Local Talk

Transition Team Report Focusing on Future of Joliet Released

On Tuesday afternoon Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk released a report compiled by his transition team that made recommendations to help with major overall reform of Joliet government policy and operations. The report states that Joliet has the economic resources, infrastructure, geographic location, eligible workforce and leadership depth to be the preeminent regional economic and municipal government leader - but isn't. It also stated that Joliet needs to update its comprehensive community and economic development plan with goal of creating new jobs and attracting new businesses. The plan also discussed that business entities and function subsidized by the city government, such as the Rialto Theater and Slammer Stadium, need to review their operations and establish a time line for financial self-sufficiency. The transition team consisted of eight committees established to review and critique government operations in the areas of finance, government administration, economic development, public safety, public infrastructure, intergovernmental affairs, legal services and community relations.
 

Peterson Murder-For-Hire Trial Moved to November 13th

Drew Peterson's murder for hire trial was scheduled to begin in late August but was delayed on Tuesday, until November to give both the prosecution and defense time to prepare. Peterson, who is currently serving 38 years in prison for murdering his ex-wife, is accused of hiring a hitman to kill the prosecutor in that case, Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow. The trial is now set for a November 13th start date. 


Des Moines, IA Man Dies in Mon Afternoon I-80 Crash

A 31 year old man from Des Moines, Iowa has been identified as the victim in Monday afternoon's major crash on Interstate 80, at mile marker 134 near the Briggs exit.  It was at 4:11 PM that a vehicle driving westbound crossed over the median into the eastbound lanes, and struck two other vehicles.  David Ruiz Venteno was pronounced deceased at 5:30 PM.  Both directions of I-80 were significantly backed up for the rest of Monday afternoon's rush hour.

 

7-6  8:45 PM


Judge Rules No Full State Pay Without Budget

A Cook County judge says the state may not pay state workers their full salaries so long as there's no budget in place.  In response to an inquiry from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Judge Diane Joan Larsen ruled that only workers covered by a federal law can be paid, and only the federal minimum wage.  State Comptroller Leslie Munger says it's a practical impossibility to determine which workers those are, so the state will pay no one.  The Rauner administration is likely to appeal today's ruling. 
 

Federal Judge Orders Child Welfare Programs Funded

A federal judge says the state can continue to spend money for child protection services even without a state budget in place.  In response to a plea from the ACLU, the judge ruled that under a longstanding consent decree, DCFS programs that provide child protection for at-risk children can be funded.  State Comptroller Leslie Munger's office says she welcomes the decision and will fund those programs and pay the employees involved. 
 

Lawsuit Targets Towns For Not Monitoring Gun Sales

A lawsuit in Chicago is targeting towns for not monitoring gun sales.  Lawsuits against gun makers and gun sellers have been mostly unsuccessful and in some cases are banned by federal law, but that's not stopping gun violence opponents from trying another tactic.  Activist south side priest Reverend Michael Pfleger and a community group are suing three suburbs, accusing them of not adequately policing gun sales within their borders.  The circuit court lawsuit claims Lincolnwood, Lyons and Riverdale are violating the civil rights of residents because the failure to monitor gun sales prevents people from doing normal activities like walking to school or playing in parks. 
 

Kirk Hit Over Clean Power Plant Vote

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is the target of TV and print ad campaigns by two environmental groups over his vote against an amendment that would toughen power plant pollution regulations.  The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are lashing out at Kirk for voting against an amendment that would require all states to abide by tougher new federal clean power plant rules.  Kirk's office says he voted against the amendment to protect his signature bill to phase out the dumping of sewage into the Great Lakes. 
 

Roolf Happy No One Hurt in First Midwest Robbery

 

The FBI is now handling Monday morning's bank robbery at First Midwest Bank in Joliet.  It was at 11:45 a.m. when the robbery took place at 2801 Jefferson Street. Authorities have said that no one was hurt during the robbery, and they believe only one person was involved in the incident.  He is described by the FBI an African American male, with a hat and a bag.  First Midwest Bank president Jim Roolf told 1340 WJOL that "the important thing is none of our employees or clients were hurt."  Roolf says the teller did exactly what they were told to do when a threat is made, and that they "go through security training regularly."


Evergreen Terrace Issue: Full Plan First, or Down Payment First ?

Let's talk Evergreen Terrace.  We've all heard of "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?"  Now it's "Which comes first, the purchase or the plan?" 

When Joliet became the first ever municipality to successfully win the right to condemn a housing project that had been receiving federal assistance, part of the ruling set a deadline for this September.  That's when the City of Joliet needs to make their first down payment on the purchase of Evergreen Terrace, if indeed the purchase is going to happen.  Back in 2007, the city created the Unity Community Development Corporation.  Current president Amy Sanchez addressed the Council during last (mon) night's Pre-Council meeting, along with representatives from the corporation's dozen or so neighborhoods.  She told me before the meeting that they're worried.  They feel that newly elected mayor Bob O'Dekirk's insistance on getting a plan in place before a purchase committment is made could lead to the city walking away from the whole thing because of being rushed, thereby leaving Evergreen Terrace as is.

Sanchez says she wants the city to commit to that September down payment, and take their time on a re-development plan while the purchase is taking place.  Unity C-D-C member Bob Nachtrieb agrees.

But Mayor O'Dekirk and Councilman Larry Hug voiced disagreement with that.  They feel there's too much money at stake to not have a definite plan in place before that down payment is made.  While Sanchez pointed to a couple of Housing Authority of Joliet projects that did not use any city taxpayer money, Hug says this is a different animal.

Mayor O'Dekirk has asked Holsten Real Estate, who already put forth a couple plans, to present new ideas.  And the next Evergreen Terrace special meeting is scheduled for Monday evening July 27th, with a location to be determined. 

 

7-6  8 PM


New, Gradual Development Hope for I-55 - I-80 NE Corner

Way back before the economic slowdown of 2008, Joliet had plans for a modern lifestyle mall with all the trimmings northeast of the I-55 - I-80 interchange.  Then, the recession hit, and the whole thing faded away.  But now Cullinan Properties wants to purchase this location from O and S Properties, who had planned to construct the mall.  And Cullinen wants to close out the purchase on Wednesday.  In order to do that a certain "30 day waiting period" has to be lifted by the Joliet City Council.  As City Manager Jim Hock explained to 1340 WJOL, O and M originally had the right to void the agreement with a 30 day notice, as long as development bonds had not been issued by the city.  Due to the recession, those bonds were indeed never issued.

Councilman Larry Hug says waiving the 30 day period is pretty much "housekeeping" to allow the transaction to take place.  Question is, what happens once Cullinan takes over.  They've indicated plans for SOME commercial development, and they do have hotels and conference centers on their resume.  But access will be an issue for quite some time, meaning this will take a while.  Because as Mayor Bob O'Dekirk stated during Monday's Pre-Council Meeting, that full I-55 - Route 59 interchange planned for the lifestyle mall is long gone for now.

But one thing for sure, the warehouse plan that was proposed by Hill Wood, the group connected to Ross Perot, is now officially out, as they will not be purchasing the property.

 

7-6  7:45 PM


Coal City Tornado Recovery Volunteers Way Down; Help Very Much Needed

A couple of hotlines have been set up for donations to those that need assistance from the Coal City tornado Monday night.  Coal City officials have set up the number 815-518-3047.  You can also donate by visiting this website: www.cfgrundycounty.com/donate-online/.

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities of Joliet has also set up a hotline for storm assistance.  Please call 815-723-3405, or go to catholiccharitiesjoliet.org

The level of volunteers is reported to be way down.  Coal City residents continue to need volunteers and assistance through the month of July.  Items needed most at this point are cash donations, along with manpower.  Of the 884 homes damaged, 250 have been targeted for tear downs.

 

 

6-24  5 AM


Illinois House to Return to State Capital on Wed

State Rep Natalie Manley says Illinois House members are due back in Springfield on Wednesday, as the effort continues to try and get some kind of a new budget passed: be it permanent or temporary.  Manley says the proposed "July only" budget; passed by the State Senate at the end of last week; failed in the House.because enough Republicans voted against it to prevent the "super-majority" that's needed after the end of the regular legislative session.

Manley says there's a two-step process that's needed here.  First, make sure those "really in need" are provided for; and second, find that permanent solution.

But for now, the new fiscal year scheduled to begin this past Wednesday does not have a spending plan.

 

7-6  11:45 AM


Mojoes Looks to Reopen, Name Change Perhaps Down Road

It looks like Mojoes in Downtown Joliet will reopen tomorrow Tuesday, with the planned name change possibly coming into place later this month.  It was back in May that the heat was turned up on the previous Mojoes owner after a variety of violations for overcrowding.  Then, the previous owner, Chris Triebes closed up shop.  

That was followed by the news early in June that co-owner of Pontiac's "Freaksters Roadhouse" Betsy Kuypers would take over as owner of the facility, and rename it "The Tree," with emphasis on rock, country, and folk music; as well as some local comedy acts.  Then, news came that perhaps this change would not happen, due to difficulties between Triebes and Kuypers.  But the Joliet Patch IS reporting that under the ownershp of Kuypers Mojoe's will reopen Tuesday; with evening shows by Alien Ant Farm, Eyes Set to Kill, and two other bands, starting at 7 PM.  The actual name change to "The Tree" could still happen, after a scheduled hearing on Tuesday, July 21st.

 

7-6  10:15 AM


Jefferson Street Bridge Closing Delayed Until Friday

The closing of the Jefferson Street Bridge, carrying U S 30 eastbound into Downtown Joliet, has been delayed until this coming Friday, the 10th of July.  The City of Joliet had made a request to the State Department of Transportation last week that the closing be delayed until after this Thursday's Nitro Night festival in Downtown Joliet, which proceeds this weekend's NHRA Nationals at the Route 66 Raceway.  The closing is still scheduled to last until October.

 

7-6  6 AM


Escaped Iowa Prisoner Caught in Illinois

An Iowa prisoner is back in custody after he was captured in Henry County.  State Police were notified yesterday morning that Justin Kestner escaped from the Iowa Department of Corrections facility in Fort Madison.  Later that morning, the Henry County Sheriff's Office found a vehicle that was believed to have been stolen by the inmate.  Kestner was captured after he was located walking state Route 82, just south of Interstate 80. 

 

7-6  6:15 AM


An Eye Opening Look at the Trucking Industry

Following the fatal crash on I-55, a listener sent WJOL a letter detailing her experience with truckers and trucking companies.  Below is her opinion unedited. 
 
 
 
  I spend a lot of time on the road as our jobs are onsite.  I work with many truckers who are working at the Intermodals. This is what I have learned and I am passing it on as it concerns me. 
 
       Many of the truck companies own only 1-2 trucks.  The owner will accept a job, at say, $1500. It is local and it is picking up a trailer at an intermodal and delivering it to a location, say, Peoria Caterpillar. The owner of the small firm hires a truck driver as an independent contractor at $800 for the job, leases the truck to the driver at a set fee and makes the driver buy the fuel. However, in order for the driver to collect the $800, he has to make the round trip including delivery of the trailer and pick-up of another trailer  and return the truck with a full load, within 8 hours. If it is beyond the time limit the hired driver gets no money but is still responsible for the payment and bills.
      You know how long it takes to drive to Peoria and back and this seems to be a reasonable amount of time, but if you get caught up in traffic., or it takes a while to load or unload the trailer, suddenly you are running short on time, so you speed, find shortcuts, etc to make sure you get your money.
     Some of these truck owners do not do background checks, you only need to have a current CDL.  Some of the drivers can speak no English and require a translator. They cannot read or write English, but yet they have a current CDL license. They can't read the signs put into place warning them of possible slowdowns or construction or time delays. 
      They are of several nationalities and numerous races of persons. Many have only been here a few short weeks, came here legally, and have this type of job waiting for them.
 
Thought you might want to know this.

Suspect in Two Indiana Bank Robberies Arrested in Zion, One Day after Joliet Robbery

One day after a robbery at First Midwest Bank in Joliet, a suspected bank robber has been arrested in Zion.  Zion is up in Lake County, Illinois near the Wisconsin boarder.  The Northwest Indiana Times reported earlier today (tues) that a Chicago man suspected in two Merrillville, Indiana bank robberies was taken into custody.  Fifty-five year old Don Ellis Bevly has been charged with both June robberies: One at a First Midwest on Broadway in Merrillville, and the other at a Chase Bank on Broadway in Merrillville.  It is not known if Bevly is suspected in the Joliet robbery, but for now he will face extradition proceedings before being turned over to prosecutors in Indiana.  Bevly is African American, the the FBI had stated that the Joliet robber had been African American, wearing a hat and carrying a bag.

 

7-7  11:15 AM


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