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Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Peggy Davidsmeyer gives a tour of the trail leading to the Lake Jacksonville walk/run/ride bridge.

Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Peggy Davidsmeyer gives a tour of the trail leading to the Lake Jacksonville walk/run/ride bridge to cyclist Sandy Ballard.

The vote for a walk/run/ride bridge at Lake Jacksonville is scheduled for Monday night 12 September 2016, and a show of support is needed to get this item passed. Plans available to download from DropBox. With the bridge complete hikers/runners/riders will be able to go around the lake without risking IL-267. And families with small kids will have about a mile stretch of no/low+slow traffic road to walk or ride together in the woods.

What you can do . . .

  • Contact the Mayor and your aldermen (directory link) and express your support of the bridge, your experience visiting trails in other towns (and going to restaurants, shops and other pocketbook adventures while you were there). This project will not only be good for community health but also for the local economy.
  • Meeting 6pm Monday, 2nd floor of city hall. Process starts with study session, then vote comes later when meeting moves next door to council chambers.

Keep in mind the history on this . . .

  • When this walk/run/ride bridge came to the fore 2 years ago some residents of the lake subdivisions went through their county representatives to stop the project. The city attorney determined all this was on city land, and planning could progress.
  • After that and committee meetings former Parks & Lakes Chairman Alderman Bruce McDaniel asked Benton & Associates to donate a design for the bridge (thanks!).
  • That info and budget was used to request needed funds as part of this year’s city capital budget, and the bridge survived a challenge at that point.
  • Lately the counter argument has been the city needs to first do a trail to get campers to the concession stand and even around the entire lake, with the bridge as the final step — even though a lake trail has been kicked around since a 2003 city/county bike plan and for at least a decade as part of the city’s comprehensive plan, with no action.

Let’s pick the low-hanging fruit . . . Put in this bridge. Get a short trail for families to walk or ride. Get a way for confident bikers get around the lake on county roads without becoming roadkill on 267. Let the mountain bike club and others start volunteering to create trails at the lake which don’t require people to scramble over slippery concrete at the spillway to ford Big Sandy Creek. Get fishers easier access to more shoreline. Build on the short stretch for a trail around the lake or eventually a path into town. Open the lake for walking, running, cycling — for those who camp at the lake, and for the general city populace.

Post by Steve Warmowski, Friends of the Trails Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation

Dogs love trees! Will you please help Jacksonville win this $10,000 grant? 5 days – 5 chances to vote. Voting is super easy – here’s the link! Let’s help the community win another prize! From Illinois College . . .

We need your votes in $10,000 contest to plant trees in Northeast Jacksonville neighborhood – and please encourage your family and friends to vote DAILY!

Illinois College is competing against two other small colleges in a contest that could result in a $10,000 grant to plant trees in the Vas Homes neighborhood of Jacksonville and provide educational activities for the Early Years Program.

Online voting starts today and runs through Friday at JUST FIVE DAYS – JUST FIVE VOTES. (You can also vote using the IC App!) Two colleges (one each in the small and large institution categories) will be winners in the Tree Campus USA Service Learning Contest, and each will receive $10,000 to benefit their communities.

If Illinois College wins, our students will plant 70 trees, shrubs and fruit trees at the Vas Homes public housing development in the spring. Vas Homes is located on the south side of Independence Avenue, near Lincoln School. Vas Homes has 43 housing units occupied by 131 people and hosts the Jacksonville School District’s Early Years preschool program. A treeless playground is used by neighborhood residents and the Early Years Program. There are just two dozen mature trees in this multi-block area.

Planting trees is just one aspect of the proposed project. If Jacksonville wins this grant, IC students, under the guidance of the Early Years educators, will provide tree and leaf education lessons and activities for children. Illinois College arborist Early Years students will learn about identifying trees, the benefits trees provide to our environment and our community, and how to care for trees. Age-appropriate educational activities will include hands-on demonstrations and craft activities.

Illinois College is leading the project, partnering with Vas Homes neighborhood residents, Morgan County Housing Authority, Starhill Forest Arboretum, the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville District 117 Early Years Program.

The Arbor Day Foundation offered this grant competition to Tree Campus USA campuses to conduct student service projects that plant trees in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

Just six colleges nationwide are finalists for the two $10,000 prizes: three from the small-school category (fewer than 15,000 students) and three from the large-school category (more than 15,000 students). One winner from each category will be selected during an online competition that will take place in the second week of November. Illinois College is competing in the small-school category against Huntingdon College (Montgomery, Alabama) and Hobart and William Smith Colleges (St. Geneva, New York).

The only way we can win the $10,000 grant is for the public to show its support for Illinois College’s project each day from Monday, November 9 through Friday, November 13. Votes may be cast at

Winners will be announced during the week of November 16. If awarded the grant, Illinois College students will conduct the project in the spring.


A plan is in the works to bring a Disc Golf Course to Foreman Grove, on Jacksonville’s east side. Illinois College students Nathan Zimmerman and Caleb Harris made a presentation recently to the city’s Parks & Lakes Committee. They, along with MacMurray College students Janson Shehorn and Cydny Saxer and others, have been working with the Parks & Lakes Department on plans for a course in the little-used park.

The group so far has approached businesses to sponsor the nine holes on the course (Jacksonville businesses have precedence on hole sponsorships). That and other funds raised, along with interest on the city’s Goveia Family Trust the Parks & Lakes Committee recommended be used to support the project, could allow for completion of the course this spring. The course will be walking distance from Mac and is on the planned route of the Town Brook recreational path. Disc golf is popular amongst high school and college students, and will be a great recreational resource along Jacksonville’s waterways.

City approval for the disc golf course is expected Monday Feb. 24th during the Jacksonville city council meeting. A Parks & Lakes Committee meeting is at 6pm (probably focused on the senior center); discussion during workshop session at 6:30pm; and hopefully a vote during the city council meeting starting at 7:30pm. Come out to the meeting to show your support, check the Town Brook Twitter feed for updates.

For more information or to sponsor a hole contact Nathan Zimmerman (below). Donations can be made to the project by mailing a check made out to the Jacksonville Parks Foundation (indicate Disc Golf in memo) to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650. (217) 245-4111

The Jacksonville City Council Monday approved $60,000 for a Mauvaisterre Creek watershed project spearheaded by the American Farmland Trust.

Mike Baise, of the Trust, previously announced an EPA grant to help reduce soil erosion upstream from Mauvaisterre Lake. The grant is a 60/40 match, so the city’s contribution could bring up to $90,000 in matching funds. The city’s contribution in 2015 may be cash, or in-kind work/services. Volunteer time spent on approved projects may also count towards the local match.

Baise leads a team meeting with farmers and landowners to identify projects to slow water and reduce runoff from farms. The team hopes to identify projects like ponds, berms, buffer strips and other erosion control devices. Besides the benefits to the farmers in preserving their topsoil, Mauvaisterre Lake (a source for drinking water for Jacksonville and surrounding homes on rural water networks) would have less siltation and the phosphorus which comes with the silt.

Along with the dredging Mauvaisterre Lake, reducing soil load into the lake will help bring back a recreational resource for Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Parks Foundation looks forward to helping with projects – like paddle-boat, rowboat or sailboat rentals; or other ideas – to encourage more use of the lake. The Town Brook is a tributary of Mauvaisterre Creek, so successful projects elsewhere in the watershed could attract funding for our urban section of the watershed.

You can help — Baise is looking for old Mauvaisterre Lake photos, to document the takeover of the lake by sediment over time. Know of any aerial photos of Mauvaisterre Lake, or other images showing where recreation used to be possible on the lake? Contact American Farmland Trust or the Jacksonville Parks Foundation with any leads.

As we still look for stories, characters and connections to Jacksonville’s waterways, MacMurray College Historian Lauretta Scheller found this dispatch from May 6, 1977 — college paper The Daily Other: FLOOD EXTRA! You can still be a part of this project by sending your history/memory to us — about the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek, Jacksonville Illinois 62650 waterways — on the History Project page. Please submit now, for Ken Bradbury needs to get his play going by the end of December.


By Dave Guenther

When five inches of rain mix with a campus built in a hole in the ground, no one expects much good to come of it. Last night, hove, showed that there is a spirit of comradeship, goodwill and adventure at Mac.
When the “MacMurray River” (Town Brook) overflowed its banks about 10 p.m. yesterday, the fun started with headlong slides and jumps into the water. An inner tube, which was sucked under the bridge as Denny Moore narrowly escaped, only whetted the appetites of the adventure seekers.
The night then progressed to diving off the bridge when Walt Haas took the first daring leap into the swirling murky water. Another favorite pastime seemed to be swimming across the river, then about 30 feet wide.
A new sport for the ’80 Olympics may be car pushing, begun when enough half-witted, exuberant students ran into a parking lot full of stalled, flooded autos. Another group of volunteers helped to bail out Kendall basement as the residents piled their belongings on shelves, dressers and desks.
Between several fireworks displays, three fire engines showed up to take care of a blown boiler in a house across from Norris, and a number of students showed up to help rescue Hazel.
Rick Zofkie managed to rescue her dog, and Hazel accepted an invitation to stay with her “little girls” from Kendall.
When the excitement slowed down, a new sport was discovered in Blackstock basement – hall sliding. It turned out, though, that bare buttocks slid better wet than wet clothes as Second Floor sponsored intramural buttock skiing.


A $200,000 grant will start off a project to protect the Mauvaisterre Creek watershed. Mike Baise, of the American Farmland Trust, announced at a recent Jacksonville City Council meeting that the EPA awarded a 319 Grant for the Trust to lead an effort to reduce soil erosion upstream from Mauvaisterre Lake. The EPA contributed $120,o00 with the Trust matching with a $80,000 contribution.

Baise will lead a team meeting with farmers and landowners over the winter to identify projects which slow down water and reduce run-off from farms. He hopes to identify projects like ponds, berms, buffer strips and other erosion control devices that farmers can put on their land. Besides the benefits to the farmers in preserving their topsoil, Mauvaisterre Lake (a source for drinking water for Jacksonville, Illinois and surrounding homes on rural water networks) would have less siltation and the phosphorus which comes with the silt.
Future projects would be funded by EPA grant monies for 60% of the cost. The remaining 40% would be covered by a local match in a mix of private, city and state funds as well as by the landowners. Volunteer time spent on approved projects would also count towards the local match.The city of Jacksonville is starting a multi-million dollar project to dredge Mauvaisterre Lake. Possible EPA and American Farmland Trust projects would pay off by lengthening the time until dredging would need to be done again. The projects and techniques used on the Mauvaisterre watershed can also be used in the future to help Lake Jacksonville.

Have any historical photos of Mauvaisterre Lake? As part of the research Baise is seeking old aerial photos, as well as images made at lake level, showing various stages of sedimentation and shoreline position over time. Please use contact form.

Our Town Books seeks the best stories from Jacksonville’s waterways in a Town Brook History Contest.

Did you or someone you know grow up playing in the Town Brook? Have any family history along Mauvaisterre Creek? Or do you know a really good yarn? Share that story with Our Town Books and you could win one of five $25 gift certificates.

The stories will also help Ken Bradbury who is writing a play about what the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek mean to our community. The play will be put on by Lincoln Land Community College students in the spring to benefit the Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation.

Entry forms can be picked up at Our Town Books as well as at The Source, Jacksonville Journal-Courier or Jacksonville Public Library. You can also enter, or download a form, at Deadline for submissions is November 30.

The Jacksonville Parks Foundation is an independent organization with initiatives to benefit children and encourage health, as well as support parks in the community. Contact the group’s President Steve Warmowski 217.473.5517 or Treasurer Laura Marks 217.245.4111 with questions about how you can support the effort, or use contact form.

With a strong showing by Illinois College students, a large stretch of the Town Brook was picked free of trash in the City of Jacksonville, Illinois 62650 second Town Brook Cleanup. Alderman Lori Large Oldenettel, chair of the Special Studies Town Brook Commmittee, organized the event (blog post) Saturday 26 October 2013.

More photos in Facebook gallery and information on the Town Brook Facebook page.

Everett from Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen pitching in with cleanup.

Everett from Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen pitching in with cleanup.

Illinois College students getting to trash.

Illinois College volunteers getting to trash.

Illinois College professor Lawrence Zettler pulls out shopping cart.

Illinois College professor Lawrence Zettler pulls out shopping cart.

Illinois College student climbs steep embankment of the Town Brook.

Illinois College student climbs steep embankment of the Town Brook.

One of the Illinois College works crews.

One of the Illinois College works crews.

Terry from Kiwanis, worker from Hembrough Tree & Lawn Care, and Shawn (Jacksonville Parks Foundation board member) pick up trash collected by volunteers.

Terry from Kiwanis, worker from Hembrough Tree & Lawn Care, and Shawn (Jacksonville Parks Foundation board member) pick up trash collected by volunteers.

Kiwanian Mike Oldenettel hands up tire.

Kiwanian Mike Oldenettel hands up tire.

Dave working on pool of trash, upstream from Foreman Grove.

Dave working on pool of trash, upstream from Foreman Grove.




The first Saturday in May. Name the big event. You likely answered The Kentucky Derby— the Run for the Roses—the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. It is odd that such a renowned event lasts only two minutes. But really it’s not the event itself, is it? It’s the pomp, the show, the hats, the juleps, the parties and all that jazz that make the Derby an event. Otherwise, it would just be a race. A mile-and-a- quarter run to determine who has the fastest (on that day) three year-old thoroughbred. I understand that the pomp and pretense has even made its way to Duncan Park in Jacksonville. My, Oh, My (is that a horse’s name?) Well, dish me up some Hot Brown, finish it off with Derby Pie and call me to the gates.

No, No. This is not an article about the Derby or Kentucky or horses, or bourbon. I’m into bicycling. And the BIG EVENT on the first Saturday in May is the annual Tour de Stooges. For seventeen years, this cycling event has taken place in Southern Illinois, first in Lebanon, now in Highland and has attracted as many as 650 riders in a single day, riders mostly from St. Louis and Southern Illinois, but also from as far away as Hawaii, Washington and Connecticut.

In true “Tour” tradition, the routes available to riders vary in length and difficulty, but they all feature the beauty of the countryside of rural Illinois. Unlike The Tour, it is not a competitive ride—officially, that is. Personal bests are always pursued, and competitions, while not in the program, definitely occur on the road. No horses, no hats, no juleps. But there’s a party— in the event itself, whether one chooses to ride the Joe Besser “Not So Hard” Route – 17 miles, the Curly Howard Shuffle – 22 miles, the Larry Just Fine Route – 30 miles, the Shemp Howard Shortcut – 42 miles or the Moe Howard Metric – 64 miles. The party takes place on the road . . . and after at a catered lunch and “all the slapstick comedy you can stand”—up to 3 hours of Three Stooges films.
First time I rode in the Tour de Stooges, as I passed the primary organizer, Roger Kramer (RIP), who, by the way, passed me later, I shouted to him “calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard.”
In true Roger de Stooges form he responded: “How did you find that patient in room 67?” “Under the bed!” “How did you find that patient in room 73?” “Up on the chandelier.” “What did you do for him?” “Nothing! What’d he ever do for us?”
The point to all this is what? Ride from 17 to 64 miles and have a ball! Riding is an excellent solitary sport, as well as a team sport at times. Cycling is a great fitness activity for all ages. Childhood obesity? Put them on bikes. Seniors who can no longer run and jump? Get on your bikes. But in addition to competition, sports and athletics, bicycling can be an excellent social activity, both during and after the ride. A whole lot of fun.
So here is a Derby Day and Stooges Day call to action in two parts.
First, there is a local citizens group, Town Brook Jacksonville, working to mobilize interest in and support for a new city park, a walk- bike-run trail along Mauvaisterre Creek with pedestrian/cycling connection to Downtown, to Community Park, to Nichols Park and to Lake Jacksonville AND to every merchant and point of interest along the way— and when we all learn to think big enough, even networking with similar trails in Springfield and Quincy and Alton and all the way to St. Louis. What an opportunity for both physical and social fitness! Find out about it and get on board.

Story by Harry Ford. Article published in The Source, week of May 28th 2013 – to reach him email Harry -at- (the at sign) Harry and Steve Warmowski are initiating plans for an inaugural ride this fall for Jacksonville. Please contact Steve via our Town Brook Initiative Facebook page to find out more and to help. 217.245.4178

Town Brook flows beneath a railroad bridge east of MacMurray College.

Town Brook flows beneath a railroad bridge east of MacMurray College.

Lori Large Oldenettel wrote an overview of the Town Brook project for The Source‘s Earth Day issue. Be sure to pick it up on newsstands this week, and be sure to come to the spring cleanup Saturday April 20th, starting at 8 am at the Diamond Expo Center in Jacksonville, Illinois 62650.

Have you ever wondered about our Town Brook? Did you know the Town Brook starts near Wal-Mart – travels along Morton Avenue – through MacMurray College – and continues around the City of Jacksonville to Sandusky Road and out by Passavant Area Hospital? Did you know the Town Brook is 3.1 miles from Walmart to Foreman’s Grove? Are you aware our colleges use the Town Brook for educational purposes?

Did you know there is a group of individuals working together to better utilize the Town Brook for recreational purposes – to keep it clean – to create more green space – and try to make it more functional for public use? I never knew there was so much to learn about the Town Brook until I really started looking at it and started having conversations with members of the community.

There are so many wonderful stories from families living along the Town Brook, and so many community members who have always hoped the Town Brook could become something more than just a meandering stream. This certainly is not the first time a group of citizens has come together to try and “spruce up” the brook, or try to make it more aesthetically appealing. Conversations have included everything from bicycle trails and walking trails, to outdoor restaurants, fountains, pedestrian bridges, butterfly gardens, beautiful grasses, learning centers, trees, playgrounds, community gardens, gazebos, and most recently, a space for a gambling boat! (I’m pretty sure the person who suggested the gambling boat was joking but nevertheless, it made the list.)

My passion for improving the Town Brook started with my dislike of all the trash lining the banks of the brook. Believing the brook could look much better, conversations were started with the city on what we could do to help improve the look of the brook, and to help improve the quality of life in Jacksonville, which is something adjacent property owners and neighborhoods could enjoy. Those conversations spurred on more conversations that eventually led to the development of a Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Project Committee.

This committee, along with assistance from the Citizens Town Brook Committee led by Steve Warmowski, held our first Fall Town Brook Clean Up last October. Nearly 100 volunteers participated. We filled a 20-yard dumpster in three hours. You can follow at or on Town Brook Facebook to see photos. The success of this event, and local media coverage, caught the eye of a Bloomington, Illinois engineering firm, the Farnsworth Group. The Jacksonville City Council approved $8,100 to complete the first two tasks of a four-task plan to help determine if a recreational path in Jacksonville is plausible. Task 3 and 4 come with a heavier price tag – around $50,000, and the Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Committee is strategizing ways to secure these funds to complete the Engineering Plan. Farnsworth will report their findings from Task 1 and Task 2 to the public on Monday, May 13th at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building and the public is invited to attend.

The second Town Brook Clean Up has been planned to coincide with Earth Day. The Clean Up will be held on Saturday, April 20. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, and all participants are required to sign a waiver to participate. Volunteers will meet in the Diamond Expo Center (Former Midland’s) parking lot located at 803 South Diamond between 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Volunteers will be divided into groups and given trash bags, and are encouraged to bring their own gloves, wear long pants, and wear sturdy hard soled shoes. This cleanup is sponsored in-part by a $500 Grant received from the Streambank Cleanup and Lakeshore Enhancement Program (SCALE), Ace Hardware, Buster Sanitation, County Market, Hembrough Tree and Lawn Care, Our Town Books, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Auxiliary, Ryan and Cassandra Turner, and the Morgan County Underwater Search and Rescue Dive Team. The City of Jacksonville Parks and Lakes Department, Jacksonville Police Department and Jacksonville Street Department will also provide assistance.

We would like at least 100 volunteers to participate in the cleanup and feel we are on track to meet that goal. Volunteers have already been organized from MacMurray College, Illinois College, Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, Faith Lutheran Church and the Citizens Town Brook Committee. We can never have too many volunteers for this type of project, so the public is encouraged to participate.

Everyone can do their part to help keep the Town Brook and our community clean by picking up litter. I would encourage everyone to make a conscience effort to collect litter on their next walk, a visit to a park, or a stroll around your neighborhood. I think you would be surprised at how much litter is on the ground when you start picking it up. Start a conversation with kids about the hazards of litter and the importance of keeping planet Earth clean. The more litter we pick up, the less litter blows into the Town Brook or find its way into our storm water drainage systems. Picking up trash is easy and every member of our community can participate. Organize a neighborhood litter cleanup, adopt a park for monthly cleanups, adopt a street and keep it clean.

We can do a small part in keeping our communities looking clean and green! What will you be doing to help planet Earth this week?

Potential bike path, old railroad land north of Town Brook in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Potential bike path, old railroad land north of Town Brook in Jacksonville, Illinois.