News

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

A Rockford police officer has been cleared in the shooting of an unarmed black man fleeing a traffic stop back in October. 

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced that Rockford Police Officer Dominik McNiece was legally justified in his shooting of 21-year-old Tyris Jones. 

Thanksgiving At Miss Carly's Going Strong

5 hours ago
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

COVID-19 isn’t stopping a northern Illinois homeless outreach shelter from providing a Thanksgiving meal this year. Carly Rice is the founder of Miss Carly’s. Last year, she said they cooked over 50 turkeys.

“We were cooking turkeys for like a week. And it was a frantic frenzy to make sure we had enough plates and forks.”

This year, due to COVID-19, Miss Carly’s plans to pass out Thanksgiving-themed sandwiches with a side of cranberry sauce on the side. 

Perspective: Check In, Check On This Holiday Season

20 hours ago
Utsman Media / Unsplash

The holidays can be brutal. The stress, the expectations. The loneliness. The cold, and the lack of sunshine.

And that’s without a pandemic raging and common sense telling us to hunker down.

As an advocate for recovering addicts and mental illness survivors, I’ve cried a lot this year. Sure, sometimes I’ve cried for myself and my family. For my little girls. I wish they were experiencing the things 7-year-olds should be experiencing during the holidays.

Watch our Nov. 24 panel of tips and inspiration to de-stress before the holidays as many families alter their usual traditions due to the pandemic. Hear listener questions about how to plan for the holidays that are shaping up to be anything but typical.

Initial Vaccine Shipment May Be Smaller Than Expected

Nov 24, 2020
Blueroomstream.com

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Illinois may be less than one-quarter of what officials had originally been told to expect.

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday that the latest word from federal officials is that the first shipment may contain only about 80,000 doses, or one-fifth of the 400,000 doses that state officials were expecting as recently as last week.

Blueroomstream.com

The state’s rolling seven-day average COVID-19 case positivity rate decreased by a half point Tuesday to 10.4 percent as hospitalizations continued to show signs of leveling, but officials urged caution ahead of the holiday weekend.

The 6,134 people hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Monday night marked a decrease of 37 from the day prior, while intensive care beds in use for the disease decreased by three from the day prior to 1,203.

Ventilator usage increased to a second-wave high, however, reaching 668, an increase of 34 from the day prior.

Perspective: A Myth About COVID

Nov 24, 2020
Chris Fink

What do you even do for fun with your kids in COVID times?

A new fall activity in our family is to visit playgrounds. In Wisconsin, our fall playgrounds are now windswept and empty -- the best qualities of a playground these days. My daughter Iris, now nine, still loves a playground, even a desolate one. We usually choose one somewhere along the Rock River. Some of the playgrounds are barricaded shut. Others are open, but all the children have gone. Just a few underdressed teens huddle by the tire swing.

The drive to the playground is another family diversion.

Blueroomstream.com

After Pfizer submitted its application for a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week, Illinois public health officials have continued preparing locations to store and distribute the vaccine that could be released to frontline hospital workers in a matter of weeks.

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:

College of Engineering & Engineering Technology established (1985)

Perspective: The Parable Of The Basketball Game

Nov 22, 2020
Cocoparisienne / Pixabay

The basketball game is set to start. Team B’s coach has his players on the floor, as well as the coach of Team R. The game will be officiated by three veteran, well-qualified and well-respected referees.

While stages remain dark, Artists’ Ensemble Theater partnered with WNIJ to record a new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “The Curse of the Western Star.” Eight actors, socially distanced, recorded the play in WNIJ’s Studio A in September.

An American movie star consults Poirot about a series of menacing letters she has received regarding her famous diamond, the Western Star. Can Poirot uncover the truth behind the legend?

Cast List:

Grand Jury Returned Indictment Against Tyris Jones

Nov 20, 2020
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

A Rockford man shot by a police officer last month now faces murder charges.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced that a Grand Jury had returned an indictment against 21-year-old Tyris Jones for first degree murder.

Jones was charged with the September murder of 25-year-old Demavalee Macklin. Rockford Police Chief Daniel O’Shea says that this is just one of the many gun fire deaths in the region.

Library Workers Say It's Not Too Late To Save Branch Locations

Nov 20, 2020
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

The Rockford Public Library workers put out a list of alternatives to layoffs and the closure of two library locations that serve the south and west sides of the city.

The Rock River and Rockton Centre library branches will close permanently by the end of the year and lay off eight employees. Janella Harper Herbig is president of the union representing the library workers Local 3350. She says there are a number of common sense solutions that would address the budget shortfall without laying off staff. 

14th District Congressional GOP Candidate Jim Oberweis is seeking what's called a "discovery" recount in his race against Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood.

This would have election authorities examine up to 25% of precincts to determine if votes would have gone a different way. Campaign spokesman Travis Akin explained.

“If you are within 5%, you have the opportunity legally to ask for a discovery recount," said Akin. "We will be paying for some of those precincts with funds that we’ve raised for this express purpose.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/carandus-brown-9b960173/

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours features northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Carandus Brown.

Brown is a devoted Christian with hopes to encourage people to find Jesus for themselves. 

Perspective: Digital Media Literacy

Nov 20, 2020
Pixabay + Pixlr

One consequence of the recent election is renewed scrutiny of digital media.

Educating users to be critical consumers of information has always been a vital tool for democratic self-governance. Media literacy education works. We did it with other innovations, like print and television. And we can and must do the same with social media.

But literacy education in a new medium can take several generations to be successful. We do not have that kind of time. So here’s a quick introduction in three simple steps:

NIU Continues To Pivot During Pandemic

Nov 20, 2020
Susan Stephens

The NIU campus community is coming to grips with a new normal of teaching and learning during the lingering pandemic. Classes this fall have been held remotely or in a hybrid format. There are restrictions on housing and activities. And because cases of the coronavirus continue to spike across the United States and here in Illinois, more are coming.

Abigail Anderson is a media studies graduate student. She hopes those measures will be enough to slow the spread by next year.

Sessions from Studio A - Cathy Grier

Nov 19, 2020

Blues artist Cathy Grier joins us on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Grier's musical adventure has taken her many places, from sneaking backstage to meet John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt at age 17, to winning MTV's Basement Tapes competition, to co-writing a #1 dance hit in France. Thoughout her journey, Grier has never forgotten her blues and groove roots, and this year she makes a big statement with the new album "I'm All Burn".

City of Rockford

The mayor of Rockford is seeking reelection in 2021.

Mayor Tom McNamara made the announcement this week, touting successes such as growth downtown, in the health care industry, and at Chicago Rockford International Airport. A central campaign message is his desire to make further improvements in those areas.

“We have had great progress these last four years and we want to build on that progress," he said. "We know there is so much more work to be done.”

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

A new program is promising free legal and advisory services for Illinois residents with marijuana convictions looking for a fresh start.

New Leaf Illinois is a state-sponsored program that aims to provide Illinois residents with resources to expunge their records of marijuana convictions. Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy said it’s the first step towards addressing the casualties from the war on drugs.

The Winnebago County Health Department Thursday announced seven new deaths in the county from COVID-19. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said there has also been a significant increase in cases throughout the region.

“We’re reporting new cases of 234, our total case count throughout the pandemic is 15,719.”

Martell and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said there is going to be a significant step-up in enforcement against businesses that violate mitigation rules. Some measures include daily ticketing, closures and ineligibility for business relief grants.

Yvonne Boose

Some northern Illinois poets had to write outside the lines for a unique Woodstock art exhibition. 

“As It Happens” is an art show on display at Woodstock’s Old Courthouse Art Center. Various poets wrote pieces at different stages of visual artists’ works but the poems are much more than words on paper. 

Artist Carol Hamilton worked with the Woodstock poetry group Atrocious Poets to come up with the concept for the exhibit. She shared her observation.  

Spencer Tritt

Illinois is in the middle of a severe teacher shortage, which also extends to substitute teachers. That problem has gotten much worse during the pandemic.

Amanda Christensen is the DeKalb County Regional Superintendent. Her office is the hub for subs, helping with background checks and licenses.

“I think that there's a greater drain on the system, and we certainly are not keeping up with the need,” she said.

Perspective: Waking Up

Nov 19, 2020
Suganth / Unsplash

In a recent article in the New York Times, Farhad Manjoo wrote about “Apathy” in terms of becoming “fixed upon this one man…stuck in eternal orbit around an expanding black hole, irresistibly sucked in.” He wondered about all the time and energy that we have spent on this one person and what we could have done instead.

https://unsplash.com

The pandemic has caused lost sales in several industries across northern Illinois, but one turkey farmer said sales are on track for his business. He admitted he’s seeing changes in other areas.

Robert Kauffman is the president of Kauffman Turkey Farms in Waterman. He said he wasn’t sure how the pandemic would impact his business. 

“I didn't know what to expect,” he admitted. “But I do know we're doing much more over-the-counter sales right now. More people are coming in buying products.”

Young Birders Want You To Join The Club

Nov 18, 2020
Tony Del Valle

There's a new bird watching club on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb and they want their fellow NIU students to join them. It's called Inclusive Birding Club and Tony Del Valle is the trip chair. He coordinates birding trips and hikes. He said the group is safe, welcoming and judgment-free; and that they are inclusive in every sense of the word.

Perspective: The Promise Of 'Rockford Promise'

Nov 18, 2020

Full disclosure: I have a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and currently serve as Chief of Staff to Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

On Monday, the Rockford City Council voted unanimously to contribute $1.5 million annually to Rockford Promise for at least the next 17 years. This would allow graduates of Rockford Public School District 205 with a 3.0 GPA to earn a bachelor’s degree from NIU with all tuition and general fees paid for.

NIU Today

Northern Illinois University’s president is encouraging the campus community to take further steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

During a virtual “State of the University” Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Freeman said the Thanksgiving holiday will be a challenge to contain the virus.

Susan Stephens

The Kishwaukee College Board voted to extend its president’s contract through 2024. It gives Laurie Borowicz a $10,000 base salary increase to $200,000 per year. The college also upped her employer contribution retirement match from 1-1 to 2-1.

Bob Johnson is the president of the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees. He said she deserved the upgrades.

Judge Finds Pritzker Acted Lawfully To Mandate Health Guidance For Schools

Nov 17, 2020
Capitol News Illinois

A Sangamon County judge on Monday ruled Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has power under state law and the state constitution to issue executive orders that mandate public health measures at schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision, issued by Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow after a roughly two-hour hearing, relates to two lawsuits — Mainer v. Illinois Department of Public Health and Pritzker v. Board of Education of Hutsonville — that arose from Pritzker’s June executive orders regarding schools.

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