Sean Crawford

Managing Editor / Illinois Edition

Chatham

Advisory Board Ex-Officio

Sean has led the NPR Illinois 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 NPR Illinois 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. 

UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield campus will give examples of what students have been up to at the upcoming  Student Arts and Research Symposium (StARS).  

From research to art projects, it's all on display. 

"It's an extremely supportive environment," said senior Brianna Werner.  "Both from faculty and other students.  Students come and do class projects at the (symposium). They'll take pictures with you. Take pictures of your posters."

It's hard to believe that in the early 1800's, roughly 40 percent of the birds in North America were passenger pigeons.  Yet, a century later, the species was hunted to extinction.  The last one died in captivity in 1914.

Naturalist Joel Greenberg has written about this cautionary tale.  He will give the Illinois State Museum's Science Series lecture Wednesday in Springfield. His book is titled "A Feathered River Across The Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction."

University of Illinois

An Illinois professor says state government could improve it's financial predicament and lower greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.  

Don Fullerton is proposing what's known as a "cap and trade" program where a limit is placed on emissions. 

Going above the level would cost money for operations like coal fired power plants.  But even he admits it's unlikely to happen anytime soon. 

Read Fullerton's proposal in the article below:

Taxing Waste, not Work: Cap-and-Trade as a Revenue Source

By Don Fullerton

IGPA

Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges.  Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services. 

But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning.  Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed.  She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:

 

Better fiscal planning tools could improve Illinois’ budget process

SJ-R

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis discusses the bankruptcy of Gold's Gym, which plans to remain open. 

Also, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce's search for a new Director and Shop N Save's plans to "localize" its stores. 

Read the latest stories from Tim in the SJ-R.

wikipedia

Oak Ridge Cemetery is the 2nd most visited cemetery in the U.S.  The main reason is Abraham Lincoln.   The 16th President, his wife Mary and three of their four sons are interred there.

Since last fall, visitors could go see the tomb and stand outside.  But the interior was closed off for maintenance work.  It re-opens on Tuesday April 1.

You don't need to leave the Springfield area for a great ice show this weekend.  The Springfield Figure Skating Club puts on the annual Spotlight On Ice performance at the Nelson Center.   This year's program is titled "Give Our Regards To Broadway" with music from Broadway shows.  Kids and adults will perform.

"You usually have to go to bigger, metropolitan type areas to see ice shows," Club board member Monica Polistina  said.  "So we're really excited that this is a hidden jewel in the capitol city to have Spotlight on Ice."

WUIS

The Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony has a new Executive Director. 

Elle Pressly is a clarinetist who majored in music at the University of Illinois.  She now teaches music education in the Jacksonville School District.

Her new role will become full time when the school year ends.  It will involve marketing, fundraising and handling the day to day operations of the SVYS.  

The organization provides orchestral instruction to area youth,  as young as 3rd grade.  

wuis

Governor Pat Quinn delivered his annual budget address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. 

Read a transcript of the Governor's remarks here.

SJ-R

On this week's WUIS / State Journal-Register Business Report,  hundreds have been hired to work at the new Hy-Vee store on Springfield's MacArthur Boulevard.  But we still don't know an opening day for the store.  And, a Girard grocery store that's been in place for a century changes hands. 

WUIS' Sean Crawford also talks with the SJ-R's Business Editor Tim Landis about work getting closer on the Carpenter Street underpass and what, if anything, can we read into farmland prices flattening out in 2013.

UIS Athletics

The University of Illinois Springfield is looking for a new men's basketball coach.   The school announced today that Ben Wierzba's contract won't be renewed. 

He spent four years leading the Prairie Stars finishing with an overall record of 39 wins and 69 losses. His career as head coach was highlighted by leading the program to a 15-13 record in his second year in 2011-12 as the team finished 12-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Athletic Director Kim Pate says a search for a replacement will begin immediately. 

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Legislation that would allow minors and those with epilepsy to use medical cannabis in Illinois is one step closer to law.  

A Senate committee passed the proposal on Tuesday without opposition.  

IGPA

When Illinois lawmakers are in need of more revenue, they often turn to sin.  

Sin taxes, that is. 

Those are taxes placed on items that can be considered undesirable, like cigarettes, alcohol or gambling.  

The small Christian County town of Kincaid has been in the news for the wrong reasons. 

The village's police chief is accused of having village employees work on his house on government time. 

And the mayor, Doug Thomas, has been arrested for a second time for violating an order of protection.  Thomas was taken into custody at the village hall Thursday morning. Thomas was taken to the Christian County jail.

Mid America Guitar Ensemble Festival

This weekend, Decatur will play host to some pretty serious guitarists.  It's the annual Mid America Classical Guitar Ensemble and it will be held at Millikin University.  It's mainly for those who study classical guitar at a college level.

While those students will have a chance to learn, they can also perform.  And there are opportunities for the public to hear some tremendous musicians.

UIS Athletics

The University of Illinois Springfield has come a long way with athletics in the past decade.  Now a Division II school, UIS has added 6 programs in that time.   That brings the total of teams to 11. 

Yet, the expansion has also brought criticism from those who question if sports are part of the school's mission.

Passavant Hospital

The affiliation of two area health care organizations is a step closer to becoming a reality.  Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville plans to join Memorial Health System, which oversees three other hospitals including Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

Tuesday, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board unanimously approved the change.   
Ed Curtis, Memorial's CEO, says the affiliation is on target to take effect April first.  Afterward, he says patients won't notice an immediate difference in how they access health care:

Ill. State Museum

This month's Illinois State Museum Science Lecture Series will focus on early Spanish exploration of what would become the United States.   Dr. Kathryn Sampeck is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University.

She has been doing archaeological research in the southeast to get a better idea of those expeditions and how they changed history.    

Oberweis for US Senate

Voters this month will decide the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.  It's a race between two suburban businessmen, Doug Truax and Jim Oberweis.

The Oberweis name is recognizable for the Illinois based dairy business the candidate started and still owns along with an investment firm.

Oberweis,  67, is also known for his previous five failed campaigns.  That included unsuccessful attempts to run for U.S. Senate. He won a state Senate seat in 2012. 
 

igpa

When it comes to finances, the State of Illinois has a poor reputation.   New research shows how the state's negative perception is costing taxpayers. 

Illinois already has the worst credit rating among states.  And while that adds to the cost of borrowing money, Illinois winds up paying even more because investors view it as risky of default.

Peter Gray/WUIS

  Shoppers are already paying more for pork and bacon than they did last year and many economists expect those prices to continue climbing for the next few months.

Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, watches the market for lean hog futures– the anticipated price of hogs heading to market soon. The futures price hit record-highs in early March, Hurt said, which will translate to expensive and bacon in the supermarket in the coming months.

flickr/stevendepolo

About one-third of teachers are keeping food out of their classrooms to avoid problems with students who suffer from allergies and other health issues.  

Horace Mann, a Springfield based insurance company,  conducted a nationwide survey of educators that includes questions about food policies. 

The survey shows in an average elementary school classroom with about 24 students, teachers say they have 1 to 2 students with food allergies.

Truax for Senate

At the top of the ticket this year in Illinois is a race for the U-S Senate. 

Republican Doug Truax is running against a state Senator, Jim Oberweis in the G-O-P primary.  The winner will take on Democrat Dick Durbin in the fall.  

Truax is making his first bid for political office.   Oberweis lost five previous elections, including two unsuccessful bids for U-S Senate, before being elected to the Illinois General Assembly.  

IGPA

When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts.   It's easy to understand.  it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.

WUIS'  Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.   Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. 

Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.

city-data

The Illinois State Police Friday arrested the Kincaid Village Chief of Police for official misconduct.  According to a news release, investigators brought 45-year old Richard S. Adams into custody. 

 

Authorities say the investigation revealed Adams was using his position to have repairs of his residence completed by village employees on village time.  

 

flickr/pasa47

The Sustainable Design Assessment Team has been focused on the future of Downtown Springfield for about two years. 

SDAT sees the need for more residential space downtown.  A recent study confirms that view. 

"We're really talking about millenials, people in their 20's plus or minus.  And we're talking about the other end of the spectrum, empty nesters," Action Committee Co-chair Chuck Pell said.  Students from UIS or SIU could also be another group looking for a downtown living experience. 

Some of the best Illinois has to offer will be on display this weekend in Springfield.  It's the annual Illinois Products Expo at the Orr Building on the state fairgrounds.  More than 70 companies will be represented.  

Jennifer Tyree,  Bureau Chief of Marketing and Promotions with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says it's a variety of offerings.

igpa

Illinois, like many states, suffered financially during the recession.  But an economist says Illinois was in a weaker position to deal with the challenge.    

David Merriman is with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.  
The Institute has developed what's called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox.  Merriman says it will provide information on the state's finances and analysis of proposals that come up during an election year.

The National Weather Service in Lincoln has confirmed  at least 7 tornadoes developed in central and east central Illinois  during the late afternoon hours of February 20th.  Two reports of the confirmed  tornadoes were in Sangamon County. An NWS Lincoln damage assessment team is  still out doing surveys on the other tornadoes.
 
 
  .Divernon, IL Tornado (Sangamon County)...
 
  RATING:                 EF-0
  ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:    80 MPH
  PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/:  0.2 MILES
  PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/:   75 YARDS
  FATALITIES:             0

flickr/loveMeagan

The City of Decatur has ended its voluntary request for water conservation.  That request was first made last October as Lake Decatur levels dropped due to the drought.  

But city leaders say it has risen two feet from its low point this winter and they anticipate additional rain in the next few weeks will bring the level higher. The lake reached a low point of 610.31 feet above sea level (50% full) on January 10.  But it now is above 612 feet (73%).  That is within the normal winter range. 

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