MOUNT CARMEL — Joe Judge plans on tackling two infrastructure projects out of the gate as Mayor of Mount Carmel.
With just a week under his belt as Mayor, Judge said the Uptown stop-sign project and the Oak-Street sidewalk are two of the infrastructure projects he hopes to have done this summer.
The Uptown stop-sign project is to be completed this summer, with the Oak-Street sidewalk work to take place a bit later in 2019. The sidewalk on Oak Street was approved for construction by city officials last summer, but often state approval can extend the date that crews begin construction.
“We’re anticipating, if there are no hiccups from the state of Illinois, starting that later this year, in the late summer,” Judge said, adding that a proposal has been sent to the state that includes some changes.
Also along Oak Street, Judge said one of the next infrastructure projects he plans to get to work on is the Oak Street resurfacing. In the final design phase, Judge said the project will see Oak Street resurfaced from Third Street to College. “As you drive down through there you can feel those joints have been separated,” Judge said.
The idea would be to re-pour asphalt there and reinforce the road.
Aside from infrastructure, Judge said his first week in office was partially spent out of town, but focused on the city.
He attended a seminar for new mayors in Springfield hosted by the Illinois Municipal League.
“They were very excited that I was there,” Judge said, adding that he was able to make many contacts there with officials in towns about the size of Mount Carmel. Many of those cities Judge networked with are also border communities, he said.
The idea for Judge, at least in part, was to attempt to speak with leaders from other southern-Illinois cities and gain an understanding of what works and what may not work based on the experiences of others. Some of the seminar dealt with legislation in Springfield and how it will effect communities around the state. Mayors can even speak with their general assembly representatives, state house and senate alike.
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“Mount Carmel is lucky,” Judge explained, “we have a very good relationship with Darren Bailey.”
Not all Illinois communities have that, he said, but the Illinois Municipal League can help bridge the gap between hometown and statehouse.
One example Judge gave of the IML helping Mount Carmel with its connections was when the state legislature attempted to do away with enterprise zones. Mount Carmel had one, as it does today, and did not agree with the policy. The city got the IML involved and with their help, the city kept its enterprise zone.
“Which was great, we needed to keep it,” Judge said.
He likened working with other municipalities in Illinois to working with Wabash County.
“We’re all in this together here,” he said.