Local News

Scholarships Available To Area Students Majoring In Agriculture

The Bureau County Farm Bureau Foundation has announced it will offer scholarships to area students majoring in agriculture.


Over the past 24 years, the Foundation has awarded $98,750 to deserving college students. Last year alone, the Foundation distributed $7,000 to area students.


To be eligible for the scholarships, students must be a Bureau County Farm Bureau member or a dependent of a Bureau County Farm Bureau member, and must be pursuing a degree in an agricultural-related field.


Applications are available by contacting the guidance counselors at school systems in Bureau County, the ag adviser at the school, advisers at state colleges and universities, or by contacting the Bureau County Farm Bureau office.


Applications are also available by email if you contact the Farm Bureau office or on their website at www.bureaucountyfarmbureau.org under the Foundation tab.


Applications can be emailed. If they are mailed, they need to be postmarked by Feb. 28, 2020. If the application will be hand delivered to the office, it must be in the office by 4 p.m. Feb. 28.


For more information, contact the Bureau County Farm Bureau at 815-875-6468.

Illinois' High Gas Prices Hold State Back In Ranking Of Best States For Drivers

Illinois may have a lower traffic fatality rate than other states, or better safety regulations for the roads, but the price of vehicle ownership, in particular, the cost of gas, held the state back in a national ranking.


Of all states, consumer finance website WalletHub reviewed for the best places to drive, Illinois ranked No. 13.  Analyst Jill Gonzalez points out some of the positives …



But Gonzalez says the high cost of gasoline in Illinois, where state lawmakers doubled the gas tax this summer, really works against the state’s ranking.



For gas prices, Illinois ranked 35th. Maintenance costs ranked 41st.  But the state was 4th for repair shops per capita and 7th for car dealerships per capita.  Our neighbors to the west, Iowa, is No. 1 on the list of best states for drivers.

PPL To Host Program On Aromatherapy and Healing Arts

The Princeton Public Library is hosting a program on aromatherapy and the healing arts.  Kate Brown is a Certified Clinical Aroma Therapist and Instructor for the Institute for Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy.  She is also a Healing Touch for Animals Certified Practitioner and Instructor.  She specializes in the use of Essential Oils and energy work for people and animals, through education, coaching, and personal consultations and sessions. 


Kate Brown will be sharing the personal journey that led to her interest in aromatherapy and the healing arts at the Princeton Public Library on Saturday at 11:00 am.  She will be providing general education on the health benefits of essential oils and healing touch for animals.  The program is free and all are welcome to attend.

Celtic Trio To Perform At Bishop Hill

The Celtic trio Blame Not the Bard, will perform a live concert Saturday, February 1st at Bishop Hill Creative Commons, located at 309 N. Bishop Hill St, Bishop Hill. The show will begin with a potluck dinner at 6 pm, with music starting at 7 pm and is open to all ages. A $10-20 donation is suggested. Dancers from the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance will perform alongside the band.


Blame Not the Bard is on a mission: to bring the stories of Ireland alive...and to have fun doing it.

Described as "Iowa Raised, Ireland Rooted," Blame Not the Bard is a high-energy trio determined to get your feet moving and hands clapping.  Armed with Irish song, stories, and fiddling, Blame Not the Bard provides an evening of down-to-earth entertainment.


For more information on the event visit bishophillcommons.com and to learn more about Blame Not the Bard visit blamenotthebard.com.

State Lawmakers Filing Legislation Cracking Down On Themselves

Illinois lawmakers are filing legislation that cracks down on their own behavior. 


With more scrutiny of Illinois legislators, reform-minded lawmakers are looking to capitalize and pass some greater transparency rules into law. 


One is sponsored by state Representative Allen Skillicorn that would ban lawmakers from actively earning money in the highly-regulated gambling industry while they’re in office.



State Representative Margo McDermed’s legislation would require greater disclosure of lawmakers’ outside income.  She says many are property tax attorneys who often vote on measures that benefit their industry. 



McDermed isn’t running for re-election.

Increase In Illinoisans Applying For Medical Cannabis Cards

More people are applying for medical cannabis cards in Illinois.  The Chicago Tribune reports more than 2,570 people applied for medical cards since January 1st, an increase of nearly 34 percent over the same time period in December.  The increase may be driven by consumers looking for a way around the high taxes on recreational cannabis, which could average 35 percent.  Recreational cannabis taxes are set to go even higher when local sales taxes kick in this summer.

Chamber Board Plans Open House To Honor Kim Frey

An open house and reception to honor Kim Frey, outgoing executive director of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce, has been announced.


The Princeton Chamber Board of Directors will host the event on Friday, January 24th from 2 to 4 pm at the Prouty Building at 435 South Main Street.


Frey, who has been executive director since September 2010, will be moving with her family to central Iowa, where her husband has taken a job in the telecommunications industry.


Her last day at the Chamber will be Friday, February 14th.


Frey recently visited the WZOE studios and sat down for an interview on "Wake Up Princeton".  You can hear that interview online at princetonnewsnow.com.

Princeton Public Library Receives Donation For HVAC System

The Princeton Public Library received another donation from Dr. Harold and Mrs. Jeanne Hutchinson in December.  The library says the $20,000 donation covered the ancillary costs associated with the updated HVAC system.


Although the project stayed within the initial estimated amount, the installation around the ducts needed repairs.  The Hutchinson's donation not only took care of those expenses, but covered the payment for the architectural/engineering consultant as well.


The Princeton Public Library has named the Youth Services area in honor of the Hutchinson’s past donations.  It was because of this gift to the library, that the HVAC replacement was completed sooner than initially planned.  The project was finished in December, as opposed to the originally expected timeline of spring, 2020.

IDPH Director Says It's Not Too Late To Get A Flu Shot

The flu season is here and in high gear across Illinois and the nation, but it’s not too late to get a flu shot.


Flu vaccines are produced a year in advance. That means scientists have to predict which flu will make the rounds well in advance of the first cough or sneeze.


Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike says health officials are still waiting to see how effective this year’s flu shot is.



Health officials are seeing both Influenza Type A and Type B popping up in emergency rooms around the state. What is working this year are medications. Ezike says those are spot-on.



This year’s flu virus is targeting young people and children, she said. Parents should make sure all children get a flu shot if they haven’t already.

Neponset and Toluca To Be Awarded Funds For Community Projects

More than $1.4 million will be awarded to two local communities for municipal improvement projects, according to 37th District State Senator Chuck Weaver of Peoria.


He says local officials from Neponset and Toluca have been notified that their communities will be awarded funding from the Community Development Block Grant program.


Neponset will receive $500,000 for improvements to the Village’s water system, including looping and hydrants. The community will also receive $500,000 to rehabilitate 10 housing units.


Toluca will receive $425,000 for improvements to the city’s waste water treatment plant.


The Community Development Block Grant program is one of the longest continuously run programs at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although federally funded, the program is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and awards funds to support local community development activities such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.

Liberty Village in Princeton Names New Medical Director

Liberty Village of Princeton has announced John Ibrahim, M.D., as their new medical director. He is a practicing family and internal medicine practitioner in Princeton.


Ibrahim began his education at the Minia School of Medicine in Egypt before moving to the United States. He finished his medical education and received his M.D. in 2015.


Ibrahim participated in the residency program at Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Chicago from 2016 until 2019.


Liberty Village of Princeton is located at 140 N. Sixth Street. For information, call 815-875-6600 or visit them online at libertyvillageofprinceton.com.

State Lawmaker Wants Illinois To Get Rid Of FOID Cards

One state lawmaker wants to get rid of Illinois’ Firearm Owners' Identification card.

State Representative John Cabello has filed a bill to eliminate the law that requires residents to obtain a FOID card in order to legally possess or purchase guns or ammunition…



He says Illinois State Police currently are dealing with a backlog of 62-thousand

applications from people to acquire or renew their card. Cabello also believes there are ulterior motives to the law…



Illinois is one of only four states with similar laws on the books.

Published CPR Study Based on Research Done at IVCH

A published study based on research done at Illinois Valley Community Hospital shows that frequent self-directed CPR training for nurses and other healthcare professionals done on a mobile simulation station is more effective than traditional classroom CPR recertification instruction.


Recently published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, the study showed that clinical staff significantly improved and had greater confidence in their CPR skills by practicing them every three months on a mobile simulation station rather than by taking a formal CPR class every two years as IVCH nurses had been doing previously.


Data for the study was gathered when IVCH began using the new CPR recertification method in 2016 and through responses by healthcare workers who participated in the new training to a survey mailed to them in 2018.


The mobile simulation station used at IVCH was purchased with a $25,000 grant from the IVCH Foundation.  IVCH was one of the first hospitals in Illinois to use this new CPR training program.


“It’s all about repetition,” said Maureen Rebholz, IVCH education director. “In the past, nurses were required to take CPR certification classes every two years. Now they recertify by demonstrating their skills on the simulator four times a year.  The data collected in the study demonstrates that the more often they practice, the more confidence they have in their CPR skills and that means they’ll be better able to use CPR on a patient if that becomes necessary.”  


Lorna Dudzik, a professor of nursing at Lewis University in Romeoville, developed the study as a completion for her doctoral nursing degree under the preceptorship of Rebholz.  The two are listed as co-authors of the Joint Commission Journal article along with Debra G. Heard, Russell E. Griffin, Mary Vercellino, Amanda Hunt and Adam Cates

Two Dead In Head-On Collision Near Henry

A head-on collision near Henry has taken the lives of two Peoria-area residents.  The Marshall County Sheriff's Office reports the accident happened just after 2 p.m. Friday on Route 29 north of Sparland when two vans collided, one driven by 72 year old Francis Hornung and the other by 55 year old Ioan Rus.  Hornung was extricated from his vehicle and taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria where he died  a short time later.  A passenger in his van, 61 year old Susan Hornung was pronounced dead at the scene.  Rus was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.  There's no word on if the winter weather contributed to the accident.  The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office was investigating along with accident reconstruction investigators from the Illinois State Police.

Princeton Business Damaged By Weekend Fire

An auto business was damaged by a weekend fire in Princeton.  No people were injured in Saturday night's fire at K & E Auto Sales at 535 West Peru Street but the blaze did claim a pet cat due to smoke inhalatian.  Firefighters, who had to battle not only the fire but frigid weather conditions, were able to limit the blaze mostly to an office area and the garage next to it.  The fire destroyed  some personal items and damaged office equipment, computers and furniture.  Princeton, Wyanet, Bureau and Malden fire departments responded to the fire at 6:48 p.m. They were on the scene for about two and a half hours.

Some GOP Members Of Congress From Illinois Differ On Next Steps For Cannabis

With Illinois now more than two weeks into the legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use, some Illinois congressmen are sounding off on if the federal government should follow suit.


Peoria Republican U.S. Representative Darin LaHood said he’s not in favor of legalizing adult-use of marijuana on a federal level. He said today’s cannabis is too potent, could harm developing brains and is a gateway drug.



In the first 12 days of sales, Illinois state officials said there was nearly $20 million in marijuana products sold. Taylorville Republican U.S. Representative Rodney Davis said he takes a more states-rights view of the issue.



Naperville Democratic U.S. Representative Bill Foster said Illinois legalizing the drug means the federal government should reexamine it’s “outdated stance” on cannabis and he advocates for federal research into the plant.

Strong Winter Weather Expected To Start Friday Afternoon

Area residents are bracing for a storm featuring a wintery mix of precipitation that is expected to roll into Central Illinois Friday afternoon.


The National Weather Service reports the precipitation will begin as light snow and later in the afternoon transition to freezing rain and sleet. The freezing rain is expected to continue into Friday evening, but then around midnight, the precipitation will likely change to rain.


Total snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches are possible with ice accumulations of around one tenth of an inch.  Winds will gust as high as 45 miles-per-hour.


Motorists are urged to slow down and use caution during the storm, paying particular attention during their evening commutes.  You should plan on slippery road conditions and patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.


For road conditions, go to www.gettingaroundillinois.com.


A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from noon Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Search Continues For Missing Ottawa Woman at Starved Rock State Park

The search continues at Starved Rock State Park for a missing Ottawa woman.  Tina Donovan was reported missing by a family member late Tuesday afternoon.
A ground search of the park was being done on Thursday after a vehicle belonging to Donovan was found in the lodge's parking area.  Ottawa Police were being joined in the search by Utica and Oglesby firefighters and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police.

Lawmakers Propose To Pay For First Two Years Of College For State Residents

Illinois’ community colleges could be free for residents if Illinois lawmakers move forward with new legislation. 


The proposal from state Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant would create the Illinois College Promise, which would use tax dollars to pay tuition and fees for residents who are attending a community college or similarly priced school for two years. 


It’s part of a national movement called College Promise. Director Martha Kanter says there’s a number of different situations where a free certificate or associate’s degree would be life-changing.



When implemented at a state level, the programs cost millions of dollars. California spent more than $40 million to pay for 30,000 students. Kanter says the organization keeps watch over states with the program to ensure they don’t go back on their promise.

Illinois Bill Would Prohibit First Responders From Losing Life Insurance Coverage Over Narcan

After hearing reports of first responders losing life insurance coverage for having been prescribed anti-overdose drugs, an Illinois lawmaker is looking to prohibit such cancellations. 


State Representative Margo McDermed says she didn’t know that it was an issue until a first responder approached her. 



The state of Massachusetts reported a number of cancellations for the same reason and banned the practice. McDermed’s bill, which she filed last week, mirrors a law in Texas banning insurers from dropping life insurance coverage for a nurse, EMT, or other first responder based solely on obtaining an opioid inhibitor, the most common being Narcan.


Associations representing insurance companies have said that the cancellations are happening, but say the sheer number of customers served makes it hard to catch all of the situations where people are wrongfully denied coverage.

New Report Says Illinois Has Sixth Highest Sales Tax

Illinois has the sixth highest state and local sales tax in the country, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. That’s up from seventh highest last year.


The Tax Foundation report said that’s because of cities like Evanston and Marion increasing their local sales taxes.


The average sales tax in Illinois, when adding state and local sales taxes, is 9.08 percent.

Princeton Names New Executive Director of Chamber and Tourism

The Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce Board has chosen a successor to Kim Frey as Chamber and Tourism Executive Director.


Autumn Kirk, 42, a native to the central Illinois area, lives in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and works for Ethan Allen as a design center director.


Kirk earned a degree in political science from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.  After college, she went to work as a project manager for a wind turbine company.  She has also spent time in Texas working for a global publishing company.


Kirk has spent the past 11 years in South Carolina, where she started an interior design company.  She’s also volunteered for many organizations, including Girl Scouts and her local food pantry and humane society.


Kirk will be relocating to Princeton and expects to begin her new role on Monday, February 3rd.  She replaces Kim Frey, whose last day on the job will be Friday, February 14th.

IVCC Offers Nursing Information Session

An Illinois Valley Community College nursing admission information session will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 12th in Room CTC124.


Sponsored by the nursing department, counseling center and admissions and records, the session will cover admission requirements and courses students should take before applying to either the associate degree (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs.


Due to space limitations, students are encouraged to RSVP through the web form at https://www.ivcc.edu/admissions/nursingadmissions.php or contact Kathy Sramek at (815) 224-0439 or by email at kathy_sramek@ivcc.edu.

Report Finds 1 Percent Of Illinois Schools Started After Labor Day In 2019

Labor Day used to be the one last hurrah of summer before school started for the year, but in 2019 just a handful of Illinois schools started after the holiday weekend. 


At the request of State Representative Mike Murphy of Springfield, the Illinois State Board of Education published a report analyzing school start dates across the state and what other states mandate as well.  Only 8 of the 852 schools started after the Labor Day holiday. 


Murphy says August events such as the Illinois State Fair have been affected because kids are already in school.



He does understand the point of starting early to finish the first half of the year before the holidays.



Illinois has no law mandating any specific time to start school.

Quilts of Valor At The Princeton Public Library

The Princeton Public Library is hosting a special event Wednesday evening.


Terry Johnson and the Illinois Quilts of Valor will be presenting about 16 quilts to service men and women who have been touched by war.  In 2019, the local Illinois Quilts of Valor group made 130 quilts which is double the amount that they made the previous year.


The National Quilts of Valor Foundation distributed 33,375 quilts to veterans in 2019 and a total of 242,485 since the national group was founded in 2005. 


The event gets underway at 5:30 pm.  You're urged to attend and show your appreciation for the men and women who have served our country when they receive their quilt and also to show your appreciation to those who make the beautiful quilts.  This program is free and all are welcome to attend.