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Education
3:05 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Bitter Cold Could Mean More Time Off For School Kids

Credit flickr

School administrators in Illinois say they're closely monitoring the forecast to decide whether to cancel or delay classes because of bone-chilling weather that's expected to hit the state.   The cold is coming as many students are preparing to return to school following holiday break.

The National Weather Service says air temperatures below zero will be accompanied by dangerous wind chills Monday and Tuesday.  

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State Week
1:26 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 3, 2014

This week's topics include the state's system for accepting Concealed-Carry applications, the many lawsuits filed against the recent law changing the state's pension system, and a look back at some top stories from 2013.

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Health Desk
6:24 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Springfield Hospital Acquiring Passavant In Jacksonville

Passavant Hospital, Jacksonville
Credit Passavant Area Hospital

Jacksonville's Passavant Area Hospital is going to become part of Memorial Health System.   It will become the fourth hospital to go under the Memorial umbrella.   A joint news release says the two organizations have signed an affiliation agreement.  It still needs regulatory approval.

Passavant is a 93 bed hospital with about 900  full and part time workers.
Memorial's three hospitals have more than 500 beds. It employs more than 5,700.

Along with Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, the  System also has hospitals in Lincoln and Taylorville.

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Regional
6:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Wolves Could Be Slowly Moving Back Into Illinois

Credit fws.gov

A modest but perceptible uptick in the number of wolves roaming in from Wisconsin has forced Illinois to begin considering the possibility that permanent wolf populations could take hold.  

Illinois' wolves were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. But since a first confirmed sighting in 2002, wolf sightings have gone from rare to regular. There have been at least five the last three years.  
Nearly all are thought to have come from Wisconsin, which has more than 800 wolves.  

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Statehouse
2:23 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Law Limits Use Of Disabled Parking Placards

A state law taking effect yesterday limits the use of free on-street parking by the disabled.  
Now, only motorists whose impairments prevent them from being able to pay a meter can park for free in those spots.  

Before, anyone with a disability parking placard could do so.  
Now, motorists will have to get statements from doctors affirming they cannot feed parking meters, for example, because they use wheelchairs or cannot walk more than 20 feet.  

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Statehouse
2:10 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

State Retirees Sue Over Pension Law

A group of retired state employees has filed a lawsuit challenging a new Illinois plan to eliminate the state's $100 billion public pension shortfall.  

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Lincoln
10:58 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Attendance Up At Lincoln Presidential Museum

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

Officials at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
and Museum say attendance was up more than 7 percent in 2013, thanks in part to the popularity of Steven Spielberg's film ``Lincoln.''
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/Km7rhf ) nearly 314,000 people visited the museum through November. That's about 10,000 more visitors than in all of 2012. Attendance is on pace to be the highest since 2010.
 
In 2009 _ the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth _ more than 600,000 people
visited the Springfield museum.
 

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Statehouse
10:55 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Justices Get Campaign Money From Groups Involved In Pension Battle

Credit flickr/RandyvonLiski

A published report says groups with ties to the pension-reform law adopted last month have contributed close to $3 million to Illinois Supreme Court justices who might decide its fate.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1aqJQ5n ) that six of seven justices have taken money in the past 13 years from labor unions, business groups and a political committee controlled by Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.  
Retired teachers have sued to stop the pension-reform plan that cuts retiree benefits to reduce a $100 billion debt.  

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Judges' Qualifications Questionned
6:29 am
Thu January 2, 2014

New Tax Appeals Tribunal Open For Business

Credit Illinois Department of Revenue

An Illinois Independent Tax Tribunal years in the making is up-and-running today. It gives businesses and individuals who have problems with their tax bills a new avenue to get them overturned. Still there are early concerns over who Gov. Pat Quinn has nominated to serve as the tribunal's Chief Administrative Law Judge.

Say a business doesn't agree with how much the state Department of Revenue says it owes in sales taxes. Before, it had two options: fight the tax bill in court (though that costs time and money) or plead the case to the Department of Revenue.

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Regional
6:39 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Thousands Of Tornado Victims Apply For Federal Help

Credit wikimedia commons

Illinois officials say more than 2,000 people in counties declared federal disaster areas after tornadoes struck in November applied for federal assistance.  
Gov. Pat Quinn visited the central Illinois community of Washington on Tuesday.
 
His office says more than $1.6 million in federal grants and more than $5.6 million in low-interest loans have been approved.  
Washington was hit hard by one of the roughly two dozen tornadoes that struck on Nov. 17. Seven people died and thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed.  

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Statehouse
5:36 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Pension Costs High, But Slowing

The amount Illinois must pay to keep pace with its pension systems should grow less than 2 percent next year but still total nearly $7 billion.  

A state actuary's report that Auditor General William Holland released Tuesday says taxpayers must pay $6.86 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That's up about $100 million from this fiscal year.  
Lawmakers adopted a reform plan in early December for the five pension systems to cut a $100 billion debt. But it doesn't take effect until June 1 and has been challenged in court.  

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Year In Sound
2:43 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Voices In The News 2013

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

As we get ready to welcome 2014, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect on some of the voices in the news this past year in Illinois state politics and government. People in the Capitol were busy with same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, and dozens of other issues. What follows are a few of the more memorable moments.

Gov. Pat Quinn: “This is no small issue. This is a choice about whether we will make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget by reforming our public pension systems."

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Education
1:44 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

John Wood Community College To Get Worker Training Money

Credit John Wood Community College

Two Illinois colleges will share in a $29 million federal grant to retrain unemployed workers for high-skill jobs in transportation, distribution and logistics.  
Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey will lead a consortium of nine colleges in eight Mississippi River states with the goal of placing people in jobs and boosting economic development.  

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Driving Conversation
11:53 am
Tue December 31, 2013

'Siri, Tell Me About The Hands-Free Law'

Bluetooth headsets are among the ways one will be permitted to talk and drive beginning in 2014. Holding a phone, however, will be banned under Illinois law.
Credit Flickr user DeclanTM (Creative Commons)

Jan. 1 brings a new Illinois law that limits talking on the phone while driving. It's often been referred to as "cell phone ban." But it's actually a bit more nuanced.

The law starts out by saying you cannot drive while using an electronic device such as a phone or laptop. But it's not that cut-and-dry. For example, you can place a call if it only requires pressing one button.

SIRI: *ding*
MACKEY: Siri, can you make a call for me?
SIRI: "With whom would you like to speak?"
MACKEY: How about Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond?

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Need for Speed
11:36 am
Tue December 31, 2013

70 mph New Year's Day? Not So Fast ...

This Illinois Department of Transportation map shows where the speed limit increases to 70 mph as of Jan. 1, 2014.
Credit IDOT

Beginning Jan. 1, the maximum speed limit in Illinois will increase to 70 miles an hour. But you might want to hold off on the throttle for at least a few weeks.

While the new 70 mph law technically goes into effect at midnight on New Year's Day, it's going to take the Illinois Department of Transportation a little while to get all the new speed limit signs put up. Until then, IDOT spokeswoman Paris Earvin says, "We really encourage motorists to obey the posted speed limits."

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Regional
3:21 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Police Concerned About Concealed Carry

Credit flickr/creative commons

Illinoisans can start applying for permits to carry concealed guns later this week.  And some cops are already worried about the new law.

"They don’t know how this will all roll out, and they’re worried about every one of their normal encounters - whether it be a domestic disturbance call, a traffic stop - uh, now potentially having additional weapons," said Colonel Marc Maton of the Illinois State Police.

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Statehouse
2:09 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

State Spending To Be Part Of Tax Returns

Credit Illinois Department of Revenue

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says Illinois residents will get a breakdown of state spending in income tax returns received in 2014. 

Topinka announced the initiative on Monday. She says her office will also make the information available online.   In a statement, Topinka says there shouldn't be a mystery when it comes to public dollars in the state.  

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Regional
9:53 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Higher Speed Limits in Illinois in 2014

A map of 70 MPH speed limits.   Drivers in the Springfield area will still have a speed limit of 65 mph around the city.    The lower speed limit affects motorists from the south side of the city to the northwest side of Springfield.

Politics
5:45 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Audio Of Blagojevich Appeals Hearing Now Available

Credit WUIS file photo

The sometimes contentious and surprising audio from the appeal hearing of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is now online.

Attorneys spent an hour arguing Blagojevich’s appeal on December 13th.  Leonard Goodman told judges that Blagojevich never intended to commit fraud, he thought he was engaging in political horse trading.

That led Judge Frank Easterbrook to repeatedly ask Blagojevich’s attorney about a case called  Cheek.

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State Week
12:37 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Listen To State Week - December 27, 2013

This week, an overview of some of the top stories from the past year.

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Lincoln
5:16 am
Fri December 27, 2013

"Lincoln" Movie Exhibit Opens Next Month

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Costumes, furniture and other props used in Steven Spielberg's 2012 film ``Lincoln'' will go on display in Springfield next month.  

The items will be featured in an exhibit that opens Jan. 17 at Union Station, across the street from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the exhibition is called: ``Lincoln: History to Hollywood.''  

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Business
5:13 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Suit Filed In Chicago Over Target Security Breach

Credit flickr

At least one Illinois resident has joined those suing Target after the retail giant disclosed hackers stole millions of customer accounts.  

Chicago-area woman Chandra McPherson is the named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Chicago. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states.  

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Arts
2:14 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Illinois Poet Laureate Puts Own Stamp On Job

Kevin Stein

Kevin Stein has a daunting task: following two Pulitzer Prize winners as the poet laureate of Illinois.  

Ten years into the job, the Bradley University professor is putting his own signature on the unpaid position that's considered crucial to widening appreciation for the art form. He's created a state poetry website and donates his own money to buy poetry books for libraries across the state. He also offers advice to young poets.  

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Business
9:10 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Quad Cities Vying For Boeing Plant

A Boeing plant in Everett, WA

Northwestern Illinois officials want to team up with their Iowa counterparts to woo a Boeing plant that could bring more than 8,500 jobs to the Quad Cities.  

The (Moline) Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1c7choJ ) the Bi-State Regional Commission sent a letter to the two states' governors asking them to promote a regional bid for the multibillion dollar assembly plant.  
The letter was signed by community leaders in Moline, Rock Island, East Moline and Rock Island County in Illinois along with Iowa officials from Davenport, Bettendorf and Scott County.  

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Statehouse
6:16 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Quinn Won't Commit To Term Limits

Credit wikimedia

Gov. Pat Quinn is a longtime advocate for term limits, but has yet to commit to one himself.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in a year-end interview that he won't presume a win in his 2014 re-election bid and is taking it one term at a time.  

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Statehouse
6:03 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Governor Quinn Grants More Clemency Requests

Thirty-eight people have been granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn for crimes that date back decades.  
The Democratic governor announced yesterday that he also denied another 129 petitions for clemency.  
Crimes committed by those who were pardoned include theft, possession of a controlled substance, burglary and forgery, and solicitation of prostitutes.  

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Regional
5:57 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Amusement Ride Malfunction Injures Seven

Credit flickr

Seven people were treated and released from a northern Illinois hospital after receiving minor injuries when an indoor amusement park ride malfunctioned.   Joseph Hook is acting general manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort in Utica.  

He says the people _ a mix of children and adults _ reported aches and pains on Christmas Eve after an unspecified malfunction of a tea cup ride in the hotel's indoor amusement park.  
The amusement park that's about 80 miles southwest of Chicago has about 10 rides.  

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Apollo 8
8:27 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Astronaut Recreates Christmas Eve Broadcast in Chicago

The crew of Apollo 8 captured "Earthrise" on Christmas Eve 1968.
Credit NASA

Retired astronaut Jim Lovell was in Chicago Monday to recreate Apollo 8's famous Christmas Eve broadcast from 1968. The original transmission came at the end of a tumultuous year.

With a seemingly intractable war in Vietnam, riots in American cities, and the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy — things were not looking up at Christmas 1968. It was against this backdrop that we heard from the three men aboard the first manned flight to the moon.

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Regional
4:27 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

A "Windup" Toy Story

Dean Rockwell
Rich Egger/WIUM

Dean Rockwell of Macomb has a pretty good idea what he will receive for one of his Christmas gifts each year.

“The first year I was married, my wife Jan bought me a Santa Claus windup toy. The reindeer looks like a moose pulling the sleigh,” Rockwell said with a chuckle.

“And I just enjoyed it so very much -- it was kind of like a throwback to my childhood. She got all enthused and has been buying me windup toys ever since.”

Dean and Jan Rockwell have been married for more than 40 years so his windup toys have grown into a fairly sizeable collection.

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Regional
2:30 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Sangamon Co. Sheriff's Office To Help With Concealed Carry Applications

Credit flickr

A central Illinois sheriff is offering to help residents apply online for concealed-carry firearms permits.  
The Sangamon County sheriff's office said Monday that, beginning Jan. 6, residents can use a computer in the department's records lobby. The department also will provide technical assistance. 

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