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Archive for December 5th, 2013

Local unemployment rates were stagnant

Posted by wlpo on December 5, 2013

Getting a job doesn’t look to be getting any easier in the Illinois Valley.  The most recent unemployment numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security put the Ottawa-Streator October unemployment rate at 9.6%.  That’s the same as it was in October 2012.

La Salle County unemployment was 10.2%.  Bureau County unemployment was 8.1%.  Putnam County unemployment was 8.4%, a 2.6% improvement over the same time last year.

While just one hour south, the Bloomington-Normal area unemployment was several points lower at 6.9%.

Locally, construction and transportation-warehousing jobs were added but more farm and retail jobs were cut.

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Illinois governor signs pension overhaul into law

Posted by wlpo on December 5, 2013

CHICAGO (AP) – Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a landmark overhaul aimed at fixing Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

The law reducing retirement benefits for state employees takes effect in June, but court challenges are expected. Several unions have called the benefit cuts unconstitutional.

Illinois’ unfunded pension system is considered the worst in the nation after lawmakers skipped or shorted payments for years.

The legislation was unveiled last week and is expected to save $160 billion over three decades.

Among other things, the plan signed into law Thursday pushes back the retirement age on a sliding scale for those 45 and younger. It also caps the salary on which a pension benefit is based and lowers the employee contribution.

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Local Habitat For Humanity Ready To Fill Another Home

Posted by wlpo on December 5, 2013

Do you know a family who wants to own a home but needs some help to do it?

Habitat for Humanity of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties is now accepting applications for a family to move into a renovated home on Shabbona Street in Streator.  Families must meet certain income requirements, be able to afford a small down payment and be willing to help in the building process.  The chosen family is given a no-interest paid mortgage.

For more information, click

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Firearm Deer Season Part Two In Illinois

Posted by wlpo on December 5, 2013

The second part of the firearm deer season is underway in Illinois.

Hunters can try to gun down the big one through Sunday.  A reminder that if you shoot down a deer in La Salle County you’re asked to check it in at Buffalo Rock State Park as part of testing for chronic wasting disease.

The number of deer killed during the first part of shotgun deer season was down across the state.  Both Bureau and La Salle County hunters took down around 300 less deer than in 2012.

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Sand Mine Debate Will Last Until Next Year

Posted by wlpo on December 5, 2013

If you’re eagerly waiting for a decision on a proposed new sand mine north of Utica, you’ll have to wait until next year.

After four more hours of testimony last night, the Utica Planning Commission and Trustees called it a night and will restart the Aramoni, LLC sand meeting on January 15th.  According to the NewsTribune, representatives from Aramoni wrapped up their testimony last night.  They want to mine land north of Love’s Travel Stop.

Among the people last night who spoke against the sand mine proposal was Meredith Mazza of Waltham Township who says the jobs Aramoni could create wouldn’t improve La Salle County’s unemployment rate that much.  Phil Gassman of Utica says a different sand mine in Utica caused his property value to plummet.  Speaking out in favor of the new sand mine was Steve Russo of the Local 150 who says the mine will produce quality jobs and benefits.

The attorney for Waltham Elementary Neil Smith wants the hearing delayed even beyond January 15th so he has time to bring in an expert on frac sands.

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