Metro East Area News Briefs

Village of Elsah named as state’s most scenic place.
(Photo courtesy of Historic Elsah Foundation)

Poll: Area home to Illinois’ two most scenic attractions

The Village of Elsah is the most scenic place in the Prairie State, according to a public, online vote conducted last month in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration.

The Great River Road, on which the historic Jersey County village is located, took second place in the polling.

The Black Hawk statue, near Oregon, Ill., placed third in the poll; followed by Southern Illinois’ Garden of the Gods, near Carbondale, in fourth place; and Starved Rock State Park, on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County, placing fifth.

The polling was conducted as part of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission’s Illinois Top 200 program, under which the public is being asked to vote on state “Top 10” lists in 20 categories.

In addition to the most scene places, the commission plans to conduct polls on topics ranging from the best actors and authors associated with Illinois to the state’s most important historic sites and most impressive moments. Polling on the best museum in the state closed last week.

Sometime called the “New England of the Midwest,” Elsah (population: 673) has been placed in its entity on the National Register of Historic Place.

Though damaged in the Great Flood of 1993, the tiny, one-square-mile Mississippi Riverside village, few miles north of Alton, continues to offer a unique sampling of 19th century architecture — including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Mansard, Italianate, Saltbox, and Gambrel – within its boundaries.

It is a popular spot on for eagle watching, the home of Principia College, and a stop on the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail.

Village officials are currently developing plans to more effectively promote Elsah as a tourist destination.

The Great River Road is a collection of state and local roads that follow the course of the Mississippi River through ten states from Minnesota to Louisiana. A five-state section of the road from Minnesota to Arkansas has been designated a National Scenic Byway.

For additional information on the Illinois Bicentennial Commission’s polling program, see New polls are conducted every two weeks.

Hearing set on Madison County 911 plan

An administrative court hearing on Madison County’s proposed 911 plan is now set for Thursday, May 31 in Springfield.

However, Madison County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) members say that even with a positive review by commissioners, they are unlikely to meet a state-mandated August deadline for implementation of the new 911 system.

Amendments to the Illinois Emergency Telephone System Act, enacted by the General Assembly in 2015, require Illinois municipalities to implement “Next Generation” 911 systems — accommodating both landline and wireless (cellular or PCS) telephones — and require cities with less than 500,000 population, to consolidate their emergency call answering and dispatch facilities.

The amended act establishes an Illinois 911 Advisory Board to assist communities with the emergency communications upgrades.

Municipalities were originally required to submit compliance plans, or request waivers, to a newly formed Illinois State Police Office of the Statewide 911 Administrator by July 1, 2016.

After receiving a deadline extension, the Madison County ETSB —established to meet the state 911 mandates — earlier this year proposed a reorganization plan that would reduce the number of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) in the county from the current 16 to eight.

However, the neighboring the St. Clair County Emergency Telephone Systems Board on April 17 filed an objection to Madison County plan; prompting the administrative court hearing.

St. Clair County claims the Madison County proposal violates state law. Under the plan, PSAPs would answer 911 calls, but then, in many cases, forward requests for service to local dispatchers.

The Madison County proposal is essentially “identical” to plans that were submitted by St. Clair County but were rejected by the state 911 Advisory Board, the objections states.  It also cites technical concerns.

Even if approved by the administrative court, the Madison County plan will still be subject to a public hearing and state 911 Advisory Board review, prior to implementation.

Monroe County’s gun sanctuary status draws notice

Monroe County has been receiving praise from gun owners, as well as some criticism, since becoming a firearms “sanctuary,” according to Sheriff Neal Rohlfing.

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners, May 7, unanimously voted not to enforce new federal or state restrictions on gun ownership in their jurisdiction.

At least five other rural Illinois counties — Effingham, Iroquois, Jefferson, Perry and Saline — have approved firearms sanctuary measures over recent weeks.

Two others — Christian and Shelby — are currently considering gun sanctuary status.

At least one Southern Illinois county, Macon, will not, according to Macon County Board Chairman Jay Dunn.

Largely symbolic, event their most ardent proponents admit, the gun sanctuary resolutions are intended primarily to send a message to the Illinois General Assembly; which is currently considering several proposed gun control laws.

Among them: House Bill 1465 — which would make it unlawful to sell an assault weapon, .50 caliber rifles, cartridges or assault weapon attachments to any person under the age of 21, and House Bill 1467 — which would prohibit municipalities from regulating assault weapons “in a manner less restrictive than the regulation by the State” and make possession of a bump-fire stock or trigger crank illegal in Illinois.

However,  Rohlfing reports he has received 20 requests for copies of the Monroe County gun sanctuary measure from counties as far away as the West Coast.

State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R) of Waterloo, while sympathetic to plight of Monroe County gun owners, expressed concern to a St. Louis television station about “different jurisdictions saying that they are going to selectively enforce legislation.”

New Maryville Memorial in place

Just in time for Memorial Day, a new Maryville Memorial — honoring four types of people central to the development of the Madison County community — is now on display in front of the Village Hall.

White-granite statues of a military figure, a fireman, a baseball player, and a coal miner, were erected on the Village Hall lawn earlier this month; each on lighted brick pillars. Complementing the statues: a pathway, a fountain and a military cannon nearby.

Materials and labor for the memorial were largely donated, village officials say. Other costs were covered by the sale of memorial bricks, surrounding the monument, to area businesses and residents.

The new memorial replaces one, built on the site in 2002 as part of the village’s centennial celebration, which had subsequently fallen into disrepair.

Development of the new monument was spearheaded on a volunteer basis by Maryville resident Joe Semanisin, village officials say.


–Metro East Area News Briefs–