By ERIN SANSON
The Macoupin County board met May 9 to discuss several issues. The main points of discussion surrounded changes to the Wind Permit Ordinance that are mandated by the State. Board members also spent several minutes discussing the HVAC system at the Courthouse and proposed updates to the current system.
Wind Ordinance and Public Hearing
The board decided in a 12-4 vote to adopt the changes to the Wind Permit Ordinance required by the State. State’s Attorney General Jordan Garrison also presented a change to the ordinance adding a balancing test, which he explained allowed the board to weigh the work done by Apex to decide if they had met requirements rather than using a checklist method. The balancing test was part of the language the Farm Bureau recommends to counties when making wind energy agreements.
There will be a public hearing held on May 23 in regards to the Wind Farm Permit. The hearing will be at 6 p.m. at Bothwell Auditorium on the Blackburn campus.
Representatives from Apex Energy will give a presentation of their plan, after which their will be a session for constituents to ask questions or address concerns. County Board members will be present to discuss the permit application. The hearing is only in regards to the 52 wind mills Apex has already applied for.
There will be a moderator for the discussion. Anyone who wishes to speak at the meeting will be asked to sign up, the Board asks that if multiple people have the same concern that one person be designated as the spokesperson to reduce the amount of repeat questions and answers.
If the May 23 meeting goes on for too long, the board will adjourn the meeting for the night and continue the next evening at the same time and place.
Courthouse HVAC Update
There are two options recommended from Keith Engineering to replace the HVAC system at the courthouse. The first replaces the current system with a newer version of the same boiler system. The second system would be to replace the current system with a VRV (variable refrigerant volume) system.
The estimated costs for the system are $2.7 million for the replacement option or $2.4 million for the VRV option. Board members asked if the boiler replacement would be cheaper if the pipes could be reused. While it would be cheaper, a study had not been conducted to test if the pipes were suitable or would need to be replaced. A lifetime cost savings study had also not been completed, leaving board members with questions of which system would be the most cost effective in the long-run.
After much discussion two motions were made. The first motion asked to hire Keith Engineering to conduct a cost analysis study, not to exceed $3,000. The second motion granted board member Harry Starr, as chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, power to act to hire a contractor to perform a test of the current pipes, not to exceed $4,000. Both motions were approved.
HVAC discussion will continue once the test and study have been completed, the board will likely at that time decide to pursue option one or option two.
Old Clinic and Jail Project Updates
The architect working on the demolition of the old clinic building is getting bids for the project. Starr estimates it will be mid-summer before abatement is completed.
In regards to the Old Jail project, the County was awarded a grant of $170,000 from Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau to make repairs to the jail. Some of the money was spent redoing the parking lot of the jail. The amount of grant funds remaining is $44,625, which must be spent by the end of the month.
Bids for repair to the Jail building went out three times and finally received a bidder, with a bid of $340,000. That bid was rejected and the contract with Stutz, who did the parking lot, was extended as they have a commercial building department.
Stutz provided a proposal of work including removing the chimney, fix a “gaping hole,” remove and replace the rotten fascia and soffits for $27,500. Stutz said they could begin work immediately and the project would take five or six days to complete.
A motion was amde and approved to have Stutz complete the project with the available grant money. Starr noted that there would be grant money left over but there was not a project that it could be used for at this time.
University of Illinois Extension Agreement
The board entered into an agreement with the University of Illinois Extension office. Amanda Cole, the Extension Director for Macoupin and several other counties was present at the meeting to present the agreement. The agreement states that Macoupin County will pay $80,000 in quarterly payments to the extension office so the work done by UofI extension may continue in the county. Cole stated that this was an agreement the county and extension office make each year and that the $80,000 was agreed upon between the two entities in December.
A resolution amending the animal control fee schedule was approved. This resolution updated a previous resolution so the terms matched between the resolution and the ordinance which was updated at the previous County Board meeting.
The board agreed to a resolution approving the Declaration of Trust of the Illinois Trust and Authorizing the Execution Thereof and Authorizing Certain Officials to Act on Behalf of the County of Macoupin. County Treasurer Amber L. McGartland simply explained that the resolution allows her to invest the available funds of public agencies.
A resolution approving the results of the 2023 Motor Fuel Tax rock letting was passed.
The board passed a resolution changing the general fund appropriations. A department was added to the budget to account for costs for the new voting center the County recently purchased with a grant awarded to it for Election Excellence. The resolution adds $2,500 to the general fund to pay the ongoing utility costs for the building.
The schedule for budget hearings was announced at the meeting. There will be three days of meeting, all beginning at 6 p.m. The first meeting will be June 6, followed by a meeting on June 15 and the last meeting will be June 21.
The board members offered their thanks and applause to the emergency service employees and volunteers that responded to the I-55 Dust Storm.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee was granted the power to act to approve bids for construction at the Voting Center.
An ordinance on solar panels was discussed briefly but referred back to committee to make recommendations.
Earl Nixon and Earl Bailey were both reappointed to the Medora Fire Protection District for three year terms ending April 30, 2026.
The meeting dates for two board committees were changed. The general administrative committee, which approves the agenda for board meetings, has been scheduled to meet on Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. It was pointed out at a recent General administrative meeting that the finance committee meets after the general administrative committee has set the agenda. It was suggested the committees switch their meeting dates to make more sense. The general administrative committee will now meet on the first Thursday of each month at 5:15 p.m., while the finance committee on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.
McGartland brought to the board several changes to the County’s investment policy. McGartland explained that the investment policy had not been updated since 1998 and pointed out her changes to the policy, most of which were slight changes to verbiage. The board approved the updated investment policy.
Members of the Road and Bridge Committee held two days of interviews, interviewing twelve candidates for the position of Highway Maintainer. The committee decided to hire Charles Rednour of Virden for the position.