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Archive for August 21st, 2015

Abandoned house burns in south Streator

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

For the second time in under a week, an abandoned house caught fire in Streator.

Smoke filled the air along Streator’s main drag of South Bloomington Street Thursday night just before 11 o’clock. Firefighters had the fire out in about 15 minutes. A stretch of Bloomington Street, or Route 23 was closed during the fire.

The state fire marshal’s office has been called to help investigate a cause. The state was also called to look into an abandoned house fire this past Saturday in Streator.

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Mendota bridge re-opens

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

If you live in Mendota, the 12th street bridge replacement project was probably a thorn in your side once or twice during construction.

Thankfully, the bridge is now back open. It opened back up to traffic Thursday morning.

You still need to watch out and drive slow as there’s a bump as you approach the bridge. The bump will be repaired soon.

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Longtime Illinois Valley politician continues recovery after cancer surgery

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

It’s been a month since State Representative Frank Mautino had surgery to remove his esophageal cancer.

Mautino says his recovery is coming along great, and he thanks all the doctors and hospital staff who made the surgery as easy as possible. He also thanks the many supporters who sent good vibes his way the last several weeks.

Mautino is scheduled to have a procedure Friday that will take out the remaining tubes in his esophagus. After that, he will take a few tests, but the procedures will be over.

The representative is already back to a normal schedule in Springfield, or as Mautino says, “As normal as Springfield can be.”

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Weekend roundup of Illinois Valley gas prices

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

Gas prices have eased up in some parts of the Illinois Valley after shooting up over 80 cents last week.

According to, stations in Streator have dropped back down to $2.59 a gallon. Gas can be found for as low as $2.61 to $2.65 a gallon in La Salle, Peru, Utica and Oglesby. Stations in Ottawa, Princeton and Mendota have been slower to change with gas still sitting at $2.85 to $2.89 a gallon.

The average price of gas statewide is $3.11 a gallon, up 30 cents from last month.

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Sex case involving former Streator High teacher moves closer to a conclusion

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

A decision could come as early as next week in the case of a former Streator teacher and coach accused of having sexual contact with a student.

26-year-old Rylee VanMelkebeke is due back in La Salle County Court next Thursday for a final pre-trial hearing. If a plea deal isn’t reached by then, he could go to trial the following week.

VanMelkebeke was arrested in late May at Streator High School for aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He resigned as a P.E. and driver’s education teacher along with giving up coaching football, girls’ basketball and girls’ track.

VanMelkebeke has been in jail since his arrest. He needs $15,000 to be let out of jail.

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Dead crow found in Peru tests positive for West Nile Virus

Posted by wlpo on August 21, 2015

Cases of West Nile Virus are making a late summer surge in La Salle County.

A dead crow found in Peru last week has tested positive for the virus that is passed around by a mosquito bite. Earlier this month, dead birds in Marseilles and Mendota also tested positive for West Nile while mosquito batches were all carrying the virus in Ottawa and Streator.

There have been no human cases so far this year in the Illinois Valley. Chances are you won’t even know you have the virus.

The more serious cases of West Nile can give you a fever and headaches along with nausea.

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