IPR

Faith Communities Face Tough Choices

The Brooklyn United Methodist Church in Jacksonville in Sept. 2019. At right, a sign has been changed to reflect the youth group that now meets there. (Sam Dunklau/WUIS)

The Brooklyn United Methodist Church in Jacksonville in Sept. 2019. At right, a sign has been changed to reflect the youth group that now meets there. (Sam Dunklau/WUIS)

This week in our look at stories from around the state, a growing number of Illinois church congregations face a difficult choice. They have to decide between changing location and disbanding altogether. Moving to a new building doesn’t always mean the end of a faith community. In Springfield, Illinois Public Radio’s Sam Dunklau examined a few churches to find out what’s behind the decline.

Stained glass from the chapel in the old Springfield UMC building still stands today. The chapel has been re-purposed into a community center for the residents of the apartment building that was once the church's education center (Sam Dunklau/WUIS)

Stained glass from the chapel in the old Springfield UMC building still stands today. The chapel has been re-purposed into a community center for the residents of the apartment building that was once the church's education center (Sam Dunklau/WUIS)

Hoping To Solve The Illinois Teacher Shortage

This week in First Light’s look at stories from around the state, Illinois has a shortage of teachers, and policymakers are trying some very big ideas to address it. That includes raising minimum teacher pay and no longer requiring the Basic Skills Test for licensure. At two central Illinois high schools, the next generation of teachers is already walking the halls. Around 40 students are enrolled in a new dual credit course with Heartland Community College. Normal teacher Margherita DiVita spoke with Illinois Public Raido’s Ryan Denham. She says the class could help address the teacher shortage, but it doesn’t sugar-coating the profession either.

Unit 5 high schoolers on a recent field trip to the one-room schoolhouse on the west side of Illinois State University's campus. (Unit 5 School Dist/Facebook)

Unit 5 high schoolers on a recent field trip to the one-room schoolhouse on the west side of Illinois State University's campus. (Unit 5 School Dist/Facebook)

Girl Scouts Remain A Relevant Option

scout-3.png

For this week’s look at stories from around the state, a story from central Illinois. Fall and the start of school is heavy recruitment time for a lot of activities for young people, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts included. Kelly Day is the Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. There are a lot more youth programs and opportunities than there used to. Still, Day tells Illinois Public Radio’s Charlie Schlenker there is still a relevant role for Girl Scouts

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more
scout-1.jpg

Reflections On Journalism At The Statehouse

Charlie-1.jpg

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we have a story from the state capital. Few people have been following Illinois state government as long as Charlie Wheeler. From more than 20 years at the Chicago Sun-Times and nearly 30 more heading the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, Charlie has seen the heyday and gradual decline of Statehouse news coverage. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey talked with Charlie as he prepared to step away from the Public Affairs Reporting Program

Breathing New Life Into Old Theaters

Wheaton-grand.jpg

This week in our look at stories from around the state, local volunteers are working to restore rundown theatres to their old luster, often with the hope that their community will benefit. From the Varsity in Carbondale to the Coronado in Rockford, and the Grand in downtown Wheaton, Illinois is dotted with majestic old theatres. Some have already been brought back to life, others like The Grand are still a work in progress. For this story, Illinois Public Radio’s Jim Meadows visited some of the state’s grand movie palaces

The Lorraine, located on Main Street in downtown Lorraine, operated as a movie theatre from 1922 to 2012. Today, the Save The Lorraine Foundation operates the theatre as a multi-use venue, and is continuing its restoration. ( Photo Credit: Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media)

The Lorraine, located on Main Street in downtown Lorraine, operated as a movie theatre from 1922 to 2012. Today, the Save The Lorraine Foundation operates the theatre as a multi-use venue, and is continuing its restoration. (Photo Credit: Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media)

Legal Sports Gambling Comes To Illinois

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

This week in our look at stories from around the state. Lawmakers approved a plan to bring sports betting to Illinois. Now with the arrival of fall Saturday and Sunday will see wagering on football. Illinois Public Radio’s Chase Cavanaugh looked at the plan to expand gambling in the state and what effect it may have on sports

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Respiratory Patients Create A Beautiful Noise In Central Illinois

Harmonica-2.jpg

This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, we have a story from central Illinois. Every month, a handful of people gather in Bloomington to make music together. As Illinois Public Radio’s Willis Kern reports, the tunes they produce aren’t headed to the top of the charts, but they are improving lives

Lynn Scott of Bloomington (left) says she enjoys being with others who have breathing problems. Mary Jo Bragg of Lexington (right) attended her second session. (photos courtesy of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center)

Lynn Scott of Bloomington (left) says she enjoys being with others who have breathing problems. Mary Jo Bragg of Lexington (right) attended her second session. (photos courtesy of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center)

From Territorial Hub To State Capital To Sleepy Hamlet

kaskaskia_book.jpg

This week…in our look at stories from around the state, we have a story from the state capital, the current state capital. Historians David MacDonald and Raine Waters took a fresh look at the story of the state’s first capital city in a new book called “Kaskaskia: The Lost Capital of Illinois.” They put together what they say is a comprehensive account of the town including tales of a centuries-old curse. Illinois Public Radio’s Sam Dunklau talked with the authors about a town that went from being a bustling territorial hub to a virtual ghost town.

The first Illinois Assembly met in this building in Kaskaskia

The first Illinois Assembly met in this building in Kaskaskia

Escape The Heat At A Central IL Snowmobile Museum

A model T conversion created one of the first snow mobiles

A model T conversion created one of the first snow mobiles

This week in our look at stories from around the state, let’s take a break from the heat. Russel "Huck" Willis has been riding snowmobiles for 40 years...and he’s been collecting them for nearly that long. Illinois Public Radio’s Charlie Schlenker visited Willis’ antique snowmobile museum in the Tazewell County. Willis says the pursuit of old machines accelerated when he became aware of the Antique Snowmobile Club of America

Russel "Huck" Willis will be hosting the annual summer meeting of the Snowmobile Club of America at his museum in Hopedale, Illinois. (photos courtesy of Charlie Schlenker/WGLT)

Russel "Huck" Willis will be hosting the annual summer meeting of the Snowmobile Club of America at his museum in Hopedale, Illinois. (photos courtesy of Charlie Schlenker/WGLT)

Exploring The Trend In Illinois Inmate Numbers

prison_puzzle.jpg

This week in our look at stories from around the state we have a story from the Illinois Public Radio capital bureau. For decades, the number of men and women in the state’s prisons appeared destined for permanent growth. Then, several years ago, the population began getting smaller. Today, it’s more than 20% below the high-water mark. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey looks at what’s behind the trend

The Illinois prison population from 1975 to the present. The population number is based on the final day of each year listed. (Brian Mackey/WUIS)

The Illinois prison population from 1975 to the present. The population number is based on the final day of each year listed. (Brian Mackey/WUIS)

A Plan For Prosperity For Cairo

Larry Klein, who is one the local port authority board and works with the utility, stands next to the Mississippi River on land where they're hoping to build a port. The city owns this land, but the utility manages it. (photo courtesy of  Madelyn Beck Illinois Newsroom)

Larry Klein, who is one the local port authority board and works with the utility, stands next to the Mississippi River on land where they're hoping to build a port. The city owns this land, but the utility manages it. (photo courtesy of Madelyn Beck Illinois Newsroom)

This week in our look at stories from around the state, let’s head down to far southern Illinois. Midwest agriculture depends on the Mississippi River to cheaply move grain and products, but high water has barges stranded. Illinois Public Radio’s Madelyn Beck reports that may actually be an opportunity for the state’s southernmost city

Driving into Cairo from the north, you pass a funeral home and a bridge underneath a rail line. There are structures behind this bridge that shut it off in case of massive flooding from the nearby Ohio and Mississippi rivers. (Photo courtesy  Madelyn Beck / Illinois Newsroom)

Driving into Cairo from the north, you pass a funeral home and a bridge underneath a rail line. There are structures behind this bridge that shut it off in case of massive flooding from the nearby Ohio and Mississippi rivers. (Photo courtesy Madelyn Beck / Illinois Newsroom)

One of A Kind Addiction Database

This week in our look at stories from around the state, Bloomington-Normal is home to one of the largest and most diverse addiction archives in the country. The record covers everything from alcohol to opioids and marijuana. Illinois Public Radio’s Mary Cullen spoke with former CEO of Chestnut Health Systems Russ Hagen about how the history of addiction parallels the present.

Chestnut Health Systems former CEO Russ Hagen helped develop the database of addiction and treatment resources in central Illinois (photo courtesy of Mary Cullen/WGLT)

Chestnut Health Systems former CEO Russ Hagen helped develop the database of addiction and treatment resources in central Illinois (photo courtesy of Mary Cullen/WGLT)

100 Years After Illinois Was First To Approve 19th Amendment

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we take a look at a moment in Illinois history. This month marks one hundred years since Illinois became the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment…the vote gave women the right to vote. In Springfield…Tara McClellan McAndrew looked into why Illinois led the way. Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford spoke with Tara about what she found

(Credit Library of Congress)

(Credit Library of Congress)

Unique Program For Central Illinois High School Students

Martha Sweeney works with Ayushi Shah, right, a Normal Community High School senior, and other students at the lab in LeRoy.  (Photo courtesy of Kristy McLemore/WGLT)

Martha Sweeney works with Ayushi Shah, right, a Normal Community High School senior, and other students at the lab in LeRoy. (Photo courtesy of Kristy McLemore/WGLT)

This week in our look at stories from around the state we have a story from central Illinois. Most schools are out for summer, but let's hear about one last educational experience students had before summer break. It involved doctors and dead bodies. Illinois Public Radio’s Breanna Grow reports on a unique high school curriculum...the cadaver lab in the small town of LeRoy...in McLean County

Jim Zeleznik taught biology and coached football at LeRoy High School before he retired, and now teaches a zero-hour anatomy course at the high school in addition to proctoring at the lab. (Photo courtesy of Kristy McLemore/WGLT)

Jim Zeleznik taught biology and coached football at LeRoy High School before he retired, and now teaches a zero-hour anatomy course at the high school in addition to proctoring at the lab. (Photo courtesy of Kristy McLemore/WGLT)

DOC Removes Books From Prison Library

Holly Clingan, a volunteer librarian for the Education Justice Project, picks up one of the books removed from the college in prison program's library inside the Danville Correctional Center. (photo courtesy of Lee Gaines)

Holly Clingan, a volunteer librarian for the Education Justice Project, picks up one of the books removed from the college in prison program's library inside the Danville Correctional Center. (photo courtesy of Lee Gaines)

This week in our look at stories from around the state, we have a story from Lee Gaines. Earlier this year, prison staff at the Danville Correctional Center in east-central Illinois removed about 200 books from a prison program’s library. Illinois Public Radio’s Lee Gaines found a lot of the books are about race and some were children’s books.

One of several boxes of books removed from the Education Justice Project's library inside the Danville Correctional Center. Staff at the prison removed the books from the library earlier this year (ohoto courtesy of Lee Gaines)

One of several boxes of books removed from the Education Justice Project's library inside the Danville Correctional Center. Staff at the prison removed the books from the library earlier this year (ohoto courtesy of Lee Gaines)

Rock River Valley Gallery Tour

A wall of Beck Hundrieser's studio is filled with her paintings. All the artists' studios are filled with examples of their work.  (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

A wall of Beck Hundrieser's studio is filled with her paintings. All the artists' studios are filled with examples of their work. (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

This week in our look at stories from around the state, we have a story from Illinois Public Radio’s Guy Stephens. Artists throughout the Rock River Valley recently opened their studios to the public, and you may be surprised by the number of working artists that are creating work in north central Illinois. Guy Stephens visited some of the places where their inspiration becomes reality

Sally Jane Cooper of Chara Pottery Studio with a piece in one of several styles she works in. She and Tonya Hardy will demonstrate ceramic techniques and show their work at the studio for the tour.  (photo courtesy of Guy/Stephens/WNIJ)

Sally Jane Cooper of Chara Pottery Studio with a piece in one of several styles she works in. She and Tonya Hardy will demonstrate ceramic techniques and show their work at the studio for the tour. (photo courtesy of Guy/Stephens/WNIJ)

From Bloomington to Broadway

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we travel to broadway, via Bloomington. The edgy and irreverent ghoul, Beetlejuice has found new life…on Broadway. Helping the beloved…but nasty character dress for theatrical success is Savannah Wetzel. The central Illinois native…and Illinois State University alum landed a gig in New York City as a production assistant to William Ivey Long. Long is a costume designer for Beetlejuice. Illinois Public Radio’s Laura Kennedy talked with Wetzel about her work on the Tony nominated play

beetlejuice-2.jpg

How School Districts Deal With Teacher Shortage

This week in our look at stories from around the state, we have a story about a challenge facing many Illinois school districts. Schools across the state are struggling with a teacher shortage, and a recent survey found it’s getting worse. Illinois Public Radio’s Peter Medlin took a look at what the shortage actually looks like

State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), a former teacher, on a recent visit to a school ( Sue Scherer / Facebook)

State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), a former teacher, on a recent visit to a school (Sue Scherer / Facebook)