Sunday, Dec. 3

Happy birthday, Illinois

The Illinois bicentennial celebration is underway. Events were held at Navy Pier on Lake Michigan and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

Flags also were raised in communities across the state, including Decatur, on Monday to recognize the year-long celebration. It culminates on Dec. 3, 2018, the state’s 200th birthday.

"On this birthday, we want to look at what has been born, built and grown in our state, and what we learn to invent and build and grown more,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said.

Monday, Dec. 4

Council approves $67.9 million budget

The Decatur City Council has approved a 2018 budget that runs a $3.2 million deficit.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the $67.9 million spending plan. Additional discussions will be about how to generate new revenue or reduce services.

The city is dealing with a decline in sales tax, sluggish growth and a drop in state funding.

“I think it’s more about sending a strong message that we need to make some serious changes, and some of those changes are going to be hard,” Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. 

Tuesday, Dec. 5

Driver found guilty in 2015 pedestrian crash

Myles McGonigle, 51, was convicted of felony aggravated reckless driving causing great bodily harm for the November 2015 crash that left a pedestrian in a coma for a week.

Witnesses during testimony said McGonigle, of Lovington, was seen weaving his van in and out of traffic.

Sentencing is Feb. 1. McGonigle faces three years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

Wednesday, Dec. 6

ADM to pay $100,000 to Park District

The Decatur Park District is entering into an agreement with Archer Daniels Midland Co., which will pay up to $100,000 for Decatur Airport renovations.

The improvements will accommodate jet service through SkyWest Airlines, according to an agreement approved by the park board.

The company said it would fill 5,000 seats for each of the next two years if SkyWest is selected as the airport's commercial provider through the federal Essential Air Service program.

The carrier decision is being made by the federal Department of Transportation.

Thursday, Dec. 7

Controversial business project moves forward

The Decatur Plan Commission voted 5-2 to recommend rezoning of 1.6 acres near West Ash Avenue and U.S. Business 51 for commercial use, in a contentious move that divided residents and critics.

Deerfield-based GMX Real Estate has indicated a Chipotle Mexican Grill on the site, as well as other businesses. Some neighbors have raised concerns about increased congestion.

The city council is expected to consider the project in January.

Friday, Dec. 8

'Making a Murderer' appeal heard

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned a ruling that could have freed a inmate featured in the "Making a Murderer" series.

They reviewed Brendan Dassey's claims that authorities tricked him into saying he was part in the raping and killing of Teresa Halbach 12 years ago. Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 after telling he helped his uncle, Steven Avery.

The 4-to-3 opinion said a ruling wasn't obvious or easy, but that it came down to whether findings by Wisconsin state courts that Dassey wasn't coerced into confessing were sound.

"The state courts' finding that Dassey's confession was voluntary was not beyond fair debate, but we conclude it was reasonable," their 39-page ruling said.

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