By Steve Rensberry, Editor
The year 2019 was an eventful one judging by the dozens of top stories covered by the Times-Tribune over the past 12 months.
Some of them have involved big money, while others have involved simply momentous events and achievements.
One significant change for the paper was its sale to Better Newspapers Inc., based in Mascoutah, after being operated for several decades by now-retired publisher Paul Ping and Newsprint Inc.
The paper’s coverage area also was expanded to include Collinsville and other areas of Madison County not previously covered, while maintaining a commitment to local community coverage and its hometown of Troy.
In Troy, it was announced last February that work on the long-anticipated stop-light at Spring Valley Road and Highway 40 was on track to be completed this year, which it finally was in November.
Construction and expansion projects have also been underway at Maryville Christian School and at Father McGivney High School, which began development of an athletic complex back in February.
There was considerable shuffling that took place on area municipal boards this past year, including school districts.
Former superintendent for business at Triad, Jason Henderson, announced in March that he had accepted to position as superintendent with the Edwardsville School District. Former school resource officer Mike Raymond was hired as director of business and communication in Handerson’s absence.
Collinsville Community School Distrtict #10 welcomed a new superintendent as well this past year, hiring Mark “Brad” Skertich to fill the role.
March was marked by a time of sadness for many firefighters and emergency personnel who knew fallen firefighter Captain Jacob “Jake” Ringering, who died while responding to an emergency.
Ringering had worked for the Godfrey Fire Department but was well known through the county. A funeral held at Waterloo High School drew first responders from a wide area.
Infrastructure improvements of one nature or another have been discussed by Troy aldermen for much of the year. Updates to the city’s comprehensive plan map, including added bike trails and streets, were released in March. That month the city was also presented with a plan to give the Veteran’s Memorial at Tri-Township Park a facelift, spearheaded by former alderman Tim Greenfield.
Anderson ExpressCare opened a new center in Troy in April, located at U.S. 40 across from the MCT Park and Ride Lot, and also that month voters weighed in at the Consolidate Election, choosing candidates for several board and council positions.
Most candidates elected were sworn in during meetings in May. In Troy they included Tony Manley in Ward I, Troy Turner in Ward II, Bonnie Levo in Ward III, Daniel Dawson in Ward III, and Doug Partney in Ward IV.
In Maryville, Mike Vallino, Rod Schmidt, and Todd Bell were all elected and sworn in. In Collinsville, Mayor John Miller was re-elected and sworn in, together with council members Jeff Stehman and Tony Hausmann.
News in May included a notice of funding for a project involving Keebler Road in Collinsville, and an address by Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce Director Dawn Mushill at Triad graduation exercises.
The Troy Police were involved in two significant Special Olympics fundraisers last year. The department’s Cop on Rooftop event in May raised more than $11,000, and its Troy Convoy fundraiser in September raised approximately $51,200.
May included more surprises with long-time Troy city administrator, Jeff Soland, announcing his retirement. Soland’s position, meanwhile, was filled by alderman Doug Partney, and Partney’s former council seat was eventually filled by Debbie Knoll.
Another change on the Troy Council involved the stepping down of former alderman Matt Thompson, who moved out of state for work-related reasons. Thompson’s position was filled by Elizabeth Hellrung, who was appointed in August to fill the seat.
In July, Triad administrators and board members began discussing two major projects, one involving a proposal to install artificial turf on the main stadium and main baseball field at the school, and the other involving the installation of solar panels at C.A. Henning,. Both projects are well under way. The middle school roof also underwent major repairs this past year.
Collinsville officials approved plans for a new public works facility in July, with the project cost capped at $315,000.
Like it has become in some other communities, cannabis was a big story in both Maryville and Glen Carbon, with Maryville voting on Sept. 3 to nix an ordinance prohibiting cannabis-related businesses, thus being among the first to pave the way to such businesses in the area, though Collinsville’s established medicinal facility was given fast-track approval for selling recreational marijuana because of the way the process is set up.
While receiving limited approval in Troy, Collinsville, and Maryville, such businesses were ultimately given a thumbs down by elected officials in Marine, St. Jacob, and Glen Carbon.
First responders were again in the news in September with the unfortunate death of ISP Trooper Nicholas Hopkins. Services were held at Waterloo High School with Troy, Collinsville, and many other police department personnel from throughout the area in attendance.
The Bradley Smith 5K Memorial Run marked a 10-year milestone in 2019.
Brent Frey was sworn in as trustee in Marine in September.
In October, MCT prepared to open a new trail running a distance of about 10 miles from Troy to O’Fallon, and in November organizers of the proposed “Field of Honor Project” and Veteran’s Memorial upgrade at Tri-Township Park reported commitments so far of $216,500.
The D.D. Collins House in Collinsville received a state historic marker in November as well.
The year ended with numerous taxing bodies in the county upping their requests for tax dollars, due in large part to an anticipated increase in the estimated equalized assessed value of area property.
Apart from cannabis, another top story in Maryville was the decision not to rezone the former Stonebridge Golf Course from agricultural to single-family residential. The decision was reached June 5 after several heated, well-attended public meetings.
Another top story in Glen Carbon, meanwhile, was the controversy over permitting Verizon to build a communications tower in Old Town Glen Carbon. After considerable controversy, the village gave its permission on February 12 at the very end of a heated public meeting that lasted more than two hours.
Glen Carbon also saw the construction of a new fire station.
Troy’s relative completion of its roughly $10 million water plant upgrade was also a major story this past year. Work remains in removing the old above-ground storage tank on Route 162.
Note: Reporter Charles Feldman contributed information for this story.