The Bloomington Police Department Criminal Investigations Division continues to investigate the suspicious death of Haileigh Eichhorn, age 26, from Bloomington.
Eichhorn was last seen alive on Sunday, April 28, 2013. On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, Haileigh Eichhorn's body was discovered in rural Stanford, IL.
New information helped uncover the last known image of Haileigh Eichhorn taken on the morning of her disappearance. In the image, Haileigh Eichhorn can be seen wearing a pink shirt with a dark colored, patterned hooded jacket.
The Bloomington Police Department is in the process of distributing the attached flier in areas Haileigh Eichhorn frequented. The flier contains the last known image of Haileigh Eichhorn before her death. The investigation into Haileigh Eichhorn's death is ongoing, and detectives continue to conduct interviews and investigate all leads.
It appears Central Illinois will start and end the week with snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Our Sunday will have snow possibly mixed with freezing drizzle with a high 26. Wind chill values will be as low as 1. Snow is also likely Sunday night with freezing drizzle also possible before 7 p.m. The low will be near 24. Total snowfall accumulation should be around an inch with little or no ice accumulation expected.
Monday will be cloudy with a high 23. Temperatures will dip to 9 on Monday night under partly cloudy skies. Sunshine returns Tuesday through Friday with daily highs ranging from the upper 20s to upper 30s by the end of the week.
There is another chance of snow Friday night and Saturday.
Several area towns, including Bloomington and Fairbury, will be celebrating Christmas this weekend with numerous activities.
The Bloomington Jaycees will have their annual Christmas parade on Saturday morning. Also, the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual parade and Christmas celebration in downtown Fairbury on Saturday. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m.
Listen to an interview with Rebekah Fehr of the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce HERE.
PAXTON - The resident circuit judge for Ford County will retire at the end of the month.
The 11th Judicial Circuit Court made the announcement earlier this week. Judge Stephen R. Pacey has heard cases in the several counties making up the circuit. He was appointed circuit judge in 1996, elected to that post in 1998 and retained by voters in 2004 and 2010.
Pacey was in private practice in the Paxton area for more than 20 years before his judicial work. He served as a commissioner with the Illinois Court of Claims in the 1990s and also served as the Ford County public defender from 1985 to 1990.
The owner of Lost in Time appeared before members of the Fairbury City Council recently seeking permission to put up a ramp.
Sally Goembel wants to install the aluminum structure on the west side of her business, which includes a restaurant, bakery and catering service. She is proposing a 16-foot ramp which would extend south to make the building more accessible. The ramp is purchased in four foot sections.
She explained that the business clientele is 60 percent older people and half of those people seem to get into the building just fine. Unfortunately, others have a difficult time navigating through the steep entrance.
Goembel said she explored the possibility of building a permanent ramp and mechanical lift, but it could cost between $18,000 and $20,000. Also, this type of structural change to the historical building would prevent the business from being included in a historic registry.
“I think, basically, you’ve done your homework,” said Mayor Lynn Dameron.
“Once you mess with something is it still going to be compliant?” asked Alderman Doug Hibsch.
According to Goembel, everything is in compliance as long as the structure is not directly attached to the building. It is a free standing unit.
Street Superintendent Martin Steidinger and other city officials will be meeting with Goembel to discuss the matter further.
“I feel the sooner the better – especially with the bad weather coming,” added Goembel.
The Lost in Time building was constructed in 1893 which is a time period that is exempt from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
SPRINGFIELD – Fewer deer were harvested during the recent opening weekend of the firearm hunting season in the state.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports a harvest of 55,700 deer which is down from the approximately 77,100 deer taken during the first firearm hunting weekend of 2012.
Officials say weather may have been a factor, although there have been numerous deer deaths reported in the past year from a condition known as EHD or “blue tongue disease.”
The second firearm deer season happens this weekend in the state.
(Above photo courtesy of Rebecca Casson)
FAIRBURY – The month of November was a wild one for weather here in Central Illinois.
The average high for the month was 46.8 with an average low of 29.7, according to weather records at the Central Illinois Farm Network headquarters in southern Livingston County. The warmest temperature of 71 occurred November 17 with the coldest temperature of 10 occurring November 24.
Well over an inch of rain was measured during the month and we even had around an inch of snow on November 11. Strong storms and tornadoes tore through the state on the 17th, causing widespread damage in places like Washington, East Peoria, Gifford and Coal City.
EL PASO - An open house forum has been planned by the El Paso-Gridley School District to seek community input as part of the planning process for a facility master plan.
According to the district superintendent, the district will move ahead with additions and classroom renovations after site and safety work is completed. A public forum is planned for Dec. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at El Paso-Gridley High School on North Elm Street in El Paso.
During the two-hour program, those attending will learn about district planning efforts and steps taken so far to meet the needs of the schools. Members of the public will be able to share their opinions for improvements.
Two Central Illinois communities, Pontiac and Atlanta, helped contribute to the goals of a Rt. 66 strategic roundtable convened at Disneyland by the World Monuments Fund on November 21-23.
Bob Russell, Mayor, and Ellie Alexander, Director of Tourism, both of Pontiac, along with Bill Thomas, Treasurer of the Atlanta Betterment Fund in Atlanta, attended the event that included approximately 100 people representing government, business, tourism, and historic preservation.
Mayor Russell presented during a panel discussion focused on "Community Investment: Success Stories from the Road". Tourism Director Alexander was part of a panel presentation on "The Road More Traveled: Enhancing the Tourism Potential of Route 66", and Bill Thomas, presented on a panel dealing with "Making the Case: Economic Impacts of Preservation and Heritage Tourism Along Rt. 66."
Among the great challenges of preserving the historic corridor of Rt. 66 are its length and its diversity of stakeholders. Over the past several years, Pontiac and Atlanta have addressed some of these challenges and effectively demonstrated the ability to leverage the economic development potential of Rt. 66. The Rt. 66 strategic roundtable presented the opportunity for these two Central Illinois communities to share their success stories and work with other Mother Road stakeholders to discuss and devise new ways to effectively capitalize on the economic benefits of, and development opportunities along, Rt. 66.
BENSON - The Woodford County coroner says that a Central Illinois teenager's death is "suspicious and unnatural."
The 17-year-old Roanoke girl was found dead Tuesday morning at home in Benson about six-miles away. The autopsy confirmed the sheriff's belief that the death is suspicious.
Toxicology reports usually take two weeks but the coroner hopes to expedite the results.
PONTIAC - The Tuberculosis Board and Board of Health for the Livingston County Public Health Department is scheduled for Monday, December 9, 2013 in the Conference Room of the Health and Education Building, 310 E. Torrance Ave., Pontiac, IL.
The Tuberculosis Board Meeting is at 6:45 p.m. and the Board of Health Meeting is at 7:00 p.m.
NORMAL – The nephew of former President George W. Bush and son of Jeb Bush has learned a few things from a long family history of public service and his unique experience as a bi-racial individual working to increase Hispanic Americans’ involvement in politics.
George P. Bush was the featured speaker at this week’s Illinois Commodity Conference in Normal. He addressed the changing demographics of the electorate and how agriculture can make itself more relevant politically.
“It is important to reach out to the community, politically,” Bush said.
Super PAC’s emerged during the 2012 election cycle and 10 counties in Virginia, Ohio and Florida decided the winner of the presidential election. Bush considers 2012 the most polarized election in recent memory.
“I think in the future what you’ll see is a lot more allocation of dollars in the southwest.”
Bush noted the president’s current approval ratings are at all-time lows which he thinks stem from issues like the IRS and Benghazi. The big issue in 2014 will be who controls the Senate amid public aggression toward members of Congress.
The young political activist is proposing some changes for the Republican Party, which include immigration reform discussion in D.C., institutionalizing community engagement and a back to the basics approach at the grassroots level.
According to Bush, the agricultural industry faces a challenge of bringing more minorities into the field. He said it is important to recruit the next generation of leaders in agriculture. He also noted challenges in the education field, where there is a need to close the achievement gap in both rural and urban school districts.
Bush reminded the crowd that Hispanics will represent 33 percent of the U.S. population by the year 2050 and the demographic is just beginning to flex its political muscles.
“We are all American at the end of the day,” he said.
Bush currently manages St. Augustine Partners, an energy and technology-focused investment firm in Texas. He received his undergraduate degree from Rice University and obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003. Following law school, he was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater.
Bush has filed to run for Texas Land Commissioner. Current land commissioner Jerry Patterson will run for Lieutenant Governor in 2014. Bush is considered the presumptive Republican nominee to replace him and is projected to be the general election winner for the office.
Parents in the Prairie Central school district will soon be able to register their children for school from the comfort of their own home.
The Prairie Central school board has voted to enter into a two-year contract with a company called Info Snap to allow online registration. The district will pay $13,500 the first year with $4,500 of that a setup fee.
The cost is $9,000 per year to maintain the information and have technical support.
The program operates similarly to online retailers – as it asks for information verification and payment options. Users are allowed to type in a credit card number or choose to pay by check.
“We are going to have to work on simplifying the fee structure. We have some schemes ready to make that really simple,” said P.C. Superintendent Dr. John Capasso.
The registration process is expected to take less than 10 minutes and it is estimated that 80 percent or more of parents in the district have Internet access and may be willing to utilize the new method.
A letter will be mailed to a student’s home address with detailed registration instructions, such as the website location and a code to enter. Once the online program is established, basic information for returning students will already be in the system, although some items will still need to be updated.
“This has great potential and makes a ton of sense,” said board member Jason Dotterer.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved the 2013 tentative levy, payable in 2014. The total is $10,085,149.
“This is a standard five percent levy. The EAV promises to go up much less than that,” said Capasso.
Since bonds are falling off drastically year to year, Chenoa residents will see a roughly 18-cent decrease in property taxes next year. Everyone else in the school district will see around a one cent increase.
High school plumbing problems were also discussed by board members. The boy’s locker room showers on the west side of the gym are failing. A plumber has proposed re-routing piping to run water through new pipes.
Popejoy Plumbing is expected to start working on the project after Thanksgiving. Capasso said the pipes are as old as the gym, which was built in the early 1950s.
In other matters, the Prairie Central Board of Education:
-Authorized the district’s participation in the McLean County school facility sales tax effort. The move directs the regional superintendent of schools to certify the question to McLean County election authorities.
-Approved a joint agreement with the Livingston Area Career Center (LACC).
-Learned that a new school report card format is available online at: illinoisreportcard.com. The site shows how parents and staff view the school system and its direction. It also shows a child’s progress from one grade to the next.
-Expelled a high school student for gross misconduct following a student disciplinary hearing.
WASHINGTON - Local Churches of Christ have opened a Disaster Relief Resource Center at 117 Peoria Street in Washington, Illinois. The Center is located just west of Washington Square across from Lindy's Food Market.
Churches of Christ Disaster Relieve Effort Incorporated, based in Nashville Tennessee, has provided the local churches with almost $200,000 worth of new supplies to assist those affected by the recent tornadoes. The relief Center is run by local church volunteers and has the following items available for those in need:
• Food boxes which can feed a family of four for 3 to 5 days, cases of drinking water
• Personal care boxes with toiletries and hygiene items
• Infant boxes with baby supplies and diapers
• Rakes, Brooms, Shovels, Tarps, Trash bags, Wheelbarrows,
• Small kitchen appliances and other kitchen items
• Clothing, bedding, pillows, blankets
• Sealed buckets containing cleaning supplies, bleach, laundry detergent, mops
• Mattresses, box springs, and bed frames will be coming soon
• A refrigerated truck with various frozen dinners will be on site soon
• If the need is great enough, appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washes, and dryers may be provided to low income families without insurance who lost everything in the disaster. (An application process is required for these items)
All items at the Center are brand-new unused merchandise and provided free of charge. Beginning Monday, November 25, 2013, the Center will be staffed on the following schedule: Monday through Friday 9 AM to 12 PM and 4 PM to 7 PM
Saturday 12 noon to 5 PM
Sunday 1 PM to 5 PM
Open on Thanksgiving.
At the regular meeting of the McLean County Board on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the McLean County Board approved the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2014 Combined Annual Appropriation and Budget Ordinance and the Five Year Capital Improvement Plan, the adoption of the 2013 Tax Levy Ordinance for McLean County and the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2014 Full-time Equivalent Positions Resolution.
The County Board approved a Resolution to establish charges for services for the McLean County Nursing Home. The rate at the County Nursing Home for private pay residents increased from $159.00 per day to $168.00 per day effective January 1, 2014.
Washington, IL – Parts of Tazewell County look like a war zone after a series of tornadoes tore through Central Illinois on Sunday.
Large wagons and grain bins on rural farmsteads were tossed around like toys and power lines were down as far as the eye could see. Traffic on U.S. Route 24 into Washington slowed to a crawl on Monday morning as motorists tried to enter the town to either help out or observe the damage. Police weren’t allowing anyone into town unless they lived there.
Storm cleanup efforts have begun and people are trying to put pieces of their lives back together. Washington’s Crossroads United Methodist Church is being used as a Red Cross shelter. Hundreds of people have walked through the church doors for a hot meal, coffee and clean restrooms.
As long as there is a need, the church will provide shelter, according to directing Pastor Tom Goodell.
“We are just trying to do everything we can to help in every way.”
In the Crossroads United Methodist Church alone, 35 member families lost everything in Sunday’s storm.
Officials say the best way to help storm victims is to send a donation to the Red Cross. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcross.org to make a donation. Tell them you want your donation to go to the central Illinois tornado response. Those in areas affected by the severe weather can let family and friends know they are safe by visiting redcross.org.
As of Monday morning, people offering to help cleanup storm debris were not being allowed in the town. Goodell said FEMA needs to give clearance first and that had not happened yet.
“There is really no reason to come over to Washington unless you live in town,” he said.
Volunteers stationed at the church have been busy giving away clothing to those in need and handing out Teddy Bears to children.
“We’ve had kids come in upset and crying – it is just heartbreaking,” added Goodell.
BLOOMINGTON - Since October 1, 2013, the Bloomington Police Department has investigated six reports of stolen vehicles in Bloomington. At the time of the thefts, five of the stolen vehicles had the keys left in the vehicle.
The Bloomington Police Department wants to remind the public that criminals will often choose easy targets. By following the steps below you can make it more difficult for your vehicle to be stolen.
• Whenever you are away from your vehicle, close all windows, lock all doors, and do not leave your keys in your vehicle.
• As cold weather approaches, you may be inclined to leave your vehicle running while it warms up. Never leave your unattended vehicle running with the keys inside.
• When dropping off/picking up kid(s) from day care, school, etc., never leave your unattended vehicle running with the keys inside.
• Do not leave anything (including coins, garage door openers, purses, cell phones, GPS, etc.) in plain sight. Leave valuables at home or lock them in your trunk
• Park in well-lit, well-traveled areas, away from shrubbery that would obscure the view of your vehicle.
If you observe any suspicious activity, please call the non-emergency number for Bloomington Police Department at (309)-820-8888. Please call 911 for any immediate public safety threats.
MCDOWELL – A shed full of baled corn stalks was destroyed by fire early Friday afternoon, between Pontiac and Fairbury.
“We don’t have any idea what started it,” said Martin Steidinger of the Fairbury Fire Department.
According to Steidinger, the blaze was contained to the one building and a tractor and wagon parked inside were lost. There were no reports of injuries and some nearby cows were okay.
Tankers were called in from the Pontiac and Forrest-Strawn fire departments to help Fairbury firefighters battle the fire.
BLOOMINGTON – The McLean County Coroner’s Office has released autopsy results for a Normal teenager who died following a fatal crash in Normal early Sunday.
Preliminary results indicate Peyton M. Scheuermann died from head and neck injuries as a result of the crash. Coroner Beth Kimmerling says forensic toxicology tests have been ordered and no additional information about the crash is being released at this time.
The Normal police and fire departments responded to the wreck and found an automobile on its side just west of the intersection of Parkside and Raab roads. Rescue personnel transported the driver and one passenger to the hospital while Scheuermann was found outside of the vehicle with no obvious signs of life.
Two members of a young farmer group from Wales experienced life in Central Illinois during the past few weeks.
The Prairie Central FFA chapter hosted Leyshon Griffiths and Angharad Llewelyn, who are participating in the international program for Wales YFC. The volunteer youth organization represents 6,000 young people in rural Wales.
The two enjoyed several days of touring local farmsteads, towns and landmarks and were even able to help on area farms during harvest. They also attended the National FFA Convention in Louisville.
Both agree that life in the Midwest is much different than back home.
“Back home, it’s all hills, mountains, trees and rivers,” said Griffiths.
“We are missing the beach a lot here because we are used to the coast. We are not used to all of the pigs here as well,” added Llewelyn.
According to Griffiths, Wales YFC is similar to the FFA here in the United States.
“It is kind of exactly the same. We do the same competitions and stuff, except we are a little bit older.”
Participants in the Wales young farmer international program have several destination choices, such as spending three weeks in Illinois or a few months in states like Montana or Kansas. In addition to agriculture, the group also holds competitions for acting, singing and even flower arranging.
The pair seemed to enjoy their numerous day trips in Illinois, which included an Illini game, a tour of the Caterpillar visitor’s center in Peoria, tours of the Pontiac museums and a visit to downtown Chicago.
“For me, Chicago is probably the highlight of my trip so far. There is nothing like that in the U.K. at all,” said Llewelyn.
Griffiths and Llewelyn felt right at home during the National FFA Convention, since they are used to large agricultural shows. The Royal Welsh Show, similar to our State Fair, is held each summer with agricultural and livestock competitions.
According to the show’s website, the Royal Welsh Show spotlights farming and rural life and bridges the gap between town and country. Activities include forestry, crafts, horticulture and countryside sports.
The Welsh visitors were also impressed with the weather of Central Illinois versus the weather in Wales.
“We are not missing the rain at all at home,” chuckled Llewelyn.