Nothing has come easy for Granite City mayor Ed Hagnauer. One year after he won his seat, a devastating storm ripped through his city in 2006, causing $1.3 million in damage. Two years later, the recession hit the old steel town hard. Thousands of residents lost their jobs. Businesses left. The budget grew so tight that the city couldn't afford to replace its retiring employees — even as the equally struggling state of Illinois couldn't afford to pay the $1 million it owed the town. Hell of a first term. But Hagnauer fought for his city. With such a precarious budget situation, every penny had to be stretched to its fullest potential. He focused his efforts on infrastructure: Roads were resurfaced, the sewage system was upgraded, a youth center was built. A movie theater revitalized the downtown area, and brand-new restaurants popped up. And, remarkably, the old steel town in the heart of the Rust Belt appears to be coming out of the recession in decent shape, eager to grow.
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