URBANA -- A federal jury has found Jimmy LaCost guilty of 54 counts of illegally structuring financial transactions.
LaCost owned and operated LaCost Amusements in the Kankakee area. The company, according to court records, took in over $6.4 million in gambling proceeds Federal investigators claimed LaCost’s transactions were to hide detection by the government. A federal indictment included money laudering.
LaCost and his son, Michael, plead guilty earlier this year.
Iroquois and Ford County’s jobless rates fell in March; the last report showing all of Illinois’ metro areas falling. It’s the first time all of the state’s metro areas showed a marked-decline since 2011.
McLean County unemployment fell to 6.7 percent in March, down from 7 percent in March 2011, according to data released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
This marks the first time since 2009 that the March jobless rate in McLean County was 6.7 percent or lower, data show.
For the first time since May 2011, all of the state’s metropolitan areas saw a drop in unemployment.
Greg Rivara of the Employment Security Office (IDES) said “The falling rates across the board are another piece of information that tells us that the economy is improving.” Rivara said “That improvement still could improve in coming months or it could kick back up.”
The jobless rate identifies those who are out of work and actively looking for work regardless of unemployment benefits.
Other Central Illinois counties and their March 2012 (March 2011) rates are: DeWitt, 8.1 percent (9.1 percent); Ford, 8.7 percent (11 percent);Iroquois, 9.2 percent (10.1 percent); LaSalle, 11.2 percent (12.4 percent); Livingston, 8.2 percent (9.6 percent); Logan, 7.9 percent (8.6 percent); Tazewell, 7.6 percent (9 percent); and Woodford, 6.6 percent (7.7 percent).
Following up on an earlier committee vote, the Watseka City Council this week voted to increase water and sewer rates.
A graduated rate hike begins May 1st and will increase each year thru 2016. The City Council voted 4-2 in favor, with aldermen Mike Marcier and Tim Mathewson casting No votes.
Marcier had suggested discussion and a plan before implementing an increase. Mathewson said the increase is going to be difficult on too many people; adding the times isn’t right for a rate hike.
Former alderman Tony Laucius calls the rate hike another tax people are already paying. He also questions why a tax continues on a bond issuance that’s already been retired ? He said a bond was issued years ago to build the city’s water treatment plant. That—he said---was supposed to end when the bond was retired.
--National Severe Weather Preparedness Week April 22 – 28
WATSEKA---Iroquois County officials plan a double test of community emergency sirens on Tuesday, May 1st.
The testing will be in conjunction with the state of Illinois’ regular monthly test on the second Tuesday of the month at 10 AM.
“Due to recent frequency program changes mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), some minor glitches created a few non-working systems. So, we just want to double-check our alert system,” said 9-1-1 Coordinator Nita Dubble.
FCC mandates required all radio communication frequencies to be narrow-banded. The weather alert sirens also operate on a radio frequency. The upcoming test, Dubble said, will make sure all the community sirens have been narrow-banded properly and are working.
The May 1st state of Illinois test will be conducted at 10 AM. A localized Iroquois County test will follow at 10:15 AM.
Local officials are urged to make sure their alert systems are working. Each community, whether it’s the village or fire district, is responsible for maintenance of the emergency siren.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and Iroquois County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) is joining with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week April 22-28. Federal, state and local agencies across the nation encourage people to know their severe weather risks, take action to be prepared and set an example for others.
National Severe Weather Preparedness Week coincides with the one year anniversary of the deadly tornado outbreak in the central and southern states. Just one month later, Joplin, Missouri was devastated by a tornado. In 2011, there was more than 1,000 weather-related fatalities and more than 8,000 injuries.
Iroquois County ESDA Coordinator Carl Gerdovich joins with IEMA and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) in promoting the use of weather alert radios. Several emergency management agency offices have distributed weather alert radios in their jurisdictions.