Tearing Down to Build for the Future

Tearing Down to Build for the Future
By: Mike Shain
MOUNDS, Ill. - Mayor Waymon Butler of Mounds called a man in Florida who owned a dilapidated house in the southern Illinois town.  Mounds had the house on a list to tear down.  The man in Florida said he had plans to return "home" and asked the city to board it up for him.  Asked how long he'd been away from Mounds, he replied "about 15 years."  He was surprised when Mayor Butler said they couldn't board up the old house.  There was nothing left to nail to.
Mounds is tearing down about a dozen derelict buildings a year.  Two houses and the roofless Masonic Temple will come down next week.  Demolition is financed by SIDEZ, Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone. 
Across the street from city hall, a large area has been cleared of empty houses, brush and debris and now a man in Chicago is looking at the location for houses.  That's one of Mounds' major needs.
SIDEZ also operates a business incubator and one Mounds business, a wholesale operation, has outgrown the incubator and moved to a larger building in the old downtown business district.  And it's expanding by adding a retail building center.
Several houses are planned along with an apartment building and a restaurant in downtown.  Its specialty would be ribs and other barbeque delights.
Mounds may never be 5000 people again but Mayor Butler says, "We're on the bottom and now we're moving up."