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Local News

  • Parent Category: News

Modern Woodmen of America donates trees in Watseka

Members of the Watseka, IL Modern Woodmen Chapter 12218, recently gathered to plant two trees in Watseka. The lasting-gifts to the community finds the trees located at Clement Pond in Lakeview Park.

The project was part of the Plant A Tree Program, a nationwide program introduced by Modern Woodmen of America for its members in 2004. Through the program and the help of its members, Modern Woodmen has planted thousands of trees across the United States.

"This project allows local Modern Woodmen members to give a gift to the community. " "Planting trees is an important way to create a secure future for families, communities and the environment," according to local Modern Woodmen agent Tira Howaniec.

Coordinated by local Modern Woodmen members, chapters provide opportunities to take part in social activities and community service projects to meet local needs.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Fake kidnapping lands Fowler man in jail for 2 months

A Fowler man who tried to fake his own kidnapping to avoid paying child support is spending a couple of months in jail.

Fowler police and State police were investigating the possible kidnapping of 25-year-old Cody Mikeworth when they found him tied up inside a pole barn in Newton County. Detectives determined he had attempted to fake his own kidnapping to avoid going to court for not paying child support.

Mikeworth pleaded guilty to two counts of false informing. He received two concurrent one-year sentences. All but 60 days of the sentence were suspended.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Police officers testimony opens Condon murder trial

Iroquois County State's Attorney Jim Devine plans to "put the pieces of the puzzle together" to show that murder-defendant Andrew Condon had motive and created opportunity in the shooting death of Jonathan Rubin at a Gilman gas station in 2012.

Testimony was presented Wednesday after opening statements in the Watseka courtroom of Judge Gordon Lustfeldt.

The 27-year-old Rubin was shot several times during the early-morning hour while working as a clerk in the gas station just off Route 24.

Devine's opening statement to the jury referred to 16 spent nine millimeter casings found at the murder scene. The 16 casings match a box of ammunition found at Condon's rural Ashkum residence – the box of 50-count ammo was missing exactly 16 shells.

Iroquois County Sheriff Investigator, Sgt. Eric Starkey, testified that he found nine-millimeter shells and the same spent-casings at a shooting berm on Condon's property.

Sheriff deputy Brandon Legan also testified that he observed spent shell casings at the scene of the crime. Legan also smelled gun powder.

However, during his opening statement, defense attorney Greg Morgan told the jury to wait until all the evidence is presented. He said it's a horrific crime, a horrific murder, but the state has no weapon, no fingerprints, no hair match, and no she match from the scene.

Morgan told the court the state's" case rests on motive."

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Financial exploitation lands Monticello man in prison for 4 years

In Champaign County... a Monticello man gets a four year prison sentence for stealing $37,000 from his grandmother.

45-year-old Douglas Whitehouse will also have to serve two years of mandatory supervised release after the prison. A plea agreement also orders him to pay $40,315.85 in restitution to the estate of his 96-year-old grandmother, who's a resident of the Piatt County Nursing Home.

The Piatt County State's Attorney's office launched an investigation because of unpaid bills. The case was eventually turned over the Illinois Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Bureau, and the state filed charges of theft and financial exploitation of an elderly person in January, noting Whitehouse had power of attorney over his grandmother's finances.

On Wednesday, Whitehouse pleaded guilty to financial exploitation of an elderly person and the theft charge was dropped. He was given credit on his sentence for two days already served.

Court documents said Whitehouse used his "position of trust or confidence" with his grandmother to steal from her between April 11, 2011, and October 31, 2014.

94.1 WGFA / cg081915

  • Parent Category: News

Herscher, PBL teachers get new contracts

As the new school year gets underway, teachers in the Herscher district have a new five-year contract in place while the PBL teachers have agreed to a fresh three-year pact.

The usual three-year contract is actually a 5-year pact for the Unit 2 District at Herscher. Teachers will see an annual four-percent salary increase over the next five years. Concessions made by the teachers union include a freeze on health insurance benefits and a reduction on what had been a 3-year retirement benefit.

Also, teachers nearing retirement were receiving a 6% salary hike for each of their final three years. That's now reduced to just one year under terms of the new contract.

At Paxton, PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure said the school board and teachers agreed to a 9% raise over the life of the three-year contract. It calls for a 6% raise this fiscal year and 1.5% pay hike in the next two years. The pact is for support staff too.

The contract is effective immediately, retroactive to the start of this fiscal year on July 1. The contract runs through June 30, 2018.

94.1 WGFA