a Christmas parade that starts at six Saturday night. The parade starts in the Burgess Subdivision.

Santa will arrive at the community building at 7 where he will be open for visits with children.

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House catches fire in Leland

Posted by wlpo on December 20, 2014

Nobody was hurt during a house fire in Leland.

Fire departments from Leland and Somonauk responded to a structure fire just after 11 Friday morning on Route 23. Firefighters think the cause is electrical.

The fire started in an upstairs bedroom.

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Governor signs law that raises pay for Jury Duty

Posted by wlpo on December 20, 2014

Maybe this will make you cringe less at the thought of Jury Duty.

Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law giving jurors a pay raise. The bill requires counties to pay jurors $25 for the first day of service and $50 for each additional day. Some counties now pay jurors just $4 a day.

State Representative Frank Mautino voted in favor of the pay raise while Senator Sue Rezin voted against it. The pay increase takes effect in June.

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Update: Two men arrested after a home invasion in Cedar Point

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

A couple of unwanted guests to a home in Cedar Point have two men from La Salle facing charges.  Michael Gadd and Austin McAdams of La Salle are accused having pistols that were likely airsoft toy guns when they robbed the house before sunrise Thursday morning.

Police say two people were home at the house on Fourth Street when it happened. Gadd and McAdams were arrested for aggravated robbery and residential burglary and were taken to the La Salle County Jail.

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State budget director to serve out Topkina’s comptroller term

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

The State of Illinois can continue issuing checks. Governor Pat Quinn Friday named Budget Director Jerry Stermer to fill the last few weeks of Judy Baar Topinka’s state comptroller term.

Topinka died unexpectedly last week, a month after being re-elected to a second term that begins in January.

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner says appointing a temporary placeholder and keeping Topinka’s staff in place is an appropriate decision.

Republicans and democrats are divided on how to fill Topinka’s full term. Quinn wants to hold a special election while Rauner would like to have someone appointed.

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Peru school superintendent dismisses flu rumors

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

Tissues and cough syrup are in high demand as the flu seems to pass from one person to the next. State health officials say the flu is already considered widespread but that doesn’t mean six out of 10 students at Peru Public Schools are home sick.

School Superintendent Mark Cross says the rumor that 60 percent of the school was out due to the flu is untrue. Cross says last week one of their schools had 13 percent of students home sick, but emphasizes that 87 percent of the students were in class.

Cross says normally attendance is more than 95 percent and anything below 90 percent is a concern.

Cross posted the statement on the district’s Facebook account Friday and encouraged parents to share his message to, in his words, “stop the silliness”.

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Gas prices continue falling ahead of Christmas

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

Will gas prices make it more likely that you hit the road for Christmas? The average price of unleaded in Illinois is $2.47, down 18 cents from a week ago and nearly 80 cents lower than what it was a year ago.

Locally, Fast N Fresh in Wenona is still selling gas for $1.99. Prices in Peru, Streator, Princeton and Ottawa all range from $2.23 to $2.35 a gallon.

Mendota continues to be on the high side in the Illinois Valley with stations charging $2.39 a gallon.

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Flu bug has hospital in Ottawa turning away some visitors

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

Has anyone come down with the flu in your house recently?

Because of widespread flu activity in Ottawa, St. Elizabeth Medical Center is now limiting visitors to the hospital. Hospital officials say visitors are limited to those who are “essential”.

The flu right now is considered at a widespread level in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health says there were 66 people put in intensive care last week with flu-like symptoms.

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Sand processing and loading facilites receive favorable recommendations

Posted by wlpo on December 19, 2014

The decision to allow land for sand processing and loading operations to annex into Peru is up to the Peru City Council and when it comes up for a vote, they will have the blessings of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commission.

The zoning board and commission ended five hours of public hearing Thursday night by favorably recommending that the land, almost entirely in Hall Township, be annexed into Peru and rezoned to M2 manufacturing. That comes with a special use to allow sand drying, processing and loading. It does not allow for mining or open sand storage.

Northern White Sands and Illinois Rail are the companies behind it. They were drawn to the location because of the railroad access.

Planning commission members Gary Grabowski and Cary Miller didn’t support the requests. Many people at the hearing were unhappy with the recommendations as they are against the spread of fracking and sand mining.

The city council likely won’t be ready to act on the requests until later in January.

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