KANKAKEE — Kankakee Community College President Michael Boyd approached the Kankakee Valley Park District board at its monthly meeting this past Wednesday about extending the lease agreement for KCC’s Fitness Center.
“We just want to make sure the park district and the community college are working from the same information as we talk about the Fitness Center and the Ice Valley Arena,” Boyd said.
It was reported the KCC initially paid $112,500 spread out over three years in the initial agreement finalized in 2006. Since 2010, KCC has paid $1 annually for the lease, and the agreement let it extend the deal for three additional five-year terms.
The third five-year term will run from Sept. 1, 2020, to Aug. 31, 2025. The agreement is expected to extended after that term expires.
Boyd presented the board with a packet that included a timeline of the intergovernmental agreement between KCC and KVPD. It outlined several additional contributions KCC made as part of the initial agreement that was originally struck on Nov. 20, 2003.
KCC agreed to an exchange of land of 11.53 acres to KVPD to build the Ice Valley Centre at 1601 River Road in Kankakee, and it agreed to grant all needed utility easement to KVPD. KCC agreed to compensate KVPD in the amount of $696,000.
“The community college brought that to the table to make sure that we could get that construction done,” Boyd said.
There were also cost overruns related to the construction of Ice Valley, and KCC agreed on an addendum to pay two additional sums of $225,000, paid in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Combined with $112,500 lease payments, KCC’s total payment for the facility was just more than $1.3 million.
“We appreciate the partnership,” Boyd said. “We’ve talked about that for a long time, and we want to continue that partnership. We just wanted to make sure we had all the information and are working from a shared perspective.”
In addition, KCC offers complimentary fitness center membership to all KVPD employees and commissioners.
Boyd and KVPD Executive Director Dayna Heitz have had talks about continuing the intergovernmental agreement.
“We do have another meeting set up for September, and we do have ongoing conversations,” Heitz said.
“We’re neighbors, and we’re friends and we have very similar missions so we’ve got to work together,” Boyd said.
The parks board also agreed to a contract with the Kankakee Youth Hockey Club for its use of the Ice Valley Centre Ice Arena for the upcoming season, KYHC sponsors several youth hockey teams and the Kankakee Irish high school squad. The two agreed on the use of available meeting rooms at Ice Valley in addition to its ice time.
The board approved the contract subject to attorney reviews.
First the good news: In 2019, the Kankakee County region once again experienced an increase to its economy based on tourism.
The county contributed to Illinois’ economic domestic growth with $156.8 million in travel expenditure — a 4.1 percent increase from 2018 — and $4.2 million in local tax revenue, up by 5.3 percent from 2018.
More than 1,800 jobs where created across the state as a result of visitor spending, with 20 of them in Kankakee County.
Now the bad news. Tourism officials at this point won’t even speculate as to how deep the COVID-19 pandemic may cut into those numbers. At this point, 2020 — as it relates to travel and tourism — is a great unknown.
“I don’t even know how I would even guess as to how far down 2020 could be,” Staci Wilken, executive director for the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau, bluntly stated. “Everyone knows leisure travel, corporate travel has been greatly impacted.”
But next year’s numbers will be discussed when they are released in 2021. The recently released 2019 numbers did bring a smile to Wilken.
“2019 was following the pace of what has been happening here for the past several years. We have been travel expenditures increase yearly. The trend was more in the right direction and it was in all phases: business, leisure and sports travel,” she said.
Wilken said Kankakee County’s leisure travel destination had been receiving exposure on so many platforms these past few years and the county was reaping the benefits of this message.
She noted the CVB is one of 40 state travel organizations certified in destination marketing. Including the Kankakee County organization, destination marketing CVBs include the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, Discover DePage County, Naperville Convention & Visitors Bureau among others.
“It is our job to reach out to travelers to help them understand and create an appeal to make them choose Kankakee County as a place to visit. It’s this office’s job to differentiate Kankakee County from every other community, to help them make the choice to visit here.
“We are marketing an experience and a lot goes into that experience-making process. These 2019 numbers validate what we do as an organization and what we do for the community.”
Of course, Kankakee County still had the Chicago Bears’ summer camp in 2019. The 2020 summer would have been the first time in 18 years that Kankakee County was not set to host the training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. The camp would have not happened regardless because of concerns associated with COVID and the need for social distancing.
The not-for-profit Kankakee County CVB was founded in 1983.
The goal, of course, is to keep it functioning even in these difficult times.
“At this point, my focus is how can we preserve the organization and get to the other side. We put forth a conservative budget. We’ve cut revenue projections, cut staff and are closing our office. The biggest loss for me has been the loss of the team members who have put so much into this organization.
“For so many years we have helped so many organizations through sponsorships and things like that. We are now seeking help to carry us through this difficult time. We will get through this.”
Update: Bradley was hoping to get 20 to 30 low- to moderate-income homeowners to apply for a portion of the $550,000 Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Development grant the village is seeking regarding home repairs.
Instead, Bruce Page, the village’s community development director, was overwhelmed this past 10 days or so.
The village received 90 inquiries and of that total, 60 homeowners completed the necessary paperwork to potentially be selected for home-repair assistance.
A public hearing with state officials for the competitive grant will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the village hall.
“I was certainly surprised by the number of responses,” Page said. “This shows that people are reading the newspaper.” The Daily Journal published a story regarding the program and Page said he was overwhelmed by the response once the story was published.
Page noted that all 60 applications will be forwarded on to the state. The state ultimately makes the decision on which applications are accepted. It is expected that no more than 14 to 15 applications will be selected.
“We had applicants from across the scale. We had young people out of work, senior citizens on fixed incomes and large families. People were so appreciative that we are willing to help,” he said. “This market obviously has a need.”
A selected owner-occupied house can receive no more than $50,000 of assistance for home repairs or renovations.
BOURBONNAIS — A Sunday search was called off until this morning as the bodies of two people remain missing in the Kankakee River.
Bourbonnais Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Jim Keener said they received a call at 10:39 a.m. Sunday of two persons needing help in the river.
“Prior to our arrival, two Bradley Police officers and an off-duty Kankakee County Sheriff’s deputy entered the river and rescued two victims,” Keener said.
“Two other victims slipped under the water and never surfaced again,” he said. “We are currently in a recovery mode for the two missing victims.”
The two family members who were rescued by police were taken to local hospitals.
The incident occurred near the mouth of the Indian Caves and the river. The family, which lives out of the area, was walking in the river, Keener said.
Daily Journal staff report
MOMENCE — Momence Community Unit School District 1 switches to fully remote learning for all students beginning today.
Superintendent Shannon Anderson issued a letter to families Wednesday explaining that the decision was based on rising cases in the area over the past few weeks as well as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s new restrictions to mitigate the virus in Region 7.
“We believe the data supports a need for stabilization of our communities in order for us to safely continue with in-person learning,” Anderson said.
The new restrictions don’t apply to schools.
Thursday and Friday last week were used as remote planning days for teachers. Remote learning starts today.
Alternating attendance days won’t be in effect for remote learning; all students will attend remote learning sessions each day.
The district’s pandemic team will re-evaluate the plan on Oct. 2 and consider a return to in-person blended learning, according to the letter.
The district’s first day of school was Aug. 19, when students returned for half-days of in-person learning.
“We recognize that there is no escaping inevitable positive COVID-19 cases even upon our return,” Anderson said. “However, given the current state of our area and region, it is important that we as a community work together in order to stabilize the spread of COVID-19 before returning back to in-person learning.”