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Governor Rauner seeks SBA help from summer storms, flooding

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is asking the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for disaster assistance for people living in Iroquois and Grundy Counties affected by summer weather activity. If approved the SBA disaster declaration would enable citizens and businesses in those counties to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.

And people and businesses in contiguous counties, including Kankakee and Vermilion County, would also be eligible for assistance.

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared Iroquois, Kankakee, Grundy, Vermilion, Champaign and 83 other counties a federal disaster area. It has allowed farmers to seek assistance because of the damage that occurred with summer floods.

Governor Rauner's Office says assessments found a total of 297 homes in seven Illinois counties were destroyed or sustained major damage from several storms over a six week period. About 1,400 other homes sustained less severe damage during the same time period. A high percentage of the damaged homes had insurance.

Federal, state and local officials from 23 counties also met to document storm-related expenses incurred by local governments to determine if the state and affected counties could meet thresholds for federal assistance. That federal threshold was not met.

''If approved, the SBA assistance could be a tremendous help to many people who are working to repair or replace their homes or businesses,'' says Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James Joseph.

94.1 WGFA

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Unemployment rates rise slightly

East-central Illinois unemployment figures released (Thursday) are showing jobless rates rose last month. The numbers in Iroquois and Vermilion counties were up in July. But the figures are still well below where they were in July of last year.

Kankakee County unemployment was at 6.2% in July. That's down from 8.2% in 2014. The Illinois Department of Employment Security numbers show unemployment rose in Vermilion County from 6.5 percent of the workforce in June to 6.7 percent in July. The city of Danville's unemployment rate also rose, from 7.3 percent in June to 7.6 percent. But while the numbers are higher from the previous month, they are still down from where they were one year ago.

Vermilion County's July 2015 unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is down from 8.8 percent in July of last year.
In Iroquois County, the unemployment rate rose slightly last month from 4.7 to 4.9 percent. All counties in the WGFA-listening area saw the jobless rates rise last month but they were still below where they stood one year ago.

The numbers from the report show Champaign County's unemployment rate rose slightly from 4.9 percent in June to 5 percent last month.

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Iroquois County teens arrested for series of burglaries

An arrest of two men in Iroquois County for retail theft now finds both suspects connected to a series of burglaries and vehicle thefts dating back to December 2014.

Sheriff's police report 18-year-old Juan Perez, of Gilman, and 19-year-old Aaron Tuttle of Danforth were arrested in Watseka August 20.

An investigation found that before their retail theft arrests in Watseka, the pair had allegedly broken into Cazadore's Tacos in Onarga, where money and electronics were stolen. They then broke into Dowell Auto Body in Onarga and stole the keys to a car and a pocket knife.
Police said Perez and Tuttle used the keys to locate and steal a vehicle from an Onarga resident. That vehicle was recovered at the time of the arrests.

Perez was linked to a burglary, theft of money and prescription medication, as well as the theft of a vehicle from a home in Gilman on December 10, 2014. Sheriff's police found the vehicle damaged and abandoned four days later north of Gilman.

A burglary in LaHogue on January 19 was also linked to Perez and Tuttle. Then came a theft of a vehicle a few hours later in Thawville. That vehicle was found later that morning abandoned and damaged north of Gilman.
Perez and Tuttle remain in the Iroquois County Jail. Other charges are pending.

94.1 WGFA

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PBL schools on lockdown after reports of threats

Precautions are being taken by the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district today (Friday). A soft lockdown in effect Thursday will continue today after two elementary students reported hearing threats.

Police reported the students described two adults arguing. No other details were reported.
A school press release stated the two students were at recess when they heard the men threatening to hurt someone.

Paxton police were notified and all buildings in the district were placed on soft lockdown at 2 pm. A search of the area turned up no matches to the children's descriptions. The schools remained on locked down status the rest of the day Thursday and the lockdown will continue today. Students, teachers and staff are not allowed outside the building.

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Condon guilty !

An Iroquois County jury this (Thursday) evening returned a guilty verdict against Andrew Condon for the 2012 murder of Jonathan Rubin of Danforth.

The jury deliberated for just under four-hours, ending a nine-day trial before Judge Gordon Lustfeldt. 

The 36-year-old Condon took the stand in his own defense, opening the door for the state to display the unrest and aggitation of Condon.

"I wanted the jury to see the true Andrew Condon.  I don't think by taking the stand he helped himself," State's Attorney Jim Devine said after the trial. "Through his answers to my questions, he opened the door to my questions to his criminal history, which otherwise would not have been disclosed to the jury."

Devine said there was a cockiness and anger that Condon displayed in response to cross examination that didn't help his cause.

"Andrew Condon's a manipulator," Devine added.  "That's what he was trying to do...manipulate the jury to see things his way.  The jury though, saw thru what Condon was trying to do." 

Sentencing won't happen until October, at earliest.  Because the murder involved a firearm, Condon faces 45 years minimum in prison.  First degree murder is a minimum 20 years but the aggravated circumstance with use of a firearm, there's an automatic 25 year enhancement.

94.1 WGFA