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Brunch
6:35 am
Mon September 16, 2013

In Some Illinois Prisons, Two Meals A Day

Credit flickr/meeshpants

More and more prisoners in Illinois are being served brunch, eating two meals a day instead of three. Prison officials say it's actually better for many inmates.

Feeding prisoners is a lot of work — not only cooking and cleaning up, but moving inmates from cells or dorms over to the mess hall.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says at some prisons, breakfast is served at 4 a.m., which means moving inmates in the dark.

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Higher Ed
4:00 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Debt Is Crushing College Students

Credit Illinois Times

It costs more to go to college these days.  And the way many afford it is to take out loans.  Paying that money back can be more difficult that most realize. The average college student leaves school with more than $26,000 of debt and a growing number are defaulting on their loans. 

Zach Baliva wrote the cover story on the topic in the current edition of the Illinois Times.  He is also hoping to make a documentary film about student debt.

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Capitol Renovations
3:26 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Architect: Quinn's Comments Are "Out Of Line"

Capitol architect Richard Alsop leads a meeting Friday of the board that oversees him; the governor's criticisms were not discussed reporters asked Alsop about it after the meeting adjourned.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The architect of the Illinois Capitol is swinging back at Governor Pat Quinn's accusations that he's responsible for controversial purchases, like $670-thousand dollar copper doors for the Statehouse.

Construction crews spent years renovating the state Capitol's west wing, but its unveiling has been tarnished by reports of what the rehab included, like doors that are as expensive as a large home and chandeliers that rang up to $320,000.

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Health Desk
3:14 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Logan County Man Dies From West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is spread through mosquitoes.
Credit flickr/vibrant spirit

State public health officials say an elderly central Illinois man is the first person in Illinois to die of West Nile virus this season.  
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the death Friday. They say the Logan County man was in his 80s and died in mid-August. The Macon County Health Department says a private lab confirmed the death. The state health department says it is confirming the results.  
So far this season West Nile virus has been reported in 57 Illinois counties. The first human case was reported Aug. 21 in McHenry County.  

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Statehouse
1:37 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 13, 2013

This week's topics include Democratic Party choices for endorsement of a Governor candidate, Secretary of State Jesse White announces he'll seek re-election, and the controversy over Capitol Building renovations continues.

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Election 2014
10:40 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Topinka To Run Again For Comptroller

Judy Baar Topinka

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she's hitting the road to announce her candidacy for re-election.  Topinka put out a schedule Thursday detailing stops across Illinois. Her trip starts Sunday in Chicago and ends Tuesday in Marion in southern Illinois. In between she'll make stops in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Quincy, Springfield, Edwardsville and Mount Vernon.  
Topinka says in the announcement that she's running for re-election ``to fight against the ill-advised spending and reckless borrowing that has decimated state finances.'' 

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Higher Ed
10:34 am
Fri September 13, 2013

SIU To Begin Search For New President

President Glenn Poshard
Credit siualumni.org

The Southern Illinois University system's governing board has signed off on forming an advisory committee to help search for a replacement for the university's retirement-bound president.  
The SIU board of trustees also voted Thursday to authorize its executive committee to hire an outside search firm in the quest to find a successor to Glenn Poshard.  
Poshard announced in July that he plans to retire June 30 of next year, even though his contract expires in 2015.  

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Statehouse
10:26 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Oversight Board Members Defend State Capitol Renovation Expenses

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Members of a board overseeing renovations to the state Capitol are defending decisions to include ornate features that have raised eyebrows.

The four-person board says the inclusion of copper-plated doors and chandeliers was "a mere fraction of the work being done.'' They say the $50 million renovation was mostly about safety and followed all budget and procedural requirements. 

Three sets of copper doors each cost $223,000 and the chandeliers cost $80,000.  Gov. Pat Quinn has halted funding for future renovations until a review of the expenditures. 

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Regional
7:54 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Funeral Monday For 7-Yr. Old Girl Believed Stabbed By Uncle

Willow Long
Credit https://www.facebook.com/searchofwillow

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.
 

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Election 2014
12:47 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Quinn Seeks Party Endorsement; Daley Says It's Too Early

Gov. Pat Quinn says the state Democratic Party ought to support its incumbent governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Democratic Party of Illinois says it'll meet later this month to consider slating statewide candidates in next year's election. But at least one of those candidates thinks its a bad idea.

It's been rare for the state Democratic Party to get involved in recent primary elections. That makes the announcement of the meeting something of a surprise.

Democratic Party chairman Mike Madigan — you may also know him as speaker of the Illinois House — says the meeting will give the candidates an opportunity to "convey the strengths they bring to the ticket."

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Higher Education
4:45 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

UIS And Other Schools See Larger Freshman Classes

Credit uis.edu

Many of Illinois' public universities are welcoming larger freshmen classes to their campuses this fall.  
Experts warn not to read too much into the increases. But many of the schools say higher numbers could mean that everything from the University of Illinois' strong science and math programs to efforts working to draw more students to smaller schools such as Eastern Illinois University.  
Blair Lord is provost at EIU. The Charleston school's freshman enrollment went up for the first time in four years to 1,254.  

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Religion
3:36 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Handcuffed Priest Returning To Ministry

Father Thomas Donovan
Credit 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.  

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Higher Education
3:02 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

U Of I President Gets Pay Raise

President Robert Easter
Credit University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is giving President Bob Easter a $90,000 bonus and a pay raise.  
University trustees approved the bonus and raise for Easter at their regular board meeting Thursday in Urbana.  
The bonus is part of a new incentive-based compensation plan for Easter. The bonus was based on the three-campus university system reaching set goals for cost reduction, enrollment and other factors under Easter.  
Easter's base pay will increase 2.75 percent to $462,375. Most university employees are getting 2.75 percent raises.  

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Education
11:31 am
Thu September 12, 2013

District 186 Launches Online Survey For Superintendent Search

Residents of Springfield can provide input online as District 186 continues a search for its next leader.

School Exec Connect, the firm hired to help with the superintendent search,  has set up a web-based survey which asks about leadership qualities and goals that are a priority for the community.

School board member Scott McFarland says the survey is an opportunity to get feedback from those who weren't able to attend community meetings this summer. 

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Concealed Carry
11:03 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Gun Conviction, Keeps Ban For Minors

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois' old law banning the concealed carry of firearms took another hit Thursday. A federal court already found it unconstitutional last year. Now the Illinois Supreme Court has taken the same position.

Alberto Aguilar was 17 when Chicago police arrested him for having a loaded handgun with the serial number scratched off.

He was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and sentenced to 24 months probation.

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Arts
8:14 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Science On Stage: A Local Theatre Producer's Love Of Physics

Al Scheider portrays Richard Feynman in QED: A Play, now at the Hoogland Center for the Arts
Credit Dynamic Patterns Theatre/Donna Lounsberry

Matthew Dearing says theatregoers don't need to study Quantum Electrodynamics in order to enjoy a show about the man behind the theory.

Dearing is directing QED: A Play, which stars Decatur actor Al Scheider as theoretical physicist Richard Feynman.  Feynman helped develop the atomic bomb.  He also gained notoriety in the 1980s as a member of the panel that investigated NASA after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

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Illinois Supreme Court
7:00 am
Thu September 12, 2013

In Quest For Lower Taxes, How Far Is Too Far?

The Illinois Supreme Court bench is seen in this file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in case that asks whether the Hartney Fuel Oil Company went too far in trying to secure a lower tax rate for its product.

Harney sells gas to big transportation companies — railroads, trucking firms, that sort of thing.

Until 2008, you could have been forgiven for thinking Hartney was based in Forest View, in Cook County. After all, the company had a building there where all of its employees worked.

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Nation/World
6:58 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Putin, Syria And... The Power Of The Pen?

Russian president Vladimir Putin
Credit wikipedia.org

Russian president Vladimir Putin this week makes a rare appearance on page 31 of the New York Times.  

In his Thursday morning op-ed (click here to read), Putin makes an appeal to the U.S. to be "cautious" in the coming weeks as Congress considers military action against Syria.

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Sports
6:09 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Men’s Roller Derby In Springfield Plays First Home Bout This Weekend

Michael D’Amaro (L) & Paul Elders chat during a roller derby practice

Roller derby is a contact sport on wheels known for its brutality, but also its inclusivity. Anyone willing to strap on a pair of skates and protective gear is invited to join the area teams. Rachel Otwell visited with a men’s team, Springfield’s Capital City Hooligans, as they prepared for their first official bout in May.  This Sunday, the Hooligans play their first official home bout at Skate Land South. 

We thought it was a good time to re-visit our feature story:

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Health Desk
5:46 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Illinois Still Waiting On Key Obamacare Approval

Credit flickr/r.nial.bradshaw

The price of insurance policies that will be offered under the federal health care overhaul remain a mystery, even to state officials.

Oct. 1 will be a big day across the country for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. It's the launch date for insurance marketplaces, the Affordable Care Act's term for where people without insurance will be able to shop for coverage.

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Regional
3:45 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Quincy Hotel Demolished After Fire

Credit Landmarks Illinois

Crews have finished demolishing an historic hotel in Quincy that was gutted by fire.  
Demolition of the Newcomb Hotel has ended and The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/1b6yb0e) streets in Quincy should reopen Wednesday. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze that broke out late Friday. The hotel first opened in 1888 but has been empty for years.  
The city plans to put up a 6-foot fence around the building to keep people away from the debris. Removal of debris isn't expected to start for more than a month. The city must solicit bids for cleanup.  

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Harvest Desk
1:50 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

U.S. Corn Exports On The Rebound

Corn thrives along a road in central Illinois in mid-August 2013.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Last summer’s drought knocked the nation’s corn exports to the mat.  And while U.S. farmers may be getting up from that punch, it may take them longer to regain their footing in international markets.  

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Statehouse
9:22 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Urbana State Rep Not Seeking Another Term

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana)
Credit www.ilga.gov

A long-time state representative from Urbana says she won't run for a 7th term in office.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports Rep. Naomi Jakobsson made her announcement Tuesday evening in an email to supporters.

The Democrat says the decision to not seek re-election wasn't easy, but says it's been an "honor'' to serve the community.

The 71-year-old was first elected in 2002.

Her campaign manager, Michael Richards, sent an email to supporters after Jakobsson's announcement. He says he'll run for her seat. 

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Regional
9:19 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Young Philanthropists Are Giving Back

Micah Roderick (left) and Stacy Reed in the WUIS studios
Credit Sean Crawford/WUIS

You don't have to be old to give to worthy causes.  In fact, there is a group in the area known as the Young Philanthropists, which provides grants for various needs in the community.  All you have to be is over 21 years old and you can join simply by giving 125-dollars a year.  

Micah Roderick, on the Steering Committee of the Young Philanthropists, and Stacy Reed, Vice President of Programs with the Community Foundation for the Land Of Lincoln, spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

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Capitol Renovations
8:31 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Daley: Pulling Capitol Rehab Funding Too Little, Too Late

Illinois’ capitol was designed in the late 1800s. Critics are upset about the money spent restoring the statehouse to what architect J. Richard Alsop III calls its “period of historic significance,” with fixtures like this statue of a maiden – which cost approximately $40,000.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The Governor says he's put a hold on future renovations of Illinois' Statehouse, a move his challenger calls too little, too late.

The fuss over how much money the state has spent redoing the west wing of the Illinois Capitol continues to brew. Some of the $50 million dollar project was done to fix ventilation issues and bring the building up to fire code, but $323,000 paid for gargantuan chandeliers created to look like antiques, and nearly $700,000 was spent on a set of copper doors.

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Statehouse
5:45 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Quinn Halts Funding For Statehouse Renovation

A new exit sign hangs in the west wing of the statehouse.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended funding for future renovations at the Capitol, a pricey project that's already caused embarrassment for financially-shaky Illinois and raised questions about how it was allowed.  
The Chicago Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he's instructed his budget director to hold up appropriations for renovations that are yet to be done.  

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Arts
5:12 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Plan For Ebert Statue Unveiled

A model of the proposed statue.
Credit Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Filmgoers attend Roger Ebert’s 16th annual film festival in Champaign next spring, they’ll be able to pose with the famous Urbana native.

A fundraiser campaign aims to build a life-size sculpture of Ebert, and unveil it as part of the festival in late April, outside the Virginia Theatre.  The bronze tribute to the late Urbana native and longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic places him in the middle of three theater seats, giving the trademark ‘thumbs up.’

About 125-thousand dollars is needed to build the sculpture.   

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Harvest Desk
3:11 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Horse Slaughter Divides Horse Lovers

At the Hilltop Saddle Club’s annual rodeo in Kansas City, Kan., most members of the group said they oppose horse slaughter.
Credit Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Most Americans don’t eat horse meat, and they don’t like the idea of horses being slaughtered, but a handful of investors are struggling to restart a horse slaughter industry in the United States.

The investors argue that reviving horse slaughter plants would be both good for the horse business and more humane than the current situation. They’re hoping to open a new horse slaughter plant near Gallatin, Mo., but opposition has the project mired in the legal system. The issue cleaves horse owners into two camps: one that views horses as pets and another that see them as livestock.

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Education
12:33 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

LLCC Foundation Launches $2.5M Endowment Fund Campaign

LLCC Foundation Director Karen Sanders
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

The Lincoln Land Community College Foundation has launched a $2.5 million fundraising campaign following an increase of requests from students needing support for costs associated with college.

Any interest the endowment fund generates will go toward scholarships for students and other campus priorities.

LLCC Foundation Director Karen Sanders says she wants the campaign to reach its goal by the 50 year anniversary of the college, May 2017.

(CLICK HERE to learn more about the campaign)

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Higher Education
11:45 am
Tue September 10, 2013

UIS Sees Slight Increase In Fall Enrollment

Credit UIS

Fall 2013 enrollment at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois is up by nearly 100 students compared to the previous fall semester. According to the official fall census, the total number of students enrolled at UIS after the first 10 days of classes is 5,137. This marks the fourth year enrollment has topped 5,000 students. Last fall’s enrollment was 5,048.

Overall, the number of freshmen students attending UIS jumped by 20% this semester. That makes it the largest freshman class in UIS history.

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