Illinois Budget 11.02.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please e-mail it to
Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Freeport Journal-Standard incorporates video in its football coverage

Suburban Life Publications holds pumpkin carving contest, shares results with readers

It's not too late to seek Halloween photos from readers


Number of female lead pastors still small, but rising

SPRINGFIELD – The Rev. Jennifer Seder remembers getting a sage piece of advice early on in her ministry career: as a female preacher, she would have to work twice as hard as a male preacher to get the respect she deserved. Seder, appointed last year to lead Fountain of Life United Methodist Church (UMC) in Buffalo, is one of a handful of pastors in the UMC’s Great Rivers Conference in central Illinois. On the national picture, one in 10 churches employs a female as its lead or primary pastor, double the percentage from a decade ago, according to a recent survey by the Barna Group, which researches issues related to faith and culture. By Steven Spearie of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Check with churches in your area to see if there's been an increase in female lead pastors.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

This week at the Statehouse:
Additional stories will be added as they become available.
For Wednesday:
State Capitol Q&A: Winners and losers from the fall veto session.
For the weekend:
Reform report card: lawmakers touted 2009 as the year of reform after Rod Blagojevich's impeachment. A look at whether what they came up with really hit the mark, from FOIA rewrite and state purchasing to campaign finance limits. TENTATIVE.
State budget: A look at the mounting pressures on the state budget, covering everything from mounting debt and unpaid bills to spending with no way to pay for it and revenue dropping. TENTATIVE.

Treasurer’s office banking on investors for Lincoln Hotel

SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois has spent $375,000 the last two years on improvements to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield, including new furnishings and replacement of mattresses that, in some cases, had been in use since the property opened in 1985. It’s a start, says a spokesman for Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who last month announced plans to sell the hotel at auction on Dec. 14. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.


Couple trades suburban life for more distinctive urban home

PEORIA – Bill and Penny Murphy were just fine with suburban living in their suburban home. They had lived there 22 years, raised their kids there. Then they happened to drive down Sheridan Road in Peoria. Penny Murphy had sworn she'd never live on Sheridan Road, too much traffic. But on that fateful trip, she noticed, as she puts it, the cute house was for sale. By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.

Pharmacist’s blending skills handy in flu battle

LOVES PARK – Sheila Kitzman, a compounding pharmacist at North Park Pharmacy, makes medicine for children all the time. Her experience is coming in handy during the current shortage of the children’s version of Tamiflu, a first-line treatment for the H1N1 flu virus spreading across the country. Using the powder in capsules for adult doses, she can whip up a liquid children’s version of the antiviral medicine in 15 to 20 minutes. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.

Yodeler selected for Grand Canyon artist in residence program

SPRINGFIELD – In terms of geography, yodeling calls to mind the Swiss Alps or the West Texas plains — although it might sound pretty cool echoing around the recesses of the Grand Canyon. Randy Erwin is finding out. Erwin, of Springfield, is a professional yodeler and singer whose talents have taken him across the globe and onto the silver screen. And last week, it took him to the Grand Canyon, where he has been selected as Artist-in-Residence (AiR) for a three-week period on the national park’s South Rim. By Dan Naumovich of the State Journal-Register.

Julie Kaiser: Changes in life bring changes to will

Since moving back to central Illinois seven years ago, we have grown closer with friends who have kids near our kids’ ages. We go out for dinner, consult often about the latest parenting issues, travel together on spring vacations, and this year, we decided to include each other in our respective “Last Will and Testaments.”

Geri Nikolai: Science of color-changing leaves

Summer leaves are green because of a pigment known as chlorophyll. In fall, chlorophyll is replaced at a slower rate. As the days get shorter, a layer of cork cells forms at the base of each leaf and cuts off the flow of water and nutrients. The chlorophyll dwindles also, and other color pigments — the brilliant fall colors — show through.


BRITT: Toon on the election in Afghanistan.

Jeff Vrabel: Choo-choo-choosing a Halloween costume was no easy task

In the weeks before Halloween, the Little Man had whittled his list of costume ideas from approximately 3 million down to two: Spider-Man, which had been his costume for the previous two years, and Train Engineer.

Terry Bibo: Are we really in recovery?

So the recession is over. Huzzah! And the peasants rejoice! If that sounds sour, it is. I'm not feeling recovered.

Editorial: Al-Marri gets justice as America returns to the rule of law

Before sentencing Ali S. al-Marri for committing the crime of aiding a terrorist organization in imperiling this nation, Federal Judge Michael Mihm explained Thursday - to the defendant and to America - that "I take very seriously this mandate of providing a just punishment. The weight of that decision stays with me after you leave." So in giving al-Marri the maximum prison time allowable, minus time served and a little extra for the harshness of his treatment while in confinement, did Mihm achieve his goal and meet his responsibility of administering justice? An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Solve-nothing Legislature again does Illinois a disservice

State lawmakers wrapped up their annual fall veto session on Friday, and they certainly don't have much to show for their efforts. If anything, the last couple weeks have been an exercise in dodging tough choices in Springfield. So it should come as no surprise that certainly nothing was done to fix the still-imploding - and still woefully unbalanced - state budget and little was done to improve the ethical climate of Illinois. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Lieutenant governor an unnecessary expense

Quick, who is the Illinois Lieutenant Governor? It’s a trick question, because at this moment the office is vacant. The state’s No. 2 executive post has been empty since January, and perhaps that is a point worth discussing. It’s a redundancy in our government that Illinois simply cannot afford in light of its ongoing state budget crisis. An editorial from the Freeport Journal-Standard.


NFL Quick Shots. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Will be posted this evening.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Illinois can score points. That's apparent after just one exhibition game and an intrasquad scrimmage. The question in basketball coach Bruce Weber's mind is on the other end of the court. Lead to multisport column on University of Illinois athletics. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.