"It's a pretty humbling experience," said Evan Young after being officially elected chairman of the Montgomery County Board. "I'll do the best I can for the county."
Young was elected chairman at a special re-organizational board meeting, held Tuesday, July 11, at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro, just prior to the board's regular monthly meeting. Former County Board Chairman Roy Hertel passed away in May, creating the need for a re-organizational meeting. Young, the former vice-chairman, has been filling in as chairman since April.
Board member Tim Hopper was elected to serve as temporary chairman, and presided over the special meeting.
Following the election of Young, Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler was elected to serve as the board's vice-chairman.
After re-convening into the regular meeting, the board unanimously appointed two members to fill vacant seats on the board. Sandra Johnson of Nokomis was nominated to represent District 2, in place of Joe Gasparich, who resigned last month. Mark Hughes of Hillsboro was nominated to represent District 6, replacing Roy Hertel, who passed away earlier this spring. Judge Doug Jarman was present to swear in the new board members, and he led the "Pledge of Allegiance."
Board members Bill Bergen and Dillon Clark were absent from both meetings.
In light of the new members and the board's re-organization, they also shuffled some committees. Building and Grounds includes Chairman Bob Sneed, Vice-Chairman Chuck Graden, Glenn Bishop, Ron Deabenderfer, Gene Miles and Richard Wendel.
Economic Development includes Chairman Tim Hopper, Vice-Chairman Glenn Savage, Jeremy Jones, Megan Beeler, Ron Deabenderfer and Jay Martin. EMA/Ambulance includes Chairman Glenn Savage, Vice-Chairman Bill Bergen, Glenn Bishop, Dillon Clark, Chuck Graden and Tim Hopper.
Finance includes Chairman Megan Beeler, Vice-Chairman Mike Plunkett, Connie Beck, Kirby Furness, Jim Moore and Bob Sneed. Health, Welfare and Elections includes Chairman Connie Beck, Vice-Chairman Chuck Graden, Sandra Johnson, Jeremy Jones, Earlene Robinson and Richard Wendel.
Personnel includes Chairman Jay Martin, Vice-Chairman Kirby Furness, Bill Bergen, Mark Hughes, Sandra Johnson and Mike Plunkett. Road and Bridge includes Chairman Gene Miles, Vice-Chairman Earlene Robinson, Bill Bergen, Mark Hughes, Dillon Clark and Jim Moore.
Plunkett, Furness and Bergen were appointed to sit on the board's Rules Committee.
In other business, Montgomery County State's Attorney Chris Matoush announced he has been selected to serve as an associate judge in the Fourth Circuit, effective Aug. 1. Matoush has worked in the state's attorney's office since 1999.
"It's been a privilege and an honor to work for the citizens of Montgomery County," he told the board.
He said the board would be asked to nominate a successor to his position, and that it had to be from the same political party. Since more than 28 months remain in Matoush's term, his successor will be appointed to serve from now until a special election in November 2018.
Board member Jim Moore, who serves as the president of the Montgomery County Democrat Central Committee, nominated Bryant Hitchings to serve in the position. Hitchings, a native of Waggoner, has already started this week in the state's attorney's office as an assistant to Matoush.
"I'm really excited to be back home," said Hitchings.
Following unanimous approval of the consent agenda, the board moved into liaison reports.
Earlene Robinson said the 708 Board held officer elections at their July meeting, including President Bruce Sanford, Vice President Chrissy DeWerff, Secretary Ed Schumacher and Treasurer Brian Gaskin.
They also awarded funding to six of the seven applicants who applied for the $640,000 levy. The board awarded $214,000 to FAYCO, $251,500 to the Montgomery County Health Department, $27,310 to the Continuing Recovery Center in Irving, $10,000 to the new Unified Child Advocate Center in Hillsboro, $8,000 to The Autism Support Connection (TASC) and $64,116 to the Hillsboro School District.
Robinson said they denied one application to the Nokomis Christian Mission/SADD, a new organization that applied for $150,000 to build a rehabilitation home in the area. Robinson said the board encouraged them to start smaller, and re-apply with the 708 Board.
All of the applications will be at the Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder's office inside the Historic Courthouse for public review.
"It really opens your eyes to the needs of Montgomery County," Robinson said. "We've got some great people who are willing to do great things."
Board member Jeremy Jones asked about the funding for the school district, and Robinson said they applied for funding for a social service worker position. Robinson said the board struggled with that because the funding may not be available to that level every year, but she said the district was aware of that.
Board member Tim Hopper said he was excited to see the Unified Child Advocate Center in Hillsboro because they currently have to take child victims to Jerseyville as the closest place. Robinson said eventually they hope to staff an office full-time in Hillsboro.
In other liaison reports, Plunkett said the Illinois Association of County Officials was discussing the state budget, as well as 911 funding. He said that in the eleventh hour, the state passed legislation charging $1.50 per land line and cell phone to fund 911, but that it could get changed again.
Deabenderfer said the parking lot at the Senior Citizens building in Taylor Springs was completed for $4,999, creating a much more user-friendly space for large CEFS vans. He added that the flagpole had been replaced by the ones who had damaged it in a parking accident. Deabenderfer thanked the Hillsboro Sertoma Club for grilling at the annual Senior Citizens Club picnic on June 28, and said there were 40 or so in attendance.
In West Central Development Council news, Jones reported they are about three-quarters of the way complete on the website, and work continues on that project.
Chairman Young said he had nothing to report from the Coordinating Committee.
Road and Bridge
The board unanimously approved railroad crossing work at Garold Trail crossing in Irving Township. Kinney Contractors was the low bid of $38,988.20, and the project is 100 percent reimbursable.
Board member Glenn Bishop asked how it was determined to split the cost or reimbursement of road and bridge projects and the county. County Engineer Cody Greenwood said it just depends on the project. In this case, the state has a fund to reimburse projects at railroad crossings.
The board also unanimously approved $60,000 to Hurst-Rosche for engineering work to replace the bridge on North 6th Avenue over Coffeen Lake. Road and Bridge Committee Chairman Gene Miles said they had hoped to repair the bridge, but the Illinois Department of Transportation denied that request and said the bridge had to be completely replaced. The state will pay for 80 percent of the project, leaving the remaining 20 percent to be split between the county and township, so the county's share of the engineering work is $6,000. The overall bridge replacement project is expected to cost $285,000, and is scheduled for 2018.
Miles said Greenwood was working with townships on cost estimates to repair the roads damaged by the Dakota Access Pipeline, and that the company hopes to complete the work soon.
He added that his committee had decided to proceed with a project to extend the Nokomis Blacktop to Route 16.
"It's going to take quite a bit of time and money," Miles said, adding that discussion continues about this project.
In a final note, Miles said that they are waiting on the state to appraise the right of way property under the underpass in North Litchfield Township. Jones asked what the state plans to do with the property, and Miles said they plan to tear down the structure and use it as a road.
Finance Committee Chairman Megan Beeler reported there was no update from the Forrestal Group about the appraisal of the Coffeen power plant, but they expect a report in September.
Beeler also presented the May report for the capital improvement fund.
She reported that budget hearings began on Monday, July 10 and lasted for about seven hours. The board will resume budget hearings on Monday, July 17.
"If we were to pass this budget today, it would be at least $600,000 in the red, and that's not counting increases to health insurance," Beeler said. "The committee has some hard work to do, and this is why we start early."
After the discussion of the tax sale last month, Young contacted Joe Meyer and Associates, who agreed to pay for a portion of the fee to the Mark Fenske family, who was pleased.
With two abstentions, the board passed a $24,000 expenditure to FAYCO, which was part of the budget. Since FAYCO's fiscal year is different than the county's, they needed the funding to finish their fiscal year, but will receive funding for their next fiscal year from the 708 Board.
In election news, Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder Sandy Leitheiser said county voters should have received new voter ID cards by mail. She encouraged residents to check their contact information to make sure it's correct. Of the 16,000 they mailed out, about 1,000 have been returned to the clerk's office, who is working to update the information.
Graden reported they received several bids for the removal of the Ohlman school building. He said they received one "real attractive" bid, which included removal of the cars and demolition of the building. They still need to spend about $800 to check for asbestos, with the possibility of having to remove it as well.
Ohlman Village President Jackie Rakers was present at the meeting, and thanked the board for their help in this project. Also present was former village president Dennis Aumann, who was also part of the process.
In recycling news, HWE Chairman Connie Beck said the committee is still discussing the recycling study put together by the University of Illinois students. Jones reported that he had just finished applying for some grants for the recycling center as well.
In a final note, Beck reported the Animal Control facility had 13 dogs and 15 cats for anyone looking to adopt.
Building and Grounds
The board unanimously approved a $74,950 bid from Lipe Construction in Hillsboro to put a new shingled roof on the county jail.
Sneed said it was a good bid on 279-pound shingles. Plunkett mentioned that the jail was built in the late 1980s, and Martin asked if it was the original roof. Sneed said it was the original roof, and he hoped the new roof would last as long.
Economic Development Committee Chairman Tim Hopper was excited to report the expansion of CTI fiber services to Hillsboro over the next two years, and said he's still hoping to get the entire county covered by CTI as well.
In Montgomery County Economic Development news, Hopper said they continue to work with IllinoiSouth on tourism branding for the county, including a logo, as well as a slogan. They hope to have both ready by the fall.
Hopper reminded the board that the annual meeting for the CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program is Aug. 15.
In a few final notes, he said that his committee is working with the Planning Commission on changes to the solar farm ordinance. He added that the next mayors' meeting will be Sept. 6, and they will begin the next renewal process for the Enterprise Zone after the first of the year.
In EMA Committee news, Chairman Glenn Savage said the county received grant funds to purchase new AED batteries and units, and that they had been ordered.
In Local Emergency Planning Commission news, he said that Captain Greg Nimmo would be meeting with custodians of chemicals for farming and welding in the near future. The organization would also hold a tabletop exercise in October.
Savage reported that Nokomis experienced severe weather damage on July 10, and the county was working with the city to assess damages.
The county and sheriff's department will be holding an in-service training for an active shooter situation. There will be one at the old courthouse on Aug. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. and one at the new courthouse on Sept. 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. Hopper encouraged board members to participate in this "eye opening" experience.
In a final item, the board approved all five contracts with the county's ambulance districts.
Personnel Committee Chairman Jay Martin said his committee will hear three presentations on employee health insurance at their next meeting. The committee originally heard from nine companies interested in providing coverage for county employees, and they narrowed it down to three.
Martin also said they will begin to look at union negotiations with the Highway Department in August.
Beeler reminded the board that the August Finance Committee meeting had been moved to Friday, Aug. 4, beginning at 9:30 a.m. because of the Old Settlers celebration in Hillsboro on Aug. 3.
The board also unanimously approved the appointment of Bill Fleming to a five-year term on the Litchfield Airport Authority board.
With no public comment, the board adjourned at 9:40 a.m. They will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 8, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro.