Hillsboro Council Approves New Intern

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The Hillsboro City Council met for just under an hour on Tuesday evening, June 25, but a wide range of information came under consideration.

A St. Louis University graduate student, Jonathan Weyer, will serve for six months as an economic development intern who will be paid $17 an hour for no more than 999 hours. Among his duties will be working on the city's five year comprehensive plan, a necessary business recruitment tool.

The plans produced in past years were put together by citizen committees, but they lack the polished appearance of a plan presented by a professional developer. 

The current planning commission reviewed professional presentations that other cities use to represent themselves and wanted a competitive plan to use, but bids for the work were prohibitive for the city.

Mr. Weyer, a non-standard student (because it will be a second career, he is older than most students) grew up in a small southern Indiana town and hopes to concentrate his development expertise to help small towns prosper. The vote to hire him was 4-0.

Woodard & Curran representatives Tim Ferguson and Jennifer Anders were introduced by Water and Wastewater Commissioner Don Downs during the Commissioner Reports segment of the agenda. 

Ferguson presented the firm's annual report for the year ending on April 30, 2019; the firm began managing the water plant on May 1, 2018, and the waste treatment plant on Oct. 18, so it was their first report. 

The highest number of gallons of water produced was 37,363,000 in March of 2019; increased sales to the Montgomery County Rural Water System was a bonus for the plant. The heavy spring rains meant more flow for the wastewater system to handle.

The water plant treated 387.73 million gallons of raw water in the first year while meeting all of the Clean Water Act standards. Hours of operation, though, have been reduced to 16 hours per day.

Problems noted include large water main breaks and the failure of water meters. The rural system reportedly chose to buy more water from the Hillsboro plant because the water quality is better.

Important for budget considerations: the refund to the city over estimated costs was an estimated $39, 020. Woodard & Curran hopes the second contract will contain a clause about the fire department's hydrant flushing program. Ferguson said it needs to be "unidirectional," and company personnel will help with the process. Fire Chief Joe Lyerla is on board with the change, according to Ferguson, as it will give the fire department a measurement of the flow from each hydrant and a notation of the pressure at each hydrant. That activity will begin in July.

Also needed is "a cross connection survey" that will include questions about the service lines entering properties. Lead lines are to be replaced when uncovered, but Ferguson said the EPA regards galvanized lines to be almost as bad as lead. A biannual report will aid the department with annual required reports to the IEPA.

The water meter upgrade should continue. The resale meters need to be recalibrated and recertified. Ferguson also recommends the Water and Sewer Department and the Natural Resources Committee "look at various watershed management tools available." A long-term program will help the "viability of Glenn Shoals Lake, both for recreation and as a drinking water source." Finally, as the council has discussed in the past, a utility-mapping process should be developed; a GIS system would be much more accurate than institutional memory.

A major concern for the Wastewater Treatment plant are new NPDES permitting requirements coming this year. The current treatment center, as discussed at a May meeting, will not be able to meet the new standards, and it will require time to meet them.

Ms. Anders presented a Renewal Response Plan that Woodard & Curran negotiated with the IEPA outlining the city plans to correct the plant's shortcomings if given five more years to do so. 

The council voted 4-0 to accept the letter. Then the council agreed to have Woodard & Curran "dive deep into investigating the problems"; at the end of the proposed six-month study, the engineering firm will recommend a course of action and the results of a help-with-funding search. The council approved that motion and the anticipated cost of $78,000 with a 4-0 vote.

Both the water and sewer expenses come from their separate fund; none comes from the General Fund.

Ferguson also had words of praise for the city residents working at the two plants; he said they are open to suggestions and have "great attitudes." He and Anders also expressed appreciation for the working relationship they've had with the city council and mayor.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy said testing of five candidates for the city's police force was complete; next up are interviews with the police and fire board.

Murphy had praise for Seth Huber and family who bought and are renovating a house at 815 North Street. He also had a warning for those who have inoperable cars. The city ordinance says a vehicle can't be parked in a yard, and if parked in a driveway, it must be covered with a car cover made especially for the model of vehicle. (In other words, it can't be covered with a tarp or similar material). A vehicle is considered inoperable if it hasn't been moved for seven days. "We want our city to look nice," Murphy said.

Dean Lessman asked why the building just north of the current Dairy Queen hasn't had its demolition finished. "I drive by it every day," Lessman said. "It sits on one of the main routes into the city." The building has no roof and bare studs as a second floor as demolition had begun, but no progress has been evident for some time.

Murphy said the owner, a truck driver, has had health problems, but he acknowledged action needs to be taken. Murphy also reminded all city residents to call police dispatch if/when they first notice suspicious activity.

Finance Commissioner Duncan said worksheets for budget planning have been turned in.

Commissioner Downs asked about work on the Corner Block Building; he feels it's become unsafe as it is. 

Mayor Brian Sullivan reiterated what he told the planning commission last Thursday; no potential new buyer has come forward although the current out-of-town owner is willing to sell. "I'm afraid we'll have to either tear it down, or it'll fall down." It's condition has deteriorated over the past year or so.

Commissioner Daniel Robbins said routine work has continued in the campground and at the pool in Central Park plus dirt was hauled to the dog park and to the lot on Anna Street where a house had been demolished. The Street Department continues to clean storm drains and grates. They formed a culvert curb and head wall on Rountree and repaired water lines and sidewalks.

Mayor Sullivan said Atlas 46 distributed four $500 awards to local non-profit groups after their American Made Celebration in mid-May.

City Attorney Kit Hantla reported a court order for the demolition of a house at 1116 South Main had been signed the morning of the council meeting; that work will begin within thirty days.

Randy Rieke appeared to discuss the Old Settlers running activities to be coordinated for the second year by the Litchfield Runners Club, of which he is a member; it wasn't an action item since it wasn't in the agenda, but the consensus was it will be approved at the next meeting.

Scott Hunt, representing city engineers Hurst-Rosche, Inc. had a part in three discussions: he provided a short update about the change to proposed Streetcake project for Main Street; which will require a meeting with the Historical Preservation Committee on July 2 and then a meeting with IDOT between July 8 and July 15; a request that the council approve the low bid for oil and chips from Litchfield Bituminous for $52,655.40 (MFT funds - the bid opening was June 11, and the request was approved 4-0); and a resolution to appropriate $170,000 of the MFT funds for the Rountree/Summer Streets intersection project.

The latter came about because all of the Safe Route to Schools grants, one of which the city pursued, went to north of I-80 requests. The project scope has been cut to the $170,000 level from one costing $300,000. The hope is to have it finished before the beginning of school.

John and Kendra Wright, rehabbers of the Red Rooster Inn, have completed sidewalk work there and thus are eligible for Business District funds; they were reimbursed $4,758 for that work. The council also agreed to purchase an identification badge making system for $3,152.28, complete with warranty. Previously the city had purchased badges from the county.

The council's next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 9, at 7 p.m. in city hall. That's also the day the city will pick up leaves (paper bags only) and small branches if they are on the boulevard by 6 a.m. that day.

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