State Briefs 2/06/09

Citing conflict, state’s attorney hands off investigation of fatal school bus accident

ROCKFORD — Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced Friday that the investigation into a fatal accident involving a school bus will be referred to the Illinois' Attorney General's office for review.

Rockford School District bus driver Leah Robinson, 37, struck and killed 9-year-old Nelson Elementary School student Miguel Angel Carreno when he walked in front of her bus Nov. 3.  Robinson has not been charged.

Bruscato said that the case is being referred because of a potential conflict of interest.

Bruscato's campaign Treasurer Kim Timmerwilke is an attorney with Smith and Amundsen, a Chicago-based law firm with a Rockford office. Smith and Amundsen has been retained to represent the School District in a civil lawsuit against the School District and Robinson. Timmerwilke is employed by the firm but is not involved in the case.

Bruscato said in a statement that he believes his relationship with Timmerwilke has the potential to appear as a conflict of interest should the state's attorney's office proceed with the case.

Rockford Register Star

Emergency crews talk man off bridge

ROCKFORD — Emergency crews talked a man down from a bridge over the Rock River on Friday.

Water Rescue crews were in the water and prepared in case the man jumped into the river. Portions of the Rock River are frozen, but the water near the dam is moving quickly.

The bridge remained open for traffic.

Rockford Register Star

LaHood speaks at trucking show

PEORIA — Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has invited all 50 state directors of transportation to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to get started prioritizing projects that would qualify for economic stimulus money.

“There are plenty of projects and a real pent-up demand for projects across the United States,” LaHood said Friday during his opening remarks at the 46th annual Mid-West Truckers Association convention and truck show at the Peoria Civic Center. “I’ve asked highway department administrators to come to Washington and bring us some examples.”

LaHood said he hoped Congress would pass an economic stimulus plan quickly, and with no earmarks, and get the money flowing toward infrastructure repair.

LaHood, who brought with him Rose McMurray, the acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, from Washington, received a standing ovation from the truckers and trucking industry officials. He then toured the truck show across the hall.

Peoria Journal Star

Stovepipe hat artists to be announced next week

SPRINGFIELD – The artists who will design 3-foot-tall fiberglass versions of Abraham Lincoln’s signature stovepipe hat will be announced Feb. 13.

Twenty-nine artists submitted applications as part of the “Hats Off to Mr. Lincoln” project, sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Clubs and Springfield Area Arts Council. It’s similar to Chicago’s popular “Cows on Parade” exhibit.

The number of hat sculptures in Springfield will depend on the number of businesses and groups that sponsor them. Different levels of sponsorships are available, ranging in price from $750 to $2,500. Organizers said any donation is welcomed.

Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, is the deadline to donate to the project.

State Journal-Register