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Central Illinois Headlines – March 27, 2024

Business mogul challenges local entrepreneurs to dream bigger

CHAMPAIGN – A broadcasting, construction and real estate mogul from St. Louis is sharing business advice with Central Illinoisans this week. Michael Roberts is speaking Wednesday night at the Spurlock Museum. As part of the Black Joy exhibit, he will talk with African Americans about current and future business opportunities.

“I think while I’m here, I’ll probably be disrupting some people’s thinking… helping them to maybe move in a different direction,” said Roberts. “How much do they know about robotics? How much do they know about the metaverse? What would it be like to have nothing but driverless cars? What is it going to be like to realize that your medical practice will be largely robotic in nature? Are we really ready to accept that, understand it and most importantly, make money off of it?”

A panel of entrepreneurs discuss their experiences with Roberts starting at 6:30 Wednesday night at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures in Urbana. A Black business expo will follow the discussion. The public is invited. – Reginald Hardwick, IPM News

State Senate to consider two battery bills

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate may soon consider two bills that create rules on how to collect and store used batteries. Capitol News Illinois reports one bill would require EV battery storage facilities be registered with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Pollution Control Board. The other directs battery producers to create and implement plans to collect certain batteries for recycling and disposal.

Witnesses told a legislative panel that increased regulation on battery storage would help prevent catastrophic fires with additional toxic consequences.  Both bills unanimously passed out of committee earlier this month and await action by the full Senate. – Capitol News Illinois

Teacher shortage persists in Illinois schools

SPRINGFIELD – A new survey shows schools in Illinois continue to struggle with a persistent teacher shortage.  Capitol News Illinois reports the annual survey from the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents found more than 90 percent of responding schools report having a serious or very serious teacher shortage. That percentage has remained almost constant for the last several years. 

The survey finds job burnout and the ability to earn better wages in other professions are among the top reasons cited for the shortage. The regional superintendents make several recommendations, including continuing to increase state funding for K-through-12 education. – Capitol News Illinois

Researcher is seeking soil samples from across Illinois

URBANA – A University of Illinois researcher is reaching out to the owners of hundreds of farmland sites across the state, where soil samples were taken years ago for a map of soil types. His objective: take new samples from the same sites, to see how soil conditions have changed. Professor Andrew Marginot says comparing new soil samples with the ones from the 20th and 19th centuries could show how decades of farming has changed levels of nutrients in the soil. Phosphorus and potassium are common nutrients found in fertilizers. Marginot plans to visit some sites for new soil sampling this spring, part of what will be a multi-year process. – Jim Meadows, IPM News

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