Highland News Leader

St. Rose residents looking to incorporate as an official ‘village’

Some residents of St. Rose are looking to make the community, which has roots going back to the mid-1800s, an officially recognized village.
Some residents of St. Rose are looking to make the community, which has roots going back to the mid-1800s, an officially recognized village. amcdonald@bnd.com

St. Rose has existed as a community since the 1800s, but mostly in its people’s hearts — never on paper. At no time has St. Rose had any recorded municipal boundaries. There’s not ever been a mayor or a town board. But a group of local citizens is looking to change that. They want their town to have official legal status as a recognized village.

Fifty-six people signed a petition to put the matter up for referendum this fall.

“They only needed 35 (signatures),” said Highland attorney George Marron III, who filed the petition in Circuit Court in Clinton County on April 28.

Marron said, if the petition meets all of proper requirements, the proposal should be put on the ballot this fall, allowing citizens to vote on incorporating.

“We are going to ask the judge to put it on the November ballot,” he said.

St. Rose has a long history. Joseph Taylor is said to have built the first brick structure in the area in 1835. By the 1840s, the German and Swiss immigrants were moving in; they soon established the St. Rose Catholic Parish. In 1863, Peter Schuette started a trading post. Seven years, later he opened a general store, complete with a post office, and a village of 22 homes, with a population of about 120 people, sprouted up around it. Many more have been built since.

Over this time, St. Rose has not been without any locally controlled government. At present, St. Rose Township maintains area roads. St. Rose School District provides K-8 education. There is also a St. Rose Water and Sewer District and a St. Rose Fire Protection District. However, there has never been a municipal government, which is what the petitioners are looking to establish.

“People have been very receptive to the idea and are very surprised it isn’t already a village,” Marron said.

The push to become a village has been an underlying current in the community for some time.

“It has been talked about through the years, and people have looked into it, but it never got any traction,” said Justin Detmer, a member of the St. Rose Development Club (SRDC), which has a mission to bring in new businesses and improve general quality of life for the community.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that the idea of incorporation started to gain momentum real momentum. The idea picked up traction after an anonymous donor gave the SRDC $5,000, Detmer said.

“We have no government or anything in the town, and the money was given for that reason,” Detmer said.

After the club received the money, Detmer, along with fellow SRDC members Craig Benhoff and Chad Vonder Harr, started doing research on how to become a village. The trio reached out to surrounding communities of comparable sizes, compiled their information and presented the idea during the annual SRDC banquet this past February.

There is more than signing a petition that goes into changing a cluster of homes and buildings into an official village. Marron said there has to be at least 200 inhabitants that would live in village, and they have to be in reside in homes owned by at least 30 different people.

In the petition, the area for the proposed village would be less than two square miles.

“It’s basically a square to the outer limits of town,” Detmer said.

The population of the area being considered for the new village limits would be about 450.

What it means to be a village

Detmer said there are pros and cons to becoming a village. He said one of the most “misunderstood” cons is the belief that more government will mean more taxes. That’s not the plan, he said.

“People think that once you have more government, you have more taxes, but after talking to other officials with towns about our size, they all told us the same thing: ‘Live within your means,’ ” Detmer said. “If we become a village, we would have money coming back via sales taxes and from other projects, too.”

At present, if St. Rose needs anything, officials often have seek out county representatives. Which isn’t a bad thing, unless they can’t help.

“A good example would be we needed to redo sidewalks near a new daycare, because we didn’t want people walking in the street. That’s dangerous,” Detmer said.

St. Rose representatives went to the county to ask for funds to complete the project, but were told there was no money available, according to Detmer.

“We raised the money and did the whole project for $30,000, and we had a lot of volunteers come out and help us, too,” he said. “Right now, we only get so much money to maintain the township.”

“If they become a village, residents will have more control over taxes that now go to Clinton County or the state. They are also more eligible for grants. I think this whole thing makes sense,” Marron said.

The St. Rose school, fire, and water and sewer districts would remain independent of the village.

“These areas would still operate individually,” Marron said.

What’s next?

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the Clinton County Courthouse in Carlyle.

If the issue passes in November, St. Rose residents will officially become an incorporated village.

“We will have to appoint trustees and then host an election for mayor or a board, depending on how we want to set it up,” Detmer said.

Before any vote, Detmer said he and other backers of the plan intend to provide more information to the public.

“Our plan is to have another meeting for the township and the proposed incorporated area,” Detmer said.

A Look at St. Rose

St. Rose Township: It is one of 15 townships in Clinton County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of the 2010, its population was 1,422 and it contained 543 housing units. The township has a total area of 37.51 square miles.

St. Rose School District: It covers 32.5 square miles of land in northcentral Clinton County, with a small portion also in Madison County. The school has an average of 158 students in grades kindergarten through eighth. The area is also part of the Breese Central Community High School District.

St. Rose Development Club: The SRDC strives to improve quality of life in St. Rose. It has ownership of two properties in the community. Its park is located approximately  ¼ mile south of the four-way stop in St. Rose. The park features two pavilions. The large pavilion (80 by 60 feet) was recently expanded to upgrade the kitchen and restrooms. The area between the two pavilions has a state-of-the art playground area, upgraded in the spring of 2008. It also features two playground structures, one design for 5- to 12-year-olds, and the other for 2- to 7-year-olds. The second property location is the Community Building in town.

St. Rose Parish: The first Catholic settlers were immigrants from Baden, Germany, and from Switzerland, who arrived between 1844 and 1850. By 1867, an estimated 25 Catholic families were living in the vicinity of St. Rose. True to their characteristically independent nature, these people decided to have a church of their own in their own vicinity. On Aug. 30, 1868, the cornerstone of the St. Rose Parish was laid. In the spring of 1870, the new church was under roof. In 1881, a school was dedicated and staffed by the Precious Blood Sisters of Ruma, who are still with the parish today. In 1988, the church was completely renovated.

Business Community: The community’s economic base is tied to agriculture, specifically dairy farming, and other agri-business. A couple such ag-related enterprises are Straeter Equipment and Kohlbrecher Truck Services.

However, there are businesses that are not farm-related.

The Schuette family grocery business is the oldest continuous family owned grocery business in Illinois and one of the oldest in the United States. In 1863, Peter Schuette started a trading post in St. Rose. Seven years, later he opened a general store. The Schuette family business is now in its fifth generation and operates Schuette’s Markets in five local communities, including St. Rose.

Since 1975, Rehkemper & Son has been to producing quality roof and floor trusses.

Popeye’s Chop House and Scooter’s Pub & Grille are local restaurant/bars.