EAST ALTON — After 18 years at the reins in East Alton, Mayor Fred Bright is stepping down.
“I have a bad back and I’m about to have surgery on it,” Bright said. “I know there is a lot more to be done for the village of East Alton; what we’ve done is just a start. I feel it is better for me to go ahead and retire now so I won’t be in a position to where things won’t be able to get done like they should.”
At the Village Board meeting in May, Bright will officially submit his retirement to trustees. At that time, members of the board will appoint a new mayor.
“My last official day will be on May 5,” Bright said. “I’m ready to have some time for my family and for myself.”
Bright has worked for East Alton for 43 years since being hired as police chief in 1972. In the spring of 1997, Bright campaigned for mayor.
Bright ran on the principle that he wanted East Alton to thrive through new housing developments and a growing number of residents. To date, the village has demolished 155 derelict structures and replaced them with 78 new homes built during Bright’s tenure.
“It was Mayor Bright’s vision to improve the housing in East Alton,” Village Treasurer Joe Silkwood said. “That’s going to be his legacy that everyone will remember him by. People remember how he was able to lead the way to take substandard housing and help move us into a long-term program. Mayor Bright made a simple pledge to clean up the village of East Alton. That simple pledge has been delivered over the last 18 years.”
East Alton Village Clerk Lori Palmer has worked beside Bright for his entire term as mayor.
“Mayor Bright has always treated his staff and employees with such fairness,” Palmer said. “He is very family-oriented. I know not having him in the mayor’s seat will be a big change, but I think going forward we will have someone who will continue what Fred has started and I look forward to seeing the next phases develop for East Alton.”
The Blair housing project and Emerald Ridge are two projects that Bright said he is extremely proud to see come to fruition during his time as mayor.
Police chief stepping down after nearly three decades with department
Not only is Mayor Fred Bright handing over the reins, East Alton Police Chief Dwynn Isringhausen has announced that he will retire from the police department effective May 1.
“I’ve spent 29 years with the police department,” Isringhausen said. “I started at the age of 18 and have worked every job the department has had to offer, including ones that no longer exist such as sitting in a darkroom developing crime scene photos.”
Isringhausen’s departure from the police department is partially connected to Bright’s retirement.
“Mayor Bright has done so many good things for our village and I’ve felt a sense of loyalty,” Isringhausen said. “I had been thinking about it and when he (Bright) announced his retirement for health reasons and to spend time with family — my wife and I discussed it, prayed about it and made the decision it’s my time to move on as well. Mayor Bright has given me so many opportunities. I’ve finished my master’s degree, attended a 10-week leadership course through the FBI academy and challenged myself along the way. His retirement allowed me to reassess my own situation.”
Isringhausen’s plan is to take some time with family and explore opportunities for the future.
“I hate to limit myself,” Isringhausen said. “I’ve considered the possibility of teaching the next generation, exploring options of perhaps moving to another, more challenging department where I can lend experience and provide assistance. The village of East Alton has been good to me. I appreciate the residents and those I’ve worked closely with for years. I wish the people of East Alton all the best.”