Lt. Gov. Wood visits Main Street Lincoln

[AUG. 18, 2000]  Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood was in Lincoln on Thursday to tour the downtown Main Street Lincoln program, in an effort to fulfill her promise to visit all 55 Main Street sites in the state of Illinois. Her local visit, the final site in her tour, was intended to highlight the accomplishments of Lincoln’s Main Street program.

Click here to see pictures from the Lieutenant Governor's visit

Led by Wendy Bell, Lincoln’s Main Street program director, and Jan Wright, its vice president, the tour began at the recently restored Scully Park. Wood was given the history of each site visited and told about the improvements that had been made.



The tour proceeded across the Don Shay Parking Plaza and through the arcade tunnel to Pulaski Street. Woods commented on the uniqueness of the arcade’s architecture.

The group moved to the courthouse, stopping at the Indian Maiden statue, where the fund-raising efforts for refurbishing the statue were discussed.

Wood visited with the owners and employees of Beans ’n’ Such, The Other Side of the Fence, Eckert’s Fine Furnishings, Eckert’s Fine Dining and Grapes and Grounds. She spoke with the proprietors of each of these locations about their renovations. Pat Grathwotl, an employee of The Other Side of the Fence, spoke to the lieutenant governor about their vendors over her knitting. Wood asked her what she was knitting, and Grathwotl replied, "Dish rags."

During her visit Lt. Gov. Wood also did what she would refer to later as her own "private economic restructuring," otherwise known as shopping.

The lieutenant governor posed for pictures with her children, Brandon, 14, and Courtney, 11, in front of the watermelon slice that commemorates where Abraham Lincoln christened the town of Lincoln in Centennial Park.

From there she proceeded into the Restaurant at the Depot for a small reception, where she was met by Abraham Lincoln look-alike Charlie Ott, along with Mayor Joan Ritter, Sen. Robert Madigan, Rep. John Turner, members of the Chamber of Commerce, local business owners and other Main Street supporters.


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Before her speech the lieutenant governor was presented with Lincoln’s first official Christmas ornament, a bag filled with gifts from Lincoln, a Balloon Fest T-shirt and praises from town officials and others involved with the program.

Wood opened by saying, "I wanted to see all of the Main Street Programs firsthand and to thank all of you who supported the program." She thanked her children for sharing in the experience of traveling to the 55 Main Street cities over the past two summers.

Wood praised Valecia Crisafulli of Lincoln as being the first Main Street coordinator and said that it was her vision, hard work, energy and enthusiasm that launched the program.



She commented that the most successful programs are the ones where municipal leaders, businesses and volunteers work together to create their own visions. Revitalization brings more than physical changes to downtown structures; it also brings a sense of community back to downtown, she said.

She concluded by adding, "I want Illinois to have the best Main Street programs in the nation."



The Illinois Main Street program, part of the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, promotes preservation-based downtown revitalization. The program provides training and technical assistance to participating communities through educational workshops and on-site consultation, based on a national model.

Wood heads the newly appointed Main Street State Advisory Board.



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Council begins study of
sewage plant upgrade,
electricity generator

[AUG. 16, 2000]  At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Lincoln City Council took a step toward upgrading the city’s wastewater treatment plant and also heard a proposal to build an electricity generator near New Holland. The council, which has discussed the treatment plant upgrade in previous sessions, authorized Environmental Management Corporation (EMC) to proceed with the preliminary design of the project. The generator plan was referred for further study.

The treatment plant must be upgraded to meet Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requirements which go into effect in September of 2001 and to allow for continued growth in the city, according to Grant Eaton, plant manager. The IEPA reviews all new sewer hookups and could refuse permission for such hookups in the future if the treatment plant does not meet the new standards. The plant, part of which was built in 1936, has not had a major improvement since 1976, Eaton said.

The exact cost of the project will not be determined until after the preliminary design is completed, but Eaton estimated it at $8.5 to $9 million. EMC will bring final cost figures to the board sometime in October, he said. A timetable submitted by EMC shows construction beginning in the spring of 2001 and continuing through May of 2002.



The upgrade would bring the capacity of the treatment plant to 5.12 million gallons per day, up from the current capacity of 3.35 million gallons, according to EMC director of operations Carl Alsbach. EMC currently operates the water treatment plant and maintains the city’s sewers.

Eaton said the city is applying for a $100,000 grant for design and a $400,000 grant for construction of the plant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and is also seeking other grants. Other financing will come from the State Revolving Loan Fund, to be repaid over 20 years.



The council also heard a proposal from Matthew R. Hortenstine of Spectrum Energy Inc. asking the city to cooperate with the Logan County Board and New Holland to build an electricity generating plant on five acres on the east side of New Holland. Spectrum would like the city to provide an Enterprise Zone and also to treat the wastewater from the proposed plant’s cooling system.

The generating plant would be a "peaker plant," providing energy only during times of high demand to prevent brownouts or blackouts, Hortenstine said. Spectrum, which has several similar facilities in Illinois, would build the plant and then sell it to a utility company to operate. The plant would use natural gas, a clean source of power, instead of coal or nuclear power. It would operate from about the first of June through mid-September, when air conditioners cause peak power usage, and cannot operate more than 3,000 hours per year.

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Hortenstine asked the council to consider two ways in which the city could cooperate in what he termed a "win-win" project. First, Spectrum would like the city to create an extension of its Enterprise Zone, a strip that would run from Lincoln’s west side to New Holland, to take advantage of the 6.25 percent state sales tax waiver on the purchase of equipment and materials.



However, he said, the company is not asking for a waiver of local taxes. "We want to take advantage of the state sales tax an Enterprise Zone allows us to avoid, but we are not asking for a local real estate tax abatement," he told the council.

He also said the company might dig a well in the New Holland area, give it to the town, and become a customer and purchase the water.

The city of Lincoln could also "win" by treating the wastewater from the generator, Hortenstine explained. He said there would be no toxic chemicals in the water – merely a concentration of the normal minerals – because the wastewater would be "boiled down" before being trucked to Lincoln for treatment. Although there are no industrial additives, the IEPA mandates that the water be treated, he said.

The city would be paid three cents a gallon for treatment and also a fee for trucking the water to Lincoln. Eaton told the council three cents was a good price and said there would not be a problem treating the wastewater.

Hortenstine noted that there might be as many as 125 to 150 construction jobs created in building the plant, and four to 10 permanent jobs for its operation. The permanent jobs would be "high tech" – electrical engineers, computer technicians and similar jobs – he told the board.

He invited the council to visit Spectrum’s other plants in the area, and said the agreement he would like to make with the city would be identical to the agreement Spectrum has with Effingham and St. Elmo.



The proposal was referred to the ordinance committee for further study.

Charlotte Griffin, who lives on Edgar Street, asked the council to consider allowing some leaf burning in the city. She said there are 30 trees in her neighborhood and disposing of fallen leaves was a problem.

She suggested that for one season the city try a proposal that yard debris could be burned three days a week, such as Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That would give people with respiratory ailments four days a week to enjoy the outdoors. "To me this would be the perfect compromise," she said.

[Joan Crabb]

County Board accepts bids

Highway work, painting, trimming

[AUG. 16, 2000]  In its regular session Tuesday night, the Logan County Board voted to accept bids to complete several projects.

Michael Simonson and Scott Martin were awarded a bid of $9,600 to paint hangers at the county airport. The bid also included the painting of two grain bins at the county farm.

Schmidt Construction of Mount Zion was awarded a bid of $94,619 for highway work in Corwin Township.



Dick Hurley, chairman of the building and grounds committee, recommended the board accept a bid of $5,100 from B&W Tree Trimming of Delavan for work at Scully and Latham parks. The vote failed to gather a two-thirds majority, which was required according to the board's guidelines.

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Hurley then proposed the board accept B & W's bid for work at Latham Park for $2,500. This portion of the work passed with a simple majority, since it was below the guidelines for the two-thirds vote requirement.

Hurley had sought bids from a Mount Pulaski firm and from B & W for work at the two parks.

The board also learned that Spectrum Energy, the firm pursuing the construction of three small "peeker plants" one-half mile east of New Holland, had filed for a permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The plants would generate electricity during peak usage times, normally in the summer when demand is greatest.

The agency will accept public input until Sept. 7 regarding the permit.

[Fuzz Werth]