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Crime & Punishment
4:30 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Shirley Skinner, 78, Asks Governor To Commute Murder Sentence

From left: Penny Watkins, mother of victim Steven Watkins; Andrea Lyon, a DePaul University law professor representing Skinner; Debbie Webster, Skinner’s daughter; and Kenneth Skinner, Shirley’s husband of 61 years.
Brian Mackey/WUIS

An elderly woman convicted in a notorious murder case is asking the governor to let her out of prison. At a hearing on the matter Wednesday in Springfield, family and friends of the victim were uniformly opposed.

Shirley Skinner is just a few years into her 55-year sentence. A jury convicted her of murdering her granddaughter's estranged husband, Steven Watkins, shooting him in the back of the head. He had come to their house in Ashland to visit his daughter.

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Regional
5:02 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Archdiocese Of Chicago Apologizes To Abuse Victims

Credit wikipedia.org

The Archdiocese of Chicago is apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Bishop Francis Kane offered the apology during a news conference Wednesday to discuss church files on sex abuse cases that are being released.

The documents involve 30 former priests with substantiated abuse claims against them. The files are being handed over to attorneys for victims as part of a settlement.

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Statehouse
4:52 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Lawmakers Say "No" To Further Video Gaming Restrictions

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

A state legislative committee has rejected rules aimed at tightening who sells contracts for video gambling terminals and who can do business with Illinois.

But Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe  says he'll try again. He said Wednesday that he'll bring the issue back to the panel or to the General Assembly this year.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted unanimously Tuesday to deny rules that would also create a list of businesses and individuals Illinois won't work with. It's similar to what the state does with casinos.

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Regional
3:18 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

ADM Donates $50K For Farm And Food Exhibit At Springfield Kids Museum

Kidzeum of Health and Sciences

The non-profit group planning to build a new children’s museum along East Adams Street in downtown Springfield has received $50,000 from Archer Daniels Midland Company to install what museum organizers are calling a Farm to Market exhibit.

CLICK HERE to view the latest concept art for the Kidzeum of Health and Science (subject to change)

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Transportation
1:33 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Few Citations Issued For Violating New Cellphone Law

Credit npr

Illinois police departments say officers are using discretion about whether to cite drivers who are breaking the state's new ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.  

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports law enforcement agencies appear to be giving drivers latitude if they're caught violating the new law.  
The measure took effect Jan. 1.  

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

1,200 Immigrants Get Illinois Drivers Licenses

Credit wikimedia

Hundreds of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally now have Illinois driver's licenses.
 
The Illinois Secretary of State's office says more than 1,200 immigrants have
received licenses since December under a new state law.
 
Immigrants can currently take license tests at 14 locations across the state.
Secretary of States spokesman Dave Druker says 36 locations will offer license
tests by the end of the month.
 
The licenses are valid for three years and may be used only for driving. They

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History
12:45 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Author Brenda Wineapple Brings To Life An 'Ecstatic Nation'

We often think about the 1800's as a backward period,  an era of slavery and war.   But Brenda Wineapple wants you to take a different view.   She'll speak in Springfield this week.

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Local Bands
10:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Mulligan Munro Fuse American & Irish Folk

Mulligan Munro
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Mulligan Munro is a folk band consisting of Mark Butler, Maureen Douglas, Don Wright, and Mark Hudson. The group brings an eclectic set of influences to the table, resulting in a repertoire of pub-friendly songs that sound uniquely their own. Mulligan Munro recently joined WUIS in the Suggs Studio for this performance and interview: 

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Arts
9:30 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Millikin Choir Weekend Concert In Springfield

Credit Millikin University

The Millikin University Choir makes another appearance in Springfield this weekend.   The concert will take place Sunday January 19 at the Central Baptist Church at 501 S. Fourth Street. 

Under the direction of Dr. Brad Holmes, the nationally recognized choir travels across the country and has performed abroad. 

But central Illinois is home base.  

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Local Government
8:24 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Springfield Aldermen Question Email Change

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield aldermen raised questions last night regarding their city email accounts.  Alderman Cory Jobe says an email from a constituent was forwarded to him from the City Communications Director's account.   Nathan Mihelich holds that position. He says it's due to how the email program is set up.

“The way the computer works, it may list me as the administrator for the program.  And that's why you're seeing it like that.  But I'm not cc'd on any of those emails,” Mihelich said.

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Higher Ed
4:56 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Former U Of I Band Director Pleads Guilty To Theft

Robert Rumbelow
Credit news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

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Harvest Desk
12:28 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Specialty Crop Growers Concerned About Changing Regulatory Landscape

Longtime vegetable farmer and ISGA Chair Harry Alten, Jr.
Peter Gray/WUIS

With snow and ice still blanketing their fields and greenhouses, vegetable and fruit growers around the state met last week at their annual trade show in Springfield to share ideas for the spring.

Harvest Desk reporter Peter Gray spoke with Harry Alten, Jr. of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association about some of the concerns farmers have about government regulations, and what Illinoisans should know about the people who grow products they find at their area farmers market.

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Statehouse
10:14 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Counties Cleaning Up Voter Rolls

Credit wikimedia

State election regulators say more than a dozen Illinois counties have purged their voter registration rolls to remove the names of people who've died or moved away.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/19rHR6b ) 17 counties and the city of East St. Louis fixed problems on their lists of registered voters.  
County clerks are required to purge voter rolls every two years. But some counties say there isn't enough money in the budget to cover the sometimes costly review.

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Transportation
8:27 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Springfield Airport Makes Upgrades

Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport underwent $5.3 million in improvements last year.  

Springfield Airport Authority Chairman Frank Vala said Monday that the upgrades were necessary to maintain a ``safe, modern and user friendly facility for all airport users.''  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1eEgDsy) that the improvements included taxiways, roadways, safety fences and restrooms. The airport also added a solar-thermal collection system to reduce water-heating costs.  
The airport plans nearly $7.6 million in improvements for this year.

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Health Desk
8:18 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Than 61K Illinois Residents Pick Health Plans

Credit Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

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Religion
5:44 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Diocese: Allegation Against Former Jacksonville Priest "Credible"

Credit dio.org

An internal church investigation has determined an allegation of sex abuse against an Illinois priest is "credible."

30 years ago, Father Robert DeGrand  worked in a Jacksonville parish.  It was during that time he is alleged to have sexually abused a child.  The Springfield Diocese formed a panel to review the claim.    However, the details of the allegation have not been made public. 

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Higher Ed
4:57 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

U Of I Proposes Tuition Hike For Fall

President Robert Easter
Credit U of I

University of Illinois Trustees have been asked to increase tuition within the rate of inflation for next academic year.

At their meeting in Chicago next week, they’ll be asked to raise it by 1.7 % on the three campuses, the same increase approved for last fall.    A Trustees committee recommended the plan Monday. 

It would raise tuition for in-state students to about $12,000 at the Urbana-Champaign campus, nearly $10,600 in Chicago and around $9,400 in Springfield.  Only incoming students would pay the higher rates.

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Election 2014
10:47 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Third Party Hopeful In 13th District Congressional Race

Josh Dill
Credit Lincoln Liberty Party

A Springfield man wants to join the race for the 13th Congressional District.  Josh Dill wants to run as a third party candidate.  He's formed the Lincoln Liberty Party.  

The 30 year old, who works full time as a Wells Fargo loan officer, says he hears dissatisfaction among voters with both Democrats and Republicans.

"And everyone I talked to said they always vote for the lesser of two evils, for the most part.  What we wanted to do was give everybody an option to vote for someone they actually believed as opposed who was better out of the two," Dill says.

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December Enrollment Still Unknown
7:31 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Another Affordable Care Act Deadline This Week

It has been roughly two weeks since the first batch of consumers who signed up for the Affordable Care Act have been able to use their insurance. There's another deadline this week.

Consumers who signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act by Christmas saw their new benefits kick in Jan. 1.

There's no telling how many Illinois residents that is: the government hasn't released enrollment numbers for December. But insurers and so-called navigators, who are charged with helping people sign up, reported a last-minute rush.

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Harvest Desk
6:23 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Forget The Golf Course, Subdivisions Build Around Farms

The Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo., will include a working CSA farm, complete with historic barn, farm house and chicken coop.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

For decades, housing developments in the suburbs have come complete with golf courses, tennis courts, strip malls and swimming pools. But make way for the new subdivision amenity: the specialty farm.

A new model for suburban development is springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement. Farms, complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees, are serving as a way to entice potential buyers to settle in a new subdivision.

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Election 2014
5:03 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Minimum Wage Is A Campaign Issue

Credit flickr

Raising Illinois' minimum wage has emerged as the first significant campaign issue for candidates hoping to become Illinois' next governor. And it could take center stage throughout the year.  
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to raise the $8.25 hourly rate to at least $10 by year's end. But a coalition of business groups that worry raising the rate would kill jobs say they'll try to stop the efforts.

Next month there'll be an Illinois Manufacturer's Association forum where organizers say minimum wage will be a main topic.  

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Harvest Desk
4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Planting Less Corn In 2014

Falling corn prices and questions about ethanol demand could lead Illinois farmers to plant fewer acres of corn this year.  

Patrick Kirchhofer is manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. He tells the (Peoria) Journal Star that farmers are instead taking a closer look at soybeans this year. That's after several years of increasing corn production fueled by higher prices.  

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Regional
4:24 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Cold Weather Impacted Blood Supply

Health officials are putting out the word that supplies are running low after blood drives in Illinois were canceled because of this week's winter weather.  
At the Central Illinois Community Blood Center in Springfield, officials say there have been about 600 fewer donations.  
And in the St. Louis area, more than 30 different blood drives were canceled.  

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Harvest Desk
4:05 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Illinois Led Nation In Soybean Yields In 2013

2013 Soybean Yields (Bushels And Change From 2012)
USDA NASS

U.S. farmers harvested more corn in 2013 than in 2012, while the soybean harvest declined slightly, according to USDA reports released Friday. 

In 2013, Illinois farmers saw the best soybean yields in the nation, outpacing the soy heavyweight of Iowa. In 2013, the state of Illinois reported 49 bushels per acre, while Iowa farmers only got 45 bushels per acre out of their fields last year.

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State Week
1:30 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 10, 2014

This week's topics include how the debate over the state's minimum wage may affect the Republican candidates for Governor, and calls for a change of leadership at the state's Department of Corrections.

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Arts & Culture
11:57 am
Fri January 10, 2014

'Dumb Records' Is Latest Addition To Southtown Culture

blacksheepspringfield.com

A new record store is opening in Springfield this weekend. Making a profit off vinyl records may sound risky, but the four co-owners have a lot experience building a following in the punk music scene especially. Kevin Bradford recently joined us to talk about it. He owns Black Sheep Cafe, a music venue, and will be one of the co-owners of the record store at 1107 South Grand, called Dumb Records: 

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Statehouse
7:35 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Republican Candidate For Governor Kicked Off The Ballot

Republicans, including (from left) Tres. Dan Rutherford's running mate Steve Kim, Sen. Kirk Dillard and Sen. Bill Brady - both of whom are running for governor - stood in line to file their elections paperwork late last year.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Whether Governor Pat Quinn will have a primary opponent is still undecided. But there's one fewer candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

There's a way to win an election long before election day: get your opponent knocked off the ballot -- challenging their paperwork for not meeting the rules.

That helped clear the way for Barack Obama when he was trying to begin his political career in the Illinois Senate.

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Regional
3:39 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Federal Aid Denied To Tornado Damaged Counties

Credit Peoria Public Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a request for aid to local governments in Illinois after deadly tornadoes swept the state in November.  

FEMA sent a letter on Thursday to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency saying that damage after the storms wasn't severe enough to warrant federal help. The storms left at least 7 people dead statewide and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.  

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Statehouse
1:06 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Professor Says Publicly Funded Campaigns Are Better for Voters

UIS Political Scientist Michael Miller
Credit courtesy of Michael Miller

An expert on campaign finance says his studies show that government funding of state level races is better for voters and candidates.  Michael Miller of the University of Illinois Springfield makes the case in his new book "Subsidizing Democracy: How Public Funding Changes Elections And How It Can Work In The Future". He spoke with Bill Wheelhouse:

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Let's Talk Kids
12:44 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Fill Up to Give Away

You’ve probably had this experience.

Your day is too full already with too many places to be.  As you race from one point to the next, you glance down at your fuel gauge and discover you’re running on fumes.

What to do?  If you stop to fill your gas tank it will make you later than you are already.  But the alternative is worse.

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