Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Cardinals Hire Mike Matheny As Manager

The St. Louis Cardinals have hired Mike Matheny to a two-year contract as their new manager, with a club option for a third season.

The World Series champs say they are not worried that Matheny has never filled out a lineup card for a major league game.

"Many people may question this hire for his lack of experience," general manager John Mozeliak said at a news conference Monday to introduce Matheny. "All arrows pointed to Mike. In the end, the decision became very clear."

Matheny replaces Tony La Russa, who abruptly retired after the Cardinals won the World Series last month. Mozeliak said the four-time Gold Glove catcher stood out from a group of candidates that began with about 35 names and a final list of six that included Terry Francona, Ryan Sandberg and longtime Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.

The 41-year-old Matheny donned a No. 22 Cardinals jersey at his inaugural news conference in the same room where La Russa stepped down two weeks earlier. He called it "the greatest honor of my life."

"I would say to the Cardinal fans, I can't tell you how excited I am about this opportunity," Matheny said. "I know there's a high level of expectation. If I didn't think I could do it, I certainly wouldn't have walked into the interview process."

The Cardinals expect to finalize the coaching staff by the end of the week. Mozeliak said pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is signed for next season, should be back, and Oquendo also could return.

Mozeliak said the team envisioned Matheny as managerial material when they added him to the organization two years ago. Matheny was a special assistant in player development last year and prior to that had been a minor league instructor.

Mozeliak said he was in contact with La Russa during the interview process.

"I don't know if the word consulting is right," Mozeliak said. "He was someone I kept abreast of the process. I always welcome his opinion."

Matheny is the Cardinals' youngest manager since Jack Krol, also 41, in 1978.

Matheny's playing career blossomed after he signed a one-year free-agent deal to be the backup catcher in St. Louis. Though a career .239 hitter, Matheny did enough defensively to earn a starting job. Matheny was with the Giants when his career was ended by concussions in 2006. He said he's been symptom free for about 1 1/2 years.

Francona was the only candidate who had major league managing experience. He left the Red Sox after the team collapsed in September. Oquendo coached for La Russa the last dozen years after playing the final decade of his career with the Cardinals and has had a handful of interviews for managing openings.

The Cardinals also interviewed Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Quinn OKs Bill to Restore Superintendents’ Pay

Regional education superintendents across Illinois are going to get paychecks again after more than four months.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Monday restoring the superintendents' pay.

Quinn eliminated their salaries from the state budget over the summer. He said the state needed the roughly $13 million for other services.

The superintendents and their assistants have not been paid since June.

Lawmakers voted last week to pay the superintendents out of money that usually goes to local governments, which means a tiny reduction in funds to cities and counties. The arrangement only lasts one year.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Kirk and Durbin Call for Allergy Meds in Every School

Illinois' two U.S. senators are proposing federal legislation to protect students with severe allergies.

Earlier this year, the state of Illinois passed a law allowing school nurses to give epinephrine, or an epi-pen, to any student having an allergic attack. The drug quickly reduces symptoms in severe allergic reactions.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said the proposed law would apply nation-wide, and give any authorized adult the right to give medication.

"If we have a good samaritan law, no one will hesitate because of liability concerns to deliver the epi-pen," Kirk said.

Chicago doctors at Children's Memorial Hospital said at Monday's press conference that mistakenly giving an epi-pen to a child without allergies isn't dangerous, and for the one in 25 kids with severe food allergies, it can save their life.

As for who will pay for the medication, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "My guess is PTA's will have no problem with a little bake sale to pay for them if necessary."

Kirk and Durbin said they'll introduce the legislation in the Senate this week and they expect it to have wide bi-partisan support.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Blue Waters Project Back on Track with Cray Inc

Work on building the Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of is back on track, with a new partner.

IBM withdrew from the project over the summer citing technical and financial difficulties. But now, the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications has received National Science Foundation approval for a new $118 million contract with Seattle-based Cray Incorporated.

Blue Waters Project deputy director Bill Cramer said while IBM's plans for Blue Waters had certain advantages, Cray brings more computational capability, more memory and more storage capacity to the project. Cramer added that supercomputers are Cray's specialty.

"The Cray Company only does super-computing," Cramer said. "So they don't do many of the market pressures that IBM felt. The Cray company specialize s in supercomputing and doing these very, very large projects and systems. And they've had a large history of doing that."

Cramer spoke Monday from Seattle, at SC11, an annual convention for high performance computing, where the NSCA and Cray announced their plans for Blue Waters.

Blue Waters is being built to help scientists and engineers work through their most complex problems, with an expected sustained performance level of more than one petaflop. That's one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

"And those scientists will be using it to simulate the world around us in everything from earthquake engineering and the damage earthquakes might do to buildings, to epidemiology to basic chemistry," NSCA spokesman Bill Bell said.

NSCA officials say Cray will start delivering hardware to the U of I Urbana campus before the year is over. And an "early science system" of Blue Waters is expected to be running a sort of Beta version of the supercomputer in early 2012. Cramer said Blue Waters should be fully operational by next fall.

Categories: Education, Technology

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Champaign County Coalition Working to Cut Down on Diabetes

Different health care groups that recently formed a coalition determined to fight diabetes in Champaign County met Monday as part of a diabetes expo.

Coalition member Martha Paap said about seven percent of 18-to-64 year olds in Champaign County have type 2 diabetes. That translates to more than 11,000 people. Paap, who heads Provena's Center for Healthy Aging, said while that is slightly lower than the national average, she worries that number will rise.

"The kind of consequences to diabetes can be very, very serious such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, lower limb amputations, kidney problems," Paap said. "It can be a very devastating disease that we really need to prevent."

Theresa Truelove, a nurse with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said many of these cases represent African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics, who moved to the United States from another country, and are adjusting to changes in their lifestyle.

"They go from potentially field work to office work or no work," Truelove said. "You've got the whole change of the activity levels of people as they come into our society, and that is in a way deadly for diabetes."

Some of the preventative measures to reduce the chances of diabetes include changes in diet and more physical activity. According to the International Diabetes Federation, at least one in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030.

Categories: Health
Tags: health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 13, 2011

Cardinals to Name Former Catcher Matheny New Manager

A longshot with no previous managerial experience has won the managerial post of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals said they will announce the hiring of Mike Matheny as manager during a news conference Monday.

Matheny, a former St. Louis catcher, will replace the retired Tony La Russa, who stepped down after leading the team to the World Series title.

The 41-year-old Matheny was a minor league instructor with the Cardinals and has no managing experience. He played for St. Louis from 2000-04 and won three Gold Gloves. He won another with San Francisco.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 13, 2011

Three Injured in Urbana Shooting Include U of I Football Player

(With additional reporting from the Associated Press)

Urbana police are investigating a shooting early Sunday morning near the University of Illinois campus. Police say three people were injured, including a linebacker with the U of I football team.

The incident happened at 1004 South Lincoln Ave in Urbana at around 3:25am. The three victims include 27-year old Trulon Henry of Savoy, a two-year starter with Illinois. Illinois Coach Ron Zook says Henry was with teammates at the party when he was shot in the hand, and now will miss the rest of the regular season.

The other victims are a 23-year old Park Forest man, and a 22-year old Palos Park man. They were all transported to Carle Hospital for medical treatment, and one has been treated and released. The other two men were receiving treatment, as of Sunday afternoon, and their current condition is unknown. Police say the gunman is still being sought. Zook says a handful of Illinois players, largely underclassmen, were at the party but were not injured.

At this time, Urbana Police have determined that the shooting was an isolated incident that occurred during a house party. An altercation developed between attendees, and the suspect fired several shots into the crowd gathered on a patio, which was estimated at more than 100 people. Zook says Henry wasn't originally at the party, but was called by a teammate to help encourage players to leave after the gathering turned chaotic.

Through preliminary investigations, Urbana Lt. Bryant Seraphin tells the News-Gazette that the shooter is believed to be a black male in his 20s with dreadlocks. He was also wearing a dark colored coat and was last seen in or around a silver Dodge Charger. Upon arrival, officers learned that the suspect had fired several rounds from a handgun. The offender had fled before police arrived at the scene.

U of I President Michael Hogan released a statement late Sunday afternoon, stating that according to U of I police, there was never a threat to students elsewhere on campus, but as soon as the police were able to confer with Urbana officers and confirm the appropriate information to be released, they sent out an Illini-Alert to campus (it was sent at 4:42 a.m.)

Anyone with information should call the Urbana Police Department at 217-384-2320. Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 373-8477 (TIPS). President Hogan says counselors are on hand to assist students, faculty, and staff. Anyone needing immediate assistance can call the Emergency Dean at 217-333-0050.

Henry is a native of Washington, D.C., and was a starting outside linebacker this season after starting all 13 games as a safety with Illinois in 2010. He's ninth on the team with 39 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions.

((This report was updated and revised Sunday, following its original release earlier in the day)).


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 11, 2011

Construction on Decatur WWII Memorial Expected to Start in Spring

After several years of planning, construction on a World War II memorial in Decatur may finally start.

The project has faced a series of delays because of a lack of funding, but now with about $25,000 needed to complete the memorial; organizers hope to break ground in May. This would be the first phase of the project, which will go up in front of the Decatur Civic Center. It is the brainchild of Pete Nicholls, a World War II veteran who passed away three years ago.

Nicolls' son, Pete, said his father was injured during the war after he jumped on a grenade, and saved the lives of two other soldiers.

"He was very involved in veterans his whole life after that, and around Decatur he realized there were several war memorials, but there was none dedicated to the World War II veterans," Nicolls said.

The monument will include five head stones representing each service of the armed services, and it will have a five-foot globe that is going to be on a pedestal. Nicolls said the pedestal will have a list of area veterans who died during the war. Nicolls said he hopes to see the memorial completed by next year.

Gordon Brenner, who is on the World War II Memorial committee, began working on the project in 2004 with the elder Nicolls.

"(Nicolls) said I know I may not live long enough to see this thing built, and so he said I want someone I know who's going to carry on and see this to the end," Brenner said. "I told him, 'Pete, you ain't going nowhere until we get this thing built.' I said, 'I would be honored to help you.'"

Before Nicolls passed away, he and Brenner spent time researching World War II military casualties from Macon County. Brenner said the memorial will serve as a lasting tribute to about 360 area veterans who died during the war.

Categories: Architecture, History

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 11, 2011

Former Ill. Gov. Edgar Weighs in on State Finances

Illinois lawmakers this week sent Gov. Pat Quinn a plan to pay the state's regional school superintendents and their assistants through local property taxes. Those employees have been working without pay since July after Quinn slashed state support for the office. But former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, who is a Republican, said that was a vote lawmakers shouldn't have had to make.

"It was a tough vote, but they had to do something to take care of that problem until they resolved the issue," Edgar said. "But the way (Gov. Quinn) tried to resolve it, I think was a huge governmental mistake."

Edgar said Quinn should have talked to the legislature before cutting off funding for the state's regional school superintendents

Edgar served two terms as governor from 1991 to 1999. During his second term, Edgar tried to raise income taxes and lower property taxes to support education programs, but he wasn't able to get enough support from the General Assembly. Edgar said he is not sure that measure would get the needed support now given the state's financial problems.

"If you get the state back where we're paying our bills on time and we got some money in the bank, then maybe you can take a look at a tax reform," he said. "I think until we deal with the immediate problem, we don't have the luxury to deal with tax reform."

Edgar said before lawmakers consider any tax reforms, they should first take care of the state's debt problems through additional cuts.

He also expressed support for a gambling expansion bill that would allow racetracks in the state to operate slot machines, and establish five new casinos in areas, such as Chicago and Danville. The Senate is expected to vote on that measure later this month.

Edgar spoke Friday on the University of Illinois' Urbana campus.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 11, 2011

Airtran Airways to End Service in Central Illinois

Nineteen Airtran Airways workers will lose their jobs in Bloomington-Normal, and travelers will have to book flights on other airlines when the carrier pulls out of the Central Illinois Regional Airport next June.

According to a release from Airtran, continued high fuel prices and the changing economic climate require the end of air service to Central Illinois. Airtran carried 39-percent of Bloomington Normal passengers last year. Airtran also cut service to three other cities and earlier this year dropped four other cities including the Quad Cities in Illinois.

Bloomington-Normal's largest carrier remains Delta. The loss of service includes three daily non-stop flights. Municipal leaders had expressed concern earlier this year about the possibility of service loss when Airtran did not renew special spring break flights to Fort Myers.

Airport Director Carl Olson had been meeting with Southwest executives for more than six months trying to make the case


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