Teachers in Plainfield School District 202 have approved a new contract. It was last fall that a tentative contract was voted down, but this time the Association of Plainfield Teachers membership ratified the new three year deal by a nearly two-to-one margin of one-thousand-78 votes for, and 554 votes against. A district statement says, this new deal will increase teacher's pay by an average of two to three percent per year, retroactive to this past July 1st. One change from the fall proposal is some retirement language adjustments. Retirees with at least 15 years of experience will receive 500 dollars per year of service, while retirees who work at least 33 years will also get an additional benefit of 14-thousand dollars. The 202 Board will be voting on this deal on February 9th.
1-30 5:15 AM
Lawmakers are trying to make sure local and state leaders don't renege on high speed rail promises in Springfield. An agreement calls for stakeholders to hire minorities for the project, pump money into minority business development in the area, and provide relocation expenses for the 150 families that will be put out of their homes. But, faith leaders say stakeholders are trying to get out of the deal. They've called on State Senator Andy Manar and Representative Sue Scherer to create an oversight commission that will hold stakeholders accountable for keeping their word.
1-30 5:30 AM
Although the general consensus seems to have folks imagining a BRAND NEW WILL COUNTY COURTHOUSE in Downtown Joliet someday, some parties are still asking, "What if?"
Architectural Design firm Wight and Company had a session at their Darian location earlier this week, concerning the possibilities for Will County's new courthouse. Yes, the future of the now county owned First Midwest Bank site is a popular topic. But, what about the possibility of building it outside Joliet, should we say in a greenfield area, perhaps along I-355? Nick Palmer from the Will County Executive's Office says, some County Board representatives in attendance did mention it. But overall, Downtown Joliet is still what seems to make sense to most.
Palmer pointed out that building a new Will County Courthouse on an open green grass area means creating a domino effect, of everything that would need to be done next; such as with movement of the State's Attorney's Office, Public Defender officers, jail facilities, and even public transportation.
Towards the end of the session in Darian, some comments were made about "is the City of Joliet doing enough to help this along. Palmer says everyone on the county and city sides have been working hard on this for a long time. It's pretty much a case of: keep going, don't stop now.
At this point, however, the long lines at the crowded Will County Courthouse continue.
1-29 9:30 AM
Lawmakers are toying with the idea of legalizing the sale of fireworks in Illinois. State Rep David Reis says it would be a great way to boost state revenues and keep people from going to other states to pick them up. But some fire chiefs and law enforcement officials think it's a bad idea. They say it'll cause a spike in fire related injuries and any extra money that comes in would be offset with increased medical claims and calls to first responders.
1-30 5:20 AM
You might think that December is a month when finances might be tight due to Christmas gifts. But last month didn't stop people from trying their luck at video gaming. December saw one of the highest net revenue takes, for the city of Joliet, at just over 39-thousand dollars. On average the city of Joliet takes in about 35-thousand dollars a month from video gaming alone.
The state's share which includes all Video Gaming Terminals is 16.7 million dollars for the month of December. Joliet has 234 VG terminals in 64 establishments. Springfield is still number one. The city increased their VGT's by 46-percent for a total of 520 Video Gaming Terminals. Rockford remains second with nearly 390 machines.
1-29 10:30 AM
The Village of Plainfield is thinking about bringing the "economic and planner" position back. There was a budget workshop meeting on Monday night, and as Mayor Mike Collins reminds us, Plainfield has had this position before.
It was Larry Vopol who once had the position before becoming a trustee. In addition, the Village of Plainfield is thinking of hiring an additional inspector; who would be cross-trained in both plumbing and electrical. Mayor Collins says the budget paperwork needs to be in around the end of May....before the new budget year kicks in after the end of June.
1-29 11:30 AM
A final payment of 126 thousand dollars will be made by Will County to settle the wrongful arrest in the Honeybee killer case. It was back in 2010 that Lynwood police officer Brian Dorian was charged with two shootings in Illinois and one in Indiana, where a suspect approached people and talked about "honeybees" before opening fire. Eventually, Gary Amaya of Rankin was found to be the killer, after he was shot dead during an attempted robbery. Dorian was in custody for six days, until computer evidence showed he was at home on the internet during the time of the shooting that left a man dead.
1-29 6 AM
The Village of Channahon has approved their portion of an agreement that hopes to paint a brand new future for the northeast corner of the I-55 - Bluff Road interchange.
Channhon Village Administrator Thomas Durkin says in order to bring the planned industrial-warhousing-districution-and manufacturing to northeast of 55 and bluff, Channahon water service needs to be extended out there. And to pay off the bonding to handle all that, they're working on an intergovernmental agreement with almost a dozen different taxing bodies. Durkin says the four-and-half million dollars that needs to be raised would also go to some interchange improvements. The agreement has been approved thus far with Channahon School District 17, the Minooka Community High School District, along with the Channhon Park District and Channhon Township. The village continues to communicate with the Joliet Junior College District, Will County, the forest preserve district, and the library and fire districts. Durkin says the taxing districts would share their revenue that would come from future development of this area to retire the bonds.
Durkin says the village would issue the bonds once an annexation agreement is reached for this area northeast of I-55 and Bluff. After that, you could see all kinds of activity. For example, you could have the developer clearing the land for future development while the water extension work is continuing.
Durkin also says that in addition to helping the 118 acres northeast of 55 and Bluff, the property to the immediate north of there should also benefit someday from the extension of Channahon's water lines.
1-28 11:30 AM
State's Attorney Jim Glasgow's office has announced that a Romeoville man's been sentenced to 108 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12 year old girl, as well as filming the abuse. Thirty-eight year old Timothy Brandt was convicted this past October of three counts of Class X Child Pornography, along with two counts of Class X Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault. The sexual abuse of the child allegedly began when the victim was four years old, and continued until Brandt's arrest in 2013. The case was investigated by many units, including, the HIgh Technology Crimes Unit, created by the State's Attorney's Office in 2012 to identify predators who use the internet to download illegal child pornagraphy. The sentence was handed down by Judge David Carlson.
1-29 5 AM
House firein New Lenox
Two people were able to get out safely early this morning when a fire broke out, at a two story house near Spencer and Gougar, in the 24-thousand block of Spencer. The New Lenox Fire Protection District says the call was received at 3:50 AM, and the fire was under control within an hour. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 7 AM; and the house is a total loss, with an estimated 250 to 300 thousand dollars in damages. The investigation into the cause continues, and the Red Cross is assisting the two survivers with living arrangements.
1-29 10 AM
The plan to re-do the Joliet draw bridges is on paper, but there's a long way and at the very least three years of work to go. During yesterday's public meeting at Joliet City Hall, Bridge Management Specialist Pete Sambor of the United States Coast Guard said that although Joliet's six draw bridges are seen by many as rare, the miles of federal waterways within the 22 states the he deals with, out of the Eighth Coast Guard District in St Louis, actually has about 150 drawbridges. And many of them, such as a couple in Arkansas, already have this modern control system that they'd like to put in Joliet.
There were diagrams there Tuesday of all six Joliet drawbridges, and detour routes that would be used while this work is being done. But it's important to note that they'd be changed over one at a time, with the Coast Guard giving final approval, after a certain time period, as to whether the updates are safely and permanently done. And as we've mentioned, there will be just one bridge tender site, which would be in the Illinois Department of Transportation maintenance building, on Bridge Street near the Jackson Street Bridge. Three different bridge tenders would work shifts, providing 24-7 coverage of this remote system. However, it would be the state paying for renovation. And that, these days, with the shape Illinois is in, can be very tricky. Sara Wilson of IDOT says, this whole thing has been studied for quite a while.
Wilson said it will be tricky for a long range project like this: because IDOT's list of projects and money for them works on a five year cycle, which is still updated every year. So it's a matter of getting the intial commitment to this, and keeping it.
12-16 10 PM
The new transportation center being worked on in Downtown Joliet has turned into a "work in progress" on more ways than one.
When the plans were first unveiled for the new transportation center that would replace Union Station, one main reason for it was the old way had Metra ticketing and platforms on the second floor, separated from the Amtrak facilities on the first floor. In addition, the public washrooms were just on the first floor. This led to disorganization, and safety problems, such as passengers crossing live rail lines to get where they needed to go.
And as Kendall Jackson from the City of Joliet explained to 1340 WJOL's Scott Slocum, it was soon discovered that if they just built one brand new facility, a lot of the same problems would still exist. Therefore, the better solution was to spread things out.
And as Joliet City Civil Engineer Lisa Dorothy explains, lots of the work being done right now on the east side of the tracks is right along Art Schultz Drive, taking away some of the Joliet Slammers' staff parking places. But Dorothy says, the Slammers exployees at Silver Cross Field have been a big help; in allowing workers to use the "will call" area to warm up. She says the Slammers realize that this facility will be a great partner, once all is completed.
A big part of this project down the road is going to be a 48 hour stoppage of rain service, while tunnels are worked on and bridges are redone. Dorothy says, this will be 48 hours of non stop work, and she'd actually like to be awake for all of it.
It goes without saying this a huge, incredibly expensive project. Lots of parties are involved. There was a 30 million dollar grant from the state, an eight million dollar contribution from nearby CenterPoint. A one-point-seven million dollar RTA grant for PACE service, 10 million dollars for work that will be done for High Speed Rail, and a two-point-eight million dollar payment from BNSF Railroad. The city will soon be kicking in about eight-and-a-half million. Dorothy points out that once this is over, that tower portion of the original Union Station...don't worry historians, it will be there.
Dorothy says that if all goes well, the major ribbon cutting for the opening of everything at this new Downtown Joliet Transportation Center, will happen sometime in 2016.
11-24 5 AM
Scott Slocum had a chance to take a ride over Centerpoint South in Elwood yesterday. You've heard that it's the largest inland port in North America, see for yourself. Go to Scott Slocum's Facebook page to view the video.