Dan Perry / Flickr

Members of the Illinois General Assembly will hear from a special guest Wednesday--President Barack Obama. Obama's returning to Springfield nine years to the day he was in the capital city to announce he was running for the nation's highest office.

It will be the first time a sitting President has addressed a joint session of the Illinois legislature since 1978. Then, President Jimmy Carter said that as a former Georgia state senator he realized the "extreme importance" of state government.

Michael Hill / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council tabled a proposal that would have changed the fee structure for bulky waste pick up. The city is wrestling with a $1.75 million deficit in the city's solid waste program. The changes, which were not voted on, would have saved $185,000 according to city staff

"Last night was embarrassing," said Mayor Tari Renner, during his regular Sound Ideas interview on GLT.

Jim Browne / WGLT

A group of child care providers from the Chicago area descended on the Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in Bloomington to push for more money. During an Illinois Department of Human Services public hearing, the group pushed for what it calls a "fair" wage of $15 an hour. Sharon Norwood of Chicago, one of the child care providers speaking at the hearing, says the state budget stalemate is cutting into her wages.

Creative Commons

Ethan Vandersand is running for Congress against incumbent Rodney Davis in the Republican Primary in the 13th district.

Judith Valente

McLean County residents who receive their water from Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen believe they will likely face a water shortage as well as water quality issues within the next decade. They are split, however, on whether drilling for a new well, tapping into an existing aquifer, or constructing another surface reservoir similar to those two lakes is the solution.

Luke Wellman / Soundsations-Photos

Alex Wellman recently earned a silver medal in the intermediate men's level at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota.  As a member of the Central Illinois Figure Skating Club, Wellman began his career just a handful of years ago and is already achieving great success.

Michael Hill / WGLT

A final decision on bulk waste pickup in Bloomington has not been reached. The City Council has been mulling over a fee change for over two years, and a new proposal to begin charging $20 for the first bucket of bulk waste and $40 for each additional bucket on the same day, apart from two free buckets per year, did not gain enough votes to pass. Two free buckets were not part of the recommendation brought to the council last month. The council approved a motion made by Alderman Scott Black to table the proposal to allow more time to consider other options.


A solution for bulk waste pickup may have been found in Bloomington. The issue has been under deliberation for over two years, but the council will vote on a plan that would provide free drop-off at a city facility, but charge $20 for the first bucket at the curb, and $40 for additional buckets on the same day as the first.

During a work session last month, Alderwoman Joni Painter said she is skeptical of the proposal. 

"Whatever we do, I want it to work, and I don't think this will," she said. "It'll start neighbor wars. People will dump places where they shouldn't."

PAAR / Facebook via Creative Commons

A newspaper report says a man who's serving 15 years in prison for running an underage prostitution operation did so out of an apartment obtained with the help of the Peoria Police Department. The Peoria Journal Star reports Matthew Petrakis had been in close contact with the police department for months before his May 2015 arrest on prostitution-related charges.

Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

Isle of Man native Davy Knowles brings his blues-rock to the Castle Theater Friday night (Feb 12).  Still just in his late 20's, Knowles says it was his father that first introduced him to the great British and American blues legends, as well other rock music of the 1960's and 70's.  Now living in Chicago, Knowles talks with WGLT's Jon Norton about a DVD project that has him back in Isle of Man.  He also talks about how his life changed the moment he first heard "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits. 

Staff / WGLT

Crime in Normal rose about 4% last year but the overall five year average is down about four percent. In this conversation with Charlie Schlenker, Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner says the trend line is not surprising and the useful part of the numbers comes on a shorter term review.

Scott Davidson / Flickr

The McLean County Coroner has identified the man struck and killed by a train early Monday morning.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Illinois State University celebrates the work of its own with an exhibition at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal.  Check out the slide show of works featured on this episode of the GLT Datebook.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced proposals he says would help shrink Illinois government and its costs. The proposals include legislation allowing voters to decide whether to dissolve units of local government.

The Republican publicized four bills Friday in Naperville. Officials there are considering merging road-maintenance services with a township. Three bills are aimed at making township consolidation easier with specific plans for Evanston and DuPage County. The other allows voters to petition for a referendum.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

Money keeps state government going. From services to employee paychecks. So, how does the State of Illinois function when it's piling up more bills than it can cover? Comptroller Leslie Munger says she is asked often if the state could run out of money.

Munger says, "Every single day we run out of money. We pay as much as we can on that given day and then we have to wait for the next day. So when we make decisions about how to pay our bills, we are looking at today do we pay foster care or do we send the education payment?"


Editors note: this interview is part of a special edition of Sound Ideas celebrating WGLT's 50th anniversary.

Before there was a WGLT, there was a campus radio program at Illinois State that grew out of a short daily segment made available to the campus through a local commercial station. The man who envisioned an educational broadcast station out of those humble beginnings still lives in the twin cities. WGLT's Willis Kern has more with retired ISU Professor Ralph Smith.

Staff / WGLT

Editors note: this interview is part of a special edition of Sound Ideas celebrating WGLT's 50th anniversary.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Illinois Republican congressman Rodney Davis is pushing a bill that he says will provide a more open market for things like corrective lenses. During a tour of Identity Optical in Normal, Davis says the bill would allow companies like Identity Optical compete in markets where health care industries limit patient choice.

Kate Fries / Flickr via Creative Commons

What important role did the Empress Josephine have in the history of rose culture?  Before you hand over a bouquet of roses to your loved one this Valentine's Day, let Murph fill you in on the fun details, plus the particular needs of this most popular of flowers.

Bloomington native Joe Dowell died yesterday (February 4) at age 76. His publicist said he had a heart attack last weekend and never recovered.  Dowell was briefly popular in the early 1960's with the #1 hit ballad "Wooden Heart."  The song had already been a European hit for Elvis Presley when Dowell's version was released in America.

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The Unit Five School District has been getting a lot of feedback on a survey of transportation options. Unit Five is trying to cut a million dollars from its transportation budget.

City of Bloomington

Overall crime in the City of Bloomington fell by about seven percent last year. In the Town of Normal it went up about four percent. But, Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner says year to year swings are not a good sign post. Bleichner says the five year trend has Normal down about four percent. He says there are ebbs and flows from year to year.

Charlie Schlenker

Ralph Timan spent 27 years at Mitsubishi. Since the plant ended production a couple months ago, he says time has moved quickly. Even before the plant shut down, he started planning, doing some research on possible future plans. He wanted to go back to school and started the paperwork. He was notified January the 10th he could start the next Monday. He talks with Charlie Schlenker in one of our continuing series of interviews with ex-Mitsubishi workers.

Unit Five Schools

Even as the percentage of poorer students went up at Parkside Elementary School, test scores rose too. The school, and one in Chicago, are being honored for that accomplishment. Shelly Erickson was principal at the school during the years targeted by the board, she says teachers at Parkside used a new approach to reading.

Majeed Sayed

Earlier this week, President Obama visited a Baltimore mosque to signal he wants Americans to increase their understanding of Muslims living in the U.S. On Saturday, one of the three Twin Cities mosques will hold an open house where non-Muslims can join in prayer and ask questions about Islam.

35 year old Canadian JW-Jones has released 8 blues albums in just over a decade.  His latest is titled Belmont Boulevard.  It's his first album with producer Tom Hambridge, who has guided a slew of albums for many artists, including blues legend Buddy Guy.  On this Talkin' Blues excerpt, Jones tells GLT's Jon Norton that Hambridge's guidance was invaluable in the making of his new album.

Karolina Grabowska / Flickr via Creative Commons

Despite a 7.2% increase in digital ad revenue for Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the Pantagraph, overall revenue fell 5% in the first quarter. In a quarterly release, Lee says other forms of electronic revenue also increased, with mobile ad revenue shooting up over 12%. Lee says just over 40% of those who subscribe to print papers are also E-paper subscribers. Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ron Mayo says over the past year, debt was reduced by $80.5 million, total debt for Lee now stands at $678-Million. Mayo says Lee will dedicate it's free cash flow to paying down debt.

Sandberg Auditorium For Sale

Feb 4, 2016
Loco Steve / Flickr via Creative Commons

An auditorium with $3 million in renovations is for sale for $100. The Carthage City Council has approved buying the structure from Carl Sandberg College in Galesburg. The college board will vote on the matter this month. The school received the Charger Auditorium in 2008 as a donation from Pairieland Investment Group. It wanted to create a multi-building partnership that fizzled in large part because of the recession. Sandburg president Lori Sundberg says after $3 million in renovations, the school spends up to $35,000 a year to maintain it.

New Law Targets Human Trafficking

Feb 4, 2016
United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking / Flickr via Creative Commons

A new law is requiring many Illinois businesses to post information about a human trafficking hotline in an attempt to curb what officials call ``modern-day slavery.'' The Illinois Department of Human Services says it's working with the state labor department and the attorney general's office to raise awareness of the problem. Under the law that took effect Jan. 1, businesses ranging from bars to truck stops to job recruitment centers must post the number for the National Human-Trafficking Resource Center hotline near a public entrance or other location where employees will see it.

Unit Five Schools say no students were injured in the crash of a bus carrying special needs students. There were six Normal Community West High School students on board the bus during the mishap at Linden and Raab after school. Unit Five says parents signed two of the six out of school supervision. The remaining four were taken to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center for precautionary checks.