Bill Wheelhouse

Executive Editor/ Anchor/ Reporter/ State Week Host

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Harvest Desk
6:56 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Illinois Meat Packer Recalls Hams

Credit USDA

A northern Illinois meat packer is recalling more than 67,000 thousand pounds of sliced spiral ham due to possible Listeria contamination.

Gusto packing shipped the hams to wholesalers in Illinois and three other states.  It includes Centrella Signature, Amish Valley and Ripple Creek Farm Brands.

The problem was discovered when Gusto Packing’s internal sampling program found some of its products tested positive for the bacteria which causes isteriosis

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Statehouse
1:06 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Professor Says Publicly Funded Campaigns Are Better for Voters

UIS Political Scientist Michael Miller
Credit courtesy of Michael Miller

An expert on campaign finance says his studies show that government funding of state level races is better for voters and candidates.  Michael Miller of the University of Illinois Springfield makes the case in his new book "Subsidizing Democracy: How Public Funding Changes Elections And How It Can Work In The Future". He spoke with Bill Wheelhouse:

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Statehouse
7:23 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Quinn Signs Another Pension Measure

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit wikimedia

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a pension-reform measure for the Chicago Park District.  

The legislation Quinn signed Tuesday is designed to deal with a $971 million deficit in the district's pension program. When lawmakers approved it in November, experts hailed it as example of compromise for what was then an elusive solution to the five state pension systems' $100 billion hole.  

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Regional
7:25 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Secretary of State's Offices Closed Today

Secretary of State Jesse White
Credit Secretary of State's Office

The Secretary of State's office is closing all 138 of its facilities around Illinois. Agency spokesman Dave Druker ) says officials decided to shut the locations on Monday because of bad road conditions in central and southern Illinois, along with the dangerous cold in northern Illinois. Offices are set to reopen on Tuesday. 

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Regional
7:16 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Road Closings in Sangamon County

Sangamon County reports that portions of the following roads are closed due to drifting snow. 

CH 40 – W. Loami Road from Chatham to Morgan Co. line.

CH 45 – Johns Creek Road from Loami to Thayer Rd.

CH 6 – Thayer Road from Morgan Co. line to Thayer.

CH 47 – Prairie Creek Road from Pleasant Plains Road to Farmingdale Road.

CH 10 – Pleasant Plains Road from Old Jacksonville Road to Pleasant Plains.

CH 48 – Prairie School Road from Sherman Road to Logan Co. line.

CH 16 – Buffalo Hart Road from IL 54 to Logan Co. line.

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Regional
5:40 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Many Weather Related Closings Across Region Today

University of Illinois Springfield & Lincoln Land Community College along with most other colleges are closed today.

Springfield District 186, Jacksonville and surrounding school districts closed.

SIU Health Care, Springfield Clinic and Memorial Physician Services closed today.

Most waste hauling in Springfield is canceled today.

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Regional
6:10 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

UIS & Springfield 186 Closed Monday.

Credit Minneapolis Public Schools

The University of Illinois Springfield is closed Monday due to weather conditions.  UIS is operating under its essential services policy.

Springfield School District 186 is closed Monday, as is the Jacksonville School  District and most other area schools.

Other colleges closed on Monday include Bradley University, Illinois College, Illinois State University, Lincoln College, Lincoln Land Community College, Robert Morris University, SIU School of Medicine and Western Illinois University,

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Health Desk
6:24 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Springfield Hospital Acquiring Passavant In Jacksonville

Passavant Hospital, Jacksonville
Credit Passavant Area Hospital

Jacksonville's Passavant Area Hospital is going to become part of Memorial Health System.   It will become the fourth hospital to go under the Memorial umbrella.   A joint news release says the two organizations have signed an affiliation agreement.  It still needs regulatory approval.

Passavant is a 93 bed hospital with about 900  full and part time workers.
Memorial's three hospitals have more than 500 beds. It employs more than 5,700.

Along with Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, the  System also has hospitals in Lincoln and Taylorville.

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Regional
9:53 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Higher Speed Limits in Illinois in 2014

A map of 70 MPH speed limits.   Drivers in the Springfield area will still have a speed limit of 65 mph around the city.    The lower speed limit affects motorists from the south side of the city to the northwest side of Springfield.

Regional
7:18 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Springfield & Chatham Reach Tentative Settlement

Credit CWLP

Springfield and Chatham hope to approval a final settlement in the coming month regarding a water contract dispute between the two communities.

This will put an end to a lawsuit over Chatham's decision to break its water contract with CWLP.

Under the deal, Chatham will pay Springfield a half million dollars in damages and it will pay the city $200,000 for a long term lease of ground where Chatham has a pump station.

In addition, Chatham will allow Springfield to transport water through Chatham's water system to Loami.

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Education
9:18 am
Tue December 17, 2013

40% Of Students Finish College Where They Start

Credit University of Illinois, Springfield

Only 4 in 10 students who entered college in 2007 have earned
degrees from the school where they started.

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Education
11:55 am
Thu December 12, 2013

District 186 Makes Choice For Next Superintendent

Jennifer Gill

The  Springfield school board is negotiating with a local woman to become the district's next superintendent. 

The board hopes to extend an offer in early January to Jennifer Gill.   Gill has been working the past year as the director of teaching and learning in McClean County district five based in Normal.   Prior to that, she had worked as an administrator in the Springfield School District and was principal at Vachel Lindsey and McClernand elementary schools.

The 44 year old Gill has also taught in the Springfield and Jacksonville School Districts.   

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Education
6:54 am
Fri December 6, 2013

UIC Faculty Vote To Strike

Credit University of Illinois, Chicago

Unionized faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago have authorized a strike, even as contract negotiations continue.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that despite the vote, no strike is imminent.  

UIC United Faculty represents about 800 educators who've been negotiating with school administrators for 15 months.

Union spokesman John Shuler says the group is hoping to avoid a strike. He says the two sides are continuing to work with a federal mediator to approve a new four-year contract. Meetings are scheduled to take place through early January.  

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Statehouse
11:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

CapitolView: Pension Reform Analysis

WUIS State Week host, Bill Wheelhouse, guests on the latest CapitolView regarding the pension reform passed in Illinois.

Health Desk
7:18 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Downstate Cancer Rates Higher

A new study shows cancer rates are higher in downstate Illinois.  Smoking may be the reason.   

A report from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of  Public Health of public health says the southern two thirds of Illinois have higher cancer rates and lower survival rates than those in the northern part.  The study looks at two decades worth of cancer statistics.  SIU Med School's David Steward says the likely culprit is lung cancer, which is especially higher in Men.

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Arts
6:16 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Styx And REO To Play Illinois Tornado Benefit

REO Speedwagon 2013
Credit REO

Two Illinois rock groups will return to their stomping grounds to benefit those who had losses in last week's tornadoes.

Rock groups Styx and REO Speedwagon will headline a benefit concert to raise money for victims of last weekend's Illinois tornadoes.  

The bands, which both have strong Illinois ties, will headline the event called ``Rock to the Rescue Extends a Hand to Those in Need.'' The concert will be held at Bloomington's U.S. Cellular Coliseum on Dec. 4  

Tickets go on sale Saturday and cost between $28 and $58.  

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Statehouse
8:22 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Suspicious Fire Burns Illinois Lawmaker's Office

Rep. Dwight Kay

(AP) A fire chief says a blaze in a building that houses an Illinois state lawmaker's southwestern Illinois office is considered suspicious.  

Edwardsville Fire Chief Rick Welle says no injuries resulted from Monday night's fire that damaged Rep. Dwight Kay's office.

The building also included an insurance site, consulting agencies and counseling services.  Welle said it's unclear if any of the offices was specifically targeted, but that investigators haven't ruled out arson.  

Illinois State Police and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.  

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Bedrock
9:25 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Cash Box Kings Bring Blues To Springfield

The Cash Box Kings bring their post WWII blues to the Hoogland Saturday night for the next Bedrock 66 Live!  CLICK HERE for tickets or call 217-523-2787.

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Harvest Desk
1:38 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Shipping Containers Can Open Export Market To Farmers

Agribusiness giant ADM recently opened a 275-acre container shipping rail yard near Decatur, Ill., in part to export more grain.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

A huge new rail yard has been buzzing on the outskirts of Decatur, Ill. Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently opened the 275-acre facility that would be at home at any major port city on the coast. But it’s in the heart of Illinois farm country because farmers have been taking advantage of a new method of shipping out their products.

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Harvest Desk
3:12 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Why Farmers Want New Equipment

Illinois farmer Len Corzine is surrounded by some of his brand new farm equipment.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

On a hot August day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

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State Week

State Week has been produced by WUIS since January 1975, created by original WUIS News Director Rich Bradley when the station went on the air. It is the longest running public affairs program on WUIS and was patterned after the popular PBS show Washington Week in Review.

Harvest Desk
1:50 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

U.S. Corn Exports On The Rebound

Corn thrives along a road in central Illinois in mid-August 2013.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Last summer’s drought knocked the nation’s corn exports to the mat.  And while U.S. farmers may be getting up from that punch, it may take them longer to regain their footing in international markets.  

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Harvest Desk
1:59 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Report: Farmers Could Do More To Lessen Impact Of Drought

Credit plantcovercrops.com

Farmers across the country received more than $17-Billion in federal crop insurance  payouts after last year’s drought. A report by one environmental group blames farmers for not doing enough to shield the soil against the heat. 

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Harvest Desk
5:17 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Illinois County Relied Heavily On Crop Insurance Last Year

Tim Kelly, a John Deere dealer in Pontiac, Ill, says crop insurance payments kept business going as normal. Unlike after the drought of 1988.
Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

Farmers in the Midwest were devastated by a crippling drought in 2012. The federal crop insurance program paid out a record $17.3 billion. And in rural America, that money is still paying dividends. To understand the impact, Harvest Public Media reporter Bill Wheelhouse took a tour of Livingston County, Illinois. Farmers here received by far the biggest insurance payout in the nation.

On this sweltering day in mid-August, surrounded by healthy 8-foot tall corn stalks, Doug Wilson peels back the husks to see how his corn is looking. The verdict?

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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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Harvest Desk
5:36 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Becky Doyle: Always A Farmer

As state secretary of agriculture, Becky Doyle and Gov. Jim Edgar, center, ride through the 1991 Illinois State Fair.
Credit State Journal-Register

This is the next installment of the My Farm Roots series from the WUIS Harvest Desk. 

In 1986, Becky Doyle was helping her husband run the family’s hog farming operation. She also had a sidelight business of marketing gift baskets made from Illinois products. But that wasn’t enough: Doyle decided she would make a run for the Illinois House.

“I was young, naive and thought I could run as a Republican in a district where it was 11:4 Democrat,” Doyle said.

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Harvest Desk
9:37 am
Thu July 18, 2013

The Cost Of Satisfying A Nation's Sweet Tooth

Candy shop owner Rob Flesher says companies like his pay more for sugar thanks to government sugar supports.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Americans consume a lot of sweets. Even discounting all the high fructose corn syrup you find in soft drinks, the average consumer takes in about 40 pounds of refined sugar in a year, according to the USDA.

That means food companies from Nestle to Hostess and small neighborhood candy stores have to buy sugar. Lots of it. And those bakers and snack food makers say the government gives too much support to sugar growers and consumers are footing the bill.  

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Changing Lands, Changing Hands
6:36 am
Thu July 11, 2013

A Civics Lesson For Rural Towns

Pittsfield, Ill., is dealing with an aging population and what that means for the social fabric of the rural community.
Creative Commons

This week,  the WUIS Harvest Desk has been bringing you the series “Changing Lands, Changing Hands,” a series of stories examining the implications of an unrelenting trend: The American farmer is getting older. Our reporting team has been considering the nuances of this demographic shift that affects not just rural America but the power and potential of an entire industry.  The latest segment takes us to west central Illinois:

It’s hard not to use the phrase “quintessential small town” when you describe Pittsfield, Ill. 

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Harvest Desk
7:44 am
Mon June 24, 2013

My Farm Roots: Jackie Dougan Jackson

Jackson’s father was known around town as “The Babies’ Milkman.”
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Jackie Dougan Jackson grew up like many farm kids. She spent sunbaked summer hours detasseling corn, tending the crops so it can be pollinated. For farm kids, detasseling is one of the ultimate chores. For the 85-year-old Jackson, those memories still put a song in her heart.

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Harvest Desk
6:16 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Agriculture Pushes For "Right To Farm"

Hog farmer Bob Young had to overcome lawsuits from his neighbors before building his confinement facility near Rochester. Says Young: “There are a few (city people) that come out here and think we got to change everything so we can make it city living. And that won’t work.”
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Individual state constitutions across the nation spell out a host of guaranteed rights for their citizens. For example, same sex marriage or collective bargaining. But what about the right to farm?  From the WUIS Harvest Desk,  Bill Wheelhouse reports on a drive to establish that guarantee:

The way hog farmer Bob Young sees it, city people just don’t understand farmers.

“There are a few that come out here and think we got to change everything so we can make it city living,” he said. “And that won’t work.”

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