Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"and in the beginning...."

Warning – This is not a politically correct blog site

Since some of you visiting my site are not too familiar with my background & with this community of approx 113,000 people, I’ll start with Peoria as I see it. My early perceptions came from acquaintances with students from Peoria while I was attending Western State at Macomb, IL. Even though Peoria was then a wide open town with prostitution, gambling & union thugs running rampant, most of these students appeared to be in denial. At that time in history, much of Peoria’s population was employed by manufactures with more distilleries than any community in the Midwest. Peoria was a blue collar town with an elitist group of owners & managers. Fast forward to 2004 & Peoria has greatly changed, most manufacturing companies, (with the exception of Caterpillar & Keystone- both with greatly reduced workforces), are gone as are all the distilleries. The old money & elite are still here, the demographics have changed drastically, the union thugs are gone but the unions are still strong. The four public high schools are now approximately 70% African-American & most of the kids in the lower grades, qualify as poverty or below. Peoria is transforming itself into a community with champagne tastes to a community of caviar dreams. Since the successes of Peoria have been widely chronicled, this site will deal with some of the caviar dreams that became reality, but are still looking to be successful. Peoria is currently striving to be recognized as a shopping, convention, recreation, & medical destination. In recreation we had a large early lead, but are now being overtaken by East Peoria & other surrounding communities. Our shopping base has been greatly expanded, some gains being offset by some notable losses. Our reputation as a medical destination is strong & growing & makes us more unique than most other middle states communities of our size.

I was born on a farm in Woodford County & did not permanently locate in the Peoria area until 1963. My work ethic was developed by need & by hard working & loving parents & knowing that you either worked or you didn’t eat. Not much government welfare back then. Serving in the Air Force taught me discipline, participating in many sports at all levels taught me the value of teamwork, attending & graduating from college started my social skills development & school teaching, coaching & refereeing prepared my entry into the business world. I left teaching when offered a position in sales with a division of a company then known as Sperry Univac and was promoted to management serving in Kansas & Texas before returning to Peoria in 1963 to open my own business. This company, which I sold in 1992, known as Widmer Interiors, flourishes today located on Allen Road in Peoria.

In 1999, I made my entry into politics, defeating the nine year Republican incumbent on the Peoria County Board, doing so without the blessing of my party, media or the Chamber, many of whom worried I might expose the truth about some of our leadership. Or maybe I was too strident to just follow the pack. I am now serving my second term on a board that is probably the most cohesive of any in the community. Most board members feel we can “get the job done” without raising the property tax base. Most of us want to render the key services & keep the community affordable.

One of the favorite statements made by some elected officials start with “nothing could be further than the truth”, when in actuality, you can bet the truth has just been uncovered. What you will be reading on this site will be largely backed by printed sources but, of course, being a “strident” person I will also give you my opinion. However, my opinions will be backed by research.

This is just a beginning so thanks for logging on . Talk to you soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great start!! I will be looking forward to your comments on Peoria's progress. One exception however, your estimate on Dist 150's black percentage I believe is a little high, at least for now. You may find 70% in 2 but not all 4 high schools. "White Flight" may get it there soon however.
Again, great start and we'll be watching.
PS: good job on "copy and paste"