Peter Gray

Harvest Desk Reporter

Peter has a diverse background in public, independent and commercial media production.  Beginning in 2011, Peter served as reporter and “Morning Edition” host for WUIS.  He completed his work at WUIS in 2014.  Prior to his start in public radio, he covered the Illinois legislature for NBC affiliate WANDTV-17 and helped launch Phenom Features, a non-profit apprenticeship film studio.  Peter hails from Oswego, Ill., where he grew up watching WTTW-11/PBS.  

The 2013 Illinois State Fair in Springfield runs August 8th through the 18th.

Peter Gray joined Rachel Otwell on Illinois Edition with a few highlights of the fair this year, including the grandstand's new VIP section for fans who want to avoid long lines but want to be as close to the stage as possible: 

The State Fair's mobile site can be accessed HERE

Google Maps

After August 4th, commuters in Springfield may want to avoid Chatham Road between Iles and Wabash.  A small bridge there is scheduled to be replaced, a project which could take months.  The Office of Public Works issued the following statement Friday:

"The City of Springfield Office of Public Works has announced that Chatham Road bridge construction will start Monday, August 5th between Iles Avenue and Jerome Avenue. 

Peter Gray/WUIS

A week before the Illinois State Fair, health officials have confirmed this year's first case of a relatively new type of swine flu.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, a child who visited the DuPage County Fair and came in contact with pigs showed mild symptoms of the H3N2V virus.  

Department Director LaMar HasBrouck says Illinois residents should enjoy state and county fairs while being careful to frequently wash their hands.

Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield's new top cop says regaining the public's trust in his department is at the top of his to-do list.  

Acting Chief Kenny Winslow took over Monday for Robert Williams, whose signature at the bottom of a police union memo cleared the way for destruction of internal affairs files.

Williams, along with the city's attorney, this month stepped aside as the city faces a lawsuit alleging it violated public records laws.

Interim Chief Winslow says today he's focused on polishing the department's tarnished image:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.jobe.7

Springfield residents may soon know more about events this spring that led to the abrupt resignation of city attorney Mark Cullen and retirement of Police Chief Robert Williams.

On Tuesday, July 30th, the City Council will decide whether to release the audio recording and transcript of a closed-door meeting about the shredding of police internal affairs files. 

http://jacksonvilleinstitutions.wordpress.com/closure-of-jacksonville-developmental-center/jdc/

The public is asked to assist the Jacksonville Police Department with its investigation into recent vandalism at the Jacksonville Development Center.

The following information is from Crimestoppers of Morgan and Scott Counties:

Sometime in the overnight hours of July 17; unknown person(s) broke several windows out of two buildings on the former JDC grounds.

Calvin Christian

Calvin Christian has been working since 2010 to make documentation of police officer misconduct more accessible to the public. 

Christian is now suing the City over the premature destruction of public records, including those which detail the embarrassing (and criminal) past of Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher.

Peter Gray/WUIS

Mayor Mike Houston has announced that Springfield's Chief of Police and top legal counsel are both on their way out.  

Houston says Chief Robert Williams will take the rest of his accrued vacation time and retire in mid-October.  Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen is expected to formally submit his resignation when he returns from a vacation out of the country.

In a Friday evening interview with WUIS, Houston called for a stop to the "innuendo and rumors" he says are "floating around" in the community.  

Pleasant Plains Historical Society

Volunteers who help at the Clayville Historic Site outside of Springfield have a new use for an old barn that's been preserved by a family with strong ties to Sangamon County.

They're inviting the public to Clayville Sunday to learn more about the effort to put together a Pioneer Agriculture Museum in the Purvines Ancestors Barn. 

http://mghmcleanpsychiatry.partners.org

Over the past decade, scientific research has influenced the way psychiatrists and other clinicians diagnose mental health disorders.

That's according to Dr. Vikki Vandiver  of Portland, Oregon.  The professor and co-editor of the academic journal Best Practices in Mental Health will be in Springfield Thursday, July 18.

Vandiver will speak at a conference for doctors, social workers and other professionals about changes to the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

SJ-R.com

 The State Journal Register's Tim Landis speaks with Peter Gray about the growing market for e-cigarettes and the hazy regulatory environment those products remain in.  Also, the grocery chain Kroger returns to the Springfield area:

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R

Peter Gray/WUIS

According to the state's tourism office, 2012 was a "banner year" for those in the business of bringing visitors - and their billfolds - to Illinois.

On Wednesday the agency used the rotunda of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as its stage to announce the latest numbers on the industry's economic impact. 

Peter Gray/WUIS

The electronic system Springfield aldermen use to record their votes is getting an upgrade the city clerk says will soon allow the public to follow along with City Council action in real-time on the web.

City Clerk Cecilia  Tumulty introduced aldermen to the new eVote system during their committee meeting Tuesday.  Tumulty says work will now begin to link the technology to her website.  She says the goal is to give the public a more "comprehensive snapshot" of Council action:

wikipedia

The new law regulating the concealed carry of handguns in Illinois will also revoke larger cities' power to enact new or updated bans on bigger weapons.

Cities with "home rule" authority have just 10 days to get an assault weapons ban on the books.  The mayor of Chicago is pushing to make the gun laws it has in place even tougher.

SSCRPC

Residents of Springfield and surrounding towns have until July 15 to provide feedback on a plan designed to make rural Sangamon County more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Linda Wheeland of the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission and Lynn Miller of the Springfield Bicycle Club joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about mapping the area's transportation future:

Google Maps

Developers who've been planning for years to build a shopping center and gas station at a busy intersection on Springfield's northwest side say they could break ground on the project next month.

The Jefferson Crossing redevelopment plan got final approval from aldermen Tuesday night.  The City Council agreed to set aside $9.2 million dollars in future tax revenues to reimburse builders.  The funds will come from a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District set up in 2007 specifically for the project.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

The 58th Annual National Tom Sawyer Days celebration starts Wednesday in Hannibal, Missouri.

The festival runs through the weekend with events honoring Samuel Clemens' literary work, including the town's "Tom and Becky" lookalike contest for kids.

A site in downtown Hannibal dedicated to Becky Thatcher - and the real woman who inspired the fictional character - has just re-opened to visitors following a major restoration effort.

WUIS/Peter Gray

Some cancer survivors struggle with pain, fatigue and other crippling symptoms following aggressive treatments such as radiation.

A nationwide program now offered in Springfield connects patients with occupational therapists who can help speed the healing process.

Peter Gray reports from the WUIS Health Desk. 

[LINKS to more information about oncology rehab can be found below]

63-year-old Verna Stallone of Springfield was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.

dynamic patterns theatre

Central Illinois audiences with the recent drought still fresh in their minds may be able to sympathize with the characters of "The Rainmaker". 

The story of a midwest farm family and a man promising to quench their land's thirst comes to Jacksonville and Springfield this weekend. 

Director Rich McCoy and actors Michelle Dearing and Evan Rumler joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about the show:

CLICK HERE for Jacksonville tickets

www.dio.org

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield says the nation's high court has given "legal protection to an intrinsic evil" by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and not defending California's Proposition 8.  

In a statement Wednesday, Reverend Thomas John Paprocki went on to call the Supreme Court's rulings "hollow decisions" that are "devoid of moral authority".  

http://www.route66filmfestival.net
www.route66filmfestival.net

The film festival held in Springfield each fall has expanded its calendar of events to include "mini-screenings" this summer.

Route 66 International Film Festival board member Thea Chesley joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to discuss the short films her group is now sharing with moviegoers - in a setting that's more casual than conventional:

Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield residents living near South MacArthur Boulevard could have a new grocery store in the neighborhood by this time next year.

Iowa-based chain Hy-Vee held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning in the parking lot of the old Kmart store and bowling alley just north of Outer Park Drive.

Hy-Vee Asst. VP of Operations Mary Fuhrman says her crews will start tearing down the vacant buildings immediately.  Fuhrman expects the store to open by late spring 2014.

Peter Gray, WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure to legalize and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns.

Governor Pat Quinn’s office says he’s now “carefully reviewing” the legislation.

Advocates on both sides of the gun debate say a provision requiring hands-on training is an important part of the bill now awaiting the Governor’s action.    

Peter Gray visited a central Illinois gun range to learn more about what will be required of people who want to carry a loaded weapon in public.

For Whom The Bells Toll

May 31, 2013
www.carillon-rees.org

Carillonneur Robin Austin calls Thomas Rees one of his “great heroes”.

Last fall the Springfield Park District chose Austin to succeed Karel Keldermans, who played the 67-bell instrument dedicated to Thomas Rees for 35 years.

This week Robin Austin follows in the footsteps -or on the foot pedals - of the Keldermans family.  It will be his first year as host of the city’s annual International Carillon Festival.

Dynamic Patterns Theatre

Famed poet Emily Dickinson dedicated herself to documenting the joys and sorrows of life in the 1800s.

This month actor Sherri Mitchell brings Dickinson's life and work to the stage in Springfield and Jacksonville.

Mitchell joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about her one-woman production, The Belle of Amherst, and what it's like to transport audiences back to the 19th century:

For information about Jacksonville performances May 30-June 2, CLICK HERE

http://alertsense.com/Home/AlertSense

Residents in the Springfield area can now sign up to have alerts about severe weather and other emergencies sent right to their phone.

The city received a $10,000 grant to set up the new system.  The money comes through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which distributes federal funds to city and county governments for public safety programs and disaster preparedness tools.

Dominic Genetti

Monday night's severe storms stopped the presses of the local newspaper in Hannibal, Missouri. A widespread power outage prevented the Hannibal Courier-Post from getting a print edition to readers.  Reporters there, including Dominic Genetti, used the internet and social media to provide news updates on damage caused by 90 mile-an-hour winds.   As Genetti told Peter Gray on Illinois Edition Tuesday, two funnel clouds were reportedly spotted just outside of town last night:

Peter Gray

The State of Illinois caps the number of high needs learners who share the attention of a single special education teacher.

For the past decade, there has also been a limit on how many children with disabilities can be placed in what are known as “general education” public school classrooms.

But those rules could soon be repealed.

The mother of a young man with autism has joined advocates for the disabled who say the proposed change has to do more with cost-savings than with properly educating kids.

FARNSWORTH: “My name is George Farnsworth.”

Calvin Christian

Members of the Springfield City Council are looking for a way to prevent further incidents like the one in April in which police records were apparently shredded or deleted after they were requested by a local reporter through the Freedom of Information Act.

Tuesday night aldermen passed out of committee an ordinance that would require all changes to union contracts be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.  Such contractual changes are known as memorandums of understanding, or MOUs. 

siumed.edu

The American Cancer Society is now recruiting volunteers in central Illinois for its third major cancer prevention study.

Dr. Wiley Jenkins is an epidemiologist with the SIU School of Medicine and is a member of the Simmons Cancer Institute in Springfield.

He joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to explain why those who’ve witnessed a loved one’s battle with cancer should sign up to be a “volunteer champion”.

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