Southern Illinoisan

This fall marks 35 years since Air Illinois Flight 710 crashed.  The commuter service flew to many smaller airports and provided a quick way for travelers to venture across the state.

That is until October 11, 1983.  The plane took off from Springfield, quickly ran into trouble and a half hour later went down in a southern Illinois farm field near Pinckneyville,  killing all 10 aboard.

The Sound of Science - "Why So Many Geese?"

Aug 31, 2018

J: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach, and I’m joined by Kate Powers.

K: Jeremy, I hear you have a question from Sara today -- one that is close to the hearts of all the staff, faculty and students at NIU.

J: Yeah, Sara wants to know: Why are there so many Canada Geese everywhere? They seem to rule campus and can be quite aggressive, chasing poor innocent pedestrians around the lagoon.

Christine Herman/Illinois Public Media

University of Illinois officials announced two big projects for the Urbana campus Wednesday: a new data science center and expansion of the Research Park.

Both projects will get state funding as part of the Illinois Innovation Network, the U of I’s new statewide research enterprise.

U of I Urbana Chancellor Robert Jones said the new data science center, which will be built on the current site of Illini Hall, will be a hub for cross-disciplinary research and workforce development.

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Listeners of DeKalb-based "B95" (WDKB-FM) recently heard the final local newscast from longtime newsman Brian Adams. Adams accepted a position as a reporter at KNIA/KRLS in Knoxville, IA.

Adams was a newscaster at B95 for the past 22 years. During that time, he covered countless local government meetings as well as breaking news events, including blizzards, tornadoes, a monster truck accident and the fatal campus shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008.

Illinois Churches Linked To #ChurchToo Movement

Aug 31, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

In August, multiple elders resigned from Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. It was in response to sexual misconduct allegations against the church's founder. In a statement, head elder Missy Rasmussen apologized to the women who came forward and admitted that their internal investigation was flawed.

Sessions from Studio A - Matthew Caleb Flamm

Aug 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Matthew Caleb Flamm performs "Enemies" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Matthew Caleb Flamm performs "Crooked Mind" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s acting president outlined her vision for the campus in a public address Thursday.

Speaking before faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Lisa Freeman said NIU has been successful in employing a diversity of perspectives across campus. However, she said NIU needs to evolve in order to face future challenges. Chief among those, she said, was the need to guarantee fiscal stability in the wake of an absent state budget and declining enrollment.

Wikimedia Commons

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against two Illinois Department of Corrections officials over the agency’s cancellation of a debate class for inmates at the Stateville Correctional Center.

Rockford Public Schools



lllinois is in the grips of a severe teacher shortage, but late last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation to raise their wages. The bill would’ve ramped up the minimum salary to $40,000 by the year 2022. In a message explaining his veto, Rauner called that an “unfunded mandate.”

Flickr user Katja Schulz

The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed the first West Nile virus death in the state this year. A LaSalle County resident has died after becoming ill earlier this month.

Melaney Arnold is a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health. She says many infected with the virus will not have symptoms, but everyone should take precautions against mosquito bites.

Victoria Lunacek

School buses are ubiquitous in northern Illinois. For parents, they're key to getting children to school, and for everyone, they're a significant presence on the road. Brian Scott is Terminal Manager for the buses at Rockford Public Schools. He says it's important for drivers to obey the stop sign that swings out when the buses are unloading children.

"If you are on a two-lane road and you are trailing a school bus or approaching a school bus, all traffic needs to stop when that stop sign comes out," he said.

The University of Illinois today announced a new financial aid program designed to make enrollment at its Urbana-Champaign campus more affordable for middle-class students. They’re calling this program Illinois Commitment, and Kevin Pitts, vice-provost for undergraduate education, says the goal is to persuade families they really can afford to send their kids to the state’s flagship university.


Illinois State Archives

The Illinois State Archives is celebrating the state's bicentennial with an online exhibit of its most valuable documents.

Director David Joens says the collection includes historical touchstones. That includes four state constitutions and the state’s first women’s suffrage law.  There are also more cultural items.

Victoria Lunacek

DeKalb's annual Corn Fest packed downtown with patrons, vendors, musicians and rides this past weekend. The fest went from Friday Aug. 24 through Sunday Aug. 26. 

Video: Carl Nelson - WNIJ

Victoria Lunacek

Northern Illinois University re-opened the Stevens Building this year. The Stevens Building opens after years of renovations as the home of the School of Theatre and Dance and Anthropology Departments. The $23.7 million project started in 2014 and finished just in time for the 2018-19 school year. The building features a new lecture hall, box office and Black Box theater.

TSPR's Emily Boyer

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner brought his re-election campaign to the McDonough County Republican headquarters, where he said he wants to make more state  funding available for higher education. 

Rauner told the crowd of a few dozen people that Illinois is his home and he wants a better future for all of the state's children. He said that K-12 education is now being funded properly. The state has implemented a new funding formula designed to make state funding more equitable among school districts.

Flickr User Garry Knight / (CC X 2.0)

A new organization is trying to get more filmmakers and production companies to film their movies in southern Illinois.

WSIL-TV reports the nonprofit Southern Illinois Film Commission wants to highlight the natural beauty of the area while boosting the local economy.

Flickr User James G. Milles / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois county officials have about four months to figure out details of the rabies vaccination effort for cats.

Legislation signed into law this month by Gov. Bruce Rauner amended Illinois' Animal Control Act. Beginning in January, cat owners must vaccinate their cats for rabies and keep them updated from the age of 4 months. The second rabies shot must be done within one year of the first vaccination.

As with dogs, counties will be required to issue a vaccination certificate and a rabies tag, which they will give to veterinarians to distribute.

The Sound of Science - "Windy Days"

Aug 24, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach and I have a question for Jeremy Benson. Jeremy, with cooler weather on its way I think Ellie’s question is very pertinent right now. Ellie wants to know why wind blows.

Illinois Senate Democrats

State Senator Scott Bennett says he hopes lawmakers override the governor’s amendatory veto of a bill he co-sponsored to speed up the processing of Medicaid applications for long term care in Illinois.

Many Illinois nursing homes endure long waits for the state to process Medicaid applications, while they shoulder expenses for residents who have used up their own money. The delays in applications were a factor in the Champaign County Board’s decision to approve the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home earlier this year.

NPR Illinois

Students across Illinois are heading back to school. And increasingly, they’re finding alternatives to bachelor’s degrees to reach their career goals.  NPR-Illinois hosted a forum in Rockford on Thursday about training today’s workforce. Northern Illinois University associate vice president Rena Cotsones and Workforce Connection director Lisa Bly had advice for students setting off on a career path.

Guy Stephens

Shabbona native and agronomist Sarah Carlson says decisions at the grocery store could lead to changes in what farmers plant. On this week's Friday Forum, Carlson talks with WNIJ's Jenna Dooley about her unique role working with farmers and large businesses to find ways to grow and market foods that enrich the land.

Sessions from Studio A - Renee Dion

Aug 23, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Renee Dion performs "99" at the House Cafe in DeKalb, August 16, 2018.

Renee Dion performs "Monday" at the House Cafe in DeKalb, August 16, 2018.

Google Maps

Officials in northeastern Illinois are raising concerns about the enforcement of environmental regulations for the planned Foxconn manufacturing plant in neighboring Wisconsin.



They’re calling on Wisconsin officials to reconsider waiving environmental regulations for the Taiwanese company.


Much of the concern centers on displaced water possibly overflowing in downstream areas.



A national study released this week comparing general school funding dollars with the amount spent on staff benefits singled out Illinois — and not in a good way.  


'Moo Moo Classic' Cow-Milking Contest Opens DuQuoin Fair

Aug 23, 2018
Flickr User Lu Boren / (CC X 2.0)

The Moo Moo Classic is back to serve as the unofficial opening of the DuQuoin State Fair .

Local celebrities will compete for the title of Milking Champion of the state fair on Thursday. The 3 p.m. event will be at the C Bar Land and Cattle Pavilion.

Each contestant has three minutes to extract as much milk as possible from a reluctant dairy cow. It requires skill and trust on the part of the animal.

Flickr User Ashwin Kumar / (CC X 2.0)

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, once an opponent of land-based casinos, now says he favors casino expansion, including one in Chicago.

Edgar on Wednesday told the Chicago Sun-Times there are "more pluses than minuses" than there were 25 years ago. At that time Edgar said he didn't want casinos in any part of Illinois.

Now Edgar says the city of Chicago needs the revenue and the state of Illinois could use the revenue.

The former two-term Republican governor made the remarks as an Illinois House subcommittee hearing about casino expansion bill was underway.

On a Saturday in early August, around 250 people packed into the sanctuary of Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore to celebrate the installation of a new pastor. The congregation led their new leader through the church, stopping along the way to call him to service.


It’s an empowering ritual in the Lutheran tradition, and one that is especially meaningful since Salem’s new pastor, Preston Fields, is the first openly gay pastor in the Northern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).


Guy Stephens/WNIJ

Rochelle has leveraged its location, and resources like its municipal railroad, to spur a lot of business activity in its corner of Ogle County. Now it’s set to move into neighboring Lee County in a big way. 

Illinois EPA

Illinois EPA Director Alec Messina announced the completion of a forced waste tire removal in Rockford.

More than 4,600 tons of waste tires were removed from S.T.A.R. Used Tire Disposal, a former commercial used tire processing facility.

The facility operated in violation of the Environmental Protection Act and Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations for more than a decade. S.T.A.R. did not respond to a removal notice from the Illinois EPA, prompting the forced removal.