By Bob Balgemann


The village will celebrate another milestone – the 40th anniversary of its incorporation – on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Land that previously was the site of the Machesney Airport was set aside for what became a successful Winnebago County municipality. And its triumphs over those years recently were heralded by the seventh mayor (village president) in its history, Steve Johnson, during the 1,514th meeting of the village board.

But first things first.

He recounted how those behind the incorporation effort first acquired a start-up loan of $25,000 loan.

In the time that followed, he said, and “through the wisdom of our founding fathers, the village agreed to contract out the majority of the services (provided to residents) and because of this, we have never levied a property tax and have become a poster community for other communities, wishing they could also privatize services.”

Over the past 40 years, he said there have been seven mayors, four village clerks, nine treasurers and 44 trustees, with each of them witnessing the development of Machesney Park.

Illinois Route 173, he continued, has gone from a two-lane highway with farm houses on either side to a four-lane highway full of successful businesses on either side.

While talking about economic development in the village, Mayor Johnson said, “We have several TIF districts that have been advantageous to all investors, and has proven to be one of the greatest decisions of our boards of trustees.”

(A TIF is a tax increment financing district that originally was created years ago by municipalities. The purpose was to stimulate economic development in a targeted geographic area).

Road improvements

“The village has over 130 miles of roads,” he said. “Since the beginning of the Build Machesney Road Fund in 2001, we have resurfaced and reconditioned over 75 miles of roads since 2008.”

Also in the area of responding to resident requests over the years, the mayor said there was a call for the village to provide a home for senior citizens not wanting to move out of the area.

“I am proud to say that after all these years, we now have a facility called TLC ready and waiting for our seniors to enjoy this new, active senior living experience,” he said. “TLC is the proud recipient of the Best of Senior Living award for 2021, given by Senior Advisor.Com.” 

(This 60-unit assisted living home is located on 5.9 acres just south of the former J.C. Penney Outlet, 8702 N. Second St., building on land purchased from the village several years ago. The village initially bought that property five years ago, including the 80,000-square-foot Outlet and 11.2 acres of land, for $900,000. The village marketed the building and it now is filled with five tenants).   

Machesney Park is home to Harlem School District 122 and he added that he was “proud to know that so many successful adults were once students in this district.”

In summation, he said the village has two volunteer fire departments, North Park Fire and Harlem-Roscoe Fire Protection District. “They have worked closely with the village to meet the needs of residents by providing excellent services to those in need,” he said.

And when it comes to law enforcement services, he said, “We have successfully contracted with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office for the entire 40 years and they provide us with the best in police services.”

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