Germantown Hills Mayor speaks to chamber

Staff Reporter
Woodford Times
After its meeting, the Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce grouped together for its monthly photo — a goal Dr. Tim Kaufman, Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce president established at its first meeting of the new year. From left, row 1, Kaufman, Chamber members Christine Slagel and Barb Primm, Chamber Secretary Denise Hough and Chamber member Janet Velling; row 2, Chamber member Sarah Lehman, Germantown Hills Village Clerk Tim Neubeck, Chamber member Michelle Largent, Chamber vice-president Veronica Axelson, Chamber members Lisa Miller, Greg Edwards and Arnie Edwards.

GERMANTOWN HILLS — The Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce brought in an inside source to discuss village business June 27 at its monthly meeting.

Germantown Hills Mayor Jeff DeGroot stopped by to give an overview of what the new administration is working toward accomplishing.

DeGroot said he wants to build a more transparent board — the same beat he marched to during his campaign.

"Ever since ... I moved here, none of the boards have really been cohesive and gotten along together," he said. "There's always been controversy amongst a lot of the boards."

To accomplish his goal, he said he wants to arrange biannual open forums at Village Hall for the public to share their comments or concerns with the board.

DeGroot estimated the first forum will occur in August, though he did not set a specific date.

He also used language such as "team-building" to exemplify what the board would need to do to function as a whole.

"We're going to have to grow and trust each other," he said. "Right now, there's some bumps in the road, but I think we made some pretty good progress over the last four weeks."

In addition, the mayor laid out a vision for what he wants the area to look like in the next five years.

"I see Germantown growing towards Metamora," he said referring to residential growth. "I also see Metamora growing towards Germantown. There's a lot of cornfields between here and Metamora."

He added that he wants to see the Germantown Hills borders expand.

Germantown Hills Village Clerk Tim Neubeck said population growth in the village is steady.

"We're anticipating a 1 percent growth per year minimum over the next several years," Neubeck said.

What DeGroot considers the most challenging agenda item is one he also sees the village accomplishing within the next five years.

As a start, he said he and several grocery corporations have discussed the possibility of coming into Germantown Hills.

"I sincerely feel (getting a grocery store) is going to be a huge challenge," he said.

To elaborate, DeGroot said he believes having Costco in East Peoria and Kroger in Washington makes a local grocery store less of a necessity for Germantown Hills residents.

Alongside the topic of bringing in a grocery store, DeGroot said he wants to improve on economic development as a whole in Germantown Hills.

"Right now Germantown is stagnant," he said.

Compared to Germantown Hills, DeGroot said he believes places like Dunlap are a more attractive option to prospective homeowners because of Germantown Hills' lack of economic development.

Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce member Greg Edwards said he thinks DeGroot should arrange to discuss economic development with Metamora Mayor Ken Maurer because both communities benefit from the other when economic growth occurs.

DeGroot agreed, saying that he sees that as a necessity.

During his first board meeting as mayor, Maurer said he wants to see a lot of collaboration among different entities such as the schools, fire department, police department, etc.

Other business

On a different note, Dr. Tim Kaufman, Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce president, said three businesses recently became chamber members.

These businesses include Photo-Artistry in the Jubilee Center, Germantown Autobody at 407 Old Germantown Road and Glas Chiropractic at 115 Spring Creek Road in East Peoria.

Frozen Spoon Cafe — an ice cream store located in the same building as Michael's Italian Feast, 605 Ten Mile Creek Road — will join when the business opens. The store plans to do a ribbon-cutting at noon July 10. The Chamber will attend.

Kaufman's goal is to gain 12 chamber members throughout the course of this year.

The next Chamber of Commerce meeting is slated for noon July 18 at the Monte Cristo Room in Michael's, 605 Ten Mile Creek Road.