Frustration with state government over education funding reform has led to the call for a higher sales tax in Champaign County. The county's 14 school boards promise local property tax relief if voters approve a one-percent hike in the county's sales tax. As AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, it's generated some uneasiness - even among some people who say schools need more money.
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This month the International Monetary Fund released a bleak outlook for economic growth in the United States and many European countries in 2009. The IMF estimates the US economy will grow by only 0.1 percent -- and for countries like Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy, it projects a probable recession. Under the current EU presidency of France, the European Union is working to get its economies back on track. AM 580's Michael Koliska talked with France's Ambassador to the US, Pierre Vimont, as he visited the UI. Vimont says currently, Europe is working on three fronts.
Many people are just beginning to notice the debate over whether to draw up a new state constitution for Illinois. But the question will be right in front of voters' faces this fall. A referendum on whether to hold a constitutional convention comes up every 20 years in Illinois, and 2008 is the year. AM 580's Jim Meadows has this two-part series.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, the US has lost millions of jobs to countries overseas. With a recession looming, many union leaders say more hard times lie ahead for the working class. Richard Trumka is the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. He says it's time to switch from a public policy of constant deregulation to one that empowers American workers. AM 580's Michael Koliska talked to Trumka during a visit to he University of Illinois.
Some grade schools in Champaign-Urbana could soon see a lot more of their students forgo at least part of the morning bus ride.
Around 2-thousand kids from 12 schools participated in International Walk to School Day Wednesday. It's aimed at promoting fitness and pedestrian safety. The students were accompanied by parents, teachers, police, and area officials as part of the annual event. But some of those parents could be recruited on a more regular basis. Rose Hudson is the local event co-chair:
The schools are really starting to take some ownership of it by really taking the day and incorporating more of their students by having the bussed students dropped off a block or two from school and feel like they're more a part of it. We get more parents that will actually walk or bike with their kids in the morning.
A $25,000 federal 'Safe Routes to School' grant pays for not only today's events... but a bike rodeo, which encourages the wearing of helmets and another safety tips... and billboard campaign to remind motorists of proper rules to follow when driving through school zones.
Nearly 4-million people in 40 countries participated in International Walk to School Day.
Rural America has seen an exodus of residents and businesses for decades. But now it's evolving into a garden spot for entrepreneurs. Many don't have much of a choice - jobs in large companies or farms are drying up, and self-employment helps pay the bills. Still others (like Becky and Freddy Smith, left) get into business for love of their communities - they're helping small-town storefronts spring back to life. What can government do to help them out? AM 580's Tom Rogers reports on the challenges these rural entrepreneurs face, and what the presidential candidates want to do about it.
Everyone is spending much more on energy these days, and the University of Illinois is no exception. Curbing the cost is just one goal of a new Office of Sustainability on the Urbana campus. It's meant to draft and supervise new conservation efforts, but also to reduce the amount of pollution the University creates - whether it's exhaust from Abbott Power Plant or old computers and other electronic waste. The office's first director is Richard Warner, a wildlife ecology professor and formerly an administrator in the College of ACES. He tells AM 580's Tom Rogers that his first priority is simply to take stock of all the programs already in place.
AM 580 is joining with public radio stations across the country to look into how the Presidential race impacts rural residents.
The debate over alternate energy sources like wind and solar power is not only aimed at reducing dependence on natural resources like coal and natural gas. Driving cars and using other machines rely more on these sources. While John McCain stresses greater production of oil, and nuclear energy, Barack Obama speaks more of using alternates. One getting a lot of attention in recent years is ethanol. But lately, supply and demand have hurt the development of new facilities that produce it. AM 580's Jeff Bossert looks at how the state of the industry is affecting two rural Central Illinois towns and what the presidential candidates' energy policies could mean for their future.
The words "at risk" are often pinned on African-American males for several reasons. They're considered less likely to finish high school, more likely to have been in prison, and subject to greater health problems and shorter life spans. Now, recently signed legislation has set up a state task force to study these problems and report on possible solutions. And for the past four weeks, Illinois' Task Force on the Condition of African-American Males has been gathering community input at town hall meetings around the state. The task force held one of its meetings in Urbana. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
Bill Hammack has been doing a lot of thinking about east-central Illinois' water supply. You may know him as WILL's "Engineer Guy," bringing complex scientific issues closer to home. All this week, Bill is taking a look at how we use water, how much we have and how we manage it for the future. The different ways we use water at home may seem obvious - but in Part 4, Bill finds some ways we may never have suspected.