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Our Village Government
Mayor Don A. De Graff
Village Administration
Village Clerk
Village Board of Trustees
Village Treasurer
Village of South Holland

16226 Wausau Avenue
South Holland, IL 60473
Phone: 708-210-2900
Fax: 708-210-1019

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State of the Village
Village Logo State of the Village of South Holland

2012 State of the Village Address

Dear Residents and Friends of the Village of South Holland,

With the exception of only a few snowfalls it appears that we have made it through the winter relatively unscathed. What an unusual and extraordinary blast of warm winter temperature we have shared at the end of 2011 and into the beginning of 2012. Unless one is an avid winter enthusiast or is earning a living plowing parking lots and driveways, the good news is that the back of winter appears to have been broken!

It is a joy to share unique and meaningful experiences together! Last month we shared another inspiring South Holland celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., reminding each of us of the “Beloved Community” we share together here in South Holland. Friends, we live in a community where we strive to emulate Dr. King’s legacy of love, justice and brotherhood. South Holland is indeed a special place where we seek to share and will continue to pursue this ever evolving dream that Dr. Martin Luther King proclaimed so clearly and prominently.

How many of us can dream about or even begin to envision that which we cannot see? Our Leadership Team has just completed our annual Model Community Initiative which lays out our five year business plan beginning with 2012. However, in the spirit of Dr. King, we are as a Board and Administration seeking to advance our dreams and legacy and advance a full scale comprehensive ten year vision entitled “South Holland Vision 2022”. It is an exciting way to take ownership in the process of advancing our distinctive identity as a community of Faith, Family and Future.

South Holland Vision 2022 will give each key community group and every individual who resides, works, worships, serves and recreates within our borders an opportunity to share in the process of planning and shaping what our great Village should look like by year 2022. The individual dreams based upon South Holland’s historical values and the continuing legacy left by Dr. King and other great leaders will now be shaped into a collective vision that will encompass a variety of community aspects.

Together, our vision will be cast for South Holland to expand and insure the quality of our Infrastructure and Governance; to enhance and advance our Signature Spaces and Places; to enhance communication and improve our ability to be a Connected Community with social networks and cultural opportunities abounding; to plan and recruit for new Economic Development and Prosperity by creating and promoting a very united and visibly remarkable Blueprint for South Holland. Our blueprint must convey a constant theme, create a sense of place, and brand us a “Clean, Bright and Beautiful” community for which we will all be extremely proud.

Sound exciting? It is! And this is just the beginning!

Let’s take a look back to 2011 to better understand the strong foundation we have that allows us to creatively move forward. Our professional and progressive municipal executives possess the experience to manage a broad range of municipal services and to develop positive working relationships with elected officials, our staff, regional organizations and neighboring communities. Their commitment to the Village of South Holland and their leadership of a dynamic team of department heads resulted in the successful negotiation of the fire union contract, it secured a lease of railroad property located at 168th and South Park Avenue for future growth, and it allowed us to update our Village’s emergency operations plan. Future goals call for the development and aggressive marketing of South Holland Vision 2022 plan, the completion and implementation of South Holland University for new employees, and the roll-out of a new workplace health and wellness program.

We have a very proactive team in the Clerk and Collector’s Office consistently seeking ways to enhance our service to residents and businesses. In 2011, the department continued to enhance technology and convenient options to better serve our customers, including expanded online payment opportunities. Moving forward early in 2012, the department will work with the Communications Department to introduce a series of creative informational videos, themed “Understanding Your Water Bill.”

Our public safety departments continue to be considered the best in the entire Chicago Southland region. We have a proactive fire department, an innovative police department, and a well trained volunteer-based Emergency Services Disaster Agency (E.S.D.A.). It is the priority of these departments that there is a sense of personal security and a feeling of safety in the place where we live, work and play.

The Fire Department’s implementation of their physical fitness program has been of great value to maintaining the health and wellness of our firefighters. In 2011, the department installed mobile data terminals in 10 vehicles through a six-agency grant, remodeled Fire Station 2 to allow for dual occupancy of male and female firefighters, and combined joint training with 21 departments in our Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. In 2012, the fire department plans to implement a fire officer development program and expand the paid-on-call program through vigorous recruitment.

The Police Department continues to demonstrative a proactive and professional approach to the prevention and enforcement of crime and maintaining public safety. In 2011, the department acquired in-car cameras and implemented a new risk management program. Several members of the department partnered with the Communications Department to develop a unique way to communicate important and timely public safety messages. Creative and entertaining short video segments air on the Community Connection Channel, providing seasonal safety tips. By incorporating Vision 2022 they will plan and implement several new programs to promote public safety and to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods, including crime prevention and secure resident programs.

Our E.S.D.A. team of dedicated and reliable volunteers ensures that E.S.D.A. remains a valued resource in our community. In 2011, the department added a four-wheel drive vehicle to the fleet; INFORAD telephone paging system for E.S.D.A. has been installed and updated at the police records desk; and two new members joined the team. Also in 2011, our E.S.D.A. Director John Thomas retired after 13 years of outstanding service. Now under the supervision of our Deputy Police Chief Greg Baker, E.S.D.A. will obtain new FCC mandated handheld radios for communication; acquire the old fire department hazmat truck to add to their fleet; and introduce a new voice activated messaging system for callouts.

It has been another productive year for our Planning, Development & Code Enforcement Department. The department issued an updated zoning map, conducted neighborhood property inspections in 13 areas of the community, increased department safety training, and adopted new ordinances for signage, fencing, storm water, and more. The department, in partnership with Police and Administration, has completed the development of an innovative approach to develop and implement a “Good Neighbor Rental Housing Initiative,” designed to ensure responsible management of rental residential properties and to ensure properties continue to be well maintained throughout our community. This initiative is currently being rolled out in our community. As a result of the increased interest in green building concepts and practices, in 2012, the village will adopt the green system building codes. Our objective is to encourage efficient use of energy, water and other resources, and reduce waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

Our Economic Development Department has recorded 58 new businesses in South Holland in 2011, including Top Dollar Deals, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Harold’s Chicken, Accessory City, and Lawson Law Group, to name a few.

The improvement of village infrastructure continues to be a priority for Public Works. In 2011, the department took the lead in the creation and completion of the new Veterans War Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park. In addition, aesthetic improvements were made to the Route 6 viaduct, as well as in Gouwens Park, including a new scoreboard. A new 24-inch Chicago supply water main project got underway and is now in its final stage to completion, and Prince Drive was freshly paved by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Looking ahead, Public Works will take on painting the Canal Street water tower, oversee the reconstruction of 170th Street, and introduce a new Emerald Ash Borer Management program.

Throughout the year, many fun and entertaining special events, family-oriented programs and a wide variety of fitness-related and recreational offerings are made available to our residents at the community center and village parks. The South Holland Community Center is a comfortable and inviting venue, with convenient amenities, including Wi-Fi access and a new juice bar – Conversations Café. New monitors installed in the lobby provided the convenience for Center members and guests to keep up-to-date with community news through the Community Connection Channel. As the Recreational Services Department continues this trend of convenience, online registration for programs and special events will be implemented this summer. Department leadership and staff will continue to build on fitness center memberships and partnerships with local agencies and organizations.

The Village of South Holland remains at the forefront of trends and resources to effectively engage our constituents. Monthly publications, events, and other outreach activities are valuable means to connect with the people we serve. In 2011, the Communications Department launched live streaming of the public access message board and videos on the village website, introduced QR (quick response) codes to our community, and increased participation in the Heritage Haul with the implementation of the half marathon. As we move forward in 2012, the department will continue to refine methods of internal and external communications. We will further develop our contacts in media and community relations, and enhance our social media and web presence.

As we transition and have fun casting vision together in 2012, consider this year will be an important “tipping point” in the life of our Village. Still feeling the lasting effects of the most severe recession in American history, we are together now anticipating and planning for a freshness and a renewal that will allow us to create vision well ahead of the curve.

I’ve recently read and would strongly recommend a very short, yet poignant book entitled “Heaven Is For Real.” It conveys the remarkable true life story of a young boy named Colton who shares with credible detail an amazing vision of heaven he was privileged to receive in a near death experience. His vision will definitely give each of us new opportunities to think beyond the here and now. Whether we dream dreams or are casting and sharing our vision, whether we are young or older, boys or girls, men or women, we can all clearly benefit by reaching far beyond today and not relying upon only what we can see in front of us.

As a community, our vision casting will clearly motivate and encourage all to appreciate the Faith, Family and new aspects of our Future and can truly prove to be both exhilarating and encouraging. The vision that we cast together now in 2012 will set the course for us to expand our legacy well into the future. It will be for us a strong source of strength and encouragement.

Please join our Village Board and Administration as we think, discuss, share, pray, and cast vision together. We earnestly seek your input in developing our blueprint for Vision 2022. The planning process alone will be an amazing adventure. Where it takes us will undoubtedly be beyond what we can imagine and only God will know ultimately where it would lead. South Holland, Illinois, an exciting 2012 awaits us as we further develop the Village of South Holland into an even greater community of Faith, Family and Future.

Blessings to all,
Don A. De Graff

Village of South Holland  -  16226 Wausau Avenue  -  South Holland, Illinois 60473  -  708-210-2900
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