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>>Peoria Facing Days Of Recovery From Flooded Illinois River

(Peoria, IL)  --  As flood waters recede in the Peoria area, the Red Cross is kicking into gear with cleanup supplies.  Peoria's downtown was spared major damage, but the owners of many homes and businesses in the area face days of work to get things back to normal.  Hundreds of cleanup kits containing mops, brooms, shovels, rakes, trash bags and cleaning supplies have been distributed in Peoria and LaSalle counties.  One other concern is that the flood waters are contaminated with chemicals and raw sewage, presenting a hazard to people who wade through standing water as they clean up.

>>Motive Unclear In Killing Of Five

(Manchester, IL)  --  The six-year-old survivor of the deadly mass killing in tiny Manchester, near Springfield, is recovering.  Kassidy Ralston has been upgraded to fair condition as she recovers from gunshot wounds she suffered when her parents, two siblings and great-grandmother were killed in their home.  State police are still working to determine the motive of the presumed killer, 43-year-old Rick Smith, who died after a gun battle with police.  Smith had a daughter with another woman in the victims' family, but it's not clear if that played a role in the attack early Wednesday morning.

>>Probation Ended For Former Blagojevich Chief Of Staff

(Chicago, IL)  --  John Harris, the former chief of staff who helped to convict Rod Blagojevich of corruption, has been freed from the justice system when his probation was ended early.  Harris, a one-time rising star in city and state government, was sentenced to just ten days in jail for conspiracy because of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors.  Since his conviction, Harris has become a power-line electrician.  The lifting of his probation allows him to travel to other states to make storm-related repairs.

>>Rockford Man Declared Innocent Of 1993 Student Murder

(Champaign, IL)  --  A Rockford man who spent more than 13 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit has been formally declared innocent of the 1993 killing of a college student.  Alan Beaman's conviction was reversed in 2008 after DNA testing excluded him as the killer of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller. Today's court declaration of his innocence allows Beaman to formally clear his name.  He's also suing police and prosecutors for violating his civil rights.  No other suspects have been charged.

>>Jobless Rates Up In Most Illinois Metro Areas

(Springfield, IL)  --  Unemployment went up in seven of the state's 12 metro areas compared with a year ago as the state's jobs outlook remained bleak.  Only Rockford, Kankakee, Metro East and the Quad Cities saw slight declines in March, while Bloomington's rate was the same as a year ago.  Decatur and Rockford had the highest unemployment rate at eleven-point-eight-percent.  Bloomington-Normal had the lowest rate at six-point-nine-percent.


>>Manchester Shooting Victim Was Pregnant

(Manchester, IL) --  One of the women shot-to-death in Manchester was pregnant.   Officials haven't said how far along Brittney Luark was.  A state police spokesperson wasn't sure if the unborn child would be considered a homicide and added to the death toll.  Luark was gunned down early Thursday morning along with her two sons, her boyfriend, and her grandmother.  The gunman later died after a gunfight with police.

>>Senate Approves Plan To Let Psychologists Prescribe Meds

(Springfield, IL)  --  People suffering from depression or mental illness could soon have more treatment options.  The State senate approved a bill that would let psychologists prescribe the meds they need.  The psychologists would only be allowed to write prescriptions if they get a Masters Degree in Pharmacology and pass a national exam to show they understand how medicines mix.  Opponents argue the psychologists won't have anywhere near enough training to fully understand how the medications will affect the patients.

>>IDOT Enforces Safe Work Zones

(Springfield, IL)  --  Drivers in the Metro East will get a little help noticing their speed when they go through a work zone.  IDOT will start using speed indicator boards in construction zones, which will flash when people are driving faster than they should be.  Spokesperson Paris Ervin says the idea is to save lives.  The state logs about seven thousand work zone crashes every year, 19 of those usually result in a death.

>>Illinois College Recognized As "Veteran-Friendly"

(Belleville, IL)  --  Southeastern Illinois College in Belleville is being recognized for going above and beyond to help veteran students.  School officials will accept the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education this afternoon.  Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Borggren will present the award at the Liberal Arts Complex Conference Center at 2:00p.m.

>>Special Olympics Spring Games Get Underway Today

(Carbondale, IL)  --  The 2013 Special Olympics Spring Games will get underway today.  More than 500 athletes will compete in track and field events.  Athletes who win a gold medal at the area-level games will qualify to compete in the Special Olympics State Summer Games at Illinois State University in June.  Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon will help launch the games at Carbondale Community High School at 9:15 this morning.

>>State Fair Grandstand Tickets On Sale

(Springfield, IL)  --  Tickets to all the State Fair concerts go on sale tomorrow.  The 2013 line-up includes Toby Keith, John Mayer, Ke$ha, Styx, and REO Speedwagon.  This year, concert-goers will have the option to get closer to the stage by buying a "VIPit" ticket.  Tickets go on sale at 10:00a.m. and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. 

>>Quinn Adds Counties To Disaster Area List

(Undated)  --  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is adding four counties to the list of disaster areas in light of recent flooding.  Yesterday, Quinn added the counties of Warren, Lawrence, Clark and Crawford to bring the total number of counties affected to 48.  Whenever a jurisdiction is placed on the list officials can ask for additional support for that area.

>>Damaged River Lock Will Impede Shipping

(Undated)  --  A damaged lock along the Illinois River will keep a northern stretch of waterway closed for several weeks.  This particular stretch is considered to be a main artery for shipping bulk goods such as corn and soybeans heading to the Gulf of Mexico.  Officials say the lock was heavily damaged during recent heavy rains.

>>Quinn Strips UNO Charter Schools Of Funding

(Undated)  --  State funding for UNO Charter Schools is coming to an end.  Officials from Governor Quinn's administration announced yesterday it would eliminate financial resources for all United Neighborhood Organization schools.  The group faced scrutiny recently over allegations of nepotism and cronyism.  

>>Motorcycle Deaths On Roads Increase

(Undated)  --  Illinois officials say motorcycle-related deaths on statewide roadways is rising.  The number of motorcycle deaths on Illinois roadways rose to 132 last year, up four.  Officials say the increase here and in Missouri is likely due to milder weather which adds riders to the roads.

 

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