Shelbyville Daily Union

January 3, 2014

A look back at 2013

Valorie Eversole Daily Union Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union

---- — Although Shelby County had a quiet year overall, some issues regarding buildings remained in the forefront for most of the year.

The Chautauqua building in Forest Park continues to top the list as the City Council hesitates to make any action decisions about it. The 110-year-old Chautauqua building has faced uncertainty for several years as age and neglect has taken its toll. The recent concern is a support beam showing signs of failing and danger of collapse. The city’s insurance has pulled the liability coverage from the building and the City was forced to close the building to public use.

The fate of the building stirred many supporters to action when the Shelbyville City Council talked about seeking bids to raze the building. A FaceBook page was created and drew a large number of supporters and about $30,000 in donations and pledges to couple with a fundraising committee’s efforts of nearly $125,000. A second Chautauqua committee was formed to create a business plan for the building’s use and support if restoration is done.

“It boils down to the city’s going to help us or it’s not going to work,” said Chautauqua committee chairman Wayne Gray at the meeting in March. “It’s a long term project. It (Chautauqua building) is salvageable, but it takes money.”

The City Council has not made a decision about its support for the Chautauqua pending an engineering report expected in early 2014.

A fire in a downtown building destroyed apartments and three businesses on North Morgan Street in Shelbyville. Help from 18 area fire departments help to contain the fire from spreading through other adjoining buildings. A fire wall between the building and the Longbranch Grill also kept the fire from spreading.

The Shelbyville City Council is also looking to have the Lidster Hotel demolished because of the hazard the building has become. Broken windows and collapsing walls have created an eyesore and a health threat. Efforts are being made by the Council to locate the owner of the building for demolition.

“The Lidster is just dangerous. It’s caved in and the rooms are open. You walk on the floor, you’ll end up in the basement,” Tallman said at a Council meeting in November. “It’s past boarding up.”

“The Lidstrer is just as dangerous, if not more so, than the burned out building. It’s caved in and the rooms are open,” Tallman added. “It’s past boarding up.” - See more at: http://www.shelbyvilledailyunion.com/local/x934973736/City-looks-to-demolish-dangerous-buildings#sthash.mFAW1D9n.dpuf

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Pana School District decided to close Jefferson Middle School in Tower Hill at the end of the current school year and move its students to buildings in Pana as a cost-saving measure for the district. The district also cited a decline in district enrollment back to pre-annexation levels as another reason for the move.

“If the money and the students were there to support it, we wouldn’t be having to make this decision,” Pana school board member Clint Foor said. “People are sad to see it close but they understand the sad state of affairs of our state which doesn’t have education as a priority as it should be.”

The building housed fifth and sixth grades. Those grades will attend Lincoln and the Junior High buildings respectively.

In other headline stories, the government shutdown this fall affected activities planned at Lake Shelbyville. Closed signs went up on October 1 around the lake on government owned properties, including all Corps campgrounds; boat ramps; day use facilities; trails, including some parts of the General Dacey Trail; Visitor Center; dam spillway; and the road across the dam were closed to the public for the duration of the shutdown which lasted until October 17.

The Balloon Fest activities set for the Lake area was moved to the Shelby County airport and activities plans adjusted. Attendance remained high in spite of the venue change.

Ameren released plans to build a high power transmission line through Illinois with different proposed routes. One of the routes included running across Shelby County. County landowners and their attorneys, and with the help of State Representative Adam Brown and State Senator Chapin Rose, voiced their opposition to the proposed route. In the end Ameren abandoned the routes through Shelby and Moultrie counties, opting for a route through Piatt and Douglas counties.

In 2013 Shelbyville mourned the passing of its mayor Roy Shuff after a fight with cancer.

Shuff was an avid supporter of all things Shelbyville, taking part in the Sister City program with Okuwa, Japan, working to keep International Paper in Shelbyville, and advocating city improvement projects such as the Downtown Streetscape project and the minipark. He served on the Shelby County Economic Development Committee and the Chautauqua Committee

Shuff served as mayor from 2007 until his death May 31.