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2:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Glenwood Grad Named New UIS Softball Coach

Shannon Nicholson
Credit UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield has announced Shannon Nicholson will be the school's new softball coach. 

Nicholson is from Chatham.  She spent the past six years at Illinois State, most recently as the pitching coach there.

“Being a head coach at such a great Institution is a true privilege and I can’t wait to get started," Nicholson said in a news release. 

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New Law
6:52 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Illinois To Require Bulletproof Vests

Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

A new law signed Wednesday is intended to keep police officers safe, by requiring they get protective gear.

A bulletproof vest will become part of an officers' standard equipment issue. Contingent on money, of course.

The new law includes provisions to help ensure there is funding.

It law requires communities and the state apply for a federal grant, that provides matching funds specifically for the purchase of bullet proof vests.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
6:02 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Election-Year Fight Over What's Next In Probe Of Quinn's NRI

After a day-long meeting Wednesday, a legislative commission will meet again Thursday morning in Chicago. They're set to begin with a call to the U.S. Attorney's office. Democrats and Republicans are at a standstill over what to do next in their probe of Gov. Pat Quinn's controversial anti-violence program.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
12:31 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Republicans Call "Contempt" As Witnesses Fail To Show At NRI Hearing

A legislative hearing convened to probe a troubled anti-violence program run by Gov. Quinn is underway in Chicago. Federal prosecutors have asked lawmakers to hold off taking testimony, because it may obstruct their investigation. 

It all goes back to a program called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which debuted in 2010, when Quinn was in the midst of a tight race for governor against Republican Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington. A state audit showed it was rife with mismanagement, and Republicans say that's because Quinn was trying to use it to boost his campaign.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
9:36 am
Wed July 16, 2014

How The NRI Hearing Could Play Out For Quinn's Campaign

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program will be in the spotlight today (7/16) when a bipartisan legislative commission meets in Chicago.  

It's not yet clear how lawmakers will proceed, given that the federal government wants them to put a hold on their investigation until mid-October, just before the November election, when Quinn will face Republican Bruce Rauner.

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown says that's what Quinn's campaign wants.

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Statehouse
7:16 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Quinn Signs Law Designed To Add Accountability To Grants

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation overhauling the state's grant oversight and accountability process.  

Quinn's office said Wednesday that he has signed the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act. The governor says it will give Illinois a comprehensive set of uniform rules for grant applications and make those who receive grants more accountable to taxpayers.

The signing comes on the same day as legislative hearings are to begin on a controversial Quinn program.

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Harvest Desk
1:18 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Out Of Public Eye, A Bitter Farm Bill Fight

K Street in Washington D.C. has long been known as the home to powerful lobbyists. Hundreds of companies and groups lobbied to influence the 2014 Farm Bill. (Creative Commons)

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

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Regional
11:16 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Wabash Avenue Work & A Chili Parlor Back In The Family

Credit nasda.org

The WUIS State Journal Register Business Report.  This week  Wabash Avenue, Jeff Parsons in coourt and a Route 66 landmark to re-open.

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Statehouse
6:07 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Applicants Denied Concealed Carry Licenses Will Learn Why Under New Emergency Rules

Credit http://www.adamsguns.com

  A year after Illinois legalized concealed carry, new rules are out to determine the process for deciding who can't carry a gun in public. The Illinois State Police issued the emergency rules Monday 7/14 afternoon.

Not just anyone can carry a gun right off the bat. You have to get a license, which entails passing muster with local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police; they can deny applicants.

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Harvest Desk
1:15 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Lobbyists Of All Kinds Flock To Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green), watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014. (Courtesy David Kosling/USDA)

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

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Budget FY15
8:12 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Bill Backlog Improvement Could Be Temporary

Credit flickr/dborman

  The amount of money Illinois owes to companies and organizations that have provided goods and services for the state is at its lowest level since 2010, but that improvement could be short-lived.

At one point, Illinois had a stack of overdue bills totaling about $10 billion.

It took so long for the state to pay back its vendors that some were forced to close their doors - they couldn't pay their bills.

But that was at the height of the recession, and before Illinois' hike in the state income tax.

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Harvest Desk
7:22 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Youth May Hold Key To Grain Safety

Colin Ebbers, 19, of Dakota, Ill. volunteers to be the victim of a grain bin fall during a demonstration by Stateline Farm Rescue, based in Orangeville, Ill.
Credit Jenna Dooley

A 9-year-old boy died in a grain bin last week in southwestern Wisconsin. While every situation is different, agricultural engineers continue to work on new ways to prevent such deaths. Those involved in the training industry say reaching the younger generation will be an important step to prevent entrapments.

   

Rescue Tools

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Election 2014
5:11 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Governor Campaigns Rip Each Other's Records

Paul Vallas
Credit PBS

The candidates for Illinois governor are hammering each other's records on business and caring for the developmentally disabled.
 
Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Paul Vallas blasted
Republican Bruce Rauner Monday after a published news report said a
long-term care company once tied to Rauner faced lawsuits and disciplinary
action over the mistreatment of residents, fatalities and ``deplorable'' living
conditions.
 
Vallas suggests Rauner profited from substandard care and should be questioned

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Politics
4:57 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Services Set For Fmr. Congressman Ken Gray

Ken Gray

Services are scheduled for next weekend for late former U.S. Rep. Ken Gray of southern Illinois.
 
 Gray was 89-years-old when he died Saturday at a Herrin hospital after a long
illness.
 
 The Democrat represented Illinois in Congress for a dozen terms and was known
for his colorful style. His ability to bring $7 billion in federal funding to
his economically depressed district earned him the nickname the ``Prince of
Pork.''
 
 Parker-Reedy Funeral Home in West Frankfort says Gray's services will be at 4

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Local Government
12:42 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Springfield's Mayor Wants Another Term

Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

Springfield mayor Mike Houston will seek another term.  Houston made the announcement earlier this morning.  He says he has righted the ship when it comes to city finances.

Houston is expected to face opposition.   
County Auditor Paul Palazzolo and City Treasuer Jim Langfielder have indicated they will run for the office as well.

Houston admits he broke a pledge to only serve one term.  He made that during the last campaign.  But he says some of his projects have taken longer than anticipated to accomplish.
 

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Election 2014
7:20 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Republican Bruce Rauner Defends His Personal Tax Bill

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Bruce Rauner -- the Republican nominee for Illinois governor -- says he followed the letter of the law when filing his taxes.  But he won't say whether it was fair.

Rauner, a businessman, has said his wealth puts him in the top .01%.
Even so, a Chicago Tribune analysis showed that in several recent years, he paid no Social Security or Medicare taxes.
Rauner has released limited parts of his tax returns.

It's believed he took advantage of I-R-S rules to legally cut his tax burden.
Rauner defended that ...

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Harvest Desk
5:59 am
Mon July 14, 2014

My Farm Roots: Smells Like Home

Growing up in Nebraska, Kari Williams spent many vacations visiting her family’s farms.
Credit Harvest Public Media/Luke Runyon

Most family vacations are remembered for endless car rides, packed tourist beaches and a string of poorly decorated hotel rooms.

But not former Nebraskan and current Coloradan Kari Williams. Her family vacation memories center on smells of cow manure, adventures on horseback and roosters with bad attitudes on farms in central Nebraska.

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Politics
5:47 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Houston Likely To Seek Re-election

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston will make a campaign announcement Monday morning.  While his release did not say specifically that he will run for another term, the release included this quote, "With so many evolving projects, there's too high of an investment to get off course or to go backwards. Springfield can't afford to make the mistakes again I've worked so hard to correct."  His announcement is at 10:30 a.m.

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Health Desk
1:08 am
Mon July 14, 2014

DCFS Urges Child Supervision Around Water

Credit flickr/rockandbacon

Illinois has recorded 10 child drownings this spring and summer.  That's prompted the state's child welfare agency to remind parents about the need to use caution and keep a watchful eye.

"When we're talking about an infant or a toddler, we talk about touch supervision or reach supervision.  Which means you never let that child get any farther away from you than you can reach out your hand to grab them if they need your help,"  said Jennifer Florent with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

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Harvest Desk
6:06 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

EPA Promotes Water Rule To Farmers

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to reporters at Heffernan Farm in Rocheport, Mo., July 9, 2014. (Kris Husted/Harvest Public Media)

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is touring farm country, trying to assure farmers that the agency isn’t asking for more authority over farmers and ranchers’ lands.

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State Week
2:27 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Listen to State Week - July 11, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

More details are emerging on the Illinois Inspector General's probe into political hiring at Metra.  Also, a call for further investigation into Governor Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

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Remembering
9:43 am
Fri July 11, 2014

WUIS Archive: Alan Dixon Was Gracious In Defeat

Credit wikipedia

Former U.S. Senator Alan Dixon died Sunday in his southern Illinois home.

The 86-year-old Belleville Democrat spent more than four decades in public office - 30 years in state government before going on to serve in Congress from 1981 to 1993.

But Chicago Democrat Carol Moseley Braun unseated Dixon in 1992.  Braun became the first African American woman to serve in the Senate.

On March 17th, 1992, Dixon congratulated Braun for her win, and bowed out of public office with a certain grace uncharacteristic of politicians who've just suffered defeat at the polls.

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Statehouse
8:21 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Number Of Statehouse Reporters Down More Than One-Third Since 2003

Credit WUIS

As traditional news sources cut back on statehouse reporters, other outlets seek to fill the gaps in coverage.

The Pew Research Journalism Project took a look at statehouse press corps across the country. State populations are generally predictive of the size of their statehouse press corps. At the time of the survey, Illinois had 22 full-time statehouse reporters. Texas had the most at 53. South Dakota had the fewest with two.

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Corrections
11:41 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Series Part 3: Death In Illinois Prisons

Credit flickr/Brad K.

Illinois taxpayers pay a private company more than a hundred million dollars a year to give health care to prison inmates.

Yet no one in Illinois knows how good, or bad, the care is.

But that will likely change soon.

As part of our series “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons,” WBEZ’s Robert Wildeboer reports.

On July 28, 2012 Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois.

Two days later, he died.

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Tourism
4:57 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Tourism In Illinois Sets New Record

Credit wikimedia commons

  Illinois' tourism numbers set another record in 2013, bringing in over 100 million visitors to the state. State agencies say they aim to grow those numbers more in the face of budget cuts.

For the third year in a row, Illinois broke its own record for visitors to the state. In 2013, travelers spent $34.5 billion dollars in Illinois, according to the state's office of tourism.

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Executive Mansion
12:58 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Seven Months And Two Storms Later, Executive Mansion Gets Mini-Fix

One of eight leaks in the mansion's roof allowed water to pool above the ceiling in one of the guest bedrooms, causing this water damage in one corner of the room.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

The governor's executive mansion in Springfield is receiving much-needed repair after rainwater caused damage twice in the last two months. But the repairs are only a stopgap measure; it's all the state can afford right now.

Walk into the executive mansion in Springfield, and nothing looks awry. But climb the stairs to the third floor, where the governor's apartment lies, off-limits to tours and most events, and the damage is apparent in two historical bedrooms.

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Arts
12:02 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Get "All Shook Up" At The Springfield Muni

If you love Elvis, get ready for the next Springfield Muni production.  All Shook Up begins a 3 week run Friday night.

We had a chance to speak with Jacob Deters, an SHG grad who plays "Dennis", Glenwood grad Sophie Lanser, who portrays "Natalie/Ed" and the director Anna Bussing.  It's her first time directing, but she's been part of the Muni family for years, first appearing as a kid on the lakeside stage. 

Deters and Lanser also give us a sample of the dialogue and perform a song.

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Residents Fend For Themselves
10:40 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Tensions Rise With Waters Over Flood Expense

There's an irony to the arch on the entranceway of Clarksville's park, which reads "Touch the Mississippi." Normally, that requires stooping down; now the river laps up a main downtown drag, and comes to you.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Heavy rains have led to flooding all across the Midwest in recent days: in Iowa, Illinois, and in the small town of Clarksville, Missouri, which sits on the Mississippi River. That river is expected to reach its crest there Wednesday, and residents hope the walls they’ve built to keep out the water will hold. Especially because this time, they had to build those walls themselves.

Ask a Clarksville resident how long they’ve lived there, and the answer is usually given in the context of a flood.

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Corrections
11:12 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Series Part 2: Prison Deaths In Illinois

Credit flickr/Fiona Dalwood

Between 80 and a hundred people die behind bars in Illinois every year.

The average age of the people who die is 54.

The Department of Corrections says it carefully reviews every death, but information on deaths provided to Chicago public station WBEZ was scattershot and incomplete.

Rob Wildeboer continues our series, “Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons.”

Keith Dean has a manila envelope that causes him a lot of grief and regret, but he can’t throw it out.

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Education Desk
1:45 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

State Pays Schools On Time

Credit flickr/alkruse24

Illinois has broken its streak of late grant payments to schools for the first time since 2007.
 
 State Superintendent Christopher Koch praised the news in a letter to school officials dated July 1.  But Koch warned them not to bank on the same thing
happening next year.
 
 Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office says timely payments for specialized grants and programs in 2014 are due to an influx of $1.3 billion in revenues the
state hadn't originally budgeted for.  
 
 Next year's $35.7 billion state budget signed by Gov. Pat Quinn banks on

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