The U.S. Department of Agriculture this year unveiled new nutrition standards for school meals. It's the first major nutritional overhaul of its kind in more than 15 years. As part of our series on efforts in the region to increase health and wellness, Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports on how the Champaign School District is trying to stay ahead of new federal regulations taking affect this year and beyond.
Illinois Public Media News
State lawmakers in Illinois are trying to make it safer for people to use online dating sites.
The Decatur Herald & Review reported Sunday that legislation aiming to do that passed the Illinois House last week.
It would require Internet dating services operating in Illinois to post disclaimers saying whether they conduct background checks on their members.
The measure is sponsored by state Rep. Michelle Mussman, a Democrat from Schaumburg.
She says she wants to help Internet users "become more savvy" and protect themselves from online predators.
Opponents say the bill overreaches. Republican Rep. Jim Durkin of LaGrange says adults should be responsible for their own safety when using such sites.
The legislation now goes to the Senate.
An indicator of Illinois' economic growth has broken the 100 mark for the first time in more than three years.
The monthly University of Illinois Flash Index came in at 101.0 for March, up from 99.2 in February. Anything over 100 indicates economic growth. Last month's results are the highest since September 2008.
But index author and U of I economist Fred Giertz said there's nothing magical about that level, noting Illinois' unemployment rate is at 9-percent, compared to 8.3 percent nationwide. he said a rating of over 100 doesn't mean the upward trend will continue next month.
"There's always a question - was that an aberration, or is that going to continue?" Giertz said. "But right now, it seems like the signs are pretty good. But there is no assurance. This is not a prediction of the future. It's a kind of measure of where we are right now. So the hope is that we'll continue, but the index doesn't tell us where it's going or how fast it will go up."
Giertz said it will likely be at least a year or two before unemployment rates in the 6-percent range are achieved.
The Flash Index is based on individual, corporate, and sales tax receipts.
The Dow Chemical Co. plans to close its plant in Charleston, Illinois --- one of four facilities being closed down in response to weak demand for the company's products in Europe.
The Charleston plant makes Styrofoam Brant building insulation. Dow spokesperson Rebecca Bentley said its closure is slated for the third quarter of this year. About 30 jobs are being eliminated.
Michigan-based Dow is also closing Styrofoam plants plants in Portugal and Hungary, and another plant in Brazil. In addition, Dow is idling a plant in the Nederlands. In all, about 900 Dow employees around the world will lose their jobs.
Dow Chemical said Monday that the positions will be cut as part of a plan to trim costs by about $250 dollars each year.
Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the company made the decision to adapt to a volatile economy, especially in western Europe.
Dow said it will book a first-quarter charge of $350 million for severance packages, asset impairments and other items related to its cost-cutting plan.