Once committed to closing its Bradley store, the owner of Mancino's Pizza & Grinders restaurant at 1240 N. Kinzie Ave., instead decided to reinvest.

Jeff and Angie Hersha, owners of the Kinzie site, as well as 200 N. Kennedy Drive, also in Bradley, received a $40,000 loan through Bradley's Revolving Loan Fund that was used to remodel the restaurant.

A total of $80,000 was spent on the restaurant's restoration that Jeff described as 95 percent complete. Among the work completed at the restaurant were new ceiling and lights, counters and counter tops, restroom upgrades, paint, carpeting and a new exterior sign.

Jeff said he was set to close the location on Dec. 31. He felt Mancino's would no longer be able to support itself because of the loss of business traffic associated with the Super Kmart closure. Then Meijer committed to build a new store at the Kmart site and the Hershas began to re-think their decision.

Instead of closing, they chose to reinvest in the 2,400-square-foot site, which has been open for 22 years. The Kennedy Drive store is 3,150 square feet and has been open for 17 years. Between the two locations, about 30 people are employed.

"I've watched Meijer operate their stores in Michigan [where he used to live]. They run them with a lot of class. They are always clean. I believe it's going to be a huge boon to this area," he said.

The Bradley Village Board agreed to a five-year loan at Monday's board meeting.The village is loaning the money at a bargain-basement rate of 1.625 percent. The first payment on the loan is April 1.

"We will be here for years to come," said Hersha, of Bourbonnais.

• • •

Kankakee native Dennis "Dino" Howell is considered an icon in the hair replacement industry.

Howell, 70, better known as "Denny" in local circles when he lived in Kankakee, recently was featured in an interview in the trade magazine The National Hair Journal after receiving numerous awards and certificates for his nonsurgical procedure.

Howell, who still has relatives in the Kankakee area, recently announced his retirement from his highly-successful business — Dino's Hair Replacement of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His daughter,Gia Leffler, and her husband, as well as Denny's son, Joseph, are taking over the business.

After graduating from barber school in 1962, Howell began his career as a barber in Kankakee. He left his barber shop in Bradley for the warmer climes of Florida in 1975.

Besides cutting hair, Howell soon became part of the hair replacement business. It began with a distributorship with "New Man," who had well-known Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw as a spokesman.

Throughout the years, the business has grown significantly.

"I've enjoyed all 53 years behind the chair, and I don't know what I would do differently. I'm just happy with the way it all turned out," Howell said.

• • •

While it has been quiet in recent months, the Great Lakes Basin railroad project has not been derailed.

To that end, the Illinois Farm Bureau's senior legal counsel Laura Harmon will be updating the public during at a 6 p.m. March 21 public meeting at Grant Park High School. A series of public meetings last year about the rail line brought out hundreds of area residents, most of them opposing the project.

The proposed railroad would extend through the northern portion of Kankakee County for about 41 miles. The route would be 200 feet wide, which means it would consume about 1,000 acres.

The developer also has proposed a massive rail yard for maintenance purposes that would be situated between Manteno and Grant Park. The rail yard would consume about 23 square miles — or about 14,720 acres — of land.

If constructed, this would be the world's largest rail yard. Currently, the world's largest rail yard is the 2,850-acre Union Pacific complex in North Platte, Neb.

The Kankakee County Farm Bureau is opposing the project because of the obvious consumption of land, but also because of its impact on drainage patterns, relocating farmsteads and disruption of transportation infrastructure.

The entire $8 billion, 260-mile line would extend from LaPorte, Ind., to Janesville, Wis. In addition to Kankakee County, it also would pass through Grundy and LaSalle counties, among others.

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