2018 in review - Piatt County municipalities

Two Piatt County villages changed leadership at the top in 2018. In DeLand, George Long stepped down in order to move closer to his job at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He was replaced by village board member Todd Benting.

In Cerro Gordo, Brad Williams resigned but remains as a member of the city council. Dennis Ridgeway was named as the new president in December.

Cerro Gordo also ushered in a new age of law enforcement, replacing its local force with a contract with the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office to provide coverage.

In Monticello, garbage hauling was discussed most of the year, with a city committee recommending a switch to a one-hauler system. But after hearing from members of the public against the idea at a city council meeting in November, the council voted to keep the current three-hauler system that allows residents to choose their company.

A new water system is in place and operating in DeLand. Finished last summer, the project included the drilling of two new wells and a new water tower for the community.

Water main replacements are also on the way for Mansfield. The Mansfield village board decided to raise monthly water rates $2 per year for the next five years to help pay off a loan that will fund an estimated $1.08 million water main replacement project.

The Piatt County airport in Monticello will not continue to operate at its current location. Its lease on the land where it sits, along with waivers from the state to operate with runway deficiencies, both expire in February of this year.

Jan. 3 – Change orders resulted in a $203,879 reduction in the project cost for a water main replacement effort in Cerro Gordo. The revised price tag was $815,310.

Jan. 10 – Citing transparency and due diligence, Monticello aldermen opted to keep the two reading requirement in their ordinance approval process.

Jan. 24 – Seth Melton resigned from the Monticello city council after selling his home in Ward II and moving to a different ward. He said he may run for the council in his new ward as early as April of 2019.

Jan. 24 – Longtime Cerro Gordo Police Chief Pat Carter resigned, prompting the village to open discussions on the possible contracting of police coverage with the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office.

Feb. 7 – Monticello was named No. 6 nationwide by www.movebuddha.com in a listing of the most popular places for people to relocate.

Monticello City Administrator Terry Summers told the council that plans are underway for a pedestrian crossing of Market Street at W. Washington St. Included will be a pedestrian activated signal allowing walkers and bikers to more safely cross the highway, accessible walks at all four corners, and a two-tiered sidewalk design on the south side of Washington that will be more accessible by allowing shoppers to enter businesses at grade without navigating steps.

Feb. 14 – DeLand’s water system upgrade is in the home stretch and should be supplying water from its new wells to residents sometime in the spring.

Feb. 28 – Tammy Sebens was approved as a new Monticello city council representative for Ward II. The appointment was made by Mayor Larry Stoner and ratified unanimously by the council. She replaces Seth Melton, who resigned in January after moving out of the ward.

The Village of Ivesdale is looking for a trustee to fill the seat of Jim Teague, who passed away on Feb. 4.

With negotiations at a standstill, the village of Bement decided to seek a court order to demolish an empty home on E. William Street they say is becoming a health hazard. Referred to as the “Morris property,” village attorney Susan Nicholas said heirs had rejected an agreement to sell the property.

March 7 – A going away get-together was held for Kerry Redshaw, who stepped down as the director of Monticello Main Street.

Cerro Gordo village board members discussed the future of its policing after the resignation of longtime Police Chief Pat Carter. One option is to contract for coverage with the Piatt County Sheriff’s Police.

March 14 – The idea of contracting garbage pickup with one waste hauling company was placed back on the table in Monticello. City Administrator Terry Summers said the best way to stipulate terms and fees with a firm would be to contract with a single company. The current practice allows residents to choose between three haulers that are licensed with the city.

Monticello wastewater operator John Evans earned the Illinois Rural Water Association Board 2018 Wastewater System Operations Specialist of the Year award.

March 21 – About 40 people attended a special meeting of the Cerro Gordo village board meeting to hear about the options available for police coverage in the community. After the resignation of its police chief, the village has been using part-time officers and the Piatt County Sheriff’s Police to provide coverage.

April 4 – Requests for proposal for a possible single-hauler garbage hauling system in Monticello will be sent to prospective contractors in July.

April 11 – Stefanie McCleese was named the new director of Monticello Main Street. The Texas native has 15 years of public relations experience with companies that include Nissan, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Basketball Association.

The Monticello city council was told the $14.9 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade is going smoothly.

April 18 – George Long announced he would step down as DeLand village president in August, saying he would be moving out of town and closer to he and wife Barbara’s jobs at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

May 2 – A housing development, starting modestly at three lots, was proposed for an area near Veterans Park in Cerro Gordo.

May 16 – County policing was approved in Cerro Gordo. The four-year contract will include a deputy being hired and dedicated to patrolling Cerro Gordo. Cost for the village will be about $81,412 annually, about a $30,000 savings over the past practice of running its own department.

Implementation of a “do not knock” list for peddlers in Monticello was put on hold as language in a proposed amendment to the city’s solicitation ordinance was cleaned up. The “do not knock” option would allow residents to place their properties on lists of addresses where commercial solicitors would not be allowed.

The village board in Bement approved police department requests of $760 to purchase a new breathalyzer and $550 to expand the camera presence at the park.

May 30 – A gender-neutral bathroom was installed at the Monticello Family Aquatic Center.

June 6 – A do-not-call style register dubbed “do not knock” was approved in Monticello, and allows residents to sign up for a list that prohibits commercial salesmen from knocking on their door.

June 27 – The Cerro Gordo village board approved approximately $2,200 to install security cameras at Born Park.

July 11 – Facebook posts were sticking up for local waste hauler Young’s Disposal as the City of Monticello looked at switching to a single hauler system. City council members responded the work is preliminary and not aimed at putting anyone out of business.

July 18 – Water is now flowing from the Mahomet Aquifer to the Village of DeLand, thanks to the near completion of the town’s $2.33 million water system upgrade. The main ingredient was the digging of two wells five miles outside of town and piping the water along the Monticello-DeLand blacktop into town. A new water tower was also constructed and the old one torn down.

July 25 – The Monticello Historic Preservation Commission is helping illuminate the history of the downtown area with special plaques that detail the origins and stories of its buildings.

An extensive water main replacement program in the Village of Cerro Gordo has been completed.

August 8 – George Long presided over his final meetings as DeLand Village President. Village board member Todd Benting was named as activating village president in his place.

Aug. 15 – Monticello city leaders are pondering the establishment of a business district that could fund downtown infrastructure and building updates through an added sales tax. If implemented at 1 percent, it would raise an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 per year.

Sept. 12 – Time is running out for the Monticello airport, where waivers to operate with cited deficiencies will expire in early 2019.

Whether a dilapidated building in downtown Monticello will be fixed or torn down is yet to be determined, but the city is in talks with the owners the structure at 220 W. Washington St. Structural concerns of the west wall prompted the closing of a sidewalk in late July.

An 11-member committee was named to study the Monticello airport and make recommendations on its future.

Sept. 19 – Mansfield’s village board discussed a possible water rate increase to help pay for a $1.08 million water main replacement program. Rural Development Agency officials said a $5 per month rate increase would pay back the RDA loan in 40 years.

Oct. 3 – A hard surface awaits the second half of the Sangamon River Bridge bike and hiking trail after the Monticello city council approved a resolution to set aside $160,000 in Motor Fuel Tax proceeds to fund the work.

Oct. 10 – A new lease on life for the Monticello airport will depend on whether it can get a new lease on the land where it sits. That was the conclusion of the committee studying the future of the facility.

The Mansfield village board decided to raise monthly water rates $2 per year for the next five years to help pay off a loan that will fund an estimated $1.08 million water main replacement project.

Oct. 24 – A single-hauler garbage system would save many users in Monticello between $3 and $7 per month, but a recommendation to hire Advanced Disposal to do the job met with mixed reactions from city alderman at their Oct. 22 meeting.

A Center Street homeowner in Monticello was given the go-ahead to finish work on his garage, one of three variances approved by the city council.

Nov. 21 – After hearing from constituents who wanted to keep choice in their waste hauling system, the Monticello city council voted down a proposal to switch to a single hauler.

Nov. 28 – Cerro Gordo Village President Brad Williams announced he would step down in that role on Dec. 3. He has served as a village trustee or president for about a decade.

Monticello’s airport committee hopes the flight facility can be moved, and says an economic development group has agreed to help fund the effort. The owner of the 18 acres where the current airport sits south of Monticello has said they will return the ground to farm production after the lease is up.

Dec. 12 – Mike Atwood is more confident than a month earlier that the Monticello airport can be saved, even if it needs a new location. Atwood, who heads up a committee looking at airport options, said at least four landowners have stepped forward with land that could be used as a new airport site.

Dec. 26 – Three sitting members of the Monticello city council have decided not to run for re-election. Joe Brown, Cochran Keating and Ian Clark did not file nominating petitions for the April 2 election. 

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