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By Caitlin R. King
The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, July 18, where several matters were discussed. The meeting was particularly long, lasting over four hours.
The board first discussed the possibility of joining the Illinois Port Authority’s “America’s Central Port District.” The executive director of America’s Central Port, Dennis Wilmsmeyer, spoke before the board about the benefits of joining the port district.
“We bring a good opportunity for grants, and I know you all have looked for grants in the past, but we just have an excellent record with federally funded agencies, primarily, some state as well, to try and bring some dollars to the table in terms of infrastructure improvements,” Wilmsmeyer said. “We’re constantly out there combing on a daily basis to see what’s available… and are the best benefit to the community.”
Calhoun’s inclusion in the port district would also bring potential benefits to the port authority. The port district primarily works within commercial facilities, such as “industrial and grain terminals,” according to Wilmsmeyer, but that they have the ability to expand into developing harbors and marinas, depending on “the flavor of the community.”
The next order of business for the commissioners was to further discuss the cost of the planned addition of an elevator to the Marvin Richter Administrative Building. The elevator addition is something the county is required to install to make their building Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessible.
Currently the county is unable to utilize the second floor of the building for public offices because of the noncompliance with ADA.
The county’s last estimate for all of the planned improvements to the building were given in May of 2020, and totaled around $716,000. In that bid, the cost of a new elevator alone, not including labor, was $142,000.
Commissioner Kim Klaas suggested to the board that they get a quote for just the installation of the elevator, and for the board to go from there.
The county received money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021 with the intention to make improvements to the building. The county has until 2024 to begin work on the building.
The board ultimately decided to reform a committee for the building improvement plans.
The next order of business for the commissioners was to further discuss the replacement of the sheriff’s and deputies’ laptop computers in their squad cars.
Last month, Chief Deputy Greg Weishaupt spoke with the board about a quote to purchase the sheriff’s department five laptop computers to use in their squad cars. Currently, the department has just one laptop to use amongst the five of them.
“It will not survive much longer, it’s band-aided together, and it will not survive being passed from one officer to another,” Weishaupt said during the commissioner’s June meeting.
Weishaupt was given a quote of $26,568 for five Panasonic Toughbooks, with a three year warranty and the ability to be upgraded later on.
“They’re more expensive, but they’ll last longer,” Weishaupt said.
At the start of the next fiscal year, the county will use money from the court security fund and a certificate of deposit (CD) to pay for the new laptops.
Next month, the commissioners will need to finalize their 2023-2024 budget. The latter half of their meeting revolved around this budget and the steps the county will need to take to follow it.
The Calhoun County Commission meets on the third Monday each month at 5 p.m. in the Marvin Richter Administrative Building at 301 S County Road, Hardin, IL 62047. The public is encouraged to attend.