Sean Crawford

Content Director/ Illinois Edition

217-206-6408

Sean has been News Director for WUIS since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to hold that title in the station's history, Rich Bradley. Prior to taking over the News Department, Sean worked as Statehouse Bureau Chief for WUIS and other Illinois Public Radio stations. He spent more than a dozen years on the capitol beat.

Sean  began his broadcasting career at his hometown station in Herrin, Illinois while still in high school.  It was there he learned to cover local government, courts and anything else that made the news.  He spent time in the Joliet area as News Director and Operations Manager for a radio station and worked for a chain of weekly newspapers for two years.  Along with news coverage, he reported heavily on sports and did on-air play by play. 

Sean holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

droughtmonitor.unl.edu

The U.S. Drought Monitor has expanded the area in Illinois considered to be in "moderate drought." 

State Climatologist Jim Angel says exceptionally dry conditions over the last 60 days along with high temperatures has resulted in 39 percent of Illinois now experiencing a drought.  

Angel also says the drought appears to be impacting crops and yards more than water supplies.

uis.edu

President Obama has plans for higher education in the U-S.  His ideas are a mix of old and new, aimed at keeping college affordable for students but also trying to raise the bar on quality of instruction.
In Illinois,  some of what the President wants is already part of the landscape.  For example, Illinois has moved toward tying a small portion of state funding to graduation rates and other metrics.  
The Illinois Board of Higher Education's Executive Director says some of the other changes the President is pushing won't be so easy.  

flickr/dabadoo

West central Illinois is now in what is being called a moderate drought.  That's despite a relatively cool and wet start to the summer.

The US Drought Monitor's latest map shows moderate drought for the western half of Sangamon County and farther west all the way into Missouri.  

The state's climatologist, Jim Angel,  says most droughts move slow and take 3-6 months to develop. However, sometimes they can move  fast if conditions are right, leading to the term “flash drought”. This situation appears to be developing west central Illinois.

Kwame Raoul/Facebook

State Sen. Kwame Raoul says he's not jumping into the 2014 race for Illinois governor.  

The Chicago Democrat has been weighing a run for months and had boosted his fundraising.  
But he said in a statement Thursday he must focus on his role as chairman of a legislative conference committee that's working on Illinois' pension crisis.  
He says he made his decision after talking with his family and evaluating his resources. He also says he didn't want to ``create unnecessary divisions.''  

childcarecenter.us

Illinois is considering rules to limit what kids at day care centers can eat, how much TV they can watch and how much exercise they must receive.  It's part of an efforts to curb obesity in young children. 
Estimates show 1 in 5 children under the age of five are considered obese.  With so many kids in day care, experts say it's a good place to start developing healthy habits. 

The plan would get rid of high fat and sugary snacks, limit access to juice and ban chocolate milk.  

SJ-R.com

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis joins us to talk about the possibility of faster freight trains along Springfield's Third Street corridor and an upcoming corn crop survey in Sangamon County:

Springfield Art Association

Those everyday items that have a story to tell are the focus of a new Springfield Art Association exhibit called "Hidden In Plain Sight: The Material World of Early Springfield."  It will explore the art, architecture and decorative arts of antebellum Springfield. 

It opens August 31 and runs through October 5.  The public is invited to the opening and to visit the gallery at 700 North 4th Street during normal business hours. 

A free lecture series each Thursday at 7 p.m. in September.

WSEC/WQEC/WMEC

Mark McDonald estimates he has done 900 episodes of "Illinois Stories".  McDonald travels throughout the area to bring interesting people to the screen on public television stations WSEC/WQEC/WMEC.  A veteran TV journalist, his conversational style allows viewers to learn about places and individuals who might live right down the street. 

 UPDATE: (8:15 a.m. Wednesday, August 28)

Interim Superintendent, Robert A. Leming announces that all schools will dismiss an hour early Thursday, August 29 and Friday, August 30, 2013 of this week as a protective measure for students (with the exception of Ball Charter School). The continued cause for concern is the risk of heat related illnesses.

flickr/ptooey

Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation.  And Decatur has the highest in the state.

Caterpillar announced hundreds of layoffs this summer and that is now showing up in the jobless rate.  Decatur's rate has gone up to 13.2 percent, 2 full percentage points above where it was a year ago.  And it's also at the highest level it's been this time of year in about three decades.  

flickr/medicalmarijuana-information.com

Illinois recently approved the use of medical marijuana.  For some, this is a health issue.  For others, it's business. 

The National Cannabis Industry Association is hosting a day long event Saturday in the Chicago area to prepare investors and entrepreneurs about the emerging opportunity.

Chris Bochenski is with Quantum 9, a medical marijuana consulting and technology firm. 

ILGA.gov

A panel of ten Illinois lawmakers has been working this summer to find a solution to Illinois' pension problem.  With an unfunded liability of about 100-billion dollars, payments to the public pension systems are taking up a larger chunk of overall state government spending. 

WUIS'  Sean Crawford spoke with Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat and one of the leaders in the push to change how retirement systems are funded. 

Recent meetings of the committee have occurred in private, making it difficult to determine progress.  But Nekritz says she's hopeful:

The issue of video gaming machines has created a divide in the town of Auburn. 

Mayor Barb Stamer cast a tie breaking vote against gambling earlier this year.  Now, she's changed her mind.  (UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Tuesday) The matter came up at Monday's Auburn City Council meeting and Stamer cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.

Towns small and large have had to decide whether or not allowing the machines is worth the cut the communities will receive from gamblers.

Stamer spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford on Illinois Edition:

uis.edu

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch sat down for a conversation with WUIS on the show Illinois Edition.  Topics include efforts to attract international students, a major building project, possible expansion in Peoria and getting more UIS students living in downtown Springfield. 

Head-East.com

The band Head East grew out of central and southern Illinois and made it's way to a major label.  In 1974, Head East recorded Flat As A Pancake at Golden Voice Studios in South Pekin.  They released it on their own label, sold it at shows and the notoriety that followed got them a record deal.  From the highs of playing sold out arenas in the 70's to the end of the original lineup, Head East has remained.

Dr. Dohner Fan Page/Facebook

From Governor's news release:

SJ-R.com

The State Journal-Register's Tim Landis talks about efforts to expand the downtown Springfield Historic District, a new prototype store for Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries and a look at agriculture, a year after the drought. 

WBEZ

A Cook County judge won't decide until late September on whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's same sex marriage ban.
 
Circuit Judge Sophia Hall listened to nearly two hours of arguments on Tuesday. She then said she'll rule on Sept. 27. The lawsuit involves 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied.
 
However, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has refused to defend the state's ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. She says it violates the state constitution.
 

lincolninbeardstown.org

Beardstown is home to the only courtroom where Abraham Lincoln practiced that is still hearing cases.  And today that historic site gets a bit high tech.  Touch screen monitors have been installed that will allow tourists to learn more about the site.  Connie Foley, with the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum Commission tells how the effort began...
 

Find more details on the site here.

Gov. Pat Quinn is hinting at the possibility of a special session on pensions when lawmakers are in Springfield next month for the Illinois State Fair.
A bipartisan panel is attempting to come up with a solution to the nearly $100 billion crisis after the House and Senate remained deadlocked. However the panel blew past Quinn's deadline on pensions and he halted their pay as a consequence.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday that legislators will be in Springfield for the annual days devoted to state political leaders. But he wouldn't specifically sayif that's his plan.

On this week's business report, we get an update on high speed rail work.   $1.45 billion in contracts awarded now in Illinois; mostly for rail upgrades but still a lot of work to get to 110 mph trains on two-thirds of St. Louis-Chicago route in late 2015.
Also, the Outlets at Springfield; A Pennsylvania developer David Ober says construction in Legacy Pointe,just south of Scheels will begin as soon as planners approve the large-scale design.  It could open next year and promises more than 80 stores and 800 to 900 jobs.

The Stanley Cup is returning to Springfield.  
Rocky Wirtz _ chairman of the 2013 National Hockey League champion Chicago Blackhawks _ announced Monday the trophy will appear at private events on July 29.  
It will go to a legislative reception at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, then for a photo with the Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Fighter Wing.  
The public may snap photos with the trophy when it arrives at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport at 7 a.m. and leaves the library and museum at 9 a.m.  

A Mississippi River ferry service linking southwestern Illinois' Jersey County to Missouri's St. Charles County is about to be back in business after being shut down for more than two years.  
 The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1146MGq ) reports that the Grafton ferry will resume next Friday, thanks to dredging efforts that cleared out river silt that kept the service from operating.  

Photo: WUIS

Lauren and Aaron Smith of Springfield, pictured with their 10 month old son Gabriel, who has a rare form of anemia.  He's required to undergo regular blood transfusions.  Their is hope after a bone marrow donor match was discovered earlier this year.  A transplant is scheduled for this fall .   The couple is wanting to raise awareness of the Bone Marrow Registry and the need to donate blood.  

The next Third Thursday Art Show at Donnie's Homespun will benefit Gabriel.  See more details:

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

My Farm Roots is a series from Harvest Public Media in which we hear Americans’ stories and memories of rural life. Because when you hail from farm country, roots run deep.
 

A new Illinois law requires schools hold drills on what to do in the case of shooting.  More security measures could be on the way. 
The new law comes after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary last year put renewed focus on school security.  Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken says it will continue to be an issue and more legislation is expected:

This week back in 1979, a baseball promotion got out of hand.  Known as Disco Demolition, it prompted

fans to bring disco records to the ball park to watch them blown up.  It wound up in what some called a riot. 

White Sox owner Bill Veeck was known for his wild promotions.  But this idea belonged to his son, Mike, a White Sox executive.  Since then,  Mike Veeck has built a long resume in baseball.  He has ownership in six minor league teams, including the one in Bloomington-Normal.  But his legacy will always include the disco fiasco…

SJ-R.com

The State Journal Register's Tim Landis talks with Sean Crawford about efforts to get a Schnucks' grocery store on Springfield's east side, a couple of bank mergers in the area and what might be Springfield's oldest fitness center is up for sale.

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R

flickr/borman18

The results of a national survey show most people have a long way to go when it comes to making sound financial decisions.  The FINRA Investor Education Foundation conducted the survey and broke down results state by state.  President Gerri Walsh says people are struggling to make ends meet and to plan ahead.

Take the survey yourself and see other data.

wikipedia

The founder of the Mormon Church and efforts to extradite him in the 1800's will again provide courtroom drama as a series of events will be held later this year.  
Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Hearings were held regarding Missouri's attempt to extradite him from Illinois for charges that included treason.    Smith exercised his right of habeas corpus, requiring hearings to determine if they were being lawfully held in custody.   

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