Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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County medical insurance plan, other proposed measures and news

[March 20, 2007]  The Logan County Board tentatively approved minor changes in the group medical plan with R.W. Garrett Agency and the new single employee rate of $327, which is paid by the county.

* Truancy

Michael McIntosh, chairman of the law enforcement committee, brought forth a new truancy ordinance for consideration. The revision will make it a violation for students to be absent from school and out in a public place. Violators would be issued citations and processed through the legal system. A straw vote indicated this would be approved at Tuesday's voting meeting.

* No smoking on county grounds

Tentative approval was also given for amending the no-smoking ban for county buildings and properties to include all county buildings and properties. The ordinance currently covers the courthouse only.

* Financial year-end procedures

The finance committee brought forth an amendment to year-end financial procedures. The new cutoff date for financials will be Dec. 31. Anything brought in after that date will go in the new year, whether it was in the old budget or not, finance chair Chuck Ruben said. This is merely a housekeeping measure that was recommended by the auditor, Ruben said.

* Tourism, in the black and busy

Tourism director Geoff Ladd began his post just as the agency was climbing out of a financial hole. Ladd made monthly reports to the county finance committee as the county helped bail the tourism bureau out, loaning them $10,000 during the rough period. Last fall that debt was paid back in full, and he began reporting in every other month. It was Ladd's pleasure to report this month that they have money in the bank -- $10,000 -- enough for a contingency of two months.

Those funds in the bank will provide some sense of security as the state continues to pull unprotected funds. Last year the state siphoned off tourism grant funds that were at $5 million a year, knocking them down to $300,000. Rep. Rich Brauer has put forth a bill that puts it back into tourism and preservation, Ladd said.

Meanwhile, Ladd had the sad news that a major Logan County Route 66 site that had been up and running for a couple of years, the Pig Hip Restaurant Museum at Broadwell, was a 98 percent loss in the recent fire. (See article.)

Ladd had some good news in spite of the terrible loss. He said that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has been asked for their help in maintaining something at the site. Maybe the front wall could be kept and photos of how it used to be, he said.

There were some benefits to the fire. With the Internet, news goes all over the world, Ladd said. The loss gained a lot of attention.

[to top of second column]

The Mill becomes more important with the loss of the Pig Hip. Save The Mill planning is in full swing. The EPA is allowing a wet demolition. This will help keep the asbestos abatement cost down to $12,000.

April is a big month with a lot of volunteers coming in, Ladd said.

(Save The Mill group announces two fundraising events)

Pig Hip

Ladd said that with the fire destroying most of the Pig Hip Museum contents, including valuable papers such as letters signed by presidents, memorabilia is being sought to be used in future displays that will commemorate the site.

Abraham Lincoln headed northwest

There's a new attraction in town that can't be missed. Abraham Lincoln seated on the world's largest covered wagon will have a split-rail fence distinguishing it soon. It was determined that utility poles would provide the closest to scale material. Ameren will be donating the poles as they become available.

The display is the generous gift of a private citizen, Larry Van Bibber. Van Bibber wished to enhance the community and business with the tourist attraction.

Ladd fielded a question from board member Pat O'Neill. O'Neill wanted to know if there's been any talk about changing the direction of the new Abraham Lincoln and covered wagon.

Ladd chuckled and said, "Oh, there's lot's of talk." He then explained that the position was chosen so that people traveling on Route 66 from the Chicago direction would be greeted with Abraham Lincoln facing them.

"Some have asked why Mr. Lincoln isn't facing Lincoln itself and the answer is simple. The majority of visitors who come through Lincoln on Route 66 start in Chicago and head south. Mr. Lincoln is ready and waiting, facing the visitors as they come to our fair city." -- on the tourism website ("The Railsplitter Covered Wagon")


Due to the consolidated election, next month's adjourned board meeting scheduled for April 17 will be moved to April 19.

[Dale Voyles; Jan Youngquist]

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