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.

The Ho-Chunk Nation is a step closer to legalizing marijuana use on its tribal lands in Wisconsin. 

No, marijuana is not legal to grow, use, or sell on Ho-Chunk lands…yet. But the Nation’s general council voted at a meeting in Madison, Wisconsin to reverse a ban on marijuana on tribal lands. 63% of the 1600 voting members wanted to overturn the anti-marijuana policy. The vote’s not binding: but now the tribe’s attorneys are looking into the legal implications.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Violent crime, heroin use, and police relations in Rockford --  those three problems were the focus of a year-long study by the Department of Justice. The city invited the analysis and received the initial results Tuesday.

Senator Dick Durbin is urging Congress to pass a long-term transportation plan. He used a bridge in Rockford to illustrate a problem plaguing the nation. Durbin and Rockford-area lawmakers held a news conference Monday under the Jefferson Street Bridge while it was getting some much-needed repairs.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Monday, 9:00 pm

The strike is suspended and Rock Valley College faculty and students will be back in class Tuesday. The RVC Faculty Association approved a mediator's contract proposal that had been negotiated last Friday. It appears the wrong contract was voted on and rejected at a faculty meeting Sunday night. The discrepancy was discovered today during negotiations between the two sides. A corrected version was presented to members of the union Monday night and approved.

Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College faculty members rejected a mediator's proposal that could have ended their strike.  Union members gathered to review the latest five year contract from the school and voted to reject it at a meeting Sunday night at the Unitarian Universalist church in Rockford.. 

The two sides met for 10 hours Friday and were given a plan to consider by a mediator working on the contract dispute.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

After a long day of negotiations Friday, the union representing striking Rock Valley College faculty agreed to meet Sunday to vote on a proposal from a mediator

  . If the union accepts the offer, classes could resume as early as Monday. If the union rejects the offer, the two sides will return to the bargaining table Monday.

The school's board of trustees will vote on the mediator's proposal Tuesday at its regular meeting.

Teachers have been on strike since Wednesday. Classes have been canceled since then.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Update, Friday 6:22 pm: Contract negotiations continue between striking Rock Valley College faculty members and the school's bargaining representative. They've been negotiating all day.

Classes are canceled for a second day at Rock Valley College because of a faculty strike. Now the college’s president is making a plea for them to return to work.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

  Striking union faculty members at Rock Valley College meet this morning to discuss the latest offer from the college’s board of directors. The sticking point? How much the 160 RVC faculty members will pay for health care. Joe Perkoski is the attorney representing the school. He says “What we’re simply trying to do is get employees to pay a little more toward that. At the same time, we are providing a very generous salary offer.”

Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial /

Ceremonies will take place all over the country to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks fourteen years ago. Winnebago County is holding a special dedication at its newest memorial.

Two steel beams salvaged from the World Trade Center will be placed in the Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial. The park-like memorial is a work in progress and sits next to the County Justice Center in Rockford. It’s expected to be completed in time for next year’s 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

One of Illinois’ great poets comes to life this weekend on a stage in Chicago. DeKalb resident Steve Duchrow performs his new work about Vachel Lindsay at the Chicago Fringe Festival

He spoke with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens about his tribute to the Springfield native who walked across the country in 1906. Duchrow starts with the end of Lindsay’s poem, “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes.”