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Local News

  • Parent Category: News

Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Cutting Edge Broadband Network

$100 Million Illinois Century Network Construction Brings Ultra-Fast Access to 55 Counties, including Iroquois, Ford, Kankakee, Livingston

Governor Pat Quinn Friday announced the completion of a nearly $100 million, four-year project to install more than 1,000 new miles of high-speed fiber-optic broadband infrastructure across 55 Illinois counties. Supported by the Governor's Illinois Jobs Now! construction program, the project created nearly 700 jobs expanding access to high-speed broadband services for schools, libraries, hospitals and internet providers throughout Illinois. The network is part of the Governor's agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois' economy forward.

Iroquois, Ford, Livingston, Kankakee, Vermilion and Champaign counties all benefit.

"High-speed internet access is a proven economic engine," Governor Quinn said. "This expansion of Illinois' broadband backbone will create jobs and drive economic growth for generations to come."

"Investing in technology strengthens our public education system," Illinois State University Board Chairman Rocky Donahue said. "I want to thank Governor Quinn for his vision, leadership and partnership with ISU on this project."

To finish the project, engineers, equipment operators, technicians, splicers, laborers and electricians worked together to bury more than 1,000 miles of new fiber optic cable, and "light up" about 750 miles of existing "dark" fiber. All told, about 1,800 miles of fiber-optic cable are now in use across Illinois because of this project.

The new network directly connects approximately 400 anchor institutions, including community colleges, universities, libraries, health facilities, K-12 schools and public safety agencies. Local internet providers can connect to the network to extend Internet service into communities with few or nonexistent high-speed options.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Dwight pot operation leads to arrest

An aerial surveillance team uncovered a marijuana-growing operation in Grundy County. A Dwight man is now charged with illegal manufacturing of the cannabis substance.

43-year-old Charles Johnson Jr. is accused of cultivating an estimated 200 cannabis plants. Johnson's bond was set at $100,000.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Trial of man accused in Pontiac officer’s death will stay in Livingston County

A judge has ruled the trial of a South Carolina man accused of reckless homicide in the death of a Pontiac police officer will not be moved outside Livingston County.


Jason Collins' trial will be held in Livingston County. It's a decision that rejects a defense argument that an unbiased jury cannot be seated in Pontiac.


Collins is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence in the October 2013 crash that killed Pontiac officer Casey Kohlmeier and his K-9 partner, Draco.
Authorities say Collins was drunk when his pickup truck struck a marked squad car parked in the median of Interstate 55 near Pontiac.

The defense motion argument two weeks ago pointed to extensive media accounts of the accident may have tainted the jury pool.


94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

St. Anne man convicted in U-S Federal Court

A 37-year-old St. Anne man faces anywhere from 10 years to life in prison after he was convicted of drug and weapons charges. Sentencing is set for December in District Court in Urbana for J.B.Brown Jr.

Prosecutors said Coco Brown was dealing in heroin when arrested. Authorities found well over 100 grams at his St. Anne residence. A semi-automatic handgun was also seized. Brown is a convicted felon.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Kankakee County Industries Optimistic on Local Business Climate, Growth

                  New expansions and hiring anticipated, according to recent Alliance survey.

KANKAKEE, IL –July 31, 2014 – Kankakee's County largest employers are reporting a stable to improving local business climate that is increasing the likelihood of new expansions and hiring through the end of 2014 and into 2015.

A full 95% of those responding to a survey of Kankakee County's top 64 industries and institutions in terms of staff count are optimistic about the opportunity for growth of all types over the next 6 to 12 months.

Feedback was collected though an electronic survey conducted by the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County's Business Retention & Expansion team in July. A 30% response rate was achieved during the 1 week survey period.

Other survey highlights:
• Employment is expected to be stable or increase, according to 100% of survey respondents.
• 76% of respondents reported stable or increasing company sales.
• 71% of respondents anticipate new capital investment through the end of 2014.
• 71% of respondents anticipate or are considering expansion over the next 3 years.
• 80% of respondents report that new products or services are anticipated in the next 3 years.

"We know that our area is highly advantageous for business," explains Economic Alliance President/CEO Mike Van Mill, "but it's definitely great to see that validated in hard numbers.

"This exercise is also instructive in that it identifies key areas where our office and our partners can add value to our businesses and accelerate development."

To support anticipated growth, survey respondents identified several core needs. Skilled operators, for instance, are required by 43% of major employers surveyed. Also, 67% requested information on and support in pursuing workforce training grants; 50%, for financial growth incentives. Several also requested that the Alliance advocate for control of local and state utility and regulatory costs.

In its Business Retention & Expansion efforts, the Economic Alliance keeps its finger on the pulse of the Kankakee County business climate through regular and varied interaction with existing industrial and institutional businesses. This communication allows the organization to set and meet its strategic retention goals, remain responsive to local marketplace needs, and identify patters of opportunity for new business attraction.

94.1 WGFA