Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Delta to Leave Champaign Area’s Willard Airport at End of August

An airline's decision to leave the Champaign area's Willard Airport leaves only one airline serving the facility.

It also leaves Willard's manager wondering why Delta Air Lines plans to end its three daily flights to and from Detroit August 31. Steve Wanzek says he was shocked at Delta's phone call Wednesday afternoon mentioning the decision.

"It's been three weeks since they replaced the Saab turboprops with regional jets and added an extra flight," Wanzek said, hours after the call. "I thought we were headed in the right direction, and the feedback we were getting from the Delta desk people downstairs was that they were excited because passenger count had gone up."

Northwest Airlink flights between Willard and Detroit were rebadged with the Delta Express name last year as the two airlines merged. Mesaba Airlines operated the planes. The exit will leave only American Eagle at Willard, but Wanzek says American is a much more stable presence because Willard hosts a maintenance hub for their regional jets.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Local Boy Scout Council Facing Economic Woes with Other Non-Profits

A surprise windfall from the United Way of Champaign County won't keep the local Boy Scouts organization from ending the fiscal year in the red.

The executive of the Prairielands Council says they've raised about $170,000, but its 2010 goal was $225,000. Tim Manard says donations from families involved in Scouting are especially worrisome.

"We ask our families to be part of that campaign since they're getting the direct benefit of scouting," Manard said. "And we saw that they're having to make some tough choices at home, and that's having an impact on what we're able to do."

This week the United Way announced a surplus in its own fundraising campaign. Manard says that will mean an extra five thousand dollar donation to the Boy Scouts to fund more scholarships for Scouts wanting to attend summer camp. He says even with staff and program cuts over the past two years, the organization has made summer camp a priority for its 5,000 Scouts in 9 Illinois and Indiana counties.

Categories: Community, Economics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

University Is $130 Million Ahead of Where it Stood Six Months Ago

The state has come through with some last-minute funds for the University of Illinois as the fiscal year draws to a close.

That includes a payment of about $30 million reported Tuesday by Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr. U of I Interim President Stanley Ikenberry says that brings the state's backlog of payments to about $295-million, when it was more than $430 million back on December 31st. Ikenberry says while Illinois still needs to address its financial crisis as soon as possible - the U of I is getting more orderly state payments, and that's a surprise. But he says university staff has done everything it can to receive those funds.

"Our finance people have been unrelenting in their telephone calls to the comptroller's office to seek the payment of the bills," said Ikenberry. "..and to remind them that we're out here living from hand to mouth, and that we need the payment of those receivables." Ikenberry will step down from the role of interim president this week, turning over the office to new President Michael Hogan. The 75-year old has served as interim president since January, and was U of I President from 1979 to 1995.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Green Camp Puts on Oil Spill Simulation

The oil spill along the Gulf of Mexico is spreading. It's already crept to the coastlines of Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama, and it's continuing to move forward. A group of young kids in Savoy met last week to talk about the spill as part of a week-long Green Camp. They took part in a simulation of the oil spill, and shared their ideas about containing the spill. Then John Warren Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, talks about the future of offshore drilling. Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports.

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Categories: Business, Environment

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

U of I Interim President Ikenberry Reflects, Looks Ahead

A change at the top doesn't mean University of Illinois Interim President Stanley Ikenberry is retiring just yet. He served in the office the last six months, and was U of I President from 1979 to 1995. The 75-year old Ikenberry will now see to it that a working group follows through with a series of consolidations and other cost-cutting moves. He'll report on the team's progress to new President Michael Hogan, who starts his job Thursday.

Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert talked with Ikenberry about that role, and other challenges he foresees in the months ahead:

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Agencies Brace for Cuts in State Budget

State agencies and organizations are waiting for details on next year's Illinois state budget, which Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign on Wednesday or Thursday. A group representing people with disabilities is bracing for the possibility its programs will take a hit.

The Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities is worried the governor will slash funding for home and community care programs.

Tyler McHaley says he's enrolled in the home services program. He fears cutbacks will mean he...as well as other people with developmental disabilities ... will get less help.

"The cuts will mean fewer hours in terms of having meals prepared for us, to go outside the home, for laundry....all the things that everyone takes for granted are being cut for us,", says McHaley.

McHaley says it could also mean providers may lose their jobs.

Nellie Logan is a home care assistant for the elderly in Springfield. She says she stops by elderly and disabled people's homes to help out with laundry and dishes.

"They're not going to be able to stay and be able to function as they need to be, as they want to be," says Logan. "And if these people have to go into nursing homes, it's going to cost the state a hell of a lot more than paying me to come help these people."

Logan says she doesn't think she'll lose her job because of job cuts ... but says lawmakers need to understand ... that people...many of whom can't live on their own ...are at the mercy of state government.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services, which oversees the programs, didn't want to comment on any possible cuts and says the agency is waiting to hear from the Governor.

Governor Quinn plans to discuss his budget plans during a 10:30 AM Chicago news conference on Thursday. Quinn has said he'll try to protect education, public safety and human services as much as possible. But he says because the General Assembly failed to approve new revenues, he has no choice but to cut the budget.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

U of Ill. Plans Home Weatherization Center

The University of Illinois plans to use nearly $1 million in federal stimulus money on a center to train people to improve the energy efficiency of low-income residents' homes.

The university says it received a more than $959,000 grant for the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program. It will be run by the university's Building Research Council. The council already offers classes on weatherizing homes.

Council instructor Paul Francisco says the money will help train workers to improve home energy efficiency.

Categories: Education, Energy

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Kirk Apologizes for Statements about Military Record

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says he's sorry for being careless and making mistakes about his accomplishments.

Kirk addressed supporters Tuesday in his first news conference since reports that he had embellished his military record, including claiming a prestigious award he didn't win.

The Illinois congressman says he isn't perfect. But he pledged he'll do better and that it won't happen again.

Meanwhile Kirk's Democratic opponent's campaign calls the Republican candidate's apology "hollow.''

A spokesman for Alexi Giannoulias criticized Kirk, saying the congressman wasn't careless as he claims. Spokesman Matt McGrath says Kirk "lied.'' McGrath contends there are too many inconsistencies for Kirk to claim he was careless.

Kirk also acknowledged twice being scolded by the Pentagon for improperly mingling politics with his military duties.

It's something his campaign had flatly denied just two weeks ago.

When a blogger disclosed a Defense Department memo referring to Kirk being "counseled'' for political activity while on duty, the Kirk campaign said the memo was "off the mark'' and that he had never violated Pentagon policies. His campaign called the document "a baseless political ploy.''

Kirk acknowledged today that he was counseled in late 2008 after he gave interviews about former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest. He also says he was counseled for a Twitter post he said his staff made in July 2009 when he was on duty.

Kirk is locked in a tight battle for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat with Democrat Giannoulias and Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Crime Suspect Found Dead in Decatur Public Pool

Maintenance workers found a body floating in a public swimming pool in Decatur that is believed to be that of a suspect in a knife attack.

The Macon County Coroner's office says Tiheyon D. Freeman was found early Tuesday in the Fairview Park pool. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Decatur police say Freeman was a suspect in an attack early Monday that left one woman hospitalized after undergoing surgery to remove part of a knife from her head. A second victim was stabbed several times, but was treated and released from a local hospital.

Decatur Park District officials say the pool in which the body was found will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Union Official Testifies on Conversations with Blagojevich on Senate Choice

Testimony from a labor union official shows ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich angled for job offers and other help from supporters of President Barack Obama.

The SEIU's Tom Balanoff says in November 2008 he acted as a go-between between Blagojevich and members of Obama's inner circle.

In a secretly taped call played at the trial on Tuesday, Blagojevich talks to Balanoff about Senate candidates, including Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.

Then the governor wonders aloud if Obama donors would give millions to start a health care advocacy group Blagojevich could work for.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah and then we can help our new senator, Valerie Jarrett, go out and push that. BALANOFF: So let me...let move this idea and...let me put that flag up and see where it goes.

Balanoff testified Tuesday he never had any intention of looking into Blagojevich's idea.

On cross examination, Balanoff acknowledged Blagojevich never explicitly said he'd appoint Jarrett in exchange for personal benefits or favors.

Balanoff also testified that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias told him in passing, "Maybe (Blagojevich will) appoint me."

When Balanoff told the governor this, he says Blagojevich responded with a expletives aimed at Giannoulias.

Giannoulias' current Senate campaign says his comment to Balanoff about being interested in the seat was made "half jokingly."

Meantime, Balanoff says Blagojevich also dismissed suggestions that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky get the appointment.

He says Blagojevich told him he wanted to pick an African American, so the governor said - quote - "If Jan could show me she had any ancestors who came over on a slave ship, she'd be fine."

A statement from Schakowsky says the comment "demonstrates Blagojevich's cynical attitude toward the African-American community.


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