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ASTOUNDING SOUNDING World-class opera on stage in Watseka

HAVE BRIEFCASE, WILL TRAVEL Several businesses utilize convenient local airport

The Cool Factor Recreation options include inclu powerboats, scuba divin diving and flying








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>:CA SEARCH OUR ARCHIVES Browse past issues of the magazine by year or search for speciďŹ c articles by subject. INSTANT LINKS Read the entire magazine online using our ActiveMagazineâ&#x201E;˘ technology and link instantly to community businesses and services.

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EVEN MORE Read full-length versions of the magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s articles; ďŹ nd related stories; or read new content exclusive to the Web. Look for the See More Online reference in this issue.


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THE COOL FACTOR If finding adventure in the great outdoors is your idea of a good time, you’ve come to the right place.


26 Have Briefcase, Will Travel The “plane” truth is that the largest airport serving the South Chicago area is the Greater Kankakee Airport.

28 Biz Briefs 30 Chamber Report

A UNIFIED EFFORT The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County means business.



MUCH MORE THAN FARE The award-winning River Valley Metro Transit System is preparing for the future.

36 SOLDIERS INVADE KANKAKEE The Windy City Soldiers have completed their first tour of duty in Kankakee.


31 Economic Profile

D E PA R TM E NT S 6 Almanac: a colorful sampling of Kankakee culture

21 Portfolio: people, places and events that define Kankakee

32 Image Gallery 41 Health & Wellness 43 Community Profile: facts, stats and important numbers to know

Olivet Nazarene University’s Strickler Planetarium reopens in September 2008.

40 ASTOUNDING SOUNDING The Sugar Creek Symphony & Song series brings world-class opera to Watseka. ON THE COVER Bon Vivant Country Club Photo by Antony Boshier


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Art Deco P Palace An old landmark in K Kankakee has energy. a fresh look and new e Theatre opened April 11, The Paramount Thea 1931, and was eventually eventual purchased in early After a major 1988 by Classic Cinemas. Cinem restoration process, th the historic landmark reopened to the public publi in December 1988. The rrenovation included reconstructing include auditorium doors with the aud polished hardware highly p stained glass inserts. and stain doors lead to one of The doo largest halls in Kankakee, the large with the auditorium graced cobalt blue ceiling with with a co geometric designs in green, red, gold and silver. In 1990, four more screens were adde added to the theater constructing a building by constru addition in the parking lot. deco style of the The art dec is included original Paramount Par theaters. in the four newer n

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History Comes Alive The British are coming â&#x20AC;&#x201C; just as they have every year in May. The annual Klash on the Kankakee arrives in Bourbonnais each May at Perry Farm Park. The two-day event features re-enactors staging major battles between British forces and American colonists. The American Revolution re-enactment also includes scenes of 18th century camp life that feature soldiers and their families, games, food and lifestyle demonstrations. Besides the all-out battles, re-enactors also stage small-battle skirmishes throughout the weekend.


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There are plenty of busts of President Abraham Lincoln, but the ones created by master artist George Grey Barnard are considered among the best. You can see them in the Kankakee County Historical Museum. Barnard was an active artist between 1894 and 1936 and spent a portion of his early life in Kankakee. The museum also features the actual rustic boyhood home of Lennington Small â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Illinois governor from 1921-1929. In addition, the museum features four permanent exhibits and several temporary galleries.


Birds of a Feather

Fast Facts

Kankakee County is a stop along Operation Migration. The program was founded in 1994 so that a small flock of Canada geese could follow an ultralight aircraft from Ontario, Canada, to Virginia. The following spring, the geese migrated back to Canada unassisted, and the story led to the hit movie, Fly Away Home. The results of this endeavor prompted the Canada/United States Whooping Crane Recovery Team to embark on a similar project in 1999. During the first seven years of the whooping crane/ultralight experiment, 108 birds have been saved from extinction thanks to them learning a migration route between Wisconsin and Florida, with Kankakee County serving as a rest stop.

Q Kankakee County has been growing in population by about 1,000 residents each year since the 2000 census. Q Hollywood actor Fred MacMurray was born in Kankakee in 1908. Q Two new towns were incorporated in 2006 in Kankakee County – Limestone and Sammons Point.

Be Their Guest Need a rest? Consider a bed-and-breakfast in Kankakee County. Interesting and restful venues include the Wikstrom Manor Bed & Breakfast and the Magruder House in Kankakee. Also in Kankakee is the Riverview Guest House, which was built in 1907 and welcomes travelers of both business and pleasure. The Riverview is a Queen Anne home that features many decorations from yesteryear. Their eating area is called the Maurice Chevalier Dining Room.

Q Kankakee is the only city that can claim two Frank Lloyd Wright homes built next to one another. The homes are named the B. Harley Bradley House and the Warren Hickox House, and both were designed in 1900. Q More than 80 percent of Kankakee County’s real estate is farmland. Q Dairy Queen originated from a small store owned by local businessman Sherwood “Sherb” Noble.

SEE MORE ONLINE | For more Fast Facts about Kankakee, visit


I M AG E S K A N K A K E E . C O M



e pride ourselves on our deluxe complimentary continental breakfast buffet (you have to see it). The hotel meeting rooms will seat up to 110 people. We look forward to seeing you soon and enabling us to assist you in all your hotel needs.


in our newly renovated accommodations! Featuring complimentary: High-speed wireless Internet • Indoor pool Guest laundry • Business center • Fitness center All our spacious guest rooms have: Microwave, refrigerator & coffee maker • Data ports • In-room movies

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Bourbonnais “Quality of Excellence” Award recipient AAA three Diamond rating Call us at (815) 932-4411 for reservations today. Exit 315 off I-57 at Northfield Square Mall 62 Ken Hayes Drive • Bourbonnais, IL




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Cool Factor The




f finding adventure in the great outdoors is your idea of a good time, you’ve come to the right place. Kankakee County is jam-packed with recreation opportunities, from scuba diving and powerboat racing to kayaking, golf and flying lessons. Brothers Jim and Larry Reed and their parents, Dorothy and Orville, offer Kankakee residents and visitors the chance to explore the Kankakee River through their company, Reed’s Canoe Trips. The family provides more than 4,000 canoe and kayak trips annually, with excursions ranging from two to six hours and stretching from six to 12 miles. “We provide the kayaks, canoes, paddles and life jackets, and you bring your own drinks, snacks and food if you want to stop and have a shore lunch,” Jim Reed says. “We have a minimum age of three years or 35 pounds, but other than that, everyone is welcome.” The Kankakee River is an ideal place for water sports enthusiasts, thanks to its natural beauty and cleanliness. “It’s one of the cleanest rivers in the Midwest, and Great golf, ultralight flying, powerboat racing and kayaking are among the adventures in Kankakee.


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though it’s semi-populated, you’re still in the woods most of the time,” Reed says. “There are scenic rock bluffs on the sides of the river and some old Indian caves that are really interesting. People have found drawings in them. I used to crawl around in them as a kid.” The river is also a perfect spot for wildlife watching. Ducks, geese, swans, eagles, osprey, heron, beavers and deer are common sights. “The fishing is great, too – a lot of people fish from the canoe,” Reed says. Crappie, catfish, bass and pike are all abundant in the Kankakee, and many state-record catches have been caught in its waters. Speaking of the Kankakee River, it has played host to the highly anticipated Powerboat National Championships for the last 24 years. Held over Labor Day weekend, the Powerboat Nationals on the Kankakee River attract more than 125 competing boats and more than 30,000 spectators from as far away as Canada and Mexico. Kankakee County also garners national attention as the training grounds for the Chicago Bears. Since 2002, the Bears have trained on the Bourbonnais campus of Olivet Nazarene University during the months of July and August, giving thousands of Bears fans the chance to watch the NFL team practice and see their favorite players up close. 12

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Kankakee River State Park is another valuable asset for recreation in the community, offering 4,000 acres for biking, hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, camping and sightseeing, all in pristine scenery. At the Greater Kankakee Airport, people can enjoy that scenery from the sky while learning how to pilot airplanes and helicopters. Rotors and Wings Aviation offers flying lessons both for pleasure and commercial pilot licensing. “It’s fun giving people a new perspective of the region – it’s a whole different world up in the air,” says Tim Swanson, co-owner of Rotors and Wings Aviation. “You get up in the Chicago area and see all the commuters stopped in traffic, and you’re soaring high above them.” In addition to flying lessons, Rotors and Wings Aviation gives sightseeing tours and provides various special services. “We did an Easter egg drop for kids over in Morton this year, and we often take people up for photography work,” Swanson explains. “Last week, we took a man and woman up, and he had put a big banner on the ground proposing to her. She said yes.” Both Swanson and Reed say they love being able to provide outdoor opportunities for people in Kankakee County. “I enjoy the outdoors, and I want to get as many people out there as I can,” Reed says. “People spend way too much time inside these days.” KANKAKEE

The Kankakee River is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Companies rent kayaks, canoes and other gear for a day on the river. The calm waters get stirred up annually when the national powerboat competition comes to Kankakee.


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rmed with facts, figures and a unified team of business and political leaders pulling in the same direction, the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County means business. The alliance was created in 2007 to give the area’s governments and business entities a single voice when pursuing business recruitment, relocation and expansion. Local leaders realized that to compete in today’s marketplace they needed to think regionally – and present a united front. Kankakee County Chairman Karl Kruse has served on the county board 16 years, and says the alliance is a testament to the new spirit of cooperation at work. “This is the first time I’ve seen such a strong regional team effort. There is a positive dynamic in our region and it’s something that has been building over the last few years. Everyone is pulling together, kicking around ideas and working to move our region forward,” Kruse says. Mike Van Mill, president and CEO of the Alliance, says the regional effort is producing a countywide economic development program that is providing unique services to each of the communities in Kankakee County. “That’s a challenge, but it’s something we’re building our program around. We Retail is on the rise in Kankakee.


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I M AG E S K A N K A K E E . C O M


Two new Wal-Mart Supercenters are locating in Kankakee County. Left: Mike Van Mill is president and CEO of the Economic Alliance.

want to encourage and build a favorable work climate for the county.” To make that happen, Van Mill and other alliance members have put together a three-year work program with targeted goals, and are visiting all existing businesses in the county to identify specific needs. “We’re also going to be working on attraction programs, bringing in businesses from the outside to see what we have to offer,” he says. “We’re going after industries and trying to find those that are looking to expand into the Midwest, using our proximity to the Chicago market as an asset.” The alliance has a number of tools at its disposal, including two enterprise zones that allow businesses to take advantage of state and local tax incentives and other cost savings. There is also Kankakee County’s Revolving Fund Program, which lends assistance for development and infrastructure extension costs. Meanwhile, Tax Incremental Financing Districts encourage industrial and economic development by providing infrastructure improvements without the burden of a tax increase. The cost of the improvements is offset by increased revenues generated from KANKAKEE

business activity. Planning is key, Kruse says. “We have to manage our growth. We’ve all seen what can happen in the suburbs when you don’t have good long-range forecasts and development outpaces infrastructure. That’s why it is so important government and business work together on this effort.” The alliance is looking to infill as well, building from its existing industry base and developing clusters where those companies with similar products and markets can play off each other. That ties into the new growth efforts, which already are seeing major successes such as the opening of two Wal-Mart Supercenters in the county at opposite ends of Interstate 57. Those highly visible stores and the substantial Exit 308 development are testament to the region’s buying power. Other economic development successes, such as Ambassador Steel’s decision in 2007 to expand its plant with a new product line, also bode well for the area. “We competed with a lot of other areas for Ambassador’s new process, and the fact that an organization as young as ours had that success speaks

really well for what we’ve been able to accomplish early on,” Van Mill says. “We’ve been able to bring together many people and components and make up a very viable economic development program complemented by our workforce and job-training entities.” Major players such as Johnsonville Sausage, Glister-Mary Lee Corp. and Plochman’s Mustard have long been a part of the county’s broad manufacturing base, variety that is further enhanced by new players such as IKO roofing and CSL Behring. The alliance touts those companies’ ongoing growth, as well as its own future programs such as an economic strategy plan for the airport in the county’s southern region. “What we need to do is get the word out about all the expansions and the new businesses locating here,” Van Mill says. “We saw capital investment of more than $73 million in our commercial sector last year [2007], and are growing across a wide variety of industries. I’m very proud of the work we’ve been able to do in a short time, to build the networks between the communities and respond very quickly to the needs of existing business and businesses looking to locate in the county.” I M AG E S K A N K A K E E . C O M




More Than



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s gas prices soar, commuters around the country are looking to public transportation as a way to save money. This is nothing new to Kankakee. People here already know what a great deal the River Valley Metro Transit System is. The transit district was formed in 1998 and, quite literally, took off in July 1999. The growth has been explosive since the system began, and it has been noticed. In 2001, River Valley Metro was named Fastest Growing Transit System in North America by Metro Magazine, which also deemed it one of the 10 Most Improved Transit Systems in 2003. And in 2008, River Valley picked up a Success in Enhancing Ridership award from the Federal Transit Administration. “It’s more than anybody expected,” says Michelle Brutlag, director of marketing. “We are averaging 23 percent growth annually. The FTA gave out 10 awards nationally for ridership, and we were right behind the one in first place. And it’s not like River Valley Metro has peaked and stopped growing – we’re continuing to see those types of numbers.” To prepare for the future, the transit system is in the process of establishing a park-and-ride system and looking into bus rapid transit, two measures that will further tie it into the region’s overall transportation network. And don’t think that the system is only concerned with routes and roadways. Its fleet of vehicles offers quite the cushy ride, with flat-screen televisions broadcasting entertainment tidbits and locally produced news and educational features. In addition, WiFi service is scheduled to come online for some routes in the near future. These and other planned changes are the result of rider input, and have been key to the system’s success, says Rob Hoffman, managing director. “I marvel at the growth every year,” Hoffman says. “And almost all of it is planned growth. We’ve spent the last couple of years working on the state transit bill to get the funding for what we need to have right away.” Those needs include expanding to Sundays and holidays, increasing


the frequency to a half-hour service and opening a new fixed-route service serving Manteno and the new Wal-Mart. That happy combination of amenities and expanded service routes pleases David Hinderliter, president and CEO of the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce and the chair of River Valley’s board of directors. “I’m not surprised that it’s doing well, and am delighted to see people using mass transit to get to their destinations,” Hinderliter says. “We have exceptionally clean vehicles, personalityplus on our staff, who just exude customer service. That’s why the flat screens have been put in with news and shows. We want to give our riders more of an experience than just jumping on a bus and riding across town.” Given that there was no system in place before River Valley was created, it’s been an opportunity to build one incrementally, adding value as it grows, he adds. “We had no system – we started from scratch,” Hinderliter says. “Back in the 1990s, our chamber’s transportation committee took a survey of business to determine if there was a need for a transit system, and we definitely saw that there was interest and that it would help business. We’ve been a partner in getting some type of transit system in place for this region, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Catch A Ride ROUTE DETAILS Service is provided to areas throughout the county, the city of Kankakee, village of Aroma Park, village of Bourbonnais, village of Bradley and village of Manteno. Hourly service is provided to Kankakee/ Northfield Square Mall, Mulberry/Eastgate, Riverview/Aroma Park, Kankakee Community College, medical centers and West Kankakee, as well as a Bourbonnais route. Service to Meadowview is provided every half hour. The system also offers Metro Plus, a service for people with disabilities. Commuter service to the University Park Rail Link is available.

A passenger catches a ride on the River Valley Metro Transit System.

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Save Money. Smell the Flowers.



MON.-FRI. 8-5:30 P.M. SAT. 8-12 NOON


Hostmann-Steinberg is a member of the hubergroup, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of printing inks, overprint varnishes, coatings and additives for Sheetfed printers, Flexography printers, Web Heatset, Web Coldset and other lithographic and Flexographic printing processes. With 13 branch operations in the United States, Hostmann-Steinberg provides standardized products made in centralized manufacturing plants with the highest degree of automation, consistency and quality. Hostmann-Steinberg introduced a new generation of printing inks in June 2007 under the brand name INKREDIBLE. INKREDIBLE ink products are based on cutting edge technology and will set a new quality benchmark for top-level printing inks. Developed and formulated to complement all press configurations from small to large formats, at the highest production speeds including perfecting, they offer excellent stay-open properties and at the same time very fast setting, drying and excellent stacking. The new products very much complement work-and-turn requirements (visit the Web site for more information). In the USA, Hostmann-Steinberg operates a newly Corporate Headquarters acquired manufacturing facility in Kankakee, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. This 240,000 sq. ft. facility has been attained as part of the Micro inks acquisition and is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery and automated systems. Corporate Headquarters • 2850 Festival Dr. • Kankakee, IL 60901 (815) 929-9293 •


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Looking for ways to save money on gas and help the environment? The EPA wants to share some smart driving tips that could give you more miles per gallon of gas and reduce air pollution. Tips like making sure your tires are properly inflated and replacing your air filter regularly. And where possible, accelerate and brake slowly. Be aware of your speed ... did you know that for every 5 miles you go over 65 mph, you’re spending about 20 cents more per gallon of gas? If you’re shopping for a new car, choose the cleanest, most efficient vehicle that meets your needs. If we each adopt just one of these tips, we’d get more miles for our money and it would be a little easier to smell the flowers. For more tips and to compare cleaner, more efficient vehicles, visit



Homes With the Wright Style N

eighboring homes, the Harley Bradley House and the Warren Hickox House on South Harrison Avenue in Kankakee, are the only pair of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes sitting side-by-side in any city anywhere. The two homes embody Wright’s renowned Prairie-style architecture. Both feature long, horizontal lines mimicking the flat horizon of the Midwest prairie. “Wright wanted to depart from the traditional European styles that dominated American architecture throughout the 1800s, with most of those buildings featuring Greek Revival, Romanesque and Georgian looks,” says Gaines Hall, owner of the Bradley House and a managing principal of Kirkegaard Associates, a Chicago firm specializing in architectural acoustics. “The Prairie style emphasizes low, earth-hugging buildings that include gable roofs with wide overhangs.” The Hickox House has undergone little change over the years. Its present owners, James and Eve Brown, have continued to ensure that the residence KANKAKEE

receives the care and upkeep necessary to retain its original splendor. The Bradley House, however, has seen many changes. It has had several owners over its 105-year history, including Audubon Society president Joseph Dodson. It also served as a restaurant for 30 years and then as an office building. Current owners Gaines and Sharon Hall always intended to restore their home’s interior to its original state, but a fire in January 2006 made their intention a necessity. The Halls recently realized their goal of completing the major restoration. “Luckily, we had a copy of Frank Lloyd Wright’s house design plan from June 1900,” Hall says. Now their hope is to sell the Bradley House to an organization that will maintain the home and open it to the public for tours. The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley has held several meetings and recruited volunteers to explore that possibility. Frank Lloyd Wright homes in other parts of the country draw tens of thousands of visitors each year.



Frank Lloyd Wright homes sit sideby-side in Kankakee. Above: The Bradley House has been restored.

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Portfolio Pole-vaulter Mark Hollis has his sights set on Olympic gold.


The Height of the Matter


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ole-vaulter Mark Hollis is working hard to get the jump on his future. The January 2008 Olivet Nazarene University graduate’s goals include qualifying for the holy grail of athletic competition – the Olympics. He came close to that goal in June 2008. As the top-ranked vaulter in the country, Hollis qualified for the Olympic Trials held in Eugene, Ore. While he didn’t make the team going to Beijing, China, he did have a strong showing, clearing 17 feet, 8 inches. However, the brass ring – or, in this case, the gold medal – is not out of Hollis’s reach. He has already earned the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes national men’s championship twice – the first Olivet student to win the men’s track title. “In 2006, I went in [to the NAIA championship] in third place with a height of 16 feet, 10.75 inches and made a personal best of 17 feet, 2.75 inches. Then I won again in 2007. It was awesome,” Hollis says. “I was in California [for the meet], and my parents made the trip. It was really great to have them there for that. They’ve been really supportive of everything I do – I think that’s part of the reason I’ve done well.” To prepare for the trials, Hollis worked with a coach and practiced six days a week. He saw his best height improve to 17 feet, 10 inches. Now, he has his sights set on 2012, and perhaps even beyond. The 23-year-old says he works hard at staying healthy and injury-free. As for his future plans, Hollis says, “I’m going to continue pole-vaulting – that’s first on my list. And I’m engaged. I’ll be getting married next year, so I’m sure I’ll be busy with that. And I’ll try out [for the Olympics] again in four years.” KANKAKEE

The Fair Is Summer’s Hottest Ticket t’s always the hottest ticket in town, drawing some 65,000 people through the gates. The 44th annual Kankakee County Fair and Exposition, July 30 through Aug. 3, 2008, is expected to be just as popular, according to manager Tammy Focken. The School Bus Figure 8 is a new Grand Stand event that’s sure to stir up school rivalries and get spectators cheering. Area high schools will compete for the best-decorated bus, and then professional drivers will race the buses in a full-track figure eight. “We’re basically going to tear them up,” Focken says. Other events include lawn mower races – with some traveling more than 80 miles per hour – an IPRA rodeo and calf scramble for the kids, a truck and tractor pull, and the Grand Stand finale – a demolition derby. Additionally, there will be a carnival and a full circus performing shows on the midway, live music at the bandshell, a karaoke contest, 4-H activities, and livestock and horse shows. But fair time isn’t the only time the fairgrounds is put to good use. The newly renovated Expo Center brings a wide array of activities to the valley. “The fairgrounds offers 16,000 square feet of space at the Expo Center for trade shows, dog shows, business gatherings, company picnics, receptions and special events,” Focken says. “We do a lot of wedding receptions and banquets here. The facility is booked about every weekend. The main reason we’re here is to promote agriculture in Kankakee County.” However, some don’t realize the fairgrounds is not run by a government entity. “The fairgrounds is privately owned and run by an 18-member volunteer fair board,” Focken says. “We get no tax money, no funding from the county or any other government agency. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and we stay afloat by booking the facility throughout the year.” Check out the calendar of events at The Kankakee County Fair is the signature event held at the fairgrounds, but the venue brings a wide array of activities to the valley.




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Love and Support, Via Satellite T

he River Valley Metro Centre in Bourbonnais is putting its facilities to work in support of U.S. troops in Iraq and their families stateside. Metro Centre’s partner agencies have joined forces with Freedom Calls Foundation to provide free video conference calls between soldiers and their loved ones. “The technology [at Metro Centre] that makes this possible is video conferencing over T-1 lines, which cost nothing to use,” says Michelle Brutlag, director of marketing, River Valley

Metro Mass Transit District. “We have a 50-inch flat screen TV and conference call phone. We have done some tests, and it’s amazing how clear the picture is. You can see the person in Iraq.” On the other end of the line, Freedom Calls Foundation, supported exclusively by donations, maintains expensive satellite links to five military bases in Iraq and provides 2,000 free video conferences to military families nationwide every month. Besides talking with family face-to-

face, ‘Freedom Callers’ have met their newborn babies, bid goodbye to a dying relative, witnessed the birth of twin sons and even gotten married. But calls do require coordination. “The hardest part is trying to line up a time with the soldiers, because of their active duty schedules,” Brutlag explains. “Right now, I have a daughter trying to connect with her father, who is not stationed at any of those [satellite-linked] camps. But he makes deliveries, so we’re trying to coordinate a time when he’ll be making a delivery to one of those bases.” And Metro Centre will accommodate the soldiers’ schedules. “If the call needs to happen on a Saturday or Sunday, or even in the middle of the night, I’ll come down here and open up for the family,” Brutlag says. “These soldiers are serving our country, and we just want to serve them the best we can.” To arrange a conference call, contact Brutlag at (815) 935-1403.

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The River Valley Metro Centre invites families and friends of soldiers serving in Iraq to use video conferencing to visit with loved ones.


Rhapsody Cove is a green development that has been highlighted on Discovery, CNN and The Travel Channel.

Rhapsody in Green


olks all over the country have been hearing about Kankakee County lately, thanks to Rhapsody Cove at Rock Creek, a housing development under construction near Bourbonnais. The oneof-a-kind conservation community has made national news on CNN, and been featured on the Discovery Channel and The Travel Channel. Why? Because Rhapsody Cove developers Mark Johnson (principal) and Bill Bonner are committed conservationists who say their first and foremost task is preservation of the native-to-Illinois prairie, wetlands and trees on the property. That explains why 63 percent of Rhapsody Cove’s 243 acres will remain open space. The rest comprises 107 generous estate homesites. Conservation Design Development LLC, the company behind Rhapsody Cove at Rock Creek, secured Kankakee County’s first-ever rural estate zoning for the green development. “The response has been amazing – especially in this down market,” says Bonner, Conservation Design Development director of marketing and sales. “In this unique time in the housing industry, we are one of one. We are the first and only conservation development ever in Kankakee County. Our hope is that we won’t [remain] the only ones out here doing this. We are promoting the principles of conservation and preservation.” The company also employs what Bonner calls the Hometown Handshake – meaning Rhapsody Cove uses local builders and subcontractors. “We wanted to honor our community by doing that,” Bonner explains. “It improves the quality of work when it’s done by local people, and it keeps all the dollars in Kankakee County.” The development’s amenities include federally protected wetlands, lakes and a park. Find out more at – Stories by Carol Cowan KANKAKEE



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he “plane” truth is that the largest airport serving the South Chicago area is the Greater Kankakee Airport. “We accommodate about 50,000 arrivals and departures a year, which averages out to more than 135 flights every day,” says Jason Licon, manager of the Greater Kankakee Airport. “The airport is conveniently located along Interstate 57 at Exit 308, and we are only an hour’s drive from Chicago. We are far enough away from the busiest skies in the country, yet close enough to be easily accessible from the Chicagoland area.” The 950-acre airport first opened in 1962 and is the largest airfield between Chicago Midway Airport and Champaign Airport. Midway is 60 miles north of Kankakee, while the Champaign Airport is 75 miles to the south. Licon says the Greater Kankakee Airport is primarily a general aviation facility, with many customers storing their private aircrafts in the airfield’s 120 hangars. “We have a flight school, we rent aircraft and people can also learn to fly helicopters,” he says. “We provide all the air transportation for this part of Illinois, so a lot of local businesses also use our airport.” Licon says the Greater Kankakee facility is an airport where officials from various national businesses will fly in, visit their respective companies in the Kankakee Valley region and then fly out. “We actually don’t have any local companies that rent hangars for their private jets,” he says. “Our corporate business derives from companies that


fly corporate officials and auditing teams to our airport, then fly them home in the company jet – often later that same day.” Local businesses that often utilize the Greater Kankakee Airport include Armstrong World Industries, Cognis, Crown Cork & Seal, CSL Behring, Dow Chemical and Thoro-Matic. Other companies that frequently use the airfield are Cigna Healthcare, Kmart, Sears, Spectra Group and Target. Licon says that several investors recently have been flying into the airport to view land purchase opportunities in the Kankakee Valley region. “Land developers have been arriving here on a regular basis because this

area has been experiencing many construction projects lately,” he says. “For example, the new Wal-Mart Superstore in Bourbonnais has flown in many officials to make sure the store opened on time in early 2008, and that it continues to run smoothly these days.” The Greater Kankakee Airport has two runways, with the largest being almost 6,000 feet long by 100 feet wide. “The main runway is set up to handle a Gulfstream V aircraft, which is the largest business jet currently being made,” Licon says. “We land several of them each year. Greater Kankakee Airport is one of the nicest airfields around, and it is a great convenience having such a facility in our community.”

Greater Kankakee Airport helps stimulate the regional economy.

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Business | Biz Briefs SEE VIDEO ONLINE | See the piano Barry Manilow played, and watch the chef prepare a tasty salmon dish. Visit


American Legion League had Saturday nights. To accommodate workers at the nearby state hospital, the Dandelles family developed a midnight league. “We had a lot of customers over the years that were very loyal to us,” Harry Dandelles says. At one point, the family owned and operated three different spots, 16 lanes on East, eight on Schuyler and another eight at the intersection of Broadway and Bradley. He and his wife, Lorraine, built what is now Victory Lanes, which opened in 1961 and ran it for eight years. “It was an awful lot of work,” Dandelles says. “I wanted to greet my customers when they came in and I think my customers wanted to see me.”

America’s Bistro displays the piano Barry Manilow played when the singer performed for two weeks in the same building during the late 1960s.

REMEMBERING MANILOW The renovated America’s Bistro in Kankakee has a modern interior, with warm taupe and other neutrals, and a popular menu with French and Italian influences. It is known for fresh fish and wild game dishes, including ostrich. A generation ago, the restaurant had a different distinction. Then The Little Corporal, it was one of the joints where singer/songwriter Barry Manilow got his start. Decorated with military artifacts, the restaurant had classic white round and half-moon booths, and Manilow held court in the back piano lounge, taking requests and testing his own compositions. Christie Dupuis often dined at The Little Corporal with her grandmother and knew many of the old classics that tinkled off Manilow’s fingers. She remains a big fan. Dupuis saw Manilow in Chicago 20 years ago and after 28

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watching a recent TV special concluded he hasn’t changed. “He was just the same as he was then,” she says. “He was always so charismatic with the audience.” Manilow’s memory lives on at America’s Bistro – the piano he played for his two-week gig remains. FAMILY SCORES A STRIKE These days, bowling is more about family recreation and hanging out with friends. When the Dandelles family all but owned bowling in Kankakee, leagues were king. Locals fondly remember those golden years. Harry Dandelles’ father ventured into the business in 1911, and in 1923 opened up his first permanent location on North Schuyler Avenue. The family installed the first automatic lanes in the area in 1955 on East Avenue. For years, there were leagues at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. The

NUCOR STEEL PLANT GOING STRONG The largest steel company in the United States runs a mill in Bourbonnais that can produce up to 800,000 tons a year of steel reinforcing bars, angles, rounds and flats. Nucor Steel Kankakee Inc. employs about 315 people and runs around the clock, seven days a week. The company acquired the plant in 2002 when it bought Birmingham Steel. The Kankakee facility is now one of Nucor’s 11 bar mills and typically runs up to 90 percent capacity, says vice president and general manager John Ohm. That’s pretty solid performance in an iffy economy. “We have no expansion plans, but we have no shrinkage plans, either,” he says. Nucor is big on recycling, which makes sense for a company that got its start by making its own steel from scrap metal because materials were getting too expensive. Nucor is a publicly traded company (NYSE: NUE) and has facilities in more than 30 states. TALL TREES POPULAR AT CUPOLA Jim Keller jokes that if he had a nickel for every customer who asked for a Fraser Fir, he and his wife, Chris, would be wealthy folks. Their business, Cupola House Tree Farm, does grow a few Frasers, which are native to the mountains of northern California. Cupola House is on 30 acres of a former KANKAKEE

soybean field, about an hour south of Chicago in Bourbonnais. The Kellers take pride in growing their more than 24,000 trees without fertilizers, colorants, herbicides, insecticides or pesticides. And as the trees grow, they give back. “Every acre of evergreens that we have produces enough oxygen for 18 people,” says Keller, a master gardener. “It is a net gain for the environment.” They plant a new tree each spring for those cut down or deemed not holidayworthy. Branches from those trees become fresh wreaths and garland. In the farm’s 20 years, Keller has noticed a trend in taste toward more short-needled trees – and tall ones. Most people want trees in the 7-foot range, but more and more customers want a tree up to 25 feet tall. Species available from Cupola include Fraser, Balsam, Canaan and Douglas firs; Norway and Colorado Blue spruce; and White and Scotch Pines. NEW MEDIA MARKETING Justin Kaiser started out in radio, but his company, Creative Identity Group, has expanded with the times and technology. Creative Identity specializes in crafting podcasts for both external and internal company communications, “on hold” messages for phone systems, audio newsletters and everything in between. The Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce is one client, and Creative Identity produces two pod casts each month for the agency, one that highlights happenings in the community and the other that targets the chamber’s group for young professionals. The Sheldon company, which maintains a voice talent roster of 40 people across the world, also makes training materials for call centers and commercials for auto dealerships. The technology opens new ways for companies to communicate, Kaiser says. “It isn’t just pod casting or having a Web site; it is about creating a conversation with the customer and inviting them into the conversation and creating a company with a personality,” he says. “You have to find ways to connect with the end user.” – Pamela Coyle KANKAKEE

America’s Bistro chef, Rigo Salgado, prepares dishes that highlight fresh produce and lighter fare, such as this chicken and vegetable specialty.

Bunge Oils produces premium food ingredients for the food service, baking and food processing industries.

Bunge Oils® is proud to be part of the Kankakee River Valley Community.

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Business | Chamber Report




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Located in The Metro Centre in Bourbonnais, the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce is better equipped than ever to serve its members. The 22,000-square-foot facility, shared with the River Valley Mass Transit District, has multiple meeting spaces, a conference room that can accommodate up to 70 people with high tech meeting space, a board room and video and teleconferencing capabilities. The nine-acre site also allows for expansion. – Kevin Litwin


embership has its benefits. That’s always been true of membership in the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce, but now membership comes with a significant national seal of approval. The Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce has earned a four-star ranking from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, putting the organization in elite company. Only 10 other chambers in Illinois and approximately 300 across the country have earned the accreditation. The achievement puts the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce in the top 4 percent of chambers nationwide. “This four-star ranking demonstrates to our leadership and our community that as a business association we are on the right path,” says David Hinderliter, president/CEO of the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This accreditation speaks volumes about who we are and what we represent.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce accreditation is the only system that measures how a chamber functions. Chambers seeking accreditation are judged on nine core areas: governance, finance, human resources, government affairs, program development, communications, technology, facilities and benchmarking. Hinderliter notes the Kankakee Regional Chamber received “recognition and special notice” for its “completely sound” financial management. Kankakee Regional also won praise in the areas of human resources, governance, facilities and communications. “We’re particularly pleased that our financial management received special notice,” Hinderliter said. “Chamber membership is an investment of time and treasury and it is an option for businesses, not something that’s mandatory. We take that investment seriously. This four-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber is a seal of approval and a further sign that investing in this chamber is worthwhile and beneficial. We are good stewards of our members’ money. We work to provide programs, access to resources and a legislative agenda that build a better business climate for all our members. Now, when tough economic times are upon us, it’s more important than ever for businesses to invest their money where they know they will get a return. It makes sense to be a part of a chamber that works throughout the region to move our businesses forward.” In addition to signaling to the community that the Kankakee Regional Chamber is on the right path, Hinderliter said the fourstar accreditation also has a positive impact internally. “There is a self-evaluation aspect that occurs during the application process and that gave our board a chance to gain a clear view of where the chamber fits into the overall economic picture in the region. Our place is as a leader in these economic efforts.”

David Hinderliter, president and CEO of the Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce, meets with members in the conference room of the Metro Centre.


Business | Economic Profile

KANKAKEE BUSINESS CLIMATE From its agricultural roots to its strong manufacturing base, Kankakee County offers economic incentives such as international trade assistance, technology support and workforce development programs.

KANKAKEE COUNTY ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS Employed civilian population 16 years and over: 48,227

TRANSPORTATION Airports Kankakee Valley Regional Airport (815) 939-1422 Midway International Airport Chicago, (773) 838-0600 Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hare International Airport Chicago, (800) 832-6352 Highways The region is bisected by Interstate 57 and is minutes from Interstates 80, 55 and 65. Mass Transit River Valley Metro, 937-4BUS Rail Amtrak Metra commuter train (Chicago)

FOR MORE INFORMATION Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce 1137 E. 5000 N Road Bourbonnais, IL 60914 Phone: (815) 933-7721 Fax: (815) 933-7675 Kankakee County Economic Development Association 200 E. Court St., #507 Kankakee, IL 60901 Phone: (815) 935-1177 Fax: (815) 935-1181 Kankakee County Regional Planning 189 E. Court St. Kankakee, IL 60901



Number Employed

Percentage Employed





Management, professional and related occupations



Production, transportation and material moving occupations



Sales and office occupations







Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services






Educational, health and social services



Finance, insurance, real estate, and rental and leasing








Other services (except public administration)



Professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services



Public administration



Retail trade



Transportation and warehousing, and utilities



Wholesale trade



Occupation Construction, extraction and maintenance occupations Farming, fishing and forestry occupations

Service occupations Industry Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining


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Image Gallery


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Kankakee Model Railroad Museum


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Image Gallery

Perry Farm


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A farm in Kankakee County


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Sports & Recreation

The Windy City Soldiers played their first season in Kankakee in 2008.



tten-hut. The Soldiers have completed their first tour of duty in Kankakee. No, not the United States Army soldiers. The Windy City Soldiers played in Kankakee during 2008 as members of the International Basketball League, a league of 22 teams that competes every season from late March through June. Teams in the IBL are located in U.S. cities that stretch from Bellingham, Wash., to Battle Creek, Mich., plus there are two international teams – one from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and a team representing Shianxi, China. Although the Soldiers play their home games in Kankakee, a league stipulation mandates that the team name must refer to their big-city neighbor of Chicago – thus the Windy City Soldiers. “Our team really didn’t want to be headquartered in downtown Chicago because that city is already filled with many activities, so we chose to settle in Kankakee County in time for the 2008 season,” says Barry Bradford, team spokesman and a player on the Windy City Soldiers. “Being in Kankakee gives us a community feel, and it provides the city with its first-ever professional franchise.” The International Basketball League is now five years old and is widely regarded in the sport as one of the nation’s top minor league organizations. IBL games feature a fast-paced brand of basketball, with most teams averaging more than 125 36

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points per game. “This is high-energy stuff – it’s not the kind of basketball that our grandfathers used to play,” Bradford says. “We have quality players who are a step away from the National Basketball Association. It is rare to find a quality minor league basketball league, but this certainly is one.” The Soldiers played their 2008 season at the Kankakee Community Resource Center, which can seat 600 people for basketball. Tickets were priced at $10 for adults, and $5 for kids 17 and under. “As for salaries, players in the IBL earn $35 to $300 a game, depending on their experience and the market they play in,” Bradford says. “Guys in Los Angeles and Las Vegas are going to earn more than players in Holland, Mich., or Elkhart, Ind. But the truth is that most guys would play for free, just for the quality of basketball and the exposure they get.” Bradford adds that a main goal of the Windy City Soldiers is to give back to the community wherever possible. For example, the team started a mentoring program at King Middle School and has conducted various youth basketball and life-awareness camps, all to help children. “We want the Soldiers to be a grass-roots, communityoriented team that provides a lot of excitement on the basketball court,” he says. “This is hopefully a professional franchise that Kankakee can take pride in.” – Kevin Litwin KANKAKEE




Mary Murphy, Elks Country Club golf pro, was a fifth place finisher at the U.S. Women’s Open.

ary Murphy finished in fifth place at the 1990 U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament. Today, the former Ladies Professional Golf Association player is the head golf pro at Kankakee Elks Country Club. “I played on the LPGA tour for 10 years and my career lasted through the 1996 season,” she says. “I’m still a member of the LPGA tournament division and the LPGA teaching division. I love the game.” Murphy has been working as a head golf professional ever since she left the tour, and ultimately arrived at Kankakee Elks Country Club in January 2008. She runs the course, oversees the pro shop and offers private lessons. “The rates I charge for lessons are very reasonable – they are $35 per half hour for adults, and $15 for juniors,” she says. “My first teacher in golf was Dick Harmon, one of the all-time greats in the sport. He had a policy of not charging a lot of money, and making sure that good instruction was given to everyone, no matter what your level of play.” Murphy says she is excited about working at Kankakee Elks Country Club, which has been around since 1902. “It’s a challenging course in a beautiful natural setting – in a really nice part of the Midwest,” she says. – Kevin Litwin


Save Money. Live Better. (815) 929-5100 • 2080 Route 50 • Bourbonnais, IL 60914 •


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The Strickler Planetarium’s inside dome now features a simulation of the night sky.




livet Nazarene University will host more stars than Hollywood when its Strickler Planetarium reopens in September 2008. The campus planetarium has been closed since January 2008 to undergo the first major renovation to the building’s interior since it originally opened in 1967. “The planetarium debuted in the late 1960s when America began a big push for space and science education, and 40-plus years later, it was time for a major upgrade to the entire facility,” says Steve Case, planetarium director and assistant professor of physical sciences at Olivet Nazarene University. “The biggest improvement is with our projector, which displays the stars onto the inside of the planetarium dome to provide a


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simulation of the night sky.” Strickler Planetarium has been using a Spitz A-4RPY star projector all these years, along with a number of slide projectors to supplement the images that audiences see on the dome. However, the planetarium has now installed a digital star projector that can show full videos on the ceiling. “The new projector is controlled by computers and is much more versatile,” Case says. “The university has purchased an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 3 projector, which is the top-of-the-line piece of equipment in this industry. Adler Planetarium in Chicago has the same kind of projector.” Another upgrade to Strickler Planetarium is to the seats used by

audience members. “The old seats were arranged concentrically in rows of circles that were centered around the star projector – they were benches that basically looked like old curved school bus seats,” Case says. “We have replaced those with more comfortable theater-type chairs. They are in a curved setting with all of the seats facing one direction. It’s not quite a movie theater look, but more in that direction – with a capacity for 50 people.” The planetarium has also installed new carpeting, and the Bourbonnaisbased university also hired a company to clean and repaint the inside of the dome. “As for audiences, the biggest crowds at Strickler Planetarium have historically KANKAKEE

been school-age children who visit on field trips,” Case says. “However, there are tentative plans for Olivet Nazarene University to begin utilizing the building a lot more in the future for its own college students.” A couple of college astronomy classes have been scheduled in the planetarium each semester in the past, but Case says there is talk about eventually adding classes in graphic arts, computer programming and other multimedia courses. “We have this incredible new digital projector that can really broaden our academic opportunities, so we could easily host classes on human anatomy, engineering and several other subjects,” he says. “Plus, it is entirely conceivable that graphic arts or computer programming students at Olivet Nazarene could ultimately help design new and exciting videos for the planetarium itself.” – Kevin Litwin KANKAKEE

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Arts & Culture

International opera is on stage annually in Watseka during the Sugar Creek Symphony & Song Festival, which was founded by Helen Todd and John Whitman. Todd, an opera star, is the artistic director for event.



hen John Whitman and Helen Todd decided to bring opera to their hometown of Watseka a few years back, more than a few people scratched their heads. These days, with a new home and several sold-out presentations under its belt, the Sugar Creek Symphony & Song series has become a highly anticipated summer event throughout the region. Whitman and Todd envisioned the festival while making plans for their 15-year high school reunion. Since striking out into the world, Todd has become an internationally known opera singer, while Whitman has built a career in journalism. The two wanted to bring world-class opera to their hometown, and thought an annual production would be just the ticket. The inaugural performance was La Boheme, and it and subsequent productions were presented at the Watseka Community High School gymnasium. Everyone was holding 40

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their breath that first year, but the performances drew more than 1,000 people from throughout the region and the festival quickly became a favorite for opera performers from the Metropolitan Opera and other famous houses. In August 2008 Sugar Creek will present The Elixir of Love by Donizetti at the Watseka Theatre, a newly renovated 1930 Art Deco venue. That’s a major step up from the gym, Whitman says. “This will be our first year in a true theater space,” he says. “We certainly appreciate how welcoming and cordial the school district has always been, but we’re very excited to be in an actual theater space. We always hoped that our being here would be an incentive for someone to buy and renovate the Watseka Theatre. I don’t know how much of a motivating factor we were, but it’s really worked out well.” Whitman says one of the biggest challenges the festival has faced is the continuing need to raise funds for each

year’s production. Cultivating awareness of how arts organizations work has been an ongoing and successful effort. One thing that hasn’t been a problem is getting talent. Many artists return to Sugar Creek every year, saying they liken the event to a retreat. Over the years, the community has volunteered to put up the visiting performers in their homes, so friendships have been forged and the event has become even more grounded in the community. “The artists are working during the year, or are in school, and so they get to come to a small town where the pace is slower, and the people are hospitable,” Whitman says. “They can relax and focus on the production. It’s a unique experience for the artists, and also for the people in town – we bring something unique to all of to them. And the festival brings people back to town who haven’t been here in years, so it really stirs things up.” – Joe Morris KANKAKEE

Health & Wellness





oth of Kankakee’s award-winning hospitals are making care more pleasant for their patients. Provena St. Mary’s just wrapped up a $2 million renovation that transformed white and sterile common areas, including the entrance, into more inviting spaces with soft lighting and earth tones. “We wanted to make it more aesthetically appealing,” says Melissa Tanner, St. Mary’s marketing and public relations manager. “People are often very scared when they come into the hospital and we want them to feel as comfortable as possible.” After reviewing emergency room statistics, St. Mary’s took aim at wait times and reduced the average wait from nearly four hours in June 2007 to less than three hours at the end of December 2007, Tanner says. The hospital gave its Family Birthing Center a facelift, adding a free DVD for moms, a pampering parent basket and birthday parties for older siblings to make them feel special. It spent $1.5 million on a new Picture Archiving and Communication System that allows doctors to access X-rays over computers, making diagnosis faster. Riverside Medical Center has also made impressive strides toward improving patient care. Riverside has targeted the ailment that afflicts 80 percent of adults at least once and is the second leading cause of lost work and hospital stays – back problems. It has created a one-stop-shop Spine Center that gets patients into treatment, whether for therapy, pain management or surgery, more quickly and streamlines a process that too often is frustrating and confusing. “We wanted to coordinate all of these services we already had and make it easier for the patient,” says Rebecca Lentz Schiltz, Riverside’s director of rehabilitation services. Riverside and Provena St. Mary’s aren’t content to rest on their laurels. Still, the awards keep coming. In the 10th Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study, Riverside ranked first in Illinois for cardiac surgery, beating out bigger facilities in Chicago. The study looked at patient outcomes at 5,000 U.S. hospitals for three years. In March 2008, Thomson Healthcare named Riverside one of the country’s 100 Top Hospitals for 2007, the first time the hospital received this key industry distinction. In April 2008, HealthGrades cited both Provena St. Mary’s Hospital and Riverside as Distinguished Hospitals for Patient Safety, placing them in the top 5 percent in the nation for Patient Safety. – Pamela Coyle

Dr. Juan Carlos Jimenez and nurse navigator Barbara Pfingsten provide care in the new Riverside Spine Center.

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Community Profile

KANKAKEE SNAPSHOT Kankakee County boasts small-town charm and big-city amenities. The region is separated from urban life by more than 30 miles of open prairie. As residents will tell you, it’s truly the “best of both worlds.”

MEDICAL FACILITIES Provena St. Mary’s Hospital 937-2490 (210 beds) Riverside Medical Center 933-1671 (336 beds)

CLIMATE Average rainfall, 33.6 inches Average temperature, 49.3 F Average July high, 84.6 F Average January low, 12.6 F


Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School District #307 937-3707 Bradley Elementary School District #61 933-3371 Grant Park School District #6 465-6013 Herscher Community Unit School District #2 426-2162 DHomePage.htm Kankakee School District #111 933-0779 Manteno Community Unit School District #5 928-7000

Kankakee County has 12 school districts, 11 parochial schools, Kankakee Community College, Olivet Nazarene University, the Kankakee Area Career Center and the Governor’s State University Kankakee Education Center.

Momence Community Unit School District #1 472-3501

The region is within a 75-minute drive of the University of Illinois, Governor’s State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University, Chicago State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and many other institutions in the Chicago area.

St. Anne Community Consolidated School District #256 427-8190

School Districts

St. George Consolidated Community School District #258 933-1503

Bourbonnais Elementary School District #53 939-2574

The area code for Kankakee is 815 .

Pembroke Consolidated School District #259 944-5219

St. Anne Community High School District #302 427-8141

UTILITIES Cable Comcast, (866) 594-1234 Electricity ComEd, (800) 334-7661 Natural Gas NICOR Gas, (888) 642-6748 Telephone AT&T, (800) 851-1305 Water Aqua Illinois Inc. 935-6535

NUMBERS TO KNOW Kankakee has an enhanced 911 system for emergencies Kankakee County Administration, 937-2958 Kankakee County Health Department, 937-3560 Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department, 937-8250 Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber, 932-2222 Grant Park Chamber 466-0604 Herscher Chamber 426-2131 Manteno Chamber 468-6226 Momence Chamber 472-4620

FOR MORE INFORMATION Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce 1137 E. 5000 N Road Bourbonnais, IL 60914 Phone: 933-7721 Fax: 933-7675


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BAKER & TAYLOR Information and Entertainment Services

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River Valley Metro Your Connection to Downtown Chicago University Park Commuter Link Board River Valley Metro on the east side of Northfield Square Mall and ride to University Park to catch the Metra Train to downtown Chicago. With a stop in Manteno, River Valley Metro is a fast and economic way to travel to Chicago.

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Images Kankakee County, IL: 2008-09  
Images Kankakee County, IL: 2008-09  

Located just 60 miles from Chicago, the Kankakee River Valley is separated from urban life by more than 30 miles of open prairie and is home...