KANKAKEE — When it comes to Kankakee County homeless finding shelter for the night, their choice will be singular.
Fortitude Community Shelter, 240 S. Dearborn Ave., is now the only homeless shelter in the Kankakee-Bradley-Bourbonnais metro region as Gift of God Street Church leadership has announced it has closed its men’s shelter program.
Linda Kannapel, director of the program at 660 N. Fifth Ave., in Kankakee, said the shelter simply no longer has the needed volunteers to maintain its current operations following the July 2021 death of her husband, Pastor Ed Kannapel.
The shelter had been in operation since 2008.
Instead of operating the shelter, Kannapel and some volunteers will distribute meals out of the Gift of God van from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays to those in need.
As a result of this change in service, Kannapel is encouraging people in need of overnight shelter to go to the Fortitude shelter, which now operates out of the former St. Paul’s Lutheran school.
Fortitude operates a five-night-a-week shelter at the school from Oct. 1 through May 1. The Fortitude program recently gained approval to operate its homeless shelter program at the Dearborn Avenue location. It had previously operated on a rotating basis between multiple sites.
Up to 18 people can take shelter at the Dearborn Avenue site on the nights of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Wednesday and Saturday, The Salvation Army provides hotel/motel vouchers for the homeless.
The shelter, which also provides a dinner and breakfast, is open from 6:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“When Fortitude announced they were opening, we decided we couldn’t do this any longer. We are trying to keep Ed’s dream alive, but we just may continue in a different format,” Kannapel said.
Gift of God is also planning a winter wear available at the Fifth Avenue site to those in need, but final details have yet to be determined.
Kannapel said the shelter is not closing, but changes are being made. She said the program is in need of a cook, supervisor and a secretary. Those interested should call 815-573-5314.
Dawn Broers, Fortitude’s executive director, said the Fortitude shelter has been hosting 8 to 11 homeless individuals per night already this year. She said that is a high number because the weather has been mostly warm.
Broers is fearful that when frigid nights become the norm in the region, the shelter will not be able to accommodate all those seeking to get out of the cold.
“I don’t know what to attribute that to,” she said of the increased need. “Many of the people we have seen come here are new to us and they appear to be coming from everywhere. It’s really unique.”
She said as the pandemic’s eviction ban is lifted and these cases work through the courts, she expects even more people.
“We will have a busy season, I believe,” she said. “We will do whatever is in our power to serve.”
BRADLEY — Bradley Mayor Mike Watson has long believed the village has not gotten the bang for its buck when it comes to tourism, leisure and convention business.
He has been at odds with the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau nearly since the day he was seated as a village trustee.
He and the village board are now out to set the village’s own course when it comes to capturing leisure time development and spending as the board on Monday hired Conventions Sports & Leisure International LLC, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based company to help set its course.
The board approved the $90,000 contract with CSL by a 4-0 vote and the first phase of CSL’s mission will be to complete a market demand and opportunities analysis by December or January.
CSL Behring, of course, is also a very well known pharmaceutical manufacturer in Bourbonnais Township. They are, however, two entirely different companies.
The goal of the agreement is to have CSL help create a road map of sorts in which Bradley — the home of the majority of Kankakee County’s hotel and motels — can bring in businesses and attraction to help Bradley capture significantly more revenues from leisure spending.
The village only recently passed a special 1-percentage-point increase in its sales tax rate into the newly created Kinzie Avenue/Route 50 and West Broadway Corridor Redevelopment Framework plan.
The goal over the course of the business district 23-year special taxing life is to reinvigorate the district with the help of the additional 1-percentage-point increase in the sales tax rate.
The money generated through this tax will be reinvested into the business district.
Even though the region has a convention and tourism organization, Watson and other village officials do not believe Bradley gains much for the amount of money the village, through the hotel/motel tax which goes to the CVB, generates for the organization.
Bradley tried to exit the current five-year agreement it has with the CVB, but could not.
Regarding the CSL agreement, Watson said after the village board meeting the goal is for CSL to help create a road map for “Bradley’s greatest chance for success.”
He said he believes the agreement will be just another indication to potential new businesses or even existing businesses of how serious and dedicated Bradley is to growing and becoming an even greater force for business.
“This is a good investment and we expect it to pay dividends down the road,” Watson said.
Trustee Gene Jordan said the CSL study will also be used as a marketing tool for developers and can also be used to help gain state grants.
Within Phase 1, the study will evaluate the market opportunity for a variety of potential new tourism facility assets and identify and define up to several scenarios of facility investment that would be “market supportable” in Bradley.
CSL will then identify three tourism facility concepts for future analysis.
In Phase 2, these targeted facility opportunities will be further analyzed to generate detailed projections regarding use, attendance, construction costs, operating revenues/expenses, hotel room nights, economic impact and return on investment to Bradley.
CSL will also make recommendations regarding which areas are best suited for this as well as what type of owner and operator model would function best.
This is just the latest step the Watson administration has taken in terms of growing Bradley through tourism and convention. Bradley took bold steps in recent months by purchasing the vacant former Carson’s men’s store and the JCPenney store in the Northfield Square mall.
Daily Journal staff report
KANKAKEE — Kankakee Community College is now offering free COVID-19 testing for students three days per week, according to a KCC news release.
The testing, which is being offered as PCR tests, is provided by Loop Medical Center and will be available on KCC’s Riverfront Campus as a convenience to students, according to the release.
The weekly testing schedule is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays.
Appointments are required and can be made through Loop Medical Center’s secure and HIPPA-approved web portal, according to the release. Test results can also be accessed through the portal.
More information on how to access the portal was emailed to students Wednesday.
Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive order requires all college students to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo frequent testing. KCC is following measures to ensure the order is followed, according to the release.
Vaccinated students can provide proof of vaccination with KCC to opt out of weekly testing.