Local News

The Origins of Bakersville on Kewanee Back When

Bakersville returns to Kewanee on Saturday, October 19th but where did the idea for Bakersville come from? Dave Clarke and Sean Kernan set out to answer that question on the latest edition of Kewanee Back When. Special guests Tracy Breedlove and Troy Nell were on hand because both were there for the first Bakersville and Troy tells us that it began with something fun that his dad, former Kewanee Parks Director Jerry Nell, liked to do with his kids... 

You can hear all about the origins of Bakersville in the latest Kewanee Back When Podcast linked here


Kewanee City Council May Move Forward with Making Advel Court a Public Street

At Tuesday night's Kewanee CIty Council Meeting, the Council discussed a petition signed by the residents of Advel Court, a private street in Kewanee. The residents of Advel Court want the City to take over maintenance of Advel Court as a public street. The Council informed residents of Advel Court that it was possible to do that, but it would cost the residents of Advel Court certain amounts in assessments. Those amounts were discussed at Tuesday night's meeting...

These are tentative estimates and could increase if there are unforseen circumstances. Nothing was voted on on Tuesday night, it was a discussion only item. Based off of the petition and last night's discussion, city staff will draft an agreement for the City to take over Advel Court which will then be voted on at a future Kewanee City Council Meeting. 

How Will Local Communities Regulate Legalized Marijuana?

Questions surround exactly what local municipalities can and cannot do to regulate legal marijuana. Soon, cities across Illinois will have decisions to make regarding what types of rules can be put in place to regulate legalized recreational marijuana which comes to Illinois as of January 1st. Reporter Cole Lauterbach examines some of the questions... 

The Kewanee City Council held a discussion of potential marijuana regulation at Tuesday night's Kewanee City Council Meeting. The consensus appeared to indicate that the City of Kewanee would potentially hold a public meeting to allow Kewanee residents to weigh in on regulation of marijuana. At the very least, the City of Kewanee is likely to hold an informational meeting to educate the public about what is in the marijuana legalization bill and how Cities are able to regulate it.

Mayor Gary Moore will discuss the issue further on today's People to People program on WKEI. If you would like to know more about legalized marijuana and what cities can and cannot due to regulate it, the Illinois Municipal League has a guide which you can read, linked here

State and Federal Partnership Touting Chicago Infrastructure Plans

Chicago is set to receive more than $1.2 Billion dollars for infrastructure projects as part of Rebuild Illinois. Governor J.B Pritzker on Tuesday made an appearance at a Chicago elementary school to talk to kids about the infrastructure plans for the city which include improvements to the Kennedy Expressway, improvements to public transportation, and money for the CREATE program, which stands for Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency... 


Lawmakers Calling for Downstate Pension Consolidation

State Representative Mark Batnick is among a group of lawmakers who want to address pension consolidation during the fall veto session of the Illinois statehouse. Representative Batnick spoke this week to reporter Greg Bishop about what pension consolidation might mean and why he hopes that pension consolidation will pass sooner than later... 


Kewanee Citizens Call for Animal Control as Council Defends Officer in Shooting of Pitbull

At Tuesday night's Kewanee City Council Meeting citizens used the public comment portion of the meeting to call upon the City of Kewanee to bring back Animal Control, as in specifically trained animal control officers, to deal with what Kewanee Police reported this week were 777 calls regarding loose dogs in the City of Kewanee in the last 12 months. Citizen Betty Dorsey was the first to speak out on Tuesday night...

Ms Dorsey was followed by Trisha Folz 

Kewanee Mayor Gary Moore, a former Police Officer who handled animal control calls like any other officer during his time with the Kewanee Police Department defended the actions of the Kewanee Police Officer in the incident in question, the shooting of a pitbull last Friday afternoon in Kewanee... 

The Mayor was followed by Council Member Mike Yaklich who further stated support for the officer in question...

Council members Colomer, Faber and Komnick also voiced support for the Officer at Tuesday night's meeting. Mayor Gary Moore will further address the issue of Animal Control and loose dogs in Kewanee on today's edition of People to People at 9:35 Am on WKEI. 

State Ag Pest Coordinator Sums Up 2019 Growing Season

There were many things on the radar as Kelly Estes sums of the 2019 growing season in Illinois. She serves as Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator for the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign.

Looking ahead to 2020, it’s all about scouting. Estes says knowing what insects growers had this year will help lead them into next year and that’s probably how they can make their best decisions moving forward.

Challenges Anticipated with Legal Weed

While there are established, accepted and legally binding blood alcohol levels when determining when someone is drunk or incapacitated, no such tests exist to see if you are high on marijuana. With recreational weed becoming legal in Illinois next year, that has employers trying to figure out policy on how to address its use. A spokesman from OSF Healthcare outlines some of the challenges.

Troy Overholt, Vice President for Occupational Health at OSF HealthCare admits to employers that while it may be risky and has yet to be challenged in court, monitoring for marijuana impairment in an employee may need to be less scientific and more observational.

There is no scientifically reliable way to measure for marijuana intoxication. THC is stored in fat cells, so the length of time it's in your system is not a blood test level. So, he says you could test high today from use weeks or months ago, and it depends greatly on frequency and the amount of use.

Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference Later this Week in Normal

Those affiliated with Route 66 are looking forward to the Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference later this week in Normal. Geoff Ladd with the Route 66 Scenic Byway Association is looking forward to the conference. He says if you are looking to connect the Route 66 product to your group, this is the place to be.

According to Ladd, the conference features a couple of keynote speakers that should bring great information. He's excited because the conference floats around the area but this year, they are holding it in Normal.


Electric Car Start Up Shows Off In Bloomington

Name recognition of automaker Rivian might be a little low for now but the start-up has been making big news over the past few months. Amazon recently announced they plan to buy 100,000 Rivian electric delivery trucks. Those trucks are going to be built in Bloomington Normal at the site of the old Mitsubishi plant. The company held an open house on Sunday showcasing the technology and vehicles that are about a year away, Democrat Governor JB Pritzker says seeing is believing.

Pritzker says that he wants to be able there when the first Rivian vehicle rolls off the assembly line.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Honored By Comptroller Mendoza

During National Hispanic Heritage Month Comptroller Susana Mendoza, the first Latina elected to state wide office is proud to celebrate her heritage and that of many others. Her office recognized Chef Gabriela Morin who grew up in Venezuela and now lives in Peoria where she started a small business called Eat and Evolve, she now delivers 500 meals a week to people’s homes and operates a restaurant. Mendoza says recognizing a chef makes sense when you think of the communal nature of food.

Another chef from Springfield was honored along with the State Senate Sergeant at Arms.


Ag meteorologist Says Hard Freeze Not Likely Until Late October or Early November

There’s been a threat of frost in parts of Illinois over the last week, but nothing significant. It’s looking like a real hard freeze is out of the question until late October or even early November.

Those comments from DTN Chief Agriculture meteorologist Bryce Anderson on Tuesday morning on the RFD Radio Network.


Confederate Railroad Returning to Illinois on October 18th at Fulton County Fairgrounds

Southern Rock Country stars Confederate Railroad are coming back to Illinois for the first time since their controversial booting from the DuQuoin State Fair. The band known for such hits as “Trashy Women,” and “Queen of Memphis,” are coming to Lewistown, Illinois on October 18th as part of their “Lucky to Be Alive Tour 2019.” The concert at the Fulton County Fairgrounds on Saturday starts at 8 Pm but gates open at 4 Pm. Tickets to see Confederate Railroad at the Fulton County Fairgrounds in Lewistown cost $20.00 for general admission, $25.00 for trackside seats and $30.00 for VIP Reserved Box Seats. 


Illinois Manufacturing Association President Has Concerns About Governor's Economic Plan

Last week, Governor J.B Pritzker released his five year plan for the Illinois Economy. Now, the 5 sectors that the Governor cited in his plan are beginning to react to that plan. The President of the Illinois Manufacturing Association, Mark Denzler, tells our reporter Greg Bishop that he has concerns about the Governor's long term plans, specifically about workers comp reform and tax costs... 


Electric Vehicle Start Up Expects to Have Vehicles for Sale Before End of the Year

Rivian, the electric car company start up now headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois expects to have cars for sale before the end of the year. The company which received $49 million dollars in tax exemptions to open in the former Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington in 2018, made the announcement of their plans for having cars on the road before the end of the year at an event with lawmakers over the weekend. Reporter Greg Bishop has more... 


Mental Health Walk a Reminder of Resources Available for Those In Need

The Mental Health Walk at Wethersfield High School on Saturday, October 12th proved to be hugely successful with a strong turn out in support of mental health services in Henry County. Carrie Boelens from OSF Saint Luke Medical Center tells WKEI that the Mental Health Walk and all that came with with it was a heart-warming reminder of how much this community cares... 

Speaking of assistance for those in need of Mental Health services in our area, Carrie talked about Silvercloud, the recently launched OSF App that is a tremendous resource for those suffering from depression and other related mental health issues. Silvercloud is free and is overseen by the invaluable Beth Looney... 

Monday marked Carrie Boelens' final regular appearance on Tuned In on WKEI. Carrie has been promoted to a new position at OSF Saint Luke Medical Center... 

You can hear our final Tuned In conversation, for now, with Carrie Boelens from OSF Saint Luke Medical Center in our Tuned In Podcast linked here

Report Outlines Roots of Illinois' Racial Inequities

New research says discrimination and segregation continue to plague Illinois and other Midwestern states. According to the report "Race in the Heartland," while more black Americans live in the 12-state Midwestern region, equity metrics here are worse than in other states. Report author Colin Gordon, professor of history at the University of Iowa, explained the problem stems from the industrial boom, when many African-Americans sought job opportunities in the Midwest. He said they found what he calls an "architecture of segregation."

"Because African-Americans fled into the Midwest for largely unionized manufacturing jobs, the collapse of that manufacturing-job base and the unions that accompanied it, does enormous damage," Gordon said. "Jobs move out to the suburbs, but the people who used to hold those jobs are quite literally stuck in place."

Between 1970 and 1980, Chicago lost roughly 118,000 blue-collar jobs while its suburbs added 237,000. Some 14% of Illinois residents are black, and the report said they face disparities in multiple areas - including poverty, infant mortality, incarceration, home ownership, education level and wealth accumulation.

Despite efforts to close racial gaps, Gordon explained, Chicago is among the eight most segregated cities as of the 2010 census.

"Chicago has been somewhat successful in diversifying its economy and not relying on that old industrial job base, but it's still very starkly segregated," he said. "And then, of course, the forgotten part of Illinois, which is across the river from St. Louis. The Illinois side of that metro region is really struggling mightily."

Gordon noted these disparities are not the result of the inevitable consequence of globalization and technological change, but rather clear and intentional public policies.

"Policies segregating housing, that undercut the power of labor unions, that made decisions about whether to fund enforcement of civil rights or not," he said. "So while in some respect it's a sort of dismal catalogue, it's also a hopeful one because what we've done by policy can also be undone by policy."

The report said solutions should focus on where they can do the most good, with policies to improve schools, jobs, safety nets, neighborhoods and families' financial security.


Former Kewanee Mayor Joe Quagliano Has Died

Former Kewanee Mayor Joe Quagliano has died. Quagliano was only Mayor for one year but his time in office was notable. Quagliano was appointed to the position of Mayor of Kewanee after Mayor Emerit 'Em' Lindbeck was removed from the office in 1989. Quagliano stayed on as Mayor of Kewanee for one year before resigning the position in 1990. He was replaced by Bonnie Tomlinson. Quagliano is also known in Kewanee for having founded the Miss World Festival Pageant which is now helmed by Jeanna Moore, the wife of current Kewanee Mayor Gary Moore. Jeanna Moore paid tribute to Mr. Quagliano and his founding of the Miss World Festival in a Facebook post on Monday sending prayers to his wife Sally and their family and saying that Mr Quagliano lit up a room with his smile. Mr Quagliano was known to attend most Wethersfield Football games and was frequently a customer at The Station restaurant in Kewanee. Mr Quagliano was 82 years old. 

Time is Now to Finish FAFSA Application, Examine College Financial Aid Options

Now is the time for those looking forward to going to College to look at financial aid possibilities ahead of 2020. Lynne Baker from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission tells WKEI that they have a number of resources available for Illinois residents to look into for help with furthering their education... 

FAFSA became available for future college students to begin checking eligibility on October 1st and getting the FAFSA application completed and submitted as close to October 1st as possible is good advice for anyone seeking help getting college financing together. Lynne Baker from ISAC tells WKEI that the biggest mistake that people make when pursuing financial aid is not looking at all the possible options available to them... 

Check out our People to People special edition with Lynne Baker in our People to People Podcast linked here

Governor Now Backs Insulin Cap

The push to cap insulin prices at no more than $100 a month is picking up steam. Over the past few weeks Democrat State Senator Andy Manar has been building support for a bill to be called during the fall veto session. And now the Governor, JB Pritzker, is backing the plan. He says the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs has to be addressed. And for the 1.3 million Illinoisans who have diabetes, the cost of insulin shouldn’t be a decision between groceries and rent over their healthcare.

Pritzker says the cost of insulin has tripled in the past decade

Appointee Off Tollway Board Amid Cloud of Investigation

The Chairman of the State Senate Transportation committee has stepped down. As pressure mounted on Democrat Martin Sandoval it seems that the release of an un-redacted copy of a federal search sealed the outcome of his decision. Sandoval resigned the chairmanship with a short letter to Senate President John Cullerton. And another person connected to the investigation is out of a state board position. Cesar Santoy, an alderman from Berwyn, had been nominated to the Illinois Tollway Board in February by the Governor. By the end of Friday Santoy took his name out of consideration for the spot. JB Pritzker says his office did all they could to make sure they were appointing a deserving individual to the board.

Neither Sandoval or Santoy have been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

Kewanee Police Release Body Camera Footage of Officer Shooting at Dog

Following up on a request by WKEI the Kewanee Police Department has released the Body Camera Footage of the shooting of a Pitbull. With the release of the Body Camera Footage of the shooting of the dog, identified now as Caprice, Kewanee Police also released the following statement... 


"On October 11th, 2019, the Kewanee Police Department received a complaint from a citizen that an aggressive pit bull charging at people in the roadway in the 600 block of East 5th Street in Kewanee, Illinois.  This incident led to the pit bull being struck by a bullet fired from the responding officer’s service weapon.  In an effort to maintain an honest and transparent relationship with the citizens of Kewanee, the Kewanee Police Department is choosing to release the body camera footage to show the entire incident.  Several false claims on social media were made over the weekend that children were present during the incident and the pit bull was shot as it was running away from the officer.  The video shows that these statements are false and a misrepresentation of the unfortunate incident. The body camera footage clearly shows the pit bull was aggressive and approaching the officer in the street.  Over the last twelve months, the Kewanee Police Department has responded to 777 complaints of dogs running at large and 32 complaints of individuals being bitten by a dog.  These are the facts concerning this specific complaint of an aggressive pit bull running at large.  
The Kewanee Police Department was contacted by a citizen that a loose pit bull tried to attack him while he was walking in the street.  When the responding officer arrived on scene to speak with the complainant, the citizen advised the officer that the loose pit bull had charged at him three separate times and tried to bite him while he was in the roadway.  The pit bull can be heard barking throughout the video and can be seen standing at the edge of the roadway.  The officer is standing on the opposite side of the road near his vehicle.  The officer attempts to locate the owner of the pit bull so that the owner could safely retrieve the aggressive dog before anyone gets attacked.  He retrieves a catch pole from the back of his squad car in hopes of being able to safely secure the pit bull.  As the officer is speaking with a dispatcher on the phone, the pit bull starts advancing towards him across the street.  The officer informs the dispatcher he must hang up the phone as the pit bull is now coming at him.  Based upon the officer’s own observations, combined with the complainant’s information about the pit bull attempting to attack him on multiple occasions, the officer pulled his service weapon to protect himself from the aggressive pit bull.  The officer yells at the dog to get back, but the pit bull keeps barking and advancing towards him across the road towards his position.  When the pit bull gets to approximately 5 feet away from the officer and still moving towards him, the officer fires one round from his service weapon striking the pit bull.  The pit bull then runs from the area and was unable to be captured by officers.  The owner of the pit bull, Jessica Smith, was later cited for the city ordinance violation for allowing a dog to run at large.  She received a court date of November 15th at 9:00 am at Kewanee City Hall."



IL State Police Investigating In-Custody Death at Henry County Jail

A female inmate has died while in custody at the Henry County Jail. According to a release from the Henry County Jail, 61 year old Teresa Marolf of Geneseo died while being held in a solitary holding cell at the Henry County Jail on Saturday, October 12th. Marolf was found unresponsive in her cell by Jail employees. Cambridge Ambulance was called but Marolf was pronounced dead at the jail by the Henry County Coroner's Office. The Henry County Sheriff's Office turned the investigation of Marolf's Death to the Illinois State Police, a standard investigative protocol for such a situation. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is set to be conducted this afternoon. According to the Henry County Sheriff Arrest and Citation Report, Marolf was arrested on Sunday, October 6th on charges of Domestic Battery and Aggravated Battery of a Child. 

Tickets on Sale for Kewanee Library Music at the Carnegie

The music of Frank Sinatra will be the center piece of the next Music at the Carnegie event at the Kewanee Public Library. Singer Phil Steinberg is not a Frank Sinatra impersonator but he does love the music of Frank Sinatra and has made it his mission to keep the Chairman of the Board's legendary sound alive. Sara Billiet from the Kewanee Public Library says that you can buy your tickets for Music at the Carnegie now at the Kewanee Public Library... 

Tickets to see Phil Steinberg perform the music of Frank Sinatra and to enjoy dinner provided by P.L Damron's at the Kewanee Public Library are just $35.oo and can be purchased at the information desk at the Kewanee Public Library. Proceeds benefit the efforts of the Friends of the Kewanee Public Library. 

University of Illinois Extension Says Now is a Good Time to Plant Spring Bulbs

If you were considering planting bulbs in your garden for spring, the University of Illinois Extension says now is a good time to get it done. Reporter Kim Howard spoke with Master Gardener Kelly Alsup for tips on getting spring bulbs in the ground and the best way to be ready for your garden next spring.