2014 is winding down, and I’ve assembled a brief top five list for the biggest happenings in Wilmington for 2014. This is completely arbitrary but I’ve tried to emphasize things that have or will impact our lives in town.
Wilmington football wins the 3A state championship | November
This is a great feel good moment for the Wildcat faithful and a highlight of 2014 that will be talked about for decades to come. We’re all proud of the performance on the field. Many people would probably peg this at #1 but it doesn’t impact our way of life so it doesn’t make the top five here, but it would be crazy to not mention this at all.
Construction begins on the new police department | April
Now that money has started to roll in from Ridgeport, our taxing bodies are itching to build new facilities. We knocked down Booth Central and made no progress towards the new fire department, and eight months after construction began still are not using the new police department
#5. Big Storms | January, June
We kicked off 2014 with the dreaded polar vortex, dumping many inches of snow and dropping temperatures well into double digit negative temperature wind chills. Eventually the snow melted and in June we were hit with a major wind and thunderstorm. Large trees were downed and many residents were without power for days.
#4. Ridgeport developments & un-developments | May, July, November
The first big client of Ridgeport celebrated it’s opening in 2014, and promptly closed it’s doors six months later. Project Lego was revealed to be a Michelin warehouse, which is under construction now. Hopefully they’ll last longer than six months.
#3. High Speed Rail | September
This one got the least coverage of everything else on this list, but probably will make a bigger impact on Wilmington and sooner than most of the other items. Initially announced to have a side rail in Braidwood, recently in 2014 we learned a second line will run all the way through Wilmington. It will potentially take out local businesses and will definitely greatly increase train traffic through town. Expect to hear train horns all day and night in the near future.
#2. The Park District wants our money | All year
2014 saw one story after the next about how the park district wants more tax money in one way or another. They opened a gym and suggested that they pay 0% of the maintenance costs to actually upkeep parks, which seems to be their primary purpose. They don’t want to pay electric bills for Catfish Days and totally botched a kid’s fishing derby by not actually stocking the pond with fish. Their operating budget approached $1 million dollars. I could go on but these are supposed to be short blurbs.
#1. Illiana Expressway | All year
The year was full of Illiana news stories, a few of which include preferred path being announced, which immediately gave way to a debate about whether a children’s football field should be saved over 26 homes people actually live in. The city council decided to not make a statement about what alternative they would prefer. Then in December the Illiana received federal approval.