Illinois Public Radio

Respiratory Patients Create A Beautiful Noise In Central Illinois

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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

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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

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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

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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)

Just Don't Call It 'Fake'

Illinois Public Radio’s Dan Libman didn’t just tell the story of north central Illinois professional wrestling, he got in the ring as ‘The Librarian’ (photo courtesy of WNIJ

Illinois Public Radio’s Dan Libman didn’t just tell the story of north central Illinois professional wrestling, he got in the ring as ‘The Librarian’ (photo courtesy of WNIJ

This week in our look at stories from around the state, have you ever thought about attending a high-spirited, live wrestling match? Maybe the ticket price deterred you, or you couldn’t take time to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. It turns out there’s live local professional wrestling every month in northern Illinois. Illinois Public Radio’s Dan Libman has the story

The Zen of Wrestling Academy  is located in the rear of the Scoops sandwich shop in Oregon, Illinois (photo courtesy of WNIJ)

The Zen of Wrestling Academy is located in the rear of the Scoops sandwich shop in Oregon, Illinois (photo courtesy of WNIJ)

Ford Invests In Electric Vehicle Company

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe with the new R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show.  (photo courtesy of WGLT)

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe with the new R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show. (photo courtesy of WGLT)

This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, we have an update on the alternate fuel vehicle industry in Illinois. For the longest time, central Illinois leaders speculated about what Rivian planned to do with its plant in Normal. Now, after another major investment from Ford there’s speculation about what Rivian means for the local economy. Illinois Public Radio’s Ryan Denham talked with Stephanie Brinley, she's the principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit and has been following the rise of Rivian

Evaluating Prison College Programs

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This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, there are roughly 200 college in prison programs nationwide, and several here in Illinois. There’s a debate over the difference they make. The trouble is Illinois measures success by whether someone returns to prison. Illinois Public Radio’s Lee Gaines explains, one recent graduate says that’s a flawed evaluation

Women Increasingly Are Behind The Wheel Of Big Rigs

Heartland Community College truck driving training student Holli Hays at the wheel.    (photo courtesy of WGLT/Jeff Smudde)

Heartland Community College truck driving training student Holli Hays at the wheel.
(photo courtesy of WGLT/Jeff Smudde)

This week in our look at stories from around the state. The American Trucking Association estimates the industry is short at least 50,000 drivers nationwide, and that number could triple by 2024. This presents an opportunity for people with only a high school diploma who are willing to invest a few months of training. About six percent of American truck drivers are female. A number of central Illinois women are taking advantage of the opportunity. Illinois Public Radio’s Jon Norton has the story

Heartland Community College truck driver training students Daun Greif, Sevin Headley and Holli Hays.    (photo courtesy of WGLT/Jeff Smudde)

Heartland Community College truck driver training students Daun Greif, Sevin Headley and Holli Hays.
(photo courtesy of WGLT/Jeff Smudde)

Persevering Through Difficult Times

Cancer survivor Courtney Clark (courtesy of Courtney Clark)

Cancer survivor Courtney Clark (courtesy of Courtney Clark)

This week in our look at stories from around the state…Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford spoke recently with author Courtney Clark. Battling cancer three times and a brain aneurysm might be enough to wear down most people. Courtney’s been there…now she teaches other people how to persevere when life doesn’t always go their way

Dispelling The Myths of The Black Sox Scandal

Joe Jackson (photo courtesy of SABR)

Joe Jackson (photo courtesy of SABR)

This week in our look at stories from around the state. Last week saw the start of my favorite season of the year…baseball season. This season marks 100 years since what may be the darkest moment in the national pastime’s history. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from the game for throwing the World Series.  Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford talked this week with the Society for American Baseball Research’s Jacob Pomrenke about what became known as the Black Sox scandal

Lefty Williams (left) and Eddie Cicotte    (photo courtesy of SABR)

Lefty Williams (left) and Eddie Cicotte (photo courtesy of SABR)

Exhibit Explores The Relationship Between People And Dogs

This week in our look at stories from around the state, a story from just down I-88. The Pick Museum of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University is presenting an exhibit this spring that examines the relationship between dogs and humans. Illinois Public Radio’s Guy Stephens has more

Pick Museum Acting Director Rachelle Wilson-Loring shows off a reproduction of an ancient Mexican votive object in the form of a dog   (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Pick Museum Acting Director Rachelle Wilson-Loring shows off a reproduction of an ancient Mexican votive object in the form of a dog (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Posters highlight the stories of the different parts dogs play in our society  (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Posters highlight the stories of the different parts dogs play in our society (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Plan to Enhance The Quad Cities Riverfront

This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, we have a story from northwest Illinois, and just across the Mississippi River. Businesses in downtown Davenport…and the Figge Art Museum want people to help plan the next step for the Mississippi riverfront. A Des Moines consultant created a River Vision design plan. Illinois Public Radio’s Michelle O'Neill reports the city, museum, and business group are excited about the plan

Designers unveiled a plan to enhance the riverfront park along the Mississippi River in Davenport (image submitted by RDG DAHLQUIST ART STUDIO)

Designers unveiled a plan to enhance the riverfront park along the Mississippi River in Davenport
(image submitted by RDG DAHLQUIST ART STUDIO)