News Report Staff

Many times, good police work doesn’t involve car chases or cuffing suspects.

Making a child smile or helping a needy family can be rewarding for a law officer, too.

That’s why Effingham Police Detective Scott Volpi was honored Tuesday night in the Effingham City Council Chambers for his work with the local Shop with a Cop program over the past several years. The program has police officers work with community volunteers to provide Christmas gifts and some everyday needs for children in need. In addition, the program shows children that law officers are truly good people with big hearts.

Effingham Police Chief Jeff Fuesting praised Volpi for his tireless efforts on organizing the event each December. In addition, Volpi has helped raise $100,000 to make Christmas a little brighter time for local families facing hard times.

“I had a chance to help with the Shop with a Cop program this year for the first time in Effingham. To see all what Scott did was beyond amazing,” Chief Fuesting said before presenting the Chief’s Commendation Award to Volpi.

In addition, Chief Fuesting introduced his new executive staff team to the city council. The officers receiving promotions through the restructuring of the police department command positions include new Deputy Chief Danny Lake and Lieutenants James Dillow, Todd Ebbert and Jason McFarland.

On action items before Effingham City Council Tuesday, the commissioners approved an R-1 liquor license for Gopher’s Grill, a new restaurant and arcade going into the former Jansen’s Department Store (or more recently The Zone fitness center) on West Jefferson Avenue. The owners of Gopher’s Grill hope to open the new business early in 2018.

A P-1 Class liquor license, allowing wine tasting promotions or events, was approved for A-1 Food Mart at the corner of South Fourth and Fayette Avenue. Nirav Patel, part-owner of the business, said the switch from package-only sales will help with new options on expansion underway for the A-1 Food Mart. He said the expansion should be completed sometime in March.

On other business development, the council approved amendments to the Ford Avenue Business District Plan that offers more options to the city as allowed by new provisions in the state law regarding business districts. Gene Norber, of Economic Development Resources, a St. Louis-based consulting firm, said the amendments could expand financing, land acquisition, road projects and assistance with developers in the Ford Avenue District.

The vote on the amendments had Commissioner Don Althoff opposed, while Mayor Jeff Bloemker and Commissioners Kevin Willis, Merv Gillenwater and Kevin Esker voted for the motion. The plan will be available to the public at Effingham City Hall.

The council also heard from Todd Wegman, of Stevens Industries, on a proposed economic incentive agreement to assist with the company’s plans to expand its operations in the former TQW building in the Effingham Business Park. The agreement would offer up to $50,000 annually over three years if Stevens creates up to 25 new jobs.

This plan fits into the Teutopolis-based company’s plans to expand its production capacity on cabinets and wood lamination products. It would keep its workforce in Teutopolis, but this allows for keeping up with demand and adding more workers in Effingham.

The council will take action on the agreement at a later date.

In other business, Tourism Director Jodi Thoele said the Wonderland in Lights viewing is setting a new record. So far, 5,595 vehicles have driven through the lighted route in Community Park. And donations at the end of the route were just below $12,000 at the latest count, Thoele said.

An audit report on city finances covering the 2016-17 Fiscal Year showed no problems, based on a review by David Faller of West & Company L.L.C.