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Harvest Desk
5:43 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Drought Is Back In West Central Illinois

Credit flickr/dabadoo

West central Illinois is now in what is being called a moderate drought.  That's despite a relatively cool and wet start to the summer.

The US Drought Monitor's latest map shows moderate drought for the western half of Sangamon County and farther west all the way into Missouri.  

The state's climatologist, Jim Angel,  says most droughts move slow and take 3-6 months to develop. However, sometimes they can move  fast if conditions are right, leading to the term “flash drought”. This situation appears to be developing west central Illinois.

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Rail Consolidation
3:49 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Springfield Gets Money For Rail Underpass

Credit WUIS/Peter Gray

The federal government has awarded a $14.4 million grant for a railroad underpass in Springfield that will improve service along the emerging 110-mph Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis.  
Four members of Congress from Illinois announced the award Friday.  
The Carpenter Street underpass is part of work to consolidate rail traffic on a line east of downtown.  
It will eliminate three street-level crossings, improving the safety of faster rail service through the state capital. It will also keep first responders from getting stuck at crossings.  

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General Assembly
3:26 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Cook County's Durkin Elected House GOP Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) bested Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield) as Illinois House Republicans’ new leader. Despite a “scuffle” over the leadership post in past days, Durkin and Poe presented a united front after the closed-door caucus meeting at the Statehouse Inn in Springfield Thursday.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  In a rare turn of events, Illinois' General Assembly will have a leadership change mid-way through the two-year legislative session. It's set in motion by House Republican Leader Tom Cross's decision to step down, he's expected to soon announce a run for state treasurer. Republican members of the House met Thursday in Springfield to choose his replacement. Longtime Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) claimed the title.

It wasn't supposed to happen so fast.

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Statehouse
3:11 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Listen to State Week - August 30, 2013

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Topics this week: Leadership change for Illinois House Republicans and a state lawmaker forgoes a bid for governor in the next election.

This week's guest is Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises.

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National Cemetery
6:17 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Decorated Army Vet To Oversee Camp Butler

Michael Henshaw
Credit www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-henshaw/27/582/297

An Army veteran who earned two bronze stars for combat operations in Iraq has been named the new director of Camp Butler National Cemetery.
 
Michael Henshaw has served 25 years with the Army.   In addition to having served in Iraq, he's also taken part in operations at Fort Lee, Virginia and in Naples, Italy.
 
Camp Butler, between Springfield and Riverton, is located on part of what was Illinois' second-largest military training camp during the Civil War.
 

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Bedrock 9/7
6:32 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Rosie Flores' "Female Elvis" Project Plays Springfield 9/7

Credit David Landis

Rosie Flores started a Kickstarter project in 2011 to record, "The Female Elvis," Janis Martin.  Martin died shortly after the sessions.  Flores completed the project and has now released the recording.  Flores has partnered with Marti Brom in a rockabilly tribute to Martin.  They will play WUIS' Bedrock 66 Live Saturday, September 7 at 8 p.m.  

Tickets are available at 217-523-2787 or purchase them online from the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Watch Flores Kickstarter appeal video below for some background on Martin:

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Election 2014
5:48 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Sen. Raoul Won't Run For Governor

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago)
Credit Kwame Raoul/Facebook

State Sen. Kwame Raoul says he's not jumping into the 2014 race for Illinois governor.  

The Chicago Democrat has been weighing a run for months and had boosted his fundraising.  
But he said in a statement Thursday he must focus on his role as chairman of a legislative conference committee that's working on Illinois' pension crisis.  
He says he made his decision after talking with his family and evaluating his resources. He also says he didn't want to ``create unnecessary divisions.''  

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Road Show
4:50 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Moving To Chicago

The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield is undergoing a yearlong rehabilitation project.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will meet in Chicago for at least the next year while the court's usual home in Springfield is undergoing a major renovation.

The $12.6 million project began this summer. Workers are completely redoing the century-old building's ventilation system, as well as restoring the historic murals that line the walls of the courtroom.

Spokesman Joe Tybor says the move to Chicago is a big change for the justices.

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Minority Report
3:51 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

House Republicans Choose Durkin For Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin, left, was chosen by his colleagues to be the new House Republican leader. Rep. Raymond Poe, right, had also sought the office, but in the end endorsed Durkin.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House have a new leader: longtime Rep. Jim Durkin of suburban Western Springs. Lawmakers met in Springfield today to choose a replacement for outgoing House Minority Leader Tom Cross. 

Republicans aren't just the minority party in the Illinois House. They're in the super-minority, with 47 members to Democrats' 71. Durkin says he'll work to slim those margins.

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Arts
10:35 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Musicians Create "Sound Portraits"

Credit http://werticocainandgray.wordpress.com

Combining audio and visual effects, three Illinois musicians have joined up to create an act that defies conventional genres.

The trio plays a host of electronic and acoustic instruments - everything from saxophone, to cello, to the iPad.

The group recently released an album that is 100% improvised, as well as a DVD of those performances. They call their production, "Sound Portraits".

The three will be performing live again on August 31 as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival.

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Election 2014
8:31 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Running For Lieutenant Governor Is A Risky Business

Though he hasn't decided who to support in the Republican primary race for governor, Niles Township committeeman Joe Hendrick is happy to pose with one of the candidates, Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) at GOP Day at the state fair. Four years ago when he was Republicans' nominee for governor, Brady didn't have any say in who his running mate would be; for the first time this election gubernatorial candidates get to choose a lieutenant governor, before the primary.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

   For the first time, candidates for governor in Illinois will choose their second in command. They used to get stuck with whomever primary voters choose for lieutenant governor -- whether the two got along or not. It's an opportunity for candidates to find a running mate they work well with, or perhaps someone to balance out the ticket. Still, the new selection process might have unintended consequences.

 

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Harvest Desk
5:11 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Weather The Top Issue At Farm Progress Show

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Hot weather has been greeting visitors to this years Farm Progress Show in Decatur.  And as the show enters its final day Thursday, the head of a national trade group says weather is also on the mind of midwest farmers attending the event. 

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Child Care
4:37 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

New Rules Proposed For Day Care Centers

Credit childcarecenter.us

Illinois is considering rules to limit what kids at day care centers can eat, how much TV they can watch and how much exercise they must receive.  It's part of an efforts to curb obesity in young children. 
Estimates show 1 in 5 children under the age of five are considered obese.  With so many kids in day care, experts say it's a good place to start developing healthy habits. 

The plan would get rid of high fat and sugary snacks, limit access to juice and ban chocolate milk.  

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Eyes In The Skies
6:42 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Law Enforcement Drones Will Require A Warrant (With A Few Exceptions)

Credit http://www.infouas.com/la-policia-de-california-dispuesta-a-emplear-drones/

Illinois will regulate the use of drones by law enforcement under a bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday. Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman says the governor signed the law to protect people's right to privacy.
 
Drones are sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are considering for aerial surveillance. The law requires authorities to obtain a search warrant before using a drone to collect information.    
 

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Statehouse
2:56 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

ACLU Hires Former GOP Chair's Firm To Lobby For Same Sex Marriage

Bill Brady
Credit WBEZ

The American Civil Liberties Union has hired a consulting firm started by the Illinois Republican Party's former chairman to help with efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. 

Pat Brady left his GOP post earlier this year after he said he supported gay marriage. He later started what he describes as a government affairs firm with Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.  

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Business
2:51 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

WUIS/SJ-R Business Report: August 27, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis joins us to talk about the possibility of faster freight trains along Springfield's Third Street corridor and an upcoming corn crop survey in Sangamon County:

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Arts
10:56 am
Tue August 27, 2013

"Hidden In Plain Sight" Art Exhibit

Credit Springfield Art Association

Those everyday items that have a story to tell are the focus of a new Springfield Art Association exhibit called "Hidden In Plain Sight: The Material World of Early Springfield."  It will explore the art, architecture and decorative arts of antebellum Springfield. 

It opens August 31 and runs through October 5.  The public is invited to the opening and to visit the gallery at 700 North 4th Street during normal business hours. 

A free lecture series each Thursday at 7 p.m. in September.

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Regional
6:57 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Bringing Illinois Stories To Viewers

Mark McDonald interviews Lincoln sculptor John McClarey in Decatur.
Credit WSEC/WQEC/WMEC

Mark McDonald estimates he has done 900 episodes of "Illinois Stories".  McDonald travels throughout the area to bring interesting people to the screen on public television stations WSEC/WQEC/WMEC.  A veteran TV journalist, his conversational style allows viewers to learn about places and individuals who might live right down the street. 

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Help Wanted
11:16 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

House Republicans Rushing To Fill Leader Post

Reps. Jim Durkin, Dwight Kay, and Raymond Poe are seeking the position of House Republican leader.
Credit Illinois House of Representatives

Republicans in the Illinois House will meet Thursday afternoon in Springfield to select a new leader. A letter obtained by WUIS says finding a replacement for outgoing Minority Leader Tom Cross is "of the utmost urgency."

It was less than a week ago that Minority Leader Tom Cross announced he was stepping down — he's expected to instead run for state treasurer.

Seventeen House Republicans signed a letter officially scheduling the meeting Thursday. They say there's no time to waste in electing Cross' successor.

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Gilded Age
5:22 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Capitol Renovations Aim For Historical Look

The renovated west wing of the Illinois Capitol building features exit signs with an old-fashioned font.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

In Springfield, the west wing of Illinois' Capitol building is nearing the end of a two-year, $50 million renovation.

Workers are putting on the finishing touches. Everywhere you look, you see a balance between modern building requirements and historical details.

The door handles are flipper style — that's easier to use for people with disabilities — but they're cast with the state seal. There are lighted emergency exit signs, of course, but they're in an old-timey font.

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Education
1:45 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Springfield Public Schools Extend Early Dismissal Through Friday Due To Heat

 UPDATE: (8:15 a.m. Wednesday, August 28)

Interim Superintendent, Robert A. Leming announces that all schools will dismiss an hour early Thursday, August 29 and Friday, August 30, 2013 of this week as a protective measure for students (with the exception of Ball Charter School). The continued cause for concern is the risk of heat related illnesses.

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Concealed Carry Law
12:36 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Court Sets Arguments In Ill. Concealed Carry Case

Credit Source: http://www.adamsguns.com

  A federal appeals court will hear arguments Oct. 3 over a push by gun rights advocates to let Illinois residents immediately tote firearms in public under the state's fledgling concealed-carry law. Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association want the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene after failing to sway a federal judge in East St. Louis to allow immediate concealed carry.  The Illinois Legislature passed the last-in-the-nation concealed-carry law July 9 against Gov.

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Beer
11:08 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Microbreweries Call Springfield-Area Home

Inside operations of Engrained Brewing Company
Brent Schwoerer

When it comes to the beer business, craft offerings and microbreweries are becoming more popular.

The Springfield area is starting to catch up with the national trend. 

Rachel Otwell went behind the scenes of local beer-making operations to get "tapped in" to what's happening there: (For more on Springfield's history of brewing, you can find an extended interview at the bottom of this page)

How did the craft beer movement find its way to town?

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Harvest Desk
10:39 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Vineyards Face Threat From Herbicide Drift

Tom Zumpfe holds a bunch of Frontenac grapes he said were stunted by herbicide drift. “At least half the grapes are either BBs or they’re non-existent,” Zumpfe said.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As Midwest vineyards move in next door to longstanding fields of corn or soybeans, they don’t always make good neighbors. Occasionally, herbicides like 2,4-D drift beyond their target, and for nearby vineyards the results can be devastating.

2,4-D is a common herbicide used by farmers because it kills weeds but doesn’t kill their corn. Landscapers and golf courses use it on lawns and fairways. Highway crews often spray 2,4-D on road ditches.

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Animal Welfare
8:01 am
Mon August 26, 2013

What Happens To 'Puppy Lemon Law' Dogs?

Credit Flickr user AScappatura (Creative Commons)

A new law in Illinois gives pet owners a remedy if they buy a sick dog from a pet store. But the so-called puppy lemon law got us thinking: what happens to those sick puppies after they're returned to the store?

We spoke to Vicki Deisner, Midwest legislative director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She also talked about several other new animal-welfare laws in Illinois this year.

The ASPCA supported four such pieces of legislation that were signed into law this year:

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Harvest Desk
5:47 am
Mon August 26, 2013

My Farm Roots: Born To Farm

Despite suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, Steve Quandt still farms outside Grand Island, Neb.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This is the twelfth installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

One sign that you have strong farm roots is when your rural road is named for your family.

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Statehouse
5:11 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Pension Framework Could Save $145 Billion

Sen. Kwame Raoul
Credit ilga.gov

A bipartisan panel tasked with solving Illinois' multibillion-dollar pension crisis is considering a framework that could save the state about $145 billion over 30 years.  

The Associated Press on Friday obtained an outline of ideas the 10-person committee is considering.  


It calls for ending automatic 3 percent cost-of-living increases for retirees. Increases would instead be linked to the rate of inflation.  


Employees would have to pay 1 percent less to their own retirement. And the pension systems would be fully funded within 30 years.  

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Statehouse
1:37 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Listen to State Week - August 23, 2013

Reps. Jim Durkin, Dwight Kay, and Raymond Poe are among the Republicans said to be seeking the position of House minority leader.
Credit Illinois House of Representatives

The topics on this edition of State Week in Review include Republican Tom Cross' announcement that he is stepping down from the position of House Minority Leader and raising the speed limit for Illinois interstate highways.

This week's panel consists of Sean Crawford, Charlie Wheeler, Amanda Vinicky, and Brian Mackey.

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Higher Education
12:59 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

U of I President Wants Annual Raises For Employees

The president of the University of Illinois says he hopes faculty and staff members will be able to get a raise next year.  
Bob Easter made his comments Thursday ahead of the start of the school year, which kicks off Monday.  
The Champaign News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/152WQuj ) Easter spoke during a meeting with faculty from the school's three campuses. He says it's his ``goal to have a salary program next year.''  
Many U of I employees got a 2.75 percent merit-based raise this year.  

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Arts
9:08 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Opening Night For "Gypsy" At The Hoogland

Devin Dinora in the limelight as Gypsy Rose Lee
Credit Donna Lounsberry/Hoogland Center for the Arts

The Hoogland Center for the Arts starts its fall lineup of performances with the popular musical Gypsy.

The Hoogland's executive director, Gus Gordon, is also directing this production.

Gordon and leading lady Devin Dinora joined us on Illinois Edition to talk about the show they're calling the most ambitious of 2013:

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