Regional

Regional
2:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Study Shows Demand For Residential Space In Downtown Springfield

Credit flickr/pasa47

The Sustainable Design Assessment Team has been focused on the future of Downtown Springfield for about two years. 

SDAT sees the need for more residential space downtown.  A recent study confirms that view. 

"We're really talking about millenials, people in their 20's plus or minus.  And we're talking about the other end of the spectrum, empty nesters," Action Committee Co-chair Chuck Pell said.  Students from UIS or SIU could also be another group looking for a downtown living experience. 

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Regional
5:42 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Same Sex Couple Gets Marriage License In Champaign County

Marissa Meli, 28, and Laura Meli, 27, have been in a relationship for more than eight years, and on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 became the first same-sex couple in Champaign County to get a marriage license.
Credit Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media

Champaign County Wednesday became the second county in Illinois to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses before June 1st. That’s when a state law says same-sex couples can marry. 

A federal judge ruled last week that Illinois' same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Urbana residents Marissa and Laura Meli were the first same-sex couple in Champaign County to get a marriage license.

They’ve been together for more than eight years, and they tell  Sean Powers that they’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

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Regional
11:51 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Springfield Close to Finalizing Budget

Credit springfield.il.us

The City of Springfield is putting the final touches on a nearly 600 million-dollar budget.

Aldermen have proposed several changes to the spending plan, which could be adopted tonight at a special council meeting.   Alderman Cory Jobe and others want to move nearly 80-thousand dollars from other areas to pay for a new inspector general position.  The job would involve investigating possible corruption within city operations.

Mayor Mike Houston says he will work with the position if it’s approved.

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Regional
11:30 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Springfield Pension Problem Worst in State According to Think-Tank

Credit illinoispolicy.org

A conservative think tank recommends the City of Springfield switch its employee pension system to a 401K style plan rather than a defined benefit.

"First and foremost you need to make sure the data is pure." -- Budget Director William McCarty

The Illinois Policy Institute presented aldermen data that indicate the city of Springfield has the worst funded pension system among larger cities in the state.

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Regional
7:28 am
Tue February 25, 2014

FutureGen Gets OK For Morgan County Pipeline Route

FutureGen site in Meredosia
Credit WUIS

Illinois regulators have given the FutureGen Alliance the go-ahead for a 30-mile carbon dioxide pipeline.  

The  State Journal-Register reports  the pipeline would be buried at least four feet underground in northeast Morgan County. It'd be even deeper under farmland.  

The $1.68 billion project will refit a coal-fired power plant in Meredosia  in western Illinois. Authorities want to remove carbon dioxide from the coal and store it underground. The greenhouse gas is linked to climate change.  

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Regional
7:16 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Area Gets Money for Storm Cleanup

Sandbagging last spring at Meredosia
Credit Bill Wheelhouse WUIS

Some federal money is heading into the area to help pay for storm cleanup and recovery from last year.

The state will get $6470,000 to help pay temporary workers to help with the cleanup from flooding, tornadoes and other storms last April and May.

The most recent grant will be spent in Calhoun, Cass, Fulton, Mason, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler and Scott counties.

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Regional
3:50 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Lake Decatur Water Release Could Result In Flooding Along Sangamon River

Lake Decatur
Credit flickr/lewismarien

City officials in Decatur say they are releasing large quantities of water out of Lake Decatur that could lead to flooding and other problems along the Sangamon River.  

The city said in a news release Friday that water flowing down the river and snowmelt have led to high water in the lake. Lake Decatur sits on the eastern edge of the central Illinois town.  
The lake is fed by the Sangamon River. The river then flows out of the lake and eventually winds its way west toward Springfield.  

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Regional
3:41 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Two Tornado Touchdowns In Sangamon County Thursday

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has confirmed  at least 7 tornadoes developed in central and east central Illinois  during the late afternoon hours of February 20th.  Two reports of the confirmed  tornadoes were in Sangamon County. An NWS Lincoln damage assessment team is  still out doing surveys on the other tornadoes.
 
 
  .Divernon, IL Tornado (Sangamon County)...
 
  RATING:                 EF-0
  ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:    80 MPH
  PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/:  0.2 MILES
  PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/:   75 YARDS
  FATALITIES:             0

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Regional
7:17 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Four Suspected Tornados Hit Central Illinois

Credit UNC-Greensboro

Surveyors are expected to head to Mechanicsburg and Pana Friday to review damage firsthand from Thursday's storms.

The National Weather Service says four possible tornadoes touched down in central Illinois, causing minor damage.  

Officials with the agency's office in Lincoln say they're reviewing preliminary reports of four twisters that struck Thursday afternoon.  

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Regional
4:41 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Decatur Ends Request For Voluntary Water Conservation

Credit flickr/loveMeagan

The City of Decatur has ended its voluntary request for water conservation.  That request was first made last October as Lake Decatur levels dropped due to the drought.  

But city leaders say it has risen two feet from its low point this winter and they anticipate additional rain in the next few weeks will bring the level higher. The lake reached a low point of 610.31 feet above sea level (50% full) on January 10.  But it now is above 612 feet (73%).  That is within the normal winter range. 

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Springfield City Council
6:26 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Winslow Hired As Springfield Police Chief

Chief Kenneth Winslow
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield aldermen have unanimously approved the hiring of Kenny Winslow as the city's police chief. Winslow has been in the role since last summer, when he took over after the resignation of Robert Williams.
   But his hiring on a permanent basis was delayed last night as council members questioned him in private for more than half an hour.    An internet site had raised issues about how Winslow might restructure the department. Mayor Mike Houston says aldermen wanted to hear from Winslow:

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Regional
6:27 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Illinois Sites Named To Historic Register

Galena, Ill.
Credit visit Galena

More than two dozen Illinois buildings and downtown districts have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says 23 buildings and 11 historic districts were added to the register in 2013.  

They include everything from a mausoleum in the suburban Chicago community of Beecher and an East St. Louis hotel to historic districts in Galena and Plainfield and a Chicago furniture factory.  

Inclusion on the list means properties are deemed worthy of preservation and makes them eligible for financial incentives.  

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Regional
2:44 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Lucore named St. John's CEO

Credit prairieheart.com

St. John's new CEO says the Springfield hospital will face many challenges as a result of the Affordable Care Act ... like changes in Medicare reimbursement -- which now rewards keeping patients out of hospitals.

Dr. Charles Lucore's appointment was announced Thursday.

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Springfield City Council
10:43 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Aldermen Call For Movement On Hunter Lake

Ald. Frank Edwards

Several Springfield aldermen want to ramp up efforts for building Hunter Lake.  

The proposed second water source for the city has been on the drawing board for decades, but the state EPA and Army Corps of Engineers must sign off on the project.  

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Regional
8:57 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

So. Ill. Town Has No Squad Cars Left

Credit VillageofIna.com

A small southern Illinois community is without any police cars after separate accidents heavily damaged the department's only two squad cars.  

The police chief in the village of Ina says the first car was damaged last week when it was hit by an ambulance. The second car was wrecked on Tuesday when it was hit by a semi-truck on a snowy highway.  
No one was injured in either collision.  

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Regional
6:00 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Springfield's Fight Against Panhandling

Credit wuis.org

Springfield's effort to reduce panhandling in the downtown area is facing a legal challenge.   While business owners say a city ordinance has worked, critics say it infringes on free speech rights.
 

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Regional
5:39 am
Thu February 6, 2014

New Lincoln Stamp To Be Unveiled Feb. 12

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

A new commemorative stamp will be released to mark Abraham Lincoln's 205th birthday.  

U.S. Postal Service officials will be on hand Feb. 12 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield for an unveiling ceremony for the new stamp, which features an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  

Lincoln and his family lived in Springfield for more than two decades before he was elected as the country's 16th president in 1860. Lincoln worked out of the capitol building as both a lawyer and a politician.  

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Springfield
5:58 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Winslow Expected To Get Police Chief Job

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

After more than 6 months as Acting Springfield Police Chief, Kenny Winslow has been nominated for the job on permanent basis.  

Winslow assumed his role July 29th, after Robert Williams resigned following a file shredding scandal.  
Winslow says there are several things at the department that need to be done. 

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Regional
2:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Springfield's Road Salt Supply Runs Low

Credit springfield.il.us

It's been a hard winter for area residents.  Governmental agencies in charge of keeping streets cleared of snow and ice have also felt the impact.

In Springfield, Public Works Director Mark Mahoney calls it a return to normal.

"In some ways, we've got a little bit spoiled. The last couple of winters have been very mild.  Over the past several years, we haven't had the type of winters we had a few decades ago," he said.   

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Regional
11:57 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Weather Cancellations

Schools Closed Thursday

A-C Central

Auburn

Ball Chatham Schools

Capital Area Career Center

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

Sacred Heart Griffin

Springfield Catholic Grade Schools

Springfield Christian School

Springfield District 186

Tri City

Waverly

Williamsville

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Regional
9:59 am
Mon February 3, 2014

How Efficient Can Government Be?

Norm Sims

Last month, a local panel put together a list of recommendations designed to make Sangamon County governmental units work better and, in some cases, save money.  Voters helped create the Citizens' Efficiency Commission of Sangamon County through an earlier referendum.  They have another chance to keep the effort going in the March election.

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Poverty
8:17 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Illinois Poverty Remains Stubbornly High

Credit Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

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Regional
8:46 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Mailboxes: A Casualty Of Winter Weather

Credit flickr/jkwerner2

If you're maintaining a city budget in Illinois you better keep some money on hand to pay for mailboxes. Lots of them.
 
Mailboxes that sit along the side of streets are frequent casualties of winter
snow-plowing.
 
Champaign city officials tell The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1aYPH5y ) that
over the past three winters at least 232 people have complained that snowplows
have damaged their mailboxes.
 
The repairs and replacements cost a combined $6,582. That doesn't include the
labor.
 

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Regional
7:55 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Another Round Of School Closings Monday

Some Amtrak trains are not running today in downstate Illinois.

  School Closings for Monday Jan. 27

A-C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Bradley University

Calvary Academy

Decatur

Edinburg

Greenview

Illinois State University

Jacksonville

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln public schools

Lincoln College

New Berlin

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Robert Morris University

Sangamon Valley

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Regional
3:58 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Citizens' Efficiency Commission Report Released

Karen Hasara
Credit news.uis.edu

A Sangamon County panel has unveiled its recommendations for streamlining local government and saving money.

The Citizens Efficiency Commission offered 23 specific proposals... ranging from joint purchasing among agencies to public safety changes.

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Regional
2:13 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

New Madrid Fault Still Active And Poses A Threat

Credit USGS

Scientists said today that the New Madrid fault zone in the nation's midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes.  

The journal Science published the study online. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough was part of the study. She says the fault zone is ``not dead yet.''  
Researchers have long debated just how much of a hazard New Madrid poses. The zone stretches 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.  

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Regional
9:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Thursday's Closings

School closings for Thursday January 23:

A C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Calvary Academy

Capital Area Career Center

Decatur

Edinburg

Goodwill's Vocational Rehab & Developmental Training programs

Greenview

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

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Regional
10:03 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Council To Consider Lake Decatur Dredging

Credit flickr/HAM guy

Central Illinois officials are expected to vote next month on whether to spend nearly $90 million on a massive dredging project in Lake Decatur.
 
The Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1dvfQFI ) Decatur's city council is expected to vote on the project during their Feb. 3 meeting.
 
During a work session Tuesday, city manager Ryan McCrady said the effort would be ``the biggest project the city of Decatur has ever undertaken.''
 
Officials have said removing billions of gallons of sediment from the lake will

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Regional
7:46 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Springfield Halfway Houses May Close

Several halfway houses for parolees are in jeopardy after the Springfield City Council refused to allow a zoning change.

House of the Rainbow provides residences for parolees in four homes on North 10th Street and one on Enterprise Street.  But the zoning only allows for single family homes.

Owner of House of the Rainbow, David Kettelkamp, said he was not told what type of zoning designation he needed.

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Regional
11:32 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FutureGen Gets Key Federal Approval

The FutureGen site
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Department of Energy has given the long-running FutureGen clean-coal project one of the final OKs it needs to start building.  

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