Illinois Edition

Weekdays at Noon and 7 PM

Illinois Edition is WUIS’ local news magazine covering the arts and issues of central Illinois.  Illinois Edition airs weekdays during the noon hour (and is replayed at 7 PM).  On Fridays, State Week airs from 12:30-1 PM.

WUIS News Director Sean Crawford hosts the program which is produced by Rachel Otwell.  

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:

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Denny Hastert wasn't the Speaker of the U.S. House during the last government shutdown, but he was an Illinois Congressman in 1995 and '96. He told Amanda Vinicky this time is different.

Hastert says back then, Republicans were trying to get a handle on spending. He says it worked.

Many people probably think of the YMCA as a place to work out, play sports games, and swim. But it's also an organization heavily invested in the arts - through community outreach programs, summer camps, classes and more. And this week Ys around the nation are celebrating "Arts Week". We recently spoke with Lisa Parfitt of the Springfield YMCA located at 701 South 4th Street about what the week's events include: 

Coaches in Illinois are required by state law to remove from a game or practice any athlete suspected of suffering a concussion.

But responding quickly after a hard hit isn't enough for a former football player from the Chicago area who now advocates nationwide to prevent injury to still-developing brains.

In the latest report from the WUIS Health Desk, Peter Gray reports on a push for Illinois to follow the NFL and other states in limiting days of full contact football practice.

Random House Publishing

The University of Illinois Springfield One Book reading program last fall put the tale of Indian slum dwellers in the hands of students, staff, faculty and community members.

Katherine Boo is the author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.

"I hope that when you read a book like this, you're not seeing the people of Annawadi as some remote 'other', but that you're recognizing how much people have in common... there's so much human 'connective tissue' in this world." - Katherine Boo

 A property tax referendum may be posed to Springfield voters next year, if a group of parents gets its way. The group says it'll campaign on the issue from a grass roots angle, even though board members aren't convinced the timing is right to raise taxes. School board vice president, Adam Lopez, is one who says the board needs to work on other issues first. 

The project, founded by Ann Libri, started simple by collected clothing and school supplies for students growing up in unstable environments. This year, the project is kicking off a pilot program with ten students that will teach life skills and provide meals, tutoring, school supplies, and clothing. Libri says she hopes the project will continue to grow and assist the hundreds of homeless children in Springfield's district 186.

We recently interviewed Libri, and the Springfield city treasurer, Jim Langfedler, who is also an advisor to the project: 

Vachel Lindsay is one of Springfield's most well known historical figures, considered the father of "singing poetry" - he was known as the Prairie Troubadour and was one of the most celebrated poets of his time. But a lesser known aspect of the writer is the utopian vision he had for the future - influenced by his own political brand of socialism. These ideas became a novel called 'The Golden Book of Springfield.' 

The Today Show

A Jacksonville native will have a cameo performance on one of the hottest television shows in the country: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'. She's 4 years old, has dark hair, and her name is Smokey. Smokey the black lab is a resident of the Jacksonville fire house, where she helps out by assisting fire-safety classes for children. She won a national contest that had people vote for the country's best fire-house dog. Todd Warrick who works for the fire department and trains Smokey recently told us all about it:  

ilga.gov

The newest leader in state government says he doubts pension reform will become reality during the upcoming fall veto session. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says it's not right to vote for something that's close to ideal just because there is fatigue surrounding the issue.

"The issue needs to be done, but we need to do it right," Durkin said. "But I am not going to just wave the white flag out of expediency because people have been worn down or they're tired of the issue and want to get it off their plates."

Millet Could Be The Next Trendy Grain

Oct 1, 2013
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Heritage grains are trendy. Walk through a health food store and see packages of grains grown long before modern seed technology created hybrid varieties, grains eaten widely outside of the developed world: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa.

But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet.

A mix of established and emerging poets and writers will make their way to Springfield this month for the UIS Creative Writing and Publishing Series. The series, free and open to the public, kicks off on Thursday at 7pm with a reading from an author whose poetry explores feelings about his own brother's suicide. Meagan Cass is with the English department at the university and helps organize the series, she joined us for this interview: 

Health Law Could Reduce Incarceration Rates

Oct 1, 2013
flickr/sideonecincy

Tuesday marks the launch of state health insurance exchanges, a major part of the Affordable Care Act. Among the many changes likely after the new health coverage takes effect: Fewer people behind bars.

During a recent expo put on by the Illinois Department of Corrections in Champaign, Jeff Rinderle of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District talked with parolees and former prison inmates transitioning into civilian life about the Affordable Care Act.

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. 

The Springfield Art Association, located in the Enos Park neighborhood, turns a century old this year, and is using the milestone to publicly outline plans for updates and renovations. The organization, which boasts an art gallery, learning and teaching center, and Edwards Place - a historic home once visited by the Lincolns, is marking its century anniversary this year.

A new local non-profit is using art, music, and comedy to help raise funds for local students. The Illinois Independent Arts Association hosts what's called a 'Springfield Renaissance' show this Saturday at Donnie's Homespun restaurant and venue in Springfield. Local musicians include Carrie Jo Stucki aka CJ Thunder Stucki, and band Lowder featuring Josie Loweder. Proceeds will benefit the band program at Washington Middle School. Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Eric Heyen and Jaimie Kelly of the group about it: 

Same Sex Marriage Activists Target House Republicans

Sep 25, 2013
AP

 A bill to legalize gay marriage in Illinois will be waiting for lawmakers when they head back to Springfield next month. The bill already passed the State Senate - but is stuck in the House. Now, proponents are in the midst of a lobbying campaign targeted at an unlikely group of lawmakers: House Republicans. But as WBEZ’s Alex Keefe reports, there are big hurdles to getting GOP representatives to vote yes:  

route66fest.com

Over 1,000 classic cars will be on display in Springfield this weekend. It's time again for the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival - on its 12th year. We recently spoke with the president of the festival, Kim Rosendahl about it. She tells us the event is about more than just cars, it's about the lifestyle the iconic highway represents:  

CLICK HERE for more about the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival which kicks off in Springfield this weekend with a city night cruise on Friday.

Testing Teachers Causes Unexpected Racial Division

Sep 24, 2013
Odette Yousef/WBEZ

Across the nation, states are considering ways to make teaching a more selective profession. The push for “higher aptitude” teachers has often come from the nation’s top education officials. “In Finland it’s the top ten percent of college grads (who) are going into education,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said to an audience of educators in Massachusetts last year. “Ninety percent don’t have that opportunity.”

Obamacare Could Be Tough Sell In Rural Areas

Sep 24, 2013
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” takes a big step forward Oct. 1 when new health insurance marketplaces open for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

So, will farm country take advantage of new health insurance subsidies? That’s the question in Nebraska.

Almost 200,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance. Nearly half of them are spread across the state’s rural areas.

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. 

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Susan Werner has worked on concept albums before – from jazz standards to pop classics to Gospel music for agnostics. But now she's turned to her farm roots for inspiration.

Werner, who's currently touring in the Midwest, desribes her new CD, Hayseed, as "egg meets art," celebrating agriculture through music.

City of Springfield

Mike Houston says the court system doesn't appreciate when cases are "tried in public", and Springfield's mayor suggests "unethical" leaks of sworn testimony to the media are doing that by "coloring the situation".

The situation is the ongoing lawsuit filed by local newspaper columnist Calvin Christian, which claims the city destroyed dozens of documents he was seeking through the Freedom of Information Act.

Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

On a hot August day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

This weekend through next week, two motion picture classics from 1962 will alternate screenings at the Lincoln Theater 4 in Lincoln, Illinois - To Kill a Mockingbird and Lawrence of Arabia.   Bob Meyer talks with independent theater owner David Lanterman about the two movies' enduring appeal and the advantages of screening great films of the past alongside the latest Hollywood releases.

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.  

Village of Chatham

Chatham's mayor stands behind the village's choice to stop buying water from Springfield's public utility.

Along with New Berlin, Chatham is a customer of the South Sangamon Water Commission, established so the villages could avoid rate hikes from City, Water, Light and Power.  

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. 

Thanks to donations from the community, the Hoogland Center for the Arts in 2012 dodged foreclosure and landed on firmer financial ground.  

That means the staff can now plan longer term.  Executive Director Gus Gordon says he's now selling full season ticket packages for the very first time.

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