Illinois Budget 10.05.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


David Arkin: 5 things makes Spoon River Drive easy to digest

ASF template: Meeting coverage

GateHouse Media releases 8 pro-newspaper ads for paper use.


Springfield's Carpenter Park loses 443-year-old tree

SPRINGFIELD – A white oak tree in Carpenter Park that stood tall for more than two centuries before Abraham Lincoln was born finally has succumbed to the elements. Vern LaGesse, president of the Friends of the Sangamon Valley, learned about three weeks ago the tree’s crown had fallen. The top portion of the tree probably blew down in a windstorm this spring, leaving only the trunk and a few small branches. By Chris Young of the State Journal-Register. With breakout boxes on determining the age of a tree, white oak tree facts, other old-growth trees in central Illinois and a timeline of events that have happened during the tree’s lifetime.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

Feds looking into Mechanicsburg trailers

SPRINGFIELD – Federal investigators are looking into the purchase of surplus travel trailers by the Mechanicsburg Community Fire Protection District. The fire district in 2007 bought five of the surplus trailers for $1,900 apiece. The federal government put several conditions on such sales at the time – the trailers were to be used for official purposes and could not be sold for at least 18 months. This isn’t the first time the federal government has investigated the purchase of surplus FEMA trailers by local governments in Illinois. By Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register.


Companies eager for seats at turbine table

ROCKFORD – Chicago may be the Windy City, but Rockford wants to be the one that makes wind turbines turn. Manufacturers, assemblers and fabricators see many opportunities to become links in the supply chain. After all, the U.S. was the world leader in installed wind turbines last year, and the government aims to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind in 2030. By Thomas V. Bona of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Check with local manufacturers to see if they’re working to get involved in wind turbine production.


Jennifer Davis: Peoria woman's unique eye helps others with interior design

Linda Haynes Jackson's brain doesn't work like mine. Where I see a beautifully carved wooden box, she sees a unique piece of wall art. Where I see file cabinets, she sees the makings of a customized desk. Where I see an old record cabinet, she sees a nightstand. And so it goes. Jackson, in the furniture industry for 25 years, is also an independent designer. Her own home is a constantly changing showroom.

How rude! Experts study civility in the age of the Internet

Rude, snide and disrespectful behavior has always been there, but it seems like no one can disagree without being disagreeable these days. By Tamara Browning of the State Journal-Register.

Beetle mania drives central Illinoisans mad

PEORIA – Of the 500 or so calls fielded on Peoria County master gardeners' telephone help-line this summer, the most asked about plant was . . . drum roll, please . . . Trees. And the most asked about problem? Japanese beetles. By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.

Dave Bakke: Gold coin treasure found above ground

SPRINGFIELD – The caller apologized, but he has been out of town and hadn’t seen the paper since last week or he would have told us sooner. He has the gold coins that are supposedly buried in a lead chest at 1028 N. Fifth Street. So ends the tale of the no-longer mysterious note and the buried lead chest that wasn’t there.


BRITT: Toon on Chicago losing the Olympics.

Jeff Vrabel: I’m now a high-class high-def guy

You win, World, I will buy a large, shiny new television.

Wood on Words: How the heck do you pronounce ‘route’?

How do you pronounce “route”? Does it rhyme with “shoot” or “shout”? No matter which “route” you choose, there¹s a homonym for it.

Elizabeth Davies: Viewing the world as a 16-year-old

Immediately, I breathed in the cool autumn air and was brought back to 1993. It was my first school year with my own car and my own driver¹s license.

Editorial: Pediatricians pitch soda tax to reduce childhood obesity

Dr. David Deutsch of Rockford sees the complications from childhood obesity a little closer than most people. Deutsch is a pediatric gastroenterologist who treats more patients with medical problems once limited to adults — conditions like Type 2 diabetes and compromised liver function. One of his overweight patients was just put on the national liver transplant list. That’s enough for Deutsch to support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. It’s enough for us, too. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Still more questions than answers with Beason murders

Rarely is the face of evil an obvious one. That's one observation regarding Christopher J. Harris, 30, of McLean County, who was arrested Thursday for allegedly massacring five members of the Gee family earlier this month in Beason, a small town in Logan County near Lincoln. Certainly he is entitled to the presumption of innocence for the brutal murder. Certainly we'd prefer to think police have the right guy. If not, then whoever was capable of this monstrous act is still out there. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Illinois colleges to be for the privileged only?

Bradley University senior Ana Trujillo is just a few short months shy of becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college, but proposed state budget cuts that hit in January may well keep a diploma out of her hands. The need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) gives grants that can approach $5,000 to 140,000 students each year - about a quarter of the Illinoisans enrolled in the state's colleges. But its funding was sliced in half amid this year's budget crisis, with more people than ever in this recession applying for aid. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Windy City's Olympics washout no knock on those who tried

Instead of hot dogs it'll be churrasco, instead of "How yous doin'?" it'll be "Boas-vindas" and instead of Lake Michigan it'll be Guanabara Bay. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, not Chicago. The five rings will fly over South America for the first time. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.


Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star will be writing a column for Tuesday’s editions.
Struggling Illini will start McGee at quarterback

CHAMPAIGN – Junior quarterback Eddie McGee will take over the starting spot when Illinois hosts Michigan State on Saturday, coach Ron Zook announced Monday. McGee replaces Juice Williams, a senior and four-year starter. By John Supinie. Will be updated. Lead to multi-sport notebook column.