Susan Stephens

WNIJ News Reporter/Producer

Susan’s parents should have known she’d end up in radio: her favorite toys were tape recorders, cameras, notepads, and books. Many years later, she’s an award-winning reporter at her favorite radio station. Formerly WNIJ’s News Director, she asked to return to the role of full-time reporter/anchor/utility player in 2010 (less paperwork, more reporting!). Her #1 goal is to tell the most compelling stories in the fewest words possible…all the better if a little humor can be thrown into the mix.  It should come as no surprise, then, that she can whip up a haiku for any occasion. She also enjoys the Detroit Tigers, learning pioneer skills (Gardening, canning, and the like. Just in case.), traveling with friends, and pretending she’s going to get around to playing her theremin.

Austin Cliffe

Bees, bats, and other animals that perform the critical job of pollinating plants are in the spotlight this week. We observe National Pollinators Week by donning our beekeeping veil and joining Lynnea Laskowski as she takes care of her hives. She’s a volunteer beekeeper with DeKalb County Community Gardens -- she and her bees spoke with WNIJ's Susan Stephens.

Winnebago County Bar Association

Illinois is approaching a new fiscal year without a state budget. The head of an organization that helps fund social service agencies says citizens need to demand more from their lawmakers. 

Paul Logli is president and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. He told the crowd at the Rockford Urban Ministries annual meeting Friday that no matter where they stand politically, they have to be unforgiving of ALL state lawmakers about the budget impasse.

ufaniu.org

It's official. Northern Illinois University faculty members have formed a union. They were certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board Monday.

NIU faculty members filed an intent to unionize in April: now they can get to work as the UFA -- the United Faculty Alliance of Northern Illinois University. It will represent more than 600 tenured and tenure track faculty members.

Voices for Creative Non-Violence / vcnv.org

A 125-mile walk from Chicago to Thomson ends Saturday for a group protesting solitary confinement. 

Voices for Creative Non-Violence holds a rally outside Thomson Prison, where the federal government plans to add as many as 19-hundred isolation cells. The group’s co-coordinator Kathy Kelly says she hopes Thomson residents will join their rally.  She says she sees this as “the beginning of an opportunity to learn more from people in this little town of 600.”

Rockford Police Department

Rockford City Council will determine the next step in the case of a police officer who wants to return to duty after being fired five years ago. Oda Poole was one of two officers involved in the 2009 shooting of Mark Barmore, an unarmed man who was killed in a church daycare center. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Anywhere you go in America, you are never far from railroad tracks. Someone has to maintain all of those tracks. And someone has to build the machines to do it. That’s why the owners of a Rockford company want Congress to know railway maintenance is a five-billion dollar industry that deserves support.  

  Communities across the nation are honoring their men and women who died while serving in the military. Some northern Illinois towns will read their names during solemn ceremonies: some hold parades to remind others of their sacrifice. Gary Seymour says it’s also an important day for veterans to understand they are not alone. He’ll march in Rockford’s Memorial Day parade as commander of the Navy Club of Rockford and as a veteran of the Vietnam War. He says he expects to see veterans of all ages along the parade route.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

63 years ago, the Korean War came between a Northern Illinois University graduate and his cap and gown. Now, he’s back on campus to make the long-delayed march with his fellow grads. 

In May of 1953, Gus Trantham’s parents took a train from Chicago to DeKalb to accept his diploma in a ceremony he couldn’t attend.  Trantham was in the Navy by then, behind enemy lines in Korea.

Kishwaukee College

A familiar man “behind the scenes” in DeKalb County has a new position at Kishwaukee College.

Bill Nicklas has been chosen to help Kishwaukee President Laurie Borowicz develop strategic partnerships with businesses and communities. He'll also evaluate the school's strengths and opportunities for expansion. The position is temporary: he'll report his findings in six months.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The man behind an $8-billion plan to route train traffic around Chicago met with the public in a forum in Grundy County Monday night. Great Lakes Basin Railroad co-founder Frank Patton was in the hot seat. A very hot seat.

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