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By Carmen Ensinger
Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) has named Stephanie Stalhut as its new Executive Director replacing Mike Kelly who retired from the position in June after serving as director for around three years.
Stalhut has been acting as interim director since Kelly’s departure, but was officially named as Executive Director on Oct. 7.
The IVEDC Board of Directors decided, when looking for their new Executive Director, to promote from within. Stalhut has been with IVEDC for 14 years, starting out as an intern and working her way up to Community Services Director before being named Interim Director.
“You might say I have grown up here in the Illinois Valley,” Stalhut said. “I started out as an intern, then worked as a part-time program clerk and then just slowly worked my way up to several different positions throughout my years here. I have a passion for the programs we offer through Illinois Valley.”
While there are many things she would like to accomplish, there is one thing that she sees as a priority.
“My one goal is to bring greater awareness throughout our four-county service area of the programs and services that we offer to help the residents of these counties if they are in a time of need,” Stalhut said. “We offer a broad spectrum of programs that deal with everyone from children with our head start program to the elderly with our Meals on Wheels, to the developmentally disabled with our rehabilitation programs and our developmental training services.”
The IVEDC services four counties – Greene, Jersey, Calhoun and Macoupin counties. Their main headquarters is in Macoupin County, which is where Stalhut is located. Not all programs are located in all counties.
For example, the Tri-County Transit Program is only available in Greene, Jersey and Calhoun and the Senior Nutrition Program is only offered in Greene, Jersey and Macoupin. Stalhut explains why.
“The reason the transit program isn’t offered in Macoupin County is because they have the Macoupin County Transportation System taking care of that county,” she said. “In Calhoun County, they take care of their senior citizens through their own Senior Nutrition site there in Calhoun.”
Programs which are offered in all four counties include:
■ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: This program is designed to help low-income eligible households meet the rising cost of home energy by providing financial assistance in the form of direct payments to the household’s energy vendor or the household.
■ Home Weatherization Assistance Program: This program is designed to help low-income residents save fuel and money while increasing the comfort of their home by weatherizing it. This includes sealing cracks, insulating attics and walls, repairing windows and doors, etcetera. The program also assesses the home’s heating system to assure it is safe and in good working order. An experienced contractor will clean, tune, repair, retrofit or replace the heating system.
■ Head Start and Early Head Start: These programs are comprehensive child development programs for economically disadvantaged families with children aged through five. The programs provide educational services, health and mental-health wellness, dental and nutrition services, family engagement opportunities and services to children with special needs. Two enrollment options are provided – center based or home based.
■ Rehabilitation: The agency’s Rehabilitation Programs provide a full range of rehabilitative services for persons 18 or older who have a diagnosed developmental disability. Developmental Training services include habilitation planning assessment and individual program planning. Employment services are provided through a supervised work environment where individuals earn a paycheck while learning real work skills.
■ Community Services Block Grant (CSBG): This program is designed to provide services and activities that will have a measurable and possibly major impact on the causes of poverty. This is accomplished through offering a wide range of services that will assist low-income and other disadvantaged individuals and families to obtain the skills, knowledge, motivation and resources necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. The CSBG assists with the following services: GED testing, vocational test, financial assistance for college books and supplies, gas vouchers for employment/education, uniforms/tools for employment, prescription/dental/medical equipment assistance, Medicare/benefit access, scholarships, emergency shelter, food vouchers, rental deposit, child care stipends and water deposits.
This year, Stalhut said they have a new program that will be available to residents of all four counties.
“We are going to have a water assistance program to help people who are at risk of being disconnected from their water service,” she said. “We are just waiting on the go-ahead from the State to start taking applications for that. It will be a temporary program to assist clients who are at risk of being disconnected.”