DeKalb Residents March For Policing Changes

Nov 11, 2019
Noah Johnson

NIU students and DeKalb community members demanded accountability this Saturday with a protest.  It was a follow up to a controversial arrest this summer.

Chase Cavanaugh

The Gaming Goat store in DeKalb hosted a 24-hour board gaming marathon for charity this weekend.

Kids and adults brought out old classics, like Stratego and Dungeons and Dragons, along with modern hobby games like Settlers of Catan. One group even livestreamed their gaming sessions.

Organizer George Jaros said this fundraiser is part of Extra Life. It's a yearly campaign that raises money for children’s hospitals. He said proceeds from the DeKalb event are headed to a hospital in Chicago.

Chase Cavanaugh

One of the snowiest Halloweens in northern Illinois marks the end of a very wet October.

The weather station at Northern Illinois University measured 1.4 inches of snowfall on Thursday, making it the snowiest Halloween since 1895. David Changnon is the chair of NIU’s Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences.  He says October’s rainfall has been much higher than normal, and it’s much colder than expected.

Chase Cavanaugh

The Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District is responsible for cleaning local sewage in DeKalb and at Northern Illinois University.  A more than $45 million project aims to modernize the plant.

Chase Cavanaugh

When we hear about purifying water in the news, it’s often about what comes out of the tap. But how do we clean it once it’s been used?

Whether it’s from a toilet, sink or bathtub, dirty water eventually makes its way into the local sewer lines.  And those lines, provided they’re in working order, make their way to a water treatment plant.  In the City of DeKalb, that responsibility falls on the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District.

Middle Schoolers Skip Class For The Climate

Sep 20, 2019
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.


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.