City Council approves $25,000 donation to WCMT from 2017 budget

By Ryne Turke on October 25, 2016 at 7:05am

The City of Jacksonville has taken action to assist West Central Mass Transit in the company’s time of need.

Ten days ago West Central Mass Transit officially suspended services on a temporary basis. Executive Director Jean Jumper told WLDS-WEAI News the bus company that shuttles people across six counties in Central Illinois was still waiting on nearly $700,000 in late payments from the state.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Andy Ezard said that Jacksonville has a “real need” for senior busing. He and the rest of the City Council agreed to expedite the city’s annual $25,000 payment to West Central Mass Transit, which will allow the senior bus program to run a little longer.

“We give $25,000 a year to the senior bus program and we are just hasting that in the year 2016. When they do get the money allocated to them with the state, this will help them in the short term,” says Ezard.

Ezard feels actions like this will rally the community to help out West Central Mass Transit.

“I think it will gain some momentum with some civic organizations giving. Between the City and County, I think it is the proper thing to do. We hope things will develop with the state and they can fully function in months to come.”

Jumper told us last week that services would continue to be temporarily closed until immediate cash flow issues can be met. The senior service is a limited program that transports the elderly to important medical appointments.

In other action, aldermen had a long discussion on what to do with the traffic signals located at two locations: College and Church and State and Church.

“I think the Council wants to eliminate the traffic signals. The first step is shutting off the lights. They aren’t going to be blinking anymore. We will see how that goes. If it goes well we will take out those stop lights,” says Ezard.

Ezard wasn’t afraid to admit he isn’t comfortable with this decision.

“When you eliminate a blinking light then things can happen and this does worry me. I understand they aren’t fully functional as traffic signals with the yellow, red and green. I travel those roads a lot and they have very heavy traffic through there and I worry about it after Crimson games. These are the things that keep you up at night. Instead of fully removing them, just turning them off is a good first step. If everything goes good, and I hope it does, we will take them down,” says Ezard.

Drivers should expect the changes soon.

In the Parks and Lakes Department, aldermen approved the purchase of a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado truck and authorized a waiver to advertise bids for a new slide at the Nichols Park Pool. Estimates show the slide could cost between $14-15 thousand.

Aldermen also approved around $80,000 in payments to Turner Painting & Construction for construction services at the PetSafe Bark Park. That payment leaves the park with around $10,000 remaining from the $100,000 national prize won last year.

Aldermen also got a visit from Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation President Paul Ellis and Circuit Judge candidate Rick Verticchio.