Discovery Center Museum

The Discovery Center is a hands-on children's science museum in Rockford. It's adjusting its times and polices to meet the needs of its guests and public health requirements. 

Ann Marie Walker is the marketing director for the museum. She said the requirements for guests still include face masks for everyone age six and older, temperature and wellness checks, and social distancing. The biggest thing, she said, is that people need to reserve time online for the play sessions.

Spencer Tritt

Only weeks from the first day of school, some districts are reversing course and choosing not to have any in-person instruction right away.

Several teachers’ unions are calling on their schools to start the year virtually. Educators in Elmhurst are opposing their district’s back-to-school plan.

Max Schoenberg is the president of the Elmhurst Teachers’ Council. He says Elmhurst District 205’s plan would bring hundreds of students back into its buildings.

Perspective: A New Breed Of RINO

17 hours ago
Pexels / Pixabay

RINO, Republican In Name Only, is a slur used against Republicans who fail one or more extreme right wing purity tests.  It’s likely Reagan, Goldwater, the Bushes, Eisenhower, John McCain and other Republicans icons would be labeled RINOs by the standards of Trumpism.

Here's a new term – PINO. Patriot In Name Only. Examples:

If you disrespect 1st Amendment's free press protections and call

Journalists “Enemies of the People,” you may be a PINO.

If you think protecting our flag is more important than protecting the right

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Over the weekend, State Representative John Cabello replied to a Facebook user who asked him if, “now is it time to lock and load? Asking for a friend.” Cabello replied to the comment by saying, “not yet but be ready.” 

Winnebago State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross said in a press release that the representative’s rhetoric is unacceptable. She said that, "In my office, if anyone made comments of that nature, they would no longer be employed by my office."

The Freeport Masonic Temple is looking to renovate its nearly century-old building but it needs assistance.

Bill Leser is the chairperson of the fundraising committee for the temple. He said last year’s winter was not kind to the building, specifically, the top.

“We've actually got five roofs here. The worst one is the auditorium, which has to be fixed now," he explained. "So that's scheduled to be repaired by Labor Day.”

Mabel Amber / Pixabay

I’m not bashful about my Christian faith, a belief grounded in love, justice, and equality.  I’ve been truly disheartened by some recent actions that have been deemed acceptable because of Christianity.  Most notable, the statement and reaction of Florida Representative Ted Yoho. A reporter from The Hill, an American political newspaper and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herself, claim Representative Yoho used a French expletive to describe Ocasio-Cortez as a female dog.  Mr.

What You Need To Know About Bad Seeds & 'Brushing'

Jul 31, 2020
Connie Kuntz

It can be nice when a friend secretly leaves a bouquet of flowers on your doorstep on May Day, but what if you receive a package of unsolicited seeds in the mail? 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says don’t plant them, don’t even open the package.

Fans of NPR's Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross, will have much to celebrate with the addition of Fresh Air Friday and Fresh Air Weekend -- part of several program changes coming to WNIJ August 15th. Another popular NPR host, Sam Sanders, moves to prime time with the scheduling of his show, "It's Been a Minute," right after "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" on Saturday mornings.

Perspective: Of Cannibals And Kings

Jul 31, 2020

Suppose I arrive late at a meeting and say, “Sorry to be late. I just flew  from the planet Neptune, and boy, are my arms tired.” And you, in response, say, “I thought you were planning to spend the night on Jupiter.” We’d both be joking of course. But suppose we weren’t joking. Then we would be sent to a psychiatrist. But there’s another explanation: Perhaps we come from a culture in which there’s a common belief that people can fly all the way to Neptune and back.

Republican State Senator Dave Syverson is co-sponsoring a resolution that encourages the Illinois Congressional Delegation to direct a ComEd federal fine back to the state.

ComEd has to pay $200 million to settle allegations it engaged in long-term bribery in Springfield. Syverson said normally the money would go directly to the federal government.

“There are some allowances that can be made which either Congress or the U.S. Attorney General could step in and direct those payments back to those who were damaged, in this case the ratepayers.”

Yvonne Boose

Some northern Illinois residents felt a sense of normalcy as they enjoyed live music at the park. A city band continued its 166th season with a few changes.

The sun was starting to set in Hopkins Park as the DeKalb Municipal Band filled the air with sweet melodies Tuesday evening.

Kirk Lundbeck is the conductor of the band. He said as soon as Illinois went into Phase 4, he started working hard to put the season together.

Why Are There So Many Earthquakes In Illinois?

Jul 30, 2020
Connie Kuntz

Last week we learned that earthquakes occur nearly every day in Illinois -- we just don’t feel most of them because they are so small.


This week, we are looking at why we have so many. 


We spoke with Dr. Megan Brown. She's an assistant professor with the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at Northern Illinois University.


Perspective: Election Ploys

Jul 30, 2020

It was almost exactly a year ago that the president made his fateful call to President Zelensky. You remember -- Trump said he’d deliver the money Congress had appropriated for Ukraine's protection against Russian military incursions, then he added: "I would like you to do us a favor, though...."


Peter Medlin

Rockford Public Schools just became the latest district to release a plan for reopening.

No matter the grade level, parents can choose full-time remote learning.

But in-person will look different depending on a student’s age.

The elementary school option will be all day, five days a week.

Heidi Dettman is the executive director of academics.

“The biggest reason is because of how critical their time with their teachers is at this developmental stage,” said Dettman.

Rockford Police Department

The Rockford Police Department announced that the use of force at a police protest in May was lawful and justified.



After reviewing 120 hours of video footage and 90 police reports, the Rockford Police Department concluded that its use of pepper spray, tear gas and less lethal munitions during the May 30th protest were within proper procedure.

Mayor Tom McNamara said the decision was unanimous.

Sarah Jesmer

In May, the Department of Education made sweeping changes to Title IX regulations.

The new regulations change the definition of what qualifies as sexual harassment under Title IX. To meet the new standard, harassment must be “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.”

Shiwali Patel is the director of justice for student survivors at the National Women’s Law Center.

“These rules, kind of in total, really just turn Title IX on its head as a civil rights law,” said Patel.

Perspective: The Power Of The First Amendment

Jul 29, 2020
GDJ and Relentless, remixed / Pixabay

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Rockford Mass Transit District resumes pre-COVID service levels next week. 

Starting Monday, August 3rd, Rockford residents will once again have access to the full complement of bus routes. The District isn’t collecting fares until a week later. Spokeswoman Lisa Brown said several measures will be in place to address COVID-19.

“All seating areas on our vehicle will be available August 3rd, and all passengers will be required to be seated. We will not have any standing passengers at all at this time.” 

John Ivanic

A Northern Illinois University football great and former Rockford TV anchor has died. John Ivanic died Monday in Columbus, Ohio. He was 52.

Cities across the country have used murals to enhance the look of their neighborhoods. Monday, Rockford unveiled a community mural at SecondFirst Church located at 318 N. Church Street.  

Tia Richardson is a community mural artist from Milwaukee. She worked with the church and Jeremiah Development to raise $30,000 for the mural.

4-H Shows Moo-ve Online During The Pandemic

Jul 28, 2020
courtesy of Becky Gocken

A lot of events and activities have been canceled the last few months because of COVID-19. But Illinois 4-H is keeping kids busy. Their shows are still happening this year even though judges can't see the livestock, taste the pies or watch the presentations in person. 

A typical 4-H livestock show happens at the county fair, where the kids are able to present their animals live in front of judges. But this year is anything but typical. Like every organization, 4-H has had to adjust how they do things. 

Perspective: Making Trouble

Jul 28, 2020
Lawrence Jackson / Official White House photo

Since March, we’ve faced impossible issues and  limited choices to make the best of bad decisions. 

Enduring stressful days trying to keep everyone healthy and alive, our jobs and schools have been in a constant state of flux.  With the new school year looming, we wonder how to prioritize the health issues involved in opening our schools.

There really isn’t a good solution. 

Our world erupted after George Floyd’s horrific murder. And we found ourselves wrestling with how we as a nation reconcile ourselves and our actions of racism.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. This puts the county total at 3,505. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said there are no new deaths or sites of concern.

“And the good news is 96% of our residents who have contracted COVID-19 are reported as recovered, ” she said. 

The seven-day rolling positivity rate for Winnebago County is at less than 4%, meaning during that period, more than 95% of coronavirus tests came up negative.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

In Rockford, a parade of cars filled the streets for a demonstration against schools reopening during the pandemic. Quetzia Ramirez is a parent liaison at Jefferson High School and her sign read, "25+ Students In One Classroom Cannot Social Distance."

The car parade began at 10:00 a.m. at Rock Valley College and included upwards of 50 cars. The cars were covered in signs and writing that expressed concern with schools reopening in the fall. Ramirez said that’s why she joined the car parade in the first place. 



Yvonne Boose

Lots of outdoor concerts normally happen during summertime. COVID-19 hampered some of those plans. But the beat went on for one northern Illinois city.

On a pleasant summer night, people sat in small groups within Woodstock’s town square. They listened to "I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost!"-themed music performed by the Woodstock City Band as part of its 136th Season.  

Daniel Campbell is the managing director of the Woodstock Opera House. He said there were thoughts about canceling the series.

Paul Melki / Unsplash

From the White House to street corners of Chicago, from 10:00 a.m. Sunday mornings to nightly AA meetings you will find this disease. It is sewn into the fabric of our culture. It cannot be cured with a vaccine nor can your doctor give you a prescription. All of us have experienced it, some of us know it and others are unaware of its symptoms.

Connie Kuntz

People are still buying houses during the pandemic. But what happens when the demand is greater than the supply? You get a seller’s market. This June marked the biggest year-over-year housing inventory drop in Rockford’s history.  

Conor Brown is the CEO of Rockford Area Realtors. He said there were a number of factors contributing to this housing shortage. COVID-19 was one of them.

Public Health Educator Weighs In On School Reopening

Jul 24, 2020
Spencer Tritt

The Illinois Federation of Teachers recently urged higher-ed and K-12 schools to start their semesters completely online. Many schools are releasing reopening protocols to return partially in-person during the pandemic.

Beth Squires is a professor at Northern Illinois University’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

She said, to open in-person, schools must first be able to guarantee that students wear a mask, keep at least six feet apart and wash their hands regularly.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, host Peter Medlin sat down digitally with Ayla Peczkowski. She taught English & Special Ed at the Roosevelt Community Education Center in Rockford. Now she’s going to be in an administrative role at East High School, also in Rockford.

They talked about Ayla’s mixed feelings about schools reopening, teaching her students about news literacy during the pandemic and much more.

This episode goes in depth on what goes into a reopening plan. And there’s a story highlighting the struggles international students have faced during COVID-19.

Perspective: That Other Pandemic

Jul 24, 2020
Maria Lysenko / Unsplash

The national pandemic continues. You think I’m talking about coronavirus? I’m talking about guns.

Two new studies by the Brookings Institution and University of California, Davis show a nearly 50% spike in gun sales in the US during the last 4 months -- nearly 4 million in June alone, and 19 million sold so far this year. Two main things seem to be catalysts: Covid-19 and the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. (Yes, despite the media focus on instances of violence and looting, the vast majority of the nationwide protests were peaceful and lawful.)