Harrisburg City Council heard a new downtown festival announced and learned the city has received money to fund the replanting of trees and shrubs that were destroyed in the Feb. 29, 2012, tornado during Thursday night’s meeting.
But before getting to those items, Mayor Eric Gregg — under the eyes of more than a dozen Harrisburg Girl Scouts between grades two and six — signed a proclamation declaring next week to be Girl Scout Week in Harrisburg. Once the Girl Scouts and their leaders and parents left, the audience seats were largely empty.
Dale Fowler announced the Wing A Ma Jig chicken wing festival 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 15 on the Harrisburg square.
Vendors will have wings on hand the the audience will buy tickets in $1 increments to purchase the wings. Fowler anticipates a chicken wing eating contest, a wing competition and live entertainment.
“We would invited people to come back to Harrisburg for a good event,” Fowler said.
The event is sponsored by the Saline County Chamber of Commerce and publicity costs are covered by the Saline County Tourism Board.
Jim Maurer of AT&T gave a $5,000 check to Shawnee Resource and Development Area as part of the Harrisburg ReLEAF effort to restore trees to areas in the tornado’s path.
Maurer said he was proud Gregg cares so much for his community he is willing to reach out and ask for help from companies like AT&T.
“I’m a big tree guy,” Maurer said.
Emily Hanson of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale said the ReLeaf group has surveyed the town and will be ready to begin planting in spring.
“We’ve found hundreds of places where trees can be planted,” Hanson said.
Council hopes to spend $2,371,000 from Tax Increment Finance district money on seven projects and approved a resolution to spend the money, a resolution to convene the TIF Joint Review Board to explain the projects and a resolution to hold a TIF Hearing regarding the projects.
The projects involve $500,000 for the city’s portion of an EDA grant for the sewage treatment plant; $96,000 for a Veterans Drive water main extention; $400,000 for a Veterans Drive sewer main extension; $750,000 for the Ford Street/Leberman Road extension; $225,000 for a McIlrath Street/Lewis Street extension and access road; $300,000 for water main and meter repairs, replacements or extensions; and $100,000 for reservoir repair involving a lagoon overflow for excess flow storm water.
The TIF Joint Review Board will meet 8 a.m. March 28 at City Hall and the hearing will be 8 a.m. April 30 at City Hall where public comments will be taken.
Water Superintendent Kelly Hefner asked permission to authorize Jim Brown to design a tower and prepare bid specifications for an automatic meter reading system. Using radio frequencies, the system would read the water meters at any time with a 99.8 percent accuracy for 20 years, Hefner said.
Page 2 of 2 - Hefner said the accuracy in water usage metering and billing should result in the system paying for itself within a few years.
He said O’Fallon had been losing 23 percent of its water prior to installing an automated system and since installing one has 8 percent water loss.
Hefner said he is investigating grant opportunities to fund a base collector and part of the tower cost and an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency loan is a possibility.
Hefner said the system will be of benefit to customers in that the city can determine if an unusually high amount of water is being used overnight — as in a toilet that runs incessantly — and notify the homeowner of a problem before the issue is reflected in the monthly bill.
He anticipates in the future there will be a need for less city workers checking meters.
During the meeting:
- Commissioner Ron Crank announced there is $16,736 left in the disaster fund being dispersed in $3,000 increments by the STORM long-term tornado recovery group.
- Council appointed Marty Nicholes to the Police Pension Board.
- Animal Control Officer Mike Sullivan asked he be hired as a full-time worker rather than on a contractual basis and again asked council to consider allowing citizens to ride golf carts or “Mule” all-terrain vehicles in certain areas of the city. Council members have traditionally been resistant to the golf cart issue due to the high amount of traffic in town, but said they could look into Sullivan’s proposal of golf cart friendly zones. Carrier Mills, Eldorado, Galatia and Carmi all allow golf carts to be driven in town. Crank said the city cannot afford to put Sullivan on full time because the benefit package is unaffordable for any more full time employees.
- Council approved a union contract for Harrisburg Police Secretary Angie Underwood and Linda Sasser in City Hall that Commissioner Ron Fearheiley said was the same package provided to other union city employees.