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News Around Illinois — Sept. 9, 2020

The latest news around the state for Sept. 9, 2020.

U of Illinois Sues To Stop Nurses Strike This Weekend

CHICAGO (AP) — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees are suing to try to stop nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital from striking this weekend. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court names the Illinois Nurses Association as a defendant and seeks a temporary restraining order against the job action, saying it would pose a danger to the public. Nurses at the hospital have announced they will begin a seven-day strike at 7 a.m. Saturday after contract negotiations broke down with the hospital over the number of patients under the care of each nurse. The nurses association says UI Health created conditions for the strike by “engaging in delay tactics throughout negotiations.” The lawsuit claims 12 of the hospital’s units provide unique and critical services to patients, and if nurses working there are allowed to strike, it “would constitute a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Those units include the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatric intensive care unit and the labor and delivery unit, the suit said. – Associated Press

Appeals Court Agrees R&B Singer R. Kelly Should Stay Jailed

NEW YORK (AP) — R. Kelly can remain behind bars awaiting multiple trials on child pornography and other charges in three states, an appeals court in New York said Tuesday as a lawyer for the R&B singer cited another inmate’s attack on Kelly last month as one reason he should receive bail. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a decision by a Brooklyn federal judge to deny bail to Kelly, 53, who remains in a federal jail in Chicago. He faces state and federal charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York ranging from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme designed to supply him with girls. The Grammy Award-winning singer has denied ever abusing anyone. Prosecutors have said Kelly is a danger to the community and a flight risk. The 2nd Circuit said prosecutors had proven both and that “no condition or combination of conditions could assure against those risks.” The appeals court said the lower court also did not err in finding Kelly failed to demonstrate a “compelling reason” for temporary release. – Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

NIU Enrollment Up In Fall 2020, The First Time In A Decade

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Northern Illinois University is reporting it’s first enrollment increase in more than a decade despite the impact of COVID-19 on school operations, officials said Tuesday. NIU officials say fall enrollment rose to 16,769 despite primarily offering on-line instruction and imposing restrictions on campus gatherings. That is up from last year, making it the first enrollment increase since 2008. University officials also credit improved undergraduate retention as a factor in the improved enrollment numbers. Overall retention of first-year students was 78%, up 6% from last year. New transfer students fell 7%, to 1,504 this year. Officials say Northern Illinois continues to have success recruiting students of color. This year, 35% of entering freshmen are Black, the highest that figure has been in university history. Latinx enrollment also grew, accounting for 23% of the incoming class. – Associated Press

Protests, Virus Response Tap Rockford Police Overtime Budget

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A northern Illinois city used nearly 60% of its police overtime budget through July because of protests and coronavirus training and response, officials said. Rockford planned for $2.7 million for overtime in 2020 and had spent about $1.6 million by July 31, the Rockford Register Star reported. Protests against excessive force and racism have occurred for weeks in Rockford, leading to arrests of people accused of blocking traffic. “Our regularly budgeted OT amount is doing a good job in covering protest costs. … OT is only used when it is deemed necessary for the betterment of the community,” said John Pozzi, the police department’s business manager. “When planning for a protest, or any forecasted event, we focus on covering what is necessary and not deploying unneeded resources,” Pozzi said. – Associated Press

A Law Aims To Improve Mental Health Services At Colleges, But There’s No Money to Make It Happen

A law passed last year aimed at boosting mental health services and awareness at Illinois’ public universities and community colleges still hasn’t received any of the funding schools say they need to bring the law to life. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mental health advocates say the money is crucial to helping colleges address gaps in services at a time when counseling and resources have quickly shifted online and students are facing increased isolation, stress and anxiety. Schools estimate it would take $17 to $20 million each year over the next three years to fully implement the law across all colleges and universities. A survey conducted by the state found many public universities and community colleges especially lacked strong online services prior to the pandemic. A vast majority did not have any counselors available via telehealth, meaning in-person counselors were forced to quickly shift online without extensive training. About half the public universities and 80% of community colleges do not have a robust online screening tool that can assess students and directly connect them with mental health services. According to the state survey, UIC is the only public university that had some telehealth capability before the pandemic. Even then, telehealth counseling was extremely limited, accounting for less than one staff member’s total counseling availability. – Kate McGee, WBEZ

Demolition To Begin Soon On Old Airport Terminal

The demolition of Central Illinois Regional Airport’s old terminal building is slated to begin this month. The site is the former location of CJ’s Restaurant, which closed in 2018. In a virtual meeting with the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority on Tuesday, CIRA Deputy Director Javier Centeno said work will begin on Sept. 14 and is projected to last 85 days. Centeno said much of the initial work will involve fencing and environmental compliance. The actual demolition of the structure won’t take place until the third week of October. That work is projected to last 30 days. – Sarah Nardi, WGLT

Picture of Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda

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