Christine Hatfield

News Reporting Intern

Christine recently completed an internship in the WNIJ newsroom for the summer of 2019. Christine attends Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. As a Des Plaines native, Christine has filed stories for Indiana Public Radio on Ball State's campus. In her spare time, Christine enjoys board gaming, video gaming and listening to 80s music. 

Courtesy Red Cross

The American Red Cross has set up a reception center to assist residents affected by a weekend fire in Sycamore.

The St. Albans Green apartment complex fire displaced more than 100 people.  

It's one of around two dozen fires the Red Cross has responded to in Dixon, Kankakee, and other locations throughout northern Illinois since last week. 

The Red Cross provided shelter, comfort kits and information about recovery services and health and mental health services to those affected by the fires.

Pixabay

The Illinois State Library has awarded close to half a million dollars in Project Next Generation grants to 29 libraries statewide. 

The grants allow libraries to acquire technology and hire mentors for programs for at-risk youth. That programming is meant to introduce those children to technology and teach them life skills.

Rachel French, the Deputy Press Secretary in the Secretary of State’s Office, says some at-risk youth don’t have access to technology in their homes.

Christine Hatfield

A series of events at the DeKalb Public Library has taught people how to create terrain for role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons.

The classes are meant to show people how they can use readily available building materials to spruce up their games.

Participants learned knife safety.  They were also taught how to cut materials like foam board, cardboard, and sheet insulation.

Joshua McCarthy is the tech desk manager who taught the class. He says summer is a time for experimentation at the library.

Courtesy Haunted Rockford

A Rockford author is speaking later this week about unsolved crimes in Winnebago County’s history.

Kathi Kresol has written two books on the history of Rockford and Winnebago County.  She’s also the founder of Haunted Rockford, and she writes a newspaper column about some of the area’s unsolved crimes called “Voices From the Grave.”

Christine Hatfield

At Andrews Park in Rockford, the heat index is rising, so officials are letting children play near the fire hydrants.

It's part of a new series of events they call "hydrant parties." Rockford's Fire and Water Departments are working together on them. 

At the events, they connect a large specially-designed sprinkler system to a fire hydrant. The parties are taking place in cul-de-sacs and blocked off streets all around the city. They're meant to help kids have fun while cooling off. 

Christine Hatfield

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara announced Thursday a new group known as "100 Men Who Give A Damn" which will meet periodically to raise an estimated $40,000 each year for the Mayor's Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention's Family Peace Center initiative.

The group will meet four times a year for fundraising efforts.

For example, a golf outing in planned for September with participant fees going to domestic violence survivors.

Pixabay

In the midst of summer’s high temperatures, DeKalb, Winnebago and Boone Counties are ensuring the public is safe in times of extreme heat.

The Rockford City Market is moving many of its vendors inside the market building and under the Rockford City Market Pavilion on Friday due to the ongoing heatwave. 

The DeKalb County Health Department is sharing tips to help the public stay cool, hydrated, and informed.   

The tips include staying in air-conditioned locations, drinking more water than usual and checking local news outlets for extreme heat warnings. 

Christine Hatfield

Tuesday morning is Joyful Joints time at the Rock River Valley YMCA's pool. It's a program meant to help people maintain their joints and range of motion. Patty Palmquist, who needs a knee replacement surgery, is a regular in the pool. She takes time off from work two days a week to attend the class. She says it's a very welcoming and positive environment.

"It's kind of like I found this little treasure here," Palmquist said. "It's people who care."

Pixabay

Byron Park District is one of many groups statewide celebrating the first “Unplug Illinois” Day on Saturday.  The day is meant to get people outside, playing and engaging with one another. 

Groups across the state, from Normal to Byron, are holding their own events to celebrate. 

ByronFest and its 5K Family Fun Run will be a part of the day’s events. 

Elaine Carow, the marketing manager for the Byron Park District, says the event brings together community stakeholders at a local and state level.

Susan Stephens

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have kicked off their summer produce collection for the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program. 

It’s meant to inspire gardeners and farmers to “plant an extra row” to provide fruits and vegetables for people in need.  All the food collected for the program is donated to local food pantries. 

Margaret Larson is the County Extension Director for University of Illinois.  She says they have partners in the community who weigh the produce, keep track of it, and deliver it to the pantry at the end of the day.

A new Illinois law taking effect this week limits tobacco purchases to residents 21 or older. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the initiative in April. The law covers cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, and chewing tobacco.

“I’m so proud that Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise the purchase age for tobacco to 21,” Pritzker said in a press release. “This law will reduce costs for our state, make our schools and communities healthier places to learn and live, and most importantly, will save lives."

Pixabay

Princeton Pharmacies is among more than 70 independent pharmacies and pharmacy chains statewide taking part in a new state relief program. 

The Critical Access Pharmacy Program will give out $4.7 million to pharmacies in medically underserved areas. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will determine how the money is distributed, with most going to pharmacies in rural and downstate communities. State Comptroller Susana Mendoza says the payments are meant to assist small, independently owned pharmacies that have "experienced serious financial difficulty."

Christine Hatfield

It’s a Saturday morning at Prairie Grove’s Village Hall Park, and a few members of the McHenry Independents are getting ready for their next game.

But the Independents are not your average baseball team. 

Kurt Begalka is the administrator of the McHenry County Historical Society, and he also manages the Independents. The team plays the game by its 1859 rules.

“This is a way to get a piece of history back out there to different communities,” Begalka said.

Pixabay

Princeton Public Library is celebrating Forgiveness Day on Wednesday with a fine forgiveness event.  

 

The library will forgive overdue fines on returned materials up to $5 per patron. Lost and damaged books are not included in the event.

 

 

Julie Wayland, the Princeton Public Library’s director, says the idea for the event came about during a staff meeting.

 

Pixabay

Winnebago County’s Health Department is doing its part to try to control the mosquito population. 

 

Last weekend, the department held its fourth free tire drop off event.  They collected close to two thousand tires from the community. 

 

Ryan Kerch is the department’s environmental health supervisor.  He says tires are more than a nuisance and an environmental pollutant.

 

Pixabay

Crime numbers are down in Rockford compared to last year, according to new statistics released today by the city.  According to those statistics, violent crimes are down by 21% in the city compared to 2018. 

 

 

Rockford Police Chief Daniel O’Shea says officers and detectives going out into the community and building bridges have made a difference. 

 

“When there's trust between the police and the community, the community will talk more readily with the officers,” O’Shea said. “That definitively helps us solve crimes and put away violent criminals.”

The DeKalb County Coroner's Office has identified the body found in a Genoa field. 

Joseph Maynard was reported missing back in March. Sheriff's deputies found his body late last week about half a mile from his home on Daniels Drive after the Sheriff's Office received a call from a farmer reporting the body.

An autopsy on Monday revealed the cause of death was exposure.  There were no visible signs of bodily injury. There is no suspicion of foul play. 

Pixabay

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public of a telephone scam.

In the scam, the caller pretends to be a Sheriff’s officer seeking an urgent call back or payment for missing jury duty. The call appears on caller I.D. as a Sheriff’s administration line.

If no one answers the call, the caller leaves a call back number not associated with the Sheriff's office.  The suspect making the call will answer if the number is called.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Illinois’s League of Women Voters is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state being the first to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.  

 

Pixabay

Northern Illinois University is hosting two seminars this month to train police officers on the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

 

The programs are happening as the result of a grant of nearly $36,000 from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.  

 

Playwright Mike Milligan

Groups advocating for reforms in America's healthcare system are sponsoring a Rockford performance of a play about the impact of the system on doctors.

Playwright Michael Milligan has been performing his one-man drama Side Effects for three years. 

Milligan previously wrote a play called Mercy Killers about medical bankruptcy and the difficulties people encounter accessing care. He toured the show around the country - often collaborating with doctors and nurses.  

A Genoa man arrested for possession of explosives has been released. Joseph D. Walsh is charged with three counts of unlawful use of weapons.

According to court documents, Walsh said in an interview after his release that a friend had given him homemade fireworks, which were made with what he thought was black powder.

Walsh was arrested on Monday night after Genoa police conducted a vehicle search of his 1995 Subaru and found an explosive device in the glovebox.