DeKalb

Peter Medlin

The DeKalb Park District and the City of DeKalb are making plans to relocate city hall functions to the Park District's historic downtown property at 164 E. Lincoln Highway. The former Nehring building dates back to 1892 when it was occupied by the DeKalb National Bank and Sheets and Knodle Hardware. It was owned by First National Bank of DeKalb from 1902 to 1966. 

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said the move makes financial sense. 

Anderson Mikos Architects

Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb could have a new breast health center by the fall.

Officials with Northwestern Medicine say the center is meant to increase breast cancer screening rates in DeKalb County. That rate is 65%, compared to a statewide average of 78%. The center will be a buildout of 6,000 square feet on the hospital office building's first floor.

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Office of Tourism, announced several grants designed to increase tourism across the state.  According to a news release, the grants haven’t been awarded since 2015. The office says they will help bolster the state’s tourism industry which generated over $3 billion in tax revenue for state and local communities last year.

Among the recipients:

The Farnsworth House: $10,360

Jenna Dooley

The DeKalb County History Center opens this weekend. It's also the unveiling of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit. 

The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibit, "Crossroads: Change in Rural America," will be on display May 11-June 22, 2019.

Michelle Donahoe is the Executive Director of the Center. She says it's an opportunity to connect DeKalb County's roots in rural America.

DeKalb County Struggles To Engage Local Voters

Apr 2, 2019
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

DeKalb County had only 24% of its registered voters cast ballots in the 2017 consolidated election. The 2018 general election had 60% voter turnout, a difference of 36% between the two elections.

Oscar Bahena is a resident of Waukegan and a student at Northern Illinois University. Bahena was not aware of this year's consolidated election, and he feels that most of the general public isn't informed enough in local politics.

DeKalb Dog Lovers Rejoice Over Warmer Temperatures

Mar 29, 2019
Andrew Heiserman

 

Northern Illinois dog lovers are finally able to get their furry friends outside.

Katz Dog Park in DeKalb is open for the season after being closed due to ice and flooding. Dog owners say the winter took its toll mentally and physically.

Kayley Aase and her dog took a recent afternoon to enjoy being outside again.

"It's amazing for the fact that my dogs aren't cooped up at home and they get to run around all the time," Aase said.

Vickie Deku also enjoyed the dog park opening.

Annie Glidden North - A Changing Neighborhood

Mar 27, 2019

DeKalb's Annie Glidden North neighborhood has long been a hub for student social activities and is home to Northern Illinois University's Greek life community. Years ago, crowds of intermingling students were a common sight along Greek Row; today less so.

Streets that were populated by NIU students are now shared with families from low income neighborhoods. According to Mayor Jerry Smith, this development coincides with a lower student population in general.

Craft Brewing Bubbles Up In Illinois

Mar 15, 2019

The Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers reports Illinois had 54 operating breweries in 2011. By 2017 that number had risen to 200. Reed Sjostrom is co-founder and brewery director of Prairie Street Brewing Company in Rockford. Sjostrom attributes part of craft brewing's popularity to younger drinkers.

"From what I can tell, they are much more apt to buy local, to drink local and support local businesses in general," Sjostrom said.

A community group is meeting to discuss ways to improve a DeKalb neighborhood.

The Annie Glidden North neighborhood is the subject of a revitalization plan laid out in 2017. While the task force responsible for the plan dissolved last month, an informal community group hopes to retain community involvement.

The neighborhood experienced an uptick in criminal activity in recent years, prompting a stronger focus on the area.

WNIJ

For our premiere episode, we are joined in DeKalb, Illinois, by full-time Lincoln presenter Kevin Wood. Kevin is also a running Lincoln. He runs races. In his Lincoln getup. Hat and all. And he is a multilingual Lincoln. He gives presentations in English and Spanish and translates Lincoln documents into French and German. He can recite the Gettysburg Address in all four languages.

As ice and snow cover northern Illinois, some small businesses are starting to feel their bottom lines fall along with the temperature.

In the decades she’s owned her business, Cindy Abel, of Canine & Abel Dog Grooming and Daycare in Rockford, has never had to close because of the weather. That is, until record-breaking wind chills blew through the region at the end of January. That was a first.

“I’ve been doing this for over 45 years, and this has been the worst year of all,” she said.

Cabin Fever Breaks After Snow Days

Feb 5, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

Freezing temperatures last week closed countless businesses and schools in northern Illinois. For some, snow days meant working remotely. Students are now returning to class after some school districts closed their doors for safety.

 

DeKalb’s new city manager has unveiled his plan to dig the city out of a million dollar budget deficit.

Longtime Activist Minister Joins DeKalb County Board

Dec 21, 2018
Photo by Peter Medlin

In the summer of 2017, Rev. Linda Slabon and her partner both retired. Slabon was a Unitarian Universalist minister and social worker, while her partner was a professor at Northern Illinois University.

 

Like many retirees, Slabon used her newfound free time to do more gardening. They threw a Disney Frozen-themed birthday party for their granddaughter.

 

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.

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