News from the local region for a station

Illinois Marine Among Nepali Crash Victims

8 hours ago
Associated Press

A combat photographer from Illinois was among the six U.S. Marines who were killed May 12 when their helicopter crashed during a humanitarian mission in earthquake-devastated Nepal.

Cpl. Sara A. Medina was capturing images of the Marine Corps' relief efforts in Nepal as a combat photographer assigned to Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued the following statement Sunday for the death of Medina:

WNIJ/Victor Yehling

“In so many ways, what is old is now new again. That really reflects the case of this unique space.”

That’s how Rockford University President Robert Head addressed the group gathered Friday in the restored snack bar area of the remodeled Blanche Walker Burpee Center on the Rockford Campus.

Built in 1963 as then-Rockford College moved from its location just south of downtown, the building was intended to be a center of student activity.

The suburban Chicago police detective who led the investigation that nabbed serial killer John Wayne Gacy has died. Joseph Kozenczak was 75. 

  The former Des Plaines police chief died Wednesday. Kozenczak was chief investigator on the Gacy case starting in 1978: that’s when teenager Robert Piest of Des Plaines went missing. Eventually, Gacy was arrested and convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys in his Chicago-area home between 1972 and 1978. He was executed in 1994.  

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

More than 30 Illinois school officials traveled to Springfield yesterday to tell how budget cuts are affecting their districts. 

These days, it seems like every agency in Illinois is complaining about cutbacks. Public school officials, however, are seasoned veterans, having seen the state slash their funding repeatedly over the past few years.

Now, they argue how the pain is distributed. 

IDOT Announces $8.4 Billion Improvement Program

May 15, 2015

Illinois Department of Transportation officials announced an $8.4 billion, six-year program to improve roads and bridges.

But IDOT warned it won't be enough to keep the overall condition of the state's infrastructure from deteriorating.

Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says finding long-term, sustainable funding is urgent. The vast majority of the funding for the new multi-year plan comes from federal aid.


Five years ago,  the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) created its Public Agenda for College and Career Success, which sets a goal of having 60 percent of Illinois citizens obtain some education beyond high school.  

The ten-year initiative is reaching its halfway point, and Illinois State Rep. Bob Pritchard, a Republican who serves Illinois's 70th district, talked about what's in store. 


Illinois marijuana patients may be jumping the gun by submitting applications for diseases that aren’t approved yet. 

The state Public Health department says such applications will be rejected and fees will be refunded.

Health officials say a handful of applications came in from patients with health conditions recommended by an advisory board last week, including migraines, osteoarthritis and PTSD.

I'm Definitely Not Tired of Flats

May 15, 2015

The only thing I love as much as speeding along on my Cannondale road bike is getting a flat tire. I certainly don’t set out hoping to go flat, but I’m very happy if I do. Why?

When I got a flat tire on my first bike, A Trek hybrid, I would leave it for weeks before working up the courage to drive it to my local bike shop to sheepishly ask one of the children who work there to fix it for me. I would bring the whole bike, too afraid to even mess with the quick release skewer.

Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois lawmakers say “no” to Governor Rauner’s union opt-out plan. Well, Democrats said “no.” Republicans, except for one “no” vote, opted to vote “present.”

Democrats in the Illinois House have voted down a plan similar to Governor Bruce Rauner's proposal to allow local governments to permit workers to opt out of unions. The entire Republican caucus -- with the exception of one member --- voted present because they said the vote was a “political sham.'' That's because Democrats pushed ahead with the vote, even though the Governor never even filed the bill.

WNIJ's Free Range Radio recently broadcast a radio drama featuring a “new take” on H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”.

It was written, acted and produced by local northern Illinois high school students from NIU's STEM Read program. The premiere of their production, that includes DeKalb County landmarks and an invasion of adorable but deadly hamsters from space, took place at Northern Public Radio's Studio A .