Benld aldermen voted unanimously to hire Carol Woods as a part-time clerical worker in the City Clerk’s office and to officially appoint her as Deputy City Clerk during the regular monthly meeting of the Benld city council Monday night.
Benld Mayor Jim Kelly said Woods was selected from among 26 applicants, two of which were interviewed by the Personnel Committee.
“It’s the recommendation of the Personnel Committee that we hire Carol Woods,” City Clerk Terri Koyne told the council.
Woods steps into a vacancy created by the resignation last month of Deputy City Clerk Gina Frensko.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PARK UPDATE
Anthony Kravanya, chair of a citizens committee appointed to oversee the development of the former site of the Benld Elementary School, told council members that the committee has been granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS, which officially recognizes the group as a not-for-profit organization. Kravanya said the 501(c)3 status paves the way for the committee to write bylaws and accept donations to develop the site as a city park
The Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education transferred the property to the city last year following demolition of the former Benld Elementary School. The school was damaged beyond repair as a result of a major mine subsidence event. It has since been replaced with the BenGil Elementary School adjacent tot he Gillespie High School/Middle School campus.
“I’ve had a few people wanting to donate,” Kravanya said. “I refused all funds until every legal document is in hand We want to do everything right.”
He said the group has been consulting with an attorney who specializes in legal matters related to not-for-profit organizations. Dustin Fletcher, committee member and newly elected city alderman, said the attorney told them it was wise for the group to have refused donations pending recognition as a not-for-profit group.
Kravanya said the committee’s next order of business will be to write bylaws. He said he also plans to meet with current committee members and determine which of them want to continue serving on the committee as the project moves forward. Only those who choose to continue will be listed as committee members, he said
The group has secured voluntary services from an architect to develop plans for new dugouts for the ball fields. Older, dilapidated dugouts will be removed, possibly using city workers. In the meantime, he said, the committee is allowing some ball teams to practice on park ball fields when the ground is dry enough.
“Thank you for all your efforts and work,” Ald. Mickey Robinson told Kravanya.
TENNIKAT COURT BATTLE
City Attorney Rick Verticchio updated the council on the ongoing legal battle with former resident John Tennikat over the fate of an alleged public nuisance property in the 1300 block of Park Avenue. In the most recent developments, Verticchio said Tennikat succeeded in having the case transferred to federal court. He said the federal court judge dismissed the complaint but gave Tennikat leave to file an amended complaint.
“He filed an amended complaint accusing me, my daughter, the mayor, the city clerk and everyone on this council of racketeering,” Verticchio said. He said he was confident the judge also will dismiss the current complaint without giving Tennikat an option to file a new complaint.
Verticchio said he has racked up $4,000 in billable hours dealing with the case. “I’m not charging you a dime for it,” he told the council.
He did, however, submit a $9,390 bill for legal work performed during the last three quarters of the fiscal year. Verticchio apologized for not submitting regular bills, saying that a surgery and follow-up prevented him from sending out regular billing The council approved the payment as part of its regular monthly approval of bills. The fiscal year ends on April 30.
Related to derelict city properties, resident Tom Hubert urged the council to have city police notify residents with accumulations of trash of the upcoming citywide clean-up day on May 18.
“Tell them we have a citywide clean-up and if it’s not cleaned up after that, we’re going to start writing tickets,” Hubert advised.
On a motion by Robinson, seconded by Teressa Tucker, the council voted to amend the current appropriation ordinance to move $30,600 from Sewer to Water to cover the cost of a feasibility study conducted by HMG Engineering regarding the possibility of buying water from a source other than the Gillespie Water Department.
“Just to let everyone know, we’re not adding anything to our expenditures,” Koyne said. “We’ve just moving money from Sewer to Water to cover the feasibility study.”
The appropriation ordinance, approved annually shortly after the start of the fiscal year, sets spending limits for specific funds. Expenditures from those funds cannot exceed the appropriation without amending the ordinance.
On a motion by Robinson, seconded by Peyton Bernot, the council voted unanimously to participate in an Ameren-Illinois grant program to install energy-efficient LED lighting in all city facilities.
On a motion by Robinson, seconded by Tucker, the council voted unanimously to renew a cable television franchise agreement with Madison Communications. The contract calls for Madison to pay the city five percent of its revenue generated from basic cable subscriptions purchased by city residents. The amount of revenue fluctuates annually depending upon the number of subscribers but generally averages about $3,000.
Monday night’s relatively brief meeting concluded in 30 minutes and marked the last meeting for Ald. Bernot. A monthly agenda item Bernot had called for to discuss cost-cutting measures for the Police Department was omitted from the agenda, nor was there any discussion regarding the failure of this month’s referendum to increase property tax rates to shore up the Police Department’s finances. Dustin Fletcher will be sworn in next month to replace Bernot on the council.