Laura Kennedy

  For 106 years, The Yale Whiffenpoofs have entertained audiences all across the country with harmonies so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them.  The Whiffenpoofs are coming to the Twin Cities for a concert, allowing a hometown man to step into the spotlight in front of family and friends.

Higher education is a difficult industry right now. That's according to new Illinois Wesleyan University President Eric Jensen. Many colleges have gone for years without worker pay raises. Jensen tells GLT costs have been pared down ruthlessly and an equilibrium is still developing.

Jensen says he is optimistic about IWU and says it remains a gem.

Jensen says IWU is in a strong position to define itself in a way that other liberal arts colleges may not be able to. He says that will have economic consequences.


Home Prices Go Up

17 hours ago

Home prices are on the rise in Illinois. IPR's Sean Crawford looks at the latest numbers.


A Bloomington Normal Brewery has won several national medals for its products. Destihl's Dosvidanya Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and two gold medals at the Festival of  Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago. Destihl was competing against 363 beers from 157 different breweries and won Best in Show. The awards coincide with the commercial release of Dosvidanya today. Destihl is the first commercial brewery in the twin cities since Prohibition ended.

The Bloomington Normal unemployment rate edged under 5% last month. The 4.8% jobless rate is down slightly from a year ago. The Department of Employment Security says there were an estimated 4,800 unemployed people in the metro area looking for jobs. The last time the October rate was this low was in 2007 when it was more than a point below the current mark. There were job gains for the month in retail trade, and professional and business services and losses in government, construction, and manufacturing.

Monarch Milkweed Incentives Promised

17 hours ago

Federal officials want landowners in Illinois and nine other states to grow milkweed to boost the population of monarch butterflies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to spend $4 million in 2016 to help farmers and others plant milkweed and other nectar-producing plants. The agency wants to re-establish habitats for monarchs and pollinators in general. Milkweed is essential for monarchs since it is the only plant on which the butterfly will lay its eggs. It takes three to four generations for the monarchs to migrate to roosting spots in mountains of central Mexico.  

Steven Depolo / Flickr via Creative Commons

So...what'll it be?  Maybe a Scotch pine or a blue spruce?   Patrick Murphy is happy to help you select just the right tree for Christmas.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has pardoned a man who spent seven years in prison but was later judged innocent of attempted murder.  Rauner yesterday pardoned Robert Wilson. The 60-year-old Wilson was convicted in December 1999 for using a box cutter to slash the face and neck of a woman at a Chicago bus stop. Wilson testified at his trial that he was threatened with beating and denied needed medication unless he confessed.  

Holiday Retail Sales Expected To Increase

Nov 26, 2015

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.  IPR's Bill Wheelhouse reports:

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further ... all the way to "junk" status.  Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.  Because they can raise taxes, states are generally considered safe, and mostly have high ratings.

Kathleen Lorenz

Speaking to students at Community West High School in Normal today, Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) defended his recent vote to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S. 

Students questioned the Peoria Republican about the backlash against refugees triggered by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the Middle East.

Mayor Chris Koos of Normal is speaking out against a wave of xenophobia aimed at Syrian refugees. Koos is among 62 U.S. Mayors who have signed an open letter to Congress saying a ban on Syrian refugees is not warranted.

Koos says the Syrians who become refugees are not radical, and not militant. Koos urges taking a step back from politics and taking a look at the thorough process already in place.

Rauner Doubles Down On Syria Position

Nov 24, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s pursuing legal options to prevent Syrian refugees from coming into the state. Rauner has said there are security threats to America following attacks in Paris. He says he’s not getting the answers he wants from the Obama administration on who’s coming to Illinois. Rauner is talking to lawyers about how a governor could actually stop Syrian refugees from entering the state.

Meantime Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has rebuked Rauner’s statements, saying Syrian refugees pass strict tests for U.S. entry.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state is taking precautions ahead of the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting and killing a 17-year-old.

Rauner is asking the state police to coordinate with Chicago police. He wouldn’t say if he’s also talked with the state’s National Guard - which falls under the command of the governor.

The Cook County state's attorney is defending the amount of time it took to charge a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times in a killing caught on dashcam video. Anita Alvarez's office announced a first-degree murder charge, just a day before a deadline the city faces for releasing the video and more than a year after the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Alvarez said cases involving police officers present ``highly complex'' legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than ``rush to judgment.''  

Two Libertarian political candidates are asking a federal court to declare unconstitutional an Illinois ban on political contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Claire Ball of Addison and Scott Schluter of Marion filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week. They say they support marijuana legalization and want to solicit campaign donations from the marijuana industry. Illinois law bars such contributions.  

Harris Verdict Upheld

Nov 24, 2015

An appellate court has upheld the convictions of a man for fatally beating five members of his ex-wife's family in their central Illinois home. The Fourth District Appellate Court denied the appeal of 35-year-old Christopher Harris. He's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children in Beason on Sept. 21, 2009. Harris argued the trial court erred in refusing to admit 2007 statements from the Gees saying they worried about violent outbursts by a son, 14-year-old Dillen Constant. Constant also was beaten to death.

Mike Matejka

As the sun sets on production at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing in Normal, supporters of the workers gathered to demonstrate their gratitude in a community recognition event. Jeff Woodard of the McLean County Museum of History was among them.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Straight from the deserts of Asia and the Middle East, the leopard gecko has become a popular choice for lizard lovers.  This edition of Animal House looks at why this particular gecko is considered a great starter lizard.

MMNA, Inc.

Kent Ferguson has been looking for a job. He's one of the Mitsubishi workers losing his job with the end of production at the plant in Normal. As part of GLT's coverage of the plant transition, Charlie Schlenker visited again with Ferguson. He has interviewed in several places, a tool making test to gain entry to a pool of applicants for Harley Davidson in Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, interviews in Chatanooga, Urbana, Tesla in California, really all over the place. Kent's experience shows that in manufacturing, as in any profession, your skill set matters.

Michael Hill / WGLT

 A 5 to 4 vote from the Bloomington City Council favored a development of 68 residential units on Ekstam Drive near the Central Illinois Regional Airport. People living in Bloomington’s Ward 3, where the property is located, opposed the measure by contacting their alderman Mboka Mwilambwe. 

Many agencies and organizations that rely on state funding are hard hit by the budget stalemate in Springfield.  The state isn’t mandated to fund higher education the way it must fund K-through-12 education, and the state’s colleges are feeling the pinch.  IPR's Heather Claborn reports.

The University of Illinois took an unusual step this year to increase its in-state enrollment, accepting students with lower entrance-exam scores to enroll while increasing financial aid by several million dollars.  
The moves worked. In-state enrollment jumped by 11 percent, to 5,490 from 4,927 a year earlier. The average ACT score for freshmen dropped by less than a point for in-state students at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus.  

Obama Library Position Hired

Nov 23, 2015

The Obama Foundation has hired a native Chicagoan and former aide to President Barack Obama for a key role in the development of his presidential library and museum. It says Michael Strautmanis will become its vice president of civic engagement in January. He's currently vice president for corporate citizenship at the Walt Disney Co.  

Strautmanis will be in charge of developing and leading outreach efforts and civic engagement for the Obama Foundation. He served in a number of engagement positions with Obama during the president's first term.

Charges Tossed In Champaign County

Nov 23, 2015

A man who spent more than two years in jail on gun charges in Champaign County has been released after a judge says that the state didn't bring him to trial within an appropriate timeframe. Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd dismissed armed habitual criminal charges against 43-year-old Kevin Pettis. He was accused of firing a gun into the air during an incident in July 2013 in Champaign. He was released Nov. 16. State's Attorney Julia Rietz says she plans to ask an appeals court to review Ladd's ruling.  

Compass Records

Alison Brown is the CEO of Compass Records. She's also a mom, an MBA and a musician. GLT's Bruce Bergethon spoke with the woman who's working to redefine her instrument of choice.

Three candidates have filed to run as Republicans for McLean County Coroner. Current Coroner Kathy Davis was appointed to fill a vacancy. Challenging her in the GOP primary next year will be Ryan Gibson and Gary Morefield. Monday was the first day of the petition filing period. The County Clerk's office also says there will be a contested race for County Board in District 10. Josh Barnett will try to knock off incumbent Ben Owens in the GOP primary for District 10 on the County Board.

Jacob Blickenstaff

Hammond B3 master Adam Scone has has been a sideman in a diverse array of settings.  Among others, he's played in the bands of jazz legend Lou Donaldson and roots rocker JJ Grey & Mofro.  The title of Scone's latest album as a leader is "I Scream Scone." 

Judith Valente / WGLT

In the months since Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing announced that it is closing its plant in Normal, GLT News has been checking in with three longtime employees to see how they, their families and fellow workers are coping. On Tuesday, production line worker Mick Hannah will assemble the final Mitsubishi Outlander sport vehicles at the plant.

The Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run. They have until the end of the month. But Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss  says he won't turn in his petitions at all.