The state officially launched its video gambling program Tuesday. (WJBC file photo)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012:
Three and a half years after being approved by state lawmakers to fund capital projects, video gaming has now launched inside licensed bars, truck stops, veterans clubs and fraternal organizations. The state flipped the switch on the new program for 65 locations, with 278 terminals, on Tuesday. The Illinois Gambing Board says that includes machines inside Country Squire, Hudson; Hooligan's Pub, Colfax; and The Sand Trap, Gibson City. More locations are on the way, of course, but these 65 locations were the first to apply and pass a thorough background check and licensing process. Now, the state gets 25 percent of the net profits, local communities get 5 percent, and the machine operators and businesses themselves get the rest. "This is an entirely new industry," Gaming Board President Aaron Jaffe told the Chicago Tribune. "When you think of giving out tens of thousands of licenses ... and that we have to do investigations that would boggle your mind, that takes a great deal of time."
The Unit 5 and District 87 school boards meet Wednesday night. In Unit 5, the board will see an update on fall enrollment
, now that we're a month or so into the school year. Enrollment is up by 2.7 percent, or 361 students, in Unit 5. For elementary students, it's up 3.7 percent. "That number is a little bigger than what it has been in the past couple of years. That just shows me that the economy in our community is coming around," said Superintendent Gary Niehaus. Over in District 87, officials are "trying to find a long-term solution to fill a $2.7 million deficit in the district's education fund," reports WMBD 31's Jacob Long.
He reports on the likelihood of layoffs -- not necessarily just first-year teachers would be targeted -- as a result of revenue losses. "We will probably have to cut staff, and it could be seen at pretty much every level," said Superintendent Barry Reilly.
New WJBC reporter Zach Dietmeier reports on comments from Miller Park Zoo's superintendent, Jay Tetzloff, about the facility's new master plan. Now that the Bloomington City Council has approved the vision -- but not funding -- for the $16 million, multiyear blueprint, what's next? Tetzloff says it's private fundraising, starting immediately. They'll aim for raising enough money per year to finish one project. First on the list: a new flamingo exhibit at the main entrance. "Right now, you don't see an animal when you first come in, and I never liked that about any zoo," said Tetzloff. Tetzloff said the realistic estimate for full implementation of the recently finished master plan is 15 to 20 years.
WMBD's Long follows up on the weekend crash that killed Eldon and Stephanie Kaeb, parents of nine from Arrowsmith, and the investigation into what caused it. "It's one of the things we are trying to figure out, but we might never know," Illinois State Police trooper Joe Dittmer told WMBD. The coroner has downplayed drugs or alcohol as likely factors in the crash, since the Kaebs were Apostolic Christian, as well as a preceding medical event. The Kaebs were also pretty familiar with the intersection in which they collided with a semitractor trailer truck. Family friend Carla Taylor is a teacher in the Ridgeview district, where many of the nine kids attended before moving to home-schooling. "Those kids were everything to them. That's what they revolved their lives around," Taylor told WMBD.
Newsweek magazine's captivating cover story this week is written in the first-person by a neurosurgeon who claims to have been to heaven while in a recent coma. Dr. Eben Alexander recounts that iconic trip to the clouds and encountering higher beings, but he writes the piece with a more medical approach. "According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent." It's a good read, worth checking out. And the Newsweek cover headline: "Heaven Is Real."
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.