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News from the Illinois Valley

Man Accused of Trying to Hire Hitman’s Final Pre-Trial Hearing Friday

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

A homeless man with ties to Peru and LaMoille could be standing trial in his murder-for-hire case on Monday.

Cody Smith is due in court Friday for a final pre-trial hearing. He’s accused of trying to hire a hitman to have 3 witnesses to a sexual assault he allegedly committed killed.

At a prior court date, a doctor’s evaluation was presented to the court that said Smith was fit to be tried for his alleged sexual assault of a child. If convicted, Smith is looking at possibly more than 100 years in prison which would have to be served because the nature of the crimes does not allow time off for good behavior.

Smith is still in custody, where he would need to come up with $220,000 to be released.

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More Deer Elude Hunters During 2016 Firearm Season

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

Did you have a tougher time getting a deer this year if you’re a hunter? If so, you’re not alone.

Hunters across the state got far fewer deer during this year’s firearm deer season. In the Illinois Valley, Bureau County led the way. Hunters harvested 998 deer in the county, a drop from more than 1,100 in 2015.

LaSalle County hunters took 753 deer, or 91 fewer than they got last year. Putnam County hunters killed 335 deer, also down from the 399 shot over last year’s season.

Statewide, more than 79,000 deer were killed during the seven-day season. That was down quite a bit from the nearly 89,000 that were killed in the 2015 season.

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William Webb Convicted of Robbing Streator Circle K, Shooting at Officer

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

The Rockford man who robbed a Streator gas station back in August may now spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Judge Cynthia Raccuglia told 51-year old William Webb “like life, the State’s case isn’t perfect.” The imperfections weren’t enough to hold off a guilty finding though, on the charges of armed robbery and attempted murder against him.

Webb had been accused of robbing Streator’s south side Circle K back in August at gunpoint, before shooting at a Streator police officer as Webb tried to escape.

The trial wasn’t his first brush with the law. He was on parole for a murder in Winnebago County at the time this crime was committed.

He faces between 20 and 80 years in prison for the crime, 85% of which must be served. Webb will find out exactly how much time he’ll spend behind bars at a sentencing hearing March 2nd.

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“Virtual” doctor’s visits being promoted in the Illinois Valley

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

Have you ever wanted an easier way to talk to your doctor, especially when winter weather makes travel tough? One healthcare provider in the Illinois Valley may have a solution.

OSF Healthcare is showcasing their “TeleHealth Services” this month at two of their facilities in LaSalle County. According to a statement, a “virtual visit” can help connect you to specialized caregivers via videoconferencing technology.

OSF is having a demonstration of their “virtual visits” for local business leaders tomorrow at OSF Center for Health – Streator. They’re also planning a similar event at Ottawa’s OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center next week.

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Library in Peru accepting toys for the less fortunate

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

The next time you visit the Peru Public Library, bring with you a new, unwrapped toy.

The library is a toy drop off site for the Christmas 4 Kids project that’s organized by the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office. Toys are needed for kids up to 16 years of age. The gifts will be eventually given to kids in La Salle County who are involved with the Youth Service Bureau, PADS shelter and DCFS.

Deputies will take nearly 50 children shopping this Saturday.

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Film crew and Culver’s founder planning Friday stop in Ottawa

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

A lot of restaurants strive to provide service that’s better than what you get elsewhere. One Ottawa burger joint now has the stats to back their claim.

Culver’s of Ottawa is a national finalist in the Culver’s Crew Challenge. More than 500 Culvers locations compete in areas of quality, service, cleanliness, hospitality, and community outreach. The national finalist label means the Ottawa restaurant is in the top 5.

Making it to this stage means Culver’s of Ottawa is guaranteed $10,000 in prize money to share among the restaurant’s employees. Should they take the national title, that amount will jump to $50,000.

To add to the excitement Culver’s founder Craig Culver will be at the Ottawa restaurant this Friday morning along with a film crew.

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Fired Ottawa High teacher and coach still fighting for to get his job back

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

The legal battle between former Ottawa High School teacher and coach Tim Burgess and the Ottawa school board is far from over.

Burgess’ defamation lawsuit against the board came up for discussion Monday in front of Judge Troy Holland. Holland set a status hearing on the lawsuit for January 6th.

Also late last month Burgess filed a motion to reconsider Judge Joe Hettel’s decision in October which upheld the board’s decision to fire Burgess early last year. He was fired after allegedly making disparaging remarks about another teacher.

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Rate increase approved for ComEd while rate decrease coming for Ameren

Posted by wlpo on December 7, 2016

There is some good news if you’re an Ameren customer and some bad news if you pay a ComEd bill.

The Illinois Commerce Commission Tuesday approved lower electric distribution rates in 2017 for Ameren while at the same time approving a five percent delivery rate increase next year for ComEd. Neither company has said specifically how much more or less you’ll be paying but the new rates will be in effect starting with the January bill.

The rate decrease is expected to cost Ameren about $14 million in revenue while the rate increase should mean $127 million more in revenues for ComEd.

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Second Firearm Deer Weekend saw some Tickets, but No Serious Accidents

Posted by wlpo on December 6, 2016

While there were a few rule-breakers, the second firearm deer weekend in the Illinois Valley came and went without any major accidents.

Conservation Police Sergeant Phil Wire believes that due in some part to the vast majority of hunters wearing harnesses. He says the trend is “good to see.”

He did say, though, that not everyone followed all the rules. According to Wire, police issued 25 citations and 36 warnings over the weekend for things such as unlawful taking of deer and hunting over an abated area.

The numbers aren’t out yet for the second firearm deer season, but things were slower for the first weekend. Statewide, more than 54,400 deer were killed that weekend, which was down from the nearly 58,000 that were killed in the opening weekend of 2015.

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Clerk, Customer, Officer All Testify During Day one of Streator Armed Robbery Trial

Posted by wlpo on December 6, 2016

The opening statements and first witnesses were called Tuesday morning in the trial for a Rockford man who allegedly robbed a Streator gas station.

Prosecutor Greg Sticka opened his arguments Tuesday by saying the “worst nightmares as clerk and police officer would come true,” on the August night the alleged robbery took place. Fifty-one year old William Webb is on trial for supposedly committing that robbery and firing at an officer during his attempted escape.

The State would then call several witnesses to help make their case. Among them were the cashier who was working at the south side Circle K that night, a customer who was allegedly briefly held at gunpoint, and the Streator officer who was involved in the gunfight.

Also shown in court was surveillance video and some audio that showed how the incident played out. The trial is expected to resume Wednesday morning

Webb appeared in court in his uniform from the LaSalle County Jail. He’s currently being held on $200,000 bond.

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