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City Council approves extension of Progress Blvd.

By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Tuscola City Council was called to order on Monday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. with all members present.

During the consent agenda, the council approved the 2021 fireworks display for September 25 at 9 p.m. The fireworks will be shot off from Wimple Park, which they hope will allow the display to be visible from the high school homecoming dance as well as the Downtown Block Party. It was noted that it should also minimize the fire danger from nearby standing corn.

In his report, Mayor Dan Kleiss exclaimed that he was excited about the fireworks and all of the weekend’s events, and said he was hoping for good weather. He also sent condolences on behalf of the city to the family of B. J. Hacker, former Mayor of St. Joseph, on his passing. He ended by noting that he had attended the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony put on by the VFW on Saturday. Kleiss said that it was a beautiful display, thanked them, and said that it was a very moving tribute. 

The council then approved waiving formal bidding for the North Progress Boulevard Extension, a proposal from Beniach Construction for North Progress Extension in the amount of $344,259.61, and approved a cost sharing agreement with Kirby Foods for the North Progress Extension in the amount of $150,000. This project will allow for the completion of an extension of Progress Boulevard to the north, in order to provide access to the loading docks for the new IGA store under renovation. City Administrator Drew Hoel noted that while waiving formal bidding for projects of this scale is not common, they felt it was necessary and justified because there is very limited time to complete the project before winter – which is necessary for store operations; increased engineering fees to prepare a full bid packet (and the time required to bid) are unlikely to be offset by lower pricing from a bid process; the project is very small, with a tight timeline, which tends to limit potential bidders; and they compared the submitted proposal to a similar project bid two months ago and the unit costs are actually lower than the bid costs from the similar project.

The council also:
* Heard public comment from Adam Munds from RC Fest who came to present RC Fest to the council and request their approval for the event. Mayor Kleiss noted that they would look more into the event and discuss it at future meetings. 

* Approved the minutes of the August 23 council meeting.

* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $279,470.13.

* Approved a pay request from Barton Electric in the amount of $16,636.10 for the Ervin Park Project. This was the final pay request for the electrical portion and covered the ball diamond and tennis court lighting and related electrical work. The fencing contract is all that remains and they are waiting on the installation of the dog park fence to close out the project. 

* Approved a request to conduct fundraising from Kiwanis for Kiwanis Kids Days Collection on October 29-30, 2021.

* Approved a request to conduct fundraising from Tuscola Lions Club for Candy Days Collection on October 8-9, 2021.

* Approved the Downtown Block Party Plan.

* Approved “T” painting on Prairie Street on September 18-19, 2021. 

* Approved Ordinance 10, authorizing the sale of surplus public real estate (111 East Wilson Street, Tuscola, Illinois).

* Approved Ordinance 11, authorizing the sale of surplus public real estate (607 East Wilson Street, Tuscola, Illinois).

* Approved the purchase of a Utility Locator from Subsurface Solutions in the amount of $6,577.

* Approved a PSA with Donohue Assoc. for Master Meter Station Design in the amount of $9,750.

* Approved an addendum to the COVID-19 Workplace Policies. In 2020, the Council approved a policy memorandum which this policy seeks to amend. In short, the city is no longer required to provide paid time off for COVID-related absences from work. The normal personnel policy provides short-term disability benefits for non-work-related illnesses or injury, but the first week of the short-term disability has to be covered by the use of an employee’s PTO. This new policy would not charge PTO for the first week of a COVID-related absence for vaccinated employees. Non-vaccinated employees would remain subject to standard, existing short-term disability policies. 

* Approved the termination of Corporate Membership to Fitness Center. For several years, the City has enrolled in a corporate membership with the Fitness Center. Unfortunately, participation has decreased and is no longer cost effective to provide. 

* Adjourned until the September 27 meeting at 7:30 p.m.

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