Jenna Dooley

News Director

Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield.  She is a former "Newsfinder of the Year" from the Illinois Associated Press and recipient of NIU's Donald R. Grubb Journalism Alumni Award. She is an active member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and an adjunct instructor at NIU.

Jessi LaRue

When it comes to innovation, we remember the name that came out on top – no matter how good the “other” product was.

Cyrus McCormick gained fame for his wheat reaper, but few people remember John Manny.

When it comes to barbed wire, the name of Joseph Glidden springs to mind, along with his partner Isaac Ellwood. But not as many people are aware of the significance of Jacob Haish in the industry.

Jenna Dooley

A Northern Illinois University student created a website that maps out Illinois health care providers for immigrants, regardless of their status. Yosue Perez, an accounting major from Hanover Park, completed the project through the school's Summer Research Opportunities Program.

He says he has a personal interest in the topic.

Carl Nelson

She's not sure how long she'll be in the office, but NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman says there's plenty to accomplish. Among her priorities are providing employee raises and zeroing in on the latest student recruiting tactics.

To-do list for temporary role

Austin Hansen

For the first time in the school's history, first-year medical students will live and learn in Rockford.

The first class to arrive on campus in 1972 came to the city as second-year students, completing their initial training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine campus in Urbana.

Alex Stagnaro-Green is the regional dean for the college. He says students will now be able to complete all four years of medical school in Rockford.

Jenna Dooley

A group of volunteers is trying to clean up one of Illinois’s busiest tourist spots.

Six-year-old Leo Mancuso of Oswego enjoys Starved Rock State Park the same ways many visitors do -- jumping across small streams and gazing up at monstrous rocks. But there’s another side to the popular tourist spot: trash.

“I found a water bottle, a big one,” he explained.

It’s no surprise to his mother, Becky Mancuso, who brought along a large trash bag for this hike.

Jenna Dooley

Dozens of residents recently toured the Islamic Center of DeKalb. It was part of an effort to answer questions directly about the world's second-largest religion.

This was the first visit for some within DeKalb’s Beloved Community. The group is open to people of different beliefs and backgrounds. They meet monthly at different locations to discuss a variety of topics facing residents of the DeKalb area.

Michelle Goodenough heard about the tour in her home church’s Sunday bulletin.

Jenna Dooley

On today’s Friday Forum, we talk with two northern Illinois superintendents about their goals for the coming year. We’ll also hear how they feel about the uncertainty in school funding from the state of Illinois.

Freeport Superintendent Mike Schiffman's goal for the new year is to better align his district's schools, both in philosophy and curriculum. He's hoping to accomplish this through increased contact with students and parents.

NIU Lee Schreiner collection

UPDATE: Schreiner died in January 2020. Read his full obituary here.

Lee Schreiner of Rockford doesn’t play the piano or sing. He’s a physics teacher with multiple degrees from Northern Illinois University. But his hobby of collecting wartime sheet music has grown over the years.

In 2016, WNIJ News reported on drug overdoses in Winnebago County. Jenna Dooley provides an update on one of the families that was featured in that series.

Last year, Josh Shuga overdosed on heroin. It took several doses of an opioid-reversal drug to save him.

This month, Josh celebrates one year in recovery.

It took several life-changing steps to achieve that milestone.

During a recent telephone conversation with her son, Connie Holmes says a lot has changed in both of their lives.

Jenna Dooley

Northern Illinois University and Rock Valley College are working to expand an engineering degree program designed to keep talent from leaving the state.

This fall will be the third semester for the mechanical engineering partnership between NIU and RVC. It means students can complete a degree without setting foot on NIU’s main campus in DeKalb. Classes are taught at RVC’s Woodward Technology Center by faculty from both schools.

Chase Cavanaugh

The Democrat-backed Senate Bill 1 could increase state funding for all Illinois public schools over the next decade. It’s based on a complex formula to determine each district’s current gap to reach ideal adequacy targets for learning.

A recent murder in Sycamore is bringing attention on domestic violence within the community.

37-year-old Lidia Juarez of DeKalb was found dead in her car outside the Illinois Department of Human Services, where she worked. Her estranged husband -- and a suspect in her death -- was killed in a shootout with police Friday afternoon.

DeKalb County records show Antonio Juarez violated an order of protection earlier this year.

Illinois Department of Public Health

It’s tick season in northern Illinois.

So far this year, there have been no confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Winnebago County. There were eight cases in 2016 and another seven in 2015. No deaths were associated with those confirmed cases.

Todd Marshall, director of environmental health in Winnebago County, says there have been reports of increased tick activity in northern Illinois

Parks Foundation

The Illinois Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial at Illini State Park in Marseilles honors soldiers from around the state who have died in war since 2001. The current site includes hundreds of oak trees and a large flag pole.

Organizer Steve Massey says a new fundraising campaign would pay for a sloped concrete mounting to hold memorial bricks with the names, hometown, and branch of service for each fallen soldier.

Susan Stephens

Earlier this year, NPR analyzed the length of wait times for veterans to get appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Over the next few days, you will hear a Midwestern perspective on a federal program trying to improve veterans care.

Northern Star

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker recently announced a financial update as the campus continues to struggle with the effects of the statewide budget impasse. The student-run Northern Star newspaper recently reported on an area of the university's finances that doesn't get as much attention.

The Veterans’ and Military Discount Program was supposed to go into effect in 2015. According to the law, it is designed to connect veterans and active-duty service members with merchants who want to offer special discounts and promotions.

State auditors found the program didn't get off the ground.

Jenna Dooley

While you can’t break this bracket, the competition does get dirty.

It’s the 2017 National Collegiate Soils Contest, sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy and hosted this year by Northern Illinois University.

Two dozen college teams are taking to practice pits to test soil for categories that will be judged on Thursday.

Jenna Dooley

The DeKalb High School "Eco-buds" environmental club has a few more steps to take to complete its sneaker collection drive.

Advisor Rachel Happ says the goal is collect 167 bags which hold 15 pairs of shoes each. So far, they have collected 18 bags. The club members are collecting new and used athletic shoes, which will be shipped to developing countries so people there can have good footwear.

Falling credit ratings for Illinois institutions of higher learning are a trickle-down effect from the Illinois budget impasse that has lasted nearly two years. The state as a whole has found itself under constant scrutiny by the credit-rating agencies.

Jenna Dooley

Utility rate payers, not taxpayers, will help cover the cost to build a new library in downtown Rockford.

A gas plant operated at the current site of Rockford’s main library in the 1800s. Due to a series of mergers over the years, it's now the responsibility of utility company ComEd to clean up contaminated soil underneath the building.

Jenna Dooley

Three candidates are challenging an incumbent in the DeKalb mayor's race.  They all have roots in the city and personal connections with DeKalb's largest employer: Northern Illinois University. A major driver to see their name on the ballot is a quest to bring jobs and economic stability to the city.

As host of a recent candidate forum, The House Cafe in downtown DeKalb is often used as an example of an ideal "town and gown" venue.  It has live music and coffee to draw in both students and residents. But it's seen some turnover in ownership in recent years.

It's wordy. It's full of numbers. And it might be on your ballot.

The "Proposition to Increase the Limiting Rate" referendum isn't easy on the eyes, but organizers behind a movement to approve it hope voters can look past the complex ballot language on April 4, 2017.

CDC

It cost thousands of dollars to address Legionnaires’ disease at the LaSalle Veterans' Home.

Last fall, there were more than a dozen cases of respiratory illness at the facility. Of those tested, one case was positive for Legionnaires' disease. The 97-year-old resident had multiple underlying issues.

As we approach the election, we normally hear from candidates who are still in their respective race.

We turn our attention instead to someone who just dropped out. Scott Campbell lives in DeKalb and teaches chemistry in the Rochelle school district. Until recently, he was running for the DeKalb School Board.

He says he feels the current board make-up doesn't reflect the diversity of the student body. He feels by leaving the race, it creates a better chance for minority candidates to be heard.

Jenna Dooley

Healthcare leaders are voicing concerns about the Republican repeal plan to the Affordable Care Act.

Democrat Dick Durbin is traveling the state to meet with those who would be affected by the House changes.

Rock Valley College

A group of Rock Valley College students is calling for a halt in a proposal to reduce the number of full-time faculty members.

Rock Valley College announced last week a resolution to reduce the number of faculty members by this fall. According to a news release, the College faces a $1.6 million deficit along with continued loss in state funding and a significant drop in enrollment.

We continue our weekly Friday Forum with a primary preview for an office that doesn't usually get a lot of attention. 

 

 

 

While not considered a glamorous job, the down-ballot Freeport Township Assessor race sure is getting a lot of attention. Just check recent “Letters to the Editor” for proof.

https://www.agr.state.il.us/

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is planning four open houses to explain the process of treating areas of northern Illinois for the gypsy moth.

The destructive moth eats hundreds of different species of trees and shrubs, especially oak leaves.  Severe defoliation can lead to tree death.

Winnebago County's newest board chairman has released a 60 day review looking at financial and policy concerns facing county government.  It's part of Frank Haney's campaign pledge to implement the "ACT Initiative" to bolster accountability, collaboration, and transparency. 

According to the document, the review "is a starting point in which to build on and not intended to be a complete or final analysis."

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