Text alerts considered by Gibson City aldermen

GIBSON CITY — City council members were asked Monday night to consider a program with Illinois Home Pages in which the company offers text messages to any phone numbers a resident would choose to use.

Liz Hanley of Saybrook, assistant district manager for the company, said the service could be used for an unlimited number of messages to an unlimited number of phone numbers. The messages could promote town events or give safety warnings such as boil orders.

The service would cost the city $995 per year and is similar to the current program in which residents opted to participate, except the current system uses a voicemail rather than text message.

She said statistics indicate that 85 percent of the population has cell phones and 80 percent of those use text messaging. She said text messages are noticed sooner than either voicemails or emails.

Council members took no action on the proposal until they consider details, including the cost of the current contact program.

Other business
In other business:

— Ray Hankes of Gibson City spoke as co-chairman of the Ford County Relay for Life. He thanked council members for the city’s past cooperation with the event and proposed a similar but improved setup for this year’s event to be held June 1-2. Hankes reported last year’s event raised $93,000 and said, “The power of small towns is fantastic.”

— During committee reports, Alderman Scott Davis said a recent Street and Alley Committee meeting covered plans for the upcoming Wood Street project which will affect the blocks between 9th and 13th streets. He said during the storm sewer separation project, the street will be widened by one foot and the bricks realigned. The streets also will receive new curbs and gutters. No trees are scheduled to be removed. Homeowners may request widening of their current driveways, but paving the additional area would be at their expense. A bid opening for the project is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28.

— Police Chief Steve Cushman said the firearm range training for the public will be open this spring. He said the volunteer board is investigating future improvements to the range so that it could be used for state-certified training for citizens under the state’s new concealed carry law.

— Superintendent Randy Stauffer reported that Sunday’s water-main break was repaired by Monday. However, the diversion of workers meant the improvements to the North Park men’s restroom are not quite complete.

— Stauffer reported the new backup generators for the water and sewer plants are “ready to go” in case of outages due to possible icy precipitation in the week’s forecast.

— Alderman Dean Kidd reminded members the first pool board meeting of the year will be held Feb. 27.

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