A Kewanee pastor expressed his “heartfelt concern” to the City Council Monday about a Pride event planned for June in Kewanee.
A subcommittee of the city’s Human Relations Commission has set June 10 as the date of the event, which is intended to promote awareness, raise acceptance and form a strong bond with the community, according to committee member August Wolf.
But Pastor Justin Rumley of First Congregational Church in Kewanee told the council at its meeting Monday that he’s opposed to the idea.
“I don’t think it would be wise for our community,” Rumley said.
He said he believes “that what is right is Biblical marriage — one man, one woman.” He added that he does not want to “confirm or acknowledge” homosexuality or transgender people.
“I don’t think it’s wise to put something so divisive, that’s so offensive, in downtown Kewanee,” Rumley said.
“Please don’t hear this as any kind of hate,” the pastor said.
Mayor Gary Moore responded that the purpose of the Pride festival is “not to promote any race or lifestyle,” but “simply to promote understanding of the differences in our culture.”
Moore said he does not want to “put down” anyone’s lifestyle, and added that it’s the City Council’s
duty to “represent all the lifestyles within the community.”
Also Monday, the council postponed offering financial assistance to the owners of Kewanee Pool and Spa for their upgrade of the exterior of their building at 120 S. Chestnut St.
The owners had sought reimbursement of some of the cost of the project through the city’s facade improvement program. That program helps business owners improve the appearance of their buildings.
City Manager Gary Bradley said some of the requirements of the facade improvement program — including getting competitive bids for the work — hadn’t been followed by the owner.
Rather than allow payment to people who hadn’t complied with all the requirements, council members suggested that the owners be paid from the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund. Bradley said he would prepare a resolution to that effect for the next council meeting.
A report from Mark Mikenas, executive director of the Kewanee Chamber of Commerce, noted that retail sales have been booming in the city.
Mikenas said he expected a strong report for sales in the fourth quarter of 2022, and that total sales for that year will top those for 2021 — which themselves were a record.
As for the local economy in general, Mikenas said there are plenty of available jobs. “There are still a lot of jobs out there,” he said. “They can’t get them filled.”
Great Dane, for example, is looking for people in a variety of positions.