Rantoul mayor, administrator reflect on 2012

Rantoul Press asked Mayor Neal Williams and Village Administrator Bruce Sandahl for a reflection on the year just completed and a look-ahead to the coming year.
Following are their comments.

Neal Williams
As we usher in a new year with a sense of hopefulness and anticipation, it’s fitting that we take a few moments to look back and to celebrate the successes the village of Rantoul enjoyed in 2012.

These successes would not have been possible without the village’s dedicated and professional employees, each of whom works hard every day to provide efficient, friendly services to the people of Rantoul.

Among the long list of accomplishments, I would like to highlight just a few that demonstration the progress we made in 2012:

• Rantoul experienced a 28 percent reduction in the crime rate.

• Rantoul enjoyed a fourth consecutive year of no increase in the village’s property tax levy.

• Easton-Bell Sports, one of Rantoul’s largest employers, began construction on a $52 million complex, resulting in the retention of more than 300 jobs and creating the possibility for future growth.

• Rantoul contributed its program of demolishing blighted properties. Aggressive code enforcement also resulted in a decrease in the number of substandard rental properties.

These are just a few examples of the progress Rantoul made in 2012. Although those efforts will continue, we can also look ahead to the following opportunities in 2013:

• The conveyance of properties on the former Chanute Air Force Base, thus allowing both occupied and unoccupied properties to be sold and placed on the tax roll.

• The demolition of White Hall and the CAFB steam place.

• Lincoln’s Challenge academy will begin demolition of three 1,000-man dormitories, allowing for the construction of a new campus which will house more than 800 cadets.

• Rantoul will again host the I&I Historic Farm Days, an event that draws over 65,000 visitors from several continents.

• Dollar Tree General store and O’Reilly Auto Parts will start and complete construction of their new facilities.

• The Miller-Valentine senior housing project will be constructed at Twin Lake Subdivision and will offer 42 affordable single-family housing units to senior citizens.

In 2013, the village and its staff will continue to provide services designed to meet the needs of its citizens, including police protection, recreation and public works. Electricity, water, wastewater and natural gas will continue to be offered to citizens at the lowest possible rates.

Rantoul is more than just bricks and mortar. The village will continue to work with and assist other governmental bodies such as Rantoul Township High School and Rantoul City Schools. A school resource officer from the Rantoul Police Department is currently assigned to the high school and a DARE officer walks the halls of our grade schools.

The village also works to support the efforts of the Northern Champaign County Community Services Center, Generations of Hope, Lincoln’s Challenge, Cultivadores, the Multicultural Service Center and many other organizations which strive to improve and enhance the lives of numerous citizens.

One year from now I am confident that we will look back on 2013 as a very positive year, one which was filled with growth and progress and which provided a solid foundation for years to come. This vision for Rantoul will only be realized with the hard work, patience and dedication of its greatest asset — its people.
It has been an honor to serve this community as mayor, and I look forward to working with village trustees and staff to meet and overcome the challenges we will face.

Bruce Sandahl
It has been another busy year for the village of Rantoul in a number of areas, all of which continue to move us forward. During the course of our daily lives, we sometimes forget the amount of progress we are making in the village, and we need to stop once in a while and reflect on what has taken place.

Below is a short list of some of the activities, actions and improvements that have happened this past year, all of which help to improve our quality of life, job opportunities and economic development within our community.

• Rantoul Foods building expansion.  

• Charles Industries building expansion.  

• Prairie Village expansion with a veterans wing and new dementia facility.

• Hope Meadows expansion nearing completion.

• Dairy Queen  renovation and expansion.

• Starcrest Cleaners  new facility.

• Lindsey Lane Bridal expansion into the former Busey Bank Building downtown.

• Style FX expansion and renovation downtown.

• Internet Cafe building renovation and new business downtown soon to be open.

• Maria’s Tacos new business downtown.

• Easton-Bell’s new 800,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility under construction.

• Stewart Oil/Super Pantry convenience store and gas station to be constructed on the former CIB/Tatman properties.

• Miller-Valentine Senior Housing Project, which includes 42 condo style housing units and club house at Twin Lakes Subdivision. (Construction to start in the spring of 2013)

• Rantoul Business Incubator satellite facility for incubator startup companies and business startup management classes in a partnership with University of Illinois Enterprise Works, Parkland College and the village of Rantoul.

• South Murray Road project is completed for the west side commercial, retail and hotel development, Stone Bridge Center, located on the southeast corner of Interstate 57 and Hwy 136.

• Chanute Air Force Base property transfer and airport size reduction agreements with the FAA and USAF.

• Shared-used bike path under construction and to be completed this spring.

Continued progress is being made in eliminating excess substandard housing and blighted properties. This is a very important effort to stop the decline in overall property values and to improve the quality of our neighborhoods and the well-being of our current and future citizens.

Our village budget is showing a positive year-end balance again this year, and our mayor and village board have not raised the property tax levy for the fourth consecutive year.

Reduced crime rate
We have also seen a dramatic reduction in the crime rates within our village. Over the past four years, part 1 and part 2 offenses have been reduced by 28 percent.

This was accomplished by the dedicated members of our police department, village cleanup efforts from our citizens and village employees and the continuous elimination of blighted and substandard housing and other properties.

Next year we can look forward to the completion of the Easton-Bell, Super Pantry, Twin Lakes Senior Villas and several other projects mentioned above. Also, the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy’s new campus construction and building demolition will begin, along with the demolition of White Hall and the Chanute steam plant projects.

It has been a good year of progress for the village, and with the continued guidance and support from our mayor, village board and citizens, 2013 promises to be another year of the village of Rantoul moving forward and being a community that we can all be proud of.



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