Regional

Regional
3:42 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Illinois Considering East-West Amtrak Route

Credit wuis

State lawmakers are backing the creation of an east-west passenger rail corridor across Illinois.  
The Illinois House unanimously approved a non-binding resolution Monday endorsing a possible Amtrak route from the Quad Cities in the west to Danville in the east.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports that the route would include stops in Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana.  
No cost estimate was discussed.  
Republican state Rep. Don Moffitt of Gilson is sponsoring the proposal.  

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Regional
4:14 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Sangamon County Auditor Announces Mayoral Bid

Palazzolo at Lincoln Park during his official announcement seeking office of Springfield mayor.
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The Sangamon County Auditor says his experience at the county level makes him most qualified to be the city's top executive.

Spring rain held off at Lincoln Park as Paul Palazzolo officially announced his intent to run for mayor of Springfield next year.

Palazzolo served as Sangamon County Auditor since 2002 and says he has a track record of transparency.
Four years ago he said he was running for mayor, but dropped out after failing to get the backing of the county's GOP organization.  The mayor's office is officially non-partisan.    

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Regional
11:43 am
Fri April 4, 2014

NTSB Report On Taylorville Plane Crash Nearly Done

A detailed report on a fatal central Illinois plane crash could be ready soon, more than 18 months after a dozen skydivers jumped from the aircraft just before it went down.
 
The August 2012 crash in Taylorville killed pilot Brandon Sparrow, who stayed
at the controls when the twin-engine plane stalled and began to roll. It took a
steep dive and crashed just yards from an occupied home.
 
Tom Latson is an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. He
tells The (Decatur) Herald & Review (http://bit.ly/1pZz3Xh ) that he expects his

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Regional
6:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

City May Set Retirement Age For Police Force, Mayor Vetoes Zoning Change For Liquor Store

The City of Springfield may be looking at setting a mandatory retirement age for all new police hires.  During Tuesday’s city council meeting, both the city’s mayor and police chief say they support a cut off at age 60.

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Regional
6:24 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Bus Accident In NE Missouri Injures Students

Ewing is in Lewis County, just northeast of Quincy, across the Missouri border.
Credit city-data

Authorities in northeast Missouri say a school bus accident has injured nearly two dozen students.  

The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday north of Ewing in Lewis County.  
Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Anderson says the bus rolled over into a ditch. Anderson says 18 students suffered minor injuries and five were more seriously hurt.  

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Regional
6:17 am
Tue April 1, 2014

EPA Seeks Public Input on FutureGen in West Central Ill.

Future Gen Plant in Meredosia
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on a plan to inject carbon dioxide beneath west central Illinois.

FutureGen Industrial Alliance wants to capture carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant in the Morgan County village of Meredosia, then inject it into underground wells near Jacksonville, about 20 miles to the east.  

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Regional
12:50 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Ukraine Representatives On Their Visit To Springfield, State Of Their Country

Oleksandr Makovskyi, Christina Dobrovolska, and Roman Yemets (from left to right).
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The people of Ukraine ousted their President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year.  Since then, Russia took over Ukraine's southern peninsula, Crimea.  While officials are trying to turn the country around, a group of delegates from the country made a visit to Washington and Springfield to observe democratic government in action. 

The Springfield Commission on International Visitors six Ukrainians to observe national, state and local government.

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Regional
8:26 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Annual Figure Skating Event In Springfield This Weekend

You don't need to leave the Springfield area for a great ice show this weekend.  The Springfield Figure Skating Club puts on the annual Spotlight On Ice performance at the Nelson Center.   This year's program is titled "Give Our Regards To Broadway" with music from Broadway shows.  Kids and adults will perform.

"You usually have to go to bigger, metropolitan type areas to see ice shows," Club board member Monica Polistina  said.  "So we're really excited that this is a hidden jewel in the capitol city to have Spotlight on Ice."

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Regional
4:01 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Mayor Highlights Achievements, Says City 'Must Stay Course'

Credit City of Springfield

   Springfield's Mayor has yet to say if he will seek another term in office. During a speech Wednesday, he sounded like a candidate.

    Mayor Mike Houston touted his accomplishments during the almost 25 minute State of the City speech.  Included was the city's 3-year, 86 million dollar infrastructure improvement program and development of the South MacArthur TIF district, which includes the new Hy-Vee Supermarket.  But unlike his previous State of the City Addresses,  Houston shied away from mentioning any new proposals.

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Regional
2:10 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Springfield Mayor's State of The City Address, Full Audio

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield Mayor Michael Houston celebrates his administration's accomplishments since he took office in 2011.  He addressed the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce in the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

 Audio FileFull audio of Mayor Houston's 2014 State of the City address to Chamber of CommerceEdit | Remove

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Regional
9:19 am
Wed March 26, 2014

City Asked To Change Triune Contract, Aldermen Uncertain

Credit springfield.il.us

The company that manages Springfield's workers comp caseload wants to go outside the county for a key hire.  City aldermen questioned that move last night.

The contract with Triune Health Group says the nurse representative it used must be in Sangamon County.  The company says the job is highly specialized and it can't find anyone within the county who is qualified.

Instead, the firm wants to use a nurse in Macon County.  Some aldermen at the committee of the whole meeting were left scratching their heads, since the Springfield area has a wealth of healthcare workers. 

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Regional
10:31 am
Tue March 25, 2014

UIS Students 'Recharge' Before Night Classes

Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Commuter student, by nature, spend less time on the UIS campus.  But the University is trying a new way to engage those students in activities.  There's a bribe involved, a practical one.

I'm standing in a restaurant area in the most high traffic part of the university, the Public Affairs Center.  The restaurant is a dimly lit room mainly used for meetings and donor meals.  In the corner a few people are sitting around a table.  I sit down and plug my dying iPhone into one of the power-strips on the tables.

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ALPLM
8:00 am
Tue March 25, 2014

"Women & The Right To Vote: Does It Matter?" - Event Thursday

Angela Winand (left) & Eileen Mackevich

It's been nearly a century since women gained the right to vote through a federal amendment. But there are still lessons to be learned from the suffrage movement, and many women still face inequality. Female lawmakers, historians, and political scientists will convene at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum's Union Theatre in Springfield on Thursday night to discuss the lasting impact of women's suffrage. Issues discussed will include the fight for equal pay and representation in government.

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Regional
12:20 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Wes Barr Wins Primary For Sangamon County Sheriff

Credit facebook.com/wesbarr2014

The Republican primary for Sangamon County sheriff went to former sheriff’s lieutenant Wes Barr.

Barr retired from the department last year and soon after announced he would run to replace the outgoing sheriff Neil Williamson, who has held the job for over 20 years. But Williamson backed his undersheriff Jack Campbell.

The race seemed to split the Republican party establishment in Sangamon County.  Both received key endorsements. The candidates also sparred over issues such as the department’s taser policy, which Barr criticized and Campbell defended.

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Election 2014
5:15 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Rochester Voters Will Decide Home Rule Question

Voters in four Illinois communities, including Rochester, go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give their  town councils  more power. 

The villages want to become home rule communities, which gives them more authority to raise taxes and pass laws.  The Illinois Association of Realtors is against the change.   Association President Phil Chiles says if voters approve home rule, they could regret it later.

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Regional
5:36 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Kincaid Mayor Arrested Again

The small Christian County town of Kincaid has been in the news for the wrong reasons. 

The village's police chief is accused of having village employees work on his house on government time. 

And the mayor, Doug Thomas, has been arrested for a second time for violating an order of protection.  Thomas was taken into custody at the village hall Thursday morning. Thomas was taken to the Christian County jail.

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Regional
3:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

City Aldermen Stall Deal With Napa Auto Parts, Question Contract

Credit springfield.il.us

Several Springfield aldermen are questioning the Mayor's  plan to utilize an auto parts company for the city's vehicle fleet.

Under the proposal, Napa Auto Parts would be the city's primary auto parts supplier. 

The more than three million dollar agreement with Napa would last for three years and would operate in a city maintenance garage.  It's part of an effort that would reduce the number of city garages.       

During Tuesday night's committee of the whole meeting, a few aldermen wanted to know how the city came to choose Napa, rather than local vendors.

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Regional
11:47 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

City Close To Downtown Property Purchase

Credit springfield.il.us

The City of Springfield is one step away from acquiring the now vacant YWCA building and surrounding property in the downtown.  Aldermen agreed to the deal during a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night.   Purchasing the almost 2 acres across from the Governor's Mansion, will cost the city over one and a half million dollars.   The city will use Tax Increment Financing money to buy the land.

It's been a long process to get to this point.   Ward Six Alderman Cory Jobe says this is property that's been targeted since he got elected.

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Regional
6:28 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Dead Animals Lead To Animal Cruelty Charges

The Kane County sheriff's office says it arrested a suburban Chicago woman after finding 10 dead animals and others that were malnourished on a pair of farms.  

According to the Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/1ne0I7r ), the horse, pony and other animals were found on farms near Maple Park and in Hampshire in Kane County. The discoveries were made after someone called to report a dead horse at one farm.  

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Regional
5:26 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Sangamon County Clerk Unsure About Same Sex Marriage Licenses For Now

Credit co.sangamon.il.us

The Sangamon County Clerk says he's still unsure it would be legal for him to issue same sex marriage licenses before a new law takes effect in June. 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a court ruling in Cook County opened the door for all Illinois' county clerks to issue the licenses immediately.  Some have started doing so.  But there are differences of opinion.  Like in Sangamon County, Clerk Joe Aiello says he's waiting.

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Springfield City Council
10:38 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Springfield Aldermen Not Ready To Commit To Hunter Lake

Credit cwlp

A majority of Springfield aldermen last night expressed doubt about an ordinance that would commit to building the second water source known as Hunter Lake. Council members voted down the plan.  
The city has long been concerned about finding a way to supplement Lake Springfield.   Recent droughts have added to the urgency.   

CWLP Director Eric Hobbie says regardless of the council’s vote, the city has to pursue a water supply alternative.

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Regional
12:05 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Alderman to Propose COLA Cuts for Non-Union Employees Again

Credit springfield.il.us

During the last two Springfield City Council meetings one alderman proposed shifting the responsibility of who gives pay raises to non-union employees.  But his colleagues have refused to go along.

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Regional
9:52 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Kincaid Police Chief Arrested

Credit city-data

The Illinois State Police Friday arrested the Kincaid Village Chief of Police for official misconduct.  According to a news release, investigators brought 45-year old Richard S. Adams into custody. 

 

Authorities say the investigation revealed Adams was using his position to have repairs of his residence completed by village employees on village time.  

 

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Regional
1:34 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

State Police Investigation on Local Officers Released

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A 300 page report by Illinois State Police investigating  alleged misconduct by two Springfield Police detectives Paul Carpenter and Jim Graham has been released. 

After several Freedom of Information Act requests by local  media outlets for several years, Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled that the report should be made available to the public. 

Springfield Corporation Council Todd Greenburg says his office can review about 250 pages every 30 days, stretching release of the full document over nine months. 

Follow the link for the first installment. 

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Regional
11:56 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Full Audio of Oak Ridge Cemetery Closed-Talks

Credit Flickr photo by edebell

Before Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, Springfield City Council held a special meeting to release the full audio from a November 5, 2013 executive session discussion about Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Mayor Michael Houston said release of the audio required majority consent of the council.

The vote came after a Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt ruled the discussion a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.  The topic of the audio is a plan to seek proposals for private management of the city-owned cemetery.   The plan has since been abandoned.

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Regional
9:37 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Springfield Approves Budget, Creates New Position

Credit springfield.il.us

The city of Springfield approved a nearly 600 million dollar budget Wednesday for the new fiscal year.

New to the budget this year is an inspector general position, which officials set aside 79 thousand dollars to fund. 

Council member Cory Jobe before making the position permanent, they will look at results from the first year.

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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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