News

Peter Medlin

In 2016, more than 10 percent of all 16-24 year olds in Illinois were both jobless and out of school.

State Sen. Dave Syverson is part of the state task force working to identify the barriers of employment holding back young adults. They met with community leaders in Rockford this week. Syverson says it's an issue far more complex than simply sending state money.

There are also a disproportionate number of black and Latino teens (16-19) and young adults (20-24) who are jobless and not in school.

Peter Medlin

Solar power has been used here and there in Illinois for a long time. But now the state is going for it in a big way. 

In the 19th Century, scientists discovered that you could generate electricity directly from sunlight when you arrange certain elements in a particular way. In the 1950s, scientists at Bell Labs took an element they were using to develop the first transistors – silicon – to create the photovoltaic, or PV, cells that we know today. 

www.zionparkdistrict.com

A former Marine already sentenced to death for killing a sailor in Virginia pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally attacking two young girls in a suburban Chicago park 13 years ago.

 

 

A judge sentenced Jorge Torrez, 30, to 100 years in prison under a plea deal with prosecutors for the fatal stabbings of 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias on Mother's Day 2005. The attack took place at the Beulah Park Forest Preserve in Zion, near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Illinois is only seven years away from its deadline for getting 25% of the state’s energy from renewable sources. Wind power will have to play a big part to reach that ambitious goal. The state ranks 6th in the nation for the number of wind turbines, at more than 2,600. These wind farms are generally located in rural areas, many on active farms where people are raising corn and soybeans. The wind becomes a third crop that can be “harvested” year-round, giving the farmer a steady rental income.

What Is Feeding The Grid?

Sep 17, 2018
Carl Nelson/Spencer Tritt

Wind, solar, and nuclear are some of the energy options available to Illinois consumers. This week on Morning Edition, the WNIJ news team explores how these affect the quality of life in northern Illinois in 2018 and beyond.

Wind: The "Third Crop"

Wind is sometimes called the "third crop" by farmers.

Reporter Susan Stephens has been following the development of wind farms in northern Illinois. She says the term is used because so often the turbines are placed on farms.

Fall 2018 Listener Book Swap

Sep 14, 2018

September is National Literacy Month and we’re celebrating with a listener book swap September 17-28. Our doors will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30.

The idea is simple. Stop by our DeKalb studios with a book – or several - for the “swap table" and peruse favorite books from staff and fellow listeners while you're here. You’re free to go home with some fresh reads, or leave the treasures behind for stocking the WNIJ/WNIU Little Free Library.

The Sound of Science - "Marshmallow Explosion"

Sep 14, 2018

J: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach, and I’m in the studio with Kate Powers. Kate, today we have a question from Lydia that is making me laugh just thinking about it. Lydia wants to know why Peeps marshmallows expand so much when you microwave them.

K: I love this question Jeremy! Not only is it fun to blow up a marshmallow by nuking it, but it is a great example of one of the basic laws of chemistry.

J: Microwaving a marshmallow demonstrates a basic law of chemistry? That seems…strange.

Sessions from Studio A - Dina Bach

Sep 13, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Dina Bach performs "You and Me" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Dina Bach performs "Slow Dance" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Dina Bach at dinabachmusic.com.

Chase Cavanaugh

As of Thursday, Northern Illinois University is one step closer to having a permanent president.

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved Dr. Lisa Freeman as their candidate for university president. She's been serving in an "acting" capacity since the resignation of Doug Baker in 2017. Trustees praised Dr. Freeman for her past year of leadership in a time of declining enrollment and budgetary realignment.  Former state representative and current board trustee Bob Pritchard says her leadership will be invaluable.

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

Museum curators usually build an art exhibition around a particular artist's work or on a theme. But the Rockford Art Museum's Midwestern Biennial has an outside judge, lots of different artists and no theme. So how do you curate that? 

As Museum Curator Carrie Johnson explains, the Midwestern Biennial poses particular challenges. Normally, she spends up to two years vetting artists, assembling works, and picking a theme.

The third season of the Green Lens Environmental and Social Justice Film Series kicks off this week at DeKalb's Egyptian Theatre. The Film Screenings will be held at 7:00 p.m. followed by discussions on topics ranging from cleaning up oceans to the life and work of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Northern Illinois University Media Studies Professor Laura Vazquez says these films are a call to action.

"I told my students, if you are making a social justice film and it doesn't change someone's life, then you have failed as filmmaker," Vazquez said.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University again experienced an overall drop in student enrollment this year.

The biggest loss was in total undergraduates, down 666 students from last year (from 13,454 to 12,788). NIU also saw an eight percent decline in the number of transfer students, from 1,716 to 1,577. Total enrollment now hovers at 17,169 students, which is a drop of 4.8 percent from this time last year.

Wikimedia Commons

Elections in Illinois are often handled on a regional basis by the County Clerk. Larger communities like Aurora and Rockford have independent boards, but some of these groups are consolidating into their county governments.

Our story begins in DeKalb County, which recently purchased a set of used voting machines from neighboring Kane County. Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson says Kane no longer needed them, and it was a way to update the voting infrastructure without waiting for the state to approve new machines.

www.palmerhousehiltonhotel.com

Striking Chicago hotel workers spent a fifth day on picket lines as the walkout grew to 26 downtown hotels.

 

 

 

The strike has targeted large chains including Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott. The Chicago Tribune reports employees at the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile joined the strike Tuesday.

 

Some visitors say hotels have scrambled to clean rooms and check in guests.

 

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ News

Two northern Illinois members of Congress are gearing up for the November elections.  

16th District Republican Adam Kinzinger and 17th District Democrat Cheri Bustos are fighting to keep their seats this fall.  Kinzinger is facing off against Rockford lawyer Sara Dady, and says there is energy on both sides.  

 

"I feel very strongly about holding the Senate, maybe gaining some seats, and I think the House is certainly in play."

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ News

There's federal money on the way to help combat domestic violence in northern Illinois. Members of Congress announced a nearly $450,000 grant for Rockford to establish a Family Justice Center. The facility will serve as a hub for survivors of domestic abuse and their children to get help from law enforcement, social services, and other agencies.  Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says he’s grateful for the federal help.

Photo by Peter Medlin

In light of the conversations around safety, schools have recently changed many protocols and programs. They've replaced and upgraded equipment and hired armed resource officers.

But safety is not only about the physical vulnerability of the building. It's increasingly about mental health and helping students forge positive relationships with adults in their schools and communities.

University of Illinois

 

In his first major political speech since leaving office, former President Barack Obama took aim at the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress — blaming them for inciting division and stoking fears in the country.

Obama delivered the address at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, where he also accepted the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government from the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

The Sound of Science - "Don't Drink the Salt Water"

Sep 7, 2018

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, with Jeremy Benson and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

J: Kate, I have a question from Ariana, it sounds like she may have been reading Swiss Family Robinson or watching Cast Away. Ariana wants to know why you can’t drink sea water as a source of hydration?

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to transport, buy or sell any migratory bird, and its nests or eggs, among other provisions. It’s been around for 100 years. On this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ's Jenna Dooley learns more about the Act and local efforts to conserve bird populations.

Winnebago County birder Lee Johnson has been bird banding for more than half of the treaty's lifespan and he has seen improvements in that time.

Sessions from Studio A - sewingneedle

Sep 6, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

sewingneedle performs "Puppies" live in WNIJ's Studio A.

sewingneedle performs "Feel Good Music" live in WNIJ's Studio A.

Pixabay

Illinois is offering a new tool for students and their parents to plan for college.

The tool is a website and app called ILCollege2Career. It takes data from Illinois universities and matches it with how likely someone is to find a job in a given field — and how much that job might pay.

It’s meant to be a one-stop shop for students looking for the perfect school for their major. The catch is that there’s only data on Illinois schools. It’s aimed at keeping homegrown students in-state. 

SIUE Now Has Higher Enrollment Than SIUC

Sep 5, 2018
SIU.edu

Both SIU Carbondale and SIU Edwardsville saw a drop in enrollment this fall - but Carbondale's larger decline pushed Edwardsville to top its sister institution in total students for the first time.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Governor’s Mansion is recently renovated and has re-opened for tourists, who tend to go for the historical significance. There’s also a new reason for art enthusiasts to check it out.

U of I Institute of Govt & Public Affairs

The Flash Index, a monthly index of the Illinois economy shows it at its highest level in more than two years.

RALPH WEISHEIT / WGLT

State Farm Insurance is settling a class action conspiracy suit for $250 million. At stake if the matter Hale vs. State Farm had proceeded to trial was $10 billion.

Contexts

The National Football League’s regular season is getting underway. One question for NFL observers this year will be how many players take a knee during the national anthem. A Northern Illinois University study found the action was given new life by President Trump’s call for the protesters to be fired.  

Russell Hurst

Earlier this month, we reported on the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield and what's being done to remember and reconcile 110 years after the violence broke out. As part of that reporting, we spoke with Kelly Wickham Hurst, CEO and founder of the advocacy organization Being Black at School.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois’ Urbana campus announced Monday it will guarantee any in-state student, from a household at or below the state median income of $61,000 per year, will have tuition and fees covered by a combination of university, state, and federal financial aid.

That doesn’t include room and board, or books, but the university said students can apply additional merit and third-party scholarships to those expenses.

Sarah Jesmer

A critically-acclaimed film created in Rockford shows skateboarding is more than a hobby for some.

Audience members walking through the doors of Rockford's Nordlof Center received pamphlets on reducing trauma. That's because the film, called Minding the Gap, highlights hard truths about trauma and abuse as seen through the lens of local skateboarders.

Filmmaker Bing Liu grew up in Rockford. He says there's a deep misconception about what happens at a skate park.

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