2022 award winners were recognized at ICON’s Annual Celebration on November 28, 2022.
The Good Neighbor awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses who make an objective, measurable positive impact on the quality of life for Springfield residents in inner city older neighborhoods.
- Community Organization
- Public Service
Do you know of a person, organization, business or public servant who is making a real difference in Springfield’s neighborhood? Please consider nominating them!
Become an ICON Sponsor
Sponsorship opportunities are available year-round as an Annual Sponsor or for the ICON Annual Celebration, held in November of each year.
Download our flyer with sponsorship opportunities…
2022 Award Winners
City of Springfield Urban Forestry Commission – Public Service
In response to local outcry at tree loss in the city, the Urban Forestry Commission was reestablished in 2019. This commission clearly understands the critical importance of the urban forest as a major workhorse in cooling urban temperatures, beautification, absorbing carbon and flooding. To wake up each day to that sense of grace and beauty that only trees can provide strengthens our spirit and reminds us of nature’s delicate balance we depend on.
In just two years, under the leadership of Jan Von Qualen, the team managed to return Springfield to its Tree City status, facilitate the passage of a strong tree protection ordinance, develop youth and community outreach, distribute 1,000 trees to the public, and secure a 20,000-tree survey grant for one quadrant from Morton Arboretum; spearheaded by Susan Allen, written by Jan Von Qualen and reviewed by city arborist Jeff Reim.
With the first quadrant completed, the city arborist now has a clear picture of which tree species are highest in percentage (maples covering 34%), which trees need care or removal and how to diversify future plantings. This comprehensive database allows the city arborist to quickly track tree locations, pruning and removal needs and where to plant new trees.
The high value of mature trees demonstrated in their beautification benefit, high carbon and heat absorption make locating older trees that need treatment and pruning a priority. This process preserves them instead of allowing them to turn into problem trees requiring removal. This survey, in just one quadrant, found a total benefit of $350,512 per year in areas of energy, air quality, stormwater/CO absorption, and city aesthetics. Through thoughtful and considerate collaboration between their members, the Urban Forestry Commission has established a model of cooperation and long range planning for the city.
The DeWeese Family – Individual
Kurt DeWeese is no stranger to the Springfield City Council or to zoning issues, and he has been an outspoken opponent of up-zoning and spot zoning that would damage the character of residential neighborhoods.
So when he spoke against a zoning change to allow a parking lot on the southeast corner of Lawrence and MacArthur, it was no surprise that his well-researched history and arguments against the rezoning would help the council decide to deny the changes.
What may have been a surprise to many was what happened next. The DeWeese family purchased the vacant lot, located just two blocks from their home in the Historic West Side Neighborhood Association, keeping it safe from future commercial development.
The lot has since been improved with several flower beds, thanks to the planning and efforts of Diana DeWeese. And their regular mowing, which is accomplished by Kurt and their daughter, Marissa, taking turns, has become an opportunity for nearby neighbors to gather and keep in touch. We’ve heard rumors that additional landscaping may happen in the future, and we’re looking forward to seeing what develops.
Kudos to the DeWeese family for putting their time and resources to work supporting the neighborhood-friendly zoning for which they have regularly advocated. We’d love to see more neighbors purchasing and caring for nearby vacant lots within the city.
All In One Laundry Center & Services – Business
Pamela and Robert Frazier have and continue to grow their businesses all while empowering their staff members and giving back to their community.
The submitter wrote: “I have witnessed their customers’ commitment to All In One as their Neighborhood Laundry Center with offerings of coin laundry, wash and fold, dry cleaning alterations and commercial laundry services.
“First, their Commitment to Community is their goal with diversity and inclusion leading the way. Their customers frequent their facility and arrive via the bus stop located in front of the building, walk in, bike, taxi, Uber, or Lyft. You could set your watch by many of their customers, as their frequency to the laundry center does not vary.
“Also, many of their loyal customers even have a washer machine and dryer at their home but simply come to the facility for the camaraderie. Whether it is to take in rival game between the Cubs and Cardinals or watching the Super Bowl.”
All In One continues to raise the bar with exemplary customer service that simply cannot be matched. Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, All In One offered a $1.00 per load services. To date, they have hosted Free Laundry and Literacy Days and recently a Professional Clothing Drive. All In One Laundry Center is truly a Good Neighbor.
Wooden It Be Lovely – Community Organization
Wooden It Be Lovely offers hope and employment to women healing from lives of poverty, addiction, and abuse. They do this by providing transitional employment, mentoring, recovery tools, education, community networking, and a safer community. Wooden It Be Lovely women are employed to refurbish and sell donated wooden furniture, sew unique products and craft hand poured candles. This transitional employment empowers women to move towards economic stability and an enhanced wellbeing for themselves and their children.
This organization supports women in our community but they have also invested in our inner core through their home base at Douglas Avenue Methodist Church. In 2022 they opened a renovated home on South Grand and just this month opened a retail business. Their efforts strengthen the neighborhood in a main corridor of our city, and their proactive mission of offering hope is something everyone should strive for every day.
Rev. Margaret ann Jessup was recently nominated for Springfield First Citizen award. Her nominator shared she is “a visionary focused on providing a circle of hope and healing for the women in her program.” The Rev. Margaret Ann Jessup said a key reason why the greater Springfield community continues to support Wooden It Be Lovely is because it helps vulnerable women participate in their own healing.
ICON is celebrates Wooden It Be Lovely by awarding the Good Neighbor Award as a Community Organization.
2021 Award Winners
Misty Buscher, Treasurer – Public Service
Springfield city Treasurer Misty Buscher is very deserving of this award for the following reasons:
Misty had worked for over two decades in the banking industry and has chosen to dedicate herself to public service.
She is supportive of organizations working to promote gender, racial and economic equality in our community.
Misty has reached out to ICON members to ask about housing issues, encourages ICON and neighborhood associations to stay focused on the needs of the inner city older neighborhoods.
As City Treasurer, Misty has implemented stricter policies for the collection of unpaid fines from parking tickets and ordinance violations.
She has implemented policies to track those who owe the city money and ensures that those who do have city debt cannot work for the city, receive building permits, and or apply for a city license until those outstanding debts are paid in full.
Misty has created a level of transparency throughout her time as city treasurer about the duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer’s Office, which is commendable.
Misty has been very willing and supportive throughout her tenure in helping the ICON Problem Property Committee in their research of many different topics involving problem properties and has been timely in her response.
In closing, city treasurer Misty Buscher is sincere, displays a high level of energy with integrity, and has earned the trust and respect from all members of the Coalition of Inner City Older Neighborhoods.
Lynn Puls – Individual
Lynn is thoughtful, caring, strives to provide service for her clients and people in the neighborhood. Does fundraising and gives her time to Animal Protective League. She takes care of many people and animals. Never stops.
This past week she maintained her salon business while working daily at the Annual Upscale Resale held in the old Bergner’s to raise money for APL. Sale ended Saturday and she worked with Lincoln LIbrary (the public library) to donate leftover books, movies, DVDs, and CDs to the “Friends of Lincoln Library” for their sale(s) to raise money to improve the public library. The next day (Sunday) she was at the salon to give a shampoo, cut, and blow dry to a woman whose family was in town for a memorial to her deceased husband (free). She does this ALL THE TIME. Provided free housing and health care to a tenant who could not afford it for over a year.
Cafe Moxo – Business
Cafe Moxo is not only a member of the “Adams Family,” partnering with other businesses to keep downtown vibrant, but they’ve really shown themselves to be wonderful community partners. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Cafe Moxo has prioritized putting the community first in the form of food giveaways to those in need. At a time when many restaurants are struggling to stay afloat, Cafe Moxo made tremendous efforts to coordinate with other businesses and organizations across the County to provide meals to people in need. I believe they embody what it means to be a Good Neighbor.
Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln – Community Organization
The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln is a public charity that grants funding to services and sponsored activities that improve the lives of our citizens and to organizations that advance the common good of Springfield and its surrounding area. CFLL also awards scholarships to young people pursuing post-high school education.
The Foundation thrives as a source for philanthropists to set up independent funds who then make awards to worthy community groups and endeavors and/or to organizations improving the lives of children, youth and families.
CFLL has its roots in the Sangamon County Foundation, started in 1924. Today, the Foundation’s philanthropy in Springfield and surrounding area is perhaps best known since 2003, the year the CFLL Board of Directors hired John Stremsterfer as Executive Director and embarked on an expansion of both its donor base and funding of community services.
Most recently, CFLL initiated the Next 10, a community visioning project for the greater Springfield area. The Next 10 actively and widely solicited community input through conversations and and on-line surveys. Next 10’s strategy is to make the future much brighter for Springfield residents!
The Next 10 is truly a Good Neighbor to ICON’s mission and advocacy. The Next 10‘s resounding call for a Master Plan for our downtown, renovation of the State Fairgrounds so that there are daily, year round activities and attractions for all residents, expansion of cultural events into neighborhoods and with performers that reflect the rich diversity of Springfield residents, focused investment in the physical and economic structures of the City’s Eastside, creation of a community based youth-work program, redevelopment of the Pillsbury plant site, and re-use of the Benedictine campus are crucial to the revitalization, maintenance, and preservation of Springfield’s older sectors.
CFLL, through the vision of the Next 10, and like ICON, advocates with City leaders to direct resources into these unique and historical areas of our City in order to improve the lives of residents, the livability of entire neighborhoods, and the reputation, character, and prominence of Springfield.
The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln has demonstrated initiative, leadership, and dedication in the work to make Springfield a more livable city for all residents, a more appealing city for economic development, and a more engaging city for visitors and tourists. The Next 10 collaboration is a call to action: Improve upon the “bones we have;” make them more desirable and more enjoyable. That is sustainability. A tip of the hat to a Good Neighbor, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.
2020 Award Winners
Bob Vose – Individual
Bob Vose has been active in his neighborhood and the Springfield community all his life. He was a sports official for high school athletics and played Santa Claus each holiday season for the Springfield Recreation Department for 20 years. Bob was first elected to the Springfield City Council as Ward 5 alderman in 1987 and served until 1999.
Bob founded the Monument Ave Restoration Project in 1996 and through fund raising efforts has raised thousands of dollars for several restoration and beautification improvements. He also worked with legislative officials and obtained grants for $125,000 from the State of Illinois for road repaving, lighting and Oak Ridge cemetery entrance work. Bob raises funds annually, and also donates from his own financial resources for decorative ceremonial banners and has them mounted on the light poles around Monument Ave. and North Grand Ave. He has done this for over 20 years. Bob is one of the original members of the Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation and is still active today. In 2013 he encouraged his grandson to help beautify the entrance to the cemetery as his eagle-scout project.
Bob continues to be an advocate for Ward 5 and regularly reminds the City of Springfield of their responsibility for the care and maintenance of streets and city railroad right of ways. The City of Springfield rededicated First Street and North Grand Ave. as “Bob Vose Corner” in 2019. Bob is truly a good neighbor.
Dumb Records – Business
Dumb Records, led by owners Brian Galecki and Jeff Black, has been an amazing community force and partner during COVID. They are part of a young generation of business owners in the music and arts space who are leading by example to help us all embrace the societal changes taking place. Their all-ages music venue and record shop was an early, welcoming, safe space for the teenage organizers of one of the first and largest Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Springfield.
Dumb Records organized a later-summer, downtown-wide pinball tournament between business owners to help alleviate some of the stress of trying to operate small businesses during COVID and build up the sense of community. The tournament gave fellow business owners a different, fun way to express themselves, and it was a great way to show the benefits of locating a business in a neighborhood like ours.
Brian and Jeff’s willingness to create shenanigans, spread positive vibes, bring all ages together, and good-naturedly lift up everyone who needs lifting makes them a very Good Neighbor.
Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso – Public Service
Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso co-sponsored the no-sticker leaf pick up program, an important service for older tree-lined neighborhoods as well the entire City. DiCenso effectively uses social media to keep constituents informed, and is incredibly available by phone as well for constituent requests (and complaints!) in Ward 6. DiCenso initiates bi-annual Ward 6 clean-ups, brings food, and puts on the gloves and totes a bag to help pick up trash! She consistently attends Ward 6 neighborhood meetings and events.
DiCenso is a vocal proponent at City Council to decrease speeding in residential neighborhoods, to expand waste haulers’ pick up requirements, and to expand neighborhood policing. She advocates for strengthening neighborhoods by providing adequate funding in the city budget. We appreciate DiCenso’s commitment to valuing, honoring and promoting the racial, ethnic, social, economic and political diversity of individuals and communities who have been historically excluded from decision making and full inclusion in our city’s growth. DiCenso’s service on City Council has fostered the perspective that when we all do better, we all do better.
Watch Polly Poskin, ICON Vice-Chair and President of the Harvard Park Neighborhood Association, and Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso talk about public support for neighborhoods and what it means to be a visionary city leader…
Westminster Presbyterian Church – Community Organization
In August 2020, Westminster Presbyterian Church launched its Steadfast Neighbor campaign. This campaign consists of a $1.4M investment into not only the church grounds, but also its surrounding neighbors. Over the next 10 years, Westminster will invest more than 1/3 of that amount, $450,000, in properties within the neighborhood. This includes days of volunteer service as well as 50/50 matching grants up to $1,000 to make improvements to homes in the area.
Volunteers came together to tackle landscaping, cleaning, and construction needs in the neighborhood. The church is committed to staying in the Historic Westside Neighborhood and is making a substantial investment not typically seen by many neighborhoods from the congregations in their area. Westminster Presbyterian Church is the epitome of being a good neighbor.
2019 Award Winners
Paul O’Shea – Individual
Paul O’Shea is the quintessential Good Neighbor for the city of Springfield. As a life-long resident of Springfield, Paul remains a strong voice for moving the city forward.
The list of Paul’s professional achievements, civic memberships, and well-deserved awards would stretch across a football field.
It’s no surprise that he is an SJ-R First Citizen, the Preservationist Advocate of the Year, and Downtown Advocate of the Year.
Paul is an architect and sees his city through the core values of an architect: big picture, teamwork, and integrity.
No matter what community event we are attending, Paul is there — ICON monthly meetings, Enos Park Home Tours, Comprehensive Plan Community Feedback sessions and especially Sliders Baseball!
At ICON, we value Paul because of his tireless advocacy for smart city planning, for the benefits of a professional city planner dedicated to Springfield, for a stronger landscape ordinance and for the integrity of the older neighborhoods.
Juan Huerta, Director of Community Relations, Springfield, IL – Public Service
Juan Huerta has served the City for five years as the Director of Community Relations, promoting healthy community relations in Springfield.
His department promotes a just and caring community with only three employees. Responsibilities include working with federal, state, city, and private entities to meet the needs of homeless and economically disadvantaged residents. His office resolves Fair Housing issues with counseling services, referrals, and education for tenants and landlords.
Juan helped establish and oversee the winter warming and summer cooling centers. He personally gets to know homeless citizens and is involved in developing appropriate programs to address their problems. He has brought enthusiasm and effectiveness to enforcement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Juan managed the Youth AmeriCorps Program in 2019 and will receive another grant for 2020. Sixteen youth received mentoring and learned computer programming and coding, leadership skills, and disaster corps training — and they served food to the homeless and formed a basketball league.
His dedication to Springfield’s benefit and encouragement of others extends beyond his job. Juan has served on boards for the Boys and Girls Club, St. John’s Hospital, and SING (Shifting Into New Gear). Juan’s personal enthusiasm and compassion, both on the job and in the community, make him a Good Neighbor to all citizens of Springfield.
Tiffany Roe and Litina Carnes, Land of Lincoln Bookshare – Community Organization
Tiffany Roe and Litina Carnes, the founders of the Land of Lincoln Bookshare, are passionate about books and reading. They both have families and full-time jobs, yet devote a lot of time to raising awareness about their nonprofit. They accept donated books, which they organize and store, then later distribute throughout Springfield — for free — to people who cannot easily access the public library. They give to schools, shelters, breadlines, food banks, prisons, Farmer’s Market customers, and Little Free Libraries.
Tiffany and Litina are both committed to advocating for the importance of reading in inner city and underserved neighborhoods and work to educate the community about their mission. At a recent Lincoln Library board of trustees meeting, they talked about “book deserts” on the east side of Springfield. Two of Springfield’s library branch closings occurred on the east side, and few of our city’s Little Free Libraries are on that side of town.
Tiffany and Litina help to keep Little Free Libraries and neighborhood book exchanges filled. They monitor the neighborhood libraries in Springfield and even know what kinds of books are most popular in each neighborhood.
They are excited about bringing more neighborhood libraries to Springfield and finding ways for lower income neighborhoods to afford their construction. Businesses can participate by acting as collection spots for books, and community members are encouraged to serve on their board of directors.
Tiffany and Litina maintain a website at LOLBookshare.com, where there is an updated map of Little Free Libraries in the Springfield area. Their Facebook page, facebook.com/LOLBookshare, is regularly updated to promote reading for everyone, but especially for children.
Bruce and Cheryl Schempp, Kennedy-Schempp Properties, Inc. – Business
Kennedy Schempp Properties provides quality rental property and professional property management services in Springfield.
The owners, Bruce and Cheryl Schempp, have rehabilitated many older properties in our neighborhoods over the years – the most prominent being the Schempp-Conkling house at 812 S 4th Street, South of the Dana Thomas House.
Bruce and Cheryl aren’t just landlords, they also manage property in Springfield for other landlords, serving as a model for effective property management. Out of all the services they provide, “finding quality renters” is listed on their website as the #1 issue!
They specialize in helping their clients purchase foreclosed properties that have great potential but deferred maintenance. Purchased at a discount rate, these properties, once rehabilitated, make money for their clients and are good for neighborhoods—both in terms of property values and quality of life.
ICON appreciates good landlords, especially those who take an interest in dilapidated properties that can be saved from demolition, rehabilitated and become assets to the surrounding neighborhood.
Read about Kennedy-Schempp Properties, Inc. at www.KSP.bz
2018 Award Winners
Ivy & Seth Molen, Brick City Apartments & Seth Molen Construction – Business
Improving the future by preserving the past.
Providing the historic heart of Springfield with neighborhood improvements and high-quality apartments, Brick City, LLC believes in improving neighborhoods, as well as preserving historic buildings.
Seth and Ivy put their skills and talents where their hearts are: improving housing in older neighborhoods. Developers and landlords who invest in and preserve our character-filled older properties are valuable neighborhood assets.
The Molens support our community by donating their expertise. When Habitat for Humanity needed assistance creating a taller roof on one of their homes, Seth Molen dedicated his work crew to get the job done so Habitat volunteers could finish the house.
Brick City Apartments recently won the “Private Effort for the Restoration of an Historic Structure or Structures That Includes Residential Use (Multi-Family)” award from the 2018 Springfield Preservation Awards.
From the article in the September 2018 Springfield Business Journal:
With more than a decade of experience in dozens of remodeling projects, contractor Seth Molen explains that what he is most proud of “isn’t any single building, but it is an ongoing effort to build a neighborhood.” His vision for community improvement drives his commitment to provide affordable residential units, supporting both homeownership and investment, by promoting mixed-use development throughout the city. Molen has a progressive view of neighborhoods as places that should meet various diverse needs, with “all the working parts” from housing to retail, commercial and entertainment opportunities available without the need to drive across town.
The Molens’ perspective and work reflects ICON’s mission and vision, and we gratefully honor them with our 2018 Good Neighbor award.
Molly Berns, Director, Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission – Public Service
Molly Berns has been with the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission for over 10 years, serving as the Senior Land Use Planner, Assistant Director, and most recently as the organization’s current Executive Director. With a background in land use, zoning, economic development, and community engagement, she has been a strong supporter of Springfield ICON’s focus on issues impacting our older neighborhoods.
While Assistant Director, Ms. Berns assisted with the operations of the commission and oversaw the comprehensive and strategic planning efforts, and she played a key role in the update of the City of Springfield’s Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in early 2018. As the Senior Planner for Land Use, she personally completed over 750 analyses of zoning cases filed in Sangamon County and the City of Springfield, and led efforts to educate local officials about the zoning process in order to emphasize the importance of independent staff analyses.
As the Executive Director, her championing of the new comprehensive plan and the protection of its integrity has been without peer. She is a stalwart supporter of sound land use and zoning decisions, and is a valuable professional in our community. We believe our community is a better and stronger place for her efforts, and we are very happy to honor her as a 2018 Good Neighbor Awardee!
More information: https://co.sangamon.il.us/departments/m-r/regional-planning-commission
Faith Coalition for the Common Good – Community Organization
The Faith Coalition for the Common Good was founded in 2008 to address injustices of racism and poverty in central Illinois. A group of faith and community leaders believed in a vision for the common good, and their vision is realized through leadership training, relationship development, issue identification and public action. Comprised of 35 congregations, non-profits and union labor organizations, the Coalition partners with a variety of state and national leaders and organizations to bring about systemic change. Through the efforts of the Coalition, members increase their ability to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their communities.
Faith Coalition’s work focuses on workforce diversity and economic equity, reform of the criminal justice system, equitable education funding for all, civic engagement, and immigration reform. The result is wider participation and influence of those most impacted by injustice, greater economic stability, and better education of residents who live in older neighborhoods in Springfield. Their work strengthens neighborhoods, and we honor them for their vision, leadership and dedication to improving the quality of life for Springfield residents.
More information: https://faithcoalition-il.org/
Steve Myers – Individual
Steve Myers is a walking history lesson for Springfield, but he doesn’t live in the past. He is a smiling presence for all of the neighborhoods, helping numerous groups: the Springfield Art Association in Enos Park, Downtown Springfield Inc or Crimestoppers. He respects the past and improves the present. He has new ideas but is also a worker bee. He is certainly the unelected Mayor of downtown, with many people thinking the tall man in the fancy hat must be a VIP. He is, but he never acts like one.
Even in 90 degree weather and wearing a suit he can be found helping to set up tables and chairs for events; using his long arms to give patrons the most bang for their buck for 50-50 raffles; and solving problems.
When Helping Hands was concerned that trash was being dumped near their facility and they might be cited by the City, Steve evaluated the situation and offered a solution. With all of his connections, including volunteering on the Route 66 committee and managing parking lots, he identified a long-standing problem: garbage trucks couldn’t access the garbage. He calmed everyone and talked directly to the garbage company about moving the bins for easier access.
Steve’s a wonderful community advocate, leader, participant, and goodwill ambassador. We are super lucky to have him.
2017 Award Winners
Linda Renehan, Springfield Vintage – Business
Linda is the ultimate Good Neighbor business in downtown Springfield. With singularly great ideas, she always welcomes others into them, generously spreading the attention and the care around the blocks. Just three examples of creative entrepreneurship and community building:
- When she needed publicity photos for Springfield Vintage, she used a downtown business and invited people from downtown businesses and organizations to model. The photos became part of a photo essay and a “Dusting Off Downtown” event that was featured in SO Magazine, bringing publicity and people downtown.
- Linda brought vintage blankets and drinking water from her store so visitors to Artist on the Plaza could sit on the lawn of the Old State Capitol under the shade trees and listen to the music. The Old State Capitol joined in by leaving up tents, and SAAC artists began playing music on the lawn to complete the Lunch on the Lawn experience.
- Linda expanded a fashion show to include all of the downtown shops now selling clothing and to help benefit DSI as an organization in addition to the original organization, PCASA (a downtown non-profit.) She managed 12 other shop owners, the trunk show, and 70 models, to get the word out that clothing is back in downtown stores.
Habitat for Humanity – Community Organization
Habitat for Humanity has been committed to providing affordable housing in Sangamon County since 1989. Since their beginning, they have built or renovated 107 homes in Sangamon County. Habitat for Humanity built a new house at 2112 Black Ave and renovated a home in Enos Park. Habitat for Humanity only serves low-income, hard working families. All of the homes Habitat has built or renovated are in older neighborhoods.
But that’s not all – you may not know that in the past 4 years, Habitat for Humanity has completed over 30 handicap wheelchair ramps. They also built over 14 ramps in 2017 all over Sangamon County. In addition, their Habitat ReStore helps everyone recycle, reuse, and keep tons of useful “stuff” out of the landfill – and out of Springfield basements and alleys!
Joe McMenamin, Alderman, Ward 7 – Individual
Now in his second term as alderman, Joe brings in-depth research, courage, and a passion for responsible use of public money to his work representing citizens of Springfield. He is a much-needed watchdog on the city council for transparency, ethics and citizen input to Springfield City Council decision-making.
Joe’s votes on the Council have championed stronger problem property rules, increased vacant building fees, increased infrastructure funding, private investment in blighted areas, restoring aging commercial corridors, downtown redevelopment, fiscal responsibilty, and Springfield residency for city employees. They reflect a dedication to the welfare of the entire city and have helped to preserve neighborhoods, improve Springfield’s housing stock, maintain infrastructure, rein in sprawl and increase long-term appeal to residents and busineses.
Joe worked with businesses and neighborhoods to attract successful economic development projects that have replaced blighted nuisance properties: HyVee, Dollar General, Binny’s Beverages, Outback and Burlington. Joe was instrumental in addressing serious crime issues at the former MacArthur Park Apartments, setting the stage for a multi-million dollar renovation to create The Boulevard Townhomes, with a new community center, playground, landscaping, lighting, energy efficient HVAC, accessible apartment homes, community garden and after-school program.
As a rental property owner, Joe worked with Historic West Side, keeping neighbors informed and gathering input as he improved his properties and attracted good tenants who are an asset to the neighborhood.
Joe is a charter member of ICON, helped to write ICON bylaws, and has been a vocal proponent of fact-based action to assist ICON in better serving Springfield neighborhoods.
City of Springfield Public Works Housing Inspectors – Public Service
Darryl Harris, Division Manager; Michael Carr, Suzanne Duncan, Michael Gant, Barb Jones, Matt Morrell, Tiffani Selinger, Paula Zink
ICON founder Steve Combs frequently talked about our “neighborhood trifecta” of neighborhood police officer, city legal, and housing inspectors. Our city housing inspectors are often on the front line of defense in our quest to maintain healthy neighborhoods. Dilapidated housing, yards full of solid waste, tall weeds and garbage are their specialty, but they’re also adept at managing relationships with owners to achieve the ultimate goal of turning problem properties into good neighbors.
We are fortunate to have dedicated inspectors who are familiar with their assigned neighborhoods and who work with neighborhood leaders to address issues with properties that can decrease property values and cause unhealthy and stressful quality of life problems for city residents. We honor their commitment and sense of duty to their job – and we especially appreciate their willingness to proactively address housing violations beyond those reported by citizens.
2016 Award Winners
Goodenow Insurance Agency, Inc.
In 2012, Don Goodenow purchased the previous North Branch Library at 719 North Grand Avenue East, which had been closed by the City and left vacant in August of 2005. Don put considerable time and money into renovating the building, leaving as much as possible in the original state. In 2016, he moved his business, the Goodenow Insurance Agency, into the building; it had been vacant for 11 years. The biscuit sign and a safe remain in the building, which is located in the middle of a row of storefronts on North Grand within the boundaries of Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association. As the nominators wrote, “We do not care to think about what might have happened to this building without Don stepping up, and we are most grateful to him for saving the “North Branch” building.
First Church of the Brethern
The First Church of the Brethern has been our primary meeting space for most of ICON’s existence, and we appreciate their hospitality. With this Good Neighbor Award, we recognize them for their work to benefit Springfield and the wider community through hosting the Compass Program, through their diverse and welcoming message, for their Alternative Holiday Fair, and their Pancake and Sausage Breakfast. As a friend wrote on FaceBook, “They care about the community and show it in so many ways.”
Doris Turner, Ward 3 Alderwoman, City of Springfield
Since first elected in 2011, Ward 3 Alderwoman Turner has been a vocal supporter of older neighborhoods.
She has consistently voted in support of ordinances that benefit Springfield’s residential neighborhoods, including garbage reform, infrastructure funding, and the recent “3-strikes-you’re-fined” ordinance. As her nominator wrote, “She is very outspoken and worked extremely hard for garbage reform.”
She has been a major proponent of cleaning up the Pillsbury site.
Alderwoman Turner was instrumental in co-sponsoring, supporting and passing the 2011 ordinance that resulted in putting a 3-year time limit on problem properties. As she stated to the council in October of that year, the ordinance addressed one of the main concerns of her constituents at the time. She said the issue wasn’t just about boarded properties, but about the health and safety of residents.
2015 Award Winners
Northside Children’s Community Library
The Northside Children’s Community Library opened in 2011 after closure of Lincoln Library’s north branch in 2005. Serving children through middle school, the library is open to everyone, with about 400 children currently having library privileges. Along with Coordinator Amelia Kearnes, volunteers help with homework and reading, arts and crafts, playing games and solving puzzles. The library’s mission is to provide free access to books and technology, innovative programming, and tutoring services to meet the educational and cultural needs of all Springfield area children. Find out more at www.northsidechildrenslibrary.org.
The Compass After-School Program
Compass, a program of the Family Service Center, is a free after-school program for homeless and low-income students of Springfield School District 186 that includes academics, life skills/enrichment, and a healthy dinner served family-style. Compass is currently serving seven schools, and each school is paired with one or more community partners who host the program, providing the program location, volunteers, dinner, and supplies. Adult volunteers serve as mentors to the children. Compass works on educating the children as whole persons, and recognizes that social, emotional, and life skills contribute to overall well-being and academic success. Find out more www.service2families.org/compass.
Mark Mahoney, Public Works Director, City of Springfield
Mark has been supporting neighborhoods since first elected as Ward 6 Alderman in 2003.As the Ward 6 Alderman, Mark approached several neighborhood leaders to create an organization that would look at the issues of older neighborhoods city-wide and actively work to make improvements. As a result, ICON was formed in 2004. After serving Ward 6 for eight years while working for the Illinois House of Representatives, Mark became the City of Springfield’s Public Works Director in 2011. Mark has helped ICON, our older neighborhoods, and the entire city by addressing problem properties, cleaning up the city with increased large item pickup, expanded recycling and leaf pickup, additional hazardous waste pickups and the City’s first electronics recycling event. Our streets, alleys, sewers and sidewalks have benefitted from a $86.6 million program to improve the worst of our aging infrastructure. He’s polite and respectful, and he gets the job done when called on for help. At recent ward meetings, Mark was repeatedly mentioned as one of the good things about living in Springfield.
2014 Award Winners
Vera Garrett, from the Springfield Community Garden Family Fit Center
Vera Garrett started in 2009 with one community garden on the lot adjacent to her home and has grown that into a non-profit with 4 gardens that empowers residents by promoting healthy eating, exercise, education, and participation in community activities.
Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association
Enos Park NIA has taken the initiative in residential revitalization – with a land bank, recruiting urban pioneers to rehab distressed properties and ensuring those rehabs are in sync with the neighborhood’s historic character, and directly litigating problem property owners for faster results.
Steve Combs, ICON founding member, past president and Vice-Chair, is an individual with a king-sized attitude and voice – an icon, if you will, of community organization. At some point, his house will sell and the moving van will pull out, and we will miss his energy and dedication to Springfield’s older neighborhoods.