On March 12, 1966, just five minutes into the third period against the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawk Bobby Hull scored his 50th goal of the season. The Chicago Stadium crowd roared as their hometown hero tied a league record that he already shared with two others. The Blackhawks’ winger, known as “The Golden Jet” for his speed, skill and dashing blond hair, was one of the most popular players in the National Hockey League.

Jennifer Kuroda

Audubon Mural Project Rockford is hosting a free Zoom event on Tuesday night with the goal of bringing more bird murals to Rockford.

Several U.S. representatives from northeastern Illinois Friday argued for the passage of a massive COVID relief bill.

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood said the American Rescue Plan contains various forms of COVID-related aid for the nation, including more stimulus checks.

“It will send another round of $1400 direct payments in addition to the $600 payments that went out earlier this year following the December relief bill. This money makes a real difference for workers and their families and for the local businesses where they spend it.”

A statewide film competition for young people is underway. The focus is on racial healing.

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Jackie Cleven! She’s a second-grade teacher at South Prairie Elementary in Sycamore and teaches at Kishwaukee College. Longtime Teachers’ Lounge fans may remember Jackie as the first guest who was ever on this show. She shared a personal essay about how she feels at the end of the school year.

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

Some people share their days of old at family gatherings. An organization serving northwest Illinois counties is offering those residents a chance to document this history.

The University of Illinois Extension is offering “Share Your Life Story: A Writing Series” workshops starting this month. Sessions take place in different locations during the spring and fall. 

Karla Belzer is the family life educator with the Extension. She said documenting your own stories is not just for loved ones.

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

The Illinois Board of Elections is being recognized by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for its cybersecurity efforts. 

The State put together the Cyber Navigator Program in response to a hack of the Board of Elections in 2016. Public Information Officer Matt Dietrich said it provides training and equipment to all 108 local election authorities, but also encourages collaboration. 

Vaccine Expansion A Key Priority For Winnebago County

Mar 3, 2021

The Winnebago County Health Department reports there are continued efforts to increase local capacity to provide COVID-19 vaccines.

At a press conference covered by WREX-TV, the county’s public health administrator, Sandra Martell, said more than 4,000 vaccinations had been given out at the National Guard site on Sandy Hollow Road. The health department is also trying to expand vaccinations geographically.

2018 Challenger To Rep. Kinzinger Returns To The Fray

Mar 3, 2021

A Republican who ran against Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger is preparing a 2022 campaign against him.

James Marter lost the 2018 GOP primary to the incumbent, but says Kinzinger’s recent attacks against former President Donald Trump and other members of his party have prompted him to run again. He discussed a campaign event in Princeton.

COVID-19 vaccinations for Blacks in Kane and DuPage counties are significantly lower than whites, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Tuesday Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker joined an Aurora coalition and VNA Health Care to combat this disparity.


Winnebago County Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell announced late Tuesday that a shipment of 9,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is now expected to arrive in the county by early next week. 

Spencer Tritt

Ninety-three percent of schools said they have a problem finding substitutes to fill in when teachers are unavailable. There was a shortage before the pandemic, but COVID-19 made it substantially worse, especially as schools return in-person and the need for substitutes ramps up.

Photo provided by Byron Forest Preserve

The Byron Forest Preserve wants you to learn about a groundbreaking environmentalist through a free Zoom event this Sunday.  


Rachel Carson is the author of Silent Spring. In 1964, less than two years after it was published, she died from breast cancer. But her message about protecting the environment lives on.


Leslie Goddard is a scholar and an actress. She will bring Carson "back to life" at the Zoom event. 



Yvonne Boose

Governor J.B. Pritzker joined an Aurora coalition and VNA Health Care in an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations for Blacks in Kane and DuPage counties.  

Black Vax Aurora was put in place to ensure that Blacks in the area have equal access to the vaccine.  

Pec Playhouse Theatre.

The roof of a northern Illinois theater collapsed Wednesday afternoon.

Snow and ice caused the roof to sink in at the PEC Playhouse Theatre in Pecatonica. No one was in the building at the time.

Suzanne Wiegert is the president of the board of directors at the theater. She said there wasn’t an issue with the roof before the recent snowstorms but the day before the fall, a volunteer noticed that something was brewing. He alerted everyone and the building manager went to check.   

Internet Archive

Before coal, before oil, even before corn, the biggest and busiest industry in Illinois was salt.  

This once-booming enterprise was located just southeast of Equality, in southern Illinois’ Gallatin County. The heavily brined water was pulled from springs, boiled down and the salt laid out to dry. Native Americans did this for generations, then they taught the process to the French. In 1763, after the French and Indian War, control of the salt springs went to the British.

Black History Month is coming to a close and WNIJ wants to recognize a Rockford jazz singer and educator who some say is creating a solid legacy in the city.  


Dorothy Paige-Turner can be described as sort of --well-- a renaissance woman.  

In addition to singing and being a retired teacher, she writes books, poetry and plays, leads a number of youth art initiatives, speaks French and has received many awards for her work throughout the years. She was also inducted into the Rockford Fine Arts Coalition 2020 Hall of Fame.

Spencer Tritt

Morelia Garcia was helping an afterschool program at her high school when the principal walked by. He started asking her the sorts of questions everyone approaching graduation gets: “What are your plans for college? You want to be a teacher, right? Well, how about here?”

They both laughed and Garcia countered with the sort of question everyone approaching graduation wants answered: “Can you actually help me pay for school?”

Legislation Aims To End Bobcat Hunting In Illinois

Mar 1, 2021
Mike and Joann Fricke

Since 2016, it has been legal to hunt or trap bobcats in Illinois during hunting season (Nov. 10-Feb. 15), even though they were on the threatened species list until 1999. Now some state lawmakers and the Illinois Bobcat Foundation want to protect them from harm.

Aurora’s poet laureate is making sure that poetry is in clear view in the city’s downtown.  

Karen-Fullett Christensen was at the starting line ready to take off after her appointment. But before she could get into a stride the pandemic swooped in like a whirlwind.  

“So, all the great plans that I had of things I wanted to do related to the poet laureate position really had to be put on hold with the exception of the Aurora Poet Laureate Facebook page,” she said, “and then everything that we're doing with A-Town Poetics.”  

Pec Playhouse Theatre

February’s near-record winter weather took its toll this week on the home of a northern Illinois community theater. Pec Playhouse Theatre in Pecatonica announced Friday that the roof of the auditorium in its building collapsed Wednesday under the weight of accumulated ice and snow. No one was injured.

Along with the roof, most of the auditorium's lighting and heating systems came down into the seating area.

Illinois U.S Representative Cheri Bustos says it’s imperative that the U.S. House pass the next COVID-19 relief package.

The bill is known as the American Rescue Plan and will provide various forms of aid. Bustos said this includes funding for cities to address deficits and immediate need.

"Towns like Peoria having to not fill Fire Department jobs. In Rockford, they weren’t able to purchase new fire and police vehicles."  

Golden Apple

In special ed, teachers usually work with fewer students, and the relationships they build -- not only with kids but also their parents -- can become very close. The school year has been especially challenging with COVID-19 restrictions, but Maddi Bodine has kept forging those bonds -- even online or through plexiglass. She’s a pre-K special ed teacher at Kingston Elementary.

Two Jefferson High School students in Rockford have advanced in a virtual nationwide spoken word competition.

Raeanna Tremethick and Emma Carmona have moved on to the Poetry Out Loud virtual state competition. 

The contest showcases the talents of high school performance poets across the nation. The students present poems from established poets. 

Connie Kuntz

Many people consider the Chicago Portage to be the transportation link that spurred the growth of Chicago. Some call it the "Birthplace of Chicago" or even "Chicago's Plymouth Rock." Whatever you call it, the Byron Forest Preserve is hosting a free Zoom lecture about the portage's history dating back to the Ice Age. Paula Bryant is an archaeologist with Illinois State Survey Archaeology and she will lead the lecture.

A volunteer organization that supports teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties came up with a unique way to raise money.

Jennifer Stark is executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford. She said the foundation’s teachers came up with the idea of doing a talent show. The viewing is free but those interested in voting are asked to make a donation.  

Spencer Tritt

More and more Illinois school districts are offering in-person options as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to drop. 70% of students are now in a hybrid learning format. But many parents are turning to their school districts to ask for more in-person time.

Northern Illinois University

Domestic protests continue against the military coup in Myanmar. A Northern Illinois University professor hopes they will lead to a democratic transition.

For decades, the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar was controlled by a military junta. This regime held free elections in 1990. That’s when democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a majority of seats. But the military didn’t cede power for nearly two more decades. 

Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

William H. Bissell was Illinois’ 11th governor, elected in 1856 and endorsed by Abraham Lincoln. He is known for many Illinois firsts: first Catholic governor, first Republican governor  -- the party was only two years old at the time of his election -- and first governor to die in office.

Rockford Park Distric

Rockford Park District doesn't want you to wear your heart on your sleeve. They want you to hang it on a tree! It's part of their 2021 Winter Flurry initiative called "We Love Our Parks." That's when kids (and their families and friends) create colorful stained-glass hearts and hang them on designated trees throughout the city.

Laura Gibbs-Green is the communications manager for the park district. She said they are distributing free kits throughout the community and that the kits are a great way for families to create art, get outside and have fun.