The Cass County Board and the City of Virginia are hoping to secure funding to revitalize the Virginia Courthouse square.
On Monday night, the Cass County Board announced that it had received letters of support from 47th District State Senator Jil Tracy, 93rd District State Representative Norine Hammond, and 18th District Congressman Darin LaHood to include in the county and city’s application to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) to revitalize the square.
Cass County Board Chairman Michael Barnett hopes that Virginia can receive the funding and follow in the footsteps of several West Central Illinois communities who have made similar successful efforts in the recent past: “We worked really closed with Virginia Mayor Randy McClure. They have a real strong Main Street program here in town where they are either renovating or demolishing some of the more dilapidated buildings [on the square]. I think Mayor McClure has some plans to work towards that area. Again, looking at Rushville, Mt. Sterling, and Jacksonville especially – I mean it has dramatically improved their downtown areas and brought business to downtown areas of those municipalities. So, I’m hoping it will be very successful here, too.”
The west side of Virginia’s square has suffered the lost of a number of buildings and businesses over the last decade which included the closing of Dr. Ug’s Drug Store Cafe and two buildings that either have been condemned or collapsed. The other major hit to the Virginia square was the closing of McCausland’s IGA in 2018.
Barnett hopes that the partnership between the city and the county along with the funding will help to renovate the square and attract reinvestment and spur economic development.