Regional

Jacksonville Developmental Center
8:00 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Jacksonville Area Authorities Seeking Tips On JDC Vandalism

Building on the campus of the former state run institution
Credit http://jacksonvilleinstitutions.wordpress.com/closure-of-jacksonville-developmental-center/jdc/

The public is asked to assist the Jacksonville Police Department with its investigation into recent vandalism at the Jacksonville Development Center.

The following information is from Crimestoppers of Morgan and Scott Counties:

Sometime in the overnight hours of July 17; unknown person(s) broke several windows out of two buildings on the former JDC grounds.

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Springfield City Government
6:15 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Interview: Columnist Calvin Christian On File Shredding Lawsuit

Calvin Christian III
Credit Calvin Christian

Calvin Christian has been working since 2010 to make documentation of police officer misconduct more accessible to the public. 

Christian is now suing the City over the premature destruction of public records, including those which detail the embarrassing (and criminal) past of Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher.

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Regional
8:07 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Grafton Ferry Set To Return

A Mississippi River ferry service linking southwestern Illinois' Jersey County to Missouri's St. Charles County is about to be back in business after being shut down for more than two years.  
 The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1146MGq ) reports that the Grafton ferry will resume next Friday, thanks to dredging efforts that cleared out river silt that kept the service from operating.  

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Springfield City Government
7:05 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Houston: "Let Chips Fall Where They May" As Police Chief, Top Attorney Depart

Mayor Michael J. Houston
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Mayor Mike Houston has announced that Springfield's Chief of Police and top legal counsel are both on their way out.  

Houston says Chief Robert Williams will take the rest of his accrued vacation time and retire in mid-October.  Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen is expected to formally submit his resignation when he returns from a vacation out of the country.

In a Friday evening interview with WUIS, Houston called for a stop to the "innuendo and rumors" he says are "floating around" in the community.  

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Purvines Ancestors Barn
12:27 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Barn At Clayville Site To Become Pioneer Agriculture Museum

Purvines Ancestors Barn
Credit Pleasant Plains Historical Society

Volunteers who help at the Clayville Historic Site outside of Springfield have a new use for an old barn that's been preserved by a family with strong ties to Sangamon County.

They're inviting the public to Clayville Sunday to learn more about the effort to put together a Pioneer Agriculture Museum in the Purvines Ancestors Barn. 

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2009 Beason Slayings
9:58 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Christopher Harris Sentenced To Life In Prison

Christopher Harris

An Illinois man convicted of fatally beating five members of his ex-wife's family in 2009 has been sentenced to life in prison.  
 A judge sentenced Christopher Harris to five consecutive life sentences on Friday.  
 The 34-year-old Harris faced a mandatory life sentence after he was convicted in May on five counts of first-degree murder, home invasion and other charges.  

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Environment
1:33 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Fracking Divides Environmentalists In Ill.

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Across the world, the drilling process referred to as "fracking" has caused controversy. Some say it brings heavy profits with the oil and natural gas it extracts from far underground. Others say it's caused pollution, contaminated water... and even initiated earthquakes. It's an issue Illinois residents have been largely untouched by - until now, as fracking has recently begun in the southern part of the state.

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Drugs & Crime
11:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

IT's Bruce Rushton Explores 'Epidemic' Of Heroin Abuse

Credit Wikimedia/user: Hendrike

The number of heroin users and associated overdose deaths seems to have gone up in recent years. In Illinois the trend of increased heroin abuse is getting reactions from social service agencies and law enforcement. It's an issue that Bruce Rushton of the Illinois Times recently reported on - he brings us a closer look at his investigation in this interview:

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Regional
8:08 am
Thu July 11, 2013

A Look Back At Disco Demolition Night

This week back in 1979, a baseball promotion got out of hand.  Known as Disco Demolition, it prompted

fans to bring disco records to the ball park to watch them blown up.  It wound up in what some called a riot. 

White Sox owner Bill Veeck was known for his wild promotions.  But this idea belonged to his son, Mike, a White Sox executive.  Since then,  Mike Veeck has built a long resume in baseball.  He has ownership in six minor league teams, including the one in Bloomington-Normal.  But his legacy will always include the disco fiasco…

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Lincoln Film Credited For Local Tourism Boost
7:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Economic Impact Of Springfield Area Tourism Up In 2012

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston talks up the benefits of tourism at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

According to the state's tourism office, 2012 was a "banner year" for those in the business of bringing visitors - and their billfolds - to Illinois.

On Wednesday the agency used the rotunda of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as its stage to announce the latest numbers on the industry's economic impact. 

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Springfield-Sang. Co. Regional Planning
8:25 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Public Input Sought On Rural Bike And Pedestrian Plan

Public comments accepted through Mon. July 15
Credit SSCRPC

Residents of Springfield and surrounding towns have until July 15 to provide feedback on a plan designed to make rural Sangamon County more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Linda Wheeland of the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission and Lynn Miller of the Springfield Bicycle Club joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about mapping the area's transportation future:

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Regional
5:25 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Christopher Harris Wants New Trial

Christopher Harris
Credit Logan County

A central Illinois man convicted in May of beating to death five members of his ex-wife's family in their home wants a new trial.  
Attorneys Daniel Fultz and Peter Naylor mailed a motion asking for a new trial for Christopher Harris last Friday. A spokeswoman for the Logan County Circuit Clerk's Office said Monday that it hasn't yet arrived.  
The attorneys argue Judge Scott Drazewski denied 34-year-old Harris a fair trial by refusing to let jurors visit the home in Beason where Rick and Ruth Gee and their children died in 2009.  

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Economic Development
7:27 am
Wed July 3, 2013

City Council OKs Jefferson Crossing TIF Plan

Site along Veteran's Parkway approved for future shopping center and city park
Credit Google Maps

Developers who've been planning for years to build a shopping center and gas station at a busy intersection on Springfield's northwest side say they could break ground on the project next month.

The Jefferson Crossing redevelopment plan got final approval from aldermen Tuesday night.  The City Council agreed to set aside $9.2 million dollars in future tax revenues to reimburse builders.  The funds will come from a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District set up in 2007 specifically for the project.

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58th Annual National Tom Sawyer Days
11:38 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Becky Thatcher House Re-Opens In Hannibal, MO

Credit Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

The 58th Annual National Tom Sawyer Days celebration starts Wednesday in Hannibal, Missouri.

The festival runs through the weekend with events honoring Samuel Clemens' literary work, including the town's "Tom and Becky" lookalike contest for kids.

A site in downtown Hannibal dedicated to Becky Thatcher - and the real woman who inspired the fictional character - has just re-opened to visitors following a major restoration effort.

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Regional
1:57 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Vets Having Trouble Getting Jobs

Credit Flickr/U.S. Military Academy at West Point

The economy has proven difficult for many.  But one group in particular, returning veterans, is finding it especially hard to locate work.  Meredith Colias of Illinois Issues magazine wrote about the problem in the latest edition. 

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Regional
10:37 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Sangamon County Survey Findings

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch (standing) addresses a Springfield Citizens Club meeting Friday that unveiled a new countywide survey. The citizen survey is a joint project of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and the United Way of Central Illinois.

While most say the county is a good place to live, work and raise kids, it's not all a rosy picture.  It found crime is a concern, most want better roads and additional events like outdoor festivals and farmer's markets.  But overall, the reviews were positive. 

Dr. Ashley Kirzinger is Director of the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office which called and asked residents more than 100 quality of life questions.  She says it was surprising to find younger people have a brighter outlook for Sangamon County.

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Jacksonville Fatal Fire
12:57 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Mother, Two Sons Killed In Mobile Home Fire

The Morgan County Coroner says a mother and her two young sons were the victims of a fatal fire early Thursday morning.  Coroner Jeff Lair says smoke inhalation is blamed for the deaths of Kayla Perry and her two sons, 4-year-old Christopher and 7-year-old Joshua.  The family's mobile home caught fire around 1 am Thursday.  Neighbors placed the 911 call, and area firefighters say they arrived to find the residence fully engulfed in flames.  A cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The state fire marshal has been called to investigate.  

Americana
11:20 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Ford Edsel Devotees Bring Unique Cars To Springfield

Herb Wiese with his '58 Edsel Pacer Convertible
Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

  The Ford Edsel is widely known for being one of the greatest marketing flops in history. It had a brief run from 1958 to 1960. But not everyone gave up on the Edsel:

WHITE-SWIFT: “Favorite car votes… get your favorite car votes here….”

Joey White-Swift is from Waco, Texas. He came to Springfield for the Edsel Owners Club's 45th Annual Convention. He's collecting votes for the 15 cars on display.

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MacArthur Boulevard Redevelopment
10:49 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Hy-Vee Breaks Ground, Open Set For Spring '14

GSCC Pres. Steward Sandstrom, Hy-Vee's Mary Fuhrman, Alds. Cory Jobe and Joe McMenamin move a bit of ceremonial earth
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield residents living near South MacArthur Boulevard could have a new grocery store in the neighborhood by this time next year.

Iowa-based chain Hy-Vee held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning in the parking lot of the old Kmart store and bowling alley just north of Outer Park Drive.

Hy-Vee Asst. VP of Operations Mary Fuhrman says her crews will start tearing down the vacant buildings immediately.  Fuhrman expects the store to open by late spring 2014.

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Black History
10:11 am
Thu June 13, 2013

“Juneteenth” Celebration In Springfield This Weekend

“Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.” – Wikimedia Commons

For two decades Springfielders have celebrated Juneteenth. It's a holiday commemorated in most states. It marks the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, which came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

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Jacksonville
9:33 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Remembering Jacksonville's Civil War Hero

Gen. Benjamin Grierson
Credit Wikipedia

Before Gen. Benjamin Grierson won acclaim for his tactical raid that helped the Union forces take Vicksburg.  But before then, he was a music teacher in Jacksonville.  This weekend, the community’s annual event to honor Grierson takes place.   Plenty of free events that tie history and entertainment together are part of Grierson Days.

Ron Gray coordinates the festival:

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Regional
11:12 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Lecture Series In Barry Begins This Week

New Philadelphia historic site
Credit newphiladelphiail.org

A series of public lectures in west central Illinois begins tomorrow night at the Kinderhook Lodge in Barry.  The series will discuss the Underground Railroad, Civil War military service, emancipation and safe havens, like the nearby historic town of New Philadelphia.

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Disaster Preparedness
12:06 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Springfield's New FEMA-Funded Emergency Text Alerts

The text alert program is run by a technology company out of Idaho, which has trademarked AlertSense and sells it the communication service to government entities around the country
Credit http://alertsense.com/Home/AlertSense

Residents in the Springfield area can now sign up to have alerts about severe weather and other emergencies sent right to their phone.

The city received a $10,000 grant to set up the new system.  The money comes through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which distributes federal funds to city and county governments for public safety programs and disaster preparedness tools.

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Severe Weather
1:01 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Downtown Hannibal, MO Cleans Up After Powerful Storm

Brick shops in Hannibal Historic District among those blown apart by high winds
Credit Dominic Genetti

Monday night's severe storms stopped the presses of the local newspaper in Hannibal, Missouri. A widespread power outage prevented the Hannibal Courier-Post from getting a print edition to readers.  Reporters there, including Dominic Genetti, used the internet and social media to provide news updates on damage caused by 90 mile-an-hour winds.   As Genetti told Peter Gray on Illinois Edition Tuesday, two funnel clouds were reportedly spotted just outside of town last night:

Full interview with Genetti on Hannibal, MO storm damage

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Springfield City Government
11:19 am
Wed May 8, 2013

City Leaders Respond To File Shredding Lawsuit

30 Springfield Police Dept. Internal Affairs records are said to have been expunged or destroyed
Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's gathering more information about events last month that triggered allegations that the city destroyed files sought in a Freedom of Information Act Request.

Attorneys for Springfield resident Calvin Christian say the police department violated a state public records retention law last month by destroying dozens of internal affairs files subject to a FOIA request filed by Christian.

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Crime
11:07 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Donations Still Sought For Manchester Murder Victims’ Family

Scene near the Manchester murder site

 The funerals for five people murdered last week in Manchester are over, but donations are still being sought to offset those costs.

The victims were five family members, including two small children. Services took place at the Mackey Daws Funeral Home in the town of Roodhouse. Justin Daws is the funeral director there. He says the burials also occurred this week – though payments have yet to be made. Daws says the area in west central Illinois is tight-knit and he will wait indefinitely for funds from the victim’s family to come in:

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