Friday, July 11


County moves to upgrade
courthouse wiring    
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[JULY 11, 2003]  The Logan County Board, meeting Thursday night, tentatively approved an upgrade on courthouse wiring to try to prevent a recurrence of Tuesday's emergency that temporarily closed the building.

Board chair Dale Voyles said he called an emergency meeting of the building and grounds committee Wednesday night because of the potential for "irreversible damage and personal injury" in the event of a recurrence. Voyles credited the Lincoln Fire Department, janitor Dennis Reves and building and grounds chair Dick Logan with quick action that averted a worse disaster when an electrical feed heated up in the courthouse basement. "We had a hot time in the courthouse the other day," Voyles summed up. And without an upgrade to meet national electric code standards, he believes it could happen again.

Anderson Electric of Springfield did emergency repairs after the courthouse was evacuated at noon on Tuesday. Joe Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick Electric called the firm because he could not handle the situation immediately and because Anderson was in town working on Central School and the sewage treatment plant.

Anderson subsequently submitted a bid to upgrade the electrical system, including adding a fused disconnect and an enclosed panel. Cost of the work is estimated at $18,500. Part of the estimated cost is overtime pay, since the work will be done on a weekend to avoid closing the courthouse again. The final decision on the work will come on Tuesday.

Also on the agenda for the voting session on Tuesday is the issue of whether to transfer the $25,000 the county has budgeted for economic development to the board's economic development committee. The motion was made and tabled in June. On Thursday finance chair Chuck Ruben moved to withdraw the motion because recent dialog between the board and the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce seems promising. In a straw vote the board agreed to drop the motion; John Stewart dissented.

The $25,000, to be taken from the farm fund, was budgeted for the chamber-sponsored Economic Development Council but was later withheld because EDC meetings are not open to the public. Chamber liaison Bill Sahs said the two organizations have begun productive discussions on the issue. The discussions and disbursement of the money are also on the agenda for the board's economic development committee Monday night.


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In other business the board tentatively approved several changes to the zoning ordinance additions to be voted on Tuesday. The additions regulate adult entertainment establishments in the county. Two substantive changes resulted from suggestions at a public hearing.

The ordinance addition lists minimum distances between an adult entertainment establishment and specified other uses. The list of protected uses was enlarged so that the clause now forbids an adult entertainment establishment to locate within 1,000 feet of any lot zoned residential or within 1,500 feet of any church or religious assembly, cemetery, public or private school, nursing home, park or recreational area.

Secondly, hours of operation for an adult entertainment establishment were tentatively limited to 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with mandatory closing on Sundays and federal holidays. Both the changes and the entire adult entertainment section will come up for final vote on Tuesday.

In another zoning matter, the board tentatively approved a petition from the Rev. S.M. Davis to rezone one acre near Middletown from agricultural to country homes use. The lot is entirely wooded; in fact, the boundary was drawn in an angled pattern to avoid farmland. It is located on 275th Avenue in Section 21. If the rezoning is approved Tuesday, Davis' daughter and son-in-law plan to build a home on the property.

In other business the board learned that:

--State Sen. Larry Bomke, state Rep. Rich Brauer and U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood are working with Emergency Services and Disaster Agency director Dan Fulscher to secure a grant for ESDA to purchase a warehouse. Currently, ESDA and Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District rent the warehouse together.

--The county is purchasing the house at 1409 N. Kankakee for $1 through a federal Housing and Urban Development program. The finance committee expects to present a proposal for use of the house at Tuesday's adjourned board meeting.

--The Logan County Paramedic Association will request funds in the 2003-04 budget to purchase a new ambulance.

Voyles praised the work of board committees: "In all my years [of community service] I've seen committees that work and don't work.... But I have never seen a better example of how committees can work together in a positive manner" than the current county board committees.

[Lynn Spellman]    

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