Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Hundreds of people showed up last night for a brainstorming session about how to make Rockford a better community. Transform Rockford held its first strategy planning meeting for the public: they hope to have a detailed plan by early next year to make the Rockford a “top 25 community” by 2025.

Visitors to the event held at the YMCA in Rockford stopped by idea stations around the gym to talk with lead volunteers about specific interest areas:

Rockford Police Department

Two Rockford police officers are patrolling the streets again after being on administrative duty for three months.

Nicholas Alejo and Andrew Seale were cleared of any wrongdoing after shooting an armed suspect in the leg during a March 30 incident. Both returned to work Sunday.

The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office says the force used against Joshua Schweig was warranted. State's Attorney Joe Bruscato determined no criminal charges against the officers are necessary.

One of Rockford’s top tourist attractions turns ten this weekend. Burpee Museum of Natural History is holding a birthday party for “Jane,” the world’s most complete juvenile T-Rex.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A 67-million dollar hotel project in downtown Rockford is creating more than jobs for construction workers. Local artists will have a big hand in decorating the Amerock Building’s interior.

Rockford Crime And Safety

May 27, 2015
Victor Yehling / WNIJ

We examine the perception and reality of crime in Rockford. We talk with people directly affected by violence, and examine efforts to prevent violent crime and ensure the safety of residents.

Rockford-area State Representative Litesa Wallace recently introduced a resolution calling on the Governor, the Mayor of Rockford, Attorney General and others to get to the bottom of the crime problem.

Rockford Leads In Illinois Population Decline

May 27, 2015
Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies

New Census data indicates the third largest city in Illinois is leading the state in population decline

Illinois has about 1,300 incorporated villages, towns and cities. From 2010 to last year, Rockford’s population declined by 2.5 percent, or nearly 4,000 people.

That’s the biggest numerical drop of any city during that period.

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

The Illinois budget crisis is costing low-income public schools some of the federal money intended to help them compete with wealthier schools. That’s the finding of a report published this weekend by the Rockford Register Star. Reporter Corina Curry found that state lawmakers are diverting money from a program known as “Title One” and putting it toward teacher pension debt. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens spoke with Curry about her research.

A 36-year-old Sycamore man found dead early Monday morning in an elevator at the William Brown Building in Rockford was identified.

Yesterday's autopsy determined foul play is not suspected in the death of Nathan Gabriel, but Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia says the cause of death is still pending further testing.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Local services such as police and fire are at risk if one of Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposals goes through. That’s the message from a group of northern Illinois mayors.

The governor wants to cut the Local Government Distributive Fund in half. That’s the portion of income taxes the state sends back to communities. Rockford would lose more than seven million dollars. Mayor Larry Morrissey says everyone is willing to share in the budget sacrifice…up to a point.

Rock Valley College

A business incubator based in Rockford is going regional under its new owner. 

EIGERlab opened a decade ago as a place budding entrepreneurs could get help launching their products from concept to customer. Now the mission is the same, but the reach is getting bigger through Northern Illinois University, which acquired EIGERlab from the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.