Jenna Dooley

Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield.  For 2012, she was named "Newsfinder of the Year" by the Illinois Associated Press. She is also recipient of the 2014 Donald R. Grubb NIU Journalism Alumni Award. She is not afraid to brag at parties that she has met Carl Kasell, Ira Glass, and Garrison Keillor (and has pictures to prove it!) She is the former Recording Secretary for the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

The statistics are sobering. Opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people in Illinois since 2008. Last year alone, that number was nearly 2,000 -- twice the number of fatal car crashes. State officials estimate that number will continue to explode.

There are many players trying to address addiction head-on. That includes emergency responders, police officers, treatment centers, and family members themselves.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been taking a victory lap for the new school funding formula at schools across the state. Such visits can be a low-stakes way for the state’s top politicians to interact with their youngest constituents.

Last month, Rauner took questions from several inquisitive students at Galapagos Charter School in Rockford.

Rauner: So do you have any questions for me?

Student: How much do you get paid?

Lee Schreiner of Rockford doesn’t play the piano or sing. He’s a physics teacher with multiple degrees from Northern Illinois University. But his hobby of collecting wartime sheet music has grown over the years.

“I thought maybe I could collect like a hundred sheets," he admits. "Then it was a thousand. Then it was five thousand. It’s amazing and almost unexplored territory because people had not done a lot of research on World War I. I'm trying to understand the history through the music.”

Earlier this year, NPR analyzed the length of wait times for veterans to get appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Over the next few days, you will hear a Midwestern perspective on a federal program trying to improve veterans care.

With just weeks to go, much attention is given to the 2016 presidential election in the United States. But a look back in time reveals some topics were very similar on the road to the White House in 1960.

On Oct. 25, 1959, then-Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy visited a luncheon rally of Democratic committeemen in DeKalb County. Later, he made remarks before more than a thousand people at the Egyptian Theater in downtown DeKalb.

Families touched by overdose deaths are encouraged to remember this time of year as a time to break down stigma. Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. In Rockford, families who have lost loved ones to addiction recently gathered to remember them in a symbolic way.

One by one, they dropped single stems of bright red roses into the Rock River.

Nick

Nick Shoudy was 20 years old when he died of an overdose involving Fentanyl. That was six years ago.

Video gaming machines have been popping up in Illinois bars and restaurants for nearly four years. For the most part, the increase in gaming machines and in revenue across the state has been steady.

Database: Check revenue reports in your community

A Freeport man will bring Abe Lincoln to life Thursday to deliver the Gettysburg Address at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. George Buss assumes the role after Jim Getty portrayed the 16th President for four decades. Getty died in September.

Lincoln delivered the address on Nov. 19, 1863.

The address will be read live on YouTube; the ceremony to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address begins at 9 a.m (central)

Greg Kelm, Commander of VFW Post 1461, was organizing this year’s Veterans Day parade when a local scout master notified him that, unlike in years past, school would be in session that day.

“Without the bands, without the scouts, without the students that come to the parade … we figured this year, there would be no sense having the parade,” Kelm said.

It’s been six months since a deadly tornado hit Fairdale, Illinois. Some residents are ready to rebuild, while others prefer not to start new memories there.

85-year-old Clem Schultz is back in Fairdale with his dog, a white Shepard. He’s meeting his former neighbor Joe Wiegand. For the past several years, Wiegand has traveled the country as a well-known Teddy Roosevelt repriser. He still owned property in Fairdale.

Fall means harvest time in the Midwest.

Russel Higgins is a commercial agriculture educator with the University of Illinois Extension at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center in Shabbona. As we walk through drying corn stalks, he points to several leaves with bumpy, brown spots.

It’s called tar spot, a disease found in Mexico and Central America. This is the first time he’s seen it in DeKalb County. Luckily, Higgins says it shouldn’t be a detrimental factor this late in the growing season.

U.S. Marshals continue to search for assets of Dixon’s ex-comptroller Rita Crundwell. Those include winnings from horses she once owned and bred.

In 2012, Crundwell pleaded guilty to wire fraud, embezzling $53,740,394 from the city of Dixon.

“The Embezzler” and “She’s A Fancy Felon” are just a few of the horses named in an appendix of documents filed this week in the Northern District of Illinois court.  According to Jason Wojdylo, with the U.S. Marshals Service, the motion is specific to royalties that are due and payable to Crundwell for horses she once bred.

Illinois Democrats and Governor Bruce Rauner remain at a standstill over a new state budget.

Governor Rauner has been pushing for several overhauls including term limits, restrictions on civil lawsuits, and a hold on local property taxes. On Monday, he tweaked a property tax freeze proposal to include increased state funding for struggling schools.

According to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in the number of tornado reports in 2015.

Is this surprising news?

State climatologist Jim Angel says Illinois is usually in the top ten, but this ranking is a bit high compared to previous years at this time.

Northern Illinois experienced and EF-4 in April. That’s out of 64 reports.

Glass, puzzle pieces, even a domino sit in piles on a farm on Irene Road in Kirkland, just outside of Fairdale.

Trucks loaded with broken bricks and concrete make trips along a normally busy road, but it’s their turf now going back and forth.

It’s the reality of one week after a storm.

Carissa Brendle’s father-in-law saw the twister coming, so he headed down to the basement of his newly built home and called his son who lived nearby.

Tornado Kills One in Northern Illinois

Apr 10, 2015
Gilbert Sebenste NIU/WNIJ

One person was killed and an unknown number injured when a massive tornado tore a path across northern Illinois Thursday. The area hit hardest is the small DeKalb county town of Fairdale, near the intersection of I-39 and Highway 72.

This month's inauguration of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner marks a change in leadership for lawmakers and employees at state agencies. But it's also a big transition for people who will deal with the new governor in a very different capacity over the next four years: political cartoonists.

Scott Stantis draws political cartoons for the Chicago Tribune. He says Bruce Rauner has very identifiable features.

Jenna Dooley

A 9-year-old boy died in a grain bin last week in southwestern Wisconsin. While every situation is different, agricultural engineers continue to work on new ways to prevent such deaths. Those involved in the training industry say reaching the younger generation will be an important step to prevent entrapments.

   

Rescue Tools

flickr/roundnoon

If proceeds from video gaming were a coconut cream pie, Illinois municipalities would only get a taste. But if you added up those nibbles every month, it may be enough to notice an increasing waistline.

In December alone, Illinois municipalities that offer video gaming shared $1.8 million.

Video gaming machines starting spewing out the green in the fall of 2012. Illinois started with a few hundred gaming terminals. By the end of last year, there were more than 13,000 terminals in the state.

Loves Park City Website

The new head of the Illinois Municipal League wants lawmakers to remain committed to a pension overhaul. Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg was recently named president of the organization. Lindberg says the group has not put its support behind any one plan, but is paying attention to work being done by the bipartisan pension panel.

Construction is underway on a new oil pipeline that will carry Canadian oil across several states. The line will begin in Illinois. 

In this report, you'll hear about the potential benefits and concerns with the project.

This year marks the centennial of America's first transcontinental road: the Lincoln Highway. You might have driven on the highway and not even known it, since it stretches from New York to California, passing through states like Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado, and carrying different state route numbers along the way.

Erik Gjermundsen of Fredrikstad Norway is checking off another item from his bucket list.

"I've been in the U.S. many times and I have always wanted to drive coast-to-coast," Gjermundsen says. "You have to do something in the summer and this was different."