On the 13-hundred block of Adams street in Springfield sits a building that's been used as a Masonic lodge for decades. What's not obvious by looking at it now - is that it was once the first black firehouse in Springfield, back when the city was segregated in the early nineteen-hundreds.
Molly Beck, Education Reporter for the State Journal Register, has been covering the search for a new superintendent for Springfield public schools. Her recent article outlined the costs associated with that search. Beck joined us to talk about that article and her findings:
Illinois has awarded contracts for computer upgrades intended to screen out people prohibited from carrying concealed weapons under the state's new gun legislation. The State Journal-Register reports on two contracts totaling more than $350,000.
Beardstown is home to the only courtroom where Abraham Lincoln practiced that is still hearing cases. And today that historic site gets a bit high tech. Touch screen monitors have been installed that will allow tourists to learn more about the site. Connie Foley, with the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum Commission tells how the effort began...
Wednesday is the last day individuals affected by extreme flooding in the spring can apply for federal assistance. Towns were evacuated. Homes destroyed. Fields turned to swamps. Rivers reached historic crests. Flooding that hit Illinois this spring was bad enough that President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for certain counties. Now is the deadline for Illinois residents impacted by flash and river flooding from April 16 to May 5 to get government help with recovery. Individual assistance - which businesses can also apply for - is available to residents of 35 counties. That's to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses. Five additional counties are eligible for public assistance - that's for the state, local governments and certain non-profit groups, who can use the money to help with debris removal and to help repair damaged public facilities. The application is at disasterassistance.gov.
Gov. Pat Quinn is hinting at the possibility of a special session on pensions when lawmakers are in Springfield next month for the Illinois State Fair. A bipartisan panel is attempting to come up with a solution to the nearly $100 billion crisis after the House and Senate remained deadlocked. However the panel blew past Quinn's deadline on pensions and he halted their pay as a consequence. Quinn told reporters Tuesday that legislators will be in Springfield for the annual days devoted to state political leaders. But he wouldn't specifically sayif that's his plan.
On this week's business report, we get an update on high speed rail work. $1.45 billion in contracts awarded now in Illinois; mostly for rail upgrades but still a lot of work to get to 110 mph trains on two-thirds of St. Louis-Chicago route in late 2015. Also, the Outlets at Springfield; A Pennsylvania developer David Ober says construction in Legacy Pointe,just south of Scheels will begin as soon as planners approve the large-scale design. It could open next year and promises more than 80 stores and 800 to 900 jobs.
The Lincoln family had its share of health problems, as did most living in the eighteen-hundreds. Local historian and author Glenna Schroeder-Lein recently wrote about it in a book called 'Lincoln and Medicine'.
She's also helped curate an exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum about medicine during the civil war era, which runs through November. Schroeder-Lein joins us to tell us more about her book and the exhibit:
Even as Congress looks to further roll back President Barack Obama's signature health care program, his home state is officially implementing a key part of it. Amanda Vinicky has more on a new Illinois law expanding Medicaid.
For the first time, low-income adults without children will be eligible for Medicaid.
Specifically ... adults within 138-percent of the poverty level, so someone making just under $16,000.
The Stanley Cup is returning to Springfield. Rocky Wirtz _ chairman of the 2013 National Hockey League champion Chicago Blackhawks _ announced Monday the trophy will appear at private events on July 29. It will go to a legislative reception at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, then for a photo with the Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Fighter Wing. The public may snap photos with the trophy when it arrives at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport at 7 a.m. and leaves the library and museum at 9 a.m.
Springfield guitarist and vocalist Carrie Jo Stucki also goes by CJ Thunder - and for good reason. The vivacious singer with a booming voice holds nothing back while she performs her original tunes. She's made a name for herself on the downtown Springfield circuit, frequently playing open mics, as well as with various other local musicians and bands. Stucki joined us at the WUIS studios to share some of her original tunes and tell us about her background:
Carrie Jo Stucki is joined by Dustin Strother on guitar, in this original tune by Stucki called ‘Unnamed Hymn’.
A Mississippi River ferry service linking southwestern Illinois' Jersey County to Missouri's St. Charles County is about to be back in business after being shut down for more than two years. The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1146MGq ) reports that the Grafton ferry will resume next Friday, thanks to dredging efforts that cleared out river silt that kept the service from operating.
Mayor Mike Houston has announced that Springfield's Chief of Police and top legal counsel are both on their way out.
Houston says Chief Robert Williams will take the rest of his accrued vacation time and retire in mid-October. Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen is expected to formally submit his resignation when he returns from a vacation out of the country.
In a Friday evening interview with WUIS, Houston called for a stop to the "innuendo and rumors" he says are "floating around" in the community.
An Illinois man convicted of fatally beating five members of his ex-wife's family in 2009 has been sentenced to life in prison. A judge sentenced Christopher Harris to five consecutive life sentences on Friday. The 34-year-old Harris faced a mandatory life sentence after he was convicted in May on five counts of first-degree murder, home invasion and other charges.
It could be months before law-abiding gun owners can get a permit to carry a handgun in public. But a separate provision of Illinois’ new concealed carry law has already taken effect.
Beginning July 19, communities lose the ability to enact local restrictions on firearms. Those ordinances that are already in place will remain valid, while any future controls would have to be approved by the legislature.
WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky gives the local gun control issue some historical context in this report:
Across the world, the drilling process referred to as "fracking" has caused controversy. Some say it brings heavy profits with the oil and natural gas it extracts from far underground. Others say it's caused pollution, contaminated water... and even initiated earthquakes. It's an issue Illinois residents have been largely untouched by - until now, as fracking has recently begun in the southern part of the state.
The Illinois Prairie Pastel Society aims to promote and foster creative use of the medium. It was established a few years ago, and what started with a handful of members has grown since then. The group has artwork on display at the Chatham Area Public Library. President of the group, George King, joins us now to talk about that exhibit and why the pastel society was formed in the first place.
Americans consume a lot of sweets. Even discounting all the high fructose corn syrup you find in soft drinks, the average consumer takes in about 40 pounds of refined sugar in a year, according to the USDA.
That means food companies from Nestle to Hostess and small neighborhood candy stores have to buy sugar. Lots of it. And those bakers and snack food makers say the government gives too much support to sugar growers and consumers are footing the bill.
A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency says he was pushed out for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from Illinois politicians.
Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout agreement, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds.
A somewhat unlikely coalition is calling on Illinois' Congressional delegation to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration policy.
At a Springfield roundtable discussing immigration, Mark Peters, an attorney with Peoria-based Caterpillar, started off his remarks by saying: "This would be a ... a really bad preface to a poor joke about a sheriff, a lawyer and a priest going into a bar..."
District 186 students might be on break, but many are still showing up at schools. Six different schools offer free meals to students during the summer months. In this story we take you to Butler Elementary, where lunch is being served:
Outside of the elementary school, right off of MacArthur Boulevard, kids are swinging, climbing equipment, and bouncing balls — but this isn't recess. They are waiting to be fed.
WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky speaks with John Kohlhepp, the newly selected Campaign Director for Illinois Unites for Marriage. The coalition is pouring about $2M into a new push to get same-sex marriage legislation approved in the Illinois House.