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Bradley, CSL to partner on new lighting project

BRADLEY — The second phase of the beautification project along the stretch of North Kinzie Avenue in Bradley may be as much as a year away, but plans are beginning to emerge regarding new lighting in front of the CSL Behring property.

Bradley and CSL Behring are partnering on an estimated $350,000 lighting project to install new path lights immediately in front of the just-installed 8-foot-high wrought iron fencing.

The new fencing stretches approximately three-quarters of a mile from the intersection of North Kinzie Avenue at Armour Road and travels south to where the CSL property boundaries end at Yolks & Berries restaurant, 505 N. Kinzie Ave.

The light poles, likely to be 16-feet in height, will primarily be put in place to illuminate the recently completed asphalt walking/running path immediately east of the new fencing. The fencing and path project was funding by CSL.

The timeline for the light installation — which will be handled by Bradley — is not yet confirmed, but Mayor Mike Watson said it would not be until 2022 at the earliest.

Watson said this project is just the start of the beautification effort the village is undertaking along the 1-mile stretch of North Kinzie between Armour Road and North Street.

“This is a stamp on what Route 50 can become. This decorative project is help make Route 50 a little more attractive,” he said.

Watson noted the end goal is to complete the east side of Route 50 in the same type of similar fashion. He said a fence may not be erected, but nothing regarding the east side of North Kinzie has been determined.

Asked if the paths or lighting could be extended south to the village limits at Soldier Creek or north to the Walmart property, he said that would be an option, but such an endeavor would take years.

Regarding the portion of the project completed thus far, the mayor was extremely complimentary toward CSL.

“CSL has done an awesome job thus far,” he said. “This can be the beginning of something real special. This project helps show what our vision is. This gives the look of what we can do.”

IDPH expands COVID-19 testing to all public schools

The Illinois Department of Public Health recently announced that it will expand its COVID-19 testing to cover all public schools in the state.

“In-person learning is a priority and we want to make sure students, teachers, and staff are able to return to the classroom as safely as possible,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

“With the surge in COVID-19 cases and delta variant, the sooner we know if someone has been infected, the quicker we can take action to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Not only is testing the best way to identify these cases, it can also help keep kids in school with a new test-to-stay protocol.”

The state will use the SHEILD saliva tests. As an alternative to at-home learning, students and teachers who have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case now have the option of a test-to-stay protocol. Those people will be tested on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after exposure, if the teacher or student then tests negative they will not have to quarantine and will avoid missing additional class time.

The IDPH is recommending weekly testing for students and teachers, but ultimately the state’s more than 850 school districts will determine how the tests will be used.

School districts that do implement weekly testing will get priority in receiving outbreak testing if needed.

Dr. Don Brown, of Northwestern Medicine, said that weekly testing will be vital to keep students in the classroom.

“As a pediatrician, we love keeping students in schools,” Brown said. “They’re not just learning but there is also the very important social side of being in a classroom. I just hope students and parents don’t relax on other safety protocols like masking just because they are frequently being tested.”

The state will use federal funding to supply the testing to school districts at no additional cost.

“Previously, SHIELD Illinois tests were offered to schools in predominantly low-income communities that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection at no cost,” the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. “Thanks to additional funding from the federal CARES Act and American Rescue Plan, IDPH has the ability to expand free testing to all K-12 schools outside of Chicago.”

Kankakee record shop moving to Bradley

Calling the Shoppes at Meadowview in Kankakee home for more than 25 years, a Bourbonnais businessman is relocating Ross’s Chicago Records to Bradley and that’s not all which will be different for the long-standing business.

Scott Ross, 58, has also renamed the business to Ross’s Rock-N-Roll Emporium. The business, the 1981 graduate of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School said, will actually be three businesses under one roof.

The business will maintain its longstanding record, albums, CD, tapes and T-shirt business. But, the new 7,000-square-foot site will also be home to Danger Zone Skate Shop as well as Glass Dragon Smoke & Vapors.

The goal is to have the new location open by late August.

Ross said it had been a goal to own his own location and when FCA Carpet relocated from 400 E. North St., Bradley, to 1759 Illinois 50 in Bourbonnais, in late 2018 the opportunity presented itself.

Ross, however, didn’t recognize it right away.

He said business was doing just fine in Kankakee. But as he was traveling one day the North Street location caught his eye and the wheels began spinning.

In the summer 2019 he began inquiring about the property. “I began visualizing what I could do. This literally doubles the size of my store,” he said.

Ross beamed as he talked about his soon-to-be-opened site, which he said will provide much greater visibility. After 36 years in business, he even has a few more plans. He said he hopes to host some small-scale concerts inside and outside the location. The wheels are already spinning inside Ross’s mind.

Ross is completing extensive interior renovations. He said there was much flooring to remove. The building’s exterior was also painted with a charcoal-colored color with black trim. The property — vacant for about two and a half years — will soon be back in circulation and he’s eagerly anticipating the move.

He said the existing Meadowview store will be closed as the North Street store opens.

Ross’s business employs five to six full- and part-timers. His 22-year-old son Jake is the store manager. His second son, Ben, 20, is currently studying electricity.

Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Chicago Records opened in 1978 along North Fifth Avenue. Ross started working for the business in the mid 1980s. He bought the business in late 1991.

In 1992, the business moved to the front portion of Meadowview. In 1996, it moved to its current location next to Plant Fitness.

“This whole process has been ridiculously stressful. I’m cautiously optimistic I’ve made the right choice after being in business for about 100 years,” he joked.

He said as retail has changed, he is always working to redefine how he operates.

“That’s how you stay in business,” he said. “You have to keep changing.”

Illinois sees record pot sales, with boost from Lollapalooza

Illinois dispensaries sold a record $127.8 million in recreational marijuana in July, with a big boost coming from out-of-state fans who converged on Chicago for the Lollapalooza music festival.

The month’s sales were 10% higher than May’s record of $116.4 million, which were slightly higher than June’s $115.6 million, according to a monthly report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Business boomed at Chicago-area cannabis dispensaries during the four-day Lollapalooza festival, which ended Aug. 1 and which returned after last year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Because recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois in January 2020, pot was legal in the state during Lollapalooza for the first time in the festival’s 30-year history. Although it’s illegal to smoke or otherwise consume the drug in public or around anyone younger than 21 years old, the large crowds at Grant Park boosted sales by as much as 50% at nearby dispensaries in River North and the West Loop, operators told the Chicago Tribune.

“We saw thousands of festivalgoers over the weekend at our River North store, making it our biggest weekend to date,” said Jason Erkes, spokesman for Chicago-based Cresco Labs, whose Sunnyside Dispensary in River North was the closest to the festivities.

In July, Illinois’ 110 dispensaries sold a record 2.8 million recreational weed products. State residents spent about $85 million, while sales to out-of-state customers topped $42 million, up 16% from June, according to the state.

“Summer tourism and the Lollapalooza attendees were strong contributors to July’s out-of-state sales,” Erkes said.

Illinois is one of 18 states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, which is still illegal under federal law. Through July, the state has generated $753 million in recreational cannabis sales, which is more than all of last year.

Total sales reached $1.03 billion last year, including $669 million in recreational weed and more than $366 million in medical marijuana sales.

Illinois has not yet released its medical marijuana sales figures for July.