evergreen-parkEVERGREEN PARK – State Senator Bill Cunningham and Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton announced the Village of Evergreen Park will soon receive $700,000 from state programs aimed at park construction, road work and storm drain upgrades.

The village's new 50-Acre Park at 91st and California Ave. will receive a $500,000 state grant to establish a farm and garden program for children with disabilities, while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will provide Evergreen Park with $200,000 to improve city infrastructure, patch potholes and install new storm drains.

Cunningham and Sexton were joined at 50-Acre Park during the Labor Day weekend by Governor Pat Quinn to announce the awarding of the grants.

"Quality, well-maintained parks add value to the entire community," Cunningham said. "And that's particularly true when the parks provide us with much needed programs for a vulnerable segment of our population, like students with special needs.” Cunningham said. "Mayor Sexton and the residents of Evergreen Park have a truly inspiring vision for 50-Acre Park, and I'm happy to have secured state funding to help make it a reality."
 
Cunningham said that the additional road improvement funding coming to Evergreen Park is much needed given the weather-related damage to area infrastructure that has occurred after a harsh winter and rainy summer.

“The recent, widespread suburban flooding highlights the need to improve and maintain our storm water systems. This investment will have the added benefit of creating area construction jobs, which is important to note during the Labor Day holiday,” Cunningham said.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham-trng-programSheriffs and units of local governments will now have a new tool to address blighted properties, create transitional housing and reduce the number of inmates who reoffend under a new law signed by the governor.

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D- Chicago) sponsored the Neighborhood Restoration and Alternative Sentencing Act as a way to improve neighborhoods and train work-release inmates in practical, construction skills giving them a better chance at employment after completing their sentences.

“This is a unique solution that helps solve three separate problems facing communities in Illinois. It reduces the rate that former inmates reoffend because they can’t find lawful work, repurposes blighted properties and gives local governments new housing options,” Cunningham said.

The law authorizes Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to train county work-release inmates while rehabilitating, demolishing or rebuilding claimed property. The vacant houses targeted by the sheriff's programs are located in poor communities and have been foreclosed on by a bank.

The refurbished buildings can then be used by city and county governments as transitional housing to house the homeless, mentally ill or low income families.

This program, pioneered by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, will apply to counties across the state.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) has rejected a "back door" pay raise that legislators tucked away in this year's state budget and will instead donate his additional salary for the fiscal year to two local charities focused on providing support to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Cunningham will forward the additional $180 a month in pay he was slated to receive to Park Lawn and the Sertoma Centre, headquartered in Oak Lawn and Alsip, respectively. Both agencies focus on providing care and resources to the developmentally disabled populations of southwest Cook County.

Park Lawn was founded in 1955 by a small group of parents working to fund efforts to provide greater services to the developmentally disabled. Today it serves over 200 individuals. The Sertoma Centre, located in Alsip, fulfills a parallel mission providing opportunities that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve personal success.

"These two organizations provide services and resources to a population that is often overlooked and underserved," Cunningham said. "It's a modest donation, but when it comes to running a non-profit, every bit helps".

The new state budget ends the previous practice of lawmakers being required to take 12 unpaid furlough days over the course of the year. Those furloughs are equal to more than $2,100 in take-home pay annually. Cunningham opted to donate the money to Park Lawn and Sertoma not only because of the excellent work they do, but because they both provide services to Illinois social service agencies and sometimes have to wait months to receive contractual payments from the state.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham-polarSPRINGFIELD – A plan to help support the Special Olympics with a new lottery ticket was signed into law today. Senator Bill Cunningham (D – Chicago) cosponsored the legislation as it passed through the Senate.

The new law creates the Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children's Charities Fund, which would deposit all proceeds from a specially created lottery scratch-off ticket into an account with the Illinois State Treasury. Special Olympics Illinois would receive 75% of those funds for training, competitions and future programs. The remaining 25% would go to Special Children’s Charities funds.

"Helping pass this bill through the General Assembly was much easier than diving into Lake Michigan on a 17 degree day earlier this year," Cunningham said. "Either way, I am honored to support and promote the Special Olympics whenever possible."

Senator Cunningham has been an active supporter of the Special Olympics for years, having frequently participated in the organization's Polar Plunge fundraiser, during which hundreds of volunteers jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan on a cold winter morning.

The lottery already helps fund special causes such as cancer research. “Go for the Gold” is the newest special cause scratch-off ticket proposed by the General Assembly. The Special Olympics have been going strong in Illinois since the first event was held at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968. Since then, the games have provided opportunities to over 21,000 athletes across the state.

The new measure passed both houses in May, and was signed into law by the governor on June 16.

Category: Press Releases

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