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Several area events to celebrate Veterans Day

Veterans Day is coming up Thursday and surrounding areas will be honoring those who have served. A number of events will be happening throughout the week to recognize Nov. 11.

Marine Corps 246th birthday

On the Rox K3, 670 W. Station St. in Kankakee, will be honoring two of their own, Ryan and Jeremy, as well as others in the community who have served, at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Grace Christian assembly

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Grace Christian Academy will be presenting a Veterans Day assembly in The Marvin Center for its students, staff, parents and area veterans. The band, strings and chorus will be performing patriotic music. The guest speaker will be Jason Thiele, a U.S. Navy veteran. The public is invited.

Ceremony and reception at KCC

Kankakee Community College will commemorate Veterans Day with a reception and recognition ceremony on Wednesday.

The day will begin with a reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the KCC Iroquois Room. A ceremony honoring veterans will be at 1 p.m. in the college’s auditorium. Both events are free and the public is invited.

At the recognition ceremony, Marine Corps League Detachment 1253 will perform a posting of the colors. Guest speakers will be Craig Zelhart and Peggy Moran.

Zelhart served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a staff sergeant and machine gunner. He is now a police officer. Moran is the training director for the American Veterans Service Dog Academy.

From KCC, Dr. Cari Stevenson, a professor and co-advisor of the college’s Veteran’s Association, will speak about the Mark Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship.

For more information, contact Kendra Souligne, co-advisor of KCC’s Veteran’s Association, at ksouligne@kcc.edu or 815-802-8556.

Annual Warriors Run

Veterans and military are invited to join the annual Military Warriors Veterans Day Run to School. Military also sought to ride in the battle cruisers.

Veterans and military will meet at 7:20 a.m. Thursday in Heritage Park in Manteno. Dressed in battle gear and carrying flags, they will run about an 11-minute pace to the three Manteno schools.

The run continues downtown and finishes at Heritage Park for a total of 4 miles. Runners will be escorted by Manteno Police, Jojo Sayson and his battle cruiser with mounted 50 cal, Mike Cochran and his military hummer, Sean McNamara on his Harley-Davidson, Jason Lingo in his battle cruiser and a few other vehicles.

In prior years, SSGT Sieracki from the Marines and about 10 of his “poolees” join and call out motivational cadences. This year, Army SSGT Poindexter has been invited with his recruits. The veterans who don’t run will ride along in one of the vehicles and the runners can take a breather in them, too.

“Our goal is to remind students of Veterans Day, instill some pride in their country and let them feel they are a part of it,” event organizer and U.S. Navy veteran Dan Gerber wrote on the event’s Facebook page.

Sign up for the race by emailing Gerber at gerb959@comcast.net.

Manteno Legion Park ceremony

The Manteno American Legion will be hosting a ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday at Manteno Legion Park featuring Manteno American Legion Color Guard. Chili will be available at Manteno American Legion following the ceremony.

NABVETS breakfast

From 8 to 11 a.m. Thursday, the National Association for Black Veterans Pembroke Chapter #0084 will be hosting a free breakfast for veterans at the NABVETS Veteran Center, 13161 E. Central Ave., Pembroke Township. Non-veteran breakfast will be available for $5.

Bradley Legion observance

The Bradley American Legion Post 766 will host its annual observance at 10:30 a.m. Thursday outside of the organization’s building at 835 E. Broadway, Bradley.

Kankakee Veterans’ Council ceremony

At 10:15 a.m. Thursday, the Kankakee County Veterans’ Council will be hosting its annual ceremony at the Kankakee County Museum, 801 S. 8th Ave., Kankakee.

Tim Rehmer, past commander of the St. George American Legion, will be the master of ceremonies. The ceremony will include the posting of colors and the council members’ organizational Unit Flags.

Chaplain Peg Meyers will give the invocation, and Rehmer will sing the national anthem, as well as other musical selections throughout the program along with pianist Nan Havens.

The day’s special guest speaker will be Michael Pitts, a decorated Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and commander of Kankakee American Legion Post 85. Ken Brooks, commander of the Kankakee County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 34, will recite the Unknown Solider.

Closing ceremonies will include the “Face to the East” poem recited by David Allen, vice chairman of the Kankakee County Veterans Assistance Commission. There also will be a live rifle volley from the St. George American Legion Post 1164 Rifle Squad to commemorate the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — which was also the end of World War I.

Taps will be played by Emma Caise of Bradley. The event is open to the public, and masks are required.

Organizations that make up the Kankakee Veterans’ Council include Kankakee American Legion Post 85; St. George American Legion Post 1164; Kankakee Disabled American Veterans Chapter 34; Kankakee Marine Corps League Detachment 1253; Kankakee County Veterans Assistance Commission; Kankakee Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2857.

The event will be live-streamed for the residents of the Manteno Veterans Home, whose hospice program will be presenting pins and certificates to hospice patients who have served.

Piper City presentation

At 7 p.m. Thursday in the Piper City Community Building at 133 E. Peoria St. in Piper City, the Piper City Community Historical Society will be hosting a program to honor past and present military. A free program will be presented by Pamela Bork on “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” The event is open to the public.

Veterans Showcase

From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Steam Hollow Brewing Co. at 450 S. Spruce St. in Manteno, there will be local artists and vendors on-site to recognize Veterans Day.

In attendance will include Jessica Carter of Art from the Heart; Jeremy Kingston; Mary Forneris of Homeland Holistic; Mike Shine of Dreams Custom Works; Eric Peterson of Project Headspace & Timing; Chris James, who will also be performing live music that day; Mike Bonomo of Mia Bellas Wood Fire Pizza, who will be providing food; and Blane and Natalie White of Steam Hollow.

Veterans organizations participating in the event include Project Headspace & Timing, Buddy Check 22, Kankakee County Veterans Assistance Commission and Veterans Affairs.

For more information, visit steamhollowbrewing.com.

New ownership on Blue's Cafe menu

One of Kankakee County’s dining institutions, Blue’s Cafe on Kankakee’s west side, hasn’t changed much during the past decades.

But there has been a major alteration take place there within the past week and it has nothing to do with the menu or its wonderful selection of homemade pies.

Co-owners Debbie and Julie Chouinard, part of the family which opened the restaurant in 1954 at 1190 W. Station St., have sold the business.

New owners Florin Ahmedoski, 43, of Minooka, and Nick Naksuti, 49, of Albia, Iowa, re-opened the restaurant on Tuesday.

It would be hard to recognize there has been any change with the business other than not seeing Debbie or Julie upon walking inside the cafe. The menu is largely the same and most of the employees remain.

First things first. The homemade pies will remain a fixture at the cafe. Julie will continue to supply her assortment of baking creations.

Debbie explained the time had simply come. She noted she has spent 55 years working at the location and Julie has spent more than 30 as they both began working there as children.

“It was not a hard decision at all,” Debbie said. “I enjoy not having to get up at 2 a.m. every day.”

Asked what her plans may be now that opening the restaurant has been taken off of her plate each day, she noted she has nothing set in concrete.

“No plans. Just enjoy every day of life,” she noted. “Life has always been good. Blue’s has always been good to our family. There are a lot of memories there from then until now.”

Debbie and Julie also thanked their customers — so many of them who would be considered “regulars.”

“None of this would have been possible without them,” she said.

Regarding the new ownership, Matt Ahmedoski, 21, son of new owner Florin, said the location will continue just as it always has. He noted the breakfast menu has been expanded and there may be a few additions to the lunch offerings, but by and large, things will remain just as they always have.

He said it was important for them to keep the Blue’s name.

“We wanted to keep the name and the family culture alive here. Everyone loves it. We want to appeal to the same people,” he said.

Ahmedoski operated Cindy’s, a family-style restaurant for 13 years in the LaSalle County community of Mendota, Ill., but the pandemic and its impact on the restaurant were more than the family could absorb.

Like so many other restaurants, they transitioned to carry-out orders, but it was not enough to sustain the business.

When the effects of the pandemic on the dining business began to lift, the family began to seek out another site. They spent time traveling throughout Illinois and one day stopped in for lunch at Blue’s.

The location was not even for sale at the time.

They had been looking around Kankakee County for an opportunity, but when they experienced Blue’s, they believed they had found what they were seeking — a family-owned diner tucked inside a neighborhood.

“We all just loved the feel of the diner,” he said.

The location’s hours will remain the same: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

“We are new owners, but we are just planning more of the same,” Ahmedoski said.

Blue’s had been closed for about two weeks due to staffing shortages. It re-opened on Nov. 2 and customers are returning.

“We’ve been getting a lot of comment telling us ‘Thank you for opening again,’” he said.

Son charged in his mother's death

MOMENCE — Guadalupe Alvarado is now facing charges that he killed his mother, Delfina Lopez Alvarado, 57, on Aug. 24, according to court records.

The 29-year-old has been preliminarily charged with two counts of first-degree murder and will be arraigned Nov. 22.

On Aug. 24, shortly before midnight, Momence police were dispatched to Delfina’s home in the 400 block of Hill Street in Momence after someone in the home called 911, police said. They said they found Delfina had been shot.

The preliminary cause of her death is a gunshot wound, according to the Kankakee County Coroner’s office.

Guadalupe Alvarado has been in custody since Aug. 27, charged with armed violence in regard to his mother’s death, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said. Guadalupe’s bond was set at $150,000 in the case.

Appeals court halts vaccine mandate on larger businesses

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops President Joe Biden “from moving forward with his unlawful overreach.”

“The president will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the constitution,” said a statement from Landry, a Republican.

The U.S. Labor Department’s top legal adviser, Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda, said the department is “confident in its legal authority to issue the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing.”

OSHA has the authority “to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” she said.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Anthony Coley, said in a statement: “The OSHA emergency temporary standard is a critical tool to keep America’s workplaces safe as we fight our way out of this pandemic. The Justice Department will vigorously defend this rule in court.”

Such circuit decisions normally apply to states within a district — Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, in this case — but Landry said the language employed by the judges gave the decision a national scope.

“This is a great victory for the American people out there. Never before has the federal government tried in a such a forceful way to get between the choices of an American citizen and their doctor. To me that’s the heart of the entire issue,” he said.

At least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits, some of which were made more conservative by the judicial appointments of President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way to end the pandemic that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the United States.

The administration says it is confident that the requirement, which includes penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation, will withstand legal challenges in part because its safety rules preempt state laws.

The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, said it was delaying the federal vaccine requirement because of potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues” raised by the plaintiffs. The government must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, followed by petitioners’ reply on Tuesday.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and director of the World Health Organization’s center on global health law, said it was troubling that a federal appeals court would stop or delay safety rules in a health crisis, saying no one has a right to go into a workplace “unmasked, unvaxxed and untested.”

“Unelected judges that have no scientific experience shouldn’t be second-guessing health and safety professionals at OSHA,” he said.