Alton Evening Telegraph from Alton, Illinois on September 13, 1972 · Page 12
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September 13, 1972

Alton Evening Telegraph from Alton, Illinois · Page 12

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Alton, Illinois
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Wednesday, September 13, 1972
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Page 12
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|Mtt Alton Evening Telegraph Wednesday, Sept. 13, 1972 Bethalto's population doubles iii past decade B y BILL McFADlN telegraph staff Writer ot the phrase "boom town" conjures visions of gold mining, 49ers, wild growth ttid raucous living. Yet, locally, that same phrase can be applied to a Small town of quiet and Conservative people, whose mayor describes it as "just a nice place to live." Statistics are a bore, and usually prove little except what the statistician wants to prove, but raw numbers demonstrate the growth of little BethaHo over the last decade. In 1960, the federal census takers counted heads in BethaHo and came up with 3,235. A nice small town, with no big population problems, or so it seemed. When the 1970 version of the census came out 10 years later, the number of heads had more than doubled, to 7,332. That represented an increase of 118 per cent, highest 10-year jump of any city or village in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. St. Charles County, Missouri, had a higher. rate of growth, high enough to rank it. second nationally in the list of fastest-growing, but that increase was spread over an entire county, with no individual municipality experiencing a residential growth like that in little BethaHo. Erwin Plegge is in a position to see the village's growth up close; actually, he is in two such positions. As assistant cashier of the town's only bank, he sees daily the financial growth of the village. As mayor for 20 years, he has headed a village board which has never officially discouraged residential an multiplication. No official count has been kept on the number of houses and apartments in town over 1 h e years, but Plegge estimates now there nre about 2.250 homes and 150 apartments in the village. Some of that growth, admittedly, has come through annexation. The large Wayside Estates subdivision for instance, was brought into the corporate limits after being built. Much surroundinu farmland has been annexed, with subsequent development. One large subdivision in the village. Kutter-Aljets, has been building for years. Homes in that area range from some at the east end whose trees and bushes show at least a half-decade of life. to the west end. where the newest street is not yel paved, and most of the building lots are still empty lots. Plegge says BethaHo has everything to offer in terms of location and general living conditions. "You" can get from here to the Poplar Street Bridge quicker than from some parts of SI. Louis County," he said. Since the mayor is also a banker, and sees many applications for home loans, he knows something about the backgrounds of Bethalto's newer residents. Many, he said, are coming to his village from St. Louis, rather than from the other nearby Illinois communities. "We offer what they want," he says. And what they want seems to be a quiet community far, but not too far, from the big city and its base of jobs and city comforts. Plegge cites his town's "high and dry" position as WAREHOUSE CLOSEOUT OF NAME BRANDS HEALTH AND BEAUTY AIDS Big Family Sizes VALUES 59° AND UP - MOUTHWASH HAIR SHAMPOO CREME RINSE HAND LOTION BODY LOTION BUBBLE BATH COLD CREME TALCUM & BABY POWDER AND LOADS OF OTHER ITEMS ANY NO LIMIT Any 5 for $1.00 but Hurry for Best Selection [LADIES PANTY HOSE 98c Name Brands FOR STRETCH NYLON IN FALL SHADES Now- OPEN SUNDAY 12:30 TILL 5 - FOR YOUR SHOPPING CONVENIENCE WE SAVE YOU MONEY M«n.-Fri. 9-V Sit. *)-$:'•& Sun 12:30-5 asset, keeping down potential floods and keeping the village away from the heavier pollution. The way Ploggc sees it, Bethalto's growth through the 60s is just symptomatic of what the whole Metro-Kast area can expect for years to come. Suburban growth has gone about as far as practical north and west of St. Louis, and even further to the south. The only direction left for expansion is oast, and the crossing of that mythical barrier in Ihe Mississippi lliver For years, the image to a St. Louisati of the "east Side" has been limited to the relative squalor of East St. Louis. Gradually, though, west sidcrs have found a circle of welcoming Illinois communities from Belleville to Alton ready to handle the expected influx of disenchanted cify and suburban residents who seek again that perfect site for their family castle. Pledge is currently president of the Southwestern Illinois Mayors organization, and has constant contact with other mayors in this part of the state. lie sees a burgeoning development not only in his own town but also in Collinsville and Troy, whose locations afford easy access to downtown St. Louis over interstate highways with the sun at. commuters' backs, morning and night. The growth of Bcthalto has nol worried Plegge. True, some municipal services have been stretched, but there has always been a solution. The current problem is sewage disposal, but a proposed trunk line to Alton's sewage plant is expected to relieve that headache. That sewer line, when opened, will be just another spur to residential growth, Plegge believes. Meanwhile, he is unconcerned that all the available land in town is being gobbled up by home developers. The village's limits still embrace working farms, alongside brand-new homes. And, there's always annexation, "we have nothing between us and llamel and Edwardsvillc." Plegge said, and that's a long way. New homes going up New home building In BethaHo is a constant facet of the village's life. Subdivisions have sprung up throughout the town, bringing new residents, many from St. Louis to swell the village's population. Bethalto's rise of 118 per cent in population between 1960 and 1970. These homes are on (Valley view Drive in the Hillside Subdivision) (Georgia Street in the Kitttep* Aljets Subdivision). 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