Memorial Health System

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday afternoon launched a COVID-19 vaccine hotline — something advocates have been asking Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration to do for months.

VictorBjorkund / Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a renewed focus on mental health issues, particularly among students. Some Illinois lawmakers say schools must bolster suicide prevention procedures to better identify warning signs.

In a week that marked the one year anniversary of the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's cautiously optimistic as more vaccines arrive.  His administration even mentioned a return to holding conventions and trade shows this summer.   

Pritzker is also pleased that a windfall will be coming to the state as part of a federal coronavirus stimulus package.   How might the state use that money?

Our panel discusses where things stand in Illinois -- on the public health front and with the state budget.  

Michael Burlingame headshot

Originally aired February 19, 2021.

Michael Burlingame, UIS Distinguished Professor, joins Community Voices to reflect on Lincoln's birthday, Presidents Day, and his latest writing.

After a year of being extra careful to avoid the virus, individuals with other health problems are getting vaccinated.  But for some, it's not a free pass for life to get back to normal.  

Teaching civics can be difficult at any time.  Try it during a pandemic with remote learning amid a highly divisive time in our history.  We'll hear about the challenges.

Thsoe stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

A man was arrested for domestic battery and had to appear in Cook County domestic violence court. He paid his bond and  was released. Then he was charged and arrested again while out on bond. Those cases were still pending when he was arrested for violating an order of protection and finally taken into custody.

“The guy just bonded out over and over and over again and kept violating,” said Melanie MacBride, who is a managing attorney at the Metropolitan Family Services’ Legal Aid Society. 

Headshots of this year's authors
Bea Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Another ten area high school seniors have been selected by our community committee for the 2021 edition of This I Believe on NPR Illinois. That’s 150 students since the program started with the 2007 selected authors. The program continues to pull at your emotions and reminds you of when you were about to enter the adult world.

Originally aired January 29, 2021.

Springfield Muni managing board president discusses the cancellation of another season due to COVID-19.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder speaks at news conference addressing recent gun violence in the city.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder clarified Tuesday night comments he made about a video showing Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory in a physical altercation with another man.

Rusty Jones (l) Karl Barnhardt (r) headshots -

Originally aired February 23, 2021.

hellowater co-founder Rusty Jones and Brandt chief marketing officer Karl Barnhardt discuss the partnership they connected with the support of Innovate Springfield.

People waiting for extra COVID-19 vaccine doses are assigned a numbered parking spot at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health's vaccination clinic.
Rachel Otwell / Illinois Times

The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health has a new process for giving out doses left at the end of each day, department director Gail O’Neill confirmed Monday.

Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory speaks at a news conference Friday addressing recent gun violence in Springfield.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder and Teresa Haley, president of the Springfield and Illinois chapters of the NAACP, voiced support for Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory after a video was published of him in a fight.

Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow discusses recent gun violence at a news conference Friday.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Sixteen people have been shot in Springfield in the last two months, according to city police. Usual numbers for this time of year are between two and three people per month.

A couple dozen Springfield leaders gathered across the street from the site of a recent deadly shooting Friday to renounce the violence and call for solutions.


Some Democratic Illinois lawmakers want to adopt more comprehensive sex education standards for K-12 schools to ensure students have a firm understanding of the importance of consent, the consequences of sharing underage sexually explicit material, and knowing when an action is considered sexual abuse.

On this episode, we discuss Congresswoman Robin Kelly, who becomes the new Illinois Democratic Party Chair, replacing Michael Madigan.  Gov. J.B. Pritzker supported her opponent and some view Kelly's ascension as a defeat for the governor.  

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger has been outspoken about his own party.  It appears he'll face a primary challenge.  We discuss his political future.  

And Illinois continues to fall behind when it comes to its pension obligations.  We discuss it all on State Week. 

Provided by the ALPLM

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has a new executive director – Christina Shutt.

The Springfield museum and library’s board of trustees announced Friday the selection of its first Black leader. Shutt, 34, comes from Arkansas, where she served as executive director of Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. She holds master’s degrees in both history and library science.

The vaccine rollout has been a difficult and confusing experience for many elderly residents.  But a 13-year old from Evanston has found a way to help people learn where to sign up.  He created a website.

Also, while restaurants are reopening, many employees remain unvaccinated and worried. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide. 

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) has replaced former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan as chair of the state’s Democratic Party, marking a shift away from Madigan’s two-decade control of the party.

Briana Rodriguez, who works at Ascend Springfield, talks about the effort to unionize.
UFCW Local 881's Facebook page

Employees at a cannabis dispensary in Springfield are voting on whether to unionize.

Workers at Ascend Springfield’s downtown location said Wednesday that lax COVID-19 precautions and a lack of guaranteed sick time during the pandemic pushed them towards organizing.

Originally aired February 26, 2021.

The Chatham Area Public Library eliminated all fines on overdue materials for its library cardholders and registered reciprocal borrowers. Along with going fine free, the library has taken other steps to continue their service through the pandemic. Library Director Amy Byers and Community Engagement Librarian Megan Freeman discuss this and more with Community Voices' Bea Bonner. 

Robert Smith headshot

Originally aired February 24, 2021.

Dr. Robert Smith is the Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield.  

Originally aired January 15, 2021.

Gemma Long is the CEO of Gem PR & Media. This company specializes in public relations, digital, and social media consultancy. The company is based in Springfield but has clients across the United States and Europe. Gemma and husband Chris Long credit "community over competition" as a mantra they live by. A large part of their business is to foster relationships and collaboration with local business owners. Gemma talks about small businesses in Springfield, embarking on a new venture, and more with Community Voices' Bea Bonner.

City of Springfield

The Springfield City Council rejected the mayor’s nominee to fill the Ward 3 vacancy on the council, despite support from faith and community leaders.

npr illinois

Illinois has long held the record for the most units of local government in any state — 8,923 local taxing bodies to be exact, according to a recent report by the Chicago-based Civic Federation.

Originally aired February 23, 2021.

José Gobbo, Jr. is a UIS music professor and a jazz guitarist. 

Orignally aired January 21, 2021.

Lynn Saputo is Director of Recreation & Marketing and Interim Zoo Director  for the Springfield Park District. Lynn came on as Interim Director of the zoo in February 2020. The Henson Robinson Zoo has over 80 different species of native and exotic animals. They plan to open to the public in March along with some new experiences for guests. Lynn talks about this and more with Community Voices' Bea Bonner. 

Cherell Wilson's business Soaps by Rell

Originally aired October 7, 2020.

Cherell Wilson is a recent University of Illinois Springfield gradaute. During the pandemic she was inspired to create her own business Soaps by Rell.

City of Springfield

Springfield’s mayor has nominated a community organizer to fill the vacancy on the city council. Roy Williams, Jr., was selected to take over for State Sen. Doris Turner, who has left the Ward 3 seat after being appointed to the Illinois legislature earlier this month.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's legislative district seat saw not just one, but two replacements within a week.  And Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a large reform package dealing with crime and policing.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Rachel Hinton joins the panel.

On this episode, when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Black residents are less likely to get the shots than whites. We'll look at some of the reasons why and some possible solutions.

And Congressman Adam Kinzinger has become a regular on national talk shows for speaking out against his own party.  Kinzinger grew up in central Illinois and we'll hear what those who've known him the longest have to say about the Republican.