What to expect in 2016

In this Bicentennial year, Monroe Countians will put their best faces forward as they celebrate all their county has to offer throughout the year.

Here are some other things Monroe County residents can anticipate happening in 2016:

• The $21.2 million Route 3 improvement project in Waterloo is on schedule for its original fall 2016 completion date. Elements of the project that still must be completed are the roundabout at Route 156 and Lakeview Drive, widening Route 3 from two to five lanes, and a shared use pedestrian and bicycle path that includes an underpass just north of Library Street.

• Two new craft breweries are coming to Waterloo in 2016: Stubborn German Brewing Company, owned by Chris and Tammy Rahn, and Hopskeller Brewing Company, owned by Matt Schweizer. Both will be located downtown, and after lengthy processes involving government approvals, custom-built equipment and significant renovations to their respective historic buildings, both are on schedule for 2016 openings.

Stubborn German’s Tammy Rahn said she and her husband, Chris, are hopeful they can be open this summer, with a goal of the Porta Westfalica Parade and Festival in June. Stubborn German Brewing is located at 119 S. Main Street.

Hopskeller’s Schweizer has a tentative goal of opening this spring, around March. It is located at 116 E. Third Street.

Both breweries have Facebook pages through which the owners provide updates on construction as well as events around the area at which their libations may be sampled.

• Korte & Luitjohan has been named the construction manager of the 11 South project in Columbia, located on the Mississippi River bluffs at the north entrance to town off Route 3. The first in a planned series of professional buildings is expected to cost $10 million, cover 59,365 square feet and have five stories. The primary tenants will be physician and medical offices affiliated with Progressive Family Care, ATI Physical Therapy and Quantum Vision Center, among others.

According to developer Joe Koppeis, the building, planned to be the first of a series of similar high-rises, is about 70 percent leased. He anticipates a building time of about 18 months.

• State Bank of Waterloo President Kevin Day has expressed desire to establish a branch in Columbia, and taken steps to acquire land and an agreement with the city to build on the site of the former Hardee’s behind Midwest Petroleum on North Main Street and Route 3. The deal is not yet finalized, but Day remains committed to expanding into Columbia and has said if the location they are looking into doesn’t work out, they will find another. The soonest a branch could be open would be spring 2017, according to Day.

• It’s a presidential election year, but there are several local races that are shaping up to be just as hotly contested.

With current Monroe County State’s Attorney Kris Reitz, a Democrat, announcing his upcoming retirement last year, four candidates have emerged to battle it out in the upcoming March primary: Republicans Myron Hanna and Chris Hitzemann, and Democrats Dennis Field and Heather Dabler.

Another impending retiree, Monroe County Commissioner Terry Liefer, leaves big shoes to fill, and Democrat Leo Stephan as well as Republicans Vicki Koerber and Mark Altadonna hope to be picked by voters to do so.

To be eligible to serve on the county board, current Monroe County Coroner Koerber, whose seat is up for re-election this year, has to relinquish her post. This leaves an opening, and Republicans Bob Hill and Wayne Kohlmeier, and Democrat Cassie Goldschmidt are running to fill it.

Finally, incumbent Monroe County Circuit Clerk Sandy Sauget, a Democrat, will be challenged by Republican Lisa Fallon.

The primary election is March 15; the general election is Nov. 8.

• Also on the March 15 ballot will be two education referendums.

The first is a county-wide facilities sales tax that would benefit all county schools, if passed. The rate is 1 percent and the revenue it generates can only be used for capital projects and maintenance. Although the scope of the profits seems limited, administrators note that often funds for necessities like repairs to buildings come from the education fund, contributing to the depletion of that fund, which covers the majority of costs associated with educating students. Designated facility revenues would provide for such expenses while protecting the money in the education fund.

The second is a temporary tax increase for the Valmeyer School District. Identical to one passed four years ago, it is a five-year referendum that allows for the sale of $1.5 million in bonds. The 2012 referendum is expiring, but the financial climate of Illinois schools have not improved significantly, necessitating another referendum.

(with additional reporting by Corey Saathoff)


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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email: andrea@republictimes.net
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