Illinois Public Media News
David Isay is an award-winning public radio producer who has dedicated his career to preserving oral storytelling. Isay is the founder of the series StoryCorps, which can be heard every Friday on NPR's Morning Edition. StoryCorps gives people the opportunity to interview their loved ones. Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers spoke with Isay about the art of storytelling and an effort at an elementary school in Champaign to include the StoryCorps model in the classroom.
Sherriff's officials in southeast Missouri are urging residents near the Birds Point Levee to clear out.
Law enforcement was busy Friday afternoon ordering the area's 200 residents to leave the flood plain while the Army Corps of Engineers weighs a decision to intentionally break the Mississippi River levee.
The move is aimed at reducing pressure on the flood wall protecting the upriver town of Cairo, Ill.
The land is sparsely populated, and many residents had already left as the corps began moving equipment into place to break the levee. That break is expected to send water over 130,000 acres of farmland.
The state of Missouri has fought the plan, but the corps says it's monitoring river levels and may not make a final decision on a break until the weekend.
For Frank Shorter and Lorraine Moller, victory in a marathon was beating the other runners. But the two Olympic medalists note with approval the increase in people who run marathons to achieve their "personal best".
Shorter and Moller are guests at this weekend's Illinois Marathon in Champaign-Urbana. Shorter said that when he started competing, the marathon was a sport mostly for competitive runners --- but he said that's changed.
"The race has become de-mystified in a good way," Shorter explained. "It's the idea that if you just put in the time, and you just put in the effort and put in the training, you can actually run a marathon. So we're actually at the point where everybody benefits from that."
Moller said she came to understand those benefits as her competitive running career came to a close. While she could no compete against the world's top runners, Moller said she discovered intrinsic rewards from running that didn't require being among the top performers.
"And gradually those intrinsic rewards, such as just the joy of moving, and running and feeling good --- and having that communion with nature and with my higher self while I was out running --- were rewards in themselves," Moller said. "And those are the things that, when I retired, that still get me out the door to go out for a run."
Frank Shorter took the gold and the silver medals in the marathon at the 1972 and '76 Olympics respectively --- while Moller earned a Bronze medal at age 37, in the 1992 women's marathon in Barcelona. Both were speakers Friday at the Illinois Marathon's Health and Fitness Expo on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. In addition, Shorter will be running in the 10K race Saturday morning.
About 19,000 people have registered for this year's Illinois Marathon events. That includes the marathon itself on Saturday morning, a Half Marathon, a Wheelchair Half-Marathon, a Marathon Relay, a Youth Run, the 10K Run and Walk, and a 5K run on Friday evening.
Elite athletes in this 3rd annual Illinois Marathon include Kipkurul Geofry, Siyoum Debele Lemma and Jeffrey McClellan among the men, and Habtamnesh Gashaw, Holly Fearing and Lucie Mays-Sulewski among the women.
When the space shuttle Endeavour takes its final flight it will carry the handiwork of a Chicago-area scientist.
The shuttle will carry six postage-stamp sized samples of thin films made from specially engineered materials called grapheme and carbon nanotubes. Astronauts will mount them on the International Space Station, where they'll stay for at least six months.
The idea is to see how the nanomaterials hold up to the powerful radiation in space, which can cook normal materials, like silicon, used in computers. Northwestern University professor Mark Hersam, who created the samples, said the stakes are high for electronics in space.
"If you had a system on your spacecraft being controlled by a computer and all the sudden it didn't compute correctly, that would lead to serious problems," Hersam said.
The Endeavour was set to blast off Friday afternoon in what was expected to be the second-to-last shuttle flight for NASA, but the flight's take off was put was hold due to a technical problem.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Campbell/Northwestern University)
A federal judge on Friday gave the Army Corps of Engineers the go-ahead to intentionally break a Mississippi River levee in southeastern Missouri to spare a flood-threatened Illinois town just upriver.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr.'s ruling followed a five-hour Thursday hearing over Missouri's bid to halt the possible intentional levee break.
The corps has proposed using explosives to blow a 2-mile-wide hole through the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri's Mississippi County, arguably to ease waters rising around the upstream town of Cairo, Ill., near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The corps halted its preparation for the break Thursday, saying it needed until the weekend to assess whether a sustained crest of the Ohio at Cairo would demand the extraordinary step.
The river's crest at the Cairo flood wall could reach 60.3 feet - nearly a foot above its record high - as early as Sunday, corps spokesman Jim Pogue said. The wall protects the town up to 64 feet, but there's concern the crest could last up to five days, putting extra pressure on it.
Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee all want the corps to move forward with the plan. Missouri had sought a temporary restraining order to block the detonation. It was not immediately clear early Friday whether Missouri planned to appeal Limbaugh's denial of the order.
John McManus, an assistant Missouri attorney general, had argued the break would unleash a torrent of water that would carve a channel through prime farmland, flood about 90 homes and displace 200 people. The rush of water also stood to cause an environmental catastrophe, sweeping away everything from fertilizer to diesel fuel, propane tanks, pesticides and other toxins, McManus and some of the four witnesses who testified for the state suggested Thursday.
Attorneys for the corps and the state of Illinois countered that the farmers already have land that's flooded and have been given ample notice to clear their properties of anything toxic. The state of Illinois and the town of Cairo argue the well-being of Cairo's 2,800 residents outweighs farmland that would be swallowed up by the rush.
Indiana's governor has a tough choice to make soon. And it's not about whether he'll run for president.
This issue is much closer to home.
This week, the Republican-led Indiana House voted to approve a bill that would cut all funding to Planned Parenthood. The Indiana Senate approved the measure earlier this month. In all, the pregnancy planning agency would lose $3 million and could force the closure of several offices statewide.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has said he doesn't want state or federal lawmakers to worry about social issues right now.
He wants them to concentrate on all things dealing with the budget, which he says threatens America's future.
"I haven't gotten involved in those things (social issues). I have said that I think they ought to concentrate on the debt problem," Daniels said. "So, these other things aren't unimportant but I just don't think anything should get in the way of making a very bold move before our whole American dream comes crashing down."
If Daniels signs the bill, state would also lose $4 million in federal family planning grants.
But signing the bill would likely give Daniels more support with conservatives who oppose abortion if he decides to seek GOP nomination for president.
The Illinois Supreme Court is looking at a proposal to give jurors the right to ask witnesses questions during civil trials.
The questions could be modified or excluded after being reviewed by the attorneys and the judge in a case.
"The judge would read or provide a copy of the juror questions to all the lawyers in the case," Supreme Court spokesman Joe Tybor said. "It would give those attorneys an opportunity to object to any question."
Tybor said if a juror's question is presented to a witness, the judge would then allow attorneys to ask follow-up questions.
Supporters of the plan say this measure would provide lawyers with signals of a juror's focus, and encourage jurors to be more observant during a court case.
But some critics say allowing jurors to publicly talk about a case before closing arguments could jeopardize a final verdict.
"It might skew the results of the process that we have refined over the last several hundred years," said Urbana Attorney Tom Bruno, who chairs the Illinois State Bar Association. "Often just by the nature of questions that the questioner is asking, you can see where their mind is going with it or what their thoughts are on it."
Bruno added he is also concerned this proposal could delegitimize the role of prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"Part of this notion that the jury may think up better questions than my opponent could think up assumes the opposing council isn't smart enough or sharp enough or clever enough to think of asking these questions themselves," Bruno said.
The Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee will hold a public hearing for community input about the proposal on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 10 a.m. at the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago.
The measure would have to be approved by the Rules Committee, and then the full Supreme Court.
The Champaign County State's Attorney's Office has filed an Indirect Criminal Contempt petition against the landlords of the Cherry Orchard Village apartments.
During a bench trial earlier this month, Bernard and Eduardo Ramos were convicted of violating a local health ordinance by failing to legally connect the property's sewer and septic systems. They must pay more than $54,000 in fines, and are barred from housing tenants until the property is brought up to code.
But Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Champaign County Sheriffs Deputies and Public Health District officials have confirmed people are still living there.
"The petition alleges that despite the judge's order Champaign County Sheriffs Deputies and Public Health District officials have confirmed that people are still residing in the complex," Rietz said in a statement.
The Ramoses must appear in court on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 2:30 to answer the petition.
Cherry Orchard is located right outside of Rantoul, and has traditionally housed migrant workers.
The Carle Foundation is selling its pharmacy division to Walgreens.
The drug store's purchase of Carle RxExpress will mean four of its pharmacy locations will close in the next two months. By May 31st, Carle pharmacies on Urbana's Cunningham Avenue and Windsor Road will close, along with the location in Danville. In June, Carle's South Clinic location will consolidate with main lobby pharmacy at Carle Hospital. The remaining six will stay open under the Walgreens banner, and Carle's remaining inventory will transfer to nearby Walgreens locations.
Carle Foundation Executive Vice President John Snyder said the retail pharmacy industry has become more competitive, with new consolidations. He said Walgreens can offer discounts on generics and 90-day prescriptions that Carle can't sustain. But Snyder said consumers using Carle pharmacy locations won't see a change in service.
"They have quite a bit of experience in taking over hospital pharmacies, as well as medical office building pharmacies," he said. "They don't run them like typical Walgreens stores. They do recognize there's a difference. Their plan is to run them basically as they're run now with the same hours, and hopefully the same staff."
Snyder says Walgreens has committed to hiring about 80-percent of Carle's 76 pharmacy workers, and will interview all who apply. He said other employees with the necessary skills will be offered the chance to transfer to other jobs at Carle, while remaining workers will receive a severance package. But Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffany Washington said there wasn't a specific figure, only saying that a 'large majority' or Carle RxExpress employees would still have positions at the pharmacies.
Financial terms of the sale weren't disclosed. Proceeds from the sale will go towards the purchase of new hospital facilities and equipment.
The word 'overlooked' is no longer part of the title in Urbana native Roger Ebert's annual film festival.
But the director of the 13th annual event at the Virginia Theater in Champaign says it's still a large part of the mission. Nate Kohn says attendees may be surprised with some of the names attached to the screening, including the Friday night movie, a love story that will be accompanied by Director Norman Jewison.
"Very few people are familiar with the film 'Only You', and yet it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei, pretty prominent names," said Kohn. "I think that's a good example. Most people cite 'In the Heat of the Night' as (Jewison's) best-known film."
Jewison has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning an honorary Oscar in 1999. Other guests appearing with their work including actress Tilda Swinton, and directors Richard Linklater and Tim Blake Nelson.
Kohn says usually, Friday afternoon is reserved for annual viewing of a silent film accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra. But he says Fritz Lang's vision of the future from 1927, with missing footage, will be among the festival's biggest highlights Wednesday evening.
"Because 'Metropolis' was just recently restored to its full length, some missing footage was found in Argentina..." said Kohn. "We thought it was signifcant enough to move it to the opening night film."
'Metropolis' is among those listed in Ebert's 1998 'Great Movies' essay. Meanwhile, free panel discussions will be held at the University of Illinois' Illini Union beginning at 9 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning.
Kohn admits the traffic presents a challenge with the Illinois Marathon going on at the same time Saturday. But he says coordinators worked with Champaign police so transportation could flow as smoothly as possible.
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