In central Illinois, many employers large and small have downsized or closed altogether, forcing thousands of laid-off workers to consider new options. In our latest report as part of our outreach project "WILL Connect: The Economy", AM 580's Jeff Bossert looks at the retraining of workers. Ingenuity and government-funded training are giving many of them a jump on a new career, or a better shot at an old one:
Illinois Public Media News
Governor Pat Quinn has started making fresh appointments to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
That's after most members resigned in the wake of an admissions scandal.
Quinn says he wants to replace the seven trustees who've resigned in the next week and a-half.
On Wednesday, he announced two new appointments: those of Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy, and Lawrence Oliver, an attorney for the Boeing Company.
Quinn says the board's first item of business will be dealing with U of I President B. Joseph White and Urbana Campus Chancellor Richard Herman, who were key players in the scandal.
"I think they have a lot of explainin' to do", says Quinn. "But I don't want to prejudge things until the full board that I appoint has an opportunity to review this report, listen to the various individuals involved, and come to a reasoned decision."
The report issued by a state panel recommended all nine trustees step down.
Two trustees, Frances Carroll and James Montgomery, have refused... But Quinn says he's allowing them to stay on to avoid a protracted legal fight.
"You can be as legalistic as you want," explained the governor. "I do not think that having a legal battle with two trustees who refuse to resign is the central focus of our work."
Quinn says that would be a "sideshow" that could detract from the U of I's fundraising and faculty recruiting.
Trustee Montgomery congratulated Quinn for not firing him. But Quinn was criticized by others for his handling of the situation.
Illinois Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said the situation was still unresolved because some trustees were staying on.
Quinn's Democratic primary challenger, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, accused the governor of failing to lead.
The governor says, in the next week or so, he plans to finish appointing replacements for trustees who've already offered to step down.
--- Additional reporting from The Associated Press
The Montgomery family of Philo spent Wednesday night in their new home --- courtesy of the TV show "Extreme Makeover Home Edition", and a host of local volunteers and businesses.
Local businesspeople bringing housewarming gifts applauded Wednesday, as Ed Brady of Brady Homes handed over the keys to Nathan and Jenny Montgomery's new home in Philo, with the words, "These are yours.". In just one week, construction crews and volunteers tore down the Montgomery's crumbling old house and built a brand new one. Nathan Montgomery says her youngest daughter summed up their feelings of excitement and disbelief as they saw the house for the first time on Tuesday.
"I think Lily was saying as we walked up the steps, she just kept repeating, 'this is real, this is real'", says Montgomery. "And I am catching myself reminding myself of that --- and I'm sure we will for awhile --- this is really our house."
Nathan and Jenny Montgomery says they can't say thank-you enough for the house, as well as the outpouring of community support for both them and Salt and Light Ministry, the faith-based charity that Nathan Montgomery founded. And the attention has also been good for Philo, a village of about 1300 people in southeast Champaign County. Mayor Craig Eckert says the Extreme Makeover producers told him Philo should expect more visitors as news about the Montgomery's new house gets around.
Eckert says the visitors are welcome. "Certainly as mayor, we love when people spend some of their money here in the community," says Mayor Eckert. "But it's going to highlight our town, and we're real proud of our community. And the Montgomery's just add to an already really wonderful place
The Montgomery family spent most of Wednesday filming segments inside their new house for the Extreme Makeover show about them that airs October 25th on ABC.
Gov. Pat Quinn will appoint a son of the late Robert F. Kennedy to the University of Illinois board of trustees.
Quinn's office confirmed Chicago businessman Christopher Kennedy's appointment in advance of a Wednesday afternoon news conference where Quinn is expected to announce more changes to the board. Christopher Kennedy is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died Wednesday.
It's been nearly three weeks since a state panel Quinn appointed recommended that all the trustees should go after an investigation into how clout influenced admission decisions at the school.
Seven trustees have offered to resign, but trustees James Montgomery and Frances Carroll are refusing to step down. They say they've done nothing wrong.
Watch for updates Wednesday afternoon.
The top watchdog in Chicago city government is quitting to run for the U.S. Senate.
The Chicago Inspector General's Office said Wednesday that David Hoffman had resigned to run for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.
Democrat Roland Burris currently holds the seat but isn't running for a full term.
Hoffman will join a Democratic primary field that already includes state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson has said she plans to run too, but she won't formally announce her candidacy until next month. Hoffman has been in the spotlight recently. He criticized Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's deal to lease city parking meters. And he served on a commission Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn appointed to recommend ways to clean up state government in the wake of the scandals surrounding former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Illinois state lawmakers are joining legal experts, clergy and mental health officials in pressing Gov. Pat Quinn to address what they call a human rights crisis at the state's only supermax prison.
The group has sent a letter to the governor, urging him to intervene in the operation of the Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County.
Critics say that's where some inmates have been held in solitary confinement for more than 10 years.
The letter asks Quinn to sign an executive order that stops the placement of mentally ill prisoners at Tamms, bans long-term solitary confinement unless an inmate is deemed a threat and sets up oversight.
The state's new corrections chief, Michael Randle, is reviewing Tamms' policies at Quinn's request.
Organizations that help the poor in east-central Illinois are giving out more and more assistance. But there may be many people who for some reason or another have not made that call for help. In the latest of our series of stories in connection with the outreach project "WILL Connect: The Economy," AM 580's Tom Rogers introduces us to people who decided to make the leap and reach out for aid, and people who encourage others to do so.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn say's he'll take action Wednesday regarding two University of Illinois trustees refusing to step down. The school is embroiled in a controversy over admissions practices.
Quinn had said he wanted all U of I trustees to resign by the start of the school year. On Monday, that deadline came and went, but two trustees - Drs. James Montgomery and Frances Carroll still haven't submitted their letters of resignation.
Quinn has hinted that he'd fire the trustees if they don't step down. But both say they'll fight any attempt to remove them from the board. They say they didn't do anything wrong, regarding the admissions scandal that's engulfed the school. And they say that means the governor has no grounds to fire them. Both holdout trustees are prominent members of the African-American community, and they've gotten some high-profile backing.
Despite Quinn's threats, he won't say what his plan of action will be.
State Representative Bill Black says he will not seek another term in the Illinois House. The Danville Republican says he's making the announcement now, to give potential candidates time to prepare for the Illinois primary in February.
Black is longtime member of the Republican leadership team in the Illinois House. He's a Deputy Republican leader in the chamber, and GOP spokesman for the House Rules Committee. But he says he's gotten the most satisfaction as a legislator out of the bread-and-butter accomplishments that may seem mundane --- but are important to many people in the 104th House District.
"Are the state routes paved, are the bridges in good shape? Have we been able to upgrade water and sewer projects and school construction?" says Black. "And in all of those, I think we've been reasonably successful. I haven't gotten everything done that I've wanted to do. But I can look anybody in the eye, and say, I've tried. I've tried my very best."
Black first announced his retirement two years ago, but changed his mind and won re-election in 2008, after the Republican nominee for his seat, Scott Eisenhauer, withdrew. Black says that was a fluke, and he's confident that a strong Republican candidate will stay in the race for 2010.
Meanwhile, Black says he will resign his House seat early --- if Governor Quinn decides to appoint him to serve on the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees. Black is a U of I alumnus, and says serving as a trustee would provide "a different set of challenges" for him.
The water utility for the city of Danville takes issue with an advocacy group's report that consumers may be subject to higher-than-allowable traces of a farm chemical.
The report from the Natural Resources Defense Council cited government figures suggesting Danville's water supply had exceeded standards for the herbicide atrazine.
But Kevin Culver, a compliance officer with Aqua Illinois, says the NRDC's numbers are from 2004, and since then, recent EPA tests found no detectable levels of atrazine. However, Culver says atrazine is a concern since Danville's drinking water source, Lake Vermilion, includes lots of farm runoff. He says the utility filters out the chemical with a simple process.
"It's actually the same component in your home water systems that they say to use, and one of the recommendations is activated carbon to remove it at home," Culver said. So it's the same type stuff, although we use a lot more of it during the growing season."
Chemicals like atrazine have been linked to birth defects and hormone disruptions in animals, though the federal Centers for Disease Control has not found the same effects on humans.