Illinois | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois

Longtime Quincy Senior High School music director Kathi Dooley talked about her experience on Netflix's "Queer Eye" show on "St. Louis on the Air."
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Kathi Dooley was set in her ways when it came to her looks and career; she knew what she loved and stuck with it. The longtime music director at Quincy Senior High School has a passion for helping students expand their artistic horizons, all while rocking the same hairstyle for more than 40 years. 

But all that changed last October when a former student of Dooley’s made a return to Quincy, Illinois, to switch up her routine. Jonathan Van Ness is a 2004 graduate of Quincy Senior High School, and he pitched for his beloved teacher, and her late 1970s mullet, to be featured on the hit Netflix series “Queer Eye.”

After a hearing at the Southern District of Illinois' U.S. District Court, a judge will determine whether the state of Illinois must begin changing its procedures for medically treating transgender prisoners. July 31, 2019.
Nick Telep | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 1 with testimony from Illinois Department of Corrections officials — The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois wants a federal judge to order the state of Illinois to change its practices for providing medical treatment to transgender prisoners. 

Current policies fail to provide adequate health care to prisoners diagnosed with gender dysphoria, according to opening arguments made Wednesday by the ACLU in a federal court in East St. Louis. Illinois Department of Correction practices deny and delay medically necessary treatment for years, leading to “profound suffering” and increasing the risks of self-harm and suicide for transgender prisoners, the ACLU’s motion argues. 

Fireworks and Fair St. Louis returned to the Gateway Arch Wednesday, July 4, 2018, for Independence Day celebrations in St. Louis on July 4, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments in St. Louis and St. Louis County are trying to deter illegal firework use this Fourth of July. 

Last year, St. Louis police issued just one citation for fireworks-related crimes on July Fourth, according to a department spokesperson. 

But the department announced in June that this Independence Day, officers will enforce local laws that prohibit the use of fireworks. 

Illinois lawmakers plan to ask state prison officials why more than 200 books were removed from a colle

Three veterans filed suit in Illinois' Third Judicial Circuit against Purdue Pharma and more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, alleging they marketed dangerous painkilling drugs to vets.
David Kovaluk, Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

For years after he got out of the Navy, Joel Bishop took morphine twice a day.

He used four or five Percocet in between those doses.

“I lived around that pill bottle. It’s the only reason I had a watch,” Bishop said. “I couldn’t wait until it was time to open that bottle.”

On Friday, Bishop and two other veterans filed suit in Illinois’ Third Judicial Circuit, which includes Madison and Bond counties, against Purdue Pharma and more than a dozen other pharmaceutical companies, alleging they marketed dangerous painkilling drugs to vets.

How Has The 'Crack Cocaine Of Gambling' Affected Illinois? The State Hasn’t Bothered To Check.

Feb 21, 2019
Orville Dash, 81, said he spent about $2,400 a week on video gambling machines at the height of his addiction, in 2015 and 2016. He often played at locations around his home in Maroa, Illinois, a farming community of close to 1,700 in central Illinois.
Whitney Curtis, special to ProPublica Illinois

Orville Dash sits in a recliner with a clipboard. Tall and broad-shouldered, with wispy white hair where a pompadour once rose, the former statistical engineer for Caterpillar removes a sheet of paper, clicks on the flashlight he uses for reading and goes over his numbers.

One spin every six seconds. Ten spins a minute. Six hundred spins an hour.

The 81-year-old widower estimates that, at his worst, in 2015 and 2016, he spent about $2,400 a week on video slot machines, which he played at a hotel and a handful of restaurants and bars around his hometown of Maroa, a farming community of close to 1,700 people north of Decatur in central Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses students and community leaders at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois’ new Gov. J.B. Pritzker has promised to improve the state economy. He took an early step towards that goal Wednesday by signing an executive order that will require the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to evaluate its labor industries.

The order gives the department 90 days to deliver a report on its findings.

The department will review three parts of the state’s economy.

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Immigrants contribute more than a billion dollars to state and federal taxes and account for billions more in spending power, according to Betsy Heller Cohen of the St. Louis Mosaic Project.

On Wednesday, Cohen moderated a panel on the economic impact of “foreign-born Missourians” at the International Institute of St. Louis.

Madigan Supports Pritzker On Taxes, Marijuana

Nov 14, 2018

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he expects to work “very well” with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and will support two of Pritzker’s major proposals.

JB Pritzker wins Illinois Governor's race

Nov 7, 2018
Illinois gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker speaks in support of congressional candidate Brendan Kelly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In one of the most expensive governor’s races in American history, rich Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner suffered a resounding defeat Tuesday to even-richer Democratic challenger JB Pritzker.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Pritzker led Rauner by nearly 20 points, echoing polls that showed the Democrat with a huge lead late in the race.

It was exactly the return Pritzker had hoped to reap from a historic investment in his fledgling political career. Pritzker, a multi-billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, poured an astonishing $171.5 million of his own money into his first political run.

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. to reflect response from the Missouri Attorney General's Office to questions about notario fraud. — Angie Gomez has seen and heard plenty of stories about how hard it is for unauthorized immigrants and migrant farmworkers to find lawyers to help them apply for, or change their legal status.

Gomez, family services coordinator for Su Casa Head Start in Cobden, Illinois, immigrated from Mexico in the 1960s and became a naturalized citizen. She says she sees more challenges facing migrant farmworkers and unauthorized immigrants seeking legal representation than ever before.

From left, Sara McGibany, Nathan Grimm, Susie Harris and Sean Crawford
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

During this election season, NPR Illinois, the public radio station in Springfield, is partnering with stations across the state and AARP on a series of forums examining fiscal solutions to the prominent issues in the upcoming Illinois elections and exploring why people are leaving Illinois. The forum in the Metro East area was held Aug. 16 at the Post Commons in Alton.

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

Illinois will host what could be the most expensive race for governor in U.S. history. The huge increase in campaign spending raises a lot of questions about the rise of big money in politics. Between now and the election, Illinois Issues will examine the impact in a series we're calling Money Machines.

A measure that has passed the Illinois House would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who can treat and examine victims of sexual assault. Some say it would mean better collection of forensic evidence and better treatment of victims.

As the midterm election draws near, some state lawmakers want to change the way Illinois’ political districts are drawn. They want to do that by giving voters a chance to change the constitution.
 

The Lincoln-Douglas Square in Alton commemorates one of the city's claims to fame. It also welcomes visitors to the town of almost 27,000 people. March 21, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

When Lauren Pattan and James Rogalsky started looking for a building to house their brewery, they didn’t plan to move from St. Louis to Alton, where they’d both grown up. But they found the perfect building on Landmark Boulevard, right near the riverfront and off Alton’s old Antiques Row on East Broadway, and it swayed them.

The downtown stretch of Broadway, Rogalsky said, had been “neglected for the last several decades.” But in the last few years, new businesses have opened on the street. Established food staples moved from the city’s traditional main street to Broadway. A tattoo parlor opened at the same intersection as beauty and art supply shops, and a self-serve craft beer bar cropped up.

Illinois Takes On Sexual Harassment

Apr 5, 2018
Illustrator Pat Byrnes​

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, state lawmakers have tried to address sexual harassment in a variety of ways. We explore what's been done and what some say may be ahead.

Pickup trucks and construction equipment crowd the lawn of the Illinois Executive Mansion and the block across the street.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, have raised the money for the $15 million mansion makeover, which is slated to be complete by the end of the summer. And the governor is eyeing the city-owned block, dubbed the “Y-block” for the YWCA that used to sit there, as an extension of that project.

Facebook is facing tough questions in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Did Russians use social media to sway the election? Why is there so much fake news? Why isn’t Facebook more transparent?

Ledy Van Kavage, a senior legislative attorney, with the Best Friends Animal Society.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A new slate of laws meant to protect animals will go into effect in Illinois come Jan. 1. The number of laws passed in the recent legislative session has skyrocketed the state to be considered the first-ranked in the nation in terms of animal welfare, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Missouri, on the other hand, is ranked 36th. 

School Illustration
File | Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in Metro East K-12 school districts say they have teacher shortages in some subject areas. But new teacher licensing rules that went into effect July 1 may help.

The longest time of solar eclipse totality will be viewed in southern Illinois come Aug. 21.
vbloke | Flickr

The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse event creeps ever closer. While the path of totality crosses quite a bit of Missouri, and even part of St. Louis, the longest duration of the eclipse will actually be in southern Illinois. 

In Murphysboro and Makanda, totality will last for a whopping two minutes and 40 seconds. At one point in the Shawnee National Forest, just south of Carbondale, eclipse viewers will see totality for two minutes and 44 seconds. According to eclipse enthusiasts, those seconds make a big difference.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

On our Friday “Behind the Headlines" segment, we take a look at a top news story from the week. This week, we turned our attention to the Illinois budget and, then, to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' actions this week. 

Illinois Misses Deadline To Pass Budget, Consequences Hover

Jul 1, 2017
The Illinois capitol building in Springfield, Ill.
The Illinois capitol building in Springfield, Ill. / Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

  A $36.5 billion plan to rebuild Illinois' crumbling finances passed a critical test on Friday, but a powerful legislative leader said no deal would be reached before a midnight deadline — meaning Illinois will enter its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

The state of Illinois has been without a budget for the past two years and could enter a third straight year without a spending plan if a budget is not sent to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by Friday.

 

 

The Illinois Senate passed a budget package Tuesday after a similar plan failed last week. The difference was several new “yes” votes from liberal Democrats. No Republicans supported either plan.

File photo | U.S. Department of Education

A report released Wednesday singles out Missouri for being the only state in the nation that requires science and social studies teachers to pass tests in all of the subject matters in which they are certified.

Sam Werkmeister, 30, sits on his porch in Granite City on March 30, 2017. Werkmeister is recovering from an addiction to opioids, which began with prescription pills.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Sam Werkmeister, a father of two, nearly died six times last year.

He started taking pain pills to get through shifts at a restaurant. That led him to a full-blown addiction to opioids. After a relapse last summer, it took Werkmeister six months to gather the courage to go back into treatment. 

“It’s called carfentanil, and it’s really cheap,” he said, as he sat on a worn couch in the Granite City group home he shares with a half dozen other men. “It destroyed my life.”

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address Wednesday and said he was optimistic about Illinois’ future despite the historic budget impasse that has dragged on for more than a year. 

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