Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2010

George Ryan’s Wife Has Months to Live, According to Doctors

Doctors say the former first lady of Illinois, Lura Lynn Ryan has terminal lung cancer with only three to six months to live.

The details of Mrs. Ryan's health were revealed in a letter filed in federal court this afternoon. Former Governor George Ryan is appealing parts of his conviction and asking the court to let him out of prison on bail while his appeal is considered so that he can be with his ailing wife.

According to a letter written by the medical director of Rush Riverside Cancer Institute in Kankakee, Mrs. Ryan had a CT scan on Monday which showed a mass in the left lower lung that measured up to 7 centimeters in diameter. A scan on Tuesday confirmed the growth.

Doctors say lesions in the liver and bones suggest an aggressive cancer and given her age and condition. They say Ryan could have as little as three months if their preliminary diagnosis is correct.

Prosecutors have argued against releasing Governor Ryan saying it is the sad fact that all prisoners are separated from their families during trying times.

(Photo courtesy of the Kankakee Public Library)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2010

Urbana Park Board Puts Tax Referendum for New Aquatic Center on April Ballot

Voters in the Urbana Park District will be asked to approve an 11-cent property tax increase to help pay for a new outdoor swimming pool complex at Crystal Lake Park.

The Urbana Park Board voted Tuesday to place the question on the April 5 ballot. The increase would be added to a park district tax rate that is already higher than its counterpart in Champaign.

The old Crystal Lake Pool was shut down in 2008 due to electrical and other problems. Urbana Park Board President Michael Walker said having an outdoor pool in Urbana is important to the community, but he conceded that the tax hike request is a difficult one to make in the current economy.

"We understand it's not the best of economic times," Walker said. "The flipside of that is interest rates and construction costs are lower right now than they will be once the economy warms up a bit."

The proposed aquatic center would also be a more ambitious facility than the 1970s-era pool it would replace. Instead of a single pool, the $7.725 million aquatic center would include a multi-lane competition pool, a deep plunge pool with a drop slide, two leisure pools, and areas for picnics and sand play.

Walker says the larger facility is what Urbana needs.

"We've looked at some that were a bit more modest," he said. "The area where we're shooting for on this is about where you have to be to get the kind of usage that will justify the facility."

The Urbana Park District also operates an indoor aquatic center in conjunction with Urbana High School, but Walker said that is not enough to serve the community's needs.

If approved, the 11-cent tax referendum would come on top of a 15-cent property tax increase approved in 2009. That helped pay for park district operations, plus design work on the aquatic center. Walker says the Urbana Park District would also look for grants and private donations to help pay for the facility. Walker says the tax increase would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $37 a year.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2010

Funeral Arrangements and Details Surrounding Springfield Mayor’s Death Announced

A coroner said the mayor of Illinois' capital city died in his home of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Sangamon County Coroner announced the finding Wednesday after an autopsy on 53-year-old Timothy Davlin. His body was found the previous day after a 911 call directed Springfield police to the two-term officeholder's home.

The shooting happened the same day Davlin was to appear in court as ordered in a probate case involving the estate of one of his cousins. Davlin reportedly missed a court deadline for a financial accounting of the estate.

Davlin had been Springfield mayor since 2003 and has announced he would not seek a third term.

An alderman, Frank Kunz, is mayor pro tem. City law requires that a new mayor be selected within 60 days.

Funeral services for Davlin will be this weekend. Staab Funeral Home said visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Springfield's Blessed Sacrament Church, where Davlin's funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, with the procession passing Davlin's former mayoral office.

Contributions may be made to the Timothy J. Davlin Grandchildren Scholarship Fund in care of Heartland Credit Union or the Blessed Sacrament Building fund.


View Funeral Route in a larger map

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2010

Champaign County Board Backs Size Resolution

The Champaign County Board has taken the initial steps towards reducing the number of its members after voters overwhelmingly supported the measure to reduce the size of the board.

The 27-member board takes a formal vote next Tuesday on a resolution to reduce that number to 22, but representing 11 districts rather than 9. The board's committee of the whole Tuesday night supported the measure on a 23 to 1 vote. Seventy four percent of voters backed the change in an advisory referendum last month, but Democrat Alan Kurtz said it is possible other proposals could come forward next week.

"People are looking for efficiency and saving of money," Kurtz said. "I think if we had put in 18, or we had put in 25, or any number, they (voters) would have voted for it. 22-11, I still have reservations about that. We can bring in othe resolutions next week. This was an advisory."

Kurtz sits on the county's redistricting commission. He said the resolution does put that panel in a bit of a quandary - since it has to wait for census numbers to determine the 11 new districts. The change would take effect with the 2012 election.

Republican Alan Nudo called a 22-member board a start and a compromise, since the county's Farm Bureau doesn't want single-member districts, but he said this change should appeal to rural residents.

"They will have the chance with smaller district size to have somebody representing them who understands agriculture and rural issues," Nudo said. "I've worked hard at it, and I'm not ashamed at what I've gotten accomplished. They just awarded a number of us the 'Friend of the Farm Bureau' award. But that being said, I would prefer to see more rural representation that's pure."

The only 'no' vote came from Democrat Lloyd Carter Jr., who said problems lie in the board's membership, not its size.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 15, 2010

Remembering Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin’s Life and Legacy

Springfield residents are shocked and grieving at the loss of Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, who was found dead at his home on the city's west side Tuesday morning. Davlin, a son, father, and grandfather, was a popular public figure who recently announced he would not run for a third term as mayor. Officials say they will not detail a cause of death until an autopsy has been performed. One is scheduled for Wednesday. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky has more on Davlin's life, and his death.

(Photo by Amanda Vinicky/IPR)

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Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2010

Rep. Cultra Urges Party Leaders to Appoint Aide to General Assembly

State Representative Shane Cultra (R-Onarga) is urging GOP Party leaders in his 105th House District to select his legislative aide to fill his seat in the General Assembly for one day as part of an honorary appointment.

Cultra said Russell Geisler, a retired employee with the Illinois Department of Transportation, has been a valuable staff member and has a long history of working with the Republican Party.

"He's gone to Springfield with me every day for eight years, and I just felt like it's a way that I could say thank you to him personally and from the party for their lifetime of service," Cultra said.

Champaign County GOP Chair Jason Barickman is slated to be sworn into the seat on Jan. 10, a day after Cultra resigns to become a state senator. Barickman was appointed in November by Republican Party chairs in the legislative district to fill out Cultra's remaining House term. Cultra said Geisler would serve Jan. 9, and then resign from the seat to pass it on to Barickman.

Donna Giertz, a Champaign Republican committeemen, said appointing someone to the General Assembly as an award is inappropriate and hurts the Republican Party's image.

"This is a public office," Giertz said. "You don't appoint people to a public office to reward them. That's politics. Have a dinner, give them a plaque, and say, 'Thank you for all you've done.' I just can't believe he's doing that."

If Geisler's chosen for the legislative seat, he would serve on a day when the House is in session and could possible cast votes. Cultra said Giertz would have voting rights, but would not receive pension benefits or a salary. A group of Republican County Chairs in the 105th House District will vote Saturday on the special appointment. They will also decide whether to allow Barickman to take office before the new General Assembly is seated on Jan. 12.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2010

Carle Foundation Hospital Prepares for New Addition

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board has given Carle Foundation Hospital the green light to build a nine-story patient bed tower that will house the hospital's Heart and Vascular institute.

The $200 million project has been on hold for more than a year because of the sluggish economy, but is now moving forward through the financial backing of bonds and private donations.

Included in the new tower will be work spaces for cardiovascular, neuroscience, and intensive care services to better address emergent, acute, and chronic conditions. The new tower will also include 136 single patient rooms that will replace inadequate rooms from older buildings on the hospital campus that date back to the 1960s and 1970s.

"There is dedicated family space in each of those rooms, and lots and lots of natural light coming in through," said Stephanie Beever, the hospital's vice president of Business Development. "There's lots of glass in this building that our research has shown will actually help patients improve, get better quicker, and hopefully get home quicker."

Revised construction costs for the patient bed tower are $17 million less than what was originally projected a couple of years ago. Officials from Carle estimate that the tower will have a $100 million impact on the local economy.

Up to 250 workers will be hired to work on the constrution of the new tower. ManorCare nursing home in Urbana will be torn down in January to make room for the new patient tower with construction set to begin in March. The project is scheduled to completed in June 2013. It will be located on Coler Street between Park and Church Streets.

Categories: Economics, Health
Tags: economy, health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2010

Urbana-Lincoln Hotel to Be Named Local Historic Landmark

The Urbana City Council is ready to approve historic landmark status for the old Urbana-Lincoln hotel.

Council members had held off on the vote for six months, for fear of scaring away developers for the downtown hotel, which has been closed for more than a year. But now, the Lincoln has a new owner and developer in Xiao Jin Yuan, who supports the landmark designation, according to City Planning Director Robert Myers. Myers said Yuan has already "plunged" into renovations for the 86-year-old hotel, from work on pipes wiring and other utility-related items to renovations to the building itself.

"He's (Yuan) lining up contractors for a new roof," Myers said. "He has plans to install a new porte-cochère at the entryway, and also new front doors."

The Urbana City Council endorsed local historic landmark status for the Urbana-Lincoln during a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting Monday night, with a final vote to come later. Myers said Yuan has already appeared before the Urbana Historic Preservation Commission, which must sign off on any major exterior changes to buildings with landmark status. Myers said the Lincoln is expected to be open again to receive guests sometime in 2011.

The Urbana-Lincoln Hotel was designed by local architect Joseph Royer, whose other buildings include the Champaign County Courthouse, the Urbana Free Library and Urbana High School. It is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the adjacent Lincoln Square Mall. The hotel was operated most recently as the Historic Lincoln Hotel until closing last year.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2010

Police Say Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin Found Dead In His Home

Illinois State Police were investigating the death of Springfield's mayor, whose body was found in his home on Tuesday after he failed to show up for a court hearing in a probate case involving his late cousin's estate.

Police Chief Robert Williams said officers responded to a 911 call shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday at Timothy Davlin's home and found the 53-year-old Democratic mayor dead.

Williams declined to immediately offer details about how Davlin died, saying the investigation was in its infancy and has been turned over to the Illinois State Police, which also deferred specifics about the matter.

"The situation is very dynamic and evolving as we go,'' Williams told reporters. "That's all I'm at liberty to state at this time.''

The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported Tuesday that Davlin - mayor of Illinois' 120,000-resident capital city since April 2003 - failed to appear in court that morning as ordered in a probate case involving the estate of one of his cousins, Margaret Ettelbrick, who died in 2003. After Davlin's no-show, Circuit Judge Pete Cavanagh removed him as the estate's administrator.

The newspaper reported that Davlin failed to meet a court deadline for a financial accounting of the estate. Patrick "Tim'' Timoney withdrew as lawyer for the estate in October, saying he could not come up with a final accounting because Davlin had not provided documentation. Timoney last week submitted a claim against the estate for more than $19,000 in legal fees.

Cavanagh ordered Davlin and Bradley Huff, an attorney for Catholic Charities of Springfield, to appear for Tuesday's hearing to discuss the accounting and the status of attorneys in the estate case.

In October, the newspaper reported that Davlin owed the federal government nearly $90,000 in unpaid income taxes, and liens had been filed against his home. The lien notice filed in the Sangamon County recorder's office showed that Davlin owed income taxes for the years 2003, 2005 and 2006.

At the time, the mayor blamed the problem on a dispute with the IRS over taxes owed on investments he cashed in to buy the home. Sangamon County property records have shown that Davlin bought the home for $237,500 in 2004.

He earned more than $119,000 a year, according to city payroll records from earlier in 2010.

Gov. Pat Quinn called Davlin's death "truly a tragedy,'' saying in a statement that Davlin "was a great public servant who loved Springfield and its people.''

"The city of Springfield is a better place because of his leadership,'' Quinn said. "He was not only a champion for Springfield, but also for the entire state, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.''

Davlin announced last month that he would not seek a third four-year term, telling Springfield radio station WFMB he wanted to leave office before getting burned out. Davlin insisted at that time that financial issues had nothing to do with that decision involving the nonpartisan post he called "grueling.''

"No one has any idea what it's like until they've been there,'' he told the station.

Davlin was a political novice when elected in 2003, having been an insurance and investment broker after graduating from a local high school and getting an associate degree from Springfield College before attending what now is the University of Illinois at Springfield.

As mayor, Davlin welcomed the 2005 opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and helped guide the city less than a year later through the aftermath of a tornado, marshaling hundreds of workers and thousands of volunteers in the cleanup effort.

In his biography posted on the city's website, Davlin lists among his credits his creation of an education liaison tasked with working with local schools, his stumping for a student-driven recycling program, and his formation of a task force on homelessness.

Davlin, a father of four, has four grandchildren.

An alderman, Frank Kunz, is mayor pro tem. City law requires that a new mayor be selected within 60 days.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 14, 2010

Budget Limitations Damper U of I’s Ability to Catch Copper Thieves

The theft of more than $10,000 worth of copper building materials taken last week from the University of Illinois' Natural History Building has prompted university police to look at efforts to protect its other copper-rich buildings.

Skip Frost, the Patrol Division Commander with the University's police department, said the incident was the largest of its kind on campus in recent memory. Frost said the university is in talks with building contractors to figure what can be done to prevent more thefts from happening.

"What we'd like to do and what we're able to do are two different things," Frost explained. "There are so many things that could be done, including securing (copper) in a better fashion, having better key card access, and improving locks, but you can put all those things in there, that does not mean crime is not going to occur."

Copper prices went up in November, and have continued to rise this month, reaching more than $4.00 per pound. Ameren spokesperson Brianne Lindemann said she expects there will be more thefts from homes and businesses as commodity prices for copper go up.

"You need to secure any building that you have," Lindemann cautioned. "You definitely want to keep some lights on. You just want to make sure that those buildings look like somebody has been in there.

Tags: crime, economy

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