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Help the City of Jacksonville beef up its application for a state grant to complete the Lake Jacksonville Pedestrian and Bike Path. The City of Jacksonville voted unanimously to apply for a state grant via the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the final phase of the Lake Jacksonville Recreational Trail. The grant will cover 80% of the cost. You can help improve our chances of landing the state grant by signing on now, for the deadline is in the 2nd week of March.

Good: Sign online petition

Better: Email a note stating “I support the City of Jacksonville’s effort to use a IDNR RTP Grant to complete a Lake Jacksonville Pedestrian and Bike Path” to Feel free to expand with information about your interest in the lake, nature, community, health, and the like. Bonus if you can get your group or company to send a letter, saying how the trail could benefit the community.

Best: Recruit people to do the above, and/or download a petition and get people to sign. Scan and send to

Send email, mail or drop off by Monday March 11 to or Greg Hillis, Benton & Associates, 1970 W Lafayette Ave, Jacksonville, IL 62650.

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Lake Jacksonville Pedestrian & Bike Path (under construction, Feb. 2019).


Thanks to Butch Wood and Charlie’s 19th Hole, money from his annual fundraiser will go to putting in water features at the Jacksonville PetSafe Dog Park. Dubbed Max’s Memorial Golf Outing & Auction, the event will start noon Saturday June 10 at The Links in Jacksonville.

GOLF – Sign up by calling Butch 217.473.7428 or Keith 217.473.2236. $60 per person, 4 person scramble. Limit 36 teams. $100 deposit, rest due at event. Noon tee time.

AUCTION/PARTY- Everyone’s invited in the evening for food, fun and to bid on fantastic auction items starting at approximately 5:30. Check the event page to see what’ll be up for bid. If you’d like to contribute auction items or find out how you can help, message the Bark Park Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation via Facebook.

Event info easily accessible at

Please help in our goal to bring water features (fountains, dog wash, dog spray) to the dog park.
  • Get the word out to golfers via
  • Help us find auction items (form).
  • Recruit people to come to auction.
  • Come to auction.
The Bark Park Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.





gloves hanging to dry

Thanks to Nicole Riley and Jess Gale for starting the Jacksonville Community Gardening Initiative. They will be planting a garden on land previously donated by Town & Country Bank to the Jacksonville Park Foundation, located at the corner of Chambers & Church (north of the Town Brook).

The project kicks off with two events . . .

  • Work day starting at 9 am Saturday May 20 – come get your hands dirty and break ground in our new community garden plot. We’ll be building beds, moving soil and mulch, planting, laying pathways, and preparing our compost pile and greenhouse. Bring family and friends. Everyone of all abilities is welcome. Kid friendly. This is also a good time to drop off any tools or plants you’d like to donate.
  • Pie in the Sky! Pie Social and Auction from 2-5 Saturday May 27 – come out to learn about and support the garden & enjoy pie and refreshments. Pie auction begins at 3pm. Kid-friendly activities provided. Pie donations needed.
Will you please help by liking the committee’s Facebook page, and inviting friends to like as well. Contact Nicole or Jess by messaging via the Facebook page or use the contact form at the bottom of this post.

They’re looking for pies for the fundraiser, plants/tools for the garden and people who’d like to help. You can also donate now via PayPal (indicate “garden” in second screen.)


Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Dan Coultas gets help planting sunflower seeds at the Garden in 2014.

Jacksonville Park Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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.