Regional Planning Commission looks to start back up

By Gary Scott on January 12, 2016 at 7:10am

The City of Jacksonville will begin contributing financially again towards the Morgan County Regional Planning Commission.

Planning Commission Director Dusty Douglas asked city aldermen last night to consider resuming giving the commission $8-thousand per year as the group tries to revamp itself.

Jacksonville and Morgan County were members of the Two Rivers Regional Planning Commission in the 1990s before more recently going to a single-county commission. Douglas says things have “fallen off” over the last few years as the commission has lost members and grant opportunities.

“As you know things in Springfield are not great. One of the driving forces behind the planning commission was for grant work. We did our share, but unfortunate most of the grants have dried up. We are hopeful that one day that will turn around. There are still some small things out there we can make people aware of.”

Douglas says the planning commission might explore becoming a multi-county group again, as that would allow it to pursue funding not currently available to a single-county group.

He told aldermen last night the hope for the renovated planning commission is to use it as a think tank for ventures not accomplished by the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation.

“There is some topics that have come up the last couple of years. We talked about the fiber issue and FutureGen, that don’t always fit into the offices of JREDC. There are some members of the RPC that think it would have been a better fit. Maybe in the future we will take a look at those things and take some pressure off the JREDC.”

Other action at last night’s City Council meeting included the approval of Jacksonville High School football coach Mark Grounds to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, replacing former Morgan County State’s Attorney Bobby Bonjean.

Several change orders for the modifications being done to the Lake Jacksonville Bath House and concession stand totaling over $6-thousand were approved.