Loves Park, IL – July unemployment in the Rockford region was eight-and-a-half percent. That's three percent higher than the national average. Every month the state puts out the statistics. But have you ever wondered who the people are behind those numbers?

WNIJ's Simone Orendain introduces us to a Loves Park computer engineer who lost his job of 20 years.

Chicago, IL – A Chicago film student is shining a light on her family's dark story. Her film "Plum Flower" tells the true story of infanticide in rural China in the early 20th century.

WNIJ's Simone Orendain talked with director Serena Moy about the short film.

Rockford, IL – A new exhibit at the Rockford Art Museum allows Rockford artists to vent their feelings about their hometown. It's also a chance to explain why they're still living and working there. WNIJ's Susan Stephens reports:

DeKalb, IL – When Illinois Democrat Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, people across the country took notice. At the time, Obama was unopposed in Illinois' U-S Senate race. The
Republican nominee, Jack Ryan left in June amid embarrassing allegations in his divorce records. Now Illinois Republicans are hoping to keep national interest going with the nomination of Maryland conservative Alan Keyes to run against Obama.

Beloit, WI – Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry continues to campaign in the battleground states. He also held a town hall meeting in Beloit, Wisconsin. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports not everyone there was a die-hard Kerry supporter.

Oregon, IL – Chris Lehman visits Bob and Sonia Vogl, the organizers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair at the Ogle County Fairgrounds.

7/30/04 – Garrison Keillor is a Democrat. His new book couldn't put it more plainly. WNIJ's Susan Stephens spoke with Keillor: first off, he's pretty excited about the presidential candidate who won his party's nomination.

8/2/04 – U.S. Senate candidate barack Obama is in the middle of a fast-paced, five-day bus tour throughout the state. He's drawing large crowds in cities and small towns: people are eager to see the politician who attracted so much attention at the Democratic National Convention. WNIJ's Susan Stephens reports on his Sunday stop in DeKalb.

7/29/04 – Mike Crase has been a reporter and columnist for small town newspapers in northern Illinois for 23 years. His recent book, "A Few Thoughts on a Scrap of Paper," is a compilation of some of his favorite columns. He says it helped him deal with some issues in his life: He spoke with WNIJ's Susan Stephens.

8/3/04 – The head of the Rockford Area Arts Council is retiring after seventeen years on the job. Susan Williams has given the arts organization six months notice. She spoke with WNIJ's Susan Stephens.

Chicago – A Chicago bicyclist starts a 25-thousand-mile adventure alone across three continents. Stephan Wanger traded life as a corporate mover and shaker for life as a solitary cyclist, all in the name of charity. WNIJ's Simone Orendain prepared this profile.

Rockford, IL – There's a new theater group in Rockford. Artists Ensemble of Rockford plans to present its first season this Fall. WNIJ's Guy Stephens reports.

Rockford, IL – It's the last day of school for the Rockford Public Schools. And at least one student is looking forward to repeating the fourth grade next year. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports.

Rockford, IL – The Village of Maple Park is reeling after its mayor and eight others were arrested last Friday (May 28) on charges of taking part in an illegal gambling operation. Some in the village want to mayor to resign. But as WNIJ's Chris Lehman reports, many residents are upset that the state targeted their town.

St. Charles, IL – State lawmakers will have to approve a budget by the end of the month. As part of the governor's proposed cuts this year, the Illinois Department of Corrections budget will be 92-million dollars smaller. It plans to close two facilities to save. One of them is an Illinois Youth Center that some call a one of a kind facility. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports.

Utica Tornado

May 19, 2004

Utica, IL – Eight people were killed by the tornado that swept through Utica on April 20th. Rescue teams using heavy equipment and shovels found the last of the victims in the rubble of a restaurant that collapsed: those who died were seeking refuge in the building's basement. WNIJ's Susan Stephens reports on how residents are beginning to cope.

Rockford, IL – Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated Magazine named Rockford the top sportstown in Illinois. But Sports Illustrated's senior contributing writer, Frank DeFord apparently had little to do with that designation. WNIJ's Chris Lehman spoke with Deford during his recent visit to the Forest City...

St. Charles, IL – A juvenile corrections facility in St. Charles could be around for just six more months, if the state decides to close it down. The move is part of the Department of Corrections' 92-million dollar cost savings plan. But opponents say there won't be any savings. WNIJ's Simone Orendain has the first part in a series about the Illinois Youth Center.

St. Charles, IL – The Illinois Department of Corrections will be working with a budget that's 92-million dollars less next year. It plans to close an Illinois Youth Center west of Chicago, as a cost saving measure. And this concerns families, employees, state lawmakers and the surrounding community. WNIJ's Simone Orendain has the third and final part of this series.

DeKalb, IL – Cavel International says its horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb will re-open soon. A fire took the facility offline two years ago. In the meantime, debate has heated up over whether horses should be killed for their meat. WNIJ's Chris Lehman spoke with two horse owners who stand on opposite sides of the issue.

Sycamore, IL – The bordering cities of DeKalb and Sycamore coexist peacefully. The two cities aren't just headed by mayors, they're run by managers. And both city managers say things weren't always peaceful when it came to economic interests. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports.

Chicago, IL – A documentary on post-9/11 immigration follows the struggles of Pakistani immigrants in Chicago.

Beloit, Wisconsin – It's been nearly forty years since singer Arlo Guthrie was inspired to write "Alice's Restaurant." The long-monologue-of-a-song was a hit in the Woodstock-era, but don't expect him to play it if you see him in concert. WNIJ's Susan Stephens reports. (note: Arlo Guthrie performed at Beloit College on April 13th, 2004.)

DeKalb, Il – As the Baby Boom generation approaches retirement age, experts say cases of elder abuse could increase significantly. WNIJ's Chris Lehman reports...

Rockford, IL – A world-renowed classical guitar player is on tour and headed to Hawaii. She made a stop in Rockford and performed for people with AIDS and HIV. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports.

Rockford, IL – A world-renowed classical guitar player is on tour and headed to Hawaii this week. Last week, she made a stop in Rockford and performed for people with AIDS and HIV. WNIJ's Simone Orendain reports.

DeKalb, IL – Politicians would like to think voters are well-informed when they step into the polling booths. But sometimes, people cast their vote based on the candidates stance on just one emotionally-charged issue. WNIJ's Susan Stephens wraps up our series on the candidates for U-S Senate with a look at where the Democrats stand on some of the hot-button issues.

DeKalb, IL – The Illinois House seat in the 70th district is up for grabs this fall. But before voters can decide on a candidate from the different parties, they'll have to pick a Republican next week. WNIJ's Simone Orendain has this profile of one of the Republicans, Joe Wiegand.

DeKalb, IL – The seven Democrats running for U-S differ on some issues. Each can cite different reasons why they are the one best suited to take on a Republican in the general election this fall. But the candidates largely agree on one issue: the way President Bush has handled the war in Iraq.