- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) - Of all his years in Sycamore - those spent as a young boy, a money-minded college student, the city treasurer - one that Mayor Ken Mundy revisits often is of Friday, May 9, 2008.

At 6 p.m. that day, the DeKalb County Courthouse lawn was brimming with townspeople gathered for the opening celebration of the city’s sesquicentennial. It was a celebration that inspired Mundy to undertake an investigation into the town’s history that has continued for eight years and counting.

Beginning that spring evening, Mundy set out to compile, read and annotate as many of the city’s historical City Council minutes as he could get his hands on. In his third and final term as mayor, Mundy said he is ready to share what he’s learned about the history of civic life in Sycamore and how the council’s early decisions have shaped the community.

“There’s been so many instances where the sentiment has been the same 150 years ago as it is today,” Mundy said.

The final product will consists of seven installments: 1858 to ‘77, 1879 to ‘99, 1900 to ‘19, 1920 to ‘49, 1950 to ‘69, 1970 to ‘89, and 1990 to 2009. Information from the 1850s to 1989 can be found on the city’s website at cityofsycamore.com/mayors-history. Notes covering 1990 to 2009 are a work in progress and will be added by end of 2016 or early 2017, Mundy said.

“The notes from the minutes present a small snapshot in time of how Sycamore grew from a frontier settlement of rustic cabins to the beautiful vibrant and economically sustainable community she is today,” he said.

In May 1863, the city’s clerk was ordering his neighbor, Albert Stowe, not to butcher any more animals at the slaughter house near his home at the end of Locust Street. Known drunkards were being blacklisted from local taverns, and any aldermen more than 15 minutes late for meetings faced a $1 fine. At a glance, the notes might seem to have little relevance today, but the city’s past decisions have continued to steer council discussions, Mundy said.

“The same proven theories apply in terms of good government, good accounting, responsible finance,” Mundy said. “Because the public trusts us, or they wouldn’t put us in office, or they wouldn’t appoint us. This public trust is a huge thing.”

Mundy’s project is a walk through the Civil War, Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, both world wars, and the rehabilitation and expansion of the city’s post-war years. Although Sycamore has transformed and evolved throughout it all, the city has always maintained it’s “small-town” feel, City Manager Brian Gregory said.

Gregory began working with the city as a student at Northern Illinois University, and went on to intern alongside former City Manager Bill Nicklas.

“That’s the idea behind studying history and having an appreciation for it,” Mundy said. “It’s much more difficult to come to decisions about planning and the future without having an appreciation for how we got to where we are.”

“What I’ve seen has been a steady growth in the community as far as the population, the residential and commercial and industrial factors,” Gregory said. “But at the same time, there’s been that connection to its past and has in ways been achieved through people. Many people have that Sycamore way ingrained in them.”

Mundy is serving his third term as Sycamore’s mayor and has announced he will not seek re-election in 2017. He will continue, however, to delve into Sycamore’s more recent past.

“That’s the idea behind studying history and having an appreciation for it,” Mundy said. “It’s much more difficult to come to decisions about planning and the future without having an appreciation for how we got to where we are.”

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Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/1VHHGKE

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com


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