A look back at 2007

Congregations of two Vandalia churches that were destroyed by fire moved into their new homes.

The city of Vandalia had new faces in a couple of key administrative positions and added a position in an attempt to better handle economic development and tourism matters.

Even though voters in two Brownstown precincts rejected annexation into the St. Elmo Library District, the Brownstown Branch Library closed 2007 on a positive note a move into a new home.

The construction of a new home for Kaskaskia College classes in Vandalia was completed.

Those were among the top news stories in Vandalia and Fayette County in the past 12 months. Today, we begin taking a look back at 2007.

JANUARY

Residents of the Vandalia Lake area expressed their concerns about the citys plan to pull water from the lake to serve a proposed ethanol plant to be built south of Wal-Mart.

That plan became less of a concern a month later, after National LLC announced that it was planning to cut its annual production of ethanol in half, from 100 million gallons to 50 million gallons.

Bill LaDage, a retired educator who has been involved in numerous local projects, and Ron Neibert, who was ending a 10-year stint as Vandalias first city administrator, received Abe Awards from the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce at the chambers annual banquet. Also at the banquet, the outgoing chamber president, Mark Burnam, handed the gavel to 2007 President Dave Bell.

FEBRUARY

Jimmy Morani, a Troy resident who was among the candidates for the position of city administrator, was chosen by Mayor Rick Gottman to serve as the interim administrator. Morani would be hired for the position on a permanent basis in April.

Fayette Water held public meetings to explain its plans for an expansion that would provide water service to people living north and west of Vandalia Lake. In December, those plans received a boost when the Vandalia City Council OKd an agreement that provides Fayette Water with city water in the early years of that expansion.

The Vandalia Community High School varsity wrestling team continued its success in the state wrestling tournament, bringing home a second-place trophy. Jo-E Smith won a first-place medal at the individual state competition, while Adam Bowling placed third and Josh Eller placed fourth.

MARCH

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in the northwest quadrant of Vandalias western Interstate 70 interchange. That ceremony, held for a new South Central FS Travel Center, was held in the only quadrant that had yet to see any development.

Vandalia Police Chief Bob McCart and Detective Sgt. Fred Willms announced their retirements. McCart had been with the city police force for about 38 years and served as chief for about a decade; Willms had been with the department since 1974.

Larry Eason, a retired master sergeant with the Illinois State Police, was appointed by Mayor Rick Gottman as Vandalias interim chief of police. In July, the city council approved Gottmans appointment of Eason to the chiefs post on a permanent basis.

APRIL

Only a couple of weeks before a referendum on an expansion of the Brownstown area included within the St. Elmo Library District, the Brownstown Branch Library was given a new home. Fred and Connie Bingaman, owners and operators of Deerpark Distributors, agreed to lease the former bank building to the library district for $1 a year.

Vandalias Josie Earnest led the bowling team at Vanderbilt University to the 2007 NCAA Womens Bowling Championship. Earnest was named the tournaments Most Outstanding Performer.

A little more than 56 percent of the Vandalia School District voters who went to the polls on April 17 approved two district bond issues. The votes were for the issuance of $1.75 million in working cash funding bonds and the extension of increased tax rates from eight to 16 years.

At that same election, residents of Otego 2 and Sefton 1 rejected for a second time their annexation into the St. Elmo Library District.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Fayette County Fairgrounds in Brownstown for a new grandstand. The new structure is larger than its predecessor, which was built in 1944.

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