City Spotlight 417 – Toledo

Rameen: Coming up on City Spotlight We’re on location in Toledo In this episode, we’ll talk with Carol Jo Fritts, of the Neal Center YMCA board and Blake Fairchild, CEO of the Mattoon area family YMCA, about the Neal Center YMCA that will be coming to Toledo As well as the process it took to make this new facility possible And what the local community can expect to see once the facility is up and running Then, we’ll also talk Cumberland schools with Cumberland school’s superintendent, Todd Butler, about some of the programs being offered in the Cumberland schools Plus, what changes will be happening for bus service for Cumberland school students We’re on location for this episode and we’re talking Toledo next on City Spotlight [music plays] City Spotlight is supported by Consolidated Communications CCI is honored to salute the cities and their leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local homes and businesses We live where we work, and are proud to support the communities we serve More information available at And welcome to another edition of City Spotlight We are on location in Toledo We’re gonna be talking about the Neal Center YMCA in this first segment We’re gonna talk with Carol Jo Frits of the Neal Center YMCA board Welcome, Carol Carol: Thank you Rameen: And Blake Fairchild He’s the CEO of the Mattoon area family YMCA Welcome, Blake Blake: Thank you Thanks for having me Rameen: We’re taping this right after an event was held here at Cumberland High School to inform the public about the future of the Neal Center YMCA that will be in downtown Toledo We’ll find out exactly when it might open in a little bit But first off, before we talk about the YMCA that’s coming to Toledo, you’re first time guests Carol, tell us about yourself please Carol: Well, I’m the president of First Neighbor Bank I’ve been involved in the community center, what we called it before, project for almost 10 years actually This has been a long time dream coming Never ever thought we would have YMCA in Toledo, Illinois We’re so blessed and so happy to have them Rameen: Wonderful Thank you for being on Blake, tell us about yourself please Blake: Yeah I’m Blake Fairchild I’m the CEO of the Mattoon area family YMCA I’ve been at the Y for eight years I actually started as an intern back in 2010, and then I was sports director and now their CEO As Carol said, just I’m delighted to be here and excited to be in Cumberland county and to bring Cumberland county residents a YMCA in Toledo Rameen: Great to have you both on Back in August, we had Mayor John Beck on as we had our first City Spotlight episode on Toledo I remember him telling me about a YMCA is coming to Toledo, and my jaw dropped I’ve been looking forward to talking to two people that are heavily involved with it Let me just go onto the next step of this I learned in August about this, and then there was the groundbreaking A very cold day if we all recall Carol: It was cold Rameen: December 12th was the groundbreaking for this new facility there on the square in the northeast corner is the correct location Blake: Correct Rameen: Okay Very good This evening, just before we were taping, an event to inform the public, and what a great turnout that was for that Do you have an estimation of how many people showed up? Blake: Absolutely I think we had right around 300 folks here in attendance At the same time, we had other events going on in town and around the area I’m very pleased with the turnout that we had Rameen: Very good I want to ask you I want to go in reverse order Let’s start with this evening’s gathering to inform the public Carol, what you guys wanted to accomplish Do you think that was met this evening? Carol: I do I really do Plus we have a lot of followers on Facebook and a lot of followers on our website that are following the website And you can check our website at, if you’d like to do that, or like us on Facebook Rameen: All right Very good Social media Blake: Absolutely Rameen: Blake, obviously both of you spoke tonight to the crowd From what you were presenting to them, what was the purpose of this event tonight? Blake: Our goal today, this project, or a community center here in Toledo, has been around for some time There’s been questions and there’s been … Folks have heard that the Y’s coming to town Our goal today was really just to, our hope was that we could answer questions This was the first time we’ve unveiled the plans, so we were able to show off the facility plans, the outside renderings, and some of the things we hope that we can bring I absolutely believe we achieved our goal It was an incredible turnout and the energy is contagious Rameen: I know there are several steps still to go in the process of this facility happening and doors opening Will there be any other future informational events for the locals in the near future at any point? Blake: There’s potential for that We haven’t … When the doors open, we will have an event Absolutely Probably the biggest event you’ve ever seen, to open those doors and get people really

excited when we can walk them around We can give tours and that type of thing In the meantime, we may do something in between, but a lot of it, I think, is gonna probably be related around programs My hope is, is that we can have a program guide that we can give to the community a month before we open the doors and say, “Hey, on this date,” whenever the door opens, “here’s what you can expect Here’s your class schedule Here’s the programs that are gonna be offered and when they’re gonna begin.” Those types of things Rameen: And Blake, for our audience at home, why is the Mattoon YMCA involved with this? What is the role of the Mattoon YMCA with the Neal Center YMCA? Blake: Good question The Neal Center YMCA is a branch of the Mattoon YMCA It’s just the logical step, I believe They were looking to build a community center down here I know I’m biased, but the Y does a lot of neat work I think the community recognized that and said, “Hey, why can’t we have this in Cumberland county?” So the conversations began and here we are today So just really looking forward to it Rameen: Carol, you being in Toledo day-in and day-out, to be able to work with another community to bring this kind of an opportunity That must feel amazing Carol: It is It is amazing Of course, we’re lucky We have Sarah Bush Lincoln here in our community, too We’ve been very blessed with Sarah Bush being a part of our community When this came about, we knew that we needed help We knew we could build the building, but we knew that we needed help We were just very fortunate that Blake and Tony Sparks stepped up to the plate and believed in us, and the YMCA board of directors in Mattoon believed in our project And then we had a lot of support from the Neal Foundation, with Burnham Neal Rameen: I guess I’ll go in reverse order of how things have happened There was this event tonight on January 23rd December 12th was the groundbreaking Great turnout by the locals there on a very cold afternoon Carol: Yeah Blake: I was amazed Yeah I think I referenced whenever I spoke that it was the coldest day of 2017, and it may very well have been We had some cold days since then, but it was cold I think then we had over 100 or right around 100 folks there in attendance The plan wasn’t to have some long production We wanted to simply to have some picture opportunities and say thanks The turnout was awesome Carol: It was Rameen: I do recall you saying you had a lengthy speech, but you cut it down to a Cliffs Notes version Blake: It was planned to be about 40 minutes I cut it down to five Rameen: I’m one of those that says thank you The cold camera tripod It was a great event though Okay Following the groundbreaking … Before the groundbreaking happens, a lot has to happen in order for a groundbreaking to happen Carol, tell us how we got to this point Why is this happening for Toledo and how? What were the things that, financial stuff that- Carol: That led up to it? Rameen: Yeah Explain that please Carol: 10 years ago, Burnham Neal, Neal Tire, Ben Tire Burnham Neal visited with me Burnham used to be our chairman of the board of our bank So Burnham and I visited and some other folks, about a community center He was willing to give some money at that time with a match It just didn’t come to pass When Burnham passed away unfortunately, he left three million dollars to our community if a group of people could go together and form a board, and make a request to the Neal Foundation And so, a group of us did So we made that request to the Neal Foundation Neal Foundation said yes We bought property We demolished buildings We started on building plans And then it occurred to us that we really needed Blake Blake: Need the Y Carol: We needed the YMCA So we went to the Y We had all these steps taken We had money to build a building The Neal Foundation continues to be supportive of us We joined together and we have a lot of enthusiasm with the people here It’s been amazing And a lot of enthusiasm with Mattoon, with the folks in Mattoon It’s just been great Rameen: Having talked with both of you at the groundbreaking and hearing some of the presentations this evening, you kind of explained about the legacy of Burnham Neal and that this is something he wanted Carol: Something very much He wanted a swimming pool He wanted little boys like himself to be able to ride their bicycles and go to the swimming pool That was his big, big thing He wanted to be able to have it in town There was no other way that he was gonna have it except for in town We found a location in town Little did we know when Burnham was still alive that the opportunity would be to put it right on the Toledo Square, which is an awesome thing for the town It’s just a great thing for our community all around Rameen: What is the target goal for when this potentially might open? Blake: That’s the 10 million dollar question I think

Our goal is to have this open sometime in December of 2018 We would love to have the doors open before we move into 2019 A lot of that’s pending weather and how the construction projects go, but I like our chances Rameen: Okay Very good I’ll look forward to that, potentially walking through with my video camera and showing it off- Carol: Absolutely Rameen: 10 plus months from now Blake: We’d love to have you Carol: We would love to have you Rameen: Very good Blake, you’re with the Mattoon YMCA obviously, and that’s been a part of Mattoon there in the downtown area What is Toledo, Cumberland county, the surrounding communities in this area that are getting a YMCA, what kind of opportunities in the facility are they getting? Blake: Here, they’re gonna have … My goal, or our goal, is to replicate what we do in Mattoon the best that we can, but at the same time, looking at what the need is in the community Today, whenever I spoke to our crowd, I talked a lot about, “Hey just because we do it one way in Mattoon, doesn’t mean it has to be the same way in Toledo,” and used the example of our basketball program and how basketball shaped in Mattoon the different age groups and the different programs In Cumberland county, it may not be the same We’ll do our best to replicate, but at the same time, recognizing and shaping our programs and offerings to what the need is Rameen: There were many things that stood out about what you both said, and a couple other people One thing I want to point out that I think is truly unique is that the individual locker rooms Please explain that, because that is phenomenal Blake: Yeah We don’t have, in this plan, we don’t have the traditional locker rooms Our Y, and all Ys, our demographic is from birth to well into, we have folks that are in their 90’s and even some that have been in the hundreds that have been members of the Y Privacy is … Every age group views privacy a bit differently We just wanted to make sure that we can have private spaces for individuals That’s for young families That’s for active older adults That’s for folks with special needs that would potential be uncomfortable in a traditional locker room setting By providing 15 individual spaces with a shower, toilet, and a sink, it think we’re doing the best we can for the community Rameen: Several other things you pointed out, but that was one thing that stood out to me that I thought you could elaborate on to our folks at home that are watching My final question for both of you, and I appreciate your time here on City Spotlight Carol, I’m gonna leave you with this question What does this say about Toledo, to be able to have something like this to provide for the residents of Toledo, Cumberland county, and the outlying areas YMCA is not something that you find in many towns, let alone- Carol: That’s right Rameen: A village town the size of Toledo Carol: I was sitting by a lady tonight when Blake was talking He made a comment about how much money we’ve raised already from our community She said to me, “This is what small towns do.” We really are rallying around and behind the YMCA of Mattoon because they are giving us a gift that we could never provide for ourselves Burnham gave the money, but the actual facilitation of a daily basis is gonna be on the shoulders of the Mattoon Y For them to come to Toledo, Illinois and to work with us in Toledo is just above any of our expectations We were so happy, so proud, so relieved, and very thankful, very thankful to the YMCA and to the folks up there, and the board that has agreed to help us out down here in Toledo Rameen: Obviously, a lot to be done, but what I love to hear is the great team effort, communities working together This is City Spotlight, so we’re talking about communities working together This is as good as it gets right here Blake: Absolutely Rameen: Carol Jo Fritts of the Neal Center YMCA board and Blake Fairchild of the Mattoon area family YMCA, we appreciate your time here on City Spotlight Blake: Thank you so much Carol: Thank you Thank you for having us Rameen: Excellent Coming up next here on City Spotlight, we’ll change locations and we’ll talk Cumberland schools with Cumberland school’s superintendent, Todd Butler But first, let’s take a look at some of the upcoming activities going on in Toledo [music plays] And we’re back here on City Spotlight This on location episode on Toledo We’ve changed venues Not gone too far We were at Cumberland High School in the first segment We’ve moved over maybe about half a block to the school district building We’re gonna talk Cumberland schools To help us out is the superintendent of Cumberland schools, Todd Butler Welcome, Todd, to the program Todd: Thank you Thank you Rameen: Pleasure to be here and on location for this Toledo episode Before we talk about the Cumberland school district, Todd tell us about yourself please Todd: Well, I graduated from Cumberland High School in 1987

I began teaching here in 1994 Coached and then moved into administration in 2005 In 2014, I took over as the superintendent Rameen: All right, so your familiarity with having gone to school here and moved on up from being a, you said that you were a coach, a principal and now the superintendent I’m sure the familiarity with the landscape of this area, having been here a while, helps you with being a superintendent Todd: It does It does Being familiar with the community, with the people that live here is a big help Rameen: All right Very good All right Let’s talk about your school district This is a consolidated school district You have a high school, and as you mentioned to me, the middle school is in the same building as the elementary school This is located all off of Route 121 between Toledo and Greenup Tell us about the number of kids you have in your school system and the communities that you serve Todd: Okay We have just over 1000 students in the Cumberland school district Our three major towns or villages are Greenup, Toledo, and Jewett We have a lot of rural kids There’s about 1000 students, just a little over 1000 students We’re just under 300 in our high school Rameen: Okay Very good Before we talk about the facilities that you have, the two main buildings there, you had mentioned to me last year there was a 1% sales tax that was passed to help out with the schools That obviously shows a vote of confidence of the people in the community that they value the school, so tell us about what that sales tax was and what it will do for the schools moving forward Todd: The 1% sales tax was passed last spring in our area, in our school district It was a county wide vote in our school district It was an all yes vote We had some other township areas that didn’t vote for it, but it did pass It’s really a game changer for our schools Not only our school, but other schools who have students who live in Cumberland county For example, at Teutoplis, they have some students that live in Cumberland county They have some revenue from the 1% sales tax there The 1% sales tax can be used only for school building, renovations or repairs Our high school was built in 1952, so you know it’s needing some repairs It prevents, and will hopefully continue to prevent, us from having to borrow money or go to the voters for a referendum to maintain, upkeep our facilities Our elementary and middle school was 50 years old this year That as well is going to need some renovations and some repairs The 1% sales tax is a game changer for our school district Rameen: I’m very happy to hear that You just took a little bit of my information I was gonna say there, but you have a high school that’s 65 years old and your elementary and middle school, 50 years this year, so some nice even numbers for some people to remember there When was the last time you had any additions or- Todd: I believe in 1996, we built a new gym at the middle school, along with classrooms Other than that, the only other renovations are the yearly maintenance, like roads, roofs, paint, things like that Rameen: Okay Very good Let’s talk about the curriculum you had being used in the two buildings there As you told me, the K through eight, it’s the pretty standard curriculum that you see at other schools being used Todd: Correct Yeah, it’s traditional type … We do offer several different clubs and activities in our middle school We have a flex period where the kids get to, a lot more hands on type activities But really K through eight is a traditional school Rameen: The high school, one thing you wanted to talk about was vocational stuff Todd: Mm-hmm (affirmative) We do We have a really solid vocational program Our students are very interested in that in this area Our construction skills, our cabinet making, our welding, just our basic woodworking Not to mention our home ec, our sewing, things like the traditional home ec programs We have a lot of kids that are interested in our art program We have a very good art program here There’s a lot of offerings for our students A lot of things to be involved in Rameen: A lot to learn in just the basic courses that you need to take, but you’re peeking the students’ interests, so that it’s gotta make you feel good that you can peek a variety of interests of students Todd: It does It makes us feel good as staff, as school board, as community that our students are being offered things that interest them and that also they can use in the future

Rameen: All right Very good You said for the past four years, you’ve had a one-to-one digital component involved in the school district, which was helped out by the Neal Foundation, which we talked in our previous segment about the new YMCA, and the Neal board and their help Talk about how that’s being used in the schools Todd: Well, first of all, that would have never happened without our Neal Foundation The funding came directly from them to our school We had purchased enough technology, Chromebooks is what we use here with our students, for every student to have one of those Now our K through first grade, we don’t have enough because there’s just not as much possibly need for it in those classrooms, but from second grade through 12th grade, every student has the ability to put their hands on a machine at any point of the day Rameen: Very good Any other programs or things you want to highlight at either building that’s going on, whether it be a program that you had already mentioned, the vocational, or anything going on at the elementary school that you’d like to highlight? Todd: Well, we’re getting ready to, in March, have our annual drama production, which our students are very interested in I think there’s about 64 students involved, and it’s a great production I think it’s March 16th through the 18th, I believe It’s held at the Toledo Christian Church Mrs. Stacey Kaiser produces it, along with a lot of help in the program, because you can’t do it on your own with that number Our band and choir is continuing to be a popular program for our students In high school and middle school, our athletic programs have done well It’s just one more thing that you can offer a student that, you know we like our kids to be involved And our kids like to be involved We’re fortunate Rameen: Those support groups and different avenues for the kids to go to during these K through twelve years is a major component that definitely makes for great memories I was in the band in high school, and I have a lot of great memories, so for these kids, it’s great that they have a lot of places to go to Todd: I agree Rameen: Very good Talk about the community support you have You have, as we mentioned, it’s a consolidated school district, so you have a variety of villages and rural towns that the families and the students that come to this school, talk about the community support you have from all these different people in Cumberland county Todd: Yeah, our community’s awesome We’re kind of the hub in between the three small villages It’s not uncommon for, well athletic events or band concerts to see a full gym or a football stadium, or our stands full It’s an area for our communities to come together and for our community members to come together It’s nice to see that Nice to see the support that our community provides us Rameen: I saw that from them voting on the sales tax and they show up for a variety of events that are held to support the kids It’s great to have the community support One thing that you told me about that people in the Cumberland school district can look forward to is some new buses starting for the next year Tell us about this exciting news please Todd: Right Well, we lease our buses Our lease is currently, at the end of this school year, is up We are renewing our lease, and we have decided to, as a board and in committees and in talking to people, we have decided to move somewhat away from the diesel, from the high emissions type vehicles and more into gasoline and propane Next year, our students will be riding buses that aren’t diesel They’ll be riding buses that are gasoline or propane We looked at that and thought, “When you see 14 buses sitting out here with little kids walking by exhaust pipes and things like that, it’s just not a good situation.” We decided to move to a cleaner burning fuel, which is propane, and also gasoline Rameen: All right Very good How long have you guys been thinking about doing something like that, because that’s not a small undertaking that you change bus stuff? Todd: Right We’ve talked about it for probably about three years It was a big decision for us because just the comfort zone was diesel fuel As the years go on and you see more and more districts moving away from diesel into these cleaner burning fuels Rameen: All right Very good That’s all I have on the list of questions for you, Todd Pleasure having you on this first time here on City Spotlight Todd Butler, the superintendent of Cumberland schools We appreciate your time here on City Spotlight Todd: Thank you very much

Rameen: And that’ll wrap it up for this on location City Spotlight episode on Toledo We thank you for watching and we’ll see you next time [music plays] City Spotlight is on youtube Past episodes can be viewed on East Central Illinois towns, that have been featured on City Spotlight Just search on youtube, City Spotlight with the show number, and the name of the town Listed on your screen are the recent episodes of City Spotlight.[music plays] City Spotlight is supported by Consolidated Communications CCI is honored to salute the cities and their leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local homes and businesses We live where we work, and are proud to support the communities we serve More information available at [music plays]