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Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones via Creative Commons

The owners of Illinois' horse race tracks say the industry is struggling to survive, but key players diverge on how to salvage the industry. As Amanda Vinicky reports ... decisions by a state board Tuesday could determine tracks' fate.

City of Bloomington

The work of the City of Bloomington Task Force is complete. The panel designed to help aldermen come up with a workable plan to eliminate a $7 million structural deficit released its final report last week, the same day the city council approved by a wide margin a 1% increase in the sales tax rate. WGLT's Willis Kern talks with Mayor Tari Renner.

EIU President David Glassman says layoffs and furloughs have helped the school cut its budget deficit from $13 million to $1 million. Glassman said during his state of the university address that the cost-cutting isn't over but any additional layoffs would be small. EIU doesn't have a state appropriation because GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders in the Illinois Legislature haven't settled on a state budget for the current fiscal year.

Mitsubishi Motors North America

Mitsubishi Motors and the UAW Local at the plant in Normal have extended their collective bargaining agreement another couple days. The contract had been set to expire at Midnight on the 29th, but will now run through October 1st. The two sides are negotiating even as Mitsubishi prepares to end production at the plant in November. It is the second extension. The original contract expired at the end of August. The company is seeking a buyer for the facility in hopes of salvaging about 1,200 jobs there.

MacArthur Foundation

An Illinois Wesleyan University graduate is among this year's MacArthur "genius" award recipients. One of the $625,000 fellowships goes to Juan Salgado. He's a community organizer in Chicago who runs the Instituto del Progreso Latino. That group tries to boost English language skills for Latinos to make upward mobility easier, particularly in healthcare and manufacturing. Salgado says urban development to him means growing human talent, not bricks and mortar.

Illinois Hosts Dairy Tour

Sep 29, 2015

Illinois officials are hosting visitors from nearly 20 countries which are potential milk buyers. Representatives from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nepal and Thailand are among those participating in this year's Illinois Dairy Tour. The event began Monday at Rolling Lawns Farms in Greenville. It was there that in 1915 one of the state's first Holstein cows was registered. Warren Goetsch is acting director of the Department of Agriculture. He says Illinois is 22nd in the nation in producing milk, and the Dairy Tour is a key part of the state's marketing plan.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Wonderlane

  Cats are lovely, fastidious creatures.  From grooming to bathroom habits, they like to keep everything clean and tidy.  So if your cat starts peeing outside the litter box, it's a bad sign.  Laura Kennedy has the scoop on one of the most common urine related issues that can impact cats on this edition of Animal House.

Jim Bowen/Flickr

By now you probably have a sense that things in Illinois state politics have gotten downright nasty - even if it's not completely clear what all the fighting is about. But there's more to that fight than the public gets to see. There's squabbling and gamesmanship and backbiting that rarely makes the news. Democrats have been using tactics to get under the skin of Governor Bruce Rauner.  But as IPR's Tony Arnold reports, Rauner has also been doing something that's really been getting under Democrats skin.

Nora Dukowitz / City of Bloomington

The Bloomington City Council approved $130,000 to improve part of the northern shore of Lake Bloomington. The area, also known as North Park, has erosion that can affect water quality and capacity for the city. Water Director Bob Yehl says the department wants to use money wisely when it comes to preventing erosion.
 

Redbirds For Bernie Blame Media Neglect

Sep 28, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders supporters in Bloomington Normal have chips on their shoulders over what they see as media neglect of the candidate. Along with several ISU students on the bridge above College Avenue, was retired teacher Bill Smith. He says he joined the Redbirds for Bernie demonstration to get people to give serious thought to voting in the Democratic primary.

Students at the University of Chicago Monday cheered on Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders during a brief campaign stop. Sanders, a Senator from Vermont, bemoaned low voter turnout and encouraged students to get involved in the political process.  

Sanders said the Supreme Court decision eliminating contribution caps with the idea that spending equals free speech hurts the nation.

Critics say Sanders is too liberal ... but he's gaining in polls against presumed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Construction at a major Interstate 74 junction has given Tazewell County a windfall: $1.2 million over three years. County Administrator Wendy Ferrill says the revenue from 4,600 tickets for speeding and using cellphones in a work zone softens the blow of the state budget standoff. Tickets for speeding went from eight per month in 2012 to 74 per month in 2013, and 129 per month last year. This year, motorists are getting fewer citations: the monthly average is nearly 100 speeding tickets. Ferrill says some of the money could go toward a new squad car for the sheriff's department.

Hastert Plea Deal Under Negotiation

Sep 28, 2015

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert have told a federal judge they're talking about a possible plea deal in the Republican's hush-money case. The disclosure came during a hearing in federal court in Chicago for the 73-year-old Republican. Details weren't immediately released. The one-time teacher and wrestling coach has pleaded not guilty to violating banking laws and lying to the FBI.  A May indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone, identified only as ``Individual A,'' to hide past misconduct.

SIU Details Budget Cuts

Sep 28, 2015

Southern Illinois University officials have detailed $13.5 million in budget cuts, saying they will affect student-worker positions, research resources and on-campus events. The cuts affect a large cross-section of university departments. SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith says the cuts were unavoidable because of a state budget stalemate and a funding reduction for the school because of lower enrollment this year.  

License Renewal Notifications To End

Sep 28, 2015

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says his office will suspend mailing reminder notices on renewing motor vehicle registrations because there's still no state budget. White said Monday that interrupting the mailing service will save about $450,000 a month. White sent Gov. Bruce Rauner a letter last week warning of potential major problems at government facilities related to the budget standoff. He says vendors aren't being paid and are threatening to suspend services. He also worries that utilities could be shut off at the state Capitol in Springfield.  

Monsanto Donates For Monarch Rescue

Sep 28, 2015

A national wildlife group says it is doling out $3.3 million in grants as part of an initial push to stem the worrisome decline of monarch butterflies. The 22 grants announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be matched by more than $6.7 million from the recipients, who are in at least a dozen states including Illinois. The money is meant to restore up to 33,000 U.S. acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch butterfly recovery.  

A subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. is opening a facility in the research park at the University of Illinois' Champaign-Urbana campus. Indianapolis, Indiana-based Dow AgroSciences and the university have announced the Dow AgroSciences Innovation Center is joining the Dow Chemical Company Innovation Center, which opened in the school's research park in 2013. Dow Chemical is based in Midland, Michigan.  

Jose Marti: Why He Matters

Sep 28, 2015
University of Texas Press

One of the most influential men in the western hemisphere is poorly understood by many, including those who grew up in his shadows. WGLT's Jim Browne talks an author (Alfred Lopez), who's finally written a biography of the contemporary of Abraham Lincoln.

Alfred Lopez' appearance was facilitated by Illinois State University's Latin American and Latino/Latina studies program

Navy Pier Getting New Ferris Wheel

Sep 28, 2015

The Ferris wheel at Chicago's Navy Pier has taken its last spin before getting replaced with one that's nearly 50 feet taller. The wheel installed in 1995 had its final go-around last evening, its dismantling began this morning. About 30,000 people lined up to ride the Ferris wheel this past weekend. Navy Pier Incorporated spokesman Nick Shields says the Ferris wheel is expected to be gone by the end of October, with the new 196-foot structure scheduled to be in place by mid-2016.

Illinois is about to enter its fourth month without a budget. One of the state's top Democrats says the problem could be resolved within days ... if the governor moved off his insistence that other laws pass first.  IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports. 

A McLean County Jury has convicted a 19-year old Bloomington man of murder in the kicking and beating death of a homeless man. Anthony Davis-Dickson will be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of Ronald Smith in White Oak Park on Bloomington's west side. State's Attorney Jason Chambers says the extended term is possible because of the wanton cruelty and callous nature of the crime.

Compass Records

Everybody in Nashville recognizes the name of fiddle virtuoso and singer Andrea Zonn. A native of Champaign/Urbana, she's backed up George Jones, George Strait, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, and for the last 12 years has been a member of James Taylor's band. This month, she's released her second solo CD, "Rise." It features a stellar cadre of singers like Gill and Taylor, and a set of songs catalyzed by the medical travails of Zonn's son Leonard. GLT's Bruce Bergethon spoke with Zonn about the new release.

Excitement is still building as the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. continues with a mass in Philadelphia tomorrow. GLT's Judy Valente is on the way to Philadelphia with a group of Catholics from Central Illinois. The trip began with the rising of the moon over Roanoke, Illinois. Valente tells us they are tired and excited after traveling all night. There are ten in a van for twelve and she says they saw the sun rise in Pennsylvania this morning.

Experimental fiction is emerging from the thickets of post modernism. ISU English Professor Chris Breu has a new book out addressing this shift, Insistence of the Material. In this conversation with GLT's Charlie Schlenker, Breu argues for the value of attending to the material world and how that physical world sets limits on social and individual life.

As the Normal Sesquicentennial celebration kicks off, GLT begins a series of interviews with the people who are offering lectures as part of Normal 150 events. Today, the topic is the early years of Normal. GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with retired ISU Historian Paul Holsinger and asks why Normal was a good place for settlement in the first place. Holsinger says the answer was not obvious.

William Wesen / Wikimedia Commons

In  the development of Normal, transportation has been a key theme. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker is interviewing all of the lecturers for the "Normal 150" celebration.  Terry Ryburn and Mike Matejka share their thoughts on why Normal developed the way it did.

Esther Bubley / Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

As the Town of Normal observes its sesquicentennial, there are things in its history that should be recognized but not celebrated. In our continuing series of "Normal 150" interviews, GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with a retired ISU historian about racial segregation. Mark Wyman says the division of whites and blacks in Normal was similar to other cities in Illinois.

 

Blood Moon Eclipse Sunday Evening

Sep 25, 2015
fleurmach.com

If the weather cooperates, you'll be able to view an impressive event. This Sunday evening, the moon will pass into the earth's shadow, a lunar eclipse.

A recent agreement means that -- despite the budget impasse -- Illinois WILL fund services for babies with disabilities. But as IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports, therapists and children who rallied at the Statehouse today say their worries aren't over.


LendingMemo.com / Flickr via Creative Commons

Bloomington-Normal's unemployment rate declined last month compared to a year ago. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the jobless rate dropped 1.2% to 4.5%.

That remains the lowest metro unemployment rate in the state. Peoria's rate went from 7 to 6%, but the area lost 2,600 jobs. Other areas seeing job losses last month were the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, Springfield, Kankakee, Decatur and East St. Louis.

Department Director Jeff Mays says that a portion of a decline in unemployment rates occurs when people drop out of the labor force.

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