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News from the Illinois Valley

Two Roads to Close Wednesday as Construction Projects Continue in Illinois Valley

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

Construction continues causing headaches if you are driving through the Illinois Valley.

Starting at 7:00 Wednesday morning, the County Highway 5 grade crossing over the BNSF railroad will be closed for maintenance. According to the Highway Department, the area should be open again by 7:00 this evening. They say detours won’t be posted so you’ll have to find an alternate route around the closure.

In addition, the Interstate 80 Westbound ramp will be closed from 8:00 until 4:00 Wednesday so the ramp can be resurfaced and widened. The closure is part of a nearly $6 million contract that was awarded to Advanced Asphalt in Princeton by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

According to IDOT, you’ll be able to take I-180 south to Route 6 West to get around the construction. They’ll have message boards up tomorrow to get you through the detour.


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Lostant Man Faces Lawsuit Following Fiery Fatal Crash on Interstate 80 Near Ottawa

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

The Lostant man who was behind the wheel of a gravel truck that set off a chain-reaction crash that killed three people may be forced to pay for his actions.

According to the LaSalle County Circuit Clerk’s Office, a lawsuit was filed Tuesday against 69-year old Donald Breckenridge. He was cited for failing to reduce speed while westbound on Interstate 80 near Ottawa on August 1st, leading to a fiery crash which closed the interstate for nine hours.

He is being sued by Marina Salinas, who was the wife of 34-year old Octavio Vargas from Warrenville, who was killed in the crash. She is being represented by Craig Brown, a lawyer for a St. Charles firm.

An Indiana couple was also killed in the crash. No criminal charges have been filed against Breckenridge apart from his ticket for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

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Hit-And-Run Defendant to Stay in LaSalle County Jail on Reduced Bond

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

A judge ruled on several motion in the case of a woman involved in a fatal hit and run Monday.

Twenty-three year old Haylee Miller appeared in court Monday to learn, among other things, whether or not she would be transferred to the Bureau County Jail. Judge Marc Bernabei decided on that issue that she would remain in the county jail in Ottawa.

He also denied a motion to have Miller undergo a mental health exam. Miller is accused of failing to report an accident in late June on the west side of Princeton that resulted in the death of 31-year old April Williams from Princeton.

Bernabei did rule in Miller’s favor on one thing. Her bond was reduced from $500,000 to $30,000. However, she still remains in custody with her jury trial set to start September 26th.

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Trial delayed in La Salle embezzlement case

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

With her mother already in prison, a La Salle woman still awaits her fate in a large embezzling case.

A bench trial was supposed to start Tuesday morning for 30-year-old Ashia Kolodziej. She’s accused of spending thousands of dollars that she knew her mom Connie Steinbach had stolen from her employer, J.B. Contracting in La Salle.

Kolodziej is out of custody after posting $5,000 bond back in July of last year when she was first arrested. She just recently asked for a bench trial instead of a jury trial.

Her mom meanwhile is serving seven years in prison. Steinbach could be released on parole in May of 2019.

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Tonica man accused of stealing money from travelling volleyball team

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

A developing theft case involves a Tonica man being accused of stealing from a traveling volleyball team.

Forty-five-year-old Erick Zimbelman was charged Friday with theft of $10,000 to $100,000. He’s accused of stealing funds from the Illinois Valley Volley Power travel team. The team’s website is no longer working.

Zimbelman posted $7,500 bond Monday and is due back in court Friday, September 2nd.

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Energy assistance available for the elderly and disabled

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

With cooler temperatures around the corner, remember that there’s help available for heating your home.

If you’re a senior or have a disability, you can apply for fall and winter heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LI-HEAP starting September 1st. To qualify, a single person must make $1,485 a month or less. A family of four is eligible if your income is below $3,038 a month.

To apply, contact the Tri-County Opportunities Council by clicking LIHEAP sign up

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Alderwoman resigns from the Peru City Council

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

Do you have any interest in politics? A new alderman is needed for the Peru City Council.

First Ward Alderwoman Becky Mueller is leaving her council seat at the end of the month. Mueller says a new job creates scheduling conflicts.

The council and mayor now are on the clock to appoint a replacement. Mayor Scott Harl says he’ll take applications for the next week.

The appointee will fill the term until Mueller’s seat comes back up for election in April. Mueller ran unopposed in both the 2013 and 2015 elections.

To see the 1st Ward map, click Peru 1st Ward Opening

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Engineering work starting on proposed splash pad in Peru

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

Plans for a splash pad in Peru continue moving ahead.

The Peru City Council is paying Chamlin & Associates $7,000 to survey the old Washington School property where the splash pad will eventually be built. The survey is needed by the state who is giving grant money towards the project.

City Engineer Eric Carls says construction should start on the water attraction next year with the hopes of opening it in the summer of 2018. Major leaguer J.A. Happ who is from Peru has pledged $100,000 towards the splash pad.

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Everyone okay after house fire near Spring Valley

Posted by wlpo on August 23, 2016

A house in Webster Park was saved but is too smoky to live in after a fire broke out Monday morning.

A 9-1-1 call came in around 10:45 about flames showing from a house at 410 Elm Street. Ladd and Peru firefighters were called to help Spring Valley at the scene. According to the NewsTribune, the fire may have started in the living room of the home. Nobody was injured.

While the structure of the home is fine, heavy smoke damage inside will keep the house unlivable for awhile.

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Man and Woman Wanted after Weekend Break-in at Hegeler-Carus Mansion

Posted by wlpo on August 22, 2016

A typically peaceful La Salle landmark turned into a crime scene over the weekend.

The Hegeler-Carus Foundation put out a statement Monday saying the mansion was broken into by two people on Sunday. According to the message, a man forced his way in via a ground floor window before attempting to let a woman in.

While inside, he set off an alarm that sent La Salle Police to the scene. The pair ran before police could catch them. If you know anything about the duo, the foundation is asking you to call the La Salle Police Department.

Despite the break-in, the mansion will resume its normal tour hours Wednesday.

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