PIATTRAN considering Saturday service

Piatt County Public Transportation is pondering the idea of adding Saturday service.

If the agency receives its full funding amount of $666,836.00, transportation officials are looking forward to implementing a pilot program for Saturday service.

In a statement given after the April 13 Piatt County Board meeting, Transportation Director Eileen Sierra Brown said that “we’ve known for a long time (based on ride denials) that Saturday and Sunday hours of service were in demand, but to what level is still unclear.”

Newly established Kirby Hospital Convenient Care hours as well as requests on ridership surveys also led the department to consider expanded hours.

A time line for the program is dependent on grant funds, therefore if no significant cuts are suspected in July, advertisement of the program will begin in August. If full funding is received, Saturday hours are expected to begin in September and run through January 2017. After that, the transportation committee will evaluate the numbers and make a decision about the permanency of the program.

On Tuesday, April 19, a public meeting was held in conjunction with the Business Expo to garner community feedback about Piattran. Of the 42 people spoken to, most knew someone what had ridden Piattran at some time. Parents and seniors felt the service was extremely valuable and many seniors asked about senior trips starting for them. No one had any objection to the current grant proposal.

Highway Department
Several highway contracts were approved at the April county board session, including $262,499.25 to Stark construction for improvements to county bridge 074-3001 2 miles east of Bement on County Highway 7 (Bement/Ivesdale Road). Work will take place on the approaches and bearings. The decision to fix the bridge rather than replace will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. County Engineer, Eric Seibring estimates replacement costs would be $700,000 to $1,000,000.

The county board also unanimously agreed to renew Seibring’s contract which will be in effect for 6 years.

Regional Superintendent of Schools Matthew Snyder presented his quarterly report to the board in April. He expressed concern over new legislation which prevents schools from having a zero tolerance policy. The legislation which is meant to keep more children in school will have unintended consequences, according to Snyder, and is forcing his office to perform more professional development and resources to assist schools with the change.

Board members were happy to learn that the offices of education were able to reestablish paper and pencil GED testing which should begin in May.


County Board Compensation
County board members will now receive $60 per committee meeting (up $5) and $75 per board meeting (up $10) after a raise in compensation was unanimously approved. Keith explained that each year $60,000 is budgeted for County Board operations and the full amount is never spent. Even with the increase, operations for the board are not expected to meet that amount.

The board also approved to keep the current salary on the books for the new circuit clerk who will be elected in November. The salary will be increased 2 percent for each year during the four year term. Charles Barre is leaving the office after nine years.

Possible changes in County Website
During the public comments section, resident Sandy Smith brought House Bill 5522 to the attention of the board. The bill is designed to promote transparency in local government by posting more information online.

Smith, who has been actively lobbying the board for some time to make minutes, agendas and other important information available via the county website, informed members that should the bill pass, any local government with a budget exceeding 1 million dollars will be required to post many of their documents online.

Randy Keith responded that the county board would always follow the letter of the law but he hopes the state “sends a check” with the statute and felt it was just another unfunded mandate.

Appointments
Bruce Manual, Ed Lynch and Robert Day were all re-appointed to the Piatt County Forest Preserve Board while Paula Heath and Ron Bartlett were re-appointed to the Board of Review.


 


 

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