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Hamilton County Board Barreling Along With Road Improvement

The road improvement project in Hamilton County is barreling along and is expected to be complete by end of summer.  All told, the project investment will be 5 million dollars over the 18 months since improvements began.  The Hamilton County Board met on Tuesday, June 16th and heard an update from the Highway Department.  Local dollars paid for some of the 38 miles of improvements including Coal funds as did District 9 Surface Transportation Program money, federal pavement preservation dollars, and the county leveraged a Rural Development loan to help complete the project.  The county board was concerned, due to the minimum wage increase, that there would be spikes in the construction industry.  To help avert some inflated pricing, the board felt they’d save some money by getting the project done all at once and paying a bit of interest rather than spreading the project out over 5 years.  Board member Chad May says it was a first in at least one fashion.  “This is the first time Rural Development has ever allowed a county to borrow money to improve roads or infrastructure.  So it was a very unique opportunity for the county.  The finance committee was made up of John [Chapman] and P.E. [Cross].  They spearheaded that…really got it off the ground, and it’s really worked in our favor.”
Up next will be a section of roadway from Tucker’s Corner to Campbell’s Corner Road to be oil and chipped.  Also noteworthy about the program, May says that many of these gravel roads being switched to oil and chip will allow the county to shift maintenance costs from county funds to the federal pavement preservation fund so those funds will come from the federal government which equals even more savings to the county.
Also Tuesday evening, the Hamilton County board heard from EMA Director (and McLeansboro Police Chief) Nathan Taylor who reported the county has most likely received it’s last shipment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  The only way HamCo might see more would be if there’s a spike in cases.
The county is now the owner of a property at 111 North McClellan Street also known as the Country Mark property at a cost of $36,000.  The county will recoup that cost over the next 4 years from the Hamilton County Coroner and EMA via rent.  Although the county reportedly didn’t see itself as in the market to be purchasing property, the additional space will provide some solutions including to house a cooler for the Hamilton County Coroner.  The only other options was to place it at the Highway Department and no county board member was in favor of a resident having to travel there to identify a next of kin body.  Furthermore, the coroner will be able to have a functioning autopsy table at the location.  Additionally, there’s a fenced in area for EMA vehicles to be sheltered and for use as an impound lot if necessary for either county or city.  Lastly, the discovery process has begun to try to figure out what it would take to house an animal control type of facility at that location.
The county board reappointed 3 members to the Hamilton Memorial Hospital Board.  Paula Hatfield, Wayne Morris, and Christina Epperson were all approved to serve 3 year terms.
There is a special public hearing that’s been called for Monday night, 6/22/20.  It is mostly procedural regarding the Akin Water District absorbing the Macedonia Water System.
The Hamilton County Board will meet in regular session on the third Tuesday of July, the 22nd at 6pm.

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