State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

K2. Spice. Black Mamba. Research chemicals. Potpourri. New psychoactive substances.

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  CHICAGO - The Chicago Park District says it may remove up to half its outdoor drinking fountains after tests found high levels of lead in the water.


The district said Monday it has removed about 100 of its roughly 1,250 fountains. Approximately 550 other fountains in low-traffic areas will remain shut off until they've been remediated or removed.


Chicago Will Have An Amazon Go Store

May 15, 2018

  NEW YORK - Amazon, which opened a cashier-less store in Seattle this year, plans more locations in Chicago and San Francisco.


The company confirmed Monday that Amazon Go stores would open in the two cities, but didn't say when. The store openings were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Seattle Times.


Last month, about a dozen people gathered in the basement of a church in Champaign, Ill., to learn how traumatic experiences affect the lives of children and young adults, and what they can do to mitigate its effects.

Karen Simms, a mental health counselor and trauma expert, led the presentation, which was part of a free 40-hour training called “Healing Solutions.”

Illinois legislators are taking up a measure to change the way police gather information for gang databases. It comes after more than a year of controversy surrounding the Chicago Police Department’s data collection practices.

Update: The measure heads to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk. Sponsor state Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) has not yet heard whether the governor will support the idea. The Governor's Office did not respond for comment. 

Lawsuit Seeks to Block Obama Center

May 15, 2018
the Obama Foundation.

  CHICAGO (AP) - Public park advocates have filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago seeking to stop construction of the Obama Presidential Center.



The federal lawsuit by Protect Our Parks Inc. seeks a court order barring the Chicago Park District and other city agencies from approving the building of former President Barack Obama's center in Jackson Park. The group also wants to bar the city from giving control of the center's site to the Obama Foundation.


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  YORKVILLE, Ill. - Officials in northeast Illinois have approved plans for a historical marker to commemorate the original location of the state's northern boundary.


The aluminum cast marker will be installed in Yorkville's Town Square Park this summer.


Alice Fellers of Crystal Lake created the idea when she was researching a project for the Illinois Bicentennial and found the original marker between Plano and Sandwich was missing. She says the original border would've put the Chicago area in Wisconsin.

Department of the Navy. Fourteenth Naval District.

  BATAVIA, Ill. - The families of two sailors with Illinois ties who were killed during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are preparing for their burials.

Military officials say DNA testing helped identify remains of the sailors who were among 429 killed when the USS Oklahoma sank.

His name was Devon McClyde, and he was 16 years old when he was caught in the crossfire of an argument while playing basketball one evening in a local park in Danville on June 8, 2016.

He died three days later – the victim of another gun crime in Central Illinois.


Kewanee Prison Tests New Program to Lower Recidivism Rates

May 14, 2018

Since opening last year, the Kewanee Life Skills Re-entry Center in western Illinois has taken a different approach to prison. Inmates participate in classes and activities designed to help them succeed after they’re released.

Speaking on the talk show “The 21st,” Illinois Department of Corrections director John Baldwin says it’s clear that investing in these programs leads to better outcomes.

Macon County Favors Solar Farm

May 14, 2018
Creative Commons

DECATUR, Ill. - Officials are favorably eyeing Macon County's first solar farm. The Macon County Board approved a special-use permit for a 20-acre solar farm project near Oreana. It's about nine miles (14 kilometers) northeast of Decatur.

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NORMAL, Ill. - Tuition will increase 3.75 percent for new undergraduate students entering Illinois State University this fall term. The hike comes after approval from the school's Board of Trustees on Friday. Students will pay about $385 per credit hour. The new rate only applies to incoming students and is guaranteed through summer 2022.

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AURORA, Ill. - Caterpillar has officially put its Aurora production plant on the market.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state should be able to execute those who kill police officers or commit mass shootings. The Governor proposed that and several other measures on Monday in an amendatory veto of gun legislation.

MOUNT STERLING, Ill. — A small central Illinois community is receiving $1.5 million in federal funds to revitalize its aging downtown infrastructure.

Illinois lawmakers are weighing legislation to prevent synthetic marijuana manufacturers from dodging laws banning the substance.

Tuition will increase 3.75 percent for new undergraduate students entering Illinois State University this fall term.

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago has some new gates for the first time in a quarter century.

The Equal Rights Amendment is back in the news and back in the Statehouse, as supporters make another push for ratification in Illinois.

Meanwhile, the fiscal watchdog group The Civic Federation is out with a critique of Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal and its own plan for the state, and a southern Illinois county declares itself a sanctuary for gun owners.

After a 12-day strike beginning in February, the University of Illinois and graduate student employees settled on a new contract that includes pay raises and tuition waiver protections. Now lawmakers want to clarify who is eligible for those benefits. 

Heritage Auctions via AP

CHICAGO (AP) - Superman may be the Man of Steel, but he's no Death Dealer. Comic books featuring the debuts of Superman, the Joker and Catwoman fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at a Chicago auction Thursday, but the star was undoubtedly a painting by science fiction and fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

Willow Creek Church Elders Apologize

May 11, 2018
Willow Creek Community Church

SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Leaders of a Chicago-area evangelical church that became one of the largest in the nation are apologizing for some of its founder's choices, calling them "inappropriate."


CHICAGO (AP) - For the second time in less than a week a judge cleared his courtroom to hear arguments on whether he should allow certain testimony in the murder trial of a Chicago police officer.

Former U.S. Representative Sentenced

May 11, 2018
U.S. Congress

CHICAGO (AP) - A federal judge has handed former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds a six month prison sentence for failing to file tax returns, telling the Harvard graduate he'd "squandered" opportunities to become something better.

At yesterday’s/Thursday's sentencing in Chicago, Judge Robert Gettleman alluded to how the 66-year-old had brought himself up from poverty in Mississippi to win a seat in Congress. Gettleman recalled thinking himself in the early 1990s about Reynolds' promise.

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CHICAGO (AP) - A freak accident has left a well-known Chicago-area band conductor and music instructor hospitalized.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The foundation that supports the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says it might have to sell artifacts if it can't pay off a decade-old loan that financed items related to the 16th president.

Flickr Creative Commons/Larissa Puro

Pro-choice advocates in Illinois want the candidates for governor to pledge support for a law that expands abortion coverage, and oppose any push to repeal it.

After Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law providing abortion coverage under state health insurance and Medicaid - some, like State Representative Jeanne Ives who ran against him on the GOP ticket in the primary - said it showed Rauner’s position on the issue is too liberal.

Flickr Creative Commons/Neeta Lind

A new study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston finds that while nearly half of all U.S. oncologists recommend medical marijuana, most feel they lack knowledge about its medicinal use.

That means many cancer patients -- like Springfield resident Larry Lenkart  -- must use trial-and-error to figure out how to use cannabis to manage the side effects of chemotherapy.

Ongoing budget talks at the Illinois Statehouse have shown no real sign of progress. This week, Senate Democrats pressed Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration this week to explain its proposal to shift pension costs to local school districts.