Illinois to Missouri border.

Operation Kidsafe

Mark Bott had the idea for Operation Kidsafe 11 years ago.  Since then, more than 1 million children have participated.

The program is free.  It allows kids to be photographed and fingerprinted and lets parents obtain other safety information.  The parents are handed a document that can be updated.   No personal information is given and there is no databasing.

"So you will always have a document that's ready to hand to law enforcement," Bott said.  Of course, no one wants to ever see the information needed.

City of Springfield

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston is defending the city’s decision to renew a contract for CWLP insurance, despite criticisms over the lack of a bidding process.

The 3 year contract with R.W. Troxell to insure the city owned utility will cost around $1.8 million per year.  Mayor Houston, during an interview on WUIS’ Illinois Edition, said the local firm has been doing business with the city for 30 years with a solid track record.

Mother Jones Museum

An Illinois monument to famed labor crusader Mother Jones in the graveyard where she's buried is getting a makeover, thanks to donors from 17 states.  

The (Alton) Telegraph  reports the restoration of the 22-foot granite obelisk was announced Tuesday in the union-owned Mount Olive cemetery where Mary Harris Jones is buried.  

A symbolic check for $61,000 was presented during the ceremony, representing donations ranging in size from $5 to $5,000 from 107 union organizations.

One Springfield Alderman called the two zoning changes approved for halfway homes in Springfield during last night's council meeting as "picking and choosing."

Zoning classifications for halfway houses were called into question last fall when a man living in one, known as House of the Rainbow, was arrested for murder.  After that, the council refused to go along with zoning for that operation.   

Yet last night, changes were allowed for properties on East Jackson and South 11th.  


The Sangamon County Fair gets underway Wednesday night.  This year, the fair is featuring several well known acts as well as queen pageant and demolition derby.  Lee Strubinger sat down with coordinator Elizabeth McDevitt, who says this year the fair spent more on entertainment than any other year.

For more information about this year's festival, including festival line-up and prices, click here.

Decatur Park District

The Scovill Zoo in Decatur is getting nearly a half-million dollars in state grants to build a walk-through bird exhibit.   The money is part of a state grant program that will give out $20 million dollars in capital funds for facility improvements and added exhibits at museums operated by local governments and cities.

Scovill is also getting the funding for a crowned-crane exhibit, pavilion, ADA walkway and a generator.

Major attractions receiving money include the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium.

Black Sheep Cafe

The second ever Dumb Fest gets underway this afternoon at 3 p.m.  Forty bands will grace multiple stages on both Friday and Saturday.  
The festival is a part of the ever changing Southtown scene in Springfield, located at 11th and South Grand Avenue.  Lee Strubinger made his way to Dumb Records to sit down and talk with festival curator Brian Galecki.

Pike County has a new state's attorney to replace the former top prosecutor who accused the county sheriff of misconduct.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports  that the Pike County Board held a special meeting Thursday night to accept former Pike County State's Attorney Carrie Boyd's resignation. Board members also named Matt Goetten as her replacement to serve through Nov. 30. That's when voters will elect someone to serve the remaining two years of Boyd's term.  

City of Springfield

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says silence from the council about reaffirming the NAPA contract signals permission to choose how to handle the $3,000,000 deal. 

He’s moving forward with it.

Springfield City Council had the chance to send a message to the mayor, but remained silent during the committee of the whole meeting on the issue.

After the meeting, Ward One Alderman Frank Edwards said because the city didn’t seek out bids from other companies, the NAPA contract puts the city in a bind.

Three area residents are among more than two dozen Illinois residents who have been charged with health care fraud stemming from federal investigations.

Federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against 29 people who allegedly abused a health care program funded by Medicaid. 

The program pays for personal assistants to help Medicaid recipients stay in their homes.   The Feds says the defendants allegedly submitted false claims for hours worked when they had other full time jobs, were in jail or the client was hospitalized.

Springfield officials are considering adding a position that will take a closer look at misbehavior in city government.

The description of the investigator general job is still pretty vague, but the city has hired a consultant to outline how it will work.   City council members pointed to incidents such as the police file shredding scandal to show the need for the post.  

SOHO Facebook

SOHO music festival will take place in downtown Springfield this weekend.  It's the tenth year for the festival.  Lee Strubinger sat down with Eric Welch, the executive director of SOHO music festival.  Charity is the main caveat for SOHO.  And Welch says the theme this year is "bigger."

Here's a link to SOHO information and here's the line-up.

When you hear about sex trafficking, often times what comes to mind is international smuggling of women. That may be happening, but there is also a problem of local teenagers getting used in sex trafficking within Illinois.

"Our Children Are Not For Sale" is the name of an awareness campaign to make people aware of what could be happening to homeless and runaway youth.   Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Stacy Sloan, Human Trafficking program manager at the Department of Children and Family Services.  She sheds some light on the issue.

Amanda Vinicky

An effort to create a national park at former town site in western Illinois remains stalled in the US Senate.  Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican, is part of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers seeking the designation for New Philadelphia.

That site in Pike County marks the first town in the country founded by an African American.  Frank McWorter was a freed slave who created the community in 18-36.
Schock says creating a national park would allow more people to know the story of McWorter.  He says it work in tandem with Lincoln attractions in Springfield.

Pike County

The Pike County State's Attorney abruptly resigned yesterday, prior to a hearing regarding criminal charges against the Pike County Sheriff.

Media reports say that State's Attorney Carrie Boyd left a voice mail for the Pike County Board Chairman resigning. Boyd reportedly cited family and personal issues.

She had filed the charges against Sheriff Paul Petty.   Petty is charged with felony misconduct for allegedly ordering a body to be embalmed before a toxicology test could be performed in a 2012 heroin death.

A special prosecutor will be named for the case.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Friday is the first day same-sex couples can get their marriage licenses in Sangamon County.  County Clerk Joe Aeillo says he decided to issue licenses ahead of a new law to accommodate ceremonies taking place this weekend.

Tom and Davyd Daly of Springfield were the first and only couple waiting in line to get their marriage license when the doors at the county clerk’s office opened at 8:30 this morning.  They’ve been together for more than 20 years, and have been in a civil union since 2011.

Jens Jensen's work continues on more than 60 years after his death.  The influential  landscape architect is remembered as a conservationist.  His vision is on display at Lincoln Memorial Garden in Springfield, which he designed.  

On Wednesday June 4, a screening of the film "Jens Jensen: The Living Green" will take place at UIS in Brookens Auditorium at 7 p.m.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Pike County calls itself the "pork capital of the world." However, in an area so tied to farming, it might be a bit surprising that a local school district has cut its agriculture education program.  I graduated from high school there five years ago, and went back to report on how districts are struggling to pay for activities not tied to the core curriculum.

Same sex couples in Sangamon County will be able to get their marriage licenses early.

Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello says his office will begin issuing marriage licenses on Friday in order to accommodate ceremonies taking place this weekend.  He says the office will be open during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
However, Aiello says a couple's marriage won't be legally valid until the date the same-sex marriage law goes into effect, this Sunday.

Pike County

The Pike County sheriff has pleaded not guilty to a felony misconduct charge after prosecutors say he botched the 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty's attorney filed a motion Monday to dismiss the case or appoint a special state's attorney.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The political boundaries for Springfield aldermen have been set.  The city council approved a new ward map last night on a 9-1 vote.  It will take into account census data.  The map design also was done to ensure an African American represents Ward 2.

Springfield attorney and Ward 5 alderman Sam Cahnman has received a censure from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The move follows a recommendation the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission made last year.  The Commission says Cahnman intentionally misled an Associate Circuit Judge about how he gained possession of a page from the judge's private calendar.  Cahnman has denied that charge.    

James Grogan is with the Commission.  He says Illinois' high court issues a censure when there has been a violation of the lawyer's ethics code.

Creative Commons

The Pike County sheriff is facing a felony misconduct charge for a 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.  

Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty is also the county's coroner. He was charged after prosecutors say he didn't follow procedures for embalming the body of 47-year-old Shanda Lopez.  

Two other men were charged in connection with Lopez's death, including one who's accused of drug-induced homicide.

Authorities say Petty didn't draw blood for a toxicology screening before Lopez's body was embalmed.  

City of Springfield

The state says there's no evidence of the intergovernmental agreement that Springfield officials relied on as the legal basis for the NAPA contract approved last month.

Last week, city attorneys asked the state to find proof of a state agreement with a national purchasing agency.  Earlier this month, some aldermen questioned the contract used to procure the 3 year, $3 million contract with NAPA Auto Parts.

The city got their answer today, a letter that indicates no trace of the agreement.

Tejvan Pettinger/flickr

The Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission wants you to leave the car at home next week.  Instead, think about biking, walking, running or using the bus.  

Curb Your Car Week begins Monday and several business are offering incentives. There is also a group ride from Washington Park on Wednesday morning, May 21.  A night ride that goes through downtown is on Saturday May 24.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Despite the rain Tuesday morning, customers arrived in droves to the unveiling of the the new Springfield Hy-Vee supermarket along MacArthur boulevard. 

The city offered special tax incentives in hopes of spurring growth along MacArthur.

Springfield Alderman Cory Jobe was president of the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association when the idea to bring Hy-Vee about came around.  He says the building brings life to the core of the city.

Earlier this month,  the Springfield Police Department promoted two sergeants to the rank of lieutenant.  One has already retired, able to earn a higher pension because of the promotion.

Under state law, retiring police officers are allowed to collect pension benefits based on rank for their last day of employment.

Springfield Alderman Joe McMenamin says a lieutenant retiring at a rank he never served is quote 'offensive.' He says the public doesn't appreciate a "revolving door of promotions right before retirement.”


Macon County's fair will not be held this year. It's the first break in almost 160 years and organizers say finances are the cause.

Fair Board Treasurer Teresa Wilson said Wednesday during an Illinois Department of Agriculture hearing that the fair will not be held this year. Instead the board plans a smaller-scale Macon County Fairgrounds Festival to try to generate revenue. The hearing was held to determine if the fair can be reimbursed by the state for prizes.

Those applying for video gaming licenses in the city will have deal with new parameters set up by the Springfield council.

Aldermen approved a measure that requires establishments with video gaming have to earn a least 60 percent of their revenue from food and beverage sales. 

Ward 6 alderman Cory Jobe says he’s hopeful no additional ordinances regulating video gaming will be needed.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Springfield has seen a recent spike in gun violence.  City and County officials are calling for a cease fire.

The Springfield Police Chief says there have been 20 shooting incidents since the beginning of March.  He says it has even involved local teenagers. 

Since summer break is approaching, the city says it’s developing a strategy for handling the violence.

Though no specifics on the strategy were given, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says the city will come down hard on those taking part in gun crimes.