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By Carmen Ensinger
The Winchester City Council, at the Oct. 6 city council meeting, approved the bid from Trotter General Contracting in the amount of $515,000 for the expansion of the Winchester Public Library.
The council had tabled the bid last month because it had come in over budget, but thanks to a grant from the State of Illinois in the amount of $331,000, the city is able to go ahead with the project.
“The state of Illinois has awarded you the largest USDA Community Grant in the state of Illinois,” Benton and Associates Engineer Greg Hillis said. “With this grant, that got you down to a local share of $82,750 and since the library is kicking in $70,000, you are ahead of the ballgame. Breaking it down, you are getting a grant for 86 percent of the project so I would suggest awarded the project to Trotter and moving forward with the project.”
Hillis had more good news to pass on to the council.
“We made a mistake on the invoice that we sent you on the amount that engineering firms get paid for our engineering fee for road milling,” he said. “The State of Illinois sets the amount engineering firms are allowed to charge. We made a mistake on the invoice we sent out – it should be two percent – not four percent, which would take the total down by $100 from $4,534 to $4,434.”
Hillis also informed the council about a new grant program just announced by the State of Illinois called the Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital Program.
“This program is through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and they have $50 million dollars available for downtown square improvements,” he said. “It is a 100 percent grant and I hope to have more information at the next council meeting.”
The council approved closing off the square on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for Trunk or Treat at the request of City Clerk Teri Little.
“This gives us a chance to spread out so the kids aren’t congregated together as much and it keeps everyone flowing,” Little said. “We have been doing it for several years now and it continues to grow. Last year we had around 300 kids come through. Its safer for the kids than going door to door.”
As for going door to door, Mayor Rex McIntire said that he took an random pool of 100 residents in the city and the overall response was to have trick or treating for only one day this year. Therefore, trick or treating will be at the same time as Trunk or Treat – Saturday night, Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Children may go to doors with porch lights on only.
Alderman Bill Jacquot reported that at the last bid the council rejected the one and only bid of $11,000 for repairs of stones at the Winchester City Cemetery.
“I did a followup and called three different places that do monuments and they said they are all too busy to even put in a bid,” he said. “I asked all three if there was anything we could do to entice them to bid and two of them said there was nothing we could do and one of them said if we would extend the deadline.”
Jacquot said one of the companies said they would not bid on it because they currently have two years worth of work to do and are getting more and more early orders for monuments.
“This brings us to a dilemma on what we want to do, if anything,” Jacquot said. “I don’t know if it is even worth while to bid it again this year. I’d rather put it off till next fall.”
McIntire agreed since it wasn’t something that was necessary essential be done right now.
The council agreed to the purchase of four tires for the John Deere Gator at the request of Utility Supervisor John Simmons.
“When we purchased it, it had regular off-road tires on it which don’t wear too good on streets,” he said. “The front tires are bald right now and since the back tires are a different size, we can’t change them out. The lowest bid was from Jacksonville at $707.04 for four tires plus mounting.”
The council approved raising the on-call pay for utility workers from $150 to $200.
“This has been the same rate of pay since the 1990’s,” Simmons said. “This increase has been brought up by all my guys because the on-call title has changed over the years. It was originally designed only for gas emergencies but now it encompasses everything. When they are on call, they are restricted as to what they can do.”
Workers are on call for a week at a time from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. from Wednesday through Tuesday. During this period, they are not allowed to drink alcohol or be further than 30 minutes from the city of Winchester should a call come in.
If a call does come in, the worker is guaranteed a minimum of two hours of overtime at time-and-a-half. The increase for the city will cost approximately $2,600.
The council amended its animal ordinance to reflect an increase in the cost of redemption of impounded dogs. The first time a dog is picked up, the owner of the dog shall pay an impounding fee of $20 plus a $20 per day fee for housing the dog. The current ordinance stipulates a daily fee of $10 per day.
The second time the dog is picked up the impounding fee goes up to $40 and the third time the fee goes up to $60. The rate of $20 per day for housing the dog stays the same.
City Attorney John Paul Coonrod reported on the Municipal Court proceedings for the month.
“There were eight cases authorized by the council to go out for citation,” Coonrod said. “I prepared all of those citations. The police didn’t get four of them served and of the four that did get served, all of them got their properties cleaned up before court. We did have one guy from last month who showed up and his case was dismissed.”
Manchester participates in a cost sharing program with the city and also brings their ordinance violation cases before the judge as well.
“They brought two cases before the judge and since we do cost sharing with them, and we only had one case, they will pay for two-thirds of his salary and we will pay for one-third,” Coonrod said. “That is good for us.”