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(Chicago, IL) -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the November unemployment rate fell in 11 of the 12 metro areas in Illinois. Over the last year, the IDES says Rockford, Chicago and Kankakeee had the biggest drops in unemployment. The leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors were the most common places that saw increases in jobs in November. Overall, payrolls increased in half of the metro areas. IDES director Jay Rowell says the drop in unemployment shows that the economy is improving in Illinois, but he says if Congress does not come up with a solution to the fiscal cliff, the state risks another recession.
Mississippi River Could Close Next Week
(Thebes, IL) -- The Army Corps of Engineers says the Mississippi River could shut down to barge traffic as soon as next week. Water levels have been falling and they could drop below the minimum nine-feet next week. Contractors have been working in the Thebes area of the river trying to remove rock pinnacles to try to keep the river open to barge traffic. The president and CEO of the Waterways Council says closing the river would be an economic disaster. Michael Toohey says shippers, farmers and manufacturers have already been feeling the impacts of low water levels on the river and closing it would make it even worse.
College Illinois Deadline Approaching
(Springfield, IL) -- Time is quickly running out for families to take advantage of lower rates for the College Illinois 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan. The rates for the contracts are scheduled to go up four-percent on January 1. Eric Zarnikow with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission says plans can be as low as 42-dollars a month. The prepaid tuition program
allows families to prepay for college tuition. They are state tax deductible and grow tax free. The program has been around since 1997 and Zarnikow says it has paid out over 400-million dollars in tuition and fees.
Woman Arrested For Stealing Presents
(Bloomington, IL) -- Police have arrested a Bloomington woman for stealing gifts intended for low-income people. Police say the gifts were intended for 42 families. They say the woman signed up as a volunteer to deliver the 220 packages and food baskets. Police say that she gave a false name and phone number when she signed up. They didn't discover the theft until people started calling to say they never received their gifts. Most of the gifts were returned, but police say more than two-thousand dollars worth of items are still missing.
Endangered Jail Could Be Torn Down
(Paxton, IL) -- The Ford County Board is moving forward with plans to tear down the former jail in Paxton. The 141-year-old structure also served as the home for the sheriff and was named one of the state's most endangered historic places. The board is giving a foundation that works to preserve the town's past a chance to save the building. The Paxton Foundation has been invited to attend the board's next meeting in January to discuss the building's future. That future could include things like a museum or bed and breakfast. The jail has not been used by the county since 1993.
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