Illinois Budget 12.18.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
 
If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please e-mail it to Illinois@gatehousemedia.com.
 
Contacts:
Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343, claughman@gatehousemedia.com

GATEHOUSE NEWSROOM

BEST OF 2009: The news service is looking for end-of-year content that works on a national scale. For example, Best Movies of 2009 or Top 10 Songs of 2009. If your paper is planning lists, columns or the like, please let us know by e-mailing national@gatehousemedia.com. We'll compile all year-end content in a links package and will post a budget when we know what items are expected.
 
Training: APME NewsTrain Chicagoland scheduled for March
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/training-apme-newstrain-chicagoland-scheduled-march

Web Cube moments of the week
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/webcube-moments-week-17

TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT:

Greene County fights to save 'porthole barns'

A unique collection of barns in Greene County that has round, porthole windows is considered a perfect illustration of the Illinois landscape by those fighting to preserve them. The group of about 30 barns nestled among the cornfields and a cluster of small communities are the inspiration of a grassroots effort that has caught the attention of state historic preservationists. The barns, built with round, porthole windows, are the design of shipbuilder Joseph Minch, who came to the area in 1874. Minch is thought to have begun his legacy in the county by building a barn in exchange for tools. By Molly Beck of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1535678089/Greene-County-fights-to-save-porthole-barns

ILLINOIS NEWS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news

State Briefs. News from around the state.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x967382230/State-Briefs-12-18-09

This week at the statehouse:
 
For the weekend:
 
Statehouse Insider. Doug Finke is off this week. Insider will return next week.
 
Decade has been memorable for state government, but not always in a good way

SPRINGFIELD – The 2000s will be a decade to remember in Illinois state government history, and not for many good reasons. GateHouse News Service is planning an end-of-the-year retrospective on the most important stories in state government and politics from this decade. We want your help in compiling a list of the top 10 stories from this decade. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau. For use in weekend editions.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1431157724/Decade-has-been-memorable-for-state-government-but-not-always-in-a-good-way

ILLINOIS BUSINESS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_business

Mold latest challenge at state-owned resort

SPRINGFIELD – A resort and golf course that opened two decades ago with the aid of $4.5 million in state incentives has been closed for the past six months by mold in some guest rooms and a swimming pool area. Still, state officials say they hope to find a new operator for the Eagle Creek Resort and Conference Center near Shelbyville, about 75 miles southeast of Springfield, in time to reopen the facility next spring. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1439499136/Mold-latest-challenge-at-state-owned-resort

Lawmakers back hiking ethanol-gas blends

PEORIA – A bipartisan coalition of members of Congress questions the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to delay increasing the ethanol blend wall in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, along with six of his colleagues sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson this week. Their letter said the EPA's decision inhibits their ability to improve the quality of fuels and help the nation realize energy independence. By Karen McDonald of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1802479742/Lawmakers-back-hiking-ethanol-gas-blends

ILLINOIS LIFESTYLES
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_lifestyle

Save time by seeing all the Christmas stories at once

SPRINGFIELD – A comedy opening (and closing) this weekend at the Hoogland Center mixes and matches pretty much every pop culture holiday story you've ever seen on TV. This TV Guide-in-a-blender adds up to “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!).” By Brian Mackey of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x985682391/Save-time-see-all-the-Christmas-stories-at-once

Balance program aims to reduce falls

PEORIA – Jane Hense's ability to stand up on her own indicates her sense of balance, which, in turn, indicates her risk of falling. Hense wouldn't have known that if she hadn't gone through the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation's balance rehabilitation program. She knew something was off about her balance, but she didn't have the words to get the thought across. By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x985682385/Balance-program-aims-to-reduce-falls

Go green with your Christmas gifts this year

PEORIA – Locally grown organic squash: $2. Sponsorship for summer camp: $200. Saving the environment: Less pricey than you think. While you're scrambling for last-minute Christmas gifts, skip the elaborately wrapped but unwanted tie or slippers. Consider scoring a green trifecta instead: Think local. Think low-impact. Think how lopped budgets make your greenbacks even more meaningful than they would have been in the past. By Terry Bibo of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1439499184/Go-green-with-your-Christmas-gifts-this-year

Elizabeth Davies: Freebie Christmas, and a happy new deal

More than ever before, online retailers are picking up a piece of the Christmas spending season. I’ve done my fair share of the “sit ‘n shop” routine. Even my mom, who swears she hates the computer, has placed several orders online.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/news/business/x967381282/Elizabeth-Davies-Freebie-Christmas-and-a-happy-new-deal

Wood on Words: Some peaceful words, just in time for Christmas

In the news business, war gets a disproportionate share of our attention most of the time. It seems only fitting, as millions of people prepare to mark the birthday of the Prince of Peace, that we devote some attention to war’s opposite.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/columnists/barry_wood/x1535677341/Barry-Wood-Some-peaceful-words-just-in-time-for-Christmas

Movie Man: Box set features TV when it was young, good

It’s mighty hard to believe in this age of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Tool Academy,” but television was once seen as a medium for enlightenment, something that could bring genuine class and culture to the common man.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/entertainment/dvds_cds/x1535677346/Movie-Man-Box-set-features-TV-when-it-was-young-good

ILLINOIS OPINIONS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/opinions

BRITT: Britt is on vacation.
 
Jerry Moore: A topic to avoid at the holiday table

My recent column on the debate over creationism versus evolution drew many responses, and I appreciate everyone’s input. I do wish, though, that some of my opponents had limited their criticism to points I actually made in my column. I never claimed that God doesn’t exist, that morals and rules have no place in society, that Christianity is primitive, and that atheism trumps religion.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1535677921/Jerry-Moore-A-topic-to-avoid-at-the-holiday-table

Editorial: Boomsday, here we come

Even while borrowing and overspending like no time in America's history, our members of Congress still could not bring themselves to turn off the spigot or stop feathering their own gilded nests. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x1431157577/Editorial-Boomsday-here-we-come

Editorial: If Gitmo's only changing ZIP codes, what's the point?

If the prisoners being held at Gitmo must be moved, then the largely vacant Thomson prison in northwestern Illinois is as good a place for them as any. The question, for us, is whether they must be relocated. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x1535677912/Editorial-If-Gitmos-only-changing-ZIP-codes-whats-the-point

Editorial: Thomson plan worthy of support

It was as if the empty prison cells were an echo chamber: Republicans repeated the same arguments, over and over, in opposing President Barack Obama’s decision to house terrorism suspects at Thomson Correctional Center. They are wrong; we repeat, wrong. The plan is not dangerous, it is supported by Thomson residents and it is past time to move the detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x1535677915/Editorial-Thomson-plan-worthy-of-support

ILLINOIS SPORTS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports

Sunday Quick Shots: White Sox excel at free-agent bargain shopping

The White Sox will never be what they want to be until their minor league system stops looking as barren as the Cubs. Still, they’ll at least contend as long as Kenny Williams retains his touch at the free-agent discount rack. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Also includes items on Heisman voting, the SEC being the best conference in college football, fear of 4th down and Notre Dame’s academic standards.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports/x967381512/Sunday-Quick-Shots-White-Sox-excel-at-free-agent-bargain-shopping

BEARS:
 
For Saturday:
 
An old Ray Lewis still Ray Lewis of old

LAKE FOREST – Ray Lewis. The two scariest words in football in 2000 remain the two scariest words in 2009. “He’s definitely intimidating,” Bears right tackle Kevin Shaffer said. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. For use in Saturday editions.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports/x985680924/An-old-Ray-Lewis-still-Ray-Lewis-of-old

For Sunday:
 
Ravens show Bears glimpse of the way they were
 
The Chicago Bears farewell tour begins Sunday in Baltimore. Six of the 11 Bears defenders who will take the field at noon have started together for six years. A seventh, Brian Urlacher, is missing only because of a wrist injury. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Stands as game preview. With Bears keys to the game.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports/x1431156270/Ravens-show-Bears-glimpse-of-the-way-they-were

For Monday:
 
Bears report card. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.
 
ILLINI:
 
For Saturday:
 
ILLINOIS FOOTBALL: Illinois will hire Vic Koenning as defensive coordinator Friday and athletic director Ron Guenther will comment on his strategy to revive the program. By John Supinie.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/sports/big_10/x985682686/Illinois-AD-Guenther-says-new-assistants-will-put-Zook-in-better-position-to-succeed

ILLINOIS BASKETBALL: The Illini, like the Big Ten, want to finish the non-conference season strong to make up for losses that hurt their RPI and reputation. Illinois plays Georgia in Duluth, Ga., on Saturday. With preview capsule. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.
 
For Sunday:

GAME STORY: Illinois plays Georgia in a non-conference basketball game. Story with quotes and report card by 10 p.m. By John Supinie.
 
For Monday:
 
ILLINI Q&A: A look back at the week and ahead. By John Supinie.