Judith Valente

After traveling the country for PBS-TV for the past 15 years, Judy Valente was looking for a new challenge. She is delighted to have found one WGLT as a member of the GLT news team, allowing her to grow here in Normal where she is planted. Judy is also an award-winning poet and the author of two poetry collections. She recently completed a memoir of her regular visits to Mount St. Scholastica, a Benedictine monastery in Atchison, Kansas, called "Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home and a Living Faith." She is often invited to speak on how to slow down and live a more contemplative life.

In her free time, this New Jersey native likes to traverse the Illinois prairie and is a member of the Illinois Master Naturalist program. She enjoys theater, especially Broadway musicals and Heartland Theater's 10-Minute Play Festival. She is also a lay associate of the monastery in Atchison, having taken vows to live out the monastic values of listening, humility, hospitality, simplicity and stability in her life as a married woman – and as a professional writer and journalist.

Calling themselves the "Bloomington-Normal Resistance," dozens of local women are planning to take to the streets at this Saturday's March to the Polls in Chicago.

Millions of women responded to allegations of sexual harassment against entertainment industry figures, members of Congress and prominent male journalists through the hashtag #MeToo. Workplace experts say the focus on sexual harassment has yet to spotlight another common problem affecting mostly women: bullying bosses. 

Every day, an estimated 140 people die of opioid overdoses in the U.S., according to health officials. President Donald Trump recently declared opioid addiction a public health emergency.

The enrollment period for obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act on the Illinois exchanges begins Nov. 1, but signing up might prove more daunting this year than in the past.

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington has begun offering medication abortions for the first time.

Hurricane Maria devastated most of the infrastructure of the island of Puerto Rico, leaving residents scrambling for food, water, gasoline and other necessities. Because communication lines were destroyed, information is slowly trickling out from the U.S. island territory, and the news is not good.

Should journalists report everything the president or other public officials say, even if it's rude, crude or proves to be untrue? 

Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington may be one of the smaller accredited zoos in the nation. It's a leader, however, when it comes to preserving several species of animals that are threatened or endangered.

The zoo currently is helping some 20 species survive, including the snow leopard, the red wolf, and San Clemente Island goat. It is a breeder for about 50 kinds of animals to insure they don't become endangered. Among them are: the sumatran tiger, tammar wallaby, the red-ruffed lemur and the kookaburra, a long-bill bird.

An increasing number of senior citizen facilities are using music therapy to help the elderly improve their cognitive skills, avoid depression and even stay more physically fit. 

Rory Bolton recently completed graduate studies in music therapy and piano performance at Illinois State University. Throughout his time at ISU, the 28-year-old singer performed at private parties and on cruise ships. For the past several months, Bolton has sung and played old standards and classic pop songs at Twin Cities residences for seniors. 

It's 3:30 in the afternoon -- dismissal time at Colene Hoose Elementary School in Normal - but not for one group of fourth and fifth grade girls. These girls, though, are excited to stay after school.

"They come to school and if I see them in the hallway at 8:40 in the morning, they'll say, 'Mrs. Nelson, it's Heart & Sole Day. I can't wait!' And there's still a whole day in front of them, but they're looking forward to that time together and that means a lot," said fourth grade teacher Maggie Nelson.

It's a familiar sight at papal events: Pope Francis departing from his security detail and wading into the crowd to embrace a child or lift a baby in the air.

Children from across the world have been writing to the Pope, and he answers. A new book, "Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World" compiles some of those letters and the Pope's responses. The letters were collected from parishes and social service agencies and compiled by Loyola Press in Chicago, a publishing arm of the pope's own Jesuit religious order.

Pope Francis is in the midst of his second trip to the Americas in less than a year. After touching down Friday in Havana, he has spent the past four days in Mexico. For many, the high point of his trip will be an outdoor Mass Wednesday near the U.S.-Mexico border. In a gesture expected to have widespread implications, the Pope will greet immigrants on the fence between El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez in Mexico.