It’s estimated that over 150 people showed up to last night’s South Jacksonville board of trustee meeting.
Among the crowd of people crammed into the former South Jacksonville fire department garage, and even onto Dewey Street, were four speakers.
Colby Huff, administrator of the online site My Social Jacksonville, told Jumper and the village board a petition circulated on the street and online generated around 400 signatures and some interesting responses from village residents.
“I had no less than 30 people tell me that they would love to publicly support what you are doing and offer a signature. Would you like to know why they chose not to do so? The fear of repercussion,” says Huff.
“We could have waited a month, knocked on every door in the village and probably gotten significantly more support than we did. We wanted to get this in front of the community, while it is still fresh on everyone’s mind.”
Huff says even though charges were not filed by the Illinois State Police, “at the very least there was official misconduct” in the report. Huff felt that alone should require some action.
“You may think this is your little fiefdom for which you can do whatever you want. Every single person in this room is delivering a statement that it is time for us to take back our village,” says Huff.
DeeAnn Roome has been a South Jacksonville resident for the past 13 years. She explained values like honesty, respect, responsibility and reliability are being displayed at South Jacksonville Elementary, but not right down the street at Village Hall.
Roome says she was “shocked, appalled and disgusted” that this situation has gone on for so long and become so severe.
“The fact that the Illinois State Police were called in to investigate speaks volumes about the corruption at Village Hall,” says Roome.
“This has become a great source of embarrassment for the residents and business owners of the community. I use to feel that South Jacksonville was a jewel in the crown of Morgan County, but I wonder now how we can even begin to attract businesses or future home buying with corrupt image of the village hanging over our head.”
While the majority of the night’s comments lashed out against the village administration, one person spoke on behalf of the work Jumper has done as South Jacksonville village president. That person was his daughter, Sarah Daniels.
“It has been his vision to see you grow, to remain safe and to be prosperous,” says Daniels.
“There are times when difficulties come up in a community. It is easy to jump on a bandwagon. I respect and admire his leadership and his ability to sit and listen to all of you. Whether it be something he believes or something different.”
Much like his daughter, Jumper took some time to address his passion for South Jacksonville and some of the accomplishments he helped make possible for the community. Jumper says South Jacksonville is lucky to have a full-time police department, a well-known fire department and a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that is paid off.
Jumper says a strong bank account and smart investing helped make these dreams a reality.
“The village has in the bank about $4.5 million. Your village has paid off all of the long term debt. Over the last 15 years, we have put over $2 million in the bank. That has literally doubled the size of money. As a result, you all live in a village that has equity of over $13 million,” says Jumper.
Community members attending the meeting further voiced their concerns about the ISP allegations.
“You have been a wonderful president and done some wonderful things, but this is about what has been done recently and the changes that need to be addressed,” says a citizen.
“How much more stuff could we have if money wasn’t being stolen,” says a community member.
Village Treasurer Linda Douglass was not present at the meeting.
Full audio from the meeting heard here: