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

Criminal charges have been filed against a Freeport-area woman after 143 cats and dogs were seized Monday from her home. Many of them were dead. 

Tina McKinnon, 45, is charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, plus three misdemeanor charges. Officials say they had been trying to find her home after she reached out to animal control and another local animal rescue organization for help with all of the animals, only to back away.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A railcar factory in Rochelle hit a major milestone Tuesday -- it completed its one-thousandth passenger rail car since opening in 2012. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Wednesday was “change the world” day at Northern Illinois University. And since the students were away on Spring Break, it was a good opportunity to invite local high schoolers interested in medical careers to meet one of their own.  

Illinois could lose $678 million in health insurance subsidies this year in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Worst case scenario for Illinois: More than 270,000 people will lose the federal subsidies that help them pay for health insurance. That’s according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Opponents of the federal health care law argue the subsidies are illegal in states like Illinois that rely on the federal government to run their health insurance exchanges. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Training a new generation of effective leaders often involves mentoring through a shared passion. It involves someone with a strong skill set who is willing to help someone else feel the spark. Sometimes, it takes more than a one-on-one relationship. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens reports, as part of our occasional series, “Pass The Torch.” 

SCHOOL CLOSINGS: as of 5:00 am

Belvidere School District

Creston School District

Harvard School District

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.

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