Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at


Raymond Eads

Newly elected Kankakee Valley Park District commissioner Raymond Eads is making the most of his public service opportunity.

Eads, of Kankakee, was elected board president by his fellow commissioners by a 4-1 vote at Monday’s board meeting at the Bird Park Administration building. It was Eads’ first meeting with the board as he was elected to the commissioner post earlier this month.

“It was very flattering,” said Eads, who’s no stranger to holding public office.

Eads, a retired teacher, previously served as vice president of the school board at Blue Island School District 130, while he was also an alderman in Blue Island in the mid-1990s.

“I was able to do that [hold two positions] before they changed the law,” he said.

Eads was also chairman of a historical society, chairman of a historic preservation commission and a chairman of a marina commission.

Eads, 74, also taught school for 31 years at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park and was a department chairman the last eight of those years. He’s lived on Cobb Boulevard in Kankakee for the past 18 years.

“I was burned out from being on so many committees and so much work,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘Don’t tell anybody I’ve ever done anything.’ But now since it’s been a number of years, as we moved from Blue Island to Villa Park and then to here in Kankakee, I said, ‘I’m ready to jump back into the fray.”

Commissioner Dave Skelly, who was re-elected on April 6 as a commissioner, was elected vice president, while commissioner Don Palmer was elected treasurer. Newly elected commissioner Michael Matthews was voted as secretary. Each of those officer elections were by a 5-0 vote. Former board president Bill Spriggs stays on as a commissioner, as his term runs to 2023.

Eads and Matthews replace longtime commissioner J.J. Hollis, who didn’t run for re-election, and board member Derek Mullady, who resigned his post in August when he moved out of the district.

For the first two-plus years Eads lived in Kankakee, he commuted 77 miles one way to Willowbrook High School before retiring.

“I was working two years and two months and residing here, thinking it wouldn’t be that much of a trek,” he said. “Well, I put 77,000 miles of my vehicle.”

Eads keeps busy in retirement.

“I’m an avid gardener, been on four [Kankakee Kultivators] Garden Walks, and a couple of [Riverview] House walks, and then we’re on the Garden Walk again this year,” he said.


At Monday’s meeting, the board also voted 5-0 to have Safe Slides Restoration refurbish the three slides at the Splash Valley Aquatic Park on River Road for $86,210. The fiberglass repair and waxing of the slides will be completed by the end of May in time for the grand reopening on Memorial Day weekend. The slides will be painted by the end of June as part of the contract.

“We have from the funds of the bond for Splash Valley, that is strictly Splash Valley money,” said Dayna Heitz, executive director of KVPD. “We have approximately $200,000 left.”

Heitz said Splash Valley also needs lifeguard rescue tubes, backboards with immobilizers, oxygen tanks, first aid supplies, trash receptacles, chairs, umbrellas and landscaping.

“So we’re trying to put a lot into $200,000, but the majority of it will be going for the slide refurbishment,” Heitz said.