Crusinberry Death Pic 1.jpeg

BILL CRUSINBERRY

Bill Crusinberry was named the Chronicle 2021 Citizen of the Year during Saturday’s Community Awards Ceremony at the Lorraine Theatre.

Crusinberry, who passed away in December, served as mayor for more than 12 years and had previously served as an alderman on the Hoopeston city council.

During his time as mayor, Crusinberry spearheaded projects aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure, specifically looking at ways to alleviate flooding issues and improve the city’s water and sewer systems.

Crusinberry also focused on economic development by supporting projects that expanded existing businesses and brought new businesses to Hoopeston. Most recently, Crusinberry helped usher in the new Dollar General store on Route 9 and helped with the business developments on the corners of Routes 1 and 9.

Outside of his work as an elected official, Crusinberry had previously owned and operated Crunch’s Restaurant in Hoopeston for nearly 14 years. He was a member of the First Church of God in Hoopeston. He was also a member of the Hoopeston Chamber of Commerce, the Lion’s Club, the Sons of the American Legion where he held various offices and was a member of the Hoopeston Jaycees where he had previously served as Chapter Treasurer and was the past Chairman of the National Sweetcorn Festival in 1984.

Crusinberry received a significant number of nominations for Citizen of the Year. A few excerpts from the nominations are printed below:

“No one, in the past year, has done more for the betterment of Hoopeston than Bill Crusinberry. Throughout a pandemic that no one could have anticipated, he has worked with City Council and Vermilion Advantage to bring to fruition the improvements to the corner of Routes 1 & 9, that will be for the betterment of our community for many years to come. He has also worked with the Land Bank to rid our community of unsightly buildings that were in disrepair, and has others in the pipeline to be demolished. He took leadership for our community’s sesquicentennial activities this past summer. Bill has led our community through some very difficult times, not only this past year, but also for the entire 17 years he has served as a City Council Member and as Mayor. Everyone has not agreed with what Bill has tried to do with our community. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” That is just the nature of being a person of higher authority, like being Mayor. No one, however, can say that Bill did not try to accommodate the people of our community. Bill admirably performed his duties as Mayor while struggling through cancer treatments that ultimately took him from us. Whether you appreciated everything that he tried to do, one thing you cannot deny, and that was his sense of community. Hoopeston was his community in all that he did. Hopefully, he left that sense of community with enough of us that Hoopeston will continue to grow and be prosperous. We will miss his enthusiasm and commitment to Hoopeston, but not the accomplishments he left us with.”

“When I think of Bill, I think of Mr. Hoopeston. He was our mayor for the past few years and I saw many needed improvements and progress while he presided over our city. We lost an awesome member of our community. If you had a problem, Bill would try to get it corrected to the best of his ability, he made no idle promises, he just got things done. He helped out at Legion bingo if he was needed and we appreciated his help. Bill, you will be missed and you are missed. May you rest in peace.”

“This man has done a lot of different things throughout not only the last year, but for several years. Most recently, he has been instrumental in the building of a new and larger Casey’s, and a new updated and larger Dollar General. He has also worked side by side with the Land Bank to tear down several dilapidated houses. Every decision he made was very well thought out, with everyone’s best interests in mind. I have been told that some employees thought he was the best boss they ever had because he was always willing to listen to their complaints and praises. This man loved the City of Hoopeston, its employee’s, and the Citizens of Hoopeston. Therefore, my nomination for Citizen of the Year is Mayor Bill Crusinberry.”

“Bill has devoted his entire adult life to serving this community in one capacity or another, most recently as our Mayor. His devotion to improving Hoopeston, despite opposition and backlash from some, has been constant, and his work ethic an example to all. His kind and gentle demeanor sets an example for all to follow. We should all be grateful for his vision and his devotion to seeing things through. I can think of no other citizen who is more deserving of this title than Bill.”

Bill’s wife, Brenda, accepted the award on his behalf.

“Needless to say, I wish Bill was here to receive this,” Brenda told the audience. “He loved this community and he wanted to see it prosper so badly. He was so proud of Route 1 and 9 and the four corners there and how good it looks when you come into town.”

Brenda said Bill was a people person and hoped that community members followed his example of trying to work with each to continue to improve the city.

“He was a people person. He got along with everybody,” she said. “I really hope that it can continue and people will still do what it takes to make a better community. Thank you.”

The Chronicle received a record number of nominations for this year’s Citizen of the Year Award. While many of those nominations were for this year’s winner, The Chronicle also received numerous nominations for our two runners-up: Susan Comstock and April Jones.

Susan Comstock was nominated for her work helping local residents in need through such efforts as the annual Christmas Dinner she has organized for the past 10 years as well volunteering to help residents apply for housing grants and helping elderly residents apply for utility assistance. She also volunteers her time with the Vermilion County Rape Crisis Center.

As one nomination described her: “People know that they can contact her for help and if she can’t help them she puts them in contact with someone who can.”

April Jones was nominated due to her efforts organizing projects aimed at improving the community, most recently stepping up to spearhead efforts to construct a skate park in the city.

As one of the nominations for her put it: “This woman works very hard in our community. She truly believes in and fights for all the citizens of our community. She wants what is best for Hoopeston. She is the first person to jump in to help.”

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