Victoria Lunacek

Each year, Landmarks Illinois recognizes historic preservation projects around the state.

This year, the Elgin Tower was among those recognized. Bonnie McDonald is President and CEO of Landmarks Illinois. She said the group selects winners based on public nomination. 

“So each year we select nine projects from across the state that have demonstrated the importance of historic preservation, its economic development potential and as well as its creation of sense of place," McDonald said.

The Sound of Science - "Coffee"

Aug 10, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers, and today’s question comes from Alex who wants to know why coffee tastes so weird. With me is STEM Outreach’s resident coffee enthusiast Sam Watt. Sam loves his coffee so much, he even went out of his way to pick and roast his own coffee in a coffee grove in Cambodia!

Flickr User DUBI KAUFMANN / (CC X 2.0)

Chicago has a new strategy to return lost animals to their owners more quickly and keep them out of the city's animal shelter.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that the city's animal control officers will now carry mobile microchip scanners. They'll be able to scan lost pets that have been implanted with microchips to determine the owner's address. The animals will be returned to their owners without having to be processed through Chicago Animal Care and Control.

Best Friends Animal Society and Animal Farm Foundation donated the 60 scanners.

Flickr User ROY LUCK / (CC X 2.0)

Civil rights activists and local aldermen are criticizing a joint investigation by Chicago police and the Norfolk Southern Railroad that involved using a truck loaded with shoes to lure potential thieves.

Residents of the city's Englewood neighborhood recently filmed police arresting a man and accused officers of trying to entrap poor residents with the truck. Residents featured in the video, which went viral, said the truck was stocked with Nikes.

Carl Nelson

The Spanish Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses was held this past weekend at Northern Illinois University's Convocation Center. On this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jenna Dooley talks with Angel Martinez, one of the organizers of the gathering.

This year's theme was "¡Sea Valiente!" which means "be brave" or "be courageous." Martinez says it's a fitting theme given the challenges that all humans face in life in general -- be it in school, at work, or within the family.

Sessions from Studio A - Cousin Dud

Aug 9, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Cousin Dud performs "Better Beaches" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Cousin Dud performs "Spent" in WNIJ's Studio A.

For the second time, Illinois Republican leaders are disavowing a congressional candidate over contentious views they've promoted.


The state GOP chairman and other party officials say they're withdrawing support for candidate Bill Fawell. That's after reviewing conspiracy theories he posted to social media about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2012 Sandy Hook mass school shooting. Fawell is the GOP challenger to Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos in northwestern Illinois' 17th congressional district.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner has blamed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for failure on the city’s violence.

Governor Bruce Rauner says Rahm Emanuel has "failed horribly" on public safety. The comments came after gunfire in the city last weekend injured more than 70 people and killed at least 11.

The Republican said Thursday that Chicago police have not received sufficient personnel, equipment or staffing assistance to be effective.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A new federal lawsuit accuses the Cook County Sheriff's Office of violating the rights of detainees by monitoring them through video cameras while they use toilets in courthouse holding cells.

The proposed class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago on Wednesday argues the alleged monitoring while detainees await bond hearings violates protections against unconstitutional searches and invasions of privacy. It names Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County as defendants.

Chicago Blackhawks on Facebook

The Chicago Blackhawks have announced plans for a public visitation for Hall of Fame forward Stan Mikita on Sunday.

Mikita, who helped lead the Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup title while becoming one of the franchise's most revered figures, died Tuesday. He was 78.

Willie Wilson/Facebook

The Illinois attorney general's office is looking at a Chicago mayoral candidate's charitable foundation after he's handed out more than $300,000 in cash and checks to local residents.

The Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation calls the office's action an investigation that's politically motivated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's allies.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not dispatch the Illinois National Guard to Chicago to stem gun violence.


The Republican on Wednesday said, "the National Guard is not for neighborhood policing."

He dismissed suggestions that he call up the state militia after 74 people were shot in the city last weekend. At least 11 were killed.

Chicago police have ordered 600 additional officers to the affected neighborhoods through the weekend.

Rauner told reporters in Peoria, "the violence in Chicago is heartbreaking, it's got to end."

Victoria Lunacek

The DeKalb Regional Office of Education hosted its first Educator Spirit Day on Wednesday. It's intended to help teachers de-stress before their first day back to school. Regional Superintendent Amanda Christensen says the goal is to give educators tools to help manage their health.

"We know that we need educators to be focused on their own well being also in order to help their students focus on their well being," Christensen said.

Susan Bivens is a special education teacher at Cortland Elementary. She says it was a great way to get ready and prepare for her students.

Victoria Lunacek

Tuesday's National Night Out brought together first responders and the public of Elburn at the downtown Lions Park. People were able to explore firetrucks, ambulances and police cars to see how they work and operate. National Night Out is an annual event held in communities around the country.

Flickr User Arvell Dorsey Jr. (CC x 2.0)

Chicago officials announced Tuesday hundreds of additional police officers will be deployed to city neighborhoods where a burst of gun violence over the weekend left at least 11 people dead and around 70 wounded.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said 400 additional officers are already patrolling areas on the West and South Sides where most of the shootings occurred. Another 200 will be added by the coming weekend.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

For some people, it's easy to schedule a doctor's appointment and get immediate treatment. But for those who don't live close to a hospital or clinic, this can be more difficult. "Telemedicine" is making this process easier.  

Mark Pfeiffer is a Hampshire resident and small business owner who was having difficulty sleeping. He contacted his local physician, who had Pfeiffer take part in a clinical study.

"After that sleep study, they confirmed, yeah, you have sleep apnea, and so they referred me to Dr. Jain at Delnor Hospital," he said.

Lawsuit Prompts Emergency DACA Workshops

Aug 8, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is in legislative limbo. Seven states are suing the federal government in an effort to end the program.

A Texas district judge will hear this lawsuit Wednesday, August 8th.  The hearing, led by Judge Andrew S.  Hanen, could lead to DACA’s suspension.

Two emergency workshops took place this week in Aurora. Organizers are trying to get as many renewal applications filed before the hearing takes place.

Illinois legislation designed to ensure ride-share drivers undergo adequate background checks is now law.

A statement from Illinois Senate Democrats says it took effect Tuesday. It requires that those applying to be ride-share drivers provide their full name and social security number, as well as their date of birth.

The statement says that before the new law prospective drivers were only required to give their address, age, driver's license number, motor vehicle registration and automobile insurance liability.

Facebook / Kash Jackson for Governor

The Libertarian candidate for Illinois governor, who's campaigned against the state's child-support system, engaged in a shouting match with a judge about money he owes his ex-wife and access to child visitation.

The Republican candidates for state comptroller and treasurer are calling on Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation that would consolidate the two offices they’re running for.

Comptroller candidate Darlene Senger and treasurer candidate Jim Dodge made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday in Rockford.

Both say the move would improve transparency and efficiency. Senger says it also would save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Flickr user Daniel X. O'Neil / (CC x 2.0)

Former governor Pat Quinn wants to limit Chicago mayors to two terms.Credit Flickr User Daniel X. O'Neil / (CC x 2.0)Edit | Remove

Organizers of a petition drive to impose term limits for Chicago mayors say they have enough signatures to put the question before voters.

Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn on Monday filed 86,481 signatures to get a binding referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. That is 33,962 signatures above the legal requirement.

The Reign Of Antiques In Sandwich

Aug 7, 2018
Peter Medlin

When people from Illinois think about Sandwich, they probably think of the Sandwich Fair. It’s one of the oldest county fairs in the state. But the city has another claim to fame: antiques.

At Prindi’s, one of Sandwich’s largest antique stores, a big sign adorns the front window reading “ANTIQUES.” But they sell more than just old items -- some are rare or just unique.

“Call it upscale garage sale,” said Prindi’s owner and namesake Roger Prindiville. “A lot of stuff that’s not antiques, but people love it.”

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens in Rockford is expecting a rare sight. Their Titan Arum, or corpse flower, will bloom soon. 

Dan Erwin is the horticulture supervisor at the conservatory. He says the plant is unique because it only blooms every 10 to 20 years and because of its unusual smell.

Erwin says, "they’ve actually broken the compounds down in it, and there’s some of the same things that you would smell if you were smelling dead fish, if you were smelling burnt sugar, if you were smelling rotten meat, and if you were smelling smelly gym socks.” 

Slideshow: STEM Divas Camp Empowers Young Female Minds

Aug 6, 2018
Victoria Lunacek

Northern Illinois University held a series STEM Divas workshops this summer to empower young women through science, crafts and robotics. Participants had to program their robot to do a certain set of steps: Move backward, turn in a full circle, and change four colors. It's part of a series of Day Camps hosted by NIU.

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced the winners of the 2018 Cream of the Crop Photo Contest. The annual contest encourages young photographers to share their vision of agriculture in the state.

The winning entries will be featured in the Treasurer’s tent on the north side of Brian Raney Avenue during the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The fair kicks off on Aug. 9 with the Twilight Parade and ends on Aug. 19.

There were three age-based categories in this year’s photo contest: ages 8-10, 11-14, and 15-18.

Among the area winners:

Ages 11-14

Police say weekend shootings in Chicago have left at least 11 people dead and about 70 wounded.


The violence peaked early Sunday, including one shooting on the city's South Side that injured eight people.

Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, says one lesson from a wave of weekend violence is that people who live in neighborhoods where the shootings occurred have to be willing to name potential suspects.

This Year's Weather Could Boost Success Of Cover Crops

Aug 6, 2018

If you have been debating on the idea of cover crops, this might be the year to give them a try.

Cover crops are planted after a harvest to enrich and protect the soil. Types of cover crops include cereal rye, wheat and ryegrass. Phillip Alberti is a Crop Science Educator with the University of Illinois Extension. He says cover crops are a great way to improve the overall health of farm fields.


At Springfield High School, Ethan Doyle is an honors student, a member of the baseball team, the investment club, and an elite student group known as Superintendent’s Roundtable. But perhaps his most notable accomplishment came during the spring of his sophomore year, when he assassinated more of his classmates than anybody else.

"My mom didn’t really care but my dad, he was hyped up about it a little bit. He was excited,” Ethan says.

Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum on Facebook

The Springfield and Central Illinois African-American History Museum will debut a new exhibit detailing the 1908 Springfield Race Riots.

The exhibit will be unveiled Saturday evening as the 110th anniversary of the event approaches on Aug. 14-15, The State Journal-Register reported.

Flickr User David Wilson / (CC x 2.0)

Environmental regulators aren't sure where a northwestern Indiana steel mill's emissions end up after the pollution is released by the sprawling mill, which is a major source of industrial lead and benzene emissions, a newspaper has found.