Gillespie police officers and Gillespie-Benld Area Ambulance Service paramedics were recognized during a meeting of the Gillespie City Council Tuesday night for their efforts to save the life of an individual who suffered a cardiac arrest while police were responding to a routine police call. Council members also heard a brief report regarding the city’s annual financial report and tabled a proposed ordinance to allow golf cart use on city streets.
Police Chief Jared DePoppe presented lifesaving medals to officers Justin Klopmeier and Jeff Schoen to be placed on their uniforms in recognition of their actions to save the victim’s life after they responded to a police call on Sept. 25.
DePoppe said that anyone who has served as a police officer for any period time has probably saved someone’s life but those actions are seldom confirmed medically.
“Occasionally, an officer will do something and it’s actually backed up medically, and when that happens we like to recognize them,” DePoppe said. He recounted a police call in late September to which Klopmeier and Schoen responded. “It was not a medical call, it was a police call,” he said. “While the officers were there it became a medical call.”
An individual on the scene went into cardiac arrest, prompting Klopmeier to start CPR until an ambulance could arrive. Once the ambulance arrived, Schoeon was able to operate the ambulance, freeing up paramedics to work on the patient and get the patient to the hospital.
“The doctor told us it was what’s called a ‘clinical save,’ meaning that if the officers had not done what they did, the subject would have more than likely passed,” DePoppe said. “When we can prove that medically, we like to recognize the officers who were involved.”
Ambulance Service Director Josh Ross also addressed the council to recognize not only Klopmeier and Schoen but also the paramedics who responded to the incident: Mark Hayes, Blake Hayes, Tyler Link and J.O. Kelly.
“Statistically, in an instance of cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting, the chances of survival is only 10.6 percent, meaning that for nine out of ten the chances of survival are not good,” he said. “The best chance of survival is early and good CPR by people who are trained to do it, and that is what happened here. The patient was in cardiac arrest, we followed our protocols and he is alive today. He’s been released from the hospital with no neurological damage or other residual effects. That is an exception, not the rule.”
The manufacturer of the ZOLL heart monitor used during the incident provided certificates of recognition for Ross to present to the Police Department and the paramedics. In addition, the paramedics received a “challenge coin” from ZOLL.
“This was a total team effort,” Ross said. “We work together all the time. This is the very best our community has to offer and I’m happy to recognize them. One of my favorite quotes is from Abraham Lincoln, ‘Next to creating a life, the finest thing a man can do is to save one,’ and that’s what these gentlemen did.”
Brenda Masters-Stout, an accountant with Fleming and Tawfall, CPAs, provided a brief summary of the city’s annual financial report to be submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. The final audit report offers a clean opinion regarding the city’s accounting practices, but Masters-Stout again encouraged the city to adopt a computerized accounting system in lieu of manual accounting.
“Krystal (Norville) does a wonderful job,” she said, but the manual accounting system complicates the auditors’ job considerably. Adopting QuickBooks or some other electronic accounting system probably would not reduce the city’s cost for the audit, but Masters-Stout said her firm may increase their price next year because the city’s audit is so time-consuming. She said an electronic accounting system would streamline practices in the city office and free up time for other duties. “Right now, if you want to look up something, Krystal is probably the only one who can find it.” Clerical workers might be frustrated with a new system for the first few weeks, she said, “but I think they will like it.”
Fisher said the city already has approved going to an electronic system but has not made a decision to buy a program. He said they have to be careful to ensure that whatever system is chosen will be compatible with other programs such as the water department’s remote meter reading software.
Masters-Stout said a summary of the financial report shows a cash balance of $744,717 in the city’s governmental funds, down from $990,197 at the end of the previous fiscal year.
“Your cash has gone down, but that is primarily because you had to pay back your Revolving Loan Fund to DCEO. You had to pay back $318,000 so your cash took quite a hit. When you back that out, you were actually ahead by $160,000.”
The Water Department fund ended the year with $250,000 cash on hand, while the Sewer Department showed a loss on paper of $106,000. The Sewer Department loss, however, was due primarily to depreciation, Masters-Stout said. Without $100,000 in depreciation, the Sewer Department’s loss was about “break even.”
Masters-Stout commended the city on its water infrastructure improvement program. “I know there may have been some controversy about it, but it is a wonderful thing.”
GOLF CART ORDINANCE TABLED
An ordinance that would allow the use of golf carts on city streets was tabled after council members disagreed on the permit fee, the minimum age for golf cart users and other issues. City Attorney Polo had prepared an ordinance proposal based on what he believed to be committee recommendations. That proposal called for a $150 permit fee and set 21 as the minimum age for golf cart users in the city limits.
Ald. Barrett said there is an ordinance allowing golf carts in residential areas at Gillespie Lake, but it only requires users to have a valid driver’s license. “I’d like to keep them the same.” He also objected to the fee structure, saying $150 is “awfully steep.”
The proposed ordinance would allow golf carts to be used on city streets only and excludes their use on state highways.
“The state is very specific about how we have to intersect with state highways,” Polo said. “That’s why there is a lot of additional language in there.” To finalize a proposed ordinance for the December meeting, however, he said he needed a decision on the minimum age for drivers as well as a permit fee. Further discussion revealed disagreement about whether permits would be valid for one year from the date of purchase or be issued on the basis of the calendar year.
Permitted golf carts would have to be equipped with minimal equipment to essentially make them street-worthy. Those amenities include a horn, turn signals, a windshield and seat belts.
“They’re basically like a car,” said resident Roger Hamlin. He said he has a golf cart permitted for use at Hillsboro’s city lake. Since he has a campground permit, he said he also is permitted to operate the vehicle in the city of Hillsboro.
“Why do we need to have golf carts?” asked Ald. Rolando. She said her family has more than one car and when she wants to go somewhere, she gets in a vehicle and drives. “Why can’t you just drive a car to get where you want to go?”
“Because I don’t want to,” Hamlin responded. He offered to load his cart onto a trailer and bring it to the council to see what kind of equipment it has to meet Hillsboro’s permit requirements.
Resident Bob Fulton said he has a scooter to get around town for short trips, but that he would prefer to use a golf cart. “I like them better than a scooter,” he said. “You’ve got four wheels under you.”
Neither Hamlin nor Fulton had objections to the fee structure, indicating that individuals who could afford a specially equipped golf cart for street use could probably afford the fee.
Ald. Tucker moved to write the ordinance with a minimum age of 16 and a $100 fee. He rescinded the motion, however, when further discussion made it clear there was no consensus on those details.
Fisher commented that allowing residents to comment during the discussion was unusual for most city councils. “Under our rules of procedures, guests would not be allowed to enter into the discussion after the public comment period,” he said. “If we absolutely followed the rules, this wouldn’t happen. As a group, though, we have a history of getting opinions from other people and getting opinions from the public. There’s more to engaging with the public than what goes in the newspapers.”
Ultimately, the issue was referred back to committee to hammer out details with an eye toward presenting the ordinance again during the December council meeting.
ADA COMPLIANCE AT CIVIC CENTER
Following a report by Ald. Dona Rauzi, the council also deferred action on taking steps to bring the Civic Center into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Bringing city buildings into compliance with the Act are among the conditions of the city’s loan agreement with the USDA to finance the ongoing water infrastructure improvement project.
Rauzi said interior doors in the Civic Center and City Hall have to be equipped with lever handles in lieu of knobs. Replacing the hardware will cost in the neighborhood of $3,100, she said. The city also will be required to install signage with braille on public restrooms, and six exterior doors will have to replaced with 10-inch glass transoms at the top.
“These are things we are going to have to do in the future,” Rauzi said. “I’d like to get approval for at least the locks and levers.”
Mayor Hicks, however, noted that plans are underway to remodel restrooms to make them ADA-compliant and that would be a more appropriate time to change door handles. That way, the door handles could be part of the remodeling bids.
“I’d like to wait until we get pushed a little,” he said. “I think we could do that.”
No action was taken on the issue, but Rauzi expressed some consternation about the council’s change of direction on the matter. She said she spent considerable time researching the issue and obtaining the prices. The same thing happened, she said, when she researched options and pricing for repairing the Civic Center roof.
“I wish you would just make up your mind,” she said.
COAL MUSEUM/LIBRARY HVAC PROJECTS
Council members voted unanimously to pay half of the $15,511 project cost to install a furnace and new flooring at the Illinois Coal Museum, located in the former United Community Bank building downtown. The project total includes a $7,090 bid from Reid Heating and Cooling, Gillespie, to install heating equipment. The building is owned by the city and it was pointed out that the improvements essentially will enhance the value of city-owned property. Ald. DaveTucker, a member of the Coal Museum Board of Directors, abstained from the vote.
Council members split, however, when it came to approving half of the $9,953 cost to install a new furnace at the City Public Library. Fisher pointed out that the library building is owned by the city, although the Library Board controls the administration of the library operation. Ald. Barrett, however, objected to the expenditure citing the Library Board’s failure to secure multiple bids. He said head librarian Steve Joyce told the committee the library had been without heat for two weeks. “There should have been more than one bid,” he said.
Tucker said the vendor was the same vendor who submitted the low bid for the Coal Museum project and that the company historically has been the low bidder on other projects.
Ald. Bill Hayes moved to pay half of the cost for the library, with a second from Ald. Rolando. Brought to a vote, the measure was approved 4-2 with Ald. Barrett and Ald. Jerry Dolliger voting no. Tucker, a member of the Library Board, abstained.
Mayor Hicks also opened bids for a remodeling project at the city police station which will expand the area for police dispatchers and reduce the space allotted for a public waiting area, but the council deferred action on awarding the contract until December to give the City Treasurer time to identify funds to pay for the project. HHH Construction was the low bidder at $9,600. One other bid in the amount of $10,240 was received from Watson Construction.
SOLAR PROJECT PAYMENT
On a motion by Ald. Rolando, the council unanimously authorized final payment of $406,350 to Illinois Solar, pending completion of a final checklist to accept the project, for work done to provide and install a controversial solar panel field to supply power for the city’s water treatment plant. City Treasurer Dan Fisher said he did not foresee any issues with accepting the project since it already is in operation.
“The work appears to be done and it is up and working,” Fisher said.
In a related matter, the council authorized the expenditure of funds to have city engineers Curry and Associates develop plans and bidding specifications for a chain link fence to surround the solar field. Homeowner George Link, who appeared before the council on two occasions to complain about the location of the solar field, reportedly concurred with the plan to screen the view of the project from his home. The city also plans to contract with Layne Knoche to develop landscaping around the solar field to further improve its appearance.
While apparently having conceded his fight to relocate the solar field, Link appeared briefly to suggest that the city start a website or take other steps to improve communication with constituents about council activities. A key component of his complaint against the solar field was that he was unaware of the site selection until construction started and that he could find no reference in minutes of the council meetings that any vote was taken to approve the location.
A well-maintained website would allow residents to receive updates on city projects and other issues, Link said.
Mayor Hicks rejected the idea of establishing a website primarily because of the additional workload it would place on the shoulders of the City Clerk.
“I think the best way (to stay abreast of city business) is to do what you’re doing—come to the meetings,” Hicks said. “It’s not a closed society. Our meetings are open to the public and our committee meetings are open, too.”
From the meeting minutes he acquired, Link said it appeared the decision to locate the solar field across the street from Link’s home was left to Fisher. “Everything went back to Dan,” Link said. “To me that’s not the job of the Treasurer.”
Fisher has said in the past that the decision on locating the solar field was made in consultation with city engineers and representatives of Illinois Solar who determined the lot adjacent to the water plant was the optimum location.
“I think some of it is that we trust Dan’s judgment because of his past experience,” Ald. Rauzi told Link.
Apparently with an eye toward better communication with the public, Hicks asked the council to think about an electronic sign to be erected near City Hall to advise residents about upcoming events, upcoming council meetings and emergency situations such as a recent city-wide boil order.
“It would get messages to people,” Hicks said of the proposal, noting that a similar sign at Community Unit School District 7 cost about $25,000.
Fisher said such a sign might be able to be incorporated into a downtown streetscape program being promoted by Grow Gillespie, in which case the cost of the sign would be eligible for partial grant funding.
In a somewhat related matter, Mayor Hicks collected cell phone numbers from each of the aldermen to facilitate a group messaging system at the request of Ald. Hayes. Hayes said he was unaware of the recent city-wide boil order resulting from a water main break until he heard about it from other customers at the Dollar General store. With a group text message, Hicks said the city will be able to reach out to all alderman simultaneously with important messages.
On the recommendation of City Treasurer Fisher the council unanimously approved a resolution to be filed by Jan. 1 with the Illinois Department of Transportation to appropriate $250,000 in Motor Fuel Tax funds for next years street maintenance program.
“We don’t know that we will do that much work,” Fisher said, adding that one of the issues the city will have to address is the ongoing water infrastructure improvement project which is likely to play a role in determining which streets will be resurfaced.
Responding to a question from Ald. Tucker, Fisher said the resolution to appropriate funds for expenditure has to be approved on an annual basis, the funds in the Motor Fuel Tax account can roll over from one year to the next. The state allots Motor Fuel Tax funds to municipalities on a monthly basis and unexpended funds at the end of the year remain in the account, allowing the account to accumulate larger balances over time.
Ald. Hayes asked if motor fuel tax funds could be used to grind down excessive crowns that exist on some streets. Fisher affirmed the funds could be used for that purpose but that the process is expensive and whether or not to authorize that expenditure would be up to the council.
WATER PLANT OPERATOR HIRED
On the recommendation of Mayor Hicks, the council voted unanimously on a motion by Ald. Tucker, seconded by Ald. Hayes, to hire Jacob Alepra as an operator at the city water treatment plant. Alepra, one of two applicants for the position, has trained as a plumber and currently is training as a water plant operator. City Treasurer Fisher noted that like all new hires, Alepra will be subject to a one-year probationary period.
SURPLUS PROPERTY OFFERED FOR SALE
Following a brief executive session to discuss collective bargaining, the council agreed to declare several pieces of city property as surplus property and offer them for sale via a bidding process. Upon the recommendation of Mayor Hicks, council members agreed to sell a 1991 Top Kick GMC with 26,291 miles on the odometer; a 1998 Chevrolet dump truck; a KMS 1500 sewer eel with 100 feet of eel; a 20-horsepower Wisconsin water pump; a Flink 11-by-48-inch snowplow; a five-foot brush hog; and an 80,000 BTU ceiling mount heater.
Bids from potential buyers are due by 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Bids will be opened during the council’s regular meeting set for 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9.
Bids also will be opened during the December meeting for a surplus property acquired through condemnation and located at 205 Francis Street.
Later in the meeting, council members voted unanimously to declare a house at 207 Western a public nuisance and to begin legal proceedings to require the owner to abate the nuisance. City Attorney Kevin Polo said the house recently failed an inspection by the city’s housing inspector. Legal action could result in a court order for the owner to correct the deficiencies and authorize the city to abate the nuisance with the owner fails to comply. If the city abates the nuisance, it will file a lien against the property, which could result ultimately in the city acquiring title to the property. Polo said the city also has taken action against the owner to revoke a lake lot lease and evict him from that property.
In other action, the council:
- Approved an ordinance amendment to permit Queen of Hearts-type raffles. The council was approached last month about approving a Queen of Hearts raffle for Darts for Kids but the organization has not yet completed an application for the event.
- Approved an ordinance to sign onto the creation of a new county-wide Enterprise Zone when authorization for the current Enterprise Zone expires. The new Enterprise Zone will be subject to approval by DCEO.
- Approved an ordinance to allow natural gas/propane fire pits only on Macoupin Street and banning wood-burning fire pits in that area.
- Approved intergovernmental agreements with the Village of Eagarville and Village of Mount Clare to provide water to those municipalities for the next 40 years.
- Agreed to make a one-time payment of $65,880 to the Illinois Municipal League shared risk insurance program to provide insurance for the coming year. Making a one-time payment saved the city about $650 over splitting the payment into two installments.
- Approved a resolution to make a payment of $324,103.50 to Haier Plumbing for work completed to date on the water infrastructure improvement project. A bill for $21,691.56 from Curry and Associates Engineers was inadvertently not included in the resolution and will be authorized for payment next month.
- Approved a lake lot lease transfer for 33 Carney Drive to Dennis and Jolene Campbell.
- Referred to committee the issue of raising the rental fee charged to the Saddle Club to rent an area at the lake for its show ring. Ald. Barrett said the space used by the club is equivalent to 30 lake lots but that the club pays only $650 a year to lease the property. Mayor Hicks directed Barrett to contact representatives of the Saddle Club to attend a committee meeting and negotiate an adjusted rate.
- Voted to donate $300, the equivalent of $10 per planter, to help pay for Christmas decorations to be placed in planters along Macoupin Street in downtown Gillespie.
- Agreed to purchase a $150 ad from the city for the Gillespie High School 2020 yearbook.
- Agreed to spend $600 for a tree service to trim a dead tree at the lake down to a level at which city workers can remove the remainder of the tree.