Members of the Gillespie City Council voted unanimously Monday night to authorize Curry & Associates Engineers to prepare specifications and seek bids for a project to repair the leaking spillway at Gillespie Lake. The council also heard from a city resident who asked the city to urge the Illinois Department of Transportation to keep guardrails in place on Illinois Route 4 on the south side of the city and voted to match $2,331 in donations to the Illinois Coal Museum, but tabled action on a ordinance to revise an ordinance delineating the classifications of liquor licenses available in the city.
City Treasurer Dan Fisher told the council that USDA Rural Development authorities had reviewed and approved the engineer’s plans for repairing the spillway, and that it was appropriate to authorize Curry & Associates to prepare bidding specifications and advertise for bids. The preliminary engineer’s estimate for the project is in excess of $200,000, but Fisher warned that contractors may discover that more work is required when they remove concrete from the spillway apron in the area of the leak. He said engineers also cautioned that completing the repairs may require installation of a coffer dam to access the back side of the dam at the spillway.
A portion of the project’s cost will be underwritten with USDA Rural Development grant and loan funds awarded to the city for a $10 million water infrastructure improvement project set to begin this summer. The council voted earlier this year to issue $6,350,000 in Waterworks System Revenue Bonds through the Rural Development program to be repaid over a period of 40 years. In addition, USDA approved awarding the city grant funds in the amount of $3,650,000.
In a related matter, the council approved an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into an inter-governmental agreement with the Village of East Gillespie to facilitate East Gillespie’s participation in the infrastructure improvement project.
CITY MAY OPPOSE IDOT PLAN TO REMOVE GUARDRAILS
Ald. Steve Kluthe agreed to contact the Illinois Department of Transportation to get more information about the agency’s plans to remove guardrails along Illinois Route 4 on the south side of the city. Resident Mark Skief appeared before the council to bring the matter to the council’s attention and voice his objection to the plan.
Skief said he received a letter from IDOT indicating the the agency wants to remove the the guardrails, which protect residences located along a curve in the highway.
“I would like to keep my guardrail,” Skief said. “Those guardrails are there for a reason.” He said a guardrail protecting his neighbor’s residence has been hit by vehicles twice in recent months. “I’ve lived there about eight years. There’s a park about a half a block away. There are quite a few people use the sidewalks with their kids.”
IDOT apparently wants to remove the guardrails in lieu of replacing them with newer style guardrails with the ends of the rails buried as a safety measure.
Skief said IDOT sent letters to each of the residents who have homes adjacent to the guardrails. He said he called IDOT to lobby for keeping the guardrails and was told that he was the only person to respond to the letter. He said the agency’s reason for wanting to remove the guardrails reportedly is that the current guardrails are not “certified.” IDOT apparently wants to remove the guardrails in lieu of replacing them with newer style guardrails with the ends of the rails buried as a safety measure.
Kluthe asked for a copy of the letter sent to Skief and said he would contact IDOT.
“They want to know how the community feels about it,” Skief told the council.
LAKE LOT LEASES
The council meeting room was briefly crowded with persons wanting to see whether or not their applications to lease lots at Gillespie Lake would be approved. On a motion by Ald. Frank Barrett, seconded by Ald. Janice Weidner, the council unanimously approved the following leases:
- Clay Cope, Alton: Lot No. 422.
- Steve and Lenora Heiens, Carlinville: Lot No. 380 on the New Lake.
- Greg and Jodi Stram, Godfrey: 22a Carney Drive.
- Robert and Marily Humphreys, Bloomington: 4 Oak Point Lane on the Old Lake.
- William and Diana Greenlee, South Roxana: 10 Circle Drive.
Before the council retired to executive session, Barrett indicated that he needed to discuss a property issue at the lake that could involve potential litigation. City Attorney Kevin Polo advised that for the issue to qualify for executive session discussion the litigation would have to be threatened or imminent. No action or discussion regarding lake property followed the executive session and it was unclear whether council members actually discussed the matter behind closed doors.
Following a 30-minute executive session to discuss personnel and collective bargaining issues, the council voted to give a committee power to act regarding resolution of a collective bargaining issue.
Prior to going into executive session, the council also gave power to act to a committee to make a determination regarding a donation to the Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation’s Rehabilitation Center to support the Center’s operation of the city’s recycling program. The Center took over the program last year under an agreement negotiated by Ald. Dave Tucker with financial support from the city.
Ultimately, the amount of the donation will be contingent upon the committee negotiating with IVEDC officials regarding the number of times the agency takes recycling trailers to Carlinville to unload recyclable materials at WE CARE Recycling.
“Their scheduling is off,” Ald. Kluthe commented, noting that the receptacles on the trailers often are full on Friday, coinciding with the weekend when a majority of residents come to the Recycling Center to deposit recyclables. “They need to have those emptied out on Friday before the weekend.”
Mayor John Hicks said that making sure the trailers are empty for the weekend may require IVEDC employees to make an additional trip to Carlinville. Kluthe said he will contact IVEDC to see if the schedule can be adjusted. If an additional trip is required, the city may boost the amount of its donation to cover the additional expense.
Under the agreement, the Rehabilitation Center retains any money it earns from selling recyclable materials.
On a motion by Ald. Barrett, seconded by Ald. Diana Brickey, the council voted to match $2,331 in donations the Illinois Coal Museum has received for this fiscal year. The donation marks the last of the donations to which the council committed the city three years ago when the museum started. Initially, the city gave the museum $4,000 in seed money and agreed to match up to $8,000 in donations annually for three years. In the first year the city matched slightly more than $1,700 in donations, and matched more than $5,200 last fiscal year.
Tucker said donations to the museum slowed somewhat this fiscal year “so we’re going to be leaving some money on the table.” He said money the museum received from the city so far has been used for renovations to the city-owned building, which formerly housed United Community Bank. Those renovations have included carpeting, making restrooms handicapped accessible and new electrical wiring.
The matching funds have been significant.
“I want to thank the council and the city for the help they’ve given the museum,” Tucker said. “The matching funds have been significant.”
Tucker and Ald. Jim Alderson, both of whom serve on the museum board, abstained from the vote.
WATER PLANT CAMERAS
Council members voted unanimously to purchase video cameras from Carpani Technology Solutions at a cost of $2,200 to be installed at the city’s water treatment plant. Mayor Hicks reported the cost will be reduced by $400 if city workers install wiring for the camera units. Hicks said the cameras are a safety measure and will also be used to monitor workers at the plant.
“We have one guy out there by himself at night and there are hazardous materials out there,” Hicks said.
“I’ve been out there at night when people have driven up to the plant,” Kluthe commented. ‘I think our guys will appreciate having cameras out there.”
Hicks noted that the city already has cameras installed at the Police Department and has discussed eventually installing cameras at the Street Department for similar reasons.
Also related to the water plant, Hicks reported that Water Plant Supervisor Don Shuey has asked to implement a policy governing employee’s use of cell phones while on the job.
“Wouldn’t we have to amend our employee handbook so it’s the same for all employees?” Kluthe asked.
“No,” City Attorney Kevin Polo replied, “I think departments can set their own policies as needed.”
Council members agreed to absorb half of the $825.55 cost of repairing a water main break near the SuperBowl Bowling Alley. Harold Besserman, owner of the business, appeared at the last meeting of the council to register a complaint about the cost of the project, noting that he would have made arrangements to have the break repaired if he had known about it and had known he would be held responsible for the cost.
Ald. Jerry Dolliger noted that the leak pre-dated Besserman’s acquisition of the property and recommended splitting the cost 50/50 with Besserman.
“It’s more or less a goodwill thing,” Dolliger said.
“When we had the barricade situation out there, we used his parking lot as a staging area,” Kluthe noted. “He came out and opened his doors so emergency workers could have access to a bathroom.”
Dolliger said $500 of the total bill was for excavating services provided by Mark Ranger, with the remainder representing city personnel costs.
LIQUOR LICENSE ORDINANCE TABLED
At the request of Mayor Hicks, the council tabled action on an amendment to the city’s liquor licensing ordinance. At the last meeting of the council, Hicks requested changes to the ordinance to define additional classifications of liquor licenses to more closely reflect the activities of businesses that sell alcoholic beverages. He reported Monday night that additional work needs to be done but the new ordinance tentatively will offer licenses for businesses that sell package liquor only, businesses that sell liquor with food services, and businesses that sell liquor with food, along with video gambling machines.
In other action, the council:
- Accepted a quote from Feeley’s Tree Service to remove two dead trees on Edwards Street at a total cost of $375.
- Authorized the purchase of a new buffer for the Civic Center from M.H. Sales, Gillespie, at a cost of about $920, including shipping.
- Agreed to donate $100 to the Gillespie High School Post Prom organization.
- Accepted a technical amendment to the city’s agreement with the Illinois Public Risk Fund program to provide worker’s compensation insurance coverage. The program is a consortium of Illinois municipalities that have pooled funds for worker’s compensation coverage.
- Voted to accept a resolution to adopt a benefit planning system for city employees. Polo told the council the action will keep out-of-pocket health insurance costs for city employees at the level required by contract but may require the city to subsidize additional costs due to variations in the policies offered to members of each of the three unions representing city employees.