Illinois Public Media News
--- Reported by Dan Petrella, CU Citizen Access
Despite promises over the past four years to post restaurant inspection reports online, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will miss another self-imposed deadline to do so.
Because of ongoing "computer glitches," district officials said they would fail to post the restaurant inspection reports online in January. They set that goal earlier this year in an interview with CU-CitizenAccess.org for a story on restaurants that failed inspections and after promising since 2008 to make the information more easily available to the dining public.
Meanwhile, inspectors gave seven restaurants failing marks last month. Several of those restaurants had failed previous inspections.
The new goal is for the restaurant inspection website to be up and running sometime this spring, said Julie Pryde, the district's public health administrator. North Carolina-based Garrison Enterprises is the site building for the district.
"I know that's not very definite, but that's just about how definite they're being with us," Pryde said.
The district's inspectors currently fill out their reports in digital form, and the idea is for the reports to be accessible and searchable online as soon they're completed, she said. But there are technical problems that need to be ironed out to make that possible, she added.
"Every time we move to something electronic, I expect that we're going to have glitches," Pryde said.
The health district currently doesn't publicize the results of the 1,300 inspections in conducts each year in any way. Other area health departments publish scores online or require eating establishments to post a letter grade. CU-CitizenAccess.org has been posting since September the district's reports on restaurants that failed inspections.
Food-service facilities, including restaurants, cafeterias and grocery stores, are routinely inspected because unsanitary conditions can lead to food-borne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli and Hepatitis A. Symptoms of food-borne illnesses - which can resemble the intestinal flu - include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and dehydration, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Earlier this year, CU-CitizenAccess reported that one in 10 restaurants in the county had failed an inspection during a recent four-year period.
Afterward, the Champaign County Board of Health discussed the possibility of requiring restaurants to post scores or complete inspection reports. But the board decided to wait to see what recommendations come out of a national food-safety conference that will be held in Indianapolis in April.
Meanwhile, area restaurants continue to fail inspections without the public's knowledge.
As a public service, CU-CitizenAccess obtains inspection reports on a monthly basis through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and adds restaurants that have failed to an interactive map.
In November, Woori Jib, a Korean restaurant on the University of Illinois campus, failed for the third time this year, according to inspection records. The restaurant, 710 S. Sixth St., has failed a total of five times in the past three years.
During its Nov. 2 inspection, Woori Jib scored 22 out of 100, according to a health district report. Inspectors found "tofu, ground beef, cooked and cut eggs and imitation crab" outside of refrigerators at potentially unsafe temperatures, among other violations.
Last month, two other Champaign restaurants failed for the second time this year: Firehaus, 708 S. Sixth St., and Cravings, 603 S. Wright St. The failures were the fourth for each restaurant since 2009.
In all, seven restaurants failed in November, according to a review inspection records. Restaurants fail inspections when they score below 36 on a 100-point scale. (See the complete list of November failures below.)
Firehaus and Chinatown Buffet, 713 Marketview Drive, Champaign, both had their health permits temporarily suspended after receiving negative scores during their November inspections.
Inspectors can suspend a restaurant's permit if it receives a negative score, if it fails a mandatory reinspection after failing a routine inspection, or if they find violations that pose an immediate public-health risk.
Among the violations found at Chinatown Buffet on Nov. 1 were sushi on the buffet at 20 degrees above the proper temperature, moldy lemons in a reach-in cooler, and mouse droppings in a dry-storage room. The restaurant was allowed to reopen two days later after correcting the problems and scoring 86 on its reinspection.
Firehaus had its permit suspended Nov. 3 for problems including bathroom sinks without hot water, "chicken wings being cooled on counters at room temperature," and flies throughout the restaurant, according to an inspection report. Its permit was reinstated the next day after the issues were addressed.
For more reporting, and to look at their interactive map, visit cu-citizenaccess.org
Renard Jackson has now been missing for nearly three weeks, and Champaign police are putting out another call for the public's help in locating him.
The 49-year old Jackson was last seen on the afternoon of November 26th , as he left his home just north of Judah Christian School to run an errand on his bicycle. His family reporting him missing two days later.
Champaign Detective Patrick Funkhouser says Jackson's wallet, some its contents, and the bike have all been recovered, all within a couple of blocks of his home in the 15-hundred block of Holly Hill Drive. The bike was discoverd last Friday. Funkhouser believes someone in the community has to know something about the man's whereabouts.
"You know, the holidays are fast approaching, his family is here, some family members have come down from Chicago, we really want to provide them with some kind of answers," he said.
A number of Champaign officers were seen canvassing Jackson's neighborhood Thurssday for clues to his disappearance.
"What we're looking for at this point is anybody that has any infomation about Renard Jackson, or anybody that knows 'Ray-Ray' personally that can contact us, and give us some more insight into him as a person," Funkhouser said.
Renard Jackson is described as a tall black male with a skinny build, 6-foot-1 and 154 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black-hooded jacket with fur trim. Police are asking the public for any information that might lead them in the right direction by calling Champaign Police or Crimestoppers. Information can be left anonymously.
Emergency personnel from Central Illinois say more communication on the local level is needed before the state even responds to a disaster.
Greater coordination in one region is a concern that came out of brainstorming sessions in a Homeland Security Town Hall meeting in Urbana Thursday. It's the second of eight the state is using to gauge strategies on how to handle disasters, as well as emerging threats.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathan Monken says the first such town hall, held in the Metro East area, focused more on the state's efforts to respond.
"I was very interested to hear the conversation about how they can improve at the local level, at the regional level to say how we can be better to prepared for the first four to six hours of an event before the state can even get there," Monken said.
Richard Jahne, director of the Illinois Fire Service Instiute at the University of Illinois, says one area he wants to see upgraded is bringing in all the right responders. Jahne says emergency personnel have a wide range of capabilities, but he's still concerned with the way the skills are applied.
"Does the way we use them match the way we train to prepare people to use them," said Jahne. "And who's missing? Who isn't part of the team that needs to be included in training and preparation and exercises."
Mahomet Police Chief Mike Metzler says even for a small agency like his, it's important to stay in involved with other agencies, and further develop mutual aid agreements that are already in place.
"Obviously, a place like Mahomet, resources are one of those things that we're always looking for to improve our standing, coming with money for training and equipment.," Metzler said.
The Urbana meeting was also intended to bring in more people from the private sector, but only a couple attended. John Dwyer is Deputy Director of Champaign County's Emergency Management Agency.
"What they can bring to the table during disasters - they're an untapped resource - working with our local businesses to see what they can help us with," he said.
The state will gather input from six more town hall meetings in different areas to develop a response strategy at a final summit in Springfield next September.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday marks the return of Carle physicians to the Kirby hospital campus in Monticello.
Carle had a building on the old Kirby hospital grounds for years, until a business dispute between the two forced Carle to move into temporary buildings. But a new agreement was reached, and a new building next to the new Kirby Medical Center should be fully open by Monday. Carle Monticello medical director, Dr. Steven Sparenberg, says being neighbors with the hospital again will be a plus for their patients.
"The community's going to have the benefit from having everything in one location for both in-patient and obviously for out-patient services," he said. "It helps keep medical care closer to home, and we have the support of the radiology and lab services through Kirby Medical Center."
Sparenberg says the new Carle building offers twice as much room as the temporary buildings they used. And he says it provides room for visiting specialists, as well as additional physicians who could be hired as soon as 2012. The new Kirby Medical Center campus is located on the edge of Monticello, just off I-72.
(Updated with additional coverage from Greg Echlin)
The University of Illinois women's volleyball team will remember the Alamodome. It was at the Alamodome in San Antonio that the third-seed Fighting Illini (32-4) defeated top-seed USC(29-5) Thursday night, winning three out of five sets, (25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 18-25, 15-10) to qualify for the NCAA championship game for the first time.
The victory came on Illinois' third trip to the women's volleyball Final Four, and their first since 1988.
Senior outside hitter Colleen Ward had 27 kills and Michelle Bartsch added 22 kills for the Illini victory.
The drama intensified as the fifth set reached match point, with Illinois fans showing their anticipation with a chant of "One more point! One more point!"
That last rally turned out to be the most dramatic, and the crowd oohed and ahhed as each powerful spike was answered by an inspiring dig on the net's other side. It continued for a minute, seeming longer, until U-S-C's Katie Fuller committed an attack error. The match belonged to the Fighting Illini.
Liz McMahon, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Ohio, had five kills in that deciding set. After the game, she was soaking in the experience.
"It's a blast, I can tell you that", McMahom said of the win that ushered her team into the finals. "Yeah, it's just fun, but with this team and how far we've come."
The Illini's post-game celebration was subdued, with Coach Kevin Hambly reminding his players that they still had one more game. Nevertheless, Hambly spoke glowingly of what his team had accomplished.
"I'm proud of the girls", Hambly said. "You know our goal was to get to this match, the next match, and they stuck to that. Well, more than just get to the match. But I thought they were determined to make that happen."
Alex Jupiter had 32 kills for USC. The Trojans lost in the semis for the second consecutive year after being pushed to five sets for a third consecutive match this tournament.
Illinois will play UCLA in the championship match Saturday night at 7:30 PM Central Time. The Bruins defeated Florida State in three sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-21) in the Thursday night semifinals. Illinois is 0-and-9 in all-time play against UCLA in volleyball.
(Reported for Illinois Public Media News by Greg Echlin; additional reporting by the Associated Press)
Congressman Tim Johnson scolded his congressional colleagues Thursday, accusing them of preferring to play politics instead of addressing the nation's problems.
In a one-minute speech from the floor of the House, the Urbana Republican said the current session of Congress had been marked by "animosity and gridlock", and that the public was responding with a "level of anger" he had never heard before.
"We are gripped in gridlock because people on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers and in the White House, are more concerned with politics than in progress," Johnson said. "As our economy continues to stagger, our attention should be focused on putting people to work and providing stability in public policy. We can only do that through cooperation, compromise and civility."
Earlier this week, Johnson voted against a GOP bill that tied an extension of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits to construction of the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and other unrelated elements. The congressman said the bill was guaranteed to fail in the Democratic Senate, and that leaders needed to come up with a measure both sides could support. In his remarks on the House floor Thursday, Johnson called on members of Congress to quote "do the business the people expect us to do, efficiently and in an adult-like manner".
Johnson previously promoted civility in Congress, by co-founding the Congressional Center Aisle Caucus, with Democratic Congressman Steve Israel of New York.
A federal court has upheld a new congressional map drawn by Illinois Democrats.
The map preserves existing Democratic-leaning districts and creates new ones. It also forces several Republican incumbents to run against each other in primaries.
Republicans had sued to overturn the map, claiming that Democrats drew only one Hispanic district when more were needed because of population growth. A panel of three judges, including two Indiana Republicans, disagreed on Thursday.
In their ruling, the judges said that they agreed that the crafting of the adopted map was a "blatant political move to increase the number of Democratic congressional seats'' but that it wasn't illegal.
The map was drawn by Democrats who control the legislature and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
The new congressional map was drawn with no input from Illinois Republicans. It forces most GOP congressmen in the state into unfamiliar territory or races against each other.
The Indiana General Assembly's top Republicans and Democrats are squabbling over a contentious labor bill that looks likely to dominate their upcoming session.
The "right-to-work'' proposal dominated debate at a Thursday legislative conference. It also provided a preview of the contentious debate planned for their 2012 session.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma, House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer, Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long and Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson took turns rebutting each other during a Thursday's conference.
Bauer and Bosma touted dueling public opinion polls bolstering their case. Long occasionally interjected on Bosma's behalf and Simpson said the issue will "eat'' the entire 2012 session.
Bauer proposed kicking it back until after the 2013 session, but Bosma said it will stay front and center next year.
A probation report says ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be a "ripe candidate'' for a drug treatment program in prison.
That's according to defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who says he doesn't know what Blagojevich said to a probation officer to lead to that conclusion.
Judge James Zagel has agreed to recommend Blagojevich for a drug treatment program when he starts his 14-year prison sentence for corruption in March.
Sorosky tells the Chicago Sun-Times that there's documentation Blagojevich has a history of drug abuse, but he didn't elaborate.
No one has revealed why Blagojevich would be eligible for the drug program.
The request could be a move to cut time off his sentence. Prisoners in the program are eligible for up to a year in reduced time.
A town-hall style meeting in Urbana on Thursday (December 15th) will seek local input on Illinois' homeland security strategy.
It's the 2nd such meeting that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is holding around the state, as it gathers input for a major overhaul of that strategy. The first was held in the Metro East area, and a third is scheduled for January 11th in Effingham. The IEMA is holding the meetings in conjunction with the Center for Public Safety and Justice, at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
State Emergency Management Director Jonathon Monken says a big emphasis of their homeland security strategy has been improving communications between different state and local agencies, as well as those in the private sector. But he says they're finding out about other needs as well.
"Something that we heard in the first round was a big emphasis on training", says Monken. "People felt like there was not enough training that was readily available ... or the training that was available, wasn't targeted specifically enough for the things they felt were most important to train. So that's definitely something that we're looking at as we go forward as well."
Monken says they don't just expect to hear from local first responder agencies like police and fire departments. He says they're also looking forward to hearing from the public, and from area businesses. He says business has a big role to play in emergencies.
"The resources that can brought to bear by the private sector far exceed anything that can be brought to bear by the public sector", says Monken. "And that's a relationship we're trying to develop, to make sure that we can really bring the full resources to bear of both private sector and government to respond to the local and affected populations in a disaster."
Monken says input from the Urbana meeting and others around the state will be used in formulating a new homeland security strategy for Illinois, to be unveiled at a final summit in Springfield next September.
Thursday's meeting runs from 10 AM to 1 PM at the ILEAS Training Center --- the former Champaign County Nursing Home building --- at 1701 East Main Street in Urbana. Anyone can attend, but registration is requested. Registration can be made by calling 877-864-7427, or going to the Vision 20/20 website linked below
Page 6 of 13 pages ‹ First < 4 5 6 7 8 > Last ›