Tuesday, May 2

City puts tough times behind     Send a link to a friend

Lincoln mayor opens new year with appointments and State of the City address

[MAY 2, 2006]  The perseverance of the townspeople and its city leaders through difficult times could be seen as a tribute to the first city named for Abraham Lincoln. In her "State of the City" address, Mayor Beth Davis reflected on the challenges the city administration faced and has gotten through during her administration and where things are today.

Monday being the opening meeting for the new fiscal year and with a full council in attendance, the mayor conducted a number of official matters. She appointed department heads, announced new committees and chairmen, and gave her State of the City address.

Past department heads were all asked to accept reappointment:

  • Police chief: Robert Rawlins

  • Fire chief: James Davis

  • Building and safety inspector: Les Last

  • Streets and alleys superintendent: Tracy Jackson

  • City attorney: Bill Bates

All of the above accepted the mayor's invitation to continue their service and were sworn to their offices by Melanie Riggs, city clerk.

The mayor asked Verl Prather to serve as mayor pro-tem, and aldermen approved his nomination.

The mayor reappointed aldermen mostly to the same committees, as there are many ongoing projects. "I appreciate all your hard work," she said.

The mayor called upon the department heads for their reports.

Les Last, building and safety inspector

A total of 462 building permits were granted, resulting in $16,694,767.70 construction (Last was joined in chuckling over the 70 cents). The office received $17,881.60 in permit fees.

The following expansions were completed: Lincoln College maintenance, Lincoln Christian College indoor sports complex, Maple Ridge, and Zion Lutheran Church addition and modifications for handicapped. New building construction took place at Coy's Car Center, Dollar General on Limit Street, and Sysco will be completed this month, Last said.

Last said that he processed 431 ordinance violations and made 30 appearances in court. Five repair or demolish orders were issued to property owners this spring, he said.

Tracy Jackson, streets and alleys superintendent

The streets department has been performing routine maintenance on alleys, right of ways and boulevards; filled potholes; repaired or installed sidewalks and curbs; coordinated with AmerenCilco in tree maintenance; and performed storm cleanup. They will continue pouring handicapped ramps, and there will be a lot of seal coating to maintain streets this summer.

The department has worked with various organizations putting on events throughout the year: Lincoln Heritage Days, the Logan County Fair, Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival, Elks Crippled Children's Fundraiser, and other events.

They also work with other departments and agencies: the police department daily, the fire department at fires, the Logan County Emergency Management Agency during incidents and jointly with the Logan County Joint Solid Waste Agency in cleanups.

When possible the department performed street work that has saved the city some money with the Elm Street project and extending Madison Drive 1,200 feet at the Sysco site.

Seasonal work included leaf pickup, plowed snow and now spraying weeds.

Dave Kitzmiller, wastewater treatment facility manager

The plant pumped 2 billion gallons wastewater this past year. They cleaned 82,000 feet pipes in the collective system, televised (remote-viewed sewer pipes) 7,000 feet for problems, replaced aged visual equipment, replaced pumps at Union and Pulaski Street lift stations; preparing to replace Lincolnwood with Zion lift station and the south plant soon to follow.

In November the plant celebrated seven years with no lost man accidents, Kitzmiller said.

James Davis, fire chief

Davis said his report would be a bit short, as he just began in his position three months ago. He said that his priorities are training and equipment, which has meant getting the new guys to school and getting the best equipment possible.

He credited six individuals for spending a lot of time applying for a homeland security grant. They should hear back on that in a couple of months. A trip was made to Indiana to begin looking for a new truck.

From most senior man to lowest in seniority, they are getting involved and seeing the results from it.

They have had 540 runs this year, 15-16 structural fires, with three or four mutual aid assists from the Lincoln Rural Fire Department.

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Robert Rawlins, police chief

The police department has continued the D.A.R.E. program for sixth grade through high school ages.

They've taken advantage of purchasing some supplies through the military surplus. Through that avenue they've been able to acquire computer parts and weapons at a substantial savings, Rawlins said.

A new officer is completing his six-week training at the University of Illinois.

All officers are current in the National Incident Management System, although more training classes are expected that they will need to certify in yet.

Three officers have recertified in dismantlement of clandestine labs.

Three field training officers have been expanding their knowledge and sharing different ideas.

Officers are continuing to pursue schooling opportunities, strengthening the department in a diverse range of areas from criminal law to criminal investigations.

The department continues to strive to help the Logan County Sheriff's Department and work collaboratively.

Mark Mathon, city engineer

Elm Street reconstruction is nearly complete. The south end was paved last week and the north end is scheduled for today (Tuesday) weather permitting, Mathon said.

He worked with the Lincoln Planning Commission and Wal-Mart on final construction plans, with digging beginning at that site last week.

Phase 1 of Sysco is near completion with the development of Sysco, Heitmann and Madigan drives.

Phase 2 includes traffic signal light improvements at Heitmann and Madigan drives on Woodlawn Road, plus interstate ramp access, which will be let out for bid this summer, with work to begin in the fall.

Two other traffic signal plans were added this last year for Woodlawn Road, one at Taylor Court and one at Arthur Park.

Broadway Street overlay from Logan to Union Street was completed, and channel shaping of Brainard's Branch and riprap was added at Grove and Palmer Street bridges.

Mathon has been heavily involved in GIS meetings with the county. The project is in the parcel mapping stage and is of particular importance in the process of farmland and property assessment.

Bill Bates, city attorney

Sysco and Wal-Mart agreements took a lot of the city attorney's time this last year. Much of it was new territory and Wal-Mart likes things done their way. To negotiate with them created some "trying times," Bates said.

He spent a considerable amount of time writing ordinance violations and taking them to court for the city. Addressing these is for the betterment of the community.

He also addresses tickets written by the police. There were 10 tickets after this past weekend, with most alcohol-related.

He reviews documents for all departments and also deals with grievances from city departments, though Lincoln does not have many, he said. He commented that he thought this was because the city has a good working relationship with the unions. New three-year contracts were completed this year, which is productive for the city, Bates said.

Finance chairman Verl Prather reminded department heads to watch the first two to three months' spending, with easier budget time to follow that period.

Prather called a streets and alleys committee meeting for 5:30 p.m. May 9 to discuss the Fifth Street Road project. The city will be responsible for a large portion of the costs from Lincoln Parkway to Interstate 55. "It's time, with all the development going on out there, to get this taken care of," he said.

"I agree," the mayor said. "It's time we do it."

[Jan Youngquist]

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