Letter Jeck properties among city's best
To the editor:
I'm writing to clear up any misconceptions regarding mayoral candidate Roger Jeck's properties in Vermillion. I have managed Mr. Jeck's properties for several years and in my opinion they are some of the best rentals available in town. Mr. Jeck specializes in the renovation of depressed properties and his goal is to offer high quality housing to his tenants. The properties I currently manage have been completely renovated inside and are in the process of being completed on the outside.
Mr. Jeck installs all new wiring, plumbing and mechanical systems during his renovations. This makes my job as manager much easier as there are rarely repair issues or malfunctions.
Many people might tend to consider the exterior, rather than the nuts and bolts of a house. I would encourage them not to "judge a book by its cover" and to realize that as these properties are completed, our neighborhoods will be much improved in appearance and safety.
City council plays a shell game
To the editor:
If you have not been watching the city council deliberate over the Chestnut Street project, you have been missing out on a new political game the council is playing with its citizens. You see, the council is playing with the right of citizens to submit a petition and ask for a public vote on the council's decision to proceed with the Chestnut Street project for $1.3 million.
The game is played something like a carnival shell game, which is played by hiding a pea under one of three shells. After the shells are quickly moved around a table, the player is supposed to choose which shell hides the pea. What, you may ask, does this have to do with $1.3 million Chestnut Street project? Well, think of it this way.
Citizens are given a clear right to refer council decisions to a public vote, provided that they submit their petition within 20 days of the council's decision. That would seem to be fairly straight forward, except for one thing. "When" does the council say it made its decision? That's where the shell game begins. If the citizens pick shell #1 as the date of the council's decision, the council says that the petition is not valid because it's too late; i.e., the council simply says that it made its decision well before the citizens thought it made the decision, and the 20 days have now expired.
If the citizens pick shell #2 as the date of the council's decision, the council says that the petition is not valid because it's too early; i.e., the council simply says that it hasn't made the "real" decision yet, and the effort to circulate the petition is premature.
What happens if the citizens pick shell #3? Oh, I forgot to mention that there is no shell #3. That's the council's strategy to prevent a public vote on any of its decisions.
Thus far, the council has steadfastly refused to inform the citizens "when" it makes a decision so that citizens might know "When" to circulate a petition, thereby leaving citizens to play the game with only the first two shells. The council says that it's too complex to understand the real date "when" it makes a decision and, not wanting to give citizens bad advice, it simply can't tell the citizens "when" they have a right to circulate a petition for a public vote.
That's exactly what happened to the petition to refer the Chestnut Street project for a public vote and, I dare say, it's unlikely to be the last time the council takes that position on future council decisions that may be controversial.
I wonder who is having more fun with this game of local politics, the citizens or the council?
Praise for candidate's property
To the editor:
I am a tenant in one of Mr. Roger Jeck's properties. You can not tell from the outside, however the interior has been fully renovated with safety in mind.
This property of Roger Jeck's is one of Vermillion's best and most efficient rentals.
Kara M. Brewer
The long and winding road
To the editor:
Yes, I am disappointed. The decision of Vermillion's City Council to again postpone improvements to Chestnut Street is very frustrating to me. I must again inform a good share of my customers, that yes, to deliver their products to me they must either drive their heavy vehicles over an unsafe, unfinished road, or travel through residential Vermillion, and down a hill.
I must tell my employees that to deliver our products, or to deliver our grain to our markets, they must either drive their heavy vehicles over an unsafe, unfinished road, or travel up a hill, and through residential Vermillion.
When talking with my neighbors in "original Vermillion," we must continually concede that safe access to "lower Vermillion" is really not that important to other Vermillion residents.
Growing, living, and working in Vermillion, I have always thought that Vermillion has experienced a certain uniqueness over most mid-size Midwestern towns. Vermillion enjoys the diverse lifeblood of a rural/ag sector, a university/student sector and a retail/commerce business sector. All three contribute a part of what, to me, makes Vermillion such a unique, wonderful place to live.
Perhaps the reason why I feel this is true, is because I have lived all three "lives" of Vermillion. I was born and raised here. My ties to the ag sector don't only include my current business association as one of their local grain elevator owners, but I have worked for farmers in this area since 1978. What teenager in Vermillion in the 70's and 80's didn't "bean walk" or "rogue corn?" I have traveled the business sector via roles from high school as a "main street" pizza guy, projectionist, and bartender, to a post-collegic accountant, to my more 90's experiences as a Vermillion business owner and four year Chamber of Commerce board member.
To round out the third corner of the "Vermillion experience," I was also a four year graduate of the USD business school, and my wife was a USD graduate as well.
Why have I just detailed my "Vermillion resume?" Because, I feel that I have a little insight into what I consider the three key factors of Vermillion's makeup.
After investing my career, business, and children's future here, I also feel I have a legitimate concern over how all three of these "sectors" are affected.
Vermillion's three diversities offer both opportunities and challenges to our community. While some may not see the advantages, I think they are there. The retail/commerce aspects of our community provide not only the resources, conveniently, that we depend on for our daily comfort, but also the jobs which are crucial to our support � support economically for both the individual, via jobs, and for our local businesses, via spending.
The ag sector offers not only population to support our retail businesses for jobs and business, but also supplies our economy with jobs and commerce. Remember, farmers are businesses too, and they provide just as much job opportunity and business spending potential as other business. The USD student sector offers us consumers and employees for our businesses. Each sector has something crucial to offer the other.
Along with opportunity, come challenges. Nowhere, unfortunately, are the challenges more evident than in each sector's various "policy setting" groups.
Does the VACC and VDC understand the needs of the students or farmers? Do the USD Student Association members and Regents understand the frustration of the city's law enforcement or local farmers attempting to drive near campus? Do local farmers and ag businesses recognize the needs of students for local jobs, or for local businesses for local support? Tough challenges, but if resolved diplomatically, well worth the effort to hash out.
So, how does all this relate to the recent city council's decision to still delay action on the Chestnut Street repair? Well, I think the decision to delay is adversely affecting at least two of these sectors.
I have already spoken out on the cost and safety concerns of a Dakota Street route versus a more direct Chestnut Street route for my employees and my customers.
I am somewhat confused by the response I get from some city council members and some Vermillion residents. Do they not want ag products to be sold out of Vermillion? Do they not want ag businesses to travel to Vermillion to sell their grain products, and to buy from Vermillion's retail businesses?
Do they not care about the jobs "original Vermillion's" ag businesses create, or how crucial our continual business is to our local banks and other businesses? Isn't anyone concerned about the current trend of businesses closing and leaving Vermillion?
Relative to that, is anyone concerned about the limited retail options and job opportunities that fewer businesses offer to our USD students?
Delays create continued inconvenience and establish new patterns. Business owners look at the habits of your customers. All individuals of the spending public, look at your spending habits.
As any consumer gets in a habit of spending or buying somewhere else, how easy is it to get them back to their old haunts? Once you lose them, or they get in the habit of dealing with someone else, it is very hard to get them back.
The delay of decent access to "original Vermillion" businesses is affecting these businesses. The longer you prolong the current situation, the more the "original Vermillion" businesses will suffer, and the longer other dependent Vermillion businesses will suffer.
When a Vermillion governing body makes a decision to spend its funds it must take many considerations into effect. I think by the city council investing funds in repairing Chestnut Street it is making an investment to assist not only the ag community, but the Vermillion commercial/retail community as well.
The funds available for this project have already been restricted towards road improvement projects. Can anyone point out a more unsafe road in Vermillion? Can anyone point out a road in Vermillion, which when improved, would help out both the ag and business communities more than at Chestnut Street?
Delays cost money, both in divergent business spending patterns, and in inflationary costs. All of the motions I witnessed at the latest city council meeting, that were either voted upon and/or discussed, appeared to delay the whole project significantly.
I, with some amusement, watched the motion to delay this project occur almost immediately after a discussion on why this project has been delayed for the last 13 to 15 years!
Fifteen years is a long time. At what point do we stop doubting the intentions and abilities of our own city employees and aldermen. When will we finally accept the determinations made by retained engineers and attorneys, hired specifically to provide us with their expertise?
At the last city council meeting, if one were to listen to the opponents of the currently approved Chestnut Street project, you would be led to believe that all individuals previously associated with developing this plan were misguided and not acting with the best interests of the community.
I, for one, cannot believe that even to a small degree. I will say though, that if we are not going to listen to the city's own paid specialists, then we as a community are wasting a lot of time and money. When will this trend stop?
Rhetoric by a few city council members and a handful of adjoining landowners has led the city council to believe that the MAJORITY of the Vermillion residents do not support good access to Vermillion, and our local ag community and ag businesses.
Please help us all out and contact your city council representative to let them know if you support these issues. I think both the ag sector and they would appreciate it.
One additional point of clarification I want to make after attending last Monday's city council meeting. I still feel strongly that Alderman Yelverton should abstain from voting on any motions relating to the Chestnut Street project. She is an adjoining landowner, and while I feel it is important to hear her views and opinions on Chestnut Street issues, I do not feel she should elect to vote on such issues.
I am not stating this based on the legality of conflict of interest, I simply state this on the basis of what I think is appropriate, and what is not. My reason for rehashing this subject is that I want to make it clear that I have not ever intentionally stated or implied that Alderman Yelverton has acted improperly or in conflict of interest.
I simply feel that in a situation such as this, she should choose to abstain to eliminate all possibility of conflict of interest. This is what I would ask of my representative. It is very obvious in her comments that she believes an improved road will bring increased traffic speed, lighting, and noise to her area.
I also hope that by my comments I have not seemed unappreciative of those city council members, Vermillion organizations such as the VACC and VDC, and yes, even individual USD students, that have shown their support for acting upon this project. Their collective efforts and support are greatly appreciated.
In order to assist the city council in determining "public opinion" on this topic, we will offer "signature lists" of support at both Vermillion Fertilizer Company and Vermillion Fertilizer & Grain, if you would care to express your support. Again, we are located in the developing "original Vermillion" area, at 611 and 806 W. Broadway.
Vermillion Fertilizer & Grain