Pretzel City Kitchens


University of Illinois Extension gives an update on the Pretzel City Kitchens project tonight at its Openfields Local Foods Harvest Dinner in Freeport.  The Extension and its partners are excited by the project’s potential.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged to save taxpayers money by eliminating some of the state's nearly 7,000 units of government.

Now, a task force is preparing its final recommendations.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti is the commission's chairwoman. She says its suggestions could make government more efficient and effective if the Legislature and Rauner choose to implement them.

The suggestions include letting voters decide whether a unit of government should be eliminated.

“At the end of the day, the savings are going to be huge,” Sanguinetti said.

University of Illinois

Illinois public universities are using their reserves to survive while Illinois operates without a budget. But University of Illinois president Tim Killeen says burning through savings at a rate of $76 million per month is not sustainable. 

“It is time to fix this,” Killeen said. “My expectation is that there will be a good outcome or a reasonable outcome in the January/February time frame, at which time we will pick up the ball and run and University of Illinois will go from strength to strength, I assure you of that.” 

WNIJ’s Gas Price Monday: Nov. 30, 2015

4 hours ago
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices in some Illinois communities are below $2 per gallon of unleaded.

According to AAA, a gallon of regular gas in the Rockford area costs $1.95 on average. That’s seven cents less than last week and almost a dollar less than last year.

Chicago prices are at $2.30 per gallon. That's a dime less than a week ago and almost a dollar less than a year ago.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A nasty bacteria is prompting a reminder from the Winnebago County Health Department: “wash your hands!”

There have been 34 cases of shigella reported over the past month in the county, mostly among young children. Health department spokesman Todd Kisner says parents and caregivers are being asked to be extra-vigilant when it comes to getting kids and hygiene:

Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice will retire next month, and the search to fill his seat is nearing its final stages. The four finalists to become the new president of Kishwaukee College will visit the Malta campus next week.

The top four candidates selected by the Board of Trustees will take part in a public forum.

Dr. Jacqueline Elliott, President of North Arkansas College in Harrison since 2011, will be on campus Monday. She has a doctorate of education from the University of Nebraska.

Hundreds of protesters are blocking entrances to stores in Chicago's high-end shopping district on Black Friday to draw attention to the police shooting of a black teenager.

Some of the demonstrators linked arms to form human chains in front of main entrances to stores on both sides of Michigan Avenue for more than three blocks.

The largest is a peaceful group led by Rev. Jesse Jackson, who delivered a prayer from the steps of Chicago's historic Water Tower.

Rev. Jackson was in the middle of the crowd shouting, "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!''

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

As we enter the holiday season, many workers are thinking about the extra days off. 

The State Chamber of Commerce keeps tabs on paid holidays by employers across the state. The average number of paid holidays in Illinois comes in at nearly nine days a year with an average of nearly three personal paid days thrown in.

Looking ahead to the next year, nearly 98 percent of employers will give paid holidays for New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day … along with Thanksgiving.

This Year’s Holiday Shopping Expected To Increase

Nov 27, 2015
Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.

While the expected 3.7 percent increase is in line with the five year shopping average, there is a difference. 

A National Retail Federation report saying almost half of those sales will be on line...and 20 percent of shoppers will use their smart phone to make a purchase. That means solid hiring for the season at companies like Amazon and shipping firms like Fed EX and UPS.

Flickr user Brandon Blahnik / "House" (CC V 2.0)

Home prices are on the rise in Illinois.

The statewide median price of a home was up over 6 percent in October to 168-thousand dollars. But overall sales were down amid tighter inventory. 

The number of homes listed was down 10 percent compared to the same time last year.   

That means it's a good time to be a seller.  Homes are staying on the market fewer days … 68 now compared to 74 a year ago.

While the holidays tend to always see a decline in homes being offered, the state's realtors say the drop off in October was especially steep.