News Around Illinois – December 10, 2019

Groups Pushing For Accurate Census Count In Rural Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is in a precarious position when it comes to the 2020 census. Nearly 12 percent of Illinois residents live in small towns or sparsely populated areas. Anita Banerji is with Forefront Illinois, a civic engagement non-profit. She says a lack of awareness, access to technology and distrust in government make getting an accurate count in rural areas a challenge. Banerji says central and southern Illinois appear most vulnerable to losing a congressional seat, which is why it’s especially important to make sure everyone participates. Representatives from the farm bureau, local governments and other nonprofits met recently to learn how to promote census participation. Residents can expect a letter directing them to fill out census forms online in mid-March. – Mary Hansen, NPR Illinois

U of I Urbana-Champaign Receives Grant To Study Mars/Moon 

URBANA – A group of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors received more than $500,000 from NASA to produce research to help get humans safely to the Moon and eventually to Mars. U of I’s aerospace engineering department will simulate rocket landings on the Moon and Mars to understand how particles on those surfaces react during landings. Data is needed to protect both equipment and astronauts during future space missions. NASA aims to return humans to the Moon by 2024 in preparation for a future Mars mission. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Agriculture Secretary Defends SNAP Changes

INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made several stops around Indianapolis on Monday. The visit comes on the heels of his announcement last week tightening eligibility for the supplemental nutrition assistance program – or SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps. The new rule makes it harder for states to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work a certain number of hours in order to receive benefits. “When there are a million jobs, more than people looking for jobs, why are these able-bodied adults without dependents unable to find a job?,” said Perdue. Illinois state officials say the move could cut off benefits for approximately 140,000 Illinoisans. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

Rapper Juice WRLD Dies After Medical Emergency In Chicago

CHICAGO — Chicago-area Rapper Juice WRLD has died at age 21 after what authorities describe as a “medical emergency” at Midway International Airport. The artist was named top new artist at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in May. Chicago police are investigating. An autopsy is planned for Monday. The artist got his start on SoundCloud and then became a streaming juggernaut. He rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit “Lucid Dreams.” He was from the Chicago suburb of Homewood where he stood out as a talented high school musician. – Associated Press

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Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director for the Illinois Newsroom. He started at WILL in October of 2019 after serving as News Director for WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan. Previously, he was a news producer and manager at the NBC station in Dallas, where he won 7 Emmy awards. Born in Vietnam, Reginald is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL