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Around the state 3-26-18

 
Group assessing impact of Illinois Safe Roads Amendment
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois advocacy group is looking to determine the impact of the state transportation lockbox amendment more than a year after voters approved the measure.
The State Journal-Register reports that nearly 80 percent of voters in 2016 approved the Safe Roads Amendment, which committed gasoline tax money and related fees to road and bridge construction projects.
Mike Sturino is president and CEO of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association. He says the group is reviewing state budget proposals to see how transportation revenue is being used.
The association is part of a group of construction and engineering organizations that filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Cook County, alleging the county violated the amendment by diverting $250 million in transportation taxes to other expenses.
 
Ex-inmate dies months after release in 1970s murder case
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A 75-year-old central Illinois man who spent 47 years behind bars for a murder he insisted he didn't commit has died just 10 months after his release.
The (Peoria) Journal Star reports that Cleve Heidelberg was found dead at his Peoria apartment Saturday. The county coroner says a Sunday autopsy was inconclusive but that foul play isn't suspected.
Heidelberg was convicted of killing Sheriff's Deputy Raymond Espinoza during a 1970 robbery. A circuit judge ordered a new trial after a 2017 case review and Heidelberg was released on bond last May.
Heidelberg's attorney, Andy Hale, said his client was "just beginning to live" again. A private investigator who helped review the case, Marcella Teplitz, says she's grateful Heidelberg had been "breathing free air" before he died.
 
Cook County sues Facebook, Cambridge Analytica for fraud
CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County is suing Facebook and Cambridge Analytica for fraud after revelations that the latter obtained data on millions of Facebook users.
The lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court alleges Trump-affiliated political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica deceived the millions of Illinois Facebook users whose information it collected. It says Facebook failed to protect its users' privacy and misrepresented how their data would be used.
London-based Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using Facebook data to influence voter behavior in 2016.
The Chicago Tribune reports the lawsuit filed by Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx on behalf of Illinois residents brings one consumer fraud count each against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. It seeks $50,000 fines for each violation of the law.
Neither company has commented on the lawsuit.
 
Plan would bring $2M gondola to Illinois riverfront city
GRAFTON, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois riverfront community is finalizing a deal for a $2 million gondola and a new shuttle service.
The Alton Telegraph reports the gondola would take visitors from an area near downtown Grafton uphill to a scenic winery that overlooks the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. It would be a joint venture between Aerie's Resort, which operates Aerie's Winery, and two New Hampshire gondola companies.
The plan also calls for a free shuttle system that would be paid for with revenue from gondola tickets. The shuttle would have stops along a bike path that weaves through the city.
Brett Stawar is president and CEO of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. He calls the project "a game changer" for the city located north of St. Louis.

White Sox rehire man who wrongly spent decades in prison
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox have welcomed back a former groundskeeper who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
The Chicago Tribune reports that DNA evidence led prosecutors last year to vacate the conviction of 49-year-old Nevest Coleman. He'd been convicted in a 1994 rape and murder.
The body of a 20-year-old woman was found in the basement of a home on Chicago's South Side where Coleman lived. Coleman had initially confessed but later recanted the confession.
He was released from prison in November, after DNA tests linked the crime to a serial rapist. A Cook County judge granted him a certificate of innocence this month, which eliminates the rape and murder charges from his record.
Coleman's friends and family reached out to the White Sox after his release. Coleman had frequently talked about his desire to return to work once he was released.
"His first wish, before he wished for a hamburger, was to work for the White Sox," said Coleman's cousin, Richard Coleman. "That's exactly what I told them."
The team offered him a job interview and then welcomed him back to the job.
Coleman returned to the baseball field Monday. He began his first shift on the job by spending some time reuniting with his old work friends. He then donned a yellow rubber suit, gloves and goggles before taking a power washer to clean the ground.
The team said they're grateful "justice has been carried out" and thrilled to welcome Coleman "back to the White Sox family."

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