BY CARISSA SITKI
The first meeting of the Cooperation of Organizations, Groups, and Services (COGS) in St. Elmo took place on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. The purpose of COGS is to better connect and network with the many people that serve the St. Elmo community.
In attendance of the COGS meeting were representatives from Saint Elmo Community Park District, Saint Elmo Public Library, The City of Saint Elmo, American Legion Post 420, Saint Elmo Emergency Services, The Friends of the Saint Elmo Community Park, Saint Elmo Lion’s Club, Saint Elmo Business Association, Royal Neighbors of America, and the Altamont News Banner. The different groups discussed a variety of topics to get a better understanding of where there is need and how these groups can help each other as well as the community as a whole.
David Maxey, president of the Lion’s Club, shared updates about the club’s declining membership numbers. The Lion’s Club does much to benefit the City of St. Elmo, from fundraising to community service, but according to Maxey, there has been a lack of new people getting involved with the club and 6 members have recently passed away. Maxey also cited the dwindling numbers as the reason the Lion’s Club will no longer handle the St. Elmo Labor Day Parade. Mayor Ernie Myers, representing the City and the Legion, agreed that a lack of new membership was a problem for the Legion as well. A sentiment that was also echoed by Fire Chief Doug Engeljohn who said that, while there used to be a waiting list for members to join, the department is currently short 11 people. To keep the services in Saint Elmo running there needs to be more participation across the board.
The use of community spaces and other facilities was also discussed during the meeting. According to Baron, the park has been hosting DCFS family visits and Myers said the Legion was open to allowing use of their space if a case worker could come to one of their meetings and explain the process. Additionally, Karen Wegscheid offered the library as a possible space for DCFS visits as well. The rental of the legion is paused due to COVID-19, but has a rental fee of $150 for private parties with $50 being refunded if no extra cleaning is necessary after its use. The Centennial Building in the park is rented for private use at $50 a day. Anyone looking for a meeting place for groups or clubs in encouraged to reach out for possible free rentals for meetings. The library is also available for rental at low or no cost for private events and meetings. The rental hours of the library are not limited to the hours that they’re open.
Kim Baron, President of the Park Board said that she would like to see the Altamont News Banner become a more consistently used source for Elmonians, noting that the yearly subscription rate is a reasonable price to pay to keep the town connected and up to date on community events. Mary Magnus also explained the use of the city’s frequently updated website as another helpful tool for staying connected as a community and Maxey mentioned that social media has helped the Lion’s share information about their events with the public.
The COGS meeting is expected to be an annual affair in St. Elmo going forward.