Chrisman talks Christmas

Council’s holiday wish list includes large replacement ornament for the grain elevator

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CHRISMAN – Summer isn’t officially here, but some Chrisman residents are already thinking about Christmas.

“I’d like to see a new star and cross for use in the city,” said Anita Marvin. “I want to get people thinking about it and coming up with suggestions.”

Marvin is active with the annual Christmas in Chrisman event and the star and cross she referred to was a large ornament adorning the side of the grain elevator. During the Christmas season in the mid-20th century it alternately flashed a star and then a cross at night. Given the height of the elevator, it was visible for miles to the south of town into the country, but it has been out of service for many years.

The framework for the ornament is still on the side of the elevator, and the current owner of the property was approached last year about the possibility of revamping the star and cross and putting it back into service. The idea was rejected because of concerns about the liability that might accompany such a project.

Marvin did not have any idea of the cost for fabricating a new ornament. She said Ed Shirley of Georgetown, who builds the lighted floats used in the illuminated Christmas parades at Chrisman and Paris, can make the star and cross but cannot provide an estimate until it is known how big the ornament will be and where it will be placed.

“I’d like to have it on the water tower, but there is no power there,” said Marvin.

Commissioner Rodney Wolfe said power is coming to the location in the future as part of a project to pipe water from Paris to Chrisman. He cautioned it may be a year before that work is complete.

“If you can raise the money and these guys (other council members) agree to it, we can get it on the tower,” said Wolfe.

Resurfacing city streets was discussed by Commissioner Thad Crispin. He is evaluating doing microsurfacing rather than oil and chip. This technique applies a thin layer of asphalt after grinding the old street surface and filling any cracks.

“It’s the new technology,” said Crispin, adding microsurfacing is supposed to be more durable and last longer than oil and chip.

The issue he is struggling with is the $50,000 set aside for resurfacing may not be adequate for the new approach.

According to Crispin, a rough estimate for resurfacing just the streets on the city square is $42,000.

Wolfe was unsure why Crispin is limited to $50,000 when the city has more than that in the Motor Fuel Tax fund. Crispin, who is only a few weeks into the role of a city commissioner, replied that is the amount he was told is available.

Consensus among the commissioners is Crispin should identify the streets in most need of resurfacing, obtain estimates and bring that information back for consideration.

The ongoing issue of how to keep the Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service (NECAS) solvent and in operation was discussed again. The NECAS board regards creating a special service area and collecting taxes from residents of Young America, Ross, Prairie, Brouilletts Creek, Edgar and Shiloh townships, plus the communities of Hume, Metcalf and Chrisman as the best solution.

So far only two of the jurisdictions have passed the required resolution of support and Wolfe, who represents Chrisman on the NECAS board, was hoping for a full Chrisman city council to discuss and decide the issue. Commissioner Tyler Alexander was absent from the June 3 meeting and a vacancy on the council remains unfilled.

Wolfe stressed prompt action is necessary if the ambulance service is to remain viable, noting the sooner a special service area is created the quicker tax money can start providing key support. He said failure to approve the special service area leaves the NECAS board with two options.

Currently the jurisdictions pay into the service based on population but the roughly $22,000 that generates each year is insufficient. The communities could pay on a formula dividing the cost of operating NECAS by the percentage of use. Such an approach would make Chrisman liable for $90,000 a year as the largest community in northern Edgar County and with the majority of the ambulance runs destined for the Pleasant Meadows Senior Living Nursing Home in town.

“We (the Chrisman City Council) can’t afford that,” said Wolfe.

The other option, Wolfe said, is for NECAS to continue as is until all of the reserve funds are exhausted sometime before the end of the year, then declare insolvency and sell the ambulances, building and other assets with the proceeds divided among the supporting jurisdictions on a percentage plan. At that point, no ambulance service will exist in northern Edgar County.

“We definitely need an ambulance,” said Mayor Dan Owen.

He called a special city council meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, specifically to fill the empty seat at the table. The Chrisman City Council can make a decision about the ambulance during the regular June 17 meeting and still be in advance of the next NECAS board meeting.

Bryan Haddix took the oath of office during the special meeting. His specific responsibilities as commissioner are oversight of the city sewer plant and public health.