Susan Stephens

Reporter, All Things Considered Host

Susan’s parents should have known she’d end up in radio: her favorite toys were tape recorders, cameras, notepads, and books. Many years later, she’s an award-winning reporter at her favorite radio station. Formerly WNIJ’s News Director, she asked to return to the role of full-time reporter/anchor/utility player in 2010 (less paperwork, more reporting!). Her #1 goal is to tell the most compelling stories in the fewest words possible…all the better if a little humor can be thrown into the mix.  It should come as no surprise, then, that she can whip up a haiku for any occasion. She also enjoys the Detroit Tigers, learning pioneer skills (Gardening, canning, and the like. Just in case.), traveling with friends, and pretending she’s going to get around to playing her theremin.

WNIJ

Illinois smokers could soon see a huge increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes. The Illinois House today approved a plan to more than double the tax on cigarettes, to $1.98 a pack. Other tobacco products would see a similar increase.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The much-heralded Dodge Dart should be in dealerships by the end of next month. To celebrate, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne visited the home of the Dart Thursday -- the Belvidere Assembly Plant.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore says there will be two new state-of-the art facilities to train the next generation of utility workers -- and the first one will be in Rockford.

Rockford is one step closer to a casino

May 23, 2012
worldcasinodirectory.com

The Illinois House, in a 69 to 47 vote, has passed a gambling expansion bill that would create new casinos -- including one in Rockford -- and allow slot machines at the state's racetracks.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says it will bring Illinois money it needs as the state faces steep budget cuts. Lang says that, as the budget process progresses, it’s clear the state isn't doing well enough.

“We haven't created enough jobs. We don't have enough revenue," he said. "Is this a panacea for all of our ills? Of course not.  Can it be step to build a better economy? Absolutely it can."

Steve Rapp

A massive mulch fire is causing headaches for travelers and residents in northern Boone County. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb-area Muslims are a step closer to a new mosque. Last night, the city’s planning committee approved a zoning change to allow a mosque to be built in a residential area on Normal Road, near the NIU campus.  

Five-thousand Catholics from across northern Illinois gathered in Rockford Monday for the ordination of their new bishop, David Malloy.

Susan Stephens

This fall’s crop of freshmen at Northern Illinois University can expect to pay $200 more in tuition per semester than last year’s freshmen. The NIU Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase of 4.75% at its meeting Thursday.

 

  • Free health insurance for Illinois retirees could end
  • NIU's V.P. Hemphill is moving on
  • Rockford police officer is on leave after DUI arrest

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Democratic leaders in the 16th Congressional district have chosen a candidate to run against Republican Adam Kinzinger this fall. A caucus of county party leaders within the district voted to slate Wanda Rohl.

Senator Mark Kirk / www.kirk.senate.gov

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) has released a video showing his progress in recovering from his January stroke. The video is quite candid: it shows Kirk laboring to learn to walk again, with a cane, treadmill, and a harness. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell pleaded “not guilty” in federal court in Rockford Monday. She’s accused of stealing 53-million dollars from her hometown over the past 20 years.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Leaders from throughout northern Illinois pitched their most important transportation projects to two Congressmen yesterday. Republicans Don Manzullo and Bobby Schilling will recommend priorities for federal transportation funding to Governor Pat Quinn’s office. 

The city of Dixon may be out 20-million dollars more than originally thought in the case against its former comptroller. Federal prosecutors have now charged Rita Crundwell with stealing 53-million dollars over the past 22 years. In the original complaint against Crundwell, she was accused of embezzling an estimated 30-million since 2006 to “support her lavish lifestyle.”

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Center for Stroke Rehabilitation

 

Senator Mark Kirk is “mentally sharp” and keeping up with global issues during daily meetings with his staff. That’s according to the director of the stroke rehabilitation center where the 52-year-old Republican has been since February.

  • ... plus a link on the benefits of hindsight

It’s been a week since Dixon’s comptroller was arrested and charged with misappropriating 3.2 million dollars from the city since last fall. A federal complaint also accuses Rita Crundwell of stealing more than 30-million since 2006. One Northern Illinois University accountancy professor says there’s a lot the city could have done to prevent the alleged theft. 

The City of Dixon has fired its comptroller. City Council members voted unanimously today to fire Rita Crundwell, retroactive to the day she was arrested on federal wire fraud charges.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A citizens’ convention has chosen a Democratic candidate to run for Congress in the 16th district. But that doesn’t necessarily mean their pick will face Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger this fall.

The city of Dixon garnered the world’s attention this week with the arrest of the city’s comptroller. Rita Crundwell was charged in federal court with wire fraud, related to more than 3 million dollars missing from the city’s coffers since last Fall. Federal investigators also accuse her of embezzling more than 30-million dollars from the city over the past six years. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens has been following the story all week. She spoke with Jenna Dooley about the case and what she learned about the 58-year-old Dixon native while talking to people who know her.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Read an interesting twist on this case at www.theatlanticcities.com

DIXON — Rita A. Crundwell, the Dixon city comptroller who was arrested Tuesday on a federal charge of defrauding the City of Dixon of more than $3.2 million in public funds since last fall, was released from federal custody Wednesday. Her freedom while she awaits trial, however, rests on a number of conditions agreed upon by her attorneys, federal prosecutors, and federal magistrate P. Michael Mahoney.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The debate over health care is picking up steam as we move closer to the fall election. A report by a health care advocacy group says over the next decade, Illinois could lose 94-billion dollars in federal funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and premium tax credits under the most recent Republican budget proposal.

Plans by OSF St. Anthony Medical Center to acquire Rockford Health System have been called off, just days before officials from both sides were to testify at a Federal Trade Commission hearing in Washington, D.C.  

 

“This American Life” creator and host Ira Glass pulls back the curtain on his popular public radio show this Saturday at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles. 

 

An ethanol plant in Rochelle could serve as a model for other manufacturers looking to save big on their electricity bills. 

Susan Stephens

 

It’s considered conventional wisdom that you should never buy a car in its first year of production: that gives the automaker time to “work the kinks out.” And that’s the kind of thinking Chrysler officials are working to dispel as they prepare to launch the new Dodge Dart in Belvidere. 

 

It looks like Illinois will keep most of its regional offices of education. A commission charged with reviewing the need for the offices and the position of Regional Superintendent released its recommendation today: it proposed cutting the number of offices from 44 to 35. 

Nine hours of contract negotiations between the Rockford School district and its teachers have ended: teachers will hit the picket lines Thursday morning.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The start of the trial of the DeKalb  man accused of killing Northern Illinois University student Antinette "Toni" Keller  in 2010 has been postponed for a month. 

photo courtesy of the Rockford Fire Department

Rockford's historic Midway Theater, one of the most recognizable buildings in the city's downtown, had a portion of its roof collapse today. Built in 1918 as a movie house, it's the former home of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and was a popular rock venue. Recent plans to rehabilitate the neglected theater have fallen through, and it has stood vacant for several years. 

The large section of roof that fell was in front of the stage. The building's owner is being told by the city to reinforce the structure and begin work on a permanent plan for the theater's future. 

 

 

Nearly a quarter of Illinois counties are finding an unexpected problem at their polling places today: some primary ballots are too big and don’t fit into the scanning machines.

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