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Carmi Council Changes Hillsdale Project Again; Announces Cancellation of July 4th Fireworks Celebration

Most would agree making massive financial decisions over teleconference is less than ideal and Carmi Mayor Jeff Pollard has been attempting to kick the can down the road on most of the topics he says would be more fitting to discuss in person.  An opportunity to once again change a previously approved project however required Carmi Council to make a hasty decision Tuesday afternoon.
The Hillsdale area/8th Street Project as it’s been labeled originally was going to be a sewer project.  In late April, after new information was discovered along with certain EPA requirements complicating that project, council decided to switch that approved project to a water project.  You can read more about that change at https://www.wrul.com/local-news/carmi-city-council-approves-switching-1-5-million-dollar-project-from-sewer-to-water/
Last night, Jim Brown was once again on the conference call and discussed with council asking them to changes the project once again from a DECO Grant and IEPA Loan to take advantage of a new Rebuild Illinois Fast Track Grant Project.  He says, “Since then, there’s been a new development.  The Governor has given DECO 25 Million dollars for what he calls a Fast Track Project…one that can be shovel ready by the time they review the applications.  The applications are due at the end of this month.  This particular project requires a minimum half million dollar project and a maximum 5 million dollar project.”  Up until Tuesday night, it was was 1.5 million dollar project.
Brown went on to say, “After consulting with the mayor, Holly Healy, Jimmy Jordan, and Curt Hale, we would like for you to consider the possibility for making an application for not only the Hillsdale project, but also adding the rehabilitation to the water tank near Melrose Cemetery.  This would increase the price of the entire project.”
The phone cut out as Brown was finishing that sentence with the amount of the price increase.  Just another reason major financial decisions are usually best saved for face to face meetings.  The additional financial commitment appears, at this point based on the conversation, to be $233,700, though it’s said that it’s not necessarily any additional money.
Mayor Pollard:  “It’s not really additional money.  It’s just that we’re going to have to commit to the $233,700 to do all of the engineering because it can’t be paid for out of that account.  So that’s what we would have to come up with on our own”
Alderman Steve Winkleman:  “Where’s that $233,700 gonna come from?”
Mayor Pollard:  “Well, we’ll have to take it out of one of our other…….indecipherable…uh ya know, that’s…it doesn’t have to be paid up front so that can be paid along the way with the project.”
Winkleman:  “So are you recommending we go ahead with it…or what’s…who’s gonna recommend what?”
Pollard:  “Well, I mean in the long run, it’s gonna save us a lot of money.
Alderman Sheila Jo Headlee:  “It’ll save us $570,000”
Pollard:  “And we won’t have the loan we’ll have to pay back.  And we’re getting the water tower and everything done up in that area of town along with the water and sewer at the same time.”
Alderman Mark Blake:  “It’s been a long time since that water tower’s been worked on so we really need to get something done on that.”
Pollard:  “Van’s [Van Scott] been preaching that for awhile and it all honesty, that’s probably a three or four hundred thousand dollar project itself, guesstimating.”
Headlee made a motion to move forward immediately following that discussion and it was unanimously approved.
Beyond that, council agreed to sell excess property in the form of a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 with just over 138,000 miles to be sold as is.  Council authorized the mayor to seek bids.
And while council moved to make a massive financial decision, they determined it wasn’t the right time, place, or manner to address an ordinance from June of 1976 that bans livestock in city limits.  The situation that brought the matter to council was resident Keely Baldwin who owns a miniature pig she expects to grow to between 30 and 65 pounds.  She’s keeping it in the house and wants to be able to continue.  As is, the ordinance prohibits it.  Council did agree to allow Baldwin to keep her pig on her premises at least until council could visit to take on the matter sitting down together in the same room.
In mayoral reports, Pollard started off with what’s expected to be distressing news as he says, “after long discussions the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Carmi have decided to cancel the July 4th Fireworks due to the uncertainty of the guidelines to reopen the state.”
Additionally, Pollard says the city pool will not open for the 2020 season and instead some long overdue repairs will be made.
Lastly, Pollard reminds citizens that an electronics recycling event will be held at the Newton Wire and Cable Building on May 30th from 9am – noon.  You can find a complete list and details on the city’s website or call the office at 618-382-8118 for information.
Headlee questioned as to whether Carmi Summer Rec League would be able to happen this year.  Alderman Jeremy Courson who is also an executive with the organization says they’re planning and hoping, but will be waiting for June 1st to see what happens with the state.
Alderman Winkleman asked about opening Burrells Woods camp sites.  The mayor says after June 1st, he’s leaning toward opening it back up and allowing camping at every other site and doing so regardless of what Governor Pritzker decides statewide.
Carmi City Council is due back in session on June 2nd.
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