A Pro-Growth Investment in the Future of Sullivan

There are rumors that Titus Manor, after being purchased by the City of Sullivan, will be tore down, as well as the Civic Center, to be replaced by a larger, better facility. 

The Civic Center should have been replaced a decade or more ago. Titus Manor, although a historic building, has serious issues after being the home of hundreds and hundreds of our seniors over 50 years. In fact, the estimated cost to taxpayers to fix the Manor are upwards of $1 million dollars.

I do know that multiple permanent fixes were made to the Civic Center over the last few decades, and multiple contractors had the opportunity to finish the job. None of those permanent fixes were really permanent, as so many of us know. To fix the problems at the Civic Center as it is today are upwards of millions as well.

Over this last winter, the Civic Center facility was basically shutdown due to a broken boiler because there were no parts available because it was so old. The water was warmer than the air, I heard.

Simply put, we need new facilities in Sullivan, for our changing population, for our changing economy and for our changing needs. Seniors, retirees, veterans, and those living with chronic illnesses utilize both spaces, which is also why it is so difficult to even begin having this type of conversation, let alone start developing plans for the future of our community.

These spaces and facilities could work much better for all of the people that utilized them before while being an even better resource for our children and their children after they decide to remain in Sullivan after graduation.

If this complex is designed with larger community and economic set of attainable goals in mind, it can:

  • Help lure new business to the area.
  • Provide better opportunities for current small businesses to flourish.
  • Create a better environment for new small business start ups.
  • Grow families from children that decide to stay in Sullivan.
  • Bring in new families that want to become part of the Sullivan community and call this area home.

Immediately after hearing this idea, I see real opportunities to house specific agencies there, like Central Illinois Public Transit. This is a lifeline for so many residents in Sullivan. I used it myself when I first moved back to town, especially during the winter months.

Connecting the facility to The Little Theatre on the Square only makes sense. We have theatre education and dance classes already happening on the square. Being a bridge between our public schools and the community, I could see this facility playing an essential role. 

Collaboration helps build more opportunities. And, let’s face it, Sullivan needs more opportunities, for the town and definitely for our children.

With pro-active, forward-leaning leadership in both Washington and Springfield, there could be real linkages to federal and state monies and resources to decrease the cost to Moultrie County taxpayers while providing more opportunities for local, reputable contractors, high school students and workers wanting to learn the trades. 

If we’re going to rebuild our country, why not start in Sullivan?

That’s why the community has a robust Sullivan Area Chamber, which has inspired the Sullivan Spark initiative. I think we’re ready for this. I know we’re ready for this.

Sullivan is missing a U of I Extension Office, which provides ag education and other training throughout Illinois. Offices are currently offering new resources in industrial hemp education and training

I would love to see EIU and Lakeland get their foot in here as well. The EIU dual credit program offers students real opportunities to get their foot in the door of the university experience. Lakeland offers CNA, nursing and skilled training and trades coursework and certifications. 

Why would we not offer these two blocks from our high schools, connecting students directly to better paying jobs and careers when they get their high school diplomas, if not before?

My dream should be the reality, where motivated students walk down the aisle, pick up their diploma, and attached to it is CNA license or an apprenticeship. 

These are ideas that will make Sullivan and other towns growing, thriving communities where children graduate, stay, buy a house, and later on build a house. We would all be better for it when we invest in each other.

Let’s think about what Sullivan needs to make life better for those who are here and for those who are growing up here as well. We need to make it even better for those who are children so that we give them reasons to plant root and seed here. That is how communities grow again.

Rural America is my home. Sullivan is my hometown. I deeply cherish my upbringing, our culture, and see brighter, more productive, more prosperous days ahead. We need only invest in that future to make it a reality.

We won’t get there by doing the same things and expecting different results. 

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