Illinois Budget 7.29.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Video of the Week: Demolition Derby.

Front page gallery for July 29.


Derby team drops smoke breaks for fitness routine

ROCKFORD – Being a member of the Rockford Rage roller derby team used to be about getting out, doing a little bumping and looking as good as possible in fishnets. Warmups were whatever you did on your own. Practices were punctuated by frequent smoke breaks. It’s a far cry from the organized dynamic stretching, calisthenics and plyometrics — with not a cigarette pack in sight — that now dominate the first 30 to 40 minutes of the Rage’s three-times-a-week practices. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

QUINN-RENEWABLE ENERGY: Gov. Pat Quinn has scheduled a bill signing in Chicago today, apparently on a Sen. Dave Koehler-pushed bill that gives the Illinois Finance Authority an extra $300 million in bonding authority for renewable energy and clean coal projects. Koehler says a couple of Peoria-area companies, Firefly Energy and a biofuel plant, are in good position to benefit from the measure, but companies that want a piece of the money will have to make a proposal to the IFA, which will make the final call. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.

Quincy fights move of postal jobs to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – Quincy is fighting. Springfield is watching. The U.S. Postal Service is expected to get study results in about a month on the feasibility of relocating pieces of the Quincy postal operation to the main post office in Springfield. The postal service is looking nationwide at consolidation of branches and processing operations after reporting a loss of $2.8 billion for the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.


Every bend offers views of Chillicothe couple's handiwork along the river

CHILLICOTHE – It's nearly impossible to decide which view is best at the Chillicothe riverside home and gardens of Michael "Doc" Higgins and Lynette Schurtz. The scorecard includes virtually every turn of the head. During a recent evening, a seaplane did two touch-and-go landings on the river. Several boats trolling for Asian carp sailed by with harpoons at the ready, and a silent contingent of kayaks cut through the water. By Clare Howard of the Peoria Journal Star.

Teen finds relaxation in baking

PEORIA – Abby Swanson goes to the kitchen to relax. There, in the rhythm of sifting and measuring, mixing and pouring, the 18-year-old finds peace. Born visually impaired and with some slight motor problems, Swanson is independent and equal in the kitchen - perhaps even a bit superior to her peers with her coveted chocolate chip cookies. Abby, who will be a freshman at Illinois Central College this fall, plans to be an elementary teacher, but, for now, she's fine-tuning her culinary skills through her own little bakery, The Lollipop Guild Confectionary. By Jennifer Davis of the Peoria Journal Star.

Woman with cancer walking to medicine man in Colorado

GALESBURG – Tawny Shepherd had a simple answer when asked if the first part of her 1,200-mile walk from Michigan to Colorado has left her tired and worn out. She said it could be worse. And she should know. Shepherd was bedridden for about two years with Stage 4 breast cancer until April, when she took the first two steps that led to her trek. She is traveling from Burlington, Mich., to Burlington, Colo., hoping to cure her condition. By Marco Santana of the Galesburg Register-Mail.

Cutbacks could block a road to citizenship

ROCKFORD – Rock Valley College’s citizenship program is facing possible cuts and is at the mercy of the state’s economy. The program runs on $110,055 in state grant money. Without that nonprofit program, people seeking citizenship could be without the necessary tools and support to pass their naturalization test, which costs $675, paid to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. By Betsy López Fritscher and Cathy Bayer of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Are local citizenship programs in danger of losing state funding?

Lighten up with sangria

Sangria – inexpensive wine plus other ingredients such as fruit juice, fresh fruit, liquor (rum, triple sec, schnapps), sparkling wine, simple syrup or lemon-lime soda – is a casual beverage, suitable for large groups and outdoor dining, and can be made without a lot of fuss. By Kathryn Rem of the State Journal-Register.

Kathryn Rem: This was one strange pantry

The first clue that this cooking contest would be unusual was the name: Mystery Bag.


BRITT: Toon on beers at the White House.

Dave Bakke: Retirement not in cards for 90-year-old drug store employee

MOUNT STERLING – Raymond Bullard gets up every morning and goes to work. That is not exactly scintillating stuff, but it gets more interesting when we learn two important things about Raymond: He is 90 years old, and he has worked at the drug store in Mount Sterling for 62 years.

Editorial: Texting, driving don’t mix

It isn’t often that Illinois lawmakers look like geniuses. But by passing a ban last session on texting while driving, they do. A study was released Tuesday by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showing the collision risk of texting drivers was 23 times greater than when not texting. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Wanted: Transparency, technology in appeals courts

On June 30, Illinois' 3rd District Appellate Court cut Dione Alexander's prison sentence for firing a gun multiple times inside Woodruff High School from 24 years to six. That news made its way into the public eye within a few days, no thanks to the way the state's appellate courts publicize their business - or, rather, don't. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Survey says U of I may not really be sorry

The University of Illinois, on the defensive over stories showing that students with political connections got admitted even when they weren't qualified, is asking for help from its alumni to decide how to weather the storm. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: The poorest of public policy

The brilliance of our state policy makers is never understated. Our most recent example is the decision to invade local communities with video poker machines at bars, truck stops, restaurants that serve alcohol and fraternal clubs. An editorial from the Freeport Journal-Standard.


No stories planned for today.