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Execution nears for RUNNERS COMPETE IN Oregon woman’s killer STERLING INVITATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY, B1
Monday, October 14, 2013
SERVING ROCK FALLS, STERLING AND THE SURROUNDING AREA SINCE 1854
Panel divided on proposed fix Partisan split could further stall solution SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Four Republicans want a pension crisis fix to be more farreaching. One of six Democrats wants more concessions to unions. With the Illinois Legislature’s fall veto session a week away, an Associated Press survey of a special 10-member committee tasked with finding a solution to the state’s enormous public pension shortfall found that half the members, all Democrats, support a recently proposed plan estimated to
save about $138 billion. The other half – a key Democrat and all four Republicans – say they still have major concerns. A partisan split is developing as Republicans – three of whom are running for higher office next year – are demanding more information on additional cost-cutting measures, which could take weeks. “We know the Democrats can’t pass this on their own,” said Republican Sen. Bill Brady. “Unfortunately, I don’t see anything happening legislatively for at least 4 weeks at the earliest.” But with the committee serving as a microcosm of the General Assembly and its struggle over the issue, a Democratic
senator, Linda Holmes, also has yet to come on board. By law, the full Legislature cannot consider the emerging proposal unless it is signed by six of the committee’s 10 members. Here is a breakdown of where committee members stand:
Sen. Kwame Raoul, Chicago: Raoul, AP file photo the committee chairman, who considered Pensions conference committee chaira campaign for governor, says he remains optimistic a plan can be brought for a vote man and State Sen. Kwame Raoul speaks during a bipartisan committee in the coming weeks. of Illinois lawmakers during its first public pension hearing June 27 in Chicago. PANEL CONTINUED ON A2
Restoring the undisturbed
City Council to finalize settlement on Tuesday
Amboy Marsh opens to more than 200 visitors BY DEREK BARICHELLO email@example.com 800-798-4085, ext. 526
AMBOY – More than 200 people caught a glimpse of what Illinois looked like about 300 years ago, before farming took over the landscape. Now, the public is welcome to do the same. The Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, a rare and fragile ecosystem, which includes endangered turtles and unique plant life, was showcased during an open house Saturday, and trails on the grounds were introduced to the public. The Illinois Audubon Society, with the help of a handful of organizations, acquired 272 acres of wetlands this past winter near the intersection of U.S. Route 52 and Mormon Road about 3 miles south of Amboy. Illinois has the second most disturbed soil in the United States, because of its strong agriculture, said Tom Clay, executive director of the Illinois Audobon Society, but this piece of land has managed to go mostly undisturbed.
Closed session for possible hire also on special meeting agenda BY DEREK BARICHELLO firstname.lastname@example.org 800-798-4085, ext. 526
The Big Marsh, at Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, is a common place to see sandhill cranes in the morning and evening. The Amboy Marsh was opened Sunday for visitors to tour the grounds and hike the newly created trail system. The complex, interspersed Americans lived here,” Clay to buy the marsh and do reswith black oak savannas, sedge said. “This is the closest to toration work. The organizameadows and sand prairie, what I imagine the settlers tion kicked in an additional has unique natural features would’ve come across when $200,000 toward the project. that are home to one of the they first came 300 years ago.” No tax money was used to largest populations of nesting The state Audubon Soci- buy the land, and the nonBlanding’s turtles in the state – ety received more than $1 profit group is paying real an Illinois endangered species. million in grants from the estate taxes on the property, “This area was miles of Illinois Clean Energy Com- Clay said. marsh when the settlers first munity Foundation and the MARSH CONTINUED ON A3 came here, or when Native Grand Victoria Foundation
DIXON – The City Council on Tuesday will take the final step in approving the city’s $40 million settlement agreement with its former auditors and bank it blamed for the Rita Crundwell theft. The City Council is expected to give final approval during a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor council chambers, 121 W. Second St. The out-of-court agreement was approved Oct. 7, but had to be placed on file for public review for at least 7 days. Of the $40 million, $35.15 million was paid by CliftonLarsonAllen, the city’s auditor until 2005; $3.85 million by Fifth Third Bank, which handled the city’s checking accounts; and $1 million by Janis Card and Associates of Sterling, which took over the city’s audits in 2005 from Clifton until Crundwell’s SETTLEMENT CONTINUED ON A4
THE WEEK AHEAD
FRIDAY One last dance for Dixon, Sterling football teams With the Dixon Dukes moving to the Big Northern West next school year, Friday night will mark the last time that Sterling and Dixon will meet in a regular-season football game. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Sterling Chevrolet Field at Roscoe Eades Stadium. Here are the rest of the games in Week 8: Mendota at Oregon, 7 p.m.
Rock Falls at Burlington Central, 7 p.m. AFC at Warren, 7 p.m. Polo at River Ridge, 7 p.m. Dixon at Sterling, 7:30 p.m. Amboy at Fulton, 7:30 p.m. Bureau Valley at Riverdale, 7:30 p.m. Erie-Prophetstown at Morrison, 7:30 p.m. Newman at Sherrard, 7:30 p.m. Galena at West Carroll, 7:30 p.m. South Beloit at EPC, 7:30 p.m. East Dubuque at Milledgeville, 7:30 p.m.
MONDAY Sectional golf to compete Boys golfers in 1A and 2A and girls in Class AA will compete in sectionals with a chance to advance to the state tournament on Friday and Saturday. Local 2A boys will play at Park Hills Golf Course in Freeport. Class 1A boys will play at PrairieView in Byron. SVM’s lone remaining Class AA girls golfer Michala Smith, of Sterling, will play in Springfield.
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PUBLIC SQUARE ROSARY CRUSADE LEFT: Gene Grennan, 71, of Rock Falls, recites the Our Father prayer during the Public Square Rosary Crusade Saturday at Grandon Civic Center in Sterling. The crusades are organized by American Needs Fatima, a group that has a stated mission of fighting the movement toward secularism in America. Local organizers said about 137 people showed up for the inaugural rally in the Sauk Valley. The Oct. 12 event is scheduled nationwide to coincide with the 1917 Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. The local rally was sponsored by the Sterling Deanery of Catholic parishes. Local organizers said they hope to have the crusade in Sterling again next year. BELOW LEFT: Scott and Dawn Harrielle, of Milledgeville, recite a Hail Mary during the prayer rally. BELOW RIGHT: Sterling Newman High School seniors Allison Shipman (left), 17, of Dixon, and Kayci Howell, 17, of Dixon, recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the prayer rally.
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Last spring he supported a Senate-backed plan that would have given retirees an option of the benefits received during retirement, saving $58 billion according to Senate estimates. He now is pushing the $138 billion savings plan. It includes a provision that would reduce a current 3 percent annual compounded cost-of-living adjustment in retirement benefits to half the rate of inflation and a reduction in employee contributions by one percent. Sen. Linda Holmes, Aurora: Holmes, a co-sponsor of the Senate plan, told the AP sheâ€™d â€œhave a hard timeâ€? voting for the $138 billion framework. Like many Democrats, she believes that it would be unfair to punish state employees who have paid their dues over the years, just because the state has not made prompt payments to fund the pension system. State employee unions adamantly oppose the new plan. Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Northbrook: Nekritz, an assistant House majority leader, has become increasingly hesitant to predict when a vote might be called. Nekritz said she supports the latest proposal because it brings down the amount of state funds spent on pensions each year. Because the deal contains both savings and concessions for union employees, she calls it â€œa compromise that can pass both chambers.â€?
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Sen. Daniel Biss, Evanston: Biss, a mathematician by trade, says the committeeâ€™s work is so close to a deal that a bill should be ready by the veto session. He said the committeeâ€™s latest proposal is â€œin a ballpark I can be comfortable with.â€? Rep. Mike Zalewski, Riverside: Zalewski said he supports the proposal, which he calls â€œa sustaining model for how we deal with pension reform.â€? Previously, he had endorsed a more conservative House plan projected to save $167 billion. He says the time to act is now, but it is important to address Republican concerns for the sake of bipartisanship. Rep. Art Turner, Chicago: Turner supports the framework, calling the proposal a â€œgood compromiseâ€? between previous plans. But he said heâ€™s open to considering Republican additions. â€œAnything that will bring everyone to the table weâ€™re willing to consider,â€? he said.
Sen. Bill Brady, Bloomington: Brady, one of four 2014 GOP gubernatorial contenders, said the Democratsâ€™ proposal doesnâ€™t contain significant enough reforms for him to back at this point. The list of GOP demands includes raising the retirement age, giving employees the option of moving to a 401k-style plan, and
increasing employee contributions and cost-ofliving adjustments. They have requested savings estimates from the stateâ€™s various retirement funds. Rep. Jil Tracy, Quincy: Tracy, who is campaigning for lieutenant governor as Sen. Kirk Dillardâ€™s running mate, says the proposed committee plan â€œwasnâ€™t going where I needed it to be.â€? Tracy acknowledges a need for urgency, but said she wants a guarantee that future Legislatures will meet required payments. â€œIâ€™m willing to keep at the table so we keep doing this,â€? she said. â€œBut it has to be something thatâ€™s solvent and sustainable.â€? Rep. Darlene Senger, Naperville: Senger, who is making a bid for Congress, said she was among those who introduced the list of additional Republican demands. She said she is concerned that the percentage of the proposed funds to meet pension obligations each year is too high. â€œWe had suggestions out there before that made more sense,â€? she said. Sen. Matt Murphy, Palatine: Murphy, a deputy Republican leader, called the latest plan â€œback-loaded in its current formâ€? because it relies on future lawmakers keeping promises. He declined to say if he would vote for it. â€œPast general assembliesâ€™ unwillingness to do that is exactly what got us here in the first place. We only get one bite at this apple.â€?
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FIRE & POLICE Dixon Police Thomas J. Voss, OF $IXON AM 3UNDAY AT BLOCK OF .ORTH 'ALENA !VENUE DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL POSTED BOND AND RELEASED WITH A PENDING COURT DATE
Sterling Police Deidra M. Parvin, OF 3TERLING PM &RIDAY IN BLOCK OF &REEPORT 2OAD NO VALID DRIVERS LICENSE NOTICE TO APPEAR Terisah S. Smock, OF #AVE IN THE 2OCK PM &RIDAY ACCIDENT AT !VENUE "