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  • Kent Casson

Mayor wants to address communication problems

(Mayor David Shane holds a discussion with Chenoa City Council members Tuesday evening)

Could a new form of governance be coming to Chenoa?

A possible change from the commissioner structure of the city was brought up at Tuesday’s regular city council meeting after Mayor David Shane asked for a discussion on certain chapters of the city code.

Shane wants to address problems with communication and review the connection between the council and employees.

“We have to do a better job of communicating to one person,” said Shane.

“I think the departments need to run themselves,” added Commissioner Zack Lopeman.

Shane feels the employees can prioritize what needs to be done to let the guys do their jobs.

“Where do we prioritize?” asked Commissioner Joe Moreland.

This all prompted City Attorney Steve Mann to say it could make sense to get a consultant’s take on a different form of governance. The commissioner method used by Chenoa is only used in so many cities across the state and was popular in the 1920s, according to Mann.

Mayor Shane called for a plan and job descriptions for everyone. Nothing was decided Tuesday but the matter will be brought back to the next meeting.

“We need to figure out what the structure is,” explained Shane.

Also during Tuesday’s regular meeting, the council voted 3-2 to enter into a utility easement agreement between Campus Communications Group, Inc. and the City of Chenoa. Mark Shelden, director for municipal fiber at Pavlov Media and representing Campus Communications, spoke at the meeting.

The company wants a small area by the public works building with a concrete pad and cabinet that holds electronics. In exchange, they will give the city government free Internet service to four public buildings.

Campus Communications is almost done with their project in Chenoa and will now start pulling fiber. They hope to start providing city customers with $70 Internet in July. Some qualifying customers can get $30 off of that monthly rate.

“We can get you installed very quickly,” noted Shelden.

Questions were raised as to why this structure from the Internet company would be on public property and if the same deal would be offered to other companies that may approach the city.

“If we do it for one here, we’re going to need to do it for everybody,” said Lopeman, who expressed concerns over the separation of private business and something such as this.

“On the flipside, we already have a contract we are going to have to cancel with somebody,” observed Moreland.

Commissioner J.E. Myers compared it to 1910 when several companies wanted to wire a house for electricity.

“I think we need to consolidate it to get the best deal for them and us.”

Commissioner Dwayne Price commended Shelden for explaining his services to the council and showing up at a meeting.

“He’s showing us what he can do,” said Price. “Where’s everybody else at?”

Lopeman would like to see connectivity at the city dump and possibly the parks to install cameras in those places.

During public comment, Sally Decker spoke on behalf of someone else who could not be at the meeting regarding water pressure concerns. Liz Easley said the Chenoa Women’s Club would like to see mulch uptown near the gazebo and the small uptown park area.

“It’s been several years since anything has been done,” she said.

Clayton Bracken Jr. of No Job Too Odd offered to help the city out by getting the mulch and volunteered to put it down for free if the city covers the cost.

Brad Rhoades, representing Prairie Central Youth Football, told the council they are hoping to address some issues at the football field for future seasons. They have no hot water at the building and must have it to serve food. The first youth game is Sept. 2 and they will have games eight Saturdays in the row through October.

They are also looking to paint doorways and the window. Rhoades said if the city provides the paint supplies, they would do the labor. He also said lights at the football field need to be repaired since some don’t work and others face the wrong way.

“As far as the paint and hot water, we’ll get that taken care of,” replied Mayor Shane.

Rhoades is also concerned over the shape of the football field bleachers. Shane said someone wants to collect money to refurbish them.

“Ameren might have a program that can help us out with (lights),” said Price.

Rhoades asked the police chief if the department could spend more time around the school the day of games since people reportedly broke into cars in broad daylight in the past.

Tonette Michelle from the Finish Line announced plans for a kickoff to summer parking lot party street dance June 17 with a band performing from 4:30 to 8:30.

“We would have everything out by 10,” she said.

Finish Line would have someone checking ID’s, provide wristbands and have a fence up around the perimeter.

“I thought we were getting away from private businesses using picnic tables,” stated Price.

“If a business is going to bring in tax money, I think we ought to be able to bring a picnic table over there,” replied Shane. “I think we need to support our businesses.”

Though no action was taken, a discussion was held for the TIF agreement for Reliable Engineering. The Economic Development Council recommendation was to re-apply for the TIF if the city’s TIF bill gets renewed and to submit receipts of TIF expenses along with a yearly payroll audit. Shane believes the city should not be in the business of keeping “businesses in business.”

Attorney Mann has put together a solar statute that the Zoning Board will look at and he is examining travel weight restrictions.

Price discussed a serious water main break at the pool and city crews got it addressed. The pool is up and running and preparing for the opening.

Myers noted progress is being made on having a grant writer work with the city.

Moreland said he only received one water complaint Tuesday and none the day before.

Lopeman updated the council on drainage work which is taking place and said he is talking with IDOT and Ameren to see if street lights can be added for the intersection of Routes 24 and 66. He is also working on the overflow at Silliman Pond.

Shane said he would like to meet with each one of the commissioners about the budget.

In other business, the Chenoa City Council:

-Authorized use of restricted park pavilion cash to pay for the new sidewalk at the city park.

-Approved Motor Fuel Tax funds for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 after hearing an update from Joe Russow from Farnsworth Group in Pontiac.

-Appointed Greg Anderson as the new ESDA director.

-Appointed Zoning Board members, zoning officer, Economic Development Committee members and Silliman Trust advisory members.

-Approved minutes of the regular May 9 meeting and bills.

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