>USDA Predicts Stronger Corn Crop
(Springfield, IL) -- The United States Department of Agriculture expects farmers to produce more corn in Illinois this year. The agency released its August Crop Production report. Last year's drought kept corn numbers low, but the USDA says that will change this year. They're predicting one-point-nine billion bushels this year, up from one-point-three billion last year. Yieds will increase 60 bushels an acre to 165. Soybean farmers will also see an increase to an average yield of 47 bushels an acre. The USDA expects 439-point-5 million bushels of soybeans statewide.
>>Fayette County Man Mauled By Bear
(St. Elmo, IL) -- A Fayette County man is recovering after being mauled by his pet bear. Marion Julius entered the bear's cage to take care of the animal when it attacked him. Julius' son put down the bear before authorities could arrive, but Julius got a broken hip, broken leg and several bites from the incident. He was flown to a hospital in St. Louis to be treated. Julius is certified to own the bear by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He had owned the bear for several years.
>>New Law Bars Sex Offenders From Fast Food Playgrounds
(Springfield, IL) -- A new Illinois law will keep sex offenders away from playgrounds at restaurants. They'll still be able to get fast food, but they won't be able to hang around a playground. The law comes from an incident last year in Cook County where a sex offender was watching kids at a McDonald's playground.
>>New Highway Maps Offer Web Access
(Springfield, IL) -- The next time you grab an Illinois road map, you might want to grab your smartphone too. The Illinois Department of Transportation has rolled out new maps that offer a way for you to connect online. The maps include QR codes that will like you to websites like Getting Around Illinois and Enjoy Illinois. There are also codes that can help you learn about traffic in St. Louis along with things like alternative fuels and the state's yellow dot program. The QR codes can be scanned with a smartphone to take you to the website.
>>Agriculture Day At State Fair
(Springfield, IL) -- Agriculture will be the highlight of the Illinois State Fair today. The Governor's Sale of Champions will auction off grand champion livestock while the Commodity Auction will sell off the best of the state's processed foods. Other highlights of the day include harness racing, an auctioneer bid calling contest and a cutest little farmer contest.
Springfield, IL) -- Senator Mark Kirk will make his first appearance in central Illinois since suffering a stroke in 2012. The Republican is scheduled to appear at the State Fair in Springfield on Thursday to talk-up his re-election campaign. Thursday is "Republican Day" at the fair.
>>IL Nursing Homes Receive Failing Grades
(Undated) -- Illinois nursing homes are getting poor grades for their care of the elderly. The group Families for Better Care gives Illinois nursing homes a failing grade. One major reason for the poor grade is the severe shortage in staff. The group is calling on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to add staff members at all Illinois nursing homes.
>>Quinn Inks Bill Making Cops More Pup-Friendly
(Springfield, IL) -- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs legislation to mandate better training of police officer understanding of canine behavior. The bill is aimed specifically at improving how law enforcement detect canine signals and the animal's intent. The bill was written in part as a response to a Bull Terrier shot and killed by an officer in December. Proponents of the bill say it will make Illinois a more humane place for dogs.
>>State Fair Underway In Springfield
(Springfield, IL) -- The Illinois State Fair is underway in the city of Springfield. Today's fair highlights include the beef, swine, goat and sheep open shows, the auctioneer bid-calling contest, harness racing and a grandstand concert by The Band Perry with Randy Houser. Tomorrow night country music star Toby Keith takes the grandstand stage. The fair wraps up Sunday.