Christian County officials say they may need a new jail to replace an aging facility that's often overcrowded and has a bad roof and leaking pipes. The jail in Taylorville was built in 1975 and was originally designed to hold about two dozen inmates. It's since been updated, but some weekends has as many as 60 inmates. When it's that crowded, some inmates have to sleep on the floor on mats. Sheriff Bruce Kettlekamp says the prison is ``busting at the seams.''
The federal government has awarded a $14.4 million grant for a railroad underpass in Springfield that will improve service along the emerging 110-mph Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis. Four members of Congress from Illinois announced the award Friday. The Carpenter Street underpass is part of work to consolidate rail traffic on a line east of downtown. It will eliminate three street-level crossings, improving the safety of faster rail service through the state capital. It will also keep first responders from getting stuck at crossings.
Mark McDonald estimates he has done 900 episodes of "Illinois Stories". McDonald travels throughout the area to bring interesting people to the screen on public television stations WSEC/WQEC/WMEC. A veteran TV journalist, his conversational style allows viewers to learn about places and individuals who might live right down the street.
When it comes to the beer business, craft offerings and microbreweries are becoming more popular.
The Springfield area is starting to catch up with the national trend.
Rachel Otwell went behind the scenes of local beer-making operations to get "tapped in" to what's happening there: (For more on Springfield's history of brewing, you can find an extended interview at the bottom of this page)
How did the craft beer movement find its way to town?
Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. And Decatur has the highest in the state.
Caterpillar announced hundreds of layoffs this summer and that is now showing up in the jobless rate. Decatur's rate has gone up to 13.2 percent, 2 full percentage points above where it was a year ago. And it's also at the highest level it's been this time of year in about three decades.
Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade. The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month. That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.
Bradley University has revealed former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and congressman Ray LaHood's new role at the school's Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service.
Bradley announced Wednesday that LaHood has been named an honorary senior distinguished fellow at the institute. In that role he's expected to be a guest lecturer for Bradley students and be part of public policy events on campus.
Regulators have signed off on a new transmission line that'd cut through central Illinois. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/15024Oj ) the Illinois Commerce Commission approved all but 30 miles of Ameren's Illinois Rivers Project during a meeting Tuesday. The $1 billion, 380-mile transmission line would run through 19 counties, traveling from Quincy to the Indiana border. It'd affect about 8,400 landowners.
The issue of video gaming machines has created a divide in the town of Auburn.
Mayor Barb Stamer cast a tie breaking vote against gambling earlier this year. Now, she's changed her mind. (UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Tuesday) The matter came up at Monday's Auburn City Council meeting and Stamer cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.
Towns small and large have had to decide whether or not allowing the machines is worth the cut the communities will receive from gamblers.
Stamer spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford on Illinois Edition:
Lee Somerstein is a writer and blogger traveling the country and collecting stories about how people have been impacted by the recession. He recently made a stop in Springfield and joined us in studio to talk about his findings here and in the other places he has visited:
CLICK HERE to see Somerstein's blog, where you can read about his travels and the stories he's collected so far about the recession.
Southern Illinois is home to Civil War artifacts and historical sites that many people don't know about, and archeologists say there's potential for even more exploration and excavation to be done. Mark Wagner heads the Center for Archeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He's speaking tonight at 7pm at the Illinois State Museum about his findings, we recently caught up with him:
Organizers of the Illinois State Fair say they're not changing security procedures after vandals threw paint on a butter cow at the state fair in Iowa. Jeff Squibb is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He tells The Pantagraph (http://bit.ly/1cB7iD1 ) that a refrigerated case holding the butter bovine is locked all the time in the fair's Dairy Building, while a webcam streams live images of the sculpture.
It's been a challenging year so far for the Springfield Park District. It faced a backlash earlier this year after it was discovered the former executive director had created his own policy for paying out vacation and sick time without Park Board's consent. And the fiscal situation is on lean times according to park board president, Leslie Sgro. She recently joined WUIS for this interview:
Authorities say a onetime chief of staff to the former head of the Illinois Department of Public Health took $433,000 in kickbacks for steering grant and contract money to certain groups. An indictment released Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Springfield says Quinshaunta R. Golden faces one count of bribery and theft involving federal funds. The accusations largely relate to the time Golden was chief of staff to Eric E. Whitaker in the 2000s.
Chief Judge Dan Flannell says he submitted an application to the Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday. The state's high court has the final say on whether the circuit will be included in the pilot program that was approved about 18 months ago.
The 2013 Illinois State Fair in Springfield runs August 8th through the 18th.
Peter Gray joined Rachel Otwell on Illinois Edition with a few highlights of the fair this year, including the grandstand's new VIP section for fans who want to avoid long lines but want to be as close to the stage as possible:
After August 4th, commuters in Springfield may want to avoid Chatham Road between Iles and Wabash. A small bridge there is scheduled to be replaced, a project which could take months. The Office of Public Works issued the following statement Friday:
"The City of Springfield Office of Public Works has announced that Chatham Road bridge construction will start Monday, August 5th between Iles Avenue and Jerome Avenue.
The Central Illinois Foodbank is moving into what once was the Pepsi plant on Cook Street in Springfield. The non-profit hosts an open house tomorrow for the public to tour the new facility. Kaleigh Friend joins us now to tell us more about the move and what it means for the organization:
The Central Illinois Foodbank's open house is tomorrow (Thursday, July 25th) from 4:30 to 7 at its new location: 1937 East Cook Street. CLICK HERE for more information.
On the 13-hundred block of Adams street in Springfield sits a building that's been used as a Masonic lodge for decades. What's not obvious by looking at it now - is that it was once the first black firehouse in Springfield, back when the city was segregated in the early nineteen-hundreds.
Wednesday is the last day individuals affected by extreme flooding in the spring can apply for federal assistance. Towns were evacuated. Homes destroyed. Fields turned to swamps. Rivers reached historic crests. Flooding that hit Illinois this spring was bad enough that President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for certain counties. Now is the deadline for Illinois residents impacted by flash and river flooding from April 16 to May 5 to get government help with recovery. Individual assistance - which businesses can also apply for - is available to residents of 35 counties. That's to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses. Five additional counties are eligible for public assistance - that's for the state, local governments and certain non-profit groups, who can use the money to help with debris removal and to help repair damaged public facilities. The application is at disasterassistance.gov.