Barry McNamara  |  Published October 07, 2022

State of the City

Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies, a 1974 alumnus of the College, says City is doing well, and ‘even better days are ahead.’

MONMOUTH, Ill. – In telling the tale of his city, Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies might’ve paraphrased Charles Dickens when discussing his 17 years in office: “It was the best of times, and the best is still to come.”

STATE OF THE CITY: Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies '74 makes a point during his luncheon presentati... STATE OF THE CITY: Monmouth Mayor Rod Davies '74 makes a point during his luncheon presentation Oct. 5. Davies, a 1974 Monmouth College graduate, addressed a Wednesday gathering at the Warren County History Museum for the annual “State of the City” address, an event hosted by the Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Security Savings Bank.

In her introductory remarks of Davies, Security Savings representative Dorothy Ricketts said, “We’re fortunate to have a numbers person as our mayor,” referring to Davies’ main job as a certified public accountant with the accounting firm Cavanaugh, Davies, Blackman and Cramblet.

Davies, who is serving a record fifth term as mayor, shared that the city had been able to save money in many instances – for example, $1.8 million in interest on capital appreciation bonds – then re-invest that money into city projects.

But state and federal grants are also a large part of what brings progress to the Maple City.

“When I first started as mayor, I said that Monmouth’s best days are ahead. I think even better days are ahead. We have the right team in place. They work hard to take advantage of every grant opportunity that we can.” Rod Davies

“When I first started as mayor, I said that Monmouth’s best days are ahead,” said Davies.

After creating new jobs, strategically managing the budget and making many infrastructure improvements – both visible and below ground – the mayor added: “I think even better days are ahead. We have the right team in place. They work hard to take advantage of every grant opportunity that we can.”

Downtown revitalization

The latest standout among those grants is the $3 million the city received for downtown revitalization, part of the state’s $106 million Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program, which is designed to support local commercial corridors. Its focus is businesses that experienced difficulties during the pandemic, caused by declining foot traffic, tourism and business from downtown offices.

In Monmouth, the grant will be used to redesign and rebuild the traffic lanes, green spaces and sidewalks around the Public Square.

“It will provide an attractive, pedestrian-friendly environment that will stimulate new retail- and service-oriented businesses,” said Davies. “We have several new projects going forward, other projects being completed and future infrastructure plans in place.”

‘A great place to call home’

A few months after receiving news about the $3 million grant, the city learned it would receive $1.2 million through the American Rescue Fund, which will be used to support some of those future projects, including repairing or repaving several city streets.

Two grants that total just over $1 million will help the city address the water main issues on West Harlem Avenue, which Davies said is “a very high priority.”

Davies discussed several other projects during his time at the podium, including the completion of a new airport structure after the former facility was destroyed by fire in 2019. The project cost around $900,000, with aviation grants and insurance compensation covering the bulk of the costs.

Davies also announced plans for: water main work on both the northern and western borders of the Monmouth College campus on Sixth Street and Euclid Avenue; work at the former site of Maple City Dairy at 110 South A St., which will become a gathering space that is expected to attract food trucks; and an $11 million project at Smithfield Foods’ hog processing plant, funded by the company, which Davies pointed out is “our region’s largest employer.”

Related to employment, Davies praised Monmouth’s base of non-profit, commercial and industrial jobs, saying the city “has good-paying jobs that enhance the economic environment.”

All of the aforementioned projects, said Davies, are done to serve the purpose of “making Monmouth a great place to call home.”

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