Raise for courthouse staff approved by county board

By Jim Allen 
The Douglas County Board met on May 19, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. with all members present. Chair Don Munson called the meeting to order and led those in attendance with the pledge to the flag of the United States. Standard business was completed with approval of the previous meetings minutes including the special board meeting of 5-3-2021. 

The first in the order of business was the agreement between Douglas County and the University of Illinois Extension office. Cheri Burcham was present to answer any question the board or members of the public might have about the various programs offered. Douglas County contributes $59,458.00 a year to the Extension. The office is located at 304 East Progress in Arthur, IL. The phone number is 217-543-3755.

A proposal from Detection Security to upgrade the courthouse surveillance system was accepted for $9,790.00. The current system does not have high definition cameras and they do not record in color. Also, if there is a disturbance in a county office, the current system contacts the sheriff’s office which then contacts courthouse security. The new system will alert the security personnel onsite so an immediate response may be assured.

A proposal from Sound Source Music Inc. for $24,159.74 to upgrade sound and recording equipment in the County Board Room was approved. The system will be wireless and therefore transferable to other venues if needed. This will ensure that if the Board Room becomes unusable for any reason, meetings will still be able to continue.

A major change in the salaries of courthouse staff was enacted by the board. There has been no change in the salary schedule of the staff for years and the difficulty of keeping personnel has been aggravated by current Federal policies. To compete with wages for new hires in local business and to keep experienced personnel, the board felt that a new salary schedule was of immediate concern. This will increase the wages of most clerical employees to about $18.00 an hour. The schedule also encourages experienced personnel to remain with the county. The increase will be in effect July 1 of this year. Don Munson noted that the county will be able to do this without any negative consequences to the general fund.

The Board then considered Ordinance 21-0-3 which would place a moratorium regarding the approval of any application for a wind farm based on the 2009 WECS ordinance for twelve months. The moratorium would begin on May 19, 2021 and be in effect through May 18, 2022. An addendum was proposed to this ordinance to include “the acceptance” of any application. This would prevent an applicant from arguing that their application had been submitted for a full year and therefore should receive positive treatment. The ordinance passed as amended. This will give time to form committees to “consider possible revision of the WECS Ordinance as may be needed to more fully protect and preserve public safety, natural resources, property values, aesthetic conditions and property rights within Douglas County”.

County Engineer Jim Crane reported that after communicating with EDPR, the bid by Beniach Construction for road work in the Industrial Wind Complex in Murdock and Newman Townships has been rejected. The bid would have been valid for 45 days after the opening, but since there will be no movement by EDPR, the bid was rejected. Since Beniach is no longer committed, it allows them to pursue other contracts and releases the bond that had been in place. Crane stated that since the bid is formally rejected, the project will be advertised for rebid with a pre-bid conference on June 4, 2021. Bids, if any, will be considered at the county Board meeting on June 16, 2021.

Until further developments, EDPR is fully responsible for the roads in the footprint. Dust, road conditions or any other concerns must be addressed by them. If there are any concerns, people should contact EDPR at the local office 217-974-1113.

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