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Benld Council moves forward with installing meters

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$85,000 worth of meters sitting in City Hall

Jim Tilashalski explains to Mickey Robinson that he voted 'yes' on the meters 6 months ago and was well aware that the meters did not have a backflow preventer on them.

During the committee reports, Peyton Bernot notified the council during a regular meeting on Monday, June 11 that $85,000 worth of water meters are sitting in City Hall right now. The first shipment of water meters arrived 5 months ago and only 6 have been installed since that time. “The reason for that, I don’t know why,” Bernot added.

Last month the City of Benld hired an employee to handle the grass cutting to free up time for other maintenance employees. That fact of the matter is, Bernot went on, the grant that purchased these water meters is not closed out and we are jeopardizing the grant we have in place for the sewer lift stations.

Mayor Hendricks questioned whether the device to read the radio-read meters has arrived yet. Bernot said no, but installation can still proceed without the device that is on back order. Mayor Hendricks misunderstood Bernot a few months back in a private conversation when the question was brought up then. According to Mayor Hendricks, Bernot stated that the meters could not be installed without the device, but Bernot said he never said such thing.

“You can still read the mobile-based meters without the meter,” Bernot said. “You told me the mobile-based readers have to be read before we install them,” Mayor Hendricks said. The reader is still on backorder after being purchased 60 days ago.

So we are going to put our $80,000 worth of radio-read meters in and still read them by hand, Mayor Hendricks questioned. The answer supplied by Bernot was yes, until the device arrives. Bernot also posed an alternative, the direct-read meters can be installed first.

Mickey Robinson questioned whether the meters have a back-flow valve on the new meters because “that is a 1987 federal law safety issue.” Bernot answered, “You have asked me this before Mickey and I have checked with the EPA, Bob Weller, and Rick Schulte, and you do not need backflow preventers since we are replacing current meters.” Robinson went on to demand the conversation in writing until he added a further comment.

The decision to purchase these meters came 6 months ago by a unanimous 6-0 vote, it was in the proposal that the meters ‘do not have to have backflow preventers.’ The rest of the aldermen agreed they were well aware of the situation 6 months ago. “You voted yes on this action 6 months ago Mickey,” Tilashalski added.

Tikashalski then went on to say that the City of Benld has close to 40 broken meters that are not working that are reading zero usage. “To my understanding, one of these is at a residence that just recently filled their swimming pool with water,” Tilashalski explained. “I voted for the person to cut the grass, so our men could start working on these meters because we are losing money.”

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Mayor Hendricks said the work can now begin immediately. “I did not have them put those in because I understood you say they had to be read with the device,” Mayor Hendricks said. “I misunderstood you then.” According to Hendricks, the work order to install the meters went out on June 12.

The council recognized Lynn Fraelle from Build Benld. She notified the council that the ITEP grant has been submitted and the organization has received letters from Senator Durbin and Representative Schilling on behalf of the City of Benld. The letters have been forwarded to the Department of Transportation.

In other news, all the plants are in at the gazebo and the grass has even been cut once. Within the next week or two, benches and railings are set to be installed. Build Benld also received a donation for a flag pole and a flag for the gazebo.

Mayor Hendricks questioned City Attorney Rick Vertichio about the property on 218 Walnut. Vertichio is not sure what is going on there as the property is tied up with two or three other pieces of property that another group is purchasing. “I have been trying to figure out what is going on,” Vertichio added. “I will find out more information in the hearing on June 19.”

In other committee reports, Tilashalski looked over the library and said it does not need a sidewalk next to the building because it is so close to the building anyways. Maintenance has spread rock in the back for the librarian to park. Tilashalski checked with Dave DeLaurent and he has parking blocks that he would donate to the library to line the area. It would stop any car from backing into the building, which was the main concern of the library board.

He went on to add that the library could then landscape the area with some flowers and some decorative rock. Tilashalski added that he will approach the library board on Wednesday evening to see if they would like to consider doing this.

In other old business, Tilashalski questioned why the Municipal Band was paid for their performance at the Vietnam Parade. Mayor Hendricks said there was bill there, we had to pay it. The City then received a bill after the Memorial Day service when the band was not even asked to perform. “I deny payment on this bill,” Tilashalski said.

Robinson noted that the Shehorn lift station has been repaired and is running at 100% now. He went on to say that the City is waiting on parts for the South Main lift station. It will be running up to par after the parts arrive later this week. He went on to say that he has two bills that are “confusing matter” and he is not approving them.

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Lastly in new business, the council passed a resolution ascertaining to the prevailing wage rate. The resolution is passed every June meeting.

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Court News

Macoupin County Courthouse News

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Cases filed during July 7 through July 13. Visit the “Court News” category under the “Community News” tab for other editions.

FELONIES

Timothy D. Conlee, 29 of Gillespie, is charged with aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving in connection with a July 6 incident.

Dylan J. Arview, 25 of Benld, is charged with driving under the influence while license revoked or suspending, DUI, driving on a suspended license and driving 15-20 mph above the limit in connection with a July 5 incident.

Bobby L. Walker, 35 of Sorento, is charged with driving revoked/suspended with a DUI, driving on revoked license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, displayed registration plate, and expired registration in connection with a June 27 incident.

Dustin W. Gooch, 34 of Beecher City, is charged with aggravated fleeing/bodily injury, unlawful display of a title, improper use of registration/title, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and registration light in connection with a June 17 incident.

MISDEMEANORS

Jordan A. Black, 24 of Gillespie, is charged with battery/causing bodily harm in connection with a July 8 incident.

Dustin R. Stieglitz, 37 of Shipman, is charged with aggravated assault/use of a deadly weapon in connection to a June 29 incident.

Steven A. Kroll, 33 of Eagarville, is charged with resisting a peace officer, fire fighter, or corrections employee in connection with a June 26 incident.

TRAFFIC

David B. Brown, 58 of Virden, is charged with cancelled/revoked/suspended registration in connection with a July 3 incident.

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Jennifer L. Roberts, 47 of Worden, is charged with driving on a suspended license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle in connection with July 5 incident.

Andrew L. Connoyer, 31 of Bethalto, is charged with improper use of registration, driving 15-20 mph above the limit, and no valid registration in connection with July 7 incident.

Megan E. Bertoldi, 37 of Gillespie, is charged with leaving the scene in connection with July 11 incident.

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE FILED

  • Tasha McQuay versus David McQuay

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Community News

School board disciplines staff member; hires AD and Student Services Coordinator

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In a relatively brief meeting Monday night, the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education approved a “resolution of remedial warning” against an unidentified district teacher, and hired a new Student Services Coordinator and Athletic Director.

The actions followed an 80-minute executive session during which board members presumably primarily discussed personnel issues. The regular monthly meeting of the board was moved up by one week to fill key positions, such as the Athletic Director and Student Services Coordinator, prior to the start of the school year next month. The district was taken by surprise when former Student Services Coordinator Stephanie Bray and Athletic Director Mike Bertagnolli both announced their retirements within days of each other.

Supt. Shane Owsley said the resolution of remedial warning is a disciplinary action representing “a second strike, so to speak.” Neither the teacher or the nature of the infraction was disclosed in open session.

In other action, the board, voted unanimously to hire Shelsie Timmermeier as the district’s Student Services Coordinator for the 2024-25 school year, stepping into the vacancy created by Bray’s retirement, pending confirmation of certification and a background check. In a separate action, the board also appointed Timmermeier as an assistant high school women’s volleyball coach.

Jeremy Smith was hired, also by a unanimous vote, as the district’s Athletic Director for the 2024-25 school year. In a related matter, Smith’s resignation as middle school head baseball coach was accepted. Additionally, the board posted the coaching position as vacant for the coming school year.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Dennis Tiburzi, the board hired Alex Jasper as a high school social science teacher for the coming school year. The board also voted unanimously to hire Tate Wargo as a first-year, non-tenured physical education instructor, pending confirmation of certification. Both positions were vacated as a result of the sudden resignation of Dalton Barnes in April as head football coach, physical education teacher and social science teacher. 

In related matters, the board also hired Wargo Monday night as an eighth grade boy’s basketball coach, and accepted Jasper’s resignation as a district paraprofessional and posted the position as vacant.

In other personnel action, the board:

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  • Hired Amanda Ewin as a one-on-one aide.
  • Hired Anthony Kravanya as a freshman men’s basketball coach.
  • Appointed Melissa Heigert as a volunteer assistant high school softball coach.

In other action, the board gave routine approval to a list of policies provided by the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Supt. Owsley also provided a brief update on the progress being made on safety projects expected to be completed before the start of the school year, including installation of a new intercom system, a card-reader entry system and shatter-proof protective film on exterior windows.

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Gillespie Library, United Community Bank to host Fraud and Scam Prevention seminar on July 22

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Gillespie Public Library (Photo by Gillespie Public Library)

Friends of the Gillespie Public Library and United Community Bank are hosting a joint “Fraud and Scam Prevention” seminar at on Monday, July 22 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gillespie Public Library.

The seminar will focus on today’s common scams and frauds, which includes imposter and check scams, money mule fraud and those that target seniors. Presenters will be Jenni Alepra of Gillespie UCB and Kennen Bertolis of Carlinville UCB.

The seminar is open to the public and is free of charge. For additional questions, call the Gillespie Public Library at 217-839-3614.

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