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Joliet welcomes new faces, seeks bright future

Looking back at 2017, the City of Joliet had its share of changes.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk touted Joliet’s accomplishments over the last year during a Feb. 23 State of the City address held at Joliet Junior College. He made mention of several ways in which the City is growing and working to build on its success in 2017. Around that time, O’Dekirk announced that Joliet is working with the Cullinan Group to redevelop the area between I-55 and I-80.

In April, Don “Duck” Dickinson was elected to the Joliet City Council to replace Councilwoman Brooke Hernandez Brewer. His ascent to the post followed an election season that drew a pool of 15 potential candidates.

City Manager James Hock announced his retirement ahead of an April 12 special meeting, at which point the council began discussing how they intended to search for a replacement. Officials decided it would need someone to step in on an interim basis to handle the City’s day-to-day operations, and Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan was named to fill the role.

The council began deliberating in May whether or not to purchase of the old Joliet prison on Collins Street, and discussions drew both support and opposition from members of the council. Earlier this year, a fire broke out on the premise in question. Still, it remained the City and the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s desire to turn the facility into a tourist destination. Action hinged on legislation, transferring ownership of the facility to the two entities.

This year, Joliet welcomed two craft breweries to town. Several other developments came on line throughout the year to curve the City’s outlook in terms of economic development.

In November, David Hales started working as city manager, and Shanahan stepped down as interim city manager to resume his duties as corporation counsel.

The City decided in December to finalize a lease agreement on the Collins Street prison. At that point, Joliet Area Historical Museum executive director Greg Peerbolte’s plan to attract tourists took steps forward.

Officials broke ground on the new Will County Courthouse in December. The event marked a milestone that many had long awaited. For Joliet, the groundbreaking ceremony meant the City took steps forward in implementing its downtown development plan, originally adopted in late 2015.

As 2017 comes to a close, the City’s desire to build on its success continues to ring true for many.

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