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Local
Timeline uncertain for finish of downtown bus transfer station

KANKAKEE — A precise date of when the new Kankakee Metro Centre will be ready for use is unknown at this time, as material shipment delays have set back the project’s timeline, according to Ken Munjoy, River Valley Metro chief operating officer.

Although the site of the long-anticipated bus transfer station in downtown Kankakee appears to be nearly finished, Munjoy confirmed late last week that supply chain issues have pushed back its estimated completion, which was previously set for mid to late spring 2022.

In addition to waiting for some of the steel needed to build supports for the station’s canopy, much of the smaller detail work still needs to be done as well, he said.

“I cannot give you a specific opening date because some of that waiting on materials is open-ended,” he said. “I can’t even hazard a guess to be sure.”

Despite the delay, Munjoy said construction of the complex — located on East Chestnut Street between the 300 blocks of North Schuyler and North Dearborn avenues — has gone as smoothly as can be expected for a project of its size.

“You always have some speed bumps, but you expect that,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of waiting for some of those steel pieces to be fabricated and brought in.”

Munjoy was unsure how much steel is needed to complete the project, but he noted there would be a delay regardless of the quantity.

“The fact is, if it’s one piece or 10 pieces, it doesn’t matter, because we won’t open it until it’s 100% complete,” he said.

As for the reason for the steel shipment delay, Munjoy said he would hesitate to say it is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it certainly fits the pattern of how projects are going these days.

“I think there is a lot going on behind the scenes and the economy in general that are causing that sort of thing, that if you trace them back far enough, they probably all go back to COVID one way or another …

“I’ve got a project going on in my own house that’s come to a stop right now because we’re waiting for materials. It’s just the way it is.”

The main benefit to the center is buses will no longer be required to park on Chestnut Street to pick up riders, making for a much safer process.

The facility will feature covered areas for those waiting for buses at the downtown transfer station.

The location will be have ample lighting, heated sidewalks under the covered area, security cameras and seating.

The heated sidewalks will reduce the risk of snow and ice accumulation.

There will be a restroom area, but only for metro bus employees.

“It’s actually really beautiful and well done,” Munjoy said. “It’s kind of a continuation of the streetscape from downtown Kankakee, and the design was well thought out and really kind of a little jewel there at the north side of downtown Kankakee.”

The location is a piece of Kankakee property that has been used for many different things in the past, though it has not been developed in some time, Munjoy noted.

When the project was announced in August 2020, it was expected to cost about $4 million, with $1.6 million coming from the state of Illinois and another $2.4 million from the federal government.

The federal CARES Act meant that all of the funding came through, and two planned phases of construction were reduced down to one.

Apex Construction Group, the general contractor for the project, got started in the summer of 2021, and the work was initially planned to wrap up later that same year.

However, some unforeseen issues were found at the building site, such as basement walls that remained underground from previous developments and needed to be removed.

Those issues pushed the timeline for completion into 2022.


Local
Bears training camp logo going away

BOURBONNAIS — One of the final physical pieces of the Chicago Bears Summer Training Camp’s time in Bourbonnais will disappear next week.

At Monday’s board of trustees meeting, Mayor Paul Schore said the water tower featuring "Bourbonnais Summer Home of the Chicago Bears" will be painted over.

The Bears trained at Olivet Nazarene University from 2002-19.

A fresh coat of paint is being applied courtesy of Aqua Illinois, which owns the tower. That is scheduled to start next week.

It will be replaced by the Village of Bourbonnais logo, Schore said.

“It’s going to be sad to see the water tower painted over,” he said.

“It was nostalgic. The Bears were here 18 years, and we are appreciative of them as well as Olivet for hosting the team.

“You still have time to snap a picture,” Schore added.

Community Campus

Trustees adopted an ordinance allowing the village to sell $21.5 million in municipal bonds to build the Community Campus facility located behind the village’s Municipal Center.

The project will transform the land behind the Municipal Center into a gathering place for community events, as well as add a splash pad near the children’s safety town.

The area is used annually during the Friendship Festival, which is staged at the end of June.

Schore said the project will turn the land into a year-round facility that not only will be used by village residents, but residents of Kankakee County.

A last-minute challenge was started via a Facebook post from OUTRAGE of Kankakee County in April after the board’s intentions were to use the bond to pay for constructing the campus. OUTRAGE has led petition drives on other proposed bond issues, in particular with Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School and Bourbonnais Township Park District.

The effort to put the issue to a vote in the November general election failed as only one petition with 10 names was turned in to village officials.

Nine of the 10 signatures were residents of the village.

They needed at least 876 signatures of registered voters in the village to do so.

Schore said construction could begin later this year. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.


Crime
Arrest made in 2016 triple homicide case

Dante D. Dockett

KANKAKEE — Dante D. Dockett, 44, of Chicago, has been arrested on charges of a triple homicide that occurred October 2016 in Pembroke Township, according to Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey.

Dockett has been in federal custody for another case since October 2021, according to federal court documents.

In May, Dockett agreed to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

On Oct. 1, 2016, Reginald Neal, 56, and his two sons, Dangelo Neal, 24, and Davante Hopkins, 21, were discovered by a family member. All three had been shot multiple times in the head inside their home in the 4300 South block of 15500E Road, according to the sheriff’s department.

There were no signs of forced entry, and the victims were found in different parts of the home, sheriff’s officials said at the time.

“We were confident an arrest would be made,” Downey said.

More arrests are expected, he said.

The triple homicide occurred the same day Ralph Ledet, 46, of Pembroke Township, was shot and killed, according to police.

James E. Beals, 60, was convicted of killing Ledet, 46, of Pembroke Township, in January 2020. Beals is serving 55 years.

“I want to credit our investigators. They kept working on this for a long time. They didn’t give up.

“This has been an extremely challenging investigation. Many of those involved were not from the immediate area, which required working collectively with other law enforcement entities.

“It should be noted, however, that we felt confident that the victims in this particular case were targeted and that the residents of Pembroke Township and Kankakee County were at no greater risk while the investigation pursued over time.”

As for a motive, Downey said there are many.

“At this point, a lot of things are involved,” he said. “Certainly there were business dealings.”

The sheriff’s department and Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s Office worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Chicago Police Department on the investigation.

“Everything works better when you work together,” Downey said.


Local
City to host 2nd fireworks show

KANKAKEE — Kankakee will double the fireworks’ pleasure for area residents as a second summer display will begin at dusk June 18 at Pioneer Park in celebration of Juneteenth.

The June 18 show will be two weeks prior to the July 2 show, held two days before the nation’s annual birthday celebration.

At Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting, council members voted 13-0 approving an $8,000 contract with Mad Bomber Fireworks Production of Elgin. Mad Bomber is the firm conducting the July 2 show.

The 15-minute show will be part of the city’s Juneteenth celebration. The Saturday night show will take place at Pioneer Park.

The types of fireworks used will be just like those to be on display for the community during the July 2 show near the banks of the Kankakee River between Beckman Park and Kankakee Community College.

The July 2 show came in at a cost of $24,000, which is being entirely funded by Peoples Bank of Kankakee County. The bank is providing the July 2 show as a gift to the community as the organization celebrates its 60th year of service.

Mayor Chris Curtis said the June 18 display will be approximately five minutes shorter that the July 2 show. He said the cost difference is due to fireworks not being in as great of demand for the Juneteenth holiday as they are for the 4th of July.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

The holiday is actually on June 19, but just like the July 2 fireworks show, it is a little early.

Mayor Curtis joked after the council meeting that the city likes to be the first to host holiday fireworks events.


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