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End of Watch tour honors Rittmanic

BRADLEY — The faces of 339 police officers arrived to the parking lot of the Bradley Police Station on Saturday afternoon, displayed alongside their names and end of watch dates in 2021.

Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic is one of those faces, with her watch having ended on Dec. 30, 2021.

The End of Watch Ride to Remember stopped in Bradley to honor Rittmanic as part of the nonprofit Beyond the Call of Duty’s effort to raise awareness of first responders lost in the line of duty and support the families and communities of the fallen.

Family, friends, fellow officers and community members gathered to welcome the caravan and participate in the brief ceremony where a blue rose was placed next to Rittmanic’s name by her wife, Lyn Stua.

Former and current officers embark on the 22,000-mile-plus tour, starting in Spokane, Wash., accompanied by motorcycle riders that follow a customized 28-foot trailer with photos and names of the 339 fallen officers in 2021.

Of those, 240 were due to COVID-19.

The tour made memorial stops throughout the Midwest, also stopping Saturday in Pesotum to honor Senior Master Trooper Todd Anthony Hanneken, and in Champaign to honor Police Officer Chris Oberheim.

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Man sentenced to 15 years in May 2017 murder

KANKAKEE — Devon M. Johnson, 25, of Kankakee, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of 23-year-old Steve Sanders, of Kankakee, in May 2017.

Johnson was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in March.

Kankakee County Circuit Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott announced her sentence during a hearing Friday.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Johnson will get a day of credit for each day he serves.

Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Reedy argued for the maximum 20 years.

Johnson’s attorney, John Ridge, argued for probation.

Under state sentencing guidelines, a second-degree murder conviction is a probational offense.

During his trial, Johnson testified he shot Sanders in self-defense on May 30, 2017, during a confrontation in an alley of the 500 block of East Bourbonnais Street in Kankakee.

He said he thought Sanders was going for a gun so he fired 12 rounds, striking Sanders three times. Johnson testified that he, two of his brothers, Shizzel Glenn and another man were in the alley when Sanders and two of his cousins approached, with Sanders saying he wanted to fight Johnson.

The two groups had exchanged words earlier in the day in the parking lot of a Bradley business over a gaming system Johnson accused Sanders of stealing from one of his brothers.

Glenn was a co-defendant in the shooting and agreed to testify after accepting a plea deal from the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office. He received 15 years in prison on a conspiracy to commit murder conviction. Glenn testified that he gave Johnson the gun used in the shooting.

Kankakee County voters to receive mail-in information

KANKAKEE COUNTY — Voters in Kankakee County will receive a postcard in early August explaining a new option for voting by mail.

According to Kankakee County Clerk Dan Hendrickson, “You may now apply to permanently be placed on vote-by-mail status.”

The postcard to voters will include an application to be permanently placed on this list, and an explanation of the new law that created the list. Those on the permanent vote-by-mail list will automatically receive a ballot in the mail 40 days in advance of any general, consolidated or primary election. When they receive the postcard, voters have four options related to the new permanent vote-by-mail list.

First, apply to receive a ballot in advance of every Kankakee County election, stating which party’s ballot the voter wants for primary elections. They will cast their ballots by mail.

Second, apply to receive a ballot by mail for only elections that do not require a party designation.

Third, apply to receive a ballot solely for the 2022 general election.

Fourth, do nothing and not be placed on the list. They will continue to vote at their polling places on election day, vote early, or vote by mail as allowed in the past.

This new voting option was put into place by Illinois law in June 2021. Illinois is one of several states to have this option for their voters. Hendrickson said he is required by law to send the letter and application to all voters in Kankakee County on August 10. This law part of a trend to encourage voting by mail.

“There is the convenience of early voting from home. In some of the larger polling places, it relieves the pressure of long lines at the end of election day,” he said.

“In general, (voters) have the benefit of sitting at home, researching the candidates and taking their time to fill out a ballot. If you want to vote by mail, you don’t have to remember to request the ballot,” he added.

Other advantages of permanent voting by mail relate to possible bad weather on an election day, and more convenience for people with a disability, limited mobility or transportation concerns.

Hendrickson said he does have some concerns. “I don’t see a problem with fraud,” he said. “We have a good handle on the number of ballots we mail out and the ones that have come back. My biggest concern is if you are on the permanent ballot list and then you want to switch between parties for a primary, we’ve already sent you a ballot. I’m wanting to ensure the first ballot comes back to our office and the right ballot gets to you.”

When someone moves, he wants to be sure that he is notified of address changes, and wants to know ballots are going to the right address.

“I do have a concern where we mail out a ballot, they don’t get it or forget, and then go to the polling place. On the poll book, it states that a ballot was sent, and the election judge will see that.”

There are procedures between the precincts and the County Clerk’s office to work this out on election day.

Hendrickson also is concerned about the costs associated with the mailing to all county voters. He assures voters that while the whole country is trending to early voting and mail-in ballots, regular Election Day will continue in Kankakee County.

“The polls are going to be open. You will still have the option to do what you’ve always done and vote on election day if that’s your preference,” he said.

“When we get that application back, that’s when something will change. Or if you choose not to apply now, you can always come back later to the County Clerk’s office and ask for an application to be put on the permanent vote my mail list.”

Hendrickson said the letters to voters will be sent Aug. 10. Ballots will be sent on Sept. 29 to those who return an application asking to be on the permanent vote by mail list. Hendrickson noted that some voters might get similar letters from other groups who are encouraging permanent voting by mail.

Despite other mailings, he is required to send a letter from her office to every Kankakee County voter. Voters only need to file one application.

Additionally, he wants people to understand this option and urges people to call or come in to the office at the 189 East Court Street in Kankakee if they have questions, call 815-937-2990 or email at