Stephenson County

city of Freeport

A new organization aimed at boosting economic development in Freeport and Stephenson County now has a name -- and a launch window.

The Northwest Illinois Development Alliance, Freeport/Stephenson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Freeport Downtown Development Foundation and Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce joined with local officials to discuss forming the new organization, provisionally called “NewCo,” earlier this spring.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Several Freeport and Stephenson County business groups are combining forces to promote the area.

Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow helped launch the endeavor, currently called NewCo. He said its aim is to help boost Freeport and Stephenson County by making it easier to do business there.  

“So it’s one-stop shopping,” he said. “You know, for everything dealing with economic development, whether it be events, economic growth, small business development, membership. It’s all under one roof.”  

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has submitted a request to the federal Small Business Administration to help Stephenson County residents affected by July flooding.

“Stephenson County was particularly hard hit by the July floods, and we want to do everything possible to help them fully recover,” Gov. Rauner said. “If approved, the SBA assistance could be a tremendous help to many people who are working to repair or replace their homes or businesses.”

Flickr User Doug McAbee/CC 2.0

High winds caused a variety of damage in several areas of northern Illinois yesterday. 

Splintered trees and pieces of sheet metal littered ditches along the 7900 and 8000 blocks of North Rockton Avenue in rural Rockford, the Rockford Register Star reports. The winds were also strong enough to rip part of the roof off of a large shed.

ComEd also reports almost 1,200 customers are without power in the area.  

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger is working on a bill that would expand the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area to portions of the WNIJ listening area.

One of these areas is Freeport.  It's well-known as the site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate, with a statuary park and other exhibits commemorating the event.

Freeport Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Connie Sorn says it’s also where Douglas formed the Freeport Doctrine. This claimed that states could pass laws for or against slavery, regardless of Supreme Court decisions.

Flickr User Nadbasher/ CC 2.0

DeKalb County and several surrounding counties are recovering from a 9-1-1 service outage that occurred Tuesday evening. 

As of Thursday morning, DeKalb County is routing 9-1-1 calls through the Sheriff's Office. Officials say the line can only accept one 9-1-1 call at a time, so if callers receive a busy signal, they suggest retrying the number, or calling local law enforcement (numbers are below).  

The system also can't determine caller's addresses at the moment, so officials will be asking for that information upon receipt of calls. 

Sonya Smith Williamson

The northwest Illinois town of Stockton lost its fire station Thursday -- in a fire.

The town’s volunteer firefighters were called to the station shortly after 11 this morning but couldn’t access most of their equipment. Other area departments helped them put out the fire. Stockton police chief LaDon Trost was there and says he saw while they were pulling equipment out of the building, he saw a small piece of equipment housed in a pull-behind trailer that may have caused the fire.

"Wind turbine blades" by Flickr User Patrick Finnegan / (CC BY 2.0)

Officials at a Stephenson county jail hope to install a 120-foot wind turbine in an effort to cut electricity costs by 40 to 70 percent.

The Journal-Standard reports that Stephenson County Sheriff Dave Snyders and jail administrator Dean Schroeder have partnered with Highland Community College's Wind Turbine Technology department on the project.

An instructor obtained a donated wind turbine after a two-year study found it's consistently windy at the jail.

About $30,000 is needed to erect the tower. The county and college hope to pay for that with grant money.

Freeport, Stephenson County Transit Ridership Doubles

Feb 18, 2015
Pretzel City Transit

Bus ridership has nearly doubled in Freeport and Stephenson County in the first six months following service expansion. 

Kevin Cooley, the program compliance oversight monitor at the Freeport senior center, is confident ridership will continue to increase. 

“We’re already well over 30,000 rides--we’ve already pretty much completed everything we did last fiscal year and we have the whole year to go,” Cooley said.