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.

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. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.29.  That's 2 cents more expensive than last week's average.   

AAA reports the most expensive gas is in the City of Chicago, at $2.63 per gallon.  By contrast, you can find the cheapest gas in Champaign-Urbana, at $2.05 per gallon.  

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.17.  This is three cents cheaper than last week's average.  

Google Maps

One of the more unique forms of government in Illinois is townships. They provide some services beyond those of a city but, in this frugal budget climate, some see township functions as redundant. 

Back in 2010, the city of Peru was emerging from the national financial crisis. To cut back on expenses, Mayor Scott Harl met with his counterparts from LaSalle and Oglesby.  

“We were looking at consolidation of our safety services, our dispatch for police, fire and 911," he said. "That took effect after six years. September of 2016.”   

The Illinois Department of Corrections is launching its first “Life Skills Reentry Center” in Kewanee.

It aims to teach a variety of skills to prisoners during the final years of their sentence.  Then, officials hope, they will be less likely to commit another crime upon release.  Example topics include cognitive behavioral therapy, sending e-mails, and making a personal budget.  

Warden Tony Williams says such skills may be things inmates haven't necessarily been exposed to due to their incarceration.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.27.  This is identical to last week's average.  

AAA reports that the City of Chicago has the state's most expensive gas, at a price of $2.65 per gallon.  Meanwhile, the cheapest gas can be found in Springfield, costing $2.11 per gallon.

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.20.  This is three cents cheaper than last week's average.  

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in Rockford to tout a new school funding framework. 

The governor paid a visit to the Barbour Two-Way Immersion School, which provides instruction in both English and Spanish. After touring several classrooms, Rauner said he would double down on funding schools more equally.

“We are going to change the way schools are funded in Illinois, improve it, get more resources overall, and especially more resources for lower-income schools that don’t have access to the same advantages as higher-income schools," he said.

Susan Stephens

The President’s recent executive order put in place a 90-day ban on entry visas for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen).  And it’s worrying the international community at NIU.

The concern is particularly strong among those present on a student visa.  Stephanie Brown, Associate Director of the International Student and Faculty Office, says only a small number of NIU's roughly 1,100 international students are affected directly. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.27.  This is eight cents cheaper than last week's average. 

AAA reports the state's most expensive gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.69 per gallon.  By contrast, Decatur has the state's cheapest gasoline on average, at a price of $2.02 per gallon.  

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.23.  This is 6 cents cheaper than last week's average.  

Project Time Off

Travel agencies across the country are promoting January 31 as National Plan for Vacation Day.  

The move was spurred by a U.S. Travel Association study that showed people are taking fewer vacation days than in years past.  It said that, between 1976 and 2000, people used 20.6 vacation days on average.  However, in 2015, that average dropped to 16.2 days.  Debbie Armstrong, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says this lack of time off can have negative effects.  

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.35.  This is 8 cents cheaper than last week's average.

AAA reports the most expensive gas is sold in the City of Chicago, at $2.76 per gallon.  By contrast, the cheapest gas can be found in Decatur, at $2.15 per gallon.  

Rockford's average per-gallon price is $2.29.  This rate is six cents cheaper than last weeks' average.   

WNIJ continues its Friday Forum with two state senators and their priorities in the 100th General Assembly. 

Democrat Steve Stadelman and Republican Dave Syverson represent Illinois’ 34th and 35th senate districts respectively.  The 34th district comprises Rockford and its surrounding municipalities, while the 35th encompasses the cities of DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Belvidere, and Rockton.

wnij

Nippon Sharyo will lay off 100 employees from its factory in Rochelle.  The rail car manufacturer based its decision on a complication with one of its prototype cars, along with other business considerations. 

Nippon Sharyo says its factory will continue operations so it can meet deadlines for current projects.  The company has operated in Rochelle since 2012.  

Lifescape Community Services

Lifescape Community Services says home-delivery of food for its Meals On Wheels programs will not take place today.  Icy weather conditions mean the meals won't be sent out today in Winnebago, Boon, Ogle, and Lee County.  

Lifescape's adult day program remains open today. However, bus service is delayed by two hours.  

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.43.  This is six cents cheaper than last week's average, according to AAA.  

The state's most expensive gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.80 per gallon.  By contrast, Springfield has the cheapest gas, at $2.26.   

Rockford's average price is $2.35 per gallon.  This is 3 cents cheaper than last week's average. 

Pages