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 67-million dollar hotel project in downtown Rockford is creating more than jobs for construction workers. Local artists will have a big hand in decorating the Amerock Building’s interior.

The suburban Chicago police detective who led the investigation that nabbed serial killer John Wayne Gacy has died. Joseph Kozenczak was 75. 

  The former Des Plaines police chief died Wednesday. Kozenczak was chief investigator on the Gacy case starting in 1978: that’s when teenager Robert Piest of Des Plaines went missing. Eventually, Gacy was arrested and convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys in his Chicago-area home between 1972 and 1978. He was executed in 1994.  

Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois lawmakers say “no” to Governor Rauner’s union opt-out plan. Well, Democrats said “no.” Republicans, except for one “no” vote, opted to vote “present.”

Democrats in the Illinois House have voted down a plan similar to Governor Bruce Rauner's proposal to allow local governments to permit workers to opt out of unions. The entire Republican caucus -- with the exception of one member --- voted present because they said the vote was a “political sham.'' That's because Democrats pushed ahead with the vote, even though the Governor never even filed the bill.

National Weather Service

Tornado sirens are for people who are outdoors. For everyone else, there are a lot of options these days when it comes to staying on top of weather emergencies. Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste says the key word is “redundancy.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Local services such as police and fire are at risk if one of Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposals goes through. That’s the message from a group of northern Illinois mayors.

The governor wants to cut the Local Government Distributive Fund in half. That’s the portion of income taxes the state sends back to communities. Rockford would lose more than seven million dollars. Mayor Larry Morrissey says everyone is willing to share in the budget sacrifice…up to a point.

Bogenberger Family Photo

Five former Northern Illinois University students are expected to make plea deals today in the hazing death of a fellow student. 

 

In November 2012, NIU Freshman David Bogenberger died after a night of heavy drinking in Pi Kappa Alpha’s fraternity house in DeKalb. The 19 year old’s heart stopped…his blood alcohol level was .40, five times the legal limit.

 

rampcil.org

A group of social service advocates is out with a report looking at how northern Illinois would be affected by Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts. The RAMP Center for Independent Living is one of the agencies involved in the Responsible Budget Coalition’s analysis. 

It’s not a direct budget cut for RAMP; it’s a proposal to reduce the number of clients served by its Home Services Program by making it more difficult to qualify.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Public universities in Illinois continue to lobby lawmakers in hopes of preventing deep cuts to education. On Tuesday, State Comptroller Leslie Munger toured Northern Illinois University to get a sense of what a 31 percent reduction in state funding would mean to the school.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Scientists who depend on federal funding for their research could find themselves on more secure ground in the future. 

Senator Dick Durbin met with researchers at Northern Illinois University Tuesday to talk about two proposals that would guarantee increases in research and development funding.

cityofchicago.org

Rahm Emanuel says he will be a better mayor for Chicago in his second term, thanks to the strong campaign run by his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Emanuel defeated Garcia in the city’s first-ever mayoral runoff.

  Emanuel thanked voters for “putting me through my paces” during a speech Tuesday night at a union hall. He had failed to win a majority in a five candidate race in February, forcing the runoff. 

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