Water issues dominate Brocton village meeting

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 9/14/20

BROCTON  — The Brocton Village Board took action Wednesday, Sept. 9, to expand the water main project in the village.

Kevin McReynolds, of the Coles County Regional Planning Commission, …

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Water issues dominate Brocton village meeting


BROCTON  — The Brocton Village Board took action Wednesday, Sept. 9, to expand the water main project in the village.

Kevin McReynolds, of the Coles County Regional Planning Commission, led a brief public hearing before the regular meeting to explain a grant the planning commission is submitting to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) on behalf of the village. The grant seeks $550,000 to install new six-inch mains in the north half of the village.

A previous DCEO grant was used to put new mains in the south half of town this year.

“We plan to serve 43 households and an estimated 112 people,” McReynolds said of the new grant.

He added the grant is being sought as a public safety issue as the village has experienced boil orders and multiple breaks in the old water distribution system over the last few years. Prior discussions about the project revealed the current system of four-inch cast iron pipes has been in the ground for at least 60 years.

Village Mayor Dennis Cary noted the cast iron has multiple leaks that cannot be found and not only wastes water but costs the village money. The new PVC pipes are expected to remedy the water loss.

Brocton secured a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Loan that is of sufficient size to cover the village’s share of both grants, even though the second grant has not yet been awarded. The loan also provides a long-term savings to the village because it refinanced a water treatment plant built a few years ago, and the interest being paid went from more than 4% with the original loan to a little more than 1% on the USDA money.

As part of the grant process, the trustees adopted a community development block grant procurement policy guaranteeing the project is properly bid and awarded. 

“DCEO requires that you have a procurement policy,” said Lee Beckman of Milano & Grunloh Engineers. Milano & Grunloh designed the new water distribution system and is overseeing the installation.

The trustees revisited a complaint from last month by Chad and Kim Dudley cliaming they were unfairly charged $500 when it was alleged they improperly opened their water meter after the village shut water off for an unpaid bill. They denied the water was ever turned off, or that they touched the meter.

It was also pointed out during the August meeting the village ordinance does not have a provision to charge $500. The ordinance provides a $50 fine for a first offense of tampering with the meter and $1,000 for a second offense.

“If there are late fees, they should be responsible for those, but nothing else. We should refund the rest,” said trustee Richard Grice.

Trustee Christie Richards agreed. She said a review of the financial records provided by the Dudleys showed they instructed their bank to make an electronic transfer to pay the bill before it was due, but for an unknown reason, the bank delayed processing and making the payment in a timely manner.

Resident Shawna Behiter asked the board to refund the $500 she was charged for tampering with her water meter. Behiter acknowledged her boyfriend turned the meter back on after the village shut off the water and in doing so caused damage.

Cary confirmed Behiter has since reimbursed the village for repairing the damages as is required by the ordinance.

Trustee Debbie Porter said the village should also refund the $500 Behiter paid since there is no provision in the ordinance to charge that amount.

“We’ve got to be fair across the board,” said Porter.

The refunds were made in two votes. Regarding the Dudleys, trustee Marshel Murphy abstained as he missed the August meeting and was unfamiliar with the discussions that occurred. Grice, Richards and Porter voted yes.

Behiter’s refund was approved with a split vote. Murphy, Grice and Porter voted yes. Richards voted no because Behiter admitted violating the village ordinance by turning the meter back on and that action resulted in damage. Richards said the circumstances of Behiter’s case are different from that of the Dudleys’.