Olivia Mitchell

2020 Public Affairs Reporting Intern

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.

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When families, schools or hospitals in Springfield hired McCormick’s Catering and Smokehouse Craft Meats for events, Michele and Gary Seelbach said they got much more than excellent food. 

Online registration is still available for District 186 students until Friday. 

Courtesy of Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School

The District 186 school board voted to open registration and ask parents if they want their children to return to the classroom a few days a week, while learning online the other days, or participate only online. 

Springfield District 186 logo
http://186.sps186.org/

Students, teachers and parents will find more out on Monday about school reopening plans for Springfield’s District 186. 

J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a new plan to address a resurgence in Illinois. 

https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich / Creative Commons

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois was already fighting a public health crisis - the opioid epidemic. Clinicians at two drug rehab centers said more patients have been admitted to their facility since the coronavirus pandemic. 

Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois

Two city of Springfield employees who work in the Public Works garage have tested positive for COVID-19. City officials said they haven’t worked since Sunday. 

colonnade on UIS campus
University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield released its fall plan with details on how students and faculty would return to the campus and remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich / Creative Commons

Drivers in Illinois will no longer have their license or vehicle registration suspended for unpaid parking fines and tollway violations. 

Epilepsy Awareness Facebook Page / Epilepsy Awareness

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

NPS

The Abraham Lincoln Association has launched a $400,000 campaign to acquire vacant land to construct an accurate replica of Lincoln’s original cottage - before the home was expanded.

Kidzeum Facebook Page / Kidzeum

The Kidzeum of Health and Science in Springfield - a children’s museum promoting science education through exhibits -- will temporarily close, just two years after opening. 

Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois

PNC Financial Services has reversed its decision to close one of its Springfield branches. The facility in the 800 block of South 11th Street is one of the few remaining banks serving the city’s east side.

Ward 2 Alderman Shawn Gregory said the closure would’ve been another economic blow for that part of Springfield. 

Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois

Over the weekend, Springfield celebrated Juneteenth with a parade, rally and its first 217 Black Restaurant Weekend.

The annual celebration is usually held at Comer Cox Park, but due to restrictions on large gatherings because of COVID-19, organizers planned a parade instead.

Olivia Mitchell/NPR Illinois

Nearly 150 students, faculty, and staff at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine in Springfield participated in a demonstration Wednesday night calling for an end to systemic racism in their field.

The school’s chapter of White Coats For Black Lives - a nationwide medical-student-led movement - planned the event.

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The 2020 Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairs have been canceled.

In a video announcement posted to Facebook, State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon said the decision stems from wanting to protect people from contracting COVID-19.

Rev. T Ray McJunkins speaks to the crowd on Sundy afternoon.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

In Springfield, demonstrations continued over the weekend against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

Many speakers addressed how to create change at a rally called “Manifesting Our Momentum,” where elected officials and faith leaders took a prominent role.

From left, Derrick Roberts, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Nykeyla Henderson and Nykia Henderson at Union Baptist Church on Sunday
Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met with faith and community leaders in Springfield over the weekend at Union Baptist Church to discuss legislation to address police conduct.

Durbin said the measure - set to be introduced this week - would include a ban on the use of chokeholds, outline acceptable use of force by officers, and make recommendations on recruitment and training. He’s joining Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, both former Democratic presidential candidates, in sponsoring the Justice In Policing Act.

Haley Pate, Biron Butler and Korde Gardener protesting
Mike Smith / NPR Illinois

Black Lives Matter protests in Springfield continued Wednesday. Young activists said they aren't giving up on voicing their concerns anytime soon. 

Olivia Mitchell/NPR Illinois

More than a thousand demonstrators shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’ took to the streets in Springfield again Monday, demanding an end to racial injustices.

Portillo's Oaklawn Facebook Page

Although the hospitality industry continues to struggle, Portillo's, a Chicago-area restaurant chain unveiled plans for a Springfield location, its fourth in central Illinois.

The restaurant, known for their Chicago-Style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, announced plans to open in Springfield in late 2021 at the site of a closed pharmacy at Veteran’s Parkway and Lindbergh Boulevard, on the southwest side of town.

Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer, who represents the area, said he has no concern about the restaurant opening up, even during the pandemic.

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Diabolo-2 / Shiny Colors

As the hospitality industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure to allow bars and restaurants to serve cocktails for curbside pick-up and delivery. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Springfield’s Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory has been teaming up with restaurants and other businesses to pass out free dinners during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the goal goes beyond giving out free food. 

Rep. Avery Bourne debates the Reproductive Health Act
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A group of downstate Illinois lawmakers are calling again for an alternative plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Those lawmakers said since economic and social interaction levels differ in certain areas of the state, Illinois should be divided into 11 regions instead than the four broad regions already laid out by the state’s public health authority. 

Wikimedia commons

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for the legislature to reconvene to discuss an economic recovery plan for the state.

Pritzker said his administration has supported residents and small businesses by banning evictions, delaying tax filing deadlines, and expanding unemployment eligibility, but he said more work needs to be done to get the economy going.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/49491725776/in/photolist-2ipq2NQ-2iTiCjQ-2iFNHKq-2iTiCnk-2iTkcCx-2iT33o8-2iXbnNg-2iSVtW1-2iSJQCu-2iEmRZE-2iNbNob-2iXVbcV-2iHJDaE-2iDBzTW-2iQzJJq-2iNus5F-2iKZd8g-2iH3poS-2iGPYkz-2iDyQhJ-2iG9e2c-2iDsfm3-2iMQxZ6-2iL
2.0 Generic / Flickr

Illinois has processed more than 20,000 COVID-19 tests in one day for the first time since the pandemic began. The state ranks fourth among all fifty states in testing availability and completion, behind California, Texas, and New York. 

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield is looking for input on its plan to spend nearly $800,000 from the federal aid package approved in March for coronavirus relief efforts.

The draft plan outlines five priorities – rental assistance, grants to small businesses, support for the food bank, health and safety equipment, and funding for public services.

The city held its first public meeting Thursday via Zoom to listen to input from residents and businesses about fund distribution.

Jim Durkin
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Republican lawmakers are taking issue with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that outlines how officials plan to reopen the state’s economy in five phases. 

Wild Rose Facebook Page

Brian Galecki, owner of Dumb Records in downtown Springfield, normally sells records and CDs, but since the pandemic hit, he’s been selling t-shirts online. He said his online sales have been strong.

“A big challenge in that still is that even with us doing well, we’re still going to be less than what we would be doing if our physical store is open,” Galecki said.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder signing a Declaration of State of Emergency
City of Springfield

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder announced Thursday the city will enforce Governor J.B. Pritzker's extended stay-at-home order, despite legal disputes for the state to reopen.

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