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.

"Candle" by Tom Danita / CC by 2.0

Every year, friends, family, and service providers gather in Rockford to remember a special group of people: the homeless in their community who have died over the past year.

City of Beloit

The city of Beloit has reached a settlement with its top two police officials. Beloit City Council unanimously approved retirement deals for the two, who have been on paid administrative leave since June. 

  An external review accused Chief Norm Jacobs and Deputy Chief Tom Dunkin of leadership problems and mismanagement of the department. They were to face disciplinary hearings before the city’s police and fire commission next month.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

2014 was declared “The Year of the Maker” by a magazine dedicated to Do-It-Yourself culture. President Obama even hosted the first-ever Maker Faire at the White House. And as 2015 draws to a close, there’s an invigorated push in Rockford to create a space where people can get together to share ideas and equipment.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

There may be another substantial amount of money from Rita Crundwell’s assets heading to the city of Dixon. The Justice Department has worked out a settlement with the former Dixon comptroller’s family.

Illinois Department of Corrections / illinois.gov/IDOC

Update: The Illinois Prisoner Review Board again denied parole for Chester Weger at its hearing this morning. The vote was 9 to 4.

The man serving life in prison for the notorious “Starved Rock Murders” half a century ago had his annual date with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Life in prison meant something different back in 1961: freedom was possible someday, if the state’s Prisoner Review Board decided you were no longer a threat to others.

Rockford Public Schools / RPS205.com

Plans to build two new elementary schools in Rockford are back on track.

The Rockford School Board voted last night to proceed with its ten-year facilities plan -- particularly the construction of the two schools that will replace five outdated buildings on the city’s southeast side, at a cost of $42 million.

The board had delayed a vote so members could determine if the district really could afford the schools on top of major renovations and everyday expenses.

Dial-A-Carol / Dial A Carol website

In a world where you can pick up your mobile device and hear just about any song, any time, a group of University of Illinois students is carrying on a tradition that’s definitely old-school. 

In 1960, a secretary at the U of I had a big idea, and the students living in Snyder Hall took her up on it. Anyone, anywhere, anytime, could pick up a phone and students would deliver some holiday cheer. Dial-A-Carol was born.

Today, Dial-A-Carol is still going strong. In fact, it’s bigger than ever. They’ve already blown past last year’s record-breaking 6,800-plus calls.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It may not look like a “winter wonderland” in northern Illinois right now, but it will SOUND like one this weekend in downtown Rockford. That’s because J.R. Sullivan’s 20th production of his “Hometown Holiday” variety show hits the stage at the Nordlof Center. 

One of the themes this time around is an unhappy Santa: he's tired of night-flying in his sleigh, he's sick of gluten-free cookies, and he's just not feeling the magic any more. Not so for Hometown Holiday founder J.R. Sullivan, who is still feeling the spirit more than two decades after he put together the first show. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A massive project at the Chicago-Rockford International Airport is back on track, thanks to a collaboration by five local banks. 

unknown Navy photographer / U.S. Archives

The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place 74 years ago and thousands of miles away, but it’s the focus for one LaSalle County city this weekend. Peru holds its annual Pearl Harbor Day parade tomorrow.

It’s one of the shortest parades in Illinois, but one of the most powerful. This will be the 36th year veterans will gather at the Peru Rescue Station along the Illinois River, march several blocks to the South Shore Boat Club, and hold a ceremony honoring those who died at Pearl Harbor and those who survived.

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