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Renovations underway to KCC electrical engineering space

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Community College’s Technology Building is undergoing $1.75 million renovations to classroom and lab space used by students in the Electrical Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Technology programs.

Work began in February on the first of two phases of construction. Phase 1, which upgrades the Industrial Electricity Lab, is projected to finish in June and to be ready for classes in the fall 2021 semester.

Rob Kenney, KCC director of facilities, said the Industrial Electricity Lab which is currently being renovated will include about 2,383 square feet of usable area.

The space will combine classroom and lab areas and include new ADA compliant restrooms, along with a new electrical system throughout the building. Eventually, the whole Technology Building will be renovated.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting to get to it,” he said.

The overall project will include enhancements for all of KCC’s Technology Division programs, including Electrical Engineering Technology, Computer Graphic Technology, Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice, and Automotive Technology.

Phase 1 renovations were kickstarted by state funding secured through Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, who secured $1,250,000, and Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, who secured $500,000 in last year’s budget for capital infrastructure improvement.

In a KCC press release, Joyce said the funding shows the state’s commitment to “accelerating higher education” in Kankakee.

“Colleges and universities like Kankakee Community College not only provide students with a top-notch education, but also contribute to economic development in our communities,” Joyce said.

Parkhurst added in the release that KCC is a “vital part” of the local economy and workforce development.

“KCC was No. 1 on my list to receive state funds to improve outdated infrastructure and assist KCC in its aim of providing all-aged learners the education and tools they need to enrich and improve their lives and careers,” she said.

Nucor Steel of Kankakee has also pledged $250,000 over five years toward helping students through this project. Renovated spaces will also be used for customized workforce training.

Currently, there are 201 students actively pursuing KCC’s Electrical Engineering Technology program.

From 2017 to 2020, 134 students completed the electrical engineering classes offered during the fall semesters and 81 students completed them during the spring semesters.

The classes to take place in the Phase 1 Industrial Electricity Lab are sophomore level, including ELTR 2414 Industrial Motor Control, ELTR 2454 Industrial Instrumentation, and ELTR 2074 DC & AC Rotating Machines.

UPDATED: Hall's candidacy rejected by electoral board

Editor's note: We have updated today's report as an emergency motion has been filed. 

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee city clerk candidate who was voted off of the April 6 ballot by the Kankakee Electoral Board on Monday has now filed an emergency motion to stay the decision.

Destini Sutherland-Hall, the Republican Party candidate for the open city clerk position, had a five-page emergency motion filed to stay the decision of the three-member electoral board and is seeking an emergency briefing schedule and hearing.

The motion was filed in the Kankakee County Circuit Court. Sutherland-Hall told The Journal following the Monday morning ruling that her fight to stay on the ballot had only just begun.

The hearing will be before circuit court Associated Judge Nancy Nicholson beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday.


Kankakee voters might not decide who the next Kankakee City Clerk is after all.

The choice may ultimately be determined by a Kankakee County Circuit Court judge in the coming days.

On Monday morning, the three-member Kankakee Electoral Board unanimously voted that Republican Party city clerk candidate Destini Sutherland-Hall should not have a place on the ballot for the election which concludes April 6.

Sutherland-Hall is opposing Democratic Party candidate Stacy Gall for the position which will be open as 20-year city clerk Anjanita Dumas did not seek re-election.

The objection to Sutherland-Hall’s nominating petition was filed by Kankakee resident Rhonda Love. She did not attend the hearing in person.

Kankakee County Clerk Dan Hendrickson said as of Monday afternoon, voting will continue as it has since early voting opened on Wednesday for the municipal election. Hendrickson said he awaits instruction on any further action.

As of Tuesday, there are 13 days of early voting which remain. That number includes two Saturdays which will offer early voting at the clerk’s downtown office.

Based upon the recommendation of attorney Ross Secler, of the Ross Secler & Associates law firm of Chicago, who served as the board’s legal counsel, he recommended a ruling in which Sutherland-Hall gathered nominating signatures prior to her March 10 nomination by the Kankakee Republican Party Central Committee.

The ruling following also stated the board did not believe the city’s central committee didn’t actually meet to nominate the candidate.

Sutherland-Hall’s legal counsel will now seek a temporary restraining order blocking Monday’s ruling. This move is intended to keep the election process moving forward within the city, as on Wednesday early voting began and the city clerk’s race is part of the ballot.

The case was heard by the board on Friday and on Monday the board decision was acted upon following the presentation by Secler.

Voting on the case were the three Electoral Board members, Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, 7th Ward Alderman Carl Brown and Dumas.

After the hearing, Sutherland-Hall said Monday’s ruling was exactly what she anticipated.

“We are moving forward to the circuit court. This ruling absolutely did not surprise me,” she said. “... I remain confident this ruling will be dropped at circuit court. Nothing was done wrong. The [electoral] board interpreted this for their own gain.”

Kankakee County Republican Party chairman Nick Africano said everything was completed properly.

“We feel very confident Destini will remain on the ballot and will win,” he said, adding that “This is all about muddying the waters to discourage people from voting for Destini.”

Some Kankakee parents ask for remote, hybrid options to continue

KANKAKEE — Several parents and teachers in Kankakee School District 111 spoke in favor of continuing remote and hybrid learning options into next school year during the public comment portion of Monday’s school board meeting.

Meanwhile, the majority of parents that have responded so far to the district’s surveys for next school year said they want in-person learning.

For Kankakee High School, the district is planning to offer students three options: a traditional-like schedule (with four regular, in-person school days and one flexible day per week), a hybrid schedule or a fully remote schedule.

Superintendent Genevra Walters said specific plans are still being worked out for the elementary buildings; she hopes to have answers for what next school year will look like for K-8 schools by April 1.

Out of 938 parents of elementary and junior high students that have responded to the survey so far, 637 said they want in-person learning, 212 said they want hybrid learning and 89 said they want fully remote learning.

Out of 911 parents of high school students that have responded so far, 518 said they want the traditional-like schedule, 259 said they want hybrid learning and 134 said they want fully remote learning.

Felice Hybert, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said the district is planning to give options next school year because “one size does not fit all,” noting the differing responses on the survey.

“We want to design so we can meet the needs of all of our families and students in the community,” Hybert said.

Walters said some families feel very strongly that school should go back to the way it was before the pandemic.

“It’s understandable, because there are students who really need to be face-to-face with teachers, but there are children that are doing better [on remote or hybrid],” Walters said.

Walters also clarified why parents are being asked to contact principals to request more in-person class time now that CDC guidelines on social distancing in schools have been reduced to between 3 and 6 feet.

She said schools will be able to let more students into the buildings at a time, but principals decide scheduling because they have the best understanding of spacing from classroom to classroom.

“One classroom may be able to take up to 20 students with social distancing, and another classroom may be able to take 15,” she explained. “With almost 300 classrooms across the district, there’s no way I could make that decision by classroom.”

Stacy Burkhammer, parent of a seventh grader, said her daughter has excelled in remote learning, and she asked the board to extend the remote option into next school year.

“I’m speaking of a child who came from F’s and C’s to A’s and B’s,” she said. “I’m very proud of her, her focus, her responsibility. She sets that time to get up and get on, takes her breaks in between classes, and she stays on every day faithfully from 9 until 3 … I’ve seen a growth in her I hadn’t seen before.”

Jeannie Beland, parent of an eighth grader, said her son is autistic and used to have frequent meltdowns during school; now, on hybrid learning, he comes to school once a week and no longer has anxiety around school.

“He’s always been an A-student because he is very bright, but the quality of his work has increased,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Rachel Jordan, sixth grade teacher at King Middle School and parent of a student at Kennedy Middle School, said she believes parents should be able to choose which learning option is best.

She noted that she was skeptical when remote learning began last March. Now, she has found quiet students are speaking up in the online chat, while others who were easily distracted in school are able to set up a quiet place at home to focus.

“I was surprised to find that while some students really struggled with the transition, others of them really shone in that remote environment,” Jordan said. “Right now about a third of my students are fully remote, and we’ve really created a classroom community.”

Evelyn Barnes, sixth grade teacher at King, also said she was an advocate for offering remote and hybrid learning options.

“What I’ve seen from students who struggled in the traditional setting is a place of comfort and opportunity to grow… It’s not for everyone, but we are here to meet the needs of all of our students.”

Kankakee police investigate shooting

KANKAKEE — Kankakee police are investigating the shooting death of Alex Andrade, 24, Kankakee, that occurred Monday inside a residence in the 300 block of South Washington Avenue.

Andrade was a resident of the house, Kankakee Police Chief Frank Kosman said.

Police were called to the house at 2:20 p.m. According to police, a resident in the house said that an unknown subject(s) entered the house, shot Andrade and then fled.

Kankakee County Coroner Bob Gessner said Andrade suffered multiple gunshot wounds and that an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.