Around Illinois - Apr. 24

Apr 24, 2012
  • Professor's TV gig expounds on "evil" car
  • How smart is ComEd's meter plan?
  • Unemployment fraud gets strengthened
  • Would you like some medals with that wine?
  • "Illinois" takes Navy attack role
  • Building for the future with girls and LEGOs

NIU professor is the "Dean" of evil Porsches

You can catch NIU communication instructor Matthew Swan on TV tonight. He'll appear at 8 p.m.  on the Travel Channel’s TV show, “Mysteries at the Museum.” The episode looks into the legend of “James Dean’s Evil Car,” and the show’s promo already prominently features Swan.

“I knew a lot already about Dean’s career,” said Swan. “The show’s producers sent me a lot of material about the Porsche and the weird scary stuff that happened with the wreckage after the Dean’s famous fatal accident.”

So was the Porsche really evil? Well, Swan says, you’ll have to tune in to find out. The interview was filmed last December at the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe.

Metered installation of “smart” equipment

Commonwealth Edison Co. will take about a decade to install nearly 4 million smart meters throughout northern Illinois over the next decade, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business.

ComEd will raise electricity rates each year over the coming decade to finance $2.6 billion in infrastructure upgrades -- including the digital-meter rollout. The smart meter plan was filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission late Monday.

Chicago-based ComEd plans to install 130,000 meters this year in various Chicago suburbs but won’t get to Rockford until 2020 and 2021, according to Crain’s. You can read the report from their website by clicking here.

IDES adds prosecutors to pursue fraud cases

The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Monday that two new prosecuting attorney positions have been created. The prosecutors will allow the state employment office and the Illinois attorney general's office to increase fraud prosecutions.

Illinois recovered nearly $74 million in stolen benefit payments between calendar years 2009 and 2011. More than $42 million has been collected in tax garnishments so far this year. The new attorneys will allow Illinois to pursue criminal proceedings in cases that would have been targeted only for the recovery of the stolen benefit dollars in the past.

Area vineyard wins medals at New York event

Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery of rural Freeport has won three medals ­­— two silvers and a bronze ­— at the 12th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York.

Famous Fossil is owned and operated by Pam and Ken Rosmann. “Our customers are wonderful and we know that they love our wines. It’s been fun. We have had a lot of positive response.”

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, which took place in Rochester, had 60 international judges and more than 3,200 wines submitted from more a couple of dozen countries.

Reporter Nick Crow of the Freeport Journal-Standard provides more details here.

U.S. Navy names an attack sub after Illinois

A Virginia-class attack submarine will be named the USS Illinois “to honor the great contributions and support” from our state, according to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

The selection of Illinois, designated SSN 786, is the second ship to bear the state name and is home to the Navy's one and only Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes where every enlisted sailor begins his or her service.

It’s been at least half a century since the name Illinois has graced a Navy vessel.

For more information about the Virginia-class attack submarine, visit the Navy website here.

Block out some time for fun

One of 100 LEGO Education Showcase Grants nationwide will be put to use Saturday at the NIU Convocation Center. Area residents are invited to join Girl Scouts using the interlocking building blocks to create LEGO models around a theme.

Not surprisingly, the theme for this event is “Girl Scouts—The Next 100 Years!” in honor of the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary.

 “We are offering Girl Scouts and community members the opportunity to work together to explore and build what they think Girl Scouts will be doing in one hundred years,” said Pam Schnecke, a Girl Scouts Program Specialist for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

For more information on the event visit the Girl Scouts website here.