Courtesy of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry

Northern Illinois food banks are holding steady, despite the arrival of winter and a continuing government shutdown.

The Sauk Valley Food Bank in Sterling distributes food to pantries in Whiteside and Lee Counties, and outlying areas like Freeport. Executive Director Andrea Hensgen says their work hasn’t been affected much by the shutdown, but there has been a slight change in clientele.

Perspective: Jesus And Superman

8 hours ago
Susan Stephens, remixed from Pixabay


Studying the book of Mark in my adult Sunday school class recently got me thinking about a question I have always liked to ponder: at what point did Mary approach her son and tell him the big news?  

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

Amazon is a leader in online shopping. It has warehouses across the country to sort and deliver its products. Recently, Amazon Air announced it will expand its delivery network into Rockford. 

Chicago Rockford International Airport is already a major hub for UPS. The airport also has maintenance facilities capable of repairing the world's largest aircraft. But Amazon took particular interest due to the airport's cargo operations. Director Sarah Rhoads says it's part of the retailer's "Middle Mile" network for two-day deliveries.

Perspective: It Could Be Worse

Jan 15, 2019

Some college students were unsure they’d be able to pay their tuition on time, due to the government shutdown.

Jenna Dooley

In the Catholic church, a chancery is the traditional name for the administrative offices of a diocese. In Rockford, church leaders have made plans to demolish the former chancery on Court Street. It was built in 1929 and has been vacant for nearly a decade. Since then, there have been building code violations and continued costs for upkeep. Church leaders cite safety concerns as well. Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey wants historic designation for the building to pursue ways to give it new life.

Guy Stephens

The representative of Illinois’ 14th Congressional District went back home this weekend to reaffirm and celebrate her new job.


Democrat Lauren Underwood took the official oath of office with the rest of her colleagues Jan. 3 in Washington, D.C. The ceremonial swearing-in at her old high school, Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, was a chance for supporters in her district to bask in her triumph.


Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois Ruben Castillo administered the oath while Underwood’s father held the Bible for her.

Perspective: A New Year's Resolution For Higher Ed

Jan 11, 2019



Perspective: Considering Computer Time

Jan 10, 2019

I was playing a videogame the other day when I heard my mom yell, “You computer nerds have been on your screens long enough! Go outside!” 


Perspective: Free Range Children

Jan 9, 2019

We decided in early December to spend the Sunday night before Christmas in Chicago, just to see the lights and do some last-minute shopping.  

Government Shutdown Stalls Farm Programs

Jan 8, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

The partial government shutdown could affect farmers as they plan for the next growing season. DeKalb County Farm Bureau manager Greg Millburg says the shutdown mostly affects farmers interacting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and those applying for programs laid out under the most recent Farm Bill.

“It's not impacting them a lot now, but as it goes on, it's going to continue to impact them more,” said Millburg.

For those wanting to apply for benefits like loans, they'll have to wait, said Millburg.


Perspective: A Kernel Of Canine Wisdom For 2019

Jan 8, 2019

Besides the fact that dogs are known as man’s best friend, there is much we can learn from our four-legged friends. When I take Zoe outside, she stops right away to listen to and smell our surroundings. Intently, she single-mindedly stares into the yard. After this pause, she then proceeds, reassessing the situation as she walks, with nose to the ground she pulls ahead, lured by the scents of new adventures.

A former Democratic leader in the Illinois House has resigned his seat.


Lou Lang announced Monday that he's ending his 32-year legislative career. The 69-year-old from Skokie joined the lobbying firm Advantage Government Strategies.

Perspective: In The Bleak Midwinter

Jan 7, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ


The great composer, Gustav Holst, brought to life the lyrics of a poet in a Christmas carol melody both sad and sweet.  It starts out: 


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan 


John Perryman is a pediatrician with Mercyhealth in Roscoe. He sees patients struggling to afford medications. Some families, he says, disappear for stretches of time when they fall off an insurance plan. On this week's Friday Forum, Jenna Dooley talks with Perryman about his view as well as from a major opponent of the idea.


Perspective: Of Pelicans And Molecules

Jan 4, 2019

If you’re like me, you run across a lot of stuff you don’t understand. I’ve been reading about quantum physics for years and still don’t get how subatomic particles can be particles and waves at the same time.

I try to read economics, too. Yet I don’t understand the economic doctrine that says, if the country goes into recession, I should help by boosting my own spending, even if I go bankrupt. Won’t my bankruptcy make the recession worse, not to mention making me worse?

Kate Gardiner/Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A powerful Chicago City Council member was charged Thursday with trying to shake down a fast-food restaurant seeking city remodeling permits.

Alderman Ed Burke, 75, is charged with one count of attempted extortion. In 2017 he told company executives that they'd get the permits if they signed on as clients at Burke's private property-tax law firm in Chicago, the 37-page complaint says. A conviction carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Burke has been on the council for 50 years and chaired its finance committee for the last three decades.

Graphic by WNIJ

Unwanted social media messages are now on the list of behaviors that can be cited when petitioning to file for stalking “no-contact order.”

That’s one of the hundreds of new Illinois laws that went into effect in the new year.

Previously, phone calls, text messages and emails were included, but not messages from platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Women's March Rockford Marches On

Jan 3, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The national Women’s March has faced accusations of anti-Semitism, and organizers in Chicago recently announced they would not march, citing logistical challenges.

Organizer Alicia Neubauer says none of those issues apply to the Rockford march, though. Canceling has never been on the table for their group.

Neubauer says they have tried since the inception of the Rockford march to include a diversity of voices.

If you follow health news, you have heard about the Mediterranean diet. Full of vegetables, fruits and fish, it promises health and longevity. Nevertheless, recent studies have challenged this golden health rule. 


Perspective: The Founders In A New Light

Jan 2, 2019
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

It was September 1776, just two months after the American colonies had declared their independence from Britain. British naval commander Richard Howe demanded a meeting. Perhaps the Americans wanted to change their minds about their rash decision. 


Proposed plans for legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois shifted from "when" to "how."

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is on board. So are state Sen. Heather Stains and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy. Their plan would allow Illinois residents to purchase and possess 30 grams of cannabis for recreational use. Non-residents would be allowed to have half this amount.

Wikimedia Commons

The light rail system used to move passengers around O'Hare International Airport is shutting down until next fall. 

The Chicago Tribune reports the "Automated Transportation Service" previously operated only on weekends since the spring. Starting today, service will be fully suspended and passengers will need to use shuttle buses to get between terminals and the outlying parking lots.

Perspective: It's Time To Start Fresh

Jan 1, 2019

I’m always grateful for those opportunities to start again.  Beginning fresh, no mistakes, trying something different, more challenging.  Restarting offers us a chance at a perfect moment in the future. 

A perfect moment – what does it really hold?  Everyone getting along?  Having a good hair day and being on time?  Having that new idea work just right?  Cooking a steak to the just-right medium rare?  A perfect moment where I’ve strung words together that motivates someone.  It’s pure synchronistic magic. 

Perspective: The Conversation We Avoid

Dec 31, 2018

It is the season of giving. Every year the holidays bring an abundance of generosity. We talk about toy drives, food drives, and free turkeys.  

A conversation we should be having is how to ensure our neighbors aren’t poor. We should be asking questions about why when there is more food distribution than ever before the need continues to grow.  


Former Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner Dies

Dec 28, 2018
City of Aurora

Tom Weisner died of cancer on Friday. He was the 57th mayor of Aurora.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin issued a statement on the city's website.

"It is with great sadness that we announce and mourn the passing of the 57th mayor of Aurora, Thomas J. Weisner. After a courageous battle with cancer, Mayor Weisner departed this life today with his faithful wife of 46 years, Marilyn, and his family by his side.

Nelle Conley

Seven years ago, a girls school founded by two Northern Illinois University professors opened its doors to its first eleven students in rural western Kenya. Now, 160 girls attend the school that has a goal of being “good enough for the richest, open to the poorest.” The school added music to its curriculum this year, and that created a mutual opportunity for one DeKalb native. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sits down with Nelle Conley before she heads back to Kenya.


Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released a guide on immigration status and employee rights.

The document is titled Guidance for Illinois Residents: Impact of Immigration Status on Employees’ Rights in the Workplace. Madigan says it was created to clear up confusion resulting from recent changes in policy and law.

According to the guide, federal law requires employers to verify an employee's authorization to work in the U.S.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is currently drafting rules for the historic Industrial Hemp Farming Act that passed this summer. This will allow those with a permit to grow, cultivate, or process the non-drug, agricultural varieties of cannabis.