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A little front porch picking

Bourbonnais resident Tim Boshaw has been around music his entire life.

The self-made musician grew up in Hermitage, Tenn., just a few miles east of Nashville, the epicenter of the country music world.

“I’d ride my bicycle every day 8 to 10 miles to Nashville,” Boshaw said. “We’d pitch our cassette demos of our own songs.”

Through sheer perseverance, Boshaw has enjoyed some success with his music, and his band Clinton River has produced three albums. He’s also co-wrote and produced songs for local country band Triple Ot Buck’s “Raised in a Barn” album.

Since Boshaw has a studio in his home in the Virginia Grove neighborhood, it didn’t take people on his street very long to find out he was a musician. Back in March a neighbor across the street asked him to play for family members who had gathered for the death of a loved one but couldn’t attend the memorial service because of the pandemic.

Boshaw obliged, put out small amp in his garage and played a few songs for the grieving family on a cold Sunday afternoon.

“That day other neighbors heard me and asked if I would play for all of them, but on a Saturday night when more people were available,” he said.

The rest is history, and Boshaw has played 16 concerts for the neighborhood.

“I really didn’t know any of my neighbors before I started playing,” he said. “... Growing up in Tennessee, it was customary to have what we call front-porch picking. You and your friends would gather on the front porch and play. I thought I’d teach my Illinois family about front-porch picking.”

At first the impromptu gatherings were called The Quarantine Concert.

“But nobody liked being reminded we were under quarantine, so the name was changed to The 3 Beer Concert,” Boshaw said. “When a lady asked me how long the show lasted, I replied, ‘It lasts three beers.’”

The 3 Beer Concert was held every weekend from the end of March until July 4. They took a couple weeks off due to the heat of July, but have been going every other weekend since.

The concerts are free, and Boshaw only asked that everyone practice social distancing and suggests wearing a mask.

“It’s 100% no charge and no donations,” he said. “We don’t want to get into accounting of anything. It’s just for the neighborhood.”

The show is also streamed online on Facebook by his friend Tim Butterfield for fans of Clinton River and for friends and family of the neighborhood.

“We have some pretty good turnouts,” Boshaw said. “... I can’t believe how well received it’s been — the pure joy of it.”

Boshaw, 59, keeps a day job as a project manager for Alexander Equipment in Bourbonnais. That’s how he relocated from the Nashville area to Illinois.

“I came here for a six-month project for Alexander 18 years ago,” he chuckled.

Boshaw is only planning one maybe two more concerts and then call it a season.

“This concert series is not about me,” he said. “It is about the community, neighbors and local businesses that are all trying to cope with this pandemic. Hopefully, it is helping folks feel halfway normal through these months of the most challenging period in most of our lives. The community response to this concert has been amazing.”

KVPD Board seeks new commissioner

The Kankakee Valley Park District Board is looking to fill a vacancy after accepting the recent resignation of commissioner Derek Mullady.

The board unanimously voted Monday at its committee meeting at the Bird Park conference room to accept Mullady’s recent email as a letter of resignation. Mullady’s residency was questioned in August when the board received an anonymous letter saying he had moved out of the district. Mullady said at the Aug. 26 meeting only that he lived in Kankakee County and didn’t elaborate further and abruptly left the meeting.

Board members [or commissioners] must live in either Aroma or Kankakee townships, which make up the district, in order to serve on the board.

Mullady sent an email on Aug. 27 to board members and Executive Director Dayna Heitz, clarifying his residency. Mullady wrote:

“I have a lake house at Shannon Shores in Reddick, I also have a house at the marina that I am currently selling. An early offer was made for my business, so instead of being rushed to move, we decided to stay at our lake house ... that offer fell through, however we stayed at the lake anyways. Another offer has been made and I accepted it and hopefully will be closing next month. So I will NOT be in the district any longer.”

The Board is now seeking individuals interested in serving on the park district board. The open seat has an unexpired term that will be up for election at the next statutorily required election. The board plans to appoint someone to fulfill the open seat until the winner of the next election is seated. Mullady was elected in April 2019 and his term was for six years. However, the seat will come up for election sooner because Mullady’s unexpired term is greater than 28 months, and the board will be verifying if that election will need to be in 2021 or 2023 based on the statute.

“In the past we all know what we’ve been doing here,” Board president Bill Spriggs said. “Being in here for two and half hours bickering and not getting a whole lot done. I’m not putting the blame on anybody, but I think this is an opportunity to get another board member here, perhaps on the same page we all are hopefully, and to begin to get some work done when it comes to our parks. ... We haven’t got much done to tell you the truth, and this is a chance to come back from a rough period of time for all of us. I hope you all feel that way.”

Board member J.J. Hollis said he’s hopeful they will get a community-oriented person to take the seat, which is an unpaid position.

“People get on this board and figure out there’s hard work involved,” he said. “... I think we’ll get a lot of candidates. We need to keep an open mind, and I think we can get it done rather quickly.”

Also, at the suggestion of commissioner Dave Skelly the board also agreed to present Mullady with a plaque, thanking him for the 16 months he served on the board.

Bradley pushes for KRMA audit

BRADLEY — As promised, the Bradley Village Board approved a resolution seeking a forensic audit of the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency books.

At Monday’s village board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the resolution seeking the audit for the agency which operates and manages the regional wastewater treatment facility.

The matter will be taken to the agency’s board of director’s meeting today. At least four votes of the seven-member board are needed to approve the additional audit, which Bradley finance director and KRMA board member Rob Romo said would likely cost about $20,000 and could be completed within 30 days.

He noted the agency has an operating budget of about $13 million.

Romo explained the village board that Bradley is a part owner of the complex.

“We have a vested interest in the operations of KRMA,” he said. “Nothing has been done to get the root of how this was done.”

The “this” Romo was referring to is the alleged defrauding of about $1 million by then-KRMA executive director Richard Simms. Simms was indicted by a federal grant jury earlier this year in relation to defrauding KRMA and the City of Kankakee’s Environmental Services Utility of about $2 million — $1 million from KRMA and a similar amount from Kankakee’s ESU.

Romo said he has brought his concern to the KRMA board, and it has gone nowhere.

Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, who serves as the KRMA board chairwoman, has already stated she does not think an in-depth audit is needed.

“There should be no harm that can done by looking into the books,” Romo said.

He said to prevent the possibility of another defrauding situation from taking place in the future, the KRMA board needs to get the root of what happened with the former director.

But, he said, he’s not sure how many of the remaining six KRMA board members feel the same way.

Romo added he is not seeking to a border-less forensic audit. He said the scope of audit would consist of:

• Examine the viability of all invoices paid to the city of Kankakee;

• Examine the validity of all invoices paid to Simms and/or companies associated with Simms;

He also said he would like to see the fees charged by Kankakee to the other member organizations also examined.

“I would be looking at specific items,” he explained the village board. “This isn’t a shot in the dark.”

Following the village board meeting, Romo was asked what his plan might be if the KRMA board does not endorse his request.

He said legal action would be sought and he said he would even be interested in delving into some way to alter the composition of the board, meaning taking control of the organization from Kankakee. Kankakee maintains four seats — or a board majority.

“We believe everyone should have an equal say,” he said.

Bradley administrator on leave

BRADLEY — Bradley village administrator Catherine Wojnarowski has been placed on paid administrative leave, dating back to last week.

Bradley Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson confirmed Monday that Wojnarowski, who has been the village administrator since December 2017, began the administrative leave on Thursday. Watson described the length of the leave as “open ended.”

Watson said the village is investigating information which has been brought to the village administration concerning Wojnarowski. Due to this being a personnel matter, Watson said he could not discuss the matter in any detail at this point.

Wojnarowski receives a $108,000 salary.

“Our team is sorting out a plan to review everything,” Watson said.

An attempt by the Journal to contact Wojnarowski for comment was unsuccessful.