whiteside county

An early morning house fire has killed five members of a family in northern Illinois.

Whiteside County Coroner Joe McDonald says firefighters responding to a blaze in Rock Falls found a husband and wife and three of their children dead around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

He identified the victims as Patrick and Mary Hopkins and their children, 24-year-old Maggie, 16-year-old Donovan and 13-year-old Katie Jo. The couple had two other children in their 20s.

Peat Mining Under Scrutiny In Northern Illinois

Aug 23, 2013
Mike Moen/WNIJ

A northern Illinois county known for its rich farmland faces questions about how some of that land is being used. Peat mining is a key industry in Whiteside County. Supporters say it provides jobs, and creates opportunities for more open water habitats. But some residents wonder if the payoff is worth it.

Whiteside County's new State’s Attorney is defending a meeting of the County Board’s Democratic majority.  The meeting is being investigated by the Illinois attorney general following a complaint it violated the Open Meetings Act. The DeKalb State's Attorney has followed suit in a similar situation.

Meetings Under Review in Whiteside and DeKalb Counties

In Whiteside County, Sauk Valley Media is waiting to hear from the Illinois Attorney General’s office.  At issue--whether members of the county board violated the Open Meetings Act.  Late last month, members of the board allegedly threatened to call police when a reporter tried to cover a discussion over the selection of a new board chairman.  Members contend it was a caucus gathering, not a public meeting.

A delay will be requested for the upcoming murder trial of convicted killer Nicholas T. Sheley of Sterling.

Defense attorney Jeremy Karlin, of Galesburg, will ask Rock Island Circuit Judge F. Michael Meersman, at a hearing Friday for the fourth delay in Sheley’s first Whiteside County murder trial.

The case, scheduled to go to trial Sept. 10, also would be the first test of active news media presence in a Whiteside County court under the cameras-in-the-courtroom initiative of the Illinois Supreme Court.

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