Updated Thu, Mar 20, 2014 11:49 am
After years of hardship, Jacksonville’s new mayor says it’s going to take a community effort to get the village back on track financially and boost morale.
The former village fiscal officer and mayor were both charged with using village funds for personal use in years past. The village’s financial woes also led to the disbandment of its police department last September. The village’s new mayor Tony McNickle took office on Jan. 1 and says that the past actions of elected officials is “water under the bridge.”
“The town’s ready for changes,” McNickle said. “Change is a good thing.”
McNickle said that he and current village officials have a positive outlook for Jacksonville’s future and are working to secure funding for improvements.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, members voted to submit an application for a Community Development Block Grant to get a new control valve for Jacksonville’s water tower and for paving. According to McNickle, the village hasn’t received a Community Development Block Grant in at least six years.
The village is also applying for grants through the Rocky Community Improvement Fund and The Athens Foundation to replace water meters and get much-needed equipment for the town.
With little money to work with, McNickle said that he’s approached several businesses in the county about donating items to the village. He said that Lowe’s in Athens donated more than $600 in tools to the village, plus fluorescent lighting and other supplies. McNickle said that Sears also donated a 200-amp battery charger for the village’s dump truck.
McNickle said he’s also trying to secure donations or funds to replace faded road signs and to obtain a metal detector to help aid in locating underground infrastructure when there are water leaks.
With the disbandment of the village’s police department, McNickle said it’s going to take everyone banding together to keep the village safe. During the meeting, a curfew for children under the age of 16 was adopted. The curfew is in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. McNickle said that if children are seen out on the streets after curfew, residents are to contact McNickle. He said that the curfew will be amended during special events such as the Old Settlers Reunion.
In addition to watching out for one another, McNickle said that residents can help the village by simply paying their utility bills and taxes in order to get the village on good financial ground.
“There are good people here,” McNickle said. “I’ve got a good group of council members and you couldn’t ask for a better fire department.”
McNickle emphasized that it’s important to keep a positive attitude to get the village moving forward and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
“I compare the past problems of the village to potholes,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of potholes, but they can be smoothed out.”
He emphasized that it will take the entire community working together to improve the village.
“This is not a one-person job,” the mayor said. “It’s going to be a community job.”
Jacksonville Village Council also recognized former Council members Jay Chapman and David Moleski for their years of service to the village. Chapman served on Council for over 40 years and was interim mayor in 2013. Moleski served on Council for more than 20 years.