DOWNS – The McLean County Board voted 15-2 to deny the zoning request for a medical marijuana growing facility between Downs and Ellsworth.
The possibility of diminishing property values, tax revenue and water concerns were among the reasons why many of the board members voted against the measure Tuesday morning.
County board member Paul R. Segobiano was confused if a building on the property would be used as a home or office.
“I don’t think we can play dominos with this type of operation,” he said. “What concerns me most of all is the water supply out there. For years, we’ve talked about saving the Mahomet Aquifer.”
“I think that this in fact is an industrial use and it is proposed to be in an agricultural zone,” added board member William T. Caisley.
Member Ben Owens said under medical services in the county’s definition, the issue should be denied.
The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals approved the recommendation during a two-day hearing earlier this month.
“In this case, there was a lot of good discussion and there were apparently 15 members of the county board that disagreed with some of the findings of the Zoning Board of Appeals and they voted to reject the special use permit,” McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen said following the meeting.
>09-07 criminal damage to a farmer’s standing corn crop in rural Sibley was reported.
>09-07 deputies, Gibson Area Ambulance personnel and Paxton Police officers responded to a residence in rural Paxton for a report of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jesse Christmas advised he was trying to remove a live cartridge that was stuck in a handgun when the gun fired without warning. He was transported for treatment of a bullet wound to the hand.
>09-07 a deputy assisted the Piper City Police chief with a battery call in Piper City.
>09-07 a deputy assisted the Jacksonville, Illinois Police Dept. with a harassment complaint.
>09-08 a deputy assisted the Gibson City Police Dept with a traffic accident at the intersection of Rt47 and Rt9.
>09-10 a deputy seized and destroyed several cannabis plants that had been growing behind a vacant house in Melvin.
>09-10 a report of a truant student was received from the Tri-Point School district.
>09-10 a welfare check was performed at a residence in rural Paxton. The reported cause for the welfare check was unfounded.
>09-10 a deputy transported an arrestee to the jail for a Gibson City Police officer.
>09-11 a report was received of a dog running loose in rural Rankin.
>09-12 a rural Paxton man reported possibly being the victim of identity theft.
>09-12 deputies responded to a domestic argument in Elliott.
>09-13 a deputy responded to a commercial burglar alarm at the John Deere dealership in Melvin.
During the week deputies handled 1 civil matter and issued 18 traffic citations.
>09-08 Lisa Buhs of rural Gibson City lost control of her vehicle at 1330E 500N Road. The vehicle left the roadway and ended up in a field.
>09-10 a private property accident was reported in the parking lot at the Ford County Courthouse.
>09-11 a vehicle driven by James Graham of Greenville, Illinois struck one driven by Eva Hood of Foosland. The accident occurred at 250N Rt47.
The McLean County Board will hold its monthly meeting at 9 a.m. today (Tuesday) in Room 400 of the Government Center in Bloomington.
County Highway Engineer Eric Schmitt will request approval of a bridge construction petition in the Towanda Road District. Also, the group will consider a request for a waiver of preliminary plan requirements and a one lot final subdivision plat for the Vercler Subdivision in Yates Township.
The Executive Committee will present a request for the approval of a Consortium Agreement in Workforce Investment Area 15. The board will also consider approving an emergency appropriation ordinance amending the McLean County Fiscal Year 2014 combined annual appropriation and budget ordinance.
The Illinois Bright Start Direct plan is amongst the top five best performing college savings plans in the country, according to U.S. News & World Reports.
“I am pleased by this ranking,” said Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose office oversees the program. “The Bright Start Direct, Bright Start Advisor, and Bright Directions Advisor programs currently have nearly $7 billion in assets and a record 370,000 accounts. Since becoming State Treasurer in 2011 assets in the college savings division have grown by 85%, and the number of accounts has increased by 38%.”
The Bright Start distinction is based on annualized three year return of all 529 data plans provided by Morningstar.
Fairbury has received a $10,000 donation from Bluestem Bank, a division of Bank of Pontiac, to purchase electronic equipment for the city’s emergency operations center.
“We were approached a while back to make a contribution to your emergency services disaster project and we are more than happy to step forward and do that,” explained Bank of Pontiac President & CEO Bill Kauffman.
During the recent meeting of the Fairbury City Council, Mayor Lynn Dameron and council members said the donation means a lot to the city and thanked Kauffman for the donation. Bank of Pontiac’s John Marshall was also on hand for the check presentation.
According to Fairbury ESDA Director Rick Barrera, the agency is aggressively testing its disaster response plan as an effort to improve emergency readiness and response. The donation will be used to purchase a camera which will be installed on top of the Prairie Central Co-op grain elevator in Fairbury.
“We will no longer wait and rely on reports of what was seen and reported to prepare for a disaster. Preparedness and response efforts will use live visual data to evaluate and help create an action plan,” Barrera said in a prepared statement submitted to The Blade.
ESDA was commissioned in January to write an emergency operations plan that is aligned with FEMA’s National Incident Management System and complies with both state and city ordinances. A plan was written and approved by the City Council on May 21.
Also at the meeting, the council held a discussion on using credit, debit or online payments for utility bills and ordinance violations. Some citizens would rather use a card to pay for certain things and are currently unable to do that. GovPayNet would process the payments and there would be no cost to the city, although citizens would pay a fee. No action was taken on the matter.
City Superintendent Leroy McPherson reported that work is done on Well #4 and the floor of the new fire station has been poured. Firefighters and sewer department employees have been helping to seal it.
The city also accepted the resignation of Officer Tim Simulus, who has accepted a position in Tennessee.
In other business, the Fairbury City Council:
-Granted permission for Prairie Central High School to hold a homecoming parade on Friday, Sept. 19 at 2:30 p.m. The route begins at Marsh Park and travels down Locust Street and should last about 30 minutes.
-Authorized pay request #7 to Tarter Construction in the amount of $55,382.40 for construction of the Brian J. Munz Public Safety Complex.
Detectives from the Normal Police Department Vice Crimes Unit arrested Ronnie Berry Jr., a 28 year old male from Normal, on September 7, 2014 in the 500 block of Bowles, Normal.
Berry’s arrest stemmed from an investigation into the manufacture and distribution of large amounts of cannabis conducted in cooperation with the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office. A search warrant was executed at a single family residence in the 500 block of Bowles that resulted in the seizure of the following contraband from an active clandestine cannabis grow operation:
195 Cannabis Plants
43 Pounds of Cannabis
Numerous items used to grow Cannabis
Berry is currently being held at the McLean County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond on the following charges:
Manufacture/Delivery of Cannabis (greater than 5,000 grams) Statute: 720 ILCS 550/5
Possession of Cannabis (greater than 5,000 grams) Statute: 730 ILCS 5/5
Produce 50-200 Cannabis Plants Statute: 720 ILCS 550/8(d)
PONTIAC - Issues surrounding the proposed Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Project once again took center stage at the Livingston County Board meeting Thursday night.
The board approved an agreement with Schain Banks Kenny & Schwartz, but not without some controversy. The law firm, which the county has used in the past, reportedly has expertise in wind farms. A few board members questioned the ability of the firm and one of its lawyers who some say supports wind energy.
“Any good land use attorney could do this job,” said board member Judy Campbell.
“We’re trying to present ourselves as neutral and impartial and this doesn’t appear that way,” added board member Kelly Cochran-Cohlman.
Livingston County State’s Attorney Seth Uphoff said the lawyer is simply a referee during the wind hearing process. Livingston County Board Chairman Marty Fannin acknowledged public accusations of the board trying to push things through to accomplish its own agenda.
“We have procedures to follow. Just because we follow those procedures does not mean that we’re an advocate for or against what’s happening,” Fannin said.
The board also approved a professional services agreement with Patrick Engineering to evaluate the wind farm application filed by Invenergy to make sure it complies with county ordinances. The Patrick Engineering report will be submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals and will likely be questioned during the upcoming zoning hearing on the wind farm.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, a handful of wind farm opponents expressed concerns over the law firm being used, wind turbine environmental impacts, decommissioning and the livelihood of the farming community.
In another matter, a cash farm lease with Don Siegel was approved. Siegel will farm the ground surrounding the former Livingston Manor and the Health and Education Building for $301.51 per acre. The cropland totals 213.8 acres and the tenant agrees to pay the county an annual fixed cash rent of $64,462.84. The cash rent is to be paid in semi-annual installments.
Siegel was the highest bidder for the count farm ground. The current tenant declined to renew the lease at the current rate.
The county also approved an extension for the Livingston County Community Healthcare Program, which provides home nursing services to eligible residents. An agreement for professional services with Thomson Reuters was authorized as well. Thomson Reuters will act as the main contractor to scan books and turn them into digital records for the Livingston County Treasurer’s Office. The current books in the courthouse basement are moldy, according to Treasurer Barb Sear.
Also on Thursday, the Livingston County Board:
-Approved an extension agreement with William Bertram as a special public defender.
-Authorized bridge petitions for the Sunbury Road District.
-Approved the Highway Department’s quarterly report for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 14.
PONTIAC – The Pontiac Tourism Department has released tourism statistics for the past week.
The city has counted 894 visitors to the Route 66 Museum Complex and 449 visitors to the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum.
Visitors came from 24 states and 24 countries, including: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
PAXTON – To promote rail safety awareness and education, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office will participate in Illinois Rail Safety Week, coming up Sept. 14-20.
The state, with support from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Operation Lifesaver and the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association, has declared the special week in order to promote vehicle and pedestrian safety around railroad tracks and trains.
In 2013, there were 126 crossing collisions involving motor vehicles throughout Illinois which resulted in 40 injuries and 21 fatalities. Illinois ranked third in the nation during 2013 for both vehicle collision fatalities and trespasser fatalities.
Enforcement details are planned at various railroad grade crossings in Ford County to cite both drivers and pedestrians who disobey the laws associated with railroad grade crossings and railroad property.
“Please remember, not only is it against the law to stop your vehicle on the railroad tracks, it is against the law to stop your vehicle anywhere within the highway-rail grade crossing,” stated the Ford County Sheriff’s Office in a recent news release.
Highway-rail grade crossings are typically marked by white stop lines located on the pavement in advance of the crossing. If not marked by white stop lines, the highway-rail grade crossing extends from one protective gate arm to the other.
For more on Illinois Rail Safety Week, visit: www.illinoisrailsafetyweek.org.
Sammy Basso, an 18-year-old young man from Italy, has always wanted to travel through America on historic Route 66. As part of this dream, Basso will be visiting Pontiac on September 15. For Basso, this dream is more challenging than it would be for most. Sammy is, in all likelihood, the oldest man on the earth who is suffering from a disease that causes premature aging. Although there is no cure for the affliction, generally known as Progeria, this rare genetic disorder typically results in death by the middle teens. Sammy’s case is rare because he has successfully reached his late teens.
Sammy’s trip to the United States is being filmed by a crew from Stand By Me Srl, an Italian production company based in Rome, in partnership with National Geographic Channel, and his entourage will include both of his parents, and his best friend, Riccardo Zanolli. This is a life journey for Sammy and a way for those who meet him to look at life from an unusual perspective. Wherever Sammy goes, he brings out contrasting emotions: curiosity, awareness, interest, empathy, awkwardness, astonishment and most of all great affection. Sammy is aware that he represents a great contradiction but he is unperturbed. He does not sit back disinterested in the world; instead he confronts himself with this reality and never stops seeking to learn and to satisfy his inquisitiveness.”Summer of Sammy” being prepared by Stand By Me and the National Geographic Channel, will capture his abiding exuberance, deep interest in the “Mother Road,” and his insatiable curiosity about America - its places and people.
Sammy’s journey will begin in Chicago at the start of Route 66, and move in stages towards California and the end of his expedition across America. The film documenting his trip will be divided into six episodes. Basso and the film crew will arrive in Pontiac on September 15th. The Vermillion Players will present a special performance for Sammy of their musical revue, On the Road Again: Mother Road, That Is, on Monday, September 15th at the Chautauqua Park Pavilion. Prior to the performance at Chautauqua Park, Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell will present the “Key to the City” and proclaim September 15th as Sammy Basso Day. The special presentation will begin at 8:00 PM and the public is invited to join us in celebrating Sammy and his long-awaited Route 66 Road Trip.
For more information on Sammy Basso’s Route 66 adventure, contact Ellie Alexander at the Pontiac Tourism Office(815) 844-5847.
On 9/04/14, Travis M. Embry, 25, of Bloomington was arrested by members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force and the Bloomington Police Department in connection with two armed robberies that occurred in Bloomington.
The robberies occurred at Risque's, 1506 N. Main Street in Bloomington, and Bloomington Food Mart, 807 S. Main Street Bloomington. On 8/16/14, at approximately 1655 hours, Bloomington Police Officers responded to Bloomington Food Mart, 807 S. Main Street, for an Armed Robbery. The suspect reportedly took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the area on foot.
On 8/17/14, at approximately 2012 hours, Bloomington Police Officers responded to Risque's, 1506 N. Main Street, for an Armed Robbery. It was reported, one of the suspects placed an unknown object against a citizen's throat and demanded money. Two suspects took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the area on foot.
Embry was arrested for two counts of Armed Robbery and one count of Unlawful Restraint. Embry was transported to the McLean County Jail. Request for booking photographs must be made through the McLean County Jail. The investigation is still ongoing.
On 8/20/14, the Bloomington Police Department released a video of the Risque's robbery on the Bloomington Police Department's Facebook page requesting the public's assistance with information regarding the incident. The information generated from the social media release was a major contributing factor leading to the arrest of Embry. The Bloomington Police would like to thank the public for their assistance.
9-5-14 from the Pontiac Police Dept.
ARSON: Labor Day weekend someone started a trash fire at the boat ramp pavilion in Play Park around midnight. The entire pavilion is probably a total loss. If anyone has information, please contact investigations at 815-844-5148.
TRAFFIC CRASHES: We handled 30 crashes last month. August of 2013 we had 21. We have handled 203 crashes to date versus 169 at this point last year. Please slow down and do not drive distracted.
CAR BURGLARIES: Car burglary is one of the easiest means of cash for addicts and criminals. Last month we took 14 reports spanning from the north side to the south side and Bethanny Lane. Unlocked cars are the target of opportunity.
THEFT: Historically it is the most reported crime in the United States. Along with criminal damage to property they continue to dominate Pontiac police reports. Prescription drugs are the most stolen item. Please safeguard controlled prescriptions and use our P2D2 box to discard old, unused prescriptions.
FRAUD: We have seen so many different types of fraud scams. Retail scams include stolen credit/debit cards and retail return of property frauds. Personal frauds include the many phone, mail and email scams. Identity theft is the fastest rising crime. You should check your credit reports regularly. DID YOU KNOW you are entitled to a free credit report once a year from the three main sources? The ONLY place to obtain these risk free is at www.annualcreditreport.com, by phone or mail. More info at the IL AG website.
Peoria, IL – The Illinois State Police (ISP), District 08, will conduct Roadside Safety Checks (RSC) in Tazewell County during the month of September, according to District 08 Commander, Captain Mike Welsh.
The ISP has zero tolerance for impaired driving in Illinois. Officers working this detail will be watchful for drivers who are operating vehicles in an unsafe manner, driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, transporting open alcoholic beverages, or driving under the influence.
Alcohol and drug impairment is a significant factor in over 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois. RSCs are designed to keep our roads safe by taking dangerous DUI offenders off the road.
PONTIAC - Sunday's weather cooperated for the annual Threshermen's Parade through Pontiac. Over 100 entries were featured in this year's event and everyone seemed to enjoy the parade lineup.
A big highlight was a performance from the South Shore Drill Team and the Navy Band.
9-1-14 updated at: 8:30 am
LEROY – A 26-year-old McLean County man was found dead in rural LeRoy early Sunday morning.
McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling says dispatchers received a call of an individual lying on the side of the LeRoy-Lexington Blacktop near 1000 North Road around 2:50 a.m. Upon arriving at the scene, rescue workers found the unresponsive man and transported him to OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington where he was pronounced dead by emergency department staff.
As of Monday morning, the man’s name had not yet been released, as family notification is underway, according to Kimmerling. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Anyone in the area of the LeRoy-Lexington Blacktop between 2 and 4 a.m. Sunday should call McLean County Sheriff’s Department Detective Sara Bernabei at 309-888-4940. The McLean County Sheriff’s Department is assisting the McLean County Coroner’s Office with the death investigation.
The Livingston County Health Department is now taking appointments for Wellness Clinics, which will be conducted at the health department on Wednesdays, September 3rd and 17th. The Wellness Clinic is open to all adults in Livingston County.
Basic Wellness Clinic services include: blood pressure screening, metabolic syndrome screening, and a blood chemistry profile. This profile includes testing for: all cholesterol levels; glucose level; blood count; and liver and kidney function enzymes. The $35 cost for a basic wellness clinic visit includes all lab fees. Lab results are reviewed by a registered nurse at the health department, and sent to participants within one week.
Additional services available through the wellness clinic at additional fees include: PSA (prostate specific antigen) prostate cancer testing for men - $22; Thyroid (TSH) screening - $20; and HbA1c screening for clients with diabetes - $30.
Women participating in the wellness clinic may also receive osteoporosis screening, which is conducted using ultra-sound to measure bone density, for an additional $16. To make an appointment for the wellness clinic call the Livingston County Health Department at 815-844-7174.
PONTIAC – Sylvester Fosdick of Forrest was around when the Threshermen’s Reunion began many years ago and was on hand for this year’s reunion opening ceremony near Pontiac.
The show was organized in 1948 and the first show was in 1949 at Pontiac’s Chautauqua Park. Fosdick recalls four steam engines at the original show where his dad had a Port Huron engine on display. The show later moved to 4-H Park prior to the current location north of town.
“We were limited there. You could only go so far because you couldn’t grow, so they had to move,” he said.
Fosdick’s dad died 30 years ago and he took his place as a director for the reunion – a position he would hold until recently. After 65 years helping with the Labor Day weekend tradition and 30 years as a director, Fosdick decided the step aside.
Fosdick reminds everyone that the Threshermen’s Reunion is all about history. He has some concerns over what may happen down the road if there are no longer “antique” tractors or cars. Everything could be computerized by then, according to Fosdick.
“What’s happening to history? I don’t know.”
If you visit Threshermen’s Park this weekend (the reunion runs through Monday), you will likely see Fosdick in the General Store which has various items for sale and a number of historical documents on display in a museum-like atmosphere.
He says if he’s not in there, he’ll be down by the railroad tracks.
(Above photo shows a steam whistle blowing to mark the start of the 2014 Threshermen's Reunion near Pontiac on Thursday morning 8-28)
8-29-14 Updated at 7:45 a.m.
GRIDLEY – The McLean County Coroner’s Office has released information on a recent death in rural Gridley, which was apparently heat-related.
Ronald Guess, 55, was reportedly found in his driveway and partially underneath his pickup truck on Wednesday (Aug. 27). Preliminary autopsy results indicate Guess had an enlarged heart, severe emphysema and was exposed to extreme outdoor heat. Guess was last seen on Saturday, Aug. 23. Over the course of the next four days, the average daytime temperature in the area was 88. Officials say Guess was outside for 24-36 hours.
The exact cause of death is pending toxicology tests, however there were no signs of blunt force trauma, tire marks or crushing injuries. The McLean County Sheriff’s Department is assisting the McLean County Coroner with the death investigation.
BLOOMINGTON – The men running for U.S. Senate and governor of Illinois addressed the Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable event near Bloomington Wednesday afternoon.
Senate candidate Jim Oberweis said if good legislators are elected, the results are also good. According to Oberweis, Senator Dick Durbin must accept responsibility for being a part of the democratic group in Washington that put many of the current economic policies in place.
“We need to make this an environment where companies want to come here, not vice-versa,” said Oberweis.
Durbin spoke of tax code reform, which is something he wants to see at both the personal and corporate level. He noted the numerous companies leaving our country.
“We need to change our laws to discourage that from happening. There should be no incentives for companies to move overseas,” Durbin told the Illinois Farm Bureau members in attendance.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner expressed support for the agricultural sector which he called the backbone of the Illinois economy. He claims the state is suffering under its current leadership with high taxes, deteriorating schools and decaying infrastructure.
“We have got to invest in our infrastructure and make it world class. Our transportation is critical.”
Rauner also pointed to the state’s agriculture department, which is run by a non-farmer and officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation who he said have little experience.
The republican also raised hiring questions about democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, citing “rampant” patronage hiring inside IDOT.
“His office has not only recommended many of the illegal hires themselves but also they’ve approved every hire.”
Quinn said there are rules in place that he expects others to follow regarding hiring practices. He claims the new IDOT secretary understands those rules. Quinn also spoke about reasonable term limits for statewide officials and the importance of education.
“We can’t afford extreme radical cuts in our schools,” the governor said.
Quinn touted the state’s number one ranking in soybean production last year and said the state’s ag exports are up.
“We have to be exporters-in-chief. That’s my job to make sure we open up markets all over the world for the best agriculture in the world and that’s from Illinois.”
Wednesday’s agricultural roundtable event, sponsored by Illinois Farm Bureau, was held on the Bittner farm just east of Bloomington.