Fire department captain retirement, Police department cameras were big topics at Jacksonville City Council meeting

By Benjamin Cox on May 31, 2018 at 11:37am

The health and well-being of local community members was behind the main topics of discussion last night's Jacksonville city council meeting.

Beth Kershaw's service to local residents of over a quarter century was recognized, Police Chief Adam Mefford presented promising numbers for both the department and for taxpayers, and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners was granted necessary approvals, to ensure consistent protection of everyone whose safe livelihoods depend on Police and Firefighters.

Judy Tighe is Executive Director of Jacksonville Main Street and serves as an ex-officio board member on the City of Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission. Tighe gave a presentation to expand inclusion in the Local Downtown Historic District. This presentation quickly turned to a discussion, as many people in the conference room asked about what the effects of this decision would be for these properties. Alderman Marcy Patterson believes business owners deserve their own choice.

“It would be better for business owners if they could apply to be a part of it, but it doesn’t work that way. There was a legal notice sent through the mail that said business owners were going to have to apply to be excluded from historic preservation.”

Patterson offers her personal thoughts on whether the city council can approve this proposal.

“I don’t believe it’s our role in government to continue to make rules that make it even harder for a business owner in Illinois to survive.”

Beth Kershaw grew from humble beginnings in the Jacksonville Fire Department to learn and understand everything necessary to both be and sustain Jacksonville's fire fighters. Chief Doug Sills speaks on the loyalty Kershaw has shown in Jacksonville and the fire department.

“Captain Beth Kershaw has been with the Jacksonville Fire Department now for twenty-seven years. The first two years were as our administrative assistant. She was officially hired as a firefighter for the city of Jacksonville in 1992. She has almost twenty-six years of field service, and has been a captain since 2010.”

The process to promote a lieutenant to captain, driver to lieutenant, and hoseman to driver were approved by the City Council. Also, a new Probationary Hoseman was hired.

Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford officially announced verified numbers concerning a brilliant opportunity for the squad and headquarters. Mefford relays a particularly eye-opening statistic concerning a grant received for camera equipment in the Jacksonville Police fleet, and how another vital project is guaranteed, thanks to fortunate math and money that was previously allocated by the city council for the cameras.

“We’re very pleased that the council approved the reallocation of those funds, and we’re still able to give back $33,823.92 of the original $120,000. We’re coming in under budget and still being able to complete two projects. Deputy Chief Rodney Cox was instrumental in meetings deadlines, getting the proper paperwork filled out with the state, so we could complete the camera grant on time and get the acceptance of that money so we didn’t lose this opportunity.”

Another topic of discussion during last night's workshop and meeting was the city's wastewater treatment plant. Benton and Associates Engineer Cameron Jones gave a presentation to discuss the current status of the plant. Jones also explained the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's newest initiative to improve local waterways and the health of marine life. The EPA wants to lower the nation's phosphorus levels in small creeks and rivers to prevent the growth of algae. According to Jones, algae love phosphorus, but they also absorb oxygen in the water, which is bad for fish. Benton and Associates were granted $180,000 from the city's Waterworks and Sewerage Projects Fund to begin plans for changes to wastewater treatment facilities. Jones say that the plan will be set by next year, and the local levels of phosphorus in creeks and such will meet new EPA guidelines by 2030.