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Champaign County Board Honors Four Departing Members

The Champaign County Board has passed a resolution honoring four members whose terms are now up, including longtime Democratic members in District 9.

Steve Beckett was sworn in in 2000, and sat on six committees. He also served on a citizens' panel that sought funds to rebuild the County Courthouse Clock and Bell Tower. Beckett said it is an example of what the community can do for itself.

"It's absolutely amazing. The Clock and Bell Tower family that we gathered, and that we were able to raise the money that we were - and that were we able to get that project done because there are a lot of naysayers that said 'or right, you're really going to rebuild that tower," Beckett said.

Beckett said he is also proud of intangibles, like plans to re-draw county board districts, and an upcoming ballot item concerning the county auditor.

The other District 9 Democrat, Barb Wysocki, served 12 years on the board. In 2005, the former County Board Chair oversaw 'Big. Small. All.' a three-year visioning process for different interest groups.

"Some of these goals have been picked up by smaller organizations or groups like schools, park districts, and the like," Wysocki said. "And I think it really gave a lot more ownership to broader community needs in Champaign County."

Wysocki said she is the most pleased with budgetary planning efforts on the board, including building maintenance. Democrats Chris Alix and James Quisenberry will succeed Wysocki and Beckett next month.

One departing Champaign County Board member said one of the toughest votes in his four years was approving a consultant for the Champaign County Nursing Home. But District 6 Democrat Matthew Gladney said he is happy the board brought in Management Performance Associates, putting the home on the right track.

"It's still got a lot of kinks to iron out, but I think that it's a jewel in the crown of Champaign County," Gladney said. "That is something that I hope the next board looks at maintaining and improving as I think the board has done over the last few years here."

The consulting firm reports improvement in census numbers in recent months. Pattsi Petrie will take over for Gladney in District 6 when the new county board meets next month.

The lone Republican to leave the board is Chris Doenitz of Mahomet, who after 8 years on the board was defeated in the primary by Stephanie Holderfield in District 1. Doenitz said he hopes the new board remembers rural parts of the county.

"There is an area outside of Champaign-Urbana besides municipaities," he said. "There is a rural area out there that needs to be represented, and that's what I've tried to do. And I hope the next board remembers that. Especially if we go to 22 members."

This month's voter-approved resolution suggests the county board be reduced by six members, while increasing the number of board districts from 9 to 11.

Categories: Government, Politics