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Governor Quinn Announces $1.6 Million for Construction Projects in Northeastern Illinois

                           Includes Work in Iroquois, Kankakee and Livingston Counties

PONTIAC – Governor Pat Quinn today announced an investment of $1.6 million for construction projects in Iroquois, Kankakee and Livingston Counties. Funded by his Illinois Jobs Now! construction program, the projects are part of Governor Quinn's commitment to creating jobs and driving Illinois' economy forward.

"These projects will address critical infrastructure needs in northeastern Illinois, improve safety and increase mobility," Governor Quinn said. "The projects will also employ a number of construction workers, which benefits the local economy."

The projects will be managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Iroquois and Kankakee Counties:

Outsen Electric Inc. of Kankakee received the contract to maintain traffic signals, flashing beacons and roadway lighting in Iroquois and Kankakee Counties. Their bid was $66,365, the lower of two submitted.

Livingston County:

County Highway 16 will be improved from the McLean County line to Illinois Route 116 for $1,563,749 by T & T Cartage Inc. of Herscher, the lower of two bidders. The work includes surfacing, crack control treatment and shoulder construction.

The projects are part of Governor Quinn's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest construction programs in the nation.

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Watseka attracting jobs, Lyon Metals expanding

The parent company of Pride Metals in Watseka is closing a Paris, Illinois factory and bringing up to 70 new jobs to Iroquois County.

The announcement from the Iroquois Economic Development Association could make Lyon Metals the county's largest employer, in time. IEDA Executive Director Ken Barragree said the Paris closing displaces about 70 people. More than a dozen of them plan to relocate to Watseka.

Lyon Metals acquired Pride Metals in Watseka through bankruptcy in 2013. The company manufactures metal lockers, tool boxes and other similar storage products.

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Relay for Life event raises $10,000 in Ford County

Despite the weather, Relay for Life enthusiasts responded in Ford County.

In Gibson City Saturday, the Ford County Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society raised $10,000. It brings the total raised by Ford County to just over $45,000.

Areca VanMill, the East Central Region's Relay for Life specialist, said the event "did well" despite weather.
North City Park is where the event was staged, but several off-site fundraisers were a big hit.

Motorcycle clubs are having a 50/50 drawing at stops along a planned run.. They will also have various other fundraising activities.

A tractor drive scheduled for Saturday, July 5 is similar to a motorcycle run. It's called the Sibley-Burr Oaks Area Drive. Starting in Roberts, tractors will make stops in Piper City, where they will visit the nursing home, and finish in Chatsworth.

VanMill said the Ford County Relay for Life's goal is to raise $72,000. She hopes that goal can be reached through additional Relay for Life fundraising activities planned for this summer.

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Hoopeston Wind Farm moves forward

The Vermilion County Board learned Tuesday night that work is progressing on the Hoopeston Wind Farm project. Scheduled road work for Apex Clean Energy's Hoopeston Wind Farm is nearing.

County Board Chairman Gary Weinard says work is about a week away. The work will move across Butler and Grant Townships. The work moves across County Road 14 at Rossville and then across the Potomac-East Lynn Road (Route 10). Rock hauling will be much of the initial work.

Weinard said the wind farm is really helping education; schools gain some welcome revenues. Township and county government will also see revenue.

Apex Clean Energy acquired six wind energy projects from BP Wind late last month, including Hoopeston Wind.
Apex says the Hoopeston Wind project is expected to generate $11.3 million dollars in new tax revenues which are projected to accrue over the life of the project. It is also estimated the project will infuse another $10-million dollars into the local economy through direct landowner payments, and $17.8 million dollars in goods and services associated with the wind farm.

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Medical marijuana plots stir interest in Illinois counties

County governmental bodies in Illinois are hearing from companies interested in developing a medical marijuana farm. Several counties, including Iroquois, Kankakee, and Champaign, have been in talks.

The facilities would be strictly-governed, policed and hopefully provide educational value to researchers.

Tuesday, the Kankakee County Board approved a zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana production facilities here. The 17-7 vote drew objection from several board members who disapprove of the new state law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Daily-Journal reports the ordinance will restrict such a facility to industrial districts. Kankakee County's Planning Director Mike Van Mill said "it intentionally left out agricultural districts due to security concerns." He said industrial zones are closest to emergency services such as police.

Kankakee County's proximity to large markets in Chicago and a location in an Illinois State Police district south of Interstate 80 makes the county an attractive option, according to Van Mill. State law allows one production facility in each of the state's 22 state police districts.

Police surveillance becomes a key issue. Each facility could create 20 and 50 full-time jobs and generate revenue for local government.

While Kankakee offers an industrial outlook, Iroquois County officials eye the medical marijuana opportunity as an agriculture-venture.

A medical marijuana production facility would employ growers, pickers and security personnel and could represent a half-million dollar investment.

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