Illinois to Missouri border.

Pay To Get Lost: Corn Mazes A Popular Fall Activity

Oct 24, 2013

The fall is a time when farmers prepare to harvest the year's crop. Half a year's worth of preparation, planting and waiting all comes down to the moment when they bring in their paycheck. But there are several farmers and business people who have a different idea in mind:


Encouraging investment in Springfield's downtown is a key part of what the Sustainable Design Assessment Team hopes to accomplish.  

At the downtown farmer's market this Saturday, visitors can see display designs created by several architects.  They offer their vision of what downtown properties could become, with a focus on residential opportunities.

You might not know it, but Springfield is home to a cultural center specializing in Africa. Run by a man known for his permanent smile, Roosevelt Pratt has unrelenting enthusiasm for his mission - to teach those in the Springfield-area about different aspects of African culture - from food, to language, to music... and more. But his path to Springfield was not an easy one, and he still struggles to do what he loves most, educate: 

Dr. Dohner Fan Page/Facebook

Dr. Russell Dohner of Rushville is among the latest inductees to the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior Hall of Fame

The 88-year-old physician has treated patients in west central Illinois since 1955.  He still makes house calls, patient rounds at the local hospital and nursing home, and is known to charge patients only $5.00 for the entire cost of visits. Dohner served as the 2013 Illinois State Fair Parade Grand Marshal.

From the Dept. on Aging: 

Smelly Flower In Bloom In St. Louis

Oct 18, 2013
Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden says its rare corpse flower is blooming.  
Garden officials say the flower began blooming Thursday evening and will continue into Friday. In the first 24 hours, the plant gives off a rotten smell.  
The bloom will last for about a day and a half but the foul odor mostly diminishes after the first 24 hours. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall and can be up to 3 feet wide.  
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the rare plants don't bloom every year. They store energy in a huge underground stem and can take up to a decade to bloom.  


The State Journal-Register's Tim Landis talks with Peter Gray about the state's latest work to prepare rail lines near Springfield for higher speed trains, new renderings for residential re-development and progress for retail on the south end of town.

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R.


Longtime residents of the Springfield area will recall the Concordia Theological Seminary.  For about 100 years, it taught those who would become leaders of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  The seminary moved to Indiana in 1975.  

Today, the Department of Corrections uses the buildings for training.  The site also housed what was once known as Illinois State University, during Abraham Lincoln's time.

A study determined that six Illinois nuclear power plants logged hundreds of safety violations from 2000 through 2012, most of them considered low-level.  
The Government Accounting Office report, based on Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures, shows the number safety violations at nuclear plants across the country vary dramatically from region to region.  
Illinois plants, with 11 reactors, had 1,118 violations, 17 of them considered high-level. By contrast, there were 1,885 mostly low-level violations in the Southeast region, home to 33 reactors.  

Illinois has agreed to pay more for in-state Amtrak trains. The deal prevents a shutdown of rail service that could have happened as early as next week.

Illinois is the second-to-last state to reach an agreement with Amtrak.

The deal was necessary because of a federal law that requires states to pay more if they want to keep shorter-distance rail lines.

Some states, like California, will pay millions of extra dollars.

Is it worth it to leave one state for another due to taxes?  The National Center for Policy Analysis, a non partisan public policy research group, developed a way to help you determine the answer.  It's an online state  tax calculator.   Pam Villareal is a senior fellow for the Center. She spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

Want to try out the calculator?  Find it here.


Along the plaza across from the Old State Capitol, in a former Osco store, you can find a tribute to the men and women who fought in Korea more than 60 years ago.

But the Korean War National Museum does more than simply honor veterans.  It attempts to educate visitors about the causes of the conflict.  Operating on donations, the museum shows videos and displays items that shows what life was like at that time for those too young to remember the war.

Shutdown Shuts Out Hunters, Fishermen

Oct 4, 2013

Hunters in southern Illinois are officially shut out of tens of thousands of acres of federal lands thanks to a partial shutdown of the federal government.  
Fishermen looking to troll Rend Lake for crappies found closed campsites managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week. The closures are a setback to the region. Southern Illinois has economic challenges and the area's recreation helps local businesses.  

The Today Show

A Jacksonville native will have a cameo performance on one of the hottest television shows in the country: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'. She's 4 years old, has dark hair, and her name is Smokey. Smokey the black lab is a resident of the Jacksonville fire house, where she helps out by assisting fire-safety classes for children. She won a national contest that had people vote for the country's best fire-house dog. Todd Warrick who works for the fire department and trains Smokey recently told us all about it:  

New figures released this week by State Farm say Illinois drivers are less likely to hit a deer in the next year.  The insurance company says drivers in the state have a 1 in 214 chance of hitting a deer in the next 12 months. That compares with a 1 in 162 chance last
year. Nationwide, the figure is 1 in 174.
Bloomington-based State Farm says Illinois drivers made 39,000 claims last year
for accidents involving deer. Nationwide, there were 1.2 million claims, down
about 3.5 percent.

Police in Urbana say a University of Illinois student has been killed in her apartment a few blocks north of the campus.

Lt. Bryant Seraphin tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette that officers were called shortly after 11 a.m. to the apartment complex. The university police issued alerts to students and faculty, but the campus was not locked down.

Seraphin says the victim's roommate was in the apartment during the killing and had been bound. He says she broke free and ran into the building's courtyard where she met officers.

Plan To Keep Asian Carp Out Of Lake Decatur

Sep 26, 2013

The latest round of work on the Lake Decatur dam is underway and will include a barrier aimed at keeping invasive Asian carp at bay.  
The $4 million project is set to be finished by fall 2014.  
The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports ( ) the first phase of the project was completed in 2011.  
The latest round of work includes fixing concrete and repairing erosion damage. Meanwhile, crews will also remove a failed tailwater dam, which was built more than a century ago.  
Keith Alexander is director of water management in Decatur.  

Harris Bros. Trials Cost Nearly $1M

Sep 26, 2013
Logan County

The trials of two brothers charged in the 2009 deaths of a Logan County family cost the public roughly $935,000.  

The Bloomington Pantagraph reports the state initially paid defense bills for both Christopher and Jason Harris from the Capital Litigation Trust Fund - more than $500,ooo.

But expenses started going to Logan County taxpayers when the death penalty was abolished in March 2011.

ATV Riders Will Begin Paying Registration Fee

Sep 25, 2013

Owners of all-terrain vehicles in Illinois will be paying a bit more for having the off-road conveyance.

City Of Dixon To Recover Some Losses

Sep 25, 2013
Mike Moen/Northern Public Radio

The city of Dixon will recoup about $40 million of the $53 million in public money stolen by former comptroller Rita Crundwell.  
Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said Wednesday that the city has settled a lawsuit with auditors and a bank in connection with Crundwell's thefts. Crundwell is serving nearly 20 years in federal prison. Authorities say she stole the money over more than 20 years, spending it on a lavish lifestyle and horse-breeding operation.

Over 1,000 classic cars will be on display in Springfield this weekend. It's time again for the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival - on its 12th year. We recently spoke with the president of the festival, Kim Rosendahl about it. She tells us the event is about more than just cars, it's about the lifestyle the iconic highway represents:  

CLICK HERE for more about the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival which kicks off in Springfield this weekend with a city night cruise on Friday.

Gun Trainers Waiting For Concealed Carry Curriculum

Sep 25, 2013
Susan Stephens/WNIJ

There are now 54 concealed carry instructors approved by the Illinois State Police. Anyone who wants to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon has to put in sixteen hours in the classroom and shooting range with an official instructor.


Dillinger's Death Mask Going On Display In Springfield

Sep 24, 2013

A plaster mask cast from the face of gangster John Dillinger after his death is going on display in Springfield.  
The Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation museum in Springfield will display the mask from Thursday to Saturday, and has extended its visitor hours this weekend.  
They say the mask is one of four cast from the face of the Prohibition-era gangster.  

City of Springfield

Mike Houston says the court system doesn't appreciate when cases are "tried in public", and Springfield's mayor suggests "unethical" leaks of sworn testimony to the media are doing that by "coloring the situation".

The situation is the ongoing lawsuit filed by local newspaper columnist Calvin Christian, which claims the city destroyed dozens of documents he was seeking through the Freedom of Information Act.

Springfield Diocese

A priest who formerly served at a Jacksonville church is under investigation for sexual misconduct.   The Springfield Diocese issued a statement saying the Reverend Robert "Bud" DeGrand has temporarily withdrawn from the ministry.   He most recently was involved with parishes in east central Illinois in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville.

D.L. Dennis set out to write a book about a century old chapter in his family's history as well as the history of one west central Illinois town.  The Witwer Files follows his grandfather's time as marshal in the Greene County community of Hillview.  In 1915, Witwer shot and a killed a man and was brought up on charges of murder.  He was eventually acquitted.  

Jacksonville's Ken "Jawbreaker" Norton Dies At 70

Sep 19, 2013

Former heavyweight champion and Jacksonville native Ken Norton has died at the age of 70 following a series of strokes.

A friend of the Norton family tells the Associated Press the ex-boxer from central Illinois passed away Wednesday in a care facility near Las Vegas. 

Here's more from the State Journal-Register, which tapped into its archive as it remembered the boxer:

It was 50 years ago this month that a young George Harrison, a virtual unknown, traveled from Great Britain to the United States.  He was coming to visit his sister, Louise, who had moved with her husband to the southern Illinois town of Benton.  

George spent a couple of weeks in that area.  He bought a classic guitar, later used on Beatles' recordings.  He also did a radio interview and camped out in the Shawnee National Forest.  

Village of Chatham

Chatham's mayor stands behind the village's choice to stop buying water from Springfield's public utility.

Along with New Berlin, Chatham is a customer of the South Sangamon Water Commission, established so the villages could avoid rate hikes from City, Water, Light and Power.

Services are set for a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who prosecutors allege was stabbed to death by her uncle.
Authorities say Willow Long was killed late Saturday or early Sunday near her home in Watson, an Effingham County village 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Prosecutors have charged 22-year-old Justin DeRyke with three counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say he told investigators he killed his niece to end her suffering after she accidentally fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick.

Springfield Diocese

A priest found handcuffed in a church rectory in Springfield last year is returning to the ministry.  The Springfield Diocese issued a statement today saying Father Thomas Donovan will serve as a chaplain to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton.