A 32-year-old Plainfield Central High School science teacher was arrested on Thursday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student. Brian Smith has been charged with one count of criminal sexual assault. Smith has been employed by Plainfield District 202 since August of 2014. The alleged incident is said to have taken place two weeks ago in a Plainfield Central High School storage room adjacent to Smith's classroom. The 17-year-old student was in one of Smith's classes. He will not be permitted on school grounds and has been directed to have no contact with Plainfield Central High School staff. Smith's bond has been set at $600,000, and his next court date is set for March 26th.
The City of Joliet has released a statement that they are preparing for significant snowfall starting late Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Three to four inches are expected, so the city's snow parking ban will be in effect. Neighborhood streets will not be plowed until the snowfall ends, and the goal is to have the streets clear 12 to 18 hours after the conclusion of the snowfall. All vehicles must be moved off public streets until the city has the chance to plow the snow. You may continue parking vehicles in front of your home or business once the snow has been removed. Salting will be taking place on the city's main roads and secondary roads leading into subdivisions during the snowfall.
2-28 3 PM
A call from a concerned Joliet District 86 principal has led to the arrest of a young stepfather. The principal at Washington Junior High contacted Joliet Police on Thursday, after a 13 year old student was found with a "black eye" and lacerations on his arms. The student's 25 year old step-father Armand Dantignac has now been charged with domestic battery. Police officials say Dantignac thought the youngster was about to use his iPOD when he was not supposed to, because he had entered the house's commonly known "iPOD room." Dantignac allegedly struck the boy, along with hitting him with a broomstick, and breaking a vacuum cleaner over him.
2-27 11:10 AM
An amazing story was heard on 1340 WJOL on Friday morning. It's about a junior at Reed Custer High School, who may end up turning a huge disaster for her family into her life's work. Katie Costenaro's family was sleeping one night during her sophomore year, when fortunately, a neighbor woke them up.
That neighbor down the block had seen the reflection of a fire in the snow, and made the phone call. Katie, her brother, her parents, and her cat; all got out safely. It was how much her family was helped by the Red Cross that got her attention. So while her home is being rebuilt, she's began an organization called ASHES2HOPE. "
She set up a go fund me account. There's a facebook page as well, just google "Ashes2Hope." And now, Katie herself will knock on the door of a family affected by a house fire, and say, "I'm here to help."
As for the future, Costenaro plans to major in business management, and then focus on non-profit business management, continuing to keep her cause alive. In fact, she'd like for ASHES2HOPE to expand to other states.
2-27 10 AM
Energy giant Exelon Corporation is asking that its Illinois customers shell out more money to help pay for three nuclear plants in the state that could be headed for closure. A proposed bill introduced yesterday in the House and Senate would boost customers' bills by two-dollars a month. That money would help pay for plants that produce cleaner energy that Exelon claims are struggling financially, including locations in Byron, Clinton and the Quad Cities.
2-27 5:15 AM
Shortly after she started in the Illinois State Senate, Sue Rezin from the 38th District began talking to area industries, the energy and chemical producers around the region in what she and others refer to as the Chemical Corridor Area. And Rezin heard a lot of the same things. The workforce; she was told; is getting older, will soon be retiring, and it would be great to be able to fund young, highly trained replacement workers in this area. So Senator Rezin got the ball rolling, by approaching Joliet Junior College President Dr Deb Daniels about a new two year Associates Degree program for an Operations Engineering and Technician degree. And then, area industries were recruited to help fund the project.
Mission accomplished: classes begin this fall. We often hear about how a two year degree can provide solid training for certain careers. And on the other hand, how a high school diploma might have worked for some occupations decades ago, but now you need a couple more years of solid education. Dr. Daniels says that's the exact idea here: To fill a gap that has existed for quite some time.
Senator Rezin made it quite clear that this might be a two year degree, but it is not for the faint of heart. There will be challenging courses, especially in the science area. One of the industry representatives there Thursday morning was Exelon Vice-President Russ Coon. Coon says Exelon's involvement in this was an absolute yes. And he's excited for all the new workers who could find themselves in Exelon's nuclear plants, or many other important jobs in the area for years to come.
Coon says Senator Rezin's support and backing, and the work of Dr Daniels and everyone else involved, has allowed this program to go from idea to implementation in about a year. And that kind of speed, he stated, is always impressive.
2-26 11:30 AM
It is official that the 2014 Harvest was the greatest ever recorded for corn and soybeans in Will County. The average corn haul was 176-point-eight bushels per acre, up eight from the previous year. The average soybean take was about 55 bushels, about six more than last year. Statewide, the average corn amount was over 200 bushels. And Will County Farm Bureau leader Mark Schneidewind says, if you take away the wetness problems in eastern part of Will County from last growing season, we just might have hit 200 around here as well.
Schneidewind says, looking to the new planting season, one thing's for sure right now: there probably won't be much happening in March.
2-27 12 Noon
The Troy 30-C School District teachers now have a new four year contract. School Board president Mark Griglione says, it all became official this week.
As Griglione explained previously on 1340 WJOL, the Troy Board got a bit of a late start on negotiations this time around because former superintendent Don White was stepping down, and current superintendent Todd Koehl was coming aboard. Griglione says, 'no regrets at all' about waiting just a bit so that Koehl could be fully involved from the start.
The new four-year contract for the Troy teachers is retroactive to the start of this school year.
2-27 10:45 AM
A WJOL morning show reporter is dancing for a cause. The line up for the 9th annual "Angelica: Dancing With Our Local Stars" has been announced. WJOL's Monica DeSantis is slated to compete in this year's line up on Saturday March 28th. The 2015 dance event fundraiser for Guardian Angel Community Services will be held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. All proceeds from the event help fund seven programs which benefited more than 58-thousand people last year in Will County.
This year's event will include dinner, raffle prizes, an awards ceremony and a silent auction. Celebrity judges and guests of the event will choose the winner of the dance competition. The dancers include, Jeff Budz, President/Principal at Joliet Catholic Academy, Tom Grotovsky, Proprietor of the Unforgettable Chef and the Great American Bagel, Pete Colarelli, Government and Public Affairs Manager of CITGO Lemont Refinery, Jill Green, Senior Marketing Manager of Hollywood Casino Joliet and Lainee Klopack Senior Pro Stylist of Salon David Anthony in Joliet.
The event will be hosted by past contestant and WJOL morning man, Scott Slocum, and Wayne Smith, general manager of Hollywood Casino Joliet. For tickets call 815-729-0930 or go to gacsprograms.org.
2-26 11:40 AM
he 21st annual Manhattan Irish Fest is March 6th and 7th. The two day event begins Friday night with an entertainment tent featuring several acts including Three Men in Kilts from Chicago. The Manhattan Irish Fest parade on Saturday begins in a unique way, with a 5K race that will run the parade route.
Pete Hegarty, chair of the event, says there are still spaces available for anyone who wants to add a float. The parade route is only about a mile long, and runs along Manhattan/Monee Road. The fun begins on Friday March 6th at 5pm, with the parade on Saturday morning at 11am. There will be a craft fair plus kid's activities. The best place to park is the Metra parking lot. Tickets are seven dollars, or 10-dollars at the door. Go to ManhattanIrishFest.com for details.
2-26 11:45 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.