Illinois Budget 9.22.09

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,


ASFs: Springfield shares tomato ideas in five simple tips

Front page gallery for Sept. 22


Sheriff: Five family members murdered in Logan County

BEASON – Logan County officials are investigating what appears to be a mass murder. Five members of the Raymond Gee family of Beason were found murdered inside their residence Monday afternoon, Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols said Tuesday. By Joshua Niziolkiewicz of the Lincoln Courier. Will be updated.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

EARLY RELEASE: The Illinois Department of Corrections' plan, announced last week, to grant early release to 1,000 non-violent offenders is drawing fire from a state lawmaker and ex-prosecutor who calls it "haphazard" and says it will further overwhelm parole agents who will have to keep track of these ex-inmates. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau.

STATE CAPITOL Q&A: A look at the latest on state layoffs, the first round of which are supposed to take place Sept. 30 but could be held up by a lawsuit expected to get its first test in a southern Illinois courtroom on Wednesday. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau.


Cat's pro bono initiative wins international recognition

When attorney Johna Rollet took on the case of a Center for Prevention of Abuse client last year, it was an opportunity to do something she doesn't often get to do. Order of protection cases are not typical at Caterpillar Inc., where Rollet works as corporate counsel. She also is the current chair of the pro bono program in Caterpillar's Legal Services Division, now in its fourth year and growing. While fairly new, the Caterpillar pro bono program recently received a Global Counsel Award from the International Law Office, a legal update service organization for companies worldwide.

Farmers likely to hit dryers when harvest comes in

PEORIA – Recent rains are likely to help late-developing central Illinois crops but there's still concern about a later-than-usual harvest across the state. According to Monday's crop report from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, corn was at 73 percent maturity, compared with a five-year average of 96 percent. Fifty-four percent of the state's soybeans are turning yellow, compared with a five-year average of 82 percent, the report noted. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.

Home buyer tax credit gets positive reviews

PEORIA – While the White House considers extending an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, the federal program is being lauded in Peoria and around the state.White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration's economic team is evaluating the tax credit's impact on new home sales before making a recommendation to the president. Currently, the federal tax credit covers up to 10 percent of the house price or up to $8,000 for first-time buyers. Home sales must be closed by the end of November. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.


Guard members cope with returning home

SPRINGFIELD – Dave Rogers ran into a dilemma on the morning of his first full day back home after a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. He had to decide what to wear since a military uniform wasn't necessary. Achieving a sense of normal life can be a struggle after a loved one has been deployed. Households often have adopted new routines, with spouses and children being forced to take on extra responsibilities. And the soldiers may have trouble adjusting from the war zone mentality that kept them alive. By Amanda Reavy of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Check with local Guard families to see how they cope with family members returning from duty.

Going vegetarian can be difficult for teens

SPRINGFIELD – Although schools have mostly done away with Mystery Meat Monday, teenagers who are vegetarian aren’t exactly spoiled with choices. Vegetarianism is not an easy choice for teenagers who live in communities that lack vegetarian-oriented restaurants and food shops. By Sara Tamizuddin of the State Journal-Register.

Former movie theater destined to become church, 'paintball heaven'

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield church plans to convert the old White Oaks Cinema into a combination of worship space and "paintball heaven." IWorship Center’s current church, opened in 2006, is on Springfield’s far northeast side. The former theater at White Oaks Mall will provide a west-side satellite location to accommodate the church’s growing congregation, according to the Rev. Eric Hansen, iWorship Center’s lead pastor. Three of the theaters will be used for church purposes and two will become a paintball facility open to the public. By Amanda Reavy of the State Journal-Register.


BRITT: Toon on climate change.

Editorial: ACORN has larger problems than videos

We have consistently admired Sen. Dick Durbin’s willingness to vote on principle even when torrential popular backlash is sure to follow. But we don’t think Durbin’s departure from the majority last week on cutting some federal funding of the community activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN — was right. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: True reform? Redraw the map on redistricting

Of all the reforms that have been proposed to address political incompetence and corruption in Illinois, if we could have just one - apologies to campaign contribution caps, also much needed - it would be changing the way Illinois draws its state legislative and federal congressional boundaries for the purpose of electing candidates every 10 years. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.


NFL Quick Shots: Passer rating overemphasizes dinks and dunks

The NFL passer rating is the worst sports stat since the save in baseball, but we use it because it’s the easiest number to give a thumbs up or thumbs down review of a quarterback. The problem with passer rating is it puts too much emphasis on completion percentage, touchdowns and interceptions, not enough on yards gained, and no emphasis on third downs. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Also includes items on Cedric Benson, the importance of running, and shortening the game.

GLOOM AND DOOM: While a dark cloud hung over the Illinois program following a loss to Missouri in the season opener, maybe the Illini are just like the rest of the Big Ten. It seems every team has issues. Lead to Illinois notes. By John Supinie.