William Crook Jr.A young Bill Crook left Illinois to travel around the country, then returned home to Springfield to begin a career as an artist. His love for his home state has inspired much of his work, including drawings of the state capitol, Lincoln’s home and historic sites throughout the state. He continues to document the life and times of Illinois. Read on to learn more about Mr. Crook and see more of his artwork on his website.




ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?
CROOK: I've been doing pen and ink drawings for about 43 years. I began when I was a design student at University of Illinois in Urbana, and was inspired by the so-called underground comics movement of the '60s and 70s, especially the work of Robert Crumb. I had work published in a number of small press publications, but unfortunately the pay was non-existent. This was during the Vietnam War, and I dropped out of college, hitch-hiked to Mexico and camped on a Pacific beach at Tenacatita Bay. It was there, experiencing the overwhelming beauty of the land and the sea, that I decided to be an artist.

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Buy local products at Illinois' holiday markets

With the holiday season in full swing, residents of our state should take the time to shop at our many holiday markets. Around the state, communities are coming together to celebrate the season and provide shoppers with a variety of unique items for the whole family.

Urbana’s Holiday Market, located at 201 Lincoln Square in Urbana, has a variety of vendors selling baked goods, musical instruments and fresh vegetables. The market runs every Saturday until December 20.

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According to one study, Naperville is the safest city for women in the United States. A data analysis company compared crime statistics for 285 cities with at least 100,000 residents, and Naperville came out number one.

"We are very pleased and proud of the No. 1 rating. Our community outreach efforts and preventative programs specially designed to ensure women's safety are just some of our keys to success," said Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall in a Daily Herald article.

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After football season comes to a close, Illinois fans will have another NFL event to look forward to.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have announced that Chicago was chosen to host the 2015 NFL draft. The draft had been held in the Radio City Music Hall in New York since 1965, but earlier this year, the league decided to award the draft to a new city. Los Angeles and Nashville were among some of the other candidate cities, but Chicago’s rich history with the NFL helped it become the front runner.

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John Spinello of Bloomingdale may not be a household name, but his invention is a happy memory for millions: the ‘Operation’ game.

Spinello, a native of Chicago’s west side, was a sophomore at the University of Illinois in 1962 when an industrial design assignment resulted in the prototype for the game many of us remember for its funny bone, bread basket and a startling buzz for a wrong move.

He sold the invention in 1964 for $500. While he never made another dime on the game, he and his wife and children have had a good life. Enjoyment watching generations of children delight at the game, however, doesn’t pay the bills, and Spinello finds himself in need of a $25,000 operation of his own. Toymaker friends and fans of the game initiated a crowdfund website to help pay for his oral surgery as an expression of gratitude for his creation of an iconic family game.

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