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8:19 am
Tue February 11, 2014

La Salle: An Explorer Who Charted A Legacy

Credit wikipedia

Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle died more than 300 years ago.  But his achievements can still be felt today in Illinois and the midwest.

"He had a vision. He had a big dream.  That was to connect Canada, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River," historian Mark Walczynski said.  

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Affordable Care Act
5:06 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Area Man Signs Up For Health Insurance Via Satire Website

Credit Get Covered Illinois

A new banner of ads will top The Onion website. This is the state's latest effort to get young people to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The Onion is known for its satire, but this is no joke.

As the Affordable Care Act's March 31 deadline approaches, Illinois officials are trying to get a demographic they call the "Young Invincibles" to sign up. 

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Harvest Desk
2:59 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Harvest Blog: Crop Insurance To Cover Midwest Cucumbers, Cherries

Michigan, Indiana and Illinois are major producers of cucumbers that wind up in pickle jars around the country
Credit en.wikipedia.org

Passage of the Agriculture Act of 2014 brought with it good news for fans of pickles and cherry pies.  

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Election 2014
2:42 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Lawsuit Filed; Rutherford Denies Wrongdoing

Illinois Treasurer and candidate for Governor Dan Rutherford
Credit danrutherford.org

A former employee in Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and that the Republican gubernatorial candidate made him do political work on state time.  
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Chicago's federal court on behalf of Ed Michalowski. He was a lawyer and director in Rutherford's office.  

The complaint alleges Rutherford made inappropriate sexual advances toward Michalowski, among other things.  
Rutherford has said there's ``absolutely no truth'' to the former employee's claims.  

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Election 2014
12:57 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Durbin Disappointed With GOP Governor Candidates

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks to reporters at his home on Sunday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is criticizing the Republican field of candidates governor for their stances on low-income workers and the unemployed.

It's an ongoing battle the Democratic senator is fighting in Congress, mirrored in the race for the governor's mansion: raising the minimum wage.

The four Republican candidates for governor oppose raising the minimum wage in Illinois, which is currently $8.25 an hour.

One reason they've given is that mostly high school and college students work minimum wage jobs. Senator Durbin says that isn't so.

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District 186
11:05 am
Mon February 10, 2014

District 186 Considers Tax Referendum Possibilities

Springfield's district 186 is struggling to fill a 5 million dollar gap in the budget for the coming school year. A group of parents and community members say they have an answer to supplementing the district's budget: raise property taxes. But passing a referendum will prove challenging. And if it's going to happen, some say efforts to get the word out need to ramp up now. 

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Lincoln
11:04 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Lincoln Birthday Events At Old State Capitol

The U.S. Postal Service has a present for Abraham Lincoln fans this week.   On his birthday Wednesday, a new stamp will be unveiled at the Old State Capitol depicting Lincoln.  

It's part of events that will mark the 205th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.  

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Harvest Desk
5:00 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Propane Price Spike Hitting Hog, Poultry Farms

Week-old piglets are kept under electric heat lamps while feeding
Peter Gray/WUIS

Residents across the Midwest are struggling with tight propane supplies, especially in this bitterly cold, snowy winter. Homes in rural counties are not the only places lacking adequate heating fuel. Farms that put bacon and eggs on your breakfast plate are also feeling the supply pinch.

Hog farmer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., burns liquid propane – LP - from September through May to support his piglets. His farrowing barn goes through about two semi truckloads of LP each year.

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Arts
3:01 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Interview: Annie Leibovitz In Springfield

Annie Leibovitz looks at photos from her exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield. At left are Lincoln's hat and gloves he had with him the night of his assassination.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The photographer Annie Leibovitz is best known for shooting celebrities. Her elaborately staged work is a staple of Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines. But a few years ago, she set out on a more personal project — a pilgrimage to capture places and objects connected to people who've inspired her, including Abraham Lincoln.

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9:33 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

WUIS Is An Outlet For Community Engagement

Lead in text: 
It's always nice when the boss gives you a shout out...
Since its founding 40-plus years ago as Sangamon State University, the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois has sunk its roots deep into the Springfield area.The university and its growing alumni community contributes in countless ways to the economic, social and cultural advancement of the region at the same time that UIS students benefit from the university's location in Springfield and central Illinois.This intentional connection between campus and community is what the Carnegie
Harvest Desk
2:21 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Why Cutting The Ethanol Mandate May Not Ruin The Rural Economy

Just outside of Central City, Neb., is the Green Plains Energy ethanol plant, a facility that can produce 100 million gallons of ethanol each year.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The EPA wants to roll back the amount of ethanol mixed into the fuel supply for 2014, worrying farmers across the Corn Belt. Ethanol supporters warn that if the EPA follows through, the rural economy will take the fall. But many economists predict a soft landing.

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Statehouse
2:14 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Listen To State Week - February 7, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Among the topics this week: State Treasurer Dan Rutherford denies allegations of sexual harassment and Governor Pat Quinn moves the annual Budget Address to late March.

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Harvest Desk
10:37 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Obama Signs Farm Bill, Announces Rural Export Initiative

President Obama signs the 2014 Farm Bill
whitehouse.gov

One of the key farm bill negotiators says the nation has entered “a new era of farm and food policy.” 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) said the legislation President Obama signed into law Friday “values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs and yet still providing an effective safety net for the production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling.”  Read Lucas' full statement here

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Statehouse
6:46 am
Fri February 7, 2014

How Large Is Illinois' Pension Debt? Depends On Who You Ask

Credit MT_Image/Flickr

The controversial new law that overhauls pensions for Illinois public workers is now facing legal challenges.

But even before it was passed, experts had been fighting over exactly how big the state’s pension crisis really is. The answer to that math problem could have a big impact on your wallet.

When pundits and politicians and reporters talk about Illinois’ monster pension problem...there’s this number that keeps coming up.

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Regional
8:57 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

So. Ill. Town Has No Squad Cars Left

Credit VillageofIna.com

A small southern Illinois community is without any police cars after separate accidents heavily damaged the department's only two squad cars.  

The police chief in the village of Ina says the first car was damaged last week when it was hit by an ambulance. The second car was wrecked on Tuesday when it was hit by a semi-truck on a snowy highway.  
No one was injured in either collision.  

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School safety
4:48 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

School Security Task Force Never Formed, Could Get Second Chance

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  When tragedy strikes, politicians often line up to say they'll do something to make sure it doesn't happen again. But the follow-up can lag early promises. That's what happened after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

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Election 2014
2:53 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Brady Says His Debate Remark Was "Insensitive"

Sen. Bill Brady
Credit ilga.gov

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bill Brady says he was ``insensitive'' when he said out-of-work people don't want jobs because they enjoy collecting unemployment benefits.

The state senator from Bloomington told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register Wednesday he ``didn't take into consideration there are a number of people out there looking for jobs who don't want to be on unemployment.''  

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Statehouse
10:52 am
Thu February 6, 2014

ACA Navigator Program Under Question

Credit ilga.gov

Republicans are calling for a review of the state’s management of Affordable Care Act navigators. Lee Strubinger has the report.   

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Local Bands
10:51 am
Thu February 6, 2014

The Complaint Line: Love, Marriage And Rock & Roll

http://thecomplaintlinemusic.com

It's no secret that marriage, disagreements, and nagging can sometimes go hand-in-hand.

And, with lyrics highlighting the challenges of romantic relationships, a local wedded pair has started a band together - calling it 'The Complaint Line'.

The duo is joined by two others who complete the rock set. The group (Shawnda Phillips on bass and vocals, John Phillips on guitar and vocals, Dayton Cripe on guitar and vocals, and Randy Anderson on drums) recently joined Rachel Otwell in the Suggs Studio for this performance and chat: 

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Regional
6:00 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Springfield's Fight Against Panhandling

Credit wuis.org

Springfield's effort to reduce panhandling in the downtown area is facing a legal challenge.   While business owners say a city ordinance has worked, critics say it infringes on free speech rights.
 

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Regional
5:39 am
Thu February 6, 2014

New Lincoln Stamp To Be Unveiled Feb. 12

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

A new commemorative stamp will be released to mark Abraham Lincoln's 205th birthday.  

U.S. Postal Service officials will be on hand Feb. 12 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield for an unveiling ceremony for the new stamp, which features an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  

Lincoln and his family lived in Springfield for more than two decades before he was elected as the country's 16th president in 1860. Lincoln worked out of the capitol building as both a lawyer and a politician.  

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Statehouse
4:58 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Cullerton Taunts GOP Over Budget Delay

Senate President John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

The campaign for governor seeped into a debate in the Illinois Senate Wednesday. It let senators get into a little partisan elbowing.

Legislators were in town for just two days of session this week, and they only passed one bill. It lets Gov. Pat Quinn delay his budget address from mid-February to the end of March. The administration says it needs the delay to continue crunching numbers.

Republicans, however — like Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale — say Quinn has something else on his mind.

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Education funding
3:21 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Manar: Public School Funding Needs Overhaul

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

  Illinois schools have seen state funding cut again and again in recent years. A Democratic lawmaker wants to change how that money is distributed. But it remains to be whether they can get more money in the system.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) says inequality is basically guaranteed by Illinois' complicated education funding laws. That's because it's based on property taxes, so schools in impoverished areas can struggle to get by.

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Minimum wage for personal service workers
3:06 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Home Health Workers Ask For Higher Wages

Tressa Wilson (far left) and Charlotte Cronin (middle) present boxes full of postcards to Gov. Pat Quinn's spokesman, Dave Blanchette. Wilson and Cronin traveled to Springfield to urge Quinn and the General Assembly to pass a higher wage law for personal service workers.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  There are thousands of personal support workers in Illinois — home care workers who provide support to developmentally disabled people, and those with other special needs. Advocates say the average wage for the field is just over nine dollars and they're calling for an increase.

Tressa Wilson is one of the thousands of personal support workers in Illinois who see to the needs of those with disabilities — needs ranging from feeding and bathing to companionship and general care.

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Education
9:48 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Girls On The Run Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Girls On The Run of Central Illinois combines being active with self awareness.  The after school program for girls in 3rd through 8th grades has been in the area for 10 years. 

Jennifer Sublett is Executive Director.  She said the program has now served over 3,400 girls.  

"They're learning all about themselves. They're learning about self esteem," Sublett said.  Community is also a big part of the curriculum.  Participants complete a community service project.

And, they run.

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Springfield
5:58 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Winslow Expected To Get Police Chief Job

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

After more than 6 months as Acting Springfield Police Chief, Kenny Winslow has been nominated for the job on permanent basis.  

Winslow assumed his role July 29th, after Robert Williams resigned following a file shredding scandal.  
Winslow says there are several things at the department that need to be done. 

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Statehouse
4:04 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Big Revenue Drop If Income Tax Rate Falls

Rep. John Bradley
Credit housedem.state.il.us

Illinois lawmakers are beginning to confront the huge hole expected in next year's state budget.
The temporary income tax increase of a few years ago is set to roll back at the end of this year. Lawmakers are being told Illinois will have $1.58 billion less to spend next year.

"The budget is going to be one of the, if not the big issue, as it generally is," said Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).

Bradley is chairman of the House Revenue Committee.

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Statehouse
3:59 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Illinois House GOP Wants To Restrict Lame Duck Sessions

Retiring Rep. Kay Hatcher says she's astounded how often people tell her it's okay to vote for bill because she isn't running.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House are trying to head off a post-election tradition... taking up  controversial legislation when it's too late for voters to do anything about it. 

Rewind to January, 2011.
Newly-elected members to the General Assembly were about to be sworn in.  But before the turnover, the old General Assembly took a few final votes.  Support from retiring legislators and those who'd lost their elections helped pass laws, like one that abolished the death penalty, and another that increased Illinois' income tax.

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Harvest Desk
3:37 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

U.S. Senate Approves Farm Bill

After more than two years of debate on Capitol Hill, a new farm bill is poised to become law after both the U.S. House and Senate approved it.
Credit andrewmalone/Flickr

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were among the 68 "yea" votes.  To view Durbin's video statement on the farm bill vote, click here.

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Regional
2:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Springfield's Road Salt Supply Runs Low

Credit springfield.il.us

It's been a hard winter for area residents.  Governmental agencies in charge of keeping streets cleared of snow and ice have also felt the impact.

In Springfield, Public Works Director Mark Mahoney calls it a return to normal.

"In some ways, we've got a little bit spoiled. The last couple of winters have been very mild.  Over the past several years, we haven't had the type of winters we had a few decades ago," he said.   

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