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.

Rachel Scaman / WNIJ

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner continues to meet with legislative leaders to try to hammer out a state budget before the end of the month. Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue to meet with constituents who will be most affected by budget cuts.

Rockford Democrats gathered a crowd of people at a Milestone, Inc. facility north of Rockford. Their causes ranged from breast cancer screenings to home health care assistance.

USS LST Ship Memorial / http://lstmemorial.org/

Fifteen years ago, a group of retired American military veterans bought a dream: a decommissioned Land Ship, Tank that delivered men and equipment to European shores during World War Two. The LST-325 eventually ended up in Greece's Navy. The vets worked hard to make the ship sea-worthy and sailed it back to the U.S. in early 2001. 

There’s a movement to balance the state’s budget by bringing in more revenue instead of cutting programs. Tuesday night, local school superintendents were joined by other community leaders at a forum at Rock Valley College to hear plans on how  to “break the budget gridlock.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It’s been one year since Rockford’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home opened to the public. This weekend, the Laurent House will celebrate the anniversary and Wright’s 148th birthday. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The word “hacker” can strike fear into the heart of anyone who has a credit card, a computer, or a smart phone. Saturday, June 6th, thousands of “civic hackers” across the country will reclaim the art of accessing data. Northern Illinois University is one of the sites where people can get together to observe the National Day of Civic Hacking. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens spoke with Tracy Rogers-Tryba of NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Supporters of medical marijuana are holding a day-long event this Saturday in Chicago.  The Illinois Medical Cannabis Patients Summit is a workshop for people who want to become a registered medical marijuana patient or a caregiver. There’s a special evening workshop for veterans on how to navigate their health system if they feel they qualify for medical marijuana.

The event is co-sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago and Americans for Safe Access-Illinois. It’s being held at the University Center in Chicago.

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.”

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