Sean Crawford

Managing Editor / Illinois Edition

217-206-6408

Sean has led WUIS' news operations since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to do so 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. 

Ways To Connect

wikipedia

The legend of the Piasa "bird" goes back to the 1600's, when Marquette and Joliet saw a large painting near the Mississippi River where Alton is now located.  But what has been passed down through the years is different than what the original artwork was meant to convey.

Dr. Duane Esarey has researched the Piasa and he'll dispel the myths Wednesday during the state museum science series lecture.   He spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford and straightens us out on the subject.  He says it all goes back to the early explorers' description of what they saw:

nps.gov

Work is almost done on a massive, nine-foot-tall bronze statue of Carl Sandburg.  
The (Galesburg) Register-Mail reports (http://bit.ly/1hhDqZx ) the statue of the Pulitzer-winning author and Galesburg native will be set up in the western Illinois community's public square.  
The piece depicts Sandburg with a guitar on his back and his books in one hand, along with his pet goat.  
The statue was commissioned by the Galesburg Public Arts Commission and is being designed by artist Lonnie Stewart.  

New figures released this week by State Farm say Illinois drivers are less likely to hit a deer in the next year.  The insurance company says drivers in the state have a 1 in 214 chance of hitting a deer in the next 12 months. That compares with a 1 in 162 chance last
year. Nationwide, the figure is 1 in 174.
 
Bloomington-based State Farm says Illinois drivers made 39,000 claims last year
for accidents involving deer. Nationwide, there were 1.2 million claims, down
about 3.5 percent.
 

Monica Eng/WBEZ

How well would you do living off $4.80 a day for food? 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is often the way some families get food. The SNAP Challenge is designed to illustrate what it's like to live off the allotment given to those who receive what are commonly called food stamps. 

Willie Nelson has been forced to pull out of the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival and three other shows due to a shoulder injury.  
Nelson's publicist said Wednesday that the 80-year-old country music star is under a doctor's orders to rest his shoulder for a week, meaning he'll miss shows in Carmel, Ind., Charlotte, Mich., Springfield, Ill., and Saturday's appearance at the festival hosted by Zac Brown in Nashville, Tenn. The individual dates have or will be rescheduled.  

Campaign for Better Health Care

The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, is among the most controversial domestic policy laws in history.  And it remains so just days before the next phase launches October 1.   At that time, a window opens allowing comparative shopping for coverage. 

While the debate in Washington continues, we wanted to take a closer look at the law and what it will mean for those who are uninsured and those who already have coverage. 

Congressional website

The U.S. Marshals service is suspending a high-profile auction of clothing and memorabilia belonging to convicted former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. because of questions about the authenticity of some items.  
The agency said Friday that it was scrapping the online auction because of questions about a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.  
The service says it will ``conduct a secondary review'' of the items out of ``an abundance of caution.''  

Springfield Diocese

A priest who formerly served at a Jacksonville church is under investigation for sexual misconduct.   The Springfield Diocese issued a statement saying the Reverend Robert "Bud" DeGrand has temporarily withdrawn from the ministry.   He most recently was involved with parishes in east central Illinois in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville.

thewitwerfiles.com

D.L. Dennis set out to write a book about a century old chapter in his family's history as well as the history of one west central Illinois town.  The Witwer Files follows his grandfather's time as marshal in the Greene County community of Hillview.  In 1915, Witwer shot and a killed a man and was brought up on charges of murder.  He was eventually acquitted.  

It was 50 years ago this month that a young George Harrison, a virtual unknown, traveled from Great Britain to the United States.  He was coming to visit his sister, Louise, who had moved with her husband to the southern Illinois town of Benton.  

George spent a couple of weeks in that area.  He bought a classic guitar, later used on Beatles' recordings.  He also did a radio interview and camped out in the Shawnee National Forest.  

SIU School of Medicine

Imagine taking a pill before going to a concert to help protect your hearing.  Or taking one afterwards to restore it.  That day may be sooner than you think.  

Dr. Kathleen Campbell, Director of Audiology Research at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, has patented a treatment.  It's currently undergoing a clinical trial. 

Campbell's treatment involved D-methionine, an amino acid. 

Illinois Times

It costs more to go to college these days.  And the way many afford it is to take out loans.  Paying that money back can be more difficult that most realize. The average college student leaves school with more than $26,000 of debt and a growing number are defaulting on their loans. 

Zach Baliva wrote the cover story on the topic in the current edition of the Illinois Times.  He is also hoping to make a documentary film about student debt.

Springfield Diocese

A priest found handcuffed in a church rectory in Springfield last year is returning to the ministry.  The Springfield Diocese issued a statement today saying Father Thomas Donovan will serve as a chaplain to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton.  

Sean Crawford/WUIS

You don't have to be old to give to worthy causes.  In fact, there is a group in the area known as the Young Philanthropists, which provides grants for various needs in the community.  All you have to be is over 21 years old and you can join simply by giving 125-dollars a year.  

Micah Roderick, on the Steering Committee of the Young Philanthropists, and Stacy Reed, Vice President of Programs with the Community Foundation for the Land Of Lincoln, spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

waymarking.com

Jameson Jenkins was Abraham Lincoln's neighbor.  The site of his former home is located in the Lincoln Neighborhood.   While Jenkins is far less well-known than the future president who lived a few doors away, he is nonetheless an interesting figure in history.  

WUIS' Sean Crawford spoke about research being done with Lincoln Home National Historic Site Superintendent Dale Phillips and Site Historian Tim Townsend on Illinois Edition:

Randy Eccles / WUIS

Kelly McEvers has spent the past few years covering the Middle East for NPR.  But she has local ties. She was born in Lincoln and her parents still live in the area.  

McEvers visited the WUIS studios and spoke with our Bill Wheelhouse about her lasting impressions from covering areas like Iraq and Syria....

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. 

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