Monroe County will once again have a full plate in 2020.
Elections, new state laws and their ramifications, business happenings and several high-profile court cases all look to dominate the year, in addition to all the unexpected newsworthy developments.
• In November, Americans will vote in a presidential election, while Illinoisans will vote for a senator and people in southern Illinois will vote for a representative in Congress.
In Monroe County, there will be several local elections. Republican George Green and Democrat Duane Langhorst are vying for a seat on the Monroe County Board that will be vacated by Republican Bob Elmore.
Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann is poised to take over for Dennis Doyle as resident circuit judge in the county, and the race to fill Hitzemann’s position is contested.
Current Assistant State’s Attorney and Republican Ryan Martin is seeking the post, as is Democrat Celeste Korando.
A local group of elected officials have a crucial decision to make this year, as the Columbia School Board will hire a new superintendent later this year.
Residents will also have the opportunity to vote for state representative, as Democrat Nathan Reitz will be challenged by one of three Republicans running for that office. Those men are David Friess of Red Bud, David Holder of Baldwin and Kevin Schmidt of Millstadt.
In uncontested races, Hitzemann faces no opposition. The same goes for current County Coroner Bob Hill and Circuit Clerk Lisa Fallon. At the state level, Republican Terri Bryant of Murphysboro faces no competition in her bid to replace state sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo).
• State politics will have further effects locally, as residents will probably feel the impact of new laws and taxes.
The minimum wage will increase twice this year. It went up $1 an hour to $9.25 on Jan. 1, and it will go up to $10 an hour in July.
Work will also begin on the state’s approximately $45 billion capital plan.
In Waterloo, the city plans to start a total reconstruction of the drainage system, curb, gutter, sidewalk and roadway surface on Moore Street just north of the Columbia Avenue intersection.
In Columbia, the construction of a bikeway and sidewalks from Bolm-Schukraft Park to Monroe Street and from Monroe Street west of Kaempf Street to Main is set to begin.
To help fund the capital plan, several new taxes take effect this year.
That includes upping vehicle registration fees from $101 to $151, while vehicle registration fees for electric vehicles increased to $251 annually.
The state also now taxes the value of traded-in vehicles starting after $10,000 value, down from $20,000.
Illinoisans who purchase items online from out-of-state stores with no physical presence in Illinois will also now have to pay sales tax on those items.
• Many taxes are also associated with adult-use recreational marijuana, which became legal Jan. 1. Those against that new law said it will have many negative consequences, so watch to see if those occur.
Local municipalities will also have to make a determination on if they will allow cannabis businesses within their boundaries. Columbia and Monroe County both have yet to vote on the matter, though both are in the process of drafting an ordinance on the subject.
Waterloo, Valmeyer, Hecker and Maeystown have already voted to completely prohibit marijuana businesses.
While it is unknown if any such company will come to the county, several new businesses are set to open their doors this year, and a few established ones plan to expand.
One of the first businesses citizens will see is the Columbia Dairy Queen, which is set to reopen in February after extensive renovations.
• Gordo’s Mexican Restaurant is set to open in Millstadt later this year. It will take over the space currently occupied by Cholula’s Mexican Restaurant.
• Rzola’s Tex Mex Restaurant in Columbia should follow suit, as work has been ongoing since fall at 230 N. Main Street to ready the building most recently occupied by Aunt Maggie’s.
• The latest building at 11 South in Columbia, which will be the home of DeRossett Investments, is set to be completed in late 2020. Developer Joe Koppeis said his company also hopes to begin construction on a third building at 11 South some time this year.
• The Main Street Abbey in Columbia is also scheduled to grow, as apartments and hotel rooms inside the former school building of Immaculate Conception School are anticipated to be completed by the end of 2020.
• Also in Columbia, renovations are nearly complete at 105 S. Main Street Suite A, which is the future home of ChiroPro Chiropractic.
• Waterloo Mercantile Company, a home goods store owned by Dennis and Jenny Bullock, will open at 129 N. Main Street this spring.
• Waterloo city officials have been told Bootsie’s restaurant, bakery and general store at 1365 Illinois State Route 3 in Waterloo will reopen “sometime in January” after closing in September. Owners of the establishment have not commented, but the restaurant hosted a job fair Saturday under its new name, Tin Rooster.
• Pie Hard Pizza & Custard Co. plans to open its location at 124 W. Mill Street in Waterloo sometime this year.
• The new Cleancar express auto wash located just south of the Waterloo McDonald’s will open later this year.
• The location of the old McDonald’s in front of Rural King in Waterloo will soon be home to a complex featuring multiple businesses. A tanning salon and a financial adviser have already committed to opening a business at the facility.
• O’Reilly Auto Parts should complete construction of its store on Admiral Trost Road near Hampton Inn in Columbia.
• A final addition to Columbia will be a planned expansion of Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery. That establishment is set to open a new tasting room and event venue barn this summer.
• In a related matter, Koppeis had originally said he planned to complete construction of his proposed wind farm in 2020. That is now uncertain because the Monroe County Board placed a moratorium on its existing wind energy conversion ordinance to allow for possible revisions.
• Finally, three legal cases will continue in the new year.
Three issues in the Christopher Coleman case are still waiting for a resolution. Those are a motion for Coleman to represent himself, an evidentiary hearing on Coleman having ineffective counsel during his original trial and a motion requesting the court reverse and remand a ruling by Judge Stephen McGlynn in an evidentiary hearing in April. If that final motion is granted, Coleman would get a new trial.
• The murder trial of Kyle Roider will continue, as a jury trial is tentatively set for June 1 barring further developments.
Roider, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first degree murder and aggravated battery in connection with the Jan. 9 shooting death of Steven Becker in Waterloo, most recently underwent an evaluation to determine his fitness to stand trial.
• The case of Trevor Hudson, who is charged with attempted murder and two counts of armed violence following a Nov. 22 stabbing on Osterhage Drive in Waterloo, will also continue. After a December preliminary hearing, Doyle ruled there is sufficient probable cause for the case to move forward.