Area update Feb. 6, 2013

Ford panel to discuss group's offer for former jail

PAXTON — The Ford County Board's overview committee has called a meeting for Thursday to discuss a proposal by a Paxton nonprofit group to buy the historic former jail and sheriff's residence on the courthouse square.

The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday in the small courtroom at the Ford County Courthouse in Paxton.

Committee Chairman Floyd "Bud" Otto Jr. of rural Roberts has invited all county board members to attend.

Otto said the committee will probably go into executive session to discuss the proposal. The Illinois Open Meetings Act allows for closed-session discussions in regard to "the setting of price for sale or lease of property owned by (a) public body."

In January, the nonprofit Paxton Foundation offered to buy the 19th-century jail and sheriff's residence and pay for the building's renovation and upkeep. County board members asked the group to submit a formal written proposal by Feb. 1 for further consideration.

The foundation's president, Royce Baier, said he did so. He declined to disclose the proposal's details.

WILL BRUMLEVE

Read more in the Paxton Record

Ford County to seek bids for courthouse project

PAXTON — Ford County plans to seek bids next month for the interior remodeling of the courthouse's offices and other work in "a long list of things to be done," said the public building commission's chairman, Ron Shapland of rural Cullom.

The Ford County Public Building Commission this week approved adding up to $15,000 more in costs to the project, which is estimated to take up to six months to complete.

The project calls for new carpeting, windows, window coverings and ceiling fans in all offices; the replacement of lights in the first-floor lobby and in the main courtroom; the installation of handicapped-accessible counters in all offices on the first floor; the re-arranging and removal of furniture in the circuit clerk's office, and the construction of a kitchenette in the courthouse's basement.

The repair of damaged interior walls and ceilings will also be done. Also, the "cage" wall that links the treasurer's office to the county clerk's office will be removed, allowing access between the two offices.

A new roof would also be installed at the Ford County Correctional Facility, and a retaining wall would be added in front of the jail to discourage pedestrian traffic in certain areas.

WILL BRUMLEVE

Read more in the Paxton Record

VG, Heritage to discuss sports cooperative details

VILLA GROVE — Representatives from the Villa Grove and Heritage school districts will meet soon to work through questions remaining in a possible sports cooperative.

According to Villa Grove Superintendent Steve Poznic, the meeting will cover all talking points about the possible merger and then recommendations will be taken back to both boards for approval. The committee will consist of two board representatives and school administrators from each district.

Poznic said some of the issues still undecided are which sports will be included, compensation for costs, coaching decisions and a name for the cooperative.

A two-year agreement is required by the Illinois High School Association for each sport. High school Principal Sheila Greenwood suggested the board start with the sports that would most benefit from a co-op agreement first and then add others later as it becomes beneficial to the school district to do so.

The sports identified as most urgent by the Villa Grove District are football, golf, cross country and girls' basketball. Greenwood also advised that the districts re-evaluate any deal after the first two years before considering changes to team names or colors.

AMY ROSE

News-Gazette Correspondent

Georgetown officials to consider website upgrade

GEORGETOWN — Georgetown City Council members said Monday that they are considering changing the city's website.

Alderman Adam Hart said the city's website, http://www.georgetown il.com, was designed by Dudley Miller, which is no longer in business. Hart said the Miller Ad Group could redesign the website to make it look more modern and easier to update for about $500.

Hart said he would like to have an easier time updating the council's calendar on the website and would like a feature where people could email their aldermen from the website.

The Georgetown City Council's finance committee will review the expense and will make a recommendation to the full council.

In other business, the council moved its next meeting to Tuesday, Feb. 19, to avoid a conflict with Presidents Day.

The council will also have a special meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 to discuss the proposed electric aggregation. There will be a referendum on the April 9 ballot for Georgetown to join a municipal aggregation. If a majority of residents vote to join with the company, they would be bundled with other groups of customers to try to negotiate lower energy rates. Residents would be able to opt out of the program if they choose to do so.

DOUGLAS TOOLE

News-Gazette Correspondent

Rural residents seek Sidney's support in Ameren case

SIDNEY — Some rural Savoy residents who have filed a petition to intervene in Illinois Commerce Commission hearings on an Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois project are seeking the village's support.

Adam Ragheb and his father, Magdi Ragheb, are requesting that Ameren Transmission move the proposed route of the Illinois Rivers' lines a half-mile north, so that it would be located along County Road 700 N. "Our rationale is there's already a power line there," Adam Ragheb said.

The Raghebs asked that the village board members tell the ICC that they are not opposed to the route they are suggesting.

"Access to these power lines is important," Magdi Ragheb said. "Otherwise, they become hazards."

The Raghebs are also requesting that Ameren Transmission place the power lines underground. Village President John Finn agreed that putting power lines underground would save on maintenance costs but said, "I don't think I'll ever see that accomplished in my lifetime."

Trustees were reluctant to take a position on the Raghebs' proposed route.

CHRISTINE WALSH

Read more in the County Star

 

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