In Ward 3, eight-year veteran George M.
Mitchell lost a tight race to challenger Jonette "Jonie" Tibbs.
Tibbs won by only four votes, with a final unofficial total of 129
to Mitchell's 125.
In Ward 5, incumbent Martha "Marty"
Neitzel lost to challenger Derrick R. Crane. Crane polled 185 votes
to Neitzel's 121. Mayor Beth Davis appointed Neitzel to the council
in November of 2002 to fill the unexpired term of the late Joseph
However, because Ward 5 has another
vacancy now, some observers speculate that Neitzel might be
reappointed, this time to fill the unexpired term of Michael
Montcalm, who resigned Feb. 8. Montcalm's term runs until April of
Incumbents in Wards 1 and 2 won handily
over their challengers. Patrick Madigan, who has served one term in
Ward 1, polled 123 votes to challenger Anthony "T.J." Swarts' 54.
In Ward 2, Steve Fuhrer, also a
first-year alderman, polled 181 votes to defeat former alderman and
mayoral candidate Stephan A. Mesner, who got 67 votes. However,
Fuhrer faces another challenge in the April 1 general election. Leo
Logan, 628 Seventh St., has filed as a Democrat for the seat. Logan
is the brother of county board member Dick Logan and has served on
the Lincoln Community High School board.
board member Dick Logan congratulates Ward 2 Alderman Steve Fuhrer,
who won another four-year term in Tuesday's election.
In Ward 4, only one candidate filed,
Orville "Buzz" Busby, a former alderman from that ward. He will fill
the seat vacated by Bill Melton, the council's only Democrat and its
senior member. Melton has resigned because he is moving out of the
city to a rural residence.
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[photos by Joan Crabb]
Only a handful of people came to the
courthouse Tuesday night to watch election results come in on the
Turnout for the primary was
exceptionally low: only 994 voters in the city's 19 precincts, or
12.67 percent of the total 7,845 registered voters. The number of
people at the county courthouse watching the returns come in was
also low, only a handful, and Steve Fuhrer was the only candidate in
the running to show up when final totals came in.
Fuhrer has pushed hard for a 0.5
percent increase in the city's sales tax, but he did not think his
substantial win was a predictor of the outcome of the referendum
that will be on the April 1 ballot. The voters turned down the tax
increase by a ratio of 2-to-1 in the November 2002 election.
"I think the sales tax has a lot better
chance of passing this time, but I don't think this election has
anything to say about it. I think people are just becoming more
educated about the need," he said.
Fuhrer and other council members say
the new tax is necessary to give the city money to upgrade streets
and other infrastructure, and the approximately $550,000 it would
bring in per year must by law be used only for that purpose.
Dick Logan, a county board member, who
was at the courthouse Tuesday night, said he didn't know why the
turnout was so low this time. Usually a primary election would draw
at least 25 percent of the voters.
"The weather might have had something
to do with it, but apparently people are satisfied with the
representation they have now," he said.
At Tuesday night's city council
meeting, City Clerk Juanita Josserand outlined the proposal for
setting up a terminal so the city can accept Visa, MasterCard and
ATM cards, and the council agreed that the plan should be tried.
Cost of setting up the terminal will be
a one-time fee of $900, and the clerk's office has that much or more
in its budget, Josserand said. Cost of using the system will vary
according to the number of transactions but will never be less than
$31.50 per month, she said.
The more users who opt to pay by credit
card, the higher the costs will be, Josserand said, but she still
believes the new system will save the city money. Right now the city
has more than $40,000 on the books in overdue sewer charges, and the
cost of trying to collect those charges can be high.
"We have to send certified letters to
overdue users, and the cost is almost $5 a letter. Sometimes we send
as many as 30 letters per month," she said. "There is also an $18
fee to file a lien against the property and another $18 fee to file
the release of the lien. If the property is foreclosed or the user
takes bankruptcy, we are out all charges.
"We hope this is a start on being able
to help people get their sewer bills paid on time and avoid the $25
penalty for overdue bills," she added. The longer the user waits to
pay the bill, the higher the penalty becomes, accumulating at $25
per month for each month the bill goes unpaid.
The city will not take credit card
numbers over the telephone, she said, so people will have to come to
City Hall to make their credit card payments. City Hall is open from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Josserand said she believes the credit
card payment terminal can be up and running by April 1. She noted
that Logan County accepts credit card payments for real estate taxes
and circuit court fines.
Alderman Glenn Shelton, who said he is
concerned about the problem of underage drinking, asked if the city
could pass an ordinance that would prohibit anyone under the age of
21 from serving liquor. Although no one under 21 can legally consume
liquor, 18-year-olds can serve it, and he believes the minimum age
for serving it should also be 21 years.
"Let us not tempt our teenagers,"
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City attorney Bill Bates said it would
be legal for the city to pass an ordinance that is more stringent
than state law, which allows 18-year-olds to serve liquor.
Shelton asked if the ordinance
committee would take his suggestion under advisement. Steve Fuhrer,
chair of the committee, said the committee would look at the
suggestions, but he believed there would be objections to the higher
Police Chief Rich Montcalm passed out
copies of a model ordinance concerning training bartenders and
waitresses to improve safety by preventing customers from driving
when they have been drinking and by not selling liquor to those
under age. The ordinance committee will review the document.
Fuhrer also said he would like to see
local stores selling ephedra and other supplements be required to
keep the pills behind the counter. He noted that the state of
Illinois is talking about an outright ban on ephedra.
Bates said the city is not in as strong
a position to deal with ephedra manufacturers as the state is, and
he suggested the council have Kevin Riggins and Logan County Coroner
Chuck Fricke talk to them about the issue. Riggins' son, Sean, died
after taking the herbal supplement, and Riggins and Fricke are
campaigning to keep it out of the hands of young people.
The council also discussed ways to keep
the city beautiful by setting up a time that "white goods," unusable
stoves, refrigerators and other appliances, can be taken to the city
dump. Don Osborne, street superintendent, said the Environmental
Protection Agency will allow this as long as the appliances do not
stay in the dump for a long time. He said in the past the city has
made money selling white goods for scrap.
engineer Mark Mathon said that since School District 27 is planning
to take down the junior high school on Broadway Street this summer,
the road work on Broadway from Logan to Union streets should be
postponed until that work is done, to avoid possible damage to the
new street surface.