If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By Carmen Ensinger
Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire began the Dec. 1 meeting by updating some previous issues and commenting on some of the things going on around the town of Winchester.
“First of all, I want to thank all of the merchants in town for the wonderful job they have done decorating their businesses,” McIntire said. “That downtown area is absolutely beautiful. Not only everything they have done inside the square, but there are so many buildings decked out for the Christmas season. Just drive around the square at night and look at all the beautiful lights.”
On the same note, McIntire extended thanks to those who spent last Saturday morning decorating the square for the holiday season and this past Saturday’s Hometown Christmas.
“I just want to thank each and everyone who participated in beautifying our square,” he said. “It is not an easy job and they put in a lot of time and effort, but their efforts have certainly been rewarded because it looks beautiful.”
Still in the spirit of giving thanks during the holiday season, McIntire said he wanted to thank two special people in the community, Clem Anders and Larry Evans, for doing things that seemingly go unnoticed.
“All summer long, Clem Anders has taken care of the flowers at Monument Park,” McIntire said. “He enjoys doing it and in doing so goes above and beyond in helping to beautify our community. Larry Evans – he has a little trash bag and walks the streets picking up trash and keeping our streets looking nice. These are small things, but they all add up.”
McIntire announced that Pittstop owner Jeff Pittman, who is also an owner, had the sale of his equipment recently. Pittman operated The Pittstop for 11 years in Winchester.
“Jeff, we hate to see it go because that means you aren’t going to open it back up,” McIntire said. “But we certainly do appreciate the 11 years you were with us.”
McIntire even congratulated the Carrollton Football Hawks on their fantastic year and representing the WIVC South. The Hawks made it to the State finals, bringing home the title of State Runner-up in Class 1-A after losing to Lena-Winslow 38-25.
McIntire informed the council about the Drake property on Commercial St. Prairieland FS is trying to buy the dilapidated property from the owners and have made offers and a closing date has been set up but owners never show up on the closing date to sign the papers.
“I talked with a representative from Prairieland FS, who are trying to buy the property, and they are getting very frustrated,” McIntire said. “They had another closing date about a week ago and something fell through again. They have another meeting set up for mid-December. They think they have an agreement but they can’t get it signed.”
With the new Dollar General going to be built out by Commercial St., the city has asked City Attorney John Paul Coonrod to make a request from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to lower the speed limit on the highway in front of this area. They hope to hear something back from IDOT by January.
Greg Hillis, with Benton and Associates, was present to give the council an update on the library edition and the status of grant applications.
“Work is coming along on the library addition and they are getting ready to pour the foundation,” Hillis said. “The problem is there is not a whole lot of room back there and they really don’t know how they are going to get back there to pour the concrete.”
The city had discussed checking with the USDA and seeing if there were any grant opportunities out there that would help them replace some water mains within the city.
“I met with John Simmons one day and he has great documentation on all of the undersized mains here in town,” Hillis said. “You are looking at 11,000 linear feet of undersized mains throughout the city that potentially need to be replaced.”
Hillis said he would like to have a meeting with the water committee and prioritize those areas most in need, put together some costs and see what is affordable for the city.
Last month, Hillis informed the city about the Rebuild Illinois Downtown Mainstreet grant program. This grant is through the State of Illinois and has a total of $50 million available for projects ranging in costs from $250,000 to $3 million. Thirty projects will be chosen as recipients of the grant with grant applications due by Jan. 10.
“This is a 100 percent grant opportunity for municipalities and it is tied to COVID,” Hillis said. “I think it is something that we can show that all of the downtown area was hurt during the COVID crisis.”
Hillis said that three years ago the city looked at removing and replacing the rest of the concrete around the square and this project is already project ready and therefore would be given greater consideration. Total cost of the project three years ago was $1.7 million.
The consensus of the council was to move forward with the grant application at a cost of $3,500 to $4,200.
Last month, the council approved the purchase of a new water meter reading system from Utility Pipe Sales, contingent upon obtaining a loan for the $414,865 cost of the system.
Finance Chairman Lawrence Coultas said asked all three local banks, UCB, Farmer’s State Bank and First National Bank of Winchester for quotes. Farmer’s State Bank did not submit a quote for consideration.
The city chose to go with the low bidder, UCB which presented a rate of 2.74 fixed rate for a period of 10 years with the option to make one annual payment or monthly payments. The monthly payment option is what the city chose because it would save them roughly $5,000 over the life of the loan.
The city would have a monthly payment of $3,822 with total interest coming to $58,640 for a total loan cost of $458.640.
The city had talked about using some of the money from the gas and water funds to reduce the amount of money they had to borrow, but thought better about it.
“This is my personal thought on it,” Coultas said. “We don’t know what is going to happen with the natural gas situation this year – we might need every bit we can muster in our gas fund so I’m thinking we had better not take anything out of there. I think we should just borrow the whole amount and not dig into our reserves not knowing what the future holds.”