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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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Arts
12:41 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

When The Brain Won't Make Music

John Heasly
Credit Rich Egger/TriStates Public Radio

Acoustic guitarist John Heasly of Alexis was making a pretty good go of it playing bars and concert venues in the region.

But Heasly started finding it more and more difficult to finger pick – a style of playing in which the fingers and thumb move independently of one another.

“I just assumed it was because I wasn’t practicing enough,” Heasly said.

Yet the more he practiced, the more difficult it became to finger pick.

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Statehouse
11:48 am
Wed December 11, 2013

How The Pension Lawsuits Could Play Out

UI Law professor John Colombo
Credit University of Illinois

Several state employee unions are expected to file a lawsuit contesting Illinois' new pension measure.

A University of Illinois law professor says that action will start a process that could last as long as two years. 

John Colombo said any decisions will ultimately come from the state’s Supreme Court, but the process has to start in circuit court.

He expects unions to seek an injunction that would keep the reform plan from taking effect while the legal process plays out.

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Higher Education
7:26 am
Wed December 11, 2013

UIS Smoking Policy Under Scrutiny

Should the University of Illinois Springfield become smoke free?   The campus allows smoking outdoors, away from entryways.  But some want to see lighting up banned completely.

A task force has been talking with those who live and work on the campus, as well as those who visit.  

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Quinn Mum
6:11 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Illinois Loses Office Depot, Is ADM Next?

  A newly merged Office Depot chose to locate its headquarters in Florida, instead of Illinois. A Republican candidate for governor says Illinois needs to hurry if it doesn't want a similar fate with Archer Daniels Midland.

Archer Daniels Midland is based in Decatur now, and no matter what plans to keep many of its operations there. But it's searching for a new worldwide headquarters.

Chicago's in the running, but so are major cities.

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Harvest Desk
5:43 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

No Farm Bill This Year

Credit Flickr/Andrewmalone

Congress won’t pass a farm bill before early next year.

That was the message from Washington Tuesday, when the principal farm bill players emerged from negotiations and announced they won’t have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday.

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Arts
5:06 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Local Artist and Veteran Hosts First Gallery Opening

Midnight Beacon
Photo by Dan LoGrasso A Feral Gentleman Productions

December visitors to downtown Springfield's Café Andiamo will be greeted by the photography of artist and Springfield native Dan LoGrasso. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, LoGrasso has honed his camera skills as a military journalist on multiple international and domestic deployments.

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Statehouse
2:43 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

S & P Improves Financial Outlook For Illinois

Credit wikimedia

A major credit-rating house has taken a more positive
outlook on Illinois debt than it has in years after last week's pension-reform
vote.
 
Standard & Poor's affirmed its A- rating on state debt backed by general tax
revenue Tuesday but revised its outlook from ``negative'' to ``developing.''
 
The ratings agency says ``developing'' means the rating could be raised or
lowered in the next two years. Analyst Robin Prunty says the change is positive
but risk remains because workers unions will likely sue over the pension law

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Science
10:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

State Museum Lecture Will Examine Secret Lives Of Paleoindians

Credit Illinois State Archaeological Survey

This month's Illinois State Museum science lecture will focus on the Secret Lives of Paleoindians.  Dr. Thomas Loebel of the Illinois State Archaeological Society will present his research on these early inhabitants of North America and show that there was more to their societies than simply being nomadic hunters.  

He's completed digs throughout the mid west including Illinois and Wisconsin and says much has been learned...

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Lincoln
8:53 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Lincoln Letters Discovered In San Marino

A country can't be too small or too far away, apparently, to get in on the craze for Lincoln memorabilia.  
Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says in a statement that the tiny European nation of San Marino has helped turn up letters to Lincoln.
 
An 1861 letter from San Marino's joint heads of state bestows honorary citizenship on Lincoln. It also expresses hope for peace in the U.S. In a
response, the 16th president writes the Civil War involves the question of  whether a country can save itself from internal division.
 

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Business
8:45 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ameren Told To Lower Rates

Utility regulators say Ameren Illinois needs to lower
its electricity delivery rate in 2014.
 
The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1bsYiJy ) the Illinois Commerce Commission says the utility needs to cut its delivery rate by $45
million.
The decision was announced Monday during an annual review and is set to take effect starting Jan. 1.
 
Ameren officials say they're still reviewing the ruling.    They had planned to lower the delivery rate by $37 million. 

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Statehouse
8:42 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Forums To Explain The New Law

Advocates who pressed for same-sex marriage to become legal in Illinois are now sponsoring forums to help gay and lesbian couples understand the law.

Equality Illinois'  Director of Public Policy, Randy Hannig, says he already has been "flooded" with questions from couples who want to marry.

'We're using it as an opportunity to educate," Hannig said.  "We did the same thing three years ago after the civil unions law was signed."

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Rail
2:43 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Open House Scheduled For 3rd St. Rail Improvements

Credit WUIS

A hearing Tuesday afternoon in Springfield will explain improvements to the  3rd Street rail line.
Springfield leaders breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced rail traffic would be consolidated along 10th Street.  They had concerns of more and faster trains traveling through the heart of downtown.  But while the 10th Street corridor is being revamped, the  trains won't wait.  That means safety improvements are needed along 3rd Street.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Sen. Mark Kirk Hospitalized for Gall Stones

Sen. Mark Kirk takes the stage a Repbulican rally at the 2013 Illinois State Fair.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has had his gall bladder removed. The procedure happened Monday morning at a hospital in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Kirk checked himself in to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital on Saturday. He reported feeling pain in his abdomen. Doctors diagnosed gall stones, and decided to remove his gall bladder.

Dr. Kim Sobinsky did the 30-minute operation. He says most patients recover pretty quickly.

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Regional
4:26 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Menard Co. State's Attorney Cause Of Death Identified

Kenneth Baumgarten

The Sangamon County Coroner has released more details on the cause of death for the Menard County State's Attorney.   Kenneth Baumgarten, who lived in Petersburg, died Friday night .  He was 55.

Coroner Cinda Edwards says after a review of medical documents,  her office has determined the cause of death for Kenneth Baumgarten to be Pulmonary Embolism.  She also says the death will be certified as accidental due to an injury Baumagarten sustained early in November.

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Politics
3:21 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Former Diplomat And U.S. Senate Candidate Rich Williamson Dead At 64

Rich Williamson
Credit wikepedia

The Illinois Republican Party has confirmed Rich Williamson has died.  He passed away Sunday.

The Chicago resident was a long-time leader in the Illinois GOP. He lost a nationally watched campaign against Carol Moseley Braun in 1992. She went on to become the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.  

Williamson was chairman of the state Republican Party from 1999-2001 and has served as Republican National Committeeman for Illinois since 2010. He served in diplomatic roles under three presidents and authored numerous books and articles.  

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Stuart Levine
2:56 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Political Fix Theater: Apology Not Accepted

A playbill from "I Wish to Apologize to the People of Illinois," a show about consummate political insider turned e-cigarette salesman Stuart Levine, who was a key FBI informant in the "Operation Board Games" investigation."
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The curtains are closing on the Chicago play "I Wish to Apologize to the People of Illinois" -- a timely production, given that today, Dec. 9, marks five years since Rod Blagojevich's arrest. Two trials later, he was convicted on 18 counts of corruption. At Blagojevich's sentencing hearing, the former governor said he was sorry for his mistakes. But Blagojevich was not the one making apologies in this show. He's not even a character -- just someone who gets mentioned now and again.

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Education
2:06 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Teacher's Strike In Mount Olive

Teachers at the school district in Mount Olive have gone on strike.  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1cwtFY4) teachers went on strike Monday morning in Mount Olive School District No. 5 in Macoupin County. The town is 50 miles south of Springfield. The teachers' union and school district couldn't agree on a new three-year contract.  

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Ethics Anniversary
1:33 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

December Ninth: A Big Day On Illinois' Ethics Timeline

Then Gov. Rod Blagojevich's mug shot, taken on the morning of his arrest, on Dec. 9, 2008.
Credit wikipedia.org

 December Ninth is a significant day in Illinois' political history: for better, and for worse.

On Dec. 9, 2003 "the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act was signed into law," Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Morrison says.

That was Illinois lawmakers' response to the Hired Truck scandal that landed former Gov. George Ryan in prison. It created inspectors general with subpoena power, limited lobbyists' wining and dining of officials, and set conduct standards for state workers.

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Campaign Caps Lifted
7:15 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Blagojevich's Arrest Anniversary: Reason To Celebrate?

Credit WBEZ

  It's been five years to the day since FBI agents arrived at then Governor Rod Blagojevich's house to arrest him on charges of corruption. Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence, and for most Illinois politicians it's good riddance. Amanda Vinicky reports. 

Fresh off the General Assembly's passing a law to overhaul the state's pensions, I had the chance to catch up with House Speaker Michael Madigan:

VINICKY: "It's the five year anniversary of Blagojevich's arrest coming up ... any reaction, any ...

MADIGAN: "Yeah, we should … celebrate."

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Local Music
7:00 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Epsom Offers Music Scene Shock Rock & Sarcasm

Local band Epsom is Steven Sgro on vocals and guitar, Scott Faingold on vocals, Timothy Harte on drums, and Kristopher Zander on guitar. The group describes their music as "gratuitous shock rock." They joined us recently in the Suggs Studio for this set of performances and an interview: 

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