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Illinois U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos says President Biden’s inauguration is a chance to move forward. 

At a press conference today, Congresswoman Bustos praised the tone of the inauguration and the accompanying events. She complimented poet Amanda Gorman’s work and emphasized the importance of President Biden’s call for unity. 

Perspective: In Defense Of The Electoral College

14 hours ago
Clay Banks / Unsplash

Recently the radio show 1A had a segment on the Electoral College. I was fortunate enough to have my input included during the discussion.

In summary my input was pro Electoral College, stating removal of it would divide our nation more than it is already between rural and urban -- between blue and red. The Electoral College forces presidential candidates to pay attention to both rural and urban issues, not just focusing on high population density areas.

Perspective: A Fresh Start, America?

Jan 19, 2021
Federico Respini / Unsplash

Tomorrow we witness the passing of presidential power from one man to another. I am hopeful it will be peaceful and that our nation will maintain its bonds of unity. I’m banking on it.

I look to Lincoln’s first inaugural address to ensure my wishful thinking isn’t just that. Lincoln tells America:

Library of Congress (88715937)

One hundred and one years ago, America’s non-drinkers really hornswoggled everyone who loved their booze. Prohibition began at midnight, January 17, 1920, a Saturday. Americans had one last Friday to imbibe or sock away their sauce.

In a state known for bootleggers and violence, the transition actually happened without much fanfare.

Illinois Residents Advised To Test Homes For Radon Gas

Jan 18, 2021
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced this January as Radon Action Month. 

  

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is urging all residents to test their home for radon. Radon has been found in nearly 40% of the homes tested in Illinois.

 

Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau attributes over 1,000 cases of lung cancer in Illinois to radon. 

She cites home tests as a simple and inexpensive way to detect it, specifically in older buildings and new constructions. 

Connie Kuntz

Women's "march circles" are taking place across the country on Saturday. Women's March Rockford is participating, too. This year, because of the pandemic, they are hosting a gathering -- not a march -- at the Women's Suffrage Centennial Sculpture. The event is in support of women's rights. Organizer Mel Champion said women and those who support women are invited to attend the goal-setting event.

"They're just going to write on ribbons, or postcard, what their intentions are for this year to advocate for women, and how they plan on achieving that goal," said Champion.

Perspective: What Would Dr. King Say?

Jan 18, 2021
Minnesota Historical Society / cc-by-sa-2.0

Over the past four years, and past four months, with each new disturbing piece of reality connected to this outgoing administration and each new assault on democracy, I find myself asking, what would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say?

So, I turned to his writing.

In our time of division and bitterness he says: “The one thing about bitterness is its blindness. Bitterness has not the capacity to make the distinction between some and all.”

Northern Illinois University

Turning the conversation away from partisanship may be key to an effective speech from the new president.

That’s according to Dr. Ferald Bryan, a professor at Northern Illinois University specializing in political rhetoric. He says Joe Biden particularly looks up to Robert Kennedy, and a similar tone could begin the process towards bridging the divide among Americans.

Yvonne Boose

Like most cities across the country, Aurora's local businesses were hit hard by the pandemic. A nonprofit group is partnering with a social space to create revenue opportunities for area vendors.  

Art and Market Aurora is a new indoor market coming to the City.  

Local Nonprofit Aurora Downtown worked with community venue Society 57, 101 S. River Street, to make this possible. 

Old Places, New Spaces | Under Rocks Podcast

Jan 15, 2021
Jason Cregier

Another year, another dozen opportunities to explore what’s cool, what’s interesting, what’s weird in your own backyard. It’s Under Rocks, where you help us send our adventurous correspondents out to discover those hidden gems in northern Illinois. This time, Jason Cregier and Dan Libman, with a big assist from tech giant Spencer Tritt, visit with some of the people who transform Old Places into New Spaces.

Spencer Tritt

Illinois K-12 teachers will soon get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. They’re in Phase1B of the state’s vaccine rollout, which starts on Monday.

Griff Powell is one of DeKalb Public Schools’ interim superintendents. He said they’ve been informed that teachers will start getting their first dose of the vaccine soon.

Provided by Michael Lee Johnson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This segment features Michael Lee Johnson.

  The news hit like an earthquake in state government this week.  Michael Madigan, who was first elected Illinois House Speaker in 1983, stepped aside when it became clear he couldn't obtain the needed votes from his own Democratic members.  We look back at what happened and reflect on Madigan's career.

Remote learning has been a bumpy experiment for many teachers, students and parents.  We detail some of the problems it has exposed and some lighter moments from online schooling.

And, now that it's legal to grow, is hemp closer to becoming the cash crop many have touted?  

Perspective: The Gatekeepers Let The Wolf In

Jan 15, 2021
PIxabay, Unsplash

Since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, people have been blaming others. A recent example:

CREDIT FLICKR/ISAFMEDIA (CC BY 2.0)

Back in March 2020, Taylor Boelte was finishing up her nursing clinical shift when the hospital told her she wasn’t allowed to come back. Not just her, all nursing students had their clinicals cut short as COVID-19 spread across the country. 

 

“Clearly the hospitals weren't prepared, and we weren't really expecting for COVID to have this impact,” said Boelte. “It just kind of came all quickly but I don't really remember there being like a huge panic beforehand. I think it all just came at once.”

 

Sessions from Studio A - The Reggie Thomas Quartet

Jan 14, 2021
WNIJ

Jazz returns to Sessions from Studio A this week with The Reggie Thomas Quartet, featuring acclaimed pianist and current head of Jazz Studios at Northern Illinois University, Reggie Thomas, along with guitarist Bobby Broom, drummer George Fludas, and bassist Dennis Carroll. The quartet gives us a passionate performance in Studio A, and we'll also hear a conversation with band members about their jazz backgrounds and their thoughts on the social justice protests of the past year. 

The Winnebago County Health Department reported Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccination is proceeding smoothly. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said among the different health care systems, more than 10,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered. During a COVID-19 update livestreamed on WREX, Martell announced 104 new cases.

"And unfortunately, we have lost two additional of our community residents, which brings our total death count to 380," she said.

Perspective: Community Engagement Brings (Meit)healing

Jan 14, 2021
NeOnBrand / Unsplash

Though my own heritage is a wee bit more Scottish than Irish, I feel a deep connection to all things Celtic and I recently watched a new movie set in Ireland. Not wanting to give too much away, the story involved a ragtag group of folks coming together as a community to help the lead character get back on her feet.

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois underlined Wednesday his decision to vote for impeachment against President Donald Trump. He said the January 6 attack on the Capitol was the culmination of years of misinformation and admitted he was unsure who else in the GOP would vote for the measure. 

“If there was not a sense of fear among many of my friends out here about political ramifications, there would be a lot more," he said in a call with reporters on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, I think this is a vote that doesn’t need politics, but unfortunately, is infected by it.”

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood Votes To Impeach Trump

Jan 13, 2021

Illinois 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood said she was at the Capitol when it was breached. She called the deadly attack "an infuriating and un-American disgrace." She said President Donald Trump incited the insurrection and directed violence towards the United States Congress, a separate but equal branch of government. 

"There should be no historical sanctuary for those who ignited the fire," Underwood said.

https://www.staterepwest.com/

Illinois lawmakers passed sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice system.  

 

 

The Illinois House followed the state Senate to approve a stripped down set of reforms from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. It includes changes to police certification, the use of force and the cash bail system. The bill now goes to Governor J.B. Pritzker.

The original package drew early opposition from members of law enforcement including Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana. 

 

Justin L. Fowler of The State Journal-Register

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch made history Wednesday by becoming the first Black person elected speaker of the Illinois House, succeeding Rep. Michael Madigan, who leaves the job after serving for 36 of the past 38 years.

The House came into session Wednesday afternoon to begin the 102nd General Assembly just moments after it adjourned a rare lame duck session that ended the 101st biennial session.

Perspective: The Day I Wept

Jan 13, 2021
public domain / U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Rep. Andy Kim could simply not bear the rotunda looking like an abandoned parking lot, so he donned gloves, grabbed a broom and waste bag and began to clean up. The insurrectionists had wreaked havoc and desecrated The People’s House, a place Kim loved. Rep. Kim is a child of immigrants who loved the United States and its ideals, in the aftermath, before the vote, he was the lone person cleaning up after the carnage.

Connie Kuntz

The University of Illinois Extension wants you to know your trees. They are offering a winter tree identification webinar series. Christopher Evans is a forestry and research specialist with the Extension and he is teaching the class. He said the classes are free and "totally open to anyone."

"As long as they're interested in learning about trees and willing to listen to me talk for an hour, they are welcome to take it," he said. "There is no age limit."

Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-16) says he will vote in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump. He was among the first to comment on Tuesday's moves in Congress to remove the President from office, sending out a news release just as discussions got underway in the House of Representatives. 

Kishwaukee Hospital

Area health care providers like Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb are currently vaccinating their health care workers. Reporter Chase Cavanaugh spoke with Medical Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Bob Manam. 

Cavanaugh: With doses of vaccine now available in the hands of hospitals like Kish, what are you seeing on the ground in terms of vaccine rollout and distribution?

https://www.facebook.com/BlackDoctor.org/

Vaccinations for COVID-19 are underway in Illinois, but not everyone is eager to take the shot. A recent virtual town hall meeting answered questions and tackled concerns for the Black community.

“Making It Plain: What Black America Needs to Know About COVID-19 and Vaccines” was moderated by health experts, faith leaders and several organizations. The event was hosted by the Black Coalition Against COVID-19. 

Some may ask why a conversation was needed specifically for the Black community. 

Perspective: How I Listened When I Prayed

Jan 12, 2021
Pixabay.com

Even though we're done with Christmas, I'm stuck back on the story when Gabriel told Mary she was favored of God. He said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you. She was greatly troubled at this saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting that might be" (Luke 1: 28 – 29, ESV).

Black Legislative Caucus Education Bill Passes Senate

Jan 11, 2021
Chapin Rose / Courtesy

An education reform bill would force schools to test children even before they enter kindergarten. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus spearheaded the measure, which passed the State Senate on a party line vote Monday.

Embattled House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) stunned Illinois’ political sphere on Monday morning, announcing he would suspended his campaign for a historic 19th term as leader of the Illinois House after falling short on the support he needs in a first round vote Sunday night.

But allies of the longest-serving House Speaker in the nation are making it clear they're still standing behind Madigan, despite his campaign suspension.

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