Jenna Dooley

Reporter, News Production Supervisor

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.  She is a former "Newsfinder of the Year" from the Illinois Associated Press and recipient of NIU's Donald R. Grubb Journalism Alumni Award. She is an active member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and an adjunct instructor at NIU.

Drug Enforcement Administration

A northern Illinois coroner is growing increasingly worried about the breakdown of drugs related to overdose deaths.

According to Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz, 124 deaths were attributed to drug overdose last year compared with 96 in 2016.

Of those, he says there was a noticeable increase in deaths involving fentanyl with seven in 2016 and 63 in 2017. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which the Drug Enforcement Administration says is 50 times more potent than heroin.

Jenna Dooley

On Thursday, students at the Spectrum Progressive School of Rockford held selfie sticks with cell phones while they roamed around capturing the normal sights of their classroom. Then, 3D creatures seemingly popped out of thin air right onto their screens-- from dinosaurs to spiders. It’s part of Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program. Google associates train local teachers who then take their students on the virtual adventures.

city of Rockford

There were 18 murders in 2017 compared with 26 murders in 2016. Other violent crimes, auto thefts, and property crimes also were down from the year before.

Still, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Police Chief Dan O'Shea think more can be done and want community engagement to be the focus for prevention this year.

"Obviously, we don't have a banner behind us saying it's 'mission accomplished,' McNamara said. "It is far from that, but I do think we are making great strides."

Chief O'Shea credits community support for those improvements.

Flickr user Luke Jones / "Railroad Tracks" (CC V 2.0) http://bit.ly/2FudahT

Plans for a passenger train linking Chicago and Iowa were sidetracked several years ago, but that hasn’t slowed efforts by some passionate rail enthusiasts to keep the vision alive.

Amtrak operated the Black Hawk line from 1974 to 1981. Before that, there was the Land O’Corn route between Chicago and Waterloo, Iowa, but that ended in the 1960s.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

More Rockford organizations are expressing their positions on a proposal to give city leaders more local control over finances.  

Quick recap: Home rule is available to Illinois communities interested in deciding, among other things, whether to levy local taxes and fees beyond those imposed by state government. Rockford voters got rid of home rule in 1983. This spring, voters will consider whether to bring it back.

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