News

Southern Illinois – THE PROPOSED FEE STRUCTURE FOR THE SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST IS DRAWING PLENTY OF CRITICISM.

SAM STEARNS - PUBLIC EDUCATION COORDINATOR FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE BELL SMITH SPRINGS LANDMARK - SAYS HE DOESN'T MIND PAYING A FEE FOR A PRODUCT OR A SERVICE. BUT HE SAYS THE FOREST SERVICE SHOULD NOT BE CHARGING A FIVE DOLLAR FEE FOR PEOPLE TO ACCESS PUBLIC LAND FOR SUCH THINGS AS TAKING A HIKE OR GOING TO A PICNIC.

Taylorville, IL – The Green Party candidate seeking to unseat Republican Congressman John Shimkus died unexpectedly Friday night.

75-year-old Vic Roberts passed away in his sleep.

Green Party spokesperson Rich Whitney said Roberts' death came as a shock. Whitney said the former coal miner will be missed as a strong advocate for the working man.

Roberts had run previously as a Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional district before running unopposed in the Green Party primary this year.

Springfield, IL – If Illinois Senator Barack Obama were to be elected president, who would replace him in the Senate?

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn believes it is better to wait and see what happens in November, rather than speculating early on potential replacements.

Illinois law dictates that should a senator resign his position, his or her replacement will be chosen by the governor. Governor Rod Blagojevich isn't directly endorsing anyone at this time, but there are some potential shortlist names.

Washington, D.C. – THE FBI IS WARNING PEOPLE OF A SCAM INVOLVING JURY DUTY.

AUTHORITIES SAY THE CALLER CLAIMS TO BE A
JURY COORDINATOR.

HE SAYS YOU FAILED TO REPORT FOR JURY DUTY AND THAT A WARRANT IS OUT FOR YOUR ARREST. YOU SAY YOU NEVER RECEIVED A NOTICE. TO CLEAR IT UP, THE CALLER SAYS HE'LL NEED SOME INFORMATION FOR "VERIFICATION PURPOSES"-YOUR BIRTH DATE, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, MAYBE EVEN A CREDIT CARD NUMBER.

THE FBI SAYS THAT'S WHEN YOU SHOULD HANG UP THE PHONE BECAUSE IT'S A SCAM.

Springfield, IL – STATE GOVERNMENT'S LARGEST WORKERS' UNION IS STARTING TO USE THE TERM STRIKE.

AFSCME SPOKESPERSON ANDERS LINDALL SAYS THE TEMPERATURE OF 37,000 MEMBERS WHO WORK FOR THE STATE IS BEING TAKEN BY PLEDGE CARDS, WHICH ASK IF MEMBERS ARE WILLING TO GO ON STRIKE, AMONG OTHER POSSIBILITIES.

Springfield, IL – ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS WILL HAVE TO COUGH UP $80,000 OR MORE TO PAY FOR STATE LAWMAKERS' RETURN TO SPRINGFIELD THIS WEEK.

GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH CALLED A SPECIAL SESSION FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY TO DEAL WITH WHAT HE SAYS IS AN OUT-OF-BALANCE STATE BUDGET. HE WANTS LEGISLATORS TO APPROVE NEW REVENUE STREAMS TO SUPPORT THEIR SPENDING PLANS.

EACH LEGISLATOR IS ENTITLED TO $129 A DAY FOR LODGING AND MEALS TOTALING ABOUT $45,000. THEY GET $0.50 A MILE FOR USING PERSONAL CARS. THAT COULD COST NEARLY $30,000.

Springfield, IL – ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH IS LOOKING TO LAWMAKERS TO HELP HIM OUT OF A FISCAL BIND. BUT THERE'S NO INDICATION THEY'LL COOPERATE.

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVED A BUDGET IN MAY.... BUT THE HOUSE NEVER CAME THROUGH WITH ALL THE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT. THAT'S FORCED BLAGOJEVICH TO CONSIDER MORE THAN ONE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS IN SPENDING CUTS UNLESS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES MORE FUNDING.

Springfield, IL – A GOOD CHUNK OF THE DAY'S TALK LATELY HAS BEEN ABOUT RISING GAS PRICES, BUT A SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN THINK WE'LL SEE WORSE.

COLLINSVILLE REPUBLICAN JOHN SHIMKUS SAYS RISING ENERGY COSTS WILL AGAIN HIT CONSUMERS HARD THIS WINTER, WHEN HE EXPECTS NATURAL GAS PRICES TO JUMP.

SHIMKUS SAYS THAT'S WHY THE U-S MUST DEDICATE MORE RESOURCES TO ALTERNATIVE LIQUID ENERGY SOURCES OTHER THAN ETHANOL.

Belleville, IL – ILLINOIS IS ONE OF SIX STATES THAT WILL PARTICIPATE IN A NEW NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PILOT PROGRAM.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SPOKESWOMAN ANDREA PRESTON SAYS THE DIFFERENTIATED ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM WILL GIVE SCHOOLS FLEXIBILITY IN MEETING FEDERAL GUIDELINES, WHICH ARE OFTEN CRITICIZED AS TOO RIGID.

THE PROGRAM ALLOWS STATES TO SEPARATE UNDERPERFORMING SCHOOLS INTO CATEGORIES.

``COMPREHENSIVE'' SCHOOLS UNIFORMLY UNDERPERFORM WHILE IN ``FOCUSED'' SCHOOLS, SELECT GROUPS OR PROGRAMS NEED IMPROVEMENT.

Murphysboro, IL – MURPHYSBORO POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A RASH OF AIR CONDITIONER THEFTS.

POLICE SAY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, SIX A-C UNITS HAVE BEEN STOLEN FROM HOMES. THEY SAY DUE TO THE RISING COST OF SCRAP METAL, THIEVES ARE STEALING THE UNITS AND DISMANTLING THEM TO SELL THE ALUMINUM AND COPPER.

Springfield, IL – LAWMAKERS ARE BEING ORDERED BACK TO SPRINGFIELD NEXT WEEK FOR A TWO-DAY SPECIAL SESSION AIMED AT BRINGING MORE MONEY INTO STATE COFFERS. BUT MANY PEOPLE EXPECT THE SAME OLD BICKERING TO CONTINUE, WITH NO SOLUTION TO A BUDGET DEFICIT.

FOR EXAMPLE, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN JOHN SHIMKUS THINKS THE GRIDLOCK MAY BE BROKEN ONLY WITH A LAWSUIT BY LAWMAKERS OR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THAT CHALLENGES THE GOVERNOR'S AUTHORITY TO SPEND MONEY WITHOUT LAWMAKERS' APPROVAL.

Chicago, IL – GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH SAYS HE'S NOT A TARGET OF THE FEDERAL INVESTIGATION THAT BROUGHT DOWN ONE OF HIS FORMER TOP FUNDRAISERS AS PART OF A PROBE INTO POLITICAL CORRUPTION IN ILLINOIS.

BLAGOJEVICH CALLED IT ``RIDICULOUS'' TO ASK IF HE WAS A TARGET. HIS COMMENTS CAME DURING A TENSE EXCHANGE WITH REPORTERS FOLLOWING AN UNRELATED NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY IN CHICAGO.

WITNESSES IN THE FEDERAL TRIAL OF TONY REZKO DESCRIBED CONVERSATIONS IN WHICH BLAGOJEVICH SUGGESTED FAVORS IN EXCHANGE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS.

Chicago, IL – IF JESSE WHITE HAS HIS WAY, HE'LL SERVE A RECORD FOURTH TERM AS ILLINOIS' SECRETARY OF STATE.

WHITE SAYS HE HAS NO OTHER INTEREST POLITICALLY THAN TO CONTINUE IN HIS PRESENT JOB AND SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2010. HE SAYS HE'D BE PROUD TO COMPLETE AT LEAST 16 YEARS AS SECRETARY OF STATE.

WHITE IS 74 NOW AND WOULD TURN 80 IN WHAT WOULD BE THE FINAL YEAR OF A FOURTH FOUR-YEAR TERM.

THE CHICAGO DEMOCRAT WON HIS LAST GENERAL ELECTION IN 2006 WITH ALMOST 1 MILLION VOTES MORE THAN HIS REPUBLICAN OPPONENT.

St. Louis, MO – FLOODWATERS ARE RECEDING, BUT THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER REMAINS WAY TOO HIGH FOR RECREATIONAL BOATERS.

THE COAST GUARD TODAY PUT OUT A REMINDER THAT THE RIVER REMAINS CLOSED TO RECREATIONAL VESSELS BETWEEN CANTON, MISSOURI, AND SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY. THE REMINDER COMES AS THE INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY APPROACHES, OFTEN A BUSY TIME FOR BOATS ON THE RIVER.

RECREATIONAL VESSELS ARE ALSO OFF LIMITS ON 24 MILES OF THE ILLINOIS RIVER AND 21 MILES OF THE KASKASKIA RIVER.

Springfield, IL – THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE INJURED BY FIREWORKS WAS DOWN IN 2007 IN ILLINOIS...AND THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL IS HOPING TO REDUCE THAT FIGURE EVEN FURTHER THIS YEAR.

HOSPITALS REPORTED ABOUT 120 PEOPLE HURT BY FIREWORKS OVER THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY LAST YEAR...LESS THAN IN PREVIOUS YEARS.

FIRE MARSHAL SPOKESPERSON JANUARI SMITH SAYS THEY'D LIKE TO SEE THAT TREND CONTINUE...SINCE FIREWORKS ACCIDENTS CAN BE SERIOUS.

Carbondale, IL – THE BUCKMINSTER FULLER DOME HOME IN CARBONDALE IS GETTING A NEW ROOF.

CORNELIUS CRANE IS PRESIDENT OF R-B-F DOME, THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT OWNER OF THE HOME. HE SAYS A CINCINNATI-BASED GLOBE MANUFACTURER...WORLD F-X...IS BUILT THE CUSTOM FIT COVER. HE SAYS VOLUNTEERS HOPE TO ATTACH THE NEW ROOF SUNDAY AND MONDAY.

CRANE SAYS R-B-F DOME IS CONDUCTING A FUNDRAISER THIS MONTH TO TRY AND RAISE 15-THOUSAND DOLLARS TO PAY FOR THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT GROUP'S ANNUAL EXPENSES OF KEEPING ITS RESTORATION MOVING FORWARD.

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