State Briefs 1/12/09

Richard Simmons to lead 1,000-person exercise class

SPRINGFIELD – Fitness guru Richard Simmons will return to Springfield Feb. 21 to lead a platoon of 1,000 locals in a free 45-minute exercise class at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Last February, the impish “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” cheerleader — clad in his signature short shorts and tank top — led a similar session for 200 people in a conference room at Prairie Heart Institute at St. John’s Hospital. About 1,600 people tried to participate in last year’s event, St. John’s Hospital spokesman Brian Reardon said.

To register for the Simmons exercise-a-thon, people can take a seven-minute heart risk assessment at www.prairieheart.com.

The program sponsor, Prairie Heart Institute, will review the results with an eye toward people at risk for heart disease — those dealing with obesity, inactivity, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress or a smoking habit. Those chosen to participate will be notified by mail or e-mail.

Aspiring movers and shakers also can register in person during a heart fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 7 at Prairie Heart Institute, 619 E. Mason St. The fair will feature cholesterol checks and tours of the facility.

State Journal-Register

LaHood’s confirmation hearing set

PEORIA — The confirmation hearing for former U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, to join President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet is set for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Five others joining the cabinet also are scheduled for confirmation hearings Wednesday.

LaHood, 63, retired from Congress on Jan. 2 after serving in the 20-county 18th Congressional District since 1994. He served on the powerful Appropriations Committee since 2000 and served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for six years. He’ll be the first Peorian to hold a Cabinet position.

He will be charged with shepherding through one of the largest federal transportation bills since the Eisenhower administration built the interstate system.

Peoria Journal Star

Peoria firefighter injured while fighting blaze

PEORIA – A Peoria firefighter was injured Monday morning after a blaze, which remains under investigation, swept through a North Valley home.

About 4:45 a.m., firefighters were sent to the home and found it filled with flames.

Firefighter Matt Price entered the house with a hose line and fell about four feet into the basement when the floor gave way under his feet. He suffered minor injuries — back and elbow — and was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center for treatment.

Peoria Journal Star

Former director of Lincoln library pleads guilty to shoplifting charge

SPRINGFIELD – The former executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to stealing a $40 boxed set of DVDs from a Target store.

Richard E. Beard’s plea came a day before his trial on the misdemeanor retail theft charge was scheduled to begin. Beard, 61, who now lives in New York, pleaded guilty without having a plea agreement in place.

He was sentenced by Associate Circuit Judge John Childress to six months conditional discharge, which is a form of non-reporting probation; fined $500 and ordered to continue psychological counseling.

Beard was arrested Aug. 22 after security workers at Target allegedly saw him place a boxed DVD set of Season 4 of the television series “House” between storage tubs he had stacked in a cart, then attempt to walk out of the store without paying for the DVDs.
The set was priced at $39.99.

Beard was paid $150,000 annually as director of the presidential library and museum. He received additional compensation of about $50,000 for his duties with the ALPLM foundation.

State Journal-Register