DeKalb

Middle Schoolers Skip Class For The Climate

18 hours ago
Sarah Jesmer

Some middle schoolers in DeKalb walked out of class this morning as part of a global climate strike. They wanted to encourage people to act in response to climate change. 

The voices of around 100 students echoed outside Clinton Rosette Middle School.  Students walked out with handmade signs and chanted about the climate. Many said that social media inspired action.

Ava Jontz is in 7th grade. Jontz said she’s concerned about melting ice caps and wildfires.   

Photo by Spencer Tritt

Illinois’ teacher shortage has only gotten worse over the past few years. The legislature passed measures in the last year meant to help relieve the problem. But, as the academic year begins, school officials still have concerns.

Video posted to Facebook by Alyssa Retuerto

A DeKalb church will host a community meeting to discuss last weekend's arrest of a man that has prompted an investigation into excessive use of force by city and county police officers.

DeKalb Council Tables Appointment Ordinance

Aug 27, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

The City of DeKalb has been in debates over the position of city clerk. They recently held a city council vote that could've changed the job to appointed rather than elected. The council tabled the ordinance (2019-055) that would make the clerk appointed on Monday night. 

 

Why DeKalb's City Clerk Position Is In Question

Aug 26, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

There’s infighting in DeKalb’s city government. It revolves around the city clerk. What does a city clerk do, how do they do it, and who makes those decisions? Recent unrest took public stage in early June. This isn’t the first time these questions have been debated in DeKalb.  

 

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato is wading into the conflict at DeKalb City Hall that is related to the role of the city clerk.

The Daily Chronicle reports Amato sent a letter Friday to the city of DeKalb, saying it is in his reading of state rules that the city should not pass ordinances to make the city clerk an appointed position rather than elected.

Housing Woes: What Does Resolution Look Like?

Aug 2, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

For the last few weeks, we've been looking at housing problems in the DeKalb area. What does resolution look like as the community works to revitalize struggling neighborhoods?

 

DeKalb community members have been considering housing conditions when some local buildings were damaged during suspected arsons. 

 

One of these cases occurred at 808 Ridge Drive in early July. 

 

Fires Spark City Conversation About Local Landlord

Jul 19, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

This is the second in a series of stories looking at housing conditions in northern Illinois. We'll have the next installment Friday, July 26.

Last week, we looked at a new tenants rights group forming in DeKalb County. It was spurred by complaints about one property owner in particular, Hunter Properties. How did Hunter Properties and the City of DeKalb get to this point?

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.

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