By Randy Pierce
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS – Because this year marks the half century point since the City of Fairview Heights was formally incorporated, that having occurred in October of 1969, a committee of residents, representatives of local businesses and elected officials has been formed to prepare for the observance of the municipality’s 50th birthday in a number of ways.
Local resident Jere Wilmering is chair of the all-volunteer committee which held its inaugural meeting in late 2018 and has been moving forward in several directions since then.
Making sure the public is informed concerning the many 50th anniversary programs, activities and events that will take place is a function of this effort being handled by a group that includes Fairview Heights Director of Economic Development Paul Ellis, Cindy Guthrie of the Illinois Center for Autism, Sharon Kassing, director of the annual Midwest Salute to the Arts, Amy Kempfer from Associated Bank, Jon Weaving, representing the Southern Illinois Tourism Bureau, and two print media representatives, Randy Pierce and Tim Tucker.
The purpose of this sub-committee is to promote the 50th anniversary celebration of Fairview Heights both inside and outside of the community by utilizing several sources such as print and broadcast news media, the city’s web site (www.cofh.org), a Facebook page that is linked to other pertinent Facebook pages, posters in public places, a television appearance on the “Great Day St. Louis” morning program on KMOV-TV (for which local resident Matt Chambers is one of the hosts), a presentation to the Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council Military Affairs Committee, outreach to parents in local school districts by e-mail and publicity in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department newsletter along with PowerPoint presentations for local clubs and groups.
A calendar is being put together with all of the dates, times, locations, sponsors and other details concerning Fairview Heights’ 50th anniversary celebration events and activities.
A commemorative book featuring text and pictures profiling the history of the city is being discussed by another sub-committee headed up by City Clerk Karen Kaufhold and will be made available as a keepsake for the public.
Family, sports, school, church, club, business or any other types of photos which would help depict the history of Fairview Heights, both well before and after it was formed in 1969, are being sought and may be shared with the city clerk’s office just inside the main entrance to the right at the city hall building at 10025 Bunkum Road. Further information is available by calling (618) 489-2000 during weekday business hours.
There are also tentative plans for a travelling exhibit of some sort in conjunction with the city’s 50th birthday utilizing photos, artifacts or other items which people in the community may have that can also be provided to the city clerk’s office as mentioned in the previous paragraph.
One of the most anticipated and highly visible aspects of the city’s 50th birthday celebration will be the spring opening of the new recreation complex on the west side of Bunkum Road just north of Interstate 64 for which construction was started in late 2017 with the goal of having it open this year.
The City of Fairview Heights currently encompasses an area that was originally made up of coal mines, several farms, small homes and locally-owned businesses known simply as “Fairview” without any specific borderlines and not actually a municipality.
Now a part of the city also, just to the west of the aforementioned cluster or property called Fairview earlier in the 20th century, is the similarly non-delineated French Village area along with some neighborhoods, subdivisions and regions that have developed beyond the original core of the community during the past 50 years like Patricia Gardens, Capitol Oaks, Summit Springs, Stonewolf, Fountain Place, Bountiful Heights and others.
Fairview Heights has grown since 1969 by annexing areas such as the aforementioned French Village neighborhood then, in 1989-90, the city expanded significantly, nearly doubling its population, when its boundaries were extended south from Longacre Drive/Ashland Avenue to generally what is now Frank Scott Parkway, going a bit further south on the west side of Illinois Route 159 than on its east side. The area now known as Moody Park was called Longacre Park then and already part of Fairview Heights when that annexation occurred.
There has also been some annexation to the north, most notably the area on that side of Interstate 64 all the way to beyond Fountains Parkway and up the west side of Old Collinsville Road near there.