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12:04 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Update: Aurora Rain Gardens

Workers excavate topsoil from a rain garden being constructed at Douglas and Simms in Aurora. The curbs have already been laid. When construction is done, plantings will sit on a bed of rock, gravel and sand.
Guy Stephens WNIJ

After a long, hard winter, construction has begun in earnest on the city of Aurora's rain garden project.  Rain gardens are being constructed at dozens of intersections in various parts of the city.  Eric Schoeny, Drainage and Underground Coordinator for the City of Aurora, says delays in the bidding process and the onslaught of snow and cold that never let up kept progress to a minimum for several months.  Now, Schoeny says, he expects work to proceed relatively quickly, and a number of rain gardens will be completed in a matter of weeks, with more to follow.

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Illinois
5:53 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Audit Finds CMS Abused Procurement Process

Auditor General Bill Holland says the Department of Central Management Services has been going around the usual process for procuring goods and services.

Even for routine purchases, like cell phone service, CMS was using procedures meant only for emergencies.

“The emergency purchase affidavits which were filed by the department for their purchases only met the definition of the emergency purchase due to the department’s inability to procure the contracts in a timely manner," Holland said.

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Illinois
5:20 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Illinois Home Sales Drop While Prices Increase

Credit flickr user / Christine "roof and sky" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illinois home sales decreased nearly 12 percent last month compared to the year before. But the Illinois Association of Realtors finds the median prices of homes increased. Year-over-year prices for DeKalb County were up 39 percent.

Monthly Local Market Update - March 2014

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DeKalb County
5:01 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Brief Filed In McCullough Appeal Claims Unfair Trial

Jack McCullough
Credit Credit file / DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Jack McCullough is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph in 1957. It was one the nation's oldest cold cases. A recently filed appellate brief calls into question evidence presented at McCullough's 2012 trial in DeKalb County.

Assistant Deputy Defender Paul Glaser submitted that prosecutors used unreliable evidence, which included personal memories from decades ago, inmate witnesses, and a statement from McCullough's mother just before her death while on painkillers.

The brief says "the law demands more than nostalgia."

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Higher Education
4:58 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Slideshow: Undergrads Showcase Research

Luke Martin explains his research on the Muon beamstop
Jenna Dooley

Hundreds of Northern Illinois University students took part in the fifth annual Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day (URAD).

The event was held Tuesday, April 22, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.

Open to the public, URAD highlights original student research projects and exhibits. 

Environmental
6:14 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Illinois DNR Playing Catch-Up With Controlled Burns

Credit US Fish and Wildlife Service

The window is closing on the "controlled burn" season for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In northern Illinois, crews are being forced to race against the clock.

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Unknown cause of death
6:47 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Body Pulled from Kishwaukee River IDed As Rockford Woman

Kishwaukee Gorge is a forest preserve south of Rockford and visible from the I-39 bridge that spans the Kishwaukee River.
Credit Google Maps

The identity of a woman whose body was pulled from the Kishwaukee River in Rockford yesterday has been released. 

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Rockford
7:20 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra Conductor Leaving

Credit Daniel Black

The conductor of the Rockford Symphony's Youth Orchestra has a new job. According to an email release, Daniel Black was named Assistant Conductor of the Fort Worth (Texas) Symphony Orchestra. Black's final performance with the RSYO is May 4th. He will join the Fort Worth orchestra in August.

Black joined the RSYO in 2009. He also conducted the University of Illinois – Chicago String Orchestra and the summertime Hamilton Wings SCORE youth opera project.

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Education
6:13 am
Mon April 21, 2014

More Time Needed To Determine Funding Effect On Individual Districts

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

It'll take until mid-May -- as the legislative session is drawing to a close -- to learn which schools will win, and which will lose, under a proposed new way to fund education in Illinois.

The effort to change how Illinois decides how much state money it gives each district is rooted in the belief that the current formula is outdated, and that it helps perpetuate disparities between schools in wealthy areas and poor ones.

The proposed new method would make funding determinations based on need.

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Higher Education
6:06 am
Mon April 21, 2014

U of I Fears "Brain Drain" From Pension Overhaul

Credit illinois.edu

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees have told President Robert Easter to work with other state schools and lawmakers to prevent a wave of retirements brought on by Illinois’ pension reform law.

Administrators say as many as 4,000 employees in the U of I system could lose hundreds of dollars a month in retirement benefits if they don’t retire by July 1st.

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