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Anniversary Concert
2:45 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

NIU Steel Band Marks 40 Years Of Growth

NIU Steel Band co-directors Cliff Alexis, left, and Liam Teague have worked together since Teague arrived as an NIU student.
Yuko Asada

From its beginnings as a small band -- without even a lead instrument -- in a corner of the NIU Percussion Studio, the NIU Steel Band has a lot to celebrate from the past 40 years.

The celebration culminates in the band’s 40th anniversary concert Sunday, April 13, in the Boutell Concert Hall of the NIU Music Building.

Steel band co-director Liam Teague said the concert program will reflect the spirit of the band throughout its existence. “It highlights what we’re trying to do in the steel band,” he said. “We’re looking at the past, present and future.”

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Education
6:33 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Educators Prepare For Wide Funding Swing In State Budget

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Budget battles will soon get underway in Springfield. Several possible scenarios could play out under Illinois’ next spending plan. That includes deciding what to do with the expiring income-tax hike. The situation is leaving educators with more uncertainty than usual.

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New Route and funding announced
4:51 am
Fri April 11, 2014

All Aboard? Rockford To Chicago Train On Track For Next Year

Governor Pat Quinn and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey congratulate each other over progress toward passenger rail service for Rockford. 4/10/14
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford residents can look forward to taking a train into Chicago next year, after three decades without passenger rail service. 

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Education
4:51 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Republicans Criticize "Rushed" School Funding Overhaul

Credit state of Illinois

A proposal to overhaul the way Illinois schools get state funding is advancing in the state Senate. Republicans say the plan is being rushed through the General Assembly, and they are worried that Chicago schools will get an even bigger share of the money than they do now.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has made it his mission to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The freshman senator says it's long overdue because there's been no change in 17 years.

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Illinois
4:41 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Two Constitutional Amendments Headed To Fall Ballot

Credit Brian Mackey

Illinois voters will be asked to weigh in on at least two changes to the Illinois Constitution at this November's election. Both measures got final approval Thursday in the Senate.

One measure says people can't be denied the right to vote because of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Democrat from Chicago, all but dared his colleagues to vote it down.

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Arts
6:20 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Retiring Director of NIU Jazz Ensemble Looks Back

Credit NIU

The NIU Jazz Ensemble's annual spring concert April 10 is the final concert at NIU for its director, Ron Carter.  After 20 years at the helm of the nationally-renowned ensemble, and numerous accolades for his work in the field of jazz and jazz education, Carter is retiring.  Surprisingly, Carter says growing up, he had no idea his career would be in jazz.

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Rockford Mayor's Annual Address
5:34 am
Thu April 10, 2014

The State Of The City Is...Better

The new Morgan Street Bridge over the Rock River, one of the projects Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey touted during his 2014 State of the City address.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It’s a big week for development in Rockford, and Mayor Larry Morrissey was happy to highlight that during his State of the City address. 

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Governor Quinn to update this afternoon
4:33 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Progress Toward Passenger Rail For Rockford? Stay Tuned.

Credit Amtrak P42 by JPMueller99 / Creative Commons

Governor Pat Quinn is expected to “make a major announcement” in Rockford this afternoon about rail service. He’s scheduled to speak at an intersection along South Main Street, an area often talked about as a site for passenger rail. 

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NPR Story
4:29 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Raising Gax Tax "Unwise," Says Quinn, But Offers No Other Ideas

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider announces an $8.6 billion, six-year transportation construction program, with Gov. Pat Quinn at her side.

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 10:50 am

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NPR Story
4:27 am
Thu April 10, 2014

S&P: Next Two Months 'Critical' For Illinois Finances

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 4:37 pm

A major credit rating agency says the next two months will be "critical" for the future of Illinois' finances. The key question is whether to make a temporary tax hike permanent.

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