OpEd: Dixmoor has a long way to go but progress is being made (Dixmoor, IL) — Politicians often talk about what they will do on “Day One” of their administration. On my first day upon becoming mayor of Dixmoor on May 13, 2021, I could not even get into Village Hall.
The doors were locked and the keys were gone. My Trustees and I had to break into the building. Once we got inside, we discovered computers were taken, security cameras were gone, and personnel files were missing.
There were no passwords provided for any of the remaining computers. It took about a month to get at least some of the passwords for the computers and the rest of the computers had to be hacked just to get into them.
The phone lines were corrupt and non-functional. There were all kinds of missing equipment in the Public Works Department and much of the equipment left behind was broken.
The Police Department was in complete disarray. There were badges missing including the Chief of Police badge. There was only one squad car for the entire police department and numerous police vests were missing.
The Village finances were a total mess. Money was being spent without Board permission and there was zero accountability for how taxpayer funds were being spent.
Our first day in office, and many of the days that followed, was spent just trying to establish a functional government in Dixmoor. It took time and it took a lot of effort but eventually, we were able to begin to make real progress.
We got the computers up and running. We fixed the phone lines. We replaced missing police vests and got our officers new badges. The Village now has 10 squad cars in the police department and our Public Works Department has a pickup truck, bobcat and new grasscutters.
We have fixed problems with water bills and now the right bills are going to the right customers. Our Village Clerk Juanita Darden and our Deputy Village Clerk Quandra Craig are following through with our commitment to be transparent by responding to FOIAs in a timely manner.
For the first time in a long time the Village of Dixmoor is moving in a positive direction. This is not to say that everything has been positive. Since becoming Mayor, we have had 40-45 water main breaks including the major crisis last October when we lost water service for nearly two weeks.
But working with the EPA and the folks at Robinson Engineering we are getting closer than ever to the permanent resolution to the water issues that have plagued Dixmoor for far too long.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly secured a $2 million grant to address the water infrastructure issues. The $2 million grant is going to fund the installation of a new distribution water main, enabling the Village to cut and cap the nine water lines buried 30 feet under I-57.
I am thankful to Congresswoman Kelly, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State Representative Will Davis, EPA officials Dwayne Booker and Mike Brown the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and our Trustees for everything they are doing to help our Village. We need another $18 million to do all of the work we need done and hopefully we can secure the additional funding we need in the near future.
And as we continue to make these infrastructure improvements, we are making progress in bringing new businesses to our community. We have a strip mall on Route 147 between Oakley Street and Lebitt Street in the works, which we hope will be breaking ground before the fall.
We are in talks for an assisted living complex on Route 142 and Woods Street and we have other economic development projects we are discussing.
I invite anyone looking to locate a business in a community with a great work force to consider locating in Dixmoor. My Trustees and I will work with you to make it as easy as possible to get your business up and running.
And to the public officials representing the Village of Dixmoor, I humbly ask you to keep working on the funding we need to fix our 100-year-old water system. The better infrastructure we have, the easier it will be for us to continue to attract new businesses and build up our community. We have come a long way in a short period of time, but we still have a long way to go, but with the help of private developers and our elected officials, we can overcome the adversity of the past and make Dixmoor a truly great place to live and work.
OpEd: Dixmoor has a long way to go but progress is being made