City Council Gets Help From Boy Scouts, Approves Purchase of Vehicles

By Benjamin Cox on February 11, 2020 at 9:27am

The Jacksonville City Council had a different style meeting last night for their first of the month of February. With Mayor Andy Ezard absent due to illness, the council’s meeting was ran, with a little help, by local Boy Scout Troop members. Members from troops 103, 107, and 113 fulfilled the roles of the alderman, city attorney, city clerk, and the mayor for the evening.

Jesse Lott of Troop 107 was designated as the acting mayor for the evening. He says he was surprised by the amount of work that goes into being a public servant for the City of Jacksonville. “It’s definitely interesting and had some new things to learn. It was definitely a good experience. You don’t take into consideration the little things like street lights or things like that go into it all. Those things can be a big deal to people.” Lott said he doesn’t think he’ll run against Mayor Ezard in the next election but he thought the work of the city council was interesting.

More than a dozen of the scouts were on hand fulfilling the requirements of job shadowing and community involvement surrounding the 81st annual Honest Abe District Boy Scout Citizenship Day. The council would go on to approve the purchase for 3 new SUV squad cars for the police department. Chief Adam Mefford said that an accident and the annual budget said the time was now to open bids for the vehicles. Mefford said that he generally applies for 3 new vehicles each year through the capital improvements budget to stay ahead of any long-term maintenance issue and to keep equipment up to date for the department. Mefford said that a Crown Victoria was involved in an accident on Interstate 72 during an ice and snow storm last week and was totaled out. Mefford said the department would be using the insurance money on the car to go towards the purchase of the new vehicles.

The council also approved the promotion of one hoseman in the Fire Department to an engineer. The current engineer had to unexpectedly resign last week due to a family matter causing them to move out of state. The opening also allowed the council to approve the fire department to hire a new hoseman after the promotion is completed.

The Emergency Services Department will also be purchasing a new truck after the 2002 Ford Expedition in that department is sold. Phil McCarty said during the meeting that the emergency department would be selling the Expedition outright to make up some of the cost. McCarty said the vehicle had over 100,000 miles on it and was impractical for usage on some assignments. He’s hoping a new truck will be better utilized for his department’s needs.

Ward 4 Alderman Brandon Adams also said that he attended the rollout of the Connect Illinois event in Springfield last week hosted by Governor J.B. Pritzker. The event talked about new grant money for broadband expansion in the state, with grants coming available to public and private entities to improve high speed Internet access in under served areas. Adams also updated the council that he has helped Ameren-Illinois locate and replace over 60 broken street lights in the city. He hopes to find a solution to bring lighting back to the Jacksonville Development Center property. The council said that the city could not do anything to the property since it is owned by the state. Adams hopes to talk to someone in Springfield about updating the lighting because he sees the JDC grounds as a safety hazard and a high crime area in the city.

The Council will next meet on February 24th at 6PM on the second floor of the municipal building.