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Harvest Desk
1:59 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Report: Farmers Could Do More To Lessen Impact Of Drought

Credit plantcovercrops.com

Farmers across the country received more than $17-Billion in federal crop insurance  payouts after last year’s drought. A report by one environmental group blames farmers for not doing enough to shield the soil against the heat. 

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Springfield City Government
10:32 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Houston: I'll Start Thinking About Re-Election Next Spring

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

The city of Springfield is still nearly two years away from a mayoral election.  But half-way through a term he had said would be his last, Mike Houston is now hinting at the possibility of re-election.

Mayor Houston says he's not made any decisions about his political future at this time, but he says they may come in sring 2014.

Houston says his decision-making will be likely affected by long-term challenges facing the city, such as road and sewer improvements, consolidation of train traffic and a search for a source of water to supplement Lake Springfield: 

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Springfield City Government
9:26 am
Wed September 4, 2013

City To Help Foot Bill For EPA Coal Tar Cleanup

Aerial view of Factory Street in Springfield, where environmental remediation efforts will begin to remove coal tar
Credit Google Maps

The city of Springfield has agreed to pay the EPA an estimated $1.6 million to clean up coal tar seeping out of the ground on the city's northeast side.

This fall the Environmental Protection Agency will send contractors to dig up Factory Street, about five blocks north of Lanphier High School.

The city owns part of the site where Springfield Iron Co. used to operate in the 1900's.  A power substation and water storage tank sit there today.

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Education
9:01 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Higher Ed Leader Says President's Plan Reflects Illinois Efforts

Dr. Harry Berman
Credit uis.edu

President Obama has plans for higher education in the U-S.  His ideas are a mix of old and new, aimed at keeping college affordable for students but also trying to raise the bar on quality of instruction.
In Illinois,  some of what the President wants is already part of the landscape.  For example, Illinois has moved toward tying a small portion of state funding to graduation rates and other metrics.  
The Illinois Board of Higher Education's Executive Director says some of the other changes the President is pushing won't be so easy.  

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Election 2014
6:27 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Political Newcomer Rauner Seeks To Overhaul Statehouse

During Republican Day at the state fair over the summer, candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said Illinois is in a "death spiral." He repeated the phrase in an interview about his petition drive, seeking a 2014 ballot question to institute legislative term limits.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is drumming up his campaign for governor with a second campaign. Rauner, a Republican, is trying to get a question on the 2014 ballot that could lead to major changes in state government.   He says he'll donate a sizable portion of his personal fortune into the effort.   Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky spoke about it with him at length in the following interview:

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Election 2014
4:40 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Dillard Calls Rauner Plan 'Slap In The Face To Downstate'

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters in this Aug. 15 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Of the four Republicans running for governor, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is the only one who's never before served in government. But he's already looking to change it, and in significant ways.

Rauner is heading a petition drive to institute term limits, to make it harder for legislators to override a governor's veto, and to reduce the size of the General Assembly. His plan adds a handful of members to the Illinois House, but takes away 18 senators.

Rauner says that'll make elections more competitive.

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Election 2014
11:50 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Jil Tracy Chosen As Running Mate

Jil Tracy speaks at campaign rally Tuesday in Quincy.
Credit Jason Parrott/Tri States Public Radio

State Senator Kirk Dillard has selected a west-central Illinois lawmaker to join him on the ballot in his bid to be the state’s next Governor.  State Representative Jil Tracy stood before a crowd of about 150 in Quincy’s Washington Park and accepted Dillard’s request to run as lieutenant governor.

The Quincy Republican says she took a close look at all of the Republican candidates for Governor before making her decision.

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Harvest Desk
6:03 am
Tue September 3, 2013

My Farm Roots: Community Counts

Matt Pauly grew up in rural Kansas. After living in Europe and Asia, he moved back to the Midwest and now lives in Lawrence, Kan.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

This is the thirteenth 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.

Matt Pauly has traveled the world  – he’s lived in New York, Paris, South Korea – but he’s still a farm boy at heart.

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Gambling
5:18 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Wager: 24-Hour Casinos?

Credit Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Gaming Board is set to consider lifting a restriction that forbids casinos from staying open 24 hours a day. 

Illinois' casinos have previously tried, and failed, to get the okay to keep their doors open 24-7. Now they're trying again. The Gaming Board will consider a proposal Sept. 14.

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Harvest Desk
5:17 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Illinois County Relied Heavily On Crop Insurance Last Year

Tim Kelly, a John Deere dealer in Pontiac, Ill, says crop insurance payments kept business going as normal. Unlike after the drought of 1988.
Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

Farmers in the Midwest were devastated by a crippling drought in 2012. The federal crop insurance program paid out a record $17.3 billion. And in rural America, that money is still paying dividends. To understand the impact, Harvest Public Media reporter Bill Wheelhouse took a tour of Livingston County, Illinois. Farmers here received by far the biggest insurance payout in the nation.

On this sweltering day in mid-August, surrounded by healthy 8-foot tall corn stalks, Doug Wilson peels back the husks to see how his corn is looking. The verdict?

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Statehouse
5:21 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Quinn Again Pushes For Minimum Wage Hike

Gov. Pat Quinn is again making a push for raising Illinois' minimum wage.  
The Chicago Democrat has been visiting black churches in the Chicago area as he ramps up his 2014 re-election bid. On Sunday, he told congregants at Missionary Baptist Fellowship Church that helping those who live in poverty is a principle as old as the Bible.  
Illinois last raised the minimum wage in 2010.  

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Harvest Desk
5:08 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Farm Progress Show: Large Crowds, No Records

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Radio

Organizers of this year's Farm Progress Show say they'll wait to decide whether to keep an onsite annex when the nation's largest outdoor farm show returns to Decatur in 2015.  
This year's three-day show had about 600 vendors _ the most in its 60 year history. With so many vendors, organizers added an annex for new exhibitors.  

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Regional
5:06 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Christian County Considers New Jail

Christian Co. Sheriff Bruce Kettlekamp
Credit http://www.christiancountyil.com/sheriff.htm

Christian County officials say they may need a new jail to replace an aging facility that's often overcrowded and has a bad roof and leaking pipes.  
The jail in Taylorville was built in 1975 and was originally designed to hold about two dozen inmates. It's since been updated, but some weekends has as many as 60 inmates. When it's that crowded, some inmates have to sleep on the floor on mats.  
Sheriff Bruce Kettlekamp says the prison is ``busting at the seams.''  

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Harvest Desk
5:43 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Drought Is Back In West Central Illinois

Credit flickr/dabadoo

West central Illinois is now in what is being called a moderate drought.  That's despite a relatively cool and wet start to the summer.

The US Drought Monitor's latest map shows moderate drought for the western half of Sangamon County and farther west all the way into Missouri.  

The state's climatologist, Jim Angel,  says most droughts move slow and take 3-6 months to develop. However, sometimes they can move  fast if conditions are right, leading to the term “flash drought”. This situation appears to be developing west central Illinois.

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Rail Consolidation
3:49 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Springfield Gets Money For Rail Underpass

Credit WUIS/Peter Gray

The federal government has awarded a $14.4 million grant for a railroad underpass in Springfield that will improve service along the emerging 110-mph Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis.  
Four members of Congress from Illinois announced the award Friday.  
The Carpenter Street underpass is part of work to consolidate rail traffic on a line east of downtown.  
It will eliminate three street-level crossings, improving the safety of faster rail service through the state capital. It will also keep first responders from getting stuck at crossings.  

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General Assembly
3:26 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Cook County's Durkin Elected House GOP Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) bested Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield) as Illinois House Republicans’ new leader. Despite a “scuffle” over the leadership post in past days, Durkin and Poe presented a united front after the closed-door caucus meeting at the Statehouse Inn in Springfield Thursday.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  In a rare turn of events, Illinois' General Assembly will have a leadership change mid-way through the two-year legislative session. It's set in motion by House Republican Leader Tom Cross's decision to step down, he's expected to soon announce a run for state treasurer. Republican members of the House met Thursday in Springfield to choose his replacement. Longtime Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) claimed the title.

It wasn't supposed to happen so fast.

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Statehouse
3:11 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Listen to State Week - August 30, 2013

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Topics this week: Leadership change for Illinois House Republicans and a state lawmaker forgoes a bid for governor in the next election.

This week's guest is Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises.

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National Cemetery
6:17 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Decorated Army Vet To Oversee Camp Butler

Michael Henshaw
Credit www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-henshaw/27/582/297

An Army veteran who earned two bronze stars for combat operations in Iraq has been named the new director of Camp Butler National Cemetery.
 
Michael Henshaw has served 25 years with the Army.   In addition to having served in Iraq, he's also taken part in operations at Fort Lee, Virginia and in Naples, Italy.
 
Camp Butler, between Springfield and Riverton, is located on part of what was Illinois' second-largest military training camp during the Civil War.
 

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Bedrock 9/7
6:32 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Rosie Flores' "Female Elvis" Project Plays Springfield 9/7

Credit David Landis

Rosie Flores started a Kickstarter project in 2011 to record, "The Female Elvis," Janis Martin.  Martin died shortly after the sessions.  Flores completed the project and has now released the recording.  Flores has partnered with Marti Brom in a rockabilly tribute to Martin.  They will play WUIS' Bedrock 66 Live Saturday, September 7 at 8 p.m.  

Tickets are available at 217-523-2787 or purchase them online from the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Watch Flores Kickstarter appeal video below for some background on Martin:

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Election 2014
5:48 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Sen. Raoul Won't Run For Governor

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago)
Credit Kwame Raoul/Facebook

State Sen. Kwame Raoul says he's not jumping into the 2014 race for Illinois governor.  

The Chicago Democrat has been weighing a run for months and had boosted his fundraising.  
But he said in a statement Thursday he must focus on his role as chairman of a legislative conference committee that's working on Illinois' pension crisis.  
He says he made his decision after talking with his family and evaluating his resources. He also says he didn't want to ``create unnecessary divisions.''  

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Road Show
4:50 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Moving To Chicago

The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield is undergoing a yearlong rehabilitation project.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will meet in Chicago for at least the next year while the court's usual home in Springfield is undergoing a major renovation.

The $12.6 million project began this summer. Workers are completely redoing the century-old building's ventilation system, as well as restoring the historic murals that line the walls of the courtroom.

Spokesman Joe Tybor says the move to Chicago is a big change for the justices.

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Minority Report
3:51 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

House Republicans Choose Durkin For Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin, left, was chosen by his colleagues to be the new House Republican leader. Rep. Raymond Poe, right, had also sought the office, but in the end endorsed Durkin.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House have a new leader: longtime Rep. Jim Durkin of suburban Western Springs. Lawmakers met in Springfield today to choose a replacement for outgoing House Minority Leader Tom Cross. 

Republicans aren't just the minority party in the Illinois House. They're in the super-minority, with 47 members to Democrats' 71. Durkin says he'll work to slim those margins.

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Arts
10:35 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Musicians Create "Sound Portraits"

Credit http://werticocainandgray.wordpress.com

Combining audio and visual effects, three Illinois musicians have joined up to create an act that defies conventional genres.

The trio plays a host of electronic and acoustic instruments - everything from saxophone, to cello, to the iPad.

The group recently released an album that is 100% improvised, as well as a DVD of those performances. They call their production, "Sound Portraits".

The three will be performing live again on August 31 as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival.

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Election 2014
8:31 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Running For Lieutenant Governor Is A Risky Business

Though he hasn't decided who to support in the Republican primary race for governor, Niles Township committeeman Joe Hendrick is happy to pose with one of the candidates, Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) at GOP Day at the state fair. Four years ago when he was Republicans' nominee for governor, Brady didn't have any say in who his running mate would be; for the first time this election gubernatorial candidates get to choose a lieutenant governor, before the primary.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

   For the first time, candidates for governor in Illinois will choose their second in command. They used to get stuck with whomever primary voters choose for lieutenant governor -- whether the two got along or not. It's an opportunity for candidates to find a running mate they work well with, or perhaps someone to balance out the ticket. Still, the new selection process might have unintended consequences.

 

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Harvest Desk
5:11 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Weather The Top Issue At Farm Progress Show

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Hot weather has been greeting visitors to this years Farm Progress Show in Decatur.  And as the show enters its final day Thursday, the head of a national trade group says weather is also on the mind of midwest farmers attending the event. 

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Child Care
4:37 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

New Rules Proposed For Day Care Centers

Credit childcarecenter.us

Illinois is considering rules to limit what kids at day care centers can eat, how much TV they can watch and how much exercise they must receive.  It's part of an efforts to curb obesity in young children. 
Estimates show 1 in 5 children under the age of five are considered obese.  With so many kids in day care, experts say it's a good place to start developing healthy habits. 

The plan would get rid of high fat and sugary snacks, limit access to juice and ban chocolate milk.  

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Eyes In The Skies
6:42 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Law Enforcement Drones Will Require A Warrant (With A Few Exceptions)

Credit http://www.infouas.com/la-policia-de-california-dispuesta-a-emplear-drones/

Illinois will regulate the use of drones by law enforcement under a bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday. Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman says the governor signed the law to protect people's right to privacy.
 
Drones are sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are considering for aerial surveillance. The law requires authorities to obtain a search warrant before using a drone to collect information.    
 

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Statehouse
2:56 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

ACLU Hires Former GOP Chair's Firm To Lobby For Same Sex Marriage

Bill Brady
Credit WBEZ

The American Civil Liberties Union has hired a consulting firm started by the Illinois Republican Party's former chairman to help with efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. 

Pat Brady left his GOP post earlier this year after he said he supported gay marriage. He later started what he describes as a government affairs firm with Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.  

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Business
2:51 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

WUIS/SJ-R Business Report: August 27, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis joins us to talk about the possibility of faster freight trains along Springfield's Third Street corridor and an upcoming corn crop survey in Sangamon County:

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Arts
10:56 am
Tue August 27, 2013

"Hidden In Plain Sight" Art Exhibit

Credit Springfield Art Association

Those everyday items that have a story to tell are the focus of a new Springfield Art Association exhibit called "Hidden In Plain Sight: The Material World of Early Springfield."  It will explore the art, architecture and decorative arts of antebellum Springfield. 

It opens August 31 and runs through October 5.  The public is invited to the opening and to visit the gallery at 700 North 4th Street during normal business hours. 

A free lecture series each Thursday at 7 p.m. in September.

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