Four area mayors Wednesday said their cities face challenges but recent accomplishments indicate a resilient and healthy climate for residents and businesses.
The mayors were speaking to business leaders during a breakfast seminar hosted by Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development at Mario’s Maples Supper Club, Peru.
Village President Fred Esmond, Utica
Utica’s growth likely results from a mix of low crime and taxes and attractive schools, Esmond said.
“You’ve got to have a good school system,” he said. “That’s why people transfer to your area.”
Utica’s population grew nearly 40 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sand mining supports “a lot of union jobs and there’s more probably coming,” Esmond said.
Utica is recovering from last month’s flood damage. The village hall will be raised a foot to lessen future flood damage, he said.
Mayor Don Finley, Oglesby
The city has separated sanitary and storm sewers and has a new park on the west side, Finley said.
McPhedran Park’s grand opening will be 1-3 p.m. May 18. Summer Fun Fest is June 27-30 and Central States baseball tournament is Aug. 2-7 in Oglesby and Peru, he said.
“We have a nice community and we welcome them with open arms,” Finley said.
The city is preparing to upgrade its sewage plant and bids are expected to come in under estimates, he added
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores is expected to open a new store by the end of the year and create 60 jobs.
Mayor Walt Marini, Spring Valley
Spring Valley is recovering from flooding and associated sewer issues but this could lead to improved public works, Marini said.
“We’ll get the best plan to serve people now and into the future,” said Marini, who was elected mayor April 9.
Public schools are at a threshold. John F. Kennedy Grade School will get a $15 million addition and Hall High School will be replaced with a $32 million facility. “Both will be built with energy-efficient designs to meet the needs of our students,” Marini said.
Sullivan’s Foods plans to build a store on the site of the former Bassick plating factory. Next door, the Hobbs/Honeywell site soon will be available for manufacturing. Both possibilities hinge on Environmental Protection Agency clearance, Marini said.
“It’s the people who live, work and own businesses that make Spring Valley special,” he said.
Mayor Scott Harl, Peru
The city spent $15 million on public works the past four years and this year plans $2 million in road work and $1 million in sewer work, Harl said.
Hy-Vee is expanding, Aldi’s is remodeling, Aarons furniture is moving to a new location in the city, Murphy Oil plans a new gas station near Wal-Mart and Illinois Valley Community Hospital is constructing a wound care center. More “very rewarding announcements” will follow, he said.
The Concerts for a Cause at Peru airport, with two scheduled this summer, are generating significant tourism dollars, Harl said.
Four new homes are under construction just south of Parkside school, a level of construction not seen in years, he said.