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Pension Overhaul
5:24 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pension Committee Considering Adding 401(k) Option

Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, sits on the pension conference committee. "There's some concern over ... frankly whether pension systems should get in the business of the market... and philosophically do we really want to go down this road when there's members of these systems that believe all we need to do is make our payment, rightfully so," he says of defined contribution plans.
Credit Zalewski

With an eye toward reaching an agreement in time for the upcoming veto session, legislators on a special pension committee met Friday in Chicago. The conversations focused on giving state employees and teachers a new style of retirement plan.

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Lincoln Memorial Garden
4:57 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Indian Summer Festival & Updates From Lincoln Memorial Garden

Joel Horwedel - Executive Director of LMG

Lincoln Memorial Garden & Nature Center may well be Springfield's most celebrated destination for nature-enthusiasts. With over 100 acres of wilderness and trails, it provides a serene landscape along Lake Springfield for residents and tourists to soak in some sun and fresh air, free of charge. 

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Business
4:46 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

ADM Eyeing Atlanta For Headquarters?

Archer Daniels Midland is on the lookout for a new home for its world headquarters.  And it's not being limited to the midwest.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports ADM leaders met with Atlanta officials.

ADM has said it won't comment on sites in the running.   Other reports this week has the company looking at Minneapolis.  Chicago and St. Louis have also been mentioned as possibilities.

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Statehouse
2:35 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Quinn Acts On Clemency Requests

Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn is granting 65 clemency petitions and
denying 124 while working through a backlog of pardon requests.
 
The Democrat announced Friday he had acted on 189 requests on dockets dating to
2004. His predecessor, the impeached and now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich,
notoriously let clemency petitions pile up.
 
Among those granted pardons Friday _ typically with a criminal record being
wiped clean _ were an armed robber; several convicted of battery, including
domestic battery; several convicted of unlawful use of weapon; illicit

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Statehouse
1:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 11, 2013

This week's topics include gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's choice for his Lt. Governor running mate, the state deal with Amtrak to keep shorter-run rail lines running, and new license requirements for all-terrain-vehicles.

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Donnie's
12:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Allie Kral Brings Her Fiddle To Springfield

Allie Kral

Allie Kral was the most visible member of the group Cornmeal - a popular blue-grass jam band from Chicago, but she recently left the group to pursue other interests. Trained as a classical violinist, Kral has a unique style and she's widely regarded as one of the best fiddle players in the nation. She plays on Saturday in Springfield at Donnie's Homespun with the band Hot Buttered Rum.

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Statehouse
11:12 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Durkin Picks Members of House GOP Leadership Team

Credit ilga.gov

The new Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives has named his leadership team.

Western Springs Rep. Jim Durkin is keeping most of the assistants who reported to Oswego Rep. Tom Cross, who left the top position in the chamber to run for Illinois treasurer.

Peoria Rep. David Leitch and Westmont Rep. Patti Bellock will be the chamber's deputy GOP leaders.

Leitch, who is the longest-serving Republican in the chamber, held the same position under Cross.

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Health Desk
7:15 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Shutdown Stalls Inspections Of Some Medical Facilities

Credit http://www.idph.state.il.us

Illinois officials are scaling back on certain hospital and nursing home inspections because of the partial federal government shutdown.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports a state agency gets about $1.3 million a month to pay for inspections of medical facilities.

But the shutdown means the money isn't heading to Illinois. So the Illinois Department of Public Health has put certain inspections on hiatus.

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Transportation
6:54 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Amtrak Deal Keeps Trains Running In Illinois

Illinois has agreed to pay more for in-state Amtrak trains. The deal prevents a shutdown of rail service that could have happened as early as next week.

Illinois is the second-to-last state to reach an agreement with Amtrak.

The deal was necessary because of a federal law that requires states to pay more if they want to keep shorter-distance rail lines.

Some states, like California, will pay millions of extra dollars.

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Downtown Springfield
4:48 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Downtown's Artification Project Put On Hold

From a video presentation of the proposal on downtownspringfield.org
Credit Free Sky Studios

 The "artification" of downtown Springfield has met an obstacle. A mural scheduled to be finished this month will have to wait until next year. 

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History
1:46 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Sangamon Co. Historical Society Offers To Help Fund Local Projects

Credit sancohis.org

Do you have an idea to show off the history of your community or a special location?  The Sangamon County Historical Society is offering to give money to local projects that create interest in the history of the county.  An online application is available for the grants of up to $1,000.   
Roger Whitaker is President of the Society.  Speaking on WUIS' Illinois Edition, he says the group has already helped other projects become a reality:

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Higher Education
9:20 am
Thu October 10, 2013

White Named Permanent President At Millikin

Dr. Patrick White
Credit Millikin University

Millikin University in Decatur has a new president.  
Trustees at the school hired interim president Patrick White to take the post permanently. He began working in the interim position in July.  
The 64-year-old succeeds Rich Dunsworth, who also held the interim job after Harold Jeffcoat retired in January.  
White had worked as president of Wabash College in Indiana and says he's excited to make the Millikin position permanent.  

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Statehouse
8:51 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Interview: State Senator Andy Manar

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

State Senator Andy Manar (D - Bunker Hill) is in his first term serving the 48th District.  It stretches from Springfield and Decatur south into Madison County.

Before he was elected, Manar spent time as Chief of Staff to Senate President John Cullerton and served as Chairman of the Macoupin County Board.

Manar sat down with WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk about some of the issues facing state government, including public pensions, tax incentives for ADM, education funding and how he was considered as a possible running mate to former gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley:

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District 186
3:46 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Achievement Gap Hot Topic At Dist. 186 Meeting

  Lanphier High School is in the final year of a three year grant to help students improve. Among the things they've done as part of the program is extending the school day and adding ACT practice exams and tutoring for students. However, board member Judy Johnson made Lanphier faculty bristle when she questioned why math scores dropped, while the scores for white students improved during a recent school board meeting.

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Tax Burden
1:55 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Does It Pay To Move From Illinois?

Is it worth it to leave one state for another due to taxes?  The National Center for Policy Analysis, a non partisan public policy research group, developed a way to help you determine the answer.  It's an online state  tax calculator.   Pam Villareal is a senior fellow for the Center. She spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

Want to try out the calculator?  Find it here.

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Federal Shutdown
1:17 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Most Laid Off State Workers Back Despite Shutdown

Credit Wikimedia commons

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office says most state workers whose salaries are paid by federal money are back on the job, but more layoffs could come if the federal shutdown continues.
 
Roughly 100 workers were issued temporary layoffs last week, including employees with the Department of Military Affairs, the Illinois Department of
Employment Security and Labor Department.
 
Quinn's budget office says temporary layoffs for more than 70 employees expired Wednesday. The U.S. House has approved back pay for some workers.
 

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DEMO Project Gallery
11:57 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Springfield's New DEMO Gallery Hosts 'Shadow Aspect'

Credit: kathleenscottart.com

A new gallery in Springfield, called the "DEMO Project" is run by artists and aims to bring alternative contemporary works to the community. Located on the Springfield Art Association's campus in the Enos park neighborhood - the gallery will welcome artist Kathleen Scott with a reception on Friday night from 6 to 9. Scott's work is an installation utilizing paper cutting, stop-motion animation, and her own original music.

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Regional
7:58 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Springfield Museum Remembers "The Forgotten War"

Credit flickr/TheNationalGuard

Along the plaza across from the Old State Capitol, in a former Osco store, you can find a tribute to the men and women who fought in Korea more than 60 years ago.

But the Korean War National Museum does more than simply honor veterans.  It attempts to educate visitors about the causes of the conflict.  Operating on donations, the museum shows videos and displays items that shows what life was like at that time for those too young to remember the war.

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District 186
4:57 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

District 186 Employee Suspected Of Stealing From HS Fund

An unnamed district 186 employee has admitted to stealing money from the Springfield public school system, according to the interim superintendent Bob Leming. Leming told WUIS a police investigation started last week - and while the Southeast High School employee in question apparently admitted guilt, the investigation is still underway with the Illinois State Police.

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Science
12:52 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

The Piasa: Bird Imagery Is Just A Myth

This later painting is visible on bluffs along the Mississippi River at Alton.
Credit wikipedia

The legend of the Piasa "bird" goes back to the 1600's, when Marquette and Joliet saw a large painting near the Mississippi River where Alton is now located.  But what has been passed down through the years is different than what the original artwork was meant to convey.

Dr. Duane Esarey has researched the Piasa and he'll dispel the myths Wednesday during the state museum science series lecture.   He spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford and straightens us out on the subject.  He says it all goes back to the early explorers' description of what they saw:

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Nation/World
11:53 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Former Speaker Hastert Discusses Government Shutdown

Credit npr

Denny Hastert wasn't the Speaker of the U.S. House during the last government shutdown, but he was an Illinois Congressman in 1995 and '96. He told Amanda Vinicky this time is different.

Hastert says back then, Republicans were trying to get a handle on spending. He says it worked.

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Election 2014
8:48 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Rauner Picks Running Mate

Evelyn Sanguinetti
Credit City of Wheaton website

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has selected Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Sanguinetti as his running mate.  
The businessman announced his choice Tuesday morning in a statement.  
Sanguinetti is a lawyer who was once an assistant attorney general in Illinois. She's the daughter of immigrants and was born in Florida.  
Rauner is the last 2014 Republican candidate in the race to name a lieutenant governor pick.  

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Education
8:36 am
Tue October 8, 2013

District 186 Board Talks Tax Hikes

Board President Chuck Flamini
Credit District 186

The Springfield public school board is on the hunt for more revenue. The latest idea is actually one that was tried before. Board vice president Adam Lopez says the district should push again for a one percent sales tax hike. While a parent's group wants a property tax referendum, Board President Chuck Flamini says raising the SALES tax would mean tourists and others coming in to the area to shop would contribute.

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Lincoln
8:20 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Tourism Dropoff In Springfield

Credit wikepedia

Springfield officials say they're worried the federal government's partial shutdown may cut into tourism.  
That's because Abraham Lincoln's home _ one of the city's top tourists attractions _ is closed since it's operated by the National Parks Service.  
The site drew more than 295,000 visitors last year.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1cqLqtj ) the closure comes after peak tourism season.  
The co-owner of a nearby restaurant says there's a noticeable impact on her business as foot traffic declines.  

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Shutdown Could Impact More State Workers

Gov. Pat Quinn says if the federal government shutdown continues the state will have to lay off more workers whose paychecks come from federal funding. 

Illinois has already issued nearly 100 such temporary layoffs. They include employees with the state Department of Military Affairs, economic analysts at the Illinois Department of Employment Security and employees with the Labor Department who handle workplace safety inspections. 

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Harvest Desk
3:19 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Lawmaker Calls For Labels On GMO Food

A state senator from Peoria is calling for the labeling of any food available for retail sale in Illinois that's been produced with genetically engineered organisms.  
Democratic Sen. David Koehler says consumers have a right to know if the food they're putting into their bodies was made with so-called GMOs. He is proposing legislation requiring the labels and held three hearings on the issue around the state this year.  

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Election 2014
2:16 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Court Case Could Upend Illinois Campaign Caps

Credit flickr/borman18

The scandal that brought down former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich led to campaign-contribution caps in Illinois. Advocates of the limits are fearful a case set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could upend their efforts.

 The campaign finance law Illinois politicians passed in 2009 restricts how much cash companies, unions and people can give to individual candidates. Theoretically, you can give that maximum contribution to every state candidate in Illinois.

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Arts & Community
1:00 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Downtown YMCA Hosts Arts Week

From the Springfield YMCA Arts and Humanities Facebook page

Many people probably think of the YMCA as a place to work out, play sports games, and swim. But it's also an organization heavily invested in the arts - through community outreach programs, summer camps, classes and more. And this week Ys around the nation are celebrating "Arts Week". We recently spoke with Lisa Parfitt of the Springfield YMCA located at 701 South 4th Street about what the week's events include: 

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Education
5:12 am
Mon October 7, 2013

U of I Faculty Without Tenure Want More Security

Credit illinois.edu

The growing number of professors at the University of Illinois who don't have tenure want somebody besides their students to listen to them.
 
The Champaign News-Gazette reports adjunct faculty, instructors, lecturers and others who don't have tenure are hoping the school will take steps that would give them more job stability. Some are even assessing the need for a faculty union in Urbana.
 

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Health Desk
8:59 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Kids And Concussions: Advocate Pushes For Limits On Hits In High School Sports

Coaches in Illinois are required by state law to remove from a game or practice any athlete suspected of suffering a concussion.

But responding quickly after a hard hit isn't enough for a former football player from the Chicago area who now advocates nationwide to prevent injury to still-developing brains.

In the latest report from the WUIS Health Desk, Peter Gray reports on a push for Illinois to follow the NFL and other states in limiting days of full contact football practice.

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