2016 OLGA Award recipients

Each year, East-West Gateway Council of Governments presents its Outstanding Local Government Achievement (OLGA) Awards recognizing the extraordinary work of municipal, county, special purpose and school district officials in the St. Louis region. The award is given to individuals who provide the highest level of leadership; for projects and partnerships that raise the bar; and for jurisdictions that provide a level of excellence, expertise and service in local government for all to emulate.  This year, three recipients of the OLGA Awards also play an important role in helping to implement the OneSTL plan strategies and achieve OneSTL goals and objectives.  The Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail Coalition, winner of the Exemplary Intergovernmental Collaboration award, Emerald Ridge Homes, and A Visual Approach to Educating the Community on Air Quality, both winners of the Exemplary Public/Non-profit Collaboration award, provide an example of work happening on the ground to advance the goals and objectives of OneSTL and make our region a more sustainable, equitable and resilient place.


The Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail is located within the St. Louis metropolitan area in St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph counties in southwestern Illinois. The 60-mile-long KCT corridor connects visitors with an opportunity to discover the region’s native Indian history, French colonial roots, Revolutionary War-era settlers, early Illinois statehood and westward expansion, 18th and 19th century European immigration influences, and prominent agricultural economy. Community leaders in the three counties formed the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail Coalition in 2011 with the intention of working together to identify and promote Illinois’ First Road. The coalition installed route signage across jurisdictions, jointly developed and paid for an award-winning promotional brochure, built a website and social media presence, and organized a media tour that resulted in the trail being featured in several newspapers and travel magazines, including National Geographic. At every step along the way, the coalition exhibited a willingness to dedicate time and resources toward an intergovernmental collaborative that benefits the region as a whole. As a result, the KCT has gone from one of the most endangered historic places in Illinois to a historic, scenic corridor that the world can explore, appreciate and enjoy.

OneSTL Theme: Distinctive

Goal 2: Invest in existing communities.

Objective: Preserve historic places and important cultural and heritage sites.

Strategy: Promote Mounds World Heritage site as a national monument, and build bicycle trails that link communities to the site.


Emerald Ridge Homes transformed a six-block area of substandard housing in the center of the Village of East Alton into 46 affordable single-family homes with access to a large park, a recreation center, schools, a public library and public transit. This public/non-profit collaboration is a result of the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority introducing the Village of East Alton to Rise, a non-profit community developer. The development professionals at Rise, along with SWIDA, worked with the Village to recognize their vision for the area and come up with a redevelopment plan. Madison County Community Development provided loan funding through the Community Development Block Grant program and Rise secured private financing. The 46 homes were 100 percent occupied before the ribbon cutting with 150 applications for housing. The success of the partnership was due, in large part, to the Village’s willingness to cast aside misconceptions about what low-to-moderate income housing looks like and assist in problem solving, connecting with residents and stretching their limited resources to make this development happen. The homes are sustainable and energy-efficient. They incorporate universal design making them work for seniors and those living with disabilities with no retrofit needed while a long-term lease-to-purchase option allows renters to one day become homeowners.

OneSTL Theme: Distinctive

Goal 2:Invest in Existing Communities

Objective:Leverage existing infrastructure and investments

Strategy:Promote maintenance, rehabilitation, and repurposing of existing infrastructure and buildings.

Strategy:Prioritize the redevelopment of brownfield sites.


Goal 3: Increase diversity of housing stock

Objective: Increase availability of affordable housing.

Strategy: Provide information to local officials on ways to build partnerships with developers in order to create mixed use and mixed price developments through the OneSTL Sustainable Solutions Toolkit and workshops.


Objective: Increase the availability and variety of accessible housing options to accommodate changing family and individual needs.

Strategy: Establish incentives that encourage diverse housing options.

Strategy: Locate housing near transit, greenways, jobs, institutions and urban centers.

A Visual Approach to Educating the Community on Air Quality engaged students, senior citizens and residents in learning about air pollution, climate change and the importance of air quality to public health. The project’s diverse group of knowledgeable and committed partners created educational programming and community science projects while highlighting ways to improve air quality and prepare for a changing climate. The project began with resident and master gardener, Jeff Rains’ desire for an ozone garden and grew into an exemplary public/non-profit community collaboration involving city and county officials, a library district, and local and regional educational institutions. The project’s objectives included creating an Ozone Garden in Granite City, developing a citizen monitoring network with ozone and particulate monitors, distributing air quality flags to six educational sites and 11 schools, maintaining educational bulletin boards with information on air pollution sources and health impacts, and giving educational presentations. The project’s objectives have been incorporated into the new Sustainability Plan for Granite City to ensure that they are supported even after their environmental justice grant from the EPA ends. By working together, the project’s partners are taking meaningful steps to improve public health and make Granite City a greener, cleaner community.

OneSTL Theme: Educated

Goal 6: Increase public understanding of sustainability and healthy lifestyle choices.

Objective: Provide information on sustainability and climate change.

Strategy: Provide resources to enable local governments to educate the public about sustainability and climate change.