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A new big tree champ in Illinois

MT. MORRIS — There’s no denying the Bald Hill Prairie Preserve is a pretty special place. Last year, the Byron Forest Preserve District acquired the gravel hill prairie that had been used for cattle grazing for decades. For one thing, Forest Preserve Executive Director Todd Tucker says it’s the second highest point in Ogle County. It has a great view of the Rock River. It’s home to endangered and threatened plants and animals, like woolly milkweed and short-eared owls. Oh, and the largest…

Are eagles disappearing, or just finding new territory?

The question of whether the bald eagle population is dwindling in the Midwest continues to confound bird watchers along the Mississippi River. The organizer behind an annual winter count conducted in January by hundreds of volunteers revealed fewer young eagles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains that the bald eagle recovery is progressing at an “impressive” rate. Kelly McKay, a wildlife biologist based in northern Illinois,…

County, City suing opioid manufacturers

ROCKFORD — Winnebago County, the Winnebago County State’s Attorney and the City of Rockford announce that the County and City have filed lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against a number of manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. In January, Winnebago County, the City of Rockford, and State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced their intent to file suit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors to hold them accountable for the…

Homestretch for home rule vote

Just a few days remain to educate residents about a major ballot issue in Rockford. In this week’s WNIJ Friday Forum, Jenna Dooley talks with those involved in getting their message out to voters before they hit the polls on Tuesday.

Winnebago County leaders address trauma as root of community problems

By Susan Stephens WNIJ News ROCKFORD -- Leaders in education, social services, and government in Winnebago County are trying to work together on a common thread they see running through their community’s biggest challenges – trauma. The Winnebago County Health Department identified three priorities in a recent community health assessment – the health of mothers and their children, mental health, and violence. Thursday, March 8, they hosted a summit to find ways to connect professionals…

NIU, clerical workers union initial contract negotiations continue

By Katie Finlon WNIJ News DEKALB -- A union representative for a newer Northern Illinois University bargaining unit says negotiations did not go well Friday. AFSCME spokeswoman Sara Dorner says NIU’s negotiator Jesse Perez promised to bring a thorough wage matrix to contract negotiations Friday, but she says all that was given was information of other peoples’ current wages. “So, basically, they gave us some information that we already had and no proposals and we’ve made no progress,”…

Rauner talks budget, Legionnaires’ crisis during Rockford visit

By Chase Cavanaugh WNIJ News ROCKFORD — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner brought his budget ideas to employees at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford Tuesday. Rauner said he wanted to improve the business climate in the state by reducing regulations, and most importantly, by cutting income taxes. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || ).push({}); “I introduced a budget that gives you guys a billion dollar income tax cut now and I want to give you an income tax cut every year for