Aurora

A northern Illinois community came together this weekend to help paint a mural. That’s despite a dispute over the planning process.

Artist Joshua Schultz was tasked with creating the artwork. He said he had no doubts about people showing up to help. 

“I think that the thing about Aurora and downtown Aurora and the friends of Aurora,” he said, “is that everyone really just wants things to get better and be better and have a good time making them better.” 

Schultz shared that he has absolute faith in the Aurora community.  

https://www.aurora-il.org/

The Aurora City Council recently approved a special sign district that has been under review for the past month. This came after controversy arose over the painting of a proposed mural. 

Some local artists and other residents took to social media to express their disappointment in the process for assigning the artist for the mural.

The work, featuring the word “Aurora” in capital, brightly-colored block letters, is to be located on a wall of Tortas Guadalajara located at 5 S. Lake street. This restaurant is on the western edge of the city’s downtown.

https://www.facebook.com/CultureStock/

An Aurora-based nonprofit with a mission to cultivate community through the arts had to leave the space that housed its bookstore and community center two years ago. The group is now looking to purchase a new building but needs help to do so.

https://www.facebook.com/rogue1tba

The death of George Floyd ignited protests across the country. But some communities also experienced looting. Aurora was one of them. A local artist used graffiti to help beautify what was destroyed. WNIJ delved into the history of this “City of Lights” artist.

Sam Cervantes was driving through the city’s downtown area on his way to work.

“This is at 8:30 in the morning and there's just droves of people with brooms and dustpans,” he said.

Then he saw them boarding up windows.

Protests continue in northern Illinois after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

TUESDAY 4:49 p.m. DeKalb Police and Northern Illinois University issued an alert that protestors are marching in the roadway on Sycamore Road.

Aurora Mayor Extends Curfew To Tuesday Morning

Jun 1, 2020

Aurora’s mayor, police chief and business owners responded to a night of protests and unrest in the city’s downtown. 

Mayor Richard Irvin held a press conference via Facebook Live and says he understands the hurt and outrage over the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man taken into custody in Minneapolis last week. But he says he draws the line at looting.

Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

DeKalb police issued a city-wide alert Sunday night, ordering stores to close and for people to shelter in place because of “protests and looting.”

A weekend of peaceful protests against police violence changed tone Sunday evening after most of the crowd that had been marching in the streets dispersed. There were reports of looting in the area of Hillcrest and Annie Glidden.

Mastering Theater In The Midst Of COVID-19

May 12, 2020
Guy Stephens

Performance theaters across the country have closed their doors due to COVID-19. This has caused cancellations of community shows and other services. But one northern Illinois theater is continuing to engage with its community, despite closures.  

The Paramount School of the Arts in Aurora offered master classes before the COVID-19 pandemic. These classes were offered in conjunction with every Broadway show and taught by artists who were a part of that show. The classes are now virtual.

Online Relief Aid Concert Helps To Provide Food

Apr 27, 2020
https://www.reliefcoalition.org/

A northern Illinois organization held an online benefit concert to raise funds for those who lost their jobs due to the state’s stay-at-home mandate. The concert took place Saturday evening. 

Brandon Lyon is an organizer for Relief Coalition. The Relief Coalition is partnering with Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry in Aurora to provide food for those in need. Lyon said the food pantry is receiving help.

The State of Illinois announced Wednesday that two additional Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) are opening to the public this week to help test Illinoisans for COVID-19. These new sites will open in Aurora on Wednesday and in Rockford on Friday. They will be open seven days a week.

Who can be tested

-All individuals *with* symptoms

Definition of Symptoms

-Cough or shortness of breath

-Fever

Before You Go

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin says his COVID-19 symptoms made him feel like he went “to the edge” and back.

The mayor held a Facebook live update Wednesday afternoon.

He was joined by Police Chief Kristen Ziman and Police Commander Keith Cross who also tested positive.

Ziman says they don’t know exactly how they got infected but she says early prevention planning meetings involved large gatherings of officers, including in-person meetings with the mayor.

Something To Smile About

Apr 6, 2020
Amy Nelson

 

 An Aurora photographer is capturing sunshine in the city by adopting a project that started in Boston.  

Amy Nelson said a friend told her she should participate in the Front Steps Project. This project was started by Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins. Soulia is a Boston photographer who decided to take pictures of people sitting on their front steps. Photographers across the nation joined in.

Wikimedia Commons

The Copley Hospital campus in Aurora is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the first “purposefully-built” city hospital and dates back to 1888.

Rachel Barnhart is with MacRostie Historical Advisors and wrote the nomination. She said the building was important for the types of care it offered.

“The first part of Copley Hospital, now there was an option to give birth under medical supervision. And then also surgical operations could be conducted in the hospital as well," she said. 

As the northern Illinois community of Aurora marks the one year anniversary of a deadly workplace shooting at the Henry Pratt Company, we find out how the city is remembering the lives lost that day.  

The gunman in that shooting had his firearm license revoked years earlier, but his weapons were never confiscated.  That has put more focus on getting guns away from individuals who are prohibited from having them.  We have a report.

And we hear the perspectives of two law enforcement officials, from much different communities.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Guy Stephens

Aurora’s downtown is transforming into what some are calling an “arts district.” 

Melissa Mercado is the executive director of the Fox Valley Music Foundation. It runs The Venue, a performance space located in the heart of downtown Aurora.

The Venue opened in 2019.  Mercado said the atmosphere of the 200-seat listening room is casual. Most sit around tables, and food and drink are available, and the offerings are intentionally eclectic.

NIU Remembers Trevor Wehner And Clayton Parks

Feb 21, 2019
Andrew Heiserman

A candlelight vigil was held at Northern Illinois University Thursday to honor the victims of the Aurora workplace shooting last Friday. Friends, family and faculty gathered to share their memories of the victims. Associate professor in the college of business Terry Bishop taught both of them and says it is important to remind people that you love them.

“I would urge you all to make sure that you always say that you love the people that you love, you can never say that too much. It is sad that we are saying goodbye to Clay and Trevor, we will never forget.”

Funeral services for Trevor Melvin Wehner of Sheridan are set for this Wednesday, February 20th.

Wehner was a victim of the shooting at the Henry Pratt warehouse in Aurora on February 15th; he was an NIU student and former employee at Tom & Jerry's of DeKalb.

45-year-old Gary Martin shot and killed him and four other people after being fired from his job of 15 years. He also injured five police officers before being shot and killed himself.

Hundreds Attend Vigil For Aurora Shooting Victims

Feb 17, 2019
Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Hundreds of people braved a freezing rain in Aurora on Sunday to pray for the victims of Friday’s mass shooting at a manufacturing plant.

Next to crosses bearing the victims’ names, pastors from several faith groups offered prayers for them, their families and the community. The vigil was organized by the Aurora Prayer Coalition and was held outside the Henry Pratt Co., the site of the mass shooting. Many attendees joined in the prayers. They also hugged each other in a ceremony marked by sorrow, but also gratitude.

NIU Student, Alumnus Among Dead In Aurora

Feb 16, 2019
Guy Stephens

Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman notified staff through email that two of the people killed in a shooting at an Aurora industrial park have deep NIU connections.

NIU student Trevor Wehner was among those killed when Gary Martin opened fire at the Henry Pratt Co. Friday afternoon. According to the release, Friday was the first day of Wehner's internship at the company.

2014 alumnus Clay Parks was also killed Friday. Parks graduated from the school's College of Business and worked as a human resources manager at the company.

Wikimedia Commons

Elections in Illinois are often handled on a regional basis by the County Clerk. Larger communities like Aurora and Rockford have independent boards, but some of these groups are consolidating into their county governments.

Our story begins in DeKalb County, which recently purchased a set of used voting machines from neighboring Kane County. Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson says Kane no longer needed them, and it was a way to update the voting infrastructure without waiting for the state to approve new machines.

Lawsuit Prompts Emergency DACA Workshops

Aug 8, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is in legislative limbo. Seven states are suing the federal government in an effort to end the program.

A Texas district judge will hear this lawsuit Wednesday, August 8th.  The hearing, led by Judge Andrew S.  Hanen, could lead to DACA’s suspension.

Two emergency workshops took place this week in Aurora. Organizers are trying to get as many renewal applications filed before the hearing takes place.

City of Aurora

Aurora ranks among the best-run cities in the U.S., according to a recently released survey by WalletHub.

The company measured the operating efficiency of the nation's 150 largest cities by looking at their economy and overall finances, city services (such as schools and public safety), and budget per capita.

Turkey processor Butterball announced it will shut down its Gusto meatpacking plant in Montgomery, south of Aurora.

The closure will result in the loss of about 600 full-time jobs, and the company expects to complete the closure by the end of July.

Gusto's product line includes bacon various types of ham. Most of the plant's products will be discontinued, and executives said they intend to find work for Gusto employees willing to relocate to plants in Missouri, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Rick Guzman conceded to Richard Irvin Friday in the Aurora mayoral race.    

Irvin declared victory late Tuesday night when unofficial totals from the polls put him 170 votes ahead of Rick Guzman. But Guzman said in an email Wednesday morning the race was too close to call. He said an unknown number of outstanding vote-by-mail, grace-period, overseas military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. That left the possibility that the apparent result of the April 4 election could be reversed.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On February 28, voters in Aurora will whittle down the number of candidates running for mayor of Illinois’s second-largest city.

"Escalator" by Flickr User Sally Mahoney / (CC X 2.0)

A mall in Aurora has started a new parental escort policy after eight teens were charged following a large fight the day after Christmas.

The (Aurora) Beacon-News reports that Fox Valley Mall's new policy mandates that guests younger than age 18 be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older during certain ``Parental Escort Policy'' days.

Mall marketing director Kristina Arias says the policy is necessary ``to prevent further disturbance.'' Arias says the mall will institute the policy when large crowds are anticipated.

Eight Juveniles Charged After Aurora Mall Fight

Dec 28, 2016
Aurora Police Department

Police in Aurora say eight juveniles are charged after a large fight broke out at a mall in the city outside Chicago.

The fight was one of several that broke out at malls the day after Christmas.

Aurora police say the teen girls ages 13 to 17 face misdemeanor charges including battery, resisting police and disorderly conduct. Police officials say they're investigating if social media played a role in organizing the fight and if it was connected to the other disturbances nationwide.

Amazon.com

Online retailer Amazon.com said Tuesday it plans to open two new fulfillment centers, employing more than 1,000 people full-time between them, in Aurora, Ill. 

Officials say one of the new facilities will focus on smaller items, such as books and small electronics, and the other will handle large items like big-screen TVs. 

DuPage County Board member Tonia Khouri took improper tax exemptions on property she owns, according to published reports.  She's also running against Democrat Bill Foster of Naperville in the Illinois 11th Congressional District. 

Aurora Mayor To Step Down, Cites Health Concerns

Aug 25, 2016
www.aurora-il.org

Aurora's mayor will step down before his term ends.

Tom Weisner says he'll leave office at the end of October.

He issued a statement citing lingering health concerns.

"I have made this decision based on my sense that I cannot continue much longer to serve our city at the same level I worked to maintain over the past 11+ years," Weisner said. 

Weisner has been battling cancer during his time in office.

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