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Submitted photo A display of coal-related memorabilia includes the signature black coat worn by former Spring Valley resident, John Mitchell, fifth national president of the United Mine Workers of America who is known as the Father of the 8 Hour Day.
Spring Valley Economic Director and historic association museum board member Debb Ladgenski says the museum project accomplished three main goals: 1. Creating a place to preserve and record artifacts & memorabilia of and related to the city of Spring Valley and the region. 2. Creating a place to share, educate and experience our local history. 3. The restoration and use of a historic building within the downtown commercial district.
Spring Valley received recognition and an East St. Louis group received the top award when the 30th annual Governor’s Hometown Awards were given to 30 outstanding volunteer groups from across the state during a ceremony at the Executive Mansion in Springfield on Thursday.
The awards recognize volunteers for their work in improving their communities.
Foods Raised at East Side Health (FRESH) Community Teaching Garden was selected as the 2012 Governor’s Cup award winner. The Governor’s Cup is a traveling silver trophy presented to the group whose efforts are deemed most representative of the spirit of Illinois volunteerism.
“The Governor’s Home Town Awards honor the efforts of 30 remarkable groups who have selflessly dedicated their time and efforts to making their communities a better place to live,” Quinn said. “We applaud these groups of volunteers for improving the lives of others and truly making a difference in our state.”
The city of Spring Valley and Spring Valley Historic Association Museum was simply one of the Governor's Hometown Award winners in Division III, communities with populations of 5,001-10,000.
“The approaching 125th anniversary of Spring Valley renewed interest in a defunct historical society with the group’s goal to secure a permanent home for retaining oral, written, pictorial and other physical memorabilia associated with Spring Valley. The preferred location would be in downtown business district, currently undergoing revitalization,” according to a press release.
In August, 2010 the historical society was able to obtain a loan to purchase a vacant bakery building in the district. Efforts began in earnest to renovate and open by the July 2011 anniversary. The group began a membership drive and fundraising campaign. Donations along with in-kind labor, $5,500 worth of goods and services enabled the first floor of the building to be completed and displays in place for the celebration. A total of $50,000 in private funds were raised.
A total of 66 people invested 4,000 volunteer hours to create the museum at 201 W. St. Paul St.
Spring Valley was one of six statewide finalists for the top award overall in 2005, when the city and Spring Valley Walleye Club won a Silver Cup award as the top honoree based on community population. Spring Valley and the museum was the top entry in the historical preservation category and simply was among the 30 honorees this time.
“It certainly does not diminish the pride in what we achieved with the museum,” said Debb Ladgenski, Spring Valley Economic Director and Spring Valley Historic Association Museum Board member on Thursday, while driving back from Spring Valley with museum director Kathy Cullinan and museum board president Mike Campbell and his wife, Sheila Campbell.
Ladgenski said she was especially impressed by the East St. Louis organization’s achievement. FRESH literally turned a blighted site into a garden spot.
“I was certainly impressed by the enthusiasm they had to take a blacktopped piece of property … and turn it into a garden,” Ladgenski said. She said the group acquired material dredged from the river to put on top of the blacktop and convert it into a community garden and a place. She also was impressed by how they got the youth involved and taught the community about gardening. “They grew more than just food on that lot,” Ladgenski said.
The Governor’s Home Town Award recipients are selected by volunteer judges who review and rank applications based on a variety of factors, including local need, volunteer participation, use of resources and the results achieved. The projects are judged within their population categories as well as within their assigned project categories. The project categories include services and mentorship, beautification and sustainability, parks and recreation, memorials and monuments and history and historic preservation. The judges then select one project from each population category to compete for the coveted Governor’s Cup.
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers the Governor’s Home Town Awards Program. Each winning group receives a road sign for its community and plaque recognizing its efforts. The Governor’s Cup winner receives the traveling trophy and a unique road sign that proclaims its status as the overall winner.
The 30 winning projects represent the work of nearly 8,500 volunteers who devoted more than 205,000 hours of their time. Nearly $4.7 million in donated materials or in-kind services were provided and almost $7.1 million in private funds were raised for these projects. A complete list of all of the winners is attached.
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