The Hamilton County Board came together for their monthly gathering this week. The meeting got underway following a public hearing on the proposed improvement to 23 miles of rural county roads. Those roadways, currently gravel, will be upgraded to an all weather surface and stabilized base. With no major protests, the Hamilton County Highway Department will begin work on the project in earnest.
Edit: In a previous version of this story, we indicated the public hearing was an hour and a half. In truth, the public hearing only lasted 39 minutes. The monthly highway meeting was conducted in the courtroom which was scheduled at 5:15. It actually started at 5:20 p.m. We regret the error.
The county is now enforcing a Nuisance Ordinance. Sheriff Tracy Lakin showed concerns with regard to how his office will enforce certain aspects, saying his office isn’t equipped to be animal control. Board members said they were still working on specific implementation guidelines. A contingent from the Dale area were also in attendance and made known they were unhappy with the property of Sam McPeak. Residents say the individual isn’t being respectful of the road right of way and that the unkemptness of his property causes issues for many in the area. While the nuisance order wasn’t passed because of McPeak, Twigg Township (where Dale is located) will now have government backing to attempt to resolve the issue.
Edit: In the initial version of this story, we indicated the individual’s name as Jim McPeak. The name wasn’t given during the meeting and when our reporter inquired a trusted source, the incorrect name was given. It has been corrected and we regret the error and any inconvenience it has caused.
Sheriff Lakin provided a report to the board which included activity over the last month. Since March 20th, the Hamilton County Sheriff and deputies have responded to 146 incidents as well as 106 Emergency 911 calls. Office personnel have patrolled nearly 6,500 miles over the last 28 days, engaged in 33 traffic stops leading to 7 citations. Sheriff’s Department workers also responded to 8 fire calls and served 5 arrest warrants, 3 of which were felonies along with 2 misdemeanors. The law enforcement arm of Hamilton County government generated $1,825 over the last month and Lakin showed off a couple of the new Automated External Defibrillator kits. He says all of the emergency kits will be compatible with local EMS. Lakin also indicated he was ready to tackle the School Resource Officer challenge that’s emerged in Hamilton County saying he’d heard grumblings from the current SRO officer himself as well as from Superintendent Jeff Fetcho. The board says their committee which includes Willie Grubb and Chad May will work with Tracy moving forward in attempt to meet the dilemma.
Bruce DeLashmit has garnered a seat at the County Board meetings and gave his monthly Bellwether Administrative Services Report. With the assistance of Bellwether, DeLashmit reports he and County Clerk Mary Anne Hopfinger was able to save the county around $35,000 on voting machine matters. Bruce also said he’d be looking at helping to establish procurement ordinances for routine purchases. He expects the action will help board members get through some of their business in a more efficient manner by establishing a consent agenda.
Hopfinger gave a report to the board including election results. The one race that ended in a tie (Ward I between Mike Scattone, Joseph Ray Kaufman and Billy D. Glenn has been settled thanks to a single provisional ballot giving Glenn a one vote win over Mike Scattone. Election turnout was dismal according to Hopfinger with less than 23% of registered voters showing up at the polls. Hopfinger estimates the election cost the County between $30,000 and $40,000 making it very expensive when so few exercise their right and responsibility to cast ballots. On the bright side, Hopfinger says digitizing records has saved the County tens of thousands of dollars resulting in her office being able to offer a transfer of $100,000 from the Document Storage Fund over to the General Fund. That measure passed unanimously.
The board agreed to sponsor the Hamilton County Relay for Life in the amount of $250 and participate in Illinois SOUTH Tourism at the chamber level of $225. Monica Tucker represents Hamilton County on the Tourism board.
Board members voted to approve assignment of 3 tax sale certificates, one to Mark Tate for a mobile home at $845; another two to the City of McLeansboro totaling $1,675.
A laundry list of checks were accepted including $400 in plat books sales, $2,083.34 from the City of McLeansboro for the April 2019 central dispatch agreement. A new agreement between the City and County has yet to be struck on dispatching. Board member John Chapman reminded the board that whatever agreement they reached would be retroactive. The County Health Department paid $7,892.42 in Salaries, $993.81 for Fringes, $128.07 for Unemployment and $962.79 for Insurance. Expected royalty income from Hamilton County Coal is expected to be $37,749.05 for March.
The community is also reminded of Hamilton County’s upcoming Electronic Recycling Day(s) on Thursday, April 25th and Friday, April 26th. Both days, recyclables of the electronic sort will be accepted from 9am to 3pm at Trade Industries in McLeansboro located at 1610 South Jackson Street. Hopfinger noted there will be a $5 fee for certain items and there is a limit on certain items such as televisions. Those with additional questions can contact her office at 643-2721 for assistance.