Several area postal service offices will remain open, according to a new report from the Postmaster General.
Officials revealed Wednesday a new plan to keep thousands of rural post offices open but with shorter hours.
General Patrick Donahue announced the agency is leaning away from closing 3,700 low-revenue post offices and instead planning to whittle down staff and maintain part-time post office presence in rural areas, with access to retail lobbies and post office boxes.
That’s good news for communities in Iroquois, Ford and parts of Kankakee counties. Several area towns, including Papineau, Iroquois, Thawville, Woodland and others hosted Town Hall meetings last year to protest the planned closings of rural facilities.
Residents of rural towns -- including many locally -- spoke loud and clear about plans to close their post offices, and the U.S. Postal Service listened.
The agency, responding to tremendous backlash from small towns across the county, announced Wednesday that it is shelving its plan to close thousands of offices, despite the decaying state of its finances.
Some area mayors and postal customers are expressing delight in the announcement. Woodland Mayor Russell Williams said he was dumbfounded and pleasantly surprised to hear the news.
Eleven local post offices had been identified by the U.S. Postal Service as being on the chopping block -- two in January 2011 and nine more in July. They included Buckingham, Campus, Claytonville, Goodwine, Iroquois, Papineau, Stockland, Thawville, Union Hill, Wellington and Woodland.
RANKIN — The village will soon have two part-time police officers employed for the first time since April 2011.
The village board voted 5-1 (last Thursday) to authorize part-time Police Chief Robert Yates to hire a second officer to work up to eight hours per week.
Yates said Monday he has hired Robert King of Rantoul, who has no experience working as a police officer but has received his necessary certification. King is a 2002 graduate of Rantoul Township High School who works full-time as a security guard at Market Place Mall in Champaign.
The hire should give Yates more flexibility in his schedule patrolling Rankin and provide an extra officer who the village can depend on when Yates is not available. Board members felt now was a good time to employ another officer given that the busier summer months are approaching.
HARRISTOWN — Authorities report a 41-year-old Hoopeston man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after his semitrailer crashed in downstate Harristown. The truck slammed into the back of an unoccupied vehicle protecting an Illinois Department of Transportation work crew.
Todd A. Cross was driving a 2011 Freightliner semitrailer east on Interstate 72 when he fell asleep behind the wheel and reportedly didn't see three warning signs that the driving lane was closed.
Police said Cross struck an unoccupied, stationary vehicle that was protecting an IDOT crew that was working on the road at 12:26 p.m. Tuesday. The IDOT workers scrambled out of the way and were not reported injured.
Cross was taken by ambulance to Decatur Memorial Hospital..
Police ticketed Cross for improper lane usage, failure to yield to an Illinois Department of Transportation vehicle and driving while fatigued.
The Illinois State Board of Education is announcing 37 school districts will share in nearly $43 million in federal "Race to the Top" school improvement grants.
The money will go toward improving achievement in science, technology, engineering and math education and building better connections to post-secondary education and training.
Among reforms is that districts will use more comprehensive principal and teacher evaluations that tie student growth to educators' reviews.
All districts must have such evaluations by 2016.
Illinois got third-round "Race to the Top" funding after it was a finalist in the first two. The State Board of Education keeps half the grant to implement statewide reforms and shares the rest based on a formula that measures school-district poverty levels.