Guy Stephens

Guy Stephens is the local host for NPR's All Things Considered on WNIJ.  He also produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements.  In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level.  Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU.  In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."

The Winnebago County Health Department is warning people to avoid all synthetic cannabinoids. It has identified four cases of severe bleeding connected to their use in the county. Many more have been reported across the state.

The Health Department said there are many different chemicals, including one used in rat poison, in the various synthetics available. The department’s Director of Health Protection, Todd Kisner, said the effects can be unpredictable and dangerous, and people shouldn’t wait to act.

Two Illinois Valley cities are getting more than a million dollars each from the federal government to help prevent flood damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the grants to Ottawa and Marseilles Tuesday.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was in full campaign attack mode the day after he eked out a narrow win in the primary.  

Rauner didn’t take any time to savor his victory. Wednesday, he made factory stops in St. Charles, Rockford and Moline to press the flesh and make his case for re-election.  

Matt Streb, chief of staff to Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman, says Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed allocation for higher education ignores even a minimal 1.9 percent increase requested by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Instead, it keeps cuts made in last summer’s budget deal.

“The [university] presidents,” he said, “including Acting President Freeman, have argued that the institutions in the state should revert to the Fiscal ‘15 year allocation, which was the last year that we had a full budget before FY ’18.”

The U.S. House has passed a measure Tuesday sponsored by a northern Illinois Congressman that increases funding at two federal labs in Illinois.

 

A Republican Illinois lawmaker is calling on the governor to resign. He’s also endorsing the governor’s opponent in the primary.

State Rep. John Cabello told Rockford television station WREX that a lack of credibility was the main reason he thinks Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican, should resign.

The lights stayed red on wreaths at many Illinois fire departments this holiday season.  This was good news.

There were plenty of fires across Illinois from around Thanksgiving to New Year’s but, for many fire departments, there was a bright spot: the Red Wreath Program.  Dixon Fire Chief Tim Shipman said his department has been doing the community-awareness drive for the past 24 years.

The Rockford Public Library is settling into what will be its temporary downtown home for the next few years.

The Hart Interim Library in downtown Rockford has been a great success and, in some ways, an improvement, according to Bridget Finn. She’s the library’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

“It’s a great space,” Finn said. It’s a smaller footprint, but it’s a real study in excellent design.”

The Illinois State Historical Society wants to see a particular portrait of Abraham Lincoln -- before he was president -- in every courthouse in Illinois. The Society hopes to make that happen during the state's Bicentennial year. 

Society Executive Director William Furry said Lincoln is an iconic figure, particularly in Illinois, and courthouses are especially appropriate spots to hang his picture.

‘Tis the season. Black Friday, Cyber Monday - sales now seem to stretch over weeks, if not months.  On Tuesday, Nov. 28, though, people are invited to hit the pause button on their shopping.  Instead, they’re being asked to give their dollars to charity.  

Shopping has become something of a tradition after the Thanksgiving holiday in America.  In 2012, two nonprofit organizations in New York City wanted to celebrate another great American tradition, giving to charity.

School funding problems, including disparities between districts, have grabbed the headlines in Illinois the last couple of years.  But a website recently ranked Illinois schools among the best in the country for teachers.

Personal finance website WalletHub said it looked at two broad areas when ranking the states:

One -- Opportunity and Competition -- included average starting salaries, income growth potential, pensions and tenure protections.

Illinois State Sen. Dave Syverson was in Las Vegas at the time of the mass shooting there. He gave WNIJ his impressions of the situation.

The Rockford Republican said he was having dinner with friends when news of the shooting came. He said it took a while before the scale of it was known but, as he watched from the sidelines, he was impressed with the response.

“You can imagine moving tens of thousands of people,” he said, “not only out of the concert but to clear out of the hotel the size of Mandalay Bay, and to do those searches.

The promise of a new public-school funding formula for Illinois was that no districts would lose money. So many said they were blindsided when the state announced a big cut in another revenue source tapped by schools. For some, it’s a significant part of their budget. This week’s Friday Forum looks at what’s going on.

People and businesses in northwestern Illinois affected by severe storms and flooding in July are now eligible for federal help. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made the announcement Tuesday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s approval of the state request for assistance means people and businesses in Stephenson and the surrounding Illinois counties of Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle and Winnebago who were affected by flooding are now eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans to help them recover from the disaster.

People and businesses in northwestern Illinois affected by severe storms and flooding in July are now eligible for federal help. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made the announcement Tuesday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s approval of the state request for assistance means people and businesses in Stephenson and the surrounding Illinois counties of Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle and Winnebago who were affected by flooding are now eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans to help them recover from the disaster.

Northern Illinois University responded Tuesday to the announcement by the Trump administration that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- program. 

The end of DACA could lead to those in the program losing protections that allow them to go to college or get a job without fear of deportation.

NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman emailed a statement to the campus community emphasizing the school’s commitment to admitting, retaining -- and supporting -- all its students, regardless of immigration status.

A Northern Illinois University expert on education says the state’s new school funding reform bill marks a paradigm shift in how Illinois treats public schools.

Dr. Kristine Kiracofe is Professor of Educational Administration at NIU. She says the funding reform bill is a really significant change. It means Illinois will no longer have one of the most -- if not the most -- regressive system of education funding in the country. 

Northern Illinois University’s Acting President says it’s time to repair the damage done by the state budget impasse.  That includes addressing employee compensation.

DeKalb and Rochelle may be in the running for a massive new auto manufacturing plant. Toyota and Mazda announced they are teaming up to build a one-and-a-half billion dollar factory in the U.S., but didn’t specify the site.

State Representative Tom Demmer says he knows state and local economic development officials are working on a code-named project that meets the same specifications of the Toyota/Mazda plan. Demmer says he’s not surprised DeKalb and Rochelle are contenders:

The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, voted on in the Illinois House Friday, while not yet the final word, outlines funding for all aspects of state government operations, goods, services, grants, projects and more.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Democrats are finalizing a proposed state budget plan and could present it to minority Republicans as soon as Tuesday.

Madigan and fellow Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris would not discuss details but said they're devising a spending plan and revenue to pay for it. It might be ready for discussion at Tuesday's meeting of the four legislative leaders. 

We continue our series “Veterans Choice: Making It Work," with a look at Veterans Choice at the local level.

Depending on where they live, veterans in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin going to a VA hospital will end up either at Hines Hospital in Chicago, Middleton Memorial Hospital in Madison, or the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

Cleanup and assessment continues in the wake of the tornado that hit La Salle County last week.

Two people died as a result of the storm that ran straight through the Village of Naplate and the south side of the City of Ottawa.

Connie Brooks is the director of the LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency. She says she and others have been out every day to assess the damage, and have some preliminary numbers.

Visitors to Rochelle this weekend will have a chance to see some unusual artwork in a field next to the city’s high school.  It’s an appropriate venue, because the material used is often found in a field.  It’s the first U.S. National Straw Sculpting Competition.

A northern Illinois Congressman is co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals and groups with religious objections to same-sex marriage. 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren says the First Amendment Defense Act is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.  He’s concerned that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman might themselves become victims of discrimination. 

Illinois 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren is co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals and groups with religious objections to same-sex marriage. 

The Republican says the First Amendment Defense Act is needed because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.  Hultgren is concerned that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman might themselves become victims of discrimination.  

Public Safety officials say they are confident that they have accounted for all residents of the devastated DeKalb County community of Fairdale and are preparing the next steps in the process.