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Farmer's Markets
4:13 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

'Green Saturday' Promotes Farmer's Markets

You've probably heard of Black Friday - but what about "Green Saturday"? No? Well that's a day the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and genHkids, non-profits aimed at promoting agriculture, nutrition and the buy-local movement, have recently come up with. And this Saturday marks the kick-off - with the group urging Illinois residents to support the state's farmers by purchasing their produce.

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Harvest Desk
12:15 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

UPDATE: Sharing Sunshine State Citrus With Illinois Families In Need

UPDATE (Nov. 8)

The following is from the Central Illinois Foodbank:

The Springfield Rotary Club is working toward a goal of 2,000 pounds of citrus to be donated to Central Illinois Foodbank. The club currently is about half way to their goal and hopes the community will help them double their current total.

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Fall Festivities
12:12 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Pay To Get Lost: Corn Mazes A Popular Fall Activity

Aerial view of corn maze
Credit http://www.bomkespatch.com/

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:

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Regional
11:06 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Creating A Vision Of Downtown Springfield

This design shows a vision for what is known as the Kerasotes Building at Washington and South Sixth Street.
Credit SDAT

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.

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Veto Session
10:12 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Museums Lose Bid To Cut Free Days

Field Museum visitors are greeted by Sue, said to be the world's most complete skeleton of a T. rex.
Credit Paul Hudson via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Many Illinois museums will continue to have to offer 52 free days a year. That's after the Illinois House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have cut that number in half.

The museum proposal is one of the few actual vetoes lawmakers had to deal with during their veto session.

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Gambling
9:53 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Renewed Push For Casinos, But Regulators Still Worry About Chicago

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday heard from supporters and opponents of allowing more casinos in Illinois. But they're no closer to making a deal.

Gambling was a big issue earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart in May, at the end of the spring legislative session. Since then, attention has moved to other issues, like the state's underfunded pension systems.

On the table are five new casinos — in Chicago and its north and south suburbs, in Rockford, and in Danville. The plan would also allow slot machines at horse racetracks.

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Veto Session
7:08 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Legislators Skip Town Early

  Illinois legislators were supposed to meet this week for three days as part of the fall veto session; instead they left Springfield after only two.

Little was accomplished during that time. Despite competing rallies, the Illinois House did not vote on legalizing same-sex marriage, whether state agencies, including the state police, will receive additional money remains unsettled, and there was no action on Illinois' pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation.

It can give the impression that legislators are not doing their jobs.

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African Culture
7:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Roosevelt Pratt Brings African Culture To Springfield With Music, Language & More

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: 

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Regional
6:59 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Rushville's Dr. Dohner Joins IDOA Hall Of Fame

Credit 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: 

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:27 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Rallying Cry For Marriage: One Man, One Woman

LInda Jernigan of Richton Park (a suburb of Chicago) says she used to be a lesbian, but God saved her; she says marriage for same-sex couples is not a civil right.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A day after supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the Illinois Capitol, opponents had their turn. Thousands gathered at the statehouse Wednesday, Oct. 23, urging the Illinois House to uphold traditional marriage.

The event started with a prayer led by Monsignor Carl Kemme, of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

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District 186
4:28 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Superintendent Search Draws Feedback From Springfield Community

Scott McFarland
Credit sps186.org

A search firm hired by district 186 to help in the hunt for a new Springfield public schools superintendent recently shared its findings after turning to parents, teachers, and the community at large for feedback. Board member Scott McFarland joins us to discuss some of the findings, and talk about the profile of qualities being sought after in a superintendent candidate: 

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Harvest Desk
11:41 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Expected Bumper Crop Has Corn Prices Dropping

Farmers have been riding a wave of high corn prices in recent years, but an expected bumper crop has corn prices dropping.
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a clear fall day in central Iowa, Aaron Lehman climbed into the cab of his green combine with a screwdriver to do some maintenance. He was hoping his corn had a couple more weeks to grow before harvesting because the price per bushel this fall is much lower than it has been for the past three years.

Corn farmers have been riding high prices for the last few years. But an expected bumper crop has prices falling this harvest season, and many economists expect the price of corn to drop to its lowest level in recent years.

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Education
9:15 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Interview With Education Coalition of Macon County

Data shows only 40% of 3rd grade students in Macon County are reading at grade level.  That same percentage applies to those in 11th grade.  1 of every 4 students also fails to graduate high school.  

The alarming statistics are similar to what many areas are facing.  The Education Coalition of Macon County is an initiative reviewing the problem and tying to find solutions.   That includes taking different approaches to what has become the standard for education.

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Pensions And Pay
6:13 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Turning The Tables: Legislator Files To Cut Quinn's Budget

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, says "the chief executive has attacked the legislature, which shows how dysfunctional we are. If they haven't done their job, then they shouldn't get the full appropriation that we did, and I suggest that that appropriation be cut."
Credit ILGA.gov

  Several months after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislators' salaries from the state budget -- one lawmaker wants to turn the tables on him.

Gov. Quinn says lawmakers shouldn't be paid until they overhaul the state's pensions. A judge rejected that move and the governor's appeal is still pending before the state Supreme Court, so lawmakers are getting their paychecks.

Nevertheless, legislators are still offended by Quinn's "attack," as Rep. David Harris, R - Arlington Heights, describes it.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Veto Session So Far: Nothing Happening

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield Tuesday for their fall veto session. Guns, gay marriage and corporate tax breaks are on the agenda. But nothing is moving yet.

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage are rallying in the Capitol this week, but the sponsor of marriage legislation won't say when or if he'll call it for a vote.

Meanwhile, OfficeMax and Archer Daniels Midland are among the companies seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep their corporate headquarters in Illinois, but those proposals are still being negotiated.

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Same-Sex Marriage
5:40 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Politics, Romance, Practicality and Religion Mix in Marriage Debate

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Back on Valentine's Day, the state Senate approved legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to get married in Illinois. The hope then was that Illinois would become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.  Eight months later, it still hasn't happened.

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Statehouse
5:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Springfield Bishop Bars Same Sex Marriage Supporters From Cathedral

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki sent this memo out earlier in the day Tuesday, prior to the march and rally in support of same sex marriage at the statehouse:

The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to “have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality.” They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m. just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for “marriage equality.”

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Same Sex Marriage
3:59 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

March For Marriage, But No Vote Certain

Supporters of same sex marriage huddled under umbrellas as they cheered on musicians and politicians at a rally in front of the capitol Tuesday.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Rain didn't stop advocates for same-sex marriage, who rallied under umbrellas by the hundreds in front of the Illinois Capitol Tuesday, Oct. 22. A measure to legalize same-sex marriage passed the state Senate earlier this year, but has stalled in the Illinois House.

There were two types of headliners:

-musicians, like Marcus Terrell, of "America's Got Talent" fame, who sang a "song about true love" ("and as we all know here today true love in any form is just natural," he said).

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Statehouse
3:20 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

ADM Incentives Vote On Hold

Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion)
Credit housedem.state.il.us

The sponsor of a bill to give Archer Daniels Midland Company up to $24 million in tax breaks to keep its headquarters in Illinois opted not to call it for a vote Tuesday.  

The House Revenue and Finance Committee had been scheduled to consider the bill. But Rep. John Bradley, a Democrat from Marion, took it off the agenda.  

Bradley says the incentives for ADM and several other companies ``are all under consideration.'' He declines to say when or if the bill will get a vote.  

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Statehouse
3:17 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Gov. Quinn: Pension Problem Is "Extreme Emergency"

Gov. Pat Quinn is disputing a fellow top Democrat's statements that Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall isn't a crisis.  

Senate President John Cullerton has said that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can keep the state's income taxes down.  

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District 186
12:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Parents Urge186 Board To Pose Property Tax Referendum

A group of parents who have students in Springfield public schools took their push for a property tax increase before the District 186 board last night. They’re pursuing the issue - despite the fact the school board vice president recently proposed the idea of a 1% county-wide sales tax increase. Supporters of the property tax idea say it would benefit the general education fund while the sales tax hike, by law, would be used for building needs.

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Shutdown Fallout
5:46 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Furloughed Workers Must Repay Unemployment

Credit WBEZ

Illinois is continuing to deal with the effects of the federal government shutdown. The state agency that handles unemployment says hundreds of laid-off federal workers have to pay back their benefits.

During the shutdown, the Illinois Department of Employment Security had a significant spike in calls from laid off federal workers. A few thousand applied for benefits, and 577 ultimately collected money.

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Statehouse
5:29 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Both Sides In Same Sex Marriage Debate Gathering In Springfield

Credit flickr/geodesic

Opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage are gearing up for another push in the Illinois Legislature. 

Supporters are planning a march and rally in Springfield on Tuesday, the first day of the Legislature's fall session. Gov. Pat Quinn and other lawmakers who support legislation legalizing same-sex marriage are expected to participate.  

Opponents have scheduled a prayer rally at the Capitol on Wednesday. A group of African American clergy who oppose the measure also recorded radio ads in which they urge listeners to call lawmakers and tell them to vote no.  

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Veto Session 2013
7:50 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Preview: Fall Veto Session

Advocates pass out fliers promoting it during the Pride Parade in Chicago over the summer; despite an intense campaign to legalize same sex marriage in Illinois, the legislation's sponsor remains tight-lipped about whether he has the 60 votes needed for it to pass in the House.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

For the first time since a brief special session in July,legislators will begin making their way en masse to Springfield this week, for the fall veto session. The agenda before them is relatively light. The General Assembly will likely debate some budget matters. And there's a hearing on a new type of health care coverage for retired state employees. Amanda Vinicky previews what else is ahead.

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Riverton Elementary
7:00 am
Mon October 21, 2013

No Art Classes For Riverton Elementary - Parents Hope To Provide Alternative

Chanell Bradbury

 Riverton Elementary School is going without art classes for students this year due to cuts in it the district's budget. But there's still hope students may have another option for a creative outlet. Chanell Bradbury's daughter is a student at the Elementary, when she found out that the art classes were being cut to save money, she was disappointed: "I was really, really mad at first. How can an elementary school - of all schools ... how could they drop an art class? These children, their brains, they're just so like sponges."

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Statehouse
4:51 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Mike Lawrence Says '95 Pension Law Could Have Worked

Mike Lawrence
Credit news.siu.edu

Mike Lawrence spent years as a journalist covering state government and politics before eventually working as the Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
In between,  he served as press secretary and senior policy advisor to former Governor Jim Edgar.

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Day Sponsorship
12:00 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Michael and Allyn Armour celebrating their wedding anniversary.

Support comes from day sponsors Michael and Allyn Armour celebrating their wedding anniversary, an anniversary day shared with their daughter and son-in-law, Dana and Jake.

Higher Education
7:58 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Bradley Univ. To Again Have Mascot

Credit Bradley University

Bradley University has a new mascot for the first time in more than 20 years.  
The Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/16gYekk) the school said in a news release Friday that it has chosen the gargoyle as its new mascot. The Peoria school will keep the nickname ``Braves.'' School officials have said Bradley stopped using a mascot at some point before 1990 as pressure to drop American Indian mascots increased.  

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Regional
8:56 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Smelly Flower In Bloom In St. Louis

Credit 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.  

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Statehouse
3:27 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Amazon Tax'

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday struck down the so-called "Amazon tax." The decision could pave the way for businesses to make more money online.

The law was intended to force Internet retailers to collect Illinois sales tax.

Even if such companies didn't have an office or physical store here, they might have had Illinois "affiliates." That would be a website that linked to a product on, say, Amazon.com, and got a small kickback for every sale.

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