A1 A1
Courthouse lights up for a cause

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County Courthouse will be changing colors.

The Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department has teamed up with the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education’s Life Education Center and Pledge for Life Partnership to illuminate the courthouse in support of local causes.

On May 9, the lights on the courthouse were changed to lime green to reflect the beginning of National Prevention Week as well as Mental Health Awareness Month.

The event marked the beginning of a new effort to illuminate the courthouse throughout the year to reflect holidays and raise awareness for important causes.

Eventually, the initiative may be open to the public to sponsor colorful illuminations for their own causes for a few days, said Jim Schreiner, I-KAN project coordinator.

County e-waste program up and running

A countywide e-waste recycling program is officially up and running for Kankakee County.

Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler, in coordination with Belson Steel Center Scrap, held a news conference Monday morning that was also attended by mayors from communities participating in the program.

“We couldn’t have done this without buy-in of the other municipalities that have joined in, because what we don’t want us to have is alleys full of broken TVs, ditches full of busted out TVs and air conditioners, those things that should be here,” said Wheeler at the news conference held at Belson Steel at 1685 N. Illinois Route 50 in Bourbonnais across from the Northfield Square mall.

The Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency, which represents residents in Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley and Kankakee, had been administering the program through a grant that has since ended. The Belson Steel site will be open six days a week for residents of Kankakee and from the villages of Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Herscher, Hopkins Park, Grant Park, Manteno, St. Anne and Sun River Terrace to offer free e-waste recycling.

All county residents living outside of any municipal corporate limits or those within the above list of municipalities qualify for free approved e-waste disposal.

“We learned about a year and a half ago the current program had ended, and that KARMA was footing the bill for the entire e-waste program,” said Delbert Skimmerhorn, county planning manager. “And I was asked to look into what could we do to help. At the state level, we found that the CERA program, which is the consumer electronic recycling act, provided funds for this type of a program through a fee tacked on to the sale of all electronic goods in the state of Illinois.”

Skimmerhorn said the state’s CERA program would pay for the hauling away of the e-waste, but the county would have to do the collection. Through a request for proposal process, Belson Steel was selected to be the collection site for the municipalities in the intergovernmental agreement.

“This program makes a lot of sense for Kankakee County through 2026,” said Ben Wilson, county transportation manager. “This is not a short term [program] ... and we’d like to continue this. And this waste stream doesn’t go away. So we expect the CERA program to have an extension past 2026. And we’d really like for this to be our home for the long-term future.”

The county will pay Belson Steel Center $95,000 a year in the first two years of the agreement. For 2021, it has been prorated to $83,287 as of Feb. 15. The agreement, approved by the county board in February, and the parties will utilize 2020 census data for participating municipalities to create a fee schedule amount based upon cost per resident.

“We were able to take what KRMA paid and what a village of Manteno was paying, and cut that in half,” Wheeler said. “And that’s just to start with, and in about a year and a half, we’d like to get that down to $1 per resident. That’s a goal.”

There are still drop-off spots in Kankakee and Bradley for e-waste that were set up initially by KRMA.

Kankakee residents can still drop off at the site at Department of Public Works building at 401 W. Oak St.

“We’re analyzing this now,” Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis said. “The site has limited hours. We’re going to have to determine what we’re going to do with that going forward.”

Bradley’s drop-off site at the public works building at 210 E. Broadway will be available for the foreseeable future.

“We’re going to keep that,” Bradley Mayor Mike Watson said. “It’s more convenient, and they can drop off at a familiar location. We’re going to look at bringing the material here [Belson Steel] on a weekly, monthly basis, however much we generate.”

In Manteno, for the time being, the village will continue to pick-up e-waste on the first Tuesday of each month. Residents must call the village hall to be put on a list. Residents are limited to three items for each pick-up.

“By being part of this [countywide program] we’re able to offer the citizens the opportunity to come here anytime they want to,” Manteno Mayor Tim Nugent said. “...If somebody wants to get rid of their stuff right away, they can come down here anytime that this facility is open and drop it off.

“But we anticipate that all the stuff that we’re going to be picking up as a village is going to decrease dramatically because people are going to come here and drop it off at their convenience, as opposed to waiting for us. And we’re very happy to be part of that.”

Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge said his community will benefit from the e-waste program.

“In Pembroke, we are glad to be a partner because we get residents from outside the community come in to dump their waste in our community,” he said. “And this gives them an alternate location to bring their recycling.”

BBCHS superintendent interviews start this week

BRADLEY — Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School moved another step closer to finding its new superintendent on Monday.

The BBCHS District 307 School Board met in closed session for about an hour and 40 minutes to discuss candidates with BWP & Associates, the search firm it hired to find a replacement for Scott Wakeley.

Board President Justin Caldwell said board members will begin the first round of in-person interviews Wednesday.

They will spend the next two weeks interviewing the top six to seven candidates out of a pool of 25 applicants, he said. The interviews will be in closed session.

Wakeley is set to become co-superintendent for Homewood-Flossmoor High School on July 1, where he will work alongside the outgoing superintendent and assume the sole title the following school year. The school announced its decision to hire him in March.

Wakeley has been with BBCHS for eight years.

The BBCHS board then hired the Libertyville-based search firm to find his replacement in about six weeks’ time.

Their services cost $16,500 and would include help identifying an interim superintendent if a suitable candidate is not found in that time.

Board President Justin Caldwell said he still expects the decision will come within that time frame; the target is to have an offer in place by June 1, and hopefully have the right person in place in early June.

The person would have a July 1 start date.

“We are going to do everything we can to find the best candidate for the high school,” he said.

Caldwell said the salary for the new superintendent will be negotiated with the chosen candidate. Currently, Wakeley earns a salary of slightly more than $220,000 per year.

Caldwell also noted there were a mix of candidates applying from across the U.S., some within Illinois and some from other states.

He could not confirm whether any internal candidates applied, but the application process was open to them.

In addition to discussing the candidates, the board also reviewed the outcome of a community survey. Caldwell said it brought up a lot of good feedback and input.

“We saw that the majority of people were very happy with where the district was at and where it was going,” he said. “They gave us feedback that they wanted to see somebody who would be involved with the community, be a face in the community, a leader; they would embrace equity, embrace the staff and the planning procedure.”

Board OKs first vote on special use permit for Bradley move

BRADLEY — A brief tour of the Restoration Works’ existing facility is being planned to help ease neighbors’ concerns regarding its pending move to South Forest Avenue in Bradley.

The tour, something of a compromise to quell concerns of future residential neighbors, is being set for Monday.

The plan was agreed to at Monday’s Bradley Village Board meeting after trustees OK’d the special use permit of first reading by a 4-0 vote.

If all goes as planned, the special use permit within the industrial-zoned district will be brought up for a second and final vote on May 24.

The company has been at its present home in the Ken Hayes Industrial Park along East North Street for the past 15 years.

The company is seeking to purchase the former 36,000-square-foot Kankakee County Training Center property at 320 S. Forest Ave., to establish its new base of operation.

At the meeting and prior to the vote, Trustee Bob Redmond brought up the idea of a tour in an effort to ease neighborhood concerns.

Owner Gail Wallace at first said the tour would be of little use because the new operation at the new site will be far different that the old location due to new technologies and equipment.

Redmond acknowledged that fact, but noted residents are not interested in the operations of the wood restoration facility, but rather the odors from the process. He suggested if they could experience firsthand the operation that perhaps their concerns may be reduced.

Alyssa Gunter, a neighbor to the KCTC property, said after Monday’s meeting she was encouraged by the tour.

A neighbor to the future home of Restoration Works, she said the tour could go a long way toward easing fears.

Due to the competitive nature of furniture restoration, Wallace said cell phones will not be permitted on the tour.

Wallace noted tours of the plant are not uncommon, but they are mainly held for potential clients.

She also had concerns about touring the site they are leaving. She noted it is rather cramp and much of the equipment is being replaced.