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Archive for March 10th, 2010

Reaction To Governor’s Budget Speech

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

“Smoke and mirrors”.  That’s what Senator Gary Dahl describes the budget details laid out Wednesday afternoon by Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn’s main point was to push a one percent income tax surcharge to fund a 1.3 billion dollar cut in state aid for schools.   Dahl says the increase which he doesn’t want in the first place would generate around three billion dollars, so he wonders where the rest of the money would go.

Quinn is proposing “strategic borrowing” to help fill the 13 billion dollar budget deficit.  Dahl thinks borrowing is just digging the state a deeper financial hole that he says is worse than when Rod Blagojevich was ousted.

Dahl thinks a good step would be Quinn and other lawmakers taking a 25 percent pay cut since small businesses and workers have to do it during tough economic times.

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Clues Sought In Mendota Restaurant Break-In

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

Mendota Crime Stoppers are asking for help in finding out who’s behind a burglary at Sip-N-Snack restaurant.

Investigators say an unknown amount of people broke into the restaurant sometime Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and stole an undisclosed amount of property.  They also damaged parts of the restaurant.

If you have any information, call Mendota Crime Stoppers.  You could receive a cash reward.

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CNA Blasts Area Nursing Home Owner

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

A nurse at Camelot Terrace nursing home in Streator took her case to Springfield yesterday.

Crystal Lopez, a CNA at Camelot for the last 13 years joined members of the AARP and members of a healthcare coalition calling for nursing home reform.  They specifically want passage of Senate Bill 685 which sets out to increase nursing home staffing and overall living conditions at nursing homes.

Lopez called conditions at Camelot deplorable, saying the owner, Michael Lerner of GEM Healthcare in Chicago isn’t held to enough standards.  Lerner says the building is in fine condition.  He says they had a roof leak but things are far from “deplorable”.  As for staffing, Lerner says Camelot Terrace is well staffed.

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Peru’s informal Wednesday night meetings are now formal

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

The Peru City Council has been meeting every-other Wednesday night for years, but those have always been informal, until tonight.  Starting tonight Wednesday night meetings will be formal, meaning they can take action just like during the regular council meetings on Monday’s.

The council could vote to hire Chamlin and Associates for the 2010 Street Program and King Engineering for the curb program.  A management agreement for the Illinois Valley Regional Airport could also be approved.

The council meets at 7:30.

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Streator Mayor Schmitt dies

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

Business goes on as usual in Streator, but that’s not to say something isn’t missing.  The town’s mayor, Ray Schmitt, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon after being taken by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital.  A cause of death is being investigated.

Paul Nicholson is the City Manager.  He’s taking on some of the responsibilities that would have been Schmitt’s.  Other responsibilities will fall to the full city council until an acting mayor can be appointed.  He anticipates an emergency session to be scheduled for later this week to make that appointment. 

Nicholson says Schmitt’s death is a “devastating loss to community.”  He says he’s lost a personal friend and professionally he’s a huge supporter of him and the role of the city manager. 

The Solon-Telford Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

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Tree removal planned for Illini State Park

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

Damaged and diseased trees are coming down this week at Illini State Park in Marseilles.

DNR officials are taking down 24 trees that are either damaged or diseased, including 16 black oak trees.  The oak trees are apparently suffering from a very infectious “oak wilt disease”.  Areas where trees are being removed are closed to the public.

Foresters say it could take several growing seasons to break the disease cycle.

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Serena Elementary considers changes

Posted by wlpo on March 10, 2010

Because of lack of state funding and fluctuating enrollments, another area school district is looking at the idea of “attendance centers”.

          When the Serena Elementary Unit Two District meets March 25th, they’ll vote on whether to keep things the same of go the route of attendance centers. 

          The first option supported by Superintendent Dan Joyce is to go away from K thru 8th grade schools in Harding, Serena and Sheridan to graded attendance centers with a K-2 building in Sheridan, 3rd-5th grade building in Harding and 6th thru 8th graders at Serena.  The change would start with the 2011-2012 school year. 

          Joyce believes the attendance center move would centralize curriculum and save around $170,000 per year with four teachers being cut.

          The second option for the school board is to not change how their schools are structured and hope funding turns around.  However the board will still work with the superintendent to develop criteria where the attendance center would be pursued in the future. 

          The board plans to assess its school setup yearly.

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