State Briefs 1/19/10

Illinois farmers will likely miss out on record harvest


PEORIA – Despite a corn harvest that is continuing through the winter, U.S. farmers produced record yields of both corn and soybeans in 2009.


But Illinois farmers aren't likely to set any records.


Corn production in Illinois for 2009 averaged 175 bushels an acre, according to the crop summary released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week. That's four bushels below the previous year's yield.


The final yield for soybeans in the state was 46 bushels an acre, one bushel below the 2008 yield average. The USDA report also noted that final figures would not be available until later since harvest activity was still taking place in a number of states.


The national corn crop surpassed 13 billion bushels – 100 million bushels more than the previous record harvest in 2007, according to the USDA. U.S. farmers raised more than 3.3 billion bushels of soybeans, an average of 44 bushels an acre, surpassing the record yields set in 2005.


Peoria Journal Star


Woman escapes car before train hits


LEMONT – A woman safely escaped her vehicle before it was demolished by a passenger train Monday afternoon in Lemont. The car had gotten stuck on the tracks.


Witnesses said the woman, an elderly nun, tried to make a turn, but instead rode up on a grass embankment between the road and the railroad tracks. The car traveled about 60 feet until it hit a fire hydrant and spun onto the tracks, witnesses said.


The train, an Amtrak passenger train, completely demolished the car.


Suburban Life Publications


Belvidere Chrysler plant opens for first time in 2010


BELVIDERE — The Chrysler LLC assembly plant in Belvidere opened Tuesday for the first time in 2010 with both shifts reporting to work this week after the Martin Luther King holiday.


About 2,600 people are working for Chrysler at the plant, where workers assemble the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. More than 1,500 work at nearby supplier operations.


The plant has been idle since Dec. 18. In 2009, because of rapidly dwindling auto sales, workers assembled just 84,609 vehicles in Belvidere, the lowest yearly total since 1993, when the plant was closed for much of the year as it was converted to produce the Dodge-Plymouth Neon.


Rockford Register Star


Man killed in house fire


CHESTNUT – A Logan County man is dead after a fire broke out in his home early Monday morning.


Mark W. Graff, 55, of Chestnut was pronounced dead at 5:10 a.m., according to the Logan County Coroner’s office. According to Logan County Deputy Sheriff Mark Landers, firefighters responded to a structure fire at around 5 a.m. Logan County deputies also responded to the fire, but soon departed the scene. Landers said deputies were called back to the scene after firefighters discovered a body inside.


Preliminary reports from the county coroner’s office said the cause of death was smoke and soot inhalation. Graff was the only resident of the house.


Lincoln Courier


Man pulls high-wire act while running from police


LINCOLN – A Decatur man was so determined to avoid arrest that he put on a high-wire act Sunday evening.


Acting on a tip, Lincoln police confronted Nathan D. Williams, 25, in Lincoln. Williams ran to a motel and climbed onto the roof. He then used a belt to grab onto some power lines and shimmied about 100 feet to a utility pole.


The Lincoln fire department responded with a bucket truck. After about an hour of negotiations with police on the ground, Williams jumped into the bucket and was lowered safely to the ground.


Williams, 25, was wanted on three Macon County warrants for various charges including domestic battery, failure to appear in court to answer a charge of driving with a revoked license, and another failure to appear charge regarding a theft. After being evaluated at a local hospital, he was extradited to Macon County.


Lincoln Courier


Man sentenced for removing artifacts from wildlife refuge


BENTON – A Union County man was sentenced Tuesday for removing thousands of historical artifacts from a Southern Illinois National Wildlife Refuge.


Leslie Jones, 50, of Creal Springs, was sentenced to 30 days in prison, 500 hours of community service and five years probation. Jones was also ordered to pay more than $150,000 in restitution to Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Jones pleaded guilty in October and admitted to selling the items.


In January of 2007, Jones was seen removing the artifacts from an archeological site. The artifacts are believed to be at least 1,600 years old. Later that month, law enforcement officials seized more than 13,000 items from Jones’ residence.


GateHouse News Service