Hillsboro Council Hires Employees

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Meeting for the first time since December 8, Hillsboro’s city council made five hiring decisions, all unanimously, during their session on Tuesday, Jan. 12; two were personnel decisions and three involved services to be provided by corporations.

One of the hires, Mike Lee, is part-time as he replaces Gary Satterlee, who retired in December, to do the coding investigations and zoning officer parts of Satterlee’s job. Satterlee until four years ago,was Chief of Police for the latter part of his 21 plus years serving the city. As code enforcement officer, Satterlee also worked as a patrol officer. That part of his job went to Officer Caleb Reynolds.

Lee will work two or three days a week as needed in his new role. He will be paid $15 per hour as a civilian with no enforcement duties. He will “...process nuisance abatements and contact property owners to seek compliance,” according to a letter written by Police Chief Randy Leetham. Lee has been a volunteer firefighter and is currently the Assistant Chief of the Auxiliary Police. Lee recently retired from the Grinnell Reinsurance Company after 22 years of service as a supervisor and lead investigator.

The second hire was of Jennifer Weiss as water clerk to train with current clerk Jan Jett, who plans to retire at the beginning of May. Water Commissioner Don Downs said the city received several “outstanding” applications, making the choice difficult, but Weiss has had experience as co-owner/president/bookkeeper with Weiss Power Equipment. The salary for her new position is $16 an hour; she’ll receive 80% of that while training. Her starting date is January 20.

According to City Clerk Cory Davidson, the city and Ameren may be nearing the end of litigation over the tar oil found on the old water plant site; the litigation began in 2005. The attorney who has handled the case since then, Penni Livingston, asked for $3,000 to hire an environmental expert, Darrell Angleton, of Herlacher Angelton LLC. Angleton is a geologist who will ensure Ameren is treating the city fairly. The council agreed 4-0 to hire the man.

The next hire was of Hurst-Rosche to manage the nine bridges within the city. IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) requires bridge owners (in this case Hillsboro) to have a program manager to administer bridge inspections. Hurst-Rosche inspected three of the bridges in December, and the other six are due for “in-depth” inspections in February. The cost for those six inspections, to be conducted by PE Justin Goodwin, a certified bridge inspector, is $3,000. The council agreed to that amount. Not yet contracted is a required underwater inspection of one of the bridges due October 28 of this year.

The third contract to be approved was with Oil Marketing Equipment, Inc. of Pekin, which was necessitated by state inspection of the fuel handling system at the South Marina. Parks Superintendent Jim May said the state found faulty boots (devices used to keep fuel leaks from entering the lake); the equipment to replace them will cost $1,339.80, but the labor adds another $3,280.

Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan presented bills totalling $340,546.48; of that, $99,907.44 comes from the General Fund. The majority ($182,346.59) was from the Water Fund.

The council also voted to replace a faulty furnace at the firehouse; it will be purchased from Hiller’s with the hanging unit heater, vent pipe, and labor totalling $1,574.00.

Hillsboro High School Choir Director Amy Lemons asked the council for help with performances of the annual operetta if the COVID-19 epidemic is still prevalent this spring. She asked if the stage at the campground could be utilized as an outdoor venue if use of the stage in the gym is not possible. (The title - Into The Woods - seems appropriate.) Attorney Kit Hantla asked for potential dates; Lemons said performances would be scheduled on April 22, 23, and 24 and April 29,30, and May 1. In addition, there would be 10 rehearsals, including dress rehearsals. Performance night would require help with parking from the Auxiliary Police, with ticket holders to be shutteled from the South Marina parking lot. Hantla said no one knows where we will be pandemic-wise by mid-April, but council approval now could lead to more precise planning in March.

Public Property Commissioner Daniel Robbins moved for approval; Don Downs seconded the motion, saying he thought it would be a “great deal.” The motion passed 4-0, so the choir has an option for a performance site.

Jim Hewitt asked the council to use part of the parking lot south of the Abbey on Broad (a restaurant/event center he owns on South Broad Street) to put up a tent for his daughter’s wedding reception. The wedding will be Saturday, Oct. 2; the tent will go up October 1 and be taken down October 3. Hewitt anticipates 250 out-of-town guests will attend the event. Downs made the motion which was approved 4-0.

Two facade grant reimbursements were approved for work already done with receipts presented - one to Ryan and Lesley Hamby for window work at 305 and 307 South Main (the former home of Chances), and the other to Brian Limbaugh at 114 School Street (the State Farm Agency).

The council also approved beginning legal proceedings to demolish a dilapidated house at 617 Lakeview Drive. According to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy, the house has been vacant for a long time, and two of the homeowners next to it have expressed interest in buying the lot once the house has been removed. Currently the owner of record is Calvin Truman, LLC, a firm that bought it for back taxes. Attorney Hantla said the process involves a title check, notice being sent to the owner(s), and a Public Notice published in a local paper - then a wait of 60 days. At the end of the discussion, Davidson said he’d received notices of an owner planning to tear down a house on Bliss Place and that an old cabin on the lake has already been taken down. According to Murphy, that’s 46 structures removed in the past six years.

The meeting began with the customary commissioner reports and ended with a closed session. Robbins began the reports by discussing the Parks Department’s work on the future trail at Challacombe and Williams’ Parks where bush honeysuckle and winter creeper vines have been a problem. Also work continues gathering information for Burbach Aquatics before they present a proposal for repairs to Central Park Pool.

Page Tree Services downed problem trees in the campground. The Harkey House rental house (the income supports Harkey House) was winterized, and the ice-eaters at the ADA dock at the North Access Area of Glenn Shoals were rewired.

The Street Department poured a new sidewalk, curbing, and guttering on Eccles Street, repaired a fire hydrant on Vandalia Road, and put salt spreaders in truck beds in anticipation of foul weather. Bricks were replaced on Jefferson Street and Broad Street by the Red Rooster. Water leaks had to be repaired on Pinnacle Point Drive, Eccles Street, and Williams Street, where they had help from the Parks Department.

Murphy gave a “Shout Out” to D.C. Waste and Recycling Company for recent cooperation and to Satterlee for his years of service to the city. He acknowledged Satterlee’s expertise with handling difficult situations with irate citizens in code enforcement matters. He asked residents with a choice of driveway or street parking to use their driveways if snow was in the forecast so snow removal could go more efficiently

Utilities Commissioner Downs reiterated Murphy’s thoughts about Satterlee and also thanked Charlie Goad who recently retired from the fire department as a longtime dispatcher. He also thanked the Street and Water Department employees who were soaked when an exposed water line produced a “thirty foot water spout” as the men worked through their physical discomfort to complete repairs.

313 new water meters have been installed, with 298 left to install. Downs also asked citizens to be careful of what they flush into the waste water system - no paper except toilet paper, no clothing, and no cooking grease should go down the drain.

In conclusion, he thanked the IDOT crew who worked after hours to clean medical debris (source undetermined) from the overpass south of town on Rt. 127; he also thanked Senator Andy Manar for his services to Senate District 48. He added that he’s sure Manar will be an asset to the state in his new role as advisor to Governor Pritzker.

City Planner Jonathan Weyer thanked Hillsboro for being Hillsboro before presenting his goals for 2021. They include implementing the Strategic Plan, helping to develop a Future Land Use Plan, completing a rough draft of an Economic Development Plan, marketing the city, and helping develop businesses.

The closed session began at 8:01 p.m. and ended at 8:41 p.m.; the motion to meet in executive session said it would involve possible purchase or lease of real property and discussion of a personnel matter. No action was announced about purchasing property as the public meeting portion reconvened, but a motion was made to compensate an unnamed city employee $1,750 for lost time. That motion passed 4-0.

Also passing 4-0 was a motion to extend COVID protection from lost wages until March 31. Councilman Robbins made that motion.

The Hillsboro Planning Commission meets at noon Tuesday, Jan. 19, via Zoom; the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is the following Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.

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