Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 20, 2011

C-U at Home Finds Permanent Shelter for Homeless Man

(Reported by Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess)

A faith-based group in Champaign that is trying to find housing for the area's most vulnerable homeless residents has completed its first successful match.

C-U At Home connected Vernon Chounard to a two-bedroom rental home - his first permanent home since 2000.

The group will pay for utilities while the property owners - Deana and Luke Hammock - will forgo the $500 monthly rent until April.

Chounard moved in Tuesday afternoon during a public housewarming party, and he said that having a place to live means everything.

"I don't have to worry about waking up soaking wet or freezing or having a place to lay my head," Chounard said.

Chounard had lived on the streets for the last decade.

"I ain't going to lie, I'm an alcoholic," he said. "But I'm working on that too."

Deana Hammock said she and her husband bought the house initially to use as part of their church ministry. It has been vacant for several months.

"We are called to share what we have," Hammock said. "There are so many places out there that are vacant right now, it's fairly easy for other landlords to do something."

C-U At Home is part of a nationwide campaign that aims to house 100,000 vulnerable homeless people within the next two years. John Smith of C-U At Home said that Chounard is one of the nearly 12,000 homeless people in the country to find a home in the past year.

(Photo by Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess)

Categories: Economics
Tags: economy

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 20, 2011

UIUC Center Explores Connection Between Nutrition and Brain

The pharmaceutical company, Abbott and the University of Illinois have set up a center that is focused on the connection between nutrition and the health of the brain.

Located on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory is looking for research proposals that would be funded for a year. The Center's director is Neal Cohen, who heads the university's neuroscience program. He said nutritional scientists are pushing to know more about the role of nutrition in learning and memory.

"At the same time, neuroscientist are looking for ways to impact the brain that has included the effects of exercise and now the effects of nutrition," Cohen said. "This project is right at the intersection of that."

The center plans to use the U of I's existing research facilities at the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

The first call for research proposals closes on January 6, and those submissions will then be narrowed down to several final projects, which will receive funding.

Categories: Education, Health, Science

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 20, 2011

Illinois Football Coach Hires Two Former Assistants

New Illinois football coach Tim Beckman has hired two members of his staff at Toledo to join him in Champaign.

The school said Tuesday that Beckman has hired assistant Rockets head coach Mike Ward and running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh. They are Beckman's first two hires at Illinois. Their positions on the Illinois staff will be announced later.

Ward served as a co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Toledo. He has coached there since 2009 after coaching at Bowling Green from 1992 through 2008.

Golesh has been at Toledo since 2009. He previously coached as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois.

Beckman was hired earlier this month to replace Ron Zook, who was fired after a 6-6 season.

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 20, 2011

Urbana Metro Centre Plan Will Get More Discussion

Urbana's city council will further explore the idea of a seven-story downtown development that would include retail space, offices, and condominiums.

Champaign developer Gary Olsen now estimates the cost at a little over $80-million. Monday night's 5-0 vote by the city council meant no firm commitment, but directed Urbana's legal staff to prepare a document, saying Olsen can market his Vine Street Metro Centre idea to investors.

The plan looks to have four total levels of office space, retail on the first floor, and nearly 30 condominiums on two others. Two levels of parking would be underground, and town homes would be in a smaller building to the east. Alderman Charlie Smyth called the project ambitious, telling Olsen he is 'moving forward in spite of the economy.'

It's one the developer believes will turn around.

"The United States will slowly get out of this," Olsen said. "That's what I'm counting on. It will be a much better situation when this building is dedicated - maybe in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of our beautiful shopping center. It probably needs some help, too".

Lincoln Square Village is across the street from the proposed site, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014. Mayor Laurel Prussing said the size of the proposal concerns her, but wants to take the time to get the proper amount of public input.

"It's our land, and we're going to be very much involved in what's the proper scale," she said. "What's economically viable? You're never going to get a perfect answer, but you get to a better answer by having a lot of discussion about it and involving a lot of people. And if there's investors that are willing to do it at a certain scale, that tells you something right there."

Olsen said such a site would appeal to non-profit groups, and lawyers, who could walk to the nearby federal and county courthouses.

The plan is to locate in Urbana's Tax Increment Financing District, and also where Goodyear Tire holds a lease on the property. So if the project moves forward, it's unlikely any construction would take place in 2012. Olsen's plan also includes a separate building of town homes to the east.

The city council expects to revisit the Metro Centre idea next month.

(Drawing courtesy of Olsen and Associates)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 20, 2011

Gov. Quinn to Start Panel Reviewing State Pensions

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll put together a panel to review the state's pension system following a newspaper's investigations.

Quinn made the announcement Monday following a series of stories by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV.

In a story published Sunday, the Tribune reported that dozens of employees of private groups qualify for public pensions through Illinois State University even when they don't work on campus. In October the newspaper reported that two lobbyists with no teaching experience were allowed to count past years as union employees toward state teacher pensions after substitute teaching for only one day.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Quinn says the panel will be led by a senior adviser and will suggest changes to prevent abuses of the pension system.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 19, 2011

US Sen. Mark Kirk Endorses Mitt Romney

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Radio)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is endorsing Mitt Romney for president.

Kirk said Monday that the former Massachusetts governor knows how to work with Democrats and independents. The Illinois senator touts Romney's work as the head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Kirk said Romney would cut spending, promote economic growth and repeal the health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama. Kirk told reporters Monday that Republicans need to pick the right candidate to beat Obama.

He said his endorsement could be a factor for Romney in Illinois.

"Because it looks like we will have a pretty big battle for the Republican primary across many states," Kirk said. "We're now going to have a battle in Illinois. Illinois normally had a primary that was too late. But this year I think the voice of Illinois voters is going to matter."

He argued that Illinois will matter in the race for the Republican nomination even though its primary is not until March 20. Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford says Romney's campaign is working hard in the state.

Romney donated to Kirk's campaign during his successful run for Senate last year.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 19, 2011

Architect Wants Six-Story Development in Downtown Urbana

Urbana's City Council gets its first chance Monday night to hear about a proposed six-story mixed use development designed to be a 'stimulus' for downtown.

Champaign architect Gary Olsen said his Metro Centre on South Vine Street would use a retro style of development, and compliment buildings like the Champaign County Courthouse. The development would include condominiums, commercial retail, restaurants, as well as parking space. A second building to its east would consist of townhouses.

Olsen said he is open to ideas for businesses the public wants to see in Urbana.

"We're encouraging anyone in the Champaign County area who has a wonderful boutique they love in Chicago, or a sports place that they have found in Indianapolis they would like to replicate here," he said. "We're not just looking for restaurants, we're looking for a lot of commercial retail use of the first-floor level."

Olsen responded to a request for proposal from the city, after it purchased property on the square block across from the federal courthouse downtown. Urbana holds a lease on the Goodyear Tire shop on South Vine, and will negotiate to relocate that business.

There is no action expected at Monday's initial presentation, but Olsen hopes construction can completed by 2014, which would coincide with Lincoln Square Village's 50th anniversary.

The Urbana City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the city building.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 19, 2011

Mother Shot 3 Victims in Livingston County Murder-Suicide

Illinois authorities investigating the deaths of a family in the small farming community of Emington say the mother shot her three children and live-in boyfriend before killing herself.

The murder-suicide Friday afternoon claimed the lives of 30-year-old Sara McMeen, 29-year-old Daniel Warren and McMeen's three children: 8-year-old Skyler Lemke, 7-year-old Ian Lemke and 10-month-old Maggie Warren.

Authorities previously declined to identify the shooter, although a neighbor told The Associated Press she saw McMeen shoot her baby in the family's backyard.

Livingston County Sheriff Martin Meredith said Monday that authorities found McMeen and the three children outside the home and Daniel Warren inside. Autopsy results show all five died of gunshot wounds.

Authorities are looking for anyone who spoke to McMeen or Daniel Warren before the shootings.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 19, 2011

Danville Shooting Victim Identified

The Vermilion County Coroner has identified the man who was fatally shot Sunday night at a Danville public housing complex as 25-year old Latrell Smith.

Doug Miller, deputy director of Danville police, said a resident of an apartment in the Fair Oaks public housing complex arrived at 6 p.m. Sunday, finding the victim with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.

Miller says the man who found Smith lives at that apartment, but is not a relative of his. It wasn't immediately clear if Smith lived at that apartment. Miller says detectives are talking to relatives and anyone else who knew Smith in hopes of finding out what happened.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 19, 2011

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Indiana Secretary of State

A judge says Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White must face trial on criminal charges including voter fraud that could lead to his removal from office.

Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation on Monday spurned White's motion to dismiss the seven felony counts. His ruling says an Indiana Recount Commission ruling upholding White's 2010 election has no bearing on the court case and there's no legal authority limiting a prosecution of White.

The Republican won election despite accusations he lied about where he lived in the 2010 primary so he could continue collecting his salary from the Fishers Town Council. A Marion County judge is expected to rule soon on a civil lawsuit by Democrats that seeks to have White declared ineligible for office because he allegedly committed voter fraud.


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