Chase Cavanaugh

Reporter

Chase started in radio while earning his Master's in diplomacy and international commerce at the University of Kentucky.  He was bitten by the radio bug while volunteering at Radio Eye (a local equivalent to NIRIS) and soon became a reporter at WUKY. After four years of reporting in Kentucky's Bluegrass, Chase traveled north to join WNIJ as Morning Edition producer.  Chase reports on a variety of developments in our broadcast area but is particularly drawn to anything with a political or international connection.  He is also an avid board gamer.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Earlier this year, the Chicago Rockford International Airport celebrated the opening of two hangars big enough to maintain the largest aircraft ever built. At the same time, a program expanded to teach students how to keep these planes flying.

Rock Valley College is a two-year institution that serves students across Winnebago, Boone and surrounding counties. Like many community colleges, it has degree programs in a variety of technical fields, but one of their more unique offerings is aircraft maintenance.

Rockford was the site of a second major soccer tournament over the weekend.  

MercyHealth Sporstcore Two hosted the Puma Champions Cup.  This tournament featured 540 soccer teams ranging in age from 8 to 19 that came in from across the country.  The Rockford Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says the event generated $1.9 million in local revenue. 

Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

The City of Rockford is suing Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals over a drug price hike. It purchased the U.S. rights to Acthar, a medicine used to treat "infantile spasms," a rare seizure disorder.  

Mallinckrodt hiked the price from $40 per vial in 2001 to $35,000 per vial today.  Furthermore, the company paid $100 million to the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it was maintaining an illegal monopoly of the drug.

NIU

Northern Illinois University is unveiling a new type of computer login security measure in response to an increase in phishing attacks.

Phishing is an e-mail scam where users are tricked into entering sensitive information by leading them to a fake website. At any large institution, this can lead to passwords getting stolen, and the account in question has to be reset. But NIU Information Security Officer Andrew Bjerkin says hackers have increasingly used compromised accounts to send out more spam.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Among the many ballot measures in yesterday's election were provisions that raise county sales taxes by half a percentage point.  

The Illinois State Fair recently revealed a new logo and theme.

Spokesperson Rebecca Clark says the logo is a sleek black, red, and blue, and this year’s motto is “generations of fun.”   

"The Illinois State Fair dates back to 1853. Families have been attending the Illinois State Fair for years and years.  It just felt like this was something that we could celebrate, the families who take part in the Illinois State Fair, and we hope that continues for generations to come."

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.42.  That's 11 cents more expensive than last week's average.  

The most expensive state gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at a price of $2.76 per gallon.  By contrast, the least expensive gas is in Quincy, at $2.25 per gallon.  

Rockford's average price is $2.31 per gallon, which is ten cents higher than last week.  

Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College's Board of Trustees approved a hike to next fall's tuition.  

They voted 4-1 to increase the per-credit hour rate by $15.  This bring's the rate up to $115 per credit hour. This is still below the state average of $140 per credit hour, and did not change RVC's technology or student activity fees.  

The increase was spurred by a loss of $2.9 million in state funding, along with a $1.6 million budget deficit.  College expenses are also expected to increase by $1 million.  

Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is beginning repairs on two segments of Interstate 90 in the Rockford area.  

The Spring Creek Road Bridge will undergo repair beginning April 3.  It begins with overnight lane closures, and will follow with a two-week full bridge closure on April 5. During this closure, posted detours will direct eastbound traffic to Bell School Road and direct westbound traffic to Lyford Road and then over I-90 via Rote Road.  

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.31.  This is 4 cents cheaper than last week's mean price.  

The state's most expensive gas, according to AAA, can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.68 per gallon. By contrast, Springfield has the cheapest gas, at a price of $2.07 per gallon.  

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.21.  This is three cents cheaper than last week's average.

City of DeKalb/Susan Stephens/WNIJ

College towns often benefit from those who study there, but not many NIU students are visiting DeKalb’s downtown district.  So city officials went to them directly to see how they can change this trend.

Like many cities of its size, DeKalb has a well-defined downtown district that’s home to many businesses and attractions.  Economic Development coordinator Jason Michnick says they’ve also been working to constantly improve it.

Wikimedia Commons

DeKalb police are investigating the theft of several catalytic converters. 

The incidents mostly occurred on the northwest of town, and officials have stepped up patrols.  However, they haven't yet named any suspects.  Police recommend residents park in well-lit areas and immediately report any suspicious activity.  

Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium.  These make the devices targets for thieves, who then sell the metal at scrap yards.  

County governments are responsible for building regional police stations and jails.   But when those buildings get too old, there may be obstacles to getting them replaced.

Back in the 1960s, Ogle County built its current jail. About 10 years later, Lee County followed suit.  These buildings have served their purpose, but Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle says keeping the facility running has become increasingly difficult.

The DeKalb County Board unanimously approved a moratorium on new wind and solar farms for 18 months, or until the county releases a sustainable energy plan. 

The Daily Chronicle reports the board plans on using this time to assess the various effects wind towers would have on the community.  These include value of nearby properties, aesthetic considerations, and any consequences for wildlife.  

The DeKalb City Council approved a rezoning request for a medical cannabis dispensary. 

Chicago-Based Justice Grown wants to open the facility at 650 Peace Road.  However, it now requires a license from the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  This is permitted by the state's medical cannabis pilot program, which was approved in 2013.

Illinois officials continue to remind residents that human trafficking remains a problem. 

It can include being forced to perform labor or work as a prostitute, and often involves minors.  George Sheldon directs the state’s Department of Children and Family Services.  He says there have been 821 allegations of child sex trafficking in the state since 2011.  

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.33.  This is five cents cheaper than last week's mean price.  

AAA reports the state's most expensive gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.67/gallon.  Meanwhile, the cheapest gas can be found in Champaign-Urbana, at $2.15/gallon.  

Rockford's average price is $2.25 per gallon.  

Village of Rockton, Illinois

Northern Illinois Service Co. withdrew its petition to build an asphalt plant near Rockton. 

The Rockford Register Star reports the Winnebago County Board was set to vote on a special use permit for the project along Black’s Quarry at 11200 N. Main Street.  They also wanted to rezone these 42 acres.  

Rockford-area teachers received several honors at this year’s Golden Apple awards. 

The Rockford Register Star reports two schools had teachers that won the award for the first time.  Jared Young of Belvidere North High School and Sarah Schaefer of Roosevelt Community Education Center were honored in such a way.  Linda Julian of Willowbrook Middle School also became the longest-tenured award winner, with 39 years of experience.  

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

The Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project further delayed its environmental review process. 

The project aims to create a freight line from southern Wisconsin, cutting through northern Illinois, and ending in northwest Indiana.  It aims to bypass congested Chicago freight yards and decrease transit times.  

Some DeKalb residents are petitioning for the Metra system to offer service to the city.  

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.38.  This is seven cents more expensive than last week's average.  

AAA reports the most expensive gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.66 per gallon.  By contrast, the cheapest gas is located in Springfield, at $2.23 per gallon.  

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.28, which is 6 cents more expensive than last week.  

DeKalb’s City Council approved rezoning for the Cornerstone Project Monday. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price of a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.31.  This is two cents more expensive than last week's price.  

AAA reports the most expensive gas is in the City of Chicago, at $2.62 per gallon.  By contrast, gas is cheapest in Decatur, at $2.15 per gallon.  

Rockford's average price is $2.22 per gallon.  That's three cents cheaper than last week's average.  

Susan Stephens

In a period of declining enrollment and shrinking university budgets, adjunct and temporary faculty are taking a wider role in higher education, including Northern Illinois University.

When someone thinks of going to college, the common image is a wizened old professor lecturing to a classroom of eager undergrads. Or a teacher’s assistant holding a session for graduate students. Christopher McCord, Dean of NIU’s College of Arts and Sciences, says that’s at least the ideal.

Flickr User Marcin Wickary/CC 2.0

Illinois Tollway officials approved a contract yesterday that would replace the coin buckets at toll booths. 

The Daily Herald reports they would be replaced by touch screen machines that also accept credit cards and bills.  I-Pass lanes have cut down on use of the coin buckets, and there are about 100 remaining at roadside booths.  

CREDIT FLICKR USER / KRISTIN_A (MERINGUE BAKE SHOP) "VOTE!" (CC BY 2.0)

Starting today, DeKalb County residents can vote early in the 2017 Consolidated Election.  

It covers municipal offices, such as mayors and aldermen, as well as township and special district positions, like parks, fire, and schools. All candidates are non-partisan in DeKalb County, so there’s no separate primary round. This also means voters have no need to worry about selecting a candidate that risks being eliminated partway through the race. 

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger is working on a bill that would expand the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area to portions of the WNIJ listening area.

One of these areas is Freeport.  It's well-known as the site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate, with a statuary park and other exhibits commemorating the event.

Freeport Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Connie Sorn says it’s also where Douglas formed the Freeport Doctrine. This claimed that states could pass laws for or against slavery, regardless of Supreme Court decisions.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.29.  This is identical to last week's average.  

AAA reports the most expensive gas is in the City of Chicago, at $2.62 per gallon.  By contrast, the least expensive gas is in Springfield, at an average per-gallon price of $2.05. 

Rockford's average gas price is $2.25.  This is eight cents more expensive than last week's average.

Election cycles always mean a turnover in county officials. Some of these new public servants may see this as a clean slate, but many have to deal with issues from a previous administration. 

The new LaSalle County State's Attorney campaigned against and eventually shut down a program established by the person she defeated for the job. 

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