Philpot recognizes Bumbry after becoming first Black elected as Quincy Park Board president

Mark Philpot 2

Newly elected Quincy Park Board President Mark Philpot makes a point during Wednesday night's meeting. | David Adam

QUINCY — Moments after he was elected as the president of the Quincy Park Board, Mark Philpot took time to reflect on the vote’s significance.

Philpot was selected to replace Jarid Jones as president during Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Park Board. He is the first Black person to serve as president. (Alan Hickman was the second Black to be named to the Park Board last year, and Philpot was elected months later.)

After switching chairs with Jones, Philpot read a prepared statement.

“This moment serves as an illuminating example of how far we have come a society,” he said. “I’m honored and humbled to share this moment with my fellow commissioners. Thank you for this opportunity to serve in this capacity. 

“I pledge to work hard to study the facts, to be an attentive listener and to have the courage to make difficult decisions — all while being fiscally responsible and always accountable for my actions and our successes as well as our shortcomings. The buck stops here. I’m all in, good, bad or indifferent. I will always say what needs to be said, regardless of who may take umbrage.”

Philpot also recognized Ben Bumbry, the first Black to serve as a Park Board commissioner (from 1993 to 2003). Bumbry died in May 2018.

“Ben Bumbry was instrumental in not only broadening the diversity and representation on this board but served as an advocate for underrepresented populations in this community,” Philpot said. “It is upon the strong shoulders of Commissioner Bumbry that myself, Commissioner Hickman and all my fellow commissioners and staff are able to sit at this table today. We shall never forget his hard work, sacrifice and service to all the people in this district.”

Jones, who was elected as president a year ago, nominated Philpot for the position on Wednesday. The vote was 6-0, with Hickman absent. Philpot served as vice president last year.

“Mark is a great leader,” Jones said after the meeting. “Mark was, and is, the right choice.”

Philpot, a psychiatric technician at Blessing Hospital, said after the meeting that he appreciated Jones’ faith in him.

“(Jones) is a very busy individual who has a great deal of commitments here in the community, and in order to be successful in business, you have to be present. I know he wants to give proper attention to those things,” Philpot said. “I appreciate the fact of him even considering me for the nomination. That’s very heavy for me.”

Philpot said he believes the best thing he can do as Park Board president is to be the cheerleader for the district.

“We’re going to reach out to all parts of Quincy and make sure that they’re represented regarding matters of this district,” he said. “It’s about kids. It’s about adults. It’s about making our city a beautiful place to live. Partnership plays a role in all that, and that’s what the board president really should be about the business of doing.”

Trent Lyons | David Adam

Trent Lyons was elected as the new vice president.

The Park Board approved spending $60,000 with Klingner and Associates for the design and engineering of a $1.37 million all-inclusive playground, shelter and restroom at Wavering Park. Park District officials learned in January that a $600,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had been awarded. 

The Park District will use $400,000 from its 2024 general obligation bonds that Park Board members voted to approve in October 2023. The remainder of the project will be paid for out of corporate reserves. The new playground will be similar to the one at Lincoln Park.

“Congratulations again on securing that grant. It really is a great addition for our community,” commissioner Barb Holthaus said. “I’ve heard a lot of interest and excitement. I think there’ll be interest from the community and what that looks like. There’s a lot of anticipation for the addition to our park system.”

Mike Bruns, director of program services, provided an update on the turf project on the two baseball/softball fields in Wavering Park. He said the project had a budget of $556,000, and the Park District has spent almost $602,000. However, he was more concerned about the recreation fund.

“Our balance is $196,147, and that’s lowest I ever remember it being,” Bruns said. “Usually we’d like it a little higher, but we’ve had a lot of projects, a lot of things, so it’s not desperate. Just letting you know it’s not up where it always is.”

Bruns said the Park District continues to wait to learn if it will receive a $228,000 state tourism grant for dugouts, scoreboards and lighting. He said the application was made in December with help from Holly Cain, executive director of the Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Hopefully we’ll find out soon if we got that, because that’ll be very helpful to finish out that project and everything that’s going on up there,” he said. “I was hoping to hear something by now but we’re also dealing with the state, which can take a while sometimes. We’re hopefully going to hear anytime, but it could be a month or two months.”

Director of Program Services Mike Bruns | David Adam

At the meeting’s end, Philpot informed the board he spoke with Victoria Frazier, an assistant attorney general from Springfield, about a potential Open Meetings Act violation. 

Holhaus and Lyons were at a function at the Lorenzo Bull House, and Philpot was there representing the NAACP. However, commissioner John Frankenhoff noted it was possible that having three commissioners at the same meeting could violate the state’s Open Meetings Act. Philpot said Frazier told him no violation occurred.

“I share this so that we can know that just because it’s three of us in a room doesn’t mean it has to be a lightning-strike moment,” Philpot said. “It’s a teaching moment for all of us.”

The Park Board also:

  • Approved a 50-year license agreement with Ameren Illinois to access the parking lot and driveway to the Paul Dennis Soccer Complex. This license agreement allows improvements of the failed culvert and parking lot, which are within Ameren Illinois property. 
  • Approved a bid from Coulter Asphalt Services Inc., for $3,700 for seal coating and striping in the Bob Mays Park parking lot.
  • Learned Indian Mounds Pool should be opened for the summer on May 31.
  • Learned 104 boat slips in Quincy Bay have been rented.
  • Learned the number of rounds played at Westview Golf Course so far this spring are 2,100 ahead of last year’s pace.  Director of Golf David Morgan said 278 rounds were played on Good Friday, and 279 rounds were played on Sunday, May 5. “I’ve never seen that in my time (at Westview),” Morgan said.
  • Approved the reappointment of David Penn with Schmiedeskamp, Robertson, Neu and Mitchell to serve as the board’s attorney. Penn will be paid $210 per hour with a a $15 increase to the rate paid last year. The Park District budgeted $18,000 budgeted for legal work.

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