News

U.S Department of Agriculture

A beetle that has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across the country has spread into central Illinois.

The state's agriculture department says the emerald ash border has been confirmed in 14 new counties, including Sangamon, Logan and Menard.  

That brings the total counties infested to 50.  

Chase

James Glassman, Head Economist, Commercial Bank, JP Morgan Chase says the economic recovery is better than many people think.   Speaking at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce's Economic Outlook Breakfast, Glassman said this recovery is "in the fifth inning".  

Glassman says there are still two groups that haven't felt the recovery.  Those who are "involuntary" part time workers and students.   

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn headshots
brucerauner.com, quinnforillinois.com

Tune into WUIS 91.9 FM in central Illinois this Thursday, October 9 at 8 p.m. for a live debate between Governor Pat Quinn (D) and challenger Bruce Rauner (R) in this close Illinois gubernatorial campaign (this will also stream at WUIS.org and broadcast on WIPA 89.3 in west-central Illinois and other Illinois public radio and television stations).  The debate originates in Peoria.

WSIU

Brian Gaines has watched Illinois politics for 20 years.  The political scientist is with the University of Illinois's Institute for Government and Public Affairs. He says the current system of drawing legislative and congressional maps is bad and he hopes reformers can do something before the next re-map in 2020.

Gaines says there is too little transparency and too few people are involved.  The current map for Illinois' congressional district he says was created to help Democrats.   He says the public is not well served by maps that engineer outcomes. 

Starved Rock State Park

The state of Illinois has acquired 51 acres of land adjacent to Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby to provide more space for wildlife.  

In a news release, Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced that wildlife habitat land had also been acquired in Edgar, Woodford and Jackson counties.  

In the release, Quinn's office says the state bought the land next to Starved Rock with Open Land Trust funds from a private estate for the appraised value of $900,000.  

Lunch time at Harris Bilingual Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo., displays all the usual trappings of a public school cafeteria: Star Wars lunch boxes, light up tennis shoes, hard plastic trays and chocolate milk cartons with little cartoon cows. It’s pizza day, the most popular of the week, and kids line up at a salad bar before receiving their slice.

Macon County

Election officials say there are two days left for regular voter registration ahead of Nov. 4.  

Illinois residents who have a driver's license or state ID can register online through the State Board of Elections website through Tuesday.  

Starting Wednesday, voters have a chance to participate in ``grace period'' registration until Nov. 3.

The process will be a little different for those registering late. Residents must present two forms of identification to election officials in person. One of these forms must include a current address.  

Amanda Vinicky

First, the President held a $50,000 a head fundraiser for Pat Quinn.  This week, First Lady Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem are scheduled to be in Illinois to stump for him.  Over the weekend, it was actor Martin Sheen's turn to campaign alongside the Democratic governor.

According to the trade magazine "Variety," Martin Sheen made as much as $300,000 an episode for his role as Democratic Pres. Jeb Bartlet in the show "West Wing."

wikipedia/nyttend

An ancient site in present day Calhoun County is the source of intrigue among archaeologists.  Despite it's age and long known existence, little is known about the Golden Eagle site, near where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers meet.   It features mounds with an earthen enclosure.  Some believe it was a trading center. But questions are plenty.

Jason King is Director of Research for the Center for American Archaeology in Kampsville. 

He's researching the site and will speak about that work at the Illinois State Museum's next Science Series lecture Wednesday night. 

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

President Barack Obama was in Chicago this week backing Governor Pat Quinn's re-election bid, while questions about Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continue.

Courtesy of Illinois State Museum

First Friday is an event hosted by the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. It's from 5 to 8 pm (10/3) and will focus on local food, beer, entertainment, arts & crafts. The event is an attempt of the museum to draw in a crowd it might usually miss - young professionals. Families and children are also invited, and it's free to get in. Jennifer Snopko is with the museum and joined us for this interview about it:

CLICK HERE for more info about events at the museum.

wttw Chicago Tonight

 Illinois Republicans are mounting what they say is an unprecedented and costly campaign to purge ineligible people from voter lists and recruit their own election judges before November. 

It's a sign of how close the contest is expected to be for control of President Barack Obama's home state.  
Republicans have allocated $1 million in Cook County alone to examine voter rolls and recruit 5,000 GOP election judges to watch over polling places in Democrat-heavy Chicago. Efforts to go through voter rolls are underway in two counties east of St. Louis.  

Rodney Davis and Ann Callis headshots
U.S. House, callisforillinois.com

REGISTER TO ATTEND

Please suggest questions for the candidates in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

WUIS/Illinois Issues and AARP Illinois invite you to join us for a Congressional District 13 candidate debate between Congressman Rodney Davis (R) and his opponent Judge Ann Callis (D). 

What: Congressional District 13 Candidate Debate

When: Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Illinois Department of Corrections

The state agency that oversees prisons does not expect to make significant changes to its operations, following the escape of an inmate last week from a minimum security prison located about an hour east of St. Louis.

Officials issued an alert when 21-year-old Marcus Battice escaped from Vandalia Correctional Center, where he was serving time for stealing a car. Battice turned up the next morning, about three-and-a-half miles away.

History Series: The First Illinois Legislature

Oct 2, 2014
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

Today, we begin a series of stories sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society. Tara McClellan McAndrew, history columnist for the State Journal-Register, has written six pieces about local history that we'll air over the next three months.    In the fall of 1818, Illinois was still a large, mostly wild territory. But it would become a state before the end of the year, and it needed a state government. Illinoisans held elections and chose their first lawmakers, who created our state government from scratch: 

ill.gov

The chairman of the foundation behind the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says fundraising is drying up because of tensions between the library's executive director and the director of the state agency that oversees it.  

Wayne Whalen told a legislative panel Wednesday that the foundation has heard from numerous donors who don't plan on contributing money until problems are resolved. The foundation raised $4.7 million last year and has raised about $3.2 million so far this year.  

Grocery stores and restaurants serve up more than 400 million pounds of food each year, but nearly a third of it never makes it to a stomach.

With consumers demanding large displays of un-blemished, fresh produce or massive portion sizes, many grocery stores and restaurants end up tossing a mountain of perfectly edible food. Despite efforts to cut down on waste, the consumer end of the food chain still accounts for the largest share of food waste in the U.S. food system.  

One state university and four Illinois community colleges are kicking off new agricultural and environmental programs. That includes Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.

flickr/dnak

A watchdog group says whoever wins the race for governor is going to face difficult choices about Illinois’ prisons. The group on Wednesday is laying out what it’s calling a “roadmap” for overhauling crime and punishment — and wants to know where the candidates stand.

The non-partisan John Howard Association says decades of “tough on crime” policies have led Illinois to lock up 49,000 people in a system designed to hold 32,000.

Do you have a scary or spooky original story or original piece of writing: fiction or non-fiction? Would you like to hear it on the radio? WUIS is looking for Springfield area writers to share their frightening tales with us for the coming Halloween season. Maybe it’s a ghost story, or a remembrance of the time you forgot your kid at the grocery store. If it’s scary, send it our way! Email your writing to rotwe2@uis.edu, and we may be in touch to have you voice your story for our air.

Decatur's unemployment rate showed the biggest drop in the nation from a year ago. However that does not mean more people are working.

The jobless rate in Decatur is tied for the highest in the state with Rockford,  but the drop of  3.1% was the biggest decrease in the nation according to the federal agency that monitors such things.  

SJ-R.com

An area coal company says 300 jobs are a stake in Logan County.  Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal Register discusses that and Jimmy John's response to a security breach.

flickr

In recognition of the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Pat Quinn is touting its success, while at the same time backing away from having Illinois take a greater role in the program.

At first, Gov. Quinn was all about Illinois creating its own "exchange" -- a technical word for the portal where people can shop for coverage.

Instead, insurance companies and healthcare advocates couldn't agree on how to set one up. Timid lawmakers, afraid to look like they were embracing Obamacare ahead of the 2012 election, didn't help either.

The long line of semi-trucks waiting to get in the gates of the Farmland Foods plant could simply wait around for a few hours to head back, fresh products on board.

The trucks are loaded with hogs from several confinement operations near this factory in Milan, a small town in northeast Missouri. Within just 19 hours, those pigs will be slaughtered, butchered and boxed into cuts that consumers see in the grocery store and in restaurants.

But that effort will use only about half of the animal.

Chicago Magazine

Though Gov. Pat Quinn remains largely private about his personal life, he has been in the public eye for decades -- there were unsuccessful bids for treasurer, Secretary of State and the U.S. Senate, as well as successful ones for Illinois Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and, most recently, for Governor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois regulators are continuing to develop a plan to reduce the state's output of greenhouse gasses. Environmentalists say they have the Pat Quinn to thank. Or do they?

Illinois has had clean energy targets for years, but this latest effort isn't part of that. Rather, the state's Environmental Protection Agency and commerce commission are preparing for a proposed federal rule. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants.

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that back wages owed thousands of state government workers from 2011 to 2013 must be paid.
 
A panel of judges from the First District Appellate Court found that members of
the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees should get the
back pay and the Legislature's failure to appropriate enough money to cover the
raises is not a reason to renege on them.
 
The ruling supports an independent arbitrator's decision that the government's

rosmary/flickr

You have a chance to give your thoughts about public health in Sangamon County. 

Memorial Medical Center, St. John's Hospital and the Sangamon County Public Health Department are teaming up to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment.  Information is being gathered through five local forums starting this week and an online survey.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis have staked out opposing positions on whether to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.  

Oberweis is trying to unseat Durbin in November. They met Monday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board.  

Durbin says mandatory background checks would help keep convicted felons and mentally unstable people from getting guns. He says a federal law would reduce violence in places like Chicago, where police say felons get weapons from other states with weaker laws.  

On a wet, grey day in Grinnell, Iowa, the rain beats a rhythm on the metal roof of a packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm. Crew member Whitney Brewer picks big bunches of kale out of a washing tank, lets them drip on a drying table and then packs them into cardboard boxes.  

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