Mayoral Hopefuls Agree on Need to Guide Growth

Article excerpt

All four candidates for mayor agree that a main issue in the April 1 election is how to accomplish the growth that's on the horizon for the city.

They agree that the new Mid America Airport near Scott Air Force Base will bring economic development to the area near Interstate 64 and Illinois 4 and that Lebanon can benefit through annexation of land to its south.

The city of 3,700 has already annexed about 400 acres and could nearly double in size through annexation on its north, and more on the south. School enrollment is down because the city has an older population, and there is need for residential and business development to bolster the tax base, the candidates say. Incumbent Mayor Frank Almeter is being challenged by two aldermen - Walter Turk and S. Gene Rhoden - and Matt Berberich, who is seeking elective office for the first time. Frank Almeter, 61, is seeking a third term. He says that when he was elected in 1989, "we needed to plan for progress - we've done that." He said the city was gearing up to extend sewer and water lines to the south and was working to convince property owners in the area to consent to annexation. City fire and police services would follow. "I want to make sure it happens," Almeter said. "We're increasing our tax base . . . property values are going up." Almeter is a retired Air Force colonel who flew tanker planes during his 30-year military career. Now involved in residential building, his Foxmoor Construction Co. has built three subdivisions in Lebanon. Almeter has a degree in occupational education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a master's degree in aviation management. He is married and has two grown children. Walter Turk, 61, retired from the Air Force after 37 years. Although he and Almeter are both retired colonels, they haven't much else in common, Turk said. Turk's service duties mainly involved maintenance management, and for a time he flew rescue helicopters. Turk is finishing his first term as Ward 2 alderman and said some citizens urged him to run for mayor. "I would provide positive leadership for city employees and work for the people. I'm not aligned with any group," he said. He owns Walt's Golf Shop, which makes and sells custom clubs. He's married, with three grown daughters. He has a degree in business administration and a master's degree in human relations from Webster University. …

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