Rockford

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Saturday, March 31st was a pretty magical day for Chuck Jefferson -- dozens of his friends and colleagues gathered to honor the former state representative from Rockford, a library was named after him,  and it was his birthday.

Jefferson, a Democrat, represented the 67th district from 2001 until his retirement in 2014. Before that, he was a long-time member of the Winnebago County Board.  

He's also been a strong supporter of the  Booker Washington Center, a historic African-American community center on Rockford's southwest side. 

Jessie Schlacks/WNIJ

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he’s not seeing enough statewide progress in addressing the opioid addiction crisis.  

The Democratic senator visited Mercyhealth in Rockford Wednesday for a roundtable conversation with doctors, first responders, treatment specialists and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. 

Participants echoed a similar theme: they're strapped when it comes to finances to provide adequate services. 

RSYO

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra announced that the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra has been named “Youth Orchestra of the Year” for 2018 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

The judging was based on programming, community involvement/outreach, opportunities for youth, growth of audience, fiscal responsibility, and community support.

"Am I Next? Student lie-in at the White House to protest gun laws" by Flickr user Lorie Shaull / (CC x 2.0) /

Students and supporters plan to gather in downtown Rockford for their March For Our Lives event Saturday.

Event organizers say the march, which is a sister event to the national march held by Parkland shooting survivors, begins at 1 p.m. at the city parking lot next to Beattie Park and ends at Davis Park. A rally afterwards will include student activists, a spoken word artist, and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

Just Breathe 815

A conversation with his daughter about a year ago led one Rockford resident to create an organization helping hundreds of homeless teenagers in the area.

Kevin Ware says Just Breathe 815 started with a clothes-donation box after his daughter asked if there were any area groups that helped homeless teens specifically. Now, Ware says, the organization has helped about 500 teens and young adults in less than a year.

“And it’s crazy,” Ware said. “Like, from April to where we are today, it’s just crazy.”

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