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Weekend Packed With Special Events

It is a busy weekend for special events in our area, and the weather is promising to cooperate.

WGFA Radio is "live" in St. Anne today. The St. Anne Pumpkin Festival includes a broadcast from 12 Noon 'til 2 pm. The Grand Parade is at 2:30 pm.

The Manteno Oktoberfest continues thru the weekend on Main Street in Manteno.

The Taste of Downtown Danville is being held featuring food, fun and entertainment.

The Vermilion County Civil War Days are today (Saturday) and Sunday at Kennekuk County Park.

In Goodland, Indiana --- It's Goodstock – Operation Restoring Hope Music Festival. Events today at Foster Park in Goodland include a community effort to raise money for the mary Klinker Veterans resource Center in Lafayette.

94.1 WGFA

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Urbana, Ill. – A former acting Pembroke Township Supervisor, Leon Eddie Mondy, pled guilty today to defrauding township accounts of more than $60,000 from August 2012 to May 2013. Mondy entered his open plea of guilty to one count of wire fraud in an appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015, in Peoria, before Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid.

Mondy, 35, of St. Anne, Ill., admitted that during the time he was serving as the acting Pembroke Township Supervisor, he withdrew more than $60,000 in cash from various township accounts and spent the money on gambling. Overall, according to court documents, Mondy lost $67,418 from gambling during the same time that he made $66,434 in unauthorized cash withdrawals from Pembroke township accounts.

As township supervisor, Mondy was a signatory and had access to the township's various bank accounts. Mondy admitted he repeatedly transferred funds between township accounts and withdrew cash from the various accounts under the false pretense that the funds would be used for the benefit of the township. The accounts included Insurance, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Water, Community Center, Employee Deductions, Senior Nutrition, and Social Security. The cash withdrawals varied from as little as $300 to as much as $3,542.

The charge is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois Attorney General's Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.

The offense of wire fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.                                                                         {submitted info}

94.1 WGFA

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United Way’s $900,000 goal to benefit Kankakee, Iroquois Counties

The Kankakee-Iroquois County United Way kicked off its annual campaign Tuesday evening. There was a ribbon-cutting to open the new United Way office in the downtown Kankakee Executive Centre.

Kankakee Community College President John Avendano is co-chairing the United Way fundraiser. He says the $900,000 goal is a big challenge but there's confidence the community will respond.

Avendano said the two-county partnership is a show of unity and cooperation.

United Way Director Nick Allen says the two-county approach is combining resources and organizations to benefit.

94. 1 WGFA

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Illinois county fairs wither as hamstrung state lessens financial aid

(Bloomberg News Service)

DECATUR — The grandstands sat empty on what should have been the Macon County Fair's opening night. Instead of a stage with pageant contestants in sparkling gowns, the central Illinois arena held only 20 truck loads of dirt spread out for a makeshift go-kart track.

The 158-year-old fair is broke.

Organizers canceled the event in favor of a scaled-down festival this year as the board struggled to pay about $300,000 of debt. The fair's demise in the county about 180 miles south of Chicago shows the vulnerability of a pastoral institution. The number of U.S. farms has dropped six straight years, and with them, demand for entertainments that convened growers who spend much of the year in their fields.

With state budgets under pressure and industrial agriculture helping to drain the countryside's population, urban legislators face tough choices. Illinois cut support for county fairs by 38 percent as attendance fell by almost a third from 2000 to 2013.

"They're all a-hurtin' because the money ain't there like it used to be," said Don Collins as he walked through the muddy Macon County fairgrounds on the festival's opening night in June. The 82-year-old retired sprinkler fitter volunteers on the grounds in the town of Decatur, doing everything from mowing the lawn to fixing pipes. "Fairs have to have something else going to make the money to keep it going. Money just ain't in the fairs."

The land of Lincoln isn't an outlier, said Paul Lasley, an Iowa State University sociologist who has studied rural communities for 33 years. Declining rural populations have created more urbanized states, taking a toll on the tradition, he said.

Rural and small-town America face a "growing demographic challenge," according to a November 2013 report by the U.S. Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service. Macon County hasn't been spared. Its population fell 1.3 percent from April 2010 to July 2013, while the state's grew 0.4 percent.

94.1 WGFA

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Livingston County murder trial underway

Jury selection began Monday in the Livingston County murder trial of a former Cullom woman charged in the 2011 death of a foster child in her care.

31-year-old Heather Lamie, who now lives in Kankakee, is charged with two counts of murder and one count of endangering the life or health of a child. The charges are for the death of 4-year-old Kianna Rudesill of Bloomington.

If convicted of the murder charges, Lamie faces natural life in prison. If convicted of the endangering charge, she faces 2 to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors said the trial could last two to three weeks.

Rudesill was a foster child in the Lamie home when the Cullom Fire Department was called to the residence on May 3, 2011, for a child having "seizure-like" symptoms.

The child was taken to OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac and later flown to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria, where she died the following day.

A Peoria County coroner's jury ruled the death a homicide in August 2011. Her death certificate states the cause of death as blunt trauma of the head.

Lamie was indicted on the murder charges in June 2013.

94.1 WGFA