Check & Grant Presentations Highlight Jax City Council Meeting

By Benjamin Cox on August 13 at 8:55am

The Jacksonville City Council meeting was filled with presentations last night. The City Council, operating without Mayor Andy Ezard who was under the weather, had Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook acting as Mayor Pro-Temp. The council saw a check donation made by Mark Lahey and Danny Kindred to the Parks and Lakes Committee for $3000 for their annual poker run. Kindred also presented AmVets representative Jimmy Duncan with $1200 for a project the AmVets are working on. Duncan said that the AmVets in cooperation with the city is trying to get money for a Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial at one of the city’s parks in the near future.

Next, the Jacksonville Promise group introduced Robin Hanna, of the Rural Economic Technical Assistance Center and Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. Hanna presented the council with information in regards to the economic impact that the Jacksonville Promise scholarship recipients have on the local community. Jacksonville Promise is asking for $10,000 to match a Tracy Family Foundation Grant to continue the scholarship program for the 96 college students that are estimated to be involved in the program by next year. The council has given $1,000 to the group in year’s past. The council will have to answer Jacksonville Promise by September 13th on whether they will match the grant.

City Treasurer Ron Smiljanich presented the board with information in regards to granting CCK Automations, Incorporated a loan extension. The city lent $962,500 to Sherry & JJ Richardson to build the business at 500 Capital Way nearly 10 years ago. The loan was on a 10 year balloon payment structure. Smiljanich said the group has never missed a loan payment in that time period and has paid the city nearly $250,000 in interest. The loan, which is not a normal revolving loan fund loan from the city, is at 2% interest. Smiljanich noted that the company has brought 100 highly skilled, good-paying jobs to the Jacksonville community. The council will be taking action on the extension at a later time.

Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering detailed the council’s first action item of the evening surrounding an expansion of Diamond Grove Cemetery. “The city recently purchased 8 acres west of current Diamond Grove Cemetery for an expansion property. That project currently does not have any roadway entrance. There is an entrance off of Massey View but there is no interior roads. The city council tonight approved an agreement with Hutchison Engineering to go ahead and complete the plans in bid documents to pave the interior roads for the new addition.”

Burke was also a part of the IDNR Boat Dock Grant taking place at Lake Mauvaistarre. He says the 100% grant money will only cover so much of the full project. Parks & Lakes Director Kelly Hall and Ward 2 Alderwoman Lori Large-Oldenettel had originally indicated that the boat dock project would be fully covered by the IDNR grant. Burke says that’s not the case. “The project cost is $276,000 for the boat access ramp, docks, and parking lot. As part of that, IDNR’s limited amount is a 100% grant up to $200,000, and then the local agency is responsible for anything above that amount. Those dollars above that amount at $76,000 represent the paved parking area. The larger portion of the match that you make available, the larger your score would be in benefiting your application for the grant.”

The city also approved the final application for the Oslad-IDNR grant to help upgrade the pool. The 50% grant will go towards create a zero access point as well as upgrading the pool’s working infrastructure. Reggie Benton of Benton and Associates said that further improvements to the pool for more handicap accessible features could be revisited again next year through another application.

Ike Howe of Benton & Associates also notified the council of pre-approval of a $19,500 grant from Ameren to help offset the cost of 4 new high efficiency boilers being installed at the waste water treatment plant.

Police Chief Adam Mefford received oral agreement from the council to proceed on two grants for the Police Department. A Department of Justice Assistance Grant would be used to help fund a Garrison School SRO officer for 4 years if the grant comes through and a ILETSB grant to add a new live action shoot house at the police training facility.

Mefford explains the purpose of the new live shooter training facility add-on. “The monies would be used to build the new structure to be used for active shooter and other types of civil disturbance training. It would come at no additional cost to the city. Basically, it’s ILETSB giving us a trade off. They fund the project and we get the structure. They allow other agency throughout the state to come train at the facility, which they currently use are police training facility now. We get the funding to upgrade our facility and they are allowed to use it to conduct training.”

Mefford says it will be the only facility of its kind in the area. “It would be the only facility strictly designated for active shooter type training. Of course other agencies use schools when school is not in session or businesses and abandoned buildings when they’re not occupied. This will be the only facility in this area with on-site training facility that can be used any day. We won’t have to worry about whether school is in session or a business is occupied. This structure will be on site and accessible any time.”

Mefford says it will be for simulation ammunition only due to liability concerns. Mefford told the council that all ILETSB training taking place from outside agencies would have insurance coverage through ILETSB and not the city of Jacksonville.

The next Jacksonville City Council meeting will be held on August 26th at 6PM.