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Regional
8:07 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Grafton Ferry Set To Return

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.  

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Springfield City Government
7:05 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Houston: "Let Chips Fall Where They May" As Police Chief, Top Attorney Depart

Mayor Michael J. Houston
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

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.  

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Purvines Ancestors Barn
12:27 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Barn At Clayville Site To Become Pioneer Agriculture Museum

Purvines Ancestors Barn
Credit Pleasant Plains Historical Society

Volunteers who help at the Clayville Historic Site outside of Springfield have a new use for an old barn that's been preserved by a family with strong ties to Sangamon County.

They're inviting the public to Clayville Sunday to learn more about the effort to put together a Pioneer Agriculture Museum in the Purvines Ancestors Barn. 

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Political Patronage Allegations
10:23 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Metra Could Hire Former Federal Prosecutor For Buyout Probe

Patrick Collins
Credit perkinscoie.com

Metra is considering hiring a former assistant U.S. attorney to investigate allegations that prominent politicians pressured staff in personnel and contract decisions.

The public agency's board of directors will vote Monday on whether to approve hiring Patrick Collins, who prosecuted the case that sent former Gov. George Ryan to prison for corruption.

The allegations involving Metra emerged during inquiries into a lucrative buyout for former CEO Alex Clifford.

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2009 Beason Slayings
9:58 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Christopher Harris Sentenced To Life In Prison

Christopher Harris

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.  

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Concealed Carry Legislation
9:30 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Some Municipalities Race To Pass Gun Bans As Deadline Looms

Credit www.sxc.hu

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:

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Environment
1:33 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Fracking Divides Environmentalists In Ill.

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

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.

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Community
1:21 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Interview: Illinois Prairie Pastel Society President

"Off Crockrell Lane" - by George King
Credit Illinois Prairie Pastel Society

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.  

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Harvest Desk
9:37 am
Thu July 18, 2013

The Cost Of Satisfying A Nation's Sweet Tooth

Candy shop owner Rob Flesher says companies like his pay more for sugar thanks to government sugar supports.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

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.  

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Political Patronage Allegations
8:23 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Ousted Metra CEO: Madigan's Actions Show "Moral And Ethical Flaw"

Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford
Credit Metra

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.
 

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Caterpillar: Policy's Anticompetitive
5:21 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Illinois Business Coalition Calls For Immigration Overhaul

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..."

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District 186
9:30 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Schools Feed Kids Over Summer Months — For Free

Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

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.

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Health Desk
8:58 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Diagnosing Disorder: The DSM-5 And A Changing Mental Health Field

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 5th Edition
Credit http://mghmcleanpsychiatry.partners.org

Over the past decade, scientific research has influenced the way psychiatrists and other clinicians diagnose mental health disorders.

That's according to Dr. Vikki Vandiver  of Portland, Oregon.  The professor and co-editor of the academic journal Best Practices in Mental Health will be in Springfield Thursday, July 18.

Vandiver will speak at a conference for doctors, social workers and other professionals about changes to the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

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Same-Sex Marriage Legislation
7:17 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Gay Rights Advocacy Coalition Picks New Campaign Director

John Kohlhepp
Credit Crain's Chicago Business

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. 

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Election 2014
6:15 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Quinn Suddenly Ready To Talk Politics, Disses Daley

Bill Daley, on the left, is a likely primary challenger for Gov. Pat Quinn, on the right in this stitch of separate photos.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  With Attorney General Lisa Madigan out of the race for Governor,  incumbent Pat Quinn turned his focus to another potential opponent,  Bill Daley.  It's an early indication of the campaign to come.

                                           

Republicans have a somewhat crowded field of four candidates hoping to be Illinois' next Governor.

For now, though, Democrats have only two: former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Governor Pat Quinn.

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PCCC
4:45 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Interview: Brian Oaks On Changes For The PCCC

The Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield has hosted some big names when it comes to musicians, like country singer and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and the decades-old prog-rock band Kansas. But the center is taking a bit of a hiatus as plans are finalized to make it more appealing to convention-goers and concert-goers alike. Brian Oaks is the general manager of the center, he joins us for this interview about the on-going renovations: 

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Regulation And Retail
11:38 am
Tue July 16, 2013

WUIS / SJ-R Business Report: July 16, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

 The State Journal Register's Tim Landis speaks with Peter Gray about the growing market for e-cigarettes and the hazy regulatory environment those products remain in.  Also, the grocery chain Kroger returns to the Springfield area:

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R

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Corruption
7:47 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Blagojevich's Appeal Not Likely To Succeed, Given Ryan's Failed Attempts

US Marshals photo of Fmr. Gov. Blagojevich on the day of his arrest
Credit wikipedia.org

Rod Blagojevich faces long odds with the appeal of his federal corruption conviction, just as did his predecessor as Illinois governor, George Ryan.
 
Blagojevich's attorney filed an appeal late Monday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the higher court toss to Blagojevich's convictions or,
at least, to reduce his 14-year prison sentence.
 
Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the appeal. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel could be scheduled soon thereafter.
 
Blagojevich is now 56 and in a prison outside Denver.

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Election 2014
8:15 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Lisa Madigan Not Running For Governor

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified before a Congressional committee in this 2011 file photo.
Credit flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

After months of speculation that Gov. Pat Quinn would face a primary challenge from Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General announced Monday she would not run for governor.

Madigan says she will seek a fourth term instead of challenging Quinn for the Democratic nomination.

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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
1:52 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Summer Reading Program Welcomes Lincoln Authors

Three authors will visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield this summer to shed new light on issues ranging from the Civil War, to morality and music. The authors will sign copies of their books and present lectures.

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Drugs & Crime
11:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

IT's Bruce Rushton Explores 'Epidemic' Of Heroin Abuse

Credit Wikimedia/user: Hendrike

The number of heroin users and associated overdose deaths seems to have gone up in recent years. In Illinois the trend of increased heroin abuse is getting reactions from social service agencies and law enforcement. It's an issue that Bruce Rushton of the Illinois Times recently reported on - he brings us a closer look at his investigation in this interview:

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Health Desk
10:06 am
Mon July 15, 2013

10 Month Old's Fight Calls Attention To Bone Marrow Registry

Credit Photo: WUIS

Lauren and Aaron Smith of Springfield, pictured with their 10 month old son Gabriel, who has a rare form of anemia.  He's required to undergo regular blood transfusions.  Their is hope after a bone marrow donor match was discovered earlier this year.  A transplant is scheduled for this fall .   The couple is wanting to raise awareness of the Bone Marrow Registry and the need to donate blood.  

The next Third Thursday Art Show at Donnie's Homespun will benefit Gabriel.  See more details:

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2014 Election
6:52 am
Mon July 15, 2013

State Sen. Dillard Enters 2014 Race For Governor

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westont)
Credit dillard.senategop.org

State Sen. Kirk Dillard is officially announcing his gubernatorial bid for the 2014 election Monday, joining an already crowded field but contending he is the one Republican who can win the general election.

Dillard is the fourth GOP member to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn since June, joining state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

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Harvest Desk
6:04 am
Mon July 15, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Lifelong Work Ethic

Amy Konishi has lived in Fort Collins, Colo., her entire life. In the 1980s, a local newspaper profiled her and her husband’s long connection to the area.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

My Farm Roots is a series from Harvest Public Media in which we hear Americans’ stories and memories of rural life. Because when you hail from farm country, roots run deep.
 

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Political Patronage Allegations
5:57 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Metra CEO Memo Reveals More Madigan Involvement

House Speaker Mike Madigan

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."

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Arts
1:27 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

'Dreamgirls' At The Muni

Marisa Cook, Fania Bourn, & Kate VonDeBur

Springfield's Muni starts its run of Dreamgirls this weekend - the Broadway production was made especially famous by the movie starring Beyonce back in 2006. The local version features over twenty actors who are brand new to the Muni's stage. We recently spoke with cast members Fania Bourn, Kate VonDeBur, and Marisa Cook for this interview:

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Guns
8:28 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Ill. AG Objects To Call For Immediate Concealed Carry

The state of Illinois is asking a federal court to reject a push by gun-rights advocates to let the residents start publicly carrying handguns as soon as next week, rather than waiting months for implementation of a new concealed carry law.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office asked a judge Thursday to throw out the request filed in East St. Louis by Mary Shepard. Shepard filed the injunction a day after lawmakers lifted the last-in-the-nation ban.  The state argues Shepard needs to file a new complaint instead of a motion seeking an emergency hearing from a judge.

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Farm Bill
4:12 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

U.S. House Passes Version Of Farm Bill

Credit Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation today. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests.

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Education
2:41 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

School Safety An Ongoing Concern

A new Illinois law requires schools hold drills on what to do in the case of shooting.  More security measures could be on the way. 
The new law comes after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary last year put renewed focus on school security.  Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken says it will continue to be an issue and more legislation is expected:

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The Pharmacy
2:30 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Joshua Cox Featured In 6th Group Exhibition At 'The Pharmacy'

A shot from a previous work by Cox called "And the world formed itself around me."
Credit Johsua Cox

Joshua Cox is an artist and professor at Bradley University in Peoria. His works involve memories, especially related to his childhood growing up in central Illinois. He uses unique mediums to create alternate universes that transport his viewers utilizing life size, and temporary, artworks. Cox is the guest artist for The Pharmacy's Sixth Group Art Exhibition, where other area artists will also have their latest creations on display.

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