County, township swap jurisdiction of White Heath area roads

The main highway through White Heath will now be under county supervision after a jurisdictional transfer was approved by the Piatt County board on May 10.

“The township road commissioner and I have been talking about this a long time. The whole reason is there is a need for a county highway. While we don’t call White Heath an urban area, it is when you look around it,” said county engineer Eric Seibring in regards to the sprawling nature of housing around the community.

“There are no county highways located within that urban area, so it made sense for the county to maintain the main throughway of Old 47,” said Seibring, who said the stretch will be renamed County Highway 47.

The county now has jurisdiction of 1.08 miles of highway that include Old Route 47 through White Heath, as well as an extension of County Highway 18 to make the county highways contiguous.

Sangamon Township will take over jurisdiction of Commercial Street and the extension of that road that connects with Highway 18, which are currently maintained by the county.

“It’s a long time coming. It’s a good thing,” said board member Ray Spencer, whose board district includes Sangamon Township.

Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt asked if slow moving vehicles such as golf carts would still be allowed on Highway 47 in White Heath, since the township has an ordinance allowing it. Seibring said as long as the speed limit is 35 mph or less, it should be no problem.

County Board Chairman Randy Keith promised that golf carts would still be allowed on the stretch that will switch from township to county supervision.

Seibring said the county has also been approved for $148,500 in federal Truck Access Route Program funds to be used to establish a Class III truck route leading north out of Atwood. The roadwork will upgrade 1.46 miles of county road, but the eventual goal is to upgrade the highway all the way to Bement.

Education
Macon/Piatt County Regional School Superintendent Matt Snyder said 42 students would graduate from the Futures Unlimited alternative school in May.

“Those are students that would not have graduated from high school,” noted Snyder, noting that this school year’s quarterly commencements saw more than 100 students earning their high school degrees.

He noted that two regional alternative schools – the 70-student Safe School and 120-student alternative high school are now housed in one building in Decatur, saving $120,000.

Snyder also stood up for teachers and administrators in the two counties.

“We have wonderful teachers, we have wonderful people in our schools. Our teachers are more thoroughly evaluated and prepared than they ever have been in the history of our state,” Snyder told the board. “They go through more testing, more rigorous evaluations, and our administrators are doing it as well. There’s this belief that our schools are failing because of bad teachers. That’s not the case. Our teachers are amazing.”

Roof bids
Action on roof bids opened May 3 was tabled until estimated elevator rehab costs are also known. Keith said he would like to bundle those two courthouse efforts under one financial umbrella, possibly by borrowing from county reserves and paying it back over time.

The four bids to replace the flat portion of the roof range from $84,800 to $118,910. The low bid initially included a different roofing material, but that bidder agreed to supply the desired rubber roof material for the original bod price. Hunt said he discussed the possible changing of a bid material with the state’s attorney before calling the low bidder.

The bids are good for at least 30 days. The issue was referred back to the building and grounds committee, which may hold a special meeting in May to discuss the elevator project.

Variance approved
Board members unanimously approved a zoning variance that will allow a mobile home at 107 N. Willow Street in White Heath to be closer to an alley and two roads than required by the county zoning code.

Jonathan Strangberg said he replaced a mobile home with a newer, larger one. The variance allows the structure to be 20 feet from a rear alley (as opposed to 30 foot by code), and 40 feet from High Street and 30 feet from Willow Street (both require 50 foot setbacks without a variance).

In other action, the board:
–approved bids for summer road work using Motor Fuel Tax funds. Accepted for county work were bids of $104,595 from Emulsicoat; $49,572 from Illiana Construction; and $50,680 from Varsity Striping and Construction. For township road bids, Emulsicoat was awarded a $752,241 bid and Illiana a $9,000 one;
–heard that the second phase of internal building improvements at the Piatt County Nursing Home are nearly complete; and
–approved renewal of the county’s website mapping service with CCGIS.

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