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Local News

  • Parent Category: News

Former Kankakee Man Sentenced to 1 year and a Day; Pot, Weapons Found at Home

PEORIA — A former Kankakee and Colfax man who admitted to growing and dealing marijuana was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after a judge reviewed a litany of praise for the defendant from his supporters.

37-year-old Leon Battiste was arrested in February 2010 after McLean County sheriff’s police found 180 marijuana plants in a sophisticated grow operation in the basement of Battiste’s Colfax home. Police also seized 4 pounds of the drug valued at $20,000 and five weapons.

Battiste, who later lived in Kanakakee, pleaded guilty in August to the manufacture or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute the drug.

In a commentary requesting a minimum sentence, his defense lawyer listed 43 positive traits offered by employers, neighbors, friends, and students of the marshal arts studio where the defendant was an instructor.

Supportes called Battiste “A gifted teacher and a champion of the underdog; a positive role model; and a genuine good person.”

The defense also argued that Battiste’s “physical appearance would likely make him a target for troublemakers in a prison setting. Unlike many criminal defendants, Mr. Battiste’s tattoos, piercings and other permanent adornments are a matter of expression, individuality and style and not related to gangs or crime. This distinction might be lost on inmates in the Bureau of Prisons.”

  • Parent Category: News

Livingston Co. eyed for food processing firms

PONTIAC — Livingston County may be a perfect spot for food processing and manufacturing firms, based on results from a countywide survey of business leaders.

Larry Vaupel, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, plans to target those industries in the coming year in hopes that someone will locate a plant and add jobs to the market.

The 25-question survey garnered 75 responses from business leaders in Pontiac, Fairbury, Dwight, Saunemin and Cullom.

“We learned several things and gained a better insight into our county’s strength and weaknesses,” Vaupel said during the council’s annual meeting last week. “We also found some things that were very encouraging and some things to work on.”

Location, availability of land and proximity to markets were the top three reasons to do business in Livingston County, the survey showed.



  • Parent Category: News

Indiana governor to be featured speaker at Lincoln Day Dinner

CHAMPAIGN — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will be the headline speaker for the Champaign County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on April 19.

Tickets, which will be $90 apiece, will go on sale to the public on Feb. 23 at the party's website.

The event will begin with a special VIP reception for sponsors and premium ticket holders at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Conference Center in Champaign, followed by the dinner at 7 p.m.

Daniels also is scheduled to give the Republican Party's response Tuesday night to President Obama's State of the Union address.

"I love the guy. I've heard him speak before and I think he's terrific," said Habeeb Habeeb, the local party treasurer who said he helped persuade Daniels to come to Champaign County. "He's not pompous. He's just a regular guy."

Habeeb also likely will deliver the "State of the Republican Party in Champaign County" address at the April 19 dinner.

So far he is the only announced candidate to be the new party chairman, a process that will culminate the night before with the election of new party officers.

The event is expected to draw an estimated 800 people from Champaign and throughout Illinois.

  • Parent Category: News

Ill. Supreme Court to allow cameras in courts

CHICAGO (AP) -- A spokesman says the Illinois Supreme Court will announce a policy for allowing cameras in trial courts on an experimental and limited basis.

Joe Tybor said says the court will make its announcement Tuesday.

Illinois has allowed cameras to be present during Supreme Court and Appellate Court hearings since 1983. At the time of that decision, the court continued the ban during trials because of fair trial concerns.

Tybor said Monday the new rules for cameras will be on a limited and experimental basis to determine whether media access and fair trials can co-exist.

Broadcasters have long advocated the use of cameras and tape recorders during criminal trials in Illinois, pointing to the public's right to know.

Illinois is one 14 states that currently don't allow cameras during criminal trials.


  • Parent Category: News

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk Suffers Stroke

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk says the Illinois Republican has suffered a stroke and has undergone surgery.

The 52-year-old Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois over the weekend. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests showed that he had suffered a stroke.

He underwent surgery early Monday morning to relieve swelling around his brain.

A statement from Kirk's office said the surgery was successful and that doctors are "very confident" in his recovery based on his age and health.

Kirk was elected to the Senate in 2010, winning the seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.