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Police in west-central Illinois' Jacksonville says a 17-year-old girl is charged with child abandonment in connection with the discovery of a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin.  

Police say the girl was arrested Thursday night, five says after the baby boy was found unclothed by an employee who heard a noise coming from the receptacle while taking out garbage.  
Investigators believe the child had been born less than 12 hours earlier.  

WUIS/Rachel Otwell

Racial tension and profiling by police were among the topics discussed at a community meeting held at Southeast High School in Springfield on Thursday. Over 300 people were in attendance for the meeting put on by the local chapter of the NAACP. It was organized as a response to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by a police officer. One common refrain was that blacks in Springfield often feel targeted by police simply because of their skin color.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner weighed in property taxes and the minimum wage.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll ask the Illinois Department of Transportation's secretary for a new review of hiring connected to a position that's been the subject of an investigative report and federal lawsuit.
 
Last month the Office of the Executive Inspector General reported the agency
sidestepped clout-busting regulations and improperly hired 255 ``staff
assistant'' positions in the past decade. Also last month, IDOT announced it
laid off 58 people still holding that position and abolished the title.
 

It's been the town square of Springfield since it was built.  But the Old State Capitol grounds has taken on a varied look through the years. 

And an effort is underway to do something different and better.

A lawn party is being held this Saturday afternoon from 5 to 7 at the site to raise money for beautifying the grounds.   

While the location is teeming with history, from it's role as the home of state government, to it's ties to Lincoln and later, Obama, something is still missing.

Amanda Vinicky

There's a farm town about 50 miles to the west of Springfield, in between Jacksonville and Beardstown, called Arenzville. Only about 400 people live there. It's the sort of place where old men gather at the only restaurant in town every Saturday morning for coffee. The sort of place where many of the last names carved into the tombstones at the local cemetery are the same as the last names a teacher is reading off of the class list when she takes attendance at school each morning.

Alderman Gail Simpson Facebook page

    A member of Springfield's city council says she is running for mayor.  Alderman Gail Simpson, who is African American, says the community is too segregated, and she is better equipped than the other candidates to fix that problem. 

“I have a concern with a total part of this city – it’s not just the east side, because there are residents on the south, east, and north side that don’t have a voice. You know – they’re two cities,” Simpson said. 

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Over 300 people met at Southeast High School in Springfield on Thursday to talk about racial profiling and its effect on African American youth, among other things. It was hosted by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as a response to the fatal shooting of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and its aftermath.

SethSawyers/Flickr

An internet event next week is aimed at reaching out to parents in the state. 
The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois PTA have teamed up to offer their first Back To School webinar on Tuesday September 9.   It will feature the state superintendent and others giving parents more details about changes in schools.  That includes new learning standards and tests.

Courtesy of The Hoogland Center for the Arts

Hamlet opens at The Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield this weekend. It's not your typical production though. In the lead role is one of the area's most well-known and talented actors, who also happens to be a woman. Aasne Vigesaa joined us for this interview about the production and her role in it:   Hamlet runs at the Hoogland September 5-7 and 12-14. More info is here.

news.illinois.edu

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise says the faculty hiring process should change amid an ongoing controversy over the decision to rescind a job offer to one professor.  

Wise told The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1pNBeCb ) that new professors shouldn't be working before they've been approved by the Board of Trustees.  

The university recently decided not to hire Virginia Tech University professor Steven Salaita over a series of profane anti-Israel Twitter messages that some students and university donors say were also anti-Semitic.  

Harvest Public Media/Luke Runyon

When the wind picked up from the south on John Schweiser’s farm outside Rocky Ford, Colo., the sky would go black. A charging wall of dust would force the 80-year-old farmer and his wife to hunker down in their ranch-style farmhouse.

“You’d look up and here’d come this big ol’ rolling dirt,” Schweiser said. “You couldn’t see how high it was.”

Political Dark Arts - The Pollsters

Sep 4, 2014
triolastats.com

If political campaigns are horse races—then consider public opinion polls one way to set the odds.But campaigns create and use polls for much more than the neck-and-neck numbers you hear on the news. As part of our series on the ‘dark arts’ of politics,  Alex Keefe explains:

AMBI: (phone rings)

Maybe you’ve already gotten one of these calls this election season.

TAPE: Hello, this is a short political poll...(fade under)...

It’s your chance to weigh in.

Marc VanNorden/flickr

The popular star parties resume this Friday night on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, weather permitting.  They are hosted by Dr. John Martin, Associate Professor of Astronomy/Physics. 

Visitors are asked to arrive between 8-10 p.m. at the UIS Observatory on the roof of the Brookens Library. 

Former President Jimmy Carter is coming to Jacksonville next month.    Carter will speak on the campus of Illinois College October 14.  

The visit is part of the Phi Alpha lecture series.    The college's spokesman Todd Spann says more details will be released later.

President Carter will turn 90 years old next month.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for human rights work.  He served one term as president from 1977-1981.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even though your property taxes pay for local services -- not state ones -- they've become an issue in Illinois' race for governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner don't agree on much, but both clearly see a winning strategy in promising lower property taxes.

Quinn earlier this year proposed offsetting a higher income tax rate by sending homeowners (not renters) a $500 property tax rebate (though his plan didn't materialize).

flickr/rosmary

A Quincy hospital and one across the Mississippi River in Missouri are restricting visitors because of an apparent respiratory virus outbreak that largely affects children.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig (http://bit.ly/1lwGCsi) says Quincy's Blessing Hospital is restricting anyone under 12 years of age from visiting there until further notice to help guard against spreading the virus. Such restrictions at Missouri's Hannibal Regional Hospital apply to children 16 years old or younger.  

uis.edu

Jeff Robinson spent his summer filling the UIS Visual Arts Gallery with stuff. His exhibition is called "Filler." Robinson heads the gallery, and his exhibit is site specific, it's an installation that will only exist in the gallery on a temporary basis. He recently joined us to talk about the work and what it means to him....

flickr/JasonRojas

The mayor of Springfield says he wants police officers to start wearing body cameras next year.  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1w5F2P8 ) Mayor Mike Houston said Tuesday he'd like to allocate up to $200,000 in the next budget year for wearable cameras. The small cameras would attach to officers' uniforms and record interactions with the public. Videos could be used to review incidents, especially if an officer were accused of inappropriate behavior or excessive force.  

checkoutmyink.com

Deep and ominous voices sound the attack …sugary and optimistic voices signal support.  

As part of our series on the “dark arts” of the campaign business….we meet the people behind the voices trained to influence the democratic process.

As  Alex Keefe found, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.

WOODEL: So, when I do voices for political campaigns, or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house.

KEEFE: This is literally a closet.

Kirk.Senate.Gov

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the United States should take a hard line against the Islamic State group.  

Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist. It also warns President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. air strikes against the group continue there'll be continued violence.  

Dana Thomas House Foundation / http://www.dana-thomas.org/About.aspx

The Dana Thomas House in Springfield is still drying out, after it was closed because of flooding last Thursday. It's a short-term problem that raises a longer-term concern.

The site's manager, Justin Blandford, says the Frank Lloyd Wright designed home is back open to visitors -- though the tours that resumed on Sunday did not go through the basement.

Blandford says the home is in a "drying out" period.

The situation raises broader concerns about what can be done to better protect and preserve the historic home. Blandford says improvements are needed.

WUIS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved permits for the FutureGen coal project to store carbon dioxide underground.

The permits approved Tuesday are a key piece of the project. FutureGen aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal at a power plant in western Illinois and store it. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas linked to climate change.  
The EPA said the permits are the first of this type for carbon sequestration.  

millikin.edu/kirkland

The Kirkland Fine Arts Center in Decatur's season kicks off this weekend with a Beatles tribute band. Theres quite a variety of shows, we recently spoke with Jan Traughber who heads Kirkland about the season: 

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR)

A little over a decade ago, cougars and wolves started showing up in Illinois for the first time since the late 1800s. In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure that aims to protect and manage the animals. Maureen McKinney reported on the topic for Illinois Issues magazine. She spoke with us about it for this interview:

SJ-R.com

This week, State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis tells us about the growth of Casey's General Stores and the company's plans for the future. 

We'll also get an update on the case against THR and Associates founder Jeff Parsons and the decline in farmland prices.

flickr/Sean MacEntee

Brace yourself, citizens.  September is the unofficial start of campaign season.  You are about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and negative messages.   To help decipher it all, we're taking you behind the scenes this week to meet the practitioners of politics' dark arts.

We begin with Reporter Alex Keefe tracking down opposition researchers - the folks whose job it is to dig up dirt on politicians:

cannabisnews.org

Thousands of patients in Illinois will be able to start requesting permission to use marijuana under a new state law.

Authorities begin accepting applications for medical marijuana Tuesday from patients whose last names start with letters A through L. Caregivers can also apply on their behalf.  

Lawmakers adopted the medical marijuana law in 2013. Under its provisions, patients must have a written certification from a doctor and get a background check. The state is required to respond to a completed application within 30 days.  

flcikr/Univ. of Delaware's REC photostream

There is evidence of the beginning of a soybean crop infection in some parts of west-central Illinois.
 
University of Illinois Extension educator Mike Roegge says some fields started
showing signs two weeks ago and affected areas rapidly expanded. He tells The
Quincy Herald-Whig (http://bit.ly/1u2B1uo ) that's ``not a good sign.''
 
The soil-based fusarium organism causes the sudden death syndrome. Roegge says
the organism keeps the plant from sending water and nutrients to the leaves. The
leaves start dying and turn yellow and brown.
 

Police say a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin in the central Illinois community of Jacksonville is in good condition.

Lt. Chris Johnson of the Jacksonville Police Department says authorities are still searching for the mother of the infant. The baby was apparently placed in the trash bin Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after it was born.  

Johnson says police aren't releasing the gender of the baby or exactly where it was found.  

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