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Future of former bank site in Benld is in question

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Derrick Tibruzi, along with his parents, Dennis and Susan Tiburzi, appeared before the council to again seek an extension on the deadline for establishing a permanent business building on the former site of the First National Bank of Benld in the 200 block of East Central Avenue.

While the Benld City Council approved a maintenance contract for the city’s water tower and voted to enact an ordinance calling for a $500 fine when residents reconnect water services the city previously disconnected, it was a lengthy discussion about the former site of the Benld National Bank that dominated Monday night’s council meeting.

Derrick Tibruzi, along with his parents, Dennis and Susan Tiburzi, appeared before the council to again seek an extension on the deadline for establishing a permanent business building on the former site of the First National Bank of Benld in the 200 block of East Central Avenue. Derrick Tiburzi was the successful bidder in April 2022 to acquire the site from the city a month after the city had the former two-story brick building razed and removed. Under the terms of the contract, Tiburzi agreed to pay $6,000 down and retire the remaining $24,000 by making monthly $1,000 payments for two years. The contract also bound Tiburzi to establish a permanent business on the site within three years or forfeit whatever money he had paid the city and surrender the property to the city.

At the time, Derrick Tiburzi said he planned to build a barbecue restaurant on the site.

The contract reportedly allows for the city to authorize extensions on the construction requirement in the event of “extenuating” circumstances.

The Tiburzis on Monday night said they’ve since discovered the land was not adequately compacted to support a commercial building after the old bank was demolished, an assertion the city contests. In previous meetings with city officials, Derrick Tiburzi contended a concrete contractor he hired to pour a slab for the building refused to guarantee his work, citing improper compaction. Likewise, excavator Mike Ranger reportedly confirmed the site will not support new construction.

Citing extenuating circumstances, the Tiburzis reportedly sought an indefinite extension while they attempt to resolve the issue with the property’s condition. In lieu of such an extension, Derrick Tiburzi offered a proposal under which the city would refund a portion of the money he paid for the property once the entire $30,000 had been paid. Under that proposal, the city would return $19,245 to Tiburzi, while retaining the remaining $10,765. Tiburzi said he arrived at the numbers by applying an average price for Benld real estate of $1.48 per square foot and deducting the footprint of the former bank building.

Ald. John Balzraine reported Monday night he had talked to Mark Ranger, another local excavator, who said he has equipment to drill and staggered grid of 18-inch holes to a depth of three feet and fill them with water. “He said that property will drop within six months,” Balzraine said.

“Will he guarantee that is the solution to my problem?” Derrick Tiburzi asked.

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“I don’t see how drilling to three feet is going to help when they excavated to seven feet,” Dennis Tiburzi commented. He alleged that below seven feet, the area was backfilled with construction debris, including loose bricks.

Balzraine disputed Tiburzi’s contention, saying the contractor that razed the building excavated to a depth of only five feet, which was the depth of the existing basement, and removed all debris from the demolition before filling the pit with clay and compacting the soil.

City Attorney Rick Verticchio said the brick debris below seven feet apparently is from a previous structure that no one knew about.

“Then that’s even more of a problem,” Dennis Tiburzi said.

Derrick Tiburzi said his concrete contractor told him that bringing the site up to standards for commercial construction would cost upward of $98,000.

“We can’t do that,” Tiburzi said. “I’d end up spending a quarter of a million dollars and I’d never see a return on my investment.”

Verticchio insisted that Tiburzi has a “contractual obligation” to build on the site. “The bank building stood on that site for 100 years and never had any structural problems with the foundation,” he said. “If you were going to build a four-story brick building, you might have a problem, but I think you could build a one-story building on a concrete slab on that site with no problem. If you don’t want it, you can walk away from it, we’ll keep the money you’ve paid so far and start working with the next guy.”

Derrick Tiburzi said he has paid about $26,000 toward the acquisition of the property at this time.

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“We want the property,” Susan Tiburzi said. “If that’s the issue, I could write you a check for it tonight.” But she confirmed the family has no immediate plans to build while the stability of the site remains in doubt.

“The contract says we’ll give you a ‘reasonable extension’ for unforeseen circumstances,” Verticchio said. “If you think a ‘reasonable extension’ means you’d never have to build on it, then we’d probably have to go to court on that issue.”

“We would probably already have had a building-up if not for unforeseen circumstances,” Derrick Tiburzi insisted. “My whole plan was do do something good for the city but, unfortunately, plans have changed due to the circumstances we’re in. We have two experts who say the site is unbuildable. We would never have been here if it had been compacted appropriately.”

Derrick Tiburzi said he has paid about $26,000 toward the acquisition of the property at this time.

“I want something in writing from Mike Ranger saying the property is not buildable,” Ald. Jerry Saracco said. Verticchio agreed, saying the city would need written statements from the Tiburzis’ experts before it could consider altering the contract or releasing them from it.

Tiburzi pledged to “reach out” to Mike Ranger for a written opinion.

“Please don’t think we’re trying to do anything against the city,” Susan Tiburzi told the council. She said the family was attempting to protect her son’s interests while doing something to benefit the city.

While the lengthy, sometimes emotional, discussion reached no resolution, Mayor Jim Kelly encouraged Derrick Tiburzi to sit down with him and Mark Ranger to “see if we can work something out.”

POST OFFICE LEASE

The council again tabled action on a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to lease the Benld Post Office for another five years. The council delayed action last month, citing a provision calling for the city to include snow removal in the lease agreement. Verticchio said Monday night he discovered the snow removal clause was in the previous lease, although the city never provided snow removal services during the term of the lease.

“They say we accept the terms of the previous lease, or they don’t want to renew,” Verticchio said.

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The current lease does not expire until the end of this year.

The new lease proposal would increase payment to the city from $25,000 to $25,500 per year. Upon accepting the proposal, the city will owe the brokerage firm that handles post office leases a commission of $1,500.

WATER SERVICE RECONNECTION

On Verticchio’s recommendation, the council authorized him to draft a proposed ordinance to implement a fine of $500 against property owners when disconnected water services are illegally reconnected. Verticchio said the Macoupin County State’s Attorney’s office has declined to pursue criminal charges in such circumstances because the city cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a specific person is responsible for reconnecting the services.

The new ordinance will provide the city with an avenue to collect damages without having to prove criminal responsibility in court.

In a somewhat related matter, the council voted unanimously to file a lien against a property at 404 South First Street for about $3,500 in unpaid water bills.

“After a year, you’re allowed to foreclose on the lien, sell the property and keep the $3,500 you’re owed,” Verticchio advised.

NEWMAN COMMENDATION

Council members voted unanimously to send a letter of commendation to Mary Newman, director at the Frank Bertetti Benld Public Library, for 25 years of service to the community. The action followed a report from Ald. Norm Emmons, the city’s representative on the library board of directors, indicated the board had recently presented Newman with a plaque in recognition of her years of service.

“She has done a fantastic job,” Emmons said.

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FIBER OPTIC INSTALLATION

Ald. Balzraine asked about the authority for crews installing fiber optic cables in the city limits for internet service.

Verticchio said the crews are authorized by state and federal law under legislation to boost rural access to internet services.

“They have a right to lay lines,” Verticchio said. “They can’t lay lines on top of any existing utilities, like water and sewer lines. I can tell you from the experience of other municipalities, they don’t pay any attention to that. They lay line over a water line, so if we have a water main break, we’re going to hit their line. What we need to do is to document that so we know where their lines are.”

City Clerk Terri Koyne said the company is supposed to provide a map showing the location of their lines.

Responding to a question, Verticchio further advised that one the company starts adding subscribers and connecting homes to the line, the city will have a right to impose a franchise fee.

CHICKEN ORDINANCE

The council declined to take any action toward amending the city’s zoning ordinance to allow residents to maintain more than six chickens on residential properties in the city. Last month, Travis Darling approached the council about expanding the number of chickens allowed to 15, saying he wanted to raise more chickens for meat and eggs to feed his family.

Verticchio said another option for Darling would be to petition the Zoning Board to rezone his property for agricultural use.

WATER TOWER MAINTENANCE

the council voted unanimously to contract with CorrPro, Chesterfield, Mo., to perform a routine annual inspection of the city’s water tower at a cost of $925. The inspection will include replacing bulbs in warning lights atop the tower. CorrPro has performed the annual inspection for the past several years.

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BUSINESS LICENSES

The council unanimously approved a business license for Grace VanDoren, owner of Bells and Whistles, for a food truck to be permanently located at 301 Central Avenue. The business serves coffee and currently operates in various locations in the city and county.

The council, however, deferred action on a business license application from Anthony Girdner for Chunx Food Truck. Gardner said he was hoping to acquire a truck to serve snow cones and ice cream but had not arranged for a permanent location.

“We have a food truck ordinance,” Verticchio pointed out. “You don’t need a business license for that.” Verticchio said the ordinance requires the food truck operation to be certified by the Macoupin County Public Health Department and to pay a fee of $100 for one day of operation, plus $24 for each additional day. He said a business license would only be required if Girdner establishes a permanent location from which to operate.

TRUCK REPAIR

In other action, the council authorized payment of $6,647.84 to Area Diesel Service, Carlinville, for repairs to the city’s dump truck.

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Progressive Club to celebrate 90th anniversary

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Benld Entreprise

The Wilsonville Progressive Club will celebrate and host a 90 year Anniversary Party on Saturday, May 11. The party will include a catered dinner, a live band, and fireworks.

Doors will open at 2 pm with a catered dinner being served at 4 pm.  The Shane Kessinger Experience (live band) will play at 5 pm, and a grand fireworks display will be held at dusk.

The Progressive Club was originally established in 1934 by the Progressive Miners and was located on the northwest side of Wilsonville’s main street. The Club moved to their new building in January of 1949 and today this is still the current location at 212 Wilson Street in Wilsonville.

Wilsonville was founded in 1917 when Superior Coal Co. Mine No. 4 was sunk and this was the most modern mine in the Superior field. At that time, the little settlement which grew up around the mine was called Wilson. One day a worker paused and asked, “What are we going to name this town?” President Wilson was in office, thus the town was then and there named Wilson until 1919 when it was incorporated and the name expanded to Wilsonville.

The Wilsonville Progressive Club is operated and maintained by an elected panel of trustees and loyal members.  The Club is open to the public and membership is always welcome.  The large outdoor covered pavilion and manicured grassy side lot offer an attractive and convenient venue for any event along with inside facilities. 

If you are interested in renting for any kind of event, call 217-835-3122 during open hours which are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4 pm to close, and Sunday doors open at 2 pm.  Every Sunday afternoon at 4 pm is the Queen of Hearts drawing and the Club is on Facebook as well.

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Gillespie Police Report: April 14-20, 2024

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SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Oak Street in reference to a dog bite.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street to pick up a found item.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Chestnut Street in reference to a burglary.

An officer was out in the 200 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to a motorist assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Schmidt Street in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South 1st Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

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An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical call.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of South Illinois Street in Benld in reference to illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to an animal complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Horizon Street in reference to a 911 call.

MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2024

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to a theft in the 100 block of South Main Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Osie Street in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

Nicholas O. Landolt, 36, of Gillespie was arrested on multiple warrants including one out of St. Clair County for possession for methamphetamine, a second one out of Montgomery County for failure to appear for driving while license was revoked, and a third out of Macoupin County for failure to appear for methamphetamine.

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An officer was dispatched to East Walnut Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical alarm.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a theft in the 200 block of West Oak Street.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to criminal damage to her property.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to identity theft.

An officer spoke with a female in the 100 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a neighbor dispute.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Southern Street in reference to a suspicious person.

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 1100 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespass to property. Melissa J. Hughes, 49, of Benld was arrested on a Montgomery County warrant for theft/larceny.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Francis Street in reference to a traffic crash.

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An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil issue in the 700 block of Rose Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Pine Street to assist the Department of Children and Family Services.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Broadway Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Central Avenue in Benld in reference to a 911 call.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to fraud in the 200 block of South Macoupin.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

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An officer was dispatched to Route 4 and Staunton Road in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Gillespie Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer was dispatched to High Street and Gillespie Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of High Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was flagged down at Elm Street and Clinton Street and spoke with an individual in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a suspicious circumstance.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2024

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 400 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a panic alarm sounding.

An officer was dispatched to the 1300 block of South Second Street in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Osie Street in reference to a dog bite.  Heather L. Kimberlin, 47, of Gillespie was issued a citation for dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was out with a suspicious vehicle in the alley in the 500 block of Park Avenue.

An officer was dispatched to East Walnut and South Main Street in Benld in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the Veterans Memorial Park in Benld in reference to a suspicious vehicle that had been parked there for a couple of days.

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Gillespie Police Department was requested for traffic control by the Gillespie Fire Department for a fire on Eagarville Road.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a traffic crash.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Street in Gillespie in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Litchfield Road in East Gillespie in reference to a suspicious person at the storage units. Kathy J. Henderson, 49, of Sawyerville was arrested on a Macoupin County warrant for failure to appear for bad checks

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Maple Street and Macoupin Street. Kenny L. Fults, 18, of Belleville was issued a citation for possession of cannabis.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Burton Street in reference to an animal complaint.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespassing. Timothy J. Dalpozzo, 57, of Benld was arrested for criminal trespassing to residence and a Macoupin County warrant for criminal trespassing to a residence.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at South Street and Chestnut Street and charges are pending crime lab results.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to Macoupin Street and Elm Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Osie Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 8th Street in Benld in reference to medical assist.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Spruce Street in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Park Street in Benld in reference to a medical call.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to an ordinance issue.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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HSHS St. Francis Hospital offers volunteer opportunities for feens

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LITCHFIELD, Ill. — HSHS St. Francis Hospital is offering service opportunities to area teens this summer through the 2024 Junior Volunteer Program. Applications are being accepted now through May 1.

Applicants must be high school students maintaining at least a “C” average, be a minimum of 14 years of age by June 1 and be willing to volunteer at least two hours per week during the summer program. Junior volunteers will perform a variety of duties in various hospital departments. 

Registration materials are available on the hospital’s website volunteer page at https://www.hshs.org/st-francis/community/volunteer.

All participants in the program will be required to present proof of immunizations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and Varicella (chicken pox). An additional requirement includes attendance at a hospital orientation.

A limited number of positions will be available. For more information, contact HSHS St. Francis Hospital at 217-324-8200.

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