My name is Kyle Buchanan, and I am the Commissioner of Insurance and Finance for the City of Chenoa.
Now whether you believe in God or not, the sentiment is true; you can make all the plans you want, but life happens, things change, and your path changes. The same is true with city planning and revitalization. My goal in this letter is to provide some incite in what we’ve accomplished in my short time here, what we’re continuing to try to accomplish and the plans moving forward as a city. I’ve spoken with all my counterparts individually to receive their “blessing” for this letter.
I was elected to the council back in 2017. When I ran my goal was to bring businesses back to town and fix some infrastructure and finances along the way. Oh. I also hated that there was a partial sidewalk around our beautiful pond(lake?) so that had to be finished asap. Once I was elected, I realized it’s a lot harder to “change the world” than I had thought. There was true work and research that needed to be done on many fronts. There are laws, processes, and procedures that must be followed. Everyone’s voice matters and one bad apple can sour the whole bunch sometimes.
Since I’ve been in office there have been a lot of highs and lows. Instead of outlining every single good or bad thing, I’d like to offer up a SWOT analysis for the City of Chenoa.
Strengths---- We are building momentum financially with raising water rates and business generated tax revenues as well as finding more cost-effective ways to serve our citizens and do business as a community. Despite recent years past our water infrastructure is getting better. We are consistently upgrading areas of infrastructure that have been neglected for years. Water is getting better and as a byproduct more funding will be available for other areas such as parks, streets, and recreation. Our citizens are our biggest strength. People are wanting to start businesses here and keep them here. They are joining committees and helping their neighbors. More and more people in town have a fire lit under them to step up. We’ve got multiple committees assisting to better our parks, create more events, and revitalize our community. Parks are getting an upgrade. Buildings are being brought back to life.
Weaknesses--- Infrastructure and Finances. Momentum is going well in both areas; however we must keep paying them both the attention they need. We have significant water loss, and we are trying to find it. We’ve had surveys done and contractors come in to try and find it. You can only spend so much money, time and effort poking and prodding at something before you make things worse. We will continue to maintain and upgrade infrastructure and fix things as we are financially able. You can never predict the future, but we must ensure we catch up to the curve and then get ahead of it as best and most cost effectively as we can. Another tricky thing is the volatile supply chain and economic climate that we are in. We receive recommendations from engineers and trusted resources and then go to make a deal or start a project and the cost has jumped drastically. Upgrades and maintenance cost money, sometimes more than projected. We just have to continue to do our best to mitigate and offset any unexpected costs. Social media is also not helpful. We have a great community with great ideas, but social media makes the community look much worse than it truly is. Many people react first on social media instead of picking up the phone or sending an email or meeting with a council member to better understand the issue.
Opportunities--- Being on Interstate 55, Route 24, and Route 66, we are in a prime spot for growth. We’ve got plenty of opportunity to develop land with the right property owners and redevelopers. We also have a beautiful downtown area that must be kept up with and not neglected. We must continue to be creative and resourceful on expanding our reach and our footprint as well as making the most of what we already have, great people with great ideas. Continuing to upgrade infrastructure, parks, and keeping our town clean has the potential to draw people from Chicago, Bloomington, Peoria, and Champaign as well as other states with people now working more remotely. Much like I mentioned in weaknesses, we have an opportunity to do better with social media. We don’t want everything to be virtual, but there are ways to bridge the tech gap and professionally communicate when there are needs and issues arise. We can all be better about this. When in doubt or in need, pick up the phone.
Threats---- Our pool doesn’t pay for itself. Most public pools don’t. It’s always been that way. We’ve got to find a way to combat the operating costs and get resourceful. Pandemics, boil orders, tornados, really anything can happen at any moment as we’ve seen over the last 2 years. We lost some great people during the pandemic in our community and not enough can ever be said about that. We are very lucky for the people, school, and businesses that are still with us. We have some plans in place to react to any future community disasters, but we must continue to think proactively in ways to better plans and reactions.
Overall Chenoa is in a great spot. The work is never done and we will continue to work and grow together. Hopefully you found this letter informative and insightful. Stay well.