Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey can be seen Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, during a county board debate at the Joliet Area Historical Museum in Joliet, Ill.
Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey can be seen Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, during a county board debate at the Joliet Area Historical Museum in Joliet, Ill.

In her State of the County address, interim Will County Executive Denise Winfrey highlighted the county’s growth and economic future as it continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winfrey kicked off her remarks during a virtual Will County Executive Committee meeting Thursday by honoring Larry Walsh Sr., who served as county executive for nearly 16 years until he died earlier this year. She lauded his bipartisan work in government to raise the profile of Will County.

“He loved being a part of this community and is missed by many,” she said.

Despite the challenges of an “unusual year” that has “completely upended our world,” Winfrey said that Will County government has continued its record of fiscal responsibility and service to residents.

Winfrey highlighted how the county government has been responsive to helping residents during the pandemic. As an example, she pointed to a 29% increase in building permits being processed online through the Will County Land Use Department.

Will County businesses, municipal governments and nonprofit organizations will also be the beneficiaries of a little over $120 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The Will County Executive’s Office has been taking applications for relief in recent weeks.

She also complimented the work of the Will County Health Department, first responders and health care workers in their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 370 residents.

Winfrey pointed to the county’s efforts to improve its infrastructure over the last year aimed at improving the quality of life for residents who live near North America’s largest inland port.

She listed the myriad of large infrastructure projects beneficial to the county, including improvements to Interstate 80, Interstate 55 and Routes 52 and 53 thanks to the $50 billion Rebuild Illinois program the state legislature passed last year. In addition, Winfrey mentioned the studies the county is conducting to identify needed improvements in truck routing and land use.

The county is also close to completing a significant project, the opening of its new courthouse, scheduled for later this year.

Winfrey spoke highly of the county’s progress and growth over an unprecedented year of challenges.

“We want to include everyone who has chosen Will County to be part of our exciting future,” she said. “Will County is a great place to live, to work, to raise a family and to have a business.”

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Will County