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State has success selling surplus on Net

SPRINGFIELD – EBay addicts now find that they can bid on the official state yacht of Maryland just as easily as they can use the online auction site to lay claim to the latest Kate Spade handbag or a pair of boxing gloves signed by Lennox Lewis.

State governments are increasingly turning to Internet auctions as a way to get rid of surplus and unclaimed property, and the Maryland yacht is just one example.

Fix allegedly in for prison pick

SPRINGFIELD – Shady dealings involving the siting of a maximum-security state prison in Grayville were part of the 91-page federal indictment of former Gov. George Ryan this week.

It was a prison that Hoopeston officials had fought to have located in their town instead.

Grand jury hands down indictments in drownings

CLINTON – A grand jury indicted two former Clinton residents Thursday afternoon in connection with the drowning of three children Sept. 2 in Clinton Lake.

The indictments charge Maurice LaGrone Jr., 28, and Amanda Hamm, 27, with nine counts each of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Hamm's three children, Christopher Hamm, 6, a first-grader at Douglas Elementary School; Austin Brown, 3; and Kyleigh Hamm, 23 months.

Lawmakers react to indictment

SPRINGFIELD – Area lawmakers said the indictment of former Gov. George Ryan is disappointing, but it shows why the new ethics regulations the state enacted last month are needed in Illinois.

"It's disappointing anytime someone, regardless of party or level of government in which they serve, has problems with the law," said state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon. "Obviously this is an indictment; it is not a jury verdict; but it is situations like this that erode the taxpayers' faith in honest, effective government."

Judge to rule on IP investigation

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said on Monday that Illinois Power's service problems in Champaign and Urbana show why an investigation is needed into the utility's finances, but the Illinois Commerce Commission staff disagrees.

The debate now heads to an administrative law judge, who will either rule on the request for an examination, or put the question to the Illinois Commerce Commission for a decision in January, said ICC spokeswoman Beth Bosch.

It's Your Business: Zelma's restaurant to open in Champaign

Zelma's, a new restaurant venture by local pizza legend Ralph Monical, is set to open Dec. 17 at the new Windsor Galleria in Champaign.

The menu will include pizza, sandwiches, jumbo-size wings and salads, said Monical's son, Steve, who will manage the restaurant.

ICC will take look at IP deal

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Commerce Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to investigate Illinois Power's plan to transfer its Tilton generating facilities to its parent company, Houston-based Dynegy Inc.

Dynegy would give Illinois Power a $66.4 million IOU in exchange for the facilities if the deal is approved.

New ethics law will have local impact

SPRINGFIELD – The new ethics bill the governor signed into law this week, along with another measure enacted last month, are being touted as a way to clean up state government, but the legislation will also have an impact at the local level.

As a former Champaign County recorder, state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, a co-sponsor of the ethics bills, said she believed it was important to keep the rules consistent across all levels of government.

Sheriff says probe complex

CLINTON – The mother of three children who drowned in Clinton Lake and her boyfriend have been arrested for the children's murder.

DeWitt County Sheriff Roger Massey said Wednesday that Amanda Hamm, 27, and Maurice Lagrone Jr., 28, both formerly of Clinton, are being charged with nine counts of murder apiece, three counts in the death of each child, using different definitions of homicide.

Nobel winners get through ceremony without a hitch

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – University of Illinois Professor Anthony Leggett was thinking about a handshake as he received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Specifically, Swedish King Carl Gustaf's handshake, which had gone under the arm of the hand holding their gold medals and diplomas sometimes, and sometimes over for the Nobel laureates who had preceded Leggett.