DANVILLE – Bob Dile has been Danville’s mayor for the last 16 years. On Jan. 1, 2020, following his retirement, a new era will begin.
Village voters will elect their next mayor on Tuesday in this year’s general election. Joe Duncan and Joe Mazzari, both current council members, are running for office.
Duncan is a 1997 Danville High School graduate who spent 12 years serving in the U.S. military, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He worked for the state as a veterans’ employment representative for 11 years before becoming a warehouse manager. Duncan moved back to Danville in 2005 and has served on village council for the last five years.
Duncan said his main focus as mayor would be improving Danville’s infrastructure. This includes water lines, sewer lines, storm drains, sidewalks and roads.
“I feel these are the most important things to help Danville grow in the future,” Duncan said. “I will be taking in a lot of information concerning these areas because I believe it will be key to successfully developing an actionable plan to address these issues.”
Mazzari is a West Virginia native who has lived in Danville for 32 years. He has worked full-time at the Knox County Learning Center for the last three years as an administrative assistant, but has been involved with the program since 1996. He served as an auxiliary officer with the Danville Police Department for 22 years after graduating from the police academy in 1988. He has served on village council for the last 13 years.
Mazzari said he would like to see Danville grow by attracting new businesses and new residents. He also mentioned infrastructure as a key concern heading into 2020.
“We’ve got a great council currently. Those folks have dedicated their time and their expertise to try to make the best decisions possible for their community. Carrying on as mayor and using that format that we’ve established, we want to try to find ways to fix our roads and to improve the facilities we have,” Mazzari said.
“We’ve got a great water and sewer system, which we’ve managed to get grants for and kept costs down for the community. It’s time-consuming... but that’s where I’m at. I’d like to improve upon what we’ve been working with.”
The village has wrestled for years with the dilemma in the Municipal Building, located at 512 S. Market St. Three entities – the village administration, the Danville Public Library and the Danville Police Department – all occupy space in the building.
The police department’s office area is a small room near the front of the building, and the facility's lone meeting room is used for multiple purposes, including criminal suspect interrogation, evidence organization, village council meetings and library storytime sessions.
Mazzari was on the police committee that urged council to consider the department’s need for additional space. He said council has discussed alternative police department locations for “over a year,” which would give the department its own space and allow the library and village staff to remain in the Municipal Building. The village has also considered modifying its current facility to fit the needs of all entities.
“We’re already working on it. We already have a process in mind,” Mazzari said of the Municipal Building situation. The village has been working recently to locate the source of a mysterious odor in the Municipal Building, he added, although the Mount Vernon News reported two weeks ago that an old gas tank located under a nearby sidewalk might have caused the stench.
Once the village is able to remedy its air quality concerns, Mazzari said it will shift its focus toward the Municipal Building's spacing dilemma. He said that at this point, all options are on the table.
“It’s already in the works,” he said of building discussions. “It’s just a matter of the timing and things.”
Although Mazzari did not indicate whether he would like to see the village expand its current facility or move the police department to a new location, Duncan said he would like to see it relocated.
“I believe that for the long-term health and functionality of the police department, they need to move to a separate location,” Duncan said. “I am not sure what that location is yet.”
Duncan said that “as far as the municipal building is concerned, we have outgrown its current configuration.”
“There needs to be serious discussion on how to best use the space we have available,” he continued, “to determine if there needs to be a redesign or if moving certain services out will help create enough space for the groups that are left in the building.
“I am not against moving out of the Municipal Building, but I’d rather get the best use out of the resources we currently have, versus acquiring new properties that will need to be maintained by the village. I believe that there are opportunities within the village, but acquiring and moving resources needs to make sense for the long term growth of the Village of Danville.”
Dile said he has always advocated for renovation, as opposed to relocation, when it comes to the Municipal Building.
“From the very beginning that’s been my opinion, is that we could renovate, build on, expand and so forth the existing facility, on our site, which we have plenty of room there,” Dile said.
“And it’s easier to get public support and some funding to do that. I think building a new facility off-site is going to be extremely expensive, probably not practical, and with the new revelation that we may have found the source of our odor problem, I think that is a good fit, unless there’s something else determined after the fact.”
Both Duncan and Mazzari emphasized that whichever route the village chooses, it will keep taxpayers' concerns at the forefront.
“I’m not in favor of taxing the community with a bill – whether it’s for roads or otherwise – that we can’t afford,” Mazzari said. “I’m a part of that number, too. I don’t take that decision lightly.”
“The taxpayers and Danville can not continue to shoulder the burden of the police department alone,” Duncan added. “As mayor, I would look to the townships and villages near us to partner in sharing the cost of the police department for a share of their services.”
When asked why he should be the next mayor of Danville, Mazzari cited his long-held dedication to the community.
“I’ve raised my family here. I’ve been here 32 years. I have dedicated those years to either being in law enforcement, protecting this community, serving as a person that would help in the community, through Interchurch and things like that, and I’ve been on council now,” he said.
“I think I have a skill set that would be desirable and because of those things, I think I would be a good candidate.”
Having served for several years on village council, Mazzari said running for mayor felt like the logical next step.
“I just thought that this was the next step in that process of me wanting to continue to care for my community, to be a servant,” he said.
Duncan cited his military and professional backgrounds as reasons he is fit to lead Danville.
“I believe I am the right person for the office of mayor because I have been in many situations with limited resources and I have been able to cultivate those situations into long-term success,” Duncan said.
DILE REFLECTS ON CAREER: Dile said he decided in 2015, after being re-elected for the third time, that this would be his last term as mayor.
“I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for the major burdens on the village, as far as infrastructure,” Dile said. “We covered a lot of ground in that period of time. In those 12 years, we established things and brought us basically up to current on a lot of our infrastructure, which was a big worry.”
During his 16 years in office, Dile said he is most proud of the progress the village made from an infrastructure perspective. The village applied for and received two $300,000 Community Development Block Grants, which it used for infrastructure projects.
The village established a water treatment plant near the end of Dile’s tenure, a project that took multiple years and regulatory adjustments. Danville also used grant funding to improve sidewalks, as well as water/wastewater and storm sewer systems. The village redeveloped Memorial Park, and it also helped fund a new concession stand and bleachers at the high school football stadium.
“I mean, I could go on and on and on about the different projects over the years that we’ve done downtown and uptown...” Dile said. “We got a lot done, you know. We did.”
Dile expects the next mayor to maintain a similar focus on infrastructure, and also find a solution to the Municipal Building situation.
“I would like to see some work done with our facilities,” he said. “I think we have the elements in place to improve our existing facilities, the Municipal Building specifically. We’ve done some things – I mean, we put a new roof on it, we’ve renovated the indoors and that sort of thing – but structurally, we’ve never really enhanced it to make it suitable for today’s needs, I guess is the best way to put it. And those things will take place.”
The next village administration will need to find a funding mechanism for road repairs, Dile said, which is difficult because of Danville’s traffic numbers. Grant funding from the state typically goes to repair projects for roads that are well-traveled, which often leaves Danville’s side streets out of contention.
“We have a state route coming through town, but the problem is, all of the side streets, it’s hard to get funded externally because of the traffic count,” Dile said. “We’ve tried a couple times to get a traffic count to even pave West Main Street and it still fell short of the funding threshold. So that’s going to be a challenge and I hope we can find a funding mechanism for that moving forward.”
Dile, 57, also works full-time as a mechanical designer at UMD Automated Systems in Fredericktown. He previously worked for 29 years as a mechanical designer at Siemens.
Dile spent six years on village council before becoming mayor, which means he has spent the last 22 years serving Danville, his hometown. He looks forward to being able to focus on his full-time job and his family after retiring as mayor.
“I’ve lived here in this location for 25 years and of those 25 years, 22 of them I’ve been serving in public service,” Dile said. “So it will be an adjustment.”
Whomever gets elected to take his place, Dile feels confident the village will be in good hands moving forward.
“I think either one of the candidates would make a good mayor,” said Dile, who refused to endorse either candidate given their collective service on council and in the community. “They both have very good backgrounds, very solid backgrounds in public service.
“That’s the thing that lets me sleep very well at night, knowing that either Joe is going to have the public interest in mind when they make their decisions. They won’t be making it for their families, they won’t be making it for themselves. The village will be first. And I was very fortunate that these two guys happened to be on council at the time that I decided to retire from public service. I sleep well at night knowing that’s going to take place.”