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.

brucerauner.com

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti praised DeKalb County Tuesday for its cooperative efforts in handling the opioid crisis. 

Sanguinetti made the comments as part of a roundtable discussion with health, law enforcement, and government officials from around DeKalb County.  They highlighted local efforts such as drug court, health counseling, and expanded access to Narcan, an anti-overdose medication.

Sanguinetti says it can be difficult for some areas to get past the stigma of treating opioid addiction.  

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

More than 50 activists gathered in downtown DeKalb to call for immigration reform. 

The crowd condemned last week’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Cortland as well as the continued detention of undocumented children away from their families.  The event featured speakers from groups like Action for a Better Tomorrow Sauk Valley and DeKalb Stands.

Another participant was Laura Vivaldo-Cholula, a member of DREAM Action at Northern Illinois University. She said change wouldn’t happen without new leaders in office.

Guy Stephens / Black Hawk, Blackhawk, Lorado Taft

An Oregon group supporting restoration of the statue known as Black Hawk wants to establish a dedicated fund to keep it maintained. 

The statue was uncovered recently after being wrapped up for the past few years. Observers noticed some further damage to the statue, and the restoration work isn’t complete.  

The recently passed state budget allocates another $350,000 to the project, but members of Oregon Together, a nonprofit supporting the statue’s restoration, want to go further. 

Republican State Senator Karen McConnaughay says she will not be seeking re-election in November.

Senator McConnaughay served as the Kane County Board Chairman before being elected to the state’s 33rd District in 2012. She says after more than 26 years in politics, it is time to step back and let someone else “take a shot” at solving problems in the district.  McConnaughay says, for now, she’ll focus on ethics reform.  

State of Illinois

Thomson Prison is on course to open by the end of 2019. 

The prison was built by Illinois in 2001, but state government didn't have enough funds to keep it running. As a result, it was sold to the federal Bureau of Prisons in 2012.  The Bureau's Acting Director, Hugh Hurwitz, says it will open as a high-security facility with some specialized units and have up to 600 employees. 

campkesem.org

Chronic illnesses and their accompanying treatment are hard on the individual patients but can have just as much of an impact — if not more — on family.

Camp Kesem is a summer program founded in 2000 at Stanford University, with the goal of helping children whose family members have cancer.  It has more than 100 chapters across 40 states, including one started at Northern Illinois University in 2017.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois General Assembly has sent a bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner that would raise the minimum starting salary for public-school teachers.

Senate Bill 2892 would raise the minimum starting salary for a public school teacher in Illinois to $40,000. It does this through a sliding scale, gradually increasing the minimum until it reaches the target by 2022.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

Hepatitis is a well-known disease of the liver and for which people receive vaccines as children. But the shots only combat the A and B variants. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on Hepatitis C and how it’s being managed across northern Illinois.

Hepatitis C attacks the liver just like variants A and B. But the virus is unique enough that no one has developed a vaccine yet. This means much more work needs to be done to screen for cases and get patients into treatment programs.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The German Deputy Consul General of Chicago paid a visit to Rochelle Wednesday.  It’s the latest development in a trade mission initiated by Gov. Bruce Rauner with Germany and Poland.

Dr. Andreas Goetze was pleasantly surprised by the city’s infrastructure, particularly when it came to transportation, and said the visit fits well into the consulate’s work.

"Politics plays a certain role, because we can work on the framework for economic activities," he said.

Goetze says the visit is another part of his country’s involvement in the state.

State of Illinois

Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas was honored today by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner for bringing a safe end to a school shooting two weeks ago.

On May 16, a young man brought a rifle to Dixon High School graduation practice and fired several shots at the gymnasium. Resource Officer Dallas responded and fired back, wounding the shooter in the shoulder. 

Gov. Rauner said Dallas’s actions prevented loss of life, and declared May 30 "Mark Dallas Day."   Dallas said he was humbled by the honor and called for the training of more resource officers. 

The Rockford Public Schools Board will vote on several changes to next year's Student Code of Conduct at Tuesday night's regular meeting.

Democratic challenger Sara Dady and incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger found some agreement and some differences on issues affecting the 16th Illinois Congressional District during their first appearance together Monday.

Opioids

Both candidates agreed that the opioid epidemic is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by government, law enforcement, and health services.  But Dady stressed that the federal government should provide ten years of full funding so local agencies can carry out treatment efforts.

niu.edu / afscme.org

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a collective bargaining agreement Thursday with AFSCME Local 1890.

The five-year contract provides union members an immediate 3% wage raise and various job-related protections. Barbara Andree is President of the NIU Operating Staff Council. She says the agreement makes up for stagnant clerical worker pay.

FEMA

The sewage treatment plant at Marseilles is receiving two new upgrades to deal with potential flooding.

Wastewater Superintendent Jason Rix says the first of these is a floodwall providing five extra feet of clearance, which is still above the highest recorded level for floodwaters in 500 years. 

“We are putting in a roughly 1200 linear foot wall essentially, made of corrugated steel, and it will protect us from any flooding from the Illinois River," he said.

This comes after two near-floodings in 2008 and 2013 when the plant was saved by judicious use of sandbags. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The Winnebago County Local Emergency Planning Committee holds an annual conference on disaster preparedness. Normally, the group focuses on hazardous materials. This year, the issue of mass shootings was added to the agenda. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh highlights two speakers who talk about responding to these incidents.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford plans to close three schools in the city due to lack of enrollment at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

St. Edward, St. Bernadette, and Cathedral of St. Peter schools will be merged into the St. James School on First Street. The associated academic programs will be folded into this new institution, along with the students from the parishes affected by the closings. Communication Director Penny Wiegert says the closures will be the end result of a strategic plan meant to deal with a decline in student enrollment.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

A DeKalb group based at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church held an informational meeting outlining its opposition to a DeKalb School Board decision to investigate whether some students live outside district boundaries.  

"Mortgage" by Flickr User Investment Zen / (CC x 2.0)

The Illinois Housing Development Authority is working with BMO Harris Bank on a mortgage relief program for Rockford homeowners.

 

The state’s I-Refi program allows homeowners who owe more on a mortgage than their home is worth to refinance their loans based on a house’s current appraised value.

 

Northern Illinois University

James Pardew, a former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, will speak at a Northern Illinois University conference this Thursday. He was involved extensively in American efforts to stop conflict in the former territories of Yugoslavia, particularly Bosnia and Macedonia. WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh spoke with Ambassador Pardew about that work and his thoughts on U.S. foreign policy.

Ambassador Pardew, what do you plan to discuss at Northern Illinois University?

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Ever since the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., there’s been a greater push by students for stricter action on gun violence. On this week’s Friday Forum, we talk with several Rockford high school students who organized a community forum on the issue and what they plan to do next.

Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil returns to Rockford this weekend with a show called "Corteo." We spoke with the artistic director about the story behind the show.

Like many of Cirque’s shows, “Corteo” features larger-than-life performances and a variety of acts. But artistic director Mark Schaub says they’re centered on the story of Mauro, a clown approaching the end of his life.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

Gun violence was the subject of a large Town Hall gathering at Rockford’s East High School Wednesday.  

The event was organized by students from several local high schools to discuss  gun violence in schools and the Rockford area.  Panelists included members of the Rockford Police Department, city officials, and members of the General Assembly.  Megan Larson is a Senior from Lutheran. She was pleased with the conversation but said this isn’t the end of her group’s activism.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Last week, Northern Illinois University presented its Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing a graduate who’s achieved outstanding professional success. This year’s winner is Andrew Traver, Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, more commonly known as NCIS.

Traver discussed his path to heading this federal law enforcement agency, and how his job compares with what is portrayed on the "NCIS" TV show.

NIU Alumni Association

Northern Illinois University gave out its 2018 Alumni Awards on Friday.  The ceremony recognized eight alumni who’ve distinguished themselves in areas such as public service and the sciences, as well as giving back to the school in some form. The most prestigious award is Distinguished Alumni, which goes to an alumnus with outstanding professional success or recognition. Other awards honor achievements in public service, science, and the arts, as well as the work of young alumni (under 40 years old). 

The honorees are as follows:

Victor Yehling /WNIJ

Voters in Tuesday’s primary election rejected the effort to re-implement home rule authority in Rockford. WNIJ spoke with people on both sides of the issue about what this means for Rockford’s future.

The Illinois Constitution grants home rule authority to municipalities that have at least 25,000 residents. Others can gain that authority through a direct ordinance. Rockford naturally qualified in 1970 due to its population, but a referendum removed home-rule status in 1983.

Abbie Reese

Rockford is home to a community of nuns known as the Corpus Christi Monastery of the Poor Clares. The occupants lead a secluded life of prayer, but a new film explores what goes on behind the monastery walls.

Abbie Reese, a northwest Illinois filmmaker and author, was interested in the lives of religious cloisters. She found a monastery in Rockford and met with the nuns to discuss a project.

“I approached them in 2005 and said I was interested in making photos and left them with that. Three years later, they came back and invited me into the enclosure,” she said.

Susan Stephens

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees has signed on to a bill that would guarantee stable funding for the school while imposing several performance standards.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Kishwaukee College is holding a kickoff event for its 50th anniversary. 

The college was founded in 1968 on the grounds of an old farmhouse with around 600 students and focused on vocational programs.  Since then, the student body has grown to more than 6,000, with a majority using their degrees to transfer to four-year institutions like Northern Illinois University.  President Laurie Borowicz says the kickoff is a way to celebrate these sorts of gains.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ News

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner brought his budget ideas to employees at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford Tuesday. 

Rauner said he wanted to improve the business climate in the state by reducing regulations, and most importantly, by cutting income taxes.  

“I introduced a budget that gives you guys a billion dollar income tax cut now and I want to give you an income tax cut every year for the next four years to get the income tax down so it’s reasonable on you,” Rauner said. 

The Rock River Times

The Rockford City Council approved a resolution Monday that would allow residents to recall aldermen and mayors if they go against certain provisions that are part of a bid for home rule.

A referendum on the March 20 ballot asks Rockford residents to grant home rule authority. But the council already has approved provisions to limit how the city raises property taxes and takes on debt.

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