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.

Former Winnebago County Sheriff Don Gasparini died Friday in Naples, Florida. He was 72.

The Democrat was first elected sheriff in 1980 and served until he retired in 1997.

Gasparini was popular among county residents for his big, friendly personality. He was an avid hunter and well-known for his wild game dinner fundraisers.

He did, however, gain some national notoriety 20 years ago related to a hunting violation. He was caught hunting on land in Ogle County without permission and fined for failing to immediately tag a deer he had killed.

Jacquilyn Stephens / WNIJ

A new DeKalb-area group is looking into ways to connect small farms with a big regional market.

Restaurants, stores, and even schools say they want more locally raised food. A growing number of farmers say they want to supply it. The trick is getting them together -- and at a price that works for everyone. That’s where a regional food hub could help.

Dan Kenney convened the first meeting on the idea Thursday in DeKalb. He sees it as an economic engine that could include commercial kitchens, a distribution center, and great training opportunities.

National Weather Service, Chicago

Update, 6:30 PM: The Kane County Sheriff warns roads west of 47 are impassable. DeKalb County Highway snowplows have been taken off the roads until 3:00 am because of the dangerous conditions. The Huskie Bus system is discontinuing service tonight at 7:00 because of treacherous roadways. 

A retired deputy chief was the star witness for the Rockford Police Union Thursday at a conduct hearing for Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.

A retired deputy chief was the star witness for the Rockford Police Union Thursday at a conduct hearing for Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.

Rockford’s police chief goes before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners today. It’s the continuation of Monday’s meeting. That’s where Chet Epperson spent nearly seven hours defending himself against misconduct charges filed by the police union.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Members of the Kishwaukee College Education Association (KCEA) voted Wednesday to ratify their tentative agreement with Kishwaukee College. The college's Board of Trustees followed suit less than two hours later, unanimously approving the contract.

Bargaining teams from both sides agreed to this tentative agreement during an all-day bargaining session called on Jan. 19th. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A new community group is pulling together to improve Rockford by making life better for its young minority residents. About one hundred people showed up for the organizational meeting for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Rockford is taking on a challenge from the White House to address “opportunity gaps” faced by young black men. The “My Brother’s Keeper“ initiative kicks off this afternoon with a community forum. 

Last year, President Obama challenged communities to develop stronger paths to success for all young people. Some of Rockford’s leaders have signed up for the My Brother’s Keeper challenge, focusing on education and violence prevention.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford has seen a string of shootings, including seven murders, over the past month. That prompted city officials to demonstrate what they are doing about violent crime. 

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