BC-IL--Illinois News Digest, IL


Associated Press

Posted on April 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The supervisor is Tammy Webber, followed by Herb McCann.

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SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of state employees that have recently gained union membership could be stripped of it under a law signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. He approved a measure that allows the governor to deny collective bargaining rights for up to 3,580 managers and supervisors. The traditionally pro-labor Quinn has supported the idea, sponsored by fellow Democrats, since it got House approval in 2011 — while at the same time excoriating his Wisconsin Republican counterpart for pushing through a law that rolled back union bargaining rights. By John O'Connor.


ST. LOUIS — Blessed with natural resources but never enough jobs, southern Illinois counties have begun sampling the fruits of a land rush linked to a debated drilling practice speculators believe can tap elusive oil and natural gas thousands of feet underground. Locals believe the best is yet to come. But, as lawmakers in Springfield argue over potentially ground-breaking regulations that would facilitate the so-called practice of 'fracking," it's difficult to determine how much of the region stands to benefit. Industry officials say at least 17 counties — perhaps a sixth of the state — could see some activity, and that landowners already have leased perhaps half a million acres. By Jim Suhr.

AP Photos CX101-103.


CHICAGO — Roger Ebert started out as an old-school newspaper man, the kind that has all but vanished: a fierce competitor who spent the day trying to scoop the competition and the night bellied up to the bar swapping stories. Then newspapers fell on hard times, either laying off huge chunks of their staffs or disappearing altogether. But Ebert didn't merely survive. He flourished, largely by embracing television and later the Internet and social networks. As the American news media and even the landscape of his beloved Chicago changed, Ebert evolved, too, gliding seamlessly from one medium to the next and helping to blaze a path forward for the beleaguered industry he loved. By Don Babwin.

AP Photos NYET833, NYET835, NYET849, NY109.


—EBERT-URBANA HOME, from URBANA: Michael Esteves says owning the house where Roger Ebert grew up means getting used to guests dropping by for a look. Including Roger Ebert.


WADSWORTH — A school bus carrying children to their elementary school Friday morning crashed into a Jeep, spun around and then hit another vehicle before flipping onto its side, killing one adult and sending dozens of children to hospitals, authorities said. All 35 people aboard the bus survived the crash that happened around 8 a.m. in Wadsworth, 45 miles north of Chicago, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran Jr. said. Authorities said the driver of a Jeep Wrangler that collided with the bus died of traumatic injuries. Although authorities at first said the bus driver may have run a red light, they said later that witnesses gave conflicting accounts and it was not yet clear who was at fault. By Jason Keyser and Regina Garcia Cano.

AP Photos CX104-105, ILWAU501-504, ILARL101-105, ILJP101-110, WIKEN101-102.


ROCKFORD — A northern Illinois woman who admitted leaving a newborn daughter to freeze to death along a rural roadway in 2004 was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison. Katie Stockton, 32, faced up to 60 years in prison for the death of the infant, who became known as Baby Crystal around the Rock River Valley after her frozen remains were found. Winnebago County prosecutors dropped 11 remaining murder charges in exchange for her guilty plea in February to a single count of first-degree murder. Before handing down the sentence, Winnebago County Judge John Truitt allowed testimony about skeletal remains of two other infants found years later in the trunk of Stockton's car.

AP Photo ILROR501.


CHAMPAIGN — Caterpillar Inc. announced it will lay off more than 460 employees at its plant in Decatur, part of what the heavy equipment-maker says is an ongoing effort to deal with a slump in the mining business. The news adds to tough times in the Decatur area. The town's 13.7 percent unemployment rate in February was the highest of any metro area in the state. Peoria-based Caterpillar said in a statement the employees will lose their jobs in June. The layoffs, which hit production workers at the plant that makes huge mining trucks, are permanent. The company has used short-term layoffs and temporary cutbacks at many plants that make products for the mining business this year. By David Mercer

AP Photo CX106.


ST. LOUIS — A financially struggling operator of more than 2,000 U.S. portrait studios in locations such as Wal-Mart and Sears stores has abruptly shuttered those outlets, leaving some laid-off workers scrambling — without pay — to make good on customers' orders. St. Louis-based CPI Corp., called Thursday's announcement "sad" in a two-paragraph statement on its website, insisted it was trying to fulfill as many orders as possible and urged customers with questions to contact their local store. It was not immediately clear how many employees were affected. CPI's website as of Friday was purged of everything but the statement. By Jim Suhr.


NEW YORK — Kraft Foods CEO Tony Vernon got a big pay bump last year after rising to the top spot as part of the Illinois-based company's split with its global snack business. Vernon was given a pay package worth $6.8 million in 2012, according to a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's up 49 percent from $4.6 million the previous year. The 57-year-old executive had been serving as the head of the North American unit of Kraft's predecessor company when CEO Irene Rosenfeld announced the split. The parent company, which is still headed by Rosenfeld, took on the name Mondelez and kept international brands such as Oreo and Cadbury. The other company held onto the Kraft name and North American grocery brands, such as Oscar Mayer Miracle Whip and Jell-O. By Candice Choi.


UNDATED — Chicago-based Boeing put its 787 battery fix through a "final" flight test and will soon submit the data to regulators, who the aircraft maker hopes will sign off on the new battery system and allow the 787 back in the air. The 787 Dreamliner has been grounded since mid-January because of smoldering batteries that, in one case, caused a serious fire on the tarmac in Boston. Boeing's fix includes more heat insulation and a battery box designed so that any meltdown of the lithium-ion battery will vent hot gases outside of the plane. By Joshua Freed.


—QUINN-MEXICO, from SPRINGFIELD: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a "Sister Lake" agreement involving Lake Michigan with a Mexican governor to improve recreational and commercial uses of bodies of water in both states.

—U OF ILLINOIS-STRIKE, from CHAMPAIGN: Members of the Service Employees International Union have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a contract with the University of Illinois that ended a strike by building and food service workers.

—ANNA-FATAL FIRE, from CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO.: Authorities say smoke inhalation likely killed a 71-year-old man during a house fire in the southern Illinois community of Anna.

—COLLEGE CIVILITY, from LINCOLN: Tina Nutt has a request for the students at Lincoln College in central Illinois: Be nice. Please.

—MUSEUM EXHIBIT-MODERN MASTERS, from CHICAGO: Original works by some of the world's best-known modern artists are now on display at a suburban Chicago museum.

—CREDIT CARD THEFT, from CINCINNATI: Southwest Ohio authorities say three men from Illinois and Indiana have been charged in an alleged multi-state credit card theft operation that stretched into China and cost banks more than $150,000.

—ILLINOIS STATE-PRESIDENT, from NORMAL: Illinois State University plans to interview candidates next week to replace President Al Bowman.

—PLANE GROPING CHARGES, from CHICAGO: A federal judge has denied a new trial for a suburban Chicago business traveler convicted of groping a female passenger during an airline flight while she slept next to him.



CHICAGO — After the Chicago White Sox battled back to tie the game at six apiece, the Seattle Mariners scored two in the top of the 10th inning to take the lead again and went on to a 8-7 victory. By Jay Cohen.

AP Photos.


ATLANTA — Justin Upton hit his third homer in four games and Mike Minor pitched into the eighth inning to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1. Juan Francisco had a two-run single and Minor (1-0) won his first start of the season, allowing one run and five hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked none and struck out seven. After Eric O'Flaherty got the last two outs in the eighth, Craig Kimbrel earned his second save by retiring Luis Valbuena on a groundout, striking out pinch-hitter David DeJesus and getting Starlin Castro to fly out. By George Henry.

AP Photos GABD117-123.


CHICAGO — Nate Robinson scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Luol Deng finished with 19 after a slow start, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 87-86. Robinson, who scored the go-ahead basket the previous night in a two-point win at Brooklyn, came up big down the stretch, offsetting a 27-point performance by Orlando's Beno Udrih. He scored nine points during a 15-4 run that turned a five-point deficit into an 87-78 lead. By Andrew Seligman.

AP Photos CXA101-103.


CHICAGO — Fans of the lovable losers have something to look forward to, after all. The city of Chicago and the Ricketts family that owns the Chicago Cubs are close to agreement on a $500 million overhaul of Wrigley Field, two people with knowledge of the negotiations said Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal, first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, was not yet finished and they were not authorized to publicly discuss it. The agreement is expected to include $300 million in renovations at Wrigley, more night games, a parking lot and a $200 million hotel nearby. By Don Babwin.

AP Photos CX109-111.



QUINCY — Walter Reed's matter-of-fact tone did not seem to provide his soft-spoken proclamation its proper justice. "I am a dying breed, a Holocaust survivor," he said. Reed, who lives in Wilmette, Ill., was addressing a hushed luncheon crowd of about 100 at the Downtown Rotary Club on Tuesday (March 26). The 89-year-old is active in Rotary International and a member of the Speakers Committee of the Illinois Holocaust Education Foundation. Reed told the crowd of the "heroes" from both within Germany and neighboring countries who helped thousands of Jewish children escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. At one point, the soft-spoken Reed referred to the Gestapo, which served as Hitler's brutal secret police, as "those bastards." By Steve Eighinger. Quincy Herald-Whig.

AP Photo ILqhw301.


BLOOMINGTON — From the outside, City Hall looks much like it did when it was built - a modern reflection of the idea of open government - but the guts of the building at 109 E. Olive St. in Bloomington have shifted and changed as the city has grown. "This building goes back to 1963, so your council went from four to nine, there were no computers, but this building still works," said Bloomington City Clerk Tracey Covert. Fifty years ago this month, the city moved offices from 110 E. Monroe St. into the current City Hall. At that time, the building was big enough, and government small enough, that almost all city departments, including the police department and a city court system, operated out of it. With the exception of a lack of space, most are still pleased with the structure, which has been updated through the years for energy efficiency and to better accommodate different departments. By Rachel Wells. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph.

AP Photo ILBLO302-303.