News Around Illinois - February 18, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

President Commutes Prison Term Of Former Gov. Blagojevich

CHICAGO - President Donald Trump says he has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The 63-year-old Democrat is expected to walk out of prison later Tuesday. Trump told reporters the sentence was “ridiculous.” The former governor was convicted of political corruption in 2010, just months after he appeared on Trump’s reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice." He was convicted on charges included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and trying to shake down a children’s hospital. - Associated Press

Illinois To Honor Investigators of Chinese Scholar's Death

CHAMPAIGN — Three law enforcement officials will be honored for their work investigating the killer of a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois. Sgt. James Carter, Detective Eric Stiverson and telecommunicator Kenny Costa of the University of Illinois Police Department will be awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion at a ceremony Feb. 24 in Champaign. The award is the highest honor given by the university and has been awarded seven times. Brendt Christensen was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year in the June 2017 kidnapping of Yingying Zhang. She was a graduate student who had recently arrived at the school’s flagship campus.  - Associated Press

First Families Begin Moving Into Bristol Development

CHAMPAIGN - Champaign city officials say the first families began moving into the new Bristol Development over the weekend. The 90-units making up Phase One of the development were built on the site of the old Bristol Place neighborhood on the city’s north side. The last residents were moved out of Bristol Place more than two years ago. Local officials had decided the area was too blighted to save without a total rebuild. The city says former Bristol Place residents were given the first opportunity to move into the new development provided they met its tenant selection criteria. The new Bristol Development is a project of the city of Champaign, the Housing Authority of Champaign County and a private developer. - Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Climatologist: Climate Change Evident In Illinois

DEKALB - The major effect of climate change on northern Illinois is projected to be large increases in precipitation. These weather events may lead to further agricultural erosion, which strips the nutrient rich topsoil from Illinois’ farmland. State Climatologist Trent Ford says that can potentially cause toxic algal blooms in local waterways. “We're seeing changes in precipitation, more precipitation overall, but also more intense precipitation that really has significant impacts but also varied impacts on hydrology and how that water is managed," said Ford. "And that is something that northern Illinois has been dealing with. And the projections suggest that those issues will continue and increase in magnitude into the future.” His office forecasts increasingly wet springs in the coming years. - Claudia Baker, WNIJ News

Illinois State President Creates Role Focused On Diversity

NORMAL — Illinois State University's president has created a new position focused on diversity and inclusion on campus. The Pantagraph reports that President Larry Dietz appointed Doris Houston as the university's first assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion last week. Houston is currently the interim director of the university's School of Social Work. She called the new role a natural fit with her background. Dietz said existing diversity initiatives on campus focus on student and academic affairs. Those efforts often overlap. Dietz said Houston will be responsible for making sure separate efforts know about each other's work and measuring their effect. - Associated Press

Illinois Officials To Detail Battle Plan Against Gypsy Moth

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois officials’ plan to combat infestations of the gypsy moth will be the focus of several upcoming meetings in the northern part of the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has planned nine open houses to discuss treatment strategies at infested sites, including the use of a naturally occurring bacteria and a pheromone specific to gypsy moths that prevents males from breeding. Officials said there's no danger to humans, pets or other wildlife. The non-native pest eats more than 250 species of trees and shrubs but particularly feeds on oak leaves. - Associated Press

Story source: Illinois Newsroom