PONTIAC – Apparently, the tourism efforts in Pontiac during recent years has paid off.
The “bucket list” recently released by USA Today includes Pontiac and Route 66 in Illinois. On the newspaper’s website, you can scroll down the 10 best bucket list road trips page and see Route 66 – Illinois to California.
The following is stated about Pontiac:
“Road trip tip: While the Southwest offers the most famous scenery, don't neglect the start of the route in Illinois. Jensen recommends the town of Pontiac, home to two great stops, the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum and the Pontiac Oakland Auto Museum, a memorable tribute to the car brands”
BLOOMINGTON – An accident earlier this week near the intersection of Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove Road in Bloomington closed traffic for a brief time, according to Bloomington Police.
The accident involved a motorcycle and motor vehicle, although the extent of injuries is unclear. Police closed down Ireland Grove between Towanda Barnes and Stried Road and asked motorists to avoid that area.
>07-13 a deputy responded to a hang-up 911 call in rural Roberts. The line was full of static when the dispatcher called back. The house was found to be vacant and the problem was with the phone line.
>07-14 a deputy mediated a landlord/tenant dispute in Elliott.
>07-15 a deputy assisted a transient walking through the county.
>07-15 a rural Thawville resident reported an attempted telephone scam.
>07-15 a disturbance was reported in Elliott.
>07-16 a deputy conducted a welfare check in Piper City at the request of the Fairbury Police Department.
>07-16 a burglar alarm was received from a rural Paxton Residence. The alarm was caused by owner error.
>07-16 a suicidal male was reported in Stelle. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment.
>07-17 a rural Rankin resident reported an attempted telephone scam.
>07-17 a report of the illegal dumping of a toxic material in Melvin was received. A copy of the report was forwarded to the Illinois EPA.
>07-18 a deputy conducted a welfare check in Kempton.
During the week deputies handled 6 civil matters and issued 18 traffic citations.
>07-18 Charles Milligan of Sibley failed to yield the right of way at the intersection of 1300N and 1000e Roads. The other vehicle was driven by Jacob McGrew of Melvin. Both drivers were taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. Milligan was issued a citation for the crash.
>07-19 Jerry Matuszewski of Melvin was involved in a single vehicle accident on his motorcycle. The accident occurred in rural Roberts. The subject was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.
BLOOMINGTON – A Lincoln woman was the victim of a car fire early Saturday morning in the unoccupied parking lot of State Farm Insurance in Bloomington.
McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling says Christy L. Stone, 48, died as a result of thermal injuries from the fire. Forensic toxicology tests have been ordered and video evidence suggests Stone did not leave her vehicle after arriving in the lot.
Kimmerling also reports that Stone was never an employee of State Farm Insurance and preliminary evidence suggests the location of the incident was random. Stone was the mother of an adult son and enjoyed volunteering in her community, according to officials.
The Prairie Central Board of Education talked technology, food, transportation and finances on Thursday night.
Technology director Phil Tetley outlined several district-wide technology initiatives, including the replacement of Windows XP machines with Windows 7 in the stationary labs. Also, most of the inside work is done for the district wi-fi connection and several Chrome Book computers will be purchased.
“This implementation will have, we hope, wireless access everywhere in each building,” said Tetley.
Upgrades are planned to Smart Boards, as some of the earliest projectors purchased for the Upper Elementary had to be replaced. Some of the technology money will come from a title grant from the State Board and sales tax revenue will be used for the infrastructure side of things.
Food service director Joni BesGrove presented the annual food services report to the board. As of June 30, they ended up with $90,668.27. According to BesGrove, reimbursements were up from a year ago and the food and non-food items were down in price. This was likely due to the district joining the LaSalle County food co-op.
“Our reimbursements were substantial,” BesGrove told board members.
The food salaries and benefits were down as they did some cutting and moving of staff members where they could. Effective this month, food and beverages must meet general standards and specific nutrient standards. This applies to all grade levels, ala carte items in the cafeteria and all venues in a school building.
If the district would drop out of the National School Lunch Program, Illinois requires all public schools to provide a free meal to students who are eligible based on federal income guidelines. If the district wishes to claim meals for state and/or federal reimbursement, it must abide by the federal meal component requirements.
Transportation director Pam Weeks presented her annual report which covered July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Miles driven using district vehicles totaled 473,035 during 2013-2014. This compares to 500,349 the year before. A total of 66,416 gallons of fuel was used and the district purchased a Dodge Caravan last September and traded in a Dodge van which would not pass the IDOT test lane.
Weeks and Superintendent Dr. John Capasso noted the aging school bus fleet.
“The next discussion might be about leasing buses just like leasing technology,” said Capasso.
The district also approved the tentative budget. The new fiscal year has begun and Prairie Central just received a sales tax payment. In order to make positive balances, the district will have to move working cash. Capasso pointed to a bleak budget picture.
“We’re tapping in pretty seriously to working cash, which is just like a sophisticated savings fund.”
He said P.C. has a quality school system, has spent its money wisely and is ready to finance a little differently over the next several years. Kevin Heid of Stifel Nicolaus talked to the board about issuing some working cash bonds which can be used in the principal operating funds in order to compensate for losses.
Capasso said now is the perfect time to issue the bonds since some bonds are being retired from old building projects back in the late 1990s. The bonds are being paid off in the next year or two and the district has an opportunity to keep some of the rate and support its operating funds.
“The downside is that the payoff of the bonds will treat two different groups of people differently. It’ll treat old Prairie Central one way and treat old Chenoa another way, because the bonds they kept in their compounds were structured differently,” Capasso explained.
The upside to the plan is the fact that the district will get some operating money and will be able to pay it off in three years.
Heid acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the state’s funding of education.
“It is a good short-term fix.”
Capasso reported that Senate Bill 16 could be favorable to Prairie Central and he plans to meet with State Representative Dan Brady on the matter next week in Lexington. When it comes to categorical payments, the district did get the money it was promised. This was considerably better than last year.
Capasso also said summer maintenance work is going well, as the gym floors have been finished. The Upper Elementary floor is now painted in the proper school colors. Boiler burners are being switched out and interior lock latches are being installed to make classrooms safer for the start of the school year.
Gary Sutherland, a 23-year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department, has been promoted to the position of Assistant Chief of Professional Standards.
The promotion was announced by Police Chief Brendan Heffner effective July 16, 2014. Assistant Chief Sutherland joined the Bloomington Police Department in 1991. Sutherland was initially assigned as a Patrol Officer and joined the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) as a Detective in 2000.
In 2011, he was promoted to Sergeant with assignments in the Patrol Division and later in the Office of Professional Standards. While at the Bloomington Police Department, Sutherland has been honored with numerous Letters of Commendation, a Unit Citation for his work in CID, and three merit awards including a military ribbon, a Bravery Commendation, and a Distinguished Achievement award.
The awards reflect Sutherlands' dedication and service to the Bloomington Police Department and our community.
It is almost Fairbury Fair time so that means it is also time to lace up your shoes for the Fairbury Fair 5K Run/2 Mile Walk/Kid’s Fun Run! The event will be held at the Fairbury Fairgrounds during Fair week on Saturday, August 16th.
This year’s event will benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Many families in the Fairbury area have been affected by childhood cancer and many have benefited from the great services offered by St. Jude. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food because all a family should worry about is helping their child live! Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent and they are striving to increase that to 90% in the next decade. St. Jude founder, the late entertainer Danny Thomas, believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life.” And so do we!
New this year is bib timing provided by It’s Race Time, Inc. and on-line registration at https://register.itsracetime.com/Register/?event=28451. Registration forms can also be picked up at Turning Point Therapies, Inc. at 215 W. Locust in Fairbury or from the Fairbury Fair web page at www.fairburyfair.com. Day-of-race registration will be at the Fairgrounds from 6:45 to 7:45AM with the race starting at 8AM.
If you cannot participate then consider coming out to watch and cheer the participants on! Or, if you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Delmar at 309-747-3090 or at email@example.com .
Also mark your calendars for 8AM on September 6th for the Red Cross 5K/2 Mile Walk!
BLOOMINGTON – One person is dead after a weekend car fire in the north parking lot of State Farm corporate headquarters in Bloomington.
Upon arrival at the scene early Saturday morning, Bloomington fire personnel found a midsized automobile fully engulfed in flames. Crews later discovered a body in the vehicle’s driver seat and the individual was pronounced dead at 3:49 a.m. McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling says the victim was burned beyond recognition and dental records will need to be used in order to identify the person.
“An autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning, July 21. In the interim, the coroner’s office will be utilizing various investigative methods in order to ascertain a presumed identity that can be confirmed during autopsy,” Kimmerling said in a prepared statement Saturday afternoon.
At this time, there is no indication of foul play according to authorities. Due to the heavy fire, the Bloomington Fire Department responded with two fire apparatuses and the assistant chief. Firefighters utilized firefighting foam to aid in the extinguishment.
On 07/18/14 around 8:45 pm officers from the Normal Police Department responded to the 1500 block of Northbrook Drive on a report of gunshots fired in the area. Upon arrival officers located a 19 year old male victim with 2 gunshot wounds.
This individual was transported to Advocate Bromenn by Normal Fire Department personnel for treatment of his injuries.
Responding officers learned that a passenger in a vehicle fired multiple shots in the direction of individuals standing in front of an apartment complex in the 1500 block of Northbrook. Officers were able to obtain a description of the suspect and vehicle that fled the scene. This vehicle description was shared with surrounding police agencies. Around 9:45 pm a Chenoa PD officer conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle traveling on I-55 matching this description. A preliminary investigation led to the detention of the occupants of the vehicle.
Members of the Normal Police Department conducted further investigation which resulted in the arrest of Anthony C. Dixon, 24 year old male from Normal for his alleged involvement in the shooting. Dixon was arrested for the following offenses pending a formal review of charges by the McLean County States Attorney’s Office. Their review may result in additional charges being filed or modifications to the offenses listed below:
Offenses: Armed Violence 720ILCS 5/33A-1
Aggravated Battery/Firearm 720ILCS 5/12-3.05 (a)(1)
Reckless Discharge of a Firearm 720ILCS 5/24-1.5 (a)
Criminal Damage (2 Counts) 720ILCS 5/21-1 (a) (1,b)
7-19-14 updated at 9 a.m. - courtesy of the Normal Fire Department
NORMAL – An early morning fire heavily damaged a two-story home in the 800 block of Apple Street this morning, but fortunately everyone was able to escape from the home.
Normal Fire Department responded to the homeowner’s 9-1-1 call reporting a fire in the basement at 805 Apple Street at 5:20 am. The first arriving engine company arrived a few minutes later and reported heavy smoke and fire visible from the rear of the residence. A second alarm was struck, which added a Rapid Intervention Team from Bloomington Fire Department and called in off-duty Normal Firefighters for additional manpower and to staff reserve apparatus during the incident.
Firefighters made the initial fire attack and searched the home for any potential victims and reported fire in the basement and first floor of the home. During fire operations, a third alarm was struck, which adds additional manpower from Bloomington Fire Department to allow firefighting crews to rotate out to rehabilitate and change air bottles. Firefighters brought the fire under control within about 45 minutes, and continued to work to extinguish hot spots for another thirty minutes. A single engine remains on scene for fire watch and to assist with the on scene investigation.
During the incident, Center Street was closed at Virginia Avenue and Apple Street was closed at Main Street. Traffic has since been restored to Center Street, but Apple Street between Center and Madison Streets remains blocked with apparatus as fire investigators begin the searching for the cause and origin of the fire.
The home sustained heavy fire damage in the basement and south (rear) side of the first floor, and heavy smoke damage throughout. The home is insured. There is no damage estimate available at this time.
The residents are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross of the Heartland. There were no injuries reported to the residents, nor to firefighters.
Normal Fire Department Investigation Team is working to determine the cause and origin of the fire.
PONTIAC - Livingston County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tony Childress, who is also sheriff elect, visited McAllen, Texas earlier this week.
A group of seven sheriffs from across the country met to assess the crisis of thousands of illegal aliens - many of them minors - pouring across the border. As the federal government seeks to relocate thousands of Central American illegal aliens into communities across the country, law enforcement officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential threat this poses in their own counties and states.
"This program allows me the opportunity to view the real problems of human trafficking, drug trafficking and border security at ground zero itself," said Childress.
During their two days in the McAllen region, the sheriffs got a firsthand look at the border situation and met with state and federal officials managing the crisis. The sheriffs also pressed federal officials to take definitive steps to halt the influx by repatriating illegal aliens.
Others visting Texas in addition to Childress included: Sheriffs Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Massaschusetts; Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, Maryland; Sam Page of Rockingham County, North Carolina; Ken Matlack of Morrow County, Oregon; and Lewis Evandelidis of Worchester County, Massaschusetts.
7-18-14 updated at 7:50 a.m.
DWIGHT – The suspect in last month’s Dwight murders could be a white male with facial hair who was wearing an orange hoodie and possibly a ball cap.
The surviving victim of the shootings apparently shared this information with Dwight E.M.S. according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by Dwight Police.
Referring to an interview Thursday with a Morris radio station, Dwight Police said, “Under no circumstances did Chief Henson state they have a suspect or any information regarding a suspect. Chief Henson wants to assure all media outlets, he will continue as he has done in the past, to keep them all abreast of any breaking news.”
The police statement went on to say, “Carol inquired about the location of where the murder weapon was found. I informed her the information was case sensitive and would not be released at this time.”
During the phone conversation with Carol Kinas from the radio station, Kinas wanted Henson to confirm that Joe Sipple was a previous acquaintance of Kelli Denker in 2010. He informed Kinas the information was true and correct. Sipple, of Sheridan, apparently took his own life after LaSalle County Sheriff’s Deputies were attempting to serve a warrant. The same information was previously reported by LaSalle County Sheriff’s Police in late June.
BLOOMINGTON - At the regular meeting of the McLean County Board on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, the McLean County Board approved an engineering agreement with Hanson Professional Services for the Phase II design of the Historic Route 66 Bike Trail project. The section goes from County Highway 29 in Towanda to 2.51 miles north of Towanda where the existing Route 66 pavement ends. Construction of this part of the trail is planned for summer of 2015.
The County Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between McLean County, the City of Lexington, and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department. Due to the resignation of the Lexington Police Chief, the Sheriff’s Department will provide police protection for the City of Lexington until a new Police Chief is appointed.
The Board approved the list of Judges of Election.
7-17-14 (from the Normal Police Department)
On 07/14/14, Brandon P. Rutkowski, 26, from Bloomington, was arrested on a McLean County warrant for the Armed Robbery of Rosati’s Pizza, 1720 Bradford Lane, in Normal on June 4, 2014. Rutkowski was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Task Force. Rutkowski is being held at the McLean County Jail in lieu of $240,000 bond for the following charges:
Charge: Armed Robbery 720ILCS 5/18-2 (a) (2); Obstruct Justice 720ILCS 5/31-4 (a)
PONTIAC – Members of the Pontiac Rotary Club experienced life through the eyes of a 4-H’er Tuesday afternoon at the Livingston County Ag Fair.
The organization held its weekly meeting under the pizza tent at 4-H Park and heard from a number of area youths about their involvement with 4-H. Samantha Johns showed her cookie decorating entry while Jacob Raber proudly displayed his insect collection with 30 bugs.
This year’s fair queen, Jordan Johns, spoke highly of the Livingston County Ag Fair.
“It’s a great bunch to be with – the Livingston County bunch – at the State Fair,” she said.
University of Illinois Extension’s Nancy Flessner asked several questions to the 4-H members about their projects. She asked one young lady if there was anything about the 4-H Fair she didn’t like and the girl replied, “No.”
“We bring them out of the barn and they’re not used to public speaking,” Flessner joked after someone appeared to be a little nervous standing before the crowd of local Rotarians.
Those attending the informative lunch meeting were treated to ice cream, compliments of the Livingston County Dairy Farmers and Prairie Farms.
“It’s a good opportunity to spend some time at the fair to see what the kids are doing,” said Pontiac Rotary President Mark Hovren.
The Pontiac Rotary Club is preparing for an August bag lunch fundraiser in the Bank of Pontiac parking lot, although an exact date has not been set. Also, a coat and hat drive for kids is planned for the fall.
Hovren began the lunch meeting by announcing the Pontiac Rotary Club has 47 members and they always meet during the fair each year. Rotary is an international service club which not only does work in Livingston County but other parts of the world, as well.
Cathy Blunier and Bobbie Lewis-Sibley of University of Illinois Extension were also on hand for Tuesday’s meeting.
PONTIAC – As the rain started to fall at Pontiac’s 4-H Park late Monday morning, several people crammed into the show barn to wait out the storm during the dairy show.
Rain showers are pretty common during the Livingston County Ag Fair. In fact, many people don’t consider it a true fair until it rains at least one day with humid conditions. That shouldn’t be the case the rest of the week, however, as much cooler temperatures are expected in the area.
Despite small ponds of water and muddy walkways, the first day of the fair was successful with 4-H’ers hustling about the fairgrounds to show livestock or hear how their exhibits did.
Monday’s highlights included a dairy show, beef fitting and grooming and photography. The nighttime entertainment included the various scholarship presentations, queen crowning and 4-H family award presentation.
FAIRBURY - A longtime Fairbury restaurant was damaged by fire earlier this week and it could be a while before the business reopens.
Officials say no one was injured and the fire was contained to the kitchen area of McDonald's Family Restaurant early Wednesday morning. An exact cause has not been released, but firefighters believe the blaze started in the kitchen.
It took firefighters from numerous nearby departments less than an hour to extinguish the fire, although crews remained on the scene long after that, as there was quite a bit of damage to the building's interior. The restaurant has been a part of Fairbury since the 1950s and is currently owned by Ronald and Sue McDonald. Their daughter, Kelly McDonald, manages the facility.
The McDonalds Family Restaurant Facebook page had the following message posted on it this week:
"Sadly, our home away from home was lost to a fire over the night. Thankfully no one was injured. We would like to extend our heart felt thanks to the Fairbury and surrounfing fire departments. Without them the devastation would be unimaginable. Due to the extensive damage we will be closed for an undetermined amount of time. We will reopen as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding. God Bless, The McDonald family."
DWIGHT - Authorities in Dwight say the weapon responsible for the murder of Kelli and Donna Denker has been recovered, with ballistic results proving it to be the weapon used in the crime.
In a statement released late Thursday afternoon prior to the holiday weekend, Dwight Police said the investigation into the deaths continues as police continue to follow up on leads. Officials are still re-assuring area citizens that this was an isolated incident.
The Village of Dwight and the Grundy County Crime Stoppers are each offering up to $5,000 for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of those who were involved in the crime. Anyone with information is still asked to call Dwight Police at 815-584-3132.
"We are confident this case will be brought to a resolution," the updated statement said.
PONTIAC – Area veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting the recognition they deserve in downtown Pontiac.
The new Iraq and Afghanistan war monument near the Livingston County Courthouse was officially dedicated on Saturday morning, with patriotic music from the Pontiac Municipal Band, speakers and numerous onlookers outside local storefronts.
“I remember when 9-11 happened. It tore me up inside. I just felt I had to do something so I joined the military,” recalled Chase Crain of Pontiac, a U.S. Army veteran.
“I’m glad I could be a part of this. I just wanted to be here and see it. I want to thank everyone for showing up today.”
Crain sustained injuries while overseas and some of his honors include the Afghan Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and Army Service Ribbon.
Another U.S. Army veteran, Staff Sgt. Steven Wagner of Fairbury, spoke of his desire to help others during his active-duty time. In December 2008, his boots were on the ground in Afghanistan.
“I stayed because I knew if I was there, I could help my unit get everything back. I put the soldiers first. It makes me feel good inside to know people still remember us,” he said.
Wagner said soldiers fear the “F” word most of all – meaning “forgotten.” Wagner’s career included the National Guard before becoming active duty in the Army. He earned two National Defense Service Medals, Abraham Lincoln Medal of Freedom and the Army Service Ribbon among other awards. Wagner is retiring from military service as he deals with diabetes.
Chris Studebaker of the local AMVETS post has been raising funds for the past several months to create the monument. According to Studebaker, the structure is dedicated to the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Livingston County who have served, are still serving and those who might still go off to war.
“For the past five years, I’ve been uptown here at Veteran’s Day looking at all of the memorials and that was the only one that was missing. I thought it was time for them to have one. Since we’ve been at war for 13 years in Afghanistan, it’s more than their time.”
So far, $15,283 has been raised for the monument through donations.
See a brief clip from Saturday's dedication ceremony in VIDEOS.
NORMAL – Normal Police made several arrests on Saturday after residents reported a group of white males committing criminal damage to vehicles in the 1200 block of Searle and the 300 block of Oakdale in Normal.
Authorities detained and apprehended three adult and four juvenile males in the area. An additional investigation led to the discovery of nine “works bomb” type devices in a two-block area, including four that did not detonate.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Bomb Squad responded and deemed three devices safe in the 1200 block of Searle and one device in the area of Grove Street and Kingsridge Court.
Four juveniles were charged and released to their parents. Three adult males, Tyler J. Ort, 19, of Hudson; Brandon M. Hill, 18, of Hudson; and Alec K. Pagoria, 19, of Normal were also charged and transported to the McLean County Jail pending review by the McLean County State’s Attorney.