Guy Stephens

Reporter

Guy Stephens produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements.  In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level.  Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU.  In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."

Illinois Tollway

Seven local bridges crossing over the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Boone, McHenry and Kane counties are scheduled to close in March for removal and  reconstruction as part of the Illinois Tollway’s I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project.  Another will close later in the spring.  It's expected the bridges will remain closed into the fall.  

Sean Powers / WILL

Champaign County issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple Wednesday, the second county in Illinois to do so.  Laura and Marissa Meli are University of Illinois law students who've been a couple for eight years. 

Google Maps

A DeKalb County Circuit Court judge has ordered Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. to take extra precautions to prevent the release of noxious gases in the wake of a Jan. 14 incident that was blamed for sickening dozens of students and staff at Cortland Elementary School. 

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

In some Illinois farm fields this winter, hidden beneath the ice and snow, there are crops farmers have planted that won’t ever go to market, but could ultimately affect the farmers’ bottom line.  Cover crops could have an impact far beyond that.

niu

Northern Illinois University’s President Doug Baker has called for increasing the school’s ties with Chinese institutions. That would include having more students from China on the DeKalb campus.  In one school within the university, a number are already here -- and have been for a long time.

Nicolosi and Associates, LLC

A Rockford lawyer and onetime Winnebago County State's Attorney  has been chosen an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court that serves Winnebago and Boone Counties. Philip J. Nicolosi's selection by a vote of 17th Circuit judges was announced on Monday, December 23.  He fills a vacancy left by the retirement of Associate Judge Gary V. Pumilia.

NIU

Alumni of the NIU Community School of the Arts Sinfonia join current members for a concert Sunday, December 22 at NIU's Boutell Memorial Concert Hall  to mark the School’s 25th anniversary. Deborah Booth has been the School’s director for much of that time. Booth says it started small, and with a particular focus. 

Rockford Dance Company

The Rockford Dance Company has picked a new executive director with local ties.

In its announcement, the Rockford Dance Company's Board of Directors said Carm Cavallaro Rongere's "experience in management leadership, the performing arts, and nonprofit organizations will support the advancement of the mission of the dance company, the school, and the outreach efforts in the greater Rockford Community." 

This fall, the city councils of Sterling and Rock Falls met in a rare joint session to give final approval to a merger of their two fire departments.

Gary Cook is the Chief of the new Twin City Joint Fire Command. He says the merger was the logical end result of an organic process, one that’s been going on for some time.

“Our automatic aid agreement was signed 15 years ago. So we had since worked forward from that point. We’re polishing what we’d already been doing.  We’re just taking to another level and making it better.”      

Rockford Choral Union

The Rockford Choral Union presents its 68th annual performances of Handel’s oratorio “The Messiah” Saturday and Sunday, November 30 and December 1, at Rockford’s Trinity Lutheran Church.  Nat Bauer has led the performances for the last 12 years. Bauer says the Choral Union was begun back in 1945, as members of the armed forces were returning home from fighting in World War 2.

“The Lutheran churches got together and said we need to do something to welcome everybody back, so they got together and said let’s do Messiah.”

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Some of the city’s older arts organizations are trying to adapt to a cultural and economic climate that is much different than when they were formed.

Joel Ross has been the artistic director for the choir Kantorei, the Singing Boys of Rockford, for 25 of its nearly 50 years of existence. He says an arts organization that wants to stick around needs to answer   several important questions:

NIU

Northern Illinois University’s Stevens Building is undergoing a long-needed renovation.  The project means that the NIU School of Theatre and Dance will be living in temporary quarters for the next two years.  It’s made putting on a season a lot more complicated.

Our series of Community Close-ups continues with a look at the City of Sandwich, Illinois.  The city is perhaps best known for the Sandwich Fair, which bills itself as the oldest continuing county fair in Illinois.  But what about the rest of the year?  A place in the city’s downtown that has served as a focus of the community for generations. And it’s even older than the fair.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

August 27, the Aurora City Council approved a contract to build a series of rain gardens on the city’s east side. The city is trying to meet federal and state clean water requirements, and believes rain gardens offer a good alternative to traditional methods of water management. As it turns out, that’s not all they do.

Goodwill

Education and training are often cited as the keys to success in today’s job market.  But many lack the high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate that would allow them to pursue those options.  In Rockford, new initiatives by a partnership led by Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois aim to help. They’re about more than the academics.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Sitting around a table, in a storefront in downtown Fulton, Illinois, several women discuss the window displays they’ve created for the Bridge of Art’s “Amazing Art of Recycling.”

Nancy Kolk created a river scene for her shop, Riverhouse Antiques:

“We took pottery shards to make a walkway which leads to water, and then we added cotton balls represent the pelicans.”

Heather Bennett, executive director of the Fulton Chamber of Commerce, used a different set of materials for her window at the Fulton Journal.

Dual Freq

Getting the right training has long been considered key to finding a good job.  But in a changing and still sluggish economy, that often hasn’t been enough to guarantee employment. Green energy programs at some Illinois community colleges, however, are seeing success rates of close to one hundred percent.

DATA

A push to bring high speed internet access to smaller communities and rural areas was a key part of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package.  One of the first projects to gain funding in Illinois was the DeKalb Advancement of Technology Authority, or DATA.  It was followed soon after by iFiber, a project to bring broadband to counties in north central and northwest Illinois.  Both are now moving from the construction phase to implementation.

IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics  has recognized several northern Illinois airports for their accomplishments throughout the year, including, according to IDOT, "an outstanding partnership with the state of Illinois and their commitment to customer satisfaction."

Area winners of the "2013 Airport of the Year" include:

NIU

Northern Illinois University has announced a national search for the position of associate vice president and director of athletics.
A search firm will be utilized to expedite the search process. NIU President John G. Peters made the announcement May 14.

“After extensive consultation with President-Designate Baker and conversations with NCAA and BCS leaders, we’ve become convinced that it is time to launch a national search for a leader for our intercollegiate athletics program. Northern Illinois University enjoys a great reputation nationally.”

Guy Stephens/pixlr

Princeton is the county seat of Bureau County. It’s also the center for cultural activity that seems all out of proportion to its size.

Joni Hunt is Tourism Director for the City of Princeton. She says, no matter how you slice it, there’s a lot going on in this town of 7000.

“We have multiple platforms for artists and thespians and musicians, so it doesn’t matter what age you are, or what type of culture you’re interested in, there’s something for you here.”

A lawsuit filed last summer against DeKalb County is still alive. But most of the action is happening behind closed doors.

Boone and Winnebago Counties Workforce Investment Board

An organization that oversees job training and workforce development programs in Boone and Winnebago Counties is expanding to include Stephenson County.

John Strandin is a spokesman for the Boone and Winnebago Counties Workforce Investment Board.

Strandin says the Board had worked closely with Stephenson County on workforce issues before, so the two are familiar with each other.  Strandin says, for a number of reasons, this merger makes sense.

niu

On Saturday, April 27th,  Northern Illinois University’s Graduate Research Association (GSRA) holds its 5th annual Research and Artistry Conference.  The academic event is unique in that it includes work from across many disciplines in the arts and sciences.

Rachel Moran is a master’s student in biology at NIU. She’s also the chair of the Graduate Research Association and helped plan this year’s conference. And she’s a participant. She says this event is a great opportunity for students like herself.

Hall High School District 502

Update, 4/23/13

All absentee ballots have been counted...Hall High School referendum supporters have still won. Two absentee ballots from the Hall district were added to the vote totals today: one yes and one no, so the extremely close margin stands. The measure to raise $32-million to build a new high school passed 1,717 - 1,714.

NIU

Laura Vasquez,  professor of media studies in the School of Communication at Northern Illinois University, says she started the Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival a little over a decade ago as a showcase for her students' work, as well as a chance for them to get some real-world experience.

"To learn what was the bar, what other people in college were producing, and how they could learn to tell stories that were engaing, that were well-produced, that were well-shot, and that had an audience."

Guy Stephens/pixlr

As you head off Interstate 39 and drive west toward Mendota, the sign inviting you to the city’s annual summer sweet corn festival reminds you that you’re in farm country. The big Del Monte processing plant further in confirms that. But manufacturing has long been a big part of Mendota’s economy, too. So R.R. Donnelley was hailed back in 1992 when it bought a closed local printing plant, adding high-skilled, high-wage jobs to the community.

Chris Slaby / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn gave his State of the State address this week. He repeatedly hammered a theme of political courage during his speech to the General Assembly.

WNIJ/pixlr

We continue our series "Community Close-Up" in a city trying to capitalize on its prime location.  Rochelle sits along Lincoln Highway near I-39 and I-88, earning it the nickname as the "Hub City."  City leaders hope recent upgrades and business opportunities will attract people to this city at the crossroads.

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