Illinois Budget 8.25.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Video: What’s happening this week with the News & Interactive Division.

Westmont Progress named Newspaper of the Year by Suburban Newspaper Association.

Facebook in print piece a hit in northern Missouri.


Gimme an "ow": Cheerleaders trying to reduce injury risk

SPRINGFIELD – There’s no way to put it delicately: Cheerleading can be hazardous. Cheerleading and cheerleading safety have been getting a lot of media attention recently because of the release of the 26th annual study “Catastrophic Sports Injury Research: Fall 1982-Spring 2008” from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The study found that a major factor in the increase of catastrophic injuries to female athletes was due to cheerleading, which now involves gymnastic-type stunts. The number of emergency-room visits made each year due to cheerleading injuries more than quintupled from 1980 to 1997. By Tamara Browning of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Check with local schools to see if they’ve have an increase in cheerleading injuries.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

NEW TAXES: Prices will go up on Sept. 1 for personal grooming and hygiene products, along with some food, candy and beverages, when the state starts applying state and local sales taxes to those products. We talk with retailers, customers and the Department of Revenue about what's involved and how it could play out in stores. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau.

EPA DIRECTOR: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott says in an interview with GateHouse News Service that he's disappointed that gubernatorial candidate and Comptroller Dan Hynes has called for his dismissal in the wake of a newspaper story about criminal cases against polluters being delayed. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau.

STATE CAPITOL Q&A: A closer look at the governor's use of his amendatory veto power on several bills to save the state some money and avoid some politically awkward positions. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau.


With wind towers going up nationwide, business opportunities follow

MINONK – Winds of change are blowing across the central Illinois economy. Companies such as SMF, a machine shop in Minonk with 120 employees, are finding that the growth of wind energy in the state not only creates an environmental benefit, but also provides jobs. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Are local companies getting business from wind power?

Budweiser testing 'world's lightest beer' in Peoria

PEORIA – People want to know if "the world's lightest beer" plays here. Well, Anheuser-Busch does anyway. The St. Louis-based beer giant launched a test marketing campaign earlier this month in Peoria and 14 other U.S. cities for a beer with only 55 calories in a 12-ounce bottle. Select 55 is Budweiser's answer to MGD 64, a 64-calorie beer launched by MillerCoors last year. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.


Former deputy finds dream job in dinosaur bones

ROCKFORD – About a year before Burpee Museum of Natural History staff and volunteers discovered Jane, the museum’s famed juvenile tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur, Scott Williams sat on a hill in Montana next to a giant fossilized rib bone and made a life-changing decision. Staring out across the Hell Creek rock formation, Williams thought of the mystery of what lay beneath the hardened earth, and he decided the lure of the hunt was too much to ignore. “I sat there and said, ‘This is what I wanted to do my whole life. ... Why am I a cop?’ ” Williams said. By Corina Curry of the Rockford Register Star.

Longtime Habitat for Humanity volunteers enjoy building together

PEORIA – Don Baker remembers the theme of the first meetings - simple, decent, affordable housing. He remembers the first houses. Baker's recollections remind him of how much Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria has grown over the past 20 years and how much volunteers have learned. By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.

93-year-old twins ‘a big part of everyone’s lives’

BELVIDERE – Twins Iola Lewis and Iona “Scoop” Narestad are tackling the later years of life together, finding it easier to age with your sister by your side. The 93-year-old twins, who celebrated their birthday on June 16, are filled with spirit, memories and light-hearted sarcasm. By Betsy Lopez Fritscher of the Rockford Register Star.

Steve Tarter: Book details what didn't play in Peoria, but could have

PEORIA – We know that this nation apparently places great store in just what plays in Peoria, but what about the things that didn't play here? That's what Peorians Greg Wahl and Charles Bobbitt sought to find out in their new book, "It Didn't Play in Peoria: Missed Chances of a Middle American Town." The result is a folksy approach to Peoria history, cruising through a lot of information that we've heard before but also coming up with a number of items we haven't. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Toon on the torture investigation.

Phil Luciano: Family grateful for boy's heroics during dog attack

Lee Moore was shocked to see a normally peaceful dog bite a little girl. "It was strange," the 15-year-old says. "The dog nipped her once, so I figured it might bite her again. So I decided to help her, and got between the two." His efforts allowed the girl - 9-year-old Paige Ayers - to escape with just a minor injury. But Lee got a trip to the emergency room, multiple injuries and 29 stitches - along with the gratitude of Paige's family.

Editorial: Terror alerts shouldn't become political tools

Did the 2004 presidential election narrowly avoid being manipulated by terror threats just days before Americans went to the polls? That's the claim made by Tom Ridge, the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, in a book coming out next Tuesday in which he says he was pressured by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft to raise the national terror alert level at the end of October, 2004, to help President Bush win re-election. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Town hall meetings worth the trouble

When Congress returns to business on Capitol Hill next month, senators and representatives will very likely have stories to share on the summer of 2009. Town hall meetings held this month have provided theatrics suitable for the nightly news, with scenes of angry Americans yelling obscenities at their elected representatives on the health care bill. Despite the behavior of some of our fellow countrymen, and honestly it was despicable at times, town hall forums are still a valuable opportunity for both the constituency and our representatives to clear the air on the issues of the day. An editorial from the Freeport Journal-Standard.


TWO FEET ARE BETTER THAN ONE: Heading into their second season sharing the placekicking chores, sophomores Matt Eller and Derek Dimke don't mind the platoon system. Scholarships for both probably help. By John Supinie.