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  • Kent Casson

Tuesday's meeting a lively one

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

(Dalena Welkomer presents information on refinancing the general obligation refunding bond)

Presentations, discussion and employee complaints filled Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Chenoa city Council.

Dalena Welkomer of the Baird financial firm presented information on refinancing the general obligation refunding bond. A proposed ordinance will be brought before the full council Sept. 26 for approval.

“Unfortunately, rates have trended upward since I came and met with the council a few months back,” said Welkomer.

She recommended moving “full steam ahead” to accept bids.

“We can reject all bids and wait and see when the market returns.”

Communications were started with State Bank of Graymont and Heartland Bank and Trust but Flanagan State Bank and Bank of Pontiac declined as they are not in the market right now. Mayor David Shane seemed to like a line of credit offered by State Bank of Graymont so they are not paying interest on money that is not being used.

An update was given on a dog park proposal for the city by Carmen Hernandez. Her group is asking for a change of venue since the current spot proposed for the park is near a residential area. They want the park to now be behind the pool.

“We would have to do some drainage ditch dredging behind it,” Hernandez explained.

The pool already has an established ditch bridge and parking along with accessible water lines. A scenic byway grant could help.

“I believe if we would apply for that, it would take care of the dredging of the ditch,” added Hernandez.

“We are trying to tie it in to Old (Route) 66,” noted Shane.

Commissioner Joe Moreland asked who is responsible if something happens at a park such as this.

“There is some protection there,” stated City Attorney Steve Mann.

Commissioner Dwayne Price would like to see more research done on a dog park as he expressed concerns over upkeep.

Information on the Illinois Municipal League’s new Civility Pledge was presented by Commissioner J.E. Myers. Governmental bodies are encouraged to take the pledge to promote civility by listening and being respectful.

The replacement of a police squad was authorized following an accident which destroyed a previous one. The previous vehicle had a $35,000 value and insurance will pay $34,500. The chief has found a replacement for a cost of $35,917 with title and license.

“I could go pick it up as soon as I have a check,” said Chief Travis Cornwall.

While it is an unfortunate situation, according to Cornwall, the city does have good insurance.

“The reason we have four cars is for what?” asked Commissioner Joe Moreland.

“We’ve had four cars since about 2005,” replied Cornwall. “By doing that, we can run our cars as much as five years without replacing them.”

Moreland made the motion to replace the squad car.

In another matter, Moreland discussed splitting the water budget and adjusting the billing. The mayor said an informational budget meeting is planned for next week and the public is invited.

A section was added to the city ordinance regarding dumpster placement. If a constituent moves a dumpster, the city may require them to put it back in its original place. Commissioner Zack Lopeman indicated a sign-up sheet for the dumpster asks the homeowner where they want it.

“We have to find a way of where they want it at and put it in writing,” suggested Price.

An annexation agreement was approved for the Chenoa Sewer Plant. The city has been navigating what to do with a proposed solar farm near the sewer plant but it is not in city limits. While this cannot be annexed in, the city can enter into an annexation agreement to take over with city zoning. This gives the ability to control what happens there.

Easement issues with fiber optic companies were brought up by Commissioner Zack Lopeman.

“I believe they’re past the easement line onto private property,” explained Lopeman.

The consensus was to get off private property if that’s where it is at.

“Who knows how many more areas we are going to find?” asked Lopeman.

“They were supposed to put all of these boxes on property lines,” added Shane.

During public comment, Bill Bridge of Brown Jug said he needs a permit for the Maynard Strike bean bag tournament on Sept. 24 with proceeds going to the Fourth of July Committee and Fire Department. A pie-in-the-face contest is planned as well. Bridge would like to open an hour early at 11, instead of 12 that Sunday. He requested picnic benches as well.

“I hope everyone will come participate,” stated Bridge.

Also during public comment, city employees Dalton Campbell and Jacob Lucas accused the mayor of harassment. Campbell said he would like answers about the issue, claiming the mayor has driven by employees numerous times.

“I have filed police reports that got turned into employee versus employer issues,” noted Campbell, who said he likes working for the city and has no problem having a conversation with the mayor.

Campbell considers this a problem multiple employees have talked about.

“I’m one of those employees that has the same harassment problem with the mayor,” said Lucas.

Commissioner Myers feels it is normal to keep this between the employee and supervisor but suggested having a meeting with other people present in order to sit down, talk and get the issued solved.

“Has this happened more than once?” asked Price.

“Multiple times,” replied Campbell.

Mayor Shane did not want to discuss this in open session. Lopeman suggested letting the two employees into the executive session later in the meeting to discuss the personnel matters further.

Moreland reported a water main break in town was fixed and a meeting is planned with the Lieutenant Governor’s office to see if the city can move forward with funding.

Price noted the swimming pool has closed for the season and took in over $27,000 this year which is up from 2022 but not nearly as high as the COVID year of 2020.

Lopeman said crews have been working on the Seventh Street tile project and trimming trees on Maple Street. They are looking to fill stump holes and holes in easements and a backhoe was sent out for repairs.

Myers provided an update on the enforcement of ordinance violations as a list is ready to be handed over to City Hall. Most violations deal with weeds or grass but there are a couple of abandoned houses involved.

“If anyone wants to give us a residence to look at, please do,” Myers advised.

Mayor Shane admitted it has been a busy few weeks. He visited with State Sen. Tom Bennett and went to Heartland Bank and State Bank of Graymont for financing the clear well. Shane said there is an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for a bike trail. It should be completed past Chenoa in the next five years, taking it all the way to the county line.

Shane told the council the brick building across the street from City Hall is for sale and Chad Seeman is willing to rent out the Kat-E-Corner building on Route 24 near Casey’s.

The council entered executive session at 8:06 p.m.

(Police Chief Travis Cornwall discusses plans to replace a wrecked squad car)

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