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Belvidere, Illinois goes from loser to winner with idled Stellantis plant reopening

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Belvidere, Illinois goes from loser to winner with idled Stellantis plant reopening


BELVIDERE, Ill. (CBS) — The year 2023 was a big one for labor – actors, pilots, delivery drivers, and maybe most of all, autoworkers.

By some accounts, no place in history has benefited from a new contract between the Big Three auto companies and the United Auto Workers than Belvidere, Illinois – about an hour and a half northwest of Chicago. Belvidere is a place that went from being the biggest labor loser to the biggest winner.

Belvidere, Illinois is the type of place where a human actually answers the phone at City Hall. It’s the type of place where Mayor Clint Morris has a Holy Bible on his desk, the Lord is his Shepherd, and professional wrestler Ric Flair is his spirit animal.

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Belvidere Mayor Clint Morris

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CBS 2


Mayor Morris is an independent, who emphasizes that didn’t take any outside money for his campaign. He agreed that this puts him on about an island of one in Illinois politics.

“And of course, with any money that anybody takes, there’s a certain amount of obligation,” said Morris, “and I don’t think anybody is a philanthropist that contacts elected officials, I don’t believe that.”

He won – and dealt with a disaster shortly into his first term.

“Well, I received a call first from Stellantis, their director of governmental affairs out of Washington, D.C., had called me and informed me that they were going to be, quote, ‘Idling the plant,’” said Morris, “and about the same time, actually, my other phone rang, and it was the governor’s office – Governor Pritzker’s office.”

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Chrysler parent company Stellantis’ Belvidere Assembly Plant was indefinitely idled at the end of February of last year. More than 1,000 would be out of work.

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CBS 2


The news in Belvidere, the City of Murals, was like bucket of paint tossed upon Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

It was a gut punch for plant veteran Deanna Viel.

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“This is my survival for me and my three boys,” Viel said. “It’s a lot of emotion. First, you had your whole world crash down.  Then, we had the big, ‘OK, we’re going to make it.”

In late October, the announcement came down that the Belvidere plant would reopen after the UAW and Stellantis came to an agreement.

“We are one of the only plants that ever came out of being shut down to be brought back,” Viel said. “So it’s a big thing.”

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Deanna Viel

CBS 2

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She took a picture when President Joe Biden came to Belvidere.

With the new UAW contract, there was more news besides the plant reopening.

“We’re going to have a $100 million investment in a Mopar distribution site here, and also a battery facility,” said Mayor Morris.

The mayor himself agreed that he had never heard of a turnaround quite like what Belvidere experienced.

“It is exceptional. It’s the one singular story,” said University of Illinois professor Dr. Robert Bruno, who is also an industry expert and author.” It is truly the lone case in American economic and labor history.”

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Nobody knows exactly what went down in the meetings, but Belvidere is strategically located – rail, interstate, on the river, dependable power, good workforce.

So who made the reopening happen?

“The workers made that happen,” said Bruno. “Never before has the UAW, through its collective bargaining process, been able to reopen a facility, pour millions of dollars into the facility and create thousands of jobs.”

Back to Ric Flair, the professional wrestler whose image graces Mayor Morris’ office. It came from his brother, Cliff, and Morris is quick to note that Flair is a winner.

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CBS 2


“That’s how I look at this at Belvedere and what we have in the future,” said Mayor Morris. “Not only did we get a reprieve – our future’s a lot brighter here.”

Viel, the worker CBS 2 spoke with, hopes to also have a degree by the time she returns to work – in HR. 

Meanwhile, the new UAW contract could bring more than 3,000 jobs to Belvidere, and billions in investment. Whispers are they’ll be making an EV, and potentially a hybrid version of a mid-size Ram pickup. 

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Illinois

Looking for something to do this weekend in Central Illinois? Here’s the list.

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Looking for something to do this weekend in Central Illinois? Here’s the list.


Check out our roundup of the latest special events, music, theater, nightlife and kids events.

To submit an item, send an email to features@pantagraph.com.

Special events

Bloomington-Normal

IHSA Wrestling; all day Feb. 23-24, Grossinger Motors Arena, 101 S. Madison St., Bloomington; $9. 

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Free Fridays in February; all day Feb. 23, Miller Park Zoo, 1020 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington. 

Kiwanis Pancake Days; 7:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 24-25, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N. East St., Bloomington; $8-$10. 

Bloomington Polar Plunge; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 24, Miller Park, 1020 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington. 

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Try Hockey for Free Day; 4:20-5:10 p.m. Feb. 24, Bloomington Ice Center, 201 S. Roosevelt Ave., Bloomington; free. 

The Barrel Room Wedding Experience; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 25, The Barrel Room at Destihl Brewery, 1200 Greenbriar Drive, Normal; $10. 

Cirque Mechanics – Zephyr; 3-5 p.m. Feb. 25, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N. East St., Bloomington; $27-$55. 

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ISU Women’s Basketball; 2-4 p.m. Feb. 25, CEFCU Arena, Campus Box 2660, Normal. 

ISU Men’s Basketball; 7-9 p.m. Feb. 29, CEFCU Arena, Campus Box 2660, Normal. 

IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals; all day Feb. 29-March1, CEFCU Arena, Campus Box 2660, Normal. 

Wine, Body, & Spirit – Meditation & Wine Tasting; 6:30-8 p.m. Feb. 29, The Barrel Room at Destihl Brewery, 1200 Greenbriar Drive, Normal; $30. 

Central Illinois

Official Spring Home Show; Feb. 23-25, Exhibit Halls at Peoria Civic Center, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $3-$7. 

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Dead is Forever Murder Mystery; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, Wild Harvest Honey Farm, 9122 Bucks Road, Heyworth; $25. 

Bradley Men’s Basketball vs Illinois State; 7 p.m. Feb. 24, Peoria Civic Center Arena, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $12+. 

Bradley Men’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois; 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Peoria Civic Center Arena, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $12+. 

Music

Bloomington-Normal

Tropidelic with Ballyhoo!, The Palmer Squares; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, The Castle Theatre, 209 E. Washington St., Bloomington; 18+; $20. 

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Hip Hop Comedy Upfront ft. Thurston Stevenson & V8 Vast Change; 7 p.m. Feb. 22, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

Thaddeus Tukes; 8 p.m. Feb. 23, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

Municipal Waste with Ghoul, Nectro, Dead Heat, Brainsqueeze Tour 2024; 7 p.m. Feb. 24, The Castle Theatre, 209 E. Washington St., Bloomington; 18+; $27.50+.

Dexter O’Neal & Funk Yard; 8 p.m. Feb. 24, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

Straight Ahead Sunday with U of I Concert Jazz Orchestra; 5 p.m. Feb. 25, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

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Open Stage w/ Maestro; 8 p.m. Feb. 28, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

Three Dog Night – Sold Out; 7:30-10:30 p.m. Feb. 29, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N. East St., Bloomington. 

Juke Box Thursday; 8 p.m. Feb. 29, Jazz Upfront, 107 W. Front St., Bloomington. 

Central Illinois

Krannert Uncorked with Haki N’ Dem; 5 p.m. Feb. 22, Stage 5 at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; free.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Stage 5 at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $10-$100. 

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University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $4-$10. 

Cabin Fever with Revel in Red; 6-11 p.m. Feb. 24, Five Points Washington, 360 N. Wilmor Road, Washington; $20-$225. 

Phil Wickham – I Believe Tour; 7 p.m. Feb. 24, Peoria Civic Center Theater, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $35+. 

Chelsea Guo, Soprano and Piano; 3 p.m. Feb. 25, Foellinger Great Hall Salon-Style at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $5-$90. 

University of Illinois Philharmonia Orchestra; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $4-$10. 

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Krannert Uncorked with Nadirah Shakoor; 5 p.m. Feb. 29, Stage 5 at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; free.

University of Illinois Wind Orchestra and Hindsley Band; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29, Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $4-$10. 

Theater

Bloomington-Normal. 

ISU School of Theatre and Dance presents Space Girl; 7:30-10 p.m. Feb. 22-23, Westhoff Theatre, 401 S. School St., Normal; $10-$12. 

Macked, Hammered, Slaughtered and Shafted; 7 p.m. Feb. 22, Normal Theater, 209 W. North St., Normal. 

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Sometimes I Think About Dying; 7 p.m. Feb. 23-25 and 3 p.m. Feb. 24-25, Normal Theater, 209 W. North St., Normal. 

The Muppets; 7 p.m. Feb. 26, Normal Theater, 209 W. North St., Normal. 

Central Illinois

Mean Girls; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Peoria Civic Center Theater, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $44+. 

Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29, Peoria Civic Center Theater, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $46.50+. 

Airness; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29-March 2, Fat City Bar and Grill, 505 S. Chestnut St., Champaign. 

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Studio Dance 2024; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29-March 2, Studio Theatre at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; $10-$60. 

For Kids

Bloomington-Normal 

ECK: Shapes & Animals (Pickup); 9 a.m. Feb. 22, Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal; ages 2-5. 

PLG: Shapes & Animals; 4-5 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. Feb. 22; 9:15-10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Feb. 23, Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal; ages 2-4. 

Early Explorers: Shapes & Animals; 9:15-10:45 a.m. Feb. 24, Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal; ages 4-5. 

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PLG: Shapes & Animals (Members Only); 9:15-10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Feb. 26, Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal; ages 2-4. 

Central Illinois

Baby Shark’s Big Broadwave Tour; 6 p.m. Feb. 27-28, Peoria Civic Center Theater, 201 SW. Jefferson Ave., Peoria; $24+. 

To submit an item, send an email to features@pantagraph.com.

To submit an item, send an email to features@pantagraph.com.

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Illinois

Illinois sent the betting public into a spiral after blowing 7-point lead over Penn State in final minute

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Illinois sent the betting public into a spiral after blowing 7-point lead over Penn State in final minute


No. 12 Illinois was favored by eight points over Penn State Wednesday and led by seven with under a minute to play. A basket on their next possession would have put the Illini on track to cover the spread. If they didn’t score, no big deal, they still had a better than 96 percent win probability, according to ESPN Analytics.

Those might have been the final words before the game went up in smoke.

Illinois missed a jumper with around 40 seconds left, gave up a 3-pointer, turned the ball over, gave up a layup, missed two free throws, then fouled on a 3-pointer. Penn State’s Zach Hicks made all three free throws to complete the comeback.

Illinois was one of the biggest public favorites Wednesday, receiving 62 percent of bets against the spread, according to BetMGM’s John Ewing. And when a team is so heavily favored to cover 7.5 points, you can imagine how its moneyline might be a popular addition to parlays.

The team’s meltdown made for a lot of spoiled bets.

This is the season no bet is safe in college basketball.

 

 

 

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Penn State takes down No. 12 Illinois, LSU beats Kentucky at the buzzer in wild Wednesday

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Penn State takes down No. 12 Illinois, LSU beats Kentucky at the buzzer in wild Wednesday
























Penn State takes down No. 12 Illinois, LSU beats Kentucky at the buzzer in wild Wednesday | NCAA.com

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