Arenzville Rd. bridge structure to be replaced; tensions rise in wind ordinance debate

By Benjamin Cox on April 8, 2019 at 2:16pm

The Morgan County board of commissioners meeting today ended on a tense note.

This morning, the three commissioners of Morgan County met for the first time in April.

The meeting began like many others with the roll call and approval of previous agenda.

Then came approval of county business.

Two major expenses made for an uncommon six-figure total of county bills in the two weeks since the meeting on March 25th. The total bills payable for the two week period was just shy of $128,000. Board Chairman Brad Zeller details the necessary one-time expenses.

“Well, there are a series of everyday expenses, but two recent events did cause a larger number than what may be typical. The processes of the consolidated election cost roughly $27,000. The other expense was the annual audit, which produced costs to the county of close to $64,000.”

A local public agency contract was approved during considerations of county business, which will see a popular bridge in the county receive major improvements. County Engineer Matt Coultas explains who won the bid and where the project has been confirmed.

“That contract is for bridge replacement on Arenzville Road, I guess more commonly known locally as Bluff Road between Meredosia and Arenzville. It’s a three-span structure that I believe was built in the 1950s. We’ve got some structural issues with it right now. It doesn’t need to be posted at this point, but we’re nearing that time. We’re a little proactive in trying to get this thing replaced before we get to that point. Of course, we have Burrus Seed Company there about a mile away from the project location. In order to make this as convenient as possible for them, we are going to go ahead and replace the structure. We went out for bids in mid-March. I brought four bids to the Board at the last meeting, and the Board today accepted the low bid from Yamnitz and Associates out of Fieldon, IL at just less than $500,000 for replacement of the bridge.”

The public comment section at the end of the meeting is what caused an air of tension.

Bob Kindred is a member of the community action group Morgan County Wind Watch.

Kindred spoke during the set public comment time and offered a prepared statement.

In the statement, Kindred described a an apparent business relationship between the chairman of the Board, apparently, the largest leaseholder in the proposed Lincoln Land Wind project.

Calling a potential conflict of interest, Kindred said Zeller should remove himself from board discussions regarding a pending update of the Morgan County wind energy conversion systems ordinance. Kindred also said Zeller should consider the option to resign. Zeller offered no public response.