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  • Parent Category: News

Prairie Central schedules meetings to discuss closing school

A series of four meetings have been scheduled in the Prairie Central school district that could lead to the closing of one building.

Meadowbrook Elementary School in Forrest would close after the 2015-16 school year under a plan the school board discussed Thursday.

Officials believe the district would save $1 million a year in the move, including cutting a dozen teaching jobs and related administrative and custodial staff.

A decision is expected August 20.

The school board, in March, approved borrowing $4.3 million to cover costs over the next three years.

About a dozen community members and school staff members attended the meeting, but none spoke against the closure. The district is set to host informational meetings on the plan at each of its elementary schools: 7 p.m. June 29 at Meadowbrook, July 6 at Westview, July 20 at Chatsworth and July 27 at Chenoa.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Kankakee County Unemployment Drops to 5.8%, Job Growth Strongest in Illinois Again in April

KANKAKEE, IL – May 28, 2015 – The Kankakee-Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which shares boundaries with Kankakee County, continued to experience the strongest job growth in the state of Illinois in April over the last year.

According to preliminary data released May 28 by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kankakee County added 1,200 jobs from April 2014 to April 2105, which translated to growth of 2.7%, the greatest increase among metros statewide.

In March, Kankakee County saw the addition of 1,000 jobs year or over, according to IDES and BLS reports.

Unemployment rate fell sharply in Kankakee County from April 2014 to April 2015, from 7.9% to 5.8%. This represents the lowest rate that the metro has experienced since May 2007. Neighboring Will and Grundy counties registered 6.1% and 6.5% unemployment rates in April, respectively.

The not seasonally adjusted rate for the state of Illinois was 5.5% in April. This was the 14th month in a row that unemployment rates fell in every metro are in the state compared to a year ago.

"The job growth trend that we're seeing in Kankakee County continues to be quite encouraging," remarked Alliance President/CEO Mike Van Mill. "Industry sees Kankakee County as a sound investment. "

{courtesy of Economic Alliance of Kankakee County}

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Steve Wilder named Chairman of KVAA Board

Steve Wilder has been elected Chair of the Kankakee Valley Airport Authority (KVAA) Board of Directors. Wilder will lead the Board of Directors in fulfilling the KVAA's strategic plan for airport development and aviation in the region.

Wilder was appointed to the KVAA Board in 2009 by Village of Bradley Mayor Bruce Adams. He begins his term as Chair effective May 11, 2015. Wilder brings tremendous business acumen to his role as chairman. Wilder is the President of Sorensen, Wilder, & Associates (SWA), a nationally recognized leader in safety and security, emergency preparedness, disaster management, and public safety consulting services. The company has delivered these specialized services primarily to health care facilities, educational facilities, churches, government, and manufacturing since 1990. Prior to starting SWA, Wilder served as System Director of Safety and Security for Provena Health, and Director of Risk Management for Provena St. Mary's Hospital for many years. He is also a retired 31 year firefighter/paramedic and the former fire chief for the Village of Bradley. He also served for 25 years as an instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the state fire academy at the University of Illinois. During his time as a KVAA board member, Wilder has served as Board Secretary.

Prior to Wilder's appointment as chairman, the KVAA Board of Directors was chaired for over three decades by Robert Glade, former owner of Glade Plumbing & Heating in Kankakee. During Glade's tenure as board Chairman he was elected to the post three different times. As chairman, Glade led several major accomplishments including:

• Solicitation of funds from then Secretary Elizabeth Dole of the U.S. Department of Transportation for $4,000,000 to extend our primary runway approx. 1,000 feet. Secretary Dole later attended the runway's dedication ceremonies arriving at Kankakee's airfield on Coast Guard #1.
• Authorized the construction of several new buildings on the airfield including the new $1,000,000 FAA Automated Flight Service Station, several new executive hangars as well and additional T-hangars, and a new maintenance facility.
• Acquisition of several hundred acres of farm land to protect the environment
• Negotiation of an agreement with the City of Kankakee to annex into the City.
• And most recently, entering of the Airport Authority into a long term lease agreement with the Illinois Army National Guard for the purpose of construction a new Army Aviation Support Facility and Readiness Center.

"It's humbling to see the legacy left by Chairman Glade," notes Wilder. "I know I speak for all of us in saying how much we applaud and admire his leadership over the years. Under Chairman Glade, KVAA saw significant efficiency and infrastructure improvements, as well as admirable growth and advancement" he added. "I am honored to continuing his commitment to excellence and to supporting the great work of our KVAA leadership going forward." Glade will remain an active member of the board. "I'd be lost without him" Wilder added.

The Kankakee Valley Airport Authority was formed in 1957. The location of the airport was chosen South of Kankakee in 1959, and the Greater Kankakee Airport has been officially serving the Kankakee community since 1962. It is located 50 miles south of downtown Chicago and 70 miles north of Champaign, directly along Interstate 57 at the 308 exit. The airport is home to over 100 private hangars housing helicopter, single engine aircraft, ultralights, and turbine powered aircraft.

The Greater Kankakee Airport has received recognition over the years for its outstanding service to Kankakee County. The airport has been awarded the General Aviation – Publicly Owned Airport of the year award by the Illinois Division of Aeronautics in 2001 and 2012.

The airfield continues to serve the community today through general aviation. Over 100 private tenants and multiple businesses continue to utilize the field. In September of 2014 the Army National Guard broke ground on the Army Aviation Support Facility, which will be completed in 2017. The facility will house 13 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. The Kankakee Valley Airport Authority looks forward to continue to support the surrounding area in the years to come.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

THE WALL THAT HEALS visits Watseka JUNE 9 - 14, 2015

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica Wall and Mobile Education Center spreads healing legacy of The Wall and educates about the impact of the Vietnam War.

The City of Watseka is hosting "The Wall That Heals" next month. And local organizers need volunteers to make the visit a welcome experience. Promotions Coordinator Wayne Lehmann tells 94.1 WGFA News volunteers can help with assisting visitors, manning the information tent and security.

The Watseka Area Chamber of Commerce has information. Volunteers can also contact Volunteer Outreach Coordinator Bob Burd at 815-432-5240.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Wall That Heals, a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile Education Center, is coming to Watseka on June 9 with a welcome ceremony at 5:00 p.m. at Brianna Drive and Elm Street. Construction of the Wall will occur on the 10th and will be open on the 11th through the 14th, closing at 2:00 p.m. It is free to the public. The Wall That Heals honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces during the Vietnam War and its walls bear the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most visited memorial in our Nation's Capital, with more than four million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as "The Wall." The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the organization that built The Wall, wants to give all veterans and their family members all across America an opportunity to see the Memorial.

"Taking The Wall That Heals on the road gives thousands more veterans and their family members an opportunity to see The Wall and honor those who have served and sacrificed so much," said Jim Knotts, CEO of VVMF. "It helps veterans from all of America's conflicts to find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences."

Since its debut in 1996, more than two million people have visited The Wall That Heals sites. It has made stops in nearly 400 U.S. communities in addition to an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland and a visit to Canada in 2005. Hosting The Wall That Heals provides a community with a multi-day experience that includes an educational experience for local schools and organizations on the history of the Vietnam era and The Wall. The exhibit includes a mobile Education Center comprised of: photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall; letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in D.C.; a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam. The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.

The Wall That Heals will be open 24 hours a day beginning June 11. There is no charge for admission. There are opportunities for volunteers from the community to help during the event.

If you are interested in assisting, call Bob Burd (815) 432-5240. For more information, contact Sherry Johnson at Watseka Park District (815) 432-3931 or visit us on Facebook.

VVMF coordinates local stops of The Wall That Heals and the accompanying mobile Education Center. The current schedule and more information can be found at: www.thewallthatheals.org.

The 2015 national The Wall That Heals tour is generously sponsored by: USAA, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Trust, FedEx, and Geico. Local sponsors include the City of Watseka, T & D Metals, Miner Charitable Foundation, The First Trust & Savings Bank of Watseka, and Iroquois Federal Savings & Loan Association.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

9-1-1 service re-stored in Iroquois County

3rd time in 2-months emergency service cut

Iroquois County's emergency 9-1-1 service was taken off-line again Wednesday. It marked the third time in the last two months the service was interrupted.

The service is back online today. There's been no official word from telephone companies as to what caused the interruption. The source of the problem was identified, a fiber optic line cut along Route 45 near Airport Road in Kankakee County.

Landline telephone service was interrupted. But citizens were still able to access 9-1-1 by using cellphones.

The landline service in Beaverville, Martinton, Donovan, Ashkum, Danforth, Sheldon, Iroquois, Chebanse and Clifton was off-line. Repair crews were able to replace a fiber-optic line.

There were two other such incidents last month that took out 9-1-1 service. Those interruptions were blamed on copper thieves cutting service lines.

94.1 WGFA