Perspective: A Proustian Moment In The Cereal Aisle

10 hours ago

I was looking for oatmeal in the cereal aisle. When I looked up after putting my canister in the cart, I saw Farina on the top shelf. 

Perspective: Poetry Matters

Jan 26, 2021
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II / Department of Defense

I have always been drawn to poetry -- the carefully chosen words that paint pictures, capture the depths of despair or describe soaring feelings of joy, sharp edges of loss, flutters of hope and optimism. A poem can say in a few perfectly chosen words, exactly what I’m feeling or thinking or living. And I snip those lines and stitch them into my mind, like a patchwork quilt, full of colors and memories and feelings and truths. And when I need comfort or courage or clarity or hope, I pull these lines out, and they speak to me.

Photo provided by Nature at the Confluence

A northern Illinois creek that's been hidden by woods and shrubs is about to see the light of day, thanks to a $30,000 grant and Nature at the Confluence.

The Confluence's executive director Therese Oldenburg said Kelly Creek in South Beloit is named after Mary Kelly.

"She was part of the Irish farming families that settled there," she said. "Mary Kelly had her home right there so 'Kelly Creek' it is," she said.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Heavy snow and high winds have prompted some schools in northern Illinois to change plans for Tuesday. Here's what we know so far: 

Colleges and Universities

Northern Illinois University is open Tuesday and all classes -- virtual AND in-person -- are on as scheduled. Anyone going to the university, especially in the morning, is encouraged to park in the parking deck so parking lots can be plowed.

Rock Valley College is remote-only Tuesday. Online classes are on as scheduled, but students should NOT go to campus.

Spencer Tritt

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that all high school sports are now allowed to play in regions that are in Phase 4 of the State’s reopening plan. Regions 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 now meet the criteria for looser restrictions.

Most winter “lower-risk” sports like gymnastics, swimming and badminton are already practicing. The Illinois High School Sports Association is meeting on Wednesday to decide when they can begin competitions and when the only “higher-risk” winter sport, basketball, can start.

Pandemic living has inspired the theme for an annual statewide art contest.

The student contest is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  

Heather Nice is the library and museum's education director. She said the theme “Art Surrounds Us” encompasses how some people are using art as a relief during COVID-19.

Library of Congress (LC-DIG-fsa-8a13112)

They call it black gold. Texas tea. But Texas wasn’t the only state to dominate America’s oil industry. Illinois was once one of the highest oil-producing states in the country, and, for a time, the world.

Oil speculators looked to Illinois as early as the 1860s and found some success in the early 1900s. But the real boom began Jan. 27, 1937, when the Adams Oil and Gas company struck oil on Glenn Merryman’s farm in Marion County, setting off a southern Illinois oil boom that lasted half a century.

Julia Kuroda

Every winter for the past 121 years, people across the country have fanned out to list the birds they see. This is the national Audubon Christmas Bird Count and it runs every year from Dec. 14-Jan. 05. There were fewer count circles this year because of the pandemic, but that didn't stop Sinnissippi Audubon Society President Jennifer Kuroda and her daughter Jackie Kuroda from participating.

Perspective: It's A New Day

Jan 25, 2021

I believe it was divine order that the national observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the end of one of the most divisive presidencies in U.S. history happened in the same week. King marched with Black sanitation workers in Memphis to uplift their humanity and promote wage equality. The former president incited an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol; a domestic terrorist attack had to be the most predictable in American History.

An organization with the goal to empower women and eliminate racism has added new members to its board.

Nicole Radford and Tammie Stanley are the newest board members of the YWCA Northwestern Illinois

Karen Brown, board chairperson, said all members are leaders in their fields. 

“They are all volunteers in the community. They all have a desire to give back,” she said. “And they truly have a passion for the work and the mission that the YWCA Northwestern Illinois has.” 

Illinois’ Attorney General filed a lawsuit challenging a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

David Artbook Johnson

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poets from northern Illinois but this week we are crossing the Wisconsin border. 

Charles Payne was born in Michigan but currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. As a child, he loved hearing the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice. Payne said Harvey’s innate ability to describe every intricate detail truly inspired him.

Payne’s works explore personal narrative and social commentary from his experience as a working poor Black male dying to live and living to die. 

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum will begin welcoming visitors again on Monday, Jan. 25. The museum said clear, simple safety protocols will be in place to protect all guests.

Visitors will need to schedule their appointments in advance so the number of people in the building at any one time can be held to safe levels. Visitors will also have to wear masks that cover the mouth and nose, answer basic health questions and have their temperatures taken before they can enter.

  The heartbreaking story of Yingying Zhang is told in an award winning documentary.  It gives an intimate look at the University of Illinois student who was kidnapped and murdered in 2017.   

The film introduces viewers to Yingying through personal writings and shows the toll her death has taken on her family and friends.  We talk with the director.    

Perspective: The Real Cold War

Jan 22, 2021
Jacqueline Macou / Pixabay

Years ago, I was shoveling snow next to my neighbor, who never spoke to me. Suddenly the snowplow came by, just as we had finished our driveway jobs, and ploughed us in with thick, crusty snow. My neighbor said, "Who do they think they are? Darth Vader?" He was furious. He never spoke to me again.

Some Rockford high school students were pushed out of their usual creative territories in efforts to design something unique.  

The annual tally of people who are homeless in the Rockford region is going to be more challenging this year. That’s due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 



Rockford city officials and partner agencies are gearing up for the "point-in-time count." The survey of people experiencing homelessness takes place once a year over a 24-hour period. The PIT covers Winnebago, Boone and DeKalb counties.

Angie Walker is a housing advocate with the City of Rockford. She says the coronavirus adds a level of difficulty. 

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Exploring the top education issues to watch in 2021 with Rockford teacher Erik Czerwin.

Teachers’ Lounge host Peter Medlin and Erik dive into topics like:

Sessions from Studio A - Derek Luttrell

Jan 21, 2021
Corporate Panda Records

Derek Luttrell returns to Sessions from Studio A on this week's episode. We've heard Derek on the show before with his bands Name the Moon and more recently Sickhorse, but this time he's back with a new solo album, The Wolf Who Cried Boy. Join us as we listen through The Wolf Who Cried Boy and talk with Derek Luttrell about putting the album together.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning residents to be careful of scams related to the latest round of stimulus checks, also known as economic impact payments. 

The scams take a variety of forms including phishing e-mails, text messages and robocalls. Candace Kowal is the assistant special agent in charge for criminal investigations at the IRS’ Chicago field office. She said scammers may also try to impersonate IRS employees over the phone. 

Photo provided by The Little White School Museum

After two months, museums across northern Illinois are reopening. This includes the Little White School Museum of Oswego. It is a small building and the color is white, but it represents 68 square miles and features an array of artifacts from that region.  

Tina Heidrich is the museum manager. She said their collection continues to grow, even during the pandemic.

Perspective: Big Problems? Big Plans!

Jan 21, 2021

For the 81 million people who voted for change on November 3, yesterday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden was deeply satisfying. The challenges are immense and the fissures dividing people wide, but we know that this man cares deeply for the people of this country and will do his best. He’s been preparing for this for a long time and has spent recent months recruiting an impressive team of professionals to find ways to address the multiple crises we face.

Spencer Tritt

DeKalb Public Schools has hired a new superintendent. Her name is Minerva Garcia-Sanchez. She’s currently the Pilsen, Marshall Square and Little Village chief of schools in Chicago. WNIJ education reporter Peter Medlin talked to her about her expectations and goals as she starts at a new school district during the pandemic.

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

Jan 20, 2021
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.

A group of U.S. lawmakers announced the reintroduction Tuesday of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

The bill was originally authored by Senator Dick Durbin. It passed in the House but failed in the Senate. In the wake of the recent attack on the Capitol, Durbin said addressing the hazards of domestic terrorism is a bipartisan issue.

Peter Medlin

Nearly half of Illinois high school grads who enroll full-time at a community college get placed in a developmental education course. That includes 70% of Black students and, of them, only 8% graduate compared to 26% of white students.

Those classes cost students tuition money and time, but don’t count for credit towards a degree. Emily Goldman, with the Partnership for College Completion, helped lawmakers craft the Developmental Education Reform Act to address the issue.

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.