A lifelong resident of Atlanta, Martin has spent many years working
for that community and Logan County as a whole, first as a city
alderman, then as Atlanta's mayor, and now he serves on the Logan
County Board and the Logan County Regional Planning Commission.
Martin was born just three miles south of Atlanta. He married his
childhood sweetheart, Zelma Short. He says that they were about 14
or 15 when they first took an interest in each other and have been
together ever since. They raised three children in the Atlanta area
and are now reaping the benefits of being grandma and grandpa.
Now retired 14 years, he was an employee of Caterpillar in
Decatur for 30 years. Six of those years he was a union facilitator,
a role where he received special training in group dynamics,
problem-solving and listening skills, among other things.
These are tools that he has brought with him into the offices he
holds. Martin said that as the mayor of a small town, he found that
aldermen often have good ideas but won't bring them to the
foreground because they don't think that they would be making a
significant contribution. Martin said that sometimes he's had to
play a little "devil's advocate" and draw out the good ideas with
bad ones. "I'd say, well, what if we do this, or what if we do that,
and folks would finally speak up."
As the mayor of Atlanta, Martin worked a great deal on developing
their tax increment financing district. However, he said that the
project went by the wayside for a while, and now the city is working
to revive it. Even though he is no longer mayor, he plans to do all
that he can to assist the city in getting back on track with the TIF.
Martin resigned as mayor of Atlanta on Nov. 30 so that he could
be sworn in to the Logan County Board, taking the District 1 seat on
Dec. 1. On the county board he is serving on several committees,
including planning and zoning, finance, road and bridge, and
Currently he is chairman of the Logan County Regional Planning
Commission, is heavily involved with the Lincoln & Logan County
Development Partnership, has worked with the tourism bureau on
projects in Atlanta, is dedicated to the organization and future
opening of the Palms Café and Museum in Atlanta, and is the chairman
of the board for the Christian Child Care Center in Lincoln.
Joel Smiley, executive director of the development partnership,
recently stated: "Bill Martin has been essential to the building and
development of the Comprehensive Development Plan. Bill is truly an
original thinker, and his efforts were crucial to the economic
development experience in Logan County."
Martin says that working with the partnership has been a good
experience. He feels that the experience and knowledge that can be
gained by being a part of the Economic Development Council for
Central Illinois is also invaluable. This is an alliance that Logan
County recently made when developing a Comprehensive Economic
Development Strategy through the area development council, uniting
five counties as a region. Martin did most of the legwork on this
project, traveling often to Peoria.
He admires what Peoria has done with their city and says that
there are lessons to be learned there. When that city lost large
portions of its industry, the powers that be sat back and took a
good look at the positives that were still there, and they worked on
building a new plan based on those positives.
He says that our county needs to do the same thing: build on the
good that is already here. He cites the central location of the
county, the interstates and proximity to larger cities as positives.
One of Martin's goals for Lincoln is to see development on the
north part of town. He feels this is crucial, and while it won't
happen any time soon, he plans to keep on it.
[to top of second column]
Martin says that now that he is no longer the mayor, he's going to
have more free time, and he intends to work a lot with the
Palms Café and Museum that will open in Atlanta, hopefully by
the fall of this year. He's very enthusiastic about the museum. He
says there is a lot going to go on there, and he feels like it is
going to be a huge attraction, not only for Atlanta, but for all of
Martin's been a strong believer in Logan County as a great
tourist destination, especially with the revival of Route 66, which
stretches from one end of Logan County to the other, and the
presence of numerous Abraham Lincoln sites along that route.
Geoff Ladd, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism
Bureau of Logan County, said: "I have worked with Bill Martin on
several projects over the last few years and have found him to be a
progressive thinker and someone who gets things done. I look forward
to his participation on a countywide level now that he is on the
When Christian Child Care in Lincoln announced that its program
was in deep financial trouble, Martin was working there as a janitor
part time. He said that the board of directors called a meeting and
he attended. "I had a few questions, but I really wasn't satisfied
with their answers," he said.
At that meeting he met Nancy Cunningham of the Child Care
Connection in Springfield. They spoke for quite a while, and when it
was all said and done, he agreed to join a new board of directors,
and she agreed to offer input on getting the child care program back
up and running.
Martin said that at the time, Coleen Moore was working in the
classroom, but she had done some of the office work previously. He
and others started nudging her back into the office. She kept
insisting that she didn't have any business expertise, but the board
recognized something in her and kept nudging. In the end, she was
made the facility director, and with a strong board behind her,
things started turning around.
Martin said there were difficult decisions that had to be made
regarding staff reduction and cost-cutting, but they stayed on it,
and while they still have struggles ahead of them, the organization
has managed to pay down a large percentage of its debt, and he feels
that the future of the program is bright.
Moore credits Martin for keeping them on track and staying
positive even in the darkest of days for the program.
"Mr. Bill is a remarkable part of the Christian Child Care
family," she said. "When Christian Child Care was seeing its grayest
days, he saw only blue skies in our future.
"When the board was disbanding, he took charge as president, and
that was all it took for the clouds to clear. He has a vision of
what a great place Christian Child Care can be, and he set out full
force to make it happen.
"I am inspired by Mr. Bill's energy and passion for all he does.
He always has an encouraging word to make my day. He is a great
board president, and Christian Child Care is all the better for his
In honor of the dedication, energy and positive attitude that
Bill Martin brings to our community in all that he does, we are
proud to name this "Mr. Positive" leader as LDN's Personality of the
[By NILA SMITH]