City Council Gets CEO Class Update

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Published on January 3 2013 1:00 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members heard Wednesday from representatives of the Effingham County CEO class, and were invited to contribute financially toward the class' operation.

CEO instructor Craig Lindvahl said the CEO goal is to make students ready for the business world, and to help them understand that there is a diversity of businesses already operating in the county that could be appealing to students who might look at remaining here or returning here after college.  Owing to the entrepreneurial thrust of the class, there is also instruction in how to start their own business.

Lindvahl said some 80 businesses have been started by CEO students and said 10 to 15 are still operating even after graduates have moved on from high school.

Students from all six county high schools participate in the CEO class.  They have a class project that, this year, will be a seminar allowing all those who have lamented "I wish they'd had a class like this when I was in high school" to attend a half-day of instruction on what the students are learning in the course.  Plus, each CEO student will start their own business.

Two CEO students, Katie Whightsel of St. Anthony High School and Tori Hardiek of Dieterich High School, were also present for the proposal, along with local businessman Dick Rhodes.  Whightsel said before CEO she was planning to go to school and not return to Effingham County.  Now, she says she's coming back home after graduation.  Hardiek talked about the number of businesspeople who help with the class and the confidence the course breeds in talking with adults and knowing the basics of starting and operating a business.

(ST. ANTHONY HIGH SCHOOL C-E-O STUDENT KATIE WHIGHTSEL HAS THE ATTENTION OF MAYOR MERV GILLENWATER, CITY ADMINISTRATOR JIM ARNDT, AND CITY COMMISSIONERS ALAN HARRIS AND DON ALTHOFF DURING HER PRESENTATION AT WEDNESDAY'S CITY COUNCIL MEETING)

There was no decision by the Council on whether to become a business investor and contribute $1,000 in each of the next three years to show support for the course.  However, there were plenty of positives heard. 

Commissioner Matt Hirtzel mentioned a similar program now available through Eastern Illinois University at Effingham Junior High School, and Commissioner Brian Milleville lauded the "public/private partnership" involved in CEO.  A vote on whether to contribute toward the class is expected at the Council meeting later this month.

In other business, Council members informally agreed to contract with an alternative natural gas supplier to save up to $10,000 a year beginning in May, and agreed to support later this month a change in the City personnel policy excluding firefighters from probationary periods related to promotions to comply with State law, and renewal of an agreement with Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center on an employee assistance program.

City Commissioner Don Althoff and City Administrator Jim Arndt reported that electricity aggregation letters are arriving at local homes and small businesses. Arndt explained that if residents want to take advantage of the electricity savings from aggregation, they should throw the letter away and they will begin automatically.  Only if they want to opt out of the program should they return the letter.

Arndt also reported that work is underway on the budget for the fiscal year that begins May 1.  He said Council members will meet in February to review budget proposals from city department heads with a goal of having the new budget adopted in April.