Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jerry Seinfeld inspires local comedy scene

“Seinfeld” the sitcom was noted for being free of sentimentality. The only time the lead character cried, as a bizarro version of himself, he was confused as to the nature of the “salty discharge.”

But watch the real Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of his current series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” and you’ll see he isn’t quite the callous character he played on TV.

Bryan Rives, director of the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Services, said that the decision to bring Seinfeld back to Springfield was based on research and reaching out to loyal patrons to determine what type of entertainment and events they’d like to see.

“Jerry Seinfeld and the upcoming Ron White and ‘Paw Patrol Live!’ events, along with some other great soon-to-be-announced events, are just the beginning as we listen to our audience base and work hard to ensure we remain the preferred venue for high quality national touring arts and entertainment,” Rives said.

Tim Laffey, not a stage name, is a feature-level, Springfield-based comedian who performs throughout the region. He admires how Seinfeld can take the mundane and turn it into comedy gold. 

Laffey is doing his part to get more local comedians on stage. The production company he helps run, Belly Laffs, hosts “Jokelab” on the second Thursday of the month at Capital City Bar & Grill.

“I encourage Springfield to get out and enjoy live comedy,” Laffey said. “Things are blossoming and we want everyone to be a part of it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 17, 2018.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Women's Basketball: Stars’ Ramsey earns GLVC player of the week honors

University of Illinois Springfield senior forward Destiny Ramsey has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week.

She averaged 18.5 points and 11 rebounds in two wins last week.

She also shot 59 percent from the field. Against Missouri-St. Louis, Ramsey’s shooting percentage was 67 percent.

Her 19 points and 15 rebounds against Quincy was her fourth double-double this season.

Ramsey is the first UIS player to earn the honor since Megan Bergerud in March 2014.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2018.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

$21.7M student union officially opens at UIS

As hundreds of people gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday at University of Illinois Springfield’s new student union, Dominic Chiappano and his friends parked themselves in front of a large, flat-screen television on the first floor to watch the NFL playoffs. 

Before the new 52,028-square-foot building opened, the UIS senior said, there wasn’t a place on campus he and his friends wanted to hang out at. That changed Sunday.

“This place is a perfect getaway,” Chiappano said. “I’m definitely going to spend more time here.” 

After more than a year and a half of construction for the $21.7 million project, the student union at UIS is officially open for students, who return to class from winter break Tuesday.

University officials say the building will serve as a social hub for student life, foster a greater sense of community and help with recruitment efforts.

The two-story building anchors the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a Starbucks coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that houses student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.

Fee increases approved by a student vote in 2012 and other funds are paying $13.75 million, while a fundraising campaign continues toward $8 million in private donations.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said approximately $6.25 million in private funds has been raised toward the $8 million goal.

Koch said Sunday she struggled to put into words how excited she was this day finally came, noting talks of adding a student union have been ongoing for nearly a decade. Now that the building is here, she added, she believes it will enrich the entire academic community on campus and the larger Springfield community in ways she hasn’t yet imagined.

“This is a wonderful next step in the evolution of this very young campus and is going to make a huge difference in the life of this campus,” Koch said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 14, 2018.

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