Chase Cavanaugh

Reporter

Chase started in radio while earning his Master's in diplomacy and international commerce at the University of Kentucky.  He was bitten by the radio bug while volunteering at Radio Eye (a local equivalent to NIRIS) and soon became a reporter at WUKY. After four years of reporting in Kentucky's Bluegrass, Chase traveled north to join WNIJ as Morning Edition producer.  Chase reports on a variety of developments in our broadcast area but is particularly drawn to anything with a political or international connection.  He is also an avid board gamer.

Northwestern Medicine operates the two major hospitals in DeKalb County, but the majority of its resources for stroke care are based at Central DuPage Hospital.  That’s why Kishwaukee and Valley West Hospitals are making use of a telestroke system so doctors can videoconference with area patients.   Stroke coordinator Caryn Josh says it’s one of the first steps in patient care.

“They get that initial CT. They get back to the emergency department room and then we initiate the telestroke robot," she said. "We’re kind of involved from the very beginning with the treatment.”

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

When you think of passenger air travel in northern Illinois, O'Hare often comes to mind. But Rockford's facility, officially known as Chicago Rockford International Airport, is making a greater name for itself, particularly in the realm of cargo.

In 1994, officials with United Parcel Service, better known as UPS, made a deal with airport authorities to set up a sorting hub. Since then, it's become the company's second largest air operation in the world.

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois University will be the fourth research hub for the Illinois Innovation Network.

This hub will be part of a research network that spans three University of Illinois campuses, each focused on different subjects.  Gov Bruce Rauner says the state’s already budgeted $15 million for NIU’s center, and NIU President Lisa Freeman says the center will focus on issues of sustainability.  

"Environmental sustainability, water and food policy, water and food shortages," she said. 

Gov. Rauner said this could lead to significant innovation.

Ildar Sagdejev/Wikimedia Commons

Learning how to drive is still a rite of passage for many teenagers, but the requirements to get a license vary by state.

Getting behind the wheel is perhaps the most memorable part of learning to drive, but it also involves a lot of classroom instruction. David Druker is with the Illinois Secretary of State's office. He says that's where the majority of students still get their training. 

"So the majority, 75 percent -- I think it's a couple hundred thousand people in any given school year -- are actually going to the high school driver's ed programs," he said. 

Susan Stephens

Community colleges are a major source of transfer students in northern Illinois. Students earn an associate's degree and continue their education at NIU for their bachelor's. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Northern Illinois University's Board of Trustees voted without dissent to appoint Dr. Lisa Freeman as the institution's 13th President Thursday.

She's been the Acting President since last year, and her contract for the new position will run through August 2022. Board Chairman Wheeler Coleman says Freeman will be paid a base salary of $450,000, but it also includes provisions from a new state law that caps severance pay at twenty weeks.

Victoria Lunacek

For some people, their first thought of a nuclear power plant involves cooling towers, meltdowns, and the comically incompetent Homer Simpson. But needless to say, The Simpsons is not an accurate representation of a nuclear power plant. Like coal, oil, and gas plants, nuclear power stations use heat to generate electricity. But they're subject to many more safety precautions because their fuel -- uranium -- is radioactive. 

Victoria Lunacek/WNIJ

Nuclear energy has a significant presence in Illinois, with 11 reactors spread across six plants. Together, they provide about 11.8 gigawatts of power to the entire state. That's enough for millions of homes -- or, as any "Back to the Future" fan knows, almost ten DeLorean time machines.

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.

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.

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.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s acting president outlined her vision for the campus in a public address Thursday.

Speaking before faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Lisa Freeman said NIU has been successful in employing a diversity of perspectives across campus. However, she said NIU needs to evolve in order to face future challenges. Chief among those, she said, was the need to guarantee fiscal stability in the wake of an absent state budget and declining enrollment.

Victoria Lunacek

School buses are ubiquitous in northern Illinois. For parents, they're key to getting children to school, and for everyone, they're a significant presence on the road. Brian Scott is Terminal Manager for the buses at Rockford Public Schools. He says it's important for drivers to obey the stop sign that swings out when the buses are unloading children.

"If you are on a two-lane road and you are trailing a school bus or approaching a school bus, all traffic needs to stop when that stop sign comes out," he said.

Illinois State Archives

The Illinois State Archives is celebrating the state's bicentennial with an online exhibit of its most valuable documents.

Director David Joens says the collection includes historical touchstones. That includes four state constitutions and the state’s first women’s suffrage law.  There are also more cultural items.

Victoria Lunacek/WNIJ

When a city negotiates a new contract for waste haulers, it can lead to a change in services or opportunities to lower costs.

If you live in a decently-sized city, you probably roll your trash cans to the curb once a week, and the garbage gets hauled off. The City of DeKalb recently approved a contract with Lakeshore Recycling as its new garbage hauler.  It takes effect in September, and Public Works Director Tim Holdeman says the move came about when the city’s old contract was up for renewal. 

Victoria Lunacek

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate J.B. Pritzker stopped in DeKalb on Sunday to rally support from local Democrats. He also unveiled a new campaign office. He says the goal is to further expand campaign efforts beyond Chicago and the collar counties.  Pritzker also framed his campaign as a challenge to Washington.

"I decided to run for governor because everything we care about, and I really mean everything, is under siege right now by a racist misogynist in Washington, and his local silent partner Governor Bruce Rauner," he said.

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.

Victoria Lunacek/WNIJ

If you find a cat or dog wandering around your neighborhood, the first thing you should do is check to see if the animal has any identification. Provided you don’t find anything, you should probably take this possible stray to the local humane society.

Michelle Groeper is the Executive Director of Tails Humane Society in DeKalb. The facility takes in dogs, cats, and some other small animals from the community. Tails also puts other creatures in foster care so that they can be raised and prepared for adoption, as well as spay/neuter services.

Wikimedia

An emerging health care approach factors in the lasting effects of trauma.

In 2016, the Winnebago County Health Department asked the community about top health concerns so it could put together a Community Health Improvement Plan. Several issues made it to the top of the list.

Cynthia Hall is the Department’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. 

“And they told us three things," she explained. "Mental health was one of them. Maternal and child health was another, and violence was the third.”

Victoria Lunacek

The successor to 70th District statehouse Rep. Bob Pritchard was sworn in Tuesday.

Republican Jeff Keicher took the oath of office from retired judge John Countryman at Dayton Farms in Sycamore. He was accompanied by state party leaders and other elected officials, such as former state Rep. John Countryman, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, and State Senator Dave Syverson. After Keicher took the oath, Durkin compared him favorably to his predecessor, Bob Pritchard.

Victoria Lunacek

Former Illinois State Rep. Bob Pritchard joined NIU’s Board of Trustees on Monday.

Pritchard previously served in the state House of Representatives for the 70th District (which encompasses parts of DeKalb, Kane, and Boone Counties) from December 2003 to July of this year. Pritchard says he’s eager to tackle the challenges facing NIU.

Victoria Lunacek

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan Monday that puts Acting President Lisa Freeman in the running to take the position permanently.

They are putting forward Dr. Freeman as their preferred candidate and will gather feedback from local constituents later this year. Board Chair Wheeler Coleman says the trustees are quite pleased with Freeman’s work over the past year.

Ottawa Catholic Community

Natural disasters can be devastating for small communities.  Not only can people lose their lives and homes, but vital links to the community can be lost forever.  WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on how the village of Naplate is keeping one memory alive. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Members of Illinois' congressional delegation marked improvements at Chicago Rockford International Airport Monday.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and Senator Dick Durbin broke ground on an expansion to the airport’s international cargo building, along with a new ramp for cargo plane parking. Bustos says the airport has made significant investments, and these upgrades will further increase efficiency.

The delivery of air cargo is a $35 billion proposition, and  the officials say Rockford is doing a great job of tapping into that.

City of Rockford

Rockford residents are invited to share their thoughts on creating a Family Justice Center. It's part of Mayor Tom McNamara’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and the 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Coordinated Court. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Sauk Valley-area activists Wednesday encouraged 16th District U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger to take part in a public forum.

Members of the group Action For A Better Tomorrow assembled in Dixon and traveled to Kinzinger’s District Office in Ottawa. 

On arrival, they presented a petition with more than 700 signatures inviting the Republican incumbent to take part in a forum with his Democratic opponent, Rockford attorney Sara Dady. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Birds are a common sight throughout Northern Illinois, with many species coming through the area as part of seasonal migration. Some are just stopping by, but others have become more permanent residents. WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh takes a look at ways to deal with them.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner visited Rockford Thursday to highlight a new adoption tax credit.  The measure was added to the 2019 state budget and covers each child a family adopts. The amount would be $2,000 for out-of-state kids of any age, but more for a child born in Illinois who is at least one year old.

"We’re starting at $5,000 for each family and that’s one of the highest in the country, and I want to take us up in the future so we are the greatest tax credit state supporting families with making adoption more affordable, more financially sustainable," he said.

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