Mercer County, Better Together initiative includes New Boston

Mercer County, Illinois—Residents of Mercer County are invited to come together to envision what they want for the future of their community, and to work with one another to make it happen.

Mercer County: Better Together is a citizen-led initiative that will celebrate the history of Mercer County, identify the common values rooted in the community, and search for a unified vision for Mercer County and its citizens.

The effort received support from the Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation, a private foundation administered by the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend. The four-month grant from the Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation will provide $18,332 to match local contributions towards the costs of community forums and communications to engage the people and businesses of Mercer County in a longer-term process to begin this September.

Mercer County Family YMCA will serve as the fiscal agent for the four-month grant. “This is a great opportunity to impact Mercer County for generations to come,” Sarah Brown, CEO of the Mercer County YMCA, said. Brown is one of 22 members of the Mercer County, Better Together Steering Committee.

The entire process will span two years and will engage communities in a series of fun and interesting activities that seek to zero in on what Mercer County’s future can—and should—become. The process will provide a platform for every member of Mercer County’s voice to be heard and a chance to get involved in an initiative that seeks to better the way of life for the entire community.

During the first four months of the effort, the Mercer County: Better Together Steering Committee will host four community information forums throughout the county. The committee consists of individuals who represent various communities and organizations throughout the county. The forums will be geographically distributed throughout Mercer County, with locations, dates and times communicated through the mail to Mercer County households, in the Times Record Weekly Shopper, and on the WRMJ Community Calendar.

The forums will introduce the concept of the countywide planning process, identify current assets, discuss projects that have occurred over the past 10 years, and encourage involvement from participants going forward.

Kelly Thompson, Director of Programs at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, said she is excited for Mercer County’s future. “The trustees of the Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation have been impressed with the way so many people representing Mercer County municipalities, businesses, media, nonprofits, education, government organizations and other involved citizens have come together to identify their common interest and purpose,” Thompson said. “They are glad to support the people of Mercer County as they plan their community’s future.”

The Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation was started through the estates of sisters Dorothy Looser-Flake and Roberta Looser. Their Mercer County upbringing and careers as educators greatly influenced their decision to direct the Foundation to advance economic development and further cultural and educational opportunities in Mercer County, Illinois.

Area residents and organizations have been meeting since October 2015 to reach this phase of the process. The community of Mercer County is invited to attend any or all of the following forums to engage in the discussion and become an active member of the initiative:

  • June 14 – 6:00 pm at St. Catherine’s Hall in Aledo
  • June 22 – 6:00 pm at the Fire Station in Viola
  • June 29 – 6:00 pm at the First Christian Church in Keithsburg
  • July 6 – 6:00 pm at La Belle Vie in Aledo
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