Olivet Nazarene University “Bourbonnais Culture” pot request toxic to Kankakee County’s economic goals


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During the late 2000s, the sounds of Green Day once ran through the halls of Miller Business Center, greeting new students who were getting ready to fill out their Financial Aid data. It took nearly four years before Officials at Olivet Nazarene University noticed. I know, because I was the one who managed the station, called ShineRock, during that time.

I have to admit, it’s both one of the more prideful and shameful moments from my time at Olivet. At the time ShineRock was used as a training ground for those preparing to go on to work the parent station, Shine.FM. No one really paid any attention to it, however. It was like elevator music for the surrounding community, playing on Channel 4 (I think) and inside the halls of various public areas across campus.

I mean, damn though, how many people actually listened to ShineRock? Four years, it’s a long time to let something like that go unnoticed to the ears of students and parents! I really wish I had some sort of headcount of how many eyebrows were raised during that time while students waited to sign their ‘Faith Agreement’ while listening to songs that had the ‘F’ word in it. 

And I don’t mean Faith.

Since wiping ShineRock’s hard drive in 2009 and starting again, Olivet has raised their awareness across the board and cracked down on a variety of aspects at their University and beyond, as seen during last night’s Village of Bourbonnais Board meeting.

It was no more apparent than when Walter “Woody” Webb went before the Board Tuesday, walking with purpose. He believed he represented the voice of the majority of residents in Bourbonnais, even though few who attend the school reside in the Bourbonnais area year-round. “We’re a community of faith,” Webb told the Village Board, “There will be marijuana dispensaries somewhere in Kankakee County. Let’s not make that a part of Bourbonnais culture.” 

The ‘Bourbonnais culture’ that Olivet believes in maintains a no smoking, drug, and alcohol policy year-round, just like the school. It’s important to note, of course, in reality, Bourbonnais does not observe this practice.

Webb has served as the Vice President of Student Development at Olivet Nazarene University since 1994 and seen the transformation of the University several times. From an ultra-conservative campus in the late 90s to what some modern students have regularly called a more progressive institution, even at times’ liberal’, since 2000s; coincidently around the same time as the arrival of the Chicago Bears Training Camp.

We Believe, You Belong…unless you challenge our views.”

It’s common practice with the University. 

They see something they don’t’ like, and they’re on it with an official reprimand as an Olivet community official goes before the Village to cite concerns like a mob boss slowly coming in for that slow, awkward economic kiss of death. It’s a subliminal hit job in the name of ethics by sacrificing progress and progression for the surrounding communities’ commercial development that Cannabis and the sales from it could bring.

Here’s what happens if Bourbonnais misses the Cannabis mark. They miss out, and surrounding communities benefit economically. Ideally, that is.

During his comments to the board, Webb added, “We are known as a family-friendly community. I hope we can support that reputation by keeping sales of marijuana outside of Bourbonnais.”

Yeah, because weed is really going to kill that family vibe. Olivet makes millions routinely scaring students telling them about the terrors of hell and beyond, yet those heathen Bourbonnais children will really take fright over a green plant?

Meanwhile, the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who was supported by the Village of Bourbonnais in April with a 5-year contract, can invest as much as they want into advertising outside of the area to bring potential visitors in, but why the hell would I go to and support Bourbonnais for anything if I can’t quickly resupply myself and my friends? 

Short answer, I would not.

For the mainstream media, Bourbonnais represents the Kankakee County community. Meaning if Bourbonnais bans marijuana sales, it will be universally assumed EVERYWHERE in Kankakee County it is forbidden. No amount of SEO work with Google will correct those wide held beliefs.

Olivet, supporting a Bourbonnais pot sales ban, is toxic to the economic future of Kankakee County. Period.

By voting against the sale of recreational marijuana in the community, Bourbonnais officials would be snubbing an industry expected to generate upwards of $2.58 billion in the State of Illinois annually. That’s a lot of potential tax dollars to turn your nose up at that could go back into securing and developing your dream community.

Think for a minute the number of potential dollars that will be rejected out of spite just because of the ban? While “What’s good for Olivet is good for Bourbonnais” has worked in the past, the real question here should be, “Is what’s right for the University good for Kankakee County?  

Because like it or not, that’s the real question at stake. 

Kankakee’s name means little to tourism dollars or search engine requests.

Village’s trustees remained mostly silent during Tuesday’s meeting, though Trustee Bruce Greenlee, who presided over the meeting for absent Mayor Paul Schore, said he would be voting against the sale of recreational marijuana. 

It’s important to note, Greenlee is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University.

While I’m sure it comes from a pure place, projecting those values onto the hard-working residents of Kankakee County isn’t Olivet’s duty. Hold your values on your campus and maintain them and stop trying to regulate the law in the town you reside in. 

Remember, Olivet is in Bourbonnais. Bourbonnais is not in Olivet. 

As alumni and former employee of the University, if it were, we wouldn’t even know about this meeting. It would be swept under the rug and reside in the mind of some confused University student who’s still trying to understand what Brain Stew actually is.

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoffhttp://www.SocialSnowball.com
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


  1. I am also an Olivet alumna, I didn’t realize the grasp the school had on Bourbonnais until I graduated and lived off campus in the township. The township board could easily fight back, but they assume they get revenue from the student population, but that’s minimal. They need to tell Olivet where their property is and let them make the rules up there.

  2. If Olivet doesn’t want marijuana on their campus, then they can ban it on campus. Otherwise, mind your own business. I don’t see them trying to get Bourbonnais to ban alcohol sales – their presumption that pot is worse than alcohol on the ol’ “family values”? But oh yes, they’re ok with all the out-of-towners coming to Bears camp and stopping somewhere local for a beer before or after camp…or are they holding out for a cut of the tax proceeds?


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