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Downtown alcohol sales restricted

KANKAKEE — In an effort to curb growing issues with public consumption of alcohol and related issues in downtown Kankakee, an ordinance went into effect this week.

Approved by the Kankakee City Council on June 6, the law restricts the sale of single-serve containers of beer, liquor or wine at a pair of downtown area liquor stores.

The thought behind this initiative is if the sale of a single-serve containers is banned, the improper and/or illegal behaviors of those who purchase the beverages will be lessened.

Within the past approximate year, the downtown area has had more than 900 calls for service. Many of the calls generated from issues stemming from consumption of alcohol.

Second Ward Alderman David Baron, whose district includes the bulk of the downtown area, said this has been a growing problem and issues such as public drunkenness and other associated issues have caused increased concerns.

The law is not citywide. It deals largely with the downtown area, which is comprised of the special Kankakee Development Corporation district.

Within the district, there are two liquor stores — Key City Liquors, 321 S. Schuyler Ave., and Liquor Lot, 370 S. Schuyler Ave. The law does not pertain to bars.

“In the downtown area we are witnessing higher levels of public drunkenness, public urination, littering,” said 2nd Ward Alderman David Baron. Baron said this has been a long-running issue and the time has come to take an additional step to bring it under control.

Baron said liquor store operators questioned why this ordinance was not being implemented across all of Kankakee and he said the answer to that question is simple: the problem is mainly happening in the downtown area.

‘PROBLEM WILL STILL EXIST’

Baron said if the problem becomes prevalent in other areas, the law can be modified to include those areas as well.

Pete Zachhani, owner of Liquor Lot, said he understands what the city is trying to accomplish, but doesn’t believe this will have the desired result.

He said the restriction should have been citywide, rather than isolating two stores.

“I don’t believe this will solve the issue. I believe the problem will still exist. I respect the city’s decision,” he said. “... I understand trying to keep the city clean.”

Zachhani said he would prefer this law being applied equally across the entire city.

Asked how much of Liquor Lots’ total sales are made through single-serve containers, Zachhani estimated 30 to 40 percent.

“This will have a huge impact on my business.” He said the future of the store will be up in the air.

“We try to do whatever we can to keep our area clean, but we can’t stand outside all day,” he said.

The ordinances states:

• A single can or bottle of beer or malt liquor in single-serve containers cannot be sold refrigerated or cooled in any matter.

• A single container of wine, other than sparkling water and/or champagne, smaller than 10 fluid ounces cannot be sold.

• A single container of alcoholic liquid other than beer, malt liquor or wine, in containers less than 6.4 ounces [typically airplane-type bottles of alcohol] cannot be sold.

STORES, CUSTOMERS FACE FINES

Fines for store employees or store operators will start at $250. Repeated offenses could result in more severe penalties. Those caught drinking also will be fined, beginning at $100 for the first offense.

The rectangular area were this restriction has been put into place rests between East Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Hickory Street and Locust Street.

Mayor Chris Curtis noted within the past year, this downtown area had some 900 calls for police service. Many of those calls came from what Curtis described as “nuisance” calls, meaning drunkenness, loitering, public urination, littering.

“We are finding people buy this single-serve beverage and they just hang out drinking. This is the main business district,” Curtis said. “We just can’t have this.”

Curtis said the council’s License & Franchise Committee wanted to put this law into place last year, but backed off at the request of the liquor stores. The problem, however, did not improve, the mayor said.

“Our police department has bigger problems to deal with than this, but this issues takes so much of their time,” he said.

Fellow 2nd Ward Alderman Mike O’Brien said he repeatedly sees empty bottles discarded throughout the downtown. Like Baron, he said this behavior has been taking place for years and the time has come to take more drastic steps.

“This is one way to address the problem,” he said.

The ordinance does not have restrictions of the sale of larger containers of beer such as a six pack or a case. The belief is those packages are more likely to be taken home and the beverages consumed there.

“We thought this would be a starting point. We are trying something. This is certainly not a new problem. You see these [discarded] containers everywhere,” O’Brien said.

Both council members noted there was discussion of making this restriction citywide, but that was pulled back when other council members said the problem was not as prevalent in their wards.


Local
Former McNamara football coach Rood named coach for 8-man team at St. Anne

ST. ANNE — Alan Rood, who was tabbed last spring as the replacement at Bishop McNamara Catholic High School for the legendary football coach Rich Zinanni, is now the new football coach at a school a few miles southeast of Brookmont Boulevard.

Rood, who also taught physical education and health and was the McNamara middle school athletic director, was officially hired Tuesday as a physical education, health and driver’s education teacher at St. Anne Community High School at the district’s board meeting.

Rood was also named as the head coach for the football program that will return as a member of the Illinois 8-Man Football Association in 2023-24 after more than a 40-year hiatus.

“It’s a new opportunity, and I just want to help St. Anne and the community enjoy the game of football,” Rood said. “That’s what it’s about — giving people that opportunity to love football and Friday nights like they did back in the day.”

The program will come back after last playing in 1978-79. The Cardinals will play in the I8FA, an IHSA-recognized league for smaller schools that offer 8-man football as opposed to the traditional 11-man game.

Assistant principal and soon-to-be-appointed athletic director Ben O’Brien also noted the thrill in the St. Anne community behind the return of gridiron action to a school that has seen co-op football, most recently with Watseka, but has not had the chance to cheer on their own beloved Cardinals for more than a generation.

“We couldn’t be more excited for the future of Cardinal football with coach Rood leading us,” O’Brien said. “Tonight’s board of education decision was a win for the school, the community and most importantly, the students of St. Anne High School.”

The return of football first was explored by the school before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the school even had planned to meet with members of the lone current local 8-man program, Milford-Cissna Park, the week the pandemic hit.

The idea remained on the back burner until a St. Anne student, incoming junior Clayton Connor, came to the board in December 2020 with a proposal, citing a positive response from students.

Since then, the school began exploring potential equipment costs and other tasks that come with resurrecting a program until they were given the green light from the school board to seek a coach in the spring.

That timing aligned perfectly for a coach like Rood, who had recently applied for the already-open teaching job, to be the face of the program’s comeback.

“We had posted an open PE position without the football coach role and coach Rood put in his application not even knowing we planned on moving forward with football,” O’Brien said. “It’s truly a situation that fell into our lap, and it’s exciting.”

Rood, who graduated from Bishop McNamara in 1998 and returned to his alma mater from 2018-2022, has prior experience with taking over a new program, something he did for Von Steuben, a Chicago Public League School, before McNamara.

While Rood, known for his passionate coaching style, is certainly excited to begin recruiting the hallways of St. Anne for his players, his experience in starting the Von Steuben program has helped prepare him for the other things that go into building a football team, such as securing all the proper equipment for a sport that requires more materials than most.

“That could go from a five-man sled, to agility sleds, to footballs, to kicking tees, to helmets, which are the most important thing,” Rood said. “One of the most important things I learned about coaching and starting [a program] is in the details of those things.”

As someone who played and coached for Zinanni, the third-winningest coach in state history, Rood will bring plenty of prestigious experience, including time as a linebacker at Northern Illinois University, and said he’s excited to also learn about the backgrounds for the students he’ll be teaching and coaching.

“I can bring in my experiences from Mac and NIU, and these kids can bring in wherever they’re at in life and what they’ve experienced,” Rood said. “And if we work together on what our life experiences are, it brings us closer and tighter, with a family-oriented relationship to increase that beginning of starting something new.”

The football program also could find itself playing in new facilities, as the school continues to explore potential upgrades to the current athletic facilities, something O’Brien said would see its effect stretch far beyond the high school, let alone the football team.

“At the end of the day we’re a small town and our facilities aren’t just used by the school; they’re used by Little League, we have a youth program that uses our facilities, so adding to that just adds to what’s already a very clean, nice building,” O’Brien said. “You can’t predict the future, but hopefully any facility upgrades will be significant and continue to push what we think is going to be a very successful program moving forward.”


Local
BBCHS presents update on air quality project

BRADLEY — The HVAC and air quality improvement project at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School is underway and progressing on schedule, according to an update presented during Monday’s school board meeting.

Work taking place this summer includes installing a new rooftop unit for heating and cooling in the school’s east wing.

The east wing is the oldest part of the building and includes first- and second- floor classrooms situated between the main gym and the east gym.

This work is expected to be done before school resumes in the fall.

The entire project to fully air condition the building is planned to take multiple phases extending through summer 2025.

The total cost for summer 2022 work is about $3.9 million, and work slated for summer 2023 is estimated to cost about $6.7 million, according to the district.

The costs associated with summer 2024 and 2025 work are to be determined.

Chris Hammond, chief school business official, noted that a couple of issues have come up with the project, but they aren’t going to delay its timeline for completion.

Supply chain issues have come up with the particular VAV [variable air volume] box that was going to be used, so a different kind was ordered which will be programmed to the right specifications when it arrives.

The VAV box controls whether the room is going to be heated or cooled, he explained.

The other kind would not have arrived until late September.

The other issue was with asbestos found in the glue holding ceiling tiles up in two classrooms; the asbestos will be abated Monday, and it won’t cause an interruption because it is located in the last two rooms that need to be worked on.

“There’s no real concern right now with the timeline,” Hammond said. “We are pushing forward. A lot of work is being done.”

Superintendent Matt Vosberg noted BBCHS will start a week later than normal in the fall in an effort to align with the calendars of the feeder elementary districts.

“Everything is on schedule. So far, so good,” he said. “We have a tight timeline, so it’s good to know we are starting [school] a bit later. … Coincidentally, it worked out with our summer projects.”

The 2022-23 school year will start Aug. 24 for BBCHS.

“Hopefully, we get everything according to plan,” Vosberg added. “It definitely would be nice to have that part of the building air conditioned for our students and staff. It will make a big difference for them.”

Weekly construction updates are being shared on the homepage of the district’s website.

FACILITIES SURVEY

Vosberg said the results of a phone survey conducted last week regarding facilities upgrades should be available from the district’s consultant in the coming days.

The phone survey is one of the methods the district is using to gauge community support on a potential referendum to fund multi-million dollar building renovations and expansion.

The district also mailed out a survey and held a series of meetings to inform the community about what it is asking for, gather feedback and answer questions.

“We are excited to get the feedback,” Vosberg said. “We did a survey in the winter without really priming the community; we just put it out there, and that was 56 percent in favor.”

In the previous survey, a total of 430 respondents out of 846 indicated they were either strongly in favor or in favor of a proposal for the renovations.

Vosberg noted the mailer survey was “opt-in,” meaning the recipients had to choose to send back their responses, and those surveys tend to skew more favorably for passage of a referendum.

With the direct-call survey, fewer people are expected to participate, but it should present a rounded perspective.

About 200 to 250 responses are expected from the latest survey.

He added the state of the economy is different now than it was when the first survey was sent out, and rising inflation and gas prices could factor into the results as well.


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