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White House Rules For Autonomous Vehicles

posted September 26th, 2016

Across the country a number of tests of self-driving cars are underway. In Pittsburgh Uber is doing a limited test of autonomous cars, meanwhile, Google is testing its own version on its corporate campus in California. DePaul University Transportation Studies professor Joe Schwieterman says self-driving technology is building political and popular momentum. He tells WDCB News proposed regulations the White House released last week are a good step. Schwieterman says the regulations could prevent some of the state level experimentation, and he hopes that doesn't happen. He says the proposal makes it clear that at the end of the day there needs to be a federal standard. Schwieterman says the federal government is telling developers to go out and accelerate product development, but while that's happening the Department of Transportation is going to come up with a uniform set of policies. Just a few years ago, Schwieterman was skeptical that self-driving cars would become mainstream technology. Now, he thinks autonomous vehicles will become more common; but says consumers shouldn’t expect widespread use for 10 to 15 years.

Transit Conference Looks For 'Last Mile' Solutions

posted September 23rd, 2016

In each of the past 16 years, DuPage County has hosted a meeting of the region’s mass transit providers and local leaders. This year the John Noel Public Transit Conference focused on what transit providers call ‘the last mile.’ Regional Transportation Authority Board Chairman Kirk Dillard says the link between home and transit…and transit and work is a constant challenge. But he tells WDCB News finding solutions is critical to the region’s economic success. Dillard says with 'Millennials' poised to make up half of the nation's workforce mass transit is a game-changer. He says new, younger workers embrace mass transit, they love Uber and Lyft, and other 21st century transit options, so transit agencies need to stay on their toes to make it easier to commute. Dillard says other metro areas are investing in transit systems. He says if the Chicago area doesn’t keep pace it won’t continue to attract jobs or the best and brightest young workers.

Performing Arts School Coming To Aurora

posted September 22nd, 2016

The former Waubonsee Community College building in downtown Aurora has been vacant for nearly five years, but a $15-million state tax credit will help to reinvent the space. The project will create of the Paramount School for the Performing Arts, artist residences and retail space. Paramount Theater President and CEO Tim Rater says it will continue the transformation of downtown Aurora. He tells WDCB News this project is very similar to one of his previous successes. Rater says the project isn't so different from the Metropolis School of Performing Arts that he created in Arlington Heights. He says that project started off by presenting creative programing, and eventually opened a school that became one of the biggest performing arts schools in Illinois. The Aurora Performing Arts School will take up about 30-thousand square feet of space in the Galena Boulevard building. The project will also create nearly 40 loft-style apartments that will give preference to people working at least part time in the arts.

Chicago's Shawn Maxwell Creates A New Tommorow

posted September 21st, 2016

Saxophonist Shawn Maxwell is a familiar face on the Chicago jazz scene. He’s been performing since his days at Joliet Central High School and now plays festivals and jazz clubs throughout the region. Brian O’Keefe sat down with Shawn as he prepared to release his seventh record of original material

Metra CEO Hopes Cost Savings Help 2017 Budget

posted September 21st, 2016

The Metra Board of Directors gets its first look at the agency’s budget for 2017 next month, but there are already some hints of what it will include. Metra CEO Don Orseno says thanks to efficiencies and belt-tightening the agency’s saved more than $5-million in the current budget. He’s projecting those savings will carry over to the budget year that begins January first. Orseno tells WDCB News there is a constant, careful review of spending. He says every decision Metra makes looks at the best possible move for efficiencies, and cost effectiveness for the various projects it has underway. Orseno says the worst thing the agency could do is wait until the fourth quarter of the year to review the budget and then be faced with having to cut expenses to balance the budget. Metra says two categories of spending reductions will save $3.5-million in the next budget. The agency says it will spend about $1.8-million less on outside legal fees, and $1.7-million less on personnel costs next year. Orseno will present the budget proposal at the October Metra Board meeting.

State Gallery In Lockport Reopens

posted September 20th, 2016

When lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner failed to approve a state budget in the summer of 2015, some state functions quickly came to a halt. The Illinois State Museum and its satellite facilities at Cahokia Mounds and in Lockport all closed. Earlier this year, the museum in Springfield and at Cahokia Mounds reopened. Lockport Mayor Steve Streit says the gallery in his community will reopen this Saturday. Streit tells WDCB News Lockport has been working to bring the state gallery back. He says the city approached Governor Bruce Rauner and offered to cover the cost of rent for the gallery if the state would pay for the facilities employees. Streit says Illinois State Museum Board member Rosemary Winters created a non-profit foundation to help pay the gallery's expenses.  Lockport Gallery curator John Lustig is planning a special exhibit of artifacts with the theme of ‘open.’ Streit says the reopening coincides with Lockport’s Summer Art Series celebration festival this weekend.

Local, State & Federal Leaders Host Conversation On Heroin

posted September 19th, 2016

DuPage County Coroner Dr. Rich Jorgenson says a surprising number of area high school students don’t think heroin is a big deal or that dangerous. He says that’s why the county is taking part in a national campaign this week to raise awareness of the heroin and opioid epidemic. U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon will take part in a panel discuss of the problem Wednesday evening in Wheaton. Jorgenson tells WDCB News the problem is being made worse by the introduction of synthetic fentanyl. He says law enforcement is finding fentanyl in pretty much all of the heroin they're seizing on the street, and this fentanyl is being created in labs. Jorgenson says dealers are mixing chemicals in small scale labs to create a very powerful drug. He says the synthetic fentanyl is hundreds of times more potent than morphine. Jorgenson says it represents the next major game changer in the fight against opioid abuse. 

Local, State & Federal Leaders Host Conversation On Heroin

posted September 19th, 2016

DuPage County Coroner Dr. Rich Jorgenson says a surprising number of area high school students don’t think heroin is a big deal or that dangerous. He says that’s why the county is taking part in a national campaign this week to raise awareness of the heroin and opioid epidemic. U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon will take part in a panel discuss of the problem Wednesday evening in Wheaton. Jorgenson tells WDCB News the problem is being made worse by the introduction of synthetic fentanyl. He says law enforcement is finding fentanyl in pretty much all of the heroin they're seizing on the street, and this fentanyl is being created in labs. Jorgenson says dealers are mixing chemicals in small scale labs to create a very powerful drug. He says the synthetic fentanyl is hundreds of times more potent than morphine. Jorgenson says it represents the next major game changer in the fight against opioid abuse.