Illinois Public Media News
Three recent traffic stops on Interstate 57 in east-central Illinois have yielded significant amounts of cash and drugs, but it's only part of the flow of drug traffic along the highway.
So says an Illinois State Police spokesman, who says part of the purpose of an ongoing patrol team of troopers is to watch out for illegal cargoes in cars and trucks. Sergeant Bill Emery says just last week officers pulled over a vehicle with more than 100 pounds of marijuana in a luggage carrier. An earlier stop on 57 turned up 2.7 million dollars in hidden cash, with another finding nearly 600 thousand dollars.
Emery says police have to have probable cause to search a vehicle, but in these cases the drivers and passengers tipped themselves off. He says those who act unnecessarily nervous or contradict their stated travel plans raise police suspicions, and all three drivers signed consent-to-search forms.
Emery says the Strategic Enforcement Team has four troopers and a police dog working out of the Pesotum post - they vary their schedules to patrol problem areas on state roads, including I-57.
The Urbana City Council will not join Newcomb Township in trying to block passage of a county zoning ordinance for wind turbine farms. Council members voted unanimously Monday night not to file a protest against the county board zoning proposal.
The proposal would allow the construction of large wind turbine farms on land zoned agricultural, under a special use permit. Mayor Laurel Prussing says council members support wind farms. She says wind turbines can provide an alternative energy source that dovetails with the city's support for conservation and sustainable energy. "The city will do what it can in terms of energy conservation and sustainability,"says Prussing. "But we see the production of energy as a key ingredient in solving this whole problem, and that's why we are in favor of wind energy being used."
The Champaign County Board could vote on the wind farm zoning ordinance at its May 21st meeting. The proposal is currently in committee.
The Newcomb Township Board voted last month to protest the proposal. Their protest means it will take a super-majority --- or 21 votes --- for the measure to pass the Champaign County Board. In Champaign, the city's Plan Commission will discuss the proposal at its meeting on Wednesday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state now has three confirmed cases of H1N1 (swine) flu and 51 probable cases of the new virus.
Illinois health officials call a case "confirmed'' when additional testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up the state's results. Kendall County has joined the list of northern Illinois counties with probable cases. The state says Kendall has one case. No cases have been reported yet in downstate Illinois, but Indiana health officials say three cases have been found there.
Illinois has tested more than 500 specimens from patients with flu symptoms and continue to receive more samples from doctors every day.
Health officials in Illinois say the state has enough flu drugs to treat more than one million people. And Illinois can raise that to a recommended level of stockpiled flu drugs within 12 hours with a request to the federal government.
An Associated Press survey finds that more than half the states have yet to stockpile the number of flu-treatment drugs recommended.
Chicago has its own stockpile of the drugs and earlier this week received an allotment from the federal emergency stockpile. Those drugs were delivered to 40 hospitals.
A Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman says the city won't discuss specific numbers "for security purposes.'' Chamapign-Urbana Public Health District administrator Julie Pryde says supplies of medication and protective equipment are being transported to a storage area in the county that she would not name.
The government recommends that each state have enough antiviral medicine on hand to treat 25 percent of its population.
(additional information from AM 580 News)
A recount of some precincts in the Champaign school district has found no change in the results of a tight school board race. County clerk's officials pored over ballots from 13 out of 52 precincts, and clerk Mark Shelden says in his blog that the results are no different than the Election Night count last month. That means Stig Lanesskog remains the winner by two votes over Lynn Stuckey. Stuckey has the ability to challenge the results in court - she's not immediately available for comment.
The confusion in the wake of Hurricane Katrina four years ago included serious problems evacuating and caring for society's most vulnerable people.
Hospitals and nursing homes were thrown into chaos, and in some cases patients died for reasons that could have been avoided. The Illinois College of Emergency Physicians held a seminar Friday in Urbana to address the problem of moving people in health care facilities, psychiatric hospitals or group homes. Doctor Moses Lee, the medical director for the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team, said "I think many people have seen from Katrina all the difficulties of transporting patients out of a hospital and stabilizing them and figuring out how to place them. So there have been a lot of requests from our audiences over the years that they want to learn more about this dilemma and this challenge. There are not a lot of answers out there, but there are a lot of great people thinking about it."
Lee says many Illinois responders went to Louisiana to help care for Katrina patients in 2005 - but he says Illinois has also seen the potential for such emergencies with special needs populations, such as during last spring's Mississippi River flooding.
A hand recount of ballots Thursday confirmed Dale Munds' one-vote re-election as mayor of Bondville.
The losing candidate, former mayor Karl Kennicker, had requested the recount. "I was worried about the three under-votes," said Kennicker. "There was three people who didn't vote for either one of us for mayor. I wanted to see if by mistake, someone had circled it or put an X through the box, instead of filling in the oval."
But the Champaign County Clerk's blog reported Thursday that the hand recount of ballots showed the same result as the April 7th county by computer --- 47 votes for Munds, 46 votes for Kennicker and three ballots with no votes for mayor.
Kennicker served as mayor of Bondville for 12 years before losing to Munds in 2003. He says he now considers the election settled ... and hasn't decided if he'll seek office again in the future.
Meanwhile, the county clerk's office scheduled another discovery recount for Friday morning, May 1st, at 8:30. Lynn Stuckey requested a recount in the Champaign School Board election, after losing by two votes to Stig Lanesskog.
Illinois health officials say the number of probable H1N1 or swine flu cases in the state has more than doubled to 41.
The numbers released Thursday night are all located in northern Illinois, including 16 in Chicago and 11 in Cook County.
The others are seven in Kane County, three in Will County, two in DuPage County, and one each in McHenry County and Lake County.
The cases are called "probable'' because they haven't yet been confirmed by federal testing.
The outbreak of the new virus strain is suspected of causing 168 deaths in Mexico. One death has been confirmed in the United States. In most confirmed U.S. cases, the patients are recovering.
The head of the Illinois Department of Public Health says the state has logged nine probable cases of swine flu, all in northern Illinois.
Dr. Damon Arnold says five of the probable cases are in Chicago, while two are in Kane County and single cases are being reported in both Lake and DuPage counties. The people diagnosed range in age from 2 to 57.
Arnold says all of the cases so far have been mild and nobody has been hospitalized.
Arnold appeared at a news conference Wednesday called in the wake of Chicago's decision to close an elementary school after one student there was found to have a probable case of swine flu.
Arnold, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Pat Quinn and other officials all stressed that the state is working hard to prevent further illnesses.
Any future development at the old Burnham Hospital site in Champaign will be done without its original developer. Highland Park-based Pickus Companies is withdrawing from future phases of development at the site where it's already built a high-rise apartment building and supermarket.
The Champaign City Council deadlocked last week on a proposal to open the later phases of development at the Burnham site to other bidders. Several council members were unhappy with the Pickus Companies over delays in finishing the the Burnham 310 building, and delays in paying local subcontractors. A second vote to settle the question was expected last night. But city attorney Fred Stavens told the council that Pickus had decided to withdraw from the development of the rest of the Burnham property entirely.
That's fine with Councilman Tom Bruno, who says he likes the 18-story Burnham 310 building, but not the way Pickus does business. "Their delay in paying local subcontractors for the work that they did is inexcusable," said Bruno. "And I was very reluctant to enter any additional agreements with them."
Deputy City Manager for Development Craig Rost says the city will now likely seek bidders from other firms for residential development on the remaining city-owned lots on the Burnham site. But he doesn't expect any actual construction to start until 2011 at the earliest, due to the economy.
Christie Clinic has joined Carle Clinic in agreeing to increase the number of Medicaid patients it accepts for treatment.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the two Champaign-Urbana medical clinics two years ago - claiming they conspired illegally to stop accepting new Medicaid patients. Carle settled with the state last December. And late yesterday (Monday), the attorney general's office announced Christie had done the same.
Under the settlement, Christie Clinic will increase the number of Medicaid patients it takes in for primary health care to 85-hundred over the next three years. And those patients can't be turned away for existing medical debt for a four-year period prior to the state's lawsuit --- that's when the attorney general says qualified Medicaid patients were turned away. Christie will also make payments to Frances Nelson Health Center and the Champaign Urbana Public Health District to help pay for medical and dental care for low-income patients.
Christie spokeswoman Karen Blatzer denies that happened, and she said the suit was settled to curb costs. "We don't want the perception to be that we are guilty. But we feel that it is more important to provide the health care our community needs, and being involved in this lawsuit was expensive and very distracting," Blatzer said.
Blatzer did not know how much the additional Medicaid patient load would cost Christie. The clinic has agreed to increase its Medicaid patient rolls to 85-hundred by 2012.
Blatzer says the payments to Frances Nelson Health Center and the Champaign Urbana Public Health District equal when Christie has given to them in the past.
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