Updated: December 20th - 2:01 PM
Illinois Farmers Looking Into Cuban Market
Illinois farm groups are looking to Cuba as a growing market for corn, soybeans, pork and other state products. Tamara Nelson of the Illinois Farm Bureau says the thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba could mean up to $7 million more a year in sales for Illinois farmers in the short term. Long-term potential could be $25 million annually.
Chester Weger Denied Parole
The man convicted of murders at Starved Rock in 1960 was denied his parole yesterday morning in Springfield. Illinois Prisoner Review Board officials said 75-year old Chester Weger was denied his parole by a 9-3 vote. Weger has been serving a life sentence in the Pickneyville Correctional Center for the murder of a Chicago woman in Saint Louis Canyon. Weger was denied parole in November 2013 as well, despite an even 7-7 vote by the review board.
Home Invasion in Cedar Point
La Salle County Sheriff's deputies continue to investigate a home invasion that occurred on Thursday morning. Authorities say they responded to a home in the 300-block of Elm Street in Cedar Point just before 4 AM Thursday for the home invasion. No other information is available at this time.
The Illinois unemployment rate has dipped to its lowest mark in more than six years. It slipped to 6.4 percent in November even with more people seeking work. As recently as last fall, the jobless rate was above 9 percent, but the figure has now fallen in seven of the past eight months.
Special Session for Topinka Replacement
Governor Pat Quinn is calling a special session of Illinois lawmakers next month. He says they will gather January 8th to consider a special election for comptroller in 2016. There are conflicting ideas about how to replace Judy Baar Topinka, who died last week after winning a second term in November. Republicans say Governor-elect Bruce Rauner should appoint her successor.
Cuba Could Help in Local Heavy Equipment Sales
A Caterpillar official says if longstanding trade restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba are loosened even more, the island could become a good market for heavy equipment. He says Cuba needs to build a modern infrastructure. Members of the Illinois congressional delegation are having a mixed reaction to President Barack Obama's policy change.
Foster Home Runaways
An audit has found that Illinois does a poor job monitoring and tracking children who run away from foster homes. Auditor General William Holland says the Department of Children and Family Services does not keep reports on the total number of missing children in a year or their previous locations. The report also noted shortfalls in tracking how timely authorities were notified when necessary.
Corporate Tax Fraud Scheme
Two Illinois brothers have pleaded guilty in what authorities say was a $6.1 million tax fraud scheme. Federal prosecutors say 50-year-old Shaher Mizyed of Naperville and 46-year-old Mohammad Mizyed of Peoria will be sentenced in April. Authorities say the brothers admitted to conspiring to file false federal corporate income tax returns from 2006 through 2010.
IHSA Student Section Showdown
The Illinois High School Association is looking for the best student section in the state. At an IHSA board meeting on Monday, officials created a new contest for IHSA member high schools called the Student Section Showdown. Officials said the contest will be used to see which schools have the best spirit and sportsmanship. Student sections have the remainder of the 2014-2015 basketball season to submit a video that shows the student section in action during a game. Submissions must be submitted to the IHSA by February 6th and the winners will be revealed during the boy’s basketball state finals.