February 2001.
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February 2001 news

February 5

The Minonk City Council met Monday night, February 5. At the meeting Minonk resident Nelda Smith objected to a 3 foot variance granted by the city zoning board to her neighbor, Larry Stith, as part of his plans to build a garage next to her property. Smith contended that the garage as planned would lower the property value of her house. The council voted to table the discussion until the next council meeting in hopes that a compromise could be reached by the involved parties by then.

City Manager Phillip Cotter reported that Well #3 at the city pumping station has periodically been contaminated by some kind of bacterial slime. Cotter emphasized that the contamination does not pose any danger since the contaminate is removed by the filtering system before it reaches the distribution system. Nevertheless, the EPA wants the contaminate removed. The council granted Cotter's request to receive 3 bids not to exceed $15,000 to have Well #3 treated to remove the source of the problem.

In other business, the council approved the mayor's appointment of Mark Spencer to the finance committee. Councilperson Shari Stalter reported that playground equipment will be installed at Veteran's Park this spring by the Parks and Recreation Department.

The new Motel 6 at the Caroline Addition is scheduled to open February 14, which is Valentine's Day, according to an interview with personnel at the motel. The opening was delayed by the need to install public restrooms in the lobby area.
The Fieldcrest School Disrict has received two Fiscal Year 2001 School Maintenance Grants. Each project grant could be up to $50,000. The grants provide a dollar-for-dollar match of local funds for the maintenance of schools. The building grants total is $88,350 and both will be used for work on the new Elementary West addition in Toluca. Remodeling the kitchen and roof repairs will be funded in part by the matching funds grant. The kitchen remodeling project is estimated at $250,000 and the roof repairs are estimated at $80,000.

February 12

The new jail has been completed at the Woodford County jail in Eureka. According to Tom Janssen, Woodford County Board Chairman, the new jail and the new courtroom addition have been in use since mid December. The contractors are waiting for the weather to warm up so that the parking lot can be finished. Janssen said that it may be another month before the parking lot is completed. At that time an open house will be announced so that the public can inspect the new building.

The City of Minonk settled a lawsuit with former police officer David Dahlbach. Terms of the settlement were not released. Bahlbach claimed that he was unjustly fired two years ago and was seeking $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against the city and Police Chief Bill Butler.

Dahlbach was released from his part-time duties in June 1999 because of his "attitude, actions and quality of work" according to the city. According to the lawsuit Dahlbach was confronted by Butler concerning his reporting of an oily substance leak from a dumpster in the Minonk Industrial Park to the Illinois EPA.

In April 1999 Dahlbach was given a 90 day probation after a poor job evaluation by former City Adminstrator Mason Hall and Butler. Dahlbach was eventually fired a month after he reported being shot by someone inside a car at the edge of the city where he was checking suspicious activity.

The Woodford County Sheriff's Department failed to find any suspects in the shooting. However, Dahlbach eventually passed a lie detector test to clear rumors that he shot himself. The Woodford County Sheriff's Department eventually announced that the bullet recovered from the shooting scene did not come from Dahlbach's gun.

February 19

The Minonk City Council learned at its meeting Monday morning, February 19, that it may need to drill another well. According to Doug Melton of Farnsworth and Wylie the EPA requires that the city's water needs must be supplied by its auxiliary wells if the main well, Well #3, goes down. The other two wells cannot meet that requirement. Melton estimated the cost of a new well to be $400,000. He said government 20 year loans are available at 1/2 of the market rate to finance the well. Other alternatives to drilling a new well include adding another storage tank that would help weather peak periods if a well is shut down. The council authorized Farnsworth and Wylie to prepare a study of Minonk's future water needs and the alternative solutions to meeting those needs.

The bacteria that has infected Well #3 is gradually being reduced from application of disinfecting agents and flushing of the well by city personnel. Melton advised the city to continue the treatments and feels that this procedure will eventually eliminate the bacteria. He said bacterial infestations are not uncommon and are usually introduced during well maintenance. He saw no need to contract outside help in eliminating the bacteria, which he claims is a nuisance and is not health threatening.

In other city news, the council voted to accept the low bid of $39,905 from Rupe Excavating of Rutland to complete the Eighth Street sewer project. The bid includes the installation of 18 inch polyethyline sewer pipe. In a related note, Melton of Farnsworth and Wylie recommended that the city proceed with installing new sewer lines along the old IC tracks to help the drainage at the corner of First and Chestnut Streets. The council told Melton to request bids for the project since the money is available for the project.

The council voted to grant Brian Brown $1088.14 for damage done to his new carpet in his basement that was flooded with sewer water due to a plug in the sewer line.

The council denied a variance to Larry Stith to build a garage 3 foot from his property line. A zoning change from industrial to downtown commercial was granted to the Alpha Community Bank for the property it owns east of the Caroline Development and west of Stoller's International in the Industrial Park. The council authorized the donation of $250 to the Fieldcrest Post Prom party.

Phillip Cotter, Minonk City Manager, resigned from that position during an executive session meeting with the Minonk City Council Monday morning, February 19. There was no explanation given for his resignation. Cotter was hired last April for a three year term as city manager. He is expected to leave the job at the end of April. Mr. Cotter, when contacted, gave no comment on his resignation.
The new Motel 6 is planning an open house on March 7 beginning at 10:00 am. Minonk's newest business located at the I-39 interchange north of town opened for business Wednesday night, February 14.

The new motel has 43 rooms including 2 suites and a conference room. Some of the rooms are handicapped accessable. The 2 story motel also has two elevators. The rooms rent for $41.99 per night.

Mr. Patel, the motel owner, said that when the motel occupancy rates reaches 60-70% he plans on building an indoor swimming pool.

February 26

A meeting of the Citizens Against the Chicago Highway (CATCH) was help Thursday night, February 22, at Minonk City Hall. The group presented its case as to why they feel that the proposed highway construction project is a waste of taxpayers dollars and would adversely affect those communities and rural homes near the proposed routes.

Speaker Larry Schaerer estimated that the proposed Chicago to Peoria highway would cost between $500 to $800 million. He indicated that over 2000 acres of prime farmland would be destroyed by the road. The other objections he mentioned were (1) It would lower the real estate tax base and possibly raise real estate taxes; (2) While only 10-15 minutes would be saved in traveling to Chicago on the new route, it would also increase time for local residents to access rural roads because of the roads that would be shutoff because of no overpass. (3) Complete and constant disruption of rural atmosphere wit noise, air and illumination polloution along the highway.

The project is still in the Corridor Alignment Phase which involves the selection of the route to be taken to Chicago from Peoria. The four possible routes are Corridor A, Route 26 north to I-80; Corridor B, Route 24 to I-39; Corridor C, Route 116 to I-39; and Corridor B\C which is a combination of Routes 24 and 116. The earliest right-of-way acquisition could begin is 3 to 4 years (2003-2004) and the earliest construction could begin is 5 to 6 years (2005-2006). Both freeway and expressway designs are being considered.

The Millennium Community Building Committee held its monthly meeting Thursday night, February 22, at the Lutheran Church meeting hall. The committee met with Farnsworth & Wylie representative Neil Finlen to finalize the plans for the proposed community center building. Mr. Finlen presented a layout and elevation of the proposed building for the committee's review.

The building will contain a 6 lane swimming pool with an outdoor lounge area, a gymnasium that could also be used as a reception area, a jogging and walking track with exercise equipment on the second floor overlooking the gym, kitchen, food pantry facilities, a class room, daycare room and meeting rooms.

The complex would be located on a 12 acre parcel of land on the curve on the north edge of Minonk that was purchased by the group. The project also includes a baseball field, soccer field, walking and jogging paths and parking.

The committee plans to have a working session meeting with the Minonk City Council sometime in March. After that a public meeting will be held to describe the building project and elicit comments from the public and answer any questions.

The members of the committee are Sean Cunningham, Jim and Mary Ford, Robert Hakes, Jack Jochums, Edith Hartzler, Craig Kalkwarf, Merlon Kalkwarf, Ned Leiken, Richard Meierhofer, Craig Meyer, Dr. John Podzamsky, Rev. Craig Swenson, Bruce Tjaden, Wilbur Witcomb, Robert White, Mark Spencer, Rosemary Oldenburg and John Kirkton.

Don Ludwig, the new manager of the Motel 6 in Minonk, said that the grand opening ceremonies for the new motel is being delayed indefinitely to allow the parking lot and the landscaping to be completed.

Meanwhile, the motel is open to guests and taking reservations.

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