MONTICELLO — Monticello City Council members Sept. 13 voted unanimously to approve a master plan for Robert C. Burke Memorial Park.
Presented in August by the Farnsworth Group, if undertaken the multi-phased upgrade would include elevated boardwalks, a memorial plaza dedicated to the ultimate sacrifice made by PFC Robert C. Burke during the Vietnam War, convert a low spot into a rain garden, install new playground equipment and a small amphitheater that could also serve as a gathering spot.
Resident Dick Montgomery spoke in favor of the plan during the public comment portion of the council meeting, especially the increased accessibility it will provide at the park.
“I think it’s awesome. I think it’s a wonderful representation of the options for accessibility across the board for all sorts of people, all citizens of Monticello.”
“I just think with this, and all these walkways and the rain garden and the bridge, it’s going to be a little oasis in the center of Monticello,” he added.
As presented, the estimated cost for the four phases would be about $3.4 million, but city leaders pointed out the master plan is just a guide that can be changed.
Monticello Police Chief John Carter and Fire Chief John Rupkey said the ceremony Sept. 11 that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings went well.
“It gave me the opportunity to reflect what has happened over the last 20 years, and to remember where I was, and I think that’s the purpose, to remind us of what happened and the people who died that day,” Carter said.
Piatt County firefighters and other emergency personnel toured the county, then hosted a 9/11 ceremony on the Monticello High School football field.
“It was a beautiful day, everything we planned came to fruition, and it was a pretty special ceremony,” Rupkey said.
Accounting firm to serve as treasurer
With the resignation of City Treasurer Brian McDowell, the council authorized the hiring of Kelly’s Accounting Service to serve in that role.
The cost, about $6,000 annually, will be similar to what the treasurer was being paid.
City attorneys said a firm could replace the person since the position is appointed and not elected, Mayor Larry Stoner said.
“We find it more and more difficult to find people who are qualified to do this job, and as long as it’s not an elected position anymore, we thought that we should probably appoint someone who we know will be able to do the job and can always rely on being there,” Stoner said. “I think it’s a move in the right direction.”
Stoner also thanked McDowell for his years of service as treasurer.
Lease with A Small Hand renewed
The council approved another two-year lease with A Small Hand-Piatt Count Cares to continue to operate out of a city-owned home at 315 E. Center St. The arrangement began in 2019.
“Ordinance 2021-50 contains no revisions, additions or changes to the original ordinance or lease agreement. It will simply extend the lease that is due to expire later this year through 2023,” City Administrator Terry Summers said.
A Small Hand was founded in 2013 to provide diapers to families in need. It now gives out about 1,500 to 2,000 per month, and provides a food pantry at its headquarters.
Piatt County Cares is the portion of A Small Hand’s programming that seeks to solve complex social and poverty issues in new and innovative ways.
In other action, the council:
—Was introduced to two new city police officers: Kevin Burch and DuJuante Furman; and
—heard from Summers that budget work for 2022 had begun.
During his report to the council, Stoner relayed:
—There are 58 firms in Piatt County hiring for 150 positions. Additional information is available on the job board at www.cityofmonticello.net;
—a “Donut Train” will be run by the Monticello Railway Museum on Saturdays, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2;
—Marisa’s Purpose will hold a 5K run as well as a bicycle race fundraiser at Allerton Park the morning of Sept. 25;
—KDK Designs has relocated to 101 N. Market St., and the Tamed Mane Barber Co. will relocate to the 200 block of West Washington Street later this year; and
—that several local businesses were winners in the recent News-Gazette People’s Choice Awards.