Deb Hadachek – Editor
We know Republic County is a great place to call home.
Great citizens. Quality lifestyles. Good schools, and communities that love to support young people’s activities.
Employers who are ready to hire workers immediately. We can’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to live here.
Except, possibly, because there’s a shortage of good quality, family-sized homes for people to move into.
There’s growing evidence that we need to do something about housing, sooner rather than later.
•In one of those “it’ll never work” stories, a lot of people expressed skepticism that 56 apartments in the Buffalo Apartments complex would ever be filled. “We are all very pleased that the apartments have been relatively full for a considerable period of time,” developer Ross Freeman told me this week. “They are now approaching full occupancy with a good flow of applicants. “According to Gina (Strnad, manager), most of the applicants are moving to Belleville because of securing jobs here and so that says good things about Belleville’s overall economy.”
•Republic County USD 109 has seen a steady growth in enrollment over the last five years–up about 50 students. Some people attending last week’s meeting about a proposed bond issue questioned whether there is enough classroom capacity in the event 100 students come into the district.
•Housing isn’t a “Belleville” problem, or a young family problem. I often talk to single people or couples over the age of 65 who would like to move or return to their hometowns to live, but have difficulty finding a quality selection of houses or apartments available for them to downsize.
•Republic County Economic Development director Luke Mahin notes some interesting changes in the Republic County workforce commuting patterns from 2002-14.
- Workers employed in Republic County but living outside increased 51 percent, from 444 to 674.
- Total workers in the county grew about two percent, and total workers living in the county increased about 5 1/2 percent.
- People who live here but work somewhere else grew 36 percent, from 885 to 1,208.
These numbers show the problem, but also the opportunities.
Every single household we gain and retain increases the tax base.
Every single child in school increases state aid.
Every single family, retired couple, or alumni tired of city traffic means more opportunities for businesses to sell goods and services.
Every time a house is torn down and not replaced, it shuts the door for a chance to increase our population.