Around Illinois – April 25

Apr 25, 2012
  • More high school math supported
  • Poll sees gaming as a good bet
  • A test for chlorine safety in Rockford
  • Church installs solar panels
  • Did owners keep workers' health, retirement funds?

House committee approves adding a year of math
A House education panel approved a plan today that would change math standards for middle and high school students in Illinois.

Initiated by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, the measure would require the State Board of Education to develop a curriculum that includes a fourth year of math studies in high schools. Currently only three years are required by the state.

Simon visited each of the 48 Illinois community colleges and says she repeatedly heard students lacked math skills.

"Students are arriving at community colleges not ready to do college level math,” Simon stated.  “Consistent with that, employers, and manufacturing employers in particular, are saying that ... graduates of high schools are not ready for career-level math."

Simon says it's important for school districts to maintain local control, so the new math standards would be an option, not a mandate. The measure now goes to the full House.

Poll says Illinois finds gambling a good bet for Illinois

More than 60 percent of Illinois residents support more casinos plus slot machines at racetracks, a newly released poll indicates.
Public Opinion Strategies asked 800 likely Illinois voters if they would “support or oppose a proposal to generate revenues to state and local governments by increasing the number of slot machines allowed at riverboats, allowing slot machines at racetracks, and by adding a land-based Chicago casino and four additional riverboat casinos,”

Results showed 62 percent of voters responded that they supported it, compared to 33 percent who opposed it.

The poll was commissioned by the Illinois Revenue & Jobs Alliance, a consortium of more than 70 labor organizations, business groups, racetracks and horsemen associations, and local municipalities.

The poll shows broad support throughout the state for Senate Bill 1849, which calls for new casinos in Chicago, Lake County, south suburban Chicago, Rockford and Danville; additional slot machines at existing casinos, and adding slot machines at the state’s six horseracing tracks.
Support is highest in the Collar Counties at 70 percent of respondents favoring the proposal. Other reported results:

  • 68 percent in favor in Northern Illinois
  • 61 percent in favor in Southern Illinois
  • 60 percent in favor in Cook County
  • 54 percent in favor in Central Illinois

The poll was taken between April 10-12 by the Virginia-based firm.

Mock chlorine release planned

The Rockford emergency response to an accidental chlorine gas release will be tested Thursday morning.  

The Rockford water system uses chlorine gas to disinfect water supplies. Officials say that built-in safety measures make a release of significant amounts of chlorine gas highly unlikely. The Water Division and Fire Department will use this mock chlorine release exercise to test the readiness, communication systems, and abilities of the Rockford Fire Department’s Hazmat Emergency Response Team to handle a chlorine leak.

The exercise begins at 8 a.m. Thursday at Well 43, 3447 Publishers Drive.

Federal suit pursues retirement, health care funds

Two Schiller Park businessmen are charged in a federal lawsuit with misusing more than $63,500 in employee health care premiums and retirement plan contributions, beginning in 2008.

The U.S. Department of Labor asks to restore a total of $63,582.14 withheld from employee paychecks at several companies belonging to the JJD Industries group in Schiller Park  The suit alleges that:

  • John Dombek III – president, fiduciary and part owner of JJD Industries – improperly managed the benefit plans’ assets in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • John Dombek Jr., a co-fiduciary of the Wisconsin Tool & Stamping Co. 401(k) plan, improperly managed assets of that plan by failing to monitor the remittance of employee contributions.

The complaint, based on findings by the labor department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, seeks restoration of all losses plus interest. It also seeks to bar both men from serving as fiduciaries or service providers to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA.

Both defendants have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Solar panels cover 37% of Elgin church power needs

The 40 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin will generate about 11,727 kilowatts hours per year of electricity, equivalent to around 37% of the church’s electrical needs. 

As a result 22,790 pounds of carbon dioxide, 46 pounds of nitrous gases, and 118 pounds of sulfuric acid will not be produced by conventional power generation methods, according to church officials. This is roughly the equivalent to planting four acres of trees a year. 

The Rev. Dan Brosier sees this as another step on the road to being good stewards of the natural world.  “This is just the first of several such projects involving the use of renewable energy sources," he said.