Illinois to Missouri border.

It’s been 50 years since the war on poverty was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but Illinois still has about 15% of residents living in it – the same percentage living in poverty that half century ago. American Winter is a documentary made about families facing poverty, especially after the most recent recession. It’s being presented on the UIS campus Monday night, and a discussion will follow. It’s part of the university’s series on poverty.

The man who ran the school during Abraham Lincoln's time in New Salem is getting an honor in Kentucky.

A historical marker commemorating the life of an early 19th century educator who was a longtime friend of Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled next week in Greensburg, KY.  

The Kentucky Historical Society says the marker is in honor of William Mentor Graham, who was born in Green County and taught at Greensburg Academy before moving to Illinois. There he taught Lincoln arithmetic and grammar, and Lincoln lived with Graham for six months in 1833.  

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Former president Jimmy Carter made a stop in Jacksonville Tuesday and spoke to over 2,000 people about his quest for peace and human rights. He spoke in a crowded gymnasium at Illinois College. 

His appearance coincided with the school's new initiative called 'Pathways to Peace' in which students and faculty will study the Middle East, and have participants travel to Dubai and the West Bank.

Quincy Public Library

Union members at a public library in western Illinois have voted to go on strike amid tough contract talks.
A business representative for the Machinist union, Ross Miller, says the 32 members at the Quincy Public Library voted Sunday night to reject contract terms
and to strike. There's a five-day waiting period before they can begin any strike.  
The Quincy Herald-Whig ( cites Library Board President Jeff VanCamp as saying he's ``disappointed'' by the union move. He says he
thought the contract offer was ``generous.''

History Series: Sousa In Springfield

Oct 9, 2014

Our history series continues with a look at the relationship between Springfield and John Philip Sousa. The stories are sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society. Performers include Tom Hutchinson and Eric Thibbodeaux-Thompson. 

And now, for something completely different...

CLICK HERE for The Sousa Archives at the Center for American Music at the U of I in Champaign.


M.E.R.C.Y. Communities began helping homeless mothers and their children 15 years ago in Springfield. The work involved providing transitional and permanent housing, along with other services.

Fundraising and grants has helped cover costs.  But this year, word came that a federal HUD grant won't be renewed.   And unless that money is recouped, some services will be scaled back or eliminated.

Rodney Davis and Ann Callis headshots
U.S. House,


Please suggest questions for the candidates in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

WUIS/Illinois Issues and AARP Illinois invite you to join us for a Congressional District 13 candidate debate between Congressman Rodney Davis (R) and his opponent Judge Ann Callis (D). 

What: Congressional District 13 Candidate Debate

When: Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

History Series: The First Illinois Legislature

Oct 2, 2014
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

Today, we begin a series of stories sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society. Tara McClellan McAndrew, history columnist for the State Journal-Register, has written six pieces about local history that we'll air over the next three months.    In the fall of 1818, Illinois was still a large, mostly wild territory. But it would become a state before the end of the year, and it needed a state government. Illinoisans held elections and chose their first lawmakers, who created our state government from scratch: 

Decatur's unemployment rate showed the biggest drop in the nation from a year ago. However that does not mean more people are working.

The jobless rate in Decatur is tied for the highest in the state with Rockford,  but the drop of  3.1% was the biggest decrease in the nation according to the federal agency that monitors such things.  

A 17 year old was taken into custody this morning after school officials and Chatham police were alerted to a message posted on Twitter.

The teen, whose identity is not being released, was arrested at his home for making an electronic threat and aggravated battery of a police officer.  Chatham Sgt. Scott Tarter said an officer was scratched when making the arrest.

Few other details are available as the case remains under investigation.  Tarter described the threat as "general" in regards to violence, "but definitely directed at the school."

Hartland Township MI

The mayor of Springfield took umbrage to a weekend editorial in the local paper.

The State Journal Register Sunday criticized the city for a lack of a comprehensive sewer program, following housing and street flooding after heavy rains in recent weeks.

Mayor Mike Houston called reporters together to remind them, as he approaches a re-election campaign, that the city is in the midst of a 10 year $60 million dollar borrowing program to fix some of the problem sewer systems.

flickr/Katherine Johnson

Without some help, Downtown Springfield Incorporated could cease to exist in just over a month.  The organization that helps put on events like the downtown farmer's market, blue and bar-b-q and serves as an umbrella group for various businesses is on the ropes financially. 

Victoria Ringer, Executive Director, says a 2012 Taste of Downtown event suffered from extreme heat, which kept patrons away.  After making up part of that loss, this year's outdoor blues show also lost money because of heat.

A Practice In Poverty

Sep 15, 2014
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

It’s been 50 years since the “War on Poverty” was launched. Around 15% of Illinois residents currently live in poverty, the same percentage of a half century ago. Universities, non-profits, and other organizations are teaming up to draw attention to the unrelenting problem. The University of Illinois Springfield is hosting a series of poverty-related events in the coming year. The first was a “poverty simulation.”

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Last Thursday, over 300 people met in Springfield for a meeting titled “Saving Our Black Males Through Education, Information, and Communication." It was organized as a response to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a police officer. One common refrain was that blacks in Springfield often feel targeted by police simply because of their skin color. Local police chief Kenny Winslow told the crowd that better communication is needed.

Days after a 17-year-old girl accused of leaving her newborn baby alive in a trash bin was arrested for child abandonment, prosecutors in the west-central Illinois community of Jacksonville have decided to charge her with attempted first-degree murder.

According to The Jacksonville Journal-Courier, , prosecutors announced Monday the teen will be tried as a juvenile. Her name has not been released because of her age.  

Illinois Rt. 66 Scenic Byway

Traveling along Route 66 in Illinois, you pass a lot of small communities.  And when you pass them by, you are missing out on history. 

A new project will showcase some points of interest. A series of interpretive signs and two-dimensional iron statues are being placed in 9 areas. 

Police in west-central Illinois' Jacksonville says a 17-year-old girl is charged with child abandonment in connection with the discovery of a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin.  

Police say the girl was arrested Thursday night, five says after the baby boy was found unclothed by an employee who heard a noise coming from the receptacle while taking out garbage.  
Investigators believe the child had been born less than 12 hours earlier.  

Amanda Vinicky

There's a farm town about 50 miles to the west of Springfield, in between Jacksonville and Beardstown, called Arenzville. Only about 400 people live there. It's the sort of place where old men gather at the only restaurant in town every Saturday morning for coffee. The sort of place where many of the last names carved into the tombstones at the local cemetery are the same as the last names a teacher is reading off of the class list when she takes attendance at school each morning.

Former President Jimmy Carter is coming to Jacksonville next month.    Carter will speak on the campus of Illinois College October 14.  

The visit is part of the Phi Alpha lecture series.    The college's spokesman Todd Spann says more details will be released later.

President Carter will turn 90 years old next month.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for human rights work.  He served one term as president from 1977-1981.


The mayor of Springfield says he wants police officers to start wearing body cameras next year.  

The State Journal-Register reports ( ) Mayor Mike Houston said Tuesday he'd like to allocate up to $200,000 in the next budget year for wearable cameras. The small cameras would attach to officers' uniforms and record interactions with the public. Videos could be used to review incidents, especially if an officer were accused of inappropriate behavior or excessive force.  


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved permits for the FutureGen coal project to store carbon dioxide underground.

The permits approved Tuesday are a key piece of the project. FutureGen aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal at a power plant in western Illinois and store it. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas linked to climate change.  
The EPA said the permits are the first of this type for carbon sequestration.  

Police say a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin in the central Illinois community of Jacksonville is in good condition.

Lt. Chris Johnson of the Jacksonville Police Department says authorities are still searching for the mother of the infant. The baby was apparently placed in the trash bin Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after it was born.  

Johnson says police aren't releasing the gender of the baby or exactly where it was found.

The Prairie Capital Convention Center is the largest venue in Springfield, hosting everything from roller derby, to rock concerts, to conventions for Illinois teachers. It's seen a lot of changes over the past few years. We spoke with Executive Director of the PCCC, Brian Oaks, about the recent overhaul, the board that oversees it, and even a possible reality television show about its employees.    

Charities are finding themselves asked to step in to help pay for services and programs that were previously in the government's domain. It seems to be an increasing trend since the economy took a dip several years ago.

Private fundraising for government programs is not necessarily new. State universities have long engaged in fundraising, especially with their alumni and elementary school groups have long held bake sales.

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday morning Michael Brown was laid to rest by not only family members, but politicians, community organizers, and hundreds of other members of the public. It's been two weeks since the teen was killed by a police officer. We checked in with St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann for an update on the situation in Ferguson. This interview took place on Monday morning:

CLICK HERE for updated coverage from St. Louis Public Radio.

Derek French, a recent UIS grad says he's part of a "youth movement" concerned with standing up for citizens' constitutional rights. While he says the rally planned for Saturday from noon to 4:15 at the Old State Capitol is not directly related to the situation in Ferguson, the recent turmoil there makes this an important time for community activists in Springfield to stage a "peaceful assembly." Here's our interview with French:

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Construction of the Tenth Street Rail Corridor in Springfield has officially begun after a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday. Over the projected two years of construction, an underpass will be built at Tenth and Carpenter for vehicles and pedestrians, allowing trains to pass above.

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says diverting rail traffic from street level will provide better access to hospitals, which is vital especially in a life-or-death situation.

"When somebody has a medical emergency, time is of the essence," he said.

Ryne Goodrich

It's been over a week since an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The demonstrations against what many consider police brutality have yet to end. Some Springfield residents have gone to join the protests, including Ryne Goodrich. He's a hip-hop promoter, a rapper, and a community activist. Goodrich shares his take on the situation in this interview:

It's a modern turn of phrase you've probably heard before: "driving while black." It's the notion some people hold that simply being a black driver can make you a target for traffic stops by police. And, it's the topic of Illinois Times Reporter Patrick Yeagle's recent feature article. He spoke with police, and drivers who say they've been a victim of racial profiling in Springfield. He also looked into a study released by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which collects data about race and traffic stops.

Skeletal remains discovered in Rochester last month have been positively identified as those of a Decatur woman.

The Sangamon County Coroner, Cinda Edwards, says DNA  testing confirmed the identity as 43 year old Tracy Trimby.   Relatives were notified a couple of weeks ago, but the name had been withheld from the public until now.  

The remains were found when someone was cleaning out the shed on July 19.  
Police say Trimby's name was not on any lists of missing people. Authorities believe her death was a homicide because items in the shed were stacked on her.