City Council discusses new downtown development


Felicia Selmon/ Courier Staff

Kristen Petrie and Dennis Moon discuss upcoming development of downtown Macomb.

Steven Barnum , Assistant News Editor

Led by Alderman-at-Large Dennis Moon in the mayor’s absence, the Macomb City Council met Monday evening to discuss a downtown construction project, funding for a pedestrian a safe route to school construction and manufacturing job opportunities.

To highlight the states contributions in the manufacturing industry, Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed October as “Manufacturing Month.” Illinois ranks fifth on the list of largest manufacturing states in the nation, and according to KHQA. com, manufacturing is the third largest industry in the state. Mc- Donough County, which has a lower unemployment rate than that of the national rate, is a significant factor in the state’s manufacturing success.

The local community will be touting job opportunities in two separate events. On Thursday, Bushnell, Ill., Macomb’s northeast neighbor, will offer information packets and applications. The event will take place in the parking lot of the Community Christian Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Saturday, a tent will be set up showcasing the same opportunities during the Farmers Market in Macomb.

This will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in the downtown area.

Specifically, Pella Corporation is adding 120 jobs after moving its production from Illinois’ neighboring competitor, Kentucky. Vaughan and Bushnell Manufacturing Company is adding 50 jobs after buying Dasco, a company based in Rockford, Ill. Other opportunities exist at companies like SchuldBushnell, Yetter, and NTNBower. Such companies are offering positions with flexible hours, competitive wages and benefits.

The council voted to pledge financial support for a “Safe Routes to School” program grant.

“Safe Routes to School” is a program that encourages kids to walk or bike to school. Adopted in towns all across the country, the program seeks to limit traffic and pollution, as a result of fewer vehicles on the road. The project will construct new or additional paths and walkways, and to ensure safety, more crossing guards would need to be hired.

Financially, the grant has a$200,000 limit. In case the project exceeds that amount, the city of Macomb has budgeted $50,000 of its own money to help fund the project. This safety plan is in place because the cost of construction and inspection is not yet known. The deadline to apply for the grant is in November.

Changes to the historical preservation commission are on the way.

According to City Attorney Kristen Petrie, the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approving the changes when they met on Sept. 12. One of the changes includes increasingthe number of members on the commission from seven to nine. The mayor will appoint the additional members, and one of them will be on the city council. The new layout of the historical preservation commission could increase efficiency, which is the driving force behind the changes. Aldermen approved the changes, which will result in an amendment adjustment in the town’s municipal code.

Downtown Development Director, Kristin Terry, shared with the council that Pumo Insurance is seeking reimbursement for an improvement project. Only twothirds of the total construction costs are requested, and the money will come from a grant. Jim Gray, the owner of the downtown business, has plans to put up a new sign and to replace the existing awning with a metal one. The construction should be completed by the end of the year.