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5:24 am
Fri August 23, 2013

The Iguanas Play Springfield This Weekend

New Orleans' based band The Iguanas make their way into Springfield Saturday to play Donnie's Homespun

Our Sean Burns, host of the Sangamon Valley Roots Revival on WUIS, profiles the American group, which has been touring and putting out albums for two decades.

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Economy
8:30 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Illinois Unemployment Second Highest In Nation

Credit IDES

With national unemployment at its lowest level since the start of the Great Recession, the numbers keep going the wrong way in several parts of Illinois.

Peoria, Danville, and Decatur all saw unemployment increase by more than a percentage point.

Still, Gov. Pat Quinn defends his administration's efforts at building the economy.  Thursday, he announced that a German manufacturer will move its U-S headquarters to Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, a move Quinn says could create 40 jobs.

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Statehouse
5:27 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Decatur Job Troubles Spur Business Law

DCEO in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Thursday's unemployment numbers show Decatur is once again lagging the rest of Illinois. That long-term trend is partly responsible for a new law aimed at changing the way Illinois handles economic development.

In Decatur, 13.2 percent of job-seekers can't find work. State Sen. Andy Manar — a Democrat whose district includes Decatur — says that's part of the reason he thought it was time to blow up the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and start over.

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Regional
5:18 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Maufacturing Losses Lead To Decatur's Rise In Unemployment

Credit flickr/ptooey

Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation.  And Decatur has the highest in the state.

Caterpillar announced hundreds of layoffs this summer and that is now showing up in the jobless rate.  Decatur's rate has gone up to 13.2 percent, 2 full percentage points above where it was a year ago.  And it's also at the highest level it's been this time of year in about three decades.  

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Statehouse
3:29 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

George Ryan Adjusting To Life After Prison

Fmr. Gov. George Ryan
Credit WBEZ

Former Gov. George Ryan says he's still adjusting to private life in the weeks since his release from home confinement.  
Ryan spoke briefly to The Associated Press Thursday from his home in Kankakee. He says he traveled to Springfield over the weekend to celebrate the birthday of his triplet daughters, one of whom lives in that city.  
He also visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum on Saturday with family.  

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Health Desk
11:45 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Medical Marijuana Business Symposium This Weekend

Credit flickr/medicalmarijuana-information.com

Illinois recently approved the use of medical marijuana.  For some, this is a health issue.  For others, it's business. 

The National Cannabis Industry Association is hosting a day long event Saturday in the Chicago area to prepare investors and entrepreneurs about the emerging opportunity.

Chris Bochenski is with Quantum 9, a medical marijuana consulting and technology firm. 

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Regional
10:13 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Illinois State Fair Attendance Up

Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade.  
The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month.  
That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.  

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Regional
7:14 am
Thu August 22, 2013

LaHood To Be Guest Lecturer At Bradley University

Ray LaHood
Credit wikipedia.org

Bradley University has revealed former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and congressman Ray LaHood's new role at the school's Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service.
 
Bradley announced Wednesday that LaHood has been named an honorary senior distinguished fellow at the institute. In that role he's expected to be a guest lecturer for Bradley students and be part of public policy events on campus.
 

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Cross Out
5:04 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Republicans Lined Up For Top House Job

Reps. Jim Durkin, Dwight Kay, and Raymond Poe are among the Republicans said to be seeking the position of House minority leader.
Credit Illinois House of Representatives

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross on Wednesday told colleagues he would soon step down. There are a handful of lawmakers who've already set their sights on his job.

House Republicans say Cross told them he'd resign as leader in October. He reportedly didn't say what his plans are, although it's widely rumored he intends to run for state treasurer.

There are at least three men who want to lead the 47-members of the House GOP — including Reps. Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Raymond Poe of Springfield.

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Springfield City Government
8:54 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Water Study: Gravel Pits Won't Be Enough To Supply A Thirsty Springfield

A study presented to the Springfield City Council Tuesday indicates gravel pits near the Sangamon River won't be a viable alternate water source during a time of severe drought.

This spring the city hired engineers to determine if it could draw from pits east of town without sucking dry wells in neighboring communities, including Riverton and Dawson.

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Regional
8:38 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Transmission Line Gets ICC Approval

General corridor for the project
Credit Ameren

Regulators have signed off on a new transmission line that'd cut through central Illinois.   The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/15024Oj ) the Illinois Commerce Commission approved all but 30 miles of Ameren's Illinois Rivers Project during a meeting Tuesday.  
The $1 billion, 380-mile transmission line would run through 19 counties, traveling from Quincy to the Indiana border. It'd affect about 8,400 landowners.  

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Pensions
5:03 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Pension Returns Up; Problems Remain

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' largest public pension fund hit a major low in 2012, its rate of return was less than one percent.  But an early analysis shows the last fiscal year was better than expected. The success isn’t expected to make much of a dent in Illinois’ nearly $100 billion dollar pension liability, however, which lawmakers thus far have failed to tackle.   

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Politics
12:07 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Champaign Dem Joins Growing 13th District Field

David Green of Champaign
Credit https://www.facebook.com/david.green.98892615

Another Democrat is joining what is becoming a crowded field of candidates for Illinois' 13th Congressional District seat. David Green of Champaign said Monday that he will run in the Democratic Party primary. He joins University of Illinois physicist George Gollin and retired Edwardsville judge Ann Callis. Green is a 63-year-old social policy analyst at the University of Illinois' Center for Prevention Research and Development. He told The News-Gazette in Champaign that he's anti-war and hopes to appeal to leftists and anti-war libertarians.

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Hannibal Hydrant Project
10:21 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Hannibal's Hydrants Get Some Custom Paint

Some rusty, faded fire hydrants in Hannibal, Missouri are getting creative touch-ups.

Julie Rolsen owns a gift shop in the Mississippi River town and also runs a bed and breakfast.  This spring, city leaders granted Rolsen permission to launch the "Hannibal Hydrant Project".

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Direct To Disney
9:04 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Springfield-Orlando Flights To Take Off In November

Allegiant Air will begin flying to Orlando from Springfield's airport this fall.
 
The low-cost carrier says the non-stop flights from Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport will begin November 22. They're scheduled to depart twice a week.
 
The State Journal-Register reports the airline is offering a special discounted round-trip rate of $99 until Thursday.  After that, fares will cost $69 each way.
 

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Pensions
8:34 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Few Details On Pension Progress

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook)
Credit ILGA.gov

A panel of ten Illinois lawmakers has been working this summer to find a solution to Illinois' pension problem.  With an unfunded liability of about 100-billion dollars, payments to the public pension systems are taking up a larger chunk of overall state government spending. 

WUIS'  Sean Crawford spoke with Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat and one of the leaders in the push to change how retirement systems are funded. 

Recent meetings of the committee have occurred in private, making it difficult to determine progress.  But Nekritz says she's hopeful:

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Ranked 50th
7:24 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Illinois' Education Funding Under Review

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois ranks 50th among the states in the share of education funding that comes from state government. The formula used to distribute that money dates back to the '90s.

On Monday afternoon, a group of state senators began working on an update.

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Statehouse
5:51 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Illinois Speed Limit Going To 70 MPH

Credit flickr/theeggplant

Illinois' top speed limit will go up on many highways beginning in January.  Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit from 65 to 70 m.p.h.                
Quinn bucked the advice of his Department of Transportation, which opposed the legislation.
IDOT says a higher speed limit will raise average speeds leading to more crashes and fatalities.
But the measure's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Costello (D_Smithton) says more accidents happen because of vehicles traveling at different speeds ... not because of higher speeds.

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Regional
11:32 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Auburn Mayor Approves Video Gambling

The issue of video gaming machines has created a divide in the town of Auburn. 

Mayor Barb Stamer cast a tie breaking vote against gambling earlier this year.  Now, she's changed her mind.  (UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Tuesday) The matter came up at Monday's Auburn City Council meeting and Stamer cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.

Towns small and large have had to decide whether or not allowing the machines is worth the cut the communities will receive from gamblers.

Stamer spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford on Illinois Edition:

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Election 2014
11:09 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Ducky Democrats Dog Congressman Davis

Nafia Khan (in duck suit) and DCCC organizer Lauren North were on the Illinois State Fairgrounds for Republican Day. They accuse Congressman Rodney Davis of "ducking" constituents, something his spokesman dismisses as "political funny season."
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Political campaigns are gearing up for next year's elections. So, too, are political pranksters.

Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, has lately found himself being shadowed by a giant duck.

Technically it's a woman in a duck suit: "Uh, yes, it is very warm in the duck costume."

This is Nafia Khan. She and a handful of other activists are on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, holding signs that accuse Congressman Davis of "ducking" constituents. They say he's not holding any town hall meetings.

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Harvest Desk
8:39 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Howard Buffett: Farmer Of The World

Admitting he’s a boy who loves big toys, Howard Buffett stands on his John Deere tractor on his Arizona research farm.
Credit Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Five years ago, Howard G. Buffett was at a meeting of an international food aid agency when he was told that feeding the millions of starving people in Africa was simple.

Just give them better seeds, someone said.

That advice might work on some philanthropists. But Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, happens to be an Illinois farmer.

“This guy was explaining to me how to farm and he’d never been on a farm in his life,” he said. “So it really kind of irritated me. I came home and said, ‘OK, I’m going to have data to show these guys.’”

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UIS Theatre
7:00 am
Mon August 19, 2013

UIS Theatre Announces Upcoming Season

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, the director of the Theatre Department at University of Illinois Springfield, joins WUIS to tell us about the upcoming season: 

CLICK HERE for more information about the upcoming theater season at UIS as well as info on how to audition or become part of the productions.

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New Law
5:44 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Statewide Fine For Littering, Tossing Cigarettes

Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton)
Credit ILGA.gov

Tossing trash anywhere besides a garbage will soon cost you no matter where you are in Illinois.  A new law imposes a statewide fine for littering.

State Senator Bill Haine hates litter, saying "it's irresponsible, it pollutes beautiful environments, God's creation, it creates ugliness."

He hates it so much, he says he goes around his neighborhood in Alton, picking it up himself.

"We don't have a dog anymore, but I use a Pooper Scooper, which is a remarkably efficient way to pick up litter," he says.

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Harvest Desk
4:02 am
Mon August 19, 2013

My Farm Roots: Winning Respect

Danelle Myer grew up on a conventional farm, but now runs a small, local vegetable farm outside Logan, Iowa.
Credit Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

This is the eleventh installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Danelle Myer owns a small vegetable farm and like many other small farmers, she’s passionate about the kind of operation she wants to grow: a small, local business.

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Education
6:40 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Law Expands Sex Ed Curriculum

Credit flickr

Students in Illinois public schools that teach sex education will now be taught about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases _ not just abstinence.  
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday that requires schools to provide the information. It takes effect Jan. 1.  
Sen. Heather Steans sponsored the bill. The Chicago Democrat says it's intended to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.  

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Statehouse
4:44 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

New Law To Ban Hand Held Phone Use While Driving

Using a hand-held cell phone while driving in Illinois will be illegal on Jan. 1.  
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday aimed at reducing distracted driving. It requires motorists to use speaker phones or headsets that allow for one-digit or audio dialing.  
Illinois joins 11 other states and Washington, D.C. in banning hand-held phone use on the road.  
Texting while driving is already illegal in Illinois.  
Sen. John Mulroe  -- a Chicago Democrat and sponsor -- says he wants motorists to ``keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.''  

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Harvest Desk
4:28 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

State Fairs: A Summer Tradition

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

It’s August. The days are growing shorter, fall is approaching, but summer isn’t done just yet. All over the country folks are flocking to that ultimate summer tradition: the state fair.

Carnival rides and games, meat on a stick, livestock competitions – the Midwest does state fairs up right. And for many, summer in the Midwest isn't complete without a trip to the state fair. For others, a virtual visit will have to do.

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Theatre In The Park
9:44 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Little Women The Musical At New Salem

Austin Dambacher, Rhett Wagner & Will Barnhart

Most people are probably familiar with the story of 'Little Women', a novel by  Louisa May Alcott about four sisters living during the Civil War and their quests to find meaning in life and true love. What you might not know is that it's been made into a musical. You can see a local production of that this weekend at the Theatre in the Park in New Salem.

We recently spoke with three men who are part of the production; Austin Dambacher who plays Professor Bhear, Rhett Warner who plays Laurie, and Will Barnhart, the director: 

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Clash or Compromise
6:42 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Republican Voters Face Competing Visions For A GOP Governor

More than a hundred Republicans heard from their party leaders and top candidates at the State Central Committee and County Chairmen’s Association meeting on Thursday in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Republicans are at a crossroads. The party has a historically small number of people in the Illinois Senate, and a small minority in the House, too. But Republicans are also hopeful about 2014, when they have the chance to win back the Illinois governor's office, ending 12 years of Democratic rule.

Party leaders and candidates rallied in Springfield Thursday at the Illinois State Fair, where the men competing for the top of the ticket each said they're uniquely qualified to revive the Illinois Republican Party.

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State Fair Political Days
7:11 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Back On Central Illinois Stage

In his first major appearance in central Illinois since his stroke in January, 2012, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk told a crowd of Republicans at the Illinois State Fair to “never give up.”
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

 A year-and-a-half after his stroke, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk returned to central Illinois for the first time this week.  Members of his party gave him a warm welcome at a Republican rally Thursday at the Illinois State Fair. 

Senator Kirk made his way slowly across the stage, aided by a cane. It has been a long, slow, partial recovery since his stroke last January.

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