Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 28, 2012

Drought Hits Southern Illinois Crops Hard

The Illinois Farm Bureau is predicting many crops in southern Illinois could be lost due to a drought expected to last through late September.

The U.S. Drought Report, a collaboration between federal and state officials, reported that 70-percent of the state of Illinois is currently experiencing "abnormally dry" to "extreme drought" conditions.

Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman, John Hawkins, said corn and soybean crops in southern Illinois have been hardest hit.

"I've actually seen some farmer photos in deep southern Illinois where I could call certain fields just basically a total loss," Hawkins said.

Droughts also mean additional weed and inspect stress is placed on crops. Hawkins said that chemicals used to treat crops to protect them from weeds and insects need water in order to activate and work effectively.

"Murphy's Law is pretty much in place for much of the corn and soybean crop. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong this summer. There's not much you can do about it, most farmers just have to grin and bear it," Hawkins said.

It is still too early to say exactly how many crops will be lost this summer, but Hawkins said that any expectations for normal or above normal crop yields are now "out the window."

In Chicago, the city faces record temperatures predicted throughout the summer with little relief coming from rainfall. The National Weather Service said total cumulative rainfall for June was nearly half an inch, almost three inches less than the thirty year average.

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Tags: weather

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 27, 2012

Governor Quinn Signs Law Requiring Coaches to Report Abuse

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law that requires coaches and university employees to report cases of abuse.

Quinn's office says the law that goes into effect Wednesday is designed to help further protect children and young people from sex abuse and child abuse.

Illinois lawmakers introduced the measure in response to the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The law requires athletic personnel, university employees and early intervention providers to report suspected abuse.

Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon is one of the bill's sponsors, and he says the situation at Penn State made it clear that Illinois needed to tighten up its reporting laws to make sure nothing like that happens here.

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WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 18, 2012

C-U’s Native Film Critic Turns 70: Ebert’s Early Life

By Jeff Bossert


(Duration: 8:13)

Roger Ebert

For most people, the name Roger Ebert stands out as a man who’s known for giving movies a thumbs up or down. And it’s widely known he hails from Urbana.  But to those who haven’t read the famed critic’s memoir, there’s a backstory to a man who didn’t set out to write about film.  

Categories: Art and Culture, Cinema, Health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 29, 2012

Annual C-U Event Pushes People to Bike Ride

By Sean Powers


(Duration: 8:03)

Mark Smith, 7, and his brother Tauryon Smith, 11, pose next to their bicycles in Champaign.

Tuesday kicks off the annual "Bike to Work Day" in Champaign-Urbana. If you don’t own a bicycle or if you have a bike that’s gathering dust, then this might be the right day to release the kickstand and take off. As part of our series on efforts in the region to increase health and wellness, Illinois Public Media’s Sean Powers recently ended a long-time hiatus from bike riding to share the stories of people in the community who are passionate about cycling.

(Funded in part by a grant from the Lumpkin Family Foundation)

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 27, 2012

Record Sign-Up for Illinois Marathon Events

Once again, registration for this weekend's Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in Champaign-Urbana is at a new high, according to figures as of Friday morning.

Race Co-director Jan Seeley says participation in the Saturday morning marathon itself will be about the same as last year, with 2,269 long-distance runners. But she says registration for all events --- including a half marathon, and 5 and 10 K races --- had reached about 20.300. That's up by about 1,700 from last year.

Seeley says the Illinois Marathon has probably gotten as big as it can get, and still be manageable in a metro area the size of Champaign-Urbana. In fact, she says the big challenge for the organizers and volunteers is making sure people get to where they need to be for the various events.

"We've spent almost all of our brain-trust energy this year, working on ways to move people", says Seeley, who notes improvements in crowd management this year at the Health and Fitness Expo that accompanies the marathon. "And hopefully the changes that we've instituted tomorrow, on the field and up in the food area will show that we've made good changes in logistics, moving people. That's been just a huge goal of ours this year. "

The field of runners includes 43 top-flight runners, categorized as Elite Athletes. Mike Olmquist of the sports event management firm Go Far Events is working with the Elite Athletes. He says the Illinois Marathon is giving more top runners reasons for returning each year.

"Number one, is it is a flat, fast course; it's got a reputation for being fast", says Olmquist. "Number two, it's well-managed; all the bells and whistles are here; they know they're going to have well-organized, marked race. Course safety is an issue. And number three, they really enjoy the east-central Illinois hospitality. There's a good community support here, there's fans. People are very gracious here.

Some of the top contenders in the Saturday marathon include Jose Munoz of San Antonio, who won last year's marathon; Kenyan runner Kipkurui Geofry; ... and Kentuckian Peter Kemboi, who's won marathons in Mississippi, Scranton, Akron and Louisville.

The women's field includes Jackie Pirtle-Hall, who won the GO! St. Louis Marathon earlier this month.

The 4th annual Illinois Marathon kicks off Saturday morning, April 28th at 7, on a route that travels around Champaign and Urbana. But the first race is a 5-K run and walk set for Friday evening at 6:45.

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Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 27, 2012

Supporters of Flex-n-Gate Unionization Rally at U of I Campus

Supporters of Flex-n-Gate Unionization Rally at U of I Campus

A rally protesting labor conditions at Urbana-based Flex-n-Gate --- and supporting a union's effort to organize workers there --- drew about 30 people on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Thursday.

Flex-n-Gate owner and CEO Shahid Khan is a U of I alumnus and benefactor, whose donations paid for a new addition to Huff Hall. Rally organizers gathered outside the Khan Annex to accuse the industrialist of allowing unsafe working conditions at his non-union plants --- including the Flex-n-Gate Guardian West plant in Urbana.

Stephanie Seawell of the Graduate Employees Organization told rally participants holding homemade signs that the U of I plans to give Khan its Alumni Achievement Award at next month's commencement ceremonies.

"This university, the University of Illinois, is going to give an award, a prestigious alumni award, to a man who poisons his employees, doesn't give them the right protective gear, and when they say, 'hey that isn't fair' tries to get them kicked out of the housing that they live in," Seawell said.

Members of union locals and student groups at the rally accuse Flex-n-Gate of forcing workers to handle hexavalent chromium --- widely regarded as a carcinogen --- without property safety equipment. Flex-n-Gate has stated in the past that all its facilities, including Guardian West, meet or surpass federal environmental and safety standards.

The United Auto Workers union is trying to organize at non-union Flex-n-Gate plants, including the one in Urbana. Thursday's rally at the U of I was tied to a UAW rally in New York City.

Categories: Business, Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 27, 2012

Clarke Still in Race to Replace Tim Johnson

A former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson still wants to replace his former boss on the November ballot in spite of Johnson saying he shouldn't.

Dave Bender is a spokesman for former chief of staff Jerry Clarke. Bender says Clarke still hopes to replace Johnson on the ballot in the 13th Congressional District.

Johnson announced this month that he will end his re-election campaign and retire. Clarke is among a number of people who hope to replace him.

A Johnson spokesman said Thursday that the congressman believes Clarke should be excluded after suggestions were made by some Republicans that Johnson withdrew after winning the March primary to benefit Clarke. Johnson's decision means GOP county chairmen rather than voters are choosing who will run in November.

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Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

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