Chase Cavanaugh

Chase started in radio while earning his Master's in diplomacy and international commerce at the University of Kentucky.  He was bitten by the radio bug while volunteering at Radio Eye (a local equivalent to NIRIS) and soon became a reporter at WUKY. After four years of reporting in Kentucky's Bluegrass, Chase traveled north to join WNIJ as Morning Edition producer.  He organizes our morning broadcast, making sure the host is well-supplied with interesting, fresh content.  In addition to his pre-dawn duties, Chase reports on a variety of developments in our broadcast area but is particularly drawn to anything with a political or international connection.  He is also an avid board gamer.

Recreational cannabis sales will be legal in Illinois starting January 1st. This means anyone 21 years and older can buy from licensed sellers.

Democratic State Senator Steve Stadelman said the application process for these licenses includes measures meant to address social equity.

“When the law was passed, supporters were hoping to have diversity among those who own those licenses, but how you go about accomplishing that will be a big question," he said. 

A new training program is designed to help police officers identify and address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The program will focus on helping officers recognize the signs of PTSD, develop resilience, and find sources of peer support. Northern Illinois University Psychology Professor Michelle Lilly will be presenting at the sessions. She said they’re important for addressing a higher rate of suicide among first responders.

“The importance cannot be understated," she said.  "We have a duty I think, as a public, to protect those who are sworn to protect us.”

Northern Illinois University officials continue to look for ways to attract new students.

Fall enrollment hit its lowest level in 50 years. Officials recently announced they will freeze tuition rates for the sixth year in a row.  Room and board rates will also remain flat next year. The university will cap tuition at  $4,732.80 per semester for students taking 12 or more credit hours. That’s to encourage students to finish their degree on time. University President Lisa Freeman said NIU will also lower student fees.

The Illinois Department of Transportation wants feedback from drivers.

I-DOT is conducting its annual Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey through December 31st.  Spokesman Guy Tridgell said it’s meant to broadly determine what the public thinks about the state’s transportation system.

Beginning in January, single-occupancy public restrooms in Illinois must be gender-neutral.  Signage should identify these places as "restrooms" and not specify any specific gender.  Northern Illinois University has already implemented this in several areas of campus. Assistant Professor Katy Jaekel said this helped foster inclusivity for students and staff.

Rockford’s Nordlof Center played host to a legal clinic recently to help people expunge their criminal records.

Illinois law allows for people under certain conditions to have past offenses expunged, or for their criminal records to be sealed. The Second Chances Summit lets people get free legal assistance with this process, along with educational and career resources.  Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman said this is the second such summit he’s organized. He said it has a significant impact on participants.

The University of Illinois released the latest Flash Index numbers. 

At 105.1, it’s the lowest level this year. It was at 105.4 in July. Economist Fred Giertz  says any measure over 100 indicates an expanding state economy.

“So it’s a slight decline, which means the economy is still growing, but not as rapidly as it was a few months ago," he said.

Six new casinos are planned for Illinois. Lawmakers expect hefty tax revenue, but the casinos also raise the risk of problem gambling. 

Existing rules around the Illinois medical cannabis program could make the rollout for recreational use a less daunting task. But there are plenty of unanswered questions at the federal level which could complicate the process.