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. 

flickr/justinshearer

The number of home sales in the Springfield area set a record last month.  The average price per home was also an all time high.

The real estate market continues to recover, coming out of the recession.  The Capital Area Association of Realtors says June numbers show a nearly 30 percent jump in homes being sold, compared to the same period a year ago.  And it's a good time be a seller.  The median home sale price was above $136,000.  Both are all time marks.  

It's possible the severe winter resulted in pent up demand.     

Lindenwood University

Archaeological research has turned up some interesting finds in St. Charles, Missouri. 

Old living floors for two buildings have been identified and one of the buildings is believed to be associated with the town's founder, Louis Blanchette. The site dates back to around 1770.

Dr. Steve Dasovich, Director of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Lindenwood University, his students and volunteers have been doing the research. 

udot.utah.gov

Traffic signals designed to prevent accidents are being installed on Springfield's west side.

Flashing yellow arrows will display at several intersections along Wabash Avenue, including at the White Oaks mall entrances.
The state Department of Transportation says the arrows have resulted in significant reductions in crashes where they are in place in other areas.  Statistics show intersections account for more than 30 percent of accidents.  

SJ-R.com

On this week's WUIS/State Journal-Register Business Report, the SJ-R's Tim Landis talks about efforts to slow the growth of video gambling in Springfield.

We also hear how one company is adding jobs at the same location another firm has been making layoffs and THR and Associates founder Jeff Parsons is told to report to court:

Operation Kidsafe

Mark Bott had the idea for Operation Kidsafe 11 years ago.  Since then, more than 1 million children have participated.

The program is free.  It allows kids to be photographed and fingerprinted and lets parents obtain other safety information.  The parents are handed a document that can be updated.   No personal information is given and there is no databasing.

"So you will always have a document that's ready to hand to law enforcement," Bott said.  Of course, no one wants to ever see the information needed.

WUIS

Today is officially "Yasir Hasnain Day" in the village of Forsyth.  It's in honor of the incoming freshman student's 13th place finish in the recent Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

It was Yasir's fourth time in the competition and his highest finish.   The soon to be freshman student said he had fun and, despite being in competition with one another, friendships were made.

"When I made it to the semifinals... when they had commercial breaks, we would talk about random stuff like the (NBA) Heat and the Pacers games," he said.

StephenBardo.com

It's hard to believe 25 years has passed since the University of Illinois men's basketball Final Four team was on the court.  The team known as the Flyin' Illini.  

That's also the name of a book by the former point guard of the team Stephen Bardo, who works now as a Big Ten Network analyst.  And it has ruffled feathers, with criticisms of some players and coaches.

KincaidMounds.com

Archaeological work at site that straddles Massac and Pope counties in deep southern Illinois has been a decades-long project. albeit on an intermittent basis.   Kincaid Mounds is the location where Native Americans that were part of the  Mississippian culture lived and worked starting around 1000 years ago. 

Dr. Brian Butler, Past Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will discuss some of the more recent discoveries this week. 

Carillon-Rees.org/SCVB

Springfield will play host to a world class music event starting Wednesday.   The International Carillon Festival brings some of the best on the instrument to Washington Park.  

Springfield Park District Carillonneur Robin Austin will be among the performers, along with Christian McWhirter, who researched music to be performed Wednesday night, a program titled "Lincoln and the Music He Loved."

flickr/oatsy40

The head of an Illinois coal industry trade group is panning President Barack Obama's plans for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the proposed regulations on Monday in an effort to cut power-plant carbon dioxide emissions. The Illinois Coal Association's Phil Gonet calls them ``unfair.'' He says the rules could squeeze the supply of U.S. electricity, raising rates.

thelittletheatre.org

Sullivan, Illinois is quite a distance from Broadway.  But this small east central Illinois community is the unlikely home of the only professional theatre between Chicago and St. Louis.   The Little Theatre On The Square has been home to quality productions for nearly 60 years.  

Starting this week, another great show is on the schedule and it features Springfield's own Gus Gordon.  He'll play Julian Marsh in 42nd Street.  

ALPLM
ALPLM

Any change in oversight for the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will have to wait.   Legislation that would have taken the facility away from the authority of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has stalled in the Illinois Senate.  

Rikeesha Phelon, a spokesperson for the Senate President, says the measure won't be called this spring.  This decision comes after calls for more study.  The plan could be revived in the fall session, following the election later this year.

Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau

If taking in the arts in the great outdoors interests you, check out Theatre in the Park at Lincoln's  New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg. The Diary of Anne Frank kicks off the new season Friday night, the first of 6 performances.

Kari Catton is Executive Director of Theatre In The Park.  "It's a piece of history that I believe everybody should know about.  And when we choose our plays out there, we do think about 'Would Abraham Lincoln like to have seen this play?"

Lincolnmemorialgarden.org

Jens Jensen's work continues on more than 60 years after his death.  The influential  landscape architect is remembered as a conservationist.  His vision is on display at Lincoln Memorial Garden in Springfield, which he designed.  

On Wednesday June 4, a screening of the film "Jens Jensen: The Living Green" will take place at UIS in Brookens Auditorium at 7 p.m.

flickr/DavidWilson

You can take a "Spirited Stroll Into The Past" this Saturday afternoon at Oak Ridge Cemetery.  The Lincoln Monument Association has an event that is designed to raise funds to mark historic trees at the site.   

From 1-4 p.m.,  you can tour and hear about some of those trees, visit the newly renovated Lincoln's Tomb and hear the Springfield Municipal Band perform.  Ice cream and cake will be sold.
 

Photo Credit http://www.innov8social.com @Innov8Social

Unemployment in the Springfield metro area last month dropped to its lowest level in 6 years.   The rate of 5.7 % is below both the state and national averages.   

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the Springfield area added 2,000 jobs last month, mostly in construction, educational and health services and retail.

Flickr/JimParker

Sangamon County employers have a positive outlook about the economy.  The University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office polls businesspeople twice a year for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. 

This spring's results mark the first time since 2012 that expectations were as high.   However, just over half of  those responding expected employment to stay the same in the county in the next year.     

CinemaTreasures.org/Norman Plant

Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal-Register, joins WUIS' Sean Crawford for this week's business report.

They discuss how the clock is ticking for the former Esquire Theatre property at MacArthur Boulevard and South Grand Avenue, news involving a pair of restaurants and a court weighs in on Ameren's big project for a transmission line across central Illinois.  

library.uis.edu

UIS has a new Athletics Hall of Fame and the first class of inductees have been announced.   The inaugural class includes longtime Athletic Director and soccer coach Aydin Gonulsen.  

His 1986 NAIA National Champion men's soccer team was also selected.  Gonulsen also had two other national titles at UIS.  

Other inductees include soccer player Elias Shehadi, tennis player Carla Mills and Harold Christofilakos, a friend of the Prairie Stars who was a charter member of the school's booster club.    

District 186

Springfield District 186 says an employee had a confirmed case of mumps.  The district was notified late Friday.  Officials say the employee had NOT been in contact with any students during the time of being contagious.  

The employee has not been identified, nor the location where they work.  Staff who were in contact with the individual have been notified.

District 186 says a majority of students have received the mumps vaccine.  It says if mumps are confirmed in a school, parents of those kids without immunizations would be notified.  

Tejvan Pettinger/flickr

The Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission wants you to leave the car at home next week.  Instead, think about biking, walking, running or using the bus.  

Curb Your Car Week begins Monday and several business are offering incentives. There is also a group ride from Washington Park on Wednesday morning, May 21.  A night ride that goes through downtown is on Saturday May 24.

Marketplace

On May 2, WUIS held an engagement event at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  It featured Chris Farrell, Economics Editor for the Marketplace programs and Business Week. 

He touched on several education related topics and gave his views. 

"I think education and local economic development are two sides of the same coin," Farrell said. "When someone says what should we do to grow our economy, simply say education."

US Fish and Wildlife Service/public domain

Imagine a caffeinated concoction that, when ingested, resulted in bouts of vomiting.  You might prefer to stick with your gourmet coffee.

But the "Black Drink" as it is known was part of a ritual. The vomiting was done for purity.  It turns out, early societies imbibed.  Even the Cahokia civilization about 1000 years ago.  That's roughly 500 years earlier than records of consumption elsewhere.  Research has found residue in ceremonial cups that confirm the Black Drink was used at Cahokia.

Horace Mann

Dee Dee Duffy has been teaching in District 186 for 25 years.  Monday she was honored as the 2014 Horace Mann Educator of the Year.  Duffy is an Early Start Pre-Kindergarten teacher at the Early Learning Center. 

Also, Nichole Heyen, principal of Lincoln Magnet Middle School, was named Administrator of the Year. She's been in District 186 for 14 years.

Both were honored at a luncheon ceremony. 

The program has been in existence since 1998.  An independent panel makes the selections. 

WUIS

Springfield District 186 is endorsing a change in state funding that would benefit the district.  Area Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat, is pushing the idea to re-work how the state doles out money to schools.  Manar says it would provide more equity between wealthy and poor districts.

Springfield public schools would receive nearly 6 percent more under the change. A statement from District 186 says an increase in funding would allow teaching positions to be restored and technology upgrades. It also says it could help avoid future budget cuts.

GSCC

Chris Hembrough said he wasn't looking for a new job.  He's been the Executive Director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 7 years.

"I wasn't looking around, but sometimes opportunities come your way, especially when trusted folks give you a lead of advice. So I threw my hat in the ring," Hembrough said.

Hembrough was selected as the new President and CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, starting July 1. 

Il Dept. of Agriculture

The first of Springfield's farmer's markets will open tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon at the state fairgrounds. 

The Illinois Products Farmer's Market is across the from the grandstand and features a bevy of local and state products, from food to beer, wine and more. 

Kendra Schilling is the market manager. 

With the growth of farmer's markets, Schilling says Springfield has yet to reach a tipping point for demand.

IGPA

Rick Winkel served in the legislature from 1995 to 2003.  Now he is Director of the Office of Public Leadership at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

He wrote a recent op-ed that criticizes how budgeting is done.  He said more transparency is needed, including data that is easier for people outside of government to understand.

"When that data is available and provided openly, understandably so it's concise and legible and put in a format that's consistent," he said.  "Opening up the process before decisions are made and afterward."

Springfield Art Association

The spiritual side of arts will be on display this weekend and early next week in Springfield.  It's the 20th year for the Liturgical Arts Festival.  It runs May 3-7 with a lineup that includes music, visual arts and more.

It's open to the public.  You don't need to be a member of a congregation. 

"Most of art history and music comes from the church," said Sally Schaefer, President of the Festival. "Not many years has it been secular focused.  At this time, we want to celebrate that rich heritage."

IGPA

Illinois budget cutting has targeted higher education for more than a decade.   But a professor who has studied funding for colleges says it actually leads to more state financial problems.
 

Walter McMahon is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Illinois.  He says more investment would serve the state well in the future.

McMahon's column below on higher education spending is part of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs' Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox.

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