Peter Gray

Harvest Desk Reporter

Harvest Public Media’s reporter at WUIS comes to the team with a diverse background in public, independent and commercial media production.  Beginning in 2011, Peter served as reporter and “Morning Edition” host for WUIS.  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.  

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Fair Preview
12:43 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Illinois State Fair Prepares To Open Gates Thursday

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

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Summer Road Work
9:43 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Chatham Rd. Bridge Work To Start Monday, Expect Traffic Delays

Aerial view of site where work will begin August 5th
Credit 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. 

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H3N2V Influenza Confirmed In Illinois
4:22 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

State Fair Visitors Urged To Take Precautions To Prevent Spread Of Swine Flu

Ilinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick speaks to reporters Aug. 1 at the fairgrounds in Springfield.
Credit 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.

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Springfield City Government
4:10 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Acting Police Chief Winslow On Restoring Dept. Morale, Public Confidence

Kenny Winslow sits at Robert Williams' old chair in the office of the Springfield Chief of Police
Credit 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:

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Springfield City Government
8:16 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Interview: Alderman Cory Jobe On Push To Release Council Tapes

Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe supports Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards' push to make tapes of closed session available to the public
Credit 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. 

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Jacksonville Developmental Center
8:00 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Jacksonville Area Authorities Seeking Tips On JDC Vandalism

Building on the campus of the former state run institution
Credit 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.

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Springfield City Government
6:15 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Interview: Columnist Calvin Christian On File Shredding Lawsuit

Calvin Christian III
Credit 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.

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Springfield City Government
7:05 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Houston: "Let Chips Fall Where They May" As Police Chief, Top Attorney Depart

Mayor Michael J. Houston
Credit 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.  

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Purvines Ancestors Barn
12:27 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Barn At Clayville Site To Become Pioneer Agriculture Museum

Purvines Ancestors Barn
Credit 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. 

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Health Desk
8:58 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Diagnosing Disorder: The DSM-5 And A Changing Mental Health Field

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 5th Edition
Credit 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.

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Regulation And Retail
11:38 am
Tue July 16, 2013

WUIS / SJ-R Business Report: July 16, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit 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

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Lincoln Film Credited For Local Tourism Boost
7:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Economic Impact Of Springfield Area Tourism Up In 2012

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston talks up the benefits of tourism at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Credit 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. 

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City Government
6:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Springfield City Clerk Rolls Out New Council Voting Tech

Updated voting screens in City Council chamber (image edited to reflect test vote)
Credit 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:

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Guns
12:03 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

No Plans For Local Weapons Ban In Springfield

M4 semiautomatic carbine
Credit 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.

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Springfield-Sang. Co. Regional Planning
8:25 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Public Input Sought On Rural Bike And Pedestrian Plan

Public comments accepted through Mon. July 15
Credit 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:

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Economic Development
7:27 am
Wed July 3, 2013

City Council OKs Jefferson Crossing TIF Plan

Site along Veteran's Parkway approved for future shopping center and city park
Credit 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.

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58th Annual National Tom Sawyer Days
11:38 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Becky Thatcher House Re-Opens In Hannibal, MO

Credit 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.

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Health Desk
5:36 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Rehab Program Helps Cancer Survivors Fight

Occupational therapist Wendy Schmitz-Johnson and patient Verna Stallone
Credit 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.

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Playhouse On The Square
11:16 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Jacksonville Playhouse Brings "Rainmaker" To Town

Rich McCoy, Michelle Dearing and Jeromy Rees in "The Rainmaker"
Credit 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

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Same-Sex Marriage
11:54 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Springfield Catholic Leader Responds To Supreme Court Rulings

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Credit 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".  

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Illinois Edition
10:07 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Film Festival Now Hosting Mini-Screenings In Springfield

Credit 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:

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MacArthur Boulevard Redevelopment
10:49 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Hy-Vee Breaks Ground, Open Set For Spring '14

GSCC Pres. Steward Sandstrom, Hy-Vee's Mary Fuhrman, Alds. Cory Jobe and Joe McMenamin move a bit of ceremonial earth
Credit 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.

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Guns
10:55 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Concealed Carry Permits And Gun Training

Frank Whitmore takes aim during a live fire exercise
Credit 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.

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52nd International Carillon Festival
1:26 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

For Whom The Bells Toll

Credit 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.

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Theatre
10:27 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Emily Dickinson's Poetry & Persona On Stage

Sherri Mitchell as Emily Dickinson
Credit 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

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Disaster Preparedness
12:06 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Springfield's New FEMA-Funded Emergency Text Alerts

The text alert program is run by a technology company out of Idaho, which has trademarked AlertSense and sells it the communication service to government entities around the country
Credit 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.

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Severe Weather
1:01 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Downtown Hannibal, MO Cleans Up After Powerful Storm

Brick shops in Hannibal Historic District among those blown apart by high winds
Credit 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:

Full interview with Genetti on Hannibal, MO storm damage

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Health Desk
3:00 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Advocates For Disabled Fight Special Ed Rule Change Proposals

Mary Farnsworth speaking against proposed rule changes at May 6th public hearing in Springfield
Credit 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.”

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City Council
10:26 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Aldermen Want More Oversight Following File-Shredding Incident

Calvin Christian says he has been unfairly targeted by Springfield police officers
Credit 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. 

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Health Desk
9:24 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Volunteers Sought For Cancer Research Study

Wiley D. Jenkins, Ph.D. MPH
Credit 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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