By ERIN SANSON
A large group of individuals stood outside the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office and then filed into the building to fill the Macoupin County Board Room at the meeting held Feb. 14. The agenda of the board meeting was moved around to accommodate the many citizens that appeared to show their support for one of two groups that were scheduled to be on the County Board’s agenda for the evening.
Besides the guest speakers and their supporters, several other faces joined the meeting to discuss topics such as an ordinance about wind farms in Macoupin County, County Treasurer L. Amber McGartland, who had information about salary reimbursements and property tax distribution to share, and State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison who spoke on several issues.
New Board Member
The first order of business was to appoint Molly Rosentreter to the unexpired term of Charlie Siegel. Rosentreter was nominated to fill the seat by the Macoupin County Republican Committee. Judge Kenneth Deihl was unable to attend the meeting to swear Rosentreter in, but Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan was able to step into the role. Rosentreter is filling the seat for Board District No. 9.
Rosentreter was added to the board buildings and grounds, courts, economic development committees and liquor commission to fill the vacant seats.
Gun Ban Resolution Guests
Two groups came to the Board meeting to share their opinions on the Board passing a resolution opposing House Bill 5855, previously House Bill 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which would ban the sale, manufacture, and distribution of assault weapons, high capacity magazines and switches among several other changes.
Board members at the January meeting passed a resolution saying they opposed the bill and would not support the use of County funds to enforce the new laws. Sheriff Shawn Kahl released a similar statement that he and his officers would not enforce such a law.
The first speaker was Tim Dickison who represented the group of individuals at the meeting opposed to the board’s resolution. Dickison began by reading a letter to the board by Melba Buxbaum, saying, “We urge the Macoupin County Board to respect the legal means available to challenge the constitutionality of the Protect Illinois Communities Act and withdraw this resolution of Jan. 10, 2023.”
Dickison continued to say he spoke on behalf of a growing number of Macoupin County citizens concerned about the unanimous passing of the resolution by the board.
In his statement Dickison said, “These are constituents who firmly believe this resolution betrays the trust that this board represents the voice of reason towards safe and civil society in Macoupin County and Illinois.”
Former State’s Attorney for Macoupin County Vince Moreth was the speaker for the group in support of the board’s resolution.
Moreth began by stating he was proud of the Sheriff and board for standing up and opposing the law.
He continued on to say that it was nobody’s business besides his own to know what he owned in terms of guns, saying, “Nobody is going to come into my house and tell me what I can and can’t put into my house.” That sentiment received applause throughout the room.
He continued on to say, “If you don’t like it, get out.”
Moreth added, “We don’t have control. We are south of I-80, we are garbage to those people in Chicago, that make the laws, control the laws.”
He ended his statement reiterating his appreciation and support of the County board for passing the resolution opposing the Protect Illinois Communities Act.
As Ruth Ann Pomatto did not run for re-election during the 2022 midterm election cycle, her place on the County board was filled by another. Pomatto retained her seat on three different boards until she resigned, effective Feb. 15. Pomatto sat on the Public Health Board, Mental Health Board, and the Illinois Valley Board. County Chairman Schmidt said he had spoken to recently elected member Leann Barr, who agreed to sit on the Public Health Board. However, positions were still open for the Mental Health and Illinois Valley Boards. Holly Klausing volunteered for the position on the Mental Health Board as she has a Master’s Degree in the area. Tony Wiggins volunteered for the opening on the Illinois Valley Board.
Board members also approved the reappointment of Gary Gatton to the Virden Cemetery Board for a six year term.
Kahl asked for stipends to be paid to Chief Deputy Quinn Rieher and Executive Assistant Kim Dugan, as they both took over the jobs and duties typically done by the Jail Administrator and have been filling those duties since June 2022. Reiher asked for $12,000 and Dugan for $14,000. The board approved both stipend amounts.
McGartland came to the board with information regarding the Public Defender salary reimbursement. A salary increase by the board in June was not properly reported to the State meaning the County was not getting its full reimbursement. The reimbursements for July to October had already been filed and the County couldn’t get the reimbursement back, resulting in a loss of $1,063.72. The proper reimbursement for November to January will be received in late February.
McGartland also provided on update on tax distribution saying the county is behind in getting those out. The first two distributions were recently input, while working to move forward with the fourth distribution for the 2022 taxes it was discovered that the fifth distribution for the 2020-21 payable year had not been input into the accounting system. The books were also not closed for the last tax cycle, meaning those balances had to be calculated before anymore funds can be distributed,
McGartland has said the Treasurer’s Office will work with the State’s Attorney on the issue.
The Economic Development Committee was granted the power to act to amend the ordinance regarding wind energy conversion systems. There are several instance in the ordinance of outdated or unclear language, which the committee now has the ability to amend before the County has to amend the ordinance further to be in compliance with new State guidelines.
A preliminary plat drawing was approved showing an addition to the Hurricane Subdivsion.
An American Rescue Plan request for jury pay and meals for jury members totaling $1,951.51 was approved.
Board members decided to move forward with the demolition of the old Clinic building by accepting bids for one contractor to be in charge of the entire project consisting of abatement, demolition and refilling the area.
A resolution in support of the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau was passed.
The five month fiscal year budget review will be done at the March meeting. Duncan said that revenue collections have been slower than in previous years thus far.
A discussion about handling maintenance issues at the Animal Control building at Building and Grounds Committee meetings rather than with the Public Safety Committee was tabled until March.
The board approved a motion to work with Charter Communications on a franchise agreement for broadband expansion for the unincorporated area around Brighton.