Panelist Headshots

Originally aired March 26, 2021.

The whole community benefits when more individuals and families are able to stop walking a financial tightrope and get on solid ground. Financially stable people are more likely to have access to quality health care, provide a good education for their children, and contribute to their local economies. Hear from the panel about how the organizations are helping local people keep more of the money they earned – so they can recover from the pandemic, pay for basic expenses, and save for the future.

Nothing Fancy Supply Co.

Colleen Flinn is the owner of Nothing Fancy Supply Co. The business started when Colleen researched ways to cut waste in her own home. This led her to a Facebook page where she discussed these experiences and gave her the confidence to start sharing her favorite sustainable alternative: beeswax food wraps. Colleen talks about this and more with Community Voices' Bea Bonner. 

COVID-19 vaccination site at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Hannah Meisel / NPR Illinois

Update, 3:25 p.m.: This post was updated with new information from Memorial and additional information on who is eligible under IDPH guidelines. 

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday it is expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone 16 or older for its vaccination clinics at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and at the county health department. The expanded eligibility is only for the county sites.

headshots of panelists
Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln

Originally broadcast January 27, 2021.
 The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln has created a Next 10 Extra series to further discuss the ideas submitted to improve the future of Springfield. One of the most commented on areas has been downtown.  The panel talks about how to lead this revitalization.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined tens of thousands in Illinois getting vaccinated.  But it happened on the same week COVID-19 cases are back on the rise, leading some to worry about a quick re-opening of the economy.  

The Governor also signed a major economic opportunity package from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.  He also appears poised to sign a healthcare initiative to help Black and brown communities. 

We discuss that and more on this episode of State Week.

Mike Miletich, Capitol Bureau Chief for Quincy Media, joins the panel.

Zoom / Blueroomstream

Illinois could have a new state holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people were freed. A state senate committee Wednesday approved making June 19 Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, sponsored the bill, which would create a paid holiday for state employees. She said the day is a milestone for Black Americans that should be celebrated and used to educate youth.

Many higher learning institutions, including community colleges, have seen a  drop in enrollment during the pandemic. While officials work to reverse that trend, some students say this has been an opportunity to re-think their future plans.  

And Illinois prisons began prohibiting in-person visits to slow the spread of COVID-19.  They have yet to change that policy.  

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.

Our lineup:

Panelist Headshots

Originally aired March 18, 2021.

The Future is Now: Business and Social Innovation in a Post Pandemic World 

Incidents of white supremacist propaganda being distributed in Illinois doubled in the last year, and hit its highest level nationally since it has been tracked.

That’s according to a report by Anti-Defamation League report released last week.

In Illinois, incidents climbed from 76 in 2019 to 152 in 2020, said David Goldenberg, who is Midwest regional director of the ADL. 

Panelist Headshots

Originally aired February 25, 2021.

As part of Black History Month, this UIS ECCE panel discussion encourages learning about the societal issues that inform and led to the formation and evolution of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Dan Wagner / Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Democrats want to repeal Ilinois' Parental Notification of Abortion Act, seven years after its enforcement began.  Abortion opponents are out in force, aiming to protect the law.

Arguments about keeping or repealing Illinois’ Parental Notification of Abortion law in some ways sound similar. Both sides say it protects rights. But whose?’ Those of teens or parents?

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Under a program recently approved by the Springfield City Council, minority-owned businesses and residents on the city’s east side will have access to grants funded by city taxes on recreational cannabis.

This year, to celebrate the chosen essayists, we produced a virtual culminating event. During the event the 10 chosen authors read their essays. A panel discussion was also held with previous chosen essayist Gabe Knott and Dr. Stacy McDermott mother of previous chosen essayist Mackenzie McDermott

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Democratic state lawmakers are pushing to make permanent many of the voting options Illinois piloted for the 2020 General Election last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Illinois House last week approved extending the use of ballot drop boxes and curbside voting indefinitely. However, critics said the proposal could lead to election security issues.

This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he was optimistic that vaccine supply will allow the state to allow those 16 and older, outside of Chicago, to get their shots starting April 12.  The governor also laid out a new "bridge" phase as part of the Restore Illinois plan.  It's a step toward getting the state back to some sort of normalcy.  

A year ago this week, Illinois announced its first COVID-19 death.  Since then, more than 21-thousand  have died in the state.  Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker talks with us about his view of the past year and where we are now with the pandemic.

As vaccine rates rise, many people are considering plans for a vacation.  We'll find out what the travel industry sees in the second half of 2021.  

And, we hear about the products in the running for the coolest thing made in Illinois.  Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

COVID-19 vaccination site at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday it is expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone 16 or older for its vaccination clinics at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and at the county health department. The expanded eligibility is only for the county sites.

UIS Community Garden Facebook Page

Elmhurst resident Nicole Virgil got into home gardening after researching the industrial food process and watching documentaries like “Food Inc.”

But after she and her husband set up a homemade hoop house in her backyard to protect her vegetable garden during the winter, she received multiple citations from the city for violating local building codes.

The Next 10 logo

Originally aired March 4, 2021.

The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln produced this Next 10 Extra panel to discuss investing in the arts to develop Springfield's economy.

Springfield’s Ward 3 has a new representative to the city council. Ald. Roy Williams, Jr., was sworn in Tuesday night after the council approved his appointment with no dissenting votes.

Six aldermen changed their votes after the council rejected his initial appointment a few weeks ago.

Williams will serve out the remainder of State Sen. Doris Turner’s term, who resigned the seat last month after her appointment to the Illinois Senate.

Senate Democratic Caucus

State lawmakers this week will kick off the once-in-a-decade process to reshape how Illinois’ legislative and congressional maps are drawn.


The University of Illinois Springfield could return to a more normal atmosphere in the fall if the pandemic trends continue in the right direction.  The university system has announced it plans to offer more in-person classes starting in August, citing the rising number of people getting vaccinated as a main reason. 

Logan Campbell headshot

Originally aired March 13, 2021.

Springfield newcomer Logan Campbell joins Community Voices to discuss his love of music and share his bass and baritone recital -- An Evening of Song: From Schubert to Verdi.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Illinois’ first reported death from COVID-19. In the next 12 months, Illinois would go on to report nearly 21,000 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, while more than 1.2 million Illinoisans have been infected so far.

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

When Tanner Fry’s youngest son was born two years ago, Fry appreciated the time he got to spend with the baby, so much that the middle-of-the-night diaper changes didn’t bother him.


For millions of students in Illinois, attending school a year into the COVID-19 pandemic still means logging onto a computer or completing assignment packets. Though some students have adjusted well, many others have not had an easy time learning over the past year.

But while the federal government granted Illinois’ request to waive standardized tests last spring, President Joe Biden’s administration rejected the state’s bid this year.

Some state lawmakers are pushing back on the mandate and petitioning the federal government to reconsider.

Originally aired March 11, 2021.Research and events of the past year have demonstrated the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to the quality of life of everyone in central Illinois. As a balancing of the scales occurs and the benefits of a more just culture are understood, most organizations are prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion – or DEI work. Parts of the process can be difficult or uncomfortable but are necessary and as a bonus, a more robust culture and stronger economy result. The UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Citizens Club of Springfield’s latest Public Policy Forum discusses these affects in today’s Community Voices -- Equity and Inclusion in Workforce and Economic Development.