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142-year-old clocktower will undergo a major exterior restoration project

KANKAKEE — The Shapiro Developmental Center’s clocktower building is getting its exterior cleaned for perhaps the first time in the structure’s 142-year history.

Standing 150 feet tall, the clocktower has been a well-known and highly visible fixture in Kankakee since 1879.

Manteno-based architecture firm Carlile Architects was commissioned in 2018 by the Illinois Capital Development Board to design the restoration and rehabilitation of the outside surface of the historic clocktower building.

Principal Architect Jacob Carlile said that the project is nearly ready to get underway.

“It’s a pretty big project, or iconic, I should say,” he said. “This is a very, very exciting project. A lot of people are aware of that structure and see it from all over.”

The building at 100 E. Jeffery St., formerly known as the Kankakee State Hospital Administration Building, is now part of the Shapiro Developmental Center. Constructed in 1879, the building was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 5, 1995.

A Cicero-based company, the All Masonry Construction division of All Construction Group, was hired to conduct the work, which includes tuck-pointing, stone replacement, stone rehabilitation, building cleaning and other work to ensure continued facade longevity.

The contractor has been given notice to proceed with the work, pending getting construction schedules and paperwork in order, Carlile said.

He said the work should take about a construction season and a half.

If the company can get started before the cold season this year, the work should be done by the end of 2022; if it starts later, then the work would probably be complete by mid-2023.

As such, the scaffolding used to complete the work may be installed for up to a year and a half.

The total cost of the project is about $1.35 million, Carlile said.

The project has been a few years in the making due to unexpected problems in other areas during the design process, such as roofing issues on top of the clocktower, he said.

“We uncovered some additional damage we didn’t know was there, which took additional time to figure out how to do the repairs and restoration,” he said. “It was in pretty rough shape.”

First-time project

Carlile said there is evidence of past tuckpointing work, where mortar joints between bricks have been refilled, but a full restoration has never been done.

“Restoration means to put it back to the way that it was, focusing on, from a historic perspective, making sure what we are putting back in aligns with what was there historically,” he said.

Rehabilitation work will be part of the project as well, with the goal of ensuring the structure continues to last, he said.

The main facade material is limestone, including both rough- and smooth-cut stone.

The rough-cut limestone was taken directly from local quarries, cut into shape and placed into the wall, while the smooth-cut limestone was milled and used for decoration, Carlile said.

The smooth-cut stone is in poor shape and falling apart, he noted.

The entire exterior of the structure will be cleaned and a consolidator will be applied to help re-bond stone together that is fragmenting or falling, Carlile said.

He said the limestone building material was taken from local quarries and possibly from Bird Park, though the exact locations are not known.

“The facade of the clocktower is definitely showing a build-up of carbon over time, darkening the color of the limestone,” Carlile said. “The biggest thing people will be visibly able to see in the area is how much cleaner the structure looks; it will look like new essentially.”

He noted that modern buildings made of steel and glass are cleaned much more often, but older buildings such as the clocktower, at times, go 80 to 120 years before they are cleaned.

This will likely be the first time the exterior of the clocktower building has ever been cleaned, he said.

“There’s going to be a striking difference once it’s over.”

State has first human rabies death since 1954

State public health officials reported the first human case of rabies in Illinois since 1954 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday after testing at its lab.

In mid-August, a Lake County resident in his 80s awoke to a bat on his neck. The bat was later captured and tested positive for rabies. The man declined postexposure rabies treatment. A month later, he began experiencing rabies symptoms, including neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling his arms, finger numbness and difficulty speaking. Experts found a bat colony in the man’s home, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The man, who was not identified in the news release, later died. Officials said people who had contact with secretions from the man were assessed and given rabies preventive treatment as needed.

“Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “However, there is life-saving treatment for individuals who quickly seek care after being exposed to an animal with rabies. If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, immediately seek medical attention and follow the recommendations of health care providers and public health officials.”

An estimated 60,000 people in America are exposed to rabies each year. However, human cases of rabies in the United States are rare, with about 1 to 3 cases reported each year. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Without preventive treatment, it is usually deadly, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

While people usually know if they have been bitten by a bat, bats have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see. Anyone in close proximity to a bat and not sure if they were exposed should seek medical attention. Anyone who wakes up with a bat in the house should not release the bat. It should be captured for rabies testing, according to public health officials. Local animal care and control agencies can safely remove the bat.

8 COVID-related deaths reported in September

Although the region’s positivity rate has dipped, eight more COVID-related deaths have been recorded so far this month.

Kankakee County surpassed the 17,000 mark for total number of COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Kankakee County Health Department administrator John Bevis told county officials during Tuesday’s County Board Executive Committee meeting.

The county has now recorded 17,053 cases and 251 deaths since the pandemic started in March 2020.

The positivity rate in Region 7, which is comprised of Kankakee and Will counties, is now at 4.4 percent. Kankakee County’s rate is at 6.1 percent, down just .1 percent from August. Will County was at 4 percent, down .3 percent from August.

“Kankakee is still staying pretty steady with the number of cases, so you can see now that we are the one driving the bus over Will County in terms of the numbers there for our positivity rate,” Bevis said.

The county has administered 90,618 vaccinations, including 45,930 totally vaccinated for a 41.76 percent rate. Bevis said the Centers for Disease & Prevention website has Kankakee County at 46 percent totally vaccinated because it goes by population breakdown in the most recent census. The CDC factors in those not eligible to be vaccinated.

“It’s a little better than 41, but it’s still low,” he said.

Of those fully vaccinated, 42 percent are white, 30 percent African-American and 36 percent Hispanic.

“We’re trying to get more education out into those areas to increase vaccination rates,” Bevis said. “We’re stuck in the mud right now.”

He attributes that to the prevalence of misinformation.

“A lot of people are taking their information off social media instead of listening to the health department and the hospitals and CDC, so we’re battling with that,” he said. “We’re trying to educate as best as we can.”

County board member John Fetherling asked Bevis if the health department could distribute any vitamins to people who have obviously decided not to get the vaccine, so that they could stay healthy.

Bevis said the health department doesn’t have the resources to do that, but it provides plenty of information about nutritional eating on its website.

“The information on how to stay healthy is out there just as much as the information is out there on how to get vaccinated and how to prevent COVID,” Bevis said. “So, again, it comes down to personal choice. And as long as it’s not a requirement, I can’t make you.”

Board member Steven Hunter asked Bevis how he responds to those in the public who say that not getting vaccinated is a personal choice, despite evidence of the growing number of cases and deaths.

Bevis prefaced his response by saying of the 35 full-time employees and 10 contractual employees in the health department, all but seven are vaccinated.

He continued to say that just like those holdouts on his staff, “people have free choice.” Although residents are being told by public health officials that the virus is killing people and making others very sick, it is not necessarily mandated or required so action cannot be forced, he said.

Bevis said that while he doesn’t have data available on the vaccination status of any of the county’s 251 deaths, he did say that statistics show 97 percent to 98 percent of those who die from COVID are unvaccinated.

“It speaks volumes to me that the vaccine does do what it’s supposed to be doing,” Bevis said. “If individuals want to attempt to take risky behavior such as not wearing their masks and asking our kids not to do that, and I’m not going to argue the fact that someone wants to stand up and ask how many kids have died as a proof that we need to not wear masks in school.

“They’re still getting it,” he said of virus transmission. “They can still spread it to you if you’re a grandparent or their mother or their father, and you can get sick and you could die. That’s the point.

“How many kids do we need to sacrifice before it becomes important? And then how many deaths are not important enough to worry about where we’re at from a month ago to this month? These eight deaths have individuals and families tied to those over the last month that I’m sure if they weren’t vaccinated, maybe they regret those decisions.

“It’s not my job to stand here and say, ‘I told you so,’” he said. “It’s my job to just say, ‘If you want the vaccine now, we’ve got it.’”

Pfizer boosters now available in Kankakee County

Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccinations are now available for eligible individuals locally following the Illinois Department of Public Health adoption of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations.

Who is eligible for a booster?

“It basically includes a lot of people, starting at age 18 on up, based upon certain medical conditions and their risk of exposure maybe because of their work,” Kankakee County Health Department administrator John Bevis said Monday.

In its recommendation, the CDC distinguished between groups who should and who may get a booster.

People 65 years and older, residents in long-term care settings and people 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions should get a Pfizer booster at least six months after they completed the original two-dose series of Pfizer’s vaccine, the CDC recommended.

After evaluating individual benefits and risks, people 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions and people 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of an occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot, CDC said, at least six months after becoming fully vaccinated with Pfizer.

Retail and medical environments are examples of increased-risk settings, Bevis said.

Who’s giving boosters?

Local pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals and healthcare providers that have been providing vaccinations along with the health department can give boosters if they stock the Pfizer vaccine, plenty of which is available, Bevis said.

“Any of those individuals can go up to a facility that is offering the vaccines, and provide the information they get asked to demonstrate that they want the booster and should be able to then get it,” Bevis said.

The health department is hosting an appointment-only vaccination clinic with Pfizer shots from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 7. It can provide first or second doses for anyone older than 12, third doses for those moderately to severely immunocompromised or boosters for those eligible.

Registration can be completed at signupgenius.com/go/kankakeeoct7pfizer.

“We’re just not sure what kind of a crowd we’ll get yet,” Bevis said.

What do I need to bring?

“... It’s going to be made pretty accessible, that you don’t necessarily have to have a doctor’s note or anything like that to provide this documentation,” Bevis said.

Providers are using the honor system to determine if people qualify for boosters, but they will likely need some proof of prior vaccination.

What about Moderna and Johnson & Johnson?

The booster is only available to people who received a full two-dose series of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago; mixing vaccine brands is not approved by the CDC or FDA.

“There just haven’t been any studies done on people who mixed and matched because all the studies have been done on specifically Pfizer or Moderna or J&J,” Bevis said.

Moderna has applied to regulators for a booster, which the FDA is considering. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for a booster but has released data on a possible booster’s efficacy.

What does the booster approval mean?

“There’s very few vaccines that are out there that don’t typically end up having to have some kind of an annual booster,” Bevis said.

The vaccines, coronavirus and its variants are still new, and the health and science community is continuing to learn and adjust for waning immunity and mutations. The vaccines are still highly effective at preventing serious illness and death, Bevis said.

“Now, as we study it more and more every day, we’re seeing that, OK, maybe we need a booster to help strengthen because, obviously, the less who are vaccinated help create and perpetuate the mutations that cause a new variant,” Bevis said.

How will the booster be offered to people in long-term care facilities?

Bevis said the state will manage booster sign-ups and clinics at long-term care facilities, possibly through a federal program with pharmacies similar to the first round of vaccinations, so local health departments can focus on the broader population.

If I am required by work to be fully vaccinated, do I need to get a booster?

No, as of now. Completing the existing two-dose series for Pfizer or Moderna or getting one Johnson & Johnson shot is all that is needed to become “fully vaccinated.”

Grand jury indicts Kankakee man in courthouse shooting

KANKAKEE — A grand jury has indicted Miguel A. Andrade on two counts of second-degree murder in the Aug. 26 shootout near the Kankakee County Courthouse.

The 23-year-old Kankakee resident is charged with shooting and killing Antonio Hernandez, 24, Waukegan. He was arraigned Monday before Kankakee County Circuit Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott, according to online records.

Andrade, his cousin Victor Andrade, 26, Kankakee, and a 28-year-old man were ambushed before 10 a.m. Aug. 26 by Hernandez as they walked to a parking lot south of the courthouse, where Victor had appeared in court that morning on an unrelated case.

Victor was Hernandez’s intended target, Kankakee police said. Armed with multiple weapons, Hernandez shot and killed Victor and seriously wounded the other man before being shot and bludgeoned by Miguel, according to police reports. Police say Miguel used an assault rifle that he retrieved from a vehicle after Hernandez began shooting.

Miguel surrendered peacefully to two Momence police officers after he killed Hernandez, according to police.

The shootout was the result of a gang’s internal fight as Victor was a former member of the Latin Kings and Hernandez was a current member, police said.

Upon his arrest, Miguel was preliminarily charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm. Despite the new charges, his bond remains set at $3 million.

Attorneys Cierra Norris and Brian Orozco represent Miguel, while Assistant Attorney General Dave Neal is the special prosecutor in the case.

Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe moved to appoint a special prosecutor because employees of his office witnessed the shooting.

When asked if a first-degree murder with intent to kill charge was also considered, Neal said all proceedings within the grand jury are secret.

“This is an area that cannot be discussed,” Neal said.

Second-degree murder occurs when there are elements present for both a first-degree murder charge and a mitigating factor, he said.

That mitigating factor was, he explained, that Andrade was acting under a sudden intense passion caused by the actions of the victim. For the second count of second-degree murder, he continued, the mitigating factor was the possible use of self-defense.

The grand jury also indicted Miguel on two counts of mob action and single counts of armed violence, reckless discharge of a firearm, and unlawful use of a weapon.