News briefs from around Illinois for Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Summer of 2009 one of 15 coolest ever


If the numbers add up as expected, the summer of 2009 will go down as one of the 15 coolest ever recorded for Illinois.


Jim Angel, the state’s climatologist, said Monday the final calculations haven’t been made, but it appears that Illinois’ average temperature for June, July and August was 71.4 degrees. That would tie 1917 as the 11th coolest in Illinois since 1895.


That’s not quite top-10 category, but the cooler weather has been noticeable.


“Statewide, we’re about 2.4 degrees below average,” Angel said from his office in Champaign. “As far as departures from normal, the northern part of the state was a little cooler. They really felt it in the northwest corner of the state.”


State Journal-Register


AAA: Labor Day travel to beat July 4 numbers


Labor Day weekend will be the busiest travel holiday yet this year, AAA Chicago predicts, even though it won’t be nearly as busy as last year.


About 39.1 million Americans will take a “last hurrah” summer trip this weekend and go at least 50 miles from home, AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher said. That’s 2 million more travelers than AAA projected for July 4, the last major travel holiday.


Travel is expected to be down 13.3 percent from last year, largely because this Labor Day comes after the start of the school year. It was easier for families to get away for a trip last year, when Labor Day was before school started in many areas.


Even with the decrease, it’s expected to be the third-strongest Labor Day of the decade.


Rockford Register Star


Former jailer pleads guilty to battery


PEORIA — A former Peoria County correctional officer was sentenced to three months in jail for hitting an inmate last December.


Michael W. Hulse, 30, of Peoria Heights pleaded guilty in Peoria County Circuit Court on Monday to one count of misdemeanor battery.


With three days already served, Hulse will spend 87 more days at the jail where he used to work, separate from the jail’s general population. He also must serve two years of probation.


As part of his plea agreement, three felonies - two counts of official misconduct and one of aggravated battery - were dropped. Hulse cannot work in any type of law enforcement or security-related job during his two years on probation.


The charges stemmed from an incident Dec. 7 at the jail in which Hulse was accused of slapping an inmate, David L. Pickett.


Peoria Journal Star


Police officer’s retaliation suit goes to trial


SPRINGFIELD -- Former Springfield police Lt. Rickey Davis will have another day in court today in a lawsuit in which he accuses city officials of retaliating against him after he spoke up about racial issues in the police department.


Davis, who is black, joined the force in 1981 and retired in 2006, claiming that the city effectively forced him to quit. U.S. Court Judge Jeanne Scott last month dismissed most of his claims, including Davis’ assertion that police brass made his job so difficult that he had no choice but to retire.


However, Scott found that a jury could decide whether the city retaliated against Davis by denying him a promotion to deputy chief in 2003. Davis also says he was unfairly reprimanded for alleged poor job performance and unfairly transferred from the criminal investigations division to the patrol division in 2006.


State Journal-Register


Upcoming farmland auction eyed as price indicator


About 1,600 acres of prime central and southern Illinois farmland will be sold at bankruptcy auction this month partly as a result of record-high prices for corn in the summer of 2008.


VeraSun Energy Corp. began selling off pieces of its ethanol business after filing for bankruptcy reorganization last fall. The company cited a dramatic spike in the cost of corn used to produce the fuel and the collapse of credit markets.


The Sept. 10 sale of land once intended to grow that corn — there are separate tracts near Litchfield, Danville and Granite City — is being watched as an indicator of land and commodity prices.


A bushel of corn, which sold for more than $7 in the summer of 2008, now is in the $3.25-$3.30 range on the Chicago Board of Trade. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast last month that farm income would be down 38 percent this year.


State Journal-Register