Michelle O'Neill

WVIK News Editor, Michelle O'Neill, is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years' experience. She serves as assignment editor, anchor, writer, reporter, producer, copy editor, photographer, and videographer (a.k.a., multimedia journalist). 


In 2015, Michelle won top honors for her radio reporting in two states. In the Illinois AP Broadcast Journalism Excellence Awards, judges named her Best Reporter in the Local News division (e.g., Lack of IL Budget Affects Tourism and Jobs). And in the Iowa Broadcast News Association's 2015 contest, Michelle won first place in Overall Excellence in Reporting in the Large Market division, along with winning first place in two other categories (QC Campuses Fight Sexual Violence and Water Quality and Farming). 

In the 2014 Illinois AP contest, the judges awarded her first place for Illinois Victims' Rights Proposal in the Hard News Feature category for Downstate Radio. 

In 2013, she won first place for "Immigrants and Driving" in the Best Series category. A fender-bender gave her the idea after a van, driven by a man who didn't speak English, side-swiped her car on Christmas Eve. In the same contest a year earlier, Michelle picked up first place in Best Investigative Report for "Cameras and Mics in Iowa Courts."


When she's not working, Michelle reads, walks her dog, crochets, kayaks, plays drums, and sings backup at church.
 

Since adopting Kensy, she's learned all about how to deal with a hound who counter-surfs and devours whatever happens to be there (e.g., a box of high fiber cereal, a large chunk of fudge, and a few Beano tablets). The resolution of one of these extra meals involved hydrogen peroxide, a baster, and heavy gloves. 

Lately I've been fascinated with widgets. So here's a flood widget for the Mississippi River.

Now that agencies from more than 20 countries have approved it, Deere & Company has closed its biggest deal.

This morning, Deere announced it officially owns the Wirtgen Group, a German company that makes road construction equipment.

Michelle O'Neill reports.

Deere spokesman, Ken Golden, says the company bought Wirtgen for $5.2 billion to expand and strengthen its Construction and Forestry division.

Moline is trying to help the Illinois Department of Transportation keep the cost of the I-74 bridge project from rising and keep the Mississippi River clean.

Rock Island County Clerk, Karen Kinney, is waiting to find out what elected officials have learned about potential cyber-attacks on election systems in Illinois.

The first Monarch blitz is over, and 300 people in the US participated by counting eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides, and butterflies. The citizen scientists then submitted their findings to the Monarch Lab at the University of Minnesota.

Summary

Here's the text of her speech, supplied by her press office.

Mr. Speaker,

I worked in health care for nearly a decade – and I’ve seen up close how health care impacts the people I'm fortunate to serve. That’s why I began a short video series we call “Hear from the Heartland.”

This spring, John Deere has been showing off next year's new product lines, which include a new, S-700 combine series. This morning at the Harvester Works in East Moline, company employees hosted dozens of reporters from all over the country for Deere Media Day.


TPC Deere Run is known for more than hosting the John Deere Classic every summer. It's also known as an outdoor classroom, a training ground for firefighters, and for environmental stewardship.

Illinois lawmakers may change the law to make sure absentee ballot applications are sent directly to county clerks and without delay.

In Springfield Thursday, Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee testified before the House Elections and Campaign Finance Committee.

Western Illinois University wants to do more to help the Quad Cities area create new  businesses and expand existing companies. In January, the university opened its second Small Business Development Center on its riverfront campus in Moline. WIU also opened a new, International Trade Center.

Deere and Company makes money for investors even when farmers are suffering. That's one of the messages Chairman and CEO Sam Allen emphasized during today's annual meeting at world headquarters in Moline.

Hundreds of people who own John Deere stock will come to the Quad Cities tomorrow. Michelle O'Neill reports the company's annual meeting will be held at World Headquarters in Moline.

Shareholders will elect twelve directors, including the newest one, Alan Heuberger. He's Senior Manager at BMGI, a consulting firm specializing in strategic problem-solving. Shareholders will also vote on other routine items such as Deere and Company's accounting firm and executive compensation.

A local hospital now has another option for patients with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Genesis Health System held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday morning for its new, Behavioral Intervention Unit at its west campus in Davenport.

Summary

Republican Tony McCombie is disappointed her choice for Illinois House Speaker did not win enough votes to replace Mike Madigan.

But despite Minority Leader Jim Durkin's loss, Michelle O'Neill reports she's optimistic the new legislative session will be productive.

Summary

In the November election, Michelle O'Neill reports the former mayor of Savanna defeated democrat, Mike Smiddy, in the 71st District. McCombie says her number one priority is the budget.

The City of Dubuque is broadening its efforts to become more sustainable. The city council has created a new Resilient Community Advisory Commission with nine members.

Michelle O'Neill reports it replaces the the city's Environmental Stewardship Advisory Commission.

Summary

Eastern Iowa democrats are asking residents for support during the legislative session that begins Monday, with republicans in control.

Michelle O'Neill reports State Senator Rob Hogg, State Senator Rita Hart, and State Representative Phyllis Thede plan to "play defense" but also push their own goals.

Summary

Senate Democratic Leader Hogg, from Cedar Rapids, is concerned the GOP will try to pass a photo I.D. requirement to vote. But up to 7% of Iowa residents don't have drivers licenses.

State and federal authorities are trying to find out why 1,500 absentee ballot applications were left in a Rock Island post office box for three weeks.
 
Michelle O'Neill reports.

Hundreds of Galesburg residents will vote over the lunch hour tomorrow. That's when a high school class will hold its mock election. Michelle O'Neill reports two freshmen are in charge.


In a few years, companies hiring mechanical engineers will have more applicants. Michelle O'Neill reports this morning in Moline, Western Illinois University's President, Jack Thomas, announced it will offer a degree in Mechanical Engineering in January.


Eighteen businesses in Dubuque can chalk up a victory in a fight with the city over franchise fees. Today, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision and ruled the city must pay them back.

A LeClaire distiller will help the state tackle a big job that could take a long time. Garrett Burchett will represent a dozen micro-distilleries on a task force that will study Iowa's old and complicated alcohol laws.
 
Michelle O'Neill reports the group's first meeting will be held today.


Davenport and Bettendorf residents have more than doubled the amount of paper, plastic, and metal they recycle. About a month ago, the Scott County Waste Commission began single-stream recycling. 
 

On today's WVIK News Focus, Michelle O'Neill talks with the commission's director, Kathy Morris who's thrilled with the new, "Go All In" system. 

Billtacular / Flickr

A Davenport church will soon start growing fruit and vegetables, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Third Missionary Baptist Church kicked off the project as part of a deal between the National Baptist Convention and the USDA. 

As expected, sales and profits fell in the third quarter for Deere and Company. Today it reported sales for May through July dropped 11 per cent, and net income fell to 489 million dollars, compared with 511 million for the same quarter last year - a drop of 4 1/2 per cent.

Spokesman Ken Golden says sales of Deere farm and landscape equipment decreased eleven percent in the third quarter, year over year. And the company predicts they'll drop eight per cent for the full year.

Adjusting to lower demand, the company will lay off 120 workers at the Deere Harvester combine factory in East Moline. The layoffs will take effect right after Labor Day.

This summer, Quad Cities residents can enjoy a new exhibit of photographs at the Figge Art Museum. David Plowden: An American Master features more than 70 images he recently gave to the museum in Davenport.

Many elderly and disabled people who live in nursing homes need a lot more help taking care of their teeth.

The decline in populations of bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators continues as the second annual pollinator conference is held in the Quad Cities.

A dental hygienist in the Quad Cities is helping people in nursing homes take care of their teeth. Linda Rowe works for a private company called, Hylife. Its founder wrote Dying from Dirty Teeth: Why the Lack of Proper Oral Care Is Killing Nursing Home Residents and How to Prevent It.

"Get Springfield out of the classroom, and let teachers teach."

That's what Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner told students Tuesday at Glenview Middle School in East Moline. He's trying to drum up support for spending more on education.

The Glenview Middle School Mariachi Band, dressed in bright blue outfits, playing guitars, trumpets, and violins, played a couple of songs for Gov. Rauner after he spoke to a crowd of students at an assembly. Several students asked excellent questions, such as, "What do you think of school funding?" Rauner was happy to respond, saying the funding formula is "broken," and relies too much on property taxes. 

The governor also wants to get rid of many regulations, unfunded mandates and excess testing. 

Rauner says decisions about outside contracts should be made by local school districts. East Moline middle school students also asked the governor what he thinks of unions. Rauner told them they've done good things such as making workplaces safe, and working for fair pay. But he also told the kids state government should balance union benefits with helping companies, especially small businesses.

"Doing nothing is just simply not acceptable." That's what US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says about reducing water pollution in Iowa and helping farmers with nutrient management and soil conservation. A new initiative will provide $660 million over ten years for a coordinated, watershed-based strategy.

Rock Island County will not have to ask voters for permission to build a new annex for the courthouse. That was the ruling today in a lawsuit against the Rock Island County Public Building Commission.

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