Wednesday, June 16

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New business request, whether to hire a police officer,
more sewer woes and zzzzzzzt zing! season begins

[JUNE 16, 2004] 

Business will offer something not being offered

Darwin Allen, a representative of a new day-care center that will be coming to Lincoln, came before the council with a request to waive the business building permit fee. His Precious Little Ones, a not-for-profit business, has applied for enterprise zone status at the North Kickapoo Street address. The building the business is purchasing, a former day care across from Budget Inn, will have extensive renovations.

The business plans to be something that isn't currently offered in the area. They are whole-family focused and plan to offer family counseling, training and second-shift day care in addition to standard day care for children. The business plans to be a boost to local economics as well, expecting to have 17 employees when they are "full bore."

We have lots of work we need to do to the building, Allen said. Building permit fees are based on building and renovation costs. City codes and enforcement officer Les Last said that their fees are estimated at $500-$700. He legally cannot waive them himself.

Alderman Buzz Busby said, "I realize that when you are opening a new business every dollar counts." But he couldn't see a way they could approve this for one business and not another.

Following some discussion of protocol Alderman Verl Prather said that when the business does get enterprise zone status they can come to the city for reimbursement of the fees.

***

Temporary vacancy created in an already short-staffed police department

A Lincoln police officer has been called up for military duty. The officer will be gone for a minimum of 15 months. His imminent departure raised numerous questions such as whether he continues to draw his city pay, how to cover his hours, and if the city should hire someone temporary or permanent.

The only clear stipulation is the federal mandate to keep his job open for him when he returns. How to do that is a bit complicated.

The vacancy comes when the department is already stretched. Officers taking time off for vacations and special events in the city that will need extra coverage place an extra burden. "Work is really tight as it is," Chief Rich Montcalm said. "We'll be calling in officers every shift (to cover) and that's at time-and-a-half."

There was some discussion about now having some additional funding since the city is no longer paying for two officers in the 911 dispatch room. Consideration is being given to permanently hiring back one of the officers laid off earlier this year.

City attorney Bill Bates will be checking on a few things with legal requirements, contracts and the police union to assist with the decision-making process.

***

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Sewer woes increase with rains

Emergency work has been performed on a stretch of sewer line near the downtown area, but before the finishes are even done, another section has been identified as needing immediate repair. Pulaski Street from Kankakee to Union Street has just had emergency measures taken with a new slip line installed. The single brick lining that was falling apart was replaced with high-quality 30-inch PVC. The 350 to 400 feet of line cost about $53,000.

Now a 30- to 40-foot section near Logan County Bank is sinking. The discovery was made while City engineer Mark Mathon and wastewater treatment plant manager Grant Eaton were performing inspections. Again the line is old, single-layer brick that is coming apart. Their recommendation is to slip-line the entire section of the Pulaski Street sewer line from IGA to Union Street at an estimated cost of $286,000.

Eaton put it up to the council whether they wanted to go out for bids or make it an emergency matter. Treating the situation as an emergency requires a two-thirds vote of the council. It will take two to three weeks to get materials even as an emergency order. The matter will be voted on Monday night.

Bates said that costs to replace the street if it is dug up need to be considered as well.

***

Pesky varmints

Skeeters are at it again, but so is the streets department. Alderman Dave Armbrust said that they received a call from Broadwell asking if the city could come there to spray. Armbrust contacted Streets Superintendent Tracy Jackson; they calculated the cost at $94 and went there for one spraying. The town then asked if they would come back weekly.

The city currently or in the past has done this at cost for Lawndale, the prisons, Eaton and other nearby areas.

Alderman Glenn Shelton said he thought we should extend a helping hand to our neighbor. Alderman Patrick Madigan agreed with the comment, saying, "When you consider how much rain we've had."

Starting three weeks ago the city waged war on the insects, using larvicide, and is now spraying regularly. Spraying is scheduled from 7 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, with Friday as a rain makeup day.

***

One of the seven wonders of Lincoln in peril

The fate of the landmark telephone booth that sits atop City Hall will be the topic of discussion when the buildings and grounds committee meets next Monday at 6:45 p.m. Alderman Derrick Crane said that he will present a bid to fix the leak.

The booth is at the center of an ongoing leak at the top of City Hall.

[Jan Youngquist]

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