MARION -- Boyton Street Community Center's summer lunches and after-school programs received support from the Marion City Council on Monday night, with the approval of three new employees.
Unanimously approved, after some discussion, was the hiring of Kenya Morse as an in-training head cook, Leianka Burwell as summer program assistant and Marquez Lilly as after-school prep assistant, all at $9 an hour, unbenefited, for 30 hours a week until the end of summer.
Mayor's Chief-of-Staff Cody Moake said the summer program assistant position was covered by the federal No Child Left Hungry grant, but that Boyton Street was seeking two other unbudgeted positions at a total cost of around $4,650.
Moake said that due to the timing of the city's new budget year and the arrival of the federal grant funds, Boyton Street was unable to ask that the new positions be covered.
Moake said the new head cook was needed to fill in for an employee with health problems, and the after-school prep assistant was needed to help plan for when school resumes in the fall. The after-school program at Boyton typically serves around 75 children.
"There is a full slate of programs they offer, and the summer program has gotten so busy the staff they have used in the past won't be available to plan for the after-school program," Moake explained.
"It's a good problem because we're serving a lot of children, but then we aren't getting the funds we need to mop up a problem like this," Moake said.
Commissioners were uncertain how to proceed, and there was even disappointment that not all the positions could be approved.
"For what it is worth, I am aware of the character of Mr. Lilly and I can attest that he is an outstanding young man. And because of that I hate to exclude him, but math is math," said Mayor Mike Absher.
However, after more discussion, the possibility of a local grant arose.
"Problem solved," Absher said.
The council, with Absher and commissioners Doug Patton, John M. Barwick Jr., Jim Webb and John Stoecklin voted unanimously to accept the new hires, on the condition of grant funding.
In other business, the council approved the following in 5-0 votes:
• An amendment to the Marion Heights TIF District removing two small parcels that can't be developed, as well as property owned by the Watermark Group, a company controlled by Mayor Absher.
• Rezoning property at 1834 N. Court St. from RA Rural Agriculture to C-1 General Commercial as well as the rezoning of 505 W. DeYoung from C-1 General Commercial to C-2 Highway Commercial, to accommodate a new car dealership there owned by Josh Zettler.
• A $37,162.39 payment to Evrard-Strang Construction for the addition to the fire station.
• The seeking of a federal grant from the Southern Illinois Metropolitan Planning Organization Council for safety improvements to the intersection of 17th Street and Outer Drive. City planner Glenn Clarida told the council the intersection had been the scene of more than 70 wrecks, most involving left turns. The project would cost $404,000 and be funded 90 percent by the grant. The city could then budget for its 10 percent matching funds in the next fiscal year.
• The addition of territory into the Williamson County Enterprise Zone, to accommodate a new truck stop planned for the intersection of Illinois Routes 37 and 148, south of Marion.
• Two 20-year agreements with Ameren Illinois to operate and maintain electric and gas systems in the city. The deal provides the city with revenues of $38,220 for electric and $9,040 for gas that rise in increments over the first five years, up to $135,120 for electric and $32,800 for gas, for a total of $167,920 each year for the remaining 15 years. Clarida noted that the amount could change, depending on Marion's population and the number of customers being served.
• The low bid of $8,458 from Little Tractor and Equipment for a new Exmark mower for the Cemetery Department.