WNIJ Local

WNIJ News continues its look at important primary election races in northern Illinois. In this Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Dan Klefstad talks with Northern Illinois University Prof. Scot Schraufnagel, chair of the Department of Political Science, about the contests in both parties in the 16th Illinois Congressional District, which covers about half of the WNIJ listening area.

In this Friday Forum, we begin a series of interviews about important Illinois Primary Election races. WNIJ’s Dan Klefstad talked with Northern Illinois University Prof. Scot Schraufnagel, chairman of the Political Science Department, about various statewide and Congressional races. This week, we start with the top of the ballot: the race for Illinois governor.

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.

Rockford voters will get a chance this spring to decide whether or not to return the city to “home rule” status. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ's Jenna Dooley explores the potential implications on the city and its residents.

What is "home rule" anyway, and why does it matter in 2018?

Bobbie Holzwarth is a co-chair for the effort to bring back home rule to Rockford. She gives this example:

A plan is underway in Rockford to enable people who didn't graduate from high school to earn their diploma, and more. It addresses a nationwide problem: how to bridge the gap between the needs of business and the skill set of the available pool of workers. In this Friday Forum, WNIJ's Guy Stephens has more about Goodwill's Excel Center. 

This past January, WNIJ started a weekly feature called “The Friday Forum.” The idea was rooted in a survey of our listeners, who indicated they wanted more in-depth state and regional news.

 

So the Friday Forum was born, featuring the WNIJ area's most important issues, decision-makers, and the people are affected by them.

 

Today we review the Friday Forums of 2017, with highlights from each month.

 

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.

Katie Finlon/WNIJ

The issue of gun ownership has returned to the forefront after mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music festival in October and in a Texas church last month. Most of the concerns revolve around restrictions on gun purchases and who can own what type of weapon.

Things could get a little murky from a legal standpoint if you happen to inherit a gun from a loved one. In This week’s Friday Forum, we look at the case of a Rockford woman who found herself in such a situation.

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

The City of DeKalb has begun a project to revitalize a troubled area of the city. In the past, “renewal” often meant “removal and replacement,” but not these days. WNIJ’s Guy Stephens looks at recent efforts toward neighborhood revitalization.

  Guy Stephens' report on neighborhood revitalization (Friday Forum, Dec. 1, 2017)

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. 

Through Our Eyes: Race, Culture, And Identity At NIU

Nov 24, 2017
Dana Vollmer

This semester, officials at Northern Illinois University contacted students about posters that had been hung around campus by a known hate group. This month, a DeKalb man was arrested and charged with a hate crime after accusations that he assaulted a Muslim woman in a popular grocery store frequented by NIU students.

Poultry Slam, Part Two: Egg Came First

Nov 23, 2017

This Thanksgiving we revisit two Perspectives from our archives in which the authors debate an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Dan Libman threw down the gauntlet with an essay from Feb. 6, 2015 (included at the bottom of this post). It was swiftly followed by this rebuttal from Reed Scherer. Enjoy this Poultry Slam!

Dan, I appreciate your perspective on this age-old question, but I’m afraid your interpretation is foundationally, logically, and fundamentally incorrect.

Poultry Slam, Part One: Chicken Came First

Nov 22, 2017

On this Thanksgiving, we revisit two Perspectives from our archives in which the authors debate an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Dan Libman threw down the gauntlet with this essay from Feb. 6, 2015. It was swiftly followed by a rebuttal from Reed Scherer, which we include at the bottom of this post. Enjoy this Poultry Slam!

Want to know which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’ll tell you because I know. This is not a trick to keep you listening, I actually do have the answer.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Supporters of President Donald Trump held a rally and expo in Rockford Tuesday to celebrate the first year of his presidency.

Jenna Dooley

The statistics are sobering. Opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people in Illinois since 2008. Last year alone, that number was nearly 2,000 -- twice the number of fatal car crashes. State officials estimate that number will continue to explode.

There are many players trying to address addiction head-on. That includes emergency responders, police officers, treatment centers, and family members themselves.

David W. Berner's latest book is about a song he wrote for his children and his journey to perform it for the first time in public.

Berner's composition, a finalist in a national contest, is the star of October Song: A Memoir of Music and the Journey of Time. His book is our Read With Me selection for November.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s been nearly two years since Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner formed the State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform to resolve prison over-population in Illinois. Rauner calls the plan “25 by 2025” – which aims to reduce prison populations by a quarter by the year 2025. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jessie Schlacks looks into northern Illinois efforts working toward this goal.

Rockford's Famous Kantorei Takes On A New Dimension

Nov 16, 2017
Guy Stephens/WNIJ

For more than half a century, the youth choir Kantorei has been known as the Singing Boys of Rockford. This year, that changed.

On a late Tuesday afternoon, members of Kantorei’s Training Choir go through their paces. The treble voices sound a lot like those in years past. It’s when you look at them that you notice the difference. The long-time boy choir now includes … girls.

The Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate an alleged assault on a Muslim woman in DeKalb.

The group says the woman was wearing Islamic attire when a man approached her while she was shopping at the DeKalb WalMart. He allegedly began shouting “Muslims are not welcome in this country” and  “Americans don’t want her here.”