A1 A1
top story
Potawatomi Campground will remain open through October

BOURBONNAIS — There are a couple weekends left in the camping season for the recently reopened Potawatomi Campground at the Kankakee River State Park in Bourbonnais.

The campground had set idle for more than five years before reopening this past Friday to the delight of Stacey Johnson, superintendent of Kankakee River State Park. Each passing year she was hopeful it would reopen.

“Now it’s official, and it’s just exciting,” Johnson said. “It looks nice. It’s exciting to see a [campground] host there and people camping already.”

There were a few campers this past weekend, and campers can reserve sites for the rest of the month at reserveamerica.com or just stop by the state park at 5314 W. Illinois Route 102. There are 48 campsites available. The Class A premium campsites are $25 per night ($35 per night on major holidays), and each site has an electrical hookup. Shower facilities, restrooms and a dump station are available within the campground.

“They can just show up and just camp if there are open sites,” Johnson said. “We have a campground host that they can check in with.”

The park opens at 7 a.m., and the campground closes at 10 p.m. Campground hosts are typically there from noon to 8 p.m.

“It’s kind of flexible,” Johnson said. “If the host isn’t there, just set up and check in with the host later.”

Johnson and her staff of four site technicians have been working hard to get the campground reopened.

“We’ve kept up maintenance and work in the campgrounds — brush control, spraying the pads and just all the general maintenance that you have to do,” she said.

The staff had a final walk through, and the sewage plant was restarted prior to this past Friday’s reopening.

“Things have been sitting for a long time, so water lines and electric lines had to be repaired,” Johnson said. “There’s been a lot to do. Everybody has worked very hard every year to get it done, and we have less staff to do it with.”

Constructing the new sewage treatment was part of the long-needed renovations in addition to expanding the shower buildings and adding more restrooms.

“All of this before wasn’t big enough to accommodate the number of campers we have at that campground,” Johnson said. “We have cleared out a lot of sites and opened them up for easier access. We power washed and painted, it just looks really nice. It’s beautiful.”

The campground will close on Oct. 31 but will open back up on May 1, 2021, and all 112 sites are expected to be available.

Potawatomi Campground has several amenities nearby.

“We have the bike trail that goes right by the campground so they can jump right on it from the campground,” Johnson said. “That’s a really nice trail. We have fishing and hiking and Cross Creek Canyon. It’s a great park.”

It’s also hopeful that the Chippewa Campground at the state park will reopen in 2021.

“The project has been bidded out, so we’re just waiting for a contractor to come in and for the project to start,” Johnson said. We’re farther than we’ve been with [Chippewa].”

COVID-19 takes center stage in VP debate

SALT LAKE CITY — Trading barbs through plexiglass shields, Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris turned the only vice presidential debate of 2020 into a dissection of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with Harris labeling it “the greatest failure of any presidential administration.”

Pence, who leads the president’s coronavirus task force, acknowledged that “our nation’s gone through a very challenging time this year,” yet vigorously defended the administration’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting, which was far more civil than last week’s chaotic faceoff between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, unfolded against an outbreak of coronavirus now hitting the highest levels of the U.S. government. Trump spent three days at the hospital before returning to the White House on Monday, and more than a dozen White House and Pentagon officials are also infected, and even more are in quarantine.

With less than four weeks before Election Day, the usually less consequential vice presidential debate took on more significance in the days following the president’s infection.

Republicans are looking to cast the race as a choice between two candidates fighting to move the country in vastly different directions. Biden and Harris, they say, would pursue a far-left agenda bordering on socialism; the Democrats say Trump’s administration will stoke racial and other divides, torpedo health care for people who aren’t wealthy and otherwise undercut national strength.

Harris, 55, made history by becoming the first Black woman to stand on a vice presidential debate stage. She condemned the police killings of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota and spoke about the protests against racial injustice in policing that followed, which Trump has portrayed as “riots” as he calls for law-and-order.

“We are never going to condone violence but we must always fight for the values that we hold dear,” Harris said. “I’m a former career prosecutor. I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops.”

Pence, 61, said his heart breaks for Taylor’s family but he trusts the U.S. justice system. He called it “remarkable” that Harris, as a former attorney general and prosecutor, would question the grand jury’s decision in the case not to charge an officer with killing her.

He also pushed back against the existence of systemic racism in police departments and rejected the idea that law enforcement officers have a bias against minorities.

“I want everyone to know who puts on the uniform of law enforcement every day, President Trump and I stand with you,” Pence said. “We don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement, proving public safety and supporting our African-American neighbors.”

The candidates also clashed on taxes — or specifically, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns four years after repeatedly promising to do so. The New York Times reported last month that the president pays very little personal income tax but owes hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

“It’d be really good to know who the president owes money to,” Harris said.

“The one thing we know about Joe, he puts it all out there. He is honest, he is forthright,” she added. “Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been about covering up everything.”

Pence defended Trump as a job creator who has paid more than his fair share of taxes and shifted toward Biden: “On Day One, Joe Biden’s going to raise your taxes.”

Both candidates sidestepped difficult questions at times.

Pence didn’t directly address a question about whether climate change was an existential threat or whether Trump would accept the election results should he lose, while Harris declined to say whether Biden would push to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

Village of Bradley official facing domestic battery charge

KANKAKEE — A Bradley village official is facing a misdemeanor domestic battery charge following a videotaped incident in December 2019.

The Kankakee County State’s Attorney Office filed the charge Wednesday against Catherine Wojnarowski, administrator for the Village of Bradley.

Wojnarowski, 40, is accused of battering a man on Dec. 7, 2019, with the complainant filing a report last month. Wojnarowski is married but the complainant is not her husband.

According to Kankakee County court records, the initial hearing is set for Nov. 4 before Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott.

Wojnarowski has been on administrative leave with the village since Sept. 10. Saying it was a personnel matter, Bradley Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson declined at the time to release the reason for the leave, which he described as “open ended.” Attempts by the Journal to contact Wojnarowski regarding the suspension were unsuccessful.

Watson did, however, say that the village was investigating information which was brought to the administration concerning Wojnarowski, who has been the administrator since 2017.

Contacted by the Daily Journal Wednesday evening after the charge was filed, Watson again declined to comment.

According to a Kankakee County Sheriff’s report given to the Daily Journal, the alleged battery incident took place Dec. 7, 2019, at a social event in Bradley.

The complainant said Wojnarowski had been drinking but said he had not consumed alcohol.

They left the event and were heading to the complainant’s home in Valparaiso, Ind.

According to the report, the complainant said Wojnarowski dug her fingers into his arm that he had resting on the center console in his vehicle and drew blood, according to the report. In his report to the police, he said the incident was unprovoked.

At that point, according to a police report, he decided to turn around and take her back to her home.

The complainant said she then punched him in the mouth, according to court documents. He told police he then started recording her on his phone. Two videos of the incident have been posted online by the complainant.

When he filed the report last month, the complainant said his relationship with the Wojnarowski continued until recently.

He also told an investigator, “that Ms. Wojnarowski is the village administrator for Bradley and he does fear some retaliation. He said he feared she is going to get him in trouble.”

ONU sets week of new restrictions following COVID-19 spike

BOURBONNAIS — Olivet Nazarene University is implementing additional COVID-19 restrictions for one week after a recent spike in positive cases on campus.

The university has 41 total active positive cases, 19 students isolating on campus and 22 students isolating off campus as of Wednesday, according to the university’s website.

Students are being directed not to have visitors in their apartments or dorms for the seven-day restriction period, and campus activities will be limited. Dining options will also be reduced, with students being asked to carry out meals and eat in their rooms.

The university posted a “campus update” video to its Facebook page Monday explaining current restrictions.

Dan Shardra, an associate biology professor, said in the video that the university brought its number of cases down quickly at the start of the semester, then had zero to two cases per week for a little over a month.

Last week, the number of active cases jumped as high as 40. As of Wednesday, the reported count of active cases is 41.

“When that virus comes onto campus and enters into a group, or in our current case, a couple of groups that aren’t particularly following the guidelines very well, we end up with spread, and spread rather quickly, which has led us to our current situation,” Shardra said in the video. “And for these next seven days, we are going to need to hit a hard reset on what’s going on here.”

He went on to say that students are required to wear face masks on campus whenever they are around an individual other than their own roommate and a 6-foot social distance cannot be maintained, even while outdoors.

Shardra explained that a quarantined individual is someone who has been exposed to a known positive case, and they are limited to interact with only their roommate. Someone quarantined in a dorm should only leave their room to use the restroom or pick up their meals, and they should always be masked while doing so, he said.

“The other thing that these seven days are going to do for us is give us a chance to sort of reset cultural expectations a little bit so that we can continue to move forward throughout not only this semester, but the rest of this year with a high degree of success,” Shardra said. “The secret sauce really isn’t that secret here. It’s as simple as distancing and wearing your mask, which are just about limiting interactions and making sure the interactions we are having are safe interactions.”