Rich Egger

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.”

More members of the public are asking the decision-makers at Western Illinois University to restore funding to its public radio station. Half-a-dozen people used the public comment period during the September 28 Board of Trustees meeting to address the administration's plan to end appropriated funding for Tri States Public Radio on March 1, 2019.

After his State of the University speech, Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas told reporters, "We have made cuts and we will have to continue to make those cuts and we will do the necessary things that we have to do."

lahood.house.gov

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, says he’s “thrilled” with his new committee assignment. Speaker Paul Ryan appointed LaHood to the House Ways and Means Committee. 

LaHood considers it a significant committee because it deals with taxation, trade, healthcare, and many entitlement programs.

“Those are important issues to the American people,” he said. “They’re important to our seniors. They’re important to every facet of our economic system.”

Bicyclists in communities around the globe hold Critical Mass bicycle rides. Some of the events draw thousands of riders in large cities, while smaller communities such as Macomb, Ill., sometimes attract just a handful.

Will Terrill, of Colchester, said he’s been participating in the Macomb rides for about a year. He said they serve as a reminder to motorists that bicyclists are allowed to use the streets.

wiu.edu

Western Illinois University’s short-term goal is to stabilize enrollment at 10,000 students, but it came up a bit short this fall.

Western says its current enrollment is 9,441, which is a drop of nine percent from last fall and nearly 15 percent from two years ago.

Western Illinois University is developing contingency plans in case the ongoing shortfall of state funding continues.  But the administration is not yet ready to reveal details of these plans. 

The state has gone nearly two years without a budget.  Public colleges and universities received some state funding through a stop-gap spending plan approved in late June of last year, but they have not received any state money this calendar year.

duckworth.house.gov

        

  The Trans-Pacific Partnership has the support of the highest-ranking Democrat in the country, President Barack Obama.  But an Illinois Democrat says she's opposed.  

 

 Supporters says the TPP will help American farmers and small businesses by eliminating thousands of taxes on their goods and by opening markets in Pacific Rim nations.  

Western Illinois University

  The President of Western Illinois University will keep his job for at least one more year.  

The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to extend Dr. Jack Thomas' contract through the 2016-2017 fiscal year. 

Reading from a prepared statement during the board's quarterly meeting, Chairman Roger Clawson said trustees enthusiastically commend Thomas for the leadership he showed in difficult times.  Trustees also say they support his strategic vision for WIU.  

In a letter to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said around 110 university workers will receive layoff notices within the next week.

Durbin.senate.gov

The senior U.S. Senator from Illinois says the nation is locking up too many people for far too long. He hopes to change that soon.

Democrat Dick Durbin has worked with Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa on the sentencing reform and corrections act.

Durbin says the act would ease mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that don't involve guns, gangs, or violence. He says he believes the U.S. overreacted with the war on drugs and other "get tough on crime" measures.

Representatives from across the higher education spectrum gathered at Western Illinois University in Macomb to urge the state to provide funding for colleges and universities. But just hours afterward, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure (SB 2043) that would have funded MAP grants and provided at least a bit of income for the schools.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University hopes a decrease in tuition rates will increase its enrollment numbers.

The three-percent tuition decrease goes into effect next fall. It’s only for new students.

In addition, western will no longer charge out-of-state students a higher tuition than in-state students.

Western Budget Director Matt Bierman says the University hopes to make a splash.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will wait until next month to vote on a massive budget cutting plan.  In a letter issued Tuesday to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said he wants more time to come up with a proposal that threatens the livelihood of fewer people.

“When I look at the personnel, it almost brings tears to my eyes to look at what we’re having to do here,” Dr. Thomas said in an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

Rich Egger / WIUM/Illinois Public Radio

The state of Illinois has cut funding to higher education each year for more than a decade.  Those cuts, combined with declining enrollment, will cause some people to lose their jobs at Western Illinois University at the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses.

Peoria Public Radio

Residents in an Illinois Congressional district will soon have representation again in the U.S. House. 

The seat in the 18th district has been vacant since Republican Aaron Schock resigned at the end of March amid spending scandals. The special election to replace Shock is Thursday.

That's a rarity. Elections are usually on Tuesdays.

McDonough County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes has overseen elections for 15 years. This is her first Thursday election...and she's not alone.

AIRSS

Illinois lawmakers return to work this week, and one of the decisions they face is whether to pass a school funding reform plan.

David Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, says it’s important to keep the issue in the forefront until the state’s school funding system is changed.

“I don’t think this conversation is going to go away,” Ardrey said. “Will it pass this year? I don’t know. Will it pass in this state some day? I think it will.”

The new state treasurer is in the middle of an extensive review of how the office is managed.

Democrat Mike Frerichs says he brought in “outside eyes” to make sure the office is operating efficiently. 

U of I Extension

Advocates for better healthcare in Illinois’ rural areas say one problem is a lack of doctors. But they believe a long-running program is making a difference. 

The Rural Medical Education Program is offered through the University of Illinois at Rockford. The school says the program graduated more than 260 students since 1993. Most of them went to practice in rural communities.

Margaret Vaughn, who is the executive director of the Illinois Rural Health Association, says the program is a big help.

The central Illinois community flattened by an EF4 tornado one year ago (November 17, 2013) is bouncing back.

State of Illinois

Agriculture is one of the issues discussed in the waning days of the Illinois Treasurer campaign. The office maintains state funds and acts as the state's bank.

Republican Tom Cross says he would ensure the "ag invest" program remains available to farmers. Democrat Mike Frerichs says the office could help farmers transition to more sustainable practices, and those transition costs can be high.

Frerichs and Cross are vying to replace Dan Rutherford, who's leaving office after a failed bid for governor.

There’s a reason why this might have felt like one of the coolest summers in memory.

Land in Fulton County that was farmed for more than 80 years is being returned to its original wetland state – and the early results are promising for what’s now the Emiquon Nature Preserve.

John Draws is making a lot of noise – literally and figuratively – with three-string guitars made from cigar boxes and other bits and pieces.

Farmers and ag groups in the Midwest say the U.S. river system needs an upgrade, and they’re hopeful it will come with proposed improvements in legislation recently passed by Congress.

The Illinois State Board of Education will take care of a task that was supposed to be handled at the local level.

Acoustic guitarist John Heasly of Alexis was making a pretty good go of it playing bars and concert venues in the region.