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Around the state 3-19-18

Claire's, the ear-piercing mall chain, files for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) — Claire's, the mall chain that has pierced the ears of millions of teens, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The accessories chain, which has a location at the Peru Mall, said Monday that its stores will remain open as it restructures its debt.

It's just the latest retailer to seek bankruptcy protection, close stores or go out of business entirely as more people skip the mall and shop online. Toys R Us, for example, announced last week that it would close or sell all its stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.

Claire's said it is "confident" it will emerge from bankruptcy protection in September, having reduced its debt by nearly $2 billion. It believes it can compete with the shift to online shopping, arguing that its "iconic ear piercing services are unmatched and cannot be replicated online."

Besides the Claire's chain, the company also operates Icing stores. Both sell earrings, lip gloss, iPhone cases and other accessories. Last year, it had more than 4,000 stores around the world.

Claire's, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, said it has pierced more than 100 million ears since it began offering the service 40 years ago. The company was founded in the 1960s.

Early voting for Illinois primary far exceeds last midterm
CHICAGO (AP) — The number of voters casting early ballots for the Illinois primary has far exceeded the number who voted early four years ago.
Information compiled by the Illinois State Board of Elections shows more than 330,000 people had voted as of Sunday, and election officials say thousands more were casting ballots on Monday. The total in 2014 was just over 200,000.
While some of the increase may be due to increased awareness of and comfort with early voting, election officials say it's also because of the large number of competitive contests on the ballot.
Voters are choosing nominees for governor as well as congressional, attorney general and other races.
In Cook County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Chicago, the number of early votes cast is almost three times the 2014 number.
Couple dies after crash into suburban Chicago retention pond
NEW LENOX (AP) — Authorities say a husband and wife died after their car plunged into a retention pond in Chicago's southwestern suburbs.
Emergency crews were called to the scene in a New Lenox business area Sunday night, where divers pulled both victims from the car and they were taken by ambulance to a hospital.
The Will County coroner's office identifies those who died as 68-year-old Gregory Real and 69-year-old Lana Real of nearby Matteson.
New Lenox Deputy Police Louis Alessandrini says it appears Gregory Real suffered a medical problem while driving but the official cause of death is pending an autopsy.
Illinois seeks plans for closed Lake Shelbyville resort
SHELBYVILLE (AP) — State officials are seeking proposals from developers interested in taking over a resort along Lake Shelbyville in central Illinois that's been closed for nine years.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources wants the proposals by late April for the state-owned Eagle Creek Resort, which was shut down because of financial problems and a mold infestation.
A state report issued in 2016 estimated it would cost $17.8 million to replace or repair the resort's buildings and recommended their demolition.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville says he believes the site in the Eagle Creek State Recreation Area will attract developers with its golf course, along with boating and fishing at the lake.
Previous plans to reopen the resort stalled in 2014 when a Decatur company backed out of the project.

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