VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Reporter
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
The Shelbyville Works! committee met last week to review what has been done in the past year and move forward with its goals.
John Chambers spoke on his group’s focus to increase tourism traffic to Shelbyville.
“We want to make Shelbyville year round tourism destination,” he said.
Chambers noted the ongoing work on the General Dacey Trail and the effort to get a single track biking trail that would take the rider into Shelbyville. He also spoke of the desire to have a car cruise through Shelbyville this year, but the idea did not materialize this spring.
Shelby County Tourism director Freddie Fry noted several new events this year inlcuding the Bassmasters Fishing Tournament held at both Lake Shelbyville and Lake Decatur this past week and the Kaskaskia River Powwow which took place this past weekend at Dam East.
Tad Mayhall spoke about his committee’s effort to grow businesses and jobs in Shelbyville.
One of the efforts was to change the TIF application period for businesses to receive money to improve storefronts or for special needs.
“There have been some new facades and infrastructure improvements made,” Mayhall said. “They’re beginning to see that the more they spend, the more money comes back to them.”
Mayhall also noted the development of the Shelbyville High School entrepreneurship class.
“The class gives students tools to sart their own business including how to develop a business plan. The idea is for them to learn how to develop a business and return to Shelbyville with their business,” Mayhall said.
Mayhall added that his committee hopes to develop more on the $1 Million Initiative that encourages every household to spend an additional $20 a week in Shelbyvile which would, in turn, generate $1 million in revenue for the city.
Anita Breeden spoke on the downtown improvement plan - particularly the “Sister City Park”, also known as the minipark.
“We want to see the park used to house crafters and musicians. Scarecrow Daze is planning an art show there,” she said.
Breeden said that plans are already drawn up for the park by an architect, but the committee is redesigning it and to include outdoor seating.
“We’re waiting to hear about the streetscape grant that will be released in October,” Breeden said.
Noel Bolinger reported that they are looking into hae Shelbyville certified as a historic city.
“That will open up federal funding on the preservation aspect of things,” Bolinger said. He noted that a historic district was established in 1977, “but nothing has been done with it.”
He introduced CL Tarantola who is the Peace Corps Fellow from Western Illinois University who will be working with the Shelbyville Works! committee for the next 11 months.
“I’m learning a lot about Shelbyville,” she said. She added that she has a few projects that she is working on, including preserving the look of the Leach-Wilson building, which was uniquely designed and built by its founders. The GM company is currently wanting all its dealerships to have a uniform look. which would mean Leach-Wilson would be rebuilt.
Shelbyville Schools Superintendent Denise Bence reported to promote education in Shelbyville, updating the facilities is the prime objective.
“We just finished installing a geothermal system at Moulton using low interest QZAB funds and there is no more money to build anything,” she said.
Bence noted that they are working on a proposed city-wide sales tax with the help of State Representative Adam Brown.
Bence also reported that the next project for the school improvement plan is to replace the heating system at the High School.
“It’s a 1950’s system that has never been changed. We can’t control the heat, as you can see when you drive by and see windows open during the winter. We estimate that $100,000 goes out the windows every year.”
She also noted the effort to introduce the students to the community.
“We need to let people int he community know who our best and brightest students are,” Bence said.
Jeremy Jokisch reported that his committee is looking for ways to strengthen community involvement.
“Our biggest challenge is building a database of where we can get help,” he said.
Brian Tucker spoke about the shelbyvilleillinois.net website which features all aspects of the focus groups into information for visitors and community members alike.
The website features YouTube videos, which are well received.
“At this time of year, people are looking for information about Scarecrow Daze and the BalloonFest,” Tucker said. He added that there is some need to retire and redo some of the videos to keep the website fresh.
Tucker noted that there have been more than 6,000 visits to the website since July and that the Facebook page has grown to nearly 1,000 friends.
“The website traffic is not only coming from searches, but also from Facebook and the Daily Union website link. Some of the traffic is coming from mobile phones which means visitors are already in or near Shelbyville and looking for places to eat and things to do,” Tucker said.
“It’s been a very good investment to showcase the city,” Mayhall added.
In closing the meeting, Tad Mayhall, on behalf of the Shelbyville Works! committee, presented Shelbyville Mayor Roy Shuff with the Golden Gear award for his continuing support.