Jumping through the hoops for $500,000

Brocton board awaits release of grant money for water


BROCTON – The village of Brocton is the recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) but the money hasn’t been released, yet.

Lee Beckman of Milano & Grunloh Engineers attended the village board meeting Wednesday, March 13, with more paperwork for village officials to sign. The two agreements authorized both the engineering firm and the Coles County Regional Planning Commission to serve as the village’s administrative agents for the grant.

“For the next several months, you won’t see much happening,” said Beckman.

This is the time period when the engineers complete the required environmental and cultural studies before digging can start to install the new water mains. A variety of state agencies must review the studies and sign off on the work.

In addition, several Native American groups must be informed of the scope and nature of the project.

Beckman said Brocton’s water main work cannot be advertised or a contract let until the mandatory preliminaries are complete. His best guess is construction is not possible until fall at the earliest.

“I’m not in favor of doing a project over the winter,” said Beckman, adding his preference is to do a January bidding and start digging in perhaps March or April of 2020.

In another grant related discussion, Mayor Dennis Cary asked permission of the trustees to have a grant writer search for possible funding to erect a new community center and village hall. The present community building and town hall was originally an open pavilion in the village park that was enclosed.

“This building has some dire problems,” said Cary. “It is sitting on a termite bed. The restroom window is ready to fall out, and there are electrical issues. There are plugs and lights that just quit working.”

Other issues he listed included termite damage that possibly weakened rafters and a tendency for water to back up under the roof.

The trustees approved the idea for researching possible grants after being assured there is no cost to do so.

Trustee Debbie Porter reported the citizen committee trying increase the center’s use is having some success.

“The building was used every weekend in February,” said Porter and an upcoming event is showing a free movie March 31 for village residents.

Some less positive news was shared.

Cary said three break-ins occurred at the village water tower during the last month when a person, or persons, unknown kicked in the door to the building. Following the most recent incident a steel door with a steel frame was installed.

Also in the mysterious crime category, Cary said an unknown car knocked down a 6-inch by 6-inch support post supporting the lean to roof at the village’s red barn where the Spring Festival takes place.

“It also took out a fire hydrant,” said Cary, adding it is not known at this time who is responsible for the damage.

Porter raised the issue of properties in town that need cleaned up. She referred to one home that does not have a refuse company pick up trash. Instead, the family places bags of household trash in a pile near the garage.

“I’m getting calls about people letting trash accumulate,” said Porter. “Are we going to be aggressive about that?”

This is an ongoing problem, replied trustee Christie Cox.

“We have some habitual offenders,” said Cox. “I send Ray (village police chief Ray Sollars) to talk to them. After his visit, they make some progress then quit.”

Cary suggested a meeting between himself, Sollars and Cox to review current village ordinances and look for ways to perhaps put more teeth into enforcement.

“We’ve got to do something,” said Porter. “It’s not fair to other people who are trying to keep their properties maintained.”