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Community Close-Up
6:39 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Elburn's Place At The End Of The Line

We continue our occasional series "Community Close-Up" in a village in transition. Since 2006, Elburn has been the last stop on the Metra line to and from Chicago. 

Annette Collier is one of those riders willing to sit on a train for an hour and a half.

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$35-million for Dam Rebuild
5:39 am
Fri April 18, 2014

One Year After The Floods: Marseilles Still Recovering

No need for sandbags at the moment. But last year at this time, much of central Illinois couldn't get enough of these things.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It was a year ago today torrential rains triggered a disaster along the Illinois River in LaSalle County. Seven barges crashed into a dam in Marseilles, causing millions of dollars in damage.  

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Construction
5:38 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Repairs On The Way For Route 64

Credit flickr user / Hannah Rosen (CC BY 2.0)

More than a million dollars is on the way for road construction in DeKalb County. The money comes from Illinois' statewide construction program. It involves the resurfacing of Route 64 west of the Ogle County line to Clare Road.

William Charles Construction Company, LLC of Loves Park was the lowest of five bidders at $1,697,554.

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Illinois
4:34 am
Fri April 18, 2014

House Committee Approves $100M For Obama Library

Credit Whitehouse.gov

Members of the Illinois State House are advancing a bill that would devote $100 million toward a Barack Obama presidential library.

The House Executive Committee met in Chicago to discuss using state money for the presidential library.

Several universities spoke in favor.

Anthony Young is the chairman of the board at Chicago State University.

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Unemployment
4:27 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Economists Try To Find Reasons Behind Illinois' Mixed Jobs Report

Fred Giertz
Credit IGPA

The Illinois unemployment rate is down. But fewer people were hired than expected, and Illinois still lags the nation.

Illinois' March unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. That's the best it's been in more than five years, but it's still among the worst rates in the country.

On top of that, officials blame the unseasonably cold weather for the fact that fewer jobs were added in March than in the previous month.

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Rita Crundwell
6:16 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Dixon's Lesson: 'Trust, But Verify,' BGA Tells Municipalities

Rita Crundwell and her attorneys leave federal court in Rockford (May 2012)
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It's been two years since FBI agents arrested Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell. She's in prison for stealing $53 million over the course of two decades. Since the incident, the Better Government Association has been working to educate other municipalities about how to prevent such fraud.  BGA investigator Pat McCraney  says the guiding principle should be "trust, but verify."

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Rita Crundwell
6:11 am
Thu April 17, 2014

A New Way Of Cutting Checks At Dixon City Hall

It was two years ago this week when one of the biggest cases of municipal fraud in U.S. history began to unfold. Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell was arrested for stealing for more than $50 million from the city. Crundwell is now serving time in federal prison.

In Dixon, city officials continue to implement reforms they hope will prevent similar action in the future.

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Education
4:18 am
Thu April 17, 2014

End Of Income Tax Hike Could Mean Different Scenarios For Illinois Schools

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

New data suggests just how big a hit most school districts would take if Illinois' income tax rate rolls back as scheduled at the end of the year.

Illinois' budget could play out a lot of different ways.

But under one scenario -- the one Gov. Pat Quinn says will be the case if tax rates aren't kept at five percent -- kindergarten through high school classrooms across Illinois will get $450 million dollars less from the state.

Jessica Handy, with the "Stand for Children" advocacy group, says schools are already doing more with less.

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Gambling Expansion
4:08 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Rockford Casino Still Part Of Gambling Expansion Talks

Credit WNIJ

A group of Illinois lawmakers considered two different plans to expand gambling this week. One tracks other recent proposals to add five casinos across Illinois. The other focuses only on Chicago.

Plans in recent years have called for slot machines at horse racetracks, and five new casinos: in Chicago, the south suburbs, Lake County, Rockford, and Danville.

A new competing proposal would cut that to just one additional casino -- in the city of Chicago, and owned by state government.

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Rockford
9:47 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Two Weeks In: Rockford Deacon Continues Walk To Washington

Photo of Ness leaving April 1, 2014 from Rockford with her cart.
Credit Elizabeth Holmertz

Despite sore feet and colder temperatures, the Reverend Lou Ness is still walking. She's gone about 160 miles over the past two weeks. She started at Shelter Care Ministries in Rockford where she's the Executive Director.

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