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News Around Illinois – Aug. 27, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 27, 2020.

Women Gets 6 Years For Driving Off Unfinished Highway Bridge

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois woman who admitted being drunk when she drove off an unfinished bridge onto a highway, seriously injuring a man, has been sentenced to six years in prison. Ashia Marshall, 30, wept in court Wednesday as she expressed remorse for what she called the “most disastrous and humiliating time in my life,” The News-Gazette reported. The Champaign woman had pleaded guilty in June to aggravated driving under the influence in the September 2019, crash in Champaign. Assistant State’s Attorney Brooke Hinman said Marshall drove through construction barriers onto a bridge being rebuilt over Interstate 57 before her car vaulted down the embankment onto the highway’s west side. It was stopped by a concrete barrier before entering I-57′s southbound lanes. Both of the two men who were passengers in Marshall’s car were injured, and one of them suffered chest injuries, a collapsed lung and a damaged kidney. – Associated Press

Illinois Nonprofit Gives Diapers To Families During Pandemic

CARTERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A Carterville-based nonprofit has been providing nearly 1,500 diapers a month to low-income families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. The Got You Covered Diaper Program has distributed more than 12,000 diapers in the first half of 2020 — about 40% more than last year, according to co-founder Evelyn Fuqua. The pandemic has definitely fueled the need for more diapers, because more families are facing hardship than ever before, Fuqua said. She said she campaigns for diaper donations through Facebook. Fuqua, a former Crainville mayor and councilwoman, said she and co-founder Michelle Parker-Clark formed Got You Covered in 2018 after noticing a need while volunteering at a homeless shelter. Some parents would return to the shelter asking for diapers to help get them through the night or a week. – Associated Press

Golden Apple Starts Program To Address Teacher Shortage In Downstate Illinois

Illinois is still facing another crisis alongside COVID-19—a shortage of teachers. And one impacts the other. Over half of teachers are over 50 years old, and some are immunocompromised themselves or have relatives who are. Teachers care deeply about their classrooms, but they may be rethinking what it means to be in a classroom or packed hallways with a bunch of kids. Golden Apple has supported teachers for over 30 years, and it’s attacking the shortage problem with a new program called Accelerators. Accelerators is teacher residency program that expands the teacher pipeline by targeting seniors in college who are not currently education majors as well as career changers with bachelor’s degrees who would like to become teachers. Golden Apple recruited 30 candidates for the summer of 2020, and they will receive their teacher licenses by 2021. After licenses are obtained the teachers will be able to enter the teaching profession full time in the 2021-22 school year. Candidates must live in southern, central, or western Illinois and agree to teach in partner communities for at least four years. – Camberyn Kelley and Ryan Denham, WGLT

Demmer Decries Exelon Threat To Close Byron Plant

Exelon announced Thursday that it intends to retire its Byron Generating Station and Dresden Generating Station in fall 2021. Byron is licensed to operate for another 20 years. The company said Byron and Dresden employ more than 1,500 full-time employees and 2,000 supplemental workers during refueling outages. According to a statement, Exelon President and CEO Christopher Crane said the announcement gives communities time to prepare. The company said Dresden and Byron face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of “declining energy prices” and “market rules that allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean resources in the PJM capacity auction.” Exelon said the LaSalle and Braidwood nuclear stations in Illinois are also at high risk for premature closure. The attempt to get new rules out of Springfield may be complicated in the wake of a bribery scandal with ComEd, Exelon’s subsidiary. From Illinois State Representative Tom Demmer: I am deeply disappointed with today’s announcement that Exelon intends to close the Byron Nuclear Plant in September 2021. The plant is home to hundreds of good-paying jobs and contributes millions of dollars in property taxes to fund schools, public safety, and local government. It also generates a significant amount of clean, reliable electricity without any carbon pollution. I will not take this decision as final. The Exelon statement itself said “we will continue our dialogue with policymakers on ways to prevent these closures”. I will work with the Governor’s office and my fellow legislators to ensure that Byron has a seat at the table and a voice in the discussions about Illinois’ energy policy. – WNIJ News

WIU COVID-19 Dashboard

Western Illinois University reported 16 students living on the Macomb campus tested positive for the coronavirus. The information comes from the university’s newly released COVID-19 dashboard. Western reported two of the students have recovered. The other 14 cases remain active. The dashboard defines recovered as: “resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications for 3 days (72 hours), improvement of respiratory symptoms, and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.” Around 30 cases from the Macomb campus are pending. 1,084 students living on the Macomb campus tested negative. In addition, no faculty or staff members on either campus have tested positive, and no students tested positive at the Quad Cities campus. – Rich Egger, WIUM


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