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Downstate Illinois

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Black Hawk statue restoration finally finished

The scaffolding surrounding the sculpture is being removed and should be completely gone within two weeks.

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Illinois lost nearly 160,000 residents over the last decade, most in the country

The decline of Illinois’ population began in 2014 and hasn’t relented over the past six years.

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Map: Here’s where you can buy legal weed starting Jan. 1

Dozens of existing medical dispensaries have been awarded licenses to start selling recreational cannabis at the start of the year, including 10 in Chicago.

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New state commission to examine early childhood education funding

The 29-member group is made up of several state legislators along with the state superintendent of education and other advocates, providers and school officials.

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2 more weed cultivation centers approved in Illinois

Ataraxia in Albion and Shelby County Community Services in Shelbyville will be able to grow cannabis for adult-use starting Jan. 1.

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Search underway for ‘model inmate’ who escaped Grundy County Jail

Andrew Viles, 34, had been in custody since June 1 on a burglary charge, police said.

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More than 100,000 people in Illinois at risk of losing SNAP benefits

The Trump administration issued a new rule that tightens work requirements for able-bodied adults under the age of 50 receiving SNAP benefits.

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Been busted for weed? That will actually help you land a job when it’s legalized

Having a pot-related arrest or conviction used to be a liability for Illinoisans seeking employment. Now, a criminal record might lead to a job in the cannabis industry.

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Remains found in downstate Illinois identified as Woodstock woman missing from 2010

Benedetta "Beth" Bentley was dropped off by a friend at an Amtrak Station in Centralia, Illinois May 23, 2010 to head back home to Woodstock, according to officials. She never made it.

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More than 375,000 obtain new state Real IDs

Real IDs or a passport will be required to board domestic flights beginning in October 2020.

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Chicago household income grows, poverty drops for 5th straight year, new census data shows

The city’s estimated household income grew 11% from 2014 to 2018.

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FBI agents raid state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s Springfield office, Chicago home

Agents from IRS Criminal Investigation were also seen outside Sandoval’s political office in Cicero.

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Booby trap killing echoes textbook case

Downstate man who set shotgun to kill a burglar was convicted of first-degree murder.

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U. of I. student charged with hate crime after noose found in Urbana dorm elevator

Andrew M. Smith was arrested Monday and charged with a felony hate crime count and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct for allegedly placing the noose there.

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Snakes and skinks and frogs (oh, my): Forest Service doesn’t want you to run them over during migration

Reptile (and amphibian) safety first: Snake Road in downstate Illinois is temporarily closed to cars so animal traffic, slithering or otherwise, can cross without getting run over.

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Illinois State Police trooper dies after being shot in East St. Louis

Trooper Nicholas Hopkins was shot during "an exchange of gunfire" while serving a search warrant, according to Illinois State Police.

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1 killed in fiery I-55 crash after semi plows into stopped traffic near Channahon

Authorities shut down all northbound lanes of I-55 at milepost 239, just south of Lorenzo Road, according to Illinois State Police.

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Life in prison for man convicted of killing Chinese student

Brendt Christensen was convicted last month in the killing of Yingying Zhang. Her family and prosecutors pushed for the death penalty.

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Lawyers for convicted murderer said client offered to locate Chinese scholar’s body

Brendt Christensen’s lawyers said he offered to lead police to the body of Chinese student Yingying Zhang in exchange for a life sentence.

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Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Fulton County sheriff’s deputy in Avon

Troy Chisum, 39, was killed while responding to a battery and disturbance call in Avon in central Illinois

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Brendt Christensen guilty in Chinese scholar’s death

The conviction was expected because Brendt Christensen’s attorneys acknowledged from the start that he raped and stabbed Yingying Zhang in June 2017. Prosecutors say he beat her to death with a baseball bat and decapitated her.

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Lincoln’s Bible displays his spirituality, belief in ending slavery

The Bible’s markings show the 16th president’s budding spirituality and his belief that God chose him to end slavery.

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Head of Council’s Black Caucus, pastors tell Justice Burke they want diversity — not another white judge — on bench

The 28th Ward alderman and church leaders are crying foul after Burke recommended Cara Smith, the chief policy advisor to the Cook County sheriff, to fill a vacancy left by a retiring African American judge.

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Springfield meteorologist who criticized TV station’s ‘Code Red’ weather alerts fired

A spokesman for Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the station, confirmed Joe Crain’s firing.

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TV station drops ‘Code Red’ weather alerts after on-air clash with meteorologist

The popular meteorologist’s absence from the air had prompted an advertising boycott, social media protests and a complaint from a U.S. senator.

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House clears budget, gambling measure that includes adding Chicago casino

After two days of shaky behind-the-scenes negotiations, House lawmakers left Springfield having passed a comprehensive spending and capital plan. The Illinois Senate plans to return for bill action on Sunday and must still approve the gambling measure.

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Six in 10 Illinoisans want recreational pot treated ‘just like alcohol,’ poll shows

The poll comes with less than two weeks to go before the end of the legislative session — and two weeks after an anti-legalization poll showed different results.

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DCFS review: Information lacking, investigators and case managers not in sync

The review evaluated the state's Intact Family Services. About 85% of those cases are handled by private companies, with the rest by the state.

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After troopers killed, Pritzker pushes bills to protect ‘our heroes’ on roadway

A question about Scott's Law would also be included in a written question on the driver's license test, should the legislation pass.

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Transgender inmate sues for transfer to female Illinois prison

An anonymous inmate named "Tay Tay" alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections has failed to keep her safe at downstate men's facility.

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Senate leader: Lightfoot wants to do her homework on elected school board bill

Parents groups and incoming aldermen on Monday urged passage of a measure that would enact an elected school board in Chicago.

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Fact-check: Democrat blowing smoke with claim of decreased teen marijuana use

Cassidy sent us an email promising an aide would "share the studies out of Colorado," but nothing arrived as of our deadline.