In the 1000, 1100 and 1200 blocks of West Ninth Street in Alton, some Alton residents had a knock on their doors Tuesday afternoon from local law enforcement.
But an arrest was never made. Instead, new LED porch light bulbs were installed, along with the encouragement to leave them on for safety.
This was part of the new Brighten the Block initiative rolled out by Ameren Illinois, in partnership with the city of Alton as well as the Alton police and fire departments. From a starting point at Corner Market, 1269 State St., 13 Division 5 Ameren employees from both Alton and Maryville were joined by Mayor Brant Walker, 1st Ward Alderman Brian Campbell, police officers and firefighters as they branched out on both sides of the street to place 100 new LED porch lights at homes along West Ninth Street.
Paula Nixon coordinated the Alton initiative for Ameren; joining her was Ameren’s division director Jason Klein. Speaking briefly to volunteers before they walked down the West 9th Street hill, then back up, Nixon talked about the initiative and its goals from the parking lot of Corner Market, which served as the starting point. Nixon said the project was important to Ameren employees who staunchly support the idea of giving back to the community.
“We not only work here, but live here as well,” Nixon said.
“We’re here to brighten up the neighborhood,” Klein said. “The LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and help provide better safety; that’s what we’re here for.”
Ameren Illinois spokesperson Brian Bretsch said the Alton residences receiving the bulbs on April 18 were selected because of Ameren’s familiarity with the neighborhood’s makeup after the company spent an extended time in the area following the March 7 early morning storm that ripped through that part of Alton, with damaging winds taking down poles and power lines.
These new porch lights can help promote safety with their brighter illumination, especially if left on. Given the longer lifespan of the LED bulbs, leaving them on is more feasible than that of their incandescent bulb predecessors, along with the fact they are also more energy-efficient.
“LED bulbs are much brighter, but use less energy and last longer, up to 7 years,” Bretsch said.
Ameren plans to expand the initiative.
“We have several initiatives we do throughout the year,” Bretsch said. “We piloted this initiative last year in Macomb and Decatur, and it went over so well that we are now expanding it all across our service territory. At Ameren, we mark each April as volunteer month, encouraging our employees to do something to better their communities. This was the initiative we chose this time.”
“We are excited to be partnering with the city of Alton and the fire and police departments in Alton,” Bretsch said.
Walker said he thinks the initiative is “phenomenal.”
“Ameren is an outstanding partner for the city of Alton,” he said. “This is just another way they are giving back. With this and projects like the amphitheater and Riverview Park, Ameren continues an incredible partnership for our city.”
Campbell said he was proud to be a part of the afternoon’s event, and proud of the partnership.
“I’m glad Ameren and the city of Alton can partner together for the community like this,” he said.
Bretsch said the initiative is also being rolled out in Belleville and East St. Louis in the Metro East, along with Galesburg, Quincy, Lincoln, Canton and Mount Vernon.