What to expect in 2022

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As Monroe County ventures into the year 2022, the COVID pandemic casts a gray cloud over what the future may hold.  

Still, there are big things planned this year – from a Waterloo native running for governor to local business developments. 

With COVID-19 cases ramping up again, the driver’s service facility in Waterloo will be closed until Jan. 18. License and ID card expiration dates have been extended until March 31. 

Like many other respiratory-type diseases, COVID is proving to increase its impact in cold months. 

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said he expects cases to continue to increase as not only is the weather chilling, but also the holidays brought large gatherings. 

The more people one is around, the higher the chances of coming in contact with somebody who has COVID, Wagner said. 

Monroe Countians who commute to St. Louis may soon want to reconsider their commute, as a major Jefferson Barracks Bridge rehabilitation project is set to begin early this year. 

According to MODOT’s website, the bridge into Illinois on I-255 eastbound will be closed beginning this spring. The first phase of construction is expected to conclude by the fall, allowing traffic to flow normally with both directions open between fall 2022 and spring 2023. Then, work will begin on the bridge into Missouri. 

During both construction phases, lanes will be converted to serve traffic from the portion of the bridge being worked on. 

Monroe County will see a familiar face around the courthouse – and potentially some new ones at the end of the year. 

As of Jan. 1, Monroe County’s Resident Circuit Judge Chris Hitzemann is back after working a felony docket in St. Clair County to avoid conflicts in cases he filed or handled as former Monroe County state’s attorney. Associate Judge Jeff Watson will be the traveling judge, a position formerly held by Judge Julia Gomric. 

Come December, St. Clair County will have its own judicial circuit and Monroe County will be part of the new 24th Circuit along with Washington, Randolph and Perry counties. 

Hitzemann is not exactly sure of what implications being the largest county in the new circuit may bring, but said Monroe County could very well be seeing some additional judges, potentially a probation administrator and more. 

Former State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) will be on the ballot for governor in his party’s primary election set for June 28. Schimpf will announce his running mate during a Jan. 12 event at Sugar Spring South in Waterloo. 

At the county level, the following positions are up for election in 2022: sheriff, county clerk, treasurer, commissioner, assessor and regional superintendent of schools.

Following the June 28 primaries, the general election takes place Nov. 8.

If all goes according to the hopes of Waterloo Citizens for a Pool, a tax referendum for a new city pool will be on the ballot, with the Waterloo Park District as a co-sponsor. The exact weight of the tax burden – if one is necessary – depends on how much money is raised through the non-profit’s current capital campaign, WCP President Amy Grandcolas previously explained. 

Whether or not the park district will officially get on board with WCP’s plans is still up in the air, as much skepticism floated around during a December meeting. 

The Waterloo Park District hopes to break ground and start installing a new splash pad at William Zimmer Park off Rogers Street this spring. The only thing in the way now, park district board member Shelby Mathes said, is approval of an IDPH permit. Once this is done, the bidding process can begin. 

A number of cases filed in in previous years might see resolution in 2022. 

Jeremy Van Eck of Waterloo stands charged with 10 felony counts related to the criminal sexual assault of a minor. Prosecutor Jennifer Mudge said she anticipates this case will finally go to trial come spring or summer. 

The parents of Sawyer Kanofsky, a toddler who died last year after choking at Columbia’s Carrot Patch Daycare, are seeking damages in excess of $50,000, legal fees and anything else the court deems “just and proper.” There is a case review scheduled at 8 a.m. April 25. 

Circuit Judge Raylene Grishow may make a decision whether to grant a temporary restraining order in the large masking and exclusions lawsuit brought by attorney Thomas DeVore during a hearing Wednesday, Jan. 5. The Waterloo, Valmeyer and Columbia school districts are named as defendants in the suit. 

DeVore recently filed another suit in Sagamon County that asks similar questions, this time on behalf of educators. The Waterloo School District is named as a defendant in this suit, along with other districts, Gov. JB Pritzker, Ilinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Association of School Boards and their respective leaders. The plaintiffs from Waterloo are Robyn Gaubatz, an elementary school teacher, and Jarvia Bryant, a junior high teacher. As of press time, it does not appear any dates have been scheduled for this case yet.  

Movement on the criminal case against Dylan T. McEwen, 24, of Swansea, for his alleged involvement in the death of Waterloo man Sean Jouglard, 21, is also expected to occur this year. McEwen was charged in November with boating while intoxicated (death of another) stemming from a summer incident at the Lake of the Ozarks. There is also a civil case pending.

A wrongful death lawsuit regarding Jonah Matthews’ 2019 death is still moving through St. Clair County Court. The suit is against Glendell H. Farms, Ken Hartman, Anita Hartman, Joann Hartman and Union Pacific Railroad Company.

After fire destroyed wedding events venue Sugar Spring Ranch in Columbia last year, owners Greg and Melinda Meyer are rebuilding it from the ground up with the help of DCA Construction in Breese. 

Greg Meyer said all underground plumbing and electrical work is done. Monroe Countians should soon be seeing the beginnings of the structure being erected at 1358 Centerville Road in the next couple of weeks and Meyer anticipates festivities will be back in full swing come spring. 

Yet, with the opening of Sugar Spring South at the old Tin Rooster off Route 3 in Waterloo, the Meyers were able to keep the party alive. This fall, Greg Meyer said, many couples held ceremonies outdoors at Sugar Spring Ranch and then held receptions at Sugar Spring South. 

Cornerstone Laine, a proposed women-only drug recovery residence, was officially given the green light last year to operate at the old Rosedale House off Route 3 in Waterloo under a special use permit. Co-founder Leisa Martinez said she hopes to have updates soon. 

One thing not to expect in 2022 is Stumpy’s Spirits & Distillery’s new expansion between FF and Hanover Road opening. Co-owner Adam Stumpf said due to the large nature of the project, he expects it to open in 2023. 

Fear not – customers will still be able to get their share of the Columbia distillery’s treats from local vendors. Check out their website’s store locator for more details.

Major construction projects on area roadways in 2022 include the Quarry Road Roundabout/Resurfacing Phase 2 project. Design plans and other details are being finalized, and Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith expects work to begin in March.

Also in Columbia, repair work for the Carl Street Bridge is expected to be completed this summer.

At the north end of Waterloo, completion of a pedestrian walkway is expected by the end of summer. This walkway will allow signalized pedestrian traffic to cross Route 3 between HH Road and Country Club Lane.

A major shoulder resurfacing project will also get underway this summer on Maeystown Road from Waterloo city limits to Mill Street in Maeystown. 

In Waterloo, work is underway on Moore Street resurfacing and improvements near Gibault Catholic High School and should be done soon.

Plans should progress this year on a new water tower to be built on the Waterloo VFW property. As part of plans to construct its own water treatment plant, the City of Waterloo intends to build a larger new water tower in town.

The timeline of construction for the new tower is yet to be determined, but it would have a storage size of 500,000 gallons of water. The existing tower located next to Waterloo City Hall has a capacity of 250,000 gallons.

The city council has not made a decision on what to do with the existing 80-year-old water tower.

Waterloo will also press ahead this year on construction of its new water treatment plant to be built just east of Valmeyer. 

Waterloo announced plans in February 2019 to build its own water treatment facility and leave Illinois American Water, its current provider, at the end of the existing contract, which expires in October 2024.

Scooter’s Coffee, a Midwest-based drive-thru coffee franchise, is bringing a location to Waterloo. It is expected to be built off Route 3 at Plaza Drive south of Schnucks.

Also in Waterloo, Gallagher’s Restaurant is planning for a spring reopening after closing for upgrades.

Work will continue at the new home of LifechurchX. Pastor Matt Heck announced in November the church would move from its current location at 400 Park Street in Waterloo to the building once home to a St. Elizabeth’s Hospital urgent care and medical operation next to the YMCA off Route 3 south of Columbia that has sat vacant for several years. 

Part of his church’s vision for this facility is to open up commercial tenant space for community partners. 

“(We’re) looking forward to expanding our ability to help our community,” Heck said.    

At the 11 South business complex in Columbia, construction of a restaurant is expected to be completed. 

Joe Koeppeis, developer of 11 South, said he expects plans to be finalized this week, with construction on the restaurant to begin once approved by the Columbia City Council. 

Koppeis also said he will begin the process to bring a hotel to 11 South, although he did not have a precise timeline of when work was expected to begin.   

Construction is expected to be completed in Columbia for First Class Brewing. The brewery at 116 W. Locust Street had hoped for a fall 2021 opening, but remodeling of the building was still ongoing late last year.

Work will continue on developing a new comprehensive plan for the City of Columbia, with completion expected around October. 

A celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Prairie du Rocher takes place throughout the year.

Preliminary revised FEMA flood maps for Monroe County are expected to be available in spring 2022 and effective by the end of the year or 2023.  The new flood maps may impact future development in some areas in Columbia, as early discussions last year pointed to extended flood zones along creeks in the city limits.   

Columbia city officials will be reviewing project submissions for a new public safety complex. The city will also continue developing plans for a tax increment financing district along South Main Street.

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