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.

The Illinois Region 1 Planning Council released a regional plan Wednesday that would encourage increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the Rockford area.

The plan incorporates data from many different studies and turns them into recommendations, such as connecting gaps in pedestrian and bike paths, implementing safety campaigns for cyclists, and improving the first and last legs of residential commutes.

Roy Chapman Andrews Society

The Roy Chapman Andrews Society in Beloit is presenting its annual 'Distinguished Explorer' award to Dr. Richard Alley. He’s a Penn State climatologist whose drilling into Antarctic ice led to greater knowledge of global climate change.

Dr. Alley started out studying geology at Ohio State University, but branched into studying glaciers and snowfall while working with a professor over one summer.  The data he gathered, however, was from an "unconventional" source.

Illinois Public Media

The Trump Administration’s appeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program won’t be heard by the Supreme Court.

DACA protects from immediate deportation about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. President Trump wanted the program shut down by March 5, but the ruling means that Trump’s challenge must first go through an appeals court. Immigration attorney Omar Salguero says this means current DACA recipients still have a chance to renew their work permits.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The president and CEO of Intersect Illinois spoke with members of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Thursday about how to bring new companies and projects to the state.

Intersect Illinois was established as the state's economic development organization in 2016. It works to entice companies into setting up shop in Illinois.

Last week, the Illinois governor’s budget address outlined several proposals to reduce state spending. One focuses on K-12 schools.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wants public school districts to begin “cost sharing” their employees’ state pensions over the next few years. Districts would be responsible for 25 percent of their pension cost during the first year, then an additional 25 percent each of the following three years. He said this overhaul is a fiscal necessity.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

It’s often challenging for rural public schools to raise money. When funds do come through, it can be a struggle spreading money among programs, personnel, and maintenance. A series of grants aims to improve STEM education at these schools.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These topics are emphasized increasingly in educational standards and the current jobs market. But STEM programs often require specialized equipment and training, which can get expensive.

Wikipedia

Northern Illinois University is looking for companies willing to purchase naming rights for its Convocation Center. The facility is the home court for several of the school’s athletic teams. It also holds concerts and other large-scale events.

The university sent out a request for proposals at the end of January and is now holding tours for any interested parties upon request. Associate Athletics Director John Cheney says some local and Chicago-based companies have already expressed interest.

National Weather Service

Plowing crews are hard at work attempting to deal with the continuous snowfall across the WNIJ area.

However, the snowfall wasn't equally distributed.  DeKalb received about 5 inches of snow, while Rockford and Freeport recieved half a foot. The National Weather Service reports snowfall was much higher in other areas, with 10 inches in Aurora, and 8 inches near Naperville. Around 7 to 11 inches were predicted to fall overall.

National Weather Service

Severe winter weather is expected across the WNIJ listening area starting tonight.

The storm system is coming down from Montana and is expected to arrive around the dinner hour this evening.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for DeKalb, Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, Lee, McHenry, LaSalle, Grundy, Kane, and Kendall Counties from 6 p.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday.  Furthermore, Rockford, South Beloit, and Beloit already have declared snow emergencies.  NIU staff meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste says to expect heavy snowfall overall.

Winnebago County jail

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney reached an agreement with Sheriff Gary Caruana to hire 10 additional corrections officers at the county jail.

The agreement comes as more than 60 complaints have been filed over allegedly excessive and prolonged prisoner lockdowns resulting from staff cuts Caruana made when his department budget was slashed by $4.3 million this fiscal year.

 

All companies need to find competent workers to fill their job openings. But sometimes, candidates don’t have adequate training or even an interest in taking the positions. A Rockford-area program is trying to help the local manufacturing sector solve both problems.

When Illinois companies complain that they can’t find new hires, a common explanation is that qualified workers have moved to neighboring states.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Whether it's Steve Jobs building a computer in his garage or Hector Boyardee cooking pasta at the Plaza Hotel, many American brands and businesses start from humble origins.  Current start-ups seek to replicate that success, but they don't do it alone.

In this Friday Forum, WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh discusses the groups that help northern Illinois small businesses get started.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Four northern Illinois Democrats are vying for the chance to take GOP U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger’s 16th District seat.

The candidates paid a visit to DeKalb County’s Democratic Party headquarters last week, outlining their priorities before local party activists. All of them took potshots at the increasing lack of bipartisanship in national government and blamed Kinzinger for not adequately representing his district. However, each of them had distinct priorities when it came to the campaign.

WNIJ/Victor Yehling

Rockford’s Sinnissippi Park is attracting teams of snow sculptors from across Illinois starting Wednesday. 

They're taking part in the 32nd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition. The Rockford Park District used snowmaking machines to ensure an adequate supply for competitors. They will have until Saturday to build the best sculpture they can out of a 6- by 6- by 10-foot block of snow.  Rockford Park District Spokeswoman Laura Gibbs-Green said teams’ tools are limited.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner discussed several state issues at a news conference in Rockford Friday.

The event began as a private roundtable with small business owners at the Field Fastener company. They aired various grievances regarding state policy and how it affects their companies.  Field Fastener President Jim Derry said many of his current customers are outside the area or the state, compared with when he began the business 27 years ago, and said reforms are needed.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The DeKalb County government employees got some insight Thursday night into how to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act. These rules are invoked frequently when the actions of area governments and other public bodies come under scrutiny.

Leah Bartelt of the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau offered an in-depth explanation of the state’s FOIA and OMA rules. 

HUD

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded more than $109 million in grants Thursday to homeless programs across Illinois, and a fair amount of those funds were disbursed around northern Illinois. 

"U-Haul" by Flickr user Laura D'Alessandro / (CC x 2.0)

The state's continued net loss in population is affecting the workforce.

 

U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Illinois lost population since the beginning of the decade, and about 33,000 people left in the past year. 

 

Rockford Public Schools

Illinois public schools face a teacher shortage, and officials increasingly are turning to substitutes when full-time educators are unavailable. But what effects does this have on education, particularly when substitutes themselves are becoming harder to find? In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh looks for some of the answers.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.49. This is identical to last week's average. 

AAA reports the most expensive gasoline is in the city of Chicago, at a price of $2.86 per gallon. In contrast, the cheapest gas is in Quincy, at $2.25 per gallon. 

Rockford's average price is $2.40 per gallon. This is 4 cents cheaper than last week. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.49. This is identical to last week's price. 

AAA reports the most expensive gas is in the City of Chicago, at $2.88 per gallon.  By contrast, the cheapest gas is in Decatur, at $2.27 per gallon. 

Rockford's average gas price is $2.44 per gallon. This is 3 cents cheaper than last week. 

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.49. This is ten cents cheaper than last week. 

The state's most expensive gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.91 per gallon. By contrast, AAA reports the cheapest gas is in Springfield, at $2.29 per gallon. 

Rockford's average price is $2.47 per gallon. This is 7 cents cheaper than last week. 

Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers

Northern White Sand terminated a lease with a LaSalle County barge loading facility along the Illinois River.

The company shuttered its Utica mine in March of last year and wanted to renegotiate the lease, citing a struggling business climate. However, the County held them to the original terms, which would have required a payment of at least $90,000. Board Member Tom Walsh says the effects on the County are limited. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.59. This is ten cents cheaper than last week.

AAA reports the most expensive fuel can be found in the City of Chicago, at $3 per gallon. In contrast, the cheapest gasoline, at $2.40 per gallon, is in Carbondale.  

Rockford's average gas price is $2.54 per gallon. This is 5 cents lower than last week. 

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.69. This is 3 cents lower than last week. 

AAA reports that the most expensive gasoline can be found in Chicago, at $2.85 per gallon. By contrast, the cheapest gasoline is in Bloomington-Normal, at $2.41 per gallon. 

Rockford's average price is $2.59 per gallon, which is seven cents cheaper than last week. 

The Illinois General Assembly recently overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto on the Debt Transparency Act.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza was a major sponsor of the measure and has been hard at work paying down state debts. She said the biggest change the act makes is requiring state agencies to report their debts to her once a month, rather than once a year.

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The leader of Wisconsin’s firefighters union announced his bid for governor this week. 

Mahlon Mitchell previously ran for public office in 2012 for lieutenant governor, but lost to Rebecca Kleefisch.  However, his 1.2 million votes were the highest tally in a single election received by any of the gubernatorial candidates so far. 

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.72.  This is 6 cents cheaper than last week.

AAA reports the most expensive gasoline can be found in the City of Chicago, at $3.09 per gallon. By contrast, the cheapest gas is in Springfield, at $2.53 per gallon.

Rockford’s average price is $2.66 per gallon. This is 2 cents cheaper than last week.  

pixabay.com

One of the primary ways that local governments get revenue is through property taxes. The amount of each property tax bill is determined by what various government entities need and the value of each home or business to be taxed. In this week’s Friday Forum, we look at how that value is determined and what you can do if you think they’re asking for too much.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.51. This is 3 cents cheaper than last week.

 

AAA reports the most expensive gasoline can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.83 per gallon. By contrast, the cheapest fuel is available in Champaign-Urbana, at $2.32 per gallon.

 

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