A Message From the Mayor
Happy New Year 2020!
As I look back on 2019, I can't help but think it's been a year that attests to the heritage and hard work Belleville and its residents are known for. We've made continued progress on several projects throughout the city, have welcomed new businesses and residents, and continue to be a cornerstone of the economic vitality of southwestern Illinois. That success is due to the supportive, positive, and energetic residents and business owners we have who are dedicated to making Belleville a great place to work, live, and grow.
We've had great media coverage this year for Belleville. Several large news organizations have picked up stories about how local citizens are reinvesting here, demonstrating they are proud to be part of this community. In fact, in October, Belleville was listed as one of the "next hot spots for development" by the St. Louis Business Journal.
We have excellent schools, healthcare organizations, and businesses too! When the State of Illinois released school report cards at the end of October, all schools within the City of Belleville were ranked as commendable, meaning there are no underperforming student groups within our schools. Additionally, Belleville Memorial Hospital is ranked as the fifth-best hospital in the St. Louis region by U.S. News & World Report, and Belleville Shoe Manufacturing Co./Belleville Boot was named as one of the largest defense contractors in the St. Louis area again by the St. Louis Business Journal.
We've also seen updates and improvements throughout the city and new businesses open. Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, Nester Realty, and Circa Boutique, just to name a few, completed major facade improvements, updating and modernizing the look of Main Street. Collector’s Corner moved locations, and new restaurants and businesses like C & C Food for Your Soul, Sugar Fix Bakery, and Events at the U now call Belleville home. Additionally, the Belleville Community Development Corporation (BCDC) completed the renovation of a once dilapidated single-family home at 319 S. 9th Street and continues to improve that neighborhood by renovating the property directly across the street. BCDC is dedicated to revitalizing Belleville neighborhoods and provides quality homes to those in need. Likewise, Neighbors for Renewal, is renovating a home on Vander Court, taking another home in severe disrepair and rehabilitating it so that those in need might be able to afford a home. This attests to the dedication of our residents and business owners, who are proud to be part of the fabric of Belleville.
Arts and culture are very much alive in Belleville, and the impact of those projects continues to gain momentum. We are not only home to Art on the Square, one of the nation's top art shows, and a staple for the City of Belleville that will be going on its 19th year, but we have new projects growing like the Belleville Mural Project, which installed three murals throughout the city this year and intends to complete more this coming year.
We have a strong partnership with Scott Air Force Base, and I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to U. S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons for delivering our keynote address at our 21st Annual Veterans Day Ceremony. There is a very strong history and culture of military service and involvement in our community, and we are pleased to have such a strong tradition honoring all the men and women who have served our country. We are also happy that many retired military members choose to stay here in Belleville and call it home.
We've seen our annual Christkindlmarkt grow every year, further helping to establish Belleville as a year-round destination. I extend my sincere appreciation to Carole Piontkowsky and all the volunteers who made the Christkindlmarkt a success. Once again, the Belleville Exchange Club did an excellent job decorating our Veterans Memorial Fountain. Special thanks to our Downtown Belleville Optimist Club for organizing a great Christmas Parade and Santa on the Square, and finally, a big thanks to our Belleville merchants for decorating their shops and adjusting their schedules. All these wonderful contributions helped make 2019 a successful year. Thank you to our dedicated city staff and countless volunteers who contribute in so many ways to make Belleville a great place. Thanks, too, to everyone who supports our local businesses.
When I look around the city this time of year, I can't help but be grateful because it truly represents the kind of people we have here in Belleville! I've seen steady, consistent progress throughout 2019 that has allowed Belleville to remain strong and viable, and that's because of the dedicated, positive, and energetic people who are working together to make Belleville the best we can be! I wish all of you a very happy, safe, and prosperous 2020!