IDOT puts Stark highway dept. on hold

By John A. Ballentine
TOULON – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has used a power move to force Stark County to fill its vacant county engineer’s position.

Interim Stark County Highway Department head, and office manager, Christine Moore delivered that sobering news to the Stark County board of supervisors at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

“I found out last Friday [Jan. 4] that IDOT has put all paperwork for Stark County Highway Department on hold – they will not process it until we get a permanent county engineer,” Moore said. “Whenever we get someone hired for the position is when they are going to start processing that paperwork.

“I’m a little concerned about this because it could interfere with the bid money, in March, if they don’t have our estimates for MFT (Motor Fuel Tax) approved.”

IDOT had originally said when Stark started the process of the MFTs that they would approve them, Moore said. Moore also said all paperwork on hold will have to be redone and resubmitted. This could delay Stark County highway projects.

IDOT has in the past told Stark that a permanent county engineer must be be hired by a Feb. 20 deadline. Stark notified the Illinois Association of County Engineers website of the opening. The county has also advertised the position in The Prairie News.

In other highway department business, a leaking roof at the county highway department building will be repaired. Bids were discussed and it was indicated that Kewanee’s Oldeen, Inc. will be hired to complete a $2,200 quote for minimal repairs or a $5,575 repair for more extensive repairs of the roof. Also Jarod Ely Construction was named to be hired to address interior repairs that includes mold buildup removal and rotted structuring replacement. The approximate cost is $10,000 for both companies to alleviate and repair damage from water buildup, as well as a drainage pipe issue.

The Duncan Road construction project is continuing into 2019 and the North Valley Bridge replacement project is scheduled for 2024.

A 1996 International truck requires brake work and possibly other related repairs, if required. Also, Die-Hard Graphics, of LaFayette, was hired to stencil the doors of a Ford F150 pickup truck and the department’s backhoe with the County Highway Department name.

Starkey Highway (formerly West Jersey blacktop) shoulder/culvert repairs should start soon at approximately 900E. Also a guardrail replacement for County Highway 7,300N-100E has occurred. It was damaged previously by a trucking company, which will pay for the repairs and labor through an insurance claim.

New committee assignments were announced Tuesday: Police – Bill Loane/ Kari Bush; legislative/economics – Tom Howes/ Melissa Shipp; Health board – Kari Bush; Judicial – Cynthia Eberle; Buildings & Grounds – Al Curry/Lyn Newton; Application committee – Curry/Shipp; Road & Bridge – Loane/Robin Nowlan; Finance – entire board, subcommittee deals with compliance of county buildings – Howes/Eberle.
Jason Adams was appointed to the board of appeals and was unanimously approved. Also, Jim Mercer has been appointed to the Stark County planning commission.
Sheriff’s report
Chief Deputy Chuck Demetreon informed the board that no other county is interested in aiding Stark in obtaining the State mandated E911 (Enhanced 911). Still to be determined is what the State will do beyond additional temporary waivers for Stark in obtaining E911.

A quote for a new squad car – a 2019 Dodge Charger is $25,402. The current 2013 Dodge Charger will be utilized by a fulltime deputy. Also, the 2015 Chevrolet Impala that was destroyed in a deer accident will be replaced most likely by a Chevrolet Tahoe. No quotes have been obtained.

Bids are in for a replacement for the outdated 1983 Sheriff’s Office communications database. Ragan Communications was selected to replace the database for $5,912, compared to Supreme Radio Communications, Inc.’s bid of $10,777.

The database is the “heart” of the communications system utilized by the sheriff’s office dispatch center and mainly for communications with the on patrol deputies and local police departments.

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