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Flanagan couple facing new heroin charges

A traffic stop west of Pontiac finds a Flanagan couple facing new heroin charges. 37-year-old James Blankenbeckler and his 32-year-old wife, Beth, were arrested Tuesday on Route 17. They were already free on bond for possession of heroin.

Both were charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Beth Blankenbeckler was also charged for bringing contraband into a penal institution. Police said the offense involved bringing medication into the jail.

According to police, officers found heroin in the couple's mini-van when it was stopped near Blackstone about 1:20 Tuesday morning.

According to a statement from the Livingston County Sheriff's Department, one bag of heroin, five used bags containing heroin residue and a straw were seized from the suspects. Other medications were also taken during the traffic stop.

The Blankenbecklers were charged in February with possession of heroin after the Livingston County Sheriff's Department drug unit seized more than 500 plastic bags containing heroin, 4.5 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia found at the couple's home.
The couple was released after posting bonds.

The arrests sparked a dispute between State's Attorney Seth Uphoff and Sheriff Tony Childress over the charges and evidence in the case. The prosecutor criticized the sheriff's characterization of the investigation as a potential drug delivery case.

Childress stood by his comments that the large number of plastic bags represented a mixture of drug sales and personal use by the suspects.

The low-level felony charges filed in February accuse the Blankenbecklers of possessing, but not selling, drugs.

94.1 WGFA

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Prosecutor O’Brien addresses ‘Take Back the Night’ audience

"It's as much a problem here as anywhere else...sexual assaults happen everywhere."

That was Wednesday's message from Iroquois County Assistant State's Attorney Alex O'Brien. He talked about sexual assault cases in Iroquois County, saying there were 45 people, including 27 children and 18 adults, that were assisted by the local ISAS office this last year.

Iroquois Sexual Assault Services hosted its 3rd annual 'Take Back the Night" event in Watseka. The First United Methodist Church was the setting for the education and awareness program. Two clients of ISAS bravely talked about their experiences, telling their own stories how ISAS, family and friends helped them cope.

O'Brien said sexual assault cases need to be talked about; it's about awareness. He said victims have to know the community supports them.

94.1 WGFA

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Will County closes doors on health programs

Illinois's budget impasse is forcing the Will County Health Department's decision to lay off 53 employees. And the lay-offs will have an impact on some 52-thousand clients, many of them children.

The layoffs follow a $2.1 million-dollar shortfall because of the state budget impasse. Nine health department programs are being suspended. Programs affected include adult psychiatric services, school vision and hearing tests, HIV prevention services and behavioral health services.

94.1 WGFA

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Stormy weather possible Wednesday

A Low pressure moving across the central Plains will continue to bring storm chances across central Illinois today.

Some of the storms could be strong to severe with gusty winds, heavy rain and some hail. A frontal boundary moving northward will be the focus for the storms, especially later in the afternoon and evening.

By Thursday, the forecast has most of the rain out of our area and to the north before some sunshine returns Friday.
More storms are expected into the weekend.

94.1 WGFA

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Dog shot, found tied to Illinois bridge

A dog found shot and left tied to a bridge in Ford County is showing signs of improving. The News-Gazette reports the dog was discovered last week (April 20) near Sibley.

Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran reported a man walking his own dog found the dog. Doran said the Labrador mix (known as Bear) was tied to a high spot on the bridge so he could just touch his paws to the ground. The dog's mouth was duct-taped closed. He had been shot with a shot gun and had a broken jaw. Reports indicated neighbors know who the dog belonged to and an investigation continues.

A Gibson City Veterinarian Clinic helped treat Bear. A spokesperson said Bear's jaw is too badly broken for surgery and he needs a feeding tube. But Bear is expected to recover.                                                                      {Reprinted from Champaign News-Gazette}

94.1 WGFA