(SPRINGFIELD) Illinois will spend nearly $200 million over the next five years to help local communities and railroads make railroad crossings safer. The Illinois Commerce Commission yesterday released a five year plan that provides money for safety improvements at more than 700 crossing locations. The ICC says preliminary statistics show there were twenty-six (26) fatalities from collisions at highway-rail crossings in Illinois last year. That’s up from twenty (20) such deaths the year before in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of collisions dropped from one hundred (100) in 2016 to a total of eighty-six (86) collisions last year in 2017.
(CARBONDALE) Residents are leaving Southern Illinois counties in droves as the state’s population continues to shrink. The U.S. Census Bureau numbers from last December show that Alexander County lost the highest portion of its population at a negative 2.7% growth rate. The other downstate counties that had the highest percentage of residents leaving include Pulaski at negative 1.7% and Gallatin at negative 1.6%, although the state’s largest population loss was in Cook County, followed by the City of Peoria. Officials say “job loss” is the common theme for people moving and they note that the national trend of population movement is from Midwestern and Northern states to Southern states across America.
(SPRINGFIELD) Three companies with deep agricultural roots have been named the top businesses in Illinois history as part of the Illinois Top 200 Project, which lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses, and much more. It’s all in celebration of the state’s 200th birthday, when statewide voters will have chosen ten (10) favorites in twenty (20) different categories, in what will be the Illinois Top 200. The state’s top ten (10) businesses are Archer Daniels Midland Company (1), John Deere & Company (2), Caterpillar, Incorporated (3), McDonald’s (4), Walgreens (5), Rand McNally (6), DeKalb AgResearch (7), Sears (8), State Farm (9), and Dairy Queen (10). Voting in the next category, top inventions and innovations, is now ongoing at www.IllinoisTop200.com.