Hillsboro Campground Joins Reserve America

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Heeding the advice of Parks Superintendent Jim May and Sherwood Forest Campground hosts Bennett and Kristy Samowich, Hillsboro city council voted unanimously to become part of Reserve America, an organization that will provide software to facilitate online reservations and payments for the local campground. The three said the move will help marketing (now primarily word of mouth), in turn attracting more campers, thus paying for itself over time. Set-up fee is $1,349, including a month's service, and the fee per month is $235. The contract is for one year and the program should greatly enhance the town's web presence.

In other campground news, Dennis Panczenke, currently of Waterloo, Wisconsin, was hired as cohost for the rest of the camping season. According to Public Properties' Commissioner Daniel Robbins, a city employee had filled in as cohost for a few days as relief for the hosts, who had worked for two/three weeks without help.

Robbins' crew had also helped with preparations for the July Fourth celebration at the old lake and replaced missing lake lot signs on Glenn Shoals Lake. Some electrical receptacles and breakers at the campground had failed because of the recent heat and overuse; they were replaced.

Mayor Brian Sullivan thanked the Street Department, the Water and Sewer Departments, CTI, and Hurst-Rosche Engineering for collaborating to solve a difficult problem on Lakeview Drive. Sewage backing up into a basement had made one house not fit for occupation for the past several months, but because the sewer and water mains in that area were never mapped, no one had been able to solve the problem. According to Public Utilities' Commissioner Don Downs, CTI equipment was used to dig holes to locate the mains; one water line no one knew existed was found to be a main part of the problem.

A collapsed connection to a sewer main across the street from the house was also a contributor; the feeder line and tap was clay tile, and soil was entering through the collapsed section. The water to the unoccupied house was shut off in April and can't be turned on again till the lines are fixed. That would happen only if the house is purchased.

Downs also thanked the other departments for their cooperation; both he and the mayor thanked Vogel Plumbing for their work on another problem, an "issue" on the North Road. A power pole was knocked over there, which in turn caused a power outage for Pinnacle Point and Lakewood Estates residents. It also disabled a sewer lift station in the area; Vogels hauled sewage from the area all day, at a cost to the city, to prevent even more problems for the residents. The power was restored later that night.

Mayor Sullivan also had a personal note of thanks for quick work by the city's police force and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department for work Tuesday afternoon. Three out-of-towners were arrested – one in Sullivan's Drug Store and two on South Main Street -- for trying to have fake prescriptions filled and for possession of blank prescription forms.

The mayor had praise for the Auxiliary Police and their contributions to the Fourth of July Celebration. "We couldn't have many of the events we have if they didn't volunteer," the mayor said, "They are appreciated."

This Saturday, July 13, the Auxiliary Police will celebrate their 50th birthday with a gathering at the Challacombe House from 1 to 3 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy thanked the city for their work on Lakeview; he said residents near the repaired sewer line were very happy. He said Rich Stewart and other summer help would tackle cleaning up the area between the CTI lot at the eastern end of Wood Street soon; in an agenda item, the council approved paying $1,080 for "...diminishing a flood plain" because the lot is at least technically on a water shed." The city inherited asphalt, etc., that had been dumped behind the last-painted-yellow house that last stood there; clean-up will primarily involve covering that sort of debris.

Murphy read a letter of resignation from the police department from Sgt. Kelly Brewer effective Thursday, July 25, after 21 years with the city. He plans to pursue a career outside law enforcement. Murphy described Brewer as "top-notch" and thanked him for his years of service and friendship. He also reported that retired canine officer Rico had to be euthanized.

At the last council meeting a question had arisen about a partially-demolished structure just north of the Dairy Queen. Murphy said a court date about that building has been set in August, so a resolution is closer. He further added that he's proud of the city's efforts to clean up derelict buildings; "We've been aggressive as a council; 33 properties have been reclaimed; and others are targeted, but it is a process. It takes time, but we're still addressing eyesores around town."

Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan said the budget would be on the next (July 23) agenda. "It's a tight fit," she said. "I won't guarantee that the levy can stay where it is," she added.

Newly hired city employee Jonathan Weyer gave his first report to the council. He's begun work on the city's plan; he envisions it as partially data driven and partially marketing tool. He suggests beginning with a two year plan (which he hopes to have finished by April) which then can be expanded into the more conventional five year comprehensive plan. Both will be based on six to eight principles which are important to this community.

He wants to work closely with the Imagine Hillsboro board as well as other local stakeholders and to strengthen relationships with Western Illinois University as well as Saint Louis University, where he is a graduate student. Western Illinois sent Hillsboro the last intern (in 2018) and has connections with the national Rural Development programs.

He finished with encouraging words about the Corner Block Building. The first need is an inspection by structural engineers; then he hopes what he sees as a unique building with unique challenges can became used for industrial purposes as well as a small business incubator.

Mayor Sullivan applauded Weyer for his visibility around the community. "You're out and about, checking trails, networking with people; you're not just sitting in your office hoping people come to you."

During the business agenda the council approved monthly bills ($398,490.87 of which $136,267.71 was from the General Fund; the rest was water and sewer expenditures); moved the Anna Street property (682 Anna) as surplus property so it can be sold, and approved spending $59,000 refunded by Woodard & Curran for two purposes.

One is the purchase of two new submersible pumps for the sewer plant for $8,627 each plus shipping.

The other was the purchase of 150 water meters from Badger Meters for $250 each; Commissioner Downs said new meters, typically more accurate than worn ones, could increase revenues for the city.

The council went to executive session at 8:09 to discuss possible purchase or lease of real property but returned to open session at 8:20 with no action to report.

The council next meets on Tuesday, July 23, at 7 p.m. in city hall on South Main. The public is welcome to attend.

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