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NOTE: This story has been updated.  More than 130 students and a few staff members from North Mac Intermediate School in Girard have been taken to hospitals with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. North Mac superintendent Marica Cullen said a leaky pipe caused significantly high carbon monoxide levels, and the school - with about 640 students, was evacuated around 9 am she said.

Cullen says the number of affected students may continue to rise, as parents are being told to take their children directly to the hospital if they show any signs of being sick.

commons.wikimedia.org

 U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that the doors won't latch properly on some Ford Fiesta subcompact cars.
 
 The probe announced Monday by covers about 205,000 Fiestas from the 2011 through 2013 model years.
 
 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received 61 complaints about the doors. Some said the latches wouldn't catch. A dozen said a door opened while the cars were being driven. The agency says one person was hurt when a door rebounded after an attempt to close it.
 

A Practice In Poverty

Sep 15, 2014
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

It’s been 50 years since the “War on Poverty” was launched. Around 15% of Illinois residents currently live in poverty, the same percentage of a half century ago. Universities, non-profits, and other organizations are teaming up to draw attention to the unrelenting problem. The University of Illinois Springfield is hosting a series of poverty-related events in the coming year. The first was a “poverty simulation.”

flickr/LizMarie_AK

Nearly 100 organizations are joining together to push
Illinois lawmakers to pass a school funding reform proposal in the spring.
 
 Funding Illinois' Future members include community foundations, civil rights organizations, school officials, and business and education reform groups statewide. All support the passage of a school funding proposal sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.
 
 The legislation would overhaul Illinois' dated school funding formula, first put in place in 1997. While there's wide agreement that the state's funding

Tom Cross for Treasurer campaign

Tom Cross of Oswego has spent more than 20 years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  A former prosecutor, for over a decade he was the House Republican Leader.  

Now Cross, 56, wants to be state Treasurer.  He won the GOP nomination and faces Democratic state Senator  Mike Frerichs of Champaign.  The position is responsible for investing state dollars.

Cross said he feels current Treasurer Dan Rutherford has done "a nice job" streamlining the office and it's budget.  But he said he can take the office in a different direction.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

Who Illinois voters choose to be their next governor could make a big difference in how Illinois funds schools, and even where students can go to get an education.

Quinn's agenda seems to leave things basically as-is; taxpayer dollars flow to public schools:

"I believe that the public system of education is the best way to go," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board last week.

Not that he has much personal experience in the system.

District 186

An unloaded gun was discovered at Southeast High School today.   District officials say the gun was not found on a person, but suspects have been detained.   An investigation is continuing.  

The district also says the discovery came after a tip was given to the school.  That prompted what's known as a soft lock down as a precaution.  

Increased security is planned for tonight.  Southeast hosts Chatham Glenwood in a football game this evening.
   
It was just over two weeks ago that a Lanphier student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to school.

WUIS

Fifty-five workers who have been told they're being laid off by the Illinois Department of Transportation claimed in a lawsuit Friday that they're being fired to spare Gov. Pat Quinn election-campaign embarrassment over a hiring scandal.  

The Democratic governor's administration fired the so-called ``staff assistants'' last month in an IDOT shake up over a state investigation that found the agency hired 255 people over 10 years without going through proper channels to give everyone a chance to be hired.  

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, opponents in the gubernatorial race Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner traded barbs during a joint interview before the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board.  Also, a proposal to increase the number of cameras used by on-duty police.

Bedrock 66 Live!

Friday night (9/12) at Donnie's in Springfield will kick off The American Music Show. It's a festival that's making a comeback this year. Bands include regional favorites The Bottle Rockets, and Brooklyn rock/indie duo The Mastersons, who regularly serve as backup band members for Steve Earle. The two-day event highlights roots/Americana music. We spoke with booker Sean Burns about it - he tells us about bringing under-appreciated, talented musicians to town.

CLICK HERE for tickets.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Three models of Kidde brand Smoke and Combination Smoke/CO Alarms are being recalled due to failure of the alarms.

The alarms were sold at Menards and Home Depot among other stores.

More than a million of the items are affected by the recall.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the alarms could fail to alert consumers of a fire or a CO incident following a power outage.

Consumers should contact the company for a replacement.

UIS.EDU

University of Illinois trustees on Thursday approved a $5.64 billion budget for the current fiscal year. That's an increase of $11.1 million, or .2 percent.  

University President Robert Easter said the small increase reflects in part of the university's hope that it can keep students costs from rising too rapidly. A year on campus at the flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign costs a student more than $20,000.  

The vote by the Board of Trustees approving the new spending plan was unanimous and made without comment.  

police cars
flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

The question of just what happened in Ferguson, Missouri before the shooting death of Michael Brown has renewed a push in Illinois to equip police with cameras.

Body and dashboard cameras for police isn't a new idea;  President of the Illinois's NAACP chapter, George Mitchell, says his organization has been supportive of the concept as far back as 2001.

But he says Ferguson shows why. Mitchell says had the Brown incident been on tape, much of the controversy could have been avoided.

Jim Meadows, WILL

University of Illinois trustees on Thursday voted not to hire a professor whose anti-Israel Twitter messages were deemed anti-Semitic by some, raising the likelihood of a lawsuit and further campus protests.  

Steven Salaita, who last year accepted a job to begin teaching this fall in the university's Native American Studies Program, has threatened legal action if the university rescinded the offer. His attorneys have said if he isn't hired, they'll go to court to try to get an injunction to force the university to hire him.  

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate Bruce Rauner continues trying to soften his image when it comes to government employees. This comes after he won the nomination in part by relentlessly attacking public employee unions.

Rauner has called for all current state employees to have their pensions frozen and be put into 401(k)-style retirement plans. Many consider that even more harsh than the pension reductions Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last year.

Donna Lounsberry

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been told for over a century. But it’s only been a Broadway musical since the 1990s. Now, it’s a production on the Muni stage in Springfield. We were recently joined by cast members who told us more about it: D.J. Schultz who plays Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Wes Bridges who plays his best friend John Utterson, and Dennis O’Brien who plays Sir Archibald Proops.

Jekyll & Hyde is this Thursday through Saturday, and Sept. 18-20 as well. Shows begin at 7:30.

northwestern.edu

Officials at St. John's hospital say a decision by the SIU School of Medicine to move all Trauma care services to Memorial Medical center happened because St. John's asked SIU for more financial accountability of their services. SIU officials deny that the permanent switch to memorial was connected to St. John's request for the audit.    Dean Olsen reports that claim in Thursday's State Journal Register.

WUIS/Brian Mackey

Everyone remembers where they were 13 years ago today, September 11, 2001. 

WUIS' Sean Crawford was preparing for a typical day covering state government and politics at the capitol building.  But as word of the terrorist attacks in New York spread, Illinois authorities made the rare decision to close state offices. 

The day changed America and how the State of Illinois operated.  Security increased in the years after.  New focus was put on preparedness efforts. 

From our archives, here is Crawford giving an update on 9/11 to Illinois Public Radio's Tom Rogers.

Republicans across America have high hopes for Bruce Rauner's campaign to be the next governor of Illinois. Appearing with him Wednesday in Springfield was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  

Christie is head of the Republican Governors Association, which last week gave Rauner another $2 million. That brings its total support for the wealthy candidate to $6 million.

Christie headlined a pair of fundraisers with Rauner in Springfield, then stopped at Brickhouse, a downtown restaurant and bar, to pose for pictures with supporters.

UKberrinet/flickr

Supporters of high-volume oil and gas extraction said Wednesday that they'll seek dozens of changes in proposed rules to govern the practice in Illinois that appear to violate a hard-won compromise between industry and environmentalists.  

A coalition of industry groups will outline more than 65 areas of concern to a legislative panel that must decide whether the rules _ written by the Department of Natural Resources to implement a new hydraulic fracturing law _ can take effect as written, said Mark Denzler vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association.  

flickr/ThoamsdeAquino

It's unclear if state officials will release complete information about companies seeking to grow or sell medical marijuana in Illinois.  

Applications from prospective companies aren't subject to state open records laws, according to the law that legalized medical marijuana in Illinois. The application period opened Monday and will close Sept. 22. Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for Illinois' medical marijuana pilot project, said the state won't release any information about the number of applicants until after the deadline.  

The recent shooting death of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked renewed national discussions about racial tensions, police actions and more.

NPR’s Michel Martin moderates a much needed and serious conversation with community leaders.

The audience also participates in the discussion, recorded August 29, 2014.

Monsanto Settles Some GMO Wheat Cases

Sep 10, 2014
brdavid/flickr

Monsanto has reached a settlement with wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest in a lawsuit over genetically modified wheat.   But plaintiffs in the Midwest and other parts of the country are still in negotiations.

The trouble started at an Oregon farm in 20-13, when some wheat plants would not die, even when they were sprayed with Roundup herbicide.

  They no longer had to do it through campaign commercials. Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner faced one another in a joint interview before the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board Tuesday. So far, Quinn, a Democrat, and businessman Rauner, Republican's nominee, have contested one another from a distance. At this appearance, though, they were seated side-by-side.

At times, that led to heated discussions; often the candidates talked over one another.

UIS.edu

Enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield has surpassed 5,400 for the first time in the school's history.  300 more students are on campus this fall compared to a year ago.

The fall census of students eclipsed the previous record set four years ago with 5,431 students enrolled.  It also marks the fifth consecutive year that enrollment has topped 5,000.

 The number of international students increased more than 115 percent, to 827 this fall.  

SJ-R.com

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis explains residents are upset about a plan to open a meat market along Stevenson Drive in the old Eagle Supermarket building. The concern comes from a proposal to allow animal slaughtering on site.

Also, Legacy Pointe was supposed to have had outlet stores and a lot more by now.  The delay of development has led to questions about the project ever coming to fruition.  

And, Downtown Springfield Inc. could be running out of money as early as next month. What happened and will the city come to the rescue?

apple.com

Students at Decatur public schools will each have their own iPad or laptop to use. That's the goal the district has set for the coming two years. Elementary schools will have 1-to-1 iPads, middle schools will have a mix of iPads and laptops, and the two high schools will use laptops. At Eisenhower High School it's already taken place - with each student having their own MacBook Air.

Illinois Farm Bureau

Illinois Business and Farm groups are trying to fight off some new federal water regulations.  The groups claim the regulations will be an over-reach onto farmers private property.   The proposed rules would extend regulations streams and wetlands on farms that connect to other water sources.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Last Thursday, over 300 people met in Springfield for a meeting titled “Saving Our Black Males Through Education, Information, and Communication." It was organized as a response to the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a police officer. One common refrain was that blacks in Springfield often feel targeted by police simply because of their skin color. Local police chief Kenny Winslow told the crowd that better communication is needed.

Most vegetable seeds today are bred by seed companies to be hearty and easier to grow. They’re created by cross-breeding different varieties and selecting for specific characteristics. Heirloom seeds are different. Like your grandmother’s engagement ring, heirloom seeds have been passed down through generations. And today’s gardeners likely wouldn’t have access to For many of their favorite heirloom plants if it weren’t for the work of the Seed Savers Exchange.

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