Jenna Dooley

WNIJ All Things Considered Host

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.

An Indiana man has been charged with stealing money from Grubsteakers, the Illinois 64 restaurant destroyed by the April 9 tornado that ripped through the area.

Michael G. McDonald, 67, of Whiting, Ind, was arrested Oct. 21, by Rochelle Police on an Ogle County warrant.

According to a news release, the arrest resulted from an investigation into theft of money from the former Grubsteakers restaurant.

The investigation found that McDonald was a patron inside Grubsteakers when the tornado struck; he is accused of stealing approximately $1,000 from the cash register.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

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.”

“I would love to see Trey Gowdy do it. I think he is a really good guy... very smart.... [and has] great background as a prosecutor.”

He also supports Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, but says he doesn’t blame either if they aren’t up to it.

Jenna Dooley

A northern Illinois community college will receive more than a million dollars in federal funds to help students earn their degrees.

This is the first time Kishwaukee College received the TRIO grant. It will be spread out over five years. It’s intended to put support services in place to help first-generation, low-income students. It can also be used for students facing academic or physical disabilities. The grant will serve 140 students through tutoring and counseling students to help them navigate college through to graduation.

Jenna Dooley

It’s been six months since a deadly tornado hit Fairdale, Illinois. Some residents are ready to rebuild, while others prefer not to start new memories there.

85-year-old Clem Schultz is back in Fairdale with his dog, a white Shepard. He’s meeting his former neighbor Joe Wiegand. For the past several years, Wiegand has traveled the country as a well-known Teddy Roosevelt repriser. He still owned property in Fairdale.

Clem wants to show Joe a video he took of the tornado from the upper level of his house:

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s former Controller is suing the university to get his job back.

The federal lawsuit, filed Oct. 2 in Northern District of Illinois Court names NIU President Doug Baker, the Board of Trustees, and then-CFO Nancy Suttenfield as defendants.

Plaintiff Keith Jackson, of Hinckley, claims he has been barred from campus by Baker and Suttenfield and placed on involuntary, “administrative” leave pending his termination early next year.

In 2012, Jackson was charged during the so-called “Coffee Fund” scandal.

state of Illinois

Illinois’ budget impasse has forced a Rockford-area domestic violence shelter to turn away some victims and their families. Remedies Renewing Lives CEO Gary Halbach says the shelter serves more than 1,600 people each year dealing with domestic violence and another 1,800 for substance abuse. 

He says the organization is looking at dipping into reserves to cover costs.


The Winnebago County Health Department is investigating a pertussis outbreak. It’s associated with cases in Rockford Public Schools. The cases are in seven schools including Auburn and Jefferson high schools; West Middle School; and Carlson, Haskell, Riverdahl and West View elementary schools. The outbreak has affected at least two dozen people aged 2 to 42 years of age.

Todd Kisner, with the health department, says those affected are being treated with antibiotics.

Fall means harvest time in the Midwest.

Russel Higgins is a commercial agriculture educator with the University of Illinois Extension at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center in Shabbona. As we walk through drying corn stalks, he points to several leaves with bumpy, brown spots.

It’s called tar spot, a disease found in Mexico and Central America. This is the first time he’s seen it in DeKalb County. Luckily, Higgins says it shouldn’t be a detrimental factor this late in the growing season.

U.S. Marshals Service

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.

Jenna Dooley

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.