10-1-14 (from the Ford County Sheriff's office)
PAXTON - At approximately 10:28 Monday morning, a Ford County Correctional Officer found an unresponsive male hanging by the neck from a bed sheet during a routine cell check at the Ford County Jail.
The corrections deputy was able to get the inmate down and CPR was immediately started by Ford County staff members. Paramedics from Gibson Area Ambulance and a member of the Paxton Fire Department arrived at the jail and transported the inmate to Carle hospital in Urbana. As of 2:00 p.m., the inmate remained in the critical care unit at Carle hospital.
At this time, the Illinois State Police has been called in by Sheriff Doran to investigate the incident. No further details are available.
PEORIA, IL – Illinois State Police (ISP) District 08 Troopers were joined recently by Troopers from ISP Districts 06, 09, and 14 for Operation Safe Travel.
The operation was geared toward reducing fatalities by enforcing the four most common traffic violations: Speeding; DUI; seat belts; and distracted driving, also known as the Fatal 4. Troopers saturated the area of Interstate 74, specifically focusing on the Morton construction zone area, and participated in a variety of details including speed enforcement, distracted driving, and construction zone details.
Troopers issued a total of 104 citations, with 92 of those being issued for speeding violations. The two highest speeds discovered during Operation Safe Travel were 104 mph and 120 mph in a 55 mph zone. Both of these violations were committed on Interstate 74 eastbound at Gale Avenue. Both offenders were driving motorcycles.
In addition to enforcing the Fatal 4 violations, Troopers also kept a close watch for motorists violating the Illinois Move Over law (also known as Scott’s Law). The law states upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency or maintenance vehicle displaying flashing lights, that the motorist must yield the right of way by changing lanes. If the motorist is unable to change lanes or on a two lane road, they must reduce their speed and proceed with due caution.
Vocal opponents of the proposed Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Project packed into the Prairie Central High School Media Center during the September meeting of the P.C. Board of Education.
The large audience was on hand to hear the board’s approach to the wind farm proposal, even though board members decided not to publicly take a stance on the issue at this time.
“The board really just kind of weighs in symbolically,” Prairie Central Superintendent Dr. John Capasso explained at the start of the meeting.
Some Illinois State University professors of renewable energy were invited to talk to the board about wind farm economics. Dr. David Loomis is an economics professor and director of the ISU Center for Renewable Energy. Technical assistant Matt Aldeman is the lead author of a report on wind farm implications for school district revenue.
According to Loomis, existing wind farms have an economic impact in Illinois with about $13 million annually in payments to landowners. He said the fair cash value for a utility-scale wind turbine in Illinois is $360,000 per megawatt of capacity and is annually adjusted for inflation and depreciation. Aldeman said the net effect of a wind farm is a large increase in revenue for the school district.
“As equalized assessed value in a district goes up, general state aid goes down,” he said. “If you install something that increases the EAV, the general state aid is not impacted for two years after that.”
Aldeman used the Ridgeview School District as an example of a district within a wind farm. Ridgeview’s property tax revenue did not jump up immediately as it took a while to build the Twin Groves Wind Farm in McLean County. The school saw tax revenue of $380,816 in 2008-2009 and $1,848,404 by the 2010-2011 school year.
He admitted there is an overall dip in revenue the year after a wind farm is decommissioned.
Several issues were brought up by audience members during the almost three-hour discussion such as the negative impacts of wind farms, job creation and health implications to the district. Members of the public would often cross-examine the presenters and broke out into rounds of applause when they agreed with certain comments. Many pleaded with the board to take some sort of stance on the wind farm.
“Our biggest concern is children’s health,” stated board member Mark Slagel to a loud ovation from the audience. “That’s my number one concern as a school board member, the health of our students.”
Board member Barbara Schlatter thanked the speakers for attending the meeting and reminded everyone that the two did not come to present information on local health concerns and other issues.
“You’ve done a fine job pointing out the financial implications of what a wind farm does for a school district.”
Fellow board member Jeffrey Austman said the board is not trained to answer some of the questions presented at the meeting.
“The economic benefit for the EAV raising – that’s what we’re qualified to comment on.”
“The short term financial gain definitely appears to be there,” stated board member Corey Steffen, who admitted he had questions beyond that.
Board member Jason Dotterer agreed with the potential financial benefits to the district but wishes the county could address some other concerns surrounding the proposal.
“Ultimately, this is a county board decision.”
Members Ann Steidinger and Patricia Haberkorn also said they have questions which still need to be answered before taking a stance.
“I am not convinced that it is the school board’s role to take a stand on this,” explained Haberkorn, who serves as the school board president.
Superintendent Capasso noted the district’s responsibility to teach kids about energy, as the board has already authorized a small turbine for the district.
“Maybe this is an opportunity to practice what we have already committed ourselves to,” he said.
Capasso pointed to future budgetary challenges and said it is very difficult to dismiss an opportunity such as this. He said schools around Prairie Central are benefiting from wind farms.
PONTIAC - The trial for a woman charged with murder and endangering the life and health of a child will continue in Livingston County Monday morning.
Heather Lamie was charged in connection with the death of four-year-old Kianna Rudesill who reportedly died of blunt force head trauma in May 2011. The young girl died the next day at a Peoria hospital. Lamie, who was Kianna's foster mother, initially called an ambulance for a child suffering from seizure symptoms.
During testimony last week, experts said several bruises were discovered on the child which were consistent with something striking the elbow. A forensic pathologist said the location of the bruises resembled inflicted injury. A counselor and teacher testified they noticed injuries on Kianna.
One of Pontiac’s most important Route 66 heritage sites has recently been given an exciting new element.
The old Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters, located south of town along Historic Route 66, now has an interpretive statue and a corresponding wayside story panel celebrating the motorcycle patrolmen who served to enforce laws and protect travelers along the Mother Road. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway coordinated the project, which was funded through grants from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byway Program and the Illinois Office of Tourism. The iron silhouette of a mounted patrolman is one of nine cut-out statues being added to selected locations along the road in Illinois.
Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, explained the significance of this latest series of interpretive exhibits along Illinois Route 66. “Statues tell the story of The Road in a way that is unique and unexpected by visitors. They also serve as a fun photo opportunity”, said Kelly. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway in the past has also worked with community partners to develop a series of 31 wayside exhibits and 14 experience hubs that have already been installed for the enhancement of the Route 66 experience for the traveler.
Pontiac has 4 other Route 66-related sites that have wayside exhibits. It is also one of the 14 locations selected to serve as an “experience hub.” According to Ellie Alexander, Director of Pontiac Tourism, “The new iron statue really makes an impression as you drive along old Route 66. You can see the cut-out looming on the horizon and if travelers stop to read the two wayside exhibit storyboards located at the old ISP HQ, they will learn a great deal about the history of policing along the road.” The District 6 HQ, which was built in 1942, was closed in 2003. It is unique for several reasons: it was designed in the shape of a handgun (when viewed from above), and it was one of the very few State Police facilities that was actually built right on US. Route 66 in Illinois.
9-26-14 (from McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling's office)
Shortly after 1500 hours on Tuesday, September 23rd 2014, MetCom received a 911 call in reference to a two vehicle crash at the intersection of US 51 and 100 North Road just south of Heyworth, Illinois (IL).
Heyworth Ambulance, the Randolph Township Fire Department, the Bloomington Fire Department and the Illinois State Police all responded. Upon their arrival, rescue personnel found two occupants in the westbound automobile and two occupants in the southbound pick-up truck in need of emergent care and transported these patients to area hospitals.
At 0015 hours on the morning of Wednesday, September 24th 2014, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center requested the Coroner’s Office to its ICU where 15 year old Andrew J. ‘AJ’ Hanlin succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by hospital staff at 0002 hours. The Coroner and Deputy Jason Hospelhorn responded to the hospital where it was learned that AJ had been a belted front seat passenger in the westbound automobile when it was struck by the southbound pick-up truck.
AJ was transported to the McLean County Morgue for purpose of an autopsy exam which took place earlier today. Preliminary results indicate that AJ died as a result of closed head injuries sustained in this two vehicle crash. Forensic toxicology tests have been ordered.
The Illinois State Police is assisting this office with Accident Reconstruction of the incident and initial findings are pending further investigation. AJ was a freshman at Heyworth High School who loved farming and baseball.
>09-14 a deputy mediated a property exchange in rural Paxton.
>09-15 a commercial burglar alarm was reported at the Vermilion Valley Bank in Roberts. The alarm was a malfunction.
>09-15 a residential burglar alarm was received in rural Paxton.
>09-16 a complaint was received of vicious dogs at large in Guthrie.
>09-16 a complaint of theft from a residence was received in rural Paxton.
>09-17 a report of a prowler in Roberts was received.
>09-18 a reckless driver was reported in rural Paxton.
>09-18 a deputy responded to a disturbance at the grocery store in Piper City.
>09-19 criminal damage to a vehicle was reported in Clarence.
>09-19 a report of criminal damage to property was taken in Kempton.
>09-20 a Roberts resident reported receiving several telephone calls that he recognized as scams.
During the week deputies handled 1 civil matter and issued 11 traffic citations.
>09-17 Anna King of rural Clarence was arrested on an arrest warrant from McLean County.
>09-20 Jacqueline Freehill of Gibson City was arrested following a traffic stop south of Elliott. She was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Possession of Cannabis and was also issued a citation for speeding.
The Livingston County Public Health Department is now taking appointments for Wellness Clinics, which will be conducted at the health department on Wednesdays, October 1st, 15th and 29th. 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.
To make an appointment for the wellness clinic call the Livingston County Health Department at 815-844-7174.
PONTIAC - The Pontiac Police Department has announced the hiring of Johnathan Marion, 27 from Chebanse.
His start date was September 16, 2014. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State Univeristy. He will begin his duties at the Illinois State Police Academy for 12 weeks followed by 16 weeks of field training.
"Welcome to Pontiac John and best wishes on your upcoming challenges," a recent statement from Pontiac Police said.
9-22-14 (from McLean Co. Coroner Beth Kimmerling)
In less than a ten day span, there have been two McLean County deaths related to thermal burns as a result of smoking while on home oxygen.
On September 5th 2014, Gerald Peterlin, age 75, last of El Paso, Illinois (IL) was pronounced deceased at 1955 hours at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. The McLean County Coroner’s Office (MCCO) was notified and responded. Due to the circumstances surrounding Mr. Peterlin’s death, he was transported to MCCO for purpose of an autopsy exam.
The preliminary findings of that exam are pending further histological (tissue) studies; however thermal burn injuries to the face are contributing factors to his death. Mr. Peterlin was a hospice patient living at home with his wife and utilizing a nasal cannula for oxygen treatment when he lit a cigarette and created a fire that was contained to his face.
On September 14th 2014, Patricia Yohn, age 58, last of 202 West Locust in Bloomington was pronounced deceased at 1005 hours at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. The McLean County Coroner’s Office was notified and responded. Due to the circumstances surrounding Patricia’s death, she was transported to MCCO for purpose of an autopsy exam.
The preliminary findings of Ms. Yohn’s death are pending further toxicology studies; however she too had thermal injuries of the face, airway and lungs that contributed to her death. Patricia was living at Phoenix Towers and utilizing a nasal cannula for oxygen treatment when she lit a cigarette and caused a fire that was contained to her face.
Coroner Kimmerling would like to take this opportunity to remind people that smoking in an oxygen rich environment is a safety hazard—not the only to the smoker but to the other individuals in the residence as well. Please follow the fire safety and use of home oxygen guidelines that should have been given to you by the organization responsible for your health care. Thank you.
LEROY - The McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office is not pursuing any charges against the driver of a vehicle that struck a man near LeRoy last month.
Blaine Umstattd was struck by the vehicle on 2600 East Road near LeRoy between 2:45 and 3:00 a.m. Aug. 31. Officials say Umstattd had been consuming alcohol with another person during the evening of Aug. 30 into the early morning hours the next day. He reportedly walked on the roadway in the dark after getting into an argument with his companion. According to authorities, Umstattd was dressed in a black shirt and jeans.
After being alone and walking on the road, Umstattd was laying on the road when another driver saw something on the side of the road and stopped, on the opposite side of the road, to call police. At that time, a second vehicle drove past in the other direction on the same side of the road Umstattd was laying on and the side of the second vehicle struck him.
McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers says the second driver did not see Umstattd on the road and there is no indication the vehicle was operated in any manner which would be construed as reckless.
“The investigation performed by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department and the McLean County Coroner indicates that because of the position of Mr. Umstattd and where he was struck by the vehicle, although the driver may have believed they hit an object, there is no evidence showing they were aware or should have been aware they had struck a person laying barely on the roadway,” said Chambers in a prepared statement released to the media on Tuesday.
During Tuesday’s McLean County Board meeting, County Administrator William Wasson submitted his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which will be available for public review and comment.
The appropriate oversight committees will review the recommended budget along with the five year capital improvement budget and the 2014 combined property tax levy. The recommended budget for all funds totals $89,086,335 which is a seven percent increase from the Fiscal Year 2014 adopted budget. Impacts for the overall increase include purchasing new telephone systems for ETSB, an increase in mental health funding and the extension of Towanda-Barnes Road to Raab Road.
According to Wasson, the budget process is based upon equalized assessed valuation growing by 1.78 percent from the previous year for 2014 taxes payable in 2015. Farmland values continue to show strength, but they represent only slightly more than seven percent of the county’s total valuation. Also, residential and commercial construction has begun to reappear after an almost two-year standstill.
In other matters, the McLean County Board:
-Granted a request for an emergency appropriation amending the budget to accept a grant for the coroner’s office from the McLean County Funeral Director’s Association.
-Approved an agreement to re-organize the workforce area with federal grants.
-Authorized an agreement between the McLean County Sheriff’s Department and ISU Police for extra patrols during ISU home football games to assist with crowd control.
-Proclaimed October “Community Planning Month.”
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.
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.
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.
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.