Area update

Area update

area update

Long-awaited Homer sewer project to start this spring

HOMER – Homer will finally get its sewer.

Now nine years in the planning, construction of a sewage treatment plant and sewer system will begin this April, with a two-year timeline to completion.

After the Illinois EPA approved the two contractors' bids on the project, village trustees awarded contracts to Schomburg & Schomburg of Danville in the amount of $2,548,097 for construction of a waste water plant, and to Cross Construction of Urbana in the amount of $7,098,058 for the construction of the collection system.

Funding for the project is guaranteed by the IEPA. Village board members authorized Mayor David Lucas to sign a Build Illinois Unsewered Community Grant Agreement, securing a grant of $5 million – if and when bonds are sold – and an Illinois EPA loan-offer acceptance agreement in the amount of $5,561,857.

Project engineer Andrew Kieser of Sodemann and Associates said almost $1.5 million of the loan will come from federal stimulus funds, and so will not need to be repaid. He said the balance is being borrowed at zero-percent interest over 20 years.

If the full amount is borrowed, loan payments would be $200,000 per year, but the village may not require the entire loan, since some costs for the project have already been covered, said Kieser.

The monthly cost per household will be a $32 minimum for the first 1,000 gallons of wastewater, and $3 per thousand gallons after that.

SIV SCHWINK, N-G, Correspondent

Blue Ridge school board

School opens language program to public

FARMER CITY – The Blue Ridge school district is offering an opportunity for anyone to learn a foreign language at a discount with the Rosetta Stone language learning program.

Susan Wilson, principal at Schneider Elementary, used the software in her home to learn French for a family trip. She discovered that online group subscriptions offer approximately a 75 percent savings off the regular price of software.

"Anybody can do this (sign up for Rosetta Stone) and from anywhere. We've got some people who are subscribing from out of state," Wilson said. "And it's OK because it's all Internet. They don't have to have a direct tie to Blue Ridge."

Interested parties who have access to a computer with the Internet can go to the Blue Ridge Web site's home page (http://www.blueridge18.org/), and click on the link "Rosetta Stone Purchase-2nd Chance." They can download the registration form, fill it out, e-mail it to swilson<@>blueridge18.org or return it to any school office by Jan. 28, and attach a check or inform office personnel they want to pay by credit card. Forms will not be accepted after the deadline. Subscribers will receive a username and password for a one-year subscription in one language for all family members.

The Rosetta Stone Web site (http://www.rosettastone.com) has information about how the program works and a free demo. The program teaches language with a unique method called "Dynamic Immersion." Users of Rosetta Stone learn to speak and think in a new language just like children learn their native languages by experiencing the world and interacting with adults. Users have "a fully immersive environment" on their computers with the program, according to the Rosetta Stone Web site.

MARGO L. DILL, N-G, Correspondent

gifford grade school board

Superintendent: Skipped aid payments lost

GIFFORD – Like most school districts, the Gifford Grade School district is waiting for state funds.

Slightly more than $56,000 that has been vouchered by the Illinois State Board of Education to the district has not been distributed by the comptroller's office.

The lag time in payments is a result of the state's fiscal crisis.

The vouchered funding is earmarked primarily for transportation, special education and general state aid.

Superintendent Art Shaw said it is "highly possible that we will only get one-half or one-fourth of what was budgeted in transportation and special ed and possibly not all of the general state aid, though most of it."

Making it more difficult is that the state shorted the district payments in several areas last school year, "so we're already behind before we even start," Shaw said. "None of us expects those payments to ever be made up. The payments are gone."

Even more troubling to Shaw is that the state used a billion dollars in federal stimulus money last year to fund education. That money is not available this year.

In better fiscal news, Shaw announced that the district had received a $1,000 grant from Sam's Club of Champaign.

The grant, along with $500 earned through the Sam's volunteer program by Barb Dye of Gifford, wife of district employee Steve Dye, will be applied toward the purchase of a Smart Board and accessories to be located in the school media center.

The board approved the revised Access to District Records Policy. The action was in response to recent changes in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act which took effect Jan. 1.

Ceceilia Vermillion, the district's athletic director, was approved as the new head track coach. She succeeds Mike Gray, who resigned following the 2009 season.

Board members reviewed projects completed during the Christmas holiday by maintenance staff.

Rantoul Press, www.rantoulpress.com.

broadlands village board

Broadlands looks to fill trustee position

BROADLANDS – The village of Broadlands is looking for a new trustee.

Several residents have expressed interest in the position. During the January board meeting Broadlands resident Russell Jones attended and expressed his interest in filling the position.

Trustee Kenton Hall said another Broadlands resident had told him he too was interested in the open position.

The board has decided to contact the resident and ask him to attend the Feb. 3 meeting to see if he is interested in the trustee position.

NORA MABERRY, The Leader

Prairieview-Ogden school board

Board appoints FOIA officers

ROYAL – Prairieview-Ogden Superintendent Vic White and PVO North secretary Debra Harms have been appointed Freedom of Information Act Officers for the district.

The district was legally required to appoint an FOIA officer due to changes in Illinois Law which went into effect Jan. 1.

The state Attorney General's office said the new law will increase the transparency and accountability of government on all levels. The law also protect employees from retaliation from their superiors for releasing public information, permits attorney fees to be paid when access issues go to court, creates a fine of up to $5,000 for government agencies found to have "willfully and intentionally" failed to comply with the law, shortens the required response time from seven days to five, makes the first 25 pages of copies free, and sets a fee of $0.15 per page for any copies after that, specifies that records should be provided electronically if possible and gives the office of the Attorney General "sweeping new powers to interpret what records are public and settle disputes" over FOIA requests.

In other action the board changed the April 12 regular board meeting to April 19 at 8 p.m. in Royal.

The board set eighth grade graduation ceremony for 6:30 p.m. on May 27 in the junior high gymnasium in Flatville.

NORA MABERRY, The Leader

Ogden village board

Electrical work on water plant to begin

OGDEN – The Village of Ogden is paying $10,200 to Clarence O'Herron to repair electrical work at the water plant.

It also paid $300 to Rick's Tractor Service for emergency work on a broken water main recently.

The trustees also voted to pay $100 to join the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network.

As a member of the state-wide mutual aid network, Ogden will have access to public works resources during times of disaster and/or emergency when its resources have been exhausted.

In addition to requesting aid, the village will provide public works assistance to other communities, if needed, when they are faced with situations that require immediate help beyond their capabilities.

NORA MABERRY, The Leader

Expenditure ordinance defeated in St. Joseph

By NORA MABERRY

nmaberry<@>news-gazette.com

A proposed ordinance change in St. Joseph was defeated last week. The language in the ordinance will be revised and visited again at a future meeting.

The proposed ordinance would allow the committee chairs for the Board of Trustees, the office manager and the maintenance superintendent to delegate certain authority to contract for and spend funds without prior board approval.

The proposed ordinance would limit spending to $1,500 for board chairs and $500 for the office manager and maintenance superintendent.

The expenditure would have to be approved by the village president and has to be for equipment, materials, supplies, or services provided within the budget for said committee. The funds would have to be appropriated for such expenditure in the Village Appropriation Ordinance for the said fiscal year. The expenditure would have to be reported within 30 days, in writing, to the board.

Several trustees found the $1,500 limit to be too confining and disagreed with the ordinance stating "provided within the budget for said committee."

Trustee James Haake said if a lift station goes down at the sewer plant it will have to be fixed even if it is not within the budget of the sewer committee.

Trustee Scott Cousert said that if the expenditure was not an emergency then the chair person should wait for board approval if they did not have the money in their budget for the expenditure.

Other board members felt the ordinance limited the power of the village trustees.

"I feel this is not letting the trustees do their job fully," Trustee Roy McCarty said.

McCarty said that some vehicles, while not technically an emergency, could potentially have to wait two weeks to be fixed if he had to get board permission for expenditures over $1,500.

McCarty said he felt that Mayor B.J. Hackler, Public Works Superintendent Mike Peters and committee chairs should be able to make decisions regarding expenditures without board approval.

"Surely we can make the right decision," he said.

To appear in next week's Rantoul Press. (Jan. 27)

By Debra Rawlings

Rantoul Press reporter

Ludlow Grade School students have been introduced to yoga.

Superintendent Dru Lobmaster told the school board that substitute teacher Lorie Vekre is conducting a 10-minute yoga routine at the end of p.e. classes. Board members Rhonda Moore and Geraldine Roberts brought the idea back from the November school board association convention.

"(The idea is) to introduce yoga to the students as calming or relaxing, or as a way to get students more focused," Lobmaster said. "The students love it. They're enjoying it."

Also at the meeting, board member Steve Thomas asked about a drop in enrollment last month to 77 students. Lobmaster said the district lost seven students when two families moved out of the district, possibly because they had found lower cost housing in Rantoul. Enrollment tends to fluctuate around 90 students, Lobmaster said, which is about 10 students less than the typical enrollment of 10 years ago.

In other business, teacher Jennifer Tucker asked the board to set a date for beginning contract negotiations and Lobmaster reported that the boiler had been repaired at a cost of $4,450 by Houston Plumbing and Heating of Paxton.

GIBSON CITYâ€"The Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce has announced its new

Homebuyers Incentive Program, which coordinates a package of incentives

for anyone building a new home or purchasing a home and moving from

outside the 60936 zip code into the Gibson City limits.

Ty Royal, a member of the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce Home Buyer

Incentive Committee, said "We feel this type of extra incentive may be

helpful in drawing new residents to Gibson City, and will show potential

buyers that the community is supportive of reasonable growth."

Royal added "By working with the city, the Community Economic Development

foundation and other organizations, we envision an orderly, yet

significant growth in our population."

Royal explained that this newly expanded incentive package includes

existing homes where the earlier package only included newly constructed

homes.

More information can be found at the Gibson City website at

www.gibsoncityillinois.com or by calling Diana Stauffer at 217-784-5542.

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