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    In the months after the pandemic hit, many people with corporate jobs took a fresh look at what they were doing to make a living. Some left their jobs and looked for alternatives, including opening up a franchise with an established brand. The “quasi-preneurs” opening franchises say they like the ability to buy into a proven brand name and the access to tools and operations that you wouldn’t get if you started your own small business. But franchising has plenty of challenges, too. There are a lot of rules and regulations to abide by and lengthy contracts, which can be difficult to get out of.

      Health officials say a central Illinois day care worker has monkeypox but that it has not spread to others at the center. They say the worker at the unidentified day care in the village of Rantoul is in isolation and doing well. Screening of children, other workers and their close contacts is underway. Julie Pryde, director of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, says officials hope there are no cases in children, but for all they know, "the employee could have gotten it from a kid.” Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Lauri Sanders says the Rantoul case is Illinois’ first monkeypox case linked to a day care.

        Republicans have unanimously chosen Milwaukee in swing state Wisconsin to host the 2024 national convention, beating out Nashville in deep-red Tennessee. The decision, announced at the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting on Friday in Chicago, follows months of wrangling by both states to land the convention where the party’s next presidential candidate will be officially nominated. Milwaukee was selected by Democrats to host the 2020 convention, but that moved almost entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic. The city used its preparations for that convention to argue to Republicans that it had a “turnkey” operation ready to host for real in 2024.

          John Rensenbrink has died at age 93 after a life in which he co-founded the Green Party of the United States. An obituary in the Bangor Daily News of Maine stated that the political scientist and conversationist died of an illness July 30. The party says Rensenbrink helped convene the first Green Party meeting in the United States in Maine in 1984. He was born in Pease, Minnesota, and attended the University of Chicago. He taught political philosophy and history at Bowdoin College and helped found the party out of frustration with Democrats and to foster peace and help the environment.

            Shoppers stocking up to send their kids back to school will get some inflation relief. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday reminded consumers that beginning Friday, they will have a 10-day break on state sales tax applied to school materials and clothing. The 5 percentage point drop in the sales tax on school supplies means that instead of paying the state $15.63 in tax for $250 in goods, a shopper would pay $3.13, a savings of 80%. However, many cities and counties impose their own sales taxes. The sales tax “holiday” is part of Pritzker's “Family Relief Plan” to battle inflation that topped 9% in June.

              The 21-year-old man accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more in a shooting at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago has pleaded not guilty, a week after prosecutors announced he faces 117 felony counts in the attack. Robert E. Crimo III appeared for a brief hearing Wednesday in Lake County's circuit court to enter a formal plea. Prosecutors announced in late July that a grand jury had indicted Crimo on 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery in the attack on the parade in Highland Park.

                This back-to-school shopping season, parents are focusing on the basics while also trading down to cheaper stores as surging inflation takes a toll on their household budgets. That is particularly true for parents in the low to middle income bracket. Last week, Walmart noted higher prices on gas and food are forcing shoppers to make fewer purchases of discretionary items, particularly clothing. Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, cited that inflation has dampened consumer spending on gadgets. Such financial struggles amid the industry’s second-most important shopping season behind the winter holidays mark a big difference from a year ago when many low-income shoppers, flush with government stimulus and buoyed by wage increases, spent freely.

                An 8-year-old boy whose spine was severed in the shooting at a parade on July 4 has moved to a rehabilitation-focused hospital after spending nearly a month in a Chicago pediatric intensive care unit. Cooper Roberts’ family says he was moved Sunday to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. The family’s statement released Monday says Cooper’s medical team will focus on physical and occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation and mental health services. Cooper was among the 48 people wounded when a gunman opened fire on the Highland Park Independence Day parade, along with his mother and his twin brother, Luke. Seven people were killed.

                New York City and four states that sued the U.S. Postal Service have announced a settlement in which the agency agreed it will destroy packages of cigarettes sent illegally to the United States from other countries. The city and California had initially filed the lawsuit in 2019. They were joined in 2020 by Connecticut, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs said the Postal Service wasn’t doing enough to enforce the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking law of 2010, which prohibits the mailing of cigarettes in most cases. An email was sent to the Postal Service seeking comment.

                Police say seven people are dead after a crash involving a wrong-way vehicle on an interstate in northern Illinois. The crash occurred around 2 a.m. on Interstate 90 in McHenry County, roughly 50 miles from Chicago. Police say a woman and five children in a van were killed. A woman in another vehicle was also killed. Police say a car was traveling in the wrong direction on westbound I-90. The driver of the van was seriously injured. It wasn't immediately known why the Acura TSX was in the wrong lanes on I-90.

                A 14-year-old girl from Chicago has been killed outside a graduation party in Decatur. Three more people were injured early Sunday. The Macon County coroner identified the victim as T'Earra Moore. People were leaving the party around 2 a.m. when shots were fired in the parking lot. The girl was struck and later collapsed outside a nearby business. Decatur police are urging the public to call (217) 424-2734 with any tips.

                Relatives say Sunday that Nichelle Nichols, who broke ground for Black women acting on television as the beautiful, no-nonsense communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original “Star Trek” TV series, has died at the age of 89. Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt. Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. It also earned her accolades for breaking racial stereotypes and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.

                A ticket bought in a Chicago suburb has beaten the odds and won a $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot. A lottery official says there is one winning ticket and it was purchased at a store in Des Plaines. The winning numbers drawn Friday night are: 13-36-45-57-67, with a Mega Ball of 14. The jackpot is the nation’s third-largest lottery prize. It grew so large because no one had matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15. That’s 29 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner. The $1.337 billion prize is for winners who choose the annuity option, paid annually over 29 years. Most winners opt for the cash option, which for this latest drawing was an estimated $780.5 million.

                Two teenagers have been charged with arson for allegedly setting a May fire at a shuttered suburban Chicago resort that took firefighters a full day to extinguish. The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office says the two boys face charges of arson, burglary, criminal damage to property and three counts of criminal trespass. The Beacon-News of Aurora reports that two other boys have been charged with trespassing at the former Pheasant Run Resort before the May 21 fire. More than 100 firefighters from more than two dozen fire departments were called to help extinguish the blaze about 35 miles west of downtown Chicago. The resort had closed in March 2020.

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                Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

                Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

                Heavy rains brought another round of flooding to the St. Louis region, prompting firefighters to help dozens of people escape the floodwaters. No injuries were reported from Thursday’s flooding, but the St. Louis Fire Department said on Twitter that it responded to 75 flooding-related emergencies and 60 people were rescued or helped to safety. Among the rescues, the department said firefighters carried six children to safety from a daycare at Cornerstone Institutional Baptist Church, where 15 children and three adults reportedly were trapped. The storms that began Thursday afternoon didn't drop as much rain as storms Tuesday, but they hit as the region was already recovering from widespread flooding brought by those storms.

                U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and was in quarantine with what he described as minor symptoms. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, who said in a statement Thursday he was vaccinated and had received two coronavirus booster shots, planned to continue to work remotely. The 77-year-old Durbin's announcement comes after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week he tested positive following travel to the White House, Maine and Florida. Earlier this week, Pritzker said on Twitter that he’d tested negative for the virus. President Joe Biden on Wednesday ended his COVID-19 isolation, days after he had also tested positive.

                A grand jury has indicted the man accused of opening fire on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago, on 117 felony counts. Prosecutors announced the grand jury’s decision against Robert Crimo III on Wednesday. The indictment lists 21 first-degree murder counts, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery. Seven people died and dozens were wounded in the July 4 attack. Under Illinois law, a grand jury can determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial. Prosecutors say Crimo admitted to the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, when he was arrested following an hourslong search on July 4. Attorneys for the 21-year-old suspect have not yet formally responded to any of the charges.

                Google is moving into the Thompson Center, the state building in downtown Chicago. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state is selling the building to a developer for $30 million in cash and also getting another downtown building valued at $75 million. JRTC Holdings LLC will perform a complete renovation of the Thompson Center to meet Google’s needs. The state, meanwhile, will move nearly 1,800 employees from the Thompson Center and other downtown buildings to the newly acquired building on South LaSalle Street. The Thompson Center, an all-glass building designed by Helmut Jahn, opened in 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. It was renamed in 1993 for Jim Thompson, who served as governor from 1977-91.

                A coyote on public display in suburban Chicago will get a larger den but not a transfer to a wild animal sanctuary in Colorado. A report for the Cook County Forest Preserves says the coyote, named Rocky, is “happy and healthy” in his 266-square-foot home. But he'll get more room. Critics say his constant pacing is proof that he’s bored. Rocky has been at the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook since 2018. He was found as a pup in Tennessee. An expanded habitat is in the works at the nature center. A petition to relocate the coyote to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, has more than 6,000 signatures.

                Record rainfall caused widespread flash flooding across the St. Louis area early Tuesday, killing one person, displacing many others and prompting rescues from vehicles and homes. One person died when a car in St. Louis was found covered in more than 8 feet of water. Several puppies drowned when water got into a building at Stray Paws Adoptables, a stray dog rescue operation in St. Peters, a St. Louis suburb. Damage across the region was widespread after a massive downpour dropped more than 12 inches of rain on parts of St. Charles County and up to 10 inches elsewhere in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

                Suburban Chicago police are asking for the public’s help finding the man who fired a gun over a fence and wounded a 13-year-old girl critically in the neck. Evanston Police Commander Ryan Glew said Tuesday that teens had gathered in a backyard around 6:20 p.m. Monday when an unknown person fired several shots. He says one bullet hit the girl in the neck. Investigators don't believe she was the intended target. Glew says no one else was injured. He says the girl was transported to a hospital and later moved to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

                Authorities say an aircraft passenger who died last weekend when a small plane crashed into a swimming pool in southern Illinois has been identified as a 56-year-old woman from the Peoria area. Centralia police said Cheryl Monserat-LaGreca of Lacon, Illinois, died on impact Saturday when the Beechcraft A35 aircraft crashed less than a mile from the Centralia Municipal Airport. She was the plane’s only passenger. KTVI-TV reports the plane’s pilot, Peoria-area resident Glenn Rossi, was airlifted to a nearby hospital after firefighters and others freed him from the plane’s wreckage in the ruins of a backyard swimming pool. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

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