Approximately 190 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers Mobilize for Overseas Mission

Illinois National Guard

February 08, 2023

PEORIA, IL – Approximately 190 Soldiers from the Illinois Army National Guard’s 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, based in Peoria, and Company B, 935th Aviation Support Battalion, based in Kankakee, mobilized for an overseas mission to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in a ceremony Feb. 7 at the 182nd Airlift Wing, in Peoria.

Lt. Col. Jason Celletti, commander, 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, thanks friends and families for their support during the mobilization ceremony Feb. 7 at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria.

During the deployment the unit will provide aviation support to U.S. forces in the Middle East.

“In its 300-year history, every member of the Illinois National Guard has been always ready, always there to defend our homeland,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. “To the Soldiers of the 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, you make us proud, including by standing at the forefront of innovation by field-testing the UH-60V Blackhawk helicopter. Your willingness helped enhance our military capabilities to take us into the future.”

 The UH-60V Blackhawk helicopter is an upgrade to the Blackhawk helicopter currently used by the U.S. Army, the UH-60L, with a comprehensive cockpit redesign which replaces the legacy analog instrumentation with a fully open, digital, and integrated avionic suite.

 Pritzker also thanked the family, friends, and employers of the 106th’s Soldiers.

 “Thank you to those who toiled in the background doing what is necessary to ensure the 106th was ready for this deployment,” he said. “The Illinois National Guard would not be able to complete its missions, from combat to emergency response, without your sacrifices. On behalf of Illinois, we are eternally grateful.”

 Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton told the Soldiers it was an honor to join family and friends to show her gratitude and commitment to supporting their service.

 “Thank you for everything you do for our nation, state and our communities,” she said. “Many of you deploying today have been down this road before. The 106th Aviation Battalion has been called to serve many times over the years for both its federal mission and its state mission, responding to emergencies wherever you are needed.”

 Stratton said for many of the Soldiers and their families, this deployment is a familiar turn on the road of life, but she wanted to remind the Soldiers and their families, whether it’s a first deployment or just one more deployment, there are resources available for both Soldiers and their families if they are in need.

 “Both during the deployment and after you return, these resources are in place to help you,” she said. “There are nearly 200 organizations with resources available to offer a no wrong door system of support. I’m proud that Illinois has a robust community dedicated to support our military community and our veterans.”

 Stratton said the most important resource is the Soldier.

 “You, your fellow Soldiers and families reach out to your family readiness groups, your chaplain network, your leadership team,” she said. “If you need assistance, reach out. We have seen what you contribute to our nation, and we want to give back.”

 Stratton offered her heartfelt gratitude to the deploying Soldiers and their families.

 “Being apart is not easy. I hope you draw on your faith to see you through,” she said. “Just know we stand with you and always will.”

 Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois, and Commander of the Illinois National Guard, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony.

 “We’ve recognized a lot of dignitaries and important people today,” he said. “But the most important people are the Soldiers standing in front of us who will deploy to the Middle East and support this mission and our country. The rest of us are just here to recognize and honor your amazing service and what you are about to do as you carry the flag of freedom around the world.”

 Neely reminded the Soldiers the Illinois National Guard celebrates its 300th year of service in 2023 and they are a part of that 300-year history.

 “It’s humbling if you think about the number of Soldiers and Airmen who have deployed to defend this great nation, both at home and abroad,” Neely said. “The 106th has led the innovation of the UH-60V, not only being the first unit to field the helicopter, but also the first unit to deploy with the helicopter.”

 Neely said the Illinois National Guard must continue to lead the nation with tech skills.

 “That’s exactly what you have done, and you set the bar very high,” he said. “We are very proud of each of you. You have answered the call because this mission is very important. Each of you truly epitomize the value of the Soldier and what it is to be a member of the National Guard, men and women who protect their neighbors and defend their nation.”

 Neely said family is important to the Soldiers’ success.

 “We could not do this job without their support,” he said. “To the families, you must continue, so it will be you who will pick up the load of your Soldier.”

 Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard, challenged the deploying Soldiers to use the time overseas to better themselves.

 “Every now and then you get to do something amazing in your career. Today is that opportunity to go downrange and do something great for this nation,” Boyd said. “Challenge yourself to come back a better person. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open to your family. Be safe in all you do but don’t get too comfortable. You’re ready for this mission.”

 Lt. Col. Jason Celletti, Commander of the 106th Aviation Regiment, said it has been nearly 20 years since the battalion left for its first deployment overseas.

 “Task Force Blackhorse has answered the call time and time again in the history of this battalion,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism of the Soldiers here today.”

 Celletti said he couldn’t guarantee there will be no challenges throughout the deployment, but is confident in the unit’s ability to overcome any challenge.

 “The Blackhorse can work through any challenge, as we have the past two years and many more times before then,” he said.

 Celletti thanked the families for their support.

 “You all are a vital part of the Blackhorse team. I urge you to reach out to the family readiness groups and the other resources available,” he said. “We are all in this together.”

Two Illinois Paramedics Charged in Death of Patient

By Janice Cameron, The Chicago Times

January 21, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, IL –  Two Illinois paramedics have been charged in the death of a patient they strapped faced down on a stretcher.

According to prosecutors, Peggy Finley, 44, and Peter Cadigan, 50, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 35-year-old Earl Moore.  It is alleged that Finley and Cadigan strapped Moore face down on a stretcher leading to his death.  

Peggy Finley and Peter Cadigan

Prosecutors argue that Finley and Cadigan had the training and other knowledge to know that Moore could have been killed by being strapped faced down on a stretcher.  According to Illinois law, a first degree murder charge is warranted if a defendant knowingly acts to increase the probability of death or great bodily harm to the victim.

Moore’s family have filed a wrongful death suit against Finley and Cadigan and their employer LifeStar Ambulance Service.

If convicted, Finley and Cadigan could each face up to 60 years in prison.

Republican House Leader Durkin to Retire

By David Slavik, The Chicago Times

January 09, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, IL –  Republican House Leader State Representative Jim Durkin announced he will retire on Tuesday.  In November, Durkin had announced that he would resign his leadership position within the Republican caucus.  Durkin blamed former President Donald Trump for Republican defeats in the recent election.  Critics of Durkin pointed out that Illinois Republican wins have been shrinking well before Trump entered the picture.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, Republican. Photo: Office of Jim Durkin.

“As long as we continue to say that we are the party of Trump and that we have to abide by the party principles in the platform, 100% we’re gonna continue down this path of losing,” Durkin said in a statement. “Whoever succeeds me, we need to do more to not take these strident positions on issues related to firearms, to issues of reproductive health, issues relating to the gay and lesbian community. There are many people who feel very strong about those issues who would vote for Republicans.”

Durkin’s successor to represent the 82nd district will be chosen by Republican officials.

Prepare to Pay: Nicor Proposes Massive Rate Hike

By Grant McCormick, The Chicago Times

January 06, 2023

NAPERVILLE, IL – Nicor Gas has filed for a hefty rate increase that will further empty consumer’s pockets in northern Illinois.  According to a Nicor filing, the company is requesting to increase rates by $321 million, which if approved, would force consumers to pay an extra $9.30 per month starting next January.

“Nicor’s rate-hike request is a gut punch to consumers who are in their second consecutive winter of painfully high gas bills. Enough is enough. CUB will review Nicor’s excessive request and we will fight every penny the utility can’t justify.” said David Kolata, Executive Director, Citizens Utility Board in a press release.

The CUB press release also pointed out that this is the fourth rate hike Nicor has requested since 2017. Nicor had asked in 2017 for a $208 million increase followed by $230 million in 2018 and $293 million in 2021.

“Nicor Gas customers have seen their delivery rates increase by about 77 percent, or more than $500 million, in the last five years. That includes the largest gas rate hike in Illinois history: $240 million in 2021. Now, Nicor–whose parent company rakes in billions of dollars in profits–is back at the table asking for another record rate hike from its customers.” said Kolata.

Kolata also warned consumers using alternative suppliers will still be charged Nicor’s delivery charge, which makes up about a third of consumer bills.  Consumers should beware of sales representatives claiming the rate hike can be avoided by choosing an alternative gas supplier.

According to CUB, Nicor is Illinois’ largest gas supplier serving 2.2 million residential, public sector, and business customers.  Southern Company, which owns Nicor, reported a recorded $3.6 billion in profits for the first nine months of 2022.

Peoria: John Kelly Running For Reelection In Peoria

By The Chicago Times Staff

November 28, 2022

PEORIA, IL —  A Peoria Council member has announced plans for reelection.  John Kelly announced his campaign to run for a second term as an at-large council member.  Kelly promoted the passage of a real estate tax abatement on new residential construction, incentivizing rehabs of rental properties, funding of street repair and building maintenance.  The election will be held in spring 2023.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site Offers Free Trick-Or-Treat Event

By The Chicago Times Staff

October 6, 2022

SPRINGFIELD – The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield has announced a free trick-or-treat event.

According to a press release, the free event will be held on October 29 between 5-7 pm at the Visitor Center located at 426 South 7th St. in downtown Springfield.  In the “Spirit of Lincoln” there will be games from the 1860s, impersonators dressed for the era of Lincoln, and a kids costume contest.  The contest begins at 6 pm and requires registration at the Visitor Center. 

The event will also sponsor a food drive for families in need.  Food can be donated at the Visitor Center.