Governor Bruce Rauner said on Friday morning that it's up to Will County. But he also made it very clear what he wants.
During his stop at the University of Saint Francis Robert W Plaster Free Enterprise Center in Downtown Joliet, Governor Rauner made it clear that he thinks Will County is someplace special, with unlimited potential. He spoke of the county's location, infrastructure, farmland, prominance to Chicago, and more. He says Will County has possibilities that could "dwarf what's happening in Austin, Texas."
So how does Will County get there? Rauner made one thing very clear. He doesn't intend to push for all of Illinois being a right to work state. But despite what State Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently said that discourages local control on union issues and so called "right to work zones," Rauner still made it firm that he wants local regions to decide on their own.
As far as what the governor really wants them to decide, however, he left little doubt. He believes that if enough areas in Illinois do declare themselves as "right to work," then the state's reputation will change. Rauner says if just a few counties in Illinois become right to work areas, then Illinois will be on "the list of states" that major corporations consider when deciding where to relocate.
Governor Rauner believes that enough can change in Illinois over the next half-year that the states that have been taking businesses and jobs away from this state; such as Indiana, Wisconsin, and Texas; won't be able to do so anymore.
The governor emphasized that he wanted the help of the people of Will County to help him make the transformation in Illinois happen; by letting their state and local legislators know what they want.
3-27 1 PM
A hearing before a judge in Chicago yesterday (thurs) concerned the recent closing of the Union Pacific Railroad crossing on Walter Strawn Drive, which prevents trucks and all traffic heading for the CenterPoints from turning from Route 53 on to Walter Strawn. The purpose of the hearing was to look into the possibility of a grade separation of that crossing, which would allow for the T-intersection to eventually reopen.
In an extra twist; the Illinois Commerce Commission, who had ruled on the closing, presented a compromise. It would involve the building of a brand new road, connecting Route 53 at an angle with an existing east-west road, allowing trucks a new route to the CenterPoints; giving them an alternative to the I-55 - Arsenal Road interchange. The new road would include a grade separation at the Union Pacific crossing. CenterPoint attorney Mike Scotti has told 1340 WJOL that the next status hearing on this issue is set for next week; on Thursday, April 2nd.
3-27 6:05 AM
It's been yet another year of partnership between the Joliet Township High School District and Chicagoland Speedway. In previous years, J-T-H-S students did things for the speedway such as "design special benches." But this year it's been culinary arts students creating new sandwiches, trying to get them on the Chicagoland Speedway concession stand menu.
The final four sandwiches, two from each campus, were there for sampling from 5 to 7 last night during the COOKING FOR A CAUSE fundraiser at the Joliet West cafeteria. As superintendent Cheryl McCarthy explains, the votes need to be tallied, and sometime next month, two sandwiches will be chosen, one from Joliet West and one from Joliet Central, to be served at Chicagoland Speedway.
Chicagoland Speedway General Manager Scott Paddock was there. He says the sandwiches WILL BE LABLED as JTHS student creations. As to the concession stands where you'll find them.....he says.....come on out and see!
The beneficiaries of yesterday's (thurs) COOKING FOR A CAUSE fundraiser were the Daybreak Center and Morningstar Mission.
3-27 6:10 AM
A walk this weekend called "Stop the Gun Violence" will be taking place on Sunday. Lonnie Posely, pastor at the New Canaan Land Church says this innitiative started a few years ago; but since a rash of shootings that started in November, Pastor Posely said enough is enough.
The walk will start on Sunday at 12 noon at the Sacred Hear Parish Parking lot, 337 S. Ottawa Street. From there they will head east for 2 1/2 miles from the parking lot, over Chicago Street, and through neighborhoods that have been effected by the recent gun violence; then circle back around to the starting point. The group also said that they have reached out to local officals and police departments, and that response has been very positive.
3-27 6 AM
A benefit is scheduled for this Sunday, 1 to 3 PM at Town n Country Lanes on West Jefferson, for a nine month old baby named Josie McCoy. Her grandmother Cindy Lee joined us on 1340 WJOL to talk about what happened during her first doctor visit after her birth on June 1st, and what's happened since then. After a first liver transplant from Josie's mother was rejected, a second one from a two-year-old girl in Arizona went much better.
Since then, Josie has had a second liver transplant, in December, from a two year old in Arizona. The nine month old continues to undergo rehabilitation in Chicago. Josie's mother is with her constantly, and she has two older daughters as well. Admission to Sunday's event at Town and Country Lanes is 20 dollars, 10 dollars for kids; and includes bowling, shoe rental, pizza and pop.
3-26 9:30 AM
State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant is pushing for a new state law that would help Illinois commuters at this time of year. It will allow those who drive or ride for significant distances to work to deduct a portion of their expenses at tax time. She says individuals or couples would be able to claim deductions on tollway as well as public transportation usage.
Senate Bill 19 would allow commuters to apply for a credit of up to 25 percent or qualified commuting expenses. Right now, the bill has been assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee.
3-26 10:30 AM
Renovation inside the State Farm Center
State Farm Center renovation is in full swing. The project is one of the most ambitious at the University of Illinois. The cost of the renovation which is being done in phases is estimated at just under 170-million dollars. According to the Fighting Illini website funding will come from the sales of premium seating opportunities, capital campaign gifts and philanthropic naming opportunities within the renovated State Farm Center and from the support of University of Illinois students.
Air conditioning will be incorporated into the project. This is a significant improvement as it will allow events and activities to be scheduled year round.
Alcohol will only be available in the club and suite areas during athletic events. Beer and wine will continue to be available to patrons of selected entertainment events.
Every seat in the arena will be new. (No more gray seats!) The renovation is expected to be completed by the 2016-17 basketball season.
Info from http://www.fightingillini.com/statefarmcenter/faq.html
WJOL has learned that Bill Jacobs Auto Group Joliet has been sold. More details to come. Stay tune to WJOL for the latest on this story.
UPDATE: Statement From Jacobs Family
I would like to start by saying thank you.
Words cannot convey how appreciative and thankful I am for your efforts, dedication, and commitment to Bill Jacobs Joliet and, more importantly, to the Jacobs family. Many of us and our families have literally grown up together. Without each of you we would not be here today and you will always be a special part of our lives.
When Bill passed away 4.5 years ago, he left me in charge of his estate and the business. Although Bill had been ill for some time, his ultimate passing seemed quite sudden and caught all of us by surprise. I quickly found myself responsible for running several complex car dealerships with hundreds of employees, dealing with multiple car manufacturers concerned about the dealerships and fighting with lenders demanding repayment on all of the company and personal debt. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming and exhausting experience. I would not have gotten through it without the incredible support and help of my boys, friends, and especially Cynthia.
With no automotive experience, let alone business experience, and no desire to be in the car business, the last 4.5 years without Bill have been exceedingly difficult. Navigating the many challenges of financing, manufacturer relations, and management have consumed my life. Although I wanted desperately to move forward, my first priority has always been to preserve the wonderful business and legacy built by Bill, his father, and their teams. With Cynthia’s tireless efforts and stead-fast leadership, and your amazing help, we have restored the successful culture upon which this organization was founded. Finally, after 4.5 years of hard work, I am comfortable moving on.
I know there has been much speculation and many rumors regarding the future of our auto group. Many presumed that I would sell as soon as Bill passed. In fact, I have had many offers from individuals who tried to persuade me they would take good care of the family legacy. But I said no because I wasn’t convinced that they would or could preserve the Jacobs legacy.
And that was where things stood until I met John Crane and Scott Falcone.
John has spent his life in the car business and has a deep connection with Joliet. I believe him to be an honorable person of great integrity. After very serious soul-searching and conscious thought, I have decided to accept his offer for the purchase of Bill Jacobs Chevrolet, Cadillac, Mazda, and Subaru.
Scott is already a well-respected, successful Hyundai and Chevrolet dealer. He has been unbelievably patient while I contemplated his offer for Kia. He is excited to come to this market and I am confident his intentions are honorable as well.
Buy/sell agreements have been submitted to the manufacturers. While these transactions are complicated and take time, both John and Scott are committed to close on these contracts and I am confident they will remain true to their word. They have assured me the employees of Bill Jacobs are of utmost importance and recognize your unquestionable value. We will make every effort to update you as information becomes available.
Again, I cannot adequately express the depth of my personal gratitude and indebtedness. This will always be our family home regardless of whose name is on the door. I have no doubt that under the exceptional guidance of these new owners the stores will thrive. I wish you all the best! May you find great personal happiness and professional success!
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
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
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.