Bill Wheelhouse

Executive Editor/ Anchor/ Reporter/ State Week Host

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Regional
7:18 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Court OKs FutureGen Financing Plan

Site of FutureGen plant in Meredosia.
Credit WUIS

A court says state regulators can force Illinois electricity customers to help pay for the $1.6-billion FutureGen project.

The 2-1 decision Tuesday by the Illinois Appellate Court OKs a state plan to charge an estimated $1 to $1.40 a month to help pay for the long-delayed project.  

Ken Humphreys is CEO of the FutureGen Alliance. The group of coal companies is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on the project. Humphreys says the court decision will keep the project moving.  

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Statehouse
6:53 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Fire Closes State Building Today

Credit wandtv.com

The Illinois Secretary of State's office has closed its Howlett Building in Springfield for the day because of a small fire.

Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker says the fire happened about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday in a mechanical room at the building, which is part of the Illinois State Capitol complex.  

He says firefighters quickly put out the blaze but the air conditioning in the building isn't working and crews need to work on mechanical issues.  

Druker says the agency hopes to reopen the office building on Wednesday.  

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Education Desk
6:47 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Houston Says District 186 Needs To Build Credibility Before Asking For Tax Hike

Credit montanapublicmedia.org

WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts.   He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.

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Regional
7:23 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Illinois Among The Highest Risk For Earthquakes

Credit State of Illinois

Illinois and Missouri are on the list of states with the highest risk for earthquakes.

A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about one-third of the United States and lowers it for one-tenth of the nation.  

The U.S. Geological Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.  

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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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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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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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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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Business
11:16 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Ameren Gets Eminent Domain WUIS SJR Business Report

Credit Ameren.com

On this week's WUIS-SJR Business Report Tim Landis discusses Ameren's efforts to acquire land for the Illinois Rivers Transmission Line. Also the status of the Taylorville Energy Center land and a Chik Fil A coming back to Springfield.

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Congress
1:13 pm
Sun July 6, 2014

Editor Of Dixon Memoir Remembers The Late Senator

  Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon of Illinois has died.

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Regional
12:00 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Another Coal Mine Discovered Under Springfield

Credit legendsofamerica.com

There was more coal mining under the city of Springfield than previously thought.

Some cases of mine subsidence in the south part of Springfield last year led to a discovery that more ground under Springfield had been mined for coal.

Scott Elrick with the State Geological Survey says they found an area between MacArthur and Fifth and  between Ash and Laurel that had been mined in the 1800's.

Elrick compares the finding to a new discovery when doing family genealogy.

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Regional
9:13 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Mother Jones Monument In Central Illinois To Be Restored

Credit Mother Jones Museum

An Illinois monument to famed labor crusader Mother Jones in the graveyard where she's buried is getting a makeover, thanks to donors from 17 states.  

The (Alton) Telegraph  reports the restoration of the 22-foot granite obelisk was announced Tuesday in the union-owned Mount Olive cemetery where Mary Harris Jones is buried.  

A symbolic check for $61,000 was presented during the ceremony, representing donations ranging in size from $5 to $5,000 from 107 union organizations.  

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Statehouse
11:32 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Consumer Group Wants Regulators To Look Into Price Spike

Credit Citizens Utility Board

Consumers who buy their electricity from alternative energy providers have been seeing some price hikes lately.  A consumer group is asking state regulators to look into it.

The Citizens Utility Board says the rate spikes are a recent trend in the four years of open competition in Illinois. CUB Executive Director David Kolata says he thinks the companies are unnecessarily trying to pass their extra costs from the harsh winter onto the customer.

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Regional
6:54 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Decatur Zoo Gets Grant To Build Bird Exhibit

Scovill Zoo, Decatur.
Credit Decatur Park District

The Scovill Zoo in Decatur is getting nearly a half-million dollars in state grants to build a walk-through bird exhibit.   The money is part of a state grant program that will give out $20 million dollars in capital funds for facility improvements and added exhibits at museums operated by local governments and cities.

Scovill is also getting the funding for a crowned-crane exhibit, pavilion, ADA walkway and a generator.

Major attractions receiving money include the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium.

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Regional
7:44 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Pike County Gets A New Prosecutor

Pike County Sheriff's Department
Credit pikecountyil.org

Pike County has a new state's attorney to replace the former top prosecutor who accused the county sheriff of misconduct.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports  that the Pike County Board held a special meeting Thursday night to accept former Pike County State's Attorney Carrie Boyd's resignation. Board members also named Matt Goetten as her replacement to serve through Nov. 30. That's when voters will elect someone to serve the remaining two years of Boyd's term.  

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Arts
6:56 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Legendary Musician Hardly A Household Name

Alejandro Escovedo
Credit Marina Chavez

Austin based musician Alejandro Escovedo appears in Springfield Saturday night as part of Bedrock 66 Live. While he could be described as legendary in the music community, he is not a household name. Saturday's show is at Donnie's Homespun.  Tickets at Bedrock66.com

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Statehouse
12:47 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Convicted Of Bribery

Rep. Derrick Smith found guilty
Credit Peoria Public Radio

A federal jury in Chicago has convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator.

Jurors returned with their verdict Tuesday after deliberating about four hours over two days.  

At trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting a state grant. But it was all part of an FBI sting.  

The recordings of Smith were made by a campaign worker-turned-informant.  

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Regional
6:56 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Three Locals Among Those Charged With Medicaid Fraud

Credit ago.mo.gov

Three area residents are among more than two dozen Illinois residents who have been charged with health care fraud stemming from federal investigations.

Federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against 29 people who allegedly abused a health care program funded by Medicaid. 

The program pays for personal assistants to help Medicaid recipients stay in their homes.   The Feds says the defendants allegedly submitted false claims for hours worked when they had other full time jobs, were in jail or the client was hospitalized.

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Health Desk
4:57 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

St. John's Hospital To Lay Off 43 Managers

Credit St. John's Hospital

St. John's Hospital in Springfield has announced it will lay off 43 managers over the next few months.  

President and Chief Executive Charles Lucore  says cutting management costs will help preserve the quality of patient care.  

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register quotes him as saying the decision was driven by financial pressures from the Affordable Care Act as well as the lower reimbursements.  

The 43 positions represent about 1 percent of the hospital's workforce.  

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Regional
9:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Juvenile Sex Trafficking Happening Here

Poster for Our Children Are Not For Sale awareness campaign.
Credit chicagodrugwar.info

When you hear about sex trafficking, often times what comes to mind is international smuggling of women. That may be happening, but there is also a problem of local teenagers getting used in sex trafficking within Illinois.

"Our Children Are Not For Sale" is the name of an awareness campaign to make people aware of what could be happening to homeless and runaway youth.   Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Stacy Sloan, Human Trafficking program manager at the Department of Children and Family Services.  She sheds some light on the issue.

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Regional
6:22 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Pike County State's Attorney Abruptly Resigns

Credit Pike County

The Pike County State's Attorney abruptly resigned yesterday, prior to a hearing regarding criminal charges against the Pike County Sheriff.

Media reports say that State's Attorney Carrie Boyd left a voice mail for the Pike County Board Chairman resigning. Boyd reportedly cited family and personal issues.

She had filed the charges against Sheriff Paul Petty.   Petty is charged with felony misconduct for allegedly ordering a body to be embalmed before a toxicology test could be performed in a 2012 heroin death.

A special prosecutor will be named for the case.

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Statehouse
6:56 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Legislative Recap: What Lawmakers Did & Didn't Do

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

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Arts
11:09 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Amy LaVere at Bedrock 66 Friday Night

Amy LaVere at Donnie's Homespun Friday night. Part of the WUIS Bedrock 66 Live! series.
Credit amylavere.com

After making a name for herself in Memphis,  Texas native Amy LaVere comes to the WUIS Bedrock Stage this Friday Night.   She is appearing jointly with John Paul Keith and presenting their side project "Motel Mirrors".   From K-U-T in Austin.. David Brown talked with LaVere.

Amy LaVere along with John Paul Keith at Friday night's Bedrock show at Donnie's Homespun on Cook Street in Springfield.    The show starts at eight. Tickets available at bedrock66.com.     Tickets are $12 dollars.

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Education Desk
7:00 am
Wed May 21, 2014

School Funding Discussion WUIS Education Desk

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately.  The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools:  A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur.   The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.

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Regional
6:18 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Enters NOT Guilty Plea

Pike County Courthouse
Credit Pike County

The Pike County sheriff has pleaded not guilty to a felony misconduct charge after prosecutors say he botched the 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty's attorney filed a motion Monday to dismiss the case or appoint a special state's attorney.

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Regional
8:41 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Charged With Misconduct

Pike County Courhouse
Credit Creative Commons

The Pike County sheriff is facing a felony misconduct charge for a 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.  

Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty is also the county's coroner. He was charged after prosecutors say he didn't follow procedures for embalming the body of 47-year-old Shanda Lopez.  

Two other men were charged in connection with Lopez's death, including one who's accused of drug-induced homicide.

Authorities say Petty didn't draw blood for a toxicology screening before Lopez's body was embalmed.  

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Harvest Desk
7:45 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Illinois Groups Want Expanded Trade With Cuba

Credit Illinois Cuba Working Group

Back in 1999, then Governor George Ryan led a delegation to the island nation of Cuba.   Since that time, a number of Illinois Agriculture groups have been working to ease trade restrictions to the small nation.   The Illinois Cuba Working Group recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama hoping to expand trade opportunities between the nations.  

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Harvest Desk
7:17 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Schnucks Recalling Deli Item

Credit schnucks.com

Schnucks is recalling chicken salad because of possible listeria contamination.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Saturday that Schnucks Kitchen of O'Fallon is recalling about 130 pounds of curry white meat chicken salad with walnuts due to possible contamination with listeria monocytogenes.  

The USDA says the product came in sealed three-pound bags and was produced April 24 before being shipped to Schnucks stores for deli distribution in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  

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Regional
6:16 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Durbin Talks FutureGen With Energy Secretary

Power plant in Meredosia
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he met with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to discuss the FutureGen clean-coal project.  

Durbin said in a news release that he met with Moniz on Wednesday to discuss the department's commitment to the long-planned public-private project. Durbin said he stressed the importance he sees in keeping it on track.  

The department is providing $1 billion to the $1.68 billion project.  

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Regional
7:46 am
Tue April 29, 2014

BMW & Mercedes Recall Cars

Credit agrgeorgia.gov

Two  luxury automakers are recalling vehicles.

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