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Archive for April 27th, 2011

Drunk School Bus Driver Gets Jail Time

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

A woman who used to be in charge of busing special needs children around for the Ottawa Elementary School District has been sentenced to jail time.

53 year old Jan Butler of Ottawa has been sentenced to three months in jail after admitting she was driving drunk when taking three students home from school last May.   She was arrested after investigators say the school SUV she was driving overshot a driveway and backed into a car.  Police say her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

Butler was also given 30 months probation, community service time and will have to undergo alcohol and drug treatment.

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Blago Jury Selection Drags Along

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) – A federal probation officer, a suburban Chicago librarian and an out-of-work maintenance man who spends his days watching “The Beverly Hillbillies” are among the prospective jurors questioned in the retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel continued questioning would-be jurors for the fourth day today. He said earlier in the day that jury selection is taking “relatively long” because of the high-profile nature of the case and the fact that this is the second time around for Blagojevich.

Zagel began his questioning of the probation officer by asking if she recognized him, saying he recognized her. She works out of the federal building in Chicago. Zagel estimated the court is halfway to its goal of having 40
jurors to choose from for the final panel.

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La Salle County Park Scaling Back Because Of Rain

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

Heavy rains have put restrictions on Catlin Park just outside Ottawa.

Because of extremely wet trails, no bikes, horses or mules are being allowed on Catlin Park trails until further notice.  You can still hike the park on foot.

The park was also closed at times last year to horse riders and cyclists because of wet grounds.

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Ottawa Elementary Board Keeps President In Place

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

The two newest members of the Ottawa Elementary School Board were sworn in Tuesday night.

Dr. Don Mammano and Mary Ganiere joined the board after being voted into office a few weeks ago.  Current Board President Steve Omolecki also won re-election and was named to another two years as board president.  The board usually changes out presidents after two years but with the new Central School transition underway, they kept Omolecki in charge.

Frank Polancic will be vice-president of the board while Mammano will be the new board secretary.

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Putnam County Ruling Has People Worried About Tax Loophole

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

MARK, Ill. (AP) – A property tax ruling over a fuel company in Putnam County has worried Chicago-area officials that companies will flee to avoid taxes.

A Putnam County judge ruled in January that Hartney Fuel Oil Co.,  with sales of $200 million a year, had its sales office in the village  of Mark. There are no local sales taxes in Mark. Hartney has a longtime office in west suburban Forest View and Cook County wanted to collect the taxes. The state of Illinois is appealing the judge’s decision.

Meanwhile in Springfield some see a widening loophole that could cost millions of dollars for local governments.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says it could further decrease the tax base and jeopardize funding for critical resources.

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Peru Being Taken To Court By Local School And County Board

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

The city of Peru is officially being sued by the La Salle County Board and Dimmick School District.

Dimmick Superintendent Ryan Linnig says they filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the Thirteenth Judicial District Circuit Court opposing Peru’s North Commercial TIF District.  Linnig says he and the county support Peru using a TIF for blighted property like the Kings Inn but not for the new Holiday Inn Express.   A resolution passed by both boards says they have “genuine concerns and doubts whether Peru has sufficiently established facts to support the creation of the TIF District”.  Both Dimmick and the county think the TIF will have a negative impact on their tax revenues.

Linnig says with 47 TIF districts already in La Salle County, city leaders need to only use TIF’s when “truly appropriate and necessary”.

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Flood warning continues for rising Illinois River

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

Flood waters have taken over the lane leading to the I and M Canal in La Salle.  It’s part of the minor flooding occurring along the Illinois River in La Salle and Bureau Counties that’s prompted a flood warning.

The National Weather Service says the river level at La Salle was at 24.8 feet late Wednesday morning, several feet over flood stage which is 20 feet.  The river is expected to crest Thursday evening at 25.5 feet.

Officials with the Lock 16 Visitor’s Center don’t expect the pen for the mules and the goat to become flooded.

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Bridge work will affect traffic on Wyanet/Walnut Blacktop

Posted by wlpo on April 27, 2011

A new bridge in Wyanet means a road will be closed all through the spring and summer.

County Highway 8 or the Wyanet/Walnut Blacktop will be closed starting May 2nd.  A company out of Tennessee is removing the canal bridge on the south end of Wyanet.  The bridge is 80 years old.

The six million dollar project is expected to be done by September 1st.

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