Paxton City Council recognizes police chief, retiring treasurer, bravery of resident

PAXTON — The Paxton City Council took time during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 9, to recognize several employees before moving on with the rest of the meeting’s agenda, which included the approval of three tax-increment financing (TIF) redevelopment agreements.

First, Mayor Bill Ingold congratulated Coy Cornett for having successfully served as acting police chief since Aug. 29. That is the same day that Ingold fired Bob Bane as police chief. Cornett will soon be entering his 18th year with the Paxton Police Department, having started with the department on Feb. 15, 1999.

“He has demonstrated the leadership that Paxton deserves,” Ingold said of Cornett.

Council members later unanimously approved a resolution to make the mayor’s appointment of Cornett permanent, officially making him the chief of police for Paxton.

Ingold then recognized Paxton resident Brad Eichelberger for his bravery in subduing a man, until police could arrive, who was attempting to steal an elderly woman’s car. It was one of many felony crimes that the recent parolee from Douglas County — Joshua Hatten — allegedly committed on Dec. 19.

In presenting a Courageous Citizen Award to Eichelbeger, Ingold said: “He set an example for others by coming to the aid of a fellow citizen.”
Next, the mayor recognized the retirement of Julie Burgess as the city’s comptroller/treasurer by presenting her with a bracelet-style watch.

“She has worn many hats in 25 years (of employment with the city) and has worn them very well,” Ingold said of Burgess.

Ingold then called for a 20-minute recess to hold a cake and punch reception in honor of all three people. Guests offering their congratulations included Andrew Killian, Ford County state’s attorney; Mark Doran, Ford County sheriff; and Moe Freedman, president of Accolade Health Care.

When the meeting resumed, the council unanimously approved three resolutions to name Tammy Jensen, the city’s new comptroller/treasurer, as the city’s Freedom of Information Act officer, Open Meetings Act officer and authorized agent for the city’s Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund account.

Burgess said no official council action was needed, adding that Jensen had already become the risk-management coordinator for the city’s liability insurance.

Public works committee to meet
During aldermen’s committee reports, public works committee Chairman Rob Steiger called for a study session of his committee to be held on Jan. 23.

Steiger said the session was needed to set priorities for the city and prepare for the city’s future.

The committee meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and be limited to 1.5 hours, Steiger said.

Steiger said topics will include current and future road projects, and water, storm water and wastewater projects.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at City Hall, 145 S. Market St.

Two public safety items tabled
Following a report from Mike Wilson, chairman of the public safety committee, two planned council votes were tabled until the council’s Feb. 6 meeting.

Regarding the proposed purchase of a new emergency siren, Paxton Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Hanson said Fulton Technology had performed a maintenance check of all sirens in the city and reported that the siren on North Union Street was damaged because the shroud at its top was completely rusted.

Due to the siren’s age and the likely need to fabricate parts instead of being able to purchase them, Hanson said the company quoted $4,500 for the siren’s repair. As an alternative, the company said it could install a refurbished siren from American Signal Banshee for $8,500.

Hanson said the existing siren is inoperable and unplugged. Hanson recommended it be replaced with the refurbished model, questioning the length of time that any repair might last.

Alderman Eric Evans then asked if the refurbished siren had any warranty. Hanson said he was not sure. Hanson also responded that a new siren would cost $15,000 to $22,000.

Steiger then questioned what life is left in the refurbished model — another question that Hanson could not answer.

Hanson said he would get answers to those questions. Council members then voted to table a decision on the purchase of the siren to the Feb. 6 council meeting.

Hanson said the town has three working sirens remaining at Clara Peterson Elementary School, near North Cherry Street and at the Paxton Motel west of Interstate 57.

Council members also tabled a decision on the Paxton Emergency Management Agency’s participation in the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network, saying it was not a time-sensitive issue.

Police using body cameras
Cornett said the police department had purchased three body cameras, and all police officers have signed off on a body camera policy.

Cornett said camera use had already been proven to be a valuable to police officers, citing a recent need to document evidence at a house. Cornett said MCS Office Technologies of Gibson City will be installing two large harddrives for storing video footage.

Property annexed
Council members unanimously approved a resolution to annex a property at 1145 Eastview Drive into city limits.

Terry Hendricks and her husband, Ken, requested that the couple’s home at 1145 Eastview Drive be annexed in order to connect to the city’s sewer system.

Director of Public Works Mark LeClair said he wanted the couple to know that the city’s sewer does occasionally back up in that area, which also is low-lying, and they should be certain that contractor Murle Roy includes a pump in the connection’s design to cope with that possibility.

TIF redevelopment agreements
Three redevelopment agreements were approved to help business owners pay for improvements to their properties in the city’s TIF district. Resolutions were approved for redevelopment agreements between the city and Shields Automart, Paxton Packing LLC and Duane Shields (for NexStep Commercial Products).

Details of the agreements were discussed only during an economic development committee meeting that preceded the council’s regular monthly meeting.

Airport sale not completed
The city’s TIF consultant, attorney Dan Scheuring of Springfield, said the completion of a proposed contract making way for the sale of the city-owned airport to a private party had been slowed by the recent holidays.

Scheuring promised to have a resolution for the sale of the airport ready for the council’s approval in February.

Other business
Alderman Rob Pacey noted during his report on the community committee that three pending home demolitions would create three lots for potential new homes. Options were briefly discussed for possible incentives the city could provide prospective homebuilders.

In other business, the council was informed that the state’s review of the city’s motor-fuel tax activity had been completed successfully.

Alderman Bill Wylie and City Attorney Marc Miller were absent from the Jan. 9 meeting; both were out of town, Ingold said.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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