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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Candidates hope to tie endorsements to votes

The Joliet City Council election is a hot race with 12 candidates vying for three at-large seats. At times it appears for some to be more of a race for endorsements, where a few other candidates are focused on the issues. Will it be the ones with the most endorsements who take the coveted three spots on the council? That remains to be seen.

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Will County vaccinations continue to increase

The Will County Health Department on Tuesday reported 65,529 COVID cases, 903 reported deaths, and a seven-day rolling positivity rate of 3.8 percent. COVID vaccinations in Will County continue to rise. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 120,555 people have received the vaccine in the county, and 35,135 (5.08 percent of the population) have been fully vaccinated.

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Seven Joliet City Council candidates face questions in forum

Concerns about the future costs of Lake Michigan Water, problems with bridges around the city that take too long to fix, not enough grocery stores and what to do with future tax revenues from the sale of legal cannabis. These are some of the issues facing Joliet and candidates vying for three at-large city council seats in the April 6th election had opinions on these and other issues facing the City of Champions. Seven of the 12 on the ballot for those three seats attended a candidate’s forum on Saturday hosted by the National Hook-up of Black Women Joliet Chapter. One of the chapter’s members, Will County board member Denise Winfrey, (D-Joliet), moderated the forum.

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Rent relief for families

The economic troubles as a result of the COVID pandemic continue to linger on throughout the County as many are having trouble putting food on the table for their families, let alone make rent and utility payments on time. With unemployment among the highest in the state at 7.8 percent for December, according to the Illinois Department of employment Security, and many heading to local food pantries to get groceries, many families are struggling financially.

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Joliet State of City Address postponed

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk's scheduled State of the City Address planned for Tuesday, Feb. 23 has been postponed to a future date.

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More schools opening for student in-person learning

More area school districts are bringing students back into the classrooms, a sign that the spread of the Coronavirus maybe starting to slow. It is too early to tell whether the rollout of the vaccine has anything to do with more schools re-opening as teachers and staff is just now starting to receive doses of the vaccine. Still Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 students began returning to in-person learning on Jan. 25 and more in-person learning will continue through Feb. 16, according to district officials. Supt. of Schools Lane Abrell recently updated the Board of Education on the plan to bring students back to classes in small groups as long as health and safety conditions allow. “As we have said many times this year, we all want our kids back in school,” Abrell said. “But we must remember that this is a community health issue, and we must consider the impact that a large school district has on the rest of the community. We are trying to balance that fact with the fact that in-person learning is the best for most if not all, of our students.

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Health Department overwhelmed with calls for COVID vaccine

New call center to help residents get information and appointment

Faced with a hundreds of calls from residents seeking information about how to receive the COVID vaccine, Will County officials have set aside an estimated $2 million to assist with opening a new call center. The County Board on Monday authorized setting aside the funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that were distributed last year. The new call center will assist the Will County Health Department with their call response. The Health Department has been inundated with inquiries in the last few weeks from residents seeking information on COVID-19 vaccinations, officials said. “The Health Department has been overwhelmed fielding calls from residents seeking information about the vaccine,” said County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan (D-Naperville). “The County Board has stepped in with extra funding to make sure residents get the information that they need and can get scheduled for a vaccination appointment.”

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Joliet to pursue grant funding for police body cameras

Joliet police department officials are expected to submit a grant to the state in March to provide funding for body cameras for the department’s officers. The Law Enforcement Camera Grant Act provides funding of $895 for each officer-worn body camera and $5,792 for each in-car dash camera. Costs associated with installation and data storage are not reimbursable, and awards of the grants are based on availability of funds. The grants would be awarded in May, according to Joliet Councilwoman Bettye Gavin. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re ready for the opportunity when it comes in March,” she said.

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Will County moves to Phase 4

Firefighters, nurses volunteering to administer COVID vaccines in Joliet

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday officially moved Region 7, which includes Will County, to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, and more people throughout the region are starting to receive the COVID vaccine.

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Agents for Change say time is now for seat at the table

Panel to advise county board how to spend cannabis tax money

A push is on to lobby Will County board members to adopt a resolution to create an advisory panel to make recommendations as to how cannabis tax revenue is dispersed throughout the county. The group known as Will County Agents for Change held a virtual public forum on Tuesday to discuss the proposed resolution and the importance of forming an advisory board which will make recommendations to the full Will County board as to how these funds should be used in the community. Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, District 9 (D-Joliet) first introduced the proposed resolution during a Will County Democratic Caucus meeting held in the fall of 2020.

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