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This Hour: Latest Illinois news, sports, business and entertainment

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Illinois patients continue nursing home care waits

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois audit has found that more than half of those seeking state-paid nursing home care have been waiting more than 90 days for a decision on their cases.

Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports ( ) that the review by Auditor General William Holland shows a backlog. That's despite a new law and state money to hire more employees to run the program.

The audit said that 4,200 people waiting for a long-term care determination as of July 1. More than 2,100 of those cases are more than 90 days old.

The state took steps last year to erase the backlog. Officials opened processing centers in Chicago and central Illinois.

Holland says it's unclear from his research whether there are enough employees or money to address the problems.


Kirk seeks investigation of federal disaster funds

CHICAGO (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is seeking an investigation into millions in federal funds that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's administration used for an anti-violence program.

Kirk asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week to investigate how Hurricane Ike recovery funds were used.

The money went to financial institutions to disburse loans to small businesses in struggling Chicago neighborhoods as part of the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

A state audit found "pervasive" problems with the program, which Quinn started before his 2010 election.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that $3.7 million in disaster funds went to three institutions. One had previously misspent state grants. It never loaned any money, but kept $150,000.

Quinn says he addressed problems with the initiative, including abolishing the agency that ran it.


State halts disposal of gas waste at Clinton site

CLINTON, Ill. (AP) - State environmental officials have halted disposal of manufactured gas plant waste at a central Illinois landfill where they're also banning PCBs.

Lee Enterprises reports that ( ) the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency informed the owners of the Clinton Landfill of the action in a letter Thursday.

The agency earlier this week said it was modifying a permit to prohibit disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls because local landfill approval in 2002 didn't include the chemical.

The landfill is located above the Mahomet aquifer, which provides water to 750,000 people in about a dozen counties. Many towns worried PCBs could contaminate the aquifer.

But they also worried about manufactured gas plant waste, a byproduct of producing gas from coal.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos praised Gov. Pat Quinn for moving quickly on their additional concerns.


3 Quincy men charged in alleged jailbreak attempt

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - Three Quincy men are charged in an alleged attempt to escape from the Adams County Jail.

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports ( ) that 19-year-old Cobretti M. Matlick, 24-year-old Nicholas C. Ray and 23-year-old Jason M. Keller appeared in court Thursday on kidnapping and attempted escape charges.

Prosecutors say Matlick also is charged with aggravated battery after allegedly attacking a corrections officer with a crude knife during Sunday's escape attempt.

Court documents say the officer was treated at a hospital and released after being stabbed in the head.

Adams County Sheriff Bent Fisher says Matlick has been moved to the Hancock County Jail, where he's being held on $250,000 bond. Ray and Keller are being held on $150,000 bond each in the Adams County Jail.

All three were assigned public defenders.


Trial of man in officer's death to stay in Pontiac

PONTIAC, Ill. (AP) - The trial of a man charged in the death of a Pontiac police officer will not be moved to another county.

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports that ( ) Livingston County Judge Robert Travers on Wednesday rejected defense arguments that an unbiased jury cannot be seated.

Jason Collins of South Carolina is charged with reckless homicide and drunken driving in the death of officer Casy Kohlmeier (KOHL-mire) in October 2013. Authorities say his pickup truck struck Kohlmeier's squad car as it was parked in an interstate median.

Defense attorneys claim that survey of 150 people in Pontiac proves the potential jury pool is tainted by extensive publicity.

The judge says the survey is too small, but the trial could be moved if there is difficulty seating an impartial panel during jury selection.


July ties the record for coolest ever in Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The state climatologist says last month's relative chilly temperatures tied the record for the coolest July in recorded Illinois history.

And as data are revised he says it's likely this July will break the record.

State Climatologist Jim Angel said Friday that the statewide average temperature in July was 70.3 degrees.

Angel said the cool weather was standard last month across much of the Midwest, with temperatures running 4 to 8 degrees below average.

The warmest July on record for Illinois was the 82.8 degrees recorded in 1936. The 81.8-degree average from July 2012 is the second warmest.

Rainfall for July averaged 3.4 inches across Illinois. That's just over half an inch below the average.


Red panda to make public debut soon at Decatur zoo

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - The Scovill Zoo in Decatur says visitors will be able to see a new red panda as soon as next month.

Tusa (TOOH-suh) was born June 27 at the zoo. He is the first red panda born there.

Keeper Amanda Ott tells The Herald & Review in Decatur ( ) that the red panda spends most of his time in what's called a nesting box. She expects him to start making appearances visible to the public in late September.

Red pandas' native range runs from Nepal into parts of China. They can live to be 12 years old or older in captivity.

The new panda and his parents are part of a species survival program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Galesburg teachers plan strike if no deal reached

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) - Public-school teachers in Galesburg have voted to go on strike if they can't reach a new labor agreement with the local school district.

Galesburg Education Association spokeswoman Tami Qualls told The Register-Mail in Galesburg ( ) Thursday night that they had agreed to strike on Aug. 13 if they can't agree on a new contract. Classes are scheduled to start Aug. 14.

Her comments came as more than 400 teachers left a meeting.

Negotiations are expected to begin Aug. 11 with the District 205 Board of Education.

The school district has said it can't afford the 1.5 percent raises the teachers union wants.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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