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pension
6:39 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Illinois Pensions Don't Sell Assets In 2013

Credit SRS

Officials say sufficient state funding the last two years means key state-employee pension funds didn't have to sell assets to meet payments.  
 The State Retirement Systems covers pensions for ex-state employees, judges and lawmakers. A report Thursday by Auditor General William Holland says SRS withdrew $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year _ down from nearly $250 million the year before.  
 William Atwood heads the Illinois State Board of Investment, which manages the SRS portfolios.  
 He says the large withdrawal in 2012 was because of state underfunding in 2011.  

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Economy
5:48 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

State Miniumum Wage Either Job Booster Or Job Killer

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  As he campaigns for re-election, Governor Pat Quinn is renewing a push for a hike in the minimum wage.

Illinois' $8.25 minimum wage bests the federal rate by a dollar.Gov. Quinn and other Democrats want to raise it higher; the governor's calling it to go up to $10.

"When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault," he says. "They're going to go out and spend that money at stores in their neighborhood, to help that consumer demand, that creates more jobs."

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Regional
7:18 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Springfield & Chatham Reach Tentative Settlement

Credit CWLP

Springfield and Chatham hope to approval a final settlement in the coming month regarding a water contract dispute between the two communities.

This will put an end to a lawsuit over Chatham's decision to break its water contract with CWLP.

Under the deal, Chatham will pay Springfield a half million dollars in damages and it will pay the city $200,000 for a long term lease of ground where Chatham has a pump station.

In addition, Chatham will allow Springfield to transport water through Chatham's water system to Loami.

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Regional
10:15 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Town Faces Uncertain Future As It Deals With Pollution From The Past

The slag pile remains from years of industry in DePue
Lee Strubinger/WUIS

An Illinois town that, for decades, benefited from industry has seen that prosperity go away.  While the jobs have left, the community is left dealing with the aftermath.

Lee Strubinger visited the small town of DePue to see first hand how the town is coping:

I'm on a drive with DePue Mayor Eric Bryant, he's mayor of the village of about two thousand people along the Illinois River in Bureau County.

"The Rock Island line used to come through there. Bring ore in... and take zinc out," Bryan recalled.

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Education
9:18 am
Tue December 17, 2013

40% Of Students Finish College Where They Start

Credit University of Illinois, Springfield

Only 4 in 10 students who entered college in 2007 have earned
degrees from the school where they started.

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Harvest Desk
8:08 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Labeling Rules Could Help Consumers Learn More About Meat

About 94 percent of our meat comes from livestock that was born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

A new labeling rule that went into full effect Saturday requires meatpackers and retailers to provide consumers with more information about where their meat comes from.

The country-of-origin labeling mandate (COOL) forces retailers and meatpackers to detail where the livestock from which meat came was born, raised and slaughtered. It applies to certain cuts of beef, veal, chicken, pork, lamb and goat sold in the supermarket. Processed, deli and ground meats are exempt from the new rules.

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Pensions
6:00 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Preparing To Implement Pension Overhaul — And Not To

Credit Arthur Public Library via IMLS DCC (creative commons)

Illinois’ biggest and most indebted pension system is beginning to implement changes tied to the pension overhaul passed this month. But officials are also making plans in case the new law is struck down.

The Teachers Retirement System is by far the biggest of Illinois’ five pension systems, with well over 360,000 members. TRS is also the biggest factor in the pension funding problem, accounting for more than half of the combined $100 billion shortfall.

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Local Authors
3:49 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Local Teacher & Author Offers New Writings

Cover design for 'Figures in Blue' by Felicia Olin

Ted Morrissey teaches English to high school and college students in Williamsville and Springfield. He manages to write plenty of his own material in his free time. He joined us recently to talk about his unique writing style, what writings he has in the works - and his recently published novella titled 'Figures in Blue':    

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Statehouse
5:31 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Gov Candidate Brady Releases Income Information

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

State Senator Bill Brady will no longer have to defend himself against criticism he didn't pay enough in taxes.  The candidate for governor released his tax returns Monday.

When the mortgage crisis hit, Sen. Bill Brady's real estate development business took a hit.  So much so that in 2008 and 2009 he owed the federal government no income tax.

Brady defended that four years ago, when he was Republican's nominee for governor:

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Politics
10:21 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Former Gov. George Ryan Attends Mandela Event

former Gov. George Ryan
Credit WBEZ

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan says Nelson Mandela was instrumental in his 2003 decision to empty death row.  

Ryan addressed attendees gathered Sunday at the Chicago church of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who hosted a "people's tribute'' to the late South African leader.  

Ryan, a Republican, was released from prison earlier this year after serving more than five years on corruption charges. His roughly five-minute speech was one of his first public appearances since his release.  

Ryan and Mandela met in 2000 on a trade mission to South Africa.  

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Harvest Desk
5:00 am
Mon December 16, 2013

2012 Drought Still Pinching Popcorn Sellers

Del’s Popcorn first opened in Decatur, Ill., in 1934.
Peter Gray/WUIS

U.S. popcorn sellers took a big hit from the 2012 drought, which caused one of the worst popcorn harvests in recent memory. Crops not irrigated were decimated, and low supplies continue to force local candy shops and giant movie theater chains alike to pay high prices for the golden grain, biting into their profit margin.

In 2012, commercial corn fetched record prices, and popcorn was no different. The low harvest is still working its way through the supply chain, from grain bins to wholesalers to retailers. Popcorn sellers are being squeezed with high material costs.

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State Week
6:15 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Listen To State Week - December 13, 2013

This week, among the topics of discussion: corporate tax incentives, interest on state bonds, and more on state pensions.

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Statehouse
4:25 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Patti Blagojevich Attends Husband's Appeal Hearing

The wife of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said she hopes her husband will win his freedom and that he could return home to rejoin her and their two school-aged daughters.  
Patti Blagojevich spoke Friday to reporters after attending a Chicago hearing to hear oral arguments in her husband's appeal of his corruption conviction. 

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Nation/World
3:48 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

2 Injured, Suspect Dead In Colorado School Shooting

A student armed with a shotgun killed himself after opening fire at a Colorado high school, wounding two fellow students, police said Friday.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the armed student entered the school and said he was looking for a specific teacher. Robinson said another student confronted the gunman and then was shot.

The Associated Press quotes a hospital spokesman as saying the wounded student was taken into surgery.

Robinson said police later found another student inside the school whose injuries were considered minor.

Regional
1:17 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Investigation Into Why Clinton Nuclear Plant Shut Down

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it has sent a team of specialists to a central Illinois nuclear plant to try to determine why a transformer failed and caused the plant to shut down.  
Officials say the incident happened Sunday night at the Clinton Nuclear Plant about 20 miles southeast of Bloomington.  

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Regional
10:04 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Hope Institute Says It Has Plan To Fix Issues

Credit hopeschool.org

A Springfield facility that houses children and young adults with developmental disabilities says it has drawn up a plan to correct problems identified by state investigators.  

Illinois child welfare officials and Springfield police have been investigating allegations of abuse and neglect at Hope Institute for Children and Families since November. No details have been made public.  

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Business
9:43 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Lawmaker Wants Boeing Plant For Decatur

Rep. Bill Mitchell
Credit RepMitchell.com

An Illinois lawmaker says he wants Boeing Co. to build a new manufacturing plant in Decatur.  
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/18GfBqF ) Forsyth Republican Rep. Bill Mitchell is hoping the Chicago-based aerospace company will build its new factory in the central Illinois community.  

Boeing is looking for a location to build its new 400-seat 777X jetliner.  
Boeing is looking at a $7 billion to $10 billion plant that would start with 3,250 workers in 2018 and grow to 8,500 by 2024.  

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Arts
4:15 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Chamber Orchestra Performs 'Britain's Beauty' Tonight

Alistair Willis
Credit AlistairWillis.com

The Illinois Symphony Chamber Orchestra’s season opens tonight with the sumptuous sounds of English string music in a performance of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, featuring versatile tenor William Burden and the ISO’s principal horn Stephen Hanrahan.

WUIS' Karl Scroggin spoke with Music Director and Conductor Alistair Willis about the performances...

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Concealed Carry Law
6:38 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

NRA Protests Digital Only Concealed Carry Applications

Credit concealcarry.org

A new Illinois State Police website launched today (12/12/13) lays out what gun-owners need to do if they want to carry a gun in public. A prominent gun-rights group is not satisfied.

The state police will begin accepting applications for concealed carry permits on Jan. 5. Anyone looking to save time can get started now.  There’s an online checklist that explains where gun-owners who want to speed up processing can go for fingerprinting.

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Statehouse
5:44 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

As He Readies Appeal, Blagojevich Lawyer Says Fmr. Gov. Faces Unusual Problem

Attorneys for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich are scheduled to argue their appeal Friday morning.

Blagojevich’s attorney Leonard Goodman says Blagojevich engaged in political horse-trading, not bribery or extortion.

"All of his plans which he discussed openly with his advisors were for basically political appointments," Goodman stated.

It’s an argument Blagojevich has made since he was arrested in 2008 and it’s an argument that has repeatedly failed.

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Education
11:55 am
Thu December 12, 2013

District 186 Makes Choice For Next Superintendent

Jennifer Gill

The  Springfield school board is negotiating with a local woman to become the district's next superintendent. 

The board hopes to extend an offer in early January to Jennifer Gill.   Gill has been working the past year as the director of teaching and learning in McClean County district five based in Normal.   Prior to that, she had worked as an administrator in the Springfield School District and was principal at Vachel Lindsey and McClernand elementary schools.

The 44 year old Gill has also taught in the Springfield and Jacksonville School Districts.   

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Statehouse
10:20 am
Thu December 12, 2013

State Wards Won't Be Moved From So. Ill. Developmental Center

Credit wsiu

A judge's ruling means 23 wards of the state will not be moved for now from a facility for the developmentally disabled in southern Illinois.
 
A federal lawsuit is seeking to block the state's closure of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.
 
Gov. Pat Quinn ordered Murray and other facilities closed last year as part of an effort to save the state money. The suit has delayed the transfer of more
than 200 residents of Murray to smaller facilities. Plaintiffs argue they won't get the care they need elsewhere.
 

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Regional
10:06 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Arrests Made For Alleged Looting Of Tornado Damaged Home

Credit wikimedia commons

Three Peoria men are in custody after investigators say they were looting a tornado-damaged home in the central Illinois community of Washington.

The Pekin Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/18WoXnT ) the trio was arrested Tuesday. They're set to appear in court on Thursday.  
All three are from Peoria and being held on felony looting charges.  

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Response to 'super bugs'
9:43 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Harvest Blog: FDA Pushing To Limit Livestock Antibiotics

Bob and Sandy Young's hog barn near Buckhart, Ill. (File: Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS)

The FDA wants to phase out antibiotics in meat.

Regulators released a broad plan Wednesday, designed to prevent meat producers from using drugs that are also used to treat sick humans. That means some changes Midwest farmers and ranchers will have to get used to.

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Fundraising
9:29 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Support WUIS, Save Money on Your Taxes*

Julie Staley & Brian Mackey
Randy Eccles WUIS

The first WUIS year end on-air drive ran December 12-16, 2013.  December is the month more charitable decisions are made than any other month.  A large reason for this is you have a better sense of your tax picture.  If you need a 2013 deduction, your support of WUIS will count*.  Please consider your first or an added gift to support WUIS news and public radio programs.  Click here to give now.

Over $57,000 was raised in the year end drive. 

Arts
6:26 am
Thu December 12, 2013

The Holly And The Ivy This Weekend At The Hoogland

Credit hcfta.org

This Friday through Sunday at the Hoogland, The Holly and the Ivy takes the stage.  WUIS' Sean Crawford spoke with Aasne Vigesaa, who plays Margaret Gregory and also serves as co-director.

The Holly and the Ivy is a captivating Christmas tale with a difference. Browne’s play, set in 1940s Norfolk, England, begins on Christmas Eve and slowly unfolds over 24 hours, during which time secrets are revealed, skeletons are wrenched out of closets, and lives are changed forever.

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Pans Tax Credits
6:19 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Madigan: Resist Temptation To Cave To Corporate Officials' Demands

House Speaker Michael Madigan readies to introduce a pension overhaul bill denounced by public employee unions, who say Illinois should instead close corporate tax loopholes. Madigan today (12/11) issued a statement saying Illinois lawmakers "must resist the temptation to cave to corporate officials' demands every time they impose a deadline for payment in exchange for remaining in Illinois."
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  

  A day after Office Depot announced it would stay in Florida rather than move to Illinois, the speaker of the House says Illinois needs to end its practice of offering tax incentives on a case-by-case basis.

    

The Illinois House is getting flak for adjourning earlier this month without voting on tax breaks approved by the Senate -- deals meant to lure the newly-merged Office Depot to Illinois, and to convince Archer Daniels Midland to keep its global headquarters in-state.

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Harvest Desk
5:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Pheasants Losing Habitat To Farmland

Farm-raised pheasants like this one, wearing blinders so it doesn't fight other birds, are being transported to areas that used to be known for pheasant hunting in order to prop up declining population.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As farmers across the Midwest have simplified the landscape and plowed up grassland to grow more corn and soybeans, habitat for pheasants, quail and other grassland birds has become increasingly scarce and their numbers are falling.

In Nebraska, wild pheasant concentrations have fallen 86 percent since their peak in the 1960's. The pheasant harvest during hunting season in Iowa is off 63 percent from the highs reached in the 1970's. In areas that used to be overrun, you’ll struggle to find a pheasant now.

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Higher Education
4:57 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Film Has Clues About Alma Mater's Real Color

Credit wikimedia

An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940's is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois.  

The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating ``Learning'' and ``Labor'' is being restored. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for decades.  

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Election 2014
4:42 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Brady, Hardiman Win Top Ballot Spots For Primary

Sen. Bill Brady will be the first Republican listed on next spring's primary ballot for governor.
Brady won a four-way lottery Wednesday to claim the coveted ballot position.
 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://tinyurl.com/ko4qusg ) that Democratic
incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn will be listed second on the Democratic side behind Tio
 Hardiman.
 
Brady, of Bloomington, will be followed on the March 18 ballot by Treasurer Dan
Rutherford of Chenoa, Hinsdale Sen. Kirk Dillard and venture
capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka.
 

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