The yearly event is a major fundraiser for the partnership, but it
also offers community leaders, businessmen and a wide variety of
local economic organizations the opportunity to get together as
friends and neighbors.
Wednesday's luncheon brought in a large
crowd that included several county and city of Lincoln officials, as
well as representatives from other communities, including Atlanta
Mayor Fred Finchum and members of the Atlanta Betterment group. Also
present were members of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce
and the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County as well as
representatives of a wide variety of area businesses.
On a state level, Sen. Larry Bomke's office was represented and
Rep. Rich Brauer was in attendance. In addition to all these was
keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, who stayed for the entire
meeting and spent a good deal of time interacting with guests.
Mike Maniscalco, executive director of the development
partnership, began the day with a welcome prior to lunch. He
personally noted many of the special guests in the room.
Maniscalo made quick work of the opening and invited everyone to
enjoy their meal.
When Maniscalco returned to the podium to introduce Schock, he
drew chuckles from the audience as he drew comparisons between
himself and the congressman. He quipped: "Congressmen Schock has
been on the cover of magazines. I was in the Courier and the Daily
He also commented on Schock's youth, drawing attention to the
fact that the two men are the same age: 31. He said it showed that
youth was taking over.
When Schock took the podium, he responded by saying it wasn't
that the youth were taking over; it was that they were all growing
Schock spoke several minutes about topics of great interest in
Logan County. (The congressman's speech is covered in greater depth
in a separate
article in LDN's Thursday edition.)
After Schock's speech, Maniscalco returned again to the podium
and asked Shock to assist him in presenting the development
partnership's first Community Development Award.
This year the award was presented to the downtown steering
committee for the city of Lincoln, along with Lisa Kramer and Darren
Forgy of Prairie Engineers, who work with and for the committee.
The steering committee consists of Barbara Blackburn, David
Lanterman, Bob Neal, Seth Goodman, Alderwoman Marty Neitzel, Patrick
Doolin and Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder.
The committee was formed to work on designing a downtown
improvement plan after the city won a $675,000 grant for planning
and implementation through a Department of Commerce and Economic
Kramer and Forgy have also been involved in this since the
beginning, as it was Kramer who wrote the grant application and
assisted the city in getting the award. Recently Prairie Engineers
was officially hired as consultants for the project.
On hand to accept the award were Doolin, Goodman, Kramer, Forgy
At the end of the meeting, Maniscalco invited partnership
president Steve Smith to the podium for the closing statements.
Smith first made a point of acknowledging all the members of the
partnership board by asking them to stand. He commented on the
dedication of the board members, who give hours of their time and
talents to the board as volunteers.
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Smith also acknowledged the partnership's administrative
assistant, Christel Huff. Huff came to the partnership as a
part-time employee about a year ago. Her job soon evolved into
several days a week and several hours. Smith said she is vital to
the partnership in that she is very good at keeping himself and
Speaking about the development partnership and its work, Smith
said, "We have a little motto: The partnership consists of people
who work together to enhance the economy and quality of life for all
of Logan County. We've strived hard over the past year to not just
concentrate on Lincoln or the county. We've brought in numerous
communities to sit on the board and have been active in getting out
to those communities."
Together, the county has achieved some major accomplishments,
Smith said. One of the prouder moments for Smith and the development
partnership is the approaching completion of the electricity
aggregation process for many communities in the county as well as
the unincorporated areas of the county.
Smith told the audience the bidding process had wrapped up on
Tuesday. He said the participants made their electricity contract
purchases at noon and landed what is actually the lowest electricity
rate in the state of Illinois to date.
He said it had taken a lot of work; that he and Maniscalco had
attended a lot of community meetings and worked to help educate
citizens and bring this to all of Logan County. He told the audience
this would equate to approximately $2,300,000 not leaving Logan
County over the next two years.
He said on the average, every household would have about $216
more money in their pocket each year.
Smith said: "These are the kinds of things we need to go forward
with and do in Logan County. It's not Atlanta, it's not Mount
Pulaski, it's not the county; it's everyone who belongs to the
partnership as an individual, a business, an organization, an
Smith said the partnership is always seeking new members and
always in need of volunteers.
As Smith drew to a close, he acknowledged Schock and his chief of
staff and others in his office who have supported Logan County and
the development partnership. He noted that Schock's office is
currently working to help the partnership get their CEDS application
approved in Washington. He thanked them for all they have done for
the local communities.
Smith then quickly ended his comments, thanking everyone in
attendance and saying he hoped to see them all back for this annual
event next year.
[By NILA SMITH]
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