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It's unknown exactly what caused the Storm Sirens in Centralia to blare for several minutes during the 5 O'Clock hour on Thursday, however Centralia Police Department officials are confirming that the siren was indeed a false alarm.

Several listeners reported hearing an explosion followed by flickering lights and brownouts in Centralia. Leading many to speculate that the sirens may have been triggered by a transformer explosion.

Calls to Ameren Illinois were not immediately returned.

Two Injured in Omega Road Crash

Both drivers were injured in a two vehicle crash at the Omega Road and U.S. 50 Wednesday afternoon.  

State Police say a car driven by 17-year-old Haylee Neilson of Iuka was stopped at the stop sign on the Omega Road and U.S. 50 and pulled in front of an eastbound car on U.S. 50 driven by 33-year-old Misty Parish of Flora.  The Parish car then struck the Neilson pickup.  

Parish was airlifted from the scene to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis with major injuries.  Neilson was taken to Salem Township Hospital for treatment of apparent minor injuries.  

The crash occurred at 4:43 Wednesday afternoon.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says when questions arose about political hiring, officials evaluated already-filled jobs to ensure they were positions for which an applicant's political loyalty could be considered.

But a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on government hiring in Illinois requires that question be answered before a job offer is extended.

Democrat Quinn was hit by a lawsuit this week after a report last year claimed Illinois Department of Transportation hiring was improperly based on political connections.

Spokesman Guy Tridgell says IDOT later found that 50 of 61 jobs shouldn't have been political hires. He says the jobs were evaluated before hiring but the job descriptions changed. 

The claims - and the Quinn administration's response - are raising questions about how closely the Quinn administration follows state hiring rules. 

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he'd like to see private donations factor into funding a possible Barack Obama presidential library in Illinois.

The Chicago Democrat told reporters in Collinsville on Thursday that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield has provided a major economic boost, particularly with tourism.  

He says an Obama library could create a "tremendous number of jobs" and he's interested in private donations along with state money. 

Lawmakers are considering a measure that will spend about $100 million in state money for Chicago's bid for the presidential library. 

The measure passed an Illinois House committee, but a vote will be retaken next week because no Republicans members were present. House Speaker Michael Madigan is sponsoring the bill and says it was a misunderstanding of the rules.

Two South Central Illinois Schools were named recipients of the State of Illinois School Spotlight Award, which is given to districts with high poverty rates that still maintain high tests scores.

Grand Prairie Grade School in Centralia and Xenia Grade School in Xenia were among the 37 schools statewide to receive the commendation. 

Grand Prairie Grade School Interim Co-Superintendent Alan Estes credits his faculty, as well as the hard work and dedication of the community and the students for winning the award.

"Part of the reason the students are successful is the large amount of community and parental support...and I think it's reflected on state achievement tests" said Estes.

Flora Consolidated Unit School District Superintendent Joel Hackney credits Xenia Grade School Principal Leslie Carter and her staff for having the vision necessary to succeed at the small Clay County grade school.

"It's a focus on knowing the students...and a tribute to the staff that we have. I think they do a good job of knowing the students and delivering the curriculum to fit the student's needs" said Hackney.

All spotlight schools must adhere to a rigorous standard to be chosen. All schools must be making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which requires that at least 92.5 percent of the students must pass the state achievement tests in both reading and mathematics. At least half of the students in each school must be from low-income families.

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