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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.

94.1 WGFA

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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.

94.1 WGFA

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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.

94.1 WGFA

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Mayor Epstein: Kankakee needs legislative help for pension crisis

The City of Kankakee is still trying to solve the unfunded pension liability, which Mayor Nina Epstein says is an issue for the state legislature. The mayor says Kankakee is not alone in this issue.

Epstein said lawmakers need to be made aware this is a problem throughout the state. She says the question is: 'how do we modify promises made to those people in the pension system and remain responsible to local taxpayers who pay for the pensions?'

The mayor said local government has no control of what benefits are offered.

Kankakee is more than $36 million behind in the police pension and about $33 million behind in its fire pension fund.

94.1 WGFA

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Kankakee City, County eye a sales tax rate hike

A sales tax rate increase may be the answer for dwindling funds in Kankakee County. There's now talk of a sales tax rate hike for both the county and the city of Kankakee.

At Tuesday's County Board meeting, finance leaders for both bodies agreed they have sales tax revenue concerns. The revenue is dropping. And any light at the end of the tunnel doesn't look too good.

94.1 WGFA