News

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Environmental activists hoping to curb hydraulic fracturing in Illinois crashed a breakfast held for Democratic party organizers in Springfield Wednesday. They want to stop natural gas extraction in the state before it starts.

"Drought! Pollution! Earthquake! Fracking is a big mistake!"

flickr/JasonRojas

A new report finds signs of racial bias in data collected about police searches during traffic stops in Illinois.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released the report Wednesday.   It suggests police are nearly twice as likely to ask blacks and Latino drivers to consent to vehicle searches during traffic stops than they are to ask whites. But white drivers are about 50 percent more likely to have contraband found during such a search. 

Springfield numbers are similar to the statewide findings. 

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair brought out Democratic leaders from across the state — including those counties where Democrats seem few and far between.

In these heavily Republican counties, momentum for Democratic candidates can be hard to come by. Compound that with lower Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential election years, and the fight to "keep Illinois blue" gets even more difficult.

One of Illinois' most popular Democrats is expressing doubts about Governor Pat Quinn's chances.  It's an annual event; hundreds of Democrats get together at a Springfield hotel for breakfast and speeches, before heading out to the state fairgrounds.  It's part reunion, part rally.

But as he headed into the event, Secretary of State Jesse White was candid about his fears that November's election may not go well for Democrats ... or at least for the Democrat near the top of the ticket, Gov. Pat Quinn.

The DEMO Project in Springfield showcases contemporary art, much of which is in the form of installations. The pieces come out of the walls, wind around the room and even jump out of the fireplace. Artist and Illinois native Lauren Turk's exhibit titled 'Communal Paradox' opens on Friday evening on the Springfield Art Association's campus. We recently spoke with her.

Ferguson demonstrators
Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio

18 year old Michael Brown was shot by police on Saturday in a St. Louis suburb called Ferguson, and what was originally a peaceful vigil and protest the next day became a night of arson, rioting, and theft. Since then police and the community continue to square off as tensions around the shooting of Brown, who was black and unarmed, continue to spread. St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann updates us on where things stand as of Wednesday morning.

sj-r.com

Turning an abandoned downtown Church into the "metropolitan place", Stanford Avenue expansion, a car dealership adds another brand and a chili parlor open again.

Economic growth in Springfield is expected to be a top issue in the race for mayor next year.   Jim Langfelder is among those running for the position.  The current city Treasurer says Springfield needs to find ways to bring in more high paying jobs to go along with retail expansion:

"It's great to see Scheels.  I think that was an anchor that helped spur development along MacArthur (Boulevard). I grew up in that area and went to school in that area.  So I have seen the deterioration from what it once was. What I would like to see are professional jobs being created," he said.

Amanda Vinicky

For most of the thousands of people who go to the Illinois State Fair each summer, it's about fun -- the carnival rides, and corn dogs. But for others it's about competition. There are awards given for everything from longest ponytail to -- feminists, beware! --husband-calling. Not to mention the livestock events, which crown the best of the breeds. But what grabbed my attention was the "hobbies," where bakers, crafters and collectors have their chance at glory. First, they have to win over the judges.

ilga.gov

  The Democratic candidate for state treasurer is catching flak from Republicans, who are critical of his time as a local official. But Mike Frerichs' (D-Champaign) campaign says Republican opponent Tom Cross (R-Oswego) is playing "revisionist history."

Frerichs, currently a state senator, was elected to the Champaign County board in 2000, then became the county's auditor in 2002. Republicans point out that during Frerichs' time as auditor, the County Board implemented an early retirement program to save money.

HPM

Farmers will produce a record-breaking corn harvest this year, surpassing earlier expectations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has revised upward its estimate of this year's corn harvest to 14 billion bushels.  
That exceeds last year's 13.9 billion bushel record.  

Soybean production also will set a new record at 3.8 billion bushels, beating the 2009 harvest of 3.4 billion bushels.  

SAAC

Penny Wollan-Kriel will retire at the end of next month as Executive Director of the Springfield Area Arts Council.  But she won't give up her connection to the arts community. 

'I am definitely staying back.  I do not want to be someone looking over the shoulder of the new Executive Director," she said.  "I will continue my involvement in the arts and with children."

She is a Springfield native who grew up dancing. Her  connection to the arts goes back to her childhood. Wollan-Kriel has spent a combined 17 years with the arts council. 

Papers of Abraham Lincoln

A documentary project about Abraham Lincoln has scanned two previously unknown papers from the former president for its collection.  

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a project dedicated to identifying and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. It's administered through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and co-sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln Association.  

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The debate over state retiree pensions has been a consistent backdrop for the Illinois gubernatorial election, bringing older voters to the forefront of many debates. It's this senior voting bloc that could make all the difference this election.

The Illinois Building on the State Fairgrounds in Springfield is buzzing with activity. But it's not prized cattle or blue-ribbon pies fair attendees are taking in. Along one wall, it's an array of motor scooters. Along another, it's rows of booths offering different kinds of home care.

This Saturday, the Illinois State Historical Society will honor several businesses, municipalities, libraries and non-profits that have been around for 100 years or more. 

It's am impressive list, ranging from Wrigley Field and the Great Lakes Naval Base to the Illinois School for the Deaf and the country's oldest Dodge dealership.

WUIS

The Illinois State Fair has postponed Monday's harness races because of unfavorable track conditions.  
The races will now be run Wednesday starting at noon.  

Nearly three dozen horses were quarantined briefly over the weekend because of concerns they may have been exposed to a virus.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that officials lifted the quarantine Saturday, after the animals were cleared of having the equine herpes virus.

ilga.gov

There are signs that the initial rush of applications for permits to carry concealed weapons in Illinois is slowing down and the process is getting a bit easier to navigate.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that observers say technology issues and other problems that applicants experienced when the process started in January have been largely remedied.  

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association says some people are getting their permits within 35 days of when they submitted their applications to police.  

Native American culture is known for being particularly in tune with the natural world. This has translated to a long tradition of treating ailments with plants and herbal remedies. A presentation on Tuesday afternoon at SIU’s Pearson Museum in Springfield will feature multicultural educator, Arloa Wheeler. She’ll talk about medicine and Native American culture, and recently joined WUIS to tell us about it. 

The presentation is Tuesday noon to 1.

It won't happen until 2015.  But the race for Springfield mayor is on.  So far, three candidates have announced they will seek the office.  Among them, the Sangamon County Auditor Paul Palazzolo.  He says if he's elected,  a major focus will be on growing the population. 

He says the city's medical district and other assets could help him reach his goal.  His target is to boost the number of residents from the current 117-thousand up to 124-thousand by the end of the decade.  

A new survey shows what Sangamon County residents think about their areas where they live.  Bill Wheelhouse talked with Ashley Kirzinger of the UIS Survey Research Office about the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission's Neighborhood Survey.

To view the survey click here

University of Illinois

A week after the University of Illinois reportedly withdrew a job offer to a professor who posted controversial comments on Twitter, the head of the department overseeing that position says the decision harms the university’s reputation and ability to attract talented professors.

Robert Warrior directs the U of I’s American Indian Studies program.  He says Steven Salaita told him the university emailed a letter telling him of its decision, which came after Salaita resigned from his previous job at Virginia Tech. 

ilga.gov

Services are pending for former west-central Illinois state lawmaker Mike Smith.  

Oak-Hines Funeral Home in Smith's hometown of Canton says the 48-year-old Democrat died Saturday morning at his home of a suspected heart attack.  

The (Peoria) Journal Star  reports Smith served 16 years in the state Legislature before losing his 2010 re-election bid.  

Wikimedia Commons

  Infrastructure in Illinois is getting dangerously close to disrepair, according to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The state received a "C-" for its maintenance of roads, bridges and waterways.

The group says Illinois' grade is cause for concern, especially given recent infrastructure failures. Those headlines include last weekend's water crisis in Toledo, Ohio and chemical pollutants in West Virginia water earlier this year.

John Wallenstein passed away Thursday, August 7, 2014. John made a huge impact on WUIS with his quiet leadership and by explaining to his extensive contacts in the business community how supporting WUIS' mission to inform the community also benefited their business. John was proud to be the force behind making the Education Initiative possible. He raised funds for it over the past two years and headed the search committee to find the first multmedia journalist to head the education desk. Our thoughts and gratitude are with John's wife, Gracia, and their family. Arrangements pending. WUIS staff and partners know John best from his time at the radio station over the past decade. The SJ-R's Jim Ruppert shares another aspect of John's life...

  U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk each say they support limited air strikes over Iraq to try to deter the Islamic State terrorist organization. But Durbin's expressing reservations.

President Barack Obama Thursday night authorized air strikes on the terrorist group which has been gaining territory in Iraq.

While Durbin (D-IL) says he is glad the action involves no boots on the ground, he's still cautious about getting involved in the conflict.

creative commons

Illinois posted applications for patients and caregivers in the new medical marijuana program, but doesn't want any submitted until Sept. 2.  

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, the continuing investigation into patronage hiring at IDOT, questions about Bruce Rauner's companies' tax shelters, and a plea deal agreement involving state Representative LaShawn Ford.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn won't say why his administration contradicted itself when it came to cleaning up hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The administration had previously said the fix was done, but now says it isn't complete.

In facing a lawsuit over political patronage hiring at IDOT, Gov. Quinn characterized it as a non-issue.

His administration said it had already taken care of the problem; that IDOT had reduced the number of jobs in which politics would be taken into consideration.

The popular comedic play, Greater Tuna, takes two actors and thrusts them into the world of a fictional Texan town. The actors play a host of characters, who come together and create a world ripe with low-brow and politically incorrect humor. The play opens in Springfield at the Hoogland Center for the Arts Friday night. WUIS was recently joined by the cast members Rich McCoy and Darin Harms to talk about it: 

UIC.edu

A University of Illinois at Chicago official has lost his
position following a lawsuit alleging the official violated federal law by publicly discussing a dissertation and accusations of plagiarism.
 
 The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1ovfpkj) Lon Kaufman was demoted
from his provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs positions to tenured professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.
 
 Chicago State University interim provost and senior vice president Angela

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