Chamber holds annual meeting

Tool Testing Lab was honored for 20 years of membership during the Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday. Pictured left to right are Will Roberts, President/CEO Vandalia-Butler Chamber, Bob Beck & Rob Thomas of Tool Testing Lab, Don Schweitzer Board Chairman, VB Chamber, and Joe Braden, West Regional Liaison for the Auditor of State.

Photo by Darrell Wacker | AIM Media Midwest

VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership meeting on Tuesday morning.

During the meeting, the City of Vandalia, Butler Township, and the Vandalia-Butler City Schools gave their annual “State of” speeches.

Prior to the presentations, chamber members were honored for reaching 20 years of membership. Those recognized included Adams Robinson Enterprises, Inc.; All-Seal Home Improvement, LLC; Carey Electric Company; Ernst Fluid Power; Spears Transfer & Expediting, Inc.; Tool Testing Lab; and Vandalia Youth Theatre.

Also, the chamber announced nominees for its board of directors. Ballots will be mailed by March 25 and members have until Monday, April to cast their ballot.

Nominees are (* denotes incumbent):

Betty Dankworth, Koorsen Fire & Security

Mary Feucht, Shelter Insurance

Jacqie Nawroth*, Boboige & Company CPA

Amy Ross*, Spectrum Brands

John Wheeler*, Digital Cowboy IT Solutions

The City of Vandalia presented a video narrated by Communications Manager Rich Hopkins. He began with the Public Works Department and noted that this winter has not been kind to crews who have battled snow, ice, and record wind chill temperatures to keep the city’s streets safe. He also noted that the coldest days of the year bring with them water main breaks.

Another accomplishment was the completion of a walking path along Stonequarry Road toward Morton Middle School. Crews took the path as far as possible to the city line. Those same crews repaved multiple cart paths at Cassel Hills Golf Course as well.

Major road projects managed by the Development and Engineering Services Department included the repaving of the Airport Access Road and repairs to the bridge over Stonequarry Road. The project cost $948,000 with the federal government paying nearly 75% of the cost.

Looking ahead to 2019, a rebuild of Foley Drive has just begun and will include the replacement of water and sewer lines. Northwoods Boulevard will also get resurfaced between I-75 and the Flying J Travel Plaza. Vandalia received a $250,000 grant for the project and will fund the other half through a zero interest loan.

Two watermains will be replaced – one on Brindlestone Dr. and the other on Marview Avenue.

The biggest project will begin in late summer and perhaps bring the most inconvenience. That project is the resurfacing of National Road from the Airport Access Road all the way to Taylorsville Dam. This $2.5 million project is being funded with 80% of state dollars.

Butler Township Trustee Ken Betz spoke touted the renovation of the Government Center’s lobby and expansion of the Police Department’s Road Room as two major accomplishments for 2018. He also noted the completion of York Center Drive to Maxton Road.

Betz reported that two new hotels will soon break ground – a Fairfield Inn & Suites and a Holiday Inn Express & Suites. He said that hotel tax revenues have increased an average of 10% a year over the past five years which translated to $818,000 in 2018 alone.

Betz reported that the fire department responded to 3,069 calls for service, the most ever. Of those calls, 66% were EMS related and 34% were fire related. The police department took over 20,000 calls for service with 1,500 of those resulting in an offense report. There were 270 auto accident reports in 2018.

Looking ahead, Betz said the township will host a Community Shred Day sponsored by Day Air Credit Union on June 8. The township and Vandalia will once again host the Star Spangled Celebration on July 3, and National Night Out is slated for August 6. The annual Cruise-in to Butler Township will be held August 10 and the first “Music Festival in the Park” will be held October 5 at Art Van Atta Park.

Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Rob O’Leary and Treasurer Eric Beavers were the last to present. They reported that the district received $34.5 million in general fund revenue last year and had just $33.5 million in expenses which meant just short of $1 million went into the district’s carryover balance.

O’Leary noted that the district continues to work on its 2021 strategic plan with 41 out of the 43 strategic actions currently underway. One of those beginning recently is to develop a Master Facility Plan.