WAUKEGAN - In December, environmental group members clashed with David Gaier, a spokesman for NRG Energy at the Waukegan City Council meeting concerning Waukegan's coal-burning power plant. Ten speakers addressed the council and presented over 2,000 petitions to shut down the plant. David Gaier said that they could express their opinions, but NRG, fully complying with all regulations, would continue to operate the plant effectively and safely... indefinitely.
GREEN BAY - A McDonalds in Minnesota got the wrong promotional cups delivered to them in December. The offer reads, "Buy one breakfast or regular menu sandwich, get one FREE when the Packers win!" Viking's fans were not happy, but they did get free food whenever the Packer's won.
LAKE COUNTY - Starting in 2016, your Com Ed bill will be lower, according to reports that say the Illinois Commerce Commission is approving a $67 million rate decrease. Average savings per bill per month?... $1.
WILMETTE - Aren Emrikian, from Wilmette, Illinois, is the new National Chess Champion... for kindergartners. The 5-year-old won the Kindergarten National Championship in December.
CHICAGOLAND - Nearly 2,000 workers will be laid off soon according to filings with the state regulators. Orbitz is moving out of Chicago, costing the city over 300 jobs. General Mills will lay off nearly 450 workers. The company said that they're closing down the Chicago plant as "part of a broader cost-cutting initiative". In other words, "We'll save a lot of money by going elsewhere!" Other smaller companies are shutting down for similar reasons.
MADISON - The famous Wisconsin firefighter, Rob Verhelst, 27, known as Fireman Rob, set a Guinness world record. He completed 23 IRONMAN triathlons in 2015, breaking the old record of 22. And Fireman Rob did it by running the 13.1 mile run portions in full firefighter gear!
LAKE COUNTY - Because of certain requirements in the Affordable Care Act, a federal agency is penalizing hospitals (758) nationwide for high rates of infections and injuries. Of more than 100 hospitals, 23 Illinois hospitals have failed (15 in Wisconsin). More than half are from the Chicago area. No hospitals in Kenosha County were penalized but, surprisingly, there were 3 that were on the "blacklist" in Lake County: Northwestern Lake Forest, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, and Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion. They will lose 1% of their Medicare reimbursements costing over 1/2 million dollars each. But I'm sure they'll figure out how to make that up. Since taxpayers are ultimately paying for Medicare and other government programs, we'll either be paying on the front end or the back end!
WISCONSIN - Bald eagle numbers are soaring in Wisconsin. An aerial count of active bald eagle nests is at a record 1,465 nests.
ZION - My friend, Gary Lloyd, stared in disbelief at his new trailer on the morning of Christmas Eve. Inside he had stored most of his tools that he has used for home remodeling projects throughout the years. So when he saw smoke and fire coming from the trailer at about 11 am, he tried to put it out himself. Not being able to, he called 911. As he waited, a small propane tank exploded, adding fuel to the fire. By the time help came, it was too late. Gary stood by with tears in his eyes, as if saying goodbye to a dear friend. He estimates about $40,000 - $45,000 in tools were lost. No foul play is suspected. The insurance company will pay for the trailer but only part of the cost of the tools. Gary said that he is trusting God, knowing that He will take care of him and his family. He has received some support, both emotionally and financially, and is grateful. He is looking forward to seeing what God is going to do!