Derogatory creek name changed in Ladd, mayor opposed

Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 9:56 AM CDT
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LADD, Illinois (KWQC) - On August 10, board members in the village of Ladd, Illinois voted to change the name of a creek, which had a racist connection, to another name that is less offensive.

At the meeting tensions rose over comments that were made by the mayor, and now a community member is asking for his resignation.

An audio recording taken during the board meeting depicts what sounds like Ladd Mayor Frank Cattanis referring to a local creek, named “Negro Creek,” by an even more derogatory, offensive slur, calling it the “N-word Creek.”

It started when board members brought up the motion to change the creek’s derogatory name, which is both on a plaque by the creek and on Google Maps, to something more representative of its history. .

According to local lure, the creek was named after a black man named Adams who lived nearby.

It was once the board voted to change the creek’s name to Adams Creek, that tensions arose.

According to attorney Julie Ajster, who tool the recording while sitting in on the meeting, the mayor spoke about his experiences at the creek as a child, how he swam and went fishing there.

The conversation then turned to how the community refers to the creek as something much more derogatory.

“The president of the Village of Ladd, we call him the mayor but he’s technically the board president, then referred to the creek 3 times as “N-word Creek,” said Ajster, “I was like, ‘did he really say that?’”

Board member Dan Nelson, who was also in the meeting and overheard the mayor, said he simply made a mistake.

“The mayor says it through, I think, a slip of the tongue,” said Nelson, “it’s so easy to say, to say it, [it’s] easier to say that word.”

Nelson said he and the mayor wanted to keep the name because it represents a part of the town heritage, a history of the local coal mines, and that Adams Creek doesn’t have the same value.

“To me it means a whole generation, if you will. A whole people,” said Nelson, “for Adams Creek, it means nothing to me. It could be anything, really.”

In recent years the nation has made a movement to change names that are deemed racially offensive to more inclusive terms.

The creek’s name change was brought up by the request of the Board on Geographic Names, a national organization, which asked for the community’s approval to change the name to Adams Creek.

Ajster says the stance on keeping the old name represents an unwillingness to change.

“It’s this deep rooted feeling these people have, that ‘we’re older, we’re tired of things changing, we’re set in our ways, and how dare these outsiders come in and try and change the name of a creek that we swam in as kids,’ saud Ajdter, “To me that makes no sense.”

After what was said at the meeting, Ajster is calling for Frank Cattanis’ resignation.

“The general consensus for people is, first when you refer to it as Negro Creek, it takes you aback, like its still named that in 2021? Then for someone to be opposed to changing the name,” said Ajster,”That’s not an image I would want to portray.”

TV6 Investigates spoke with Mayor Frank Cattanis. He stated that he will reach out with comments after the story is published.

TV6 is still waiting on a response.

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