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Policy and Procedure Dominate Conversation at Hamilton County Board Meeting Tuesday Night

It appears Hamilton County Schools are about to be without a School Resource Officer. That’s one of many things we learned from the Hamilton County Board meeting Tuesday night.  With only 12 hours left available in his agreement, Hamilton County Sheriff Tracy Lakin indicated he’ll be laying off J.D. Murphy from the Sheriff’s Department when those hours are up.  While we don’t know specifics, there seems to be some disagreement between the Hamilton County Board and the Unit 10 School Board with regard to the School Resource Officer Agreement.  There wasn’t much new information other than the precise amount of hours Murphy has left in his agreement for that role dating back to the January Board meeting.

The language in the initial agreement between the School and County Board, amount of hours available for the position, details surrounding how to handle Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and union requirements, as well as who oversees the position all still seem to be points of contention and it doesn’t appear much in the way of production conversations has occurred between January 15th and Tuesday night between any of the pertinent parties.

Sheriff Lakin says he expects Unit 10 will hire Murphy, creating the position of Director of Security to at least finish out the current school calendar.  Where things go from there is anyone’s guess.  WROY/WRUL News is scheduled to visit with Unit 10 Superintendent Jeff Fetcho this week to learn more.

In other matters, Supervisor of Assessments Mark Becker provided a brief update on a proposed Solar and Wind Energy Ordinance.  Board members set up a committee to try to finalize language.  Board Chairman Brad Miller and John Chapman were named to the committee.

The Board is also continuing its discussion on a countywide Nuisance Ordinance.  It’s being designed for noise, smells and discussions expanded into Animal Control.  Hamilton County is without a County Animal Control Officer and therefore much more discussion is expected on how to craft that ordinance.

State’s Attorney Justin Hood asked the Board for direction on setting up a Remote Attendance Policy for County Board members who are unable to physically attend a board meeting.  As is, board members aren’t technically allowed to “phone in” during a meeting and vote.  The Board will continue to look into developing a policy that would allow remote attendance in emergency situations.

County Extension Director Connie Beck publicly announced her retirement at the meeting.  In her role, Beck oversees six counties for the University of Illinois, including Hamilton, White, Saline, Gallatin, Hardin and Pope.  She expressed her appreciation for the working relationship she’s had specifically in Hamilton County.  The Board is reviewing and expected to approve the new Lease Agreement and Budget between the county and U of I Extension.

Chairman of the Sheriff’s Merit Commission Board, Roger Swartz updated members on their rules and regulations draft.  One of the goals for the commission is to help provide a pool of “ready to hire” applicants for the Sheriff’s Department.  The group will handle testing, provide recommendations, and also handle some disciplinary oversight for the county.  Swartz and Sheriff Lakin are expected to get together for the purpose of going over language and plugging any holes in the current semantics.

Acceptance of checks from Plat Book Sales and the Health Department was approved as was approval of current claims list and late claims.

Public Act 100-0947 was briefly discussed.  The legislation requires any facility that houses a circuit courtroom have an appropriate and available private lactation room for the public.  Members are working on preparing one of the interview rooms on the second floor of the courthouse to serve that purpose.  The room must be ready prior to June 1st of this year.

Eleven Hamilton County High Schoolers were present for the meeting.  Civics students are required to attend a certain number of local government meetings, providing them valuable insight as to how the process works.

Finally, the board accepted proposals for furnishing materials for the County Highway and Bridge Department.