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Local News

  • Parent Category: News

Barickman Says Legislature Can’t Put Off Pension Reform Any Longer

SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) criticized Democrat leaders in Springfield following a special session Wednesday for continuing to delay action on meaningful public pension reform.

Members of the House and Senate voted during the special session to send two competing pension reform proposals to a conference committee made up of five senators and five representatives.

Barickman says Democrat leaders like Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton have had months to resolve the issue. But, instead, they have failed to show leadership and have left taxpayers on the hook as the pension debt grows by $17 million a day.

The state's unfunded pension liability is already estimated to be nearly $100 billion. Just since the legislature adjourned on May 31, the pension debt has grown by over $300 million that, eventually, taxpayers will be forced to cover.

Barickman says taxpayers were also on the hook for about $40,000 to bring the legislature back to Springfield for one day simply to form the conference committee.

"I continually shake my head at each failure after failure by the leaders on pension reform," said Barickman. "The people of Illinois deserve better. And it's not fair to retirees, active workers, or taxpayers to put this problem off any longer."

Barickman says he is specifically disappointed in Governor Quinn during recent pension negotiations.

"All the Governor has done is say that he'll sign whatever bill the legislature passes," said Barickman. "He needs to stop leading from behind, get his hands dirty, and engage himself in the process."

Barickman says he's hopeful the conference committee will finish its work quickly so meaningful pension reform may be enacted as soon as possible.

  • Parent Category: News

IEPA seeks court order against Hoopeston Company following fire

HOOPESTON — Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett asked the Illinois attorney general's office on Wednesday to seek an immediate court order halting operations at J&R Used Tire Service, 103 E. Maple St., Hoopeston, following the large fire that started there Wednesday morning.

According to a written release, the IEPA is concerned about the effects the smoke may have on the environment and human health. The agency is also concerned about water used to fight the fire running off and contaminating neighboring properties and sewage or storm water systems.

The release said an inspection of the tire service by the IEPA on Feb. 6 resulted in multiple allegations of permit violations.

Among the violations were underestimating the amount of materials present at the site and not providing an emergency contingency response plan to local fire and police departments.

IEPA spokesman Andrew Mason said the agency issued a formal violation notice to the company in late March and had not received a response from the owners of the facility.

According to the release, the court injunction would force the owners to stop any activities on site, including the continued storage of used or waste tires; to access damage caused by the fire; to hire an environmental consultant to investigate the site and to remove and properly dispose of any remaining waste.

94.1 FM, WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Corbett can’t be removed as Health Administrator, contractual agreements

The Ford County Board is in no hurry to act on the removal of Doug Corbett as director of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.

A contract states Corbett is under contract and can only be removed if a disability prevents him from performing his duties OR he's convicted of a crime.

The Paxton Record, thru a FOIA request, shows Corbett's contract is in place thru November (2013) and he's protected under contract unless there's wrongdoing.

The Illinois Attorney General's office has already found no reason to pursue any alledged wrongdoing in the office.

The Ford County board Chairman Rick Bowen has said repeatedly, he sees no reason to follow through on an Iroquois County Board recommendation to remove Corbett from his post.

Meanwhile---the Ford County Health Board urges health employees to complete a survey providing their input on Corbett's status.

94.1 FM, WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Hoopeston fire could burn for days >

HOOPESTON —Teams of firefighters from Vermilion and Iroquois counties, and still more from Indiana continued to battle a blaze which broke out in a huge tire recycling facility early Wednesday morning.

Some officials fear the fire could burn for days. Safety precautions are in place. And Red Cross sheltering is in place after neighborhood evacuations.

Firefighters were called to the fire at J&R Used Tire Service Inc. at 103 Maple St. just before 5:0 a.m. When they arrived, the south end of the 400,000-square-foot 3brick facility was engulfed in flames.

"From the very beginning, it's just been an overwhelming day," Hoopeston Fire Chief Cliff Crabtree said. He said firefighters were just starting to bring the fire under control near the noon hour.

"We knew when we first got on the scene that we were going to have to take a defensive approach because of the type of fire it was," he continued, adding the building was filled with tires. "Unfortunately, in this
circumstance, ... you lose the whole building."

Reports of 5-15 employees of the business, owned by Rodney and Janie Rogers, were at work when the fire broke out, but they managed to escape without injury, said Lance Smith, Rodney Rogers' brother. He said one man was taken to a local hospital for possible smoke inhalation, but he was released later in the morning.

Crabtree wasn't sure how long the fire would burn.
"I expect to be here another 24 to 36 hours," he said.
Other officials said tire fires could burn for several days.

Shortly after the fire broke out, police evacuated homes and apartment buildings on Maple, Market and Lincoln streets, First Avenue and parts of Second and Third avenues not quite a mile west of the recycling facility, Police Chief Mark Drollinger said. Residents were taken to emergency shelters at Hoopeston Area High School and several local churches.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at the First Church of God on E. Orange Street.

Drollinger said portions of those streets along with Illinois 9 (also Orange Street) near the fire scene are closed to traffic, and only fire trucks and other emergency vehicles are allowed through.

Drollinger wasn't certain how long residents would remain evacuated or when the streets would reopen to the public.
Ameren also cut power to parts of the city, although officials said most of the power had been restored later in the morning.

The Danville Fire Department's hazardous materials team was also on the scene monitoring the air quality.

Rogers said he got the call at his home just after the fire started and his first concern was that his employees were all okay. He said his main concern after that became the safety of all the firefighters battling the blaze.

"My prayers are with all the people in Hoopeston, the families and the firefighters, and thankful for everyone who has pitched in," he said. "I'm sorry for what's happening to Hoopeston right now; sorry for all the inconvenience this is causing. We are going to do everything we can to make things right. This is like my worst nightmare."

Fire notes >

17 fire departments were at the scene.
1.5 million gal of water had been used.
evacuations were within a mile radius.

94.1 FM, WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Fire engulfs Hoopeston tire facility

Firefighters in Central Illinois battled a blaze at a tire-recycling facility that officials fear could go on for days.


Firefighters were called to J&R Used Tire Service in Hoopeston early Wednesday. There they found part of the 400,000-square-foot brick facility engulfed in flames.


Hoopeston Fire Chief Cliff Crabtree says the building is filed with tires. He added the fire could burn either 24 to 36 hours, or for several days.


Police Chief Mark Drollinger said residents of nearby homes and apartment buildings were evacuated. He said he know how long residents would remain out their homes.


Maple, Elm and Chestnut Streets were among local routes closed.


Lance Smith, a brother of the facility's owner, said 5-15 workers were in the building when the fire began. All managed to escape without injury.


94.1 FM, WGFA