Central Illinois Food Bank

Christmas lights are up at the Illinois capitol, despite a brief period where it had appeared the state budget impasse would keep the dome dark. That interlude led to another outcome, appropriate during the season for giving.

The lights are on, thanks to a trio of unions that have offered to pay the state's Christmas lights electric bill.

But before that'd been finalized, Kristina Rasmussen had tried another method.

Firearm Deer-Hunting Season Underway

Nov 23, 2015
public domain use

Firearm deer-hunting season started this weekend in Illinois, and state authorities urge hunters to be safe.

The next half of the season begins early next month. Hunting hours are between a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset.  

Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials say this is the year’s busiest hunting season.  

SEIU Healthcare Sues To Force State Pay On Workers' Health

Nov 20, 2015
State of Illinois

A labor union representing Illinois home health care workers has filed legal action to force government payment of health insurance costs. 

 SEIU Healthcare Illinois filed in St. Clair County Friday seeking a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger.  

Larry Stephens

Illinois is about to enter its six month without a budget … which means communities haven’t received funding from Springfield.

The winter storm forecast for most of the WNIJ listening area could present an issue for those who rely on motor fuel tax funds from the state.

The National Weather Service is predicting up to eight inches of snow from this weekend’s storm. But Motor Fuel Tax funds trapped in the Illinois budget impasse might mean some communities won’t have access to state money for road salt.


A long time Mitsubishi employee in Normal says he isn’t seeing enough communication to workers about employment services, re-education opportunities and transitional help. That’s as the plant prepares to end production.

Jerry Harcharik says some information is coming about career-link and other assistance, but many workers remain in the dark.

Human rights groups in Illinois say they'll continue programs for Syrian refugees. That’s despite the governor's calls to suspend accepting them.

As of 2010, Illinois has welcomed about 170 Syrian refugees. That's according to Sam Tuttle, policy director for Heartland Alliance.

"We hope that the governor and his staff and the people of Illinois will learn more about the resettlement program and that we can all be welcoming refugees who have oftentimes witnessed some great horrors, so that they can start their lives again," Tuttle said.


Homelessness in Illinois ticked up slightly this year. But it’s been trending down nationally over the years with one major exception.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest national estimate of homelessness says Illinois’ overall rate rose half-a-percent in 2015 compared to the previous year. 

But, HUD says, overall homelessness in Illinois is still down 8.5 percent from 2010. That compares to an 11 percent decline nationally.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A task force created by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to figure out how to reduce the number of local governments in the state. That group voted Thursday to recommend restrictions on organized labor.

Members listening in via conference call heard an unexpected interlude.

The task force is made of legislators, mayors and a library trustee. During the meeting, they approved recommendations like incentivizing schools to consolidate and encouraging municipalities to share equipment.

Kaneland Education Association

Kaneland School District teachers and trustees still have not agreed on a contract.

The Kaneland Education Association released a public letter this week saying the school district more than doubled its financial reserves in four years. The union says the district ranks near the top compared to others for long-term financial stability … but it ranks near the bottom in competitive teacher salaries.

Hands Across The Rock

Nov 19, 2015
Guy Stephens / WNIJ


Many cities compete with their neighbors to attract business and development.  Some become fierce rivals in what is often perceived to be a zero-sum game.  The leaders of two northern Illinois cities across the Rock River from each other, however, say that’s changing -- at least between their towns.  The mayors of Sterling and Rock Falls feel cooperation and encouragement is the key to both their futures