Local News for Sunday, March 10

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Published on March 10 2013 10:09 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is backing a plan that would keep polling places out of schools.  She says opening the doors to the public gives a potential shooter direct access to innocent students.  She's working with several lawmakers to get a bill through the general assembly.  It would require governments to find alternative polling places.  Topinka wants to see a new law on the books by the time voters head to the polls next year.

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Effingham County Habitat for Humanity will host a dedication and Open House at the newest Habitat home located in Mason today.  The ceremony will begin at 2pm.  This is the 10th Habitat home built in Effingham County.  The home was built with the help of community volunteers.  All are invited to attend.  There will be a sign along Illinois 37 in Mason directing you to the home, which is located on the block west of the Mason Civic Center.  The two-bedroom home was built for Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Ricketts.  Habitat for Humanity is a non-denominational Christian housing ministy that builds homes with those in need of better housing.

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Temporary housing is being set up at several minimum security prisons in Illinois.  The six prisons include Vandalia and Centralia correctional centers.  The housing is being established as the state moves inmates between prison facilities.

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An Illinois oil magnate is dead.  Bernard Podolsky died this week at a southern-Illinois hospital.  The 97-year-old is remembered as an environmentalist, philanthropist and leader in conservation.  He also ran the Podolsky Charitable Trust.  That offered Wayne County high school seniors a chance to go to Washington D.C.

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A new gaming bill is moving in the state senate.  Lawmakers rushed to get the bill on the books after Quinn mentioned he was more open to the idea.  The bill would add five new casinos across the state, allow slots at race tracks, and create a new online gambling system.  Supporters say the money from gambling would go toward education, which Quinn says will take a 400-million dollar funding cut next year.

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A new report says Illinois is among the states witnessing a major jump in the cost of college tuition.  The "Wall Street Journal" found that tuition and fees at the University of Illinois leapt nearly 50-percent between 2006 and 2012.  U-I-C saw a 43-percent increase for in-state students during the same time period.  The report attributes the increases on reduced state funding for universities.

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A federal judge has removed a longstanding roadblock to timber cutting and drilling in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.  Judge J. Phil Gilbert has lifted his 1996 injunction barring such activity, writing that the U.S. Forest Service has since begun a new forest-planning process based on a new environmental analysis.  The Forest Service says Gilbert's earlier concerns have been addressed, but environmentalists call the ruling a setback. 

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A Republican committee is meeting this weekend to decide whether to fire their party chairman.  Some members of the party say Pat Brady was off the mark when he announced his support for gay marriage, which is a platform Republicans have long stood against.  Brady has ignored calls for his resignation.  Several top GOP politicians are backing Brady, including US Senator Mark Kirk and US Congressman Aaron Schock.

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State representatives are on board with a plan to cap pensionable salaries for state workers.  All current workers would be capped at $113,000, but it wouldn't impact anyone making more than that now.  Those workers would be capped at their current, higher salary level. State reps voted Yes on the proprosal during a test vote this week and it could eventually become part of a larger pension fix.

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Illinois State Police top brass officially welcomed the newest rank of ISP troopers, Cadet Class 120, to the agency Friday.  56 cadets took the Illinois State Police Oath of Office during the graduation ceremony.  The cadets will report to State Police districts throughout the state.

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Three St. Anthony High School band students who competed at the IHSA Solo/Ensemble event at Centralia last weekend received a "I" rating, the highest possible.  The students are Alexander Curl on tenor saxophone, Tierney Hammer on clarinet, and Brianna Siemer on flute.  The St. Anthony High School Band is directed by Christy Cyrus.

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The Outdoor Sportsman's Lodge on Newton Lake was featured Saturday on Comcast Sports and on TFN, The Fishing Network.

The show highlighted a new attraction at the lodge, Bigfoot Grill Burgers, two patties of beef or pork side-by-side, grilled up on a wood-fired grill, and placed on a Bigfoot-shaped bun, including toes.  Owner Tad Walker said Bigfoot Season kicks off April 6.

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Altamont Lutheran Interparish School will wrap up a week of celebrating Lutheran Schools Week today.  The 2nd and 3rd graders at ALIS will sing during Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altamont's 11am worship.

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The Homecoming Gospel Choir will be in concert at First Baptist Church in Mattoon tonight at 6:00.  The Homecoming Gospel Choir features more than 80 singers and musicians, presenting a Homecoming Gospel Reunion similar to the Gaither Homecoming videos.  Admission to the concert is free, and a love offering will be received.

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Sacred Heart Church of Lillyville's annual breakfast is underway this morning in the parish hall and will continue until noon.  The menu includes sausage, ham, eggs, pancakes, rolls, coffee, juice and milk.  Large plate is $6 and small plate is $4.  There is a Country Store with baked goods, craft items and a 50/50 drawing.  Handicapped parking is available and the Parish Hall is wheelchair-accessible.

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Trinity Lutheran School PALS is sponsoring their annual spaghetti dinner today at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stewardson, with serving from 11:30am to 1pm.  The menu includes spaghetti with meat sauce, breadsticks, relishes and lettuce salad, dessert and coffee, tea and lemonade.  Carryouts will be available, and free will donations will be accepted.

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There is a Red Cross blood drive going on from now until 11am today at St. Aloysius Church at Bishop Creek.