City Spotlight 609 – Casey

City Spotlight 609 – Casey


Rameen: Coming up on City Spotlight, we are
talking about Casey. In the first segment we’ll talk with the mayor
of Casey, Nik Groothuis, and Casey Economic Development Director, Bailey Maulding, about
the latest going on with the big things in Casey. Plus the latest economic development and public
works in Casey. Then we’ll head out to the 32nd annual Casey
Popcorn Festival and talk with one of the co-founders of the Casey Popcorn Festival,
Bernie Morgan. Today it’s all about Casey, here on City Spotlight. [music plays] City Spotlight is supported
by Consolidated Communications. CCI is honored to salute the cities and their
leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local
homes and businesses. We live where we work, and are proud to support
the communities we serve. More information available at consolidated.com. Hello and welcome to another edition of City
Spotlight. We’re back in the studio for this new episode
here on Casey and we welcome to the program, the Mayor of Casey, Nik Groothuis. Nik, [crosstalk] have you back on. Nik: Nice to be here. Rameen: Excellent, and first time to the program. Bailey Maulding, she’s the Casey Economic
Development Director. Bailey, welcome to the program. Bailey: Hi. Thanks for having us. Rameen: Great to have Casey on here on the
program. We’ll have a little segment later on over
at the 32nd Casey Popcorn Festival. We talked with Bernie Morgan there. We are taping here on September 11th, and
there’s lots of things going on in Casey right now. Mainly the big things. And we’re going to start with the big things. First, on August 20th, there was some measuring
being done in Casey to measure the, I guess, current and new big things. Tell us about that day and maybe what are
some of the newest big things that you have in town? Bailey: Sure. So on the 20th we started in Marshall, the
gavel was placed last year, but we haven’t actually measured it yet. So we had our measuring ceremony at the gavel
and Marshall and then we came to Casey and did the swizzle spoon and the golf driver. Those were all fast tracked. We did all of our own measurements for that,
documented everything. And then hopefully we’ll get the certificates
for those on the 28th. Rameen: Okay. So you have a driver, you have the tee, all
you need is a golf ball, right? Bailey: Yes. [laughing]
Rameen: This is obviously not the first time that this has happened for Casey. Obviously a number of things are already the
world’s biggest. So we’d have video from that day that our
audience at home can checkout right now. What is that day like when they come to measure
the big things? Nik: Well, the last time they came and did
the measurements, the things were already in place. They were where they were going to be, and
the measurements of course had to be documented, just as they were this time, and the official
measurements then were identified and certified by Guinness at that time and Mr. Bolin received
the certification certificates right then. And as Bailey said, I think that we will receive,
we, Mr. Bolin, will receive those that they just documented when they come on the 28th,
but then there will be some, again, official measuring done of the, and help me Bailey,
if I forget them, the teeter totter, which is currently in place. It’s been in place and operating for about
a month now. Rameen: Unbelievable structure. I saw it coming back from the Casey Popcorn
Festival. That is absolutely outstanding. Nik: It’s pretty fun to watch people walking
up and looking around. It’s neat. Bailey: Take their dogs, everything. You see all kinds of things. Rameen: My kids will be running up it sooner
or later. Nik: The barber pole isn’t in place yet. I don’t know. It may be by the time we get back. There keeps saying it’s going to be going
up soon, obviously before the 28th. And then there’s a big key that’s going to
be in place and it’ll be about a block off of Main Street. But again, easy to get to at a former location
of a car repair shop. Those are the three new things. I don’t believe there’s anything else that’s
going to be measured at that time. Rameen: Okay. I’m not going to bother to ask you unless
you know off the top of your head, how many just general big things… Because you have several big things that are
not world’s biggest that are just around town, but you guys are well into the double digits,
for sure. Bailey: We have eight world’s largest right
now, so then hopefully we’ll add the new ones. And then yes, we have several big things like
the birdcage, the pencil. We have the spinning top. Nik: The spinning top. Bailey: Yep. That are just placed around town. Rameen: That bird cage, that’s something else
as well. So a for our audience at home, we’re taping
here on September 11th, we just talked about what happened on August 20th, so we get a
lot of dates here. We hope to be out there September 28th for
the revealing. We won’t have that information for this episode
because this is airing in the first part of August. So tune in where you need to, Casey webpage
or whatnot, for the results of that. Best of luck on that. Bailey: Yeah, we’ll have everything on our
Facebook page. Rameen: Okay, very good. Also going on, on the September 28th, you
have the First Big Saturday of Fall. Tell us what that’s about. Bailey: Yeah, so our store has started doing
this last year. Last year was actually the first, First Big
Saturday of Fall, and they just all have like an open house type. They’ll decorate all their stores for Fall. Everybody has a special deal going on. Usually they’ll have refreshments. But it’s just a good time and all of our stores
are excited at this point. Everybody’s so excited to decorate for Fall. You have to get your pumpkins out and all
of that. So it’s just a great time to support your
local stores. Rameen: And with new things, Nik, and the
big things, and everybody getting excited to decorate their stores, I’m sure it’s just
an overflow of energy. Everybody working together to make Casey look
as good as possible. Nik: Yeah, that’s, I think, part of the deal
with having a big open house to start Fall, get everybody out and about, it’s always a
fun time. It seems like when Fall starts roll around,
the heat starts to go away a little bit. There’s hopefully a little nip in the air
and everybody gets a little excited. Last year it was a great time downtown, good
crowds in and out of the stores, up and down the streets. It’s a social event as well. And so the measuring of the new world’s largest,
will just add to that excitement and fun, I think. Rameen: Okay. September 28th we hope to be out there and
have some video of not only the announcement of the world’s biggest, hopefully that happens
and obviously the First Big Saturday. So very good there. September 28th, the big date in Casey. Let’s talk about economic development. You have some new stores. And let’s start with Wildflower. Bailey: Yeah, we had a new bakery open up. We unfortunately lost a bakery last year,
so we are all very excited to see a new one open up and she’s been doing great. She’s located inside the Olive Tree Marketplace. She has fresh cupcakes, donuts. She just started apple turnovers. So a great variety that she switches out monthly. Rameen: Okay. Next one we have here The Traveling Mug.
Bailey: She is next to the Casey Candy Depot. She has a drive through, so that’s great for
locals especially. And she does a variety of different coffees
and teas. Rameen: Okay, excellent. And the last one I have here, I’ll see if
I can pronounce this correctly. Tetzel Prime. Bailey: [crosstalk]. It actually just opened last week. They’re doing gourmet pretzels. They don’t have set hours yet, so it’s a day
by day thing right now. But yeah, they have gourmet pepperoni pretzels,
jalapeno pretzels, just [crosstalk]. Nik: Sugar cinnamon, don’t forget that one. That ones good. Rameen: So, not plain pretzels. Bailey: No. Nik: They do have the salted pretzels too,
but they’re big. They’re the big pretzels and they are tasty. Rameen: The big things. Nik: Yes, exactly. Rameen: And also you said you have one in
progress in the works, the Casey Coffee Company. Bailey: Yeah, they started construction probably
two months ago now, so we’re excited to see them open soon. Rameen: Okay. Very good. Nik, obviously new economic development in
town. It’s very important for a community to have
multiple new things. Try and get things going. Nik: Exactly. And Bailey does a good job of trying to stay
on top of that. Sometimes we still get surprised by what’s
occurring, what’s happening, and when we do find out there’s something new going on, we
reach out to them and try to get as much information and offer what help we can. There are some local grants available to our
businesses as well. So we try to keep the businesses informed
of that too. It is very important to us and it’s just been
a crazy boom for us with the addition of all these new downtown businesses. Rameen: Bailey, ,I forgot to ask you at the
very beginning because you’re a first time guest, and I think we’ll try and sneak that
question in at the very end. You’ve been on the job here in Casey a little
over a year, so I’ll ask you at the end of our segment there about that. Tell us about the Kroger Corner. What is that? Bailey: Sure. We had a building that we tore down actually
last September and it had a Kroger mural on the side and so that’s stuck obviously between
Fashion Lane and Kroger Corner, is how everybody knows the building. So we’ve just stuck with the name of the Kroger
Corner. Now it’s an empty lot, and we are hoping in
the next month or so to start developing that and it’s going to be a pocket park type thing
and we’re excited to get the community involved, hopefully have some items that you would be
able to donate to somebody in memory of, or something to that effect. We’re not sure on all the specifics yet, but
we are working for that. We received a $25,000 grant from America In
Bloom to assist us with that project. They will help us with all the greenery that
will be on the lot. So, hopefully more to come on that soon. Rameen: All right, very good. So stay tuned to that. You just mentioned the grant. You have a list of grants here, a waterline
grant, a drainage grant, abandoned housing grant. Tell us about all these grants that you have
going for you. Bailey: Sure. So obviously infrastructure is a huge concern
in any small community. We’re fortunate enough this year that we’ve
gotten a ton of money to come in to assist us with us these. So we’ll do a waterline grant. It was a $500,000 grant, so that will assist
us tremendously. We have a drainage grant that is out on West
Maine where we have a lot of standing water, so that will help with all of those areas
around the railroad tracks on West Main Street. That was a $75,000 grant. And then we got $20,000 to assist with abandoned
homes in town, so we can use those to demo the houses that have been abandoned or just
with blight around town. Rameen: Okay. Very good. I’m going to change the order here on our
next question here, I see something about a new City Hall purchase. Tell us about that, please. Nik: Yeah, that was exciting. The Regions Bank building had been vacant
for several years, had been listed at a very high price, nice building and probably rightfully
so was the price for the listing. But it’s basically a whole city block short
of one corner and they just listed it again. All of a sudden it showed up as a listing
along with a lot of other Regions properties to be auctioned. And so the Council decided sure, if we can
get it for a relatively inexpensive price, let’s bid on it and see what happens. Well, long story short, we did. We got the bid and hopefully we’ll be moving
later this Fall from our current location to this Regions Bank building. It’s a big building. It will suit us very well to do what we need
to do in there. Rameen: I think I remember correctly where
it is in Casey for folks at home. Where will you be located soon? Nik: Yeah, it’s actually 105 West Alabama,
is the official address, but it’s actually the parking lots and everything are on Main
Street. It’s just off of First Street, on the West
side of Central. We’ll still be close to everything. Rameen: Put you on the spot there a lot. A lot of streets there [crosstalk]. Nik: No, I just had to think of my mind. Bailey: Next to the birdcage across from Dollars
and Cents. Nik: Yes. There we go. Rameen: Very good. Coming up here. In our next segment we’ll talk with Bernie
Morgan of the Casey Popcorn Festival. And Fairview Park, you have just so much that
goes on there activity wise. Quickly give us a summary of some of the events
you had that went on over the summer. Nik: Actually had an intern from Eastern that
was with us all summer. He was a great asset. He helped with the Music in the Park. John Crouch put a great summer series together
for us. We had Movies in the Park put on by CIA. We did a couple of just random games. He would take a kickball down to the park
and play with kids. We had a couple tours from Charleston that
came. So we had just a lot of activities going on
at all times. The horseshoe pits are always a big hit. Especially when we can get the State Tournament
in town. So a lot of fun things going on. We have disc golf down there now too. Rameen: Experienced my first horseshoe at
the Casey Popcorn Festival and the things I heard from the gentleman I have to repeat
it because I said it in the interview with Bernie Morgan. The gentleman said, “I’m doing so bad I have
to get this score just to finish last.” [laughing] Those horseshoe guys came from
all kinds of places to be there. So very good. Quickly a comment about the Casey Popcorn
Festival. Nik, 32 years, we talk with Bernie Morgan
who is one of three co-founders, a great long standing tradition there in Casey. Nik: Yeah, it’s something that the whole town
looks forward to. It seems like after the 4th of July then that’s
the talking point, is the Popcorn Festival, and what vendors are going to be there, and
if we’re going to have a carnival, the whole thing, and who’s going to be the premier act
in the evenings. So it’s one of those things that it is the
Fall activity for Casey. Rameen: Excellent. We’ll have plenty of images and Bernie Morgan’s
interview coming up in our next segment. Bailey, I typically ask off the bat because
things got switched around. You’ve been on the job here in Casey a little
over a year now, August of 2018. Tell us what you’ve enjoyed about working
in this community for the past year. Bailey: Before I started working with the
city, I worked with Casey Industries. They are an organization that tries to bring
business to town, helps with the big things. So before I accepted this position I was already
deeply involved in the community. My husband has a couple businesses in town,
so it’s just a community that’s near and dear to my heart. Obviously excited to see that grow and all
the new things coming. Rameen: All right, so new, big things, new
economic development, new City Hall, lots of exciting things going on in Casey. We thank the time of the Mayor of Casey, Nik
Groothuis, and Bailey Maulding, Casey Economic Development Director. It’s been a pleasure having you guys on City
Spotlight. Bailey: Thank you. Nik: Thanks for having us. Rameen: Thank you so much. And coming up next here on City Spotlight,
we’ll head out to the 32nd annual Casey Popcorn Festival. Talk with one of the co-founders, Bernie Morgan. But first, let’s take a look at some of the
upcoming activities going on in Casey. [music plays]
We’re back here on City Spotlight, this new episode on Casey. As you can see, we’ve left the studios, and
our backdrop for this second segment is the 32nd annual Casey Popcorn Festival. To help us out in this segment, we welcome
first time to the program, one of the co-founders of the Casey Popcorn Festival, Bernie Morgan. Bernie, welcome to the program. Bernie: Well, thank you, Rameen. It’s a pleasure to be on WEIU Spotlight. Rameen: Thank you very much. And Bernie is not unfamiliar to the WEIU TV
airwaves. Bernie was a storyteller and a contributor
to the Casey, This Is Our Story program, so we’re glad to have you back on WEIU. Bernie: Thank you. Rameen: You’re a first time guest on this
program. And before we talk about the Popcorn Festival
can you tell our audience a little bit about yourself, please? Bernie: Well, I’m a Jack of all trades, but
I guess my main title Rameen would be I’m the promoter of the festival. Rameen: Okay, very good. Fair enough. This is the 32nd Casey Popcorn Festival. You’re one of three gentlemen that helped
get it started. Tell our audience at home a little bit about
the history and how it got going 30 plus years ago. Bernie: 32 years ago, John McDaniel, Rube
Howell, and myself… Actually to begin in the beginning, a local
radio station promoted a hot air balloon meet on Labor Day weekend and we saw the large
number of people that would come in the morning to the launches as well as in the evening,
and we thought it’d be nice if we had something for those people to do during the middle of
the day between the launches. And that’s how the festival began. Rameen: Okay, very good. You mentioned the names of the two other co-founders. One of them, the gentleman passed away this
last year just before the start of last year’s. Talk about his contributions and what he would
think about this festival 32 years long. Bernie: Well co-founder, Rube Howell was the
secret of the popcorn. The popcorn tasted good because of Rube. Rube worked at a farm that grew popcorn at
the time and knew the business in and out. He knew what kind of oil to pop it in and
helped with the acquisition of poppers. Basically, the popcorn aspect of the festival
rode on Rube’s shoulders. Rameen: I ask you about the questions I was
going to ask you beforehand and ask you how has this evolved through the years? I think you said, you told me, that it really
hasn’t changed too much in 32 years. Bernie: Not a lot. It’s still basically a… I look at it as a variety show. I look at it as Ed Sullivan. You’ve got the Topo Gigio over here, and the
Beetles over here, and the guy that spins the plates, it’s a variety show of entertainment. Rameen: Excellent. Behind us, we have the horseshoe tournament,
the Illinois State Horseshoe Tournament. Charles Cook Courts is the official name of
the area. They’re tossing horseshoes as we speak, so
we hear the music and the horseshoes clanging. This is the eighth time it’s been held here. Talk about its history and being a part of
this event here in Casey. Bernie: Well it definitely brings a lot of
extra people to the festival, as competitors and also as a visitors to the festival. They eat food, they buy gas, they have fun,
and they like coming here. Rameen: I heard some of the lingo this morning,
some video that we’re showing of the horseshoers in early competition, they’ll be competing
throughout all four days of the festival. Some of the lingo and I think one gentleman
said, “I think I need to get a certain score just to finish last.” So that was a funny little nugget of horseshoers
talking to each other. Bernie: You know Rameen, I might add that
the horseshoe aspect of the State Horseshoe Tournament, at least in Casey, rests and basically
is successful through the efforts of one man, and that is Wayne Davis. He’s 80 years old. He maintains the courts during the off season. He’s a pitcher himself. He loves to pitch horseshoes. He started pitching in the 50s when he was
a boy with his father. Having the State Tournament in Casey, is all
because of the efforts of Wayne Davis. Rameen: Wayne Davis is here. He was also a storyteller talking about horseshoe
tournaments here in Casey, and the Casey This Is Our Story program. You also have a car show that’ll be happening. We’re taping here on the first full day of
the Casey Popcorn Festival, August 31st, for those folks at home and on Sunday, the second
full day, you guys have a car show. You guys also have lots of music, as you can
hear in the background. A band is performing. You have some aerial performers, a circus
act out of Cincinnati. You just have a whole lot going on. Like you said, it’s a very much a variety
show. Bernie: It definitely is. The car show on Sunday starts at noon. Competitors are allowed to register from 8:00
until noon. We’ll have on average 150 cars. One year, we had over 170. It’s, to my knowledge, the biggest car show
in Wabash Valley. One year we had the Batmobile. Just you’ll see anything and everything here. And definitely the-
Rameen: Did Batman show up with the Batmobile? Bernie: No, I just think Robin came, but anyway,
the car show’s a lot of fun. It brings back a lot of memories. It’s one of my favorite parts of the festival. Rameen: Excellent. It’s a four day festival. You told me beforehand, it wasn’t always a
four day festival, but it’s evolved to four days. It starts on a Friday. Ends on Labor Day Monday, correct? Bernie: Right. The main activities actually began on Saturday. We’re actually a three day festival, but we
have music on the night before, so maybe it is a four day festival, but we do stretch
out over the Labor Day weekend, full slate of activities on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
would close at 6:00, and we invite everybody out in the WEIU land to come see us Labor
Day weekend, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Rameen: We’re airing this in the first part
of October, a little bit after folks have been to the festival, but we’re glad to be
here covering each community’s local festivals, and certainly the Popcorn Festival a big part
of what Casey is. So my question for you now, Bernie, is what
does this festival mean to the city of Casey? Bernie: Well, the economic impact to me is
secondary. I think the most important thing, is it’s
a if you live away, it’s a reason to come home. It’s a reason to celebrate small town life. Festival is all about family. It’s just all about meeting, and being, and
enjoying each other. Rameen: Very good. You’re a native of Casey. Bernie: I moved in 40 years. Rameen: 40 years ago. Okay, so you’ve been in the community a long
time. You’re one of those we mentioned three co-founders
of this festival. What are you most proud of of this festival
over 30 years? Bernie: The family aspect. I see young parents that first came as babies
to their first festival and they’re back with their families. We grow the activities to meet the new generation
so we don’t stay stuck in a rut. And just the family atmosphere and the positivity
that we add to the community. Rameen: Should have mentioned all the way
at the very beginning, and free popcorn. Lots of it. Bernie: We’ll pop a thousand pounds and eat
it free all weekend. Rameen: All right, very good. Bernie Morgan, co-founder of the Casey Popcorn
Festival. We appreciate your time here on City Spotlight,
Bernie. Thank you, very much. Bernie: Hey, Rameen, Thanks. I know this will air after the festival. Come next year to the festival. We’re always Labor Day weekend and in the
meantime, come see the big things in Casey, Illinois. Rameen: Yes, we’ve talked about that quite
a bit in the first segment of our program. Lots going on in Casey with the big things
and the 32nd Casey Popcorn Festival. We thank you all for watching this latest
edition of City Spotlight, on Casey. We’ll see you next time. [music plays] Thank you for tuning into City
Spotlight. You can check out past episodes, including
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of City Spotlight. City Spotlight is supported by Consolidated
Communications. CCI is honored to salute the cities and their
leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local
homes and businesses. We live where we work, and are proud to support
the communities we serve. More information available at consolidated.com. [music plays]