Tag: quality of life

Hard Hat Construction Area-Plummer Family Park

August 28, 2019

Edwardsville Breakfast shows city is on upward swing with business, real estate and parks growth

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton.

EDWARDSVILLE – Spirits were high Tuesday morning at the Edwardsville 2017 Business Forecast Breakfast at Wildey Theatre, reflecting on a sensational year in 2016 and a strong outlook ahead for this year.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton started the meeting off on positive note about how 2016 was an incredible year for the city of Edwardsville and the area. Patton was followed by Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler and Cathy Hamilton of BARBERMurphy Group, the moderator.

Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard provided insight to the 2017 prospects. Dr. Timothy Sullivan of SIUE then gave national and local economic outlook, Mike Hurley, of Balke Brown Transwestern did a presentation on the market analysis for Class A Office Space Outlook in Edwardsville. A Realtors’ Roundtable followed with questions and answers was positioned at the end of the breakfast.

Edwardsville Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams organized the Business Forecast and was commended by Mayor Patton and the others for those efforts.

“We had a record year of job creation and investment in Downtown Edwardsville,” Patton said reflecting on 2016. “Business is trending up and we made a lot of progress with infrastructure improvements.”

Patton discussed the two spec buildings that were created in the Gateway Commerce Center, one housing the new Amazon distribution business. The mayor also mentioned First to the Finish and Prairie Farms locating headquarters in Edwardsville. He then explained other large projects – the new SIUE Fire Station construction, the new Public Safety Building on Main Street in Edwardsville and Madison County Mutual Insurance Company occupying two floors of the new Park Plaza in Downtown Edwardsville.

Patton said the various construction projects created thousands of jobs and over 1,300 permanent jobs, valued at $154 million to Edwardsville.

Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard
Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard

Poshard said the Gateway Commerce Center area is one of the hottest places to do business throughout the entire region and country. She said creating the logistics enterprise zone has generated a new tax base with transportation jobs and the future looks bright there and throughout Madison County with a changing workforce.

Patton’s final words summed up his prime mission since becoming mayor: “Edwardsville is a place where you can live, work and play” his emphasis during his administration.

J.K. Electric was named the Business of the Year honor at the annual breakfast.

Stories on J.K. Electric, and presentations by Sullivan and Hurley to come.

If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail Danbrannan@riverbender.com or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan on Facebook and on Twitter.

Edwardsville ranked 28th of 404 districts in 2017’s ‘Best School Districts in Illinois’

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EDWARDSVILLE – Edwardsville School District was named number 28 of “Best School Districts in Illinois” according to the 2017 Niche ratings.

NicheK-12 is a website that “offers unique insight into more than 120,000 K-12 schools. Students and parents can explore millions of reviews and rankings and compare educational outcomes across schools and districts.”

For the 2017 results, Niche ranked 404 out of 861 Illinois school districts and Edwardsville was named as number 28. Other nearby districts were also rated, including Belleville 201 (71), Alton (133), Collinsville (140), Triad (195), and Granite City (350).

According to the website Niche, “The 2017 Best School Districts ranking is based on rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Ranking factors include state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, public school district ratings, and more.”

Niche ranks and grades districts and schools in the following areas: Academics, Culture & Diversity, Health & Safety, Parent/Student Surveys on Overall Experience, Teachers, Resources & Facilities, Clubs & Activities, and Sports. Each of these categories carrying a different weighted percentage to accumulate the final score, with Academics accounting for 50 percent.

Additional Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 results for each category can be found here.

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Edwardsville ranks among safest college towns

Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016 11:43 am

Edwardsville ranked number 25 on a list of the top 30 safest college towns in America by SafeWise.com.

After taking into consideration the recent additions to public safety in Edwardsville, such as the new SIUE Fire Station and the in-progress new public safety facility building, it can be said that safety is a top priority for both the city and SIUE.

The article states, “As the third oldest city in the Prairie State and home to five state governors, Edwardsville has a long history of civic duty and community spirit. That enthusiasm extends to public safety, both for the city and its large Southern Illinois University campus. Each quadrant of the city has a dedicated beat officer that gets to know the residents and their needs in order to provide long-term solutions and improve quality of life for Edwardsville citizens. Likewise, the SIUE police work with students to prevent crime on campus and ensure a safe, supportive learning environment.”

The beat system consists of four beats, each with four officers. The program was designed to provide more community service and enhance the safety within each location. Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven said the beat system has proven effective and the officers in the EPD are very approachable and always willing to serve in any situation.

“I would say that the beat officer program itself I think is good – that individuals get to know the people that work that particular area of the city. We typically assign those beats for periods of time, whether that be two months or maybe someone will be assigned the same beats for a year,” Keeven said.

“Realistically, the fact that we are responsive to the citizens that we serve, so no matter if you know your beat officer or you just happen to see an officer in your neighborhood that’s not normally assigned to that beat, we are going to respond to your call of service,” Keeven said.

Aside from the beat system, Keeven said another factor that separates the EPD from others is their dedication to community outreach.

“I think we have a done good deal, over the years, of public outreach. That starts in the schools and when young people get to know our officers and the resource officers in the D.A.R.E. program that District 7 supports wholeheartedly, those young people grow up to be young adults and then middle-aged adults and then retirees that know police officers in their community and have a working relationship with them. I don’t know that just the police department stands out, but the community stands out. Our community refuses to compromise with crime, and if they see something that doesn’t look appropriate, they call us,” Keeven said.

In addition, the EPD also uses a recently-acquired records management program called New World, which helps the EPD keep track of crime activity and what areas to attend to next, according to Keeven.

“We’ve used that a little over a year now and we are able to capture statistical data from our computer-assisted dispatch so we can know how many neighborhood checks we have done, we can know how many businesses we have done, we can know how many community presentations we have done. So I believe that what we measure is what matters,” he said.

Going forward, Keeven said the city of Edwardsville and public safety will continue to grow and expand, as will the working relationships between the departments.

“The working relationship we have with our fire department is fantastic; they work very well with our police officers. I will also tell you that the working relationship we have with the SIU Police Department — they are the biggest part of what makes the SIU campus safe. If they need assistance, they can call us and we’d be happy to assist them. If we need assistance, we can call them, the Madison County police department, the state police, Maryville, Troy. We have a good working relationship and there aren’t any egos involved as far as ‘this is our area’ and ‘this is your area.’ We work very well together with police and fire personnel throughout this entire region,” he said.

The SIUE Police Department has also played a significant role in maintaining a safe college town and campus. SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said safety is a high priority for the university and they are always working to keep it that way.

“We work very closely with student affairs, the dean of students, housing, and counseling services. We meet once a week, we go over all of the police reports that we have with representatives from those other departments, and decide who needs to step in. By doing that, we are able to keep the campus safe. That’s just one of the many things. The administration here at the university is dedicated to keeping the university police department fully staffed, which is very important,” Schmoll said.

A year ago, the SIUE PD also started utilizing the app Rave Guardian, a personal safety app that allows students, faculty, and staff to stay connected to the Police Department in the case of a situation. Schmoll said more incoming students are signing up for the app and the SIUE PD hopes to inform others on campus.

“It’s an app that’s free to students, faculty, and staff. They download the app on their smartphone or tablet and they are able to communicate with our dispatcher. They can text our dispatcher with anything going on, if they need assistance; they can turn their cellphone into an emergency phone. If they can’t talk, they’ll give us GPS coordinates and a map of their location and our officers can drive to them, get to them for assistance. Or, they can link up with Guardians as late as they want,” Schmoll said.

Despite working alongside the EPD and the Edwardsville Fire Department, Schmoll said the SIUE PD hopes to expand its media presence and build on its relations with the SIUE and the Edwardsville community in the future.

“We definitely want to always build on our community relations and with the university, student population, faculty and staff; any training that we can do. We want to get more of the hostile-intruder training, do presentations on safety, alcohol and drug abuse. One thing I want to improve on is getting into the social media aspect. The police department has a Facebook page, but maybe work on a Twitter account, because that seems to be the trend. People don’t look at emails anymore; we send out emails about safety stuff, but I think we need to go more the social media route,” Schmoll said.

To learn more about the city of Edwardsville and public safety, visitwww.cityofedwardsville.com.

Gardens lease approved by the City

Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 9:43 pm | Updated: 5:29 am, Wed Aug 17, 2016.

Passed with a 3-2 vote, the agreement authorizing the mayor to execute a lease agreement with the Gardens was approved for a one-time award of $40,000 for fiscal year 2016-17. After much discussion, it was decided that City Council will review this lease agreement every year going forward and make a decision to either continue or cease funding.

Alderman Tom Butts said the Council isn’t required to continue funding every year, but hopes the City is able to help the Gardens.

 “We’re not binding $40,000 for ten years; what this is asking to approve is for the mayor to enter into a lease and this year, fiscal year 2016-17 award $40,000 to the Gardens. Each year after that, it’ll be up to City Council to include it in the budget and to continue to fund it or not,” Butts said. “I gave a lot of thought to this and nobody saw this coming. It’s a nice resource and I’d hate to see it go into disrepair. I’m offering a hand up as opposed to a handout. SIUE is very important to us. It’s our largest employer, we use the census we get from the college population to get our MEPRD grants, as well as we get money from the students.”

Alderman Butts, Jeanette Mallon, and Art Risavy were in favor of approving the lease, whereas alderman Janet Stack and Craig Louer were opposed. Louer said although he appreciates the work that’s gone into maintaining the property since losing the funding from the state, he doesn’t support its approval.

“While I respect all of the work that ACS and Tom and members of ACS put into this, I value the contribution of the Gardens to the green space and recreational space and the overall good opportunity for passive green space in the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area. I also appreciate all of the contributions that the people have supported their dedication, their hard work with keeping the plants up, and especially their financial contributions. But, I feel that the setting of priorities and decisions to support a nonprofit, in this case, a 501-C3 for the Gardens should be an individual taxpayer decision based on their priorities. I don’t think it should be the decision of a taxing body to make contributions to a pliable 3C on behalf of all the taxpayers. So, I will not support this,” Louer said.

The Gardens are currently in the process of becoming a 501-C3, independent of SIUE entirely. However, Butts said despite Louer’s concerns, the funding is available and is not intruding on the other parks’ budgets.

“I don’t think we are taking money away from the Stephenson House, the Watershed, the Children’s Museum, anywhere else. As far as being a 501-C3, I don’t see where that makes a difference. I look at it as a one-time shot. Everybody gets to take a look at this again next year and City Council decides if they want to fund it or not,” Butts said.

The $40,000 grant will be taken out of the city’s community redevelopment fund, and Patton said because the Gardens is an entertainment facility similar to that of the city’s current parks and projects, it qualifies for the funds.

“The community redevelopment fund is made up of utility tax money but also entertainment tax money.  If you buy a movie ticket at the theater and Edison’s entertainment, a little bit of that goes toward this fund. It’s not out of the general fund that we are asking this $40,000 to come from — that would be property taxes. So this is out of the entertainment tax and more specifically the community redevelopment fund, which as it currently stands at $635,000 to be used for things that the Council feels passionate about,” Patton said.

It was also proposed that the city should be credited for supporting the Gardens if and when the lease agreement was approved. Now that it has passed, Risavy said it is something the city will look into and discuss further with SIUE’s Board of Trustees later on this year.

Despite the available funds and tying up lose ends within the lease, Alderman Janet Stack was also opposed to its approval, concerned with not only the current responsibilities the city has with its parks and projects, but also the limitations of the parks and recreation staff.

“I think that we have bitten off an awful lot this year. We’ve got the Corlew Park, which I know we’ve gotten a lot of grants for but the money hasn’t rolled in yet; we’ve got Glik Park that we’ve been looking to do a lot of improvements to that have not occurred because lack of money. Yes we have the Stephenson House, the Children’s Museum and the Watershed Nature area, but do we help them? Yes. Could we help them more? Absolutely. Not to mention the time and the frustration for our Parks staff because it’s going to fall upon them to help with this transition, and that’s where my concern is. Plus, I know that part of the problem is with the university is seeing the funding cut from the state, and I’m concerned that eventually it’s going to trickle down to the city government. So as much as I’d love to say I would like to support it, at this point I really don’t feel like I can,” Stack said.

As the discussion concluded, Mayor Hal Patton made a motion and the agreement passed with a 3-2 vote. Aldermen Barb Stamer and William Krause were excused and unable to participate in the voting. The lease agreement will be reviewed again next year by City Council.

The next City Council meeting will take place at City Hall at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 6. All meetings are open to the public.