Committee formed to monitor Ford-Iroquois Board of Health

PAXTON — The Ford and Iroquois county boards are forming an advisory committee to monitor the activities of the Ford-Iroquois Board of Health, with the intent of improving communication between the governmental bodies.

On Monday, the Ford County Board’s chairman, Rick Bowen of Elliott, appointed four county board members to serve on the proposed eight-member committee. The appointees are Dave Hastings of rural Paxton, Randy Berger of Gibson City and Tim Nuss of rural Roberts, with Pat Haskins of Sibley serving as an alternate.

The Iroquois County Board’s chairman, Rod Copas of rural Onarga, said his board will appoint four of its own members to the committee during Wednesday morning’s monthly meeting. Tentatively, Copas intends to appoint Kyle Anderson of Donovan, the board’s vice chairman; Adam Zumwalt of Sheldon; John Shure of Buckley; and Donna Wasmer of Watseka as the alternate.

Bowen said he plans to contact Copas “in the next couple of days” and discuss when the committee will hold its first meeting.

The formation of the advisory committee comes two weeks after a series of contentious meetings were held to discuss a controversial plan by the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department to provide home-health services in two neighboring Indiana counties. Some Iroquois County Board members expressed concerns that they were unaware until last fall that the plan had been approved months earlier by the board of health.

Copas said a resolution approved by both county boards in 1980 states that a separate advisory committee comprising members of both county boards is supposed to meet at least quarterly to monitor the activities of the board of health and to make recommendations.

However, such a committee has never met for decades, officials said.

“We need to get that back and working,” Copas said. “We need to be a lot more diligent on paying attention to what’s going on over there.”

“I guess what we’re looking for is continued communication between the board of health and the county boards,” Bowen said.

Other business
Also at Monday’s meeting of the Ford County Board:

— Bowen informed the board that he has been asked to give a deposition on a pending lawsuit against the county, its jail, Sheriff Mark Doran and several correctional officers. The deposition was to be done at 10 a.m. Feb. 13. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that former correctional officer Phillip Santefort forced sexual acts on a female inmate in her cell on three occasions between June and September 2009 and that he threatened to harm her if she told anyone. The complaint also alleges that several of Santefort’s co-workers were aware of the alleged abuse and “made jokes and inappropriate comments” in the inmate’s presence. In 2011, Santefort pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a person in official detention and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

— The board approved a resolution establishing a Class III designated truck route on 3.3 miles of Ford County Road 1200 North, starting in Roberts at the intersection of Illinois 115 and extending to Illinois 54.  The designation means the road is able to accommodate a load limit of 80,000 pounds. County Highway Engineer Greg Perkinson said the designation is required as part of the paperwork he is submitting for a grant application for funds to upgrade the road.

— A mediation meeting between the Ford County Board and the labor union representing Ford County’s correctional officers and road deputies is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 28, the board learned.

— Board member Randy Ferguson of Gibson City said the East Central Illinois Economic Development District — an agency that aims to improve the economy of six counties in the area — needs two more people from Ford County, besides himself, to serve on the agency’s board. The two appointees must serve as either a village, city or county elected board member or be a chamber of commerce president, Ferguson said. Anyone interested is asked to call Bowen at 781-4100. Whoever is appointed would be seated on the ECIEDD board during its next meeting on March 8 at the Brookens Administration Center, 1776 E. Washington St., Urbana.

— Board member Randy Lindgren of rural Loda informed the board of the recent death of former board member Patricia A. Wigginton, 82.    She was elected to two terms on the Ford County Board in the 1990s.

— The board voted unanimously to re-appoint Edward Moritz to a five-year term on the Ford County Zoning Board of Appeals. His term expires March 10, 2018.

— The board did not take any action on the appointment of a new member to the Ford County Planning Commission. Candidates are being sought from the Gibson City area to fill a vacancy on the board. Anyone interested is asked to call Bowen.

— Treasurer Judy Hastings said the county is still owed $76,146 in salary reimbursements from the state, including $67,175 in salary reimbursements for probation department employees.

— The county highway engineer informed the highway committee that the ceiling lights in the main shop room at the highway department building in Roberts will be replaced by Farmelect II Inc. at an estimated cost of $1,275.

— Perkinson said township motor-fuel tax bid letting will be done at 9 a.m. Feb. 20 at the highway department building.

— Coroner Doug Wallace said he applied for a grant for a  $4,625 for purchasing laptop computers and cameras.

— The sheriff said he has purchased a Ford Taurus from Hicks Motors in Roberts and a 2007 transport van.

— Doran said he will be entering into a contract for the upgrade of the jail locks for a cost of $121,000.

— Doran said the inmate population at the Ford County Correctional Facility is full, in part due to more federal inmates housed there by the U.S. Marshals Service.

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