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Vermilion Advantage CEO/President Tim Dudley and Nicole Van Hyfte, Vermilion Advantage’s Community Development Coordinator, addressed the Hoopeston City Council Tuesday night.

Vermilion Advantage CEO/President Tim Dudley discussed his hopes to serve all of Vermilion County with the Hoopeston City Council Tuesday night.

Dudley, who was chosen to lead Vermilion Advantage late last year, said he was excited to be in Hoopeston Tuesday night and outlined what he hopes to bring to the table as head of Vermilion Advantage.

“One thing I’m trying to bring to the table is that we want to be sure that all of the county is included in what we do in economic development,” he said. “It’s not just all about Danville. We’re a lot stronger together than we are apart. Hoopeston’s a main player in this county and we recognize that.”

Dudley said Nicole Van Hyfte, Vermilion Advantage’s Community Development Coordinator, is rolling out a plan to ensure that small communities around the county are being served by Vermilion Advantage.

Dudley also praised Hoopeston’s economic development projects that are currently underway.

“You’ve got a wonderful community here,” he said. “You’re doing a lot of the right things. I think we can build on that. I think the time is right for us all to grow.”

Dudley said the county has a had a rough past 10-20 years due to the loss of population and the impact that loss has had on housing in local communities.

He said Vermilion Advantage has a lot of things going on to help local communities.

Dudley also reminded the council that Vermilion Advantage also serves as the county’s chamber of commerce and are working to help small businesses around the county.

“I’m excited about what’s going on here,” he said. “I’m excited about our new team at Vermilion Advantage. I’ve got a great team in Danville. Please call us. Use us. We’re there for you.”

Van Hyfte also spoke during Tuesday’s meeting.

Van Hyfte is a Hoopeston resident, moving to the community about four years ago. Van Hyfte is from Catlin originally and said she’s been all of over the county.

She was appointed to her position about six months ago and was excited when Dudley asked her to focus on working with communities around the county.

“When Tim asked me to focus on outside of Danville, I was really excited about that,” she said. “Because I’m from a small community, I live in a small community and I’m passionate about it.”

Van Hyfte said she is excited about having chambers of commerce work together and working with Valarie Hinkle and Bill Nicholls from the Hoopeston Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Committee respectively.

Van Hyfte highlighted a few chamber events that are coming up.

Van Hyfte said she had restarted the business after-hours events around the county and had recently presented one at 112 Coffee Shoppe in Hoopeston that drew more than 40 people.

“The community really turned out and it was really successful,” she said.

Van Hyfte said Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Fairmount will be hosting the next business after-hours Thursday night.

Van Hyfte has also recently put the Young Professionals Network back together and has a group of 60 young professionals from around the county.

“I love that everybody wants to be so involved,” she said.

Van Hyfte encouraged any young professionals from the northern end of the county to come to the next meeting, which will take place during a luncheon at Whipper Snapper’s Southern Grill in Danville from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 13.

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Van Hyfte said there will also be a business and networking luncheon Oct. 27 at the David S. Palmer Arena.

Van Hyfte said she has been working on the Back to Business grants and encouraged any local small businesses that need help and are interested in the grants to reach out to her. She said the deadline is Oct. 13. She said interested businesses can contact her office at 217-442-6201 or email her at nvanhyfte@vermilionadvantage.com.

In other business:

- Doug Toole, representing Keep Vermilion County Beautiful and the Vermilion County Health Department, spoke during the meeting.

He announced an upcoming electronic’s collection at Danville Area Community College Oct. 16.

Toole also reminded residents who have electronics that need to be recycled that there are two business, Bryant Industries and Mervis Recycling, that will accept a lot of electronic items six days a week. He said they don’t take televisions or computer monitors.

- Alderman Joe Garrett reported that the Hoopeston Police Commission had hired Thomas Kirby as a full-time officer and that Officer Marvin Dobkins had been promoted to sergeant.

- Garrett also asked for and received the council’s permission to ask the city attorney to move legal action against Bzzz’s Place from city court to state court in the hope of forcing the building’s insurance company to tear down the bar.

The bar was badly damaged by a fire in March 2019 and has remained a decaying husk of a building and presenting a safety hazard for the downtown area.

Garrett said he wants a judge in state court to order the building’s insurance company to demolish it or have a structural engineer tell the city it is safe.

“I’m afraid we’re going to find it, one day, laying on Main Street if we don’t do something shortly,” he said.

- Garrett announced that Halloween Trick-or-Treating hours have been set for Oct. 31 for 5-7:30 p.m.

“We ask that you be safe. Use extreme caution,” he said. “Help protect our little goblins and ghosts.”

- Alderman Jeff Wise reported that the city has spent the first $20,000 of funds earmarked for bringing down hazardous trees around the city.

He said this represents the $20,000 that was earmarked from Motor Fuel Tax funds for trees.

Wise said it costs between $250-$1,000 to bring down each tree depending on the difficulty of getting the tree down.

He said the city has brought 44 trees with this money thus far.

Wise said they have $20,000 more that will also be spent on tree removal.

He said the parks department also has $20,000 set aside to bring down hazardous trees in city parks and the cemetery department also has $20,000 set aside for tree removal.

Wise estimated that bringing down trees in the cemetery will be much more than $1,000 a tree due to the extra caution and work that each will require to avoid damaging headstones during the removal process.

“It’s not easy to take them down in between headstones,” he said.

Asked if the tree workers have a schedule, Wise said not really since so much of their work is dependent on weather conditions, pointing out that they lost a whole week of possible work due to rain.

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