Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

flickr/tjjohn12

Workers at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in
Springfield are reviewing security procedures after a man broke in to the
basement.
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1dIqzN9 ) a man
from Marshall in southeastern Illinois pleaded guilty to trespassing and
criminal property damage after being found in the basement earlier this month.
 
Jordan Clark was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $3,000 in
restitution.
 

http://www.state.il.us/court/

 The Illinois Supreme Court says a southern Illinois school district can't sue an architectural firm for building a school over an underground coal mine that later collapsed, causing the school to be torn down. In a unanimous decision, justices ruled Friday that Gillespie Community School District's "fraudulent representation'' claims against Wight & Company came after a statute of limitations passed.

flickr/skakerman

The question of assuring equitable school funding across the state is being debated at a forum for Republican candidates for governor.
 
The four bidders are squaring off at a forum hosted by Illinois Public Broadcasters and the League of Women Voters.  

U of I

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other administrators will consider ways to help university employees make up for some of the money they will lose when state pension reforms begin June 1.  

University trustees on Thursday directed Easter to assess the changes coming to the state pension system and options for preserving benefits that will be lost. The president is expected to make recommendations to the trustees before June. The board of trustees oversees the university's three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.  

uis.edu

Newly approved tuition increases at the University of Illinois mean that four years of college on the flagship campus will top $100,000 for many students. Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition by 1.7 %. They also increased fees and housing costs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher Pierre says the increases sticks to a university plan to keep increases in line with inflation.

USGS

Scientists said today that the New Madrid fault zone in the nation's midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes.  

The journal Science published the study online. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough was part of the study. She says the fault zone is ``not dead yet.''  
Researchers have long debated just how much of a hazard New Madrid poses. The zone stretches 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.  

WBEZ

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. will pay $2.2 million as part of settlement with the federal government over discrimination allegations involving three of its U.S. meat processing plants.
 
The money will be used to pay back wages and interest to nearly 3,000 applicants who were rejected for jobs at facilities in Springdale, Ark.; Fort Morgan, Colo.; and Beardstown, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.
 
U.S. Department of Labor officials say the company's hiring process discriminated based on sex, race and ethnicity.
 

flickr/HAM guy

Central Illinois officials are expected to vote next month on whether to spend nearly $90 million on a massive dredging project in Lake Decatur.
 
The Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1dvfQFI ) Decatur's city council is expected to vote on the project during their Feb. 3 meeting.
 
During a work session Tuesday, city manager Ryan McCrady said the effort would be ``the biggest project the city of Decatur has ever undertaken.''
 
Officials have said removing billions of gallons of sediment from the lake will

npr

President Barack Obama is ordering changes to the government's massive collection of phone records that he says will end the program ``as it currently exists.''
 
 Obama says in a speech prepared for delivery at the Justice Department Wednesday that intelligence officials have not intentionally abused the program to invade privacy.
 

wuis

A major organized labor coalition says it plans to ``do everything possible'' to oppose Republican Bruce Rauner's bid for Illinois governor.  
The Illinois AFL-CIO announced Thursday that its board approved a resolution to engage union members to defeat the Winnetka businessman.

WUIS

The U.S. Department of Energy has given the long-running FutureGen clean-coal project one of the final OKs it needs to start building.  

flickr/jmorgan

Illinois revenue officials say residents won't be able to file their 2013 income taxes until the end of January _ a two-week delay.  

booking photo

A search by federal agents of a cabin owned by an Illinois judge turned up drugs, guns and ammunition.  
The search of former Judge Mike Cook's Pike County hunting cabin came two months after Associate Judge Joe Christ died last year of a cocaine overdose in the cabin's bathroom. Cook was in custody at the time of the search.

wikipedia.org

The Archdiocese of Chicago is apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Bishop Francis Kane offered the apology during a news conference Wednesday to discuss church files on sex abuse cases that are being released.

The documents involve 30 former priests with substantiated abuse claims against them. The files are being handed over to attorneys for victims as part of a settlement.

npr

Illinois police departments say officers are using discretion about whether to cite drivers who are breaking the state's new ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.  

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports law enforcement agencies appear to be giving drivers latitude if they're caught violating the new law.  
The measure took effect Jan. 1.  

wikimedia

Hundreds of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally now have Illinois driver's licenses.
 
The Illinois Secretary of State's office says more than 1,200 immigrants have
received licenses since December under a new state law.
 
Immigrants can currently take license tests at 14 locations across the state.
Secretary of States spokesman Dave Druker says 36 locations will offer license
tests by the end of the month.
 
The licenses are valid for three years and may be used only for driving. They

news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

I Voted sticker roll
Wikimedia

State election regulators say more than a dozen Illinois counties have purged their voter registration rolls to remove the names of people who've died or moved away.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/19rHR6b ) 17 counties and the city of East St. Louis fixed problems on their lists of registered voters.  
County clerks are required to purge voter rolls every two years. But some counties say there isn't enough money in the budget to cover the sometimes costly review.

Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport underwent $5.3 million in improvements last year.  

Springfield Airport Authority Chairman Frank Vala said Monday that the upgrades were necessary to maintain a ``safe, modern and user friendly facility for all airport users.''  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1eEgDsy) that the improvements included taxiways, roadways, safety fences and restrooms. The airport also added a solar-thermal collection system to reduce water-heating costs.  
The airport plans nearly $7.6 million in improvements for this year.

Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

flickr

Raising Illinois' minimum wage has emerged as the first significant campaign issue for candidates hoping to become Illinois' next governor. And it could take center stage throughout the year.  
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to raise the $8.25 hourly rate to at least $10 by year's end. But a coalition of business groups that worry raising the rate would kill jobs say they'll try to stop the efforts.

Next month there'll be an Illinois Manufacturer's Association forum where organizers say minimum wage will be a main topic.  

Falling corn prices and questions about ethanol demand could lead Illinois farmers to plant fewer acres of corn this year.  

Patrick Kirchhofer is manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. He tells the (Peoria) Journal Star that farmers are instead taking a closer look at soybeans this year. That's after several years of increasing corn production fueled by higher prices.  

Health officials are putting out the word that supplies are running low after blood drives in Illinois were canceled because of this week's winter weather.  
At the Central Illinois Community Blood Center in Springfield, officials say there have been about 600 fewer donations.  
And in the St. Louis area, more than 30 different blood drives were canceled.  

Peoria Public Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a request for aid to local governments in Illinois after deadly tornadoes swept the state in November.  

FEMA sent a letter on Thursday to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency saying that damage after the storms wasn't severe enough to warrant federal help. The storms left at least 7 people dead statewide and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.  

University of Illinois

University of Illinois trustees are considering giving Athletic Director Mike Thomas a raise and a contract extension.  
Trustee James Montgomery said Thursday that under the proposal Thomas' base pay would be increased to $554,000 and extended by two years. Thomas was hired in 2011 on a five-year contract with a base salary of $475,000.  

A trustees' committee will consider the proposal Thursday in Chicago. Any changes would eventually have to be approved by the full board of trustees that governs the university.  

debt.org

A new report says almost one-third of Illinois homes are ``deeply underwater'' meaning that they're worth at least 25 percent less than what's owed on the loans. 

The report released Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac says that represents almost 775,000 Illinois homes. The report is based on data from December.  

Only Nevada and Florida fare worse, with 38 percent and 34 percent of homes deeply underwater, respectively. 

But the report has some good news.

Nationally, the percentage of deeply underwater homes is falling.  

A state report shows the amount of money taxpayers owe five state pension plans hit $100.5 billion on June 30.

But that's $3 billion less when not using a counting method adopted five years ago that made the pension picture brighter.  

Auditor General William Holland released a report Wednesday that estimates the total retirement-fund debt based on a process called ``smoothing'' _ considering gains and losses during the past five years.  

Without smoothing and instead considering current market value of assets, the total unfunded liability is $97 billion.  

Illinois drivers should get ready to pay more for insurance.  
Crain's Chicago Business reports (http://bit.ly/1ggCmGt ) major insurers in Illinois are raising rates.  
Northbrook-based Allstate says in a regulatory filing that rates for customers will climb between 2.5 and 3.5 percent later this month.  
Esurance rates are rising about 3.2 percent in late January, while Geico expects to boost prices by 2 to 3 percent in March.  

WBEZ

Gov. Pat Quinn is supporting his prisons director after a Republican challenger called for the director to be fired.  
 Sen. Kirk Dillard is a GOP candidate for governor. He said Wednesday that Democrat Quinn should fire S.A. ``Tony'' Godinez  for hiring a man with arrests and apparent one-time gang ties.  

Dillard says it's ``outrageous'' that ex-gang members are ``running the prisons.''  
Xadrian McCraven  was an $111,000-a-year senior policy adviser to the Department of Corrections' parole chief before he was fired Friday.  

pbs

Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate will continue working in Connecticut until March 1, just before Illinois' primary election.   The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/19SJTfX ) Paul Vallas will keep working as superintendent of Bridgeport public schools.  

Vallas submitted his resignation to Bridgeport officials on Dec. 31 and is required to give a 60-day notice.  
Illinois' primary election will be held March 18.  

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