Concert in the Cornfield in limbo following dismissal from South Jacksonville Board of Trustees

By Benjamin Cox on May 4, 2018 at 10:35am

The future of the Concert in the Cornfield dominated discussions last night. In addition, the South Jacksonville board now has six trustees with the appointment of Chris Norton who was sworn in during the board meeting yesterday evening.

Village President Harry Jennings gives his take on the process of adding Norton to the board.

“We looked at a few different trustees and Mr. Norton, he fit really well. His appointment starts, obviously, today, and it expires next Spring. Petitions will come out in October of this year and they’ll be due in December for those that want to run, and we’ll have three trustee positions that will be up for re-election.

Along with Norton’s appointment, many topics were discussed during the meeting. The Water Toy section of Godfrey Park opens May 25th, and Village Cleanup days are June 7th-9th.

One specific topic, however, was dismissed from the board due to a lack of motion. None of the six trustees moved to approve the Concert in the Cornfield. Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart, who has been a co-chair of the event for the last 3 years, gave her thoughts on her involvement with the planning and budgeting for the concert just before the item was brought for a motion.

“I enjoyed the concert, I loved doing it. It’s a lot of work, very time-consuming.

I sat down here a few months ago and was called incompetent by our mayor several times during a committee meeting. Now, we’re going to vote on a concert which is going to take a lot of volunteer time from the entire village: police department, fire department, office staff. I find it very ironic that anyone would want me involved when I am ‘incompetent’ and then was removed from every committee I was on. I cannot say that I feel like it’s worth my time and effort to volunteer for something… I have no doubt I would not have the support of my mayor.”

Stewart puts into further detail the difficulty of planning for the Concert in the Cornfield, as well as, with the approval being dismissed in the meeting, the current status of the concert.

“Last year was very difficult under this administration. We’ve had some lack of professional decorum in our committee meetings, and after some soul searching and all the hours… I did this not as a trustee, I did it as a village resident; these were all volunteer hours. Me aside, this affects every department in our village: our police department is involved, our fire department, John Green’s department, the office staff… And feeling that you don’t have complete support from your administration, and I’m specifically speaking about our mayor, not the board, I think then you got to step back and say, ‘It’s just not worth it.’ I’m not sure at this date that you would find someone that would want to put in those hours or submit the village to those hours.”

Aside from the Concert in the Cornfield, Stewart feels that Chris Norton’s appointment as a trustee to the Board is a positive addition.

“I think six is the way it should be, because we’re only responsible for our own vote. I think we work together well and if it’s split 3-3, that’s the only time the Mayor votes. I’ve been through a couple of Boards now. I was appointed first before I was elected. This is the most cohesive Board I’ve worked with. We don’t all agree on everything, but that’s the beauty of it. And so I hope Chris will find his own niche among us. I think we’re all reasonable individuals, and I welcome Chris to the Board.

In addition, two tourism grants were approved, $10,000 to the Prairieland Heritage Museum for their annual Steam Show, and $1,500 was set aside for the Lake Jacksonville Boat Races.