CHRISMAN – It was reorganization time at the Monday, May 6, Chrisman City Council meeting.
City attorney Robert Morris administered the oath of office to Mayor Dan Owen and Commissioner Rodney Wolfe, both of whom were re-elected to another term following the April election. Taking the oath of office for the first time were commissioners Thad Crispin and Tyler Alexander.
There is still a vacant seat at the council table and Owen indicated that position may be filled by appointment at the May 20 city meeting.
Owen re-appointed Wolfe as the city water commissioner.
“He’s familiar with our water project with Paris and will do a good job for us,” said Owen.
Wolfe will continue as Chrisman’s representative to the Northern Edgar County Ambulance board
Alexander was appointed as finance commissioner, which also carries the responsibility of deputy mayor. In addition, Alexander will represent the city council on the library board.
Crispin is the new street, alley and park commissioner.
One of the main topics of discussion for the evening was the deteriorated condition of the Centennial Park Pavilion and the status of a $100,000 Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grant that was awarded to Chrisman but not released by either the Quinn or Rauner administrations. The money was intended to make improvements to the pavilion and the city building.
“We learned this week the $100,000 grant is still alive, but we’ve got a lot of paper work to fill out,” said Owen. “The person I talked to at the state said he is 90 percent sure we will get it. That leaves us 10 percent to worry about, which is a serious thing in Illinois.”
Wolfe added his conversation with a DCEO official confirmed the grant can be changed from making improvements to demolition of the pavilion and new construction of a replacement. He explained to the state official the city was reluctant to put money into the building knowing the grant money existed and delaying maintenance while waiting for the state money resulted in the building getting beyond repair.
Chrisman resident and former city council member Dean Craig disagreed the pavilion requires demolition and insisted it can be repaired. Craig offered to make a financial donation toward repairing the building.
Both Owen and Wolfe thanked Craig for his generosity but cautioned him to take a in-depth looking at the pavilion before making a commitment.
Wolfe said contractors brought in to look at possible repairs all agreed the building is beyond saving. Wolfe also noted holes in the roof letting water in have severely damaged the ceiling and walls in the restrooms.
In addition, the floor drains in the restrooms no longer work and water stands in that space following a rain. Wolfe said even if the drain lines can be opened he has concerns about the condition of the galvanized pipe after being buried so long in the ground.
“Why don’t you wait two weeks and see if the state comes through,” said Owen.
Jeff Nelson, Chrisman High School Band Director, was present on behalf of the Band Booster organization. He said the kitchen space in the pavilion is an important tool in the fundraising efforts by the band boosters. The group sells concessions when ball games are played in Centennial Park and during the Chrisman Days Tractor Pull.
Nelson expressed a willingness to do anything he, or the band boosters, can do to help with the pavilion project.
Wolfe briefed the city council on the status of the Northern Edgar County Ambulance.
“The ambulance loses every month and will be broke at the end of the year if we have to staff 24-7,” said Wolfe.
The NECAS board has decided to pursue creating a special service area for Young America, Ross, Prairie, Brouilletts Creek, Edgar and Shiloh townships, along with the communities of Hume, Metcalf and Chrisman. Organizing as a special service area allows the ambulance board to levy a tax to support ambulance service.
Morris, who is also the NECAS attorney, said the process requires each municipality to pass a resolution of support and there has to be a public hearing after the final resolution is approved.
Owen asked should one of the communities decide not to approve the special service area is the ambulance still required to provide service the other taxpayers are funding.
Morris said any community that opts not to participate in the special service area will be without ambulance service, unless arrangements are made with Horizon Health or the Georgetown ambulance.
“A 20 minute wait for an ambulance from Paris is too damn long,” said Owen.