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.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A massive hospital expansion can move forward after Rockford City Council approved it last night.

Aldermen voted 12 to 1 in favor of MercyRockford Health System’s $485-million project. The campus will be located on the city’s far northeast side and focus on health care for women and children. It’s in addition to MercyRockford’s west side campus, which some fear will be abandoned in the expansion.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

It’s Gas Price Monday on WNIJ. 

Nationally, the price of a gallon of gas is up a nickel, rising to $1.98, as reported by the AAA Daily Fuel Report. 

By contrast, Illinois’ average price dropped by 3 cents to $2.03. 

The most expensive gasoline in the state is in Chicago, at $2.33, which is up slightly from the previous week. Champaign-Urbana is the cheapest at $1.81.  

Illinois State Museum

The Tully Monster Mystery has been solved. New research published in the journal "Nature" sheds light on Illinois' state fossil.

It’s been about 300 million years since the strange creature known as the Tully Monster swam in the salty waters of central Illinois. The mystery of just what it was has been brewing since a fossil hunter discovered it near Morris in 1955.

Amato For State's Attorney / Facebook

One candidate pulled ahead in a pack of three in the race for the Republican nomination for DeKalb County State’s Attorney.

Rick Amato has about 44 percent of the vote. Former State’s Attorney Clay Campbell has about 31 percent of the vote while Chuck Rea has 25 percent.

The winner faces Democrat Richard Schmack in the general election in November. He ran unopposed.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The cost of driving has skyrocketed over the past week, according to the latest AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded in Illinois has topped the $2.00 mark after the steepest increases of the year. The state average is $2.06, 18 cents higher than last Monday. It's 50 cents higher than a month ago, but still cheaper than it was this time last year, when it was $2.37 a gallon.

Northern Illinois University

A three-year-old FBI probe of Northern Illinois University is over, according to the school. But the FBI won’t confirm that. 

In March 2013, FBI agents searched NIU’s public safety building, removing boxes of records, but not revealing what they were looking for. It was believed to be focused on former police chief Don Grady and head of finance Eddie Williams.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ archives

An all-white jury heard opening statements Tuesday at the civil trial for a 2009 officer-involved shooting at a Rockford daycare center. Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed black man, was killed during a confrontation with police who chased him into the House of Grace day care. 

Ten children and a worker present at the shooting, in addition to the family which owns the church and daycare center, are suing for compensation for emotional trauma, psychological damage and financial losses.

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

 It’s International Women’s Day. The YWCA of Rockford celebrated a little early Monday with a luncheon featuring Equal Pay Activist Lilly Ledbetter. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices continue to climb, in Illinois and nationwide, according to the latest AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded in Illinois is up nine cents since last week, to $1.88. That’s 30 cents higher than a month ago.

The national average is up six cents, but still slightly cheaper than Illinois, at $1.81. 

Todd Ryburn / CC by 2.0

Bobcat hunting season starts this November in most of Illinois, but rules are still being worked out. The deadline for public comment is Monday, March 7. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is closing the 45-day comment period.

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