Bill Wheelhouse

Executive Editor/ Anchor/ Reporter/ State Week Host

217-206-6402

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Regional
6:47 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Mayor: We Are Doing Sewer Work

Credit Hartland Township MI

The mayor of Springfield took umbrage to a weekend editorial in the local paper.

The State Journal Register Sunday criticized the city for a lack of a comprehensive sewer program, following housing and street flooding after heavy rains in recent weeks.

Mayor Mike Houston called reporters together to remind them, as he approaches a re-election campaign, that the city is in the midst of a 10 year $60 million dollar borrowing program to fix some of the problem sewer systems.

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Harvest Desk
6:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Environmental Group Touts Proposed Water Rules

Credit flickr/loveMeagan

Farm and Business groups have been vocal in their opposition to proposed federal water regulations.  Opponents of the rules say it will turn into regulatory over-reach on the part of the government.    Last week, we talked with the Illinois Farm Bureau about their efforts to kill the regulations.  Today... we hear from supporters of the proposed rules.   WUIS Bill Wheelhouse spoke with John Devine of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

To read differing viewpoints on the proposed rules, check out the following:

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Legislature Approved A $100 Million Tax On Business & Didn't Know It

Credit flickr/jmorgan

The legislature easily approved a measure in the spring that will raise taxes on some of the largest Illinois businesses.  Apparently they didn't know what they were passing.  Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business.

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Health Desk
7:27 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors Recalled

Credit 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.

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Health Desk
6:25 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Trauma Care Decision Highlights Competition Between Springfield Hospitals

Credit 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.

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Harvest Desk
10:01 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Farm Bureau Talks About Campaign Against Federal Water Regulations

Credit 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.

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Harvest Desk
12:14 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Ag & Business Joining Hands To Fight EPA Water Regs

Grass waterway, farmers say would be subject to regulation under proposed EPA rules.
Credit Illinois Farm Bureau

The state's business community is lining up with farm groups in an effort to stave off some new federal water regulations.  

The Illinois Farm Bureau has the backing the of manufacturers and the state Chamber of Commerce as it works to derail proposed rules. Rules it says would lead to the Feds getting more of a say in how farm land is used.  

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Statehouse
8:15 am
Mon September 8, 2014

If You Want To Grow Or Sell Medical Pot, You Can Apply Now

Credit wbez

Entrepreneurs wanting to cultivate or dispense medical marijuana under a new Illinois law are getting their chance to be considered.  

The state on Monday was to begin accepting applications from aspiring cultivation centers and dispensaries vying for one of a limited number of permits.  

A state law enacted last year authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017, but so far, not a single marijuana seed has been planted. State officials have said the first products may be sold next year.  

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Politics
7:14 am
Mon September 8, 2014

The Fall Of The Illinois Green Party

After failing to get on the November ballot,  the Green Party's candidates for Governor and Secretary of State say they will launch a write-in campaign in this fall's election.   That comes less than a decade after the Illinois Greens pulled in enough votes to reach "major party status" in Illinois.
 

 In the 2006  Governors Race,  Judy Baar Topinka was challenging incumbent Rod Blagojevich.      There was also Rich Whitney who ran for Governor as a candidate for the Green Party.  He got more than ten percent of the vote that year.

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Statehouse
6:47 am
Fri August 29, 2014

State Retirees To Stop Paying Health Premiums

A Sangamon County judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Illinois from collecting higher health care insurance premiums from retired state employees.

In a 6-to-1 ruling in July, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the state to require retirees to pay for a portion of their own health care. The court said state-subsidized health insurance is a protected pension benefit and the state cannot charge premiums for it.  

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Regional
11:54 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Charities Stepping In Where Government Used To Be

School bake sales buy necessities not luxuries. It's part of "Charity replacing government".

Charities are finding themselves asked to step in to help pay for services and programs that were previously in the government's domain. It seems to be an increasing trend since the economy took a dip several years ago.

Private fundraising for government programs is not necessarily new. State universities have long engaged in fundraising, especially with their alumni and elementary school groups have long held bake sales.

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Statehouse
11:28 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Buy American Sections Required at State Parks & Historic Sites

Credit wolfsonian.org

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

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Statehouse
7:11 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Here's Your Chance To Serve On Medical Marijuana Board

Credit flickr/eggrole

 The new medical marijuana program in Illinois is looking for health professionals and patients to serve on an advisory board.   There is an opportunity for you to get your name on the list of nominees.

The 15-member board will make recommendations about which medical conditions can be added to the list of those approved for medical marijuana use in the state.  

Board members will be appointed by the governor. There is no compensation other than expenses.  

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Politics
7:11 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Term Limits Will Remain Campaign Issue For Rauner

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having a term limits measure on November's ballot is a temporary setback.  

He told reporters Sunday he'll ``campaign very aggressively'' on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits. A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.  

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Statehouse
6:39 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Watchdog Applauds Investigation of Electric Supplier

Credit majorenergy.com

 An Illinois watchdog group is celebrating a decision by regulators to launch an investigation of an Orangeburg, New York-based alternative electric supplier.  

The Citizens Utility Board said Wednesday it's pleased the Illinois Commerce Commission adopted a recommendation to investigate Major Energy.  

Consumers have complained about misleading marketing by Major Energy. CUB says the company's rates are the worst it's seen in the Illinois competitive power market.  

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Arts
11:06 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Otis Gibbs: A Nice Guy Plays Springfield

Credit otisgibbs.com

The folks who put on Bedrock 66 are bringing singer-songwriter Otis Gibbs to Springfield Thursday (Aug 21) at 7:30 at Donnie's Homespun.    Bill Wheelhouse introduces to Otis and let's us hear a track from his new album.

Tickets for Thursday's show are $7 at bedrock66.com   Find Otis's music and podcasts at otisgibbs.com.

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Education Desk
6:26 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Illinois Sees Slight Gains On ACT Scores

Credit Eastern Kentucky University

The Illinois State Board of Education says Illinois' high school graduating class of 2014 earned a composite score of 20.7 on the ACT.  

The score on the four-subject test is slightly higher than the class of 2013's score of 20.6. The national average is 21.  

Board officials say Illinois had the second-highest composite score among the 12 states that tested 100 percent of graduates, next to Utah.  

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Health Desk
7:27 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Making It Easier To Complain About Nursing Homes

Credit kaiserhealthnews.org

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed two pieces of legislation giving seniors and the disabled greater access to people who can address complaints about their care or their living conditions.  

One of the measures allows people with complaints about nursing homes to submit them electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That takes effect immediately.

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Health Desk
6:47 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Brita Recalling Children's Watter Bottles

Brita recalling children's water bottles

Brita is recalling approximately 242,500 children's water filter bottles due to a possible laceration hazard.

The company said Tuesday that the lid of the hard-sided bottles can break into pieces with sharp points.

Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled bottles include a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green bottle with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid.

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Statehouse
7:44 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Increases Penalties For Drug Crimes

Credit methproject.org

Illinois has increased the penalties for some drug offenses.  

Gov. Pat Quinn signed three drug-related pieces of legislation Saturday. They take effect Jan. 1.  

Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of any school property will now be a Class X felony, punishable by a minimum of six years in prison. It was previously considered a Class 1 felony.  

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Education Desk
7:02 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Colleges To Be Smoke Free

Illinois' public colleges are going smoke-free _ indoors and out _ starting next summer.  

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's signed a law that bans indoor and outdoor smoking at all state-supported colleges and universities.  

The bill makes exceptions for smoking inside privately owned vehicles traveling through campus and some activities under the federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act.  A companion bill signed by Quinn also allows smoking on campus inside parked, non-state-owned vehicles.  

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Harvest Desk
7:14 am
Fri August 15, 2014

McCormick Oregano Recalled: Possible Salmonella

You may want to check your spice rack. This recall affects products sold in Illinois.

McCormick & Company, Incorporated is initiating a voluntary recall of McCormick® Ground Oregano, 0.75 oz bottle, UPC 0-523561-6 with code dates BEST BY AUG 21 16 H and AUG 22 16 H due to possible contamination with Salmonella. This recall does not impact any other McCormick Ground, Whole or Oregano Leaves products.

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Regional
7:23 am
Wed August 13, 2014

WUIS-SJR Business Report

The future "Metropolitan Place"
Credit 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.

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Regional
8:28 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Sangamon County Residents Give Thoughts About Their "Neighborhoods".

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

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Statehouse
5:54 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Former Illinois Lawmaker Dies at 48

Former lawmaker Mike Smith died Saturday at age 48.
Credit 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.  

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Business
11:29 am
Wed August 6, 2014

More Power Lines Coming Through The Region WUIS-SJR Business Report

Credit Iowa State University
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Statehouse
9:39 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Clout On The Business Side of Medical Marijuana

Credit flickr/medicalmarijuana-information.com

Illinois has set its regulations for medical marijuana in the state.   While, those who may benefit medically are looking forward to the substance becoming available, those who are interested in making money growing it and selling it are getting there ducks in a row.  Kurt Erickson, Springfield Bureau Chief for Lee Enterprises newspapers has been covering the issue he joined a roundtable discussion with Bill Wheelhouse, Amanda Vinicky & Brian Mackey.

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Harvest Desk
6:25 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Illinois Farmers Market Prices Survey

There's a web site to track farmers market prices.
Credit Ill. Dept. of Agriculture

The University of Illinois Extension Service is now regularly surveying prices at farmers markets around the state.

According to The News-Gazette in Champaign the surveys of 11 farmers markets around Illinois are being conducted as part of a three-state effort that includes Kentucky and Tennessee.

The weekly price surveys are being published on the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification's website.  

The idea is to give produce farmers an idea of what prices look like across the region.  

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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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