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April
2005


April 29, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces 2005 Student Historians of the Year
Junior and senior high school students recognized for their articles published in a statewide history magazine
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the 2005 Student Historians of the Year. These 14 student historians are being recognized for their outstanding articles published in Illinois History magazine - the nation’s oldest history magazine written by and for junior and senior high school students.


April 29, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES MAJOR OPPORTUNITY RETURNS SUPPORT TO HELP SARA LEE LOCATE UP TO 400 NEW JOBS AT ITS NEW CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS IN DOWNERS GROVE
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced significant Opportunity Returns support to Sara Lee Corporation to help the company add up to 400 new jobs to its new corporate headquarters in Downers Grove. The new location will serve as home to not only Sara Lee’s corporate staff, but also to employees of the North American businesses.


April 28, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES CRITICAL FARMERSVILLE ROAD UPGRADES TO SUPPORT CENTRAL ILLINOIS COAL INDUSTRY
CHICAGO – Continuing to deliver on his Opportunity Returns commitment to support business growth and improve critical infrastructure in Central Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced nearly $290,000 in funding to support repair of the Farmersville Overpass in northern Montgomery County. The state’s funding will allow normal trucking operations that are necessary for the local coal industry, instead of limiting the size and weight of trucks hauling coal from the region’s coal mines.


April 27, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich challenges the federal mercury rule
Rule unfairly penalizes Illinois coal miners
CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced plans to appeal the federal rule that regulates mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Governor’s longstanding concern that the rule threatens public health, the environment and Illinois coal miners is outlined in a legal referral to the Illinois Attorney General submitted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).


April 27, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH TRAVELS TO WASHINGTON, D.C. IN SUPPORT OF $1 BILLION U.S. NUCLEAR SCIENCE PROJECT
Former Gov. Thompson and Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Daley Join the Governor for Meetings with U.S. Energy Secretary and other Administration Officials
WASHINGTON, DC – Gov. Rod Blagojevich traveled to Washington, D.C. today to deliver the message that one of the nation’s premier science and technology projects, the $1 billion Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA), must remain a funding priority of the federal government.


April 26, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES NEARLY $560,000 TO ADVANCE THE HEALTH OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS’ WORKFORCE
Health Care Worker Shortages Projected, Opportunity Returns Grant Will Help Meet Expected Demand With Hundreds of Newly Trained Nurses
HERRIN – Continuing to deliver on his Opportunity Returns pledge to invest in the Southern Illinois workforce, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced $558,000 to support health care training in the Southern region that will address critical shortages in the local workforce. Local hospitals and clinics currently do not have the necessary talent pool of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to meet demand, and, if these shortages are not addressed, they will only get worse as older workers retire. Through the Governor’s Critical Skills Shortage Initiative, nearly 200 additional nurses will enter the workforce. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin made the announcement today at Herrin Hospital alongside health care and educational leaders from throughout Southern Illinois.


April 25, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $615,000 TO ADVANCE THE HEALTH OF SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS’ WORKFORCE
Nursing Shortage Projected; Opportunity Returns Grant Will Help Meet Expected Demand With Hundreds of New Health Care Workers
EAST ST. LOUIS – Reinforcing his Opportunity Returns pledge to create quality jobs in Southwest Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced $615,000 in funding to meet urgent employment needs in the Southwest Illinois workforce. Through the Governor’s Critical Skills Shortage Initiative, the grant will be used to support the region’s health care industry and notably the projected shortage of registered nurses. With this grant, more than 450 new workers will enter the industry or advance their skills to meet the needs of clinics and hospitals across the region. Gov. Blagojevich highlighted the nursing shortage during his State of the State address in February, and the innovative program remains a vital component of his Opportunity Returns strategy to build a more dynamic and skilled workforce by strengthening education and job training. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director (DCEO) Jack Lavin made the announcement today at Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital in East St. Louis alongside doctors, nurses, educators and elected officials from throughout the Southwest region.


April 25, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich applauds early success of the New Hire initiative to boost child support payments
Nearly $2.6 million more collected in first quarter; Child support collections on track to set new record
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today released first quarter statistics indicating that the “New Hire” child support enforcement program he announced in his 2005 State of the State address has so far delivered nearly $2.6 million in additional money to Illinois families in need. The program improves coordination between the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), which oversees child support enforcement in the state, and the Department of Employment Security (IDES), which tracks employment. With the help of the New Hires initiative, the state is on track to collect the most child support ever in 2005.


April 25, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich reminds parents to safeguard their children against disease
National Infant Immunization Week April 24-30
SPRINGFIELD – As part of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is sending a message to parents about the importance of protecting their children against vaccine-preventable diseases.


April 22, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ASKS ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN TO ADVISE WHETHER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CAN CLOSE OR RELOCATE NATIONAL GUARD BASES DURING BRAC PROCESS
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich requested today that Attorney General Lisa Madigan advise as to whether Illinois National Guard facilities can be closed or relocated during the upcoming round of base closures and, if not, what legal steps should be taken to prevent such closures. This request is aimed at bolstering the Governor’s continuing efforts to ensure that Illinois is doing everything possible to prevent its military bases from being closed. Recently, several members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stating that pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 18238(e), he is prohibited from closing or relocating any Army or Air Force National Guard installations without the consent of the state governor. Peoria Mayor David Ransburg and Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin joined Gov. Blagojevich in this request.


April 22, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich provides keynote address at the Follett Essay Contest for Reading is Fundamental Awards Ceremony
First Lady helps honor Chicago Public School students for award winning essays
CHICAGO-First Lady Patti Blagojevich today provided the keynote address at the Fourth Annual Follett Corporation Essay Contest for Reading is Fundamental Awards Ceremony. The ceremony was attended by over 150 Chicago Public School students who participate in the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Program.


April 20, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich participates in 35th annual mock press conference with elementary students
SPRINGFIELD—First Lady Patti Blagojevich today hosted a mock press conference for 4th grade students from Harristown Elementary School at the Executive Mansion. This marks the 35th anniversary of the event, started by Jeff Deremiah, a retired language arts teacher at Harristown Elementary. Prior to retiring, Deremiah had been bringing his “student reporters” to the Capital City to meet with Governors’ wives since 1970. The tradition continued this year with teachers Mary Sobek and Beckie Poole.


April 20, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES GROUNDBREAKING FOR PELLA CORPORATION’S NEW MANUFACTURING FACILITY BACKED BY $7 MILLION OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT
MACOMB - Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program today formally welcomed Pella Corporation to Macomb with the groundbreaking of the company’s new 275,000 square-foot manufacturing facility. The Iowa-based company’s decision to locate the new facility in Macomb was largely made possible through $7 million in Opportunity Returns support. The new facility will allow the premium-quality window and door maker to expand its manufacturing operations and bring 480 new jobs to the area. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Assistant Director Roxanne Nava joined company and local officials for the groundbreaking ceremony in Macomb today


April 20, 2005
Governor Blagojevich announces new funding to expand Senior Health Insurance Program outreach
Training sessions scheduled for 44 communities across the state
CHICAGO – Building on his efforts to improve Illinois senior citizens’ access to health care, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today the Illinois Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) will receive almost $1 million in federal funding for outreach and training of volunteer senior health advocates across the state.


April 18, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich moves to make emergency contraceptives rule permanent
SPRINGFIELD – Today Governor Rod R Blagojevich’s administration filed a permanent rule with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to ensure its emergency action protecting women’s access to contraceptives continues once the 150-day emergency rule expires. The permanent rule, like the emergency rule filed on April 1, requires drug stores that stock and dispense contraceptives to fill birth control prescriptions without delay.


April 18, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT IN UPS TO HELP COMPANY EXPAND OPERATIONS AT ROCKFORD AIRPORT AND BRING 60 NEW JOBS TO THE REGION
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of more than $250,000 in Opportunity Returns support for UPS, allowing the package delivery company to construct a 70,000 square foot building adjacent to its existing facility at the Northwest Chicagoland International Airport at Rockford. The new addition, which will open in the spring of next year, will greatly expand the company’s ability to handle heavy freight and create 60 new jobs in the community. The air freight hub will operate separately from the existing small package network and, including airport improvements, will cost an estimated $7.4 million.


April 17, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich hosts luncheon at Executive Mansion recognizing winners of C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest
First Lady welcomes the ten winners to Illinois for the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today held a luncheon at the Executive Mansion to congratulate the winners of the C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest. The First Lady welcomed these ten talented young people from across the country to Springfield as they participate in the “Looking for Lincoln” Tour of Central Illinois. The students were also given a private tour of the Executive Mansion following the luncheon.


April 17, 2005
‘A House United’ Interfaith Service Brings Distinct Faith Traditions Together to Celebrate the Dedication of the Presidential Museum
Governor Blagojevich Joins Religious Communities in Celebration
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined religious leaders from the Springfield community for ‘A House United’ Interfaith Service to celebrate the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum on Sunday, April 17, 2005. The service brought together six distinct faith traditions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Baha'i, Unitarian-Universalism, and Buddhist to signify the museum’s ability to be uniting force in the community.


April 17, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich hosts luncheon at Executive Mansion recognizing winners of C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest
First Lady welcomes the ten winners to Illinois for the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today held a luncheon at the Executive Mansion to congratulate the winners of the C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest. The First Lady welcomed these ten talented young people from across the country to Springfield as they participate in the “Looking for Lincoln” Tour of Central Illinois. The students were also given a private tour of the Executive Mansion following the luncheon.


April 16, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich and the “Blue Suede Running Shoes” successfully finish the River to River Relay
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS— Today, Governor Rod Blagojevich became the first governor to ever run in the River to River Relay, a one of a kind, 80-mile relay race that stretches across Southern Illinois, from the Mississippi to the Ohio River. Governor Blagojevich ran the anchor leg for his team—“The Blue Suede Running Shoes,” which finished in Golconda near the Pope County courthouse.


April 15, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces key support for Higher Standards, Better Schools plan; Urges Illinois House to pass initiative
University of Illinois President endorses measure to better prepare high school students for higher education and the workforce
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today welcomed the support of the University of Illinois’ president, B. Joseph White, for his Higher Standards, Better Schools proposal. Both leaders urged the Illinois State House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Governor’s plan to strengthen high school graduation requirements for Illinois schools. The new requirements, which unanimously passed the Senate Thursday evening, are a key component of his Higher Standards, Better Schools plan – a comprehensive proposal designed to better prepare students to compete and succeed in today’s economy. The new requirements are included in floor amendment one to Senate Bill 575, sponsored by Sen. Miguel del Valle (D – Chicago).


April 14, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES CONTINUED GROWTH OF E-85 IN ILLINOIS; NEW STATION OFFERING E-85 IN LINCOLN
CHICAGO – Reiterating his commitment to the Illinois agricultural industry and building on his efforts to improve our state and nation’s energy independence, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today celebrated the continued growth of E-85 – an advanced hybrid of ethanol – with the opening of additional fuel pumps in Central Illinois. Qik-n-EZ in Lincoln at 520 Keokuk is one of the most recent stations to offer E-85, and now 23 stations in the state offer the environmentally friendly alternative fuel. A grand opening of the Qik-n-EZ Station in Lincoln is being held today from 10:00am till 2:00pm and is sponsored by Qik-n-EZ, American Lung Association of Illinois & Iowa, the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). In recent weeks, consumers have seen the price of E-85 drop almost as quickly as traditional gas prices have risen; E-85 is often fifty to sixty cents cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline.


April 14, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces grant to city of Springfield to build on success of world class Abraham Lincoln Presidential complex
$1.5 million grant to city for design of new Capitol Avenue
SPRINGFIELD – Because the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Springfield each year, Gov. Blagojevich today awarded a $1.5 million grant to the city of Springfield to help enhance the downtown experience. Capital City leaders will use the state grant to complete the planning and design of Capitol Avenue - to transform the street into a red carpet to the Statehouse and other famed downtown sites, including Lincoln’s home and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.


April 14, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich praises House for passing legislation closing gun show loophole that gives criminals easy access to firearms
Governor also applauds House for stopping a bill that would have required the destruction of background check information considered vital by law enforcement to investigating crime and terrorism Governor urges Illinois Senate to follow House’s lead
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the Illinois House of Representatives for approving critical legislation that closes a deadly loophole in the law that allows criminals access to guns without undergoing background checks. House Bill 794, sponsored by Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), requires gun sellers to request background checks for potential gun purchasers when obtaining firearms at gun shows.


April 14, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich’s plan to strengthen high school graduation requirements unanimously passes in Senate
SB575 implements strict new high school graduation standards to better prepare Illinois students for college and the workforce
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the Illinois State Senate for passing the Governor’s proposal to strengthen high school graduation requirements for Illinois schools. The new requirements, which passed the Senate by a vote of 56 – 0, are a key component of his Higher Standards, Better Schools plan – a comprehensive proposal designed to better prepare students to compete and succeed in today’s economy. The new requirements are included in floor amendment one to Senate Bill 575, sponsored by Sen. Miguel del Valle (D – Chicago).


April 13, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH PROPOSES ETHANOL PRODUCTION FROM CORN RESIDUES AND NEW BIOFUEL SOURCES
Governors Ethanol Coalition: Advanced Ethanol Production Will Reduce America’s Dependence on Foreign Fuels and Increase our Nation’s Energy Security
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Governors Ethanol Coalition today announced their support for federal legislation to increase corn ethanol production in America and to support research and development in the production of ethanol from new feedstocks. Under the proposal unveiled by the Governors Ethanol Coalition (GEC), 5 percent of America’s transportation fuel would come from ethanol by 2010 through a law known as a National Renewable Fuels Security Standard. As a result of this legislation, $800 million in federal money would be committed to research and development to enable the production of ethanol from additional “biomass” sources, including corn kernel fiber, corn stalks, wheat straw and other agricultural wastes. An additional $800 million would be committed to support early commercialization of biomass ethanol plants.


April 13, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich welcomes teachers to Statehouse; urges them to help him pass more funding and higher standards
Governor’s education plan would provide $440 million or more in new funding for Illinois schools Governor calls on CPS leadership to work on behalf of plan
SPRINGFIELD –Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today urged hundreds of schoolteachers who traveled to the State Capitol to lobby their legislators to support his plan to increase education funding by $440 million (and potentially more) and to strengthen high school graduation requirements. The Governor met today with representatives from the Illinois Federation of Teachers to work on a plan to pass the Governor’s proposal, raise graduation standards, and provide schools with more funding.


April 13, 2005
STATEMENT FROM GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH
In response to lawsuit filed by Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice challenging Governor’s emergency rule for pharmacies
“Today we learned that Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice has filed a lawsuit to prevent us from ensuring that women have equal access to health care. We will vigorously defend a woman’s right to get her prescription for birth control filled without delay, without hassle and without a lecture. If a pharmacy wants to be in the business of dispensing contraceptives, then it must fill prescriptions without making moral judgments. Pharmacists – like everyone else – are free to hold personal religious beliefs, but pharmacies are not free to let those beliefs stand in the way of their obligation to their customers.”


April 12, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES NESTLE USA IS EXPANDING ITS ITASCA OPERATION AND BRINGING NEARLY 100 NEW JOBS TO NORTHEAST ILLINOIS
CHICAGO – Continuing to deliver new jobs to Northeast Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced Nestle USA is expanding its manufacturing operations at the company’s Itasca facility, bringing 90 new jobs and retaining 314 jobs in the Chicago metropolitan area. The move comes as a result of the state’s nearly $3.9 million investment package through Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program that will trigger $10 million in private investment.


April 12, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces new convenience for Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum goers
New parking garage to accommodate complex visitors; Capital Development Board incentive program leads to project’s early completion


April 12, 2005
Governor Blagojevich launches I-Loan Mortgage Program
Illinois Housing Development Authority secures $75 million to offer below-market rate mortgages that will help hundreds of Illinoisans become first-time homebuyers
CHICAGO – As housing prices and interest rates continue to rise, Governor Blagojevich launched the I-Loan Mortgage program today; aimed to help hundreds of low and moderate income Illinoisans purchase their first home. The I-Loan Mortgage is a mortgage product offered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority that provides one more option for low and moderate-income residents who want to purchase their first home by offering an interest rate that is approximately a half percent below the market rate. I-Loan approved homebuyers may also be eligible for cash grants to meet down payment and closing costs.


April 12, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich’s Higher Standards, Better Schools plan passes out of Senate committee
SB575 implements strict new high school graduation standards to better prepare Illinois students for college and the workforce
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today commended the Senate Education committee for unanimously sending to the Senate floor the Governor’s proposal to strengthen high school graduation requirements for Illinois schools. The new requirements are a key component of his Higher Standards, Better Schools plan – a comprehensive proposal designed to better prepare students to compete and succeed in today’s economy. The new requirements are included in floor amendment one to Senate Bill 575, sponsored by Sen. Miguel del Valle (D – Chicago).


April 11, 2005
Governor Blagojevich unveils “Korea Town” highway sign on Interstate 90
Korean-American leaders hail state’s action; Predict it will spur growth of bustling corridor
CHICAGO – Recognizing the importance of Chicago’s Korean-American community, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today unveiled a new highway sign directing motorists to the thriving neighborhood of restaurants and shops in Albany Park on the city’s far North Side.


April 11, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH CONTINUES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS STRATEGY TO PROTECT THOUSANDS OF JOBS AT THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL AND ATTRACT NEW BUSINESSES THAT WILL CREATE HUNDREDS MORE
ROCK ISLAND – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that his Opportunity Returns program is providing $200,000 in funding to the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group (RIADG) to support efforts to market the Arsenal as a viable business site and attract new tenants to its vacant industrial space, bringing new jobs to the community and major economic investment to the region. The Governor also reaffirmed his commitment to fighting relentlessly for the retention of the Rock Island Arsenal, helping ensure that the base stays off the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) list and that the nearly 6,000 thousand jobs it provides Northwest region residents will remain secure. The Arsenal also supports an additional 12,000 jobs and pumps more than $1.1 billion a year into the local economy. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin made the announcement with state and local officials today in Rock Island.


April 11, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich addresses health disparities among minority populations
Governor proclaims April as Minority Health Month
SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to raise awareness and address health disparities among minorities, Gov. Rod Blagojevich proclaimed April as Minority Health Month.


April 11, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Transportation Employees Honored For Roadside Beautification Efforts Around the State
Garden Clubs of Illinois recognizes outstanding employee contributions to First Lady’s Wildflowers of Illinois Program
CHICAGO- The Garden Clubs of Illinois, Inc. today honored First Lady Patti Blagojevich and more than two dozen Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) employees for their efforts to beautify roadways around the state through the planting of wildflowers and trees.


April 10, 2005
Governor Blagojevich introduces legislation to ensure Internet phone users have access to 911 services
Law will protect Illinoisans from life endangering delays when attempting to place an emergency phone call
SPRINGFIELD –Governor Blagojevich today announced new legislation that would mandate Internet based phone providers or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to offer 911 emergency services to their customers by September 2005 or face steep fines. VoIP providers offer consumers the ability to make and receive phone calls over the Internet using a broadband connection, but are not subject to the same requirements as telephone service providers.


April 9, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich welcomes Merchandise Mart's help in promoting awareness of Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Month
CHICAGO—Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Chris Kennedy, President of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., announced that the Merchandise Mart will be illuminated in blue lights each evening throughout the month of April in recognition of Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Month.


April 8, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich praises House of Representatives for passing human trafficking legislation
HB1469 passes in near unanimous vote
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich today thanked the Illinois House of Representatives for passing HB1469, legislation that would fight the problem of human trafficking in the State of Illinois, by a vote of 108-0-1.


April 8, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich encourages communities across Illinois to nominate outstanding volunteer efforts for 2005 Home Town Awards
CHICAGO – The hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers across Illinois whose efforts have greatly improved the communities in which they live are acknowledged each year through the Governor’s Home Town awards. Gov. Rod Blagojevich today is encouraging cities, towns and villages across the state to recognize the outstanding contributions of their communities by nominating distinguished volunteer efforts for the 24th Annual Home Town Awards. While the awards will take place next November, the time to submit nominations is now.


April 7, 2005
Governor Blagojevich welcomes baseball great Ernie Banks to his Illinois Rx Buying Club team
Hall of Famer to serve as Illinois Rx Buying Club spokesman
CHICAGO—On the day before the Chicago Cubs play their first 2005 season home game at Wrigley Field, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced that Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks will serve as the spokesman for the state’s Illinois Rx Buying Club. Banks will appear in a series of radio, TV and print advertisements urging seniors and people with disabilities to join the Illinois Rx Buying Club.


April 7, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH RALLIES WITH LABORERS FOR THE PASSAGE OF A CAPITAL BILL TO SUPPORT CRITICAL INITIATIVES TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION ACROSS THE STATE
SPRINGFIELD – Continuing to do everything possible to secure funding for new economic development initiatives identified by communities as being critical to fueling economic growth and job creation across the state, Gov. Rod Blagojevich joined business and labor leaders and elected officials in Springfield today at a State Capitol rally to aggressively advocate for the passage of a capital bill this legislative session.


April 6, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT IN PROMINENT PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY FUELING MAJOR ECONOMIC EXPANSION AND BRINGING 500 NEW JOBS TO CHICAGOLAND AREA
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of more than $15 million in Opportunity Returns support to Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. that will enable the company to relocate, expand and improve its North American headquarter operations in Deerfield, Ill. and bring 500 new jobs to the area. When all of the construction phases are complete, the 1.2 million square foot campus will accommodate up to five office buildings, including a conference/training facility, cafeteria, general store, fitness center and a 5,300 square foot remote delivery facility. The addition of Takeda’s new campus also will serve as another vital component of an emerging biotech corridor taking shape in Northeast Illinois, strengthening the prominence of the industry in the state and attracting new investment to the area.


April 6, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich Announces 800 New Nurses To Be Licensed this Week
Nursing License Backlog Eliminated
CHICAGO - Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today that 800 new nurses will be licensed this week. The Governor highlighted the nursing shortage during his State of the State address in February, and committed to providing more training grants and streamlining the licensing process to increase the number of licensed nurses in Illinois.


April 6, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER CALLING FOR STRATEGIC LAND-USE PLANNING WITH ILLINOIS’ MILITARY INSTALLATIONS TO ENSURE BASES REMAIN INVALUABLE TO OUR NATION
Governor Continues to Build Compelling Case for Why All Illinois Military Bases Should Keep Defending our Country
CHICAGO - Continuing to do everything possible to ensure the retention of all Illinois military bases, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed Executive Order No. 2005-4 directing all State land-use planning agencies to coordinate with Illinois military installations in order to maintain and improve the bases’ immense military value. When land-use planning is coordinated with these military bases, it can provide key assistance in preserving available land for military readiness. Demonstrating a keen awareness of this, Gov. Blagojevich issued the executive order to help ensure that Illinois’ military bases distinguish themselves as being highly flexible, prepared and well-equipped to meet the nation’s needs when called upon.


April 5, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich congratulates Illini men’s basketball team on historic season
Governor declares April 5th “Fighting Illini Day”
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich today applauded the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s men’s basketball team for their achievements over the course of the 2004-2005 basketball season, ending with a spectacular run through the NCAA Tournament and the school’s first ever National Championship game appearance. The Governor, who will be in attendance at this afternoon’s “welcome home” rally at Memorial Stadium on the U of I campus, proclaimed April 5th, 2005, “Fighting Illini Day” and asked citizens from all over Illinois to join him in “Painting the State Orange” in honor of the team’s achievements.


April 5, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich proclaims Day of Mourning for Pope John Paul II
Day of Mourning to coincide with funeral in Vatican City
CHICAGO – In recognition of Pope John Paul II’s tremendous achievements and the millions who mourn his passing, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proclaimed Friday, April 8, 2005 as a Day of Mourning for Pope John Paul II. The proclamation coincides with the official funeral services that will be held on Friday in Vatican City.


April 5, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES ALMOST $3.6 MILLION IN CRITICAL WORKFORCE INVESTMENTS IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY
Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses Shortage Projected, Opportunity Returns Grants Will Help Meet Expected Demand With Hundreds of New Health Care Workers
CHICAGO – Reinforcing his Opportunity Returns pledge to create quality jobs in Northeast Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced almost $3.6 million in funding to meet urgent employment needs in the greater Chicagoland workforce. Through the Governor’s Critical Skills Shortage Initiative, the grants will be specifically used to support the health care industry, one of the most significant economic engines of the region that employs more than 400,000 workers. Gov. Blagojevich highlighted the nursing shortage during his State of the State address in February, and the innovative program remains a vital component of his Opportunity Returns strategy to build a more dynamic and highly skilled workforce by strengthening education and job training. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin spoke about the announcement today during a speech at the City Club of Chicago.


April 4, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION INVESTMENT IN TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION CAMPUS FURTHER STRENGTHENING BIOTECH INDUSTRY IN ILLINOIS
State-of-the-Art Biotech Facility Would Create Almost 15,000 Jobs and Generate $1.8 Billion Annually for Illinois’ Economy
CHICAGO – In another strong indication of his commitment to building the emerging bioscience industry throughout Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced a $1 million Opportunity Returns investment in the state-of-the-art Illinois Technology Innovation Campus, a planned development that will serve as the catalyst in transforming the state from a scientific research hub to a launching pad for various bioscience technologies. This unprecedented facility is expected to create 3,250 new jobs on-site, more than 10,000 ripple-effect jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. Upon completion, the campus will generate $1.8 billion annually in statewide economic activity, according to a study conducted by Applied Real Estate Analysis, Inc. Forest City Enterprises recently purchased the former G.D. Searle Parkway site in Skokie for $43 million from Pfizer, Inc.


April 4, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces new recycling effort at state office buildings in Chicago
Program designed to reduce waste disposal costs and boost recycling rates
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today launched a new effort to boost recycling in the James R. Thompson Center and the Michael A. Bilandic buildings, the state’s main office buildings in downtown Chicago. This 6-month pilot program aims to develop a cost-savings model for improved recycling in state facilities across Illinois.


April 1, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich Raises Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect and Highlights Success of Illinois Child Abuse Prevention Programs
First Lady joins Child Advocacy Organizations and State Agencies to kick-off Child Abuse Prevention Month
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today kicked off April as Child Abuse Prevention Month by highlighting the success of programs and services that have reduced child abuse and neglect in Illinois.


April 1, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich kicks off Earth Day celebration early with greening grants to 32 schools
Part of the Governor’s Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) today awarded School Greening grants to 32 communities across the state, as part of the Governor’s Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative. Earth Day, celebrated by millions on April 22nd, is a day to promote environmental citizenship.


April 1, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich takes emergency action to protect women’s access to contraceptives
Files emergency rule to prevent pharmacies from turning women away, announces disciplinary action against Chicago retail pharmacy for refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives New toll-free phone number enables women to report non-compliant pharmacies to state regulators
CHICAGO – Responding to recent complaints filed against a licensed Illinois pharmacy that refused to dispense prescription contraceptives, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today filed an emergency rule that clarifies pharmacies in Illinois that sell contraceptives must accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay. The Governor was joined by leaders of national and local women’s organizations in announcing today’s action. Over the past two years, the Governor has worked with lawmakers to expand women’s access to contraceptives and other important health care services. Today’s action is intended to ensure Illinois continues to move forward, not backward, in helping women obtain the care they need.

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