Friday, May 15, 2009
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County planning and actions pay off

Major Elkhart-to-Mount Pulaski road project moving forward; GIS goes public; officials act together in flu response

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[May 15, 2009]  Logan County officials are celebrating several major benchmarks and accomplishments, and in a county board meeting Thursday evening they discussed actions taken this past month. In the top subjects addressed during the board-of-whole meeting were highway funds toward the county's largest-ever road project, the geographic information system going public and a successful activation of community response to flu.

Terry Werth, road and bridge chairman, announced that a $2 million grant came through from the state last week. Highway engineer Bret Aukamp worked with representatives of Viper Mine in Elkhart to secure economic development funds offered through IDOT for reconstruction of the portions of County Highway 10 that go to the mine. These funds go a long way to help us pay for the road, Werth said.

County Highway 10, better known as the Elkhart-to-Mount Pulaski blacktop, passes the mine, and coal is transported over the road to Interstate 55 on the west end and to Illinois Route 121 on the east end.

Because of when the funds would become available, the work will extend into the fall, which will cause some inconvenience to travelers. Aukamp hopes that people will understand and be appreciative of getting the funds that made the project possible.

After many years of development, today is the first day for the Logan County GIS to become available for public use. The project has gone through many phases to provide the base map and geographic detail it offers today. Many more layers can and will be developed as overlays in the future. Aukamp explained that Logan County partnered with Tri-County for mapping GIS in the most recent phase.

The county is weighing creating an IT department that would oversee technologies and the next phase of the GIS development. Eventually the GIS information and updates would become too large for one person, and the county is planning for a separate GIS person who would be needed in the future.

See article in today's Top Stories for details, and you can visit the GIS site at

Dan Fulscher, emergency management director, said there was 100 percent attendance when the emergency operations center was opened to assess the swine flu crisis and the county's preparedness. Agencies and officials gathered on April 27 to begin a plan of action that would protect Logan County citizens from the spreading flu.

The health department came in and did an excellent job of putting everyone at ease over the swine flu, Fulscher said.

Matt Ringenberg, director of environmental health for the Logan County Department of Public Health, said that the local department kept in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The last daily conference call was on Thursday. Additional conferences will be scheduled as needed.

The health department answered many phone calls on the H1N1 virus from concerned people. A total of 190 additional staff hours were logged in 25.5 days.

There have been no confirmed cases of the H1N1 in Logan County. The closest was one case in Sangamon County.

Today's stats are 618 confirmed cases in Illinois, 3,352 cases in 45 states and three deaths.

Concerns have relaxed some in the U.S. as the virus has appeared to be less virulent than that circulating in Mexico. But the CDC is remaining alert. Flu viruses typically build over the winter months and peak in March. In the past when swine flu virus has erupted in the spring, it has been known to mutate and become more virulent in the fall.

The health department is still strongly advocating good hygienic practices to prevent catching or spreading the flu; wash your hands often, sneeze or cough into your sleeve, eat well, and get good rest.

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The vice chairman for the board normally conducts the board-of-whole meeting. Since Patrick O'Neill was absent for the evening, board chairman Terry Carlton led the meeting.

At the close of the meeting the chairman gave his report. Carlton said that he would be attending a meeting with the United Counties Council of Illinois on Monday and that he would take several issues that Logan County is exploring, including questions of salary and benefits offered for county board members, to get the UCCI's response. The agency serves as an information resource and a legislative voice for county governments in Illinois.

Carlton announced that Michael Simonson withdrew his name from consideration for the vacant District 6 board seat on Thursday.

By law it is the chairman who makes the appointment for a vacated seat and the board approves that person. 

During public comment, board member John Stewart said that he would like to suggest Paul Gleason, who previously served on the board. Stewart asked if there could be a straw vote taken to see if the other board members might support Gleason.

Carlton said that he was unfamiliar with meeting rules to do this and did not want to do something that would later be undone by violating rules.

Jan Schumacher said she felt put on the spot and would not want to vote for someone she did not know anything about.

Gloria Luster and Dave Hepler both had served with Gleason and offered that they would favor Gleason.

Stewart clarified that he was not trying to push the issue but trying to work together to fill the seat.


Past related articles



The following GIS sites provide examples of what can be done in Logan County:

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