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."

Brian Towne

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted a former LaSalle County State’s Attorney on 17 felony charges.

LaSalle County Circuit Court records show that the grand jury examined 25 felony counts before returning indictments on 13 charges of official misconduct and 4 charges of misapplication of funds. All are Class 3 felonies subject to 3 to 5 years of prison or probation.

NIU

Northern Illinois University responded Tuesday to the announcement by the Trump administration that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- program. 

The end of DACA could lead to those in the program losing protections that allow them to go to college or get a job without fear of deportation.

NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman emailed a statement to the campus community emphasizing the school’s commitment to admitting, retaining -- and supporting -- all its students, regardless of immigration status.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc.

A federal agency has rejected an application by Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. to build a railroad through northern Illinois from Wisconsin to Indiana. 

NIU

A Northern Illinois University expert on education says the state’s new school funding reform bill marks a paradigm shift in how Illinois treats public schools.

Dr. Kristine Kiracofe is Professor of Educational Administration at NIU. She says the funding reform bill is a really significant change. It means Illinois will no longer have one of the most -- if not the most -- regressive system of education funding in the country. 

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Employees of the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles picketed outside the center Monday to protest what they say is escalating violence against staff and among the youth.

A few dozen juvenile justice specialists and educators gathered along the highway outside the center, waving signs saying “safety first” and “we protect you, who protects us?” while passing cars and trucks honked in response.  Several then told their stories of unprovoked attacks that left them with severe and lingering injuries, while the perpetrators suffered no repercussions.

Illinois Department of Revenue

While Illinois schools wait for a state education funding bill to be hashed out, they’ve gotten news of another financial blow.

river district association

Rockford’s River District Association says it hopes a one-day music festival hosted by a local business Labor Day weekend will be the first of many.

The downtown restaurant District Bar & Grill is putting on its “Off The Waterfront” festival on Saturday, Sept. 2. 

The River District Association, a private non-profit organization, promotes Rockford’s waterfront area through a variety of initiatives. Its president, Josh Albrecht, lauded the event in a news release as something to build on.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

A northern Illinois legislator said efforts to restore an iconic statue near Oregon continue, but slowly, and completion is still up in the air.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said he has made it a priority to stay in contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding restoration of the monumental Lorado Taft statue known to many as “Black Hawk.” Taft himself referred to it as "The Eternal Indian".

More than a hundred years of exposure, neglect and botched previous attempts to repair the statue have left it disfigured, cracked and crumbling.

Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tuesday morning, a new calendar featuring watercolors of Rockford locations was unveiled.  The artist traveled from her home in France to attend the event that began 815 Day in Rockford. 

A crowd gathered on the terrace at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau clapped, cheered and shot off confetti to mark the official release of the “Paint the Town” calendar.  

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

Northern Illinois University’s Acting President said it’s time to repair the damage done by the state budget impasse.  That includes addressing employee compensation.

After more than 700 days without, Illinois has a budget and Northern Illinois University has funding for a full year.  Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman said the school must now work to make up ground that was lost during the budget impasse.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith has a very positive attitude about his first 100 days in office.

At a Chamber of Commerce event Thursday morning, Smith highlighted a long list of projects begun or continued in the first few months of his administration. 

He also emphasized the beneficial ways DeKalb and Northern Illinois University have worked together and said he would seek more opportunities for collaboration. That includes bringing together NIU and community transit to work as one system. He also cited partnerships with other private, public and educational organizations.  

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Forbes Magazine recently ranked Morrison Institute of Technology 19th in the nation among 2-year trade schools for best return on investment.  The Whiteside County institution was the fifth-highest among schools not involving a nursing program. 

Deana Jones, Human Resources Director at Wahl Clipper Corporation’s global headquarters in Sterling, Ill., gave a tour of one of its manufacturing areas.   

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

The Winnebago County Board Chairman is trying to decide if merging the County Clerk and Recorder offices is a good idea.  Many counties in Illinois already combine the two. Others are moving in that direction.  So what’s going on?

The office of County Clerk administers elections and vital records like birth certificates, marriage and business licenses.  The County Recorder of Deeds administers a library of land records and real-estate transactions, including information needed for deed and title searches such as tax liens and mortgages.

Kantorei

Rockford’s renowned boys choir Kantorei is opening its program to girls for the first time in its 53-year history. The choir announced Thursday that, starting this fall, it will convert its preparatory level group for beginners to a mixed choir of boys and girls.  Unchanged voices will also be mixed in the next-level Lyric choir. As their voices mature, singers would eventually advance to separate men’s and women’s performing choirs.

The Wisconsin Legislative Bureau said the recently-passed income tax hike in Illinois will cost Wisconsin more than $50 million in revenue over the next two years. Why?

Illinois and Wisconsin have an income tax reciprocity agreement.  

Without it, residents of one state who work in the other would have to first file in the state where they earn income, pay taxes on that income, and then file again in the state where they reside, claiming a credit for taxes already paid to the first state. 

Diane Drake / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees has released its final annual evaluation of former NIU President Doug Baker. It echoed earlier reviews by the Board, with a few notable exceptions.

A “360 degree review” using feedback from across the NIU community served as the basis for the evaluation.

Flickr user Kaitlyn Hansen

The Fourth of July is fast approaching and, for many people, that means fireworks. But officials warn that also can mean fireworks-related injuries and property damage. They’re warning people to be careful when handling fireworks – especially the small ones.

DeKalb Deputy Fire Chief James Zarek said that, on average across the country, 250 people go to the emergency room every day and seven people die because of firework-related injuries in the month around July 4.  

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, voted on in the Illinois House Friday, while not yet the final word, outlines funding for all aspects of state government operations, goods, services, grants, projects and more.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees Wednesday voted to make NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman Acting President, effective July 1.  She becomes the first woman to lead NIU.

Freeman takes over from NIU President Doug Baker, who leaves at the end of June. Baker resigned after an inspector general’s report on hiring violations by his administration became public.   

Baker’s term saw an increase in the number of Freedom of Information, or FOIA, requests to NIU over hiring and other decisions.

Stephen Pitkin / Rockford Art Museum

When the Rockford Art Museum decided to start “Art in Bloom” a couple of years ago, David Boccignone was excited by the opportunity to serve as its chair.  He sees the event as a way to make the community aware of the amazing artworks in the museum’s own collection by highlighting certain pieces from it by recreating them through floral designs.

www.randyhultgren.com

A northern Illinois Congressman is part of a bipartisan effort to help veterans whose credit is affected adversely by problems associated with the federal Veterans Choice Program.

congress.gov

On A Friday Forum earlier this year, Illinois U.S. Representatives Bill Foster and Randy Hultgren talked about their hopes and concerns for the new Congress as it began its work. For this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ's Guy Stephens asked the two for an update on how things are going in Congress.

photo courtesy of Scott Barnard

Officials from McHenry County and the Illinois State Fire Marshall's office are sorting out the damage and seeking the cause of a fiery explosion early Sunday morning that destroyed one house and damaged dozens of others.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

After numerous delays caused by wet weather, almost all of the corn and much of the soybean crop has been planted in northern Illinois. Predictions are that the 2017 corn and soybean harvests in the region won’t match recent record-breaking yields but could still be good. Right now, though, progress is uneven. 

Rock Valley College Starlight Theatre begins its 51st season Wednesday night with the musical “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” The production is the company’s first under a new director in more than three decades.

Susan Stephens

We continue our series “Veterans Choice: Making It Work," with a look at Veterans Choice at the local level.

Depending on where they live, veterans in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin going to a VA hospital will end up either at Hines Hospital in Chicago, Middleton Memorial Hospital in Madison, or the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Eric Johnson said there’s something about the music of Timothy Takach -- something deep, and for him, appealing.

“For lack of a better word, there’s a soul in the music,” Johnson said, “There’s a great care taken to understanding the poetry or the lyrics, the text as its own entity and allowing that to inform and grow into whatever the music becomes.”

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

When Jim Gitz steps down as Freeport mayor next week, it will mark the end of an era. Voters approved moving to a city manager system of government last November.

Freeport joins scores of cities in the state, including DeKalb and Woodstock, where day-to-day operations are run by a professional administrator.  The move means Gitz was the city’s last full-time mayor.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Northern Illinois University’s STEM Cafés bring experts in those fields together with the public in a setting that’s just about as far from a classroom or lecture hall as you can get.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

An effort to restore an Ogle County icon is advancing, but there’s still no money for actual repairs. 

The years have not been kind to Lorado Taft’s monumental statue, known to many as “Black Hawk.” Standing high on a bluff overlooking the Rock River near Oregon, it’s literally falling to pieces.  

Illinois State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle, says he’s been in regular contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which has authority over the statue. Demmer says that, despite the lack of a budget and other problems, some progress is being made.

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