MercyHealth Gets Green Light To Shutter Mental Health Unit

1 hour ago
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

This week, the Mercyhealth campus on Rockford’s West Side officially got the green light to permanently shut down its mental health unit.



On Tuesday, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted 5-0, in favor of allowing Mercyhealth to shutter its mental health unit at the Rockton Avenue campus. 

Danielle Angileri is with the National Alliance on Mental Health of Northern Illinois. She said these services are more vital than ever. 


SEIU Local 73 Reaches Agreement With UIC, Strike Over

4 hours ago
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

SEIU Local 73 confirmed that its bargaining units reached contract agreements with the University of Illinois at Chicago after more than a week on strike. Workers returned this morning.

SEIU member Alicia Uwumarogie confirmed, “The strike is over and that we are leaving the picket lines victorious in so many areas.”

The “wins” in the new agreements include increases in shift differentials, bilingual pay for hospital workers and the workers of the division of specialized care for children.

Brett Callow of Emsisoft

In April, Illinois Valley Community College’s servers shut down. It happened soon after COVID-19 closed down the campus and shifted classes online. Hackers locked the college out of its own networks. That caused its website and email system to crash. 

In the directory where files should be, the hackers left a message demanding cash for ransom.  

Perspective: Pointing The Finger Of Blame

12 hours ago
!anaughty! / Flickr cc by 2.0

When I was a kid and fought with my siblings, the first weapon we raised was the pointing finger. My mother, now 97, would say, “Well the one thing we have plenty of right now is blame -- and it won’t get this fixed!” Then walking away from us, she would call back, “Figure this out -- now.” With that we were left on our own, the message was clear, stop finger pointing and fix it or we would all be in trouble.


Most soon-to-be former governors, on their way out of office, keep a low profile as they prepare to pass the torch on to their successor. But that wasn’t the case with George Ryan.

On Jan. 11, 2003, just two days before his term expired, Ryan made national and international news by commuting the sentences of all 167 inmates on Illinois’ death row.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Organized workers at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford continued their strike this week as contract negotiations continue.  

Carmen Garcia has worked for the UIC division of specialized child care for more than 20 years. She says she and her coworkers just want a fair contract like other staff are already getting. 


 The DeKalb Police Department may be sporting body-worn cameras sooner than anticipated.


The DeKalb City Council unanimously approved a contract with Axon Enterprises, Inc. to purchase body-worn cameras for the police department. DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas says it’s a step in the right direction.  


Perspective: Race And Values

Sep 23, 2020

On the night of September 16, a still unknown perpetrator spray painted the “n-word” on the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University. During the subsequent informational town hall, unnamed individuals attempted to sabotage the evening by interrupting speakers, interjecting racial slurs, and posting provocative and deceptive texts, once again hiding in the shadows.

Shopping carts are normally used to carry food and other store items, but one Aurora food pantry pushed its carts in a different direction for Hunger Action Month and another is highlighting local restaurants.

Wikipedia Commons

Illinois has devoted more than $230 million across every county in the state for COVID-19 contact tracing.

Perspective: What's It All About?

Sep 22, 2020
courtesy of Lonny Cain

Life. What's it all about?

This question steamrolls over me now and then.

Alan Watts in his 1951 essay on finding meaning in reality said: “If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so… The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.”

I think I get it. Perhaps it's as simple as the small photo I hold. A photo that got me thinking about this life stuff. It was taken 28 years ago. A family reunion shot. Marking the day many of us we were together ... at least for a while.

The U.S. Census Bureau is urging Illinois residents to respond before the end of the month.

Sherrie Taylor is a senior research specialist at Northern Illinois University's Center for Governmental Studies. She said more than 96% of the people in the state have already sent in a response, but several groups remain elusive.

The Northern Almanac is adapted for broadcast by Clint Cargile and presented in collaboration with the NIU 125th Anniversary Oral History Project.

Find the original story at NIU’s 125 Key Moments website:

Perspective: Doing The Next Right Thing

Sep 21, 2020
jplenio / Pixabay

In current uncertain times, I have found wisdom in a surprising place -- the movie Frozen II. In it, Anna says that when you’re up against a challenge and aren’t sure what to do, “do the next right thing.” An important precursor to this is advice from the 1989 Spike Lee drama, to always do the right thing.

I’m a person who likes to know what’s coming. Confession: I sometimes skip ahead when reading and sneak a peek at upcoming chapters. We can’t do that in real life, good thing.

Scott P. Yates/ Rockford Register Star

Officials are working to produce programs that could change how we respond to mental health crises, suicide attempts and addiction across Winnebago County.

Logan Lundberg tried to kill himself days after leading a peaceful march through downtown, demanding an end to police brutality.

Lundberg, 22, said he struggles with bipolar disorder and depression despite his emergence as a prominent activist in the local civil rights movement.

public domain

Mourners have been gathering at the U.S. Supreme Court since the death Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leaving flowers, candles, and messages to honor the women's rights icon.

Impromptu vigils are popping up across the nation as people grapple with the loss of a liberal hero and what this means politically.

The Next Picture Show

A uniquely Midwestern art exhibit found a way to crown its winners despite the pandemic. 

The 16th annual Farms & Barns exhibit features 82 artists’ original works celebrating country life.  Some include photography, wood carving and mixed media. This year, the art show honored eight local and regional artists.

Michael Glenn, the executive director of The Next Picture Show in Dixon, said the process for awarding the artists is different due to the pandemic. 


The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 2,120 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 20 additional confirmed deaths. A DeKalb County infant is among the reported deaths in the most recent numbers from the state health department.

photo provided by Paula Morhardt.

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Paula Morhardt. Her poem is called, "Forever Goes On."

Forever Goes On

Just when I think I am coming to a good resolution,

I find something of yours.

Today it was a shirt that hadn’t yet been washed,

and it smelled like you.

The wave came crashing down,

and I fell to the floor,

New Housing Assistance Available For 61016 Residents

Sep 18, 2020

There’s a new housing rental assistance program available in areas around Cherry Valley.





The Community Action Agency announced housing assistance funds are available to those who experienced hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. $69,000 dollars will go to residents in the 61016 zip code for immediate use, which the state health department has deemed as especially impacted by the pandemic. 


Spencer Tritt

We’ve got a special episode this week. Remember a few months back when we heard from those valedictorians about what it was like graduating in the strangest senior year ever? And remember when we heard from some parent surveys about the challenges of learning from home a few episodes ago?

Well, today we’re hearing from the kids just starting their school journey: elementary schoolers from pre-K to 5th grade in the West Aurora School District.

Perspective: What I Didn't Do At 17

Sep 18, 2020
Norman Bosworth / Pixabay

When I was 17, my goals were to turn 18, graduate from high school, attend the University of Illinois, and make my way in the world.

Like many of my friends, I owned a rifle.  It was stored safely on a rack in my bedroom, except when I was target shooting or small game hunting.

When I headed to college in the fall of 1969, that rifle remained 150 miles away, still on my bedroom wall. The thought of taking it to a protest or demonstration would have seemed ludicrous.

Illinois Department of Employment Security

The unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 11 percent for the month of August, a decrease of a half of a percentage point from the previous month as the state added 66,000 nonfarm jobs, according to preliminary figures released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security Thursday.

That was 2.6 percentage points higher than the national rate for the month, which was 8.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The national rate reflected a decrease of 1.8 percentage points from the week prior.

NIU Today

Northern Illinois University officials plan to pursue charges after a derogatory word was spray-painted on the Center for Black Studies building. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. President Lisa Freeman issued a campus wide statement decrying the action. She said the paint has since been removed. The university will host a virtual, campus conversation Thursday night to discuss the incident.

Dear Huskies,

I’m writing to make you aware of an incident that occurred overnight and the actions we’re taking to address it.

Chase Cavanaugh

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith announced Thursday that he’s not seeking re-election next year. 

The soon-to-be 77-year-old said age is one factor.

“Given my age, given the fact that we’re in a position where we’re going to continue to make great progress, and given the fact that I know my wife is certainly supportive of this decision that we’ve made, now is the right time,” Smith said. 

He also says he feels confident in the city’s economic position. Smith said the arrival of Facebook and Ferrara will help with future tax revenue.

Capitol News Illinois

Illinois plans to continue withholding federal payroll taxes on behalf of its 62,000 employees despite a program President Trump launched in August that allows workers to defer paying those taxes through the end of the year.

“I'm not supporting a deferral that would double workers taxes after January and put Social Security further at risk. I mean, that's essentially what this would do,” Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said during an interview Thursday.

Free Laundry Service For RPS 205 Students

Sep 17, 2020
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

A free student laundry program kicks off this week in Rockford.

The "Fresh for Learning" program lets any Rockford Public School student wash their clothes for free at the new 5 Alarm Coin Laundromat located at 3939 West Riverside Blvd. The program will run every Wednesday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Rockford Police Department ROCK House Officer Patrice Turner leads the program. She got the idea after spending eight years as a school resource officer and noticed a truancy problem. 

Perspective: Hurl Barbs Like A Bard

Sep 17, 2020
Birminham Museums Trust

America has probably not been this divided -- or this uncivil -- since the Civil War. Differences of opinion have resulted in, not surprisingly, ad hominem attacks. I’ve found the use of misogynistic and anti-Semitic language especially troubling. And lately, I’ve also noticed social media pundits using a variation of what I’ll call the “r” word, an outdated and unacceptable way to describe special needs individuals.

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford youth summer apprenticeship program has ended and the fruits of the participants’ labor are ready to be revealed.   

SPARK! -- or -- Significant Public Art Apprenticeships in Rockford began back in July. One of the projects includes works that were done at the Nicholas Conservatory.   

Among the themes are social justice artwork and digital journalism skill-building.  An animation video that highlights youth interviews of community participants sharing what Black Lives Matter means to them will be on display.

The Voluntary Action Center, a northern Illinois community service organization, lost its paratransit contract with the City of DeKalb.

The nonprofit normally offers transportation for needy residents, such as the elderly and disabled. But starting next year, the work in DeKalb will go to Transdev, a company that provides and operates buses for the city’s consolidated transport system. VAC Executive Director Ellen Rogers said the financial impact is significant.