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Iroquois County Emergency Responders Test Search & Rescue Operations

WATSEKA --- While emergency responders answered the calls to two REAL events Sunday….other fire, police, ambulance and emergency management personnel were practicing for what could be an actual event.

 mock drill involved a Search & Rescue.

The driver of the car in the mock-accident informed ambulance personnel that four other occupants were in the car.  That triggered an “open area search” by the fire and auxiliary police responders.

The exercise participants tested emergency management protocol, including paging, communication, mutual aide, incident command operations, and functions in the emergency operations center.

Watseka Auxiliary Police and Watseka Fire set-up the exercise involving a single-car rollover accident and the four missing occupants of the vehicle.  The mock-disaster scene was southeast of Watseka.

Emergency responders set up a staging area at the Iroquois County Courthouse.  After a dispatch from the county 9-1-1 Center, a MABAS 37 box alarm activated several participating fire departments.  The Mutual Aide Box Alarm brought responders from the Watseka, Milford, Martinton, Ashkum, Crescent-Iroquois, Stockland, and Woodland fire departments.  

Communication dispatch service from 9-1-1 and the Emergency Services & Disaster Agency were active participants as well.

River Valley Recycling and Pence Oil also provided assistance with the exercise.


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  • Parent Category: News

Unemployment Falls, Improvements in Area

New figures show unemployment rates improved last month across East Central Illinois. 

Kankakee County leads the state with an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent.  Despite that number, Kankakee County’ rate is below the 13.7% in February of 2011.

Rockford’s rate, usually the highest, is showing improvement.  Rockford’s rate dropped from 14.1 in February of 2011 to 12.8 last month. McLean County has Illinois’ lowest unemployment are at 7.5%.

Vermilion County’s February unemployment rate of 11.1 percent was down a half-percent from January’s 11.6 percent rate.  In Danville, the unemployment rate fell from 11.4 to 10.7 percent.

In Champaign County, the jobless rate fell from 9.1 percent in January to 8.4 percent in February.  It was 8.6 percent in February of last year. The City of Champaign saw its unemployment rate fall from 8.7 percent in January to 7.8 percent in February.  Urbana’s jobless rate fell from 9.6 percent in January to 8.6 percent in February.

In Iroquois County the jobless rate fell slightly from 10.7 to 10.6 percent. The Ford County rate fell from 11.8 in 2011 to 10.3 last month.  Livingston County is at 9.5, down from 10.1 a year ago.


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  • Parent Category: News

Kankakee Shooting Death Leads to Arrest in Chicago

The U.S. Marshall's Fugitive Task Force assisted Kankakee Police in tracking down a man accused of a shooting death in Kankakee earlier this month.

A 31-year-old Kankakee man was arrested Wednesday morning in Chicago in connection with the March 10 shooting death of Tyrone D. Kennedy Sr.

Arrested was Luther Starkey, according to John Gerard of the Kankakee Police department.  Assisting in the arrest was the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force.

Starkey was also charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting Tyrone’s cousin, Darrien Kennedy, 18, who survived but was seriously injured.

The shootings took place in the early afternoon of March 10 in the 900 block of North Harrison Avenue.

Starkey is being held in the Jerome Combs Detention Center.  His bond was at $200 - million.


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  • Parent Category: News

Water & Sewer rate Hike in Watseka; Taxpayers to pay annual increases >

A 5-2 vote by the Watseka City Council Tuesday has triggered annual water and sewer rate increases for local taxpayers.

Infrastructure break-downs appear to be reasons for new revenue to overcome repair needs.  But the No votes from Tim Mathewson and Mike Marcier finds both aldermen saying “tax hikes will hurt a lot of people,” and some research and a plan seems to be in order before decisions like a rate hike.

The rates will increase May 1 and each year after that thru 2-15.  Calculations spelled out at a February 21 meeting shows water rates jumping from $2.66 per thousand gallons to $3.16 per thousand in 2012; $3.26 per thousand in 2013 , $3.36 per thousand in 2014 and up to $3.46 per thousand in 2015.

Sewer rates will rise from $3.40 to $3.85 per thousand this year in May to $3.97 in 2013, $4.09 in 2014 and $4.21 per thousand in 2015.

Minimum water and sewer rates are currently at $50.54.  Over the next four years, the rate will jump to $58.18 in 2016. 


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  • Parent Category: News

Baier Funeral Home in Watseka to operate Crematory; first in Iroquois County >

WATSEKA --- Pending EPA approval, the Baier Funeral Home in Watseka will soon be the first funeral home business in Iroquois County to operate its own on-site crematory.

The Watseka City Council Tuesday night approved a special-use permit allowing the local funeral home to provide a business service that owner Roy Baier says finds growing numbers of families turning to…….

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Construction for the operation is expected to be completed in about two weeks.

Baier said he purchased a refurbished crematory-burner from a Kankakee funeral home.  Baier funeral home’s location at 2nd and Oak Street in Watseka has 7,000 square feet of garage space available, so the crematory business won’t be pressed for space.

Members of the city’s Planning Commission did their homework, investigating such an operation in Kankakee.  They found no problems with the operation.  Baier said at least three other employees in his business will be trained to run the equipment. 


94.1 FM, WGFA  --   since 1961