Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Carle Rantoul Office to Reopen Friday After Closing Due to Sewer Line Problem

Carle Physician Group announced at midday on Thursday that its Rantoul office was temporarily closed, due to a problem with its sewer line.

Carle will reopen Friday. Patients who have appointments scheduled for Friday should plan to keep their appointments.

If you have questions, please call Carle's Rantoul office at 217-893-7700.

Categories: Biography, Health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Gill Running Again for Congress

Bloomington physician David Gill is launching a fourth campaign for Congress.

It will also be the fourth time Gill is seeking a run against Urbana Republican Congressman Tim Johnson, but this time, the two would face one another in very different territory.

Gill said the re-drawn 13th Congressional District should work in his favor since it is a bit smaller, and will include Democratic support in cities like Springfield, and all of Decatur.

"So many times I would go to my part of Macon County, campaigning in the past, and long for the opportunity to connect with more of the voters within Decatur," Gill said. "But that was closed off to me, Decatur was divided up three ways, and now, lo and behold, all of Decatur is there and open to me."

Gill said the 13th district, which now includes an area near St. Louis, is a very winnable race for Democrat, but he expects opposition in the primary.

The Democrat said during Congressman Johnson's time in the 15th District, he has changed course on a number of issues, including the use of military force in Iraq.

"That's the type of big decision where the right decision needs to be made in the first place, before 5,000 service men are dead, and 30-to-40 thousand servicemen are grievously injured," Gill said. "Now, he walks around his old district and this new (the 13th) district and describes himself as an anti-war dub, if you will."

Gill said voters have had a short memory when it comes to Johnson's decisions. The Democrat added that voters don't grasp why Johnson would vote to end Medicare.

Gill ran unsuccessful bids against Johnson in 2004, 2006, and 2010.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

U of I Extension Cuts Mean Major Reorganization, Job Losses

More than 100 jobs will be cut from the University of Illinois Extension as a result of a large reorganization.

While initial budget figures called for more than $2 million in cuts, that figure increased to $7.6 million for the new fiscal year.

As it stands, the budget cuts will force the merger of several county offices, and the number of Extension units have been reduced from 70 to 27. And about 50 county extension director positions will be eliminated though layoffs and retirements.

Interim Associate Dean and Director Bob Hoeft said moving educators out of centers and into the counties should actually be a good thing. They specialize in areas like small farms, nutrition, and youth development in local 4-H programs.

Hoeft said while a number of the jobs cut were educator positions, he said no specific areas of expertise were targeted. He also noted that any counties that want to keep their extension office open could - but many will be operating only two to three days a week. He said in most cases, an office will remain open.

"The public spoke - the public said they wanted their offices," he said. "There are counties that said they don't need an office, and Douglas County is one example of that. Talking with elected officials, they've said that they had no real complaints, and it's worked real well."

Among the educator positions that were reduced, he says just six are left in agriculture, because few are needed anymore.

"We have a number of commercial ag people that come directly to campus," Hoeft said. "We also have 1,500 certified crop advisers in this state that are capable of giving sound, agronomic advice, and customers, the farmers of the state, go to them for that advice."

Hoeft said Extension will be relying more on electronic communication in the future since that is what younger generations demand.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Getting Rural Residents Where They Need to Be

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District gives passengers about 10 million rides each year. But as Dan Petrella of CU-CitizenAccess reports, for Champaign County's rural residents, getting where they need to go isn't as easy as walking to the nearest bus stop.

(Photo by Dan Petrella)

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Illinois’ Ban on Capital Punishment to Take Effect

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

Starting Friday, Illinois' ban on capital punishment will take effect, but advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate say their work is not done.

State lawmakers voted in January to abandon capital punishment, and Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation in March. That happened more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men.

Gov. Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on death row who are now serving life sentences in prison with no hope of parole.

Fifteen other states have also abolished the death penalty.

With the law in place, it would seem that The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty could declare "mission accomplished." But the group's director, Jeremy Schroeder, said that is not the case.

"I wish I could tell you we're all retiring," Schroeder said. "But unfortunately there will always be some need for the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty."

Schroeder admits his group is downsizing, and has considered changing its name to "the Coalition Against the Death Penalty." Schroeder said the key task going forward is to make sure the ban remains.

However, critics like State Representative Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) are working to overturn it.

"I still believe, as studies do show, that the death penalty is a deterrent to these most heinous of crimes," Reboletti said.

Reboletti's legislation stalled in the House this past session, but he said he believes there is enough support for it to pass.

The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty says it's poised to fight back legislation to overturn the ban.

Illinois has executed 12 men since 1977, when the death penalty was reinstated. The last execution was Andrew Kokoraleis on March 17, 1999. At the time, the average length of stay on death row was 13 years.

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

U of I Cuts Back on Campus Printing Operations

Thursday, June 30th is the last day for ten jobs at the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

That day marks the end of large offset press operations at the campus printing department. The department will continue to print stationery, posters and small, digital printing jobs for the campus for one more year. But Director of Printing Barbara Childers said the shutdown of offset, letterpress and bindery operations ends a printing tradition that began at the Urbana campus in 1918.

"It's extremely difficult," Childers said of the cutback. "And we have maintained a close relationship with our retirees. So there are a number of old printers, who've come back in the last month or two to visit, just to see the operation while the presses were still running."

Childers said changes in the printing industry have led to an overall decline in offset printing around the world.

"There was a change in the tax rules that made it --- certainly not for the university but for other people --- less attractive to warehouse printed materials," she said. "And so, digital came on in a big way, because it provides a more instant printing. And as the quality in digital (printing) got better, offset volumes fell even further."

But Childers said she disagrees with assumptions that outsourcing all campus printing work beginning next summer will save the U of I money. Still, she said there are many fine private printing operations in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities that can take up the work they do.

One of the final offset printing jobs at the U of I Urbana campus printing department is the biennial compilation of board of trustee minutes. Childers said that is a publication that dates back more than 90 years, to the printing department's first year of operations. One of the other final campus offset printing projects is the July issue of WILL's Patterns Magazine. Beginning with the August issue, Patterns will be produced by Premier Print Group in Champaign.

Meanwhile, Childers said there plans for continued use of the printing department's letterpress. She said the Soybean Press hopes to use the letter press for both its own printing projects, and for training students in fine letterpress printing. The four-year-old Soybean Press is a joint venture of the University of Illinois' Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the School of Art + Design and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Categories: Biography, Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Illinois Group Gets $1.4 Million to Help Migrants

The U.S. Department of Labor is giving an Illinois group $1.4 million to provide job training and other services to migrant farmworkers.

The department said Wednesday the money will go to the Illinois Migrant Council. The money is part of $78.3 million being provided by The National Farmworker Jobs Program to 52 groups around the country to pay for job training, employment services and other needs for seasonal farmworkers and their families.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the money is intended to help migrant farmworkers and their families lead more stable lives. Another $5.7 million will go to 16 groups across the country to provide housing assistance for migrant farmworkers.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Quinn Expected to Sign Budget

Illinois' new budget takes effect Friday, the first day of the fiscal year. The state won't have enough money to pay businesses that are waiting for state payments.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the state budget Thursday. He can accept the blueprint as lawmakers sent it over, or slightly amend it. State law restricts how much he can change.

Regardless, the budget won't include enough money to catch up on old bills. One person waiting to get paid is Ralph Ditchie, who runs two day care center for adults.

"I'm just a little guy from the south side of Chicago who started a business, and about five months ago, they owed us three-quarters of a million dollars," Ditchie said.

The state has caught up a little in what it owes Ditchie. But the delay he and others have gotten used to is not expected to ease up, even after Quinn signs the budget.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2011

Great Lakes Face Pressure for Water

The Great Lakes hold six quadrillion gallons of water, which is 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water. As scarcity grows, there is concern more and more people are eying that water. A historic compact to protect the Great Lakes became law in 2008, and it's being tested for the first time in a thirsty suburb of Milwaukee. Illinois Public Radio's Lynette Kalsnes looks into the law and its history.

(Photo courtesy of Qfamily/Flickr)

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Categories: Environment

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2011

Illinois Library Systems Prepare to Merge

Come July 1st, four library systems in Decatur, Champaign, Edwardsville and Carterville will merge to form the Illinois Heartland Library System.

The change comes in response to the state's financial problems.

One of the groups involved in the merger is Rolling Prairie Library System in Decatur. Executive Director Beverly Obert said her library system is waiting on about $350,000 from the state. She said the system's nearly 260 member libraries will notice some changes following the merger, such as a lack of continued education and consulting services

"It's a little bit of looking forward to it, and also sadness at what's being lost," Obert said. "Next few days is to get through the merger, and start serving the people."

Obert noted that there will be more of a focus on resource sharing, delivery and the "Talking Book Service" in the new library system. She said reciprocal borrowing privileges between libraries in the system should also stay the same.

Another library system involved in the merger is Champaign-based Lincoln Trail Libraries System, which serves 120 libraries. It is currently waiting on $300,000 to $400,000 from the state, according to its executive director Jan Ison. She said the people who will notice a difference in service are librarians who rely on her staff to answer questions quickly.

"Now that doesn't mean my staff won't answer questions and they won't be quickly, but hopefully we're going to do the best we can," Ison said. "It's quite likely that some staff will be telecommuting, or perhaps working out of some of the member libraries."

While some library systems involved in the merger are cutting staff - like Rolling Prairie - Ison said the only positions that will be eliminated at the Lincoln Trail Libraries System are those that are currently open. She said all existing staff who want to stay on board will be able to do so.

Illinois Heartland Library System will include 594 member libraries: 38 Academic, 231 Public, 260 School and 65 Special. In addition, five library systems in northern Illinois will merge into one consolidated system known as Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). Meanwhile, the Chicago Public Library System will remain as its own entity.

Categories: Business, Economics, Education

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