Guy Stephens

Reporter

Guy Stephens produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements.  In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level.  Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU.  In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."

Kantorei

Rockford’s renowned boys choir Kantorei is opening its program to girls for the first time in its 53-year history. The choir announced Thursday that, starting this fall, it will convert its preparatory level group for beginners to a mixed choir of boys and girls.  Unchanged voices will also be mixed in the next-level Lyric choir. As their voices mature, singers would eventually advance to separate men’s and women’s performing choirs.

The Wisconsin Legislative Bureau said the recently-passed income tax hike in Illinois will cost Wisconsin more than $50 million in revenue over the next two years. Why?

Illinois and Wisconsin have an income tax reciprocity agreement.  

Without it, residents of one state who work in the other would have to first file in the state where they earn income, pay taxes on that income, and then file again in the state where they reside, claiming a credit for taxes already paid to the first state. 

Diane Drake / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees has released its final annual evaluation of former NIU President Doug Baker. It echoed earlier reviews by the Board, with a few notable exceptions.

A “360 degree review” using feedback from across the NIU community served as the basis for the evaluation.

Flickr user Kaitlyn Hansen

The Fourth of July is fast approaching and, for many people, that means fireworks. But officials warn that also can mean fireworks-related injuries and property damage. They’re warning people to be careful when handling fireworks – especially the small ones.

DeKalb Deputy Fire Chief James Zarek said that, on average across the country, 250 people go to the emergency room every day and seven people die because of firework-related injuries in the month around July 4.  

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, voted on in the Illinois House Friday, while not yet the final word, outlines funding for all aspects of state government operations, goods, services, grants, projects and more.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees Wednesday voted to make NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman Acting President, effective July 1.  She becomes the first woman to lead NIU.

Freeman takes over from NIU President Doug Baker, who leaves at the end of June. Baker resigned after an inspector general’s report on hiring violations by his administration became public.   

Baker’s term saw an increase in the number of Freedom of Information, or FOIA, requests to NIU over hiring and other decisions.

Stephen Pitkin / Rockford Art Museum

When the Rockford Art Museum decided to start “Art in Bloom” a couple of years ago, David Boccignone was excited by the opportunity to serve as its chair.  He sees the event as a way to make the community aware of the amazing artworks in the museum’s own collection by highlighting certain pieces from it by recreating them through floral designs.

www.randyhultgren.com

A northern Illinois Congressman is part of a bipartisan effort to help veterans whose credit is affected adversely by problems associated with the federal Veterans Choice Program.

congress.gov

On A Friday Forum earlier this year, Illinois U.S. Representatives Bill Foster and Randy Hultgren talked about their hopes and concerns for the new Congress as it began its work. For this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ's Guy Stephens asked the two for an update on how things are going in Congress.

photo courtesy of Scott Barnard

Officials from McHenry County and the Illinois State Fire Marshall's office are sorting out the damage and seeking the cause of a fiery explosion early Sunday morning that destroyed one house and damaged dozens of others.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

After numerous delays caused by wet weather, almost all of the corn and much of the soybean crop has been planted in northern Illinois. Predictions are that the 2017 corn and soybean harvests in the region won’t match recent record-breaking yields but could still be good. Right now, though, progress is uneven. 

Rock Valley College Starlight Theatre begins its 51st season Wednesday night with the musical “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” The production is the company’s first under a new director in more than three decades.

Susan Stephens

We continue our series “Veterans Choice: Making It Work," with a look at Veterans Choice at the local level.

Depending on where they live, veterans in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin going to a VA hospital will end up either at Hines Hospital in Chicago, Middleton Memorial Hospital in Madison, or the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Eric Johnson said there’s something about the music of Timothy Takach -- something deep, and for him, appealing.

“For lack of a better word, there’s a soul in the music,” Johnson said, “There’s a great care taken to understanding the poetry or the lyrics, the text as its own entity and allowing that to inform and grow into whatever the music becomes.”

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

When Jim Gitz steps down as Freeport mayor next week, it will mark the end of an era. Voters approved moving to a city manager system of government last November.

Freeport joins scores of cities in the state, including DeKalb and Woodstock, where day-to-day operations are run by a professional administrator.  The move means Gitz was the city’s last full-time mayor.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Northern Illinois University’s STEM Cafés bring experts in those fields together with the public in a setting that’s just about as far from a classroom or lecture hall as you can get.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

An effort to restore an Ogle County icon is advancing, but there’s still no money for actual repairs. 

The years have not been kind to Lorado Taft’s monumental statue, known to many as “Black Hawk.” Standing high on a bluff overlooking the Rock River near Oregon, it’s literally falling to pieces.  

Illinois State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle, says he’s been in regular contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which has authority over the statue. Demmer says that, despite the lack of a budget and other problems, some progress is being made.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On Monday afternoon, a multi-disciplinary group of Northern Illinois University faculty will hold a panel discussion on “Brexit, Nationalism and Extremism: The Future of Europe" in the Cole Hall Auditorium. It’s part of a new series that promotes interaction between researchers in different areas, and with an audience of students from across the NIU campus, graduates and the larger community. 

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

The weather is warming up, and that has many looking forward to activities like the summer boat races on Lake DePue next to the Illinois River. For the residents of the Village of DePue, it also means trying to enjoy the outdoors safely in a town suffering contamination from a Superfund site. Efforts to clean up the area began decades ago, but progress has been beyond slow.

SwedishAmerican

SwedishAmerican announced Tuesday it was investing $130 million to erect a new building and renovate the existing hospital on its main campus at 1401 East State Street in Rockford. 

Rick Guzman conceded to Richard Irvin Friday in the Aurora mayoral race.    

Irvin declared victory late Tuesday night when unofficial totals from the polls put him 170 votes ahead of Rick Guzman. But Guzman said in an email Wednesday morning the race was too close to call. He said an unknown number of outstanding vote-by-mail, grace-period, overseas military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. That left the possibility that the apparent result of the April 4 election could be reversed.

NBA.com

Jerry Krause, the general manager of the Chicago Bulls during a time when they won six NBA championships in eight seasons, died on Tuesday. He was 77.

Rockford Area Arts Council

The Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) has named Sharon Nesbit-Davis as Executive Director. Nesbit-Davis  had been Interim Director since August of 2016. She  served as RAAC's Education and Engagement Director for twenty-one years, prior to which she worked as an Artist in Residence for the Illinois Arts Council and RAAC.

registerednursing.org

A website that offers information to those interested in becoming a registered nurse ranked Kishwaukee College’s Nursing Program among the top 20 in Illinois. 

Registerednursing.org ranked Kishwaukee’s program at 14th out of 76 programs it rated in Illinois.

NWS

Cleanup and assessment continues in the wake of the tornado that hit La Salle County last week.

Two people died as a result of the storm that ran straight through the Village of Naplate and the south side of the City of Ottawa.

Connie Brooks is the director of the LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency. She says she and others have been out every day to assess the damage, and have some preliminary numbers.

NIU Today

The Dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Law has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. 

In response to an inquiry by WNIJ, NIU issued the following statement:

pocan.house.gov

This week’s Friday Forum features Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan.  He took the seat in Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District in 2013 after 14 years in the state assembly.

Pocan’s district cover all or parts of seven counties in south central Wisconsin, stretching from Beloit west and north to Madison and beyond.

Congress and the administration are considering a full and varied plate of proposals, but Pocan says there is one thing they should all aspire to do.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to lay off 28 full-time faculty in an effort to reduce a projected multi-million dollar deficit. 

The trustees voted 3-1 in favor of the faculty cut in front of the sometimes fractious crowd of about 200 packing the school’s Performing Art Room.  Judging by the comments and reaction, the vote was not a popular one. Nor was talk of a tuition hike in the offing.  But RVC President Doug Jensen says the college already had made other cuts, and there was nowhere else to go.

BIFF

The soon-to-be director of the Beloit International Film Festival says it’s a very special event in a number of ways.

Max Maiken will take over as executive director when this year’s festival, which begins Friday, concludes March 5. He has worked with the festival, affectionately known as BIFF, for several years and is the current Assistant Director. He says the transition at the top is historic for the organization.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On February 28, voters in Aurora will whittle down the number of candidates running for mayor of Illinois’s second-largest city.

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