DeKalb

Victoria Lunacek

DeKalb's annual Corn Fest packed downtown with patrons, vendors, musicians and rides this past weekend. The fest went from Friday Aug. 24 through Sunday Aug. 26. 

Video: Carl Nelson - WNIJ

Peter Medlin

Originally built in 1922, the gothic-inspired building on Fisk Ave. in DeKalb used to house St. Mary’s hospital; it sat vacant for the last 25 years.

Over the past few years, however, interest in reviving the building has returned. And with that interest comes a debate over whether it should be a boutique hotel or a local non-profit.

Sarah Jesmer

It started with a system glitch in the summer of 2016.

Hackers found a flaw in the online voting registration process in Illinois and exploited it. Illinois State Board of Election’s spokesperson Matt Dietrich said the board’s servers were flooded with queries, which are lines of code.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Chicago has them. So does St. Charles. Even Naperville. Does your town allow backyard chickens?

DeKalb doesn’t, but a group of egg fans is eager to bring the issue up with the city council, where a backyard chicken proposal was rejected six years ago.       

People want eggs – not alarm clocks. So roosters generally are not allowed in urban backyards. But even with roosters out of the picture, local governments are still wary about letting people put up a chicken coop in their backyard, no matter how cute the little shed is.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

More than 50 activists gathered in downtown DeKalb to call for immigration reform. 

The crowd condemned last week’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Cortland as well as the continued detention of undocumented children away from their families.  The event featured speakers from groups like Action for a Better Tomorrow Sauk Valley and DeKalb Stands.

Another participant was Laura Vivaldo-Cholula, a member of DREAM Action at Northern Illinois University. She said change wouldn’t happen without new leaders in office.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

A DeKalb group based at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church held an informational meeting outlining its opposition to a DeKalb School Board decision to investigate whether some students live outside district boundaries.  

A former DeKalb schools superintendent was arrested at his Elgin home today, accused of sending explicit photos of a person without consent.

Police executed an arrest warrant Thursday for former DeKalb schools superintendent Doug Moeller.

The district had placed Moeller on paid leave in the fall of 2016, shortly after a former principal sought an order of protection against him for alleged sexual harassment. He was dismissed the following April.

Flickr user Tony Alter / "Nice Heels" (CC v 2.0)

About 100 people are expected to participate in this year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event Saturday in DeKalb. About a quarter of that number will be men walking that mile in high heels.

Registration is up from last year’s event. That’s according to Kendal Baker – she is a spokeswoman for Safe Passage, which is a domestic violence agency and rape crisis center in DeKalb County.

Baker says the main purpose of the nationwide event is to continue to bring awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence, especially since this month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The first phase of the DeKalb Police Department’s Safe Streets Initiative begins this week. That means some residents will need to get parking permits from the city soon to avoid getting ticketed or towed.

DeKalb police officials say overall crime decreased in the city, but the actual number of shootings increased due to a recent string of incidents in areas close to the Northern Illinois University campus. Visitors now aren’t permitted to park along Russell Road and Crane Drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"Am I Next? Student lie-in at the White House to protest gun laws" by Flickr user Lorie Shaull / (CC x 2.0) /

Students from several high schools in northern Illinois are preparing for the national school walk-out on Wednesday.

In Rockford, Jefferson High School senior Roberto Vargas says he is one of several students who are organizing a walk-out at the school to protest gun violence and to call for gun-law reform in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 14 students and three school staff members.

Vargas says he hopes all 1,700 students at Jefferson walk out in solidarity Wednesday. He and his friends planned this so students can make their voices heard.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

DeKalb and Sycamore schools are finishing up necessary repairs on their water fixtures. That’s after some buildings had traces of lead in the water supply.

Six DeKalb elementary schools and two DeKalb middle schools recently had unsafe lead levels detected in the water. That’s according to reports shared by the school district.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb-area officials pooled their ideas at a public forum this week on how to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Experts in public health, medicine, law enforcement, and counseling gave their perspectives on how to curb opioid-related overdoses and arrests. They addressed topics like the lack of access to rehabilitative resources for users.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato says he’s working on a 14-week program for offenders who pick up first-time drug use charges.

The Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate an alleged assault on a Muslim woman in DeKalb.

The group says the woman was wearing Islamic attire when a man approached her while she was shopping at the DeKalb WalMart. He allegedly began shouting “Muslims are not welcome in this country” and  “Americans don’t want her here.” 

Public Comment Ends Soon On New DeKalb Transit Plan

Sep 22, 2017
Northern Illinois University

Residents can give input on the new DeKalb transit plan until Tuesday. It includes more frequent service overall, a line going to Cortland and more trips to the Elburn Metra train station throughout the week.

DeKalb Public Works director Tim Holdeman says the new plan suggests merging the Northern Illinois University bus line and the TransVAC lines, which currently serve Kishwaukee College students, DeKalb and Sycamore.

“There’s an inefficiency in having two bus systems serve generally the same population,” Holdeman said.

Joiner History Room / Sycamore Public Library

Corn Fest celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend.

What started as a community corn boil in 1977 has grown into a full-blown festival, complete with carnival rides, live music and a slew of vendors.

Corn is still central, with 20 to 30 thousand ears delivered fresh from Del Monte farms the morning of the boil.

Corn Fest chairperson Lisa Angel said the festival will use its anniversary as an opportunity to do more for the community.

WNIJ

DeKalb and Rochelle may be in the running for a massive new auto manufacturing plant. Toyota and Mazda announced they are teaming up to build a $1.5 billion factory in the U.S. but didn’t specify the site.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, says he knows state and local economic-development officials are working on a code-named project that meets the same specifications of the Toyota/Mazda plan. 

Demmer says he’s not surprised that DeKalb and Rochelle are contenders. He said both of the cities within his legislative district have what a manufacturer of that size needs.

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.  

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The DeKalb “flying corn” logo’s history was the subject for this month’s Local Lore adult lecture series. It’s the second year the Ellwood House Museum hosted the series with the help of other area history groups.

Patrons applauded as Donna Langford, with the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association – or DAAHA, walked to the podium to begin her lecture about the DeKalb Winged Ear logo. It's the familiar ear of corn with wings and the word “DeKalb” written across the ear.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

One man’s prairie is another man’s patch of weeds. That’s the debate that is unfolding in DeKalb over a proposed rewrite of the city’s “weeds ordinance.”

About 20 people spoke out about native plants, property rights, and good neighbors at Thursday’s hearing of DeKalb’s Citizens Environmental Commission.

Paul Soderholm of Mt. Morris spoke about his own nature preserve in neighboring Ogle County and the benefits of native plants. He said they “support native insects, support native birds.”

Katie Finlon/WNIJ

Developer John Pappas is proposing a second mixed-use building for downtown DeKalb. 

He's currently involved with the four-story Cornerstone project, a $7.5 million development with three floors of apartments above ground-level retail at the site of the old Otto's building.

Victor Yehling / WNIJ

You may have noticed signs about DeKalb’s administrative tow policy when you enter town. But why are they there?

DeKalb city attorney Dean Frieders says the signs are to ensure that the public is notified about DeKalb’s administrative tow policy. He says that’s because the city needs to publicly notify residents and visitors of the city-adopted policy by law.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Band students from DeKalb High School will make their way to the Emerald Isle Sunday. That’s because they will be one of several bands marching in the Dublin, Ireland Saint Patrick’s Day parade next week.

DeKalb High School band students began their rehearsal outside. It was about 35 degrees, and they marched several times around the perimeter of the high school.

The League of Women Voters is hosting two candidate forums for the upcoming election in DeKalb. 

The first takes place Thursday and features municipal offices, such as aldermen in the 2nd, 4th and 6th Wards, DeKalb mayor, city clerk, and Afton Township highway commissioner.  

All these candidates will be on the ballot for the Feb. 28 consolidated primary election.  

Another event on February 28 will feature DeKalb school board candidates. 

Both forums will take place in the DeKalb Municipal Building and begin at 6:30 PM.  

DeKalb Police Department/Facebook

DeKalb police officials say seven businesses sold tobacco to minors last week. That’s out of 27 inspected local tobacco retailers.

The compliance checks determine if businesses sell tobacco to minors.

The DeKalb police department uses minors 15 to 17 years old to see if businesses will sell tobacco to them. If those inspected businesses ended up selling tobacco to those minors, they violated a city ordinance and got an information kit about minimum-age tobacco laws.

Wikimedia

Two candidates for the DeKalb School District Board will remain on the ballot in April. 

The Daily Chronicle reports former board member Jim Mitchell challenged the petitions of candidates Tracy Williams and Jeremy Olson.  He alleged that several of Williams signatures didn't have valid addresses and that Williams' name wasn't provided as a circulator on one of the signature sheets (making them invalid).  

Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital could have a $46 million Wellness Center in the next two years

They want state approval to build a more than 100,000 square foot health and fitness center.  The DeKalb facility would be south of Bethany Road and Greenwood Acres Drive.   

The group's application claims the goal of the center is to increase access to forms of preventative health care, and boost the overall health of DeKalb County.  

The application is on the agenda for the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board's March 14 meeting.  

DeKalb and Sycamore held lotteries this week to determine which candidates would appear first on their local ballots.  

For DeKalb's mayoral race, incumbent John Rey will appear first on the ballot.  Following him are Jerry Smith, Michael Embrey, and Misty Haji-Sheikh.  

DeKalb also determined the order of candidates for its Ward 2 Alderman  race.  First is incumbent Bill Finucane, followed by William Lamb and Barry Federici.   

Cold Weather Prompts Public Service Closures

Dec 13, 2016
Illinois Christmas Tree Association

Temperatures are taking a sharp drop this week, and it’s affecting public services and charities.  

NIU

A Northern Illinois University student has reported that four men in a truck harassed him, using racial slurs and displaying a shotgun and a Nazi flag, and the university confirms that police are investigating.

NIU learned on Friday of a Facebook post about the alleged incident, which took place during the noon hour Thursday just off campus in a parking lot in the 100 block of North Annie Glidden Road. The student was not injured.

Jenna Dooley

Betty Hampa of Genoa was a freshman at Northern Illinois University in 1959. She says her friends invited her to volunteer as an usher at the Egyptian Theater for a visit by the then-Senator of Massachusetts.

“I just remember that he said things that would excite young people," Hampa recalls. "He seemed like he talked about going to the moon… a lot of exciting things. Because he was young, he was handsome. He just had this charisma about him or something that just really grabbed you."

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