What to expect in 2015

In 2015, Monroe County can expect to see many changes. From new businesses to updated construction projects to upcoming local elections, this year will be packed full of innovation and advancement.

Here’s a list of some things to expect in 2015:

Route 3 project

One of the biggest projects going on in the county is the Route 3 improvement in Waterloo. Brad Floerke of IDOT said that in 2015, county residents can expect to see finished work on the west side of Route 3 and then a mirror image of the same work on the east side of Route 3 throughout next year.

“So, by the end of 2015, the east side of Route 3 will look like the west side does today, and traffic will still be in one lane in each direction,” Floerke said. “The project is still scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.”

The completed project will feature a roundabout near the Fast Stop gas station, along with a pedestrian/bike underpass near Library Street.

Dialysis center

Another large Waterloo project is the $2.5 million dialysis center being built on the Southern Illinois Center for Health campus at 509 Hamacher Street. SICH executive director Bill Rebholz said the grand opening is slated for late February.

The facility is being built by SICH but will be operated

by Fresenius Medical Care, one of the nation’s leading dialysis center operators. Fresenius currently operates a small home dialysis office in the SICH building.

That element will move to the new building upon its completion.

Life Network relocates

Life Network of Southern Illinois pregnancy resource center moved into a new location at 722 N. Market Street in Waterloo on Jan. 6. They closed the doors on their old building on 224 N. Main Street in Waterloo on Dec. 29. The new building, which once was a Pizza Hut, offers 2,800 square feet of space and has 50 parking spots.

Life Network was originally incorporated as the Waterloo Crisis Pregnancy Care Center in 1993 and opened its doors on Mill Street in 1995. Later, the name was changed to Loving Touch Pregnancy Care Center in 1998. In 2008, the name Life Network of Southern Illinois was adopted to more appropriately reflect the services offered and appeal to young men as well as women.

Columbia development

In Columbia, work is moving along on developer Joe Koppeis’ Columbia Professional Center, located at the front of town off Route 3 north of Sand Bank Road.

Koppeis has planned a four-building, $50-million campus. Koppeis has said work may begin soon on the first building, which is engineered to be a five-story, 60,000-square-foot structure. The estimated $13 million first building is a 50-50 partnership between Koppeis and medical professionals associated with Progressive Family Care, which operates through the Southern Illinois Center for Health campus in Waterloo plus a satellite location in Columbia.

Koppeis said it should take 1.5 years to finish the first building.

Year of the brewery?

Stumpy’s Spirits, a craft distillery, is working on licensing and equipment set-up for their facilities in Columbia near Gilmore Lakes Road.

Owners Adam and Laura Stumpf aim to be a true grain-to-glass distiller of premium, hand-crafted and individually branded bourbon, vodka and moonshine. The distillery will be located on the founder’s seventh generation family farm in Columbia.

All of their products will be crafted using fresh well water from a deep well located over 200 feet below the distillery floor.

In addition to Stumpy’s, two microbreweries are planning to make Waterloo their home in coming years.

One of them, Stubborn German Brewing Company, has completed their business plan and is finalizing the purchase of a building in Waterloo. Owners Chris and Tammy Rahn were approved for a loan through the Monroe County Economic Development Council and hope to open sometime in 2016.

The other brewery, Hopskeller Brewing Company, is a future microbrewery that will be located in the heart of downtown Waterloo. According to founder Matt Schweizer, the building is picked, and he’s working on fine-tuning his recipes, along with engineering, quality control, and design.

New businesses

Parkview Dental is building a new office on South Main Street in Columbia near Electro-Door Systems. Also in that area is a new bulk ice dispensing facility that will open soon.

A retail store called Philomena + Ruth is due to open in spring 2015 at 118 W. Mill Street in Waterloo. P+R will sell handmade and independently produced items from artisans around the country.

City and school elections

The end of December brought the deadline for candidates to file for the April 7 municipal elections.

In Waterloo, Mayor Tom Smith is up for re-election, as is City Clerk Barbara Pace and Treasurer Brad Papenberg. The city aldermanic seats currently held by Steve Notheisen (Ward 1), Jim Hopkins (Ward 2), Charlie Metzger (Ward 3) and Clyde Heller (Ward 4) are also up for election. With the exception of Metzger, all of those city officials have filed for re-election. Stan Darter has filed for candidacy as Ward 3 alderman.

Waterloo school board members currently seated with terms expiring are Valerie Baxmeyer (Township 2-9), JoEllen Burton (Township 2-9), Suzanne Sweet (Township 3-10) and Dwight Schaefer (Township 2-10). Baxmeyer and Burton filed for re-election, but Sweet and Schaefer did not. Those filing to run for the to-be-vacated spots are Lori Dillenberger, former school board member Alan Horn, Jim Yaekel and Gary Most.

In Columbia, the aldermanic seats currently held by Steven Reis (Ward 1), TJ Mathews (Ward 2), Jeff Huch (Ward 3) and Steve Holtkamp (Ward 4) are up for election. Reis, Holtkamp and Huch filed for re-election, but Mathews did not. Kevin Marten filed for candidacy as Ward 2 alderman.

The Columbia school board has two incorporated seats and one unincorporated seat up for election. Marshal Stout (unincorporated), Randy Simmonds and Scott Middelkamp currently occupy those seats. Simmonds and Middelkamp filed for re-election, but Stout did not. Tammy Mitchell Hines filed for candidacy on the school board.

In Valmeyer, the school board seats currently occupied by Virginia Rusteberg, Zoe Ann Schwarze, Kim Franke and Joseph Andres are up for election. Rusteberg, Schwarze and Franke filed for re-election, but Andres did not.  Andrea Blackwell filed as a school board candidate.

The Valmeyer Village Board seats of Butch Ford, Robert Moore and Bruce Whipple are up. Moore and Whipple filed for re-election, but Ford did not.

Kevin Hahn and Shelby Mathes Sr. have filed petitions for re-election to the Waterloo Park District Board.

State taxes

With the dawning of the new year, take-home pay could get a little sweeter for millions of Illinois workers. The same 2011 law that hiked state income tax rates by 67 percent kicked into its built-in second phase on Jan. 1 with a partial rollback. Overnight, the tax rate for individuals dropped from 5 percent to 3.75 percent, while for corporations it declined from 7 percent to 5.25 percent.

If state income taxes would have cost you $2,000 this year under the higher rate structure, the tab instead will be $1,500. That assumes, of course, that newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers do nothing to alter income tax rates over the coming months.

Levee work

Work to bring levees and other flood prevention elements in the region up to required standards is progressing well, according to Chuck Etwert, Chief Supervisor of Construction for the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council. Etwert said that as of Nov. 30, some $8 million of a required $14.6 million worth of work has been completed, and Lane Construction Corporation, of Cheshire, Conn., is on track to finish work in July.

The most recent portion of the project to be completed was the Fish Lake Pump Station near Columbia, which was finished in December.

Etwert said the work will bring the levees up to standards required to meet the so-called 100-year level of protection. Meeting this standard is essential to prevent de-accreditation of the levees by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  If that was allowed to occur, either federal flood insurance would become unavailable, or prohibitively expensive.

Etwert said his organization is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify additional future funding to work toward enabling the flood protection system to achieve its original design level of providing a 500-year level of protection.

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