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This Hour: Latest Illinois news, sports, business and entertainment

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State agency issues long-awaited 'fracking' rules

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has released a long-awaited set of proposed rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling that supporters hope could bring an economic boost to southern Illinois.

The lengthy report follows months of delays and complaints by both industry groups and environmentalists over the process to draft rules governing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Industry officials say southern Illinois has rich deposits of natural gas, but a draft of the rules was heavily criticized by environmentalists. The department has since been criticized by fracking supporters, who'd hoped that drilling permits would be issued this summer.

The report was given to the 12-member Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which has 45 days to act. If no action is taken, the rules can take effect.


Peoria Civic Center reports $875,000 annual loss

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - The Peoria Civic Center has reported an annual loss nine times greater than it projected.

General Manager Jim Wetherington says the taxpayer-supported concert venue and convention center lost $875,000 during the fiscal year ending this month. It had originally estimated a $96,000 loss. Attendance was also down by 23 percent compared with the last fiscal year.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports the center's board voted Thursday to approve a new three-year contract with a management firm and end a long-standing relationship with a food and beverage service in an effort to save money.

Wetherington says the center has tried to cut costs across the board, which includes the reduction of its staff.

He says the center's reserves have declined from about $2 million to $1.3 million.


Detective's work led to renewed Quincy death probe

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - A Quincy police detective's decision to take another look at an unexplained death led to a first-degree murder charge this week against a former prosecutor and one-time University of Illinois football standout.

Former Adams County assistant state's attorney Curtis D. Lovelace is now accused of suffocating his wife eight years ago.

Police Chief Rob Copley says it was the work of one detective that unearthed new information leading to the grand jury indictment. He wouldn't reveal the detective's name or any details about the new evidence.

But he tells the Quincy Herald-Whig the officer was the "driving force" behind the renewed investigation into the death on Valentine's Day 2006 of 38-year-old Cory D. Lovelace.

At the time, a coroner's jury and an autopsy ruled the cause of death undetermined.


20-year-old woman guilty in Joliet double murder

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) - A Will County judge has found a 20-year-old woman guilty of taking part in a double murder in Joliet last year.

Bethany McKee faces a mandatory life sentence. Judge Gerald Kinney presided over her bench trial and issued his verdict Friday.

The January 2013 slayings of 22-year-olds Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover were particularly gruesome. The men were found in a home in Joliet with plastic bags over their heads.

Two other suspects are awaiting trial and a fourth, Alissa Massaro, has pleaded guilty to robbery and concealment of a homicidal death in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence.

In final arguments earlier this month, McKee's attorney, Charles Bretz, argued his client may be guilty of other things, but there's no evidence linking her to the murders. .


Indiana University student dies at sorority house

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana University spokesman says foul play isn't suspected in the death of a 20-year-old student from suburban Chicago at a campus sorority house

University spokesman Mark Land says emergency workers were called Thursday night to the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house on the Bloomington campus, where Kelly Ann Hackendahl of Libertyville, Illinois, was found unconscious.

Land says police and medical personnel tried for nearly an hour to revive Hackendahl. He says her cause of death remains under investigation.

Hackendahl was an education major beginning her junior year at IU and was a member of the sorority.


Meth suspects were not members of Illinois church

HILLSBORO, Ill. (AP) - The two women arrested on suspicion of making methamphetamine inside a church in southern Illinois were not members of the congregation.

Fifty-three-year-old Judith L. Hemken of Litchfield and 26-year-old Tiffany L. Burton of Hillsboro were arrested Tuesday after being spotted at the Waveland Presbyterian Church in Hillsboro.

Roberta Meyer is the church's piano player. She tells The (Springfield) State Journal-Register that the church has a small congregation of about a dozen active members and until this week had only experienced minor cases of trespassing.

The church is in an isolated, rural area, and the suspects apparently entered through an unlocked door.

A congregation member spotted the suspects and called the sheriff's office.


Monument dedicated at suburban Chicago cemetery

ALSIP, Ill. (AP) - A monument has been dedicated at a suburban Chicago cemetery that was the site of grave desecration scandal uncovered in 2009.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart were among those in attendance Friday at an unveiling at Alsip's Burr Oak Cemetery.

It's a historic black graveyard where bodies were found double-buried and human remains thrown into a grassy field.

Authorities allege it was part of a moneymaking scheme stretching back years. Four cemetery workers have been charged and reforms have been put into place.

The cemetery also has a new office building.

The monument features two small children with the words "dignity," ''honor" and "respect" written below.

In a Friday statement, Quinn says that the tragedy won't be forgotten but that it will never happen again.


Man gets 2 years in Illinois casino fraud case

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) - A 59-year-old Chinese national has been sentenced to two years in prison for bilking more than $50,000 from Illinois casinos.

The Daily Herald reports federal prosecutors charged Xueliang Li with 11 felonies in March. The charges included wire fraud, identity theft, defrauding a financial institution and use of a forged credit card.

Li pleaded guilty in exchange for the dismissal of more serious charges.

Assistant Illinois Attorney General Jill Kolinski says Li stole $50,480 from casinos in Kane, Will and Tazewell counties in March 2013. She says he visited the casinos multiple times and used fraudulent credit cards to buy $3,000 "comp checks," which he later cashed.

Li's 2-year sentence could be cut in half for good behavior while in prison. Kolinski says he could be deported upon release.


Prairie Farms cuts 66 jobs in St. Louis County

HAZELWOOD, Mo. (AP) - Sixty-six Prairie Farms Dairy employees in St. Louis County are out of a job, effective immediately.

The Carlinville, Illinois, company announced the cuts on Friday, citing plans to combine production facilities to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Prairie Farms says it will transfer production performed in Hazelwood to other plants.

The Hazelwood plant will continue to operate as a distribution hub for other Prairie Farms plants in Missouri and Illinois. Prairie Farms has 36 production facilities in 17 states.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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