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Education
1:43 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Sangamon Co. Regional Superintendent Jeff Vose Interview

Sangamon County Regional Superintendent Jeff Vose
Credit roe51.org

Regional Offices of Education have often been an overlooked area of government.  But the elected positions have unwillingly been in the spotlight over the last couple of years when Governor Pat Quinn tried to eliminate them.  A compromise with the legislature resulted in a consolidation of the offices that is underway now.  44 offices are required to drop down to 35.   In Sangamon County, an agreement was reached this month to merge with Menard County starting in 2015.

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13th Dist. Primary
10:30 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Rep. Davis Asks Supporter To Step Down

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R - IL 13th Dist.)

 

Central Illinois Republican congressman Rodney Davis is asking a campaign official to step down from his party position after writing what's been called a racist email about Davis' primary challenger. 

Montgomery County GOP Chairman Jim Allen wrote an email suggesting Erika Harold could fill a "minority quota'' if she lost the Republican primary. The bi-racial Harvard law school graduate was crowned Miss America in 2003 and launched her campaign bid this month. 

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Harvest Desk
2:03 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Harvest Desk: Studying Effects Of Ag Runoff

One of the U.S. Geological Survey teams collecting water samples and checking cages for fish eggs in Missouri this summer: biologist Diana Papoulias, chemist Dave Alvarez, hydrologist Peter Van Metre, biologist Diane Nicks and environmental toxicologist Don Tillitt.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Midwest waterways are getting lots of attention this summer. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency have immersed themselves in the ecology of 100 streams from Ohio to Nebraska. It’s a first-of-its kind effort to understand how ag runoff is not just changing the water but affecting the critters that live there. Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson joined a crew on a rainy day while they gathered water samples and searched for fish eggs on three streams in central Missouri.

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Pensions
8:33 am
Wed June 19, 2013

University Presidents Rally Behind Exclusive Pension Plan

U. of I. President Robert Easter, second from left, testifies at the Statehouse in May.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The presidents of Illinois' public universities are rallying behind a plan intended to bolster the pension system for their employees. The proposal was the subject of a state Senate hearing Tuesday in Springfield. But its future is far from certain.

One by one, university presidents told senators why they believe something must be done about pensions. University of Illinois president Robert Easter says his schools are at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting top faculty.

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Pensions
7:32 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Special Session's Special Move: Creating a Conference Committee

House Speaker Mike Madigan has a front row seat Tuesday during a House committee on pensions, as the General Assembly's poised to form the first conference committee in years.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Members of Illinois' General Assembly return to the capitol Wednesday for a special session on pensions, where they're expected to pass off the problem to a yet another legislative committee. 

                      

    

What to do about Illinois' $100 billion pension debt has confounded legislators for years.

The most recent barrier: the House and Senate -- as well as the chambers' respective leaders -- are fixated on different plans.  So they've agreed to a new approach they're putting in motion Wednesday.

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UIS Speaker
6:25 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Thomas Jefferson And The Monticello Gardens

Peter Hatch

Thomas Jefferson was more than a founding father.  He was an avid gardener.  We’ve learned more about Jefferson’s passion for gardening thanks to Peter Hatch and the various books he has written.

Hatch is the retired Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s Monticello.  He’ll speak on the UIS campus Thursday night.  He also talked with WUIS’ Sean Crawford about Jefferson’s gardens….

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District 186
2:34 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Technology In The Classroom Pt. I: Interest In Computer Science Increases

Indigo Lacy shows off her final project in computer programming class at SHS

  While most high schools teach an assortment of foreign languages: Spanish, French, German – other types of languages are finding their way into classrooms. Like Java. Never heard of it? It’s basically a language computers speak. At one time, this area was something few kids found interesting. But in the era of video games and smart phones, technology is part of the average students’ everyday life. In the first of a two-part series looking at teaching tech, we look at how District 186 is getting the next generation of programmers ready:

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District 186
11:29 am
Tue June 18, 2013

186 School Brd. Discusses Residency Requirement – Reappoints Leming

The Springfield school board continues to discuss a rule on the books that requires administrators to live within district 186 boundaries. Vice president Adam Lopez has adopted the cause, saying the policy should either be enforced, or removed from regulations. It’s his wish to enforce it. But board member Donna Moore questioned the need for the policy:

MOORE: Can I ask a question … I know we have this policy… but what purpose does it serve? Is this policy helping us to achieve the goals that we’re trying to achieve in the school district? Or does it hamper it?”

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Quinn: Will Create Jobs
3:07 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Fracking Regulations Become Law

Illinois' fracking regulations divided the environmental community; while those like the Illinois Environmental Council signed on as proponents of the new law, others - like these activists - remain opposed.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law what's touted as the nation's toughest regulations on "fracking."  

 

High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a controversial process used to reach oil and natural gas deep underground.

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Guns and transparancy
7:41 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Concealed Carry Permit Board Not Subject To FOIA, Open Meetings

Josh Sharp, Government Relations Director for the Illinois Press Association
Credit courtesy of the Illinois Press Association

Governor Pat Quinn says he's reviewing a measure that would lift Illinois' long-standing concealed carry ban. It took legislators months to reach a compromise, and still gun control and gun rights activists both say they're not happy.   Other critics say they're upset about a lack of government transparency.

The concealed carry legislation approved late last month creates a seven-member board to review applications from people who want to be able to carry a gun in public.

Under the measure, that board would be exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Act.

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Harvest Desk
6:16 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Agriculture Pushes For "Right To Farm"

Hog farmer Bob Young had to overcome lawsuits from his neighbors before building his confinement facility near Rochester. Says Young: “There are a few (city people) that come out here and think we got to change everything so we can make it city living. And that won’t work.”
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Individual state constitutions across the nation spell out a host of guaranteed rights for their citizens. For example, same sex marriage or collective bargaining. But what about the right to farm?  From the WUIS Harvest Desk,  Bill Wheelhouse reports on a drive to establish that guarantee:

The way hog farmer Bob Young sees it, city people just don’t understand farmers.

“There are a few that come out here and think we got to change everything so we can make it city living,” he said. “And that won’t work.”

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Higher Education
5:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Republicans Propose Tuition Tax Breaks

Rep. Adam Brown (R-Champaign)
Credit Amanda Vinicky

With college tuition on the rise, Illinois House Republicans say they want to give working class families a break, and an incentive to go to a school in state.

 

Rep. Adam Brown graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2007, but in that short time, tuition's steadily gone up.

BROWN: "The average cost for tuition, fees and books right now -- $26,000 and ten years ago that was $19,000.”

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Statehouse
11:18 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Brauer Predicts Nothing Special In Special Session

State Rep. Rich Brauer
Credit ilga.gov

What will the special legislative session next week accomplish?

"Nothing," says Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg).  Brauer was a guest on WUIS' Illinois Edition Thursday.  He talks pensions, concealed carry, same sex marriage and the state budget:

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Black History
10:11 am
Thu June 13, 2013

“Juneteenth” Celebration In Springfield This Weekend

“Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.” – Wikimedia Commons

For two decades Springfielders have celebrated Juneteenth. It's a holiday commemorated in most states. It marks the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, which came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

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Same Sex Marriage
9:41 am
Thu June 13, 2013

UIS Professor Talks Same Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

Prof. Jason Pierceson
Credit UIS

UIS Associate Professor Jason Pierceson is the author of “Same Sex Marriage in the U.S.:The Road to the Supreme Court.”  The book recounts how the issue has evolved as we await opinions on two key cases.

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Jacksonville
9:33 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Remembering Jacksonville's Civil War Hero

Gen. Benjamin Grierson
Credit Wikipedia

Before Gen. Benjamin Grierson won acclaim for his tactical raid that helped the Union forces take Vicksburg.  But before then, he was a music teacher in Jacksonville.  This weekend, the community’s annual event to honor Grierson takes place.   Plenty of free events that tie history and entertainment together are part of Grierson Days.

Ron Gray coordinates the festival:

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District 186
9:17 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Interview: Springfield School Board Member, Scott McFarland

  WUIS has brought you interviews with all the new Springfield school board members seated last month. Today we speak with Scott McFarland – he’s serving his second term on the board. McFarland recently saw the closures of multiple schools in his district on the north-east side of town. He tells WUIS about that as well as problems within the previous school board:

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District 186
11:26 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Interview: Springfield School Board Prez Chuck Flamini

The Springfield school board has four new members, they were seated last month. WUIS has brought you interviews with three of them, today we speak with the fourth – Chuck Flamini, who also is the new school board president. In this interview he tells us about his background with the district, the search for a new superintendent, the district budget, and more:

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Guns
10:55 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Concealed Carry Permits And Gun Training

Frank Whitmore takes aim during a live fire exercise
Credit Peter Gray, WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure to legalize and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns.

Governor Pat Quinn’s office says he’s now “carefully reviewing” the legislation.

Advocates on both sides of the gun debate say a provision requiring hands-on training is an important part of the bill now awaiting the Governor’s action.    

Peter Gray visited a central Illinois gun range to learn more about what will be required of people who want to carry a loaded weapon in public.

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Music & Community
10:57 am
Fri June 7, 2013

SOHO Showcases Local Music In Downtown Springfield

SOHO is in its 9th year of highlighting local bands with a downtown street festival. The festival begins tonight (Fri. 6/7) and goes through Saturday. There will be food and alcoholic beverages on site as well as a kids area on Saturday. Local art will be on display and for sale. The event benefits the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery in Springfield.

Here's the interview with Eric Welch who is the founder of and heads the music fest:

 

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Bedrock 66
1:07 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Marshall Crenshaw + Bottle Rockets

  Michigan native Marshall Crenshaw hasn’t stopped playing music since he rose to fame in the 1980s. It’s been a career that spans just over 30 years – he’s also been an author, actor, radio host, and music producer.

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Arts & Community
1:00 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Local Band 'The Old Fashioneds' Serve Up Roots Music

Lorin Devine & Ryan Bishop are The Old Fashioneds
Credit Rachel Otwell

  Country music seems to be a genre that’s either loved or hated. But even country-lovers don’t always agree on which type is the best. Country roots music is bit of an umbrella label, including honky-tonk, folk, and rockabilly. It’s gained a foothold across the nation with artists like Pokey LaFarge and the Old Crow Medicine Show providing alternatives to Top 40 contemporary country offerings.

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Harvest Desk
11:17 am
Thu June 6, 2013

My Farm Roots: Lessons From The Farm Crisis

The fifth-generation to run his family farm, Mark Kenney says the '80s farm crisis taught him lessons for today.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

My Farm Roots,  a series from WUIS and Harvest Public Media, tells Americans’ stories and memories of rural life.  Because when you hail from farm country, roots run deep.
Times are good on the farm right now, but that hasn’t always been true. Many of today’s young farmers grew up in the shadow of the farm crisis on the 1980's and watched as rural areas were ripped apart by debt and foreclosures.
Those hard times will always stay with them.  Today, an Iowa farmer tells his story:


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Regional
11:12 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Lecture Series In Barry Begins This Week

New Philadelphia historic site
Credit newphiladelphiail.org

A series of public lectures in west central Illinois begins tomorrow night at the Kinderhook Lodge in Barry.  The series will discuss the Underground Railroad, Civil War military service, emancipation and safe havens, like the nearby historic town of New Philadelphia.

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Credit Downgrade
5:32 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

After No Pension Deal, Fitch Lowers Illinois' Credit Rating

Illinois' credit rating has suffered another downgrade.

It follows the General Assembly's adjournment Friday without any agreement on what to do about the state's pension systems.

 

A string of previous downgrades already left Illinois with the lowest bond rating in the nation.

None of those spurred legislators to reach a compromise - and there's no telling if this latest one will be any different.

Fitch lowered Illinois from an A to an A- rating, a status that means it may cost more when the state borrows money.

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Statehouse
12:00 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Rutherford Vows He'd Live In Governor's Mansion

A campaign sign outside Springfield's American Legion Post 32. Inside, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford was speaking to supporters, formally launching his campaign for governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The first candidate to formally announce he’s running for governor of Illinois has vowed to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The refusal of recent governors to move to Springfield has become a sore spot with permanent residents of Illinois’ capital city.

Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford is making his long-anticipated campaign for governor official on a three-day tour of Illinois that began Sunday in — wait for it — Chicago.

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Election 2014
11:13 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Rutherford: Permanent Tax Hike ‘On The Table’

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (left) greets supporters in Springfield at an event to launch his campaign for governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Monday is day two of state Treasurer Dan Rutherford's three-day tour of Illinois. He's meeting with supporters to say he's officially running for governor. Rutherford has been laying the groundwork to run for years, making the formal announcement one of the least surprising events in Illinois politics. So we asked reporter Brian Mackey to find something about Rutherford's announcement that was surprising.

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Same sex marriage
12:41 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Gay Rights Activists Protest Sponsor

The sponsor of same sex marriage legislation is facing a backlash for not calling it for a vote before the General Assembly adjourned on Friday.  

 

Gay rights activists praised Rep. Greg Harris in 2011 for helping pass Illinois' civil unions law.

Some of those same activists are now criticizing him for how he's handled a measure to legalize same sex marriage.

Harris was tearful when he announced just before the House adjourned its spring session that there would be no vote because he didn't believe it could pass.

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52nd International Carillon Festival
1:26 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

For Whom The Bells Toll

Credit www.carillon-rees.org

Carillonneur Robin Austin calls Thomas Rees one of his “great heroes”.

Last fall the Springfield Park District chose Austin to succeed Karel Keldermans, who played the 67-bell instrument dedicated to Thomas Rees for 35 years.

This week Robin Austin follows in the footsteps -or on the foot pedals - of the Keldermans family.  It will be his first year as host of the city’s annual International Carillon Festival.

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End of session
4:22 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Unresolved Issues On Legislature's Final Day

The "rail" outside the General Assembly chambers is relatively empty the day before the 2013 spring session adjourns.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the nation, and lawmakers have until today to do something about it.  The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by midnight.  After that, it requires extra votes to get legislation to the governor's desk. Pensions are not the only thing left.  Plenty of other big-ticket policy issues are also unresolved.

                                                                      

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