Rex Robinson

Rex Robinson is a staff writer for The Times Weekly. He can be reached at rex@thetimesweekly.com or at (708) 254-1539.

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Dickinson resigns from Joliet City Council

The Joliet City Council is less one member after Councilman Don “Duck” Dickinson abruptly resigned. Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Dickinson “tendered his resignation” on Monday. It is unclear why Dickinson resigned, although there were reports the last couple of weeks of some personal issues going on with him. He did not return a call left by The Times Weekly by press-time. O’Dekirk said he plans to present someone to fill Dickinson’s seat at the Dec. 1 City Council meeting. “This is the third time since I have been on the council in the last nine years that this occurred,” he said. “Mayor (Tom) Giarante appointed Don Fisher to his council seat after he became mayor.”

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Giving thanks especially on this Thanksgiving

Local residents express what they are thankful for this year

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all we have. To some it may be difficult to express when we have spent nearly the entire year dealing with a Coronavirus pandemic (Covid) and all the hardships that have come with it. Real gratitude, however, is never about things being easy. It’s about overcoming challenges and seeing the silver lining in the clouds of despair. It’s about having faith that things will get better and the bad times don’t last forever and it’s about seeing clearly and appreciating all that we have instead of groaning about what’s lacking in our lives. “I am grateful for being able to see another day, to cherish the love ones that are still with us, and being able to love and help my community in ways that I never thought I could,” said Erica Holmes, of Joliet. “This year has humbled me and I thank God for Him using me in many capacities.” Joliet City Councilwoman Bettye Gavin and her husband, Archie, were both recently diagnosed with COVID and are now on the mend and just finished with quarantining. “I am grateful that God has allowed me to see this day,” she said. “We’re a grateful household over here.”

Small businesses receive essential grants during pandemic closures

More than 1,900 small business owners throughout the region have applied for CARES Act grants through Will County and more than 1,000 have had grants approved for up to $15,000 each, according to Will County Board member Ken Harris (D-Bolingbrook), chairman of the county board’s CARES Act committee. The grants for small businesses in the county total more than $14 million, according to Harris. “Eligibility review, notification of award, and grant payments are ongoing,” he told The Times Weekly. “Will County has authorized an additional $5,000 in assistance to restaurants and bars closed for in-house service as a result of the latest round of restrictions.” In order to receive this additional $5,000, the business must adhere to all public health mandates. “Those businesses will be notified of the additional award shortly,” Harris said.

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Local restaurants help make Thanksgiving meals

Restaurant, offer special curbside pick-ups of holiday meals

The holiday season is directly around the corner and some restaurants and catering companies are offering carry out packages for Thanksgiving as the Coronavirus pandemic is sure to present challenges for many this year. Some area caterers and restaurants are working with the Heritage Corridor Convention & Visitors Bureau based in Joliet which is offering the Thanksgiving-To-Go program this year. “These restaurants offering Thanksgiving packages to save you time in preparing a meal, and at the same time, you’re supporting great small businesses and their staffs who have truly been impacted by the loss of sales throughout this pandemic,” CVB Marketing Manager Dan Mulka said. “It’s truly a win-win situation.” The Jacob Henry Mansion Estate, in Joliet, the Bolingbrook Golf Club, Embers Tap House and The Public Landing Restaurant and Banquet Center, both in Lockport, are some of the restaurants offering holiday meals to go.

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Dems sweep statewide races

Locally, election results came in relatively early Tuesday night, while other statewide races were delayed until early Wednesday morning. Thousands of ballots for the Presidential election were still being counted as of press time in several key states with Biden in the lead with 238 Electoral votes to Trump’s 213. Other statewide races, including some congressional races were decided early Wednesday morning. Also, with 98 percent of the precincts reporting in Illinois, the proposed amendment to remove the Flat Income Tax failed, although proponents of the amendment were still not conceding Wednesday morning. Latest results showed 55 percent of Illinois, or 2,735,585 voted against the amendment, while 45 percent or 2,237,103 voted in favor of it. Both sides spent huge amounts of money in advertising trying to convince voters.

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Area hospitals gear up for rising COVID cases

As a second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the country, Will County has seen a substantial rise in COVID cases as well. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 20,657 new COVID cases for Will County and 445 deaths and on Tuesday the total reported cases jumped by 762 to 21,419, while reported deaths rose by three to 448. Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox had 89 COVID-related patients in isolation on Tuesday, with 77 of those positive for COVID-19 and 12 patients under investigation and awaiting results, according to hospital spokeswoman Debra Robbins. AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet also is starting to see more patients coming in testing positive for the virus. “Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen the number of COVID-19 cases reported not only at our hospital and system, but across the state increase significantly,” St. Joe’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Lipinski said. “Today, for example we’re treating 40 COVID-19 positive inpatients. This is approaching the numbers we saw with the initial outbreak of the pandemic.

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Election Day is here, exercise your right to vote

Election Day is here and today is the last chance to make your voice heard on who should lead the country in the next four years. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. today. Voters who are not registered can do so in person at their polling place, which can be found by clicking this link https://www.thewillcountyclerk.com/elections/voter-services/precinct-lookup/. While at the top of the ballot are the presidential choices from the two top parties - Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden and incumbent Republican Donald Trump - there also are four other independent candidates on the ballot running for president, as well as candidates for U.S. Senator, Congressional Representatives, State Senators, several judges, Will County offices, County board seats and a question regarding a “Fair Tax” amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Results from the general election become official on November 24. Voters should be prepared for long lines today, even though many voters have already cast their ballots. All voting much be done in person today. All eight Vote By Mail boxes placed in various spots throughout the county will be closed today. According to Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry’s office, of the 463,465 registered voters in Will County, her office had received 213,195 ballots as of about 10:30 p.m. Monday night. Vote By Mail ballots returned accounted for 101,800, Vote By Mail Ballots requested accounted for another 125,052, while in-person Early Voting accounted for 111,395.

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Activists make bold proposal for cannabis sales tax revenue

A Will County board member along with local activists stood in front of the new Courthouse in Joliet this week and made their case for social justice in the form of earmarking cannabis revenue sales tax dollars for programs to repair injustices done to African Americans. “The Time for justice is now. Get it right Will County.” said Ernest Crim III, of Joliet, leader of the Joliet chapter of Gatekeepers and a high school educator. Crim gave an impassioned speech on why it’s important for the county board to approve a newly proposed resolution that would create a committee of nine Black individuals to advise the county on how to spend its tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales. He and others spoke about injustices done to Black people throughout history on both the national and local levels, pointing out how many Black youths in Will County have been jailed for minor drug offenses including possession of small amounts of cannabis and other drugs.

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Crete Republican challenges incumbent Democrat in Will County auditor's race

Two candidates are vying for the Will County auditor’s job and while the incumbent points to his record of transparency and accountability while in office, the other points to his years of experience in the private sector coupled with his work as the clerk in Crete Township. Whichever candidate is elected, they will very quickly be faced with the huge task of auditing the way the $120 million in COVID-19 CARES Act money is dispersed by the county. Incumbent Democratic Auditor Kevin “Duffy” Blackburn faces a challenge from Republican James Buiter in the Nov. 3 election.

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Will County Health Department reports 652 new COVID cases since Friday

IDPH will move Will County to level Orange on Friday

Health officials from across the state and locally are sounding the alarm as COVID cases are again surging and Will County is among a number of counties now at level Orange, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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