Jenna Dooley

Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield.  For 2012, she was named "Newsfinder of the Year" by the Illinois Associated Press. She is also recipient of the 2014 Donald R. Grubb NIU Journalism Alumni Award. She is not afraid to brag at parties that she has met Carl Kasell, Ira Glass, and Garrison Keillor (and has pictures to prove it!) She is the former Recording Secretary for the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

It’s been one year since a deadly tornado struck Fairdale, in northern DeKalb County, killing two women and wreaking havoc in the small unincorporated community.

The last year has been filled with many decisions for the residents, who were left with very little after the storm passed. Now there are new beginnings and new challenges.

The new Fairdale tornado siren fired off earlier this week -- as it will at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

In the past, citations were issued if a pharmacy didn’t post its license where it could be easily seen or if food or drinks were left out in undesignated areas. Now, those will come with a fine, but not the full disciplinary process.

Terry Horstman is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

A standing room only crowd of northern Illinois weather enthusiasts recently learned how to properly spot severe weather conditions.

Fifth grader Evan Kemp of Somonauk is a weather watcher.

“I am usually in my house or at my boat looking at the radar and trying to see how bad it is.”

His mom Stephanie decided that his hobby could become useful for meteorologists in northern Illinois so they attended a recent training in weather spotting by the National Weather Service.

There is increased attention on water quality across the nation as a result of elevated levels of lead in Flint, Michigan.

For the past several years, the unincorporated community of Wedron, in LaSalle County, has been dealing with its own water woes.

EPA: Wedron Groundwater Contamination Site

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says the income tax rate in Illinois would need to double from its current rate to combat growing debt. She says Illinois is on pace to spend an additional $6.2 billion dollars more than it brings in.

Last year, the income tax rate dropped in Illinois – from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. Speaking in Rockford, Munger says the tax rate would need to be in the range of 7 to 8 percent.

The population continues to grow at Thomson prison in northwest Illinois.  More than 100 minimum security inmates are now housed at the long-dormant facility.  A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons says 237 workers are now based at Thomson.

2015 has been a tumultuous year for Illinois’ largest community college.

A Rockford-area lawmaker is part of a group of Illinois legislators calling for budget relief for groups in need.

Many lawmakers and social service organizations have been sounding the alarm.

But this month, members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called for an end to the budget impasse. They want support for financial aid for college and after-school programs.

Rockford representative Litesa Wallace is a member of the caucus.

The College of DuPage is the state’s largest community college. 

It serves more than 28,000 students. 

But it has been a tumultuous year for the school.

Trustees voted in the fall to fire President Robert Breuder. He has since filed a lawsuit citing wrongful termination.

This month, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton abruptly resigned her post.

Rockford is the first community to effectively end homelessness among its veteran population as part of a national effort called Zero: 2016. Dozens of communities are participating in the campaign.

Beth Sandor, director of the Zero: 2016 Movement, said, “Rockford had to demonstrate that it was able to house more veterans every month than were homeless in the community.”

To date, Rockford has housed 73 veterans.

A Freeport man will bring Abe Lincoln to life Thursday to deliver the Gettysburg Address at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. George Buss assumes the role after Jim Getty portrayed the 16th President for four decades. Getty died in September.

Lincoln delivered the address on Nov. 19, 1863.

The address will be read live on YouTube; the ceremony to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address begins at 9 a.m (central)

University of Illinois trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution urging state lawmakers to agree on a budget. The impasse has been weighing on the minds of many public university leaders. 

The U of I resolution says the university has taken steps to cut spending but has had to dip into cash reserves. Illinois has been without a budget since July. Students across the state are also worried about how the impasse affects MAP grants to help pay for college.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker says he has made several trips to Springfield...

University of Illinois trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution urging state lawmakers to agree on a budget. The impasse has been weighing on the minds of many public university leaders.

Illinois has been without a budget since July, putting pressure on the state's universities to dip into cash reserves. It also worries students who rely on MAP grants.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker says he has made several trips to Springfield, and joins other university leaders in keeping a close eye on lawmakers and the governor.

President Obama last week rejected a permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline would have carried oil from Canadian tar sands.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says it's time to look for alternative sources of energy.

Illinois’ budget impasse is getting the attention of more and more students at Northern Illinois University.  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner visits DeKalb tonight to speak to members of the County’s Economic Development Corporation.

Northern Illinois University Police concluded their investigation into the death of Oluwarotimi "Timi" Okedina, who died Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, after falling from a window in the Stevenson Towers residence hall complex.

A northern Illinois congressman is NOT throwing his name into consideration for the Speaker of the House, but he does have a few suggestions. Republican Representative Randy Hultgren says before his colleagues pick a leader, they need to be “leadable.”

Northern Illinois farmers are expected to become more active in the coming weeks for the fall harvest.  Within the past few weeks, a new corn disease popped up in Indiana and now several counties in northern Illinois. It’s called “tar spot,” and appears as small, bumpy spots on the leaves of the corn.

U.S. Marshals continue to search for assets of Dixon’s ex-comptroller Rita Crundwell. Those include winnings from horses she once owned and bred.

In 2012, Crundwell pleaded guilty to wire fraud, embezzling $53,740,394 from the city of Dixon.

“The Embezzler” and “She’s A Fancy Felon” are just a few of the horses named in an appendix of documents filed this week in the Northern District of Illinois court.  According to Jason Wojdylo, with the U.S. Marshals Service, the motion is specific to royalties that are due and payable to Crundwell for horses she once bred.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Illinois health officials say suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the state for young adults 15 to 34 years of age.

Northern Illinois University political science major Lisa Holland says those numbers are the reason members of the school’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega have been advertising free hugs in the MLK Commons, an area with high student foot traffic.  

Illinois Democrats and Governor Bruce Rauner remain at a standstill over a new state budget. On Monday, the Governor tweaked a property tax freeze proposal to include increased state funding for struggling schools. Jenna Dooley has more on how the plan could affect homeowners:

July is the Month of Pluto in a northern Illinois city.

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft is expected to pass Pluto at its closest point next week. The spacecraft contains the ashes of Streator native, Clyde Tombaugh. He discovered Pluto in 1930. Ed Brozak is with the Streator tourism board. He says several events this weekend will bring residents closer to the action in space, including an observation night near the farm where Tombaugh first learned about telescopes.

There’s activity at a long-dormant prison in northwest Illinois. Residents in Thomson have lived more than a decade in limbo waiting for it to open. Now, it’s time.

Ready for Change

At a recent prayer service in Thomson, longtime resident Arlene Eslinger says she has a lot on her heart these days. She says residents are getting older. People want change, but Eslinger fears Thomson isn’t prepared for an influx of prison workers and their families.

Ready for Change

At a recent prayer service in Thomson, longtime resident Arlene Eslinger says she has a lot on her heart these days. She says residents are getting older. People want change, but Eslinger fears Thomson isn’t prepared for an influx of prison workers and their families.

There will be no jail time for nearly two dozen former Northern Illinois University fraternity members associated with an unsanctioned party where a pledge died.

It’s been one week since tornadoes ripped through northern Illinois, killing two people.  IPR’s Jenna Dooley went back to the scene to learn more about recovery efforts:


Meteorologists have more information about the deadly tornadoes that passed through Illinois last week. The national weather service confirmed there were nine tornadoes across Illinois on Thursday night. 

This week's inauguration of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner marks a change in leadership for lawmakers and employees at state agencies. But it's also a big transition for people who will deal with the new governor in a very different capacity over the next four years: political cartoonists.

Scott Stantis draws political cartoons for the Chicago Tribune. He says Bruce Rauner has very identifiable features.

Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner kicked off a statewide tour Friday. He made a stop in several small communities including Chillicothe.

Educators at Kishwaukee College could go on strike next week.

The Kishwaukee College Education Association recently filed an intent to strike. The action allows faculty to walk off the job as early as Jan. 16th if they do not reach a contract agreement with school administrators.  The filing with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board does not guarantee the faculty will strike, but it gives them the option.

Classes are still expected to start next Monday.

Education Association President Matt Read says both sides will also meet with a mediator on that day.