Winnebago County

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced Thursday the terms of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by Sheriff Gary Caruana against Winnebago County, County Board Chairman Frank Haney and County Treasurer Susan Goral.   

Jenna Dooley

Longtime political observers are concerned about a lack of transparency and infighting among Winnebago County leaders.

This week, Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney and a group of voters sued county board members in federal court. They argue the board systematically stripped Haney of executive powers since he took office in 2016. It's the latest in a string of complaints lodged within county leadership.

"We've completely distracted, distorted and perverted the way we do business. You know, nobody really feels good," said Haney.

: http://www.healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov/maps

Visits to the emergency room for asthma vary widely across Illinois. One reason could be how it's treated.

Asthma is an inflammatory lung condition that can cause bouts of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, a patient's airways swell shut, requiring a visit to the emergency room.

The Illinois Hospital Report Card tracks these types of visits. Between 2015-2017, Stephenson County had among the highest rates of visits in the state.

Courtesy Haunted Rockford

A Rockford author is speaking later this week about unsolved crimes in Winnebago County’s history.

Kathi Kresol has written two books on the history of Rockford and Winnebago County.  She’s also the founder of Haunted Rockford, and she writes a newspaper column about some of the area’s unsolved crimes called “Voices From the Grave.”

Pixabay

In the midst of summer’s high temperatures, DeKalb, Winnebago and Boone Counties are ensuring the public is safe in times of extreme heat.

The Rockford City Market is moving many of its vendors inside the market building and under the Rockford City Market Pavilion on Friday due to the ongoing heatwave. 

The DeKalb County Health Department is sharing tips to help the public stay cool, hydrated, and informed.   

The tips include staying in air-conditioned locations, drinking more water than usual and checking local news outlets for extreme heat warnings. 

Susan Stephens

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have kicked off their summer produce collection for the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program. 

It’s meant to inspire gardeners and farmers to “plant an extra row” to provide fruits and vegetables for people in need.  All the food collected for the program is donated to local food pantries. 

Margaret Larson is the County Extension Director for University of Illinois.  She says they have partners in the community who weigh the produce, keep track of it, and deliver it to the pantry at the end of the day.

Northern Illinois Police Officers Cleared In Shootings

Jul 3, 2019
facebook.com/RockfordIllinoisPoliceDepartment

 

Two Rockford police officers have been cleared of wrongdoing in deadly force cases.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced at a Tuesday news conference that Rockford City Officer Matthew Krantz was justified in the use of deadly force during a December, 2018 incident resulting in the death of Kerry Blake, Jr.

Hite Ross also said Rockford City Officer Tim Stec was justified in the use of deadly force in a February incident resulting in the death of Randy Allan Pierson.

Rockford Mourns At Vigil For Homeless People

Dec 24, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

The coroner's office says nearly 3,000 people in Winnebago County died within the last year. 45 of them were part of the area's homeless population. That's according to Carpenter's Place, a non-profit homeless shelter in Rockford.

 

A small wood-panelled room tucked away inside Carpenter's Place overflowed with people last week. The crowd was mourning for the homeless people in the community who passed in 2018. Some who were remembered were recently housed but were still receiving services from local agencies.

Sarah Jesmer

Marilyn Hite Ross will be Winnebago County's new State's Attorney. She currently is serving as the Chief of the Criminal Bureau. She was confirmed by the Winnebago County Board on Tuesday night with a vote of 17 to 3.

Hite Ross says she wants to champion issues related to domestic violence survivor support and a more transparent police force.

She also says she would love to see more long term mental health facilities. She said some in the criminal justice system should really be in mental health facilities.

State's Attorney Resigns To Become A Judge

Nov 14, 2018
Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato submitted his resignation to County Board Chairman Frank Haney.

Bruscato's last day as State's Attorney is December 3, when he will be sworn in as a judge for Illinois' 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Winnebago and Boone counties. Bruscato has served as State's Attorney since he was first elected in 2008. His current term doesn't expire until 2020.

Wikimedia

An emerging health care approach factors in the lasting effects of trauma.

In 2016, the Winnebago County Health Department asked the community about top health concerns so it could put together a Community Health Improvement Plan. Several issues made it to the top of the list.

Cynthia Hall is the Department’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. 

“And they told us three things," she explained. "Mental health was one of them. Maternal and child health was another, and violence was the third.”

Steven Depolo / Flickr

Hepatitis is a well-known disease of the liver and for which people receive vaccines as children. But the shots only combat the A and B variants. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on Hepatitis C and how it’s being managed across northern Illinois.

Hepatitis C attacks the liver just like variants A and B. But the virus is unique enough that no one has developed a vaccine yet. This means much more work needs to be done to screen for cases and get patients into treatment programs.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Voters in both Winnebago and McHenry counties overwhelmingly approved merging the office of Recorder of Deeds into the office of County Clerk in referenda on the March 20 primary ballot.

About 70 percent of Winnebago County voters chose to combine the offices in a binding referendum.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney says he knew most citizens agreed with the consolidation proposal, but he says he had no idea that so many residents would be in favor of it.

wchd.org

Leaders in education, social services, and government in Winnebago County are trying to work together on a common thread they see running through their community’s biggest challenges – trauma. 

"Police Line / Police Tape" By Flickr User Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) http://bit.ly/2FOHEMY

Officials say the two sons of a former Rock Valley College professor who died in an apparent murder-suicide this weekend were not in school Thursday or Friday.

The Rockford Register Star reports P.S. Ruckman’s ex-wife Heidi called the school Friday to ask about the children's whereabouts.

Winnebago County Board Chair Defends Administrator Settlement Agreement

Mar 1, 2018

Winnebago County Chairman Frank Haney has hit back at a series of reports on a settlement agreement with a former county administrator.

Amanda Hamaker left her post at the beginning of November in what the chairman called a “mutual agreement” at the time. In an Oct. 30 report from the Register Star, Haney said that details of a separation were being worked out, but no details were provided at the time.

Winnebago County jail

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney reached an agreement with Sheriff Gary Caruana to hire 10 additional corrections officers at the county jail.

The agreement comes as more than 60 complaints have been filed over allegedly excessive and prolonged prisoner lockdowns resulting from staff cuts Caruana made when his department budget was slashed by $4.3 million this fiscal year.

 

Mayo Clinic News Network

Government officials in Winnebago County announced Tuesday they are taking aim at the pharmaceutical industry in the fight against opioid abuse. 

 

Rockford and County officials said they intend to pursue legal action against companies they believe helped enable the growing opioid addiction crisis. 

 

A referendum proposing that the Winnebago County Clerk and Recorder offices be combined will appear on the March ballot.

The Winnebago County Board voted 14 to 4 last week to put the question on the March primary ballot. County Board Chairman Frank Haney says merging the offices might save the county money over time.

He says the idea hasn’t been controversial, and the board’s priority is to serve residents in the best way at the best possible cost. Generally, the County Clerk handles election responsibilities whereas the County Recorder keeps property ownership records.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Police are still looking for a man accused of shooting a Winnebago County sheriff's deputy last weekend.

Deputy Stephen Wright was shot in the back and shoulder early Saturday morning during a traffic stop near southwest Rockford. Detectives identified 27-year-old Jordan Spates of Rockford as a suspect. They conducted a massive manhunt much of Saturday in wooded areas near the site of the shooting, including Klehm Arboretum.

Winnebago County

Winnebago County may have to pay New Milford $300,000 because of bureaucratic oversight. 

The Rockford Register Star reports the County agreed to reduce the amount of money it charges Groot Industries to dump garbage at Winnebago Landfill from $3.47 per ton to $2.47 per ton. Concurrent with this deal, it also agreed to reduce landfill hosting fee payments to the village from 20 cents per ton to 14 cents.

Winnebago County

Former Winnebago County purchasing director Sally Claassen has finished paying back around $440,000 she embezzled from Winnebago County. 

She stole the money in 2014 and 2015 and was the subject of an FBI investigation. One year later, she pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds.

The Belvidere School District will open a health and wellness center for its employees July 10 in a district building at Sixth Street and East Avenue.  

It will be operated by Activate Healthcare and provide several services to employees who accept the district's insurance program, the Rockford Register Star reports.

Unlimited primary care services, annual health assessments, health coaching, and generic medications are included at no cost. 

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office said it has used the opioid reversal drug Narcan more than a dozen times so far this year.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Winnebago County’s Sheriff dropped the idea Thursday of allowing the federal government to house immigration detainees in his jail. Gary Caruana said Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not able to agree to his terms.

In exchange for committing a portion of the jail to the federal prisoners, guarding them, and caring for them, ICE would have paid the county a daily per-prisoner fee; $80 was one figure mentioned frequently during discussions. 

 

 

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The Winnebago County Coroner's Office has been working for most of the past year to identify decomposed human remains which were found in a garbage can outside an apartment building on Market Street in Rockford in July.

The coroner's office later determined it was a middle-aged Caucasian male. Tests indicate lower-spine degeneration, which means the man may have walked a lot.

Flickr User Doug McAbee/CC 2.0

High winds caused a variety of damage in several areas of northern Illinois yesterday. 

Splintered trees and pieces of sheet metal littered ditches along the 7900 and 8000 blocks of North Rockton Avenue in rural Rockford, the Rockford Register Star reports. The winds were also strong enough to rip part of the roof off of a large shed.

ComEd also reports almost 1,200 customers are without power in the area.  

Winnebago County's newest board chairman has released a 60 day review looking at financial and policy concerns facing county government.  It's part of Frank Haney's campaign pledge to implement the "ACT Initiative" to bolster accountability, collaboration, and transparency. 

According to the document, the review "is a starting point in which to build on and not intended to be a complete or final analysis."

Village of Rockton, Illinois

Discussion continues over a proposed asphalt plant at Black's Quarry near Rockton.  

The Rockford Register-Star reports Northern Illinois Service Co. wants a special use permit to build the facility.  However, residents are concerned about disruptive effects of the plant, including a lowering of property values and poor smell.

Suspect In 2011 Rockford Death Found Guilty

Jan 12, 2017
Susan Stephens/ WNIJ

Winnebago County's State's Attorney announced the jury's guilty verdict of Luis Eduardo Anaya.

The 28-year-old was convicted of First Degree Murder and Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm in the death of Brandon Wright, according to a news release. 

Wright was found shot Nov. 12, 2011, after a car left the road and hit a tree near Linden Rd and Perryville Rd.

Witnesses say the victim was part of a group involved in a fight earlier in the evening at a Rockford business. 

Pages