Special to The Source
The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Meeting on March 22 at Warehouse 200 in Jacksonville. Retiring board members Casey French, Jim Krug, Lindsay McQueen and Emily Winters, plus past president Maryjane Million, were recognized. Additionally, the new Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce 2022 Board members were introduced and the three annual awards, noted below, were presented.
Small Business of The Year – Under 25 Employees:
The 2021 Business of the Year with less than 25 employees is Worrell Land Services.
In 1995, Allan Worrell exercised his entrepreneurial spirit and started his own company in the spare bedroom of his home. Worrell had a vision for bringing additional accessibility and responsiveness to the local agricultural investment community. As the company has diversified into rural real estate, auction and appraisal services over the years, the same commitment to operating differently — with the utmost integrity and respect for its clients — remains. Worrell’s son, Luke, and wife, Allison, have now taken over the reins of the family business. The company has four full-time employees and six independent contractors.
The company is very involved in our community. Allan and Luke Worrell have both been actively involved with Kiwanis Club, each serving as president of the organization. Allan Worrell served as Chamber Board president and is an active member of the Agri-Industry division and an Ag Hall of Fame award winner.
Luke Worrell played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Agribusiness Program at Illinois College. The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC), Morgan County Fair Board and other local organizations have also benefitted from the time and talents of the Worrells.
The company has made a commitment to support other local businesses by utilizing services, partnering on projects and purchasing goods. As farm managers, real estate brokers and land appraisers for Jacksonville and the surrounding area, the support and economic growth of the community is a top priority.
Business of The Year – 25 Or More Employees:
The 2021 Business of the Year with 25 or more employees is CASSCOMM.
Cass Communications has been in business for over 120 years.
Cass Telephone Co. was granted a franchise in 1898 as Virginia and Little Indian Telephone Company. The telephone wire ran from the community of Little Indian to Virginia, providing telephone service within the city limits. The construction wires were strung along roadsides, attached to any stable device available. The company was incorporated as Cass County Telephone Company in 1910. The founders of Cass Telephone Company were Edward J. and Ada Huff, great-grandparents of current chairman of the board, Gerald E. Gill, and great-great-grandparents of current president, Gerald S. Gill II.
Fast forward to 2021 and CASSCOMM is comprised of many different companies specializing in the telecommunications industry. Based out of Central Illinois and serving nine counties covering 33 communities with the latest in technology, CASSCOMM operates Cass Communications Management Inc., Cass Cable TV, Cass Internet, Cass Telephone, Cass Tech Center, Cass Long Distance, Cass Advertising, Gillcrest Farms and Gillcrest Estate.
CASSCOMM employs nearly 100 people. The company is multi-faceted offering internet, phone, television and multi-media advertising capabilities. They continue to bring a reliable service in internet connectivity to the Jacksonville area and recently expanded to residential service in South Jacksonville.
For the past two years during the COVID-19 crisis, Cass Communications became proactive by providing services to residents to make sure they would be able to work from home, do Zoom calls and eLearning. They offered promotions to school districts to ensure the schools, teachers and students would have internet access. They added over 50 hotspots in 33 communities and continued to reach out to rural residents using fixed wireless products to expand reach.
CASSCOMM is a big supporter of the area’s business community. They are members of a number of economic development organizations including JREDC. They have shown wonderful support of the Chamber with sponsorships, event attendance and volunteerism. They show support to local schools, nonprofits and extra-curricular events for children. They are locally owned and truly love the communities they serve.
Not-For-Profit Business of The Year:
The 2021 Not-For-Profit Business of the Year is the Morgan County Health Department.
The Morgan County Health Department (MCHD) was organized in May 1922, with the office officially opening on July 3. The health department pledged to serve both the city and county and was the first full-time county health department ever established in Illinois.
The health department focuses on health and wellbeing for individuals in all stages of life. It has been the philosophy for the department to deliver information and health care to all county residents. MCHD strives to meet the current needs of our community while continuing to identify new areas where the organization can have a positive impact on the daily well-being of our community.
Currently, the health department provides services in 16 different programs, including clinical services, environmental services, family planning, maternal child health, immunizations and vital records. They provide approximately 10,000 immunizations annually and partner with SIU Center for Family Medicine Jacksonville (a federally qualified health center) to provide comprehensive medical care to area residents regardless of ability to pay.
The COVID-19 pandemic added many more responsibilities to our local health department. During COVID, MCHD provided over 5,000 tests; over 20,000 vaccinations; assisted long-term care facilities with multiple outbreaks; worked daily with local school districts assuring the safest environment possible for in-person learning and addressed over 10,000 confirmed or probable cases; and providing contact tracing and/or quarantine or isolation orders — not to mention navigated the constantly changing mitigation efforts, mask usage mandates, vaccination status requirements, stay-at-home orders and essential worker questions.
In the past year, the Morgan County Health Department with other community partners, put together a seamless effort to vaccinate our county in the midst of this pandemic. Through their efforts, Morgan County residents were able to use a drive-through method coupled with a coordinated partnership with the hospital and county emergency medical services to provide additional vaccine clinics, followed up by the booster component as well. During this time, they continued to offer testing and support for our residents. They have worked tirelessly to provide a variety of options for our citizens in a very trying time.
Their work continues today as they plan to move to a brand-new facility in late spring/early summer. Their renovation of a former MacMurray College property will enhance the area as well as increase their service capabilities for our community. We look forward to a ribbon-cutting at their new facility very soon!