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News Around Illinois – Aug. 6, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 6, 2020.

Treasurer Reports Record Return Of Unclaimed Property

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois treasurer’s office on Wednesday announced it has returned a billion dollars of unclaimed property to rightful owners or their survivors in the past five years. Treasurer Michael Frerichs on Wednesday said the amount set a record for any five-year period in the 58 years his office has made the returning of property in state custody to owners a priority. The property targeted for return can include inactive back accounts, unpaid insurance benefits, or the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. Frerichs’ office said among the unclaimed property passed on to rightful owners was $19,000 from The (Richard) Pryor Foundation for the Carver Community Center in Peoria the late comedian spent time at as a youth. There was also the $2 million left to various Chicago-area charities by a World War II Army veteran who never married. All of the veteran’s relatives died before him, leaving the money unnoticed in an investment account. – Associated Press

Inmate In Southern Illinois U.S. Prison Dies Of COVID-19

MARION, Ill. (AP) — An inmate at the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in the southern Illinois city of Marion has died of complications from COVID-19, the agency revealed Wednesday. The Bureau of Prisons said Earl James, 65, died Sunday after testing positive for the virus on July 22. Prison officials did not say why James, a Native American, was incarcerated at the prison or give his home town. As of Wednesday, the Marion facility had 84 inmates and four staff members with active cases of COVID-19. The facility houses about 1,262 inmates. – Associated Press

ComEd Pleads Not Guilty In Alleged Influence-Peddling Scheme

CHICAGO (AP) — Energy utility ComEd pleaded not guilty to bribery at an arraignment Wednesday despite previously admitting wrongdoing in an influence-peddling scheme that also threatens to ensnare Illinois’ most powerful Democrat, state House Speaker Michael Madigan. The not-guilty plea comes after the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago unsealed a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd in July that revealed the existence of a far-reaching bribery investigation. The plea doesn’t mean the company is now saying it did nothing wrong. Much of the speculation in recent weeks has been on disclosures in the ComEd deal that Madigan, the nation’s longest-serving statehouse speaker, was a prime investigative subject. Madigan has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. – Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Illinois Rental Assistance Program To Launch Next Week

Illinois will launch a new rental assistance program that could help approximately 30,000 tenants struggling to keep a roof over their heads, according to the Illinois Housing Development Authority. IHDA is opening online applications Monday for $5,000 grants to catch up on payments since March or cover payments through December. Applications will be accepted between August 10 and 21, but Kristin Faust, executive director of the state agency, encourages people to apply next week. – Mary Hansen, WUIS

How The Pandemic Caused Illinoisans To Pack On The Pounds

Weight gain is becoming an increasingly prominent issue as people spend more time indoors due to the pandemic. It goes by many names. The “Quarantine 15.” “Pandemic pounds.” Time in isolation and fewer opportunities for exercise have expanded area waistlines. Audra Wilson is a clinical dietician at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. She said some of this can be attributed to eating more. This is particularly true for people who may have gotten their meals from elsewhere. The pandemic has also limited certain activities, which Wilson said can hit some groups particularly hard. – Chase Cavanaugh, WNIJ

Donath To Retire As Bloomington Police Chief

Bloomington Police Chief Dan Donath has announced his retirement, less than one year after he took over the department he served for 26 years. “After careful consideration, I’ve decided it’s time to close this chapter of my life and start to write the next,” Donath said in a news release. “Police work is a very rewarding and a very demanding profession. In retirement, I look forward to spending more time with my family and focusing on those moments in life that you just can’t get back.” City Manager Tim Gleason has named assistant chief Greg Scott interim police chief on Sept. 1, when Donath’s retirement takes effect. – Eric Stock, WGLT

Peoria To Get $1.4M In CARES Act Funding

The City of Peoria Council will receive $1.4 million in federal assistance to help small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional $400,000 has been awarded to the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. The U.S Commerce Department announced the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants on Wednesday. The federal money for Peoria is aimed at assisting business owners as they work to rebound from financial instability. The aid will be dispersed through a revolving loan fund. The Commerce Department announced a total of $11.5 million in awards to agencies and EDCs across Illinois. – Joe Deacon, WCBU

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