Year Round Treats In Downtown Naperville

 Jars and jars of gummi candies at Naper Nuts & Sweets

Jars and jars of gummi candies at Naper Nuts & Sweets

First Light host Brian O’Keefe doesn’t know if they can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh, soak it in the sun and make a ruby lemon pie; but for more than 30 years, Naper Nuts and Sweets has worked to make the world taste good.

 Every flavor of jellybean imaginable

Every flavor of jellybean imaginable

 The smell of freshly popped cheese and caramel corn lures people walking down Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville

The smell of freshly popped cheese and caramel corn lures people walking down Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville

 Naper Nuts & Sweets manager Patty Faye (left) stands with one of the other candy-women at the downtown Naperville store

Naper Nuts & Sweets manager Patty Faye (left) stands with one of the other candy-women at the downtown Naperville store

Johansen Farms And Agritainment In Illinois

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Of course University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and First Light host Brian O’Keefe had to head out to the pumpkin patch for this Halloween edition of the show. Illinois produces more of the orange gourds than any other state in the country. The seasonal crop has also become the centerpiece of the relatively new sector of the agriculture industry, something Richard calls “agri-tainment.” Richard and Brian stopped by Johannsen Farm in Bolingbrook and sat down with Carol Cremeens before the day’s crowd of pumpkin hunters arrived.

 A banner welcomes pumpkin hunters to the Johansen Farms farm stand in Bolingbrook

A banner welcomes pumpkin hunters to the Johansen Farms farm stand in Bolingbrook

 Plenty of pumpkins waiting to become jack-o-lanterns at Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook

Plenty of pumpkins waiting to become jack-o-lanterns at Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook

Central Illinois Man Hears Dead People

 Eric Vogel says he’s recorded and felt the presence of ghosts, and you can too  (photo courtesy of WGLT/Laura Kennedy)

Eric Vogel says he’s recorded and felt the presence of ghosts, and you can too
(photo courtesy of WGLT/Laura Kennedy)

Each week, First Light brings you stories from around the state, this week a story from Illinois Public Radio’s Laura Kennedy. For one central Illinois man, there’s no need to wait for Halloween, any day can be spooky. He hears dead people; and says you can too. While some people collect stamps, or photograph people, places, and things, Laura says that isn’t the case for Bloomington-Normal’s Eric Vogle

Plan To Bring Tree-Hab To Kane County

 Tree-Hab creator John Gathright brought his idea to the Geneva Natural Resources Committee and the Morton Arboretum this week

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright brought his idea to the Geneva Natural Resources Committee and the Morton Arboretum this week

Do you remember climbing trees? A Kane County group wants to bring an international tree climbing program to the area. John Gathright developed ‘Tree-Hab’ after a successful career in Japanese media. First Light host Brian O’Keefe spoke with Gathright and Geneva Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jay Womack

 Tree-Hab creator John Gathright (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked in the shade of an oak forest at Fabyan Woods Forest Preserve

Tree-Hab creator John Gathright (left) and First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked in the shade of an oak forest at Fabyan Woods Forest Preserve

COD Hosts Annual Native American Symposium

When you think of native American populations, do you immediately think of rural communities of the country’s first people nations? You might be surprised to learn, there’s a large native population in the Chicago Metro area. This coming week, College of DuPage hosts its annual Native American Symposium. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked with COD History professor John Paris. Paris is one of the organizers of the week long celebration of native culture.

 Rapper Tall Paul is among the Native Americans taking part in College of DuPage’s annual Native American Symposium

Rapper Tall Paul is among the Native Americans taking part in College of DuPage’s annual Native American Symposium

Turning The Focus To The Fox

 Conservation Foundation President and CEO Brook McDonald

Conservation Foundation President and CEO Brook McDonald

More than 25 years ago, First Light host Brian O’Keefe and Conservation Foundation President and CEO Brook McDonald paddled a canoe down a stretch of the West Branch of The DuPage River. It was an opportunity to see the effect of an annual clean-up project along county’s namesake stream. Thanks to the DuPage River Sweep, land preservation efforts along the river, and a massive project to restore the natural flow of the stream water quality has been greatly improved. This week, the Naperville based Conservation Foundation kicked off an awareness campaign to address concerns along the Fox River. Brian and Brook didn’t get the canoe back on the water; but they did talk about the new effort

 The dam in St. Charles is one of 19 on the waterway between the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and Ottawa

The dam in St. Charles is one of 19 on the waterway between the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and Ottawa

Living Through Changes On The Farm

 Three generations of Oxley farmers, 87 year old Gary Oxley (center) has been farming in Illinois for more than 70 years.

Three generations of Oxley farmers, 87 year old Gary Oxley (center) has been farming in Illinois for more than 70 years.

This week in our look at stories from around the state, this from Illinois Public Radio’s Jaclyn Driscoll. There have been a lot of changes in agriculture through the years—from the equipment used to the amount of land needed to sustain a livelihood. In this story, Jaclyn learns more about the changes through the eyes of an Illinois man who’s been farming for more than 70 years

25 Years of Wolves Hockey

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The fall and early winter of 1993 was a tough time for sports fans. A players strike meant there wasn’t a World Series; then team owners in the National Hockey League locked players out before the 93-94 season even got started. Locally, there was a bright spot in Rosemont.

 The Chicago Wolves are ready to celebrate 25 years on the ice in Rosemont at the Allstate Arena. (photo courtesy of the Chicago Wolves)

The Chicago Wolves are ready to celebrate 25 years on the ice in Rosemont at the Allstate Arena. (photo courtesy of the Chicago Wolves)

Correcting The Record Through Years of Research

 COD Anthropology instructor Dale Simpson Jr.

COD Anthropology instructor Dale Simpson Jr.

Off the west coast of Chile, far out into the south Pacific, is a speck of an island. Despite its remote location and tiny size, studying Rapa Nui, or Easter Island has been the life work of College of DuPage Anthropolgy instructor Dale f. Simpson Jr. First Light host Brian O’Keefe sat down with Dale to find out what he’s learned about the South Pacific island, its culture and its people.

 The Moai, ancient sculptures on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) served as a genealogical record and a link to the past for the island’s people (Photo courtesy of Dale Simpson Jr.)

The Moai, ancient sculptures on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) served as a genealogical record and a link to the past for the island’s people (Photo courtesy of Dale Simpson Jr.)

Helping Entrepreneurs With A Community Kitchen

 A look inside Freeport’s Pretzel City Kitchens, the community kitchen gives students and start-up businesses access to a full commercial kitchen.

A look inside Freeport’s Pretzel City Kitchens, the community kitchen gives students and start-up businesses access to a full commercial kitchen.

Each week at First Light, First Light host Brian O’Keefe takes a look at stories from around the state and WDCB’s Illinois Public Radio partner stations. This week, IPR’s Guy Stephens looks at how one northern Illinois community is empowering small and start-up businesses. For years, people around Freeport dreamed of creating a commercial-grade kitchen for students and entrepreneurs to share. This year, the dream became a reality.

Illinois Supreme Court Celebrates 200 Years

 Former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas presided over the ribbon cutting of a bicentennial exhibit for the Illinois Judicial branch.

Former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas presided over the ribbon cutting of a bicentennial exhibit for the Illinois Judicial branch.

This is a big year for Illinois. In August of 1818, the state’s founding fathers voted to approve the first Illinois Constitution. The vote created the framework for state government. The bicentennial year has prompted a variety of celebrations, including one at College of DuPage. First Light host Brian O’Keefe was on hand this month for the debut of an exhibit that celebrates 200 years of law in Illinois.

 Visitors can review the Illinois Supreme Court Bicentennial Exhibit at College of DuPage through the end of October

Visitors can review the Illinois Supreme Court Bicentennial Exhibit at College of DuPage through the end of October

 An exhibit of the Illinois Judicial system’s bicentennial debuted at College of DuPage this month, it will travel the state through 2019

An exhibit of the Illinois Judicial system’s bicentennial debuted at College of DuPage this month, it will travel the state through 2019

A Lonely Traveler Cruises Through Our Solar System

Every month here at First Light College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe to let you know what you can see in the night sky in the coming weeks. Joe and Brian also take some time to talk about space science. This month, the Night Sky segment includes a discussion of a lonely traveler, a rock from outside our solar system that was first observed about a year ago

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 An artist rendering of Oumuamua, a visitor to the Solar System, the first object from outside our solar system to be observed and tracked by astronomers (photo courtesy of Space.com)

An artist rendering of Oumuamua, a visitor to the Solar System, the first object from outside our solar system to be observed and tracked by astronomers (photo courtesy of Space.com)

Mums Bring Seasonal Color To Gardens And Planters

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Periodically here at First Light, University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and First Light host Brian O’Keefe get together for our ‘Farm to Table’ segment. They talk about everything from agriculture and agribusiness to maintaining your backyard garden and home landscape. This time about Richard and Brian met up with Joe Heidgen at Shady Hill Gardens in Elburn.

The Push Toward Renewable Energy

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we have a look at the state’s renewable emerging energy industry. Illinois is only seven years away from its deadline for getting 25% of the state’s energy from renewable sources. Wind and solar power will have to play a big part to reach that ambitious goal. First Illinois Public Radio’s Susan Stephens takes a look at the growth of wind power in the state, then Guy Stephens tells about the push to develop large scale solar power gardens.

 Wind power generation facilities were among the first renewable energy resources developed in Illinois

Wind power generation facilities were among the first renewable energy resources developed in Illinois

 Banks of solar panels are becoming a more common sight across Illinois (photo courtesy of WNIJ)

Banks of solar panels are becoming a more common sight across Illinois (photo courtesy of WNIJ)

Remembering Chicago's Forgotten History

 Author and Historian Richard Lindberg spoke recently at the Naper Settlement, Naperville’s history park

Author and Historian Richard Lindberg spoke recently at the Naper Settlement, Naperville’s history park

In any discussion of history, there are common themes that emerge. Whether it’s the global events preceding World War I, or stories of the Boston Tea-Party in an American History class. Maybe more interesting than those frequently shared historical events are the little known sometimes forgotten stories from our collective past. That’s the ground Richard Linberg hopes to cover with his upcoming book “Tales of Forgotten Chicago.” First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked about the project with Lindberg.

Center Works To Increase Fresh Water Mussels

 The Urban Stream Research Center is located just inside the south entrance of Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

The Urban Stream Research Center is located just inside the south entrance of Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

Just inside the south entrance of the Blackwell Forest Preserve is a small brick building that is doing some remarkable work. The Urban Stream Research Center is in its sixth year of operation, but many people have little or no idea of what goes on in the mysterious little building. Aquatic Research Center Coordinator Jessi DeMartini hopes the recent open house at the Urban Stream Research Center will answer some of those questions. Jessi walked First Light host Brian O’Keefe into the center’s lab and explained what she at the other staffers hope to accomplish.

 Tiny fresh water mussels are raised in tanks before being transferred to larger tanks where they grow to maturity.

Tiny fresh water mussels are raised in tanks before being transferred to larger tanks where they grow to maturity.

 Groups of fresh water mussels are raised and allowed to grow at the Urban Stream Research Center before eventually being released into area rivers and streams

Groups of fresh water mussels are raised and allowed to grow at the Urban Stream Research Center before eventually being released into area rivers and streams

 Tanks hold non-game fish from local rivers and streams. Mussels have a parasitic relationship with the fish that is a key part of the mollusk’s reproductive process

Tanks hold non-game fish from local rivers and streams. Mussels have a parasitic relationship with the fish that is a key part of the mollusk’s reproductive process

Empowering Educator To Help Students With Autism To Succeed

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Eight years ago, Dr. Michael Duggan created a first of its kind program at College of DuPage. AutisAmerica is a social club for students and others on the autism spectrum. What started as a group of about two dozen people has grown over the years, at the group’s last meeting there were more than 100 people in attendance. Duggan has taken that experience and others as a counselor at College of DuPage to write a book. Duggan and First Light host Brian O’Keefe sat down recently to discuss ‘First Class Support for Young Adults In The Autism Spectrum, A Practical Guide for College Educators and Counselors’

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Recording Industry Is Thriving In Central Illinois

This week in the First Light look around the state, this story from central Illinois. Music industry experts have predicted the demise of the traditional recording studio for nearly 20 years. The price of recording software and technology has fallen; and anyone with expertise or ambition can record music at home. The truth is, independent, professional recording studios are thriving even in Bloomington-Normal. Illinois Public Radio’s Jon Norton has that story

 Erik Nelson at Eclipse Studios in Bloomington-Normal (photo courtesy of Jeff Smudde/WGLT)

Erik Nelson at Eclipse Studios in Bloomington-Normal
(photo courtesy of Jeff Smudde/WGLT)

Going Behind The Stone Walls of The Joliet Prison

 The Administration Building of the now shuttered Joliet Prison

The Administration Building of the now shuttered Joliet Prison

The idea of being locked-up in an Illinois prison is the stuff of nightmares for most people. Now people are choosing to walk through the gates and behind the walls of one of the state’s most notorious prisons. For some it’s an opportunity to answer a lifelong curiosity, others want to see the location for Hollywood blockbusters, and for some, it’s about closure. First Light host Brian O’Keefe went inside the prison The Blues Brothers made famous.

 The Joliet Area Historical Museum is taking people inside castle like stone walls of the Joliet Prison

The Joliet Area Historical Museum is taking people inside castle like stone walls of the Joliet Prison

 Paint hangs in sheets in the now vacant cell block of the old Joliet Prison

Paint hangs in sheets in the now vacant cell block of the old Joliet Prison

 One of the original cells was preserved during a renovation during the 1950s. The 7x4 foot cell is smaller than closets in many homes had no running water and held two inmates.

One of the original cells was preserved during a renovation during the 1950s. The 7x4 foot cell is smaller than closets in many homes had no running water and held two inmates.

 Graffiti artists painted a massive mural Inside the dining hall at the old Joliet Prison, plans are to eliminate most of the graffiti, but some work, like this one, will remain

Graffiti artists painted a massive mural Inside the dining hall at the old Joliet Prison, plans are to eliminate most of the graffiti, but some work, like this one, will remain

Finding Food In The Prairies, Savannahs, and Woodlands

 Participatory Ecologist Michael Swierz encourages people to connect with nature in a variety of ways including by foraging for food

Participatory Ecologist Michael Swierz encourages people to connect with nature in a variety of ways including by foraging for food

As the weather cools and leaves begin to change color, more and more crops are ready for harvest. This week at College of DuPage participatory ecologist Michael Swierz visited with students and community members to discuss a growing interest in foraging. That’s the practice of searching for and collecting wild food resources. First Light host Brian O’Keefe met with Michael Swierz on the edge of the Russell Kirt Prairie, a prairie restoration project in the center of the Glen Ellyn campus.