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Headlines for Sunday, March 31, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers in Illinois are expected to plant five percent less acres of corn than last year, as farmers plan a move toward more grain acreage, the most since prior to World War II.  A spring planting survey released late last week showed Illinois farmers were expected to plant about 12.2 million acres of corn this year, compared to 12.8 million last year.  A rise in the amount of soybeans planted is expected, from 9 million acres last year to 9.4 million acres this year, an increase of four percent.

The trial of a southern Illinois man accused of dousing his girlfriend with chemicals and setting her on fire has been delayed due to a switch in defense attorneys.  Published reports from Benton indicated a Franklin County judge has postponed Christopher Rollins’ trial after a request by his attorney to withdraw from the case was accepted.  The trial on an aggravated battery charge was to have started this week.  The victim survived the incident but sustained burns over a large part of her body.

Wayne County’s unemployment rate for February was 10.9 percent, up from 9.7 percent a year ago, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  Edwards County recorded a February rate of 11 percent, up from 9.7 percent a year ago.  All but two counties in southern Illinois had a February unemployment rate higher than a year ago.  The highest rate was in Union County at 14 percent, followed closely by Marion County at 13.6 percent and Clay County at 13.4 percent.

A blood drive will be held in Edwards County Monday at the House of Prayer from noon until 6 p.m.  Sandwiches will be served to those who attend, and all qualifying donors will be registered to win a John Deere tractor.  All blood types are needed at Monday’s drive.

Funeral services have been set for Tuesday morning for an Illinois State Trooper killed last week in the line of duty in northern Illinois.  Trooper James Sauter was killed as a result of injuries from a fire that engulfed his vehicle after it was rear-ended by a semi, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.  The death was the second death of an Illinois State Trooper in the past four months.  Trooper Kyle Deatheridge died last November when he was struck by a semi on I-55 north of St. Louis.  Trooper Deatheridge was speaking to a motorist on the shoulder of the interstate when he was struck and killed.

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