U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois is encouraging passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The measure was passed by the House Saturday. It currently awaits action in the Senate. Bustos says the act includes various forms of compensated time off for affected workers.  

“Two weeks of paid sick time for workers in small businesses. On top of that, we’ve got another 10 weeks of paid sick leave for the workers, and that impacts as many as 87 million workers," she said. 


Despite coronavirus-related shutdowns across Illinois, primary campaigns remain in full swing. 

The Illinois Primary election takes place Tuesday.  Campaigners for democratic presidential frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders say they’re still optimistic about turnout. Retired Senator John Kerry is a Biden campaign surrogate and praised Sunday night’s debate performance.

U.S. 16th District Representative Adam Kinzinger says maintaining health care capacity will be key in combating the coronavirus. 

President Trump declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon. That frees up $50 billion for states to address the crisis.  Congressman Kinzinger says this will help Illinois overall but a particular focus for the state will be ensuring there remains space in local health care systems to treat the most vulnerable patients.

Chase Cavanaugh

Coyotes dominated the conversation at a public meeting Tuesday in Rockford. Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discussed why coyotes are attracted to urban areas, and how to avoid attacks. Many residents expressed concern about the canines, but Conservation Policeman Nathan Murry said education is an important first step. 

As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.


A new grant will help researchers try to increase the survival rate for lung cancer.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford for lung cancer screening and research. Associate Professor Dr. Neelu Puri said it will pay for further research into treatment and expand the use of a technique called low-dose computed tomography.

U.S. Census Bureau

The Illinois Comptroller’s office is ramping up efforts to educate people about next year’s census.

A big milestone took place this fall with a large payout of money. Deputy Director of External Affairs Kevin Derrig explained.

“We were able to release $1.5 million to 33 different community organizations throughout the state that are going to be the ones really taking the lead in census outreach efforts," he said.

Derrig said Comptroller Susana Mendoza will also be going on the road for outreach efforts.

Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments

Dec 10, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

This project is done in collaboration with The Northern Star. You can read their reporting on a new solar farm at Suburban Apartments and Estates here. You can also hear about how this collaboration came to be here


DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Laurie Borowicz began her position as Kishwaukee College President in 2015, becoming the first woman in its history to lead the school. Police records show that in June of 2019 President Borowicz received two anonymous letters.

Chase Cavanaugh

Ensuring safe drinking water is a complex process.

For modern water sources, there are two general options. The first is for a community to draw from a large surface source, such as a river or lake. But that’s not an option for DeKalb.

“In the summer times, sometimes there’s not even enough water flowing in the Kishwaukee River, so [it's] not really a reliable source of water for DeKalb," said Bryan Faivre, the director of utilities and transportation.

He says DeKalb makes use of nine wells spread across two different aquifers. Six of them are quite deep.


Members of Alpha Phi Alpha at Northern Illinois University presided over a re-dedication ceremony for a bust representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The bust was moved to a more prominent spot in the university’s MLK commons, next to a newly remodeled student center. NIU alumnus and Alpha member Maurice Thomas says several protests against racism were held on the Commons.

Demonstrations included burning campus newspapers due to the publication’s unfair representation of black students. Thomas urged the crowd to continue to use the space for civil rights.

A new member of a state task force fighting sexual abuse in schools says he has a strong personal interest in the issue. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois University will open up the remodeled first floor of its student center Saturday.

Construction focused on turning the first floor of Holmes Student Center into a hub for student activity. This includes greater views to the outside and more lounge space to sit or meet with others. Dean of Students Kelly Wesener-Michael says a major improvement is a shared workspace called the OASIS.


An Illinois legislator says the state’s new gambling expansion bill needs to be cleaned up.

The state’s recent gambling expansion authorized the construction of six new casinos and legalized practices like sports gambling. Illinois State Representative Jeff Keicher says the law is vague over how legalized sports betting will work, such as how people can bet on specific sports. He hopes the General Assembly can clear that up.


October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month.

It’s an annual campaign to inform parents how to protect their babies from suffocation. Deborah Lopez is a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She says parents should follow the “ABCs” of sleeping.

“The baby should be sleeping alone, always placed on their back, and should be sleeping in the crib with a firm mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet, and that’s all,” she said. 

Stephenson's VOICES Needs More Helping Hands

Oct 21, 2019

This story includes themes of domestic and sexual violence. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you need help at 1-800-799-7233. 


Chase Cavanaugh

Judges gathered at the federal courthouse in Rockford to celebrate the 35th anniversary of a full-time district judge for the region.

The local division of the U.S. District Court moved from Freeport to Rockford in the 1970s. But its district judge, Stanley Roszkowski, could only travel there once a month to hear cases while maintaining a full presence in Chicago. Roszkowski’s son John said that soon changed.

Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Health departments representing nine counties in the northern Illinois/Rockford region released a joint statement regarding vaping.

The statement comes in the wake of injuries sustained by users of electronic cigarettes and vaping products. Spokeswoman Katherine O’Toole with the Winnebago County Health Department says the increasing prevalence of these symptoms prompts caution.

Western Illinois University

Bobcat season is approaching in Illinois. There is disagreement over how expanded hunting will impact the species long term.

Illinois resumed bobcat hunting just a few years ago. Rachel Torbert is a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She says IDNR asks hunters to report animals they encounter.

"Surveys that we’re working with have been conducted since the early 1990s and they show a steady increase in bobcat population in Illinois," she said.

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee released on Tuesday its recommended changes to how the university handles claims of sexual misconduct against faculty.

Northern Illinois University

A Northern Illinois University administrator will chair the Illinois Innovation Network Council.

The Network is a collection of 15 hubs based at state universities. Each hub is a center of research, entrepreneurship, education, and workforce development; and the Council is a way to better coordinate their projects.  NIU's inaugural chairman is Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships Dr. Gerald Blazey. Blazey says all the hubs have a central connection to the Discovery Partners Institute in downtown Chicago.

Hard Rock International/City of Rockford

Last week, the Rockford City Council voted 11-to-1 (with one abstention) in favor of certifying Hard Rock’s plan to the Illinois Gaming Board. Hard Rock edged out two alternative casino proposals. 

The Gaming Board has up to a year from when it receives the proposal to decide whether to grant a casino license to Hard Rock. If they do, Mayor Tom McNamara says Hard Rock will first open a temporary casino site at Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center.

"I would say you have about 90 to 180 days and you will have that temporary facility up and running," he said.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing three Illinois counties with an $11.3 million grant to remove lead paint from homes. Midwest Regional  Administrator Joseph Galvan says lead removal is essential, especially in the case of children.

“Those children who are affected by lead will not have the same advantage of using their God-given gifts to the best of their ability,” he said.


Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he thinks the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump should go forward. He said he joined his colleagues several weeks ago to say it was necessary.  

“I didn’t jump at this as a possibility," Durbin said.  "I waited until the evidence started to mount, and I believe, based on the documents released by the president, declassified by the president, and the whistleblower’s complaint, I believe the impeachment inquiry should go under way."

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is holding its fourth annual "College Changes Everything" month.

The campaign consists of workshops around the state covering college admissions and applying for financial aid. Lynne Baker is the communications director for the agency. She says the campaign is catching on.

“We have over 300 high schools and 215 towns and cities in Illinois that have scheduled either a college application and/or a FAFSA completion workshop this fall. More are being scheduled every week,” she said.

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.   

Changes In Store For NIU Title IX Office

Sep 17, 2019
Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University's Title IX coordinator says there are changes being made to her office.  They come in a response to a student protest in May.  

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination at education institutions receiving federal funding.  Coordinator Sarah Garner says her office is currently in the process of hiring a Title IX investigator. 

Sarah Jesmer

The recent arrest of Elonte McDowell by DeKalb-area law enforcement has sparked a conversation about racism and fear of police within communities of color. 


McDowell was arrested on a Saturday morning, August 24. Joe Mitchell watched a cell phone video of his arrest on Monday.



DeKalb PD Releases Dash-Cam Arrest Footage

Sep 2, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

The DeKalb Police department has released video and audio footage of the arrest of Elonte McDowell. It comes roughly a week after the incident took place. 


A Facebook video of McDowell’s arrest has gained national attention and stoked allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement involved.