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Salvation Army receives fourth gold coin in Chicago area this season



The Salvation Army received its fourth gold coin of the season in the Chicago area last week in west suburban Westchester.

The one-ounce, 2010 gold eagle coin, was dropped into a red kettle by an anonymous person Wednesday outside of a Jewel-Osco located at 2128 S. Mannheim Rd., according to a statement from the Salvation Army.

The coin, estimated to be worth about $1,600, will help ensure the corps can continue to provide a food pantry three times a week, as well as emergency assistance, such rent and utility bill payments, according to the release.

“I always think about a donor when they’re putting those coins in the kettle. That’s something that comes from their heart,” Captain Tomas Valladares, corps officer for The Salvation Army Templo Laramie Corps said. “I want to say thank you for thinking of us and believing in the ministry that the Salvation Army does in the community. This gift will make a difference.”

The season’s third gold coin was donated to a Salvation Army red kettle a day prior at a Casey’s Foods in Naperville.


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Adler Planetarium Installs New And Improved Telescope – CBS Chicago




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Cubs announce signing of OF Steven Souza Jr., also add ex-Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress



It took 17 weeks and two days since the end of last season, but the Cubs on Tuesday made their first major-league acquisition of the winter – two of them, in fact.

They signed two bounce-back candidates to low-risk, one-year contracts Tuesday: former Rays and Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza Jr. for $1 million and former Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress for $850,000.

Both deals include incentive clauses that can raise the total values to $3 million for Souza and $1.05 million for Jeffress.

That left only the Rockies among the 30 big-league clubs who have not added a player on a non-split, major-league contract since last season.

Souza’s agreement, first reported last week, was officially announced by the club Tuesday night. The Cubs must clear a spot on the 40-man roster before officially announcing Jeffress.

The deals, which come one day after the division-rival Reds announced the $64 million, four-year deal with ex-Cubs outfielder Nick Castellanos, further underscore how limited the Cubs have been this winter by budget constraints.

Their current projected roster would push them over the luxury-tax threshold ($208 million) for the second consecutive season – keeping in play trade rumors swirling around several core players.

As with any one-year deal, the full base values of Tuesday’s signings are not guaranteed until they make the opening roster.

Souza, 30, hit 30 homers with an .810 OPS in 2017 but missed half of 2018 and all of 2019 with injuries. His bonus package includes $1 million total in meeting plate-appearance thresholds and another $1 million in reaching thresholds of days on the active roster.

Jeffress, 32, joins a list of high-potential, low-risk, bounce-back pitchers the Cubs have put together for a bullpen that could be its Achilles heel or the backbone of the team, depending on the direction of those bounces.

Jeffress was an All-Star workhorse for the Brewers’ 2018 division winner, producing a 1.29 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per nine inning in a career-high 73 games.

After a sore shoulder delayed his 2019 start by three weeks, he struggled much of the season before the Brewers released him. He had a 5.02 ERA in 48 games, with two fewer strikeouts per nine innings.

The Cubs also brought back Brandon Morrow on a no-risk, minor-league deal after the once-dominating reliever missed the last 112seasons of his two-year deal with the club because of injuries.

They also added depth in low-level trades for and low-risk signings of Casey Sadler, Travis Lakins, CD Pelham, Ryan Tepera, Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton.


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Illinois State Police questioned over DNA processing backlog at state crime labs Tuesday



CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois State Police leaders were questioned Tuesday about DNA backlogs at state crime labs.

Families of murder victims have been waiting for DNA to be processed as potential suspects roam the streets.

RELATED: Hundreds of Chicago murders may remain unsolved due to DNA processing delays

Tuesday state police told legislators the backlogged murder cases have been drastically cut down. But lawmakers said more needs to be done.

“Every day that we live in our communities, we face that fact that we know there is a lot of DNA evidence that is not being analyzed and as a result we walk among murderers,” said State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

“The challenge is for every one DNA sample completed, 1.2 are created,” said Brendan Kelly, director of the Illinois State Police.

Tuesday Kelly talked about the skyrocketing number of DNA cases coming into the labs as the state tries to catch up.

“The backlog went down 16% last year,” Kelly added. “Things are finally going the right way.”

RELATED: Illinois State Police making changes to address DNA processing delays

In November 2018 The I-Team first exposed delays in processing DNA related to more than 750 murder cases over three years in the state.

State police said at this time there are 14 Chicago homicide cases that are still waiting on DNA processing after more than a year. They did not say how many cases that are less than a year old are waiting for DNA processing.

Following the I-Team’s first investigation there were other hearings, the state made sweeping workflow changes at the labs and promised to add more forensic scientists.

“The 2020 budget included more for 22 forensic scientists are being trained now and 24 will be trained in the near future,” Kelly explained.

RELATED: Illinois State Police crime lab looking for 26 forensic scientists to tackle DNA backlog

But ISP admits a full staff would be 320 and right now there are only 259.

“Our goal is a six month turnaround on all of our cases. We are not there yet but we are getting there,” said Robin Wollery, ISP Assistant Deputy Director.

Senator Van Pelt said that goal should be six weeks not six months.

“People are dying all around us and we don’t know if that person is out and about killing today,” she said.

Family members of victims also demanded more action

RELATED: Progress made reducing DNA case backlog, but room for improvement remains, director says.

Kristina Hopkins, the Director of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls spoke of her loved one’s murder.

“As far as we know the young man is locked up but he is not charged with her murder due to no DNA,” she said.

Illinois State Police said they’re also adding robotics and more technology like rapid DNA to cut down on the backlogs.

Rapid DNA can have a turnaround in as little as a few hours. However there are limitations as to when it can be used.

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