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Olivet Nazarene University’s new president Dr. Gregg Chenoweth faces the audience as they applaud his installation as the institution’s 13th president during Friday’s inauguration ceremony at the Hawkins Centennial Chapel. His wife, Tammy, stands by his side as Shirley Hoogstra, right, the 2021 Maggie Sloan Crawford Award recipient, joins in the applause. READ MORE.

Nancy Estensen stands by a firetruck last October wearing a shirt in support of breast cancer awareness.

Dave Skelly

BBCHS looks to catch up with getting students behind the wheel

BRADLEY — There are few things the COVID-19 pandemic has not touched and driver’s education has felt the impact.

As a result, an “unprecedented” number of students at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School have yet to complete the behind-the-wheel instruction they need to get their driver’s license, Principal Brian Wright said at a recent school board meeting.

Wright said these students have completed the necessary 30 classroom hours of driver’s education, but have not taken their six hours of road time with a certified instructor, as required by the state of Illinois.

“They are antsy to do so, and their parents are antsy for them to do that as well,” he said.

He attributed the delay to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the school still is playing catch-up from the spring 2020 shutdown of all school activities.

Beginning in July 2020, the district limited the number of students in a car to two per hour instead of three to minimize COVID-19 exposure. This precaution was in place for 14 months.

At the Dec. 13 board meeting, Wright spoke of the need to add a one-semester, full-time equivalent position to the physical education and wellness department in order to serve the students in need of driving hours. The board approved the request.

Adding one full-time position would free up five sections of PE that can be used for behind-the-wheel instruction, doubling the number of sections already scheduled for second semester, Wright explained.

This will allow the school to get to a typical number of students entering the summer 2022 driving schedule.

“Right now, approximately 200 students have yet to drive,” he said. “We like to go into every summer below 100. With the status quo, we would be going into the summer with about 152. This [additional PE position] would keep us in the 96 range that we typically do.”

The school also has been struggling to stay on track with getting students in the driver’s seat since it lost three of four behind-the-wheel sections covered by retired driver’s education teachers.

Additionally, one of the school’s PE teachers is now leading the APEX credit recovery program, which also reduced the sections.

Wright said the school may not be able to find someone with a driver’s education certification. However, if needed, the school could hire someone to cover PE classes and shift an existing PE teacher already certified for driver’s education to the behind-the-wheel training.

“It takes a special person to get in the car with an under-skilled driver, and they are very patient,” Wright said.

He said he would have a better idea of how long the school might need the additional position in May.

A police officer with the Kankakee Police Department since 2013, Lacie Zingre is now the force’s first woman officer promoted to the rank of sergeant. READ MORE.

Scott Wakeley

Ice Valley reopens following brief closure

KANKAKEE — After announcing a brief closure last Wednesday, Ice Valley Centre Ice Arena has reopened to the public.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Kankakee Valley Park District facility said, “We appreciate your patience as we worked through a staffing shortage due to COVID-19 this past week at Ice Valley Centre Ice Arena. The arena reopened Monday for programming, classes and events. Please check their daily schedule below as there have been changes made. We ask that patrons continue to wear masks when in the facility and to not enter when showing COVID-19 symptoms. We can’t wait to see you back on the ice this week.”

The schedule includes drop-in hockey (for both families and adults), practices, public skate and more.

For a full schedule, go to

While it has reopened, the Kids New Year’s Eve Bash scheduled for Friday, Dec. 31, has been canceled “as a precaution.”