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KHS marching band to perform in Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

KANKAKEE — While it might not be exactly 76 trombones leading the big parade, the Kankakee High School marching band will be taking its musical talents to Chicago on Thanksgiving day for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.

The annual, televised event happens in downtown Chicago on Nov. 24, and the KHS marching band, also known as the Marching Kays, will be participating.

“This is a new beginning here; that’s exciting,” said James William Render III, the band’s new director.

Render took the role this school year and met with parents before summer band camp began.

“Parents had a concern that students in past years hadn’t done any parades,” he recalled.

Render, of Oak Lawn, previously had directed the marching bands of Thorntown Township High School and Hillcrest High School, and both schools participated in the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade under his direction.

While the deadline for application had passed, Render decided to reach out anyway, lightly mentioning the possibility to his students.

“That was a big blessing because I really wanted to try and give the [KHS] kids the opportunity to do [the parade].”

When the application was accepted, he said the students “were very excited.”

“It was out of the blue, and I just dropped it on them,” he said of the news.

The parade, which begins about 8 a.m., requires the students to have an early morning call time. Additional staff and students, as well as Kays Media, will be going along to support the performers.

The program has about 78 members, and about 45 or 50 performers will partake in the parade. During their televised spot, the band will be performing “Sleigh Ride” and is beginning to practice the number this week.

Render said he’s made some changes since taking over the band, one of which was turning the marching style into “show style,” which “has high knees instead of heel to toe. It’s a little more energetic and has a little more drive to it.

“The kids have been excited with the new style and have come a long way since the summer,” Render said.

On the official Facebook page for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, organizers posted a photo of the KHS marching band and welcomed them to the lineup.

“We are excited to have Kankakee High School Band from Kankakee with us this year,” parade organizers wrote in a social media post.

“The band motto this year is ‘Performance With Excellence,’ and we can’t wait to hear them on Thanksgiving morning!”

Render looks forward to sharing this opportunity with KHS, as well as Kankakee as a whole.

“It’s good for everybody, for the face of the school and a good rallying point for the community,” he said.

Bradley purchases artificial Christmas tree

BRADLEY — Some five years or so after a real evergreen tree at Bradley Village Hall died and was removed, the Bradley Village Board agreed to purchase a new artificial one for the 2022 holiday.

It came at a cost. How about $15,069?

The village trustees approved the purchase of the 20-foot tree — which has the capability of being expanded to 40-feet — through the purchase of an additional lower half.

The tree is being purchased from Wintergreen Corp., of Alpharetta, Ga., said village public works director Terry Memenga. He is anticipating the tree will be delivered in mid-October.

The tree will likely be put on display outside of village hall the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week and it will, of course, be on full display for the Dec. 2 Christmas parade along West Broadway Street.

“We are upping our game,” Memenga said regarding holiday decorations. He said the tree is just the latest example.

The village recently purchased new holiday decorations for light poles along West Broadway Street.

Mayor Mike Watson joked the village needed to stay one step ahead of neighboring Kankakee, which just announced plans to have a Christmas parade this year. Bradley will be hosting its 37th annual parade in December.

Memenga said the new tree will be the same style as smaller trees the village has purchased in the past few years.

While the tree arrives as a “pre-lit” tree, Memenga said his crew will need to install the 1,200 LED lights.

The tree will annually be on display for about 60 days. Memenga said he would anticipate the tree being a part of the village’s holiday landscape for at least 20 years.

3 KVPD parks to get playground equipment

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Valley Park District commissioners approved spending $240,200 for playground equipment at three of its parks during Monday’s board meeting.

The new equipment will be placed at Washington Park, Bert Dear Sr. Park and Potawatomi Park, KVPD Executive Director Dayna Heitz said.

Updated equipment at Washington Park will replace equipment that is more than 20 years old. It sits on the southeast portion of the park located on North Washington Avenue and West Chestnut Street.

The equipment at Washington Park will cost $102,000.

The equipment will be an addition to Bert Dear Sr. Park, located in the 600 block of North Schuyler Avenue. The cost is $70,200. It will be located in the southwest corner tucked in behind a park pavilion and two basketball courts.

Potawatomi Park is located at South Division Street and West Front Street in Aroma Park.

It currently has two pieces of equipment, Heitz said.

Harbor update

Heitz said the board approved $79,080 to Piggush Engineering of Bourbonnais for Phase I of the Beckman Harbor project. That phase will be replacing the east wall of the harbor that collapsed last year.

The firm will design, prepare the bids and manage the project.

Heitz said bids should go out in January with construction set for spring 2023.

Commissioners also approved paying Piggush Engineering $27,480 for Phase II of the project at River Road Complex, which is to construct a road from the campground to the boat launch.


The commissioners approved $66,150 to be paid to Sport Court Midwest to repurpose the Beckman Park tennis court into three pickleball courts.

The company will grind down the current surface, resurface and line the courts and put up the posts and netting.

Walking trails

Washington Park will be one of eight parks to have its walking trail replaced.

The park district received $300,000 from the city of Kankakee’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve the paths.

The other parks to get new trails are Gov. Small Memorial, Bert Dear Sr., Cobb, Pioneer, Alpiner, Kensington and Old Fair.

Dem lawmaker supports SAFE-T Act changes

An Illinois lawmaker is proposing changes to the SAFE-T Act, which ends cash bail on Jan. 1. The trailer bill that could come up after the November election has led some to speak out against it.

Senate Bill 4228 was introduced by state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, and aims to clarify language and improve how officials can enforce the new law, which will allow most people charged with a crime to be released from jail as they await trial, even violent offenders in some cases.

Five counties, including Kankakee and Will, have filed lawsuits against the legislation. Vermilion County, which filed suit Tuesday, was the fifth county to file action.

On Sept. 16, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe filed a civil lawsuit in Kankakee County against the State of Illinois. Rowe is seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional.

Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey has also been a harsh critic of the state legislation.

The Rowe lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction based upon claims the SAFE-T Act violates the Illinois Constitution, single-subject law and separation of powers; is unconstitutionally vague; and violates the three-reading requirement.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who signed the measure into law and has defended the cashless bail provision against critics, recently suggested the SAFE-T Act could undergo some changes. But some SAFE-T Act supporters already oppose Bennett’s trailer bill.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Network for Pre-Trial Justice said it opposed the trailer bill.

“If passed, this bill would cause the number of people jailed while awaiting trial to skyrocket and exacerbate racial disparities in Illinois’ jails,” the network said in a statement. “The Pretrial Fairness Act was designed to ensure that everyone has access to the presumption of innocence, and the changes included in SB4228 would deny all Illinoisans that right. These measures would create a pretrial system far worse than today.”

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia and the GOP candidate for governor, expects the SAFE-T Act as it is will make things worse for Illinois.

“Governor Pritzker has created the crime that goes on in Chicago and on our streets,” Bailey said. “Friends, on Jan. 1, the crime that we are reading about in Chicago will open up across our state.”

Bailey also suggests that a change in leadership is what the state needs.

“Why aren’t they calling Pritzker into account, why are they not calling Lori Lightfoot to account, why are they not asking why Kim Foxx is not prosecuting anyone,” Bailey said on his Facebook page. “This is devastating and ravaging our country and the city of Chicago.”

The INPJ also released a “fact sheet” claiming Bennett’s proposed changes would create a presumption of detention for people charged with crimes that would require them to serve life in prison if convicted and removes the ability of defense attorneys to challenge unlawfully obtained evidence at the detention hearing stage.