Rex Robinson is a staff writer for The Times Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (708) 254-1539.
On the same day the Illinois Department of Public Health dropped Will County from the state’s warning list of regions nearing a Coronavirus positivity rate of 8 percent, some area Republicans held a press conference to denounce Coronavirus statistics from both the state and county's heath departments. While the IDPH announced Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, has been dropped, the region remained under mitigations of no indoor bar and restaurant service until the COVID-19 positivity rate drops to 6.5 percent for three consecutive days. That could possibly happen this weekend. Will County Republican Committee Chairman George Pearson this week continued to dispute numbers from both the IDPH and the Will County Health Department and said despite being dropped from the warning list, the mitigations are still in place and continue to adversely impact businesses, especially bars and restaurants.
The Will County Health Department on Thursday reported 13,158 Coronavirus cases, an increase of 74 from Wednesday, while reported deaths from the virus increased by one to 371.
Attorneys for Joliet and developer file motion to dismiss
The Village of Elwood has filed a Temporary Restraining Order against the City of Joliet and East Gate - Logistics Park Chicago to prevent the annexation and subsequent construction of the NorthPoint development. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24.
Recovery coaches sought for Rapid Response Nalaxone Program
One of the many negative ripple effects of the Coronavirus pandemic in Will County has been the surge in Opioid related overdoses and deaths. In 2019, there were a total of 118 deaths from Opioid overdoses in Will County and in the first seven months of this year there were 54 deaths from Opioid overdoses, according to Dr. Kathleen Burke, the county’s Director of Substance Abuse Initiatives.The majority of overdose deaths from Opioids are among those between the ages of 25 and 44.
A drive through Joliet’s downtown reveals historic buildings, such as the Rialto Square Theatre and various churches and other structures that have a certain appeal that connects to the city’s past. Joliet City officials are considering capitalizing on that as a way to spur economic development in the downtown by creating a historic district. “The idea of a potential national register district for downtown has been a discussion item for many of the preservation/development minded individuals in Joliet for quite some time,” said Quinn Adamowski, chairman of the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission. “The first step is to conduct a architectural/historical survey of the downtown area to create an inventory of all assets.” The City Council this week set the ball in motion toward creating a historic district within the city’s downtown by hiring the Evanston-based Architectural Preservation Planning consulting firm of McGuire Igleski & Associates to conduct a study of the area and ensure the city follows the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency guidelines. Joliet’s goal, according to Derek Conley, Joliet’s Economic Development Specialist, seeks to use the National Register Historic District designation as an economic development tool to “sensitive” encourage rehabilitation of downtown properties while preserving the city’s architectural heritage.
Parking issues dominate the conversation at City Hall
Traffic is something all communities grapple with and for Joliet and the surrounding region this issue is an ongoing one that city, state and county officials are constantly trying to resolve. One of the major road projects expected to get underway in the not too far off future is the reconstruction of Interstate 80 from Minooka to New Lenox. It’s a $1.2 billion project that includes rebuilding the bridge in the portion of I-80 that runs through Joliet.
A group of Joliet residents from throughout the city have formed a new Political Action Committee with the goal of reforming the City Council by backing candidates for open seats. Members of the Working Families Joliet Political Action Committee held a press conference in front of the Joliet City Hall on Friday and said the group’s goals include “unseating City Councilwoman Jan Quillman and to reform city hall dysfunction created by Mayor O’Dekirk and his allies.” The new PAC took a strong position against the controversial NorthPoint development, decried the city council’s inability to hire a permanent city manager and shared concerns about neighborhood disinvestment and the state of the city’s infrastructure.
Additional restrictions related to the Coronavirus are being placed on Will County by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health after both Will and Kankakee counties have seen a positivity rate exceeding 8 percent for three days in a row. The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of all people tested within a given region. According to the IDPH’s mitigation guidelines, additional restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 are triggered when any area of the state exceeds an 8 percent positivity rate. Pritzker and the IIDPH officials announced Monday that new COVID-19 mitigation efforts will be implemented in Region 7, the greater Will and Kankakee County areas, starting Wednesday after the region reached 8 percent positivity for three days. For Will and Kankakee counties, mitigation measures taking effect Wednesday include the following:
From mail boxes and sorting machines being removed to overtime being cut for mail carriers, concerns abound about what’s going on with the United States Postal Service throughout the country. Voter suppression is a top concern for many as President Donald Trump has voiced his opposition to universal Vote By Mail. His worries about mass voter fraud and negative comments about the USPS have stoked fears in many about whether the president is trying to sabotage mail service during a national pandemic. It has become a hot button political issue as the November Presidential election nears and many are opting to use the Vote By Mail option as Coronavirus concerns continue to linger.
Applications for Vote By Mail ballots continue to flood the office of Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry and as of earlier this week the total had reached more than 66,000, according to Ferry’s Chief of Staff Charles Pelkie. That’s more than double the amount of requests received by the clerk’s office in 2016, when 30,000 Vote By Mail requests were received and 27,000 were returned and counted. That election, Pelkie said, was the “high water mark” in the history of the office receiving Vote By Mail ballots. Gwen Ulmer, 71, of Joliet, said she has voted by mail for about the last 15 years. “I have already requested my ballot,” the former election judge said. “I most definitely trust the process and I know that it works.” The Coronavirus pandemic is playing a major role in more voters deciding to cast their ballots by mail in this November’s Presidential election, especially when no one really knows how much of a risk it will be to vote at a polling place on Election Day.
Bolingbrook High School Principal Michael White was grateful for all the support from parents, teachers and students
Dave Hoekstra, director of operations for Waste Management, discusses the grant his company gave to Will County for a new veteran's work program
Mike Eulitz, roadways engineer for Joliet, gives update on GPS tracking system for the city's snow plows
Will County board member Walter Adamic (D-Joliet) questions whether Illinois' new medical marijuana law violates federal law
State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) talks about working to get state funding to complete the JJC City Center Campus building.
Nick Palmer, chief of staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh, comments about the first day of the strike