Mayor preserves Sycamore history

By Jessi Haish

Sycamore’s mayor is making sure the work of his predecessors is preserved for generations to come.

Mayor Ken Mundy has taken on the project of compiling all the minutes of Sycamore’s City Council meetings dating back to the beginning of the city in 1858. He started the project in December 2009 and has set a goal to compile all meeting minutes by the time his term is up in 2017, as he does not plan on running in another election. He has made it to 1949.

To “compile” the notes, he reads over minutes while highlighting important pieces and taking notes, picking out valuable or unique information.

“I make these crazy notes,” Mundy said. “I just take a notepad and just jot down it down longhand.”

Sometimes, he even has to interpret the notes, which can be difficult.

“Some of the clerks were legible,” Mundy said of the early, handwritten minutes. “Others, you kind of have to fill in the blanks.”

He shares the compilations with anyone who’s interested, including the Joiner History Room and the Sycamore History Museum.

“We encourage him to [complete the project] and share it,” said Sue Breese, DeKalb County historian and Joiner History Room director. “It’s an incredible snapshot of the past.”

Breese said she is able to use the digital copies of the compiled minutes to search for specific names or events people may be seeking more information about.

Mundy’s also shared his love of history with the Sycamore council during the City Council meetings each month. City clerk Candy Smith said the information is “fun.”

“I’m surprised that back in the day they didn’t take as many notes,” Smith said. “They just recorded the votes and not much of the discussion. But we’re better at that now.”

Mundy said it’s enjoyable to look back on how things were.

“What’s particularly interesting is when you’re talking about 60, 70 years ago, the cost of everything,” Mundy said. “The city could get a new truck for 600 bucks, something like that. So I look over at the public works guys [during a council meeting] and say, ‘See what you could do? Why are you coming in here with a $40,000 bill for a new truck?’ We have a little fun with it. There’s a little sticker shock involved.”

Mundy has his own history: He was a part of the first class to go attend the “new” Sycamore High School for all four years, the one that sits off of DeKalb Avenue. He was among the first few groups to attend Kishwaukee College after it was created. He was also in the Navy for four years.

“It’s just a nice way to look back and compare where we were,” Mundy said. “I believe that with history, when we look back and see where we were, we know about how we got to where we are and, even more important than that, where we might go.”