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.

Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office

Rockford police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency arrested 29 people Thursday and seized cocaine, marijuana, and prescription painkillers.

 

Winnebago County States Attorney Joe Bruscato says they were part of a “very large drug ring” spanning several counties. Arrests include two men investigators characterize as “major suppliers,” Regulo Rodriguez of Belvidere and Esaul Rivas of Rockford.

 

Sixteen were arrested as “end users,” including former Hononegah High School football coach Timothy Sughroue.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Students at Rockford’s Guilford High School showed off their latest high-tech projects to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today.

Rauner stopped by the school to talk about education funding and to check out their innovative engineering-track programs. He pledged to increase K through 12 funding and reduce state mandates on schools.

The Republican governor also clued the students in on the partisan battles that were blocking progress on a state budget.

Larry Stephens

Winter makes a comeback tonight in northern Illinois. There’s a winter storm warning along the Wisconsin border, with four to six inches of heavy, wet snow starting at 6:00 this evening.

This fast-moving storm will bring 2 to 4 inches everywhere else north of I-80. Wind and ice could complicate tomorrow morning’s commute.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average cost of a gallon of regular in Illinois shot up a dime over the past week, to $1.79. That’s four cents higher than the national average, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Gas prices in Rockford are up six cents since last Monday and Chicago is once again over the two dollar mark.

Nationally, gas prices are up again this week, to almost $1.75 a gallon. 

Sonya Smith Williamson

The northwest Illinois town of Stockton lost its fire station Thursday -- in a fire.

The town’s volunteer firefighters were called to the station shortly after 11 this morning but couldn’t access most of their equipment. Other area departments helped them put out the fire. Stockton police chief LaDon Trost was there and says he saw while they were pulling equipment out of the building, he saw a small piece of equipment housed in a pull-behind trailer that may have caused the fire.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rock Valley College’s president will step down next January. Mike Mastroianni says the time is right to retire, and he’ll still be able to wrap up a number of the school’s projects. He has been with RVC for 18 years and was named president in 2014.

Mastroianni counts an engineering partnership with Northern Illinois University and the expansion of the aviation technology program among his accomplishments.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A program designed to educate -- and keep -- engineers in Rockford officially kicked off its six-million dollar fundraising campaign Tuesday. The joint project between Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University is already halfway to its goal.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The average price of regular unleaded in Illinois is up 12 cents since last week, to $1.69 a gallon. But it’s still 68 cents cheaper than this time last year, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. 

The cheapest gas in the state, on average, is in Champaign-Urbana, where the price dropped by about four cents since last week. The priciest, as usual, is in Chicago, where gas is still hovering under the $2.00 mark, at $1.91.

"Drone and Moon" by Don McCullough / CC by 2.0

The crime of smuggling contraband to prisoners has progressed beyond the old “file in a cake” trick. Illinois lawmakers are looking into preventing prison deliveries by drones.

 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s president responded this week to complaints about his travel expenses.

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