WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Rich Egger

News Director

Rich is the News Director at Tri States Public Radio. Rich grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago but now calls Macomb home. Rich has a B.A in Communication Studies with an Emphasis on Radio, TV, and Film from Northern Illinois University. Rich came to love radio in high school where he developed his “news nerdiness” as he calls it. Rich’s high school had a radio station called WFVH, which he worked at for a couple years. In college, Rich worked at campus station WKDI for three years, spinning tunes and serving at various times as General Manager, Music Director and Operations Manager. Before being hired as Tri States Public Radio’s news director in 1998, Rich worked professionally in news at WRMN-AM/WJKL-FM in Elgin and WJBC-AM in Bloomington. In Rich’s leisure time he loves music, books, cross-country skiing, rooting for the Cubs and Blackhawks, and baking sugar frosted chocolate bombs. His future plans include “getting some tacos.”

Ways to Connect

Rich Egger

Macomb is in the process of lining up the financing for its multi-year street repair program.

The goal is to have all the financial paperwork and the bond sale completed by October 1. Construction won't start until next spring but Mayor Mike Inman said the money is needed sooner because there is plenty to do between now and then.

“We're going to incur some engineering costs. These are not projects that are sitting on a shelf ready to roll. We're going to have some significant costs,” said Inman.

Wikipedia

Tainted cantaloupe from Indiana is the suspected cause of salmonella cases around the country.

Sabrina  Miller of the Illinois Department of Public Health said 71 cases been identified in her state. Eight of those people have been hospitalized.

Miller said the investigation is still ongoing and the fruit is to be avoided.

"If you do have some of this cantaloupe from southwestern Indiana and you haven't eaten it yet, toss it," Miller said.

Rich Egger

Illinois State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said he will take a leave of absence to be treated for a rare form of cancer.

Sullivan said he has liposarcoma. It's a type of cancer that creates a slow growing, painless mass that is usually found in the fat cells of the legs, though it can also be found in the arms, chest, neck, and in the space behind abdominal organs.

Sullivan's office recommends checking the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative website for more information about the cancer.

Mayor Scott Thompson said the city has officially rolled out its new website.

Thompson said it's taken a year to get to this point because the city is doing the project in-house. He added it's still a work in progress.

“Is it sparkling and does it have all the cool features right now? No. But it looks nice, it's going to be functional, it's going to serve the purposes for which it's intended, and we'll grow it as we can,” said Thompson.

No pension legislation moved through the Illinois General Assembly during Friday's special legislative session.

Democrats pushed along a plan to cut pension benefits for  state elected politicians and no one else, but opponents -- including Representative Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) -- called the proposal disingenuous.

"I am not going to vote for this. I think it's a farce," said Senger.

"I think we're basically coming out and saying we're doing something and we're absolutely not, and it's a real disservice for those who live in this state."

Rich Egger

This summer's combination of high temperatures and little precipitation has impacted just about every type of farmer. Nonetheless, some are finding ways to get by.

John Curtis, owner and operator of Barefoot Gardens, said he's dug a deeper well to come up with enough water for his crops. However, he's also had to contend with a problem pump.

“Sometimes I have water, sometimes I don't. When I don't, it really shows quickly,” Curtis said.

He had to conserve water until he deepened the well.

Rich Egger

Rich Egger's guest is Tim Schroll of the Moses King Brick & Tile Works National Historic District near Colchester.

Schroll said that after years of searching for an engineering firm, they've found one willing to tackle the process of rehabilitating the Brickyard's beehive kilns.

“In fact, they're so excited about it that they've assigned a grant worker to our case to try to raise the funds for the structural analysis, which is the first step in the process of getting the kilns rebuilt,” said Schroll.

Rich Egger

All counties in Illinois have  been designated as “primary disaster areas” due to drought.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the designations came at the request of Governor Pat Quinn and  because of a national drought monitor that shows lack of rain plaguing the entire state. All counties have been affected by drought  for  at least the past eight weeks.

The designations mean all Illinois farmers are eligible for emergency loans from the federal government.

Rich Egger

Aldermen are reviewing whether to alter the Facade Forgivable Loan Program based on recommendations from the City Council's Community Development Committee.

One proposal is to increase the city's share of the costs for facade improvements from 50% to 66%.

“That would mean if somebody had a $30,000 project, they could get $20,000 of that from us and $10,00 of their own money. If that's not incentive enough to put on their best face, I don't know what else we can do,” said Seventh Ward Alderman Clay Hinderliter.

Other recommendations include:

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's office is touting a one-page analysis claiming higher education will suffer if lawmakers fail to address Illinois' pension problem.

In the so-called study, Quinn's budget office estimates that state funding of higher education will steadily decline over the next five years.

The projections show more money would be needed to pay for university and community college employees' pensions, which would leave less for schools and scholarships for needy students.

The panelists talk about attempts by Chicago Public Radio to report on conditions at two minimum security prisons in southern Illinois.

City of Rushville

Now that repairs are finished to the brick streets around Rushville's square, the city is turning its attention to Central Park.

One of the biggest projects will be renovation of the gazebo. Mayor Scott Thompson said the city won't have to foot the entire bill.

“This is the really cool thing: we have commitments from anonymous donors for at least $65,000 if not more,” said Thompson.

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed energy  legislation that critics say could have raised the price of natural gas around the state.

The legislation would have forced natural gas companies Ameren and Nicor to buy synthetic gas produced by the Leucadia plant in order to help pay for its construction. The plant was proposed to be built on Chicago's south side. Leucadia planned to use technology that converts Illinois coal into gas.

Rich Egger

The recently approved marijuana ordinance in Galesburg has gone up in smoke.

The law would have allowed police to issue a ticket to those caught possessing up to 2.5 grams of pot. Offenders could pay a fine instead of going to court.

But Mayor Sal Garza will veto the measure and is recommending changes he feels will improve it.

The mayor wants to start an education program for those under age 18 who are caught with small amounts of marijuana. He also wants to increase the fine to cover the cost of implementing the program.

As people gear up for state fairs, dozens across the US have fallen ill with a new strain of the swine flu. That includes a boy in Illinois who contracted the disease after having contact with a pig at a fair in Coles County.

Doctor LaMar Hasbrouck, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the new version of the flu causes symptoms similar to that of the regular seasonal flu.

Rich Egger

Rich Egger's guest is Macomb Police Lieutenant Jeff Hamer. They talk about the on-site assessment that will take place at the police department August 13 - 15.

Two trained assessors from the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association will examine the department to determine whether it should be accredited through the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP). The department will be graded on 71 professional standards.

State of Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled a school district that suspended a teacher because of allegations of sexual misconduct had a duty to warn another district where  the teacher later found work.

Jon  White was twice suspended from his teaching job in Normal. But the  McLean County school district did not disclose that when the Urbana  schools asked to verify White's employment.

White was eventually convicted of abusing eight girls in Urbana and two  in  Normal. He will spend most of the next 30 years in prison.

Rich Egger

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon recognized two wetlands along the Illinois River for their importance to conservation. 

The Emiquon Complex near Lewistown and the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge near Hennepin received the Ramsar designation this year.  The honor highlights efforts to restore both sites to their natural states.

Before a ceremony at Dickson Mounds Museum, Simon said the international designation can help boost tourism for the region.

Legislation requiring all college dorms in Illinois to have sprinklers installed within the next couple years is one of four new fire safety bills Governor Pat Quinn signed into law.

The bill beefs up past legislation by instituting tougher penalties for post-secondary schools that don't comply. That includes a $1,000 per day fine if sprinklers are not installed by September 1, 2014.

The panelists discuss whether online paywalls are changing the way reporters write their stories.

A piece by Tim Burrowes in Encore magazine points out print journalists have traditionally been taught to follow the story pyramid, in which the most important facts are included at the very beginning of the story, with less and less important details lower in the story. This allowed editors to ax the bottom of the story if the space was needed for another story or an ad.

Rich Egger

The City of Macomb has taken steps to ensure the water continues to flow this summer despite the drought.

Mayor Mike Inman said water from one of the city's deep wells is being pumped into Spring Lake, which is the city's water source.

“The water manager started pumping from one of our deep wells the first week of July,” Inman said.

“We're pumping roughly 800 gallons a minute from that deep well into the lake, trying to maintain the water level there.”

The city has two deep wells. Both are at Spring Lake.

In The Tri States

Aug 3, 2012

A look back at the top stories and features from the Tri States Public Radio news department from July 2012.

During the month, a Keokuk man was found guilty of murdering his mother, a judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by a western Illinois hog farm, and the Tri States Public Radio family lost a good friend.

Rich Egger

Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) support a proposal to shift the pension funding burden from the state to local school districts.

But State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said there are good reasons to oppose the plan.

“It's a triple whammy for the districts,” Sullivan said. He pointed out:

1) Local districts would be burdened with the responsibility for a major expense.

2) State financial support for school districts continues to decline.

Rich Egger

Macomb is in talks with BNSF that could help the city expand. The plan is to annex the railroad's right-of-way westward to the future site of the Macomb bypass.

“Our primary goal is to take advantage of those folks willing to come in that are businesses -- commercial developments -- that bring sales tax revenue in to the city,” said Mayor Mike Inman.

He said the annexation might also increase the city's population base, though he feels that would be “icing on the cake.”

Inman said Macomb and BNSF have been in negotiations for the better part of a year.

wired.com

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is aiming to implement an assault weapons ban for the state.

Quinn has talked about the issue since the massacre in a Colorado movie theater. He spotted an opening in legislation (SB 681) that would have allowed people to buy ammunition by mail from companies within the state (it's already legal to mail-order ammo from out of state).

The panelists talk about reporters who plagiarize and/or make up quotes and other details.

The issue is in the new after Jonah Lehrer resigned from the New Yorker. About a month ago he admitted taking material from his earlier pieces for more recent work. Now it's been revealed that his new book includes fabricated quotes by Bob Dylan.

The Internet is making it easier to double check reporters' work, which causes panelist Lisa Kernek to question why reporters think they will not get caught. Panelist Mike Murray suggests hubris might be at play.

Rich Egger

Governor Pat Quinn has called lawmakers back to Springfield for a one-day special session to reform the state's pension systems.

But so far he doesn't have a plan beyond that.

"We've had proposals this year, we've had a working group this year, we've had discussions and negotiations this year," Quinn said. 

The panelists talk about hyperlocal news coverage and The New York Times' decision to end its affiliation with a couple hyperlocal blogs.

Hyperlocal news coverage reports stories down to the neighborhood level. One of the concerns with the idea is whether there is enough money to support such coverage.

Shop Talk Panelist Mike Murray said his father edited a small town newspaper that included news from a variety of tiny communities in the region. It could be considered an early version of what is now referred to as hyperlocal coverage.

Shop Talk - July 17

Jul 17, 2012

The panelists discuss whether Facebook attracts narcissists or turns users into narcissists.

The New York Times' Tara Parker-Pope raised the issue in a recent blog. She refers to a study by Christopher Carpenter, Associate Professor of Communication at Western Illinois University, which suggested Facebook appeals to our most narcissistic tendencies.

Photo courtesy of WIU

Wetzel Hall at Western Illinois University no longer exists -- except in the hearts and memories of those who lived and worked there.  

The 13-story building was imploded July 14 during an event that drew hundred of spectators. Many took part in a tailgate-style party in the sprawling parking lot known as Q-lot, which is just west of Wetzel. Many others gathered in the parking lot for the University Services Building, which is northeast of Wetzel.

At 7:00 am, WIU Senior William Schmidt pushed down on the ceremonial plunger to start the implosion.  

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