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Douglas County board votes to extend Enterprise Zone to include Sidney

By Kendra Hennis

The monthly meeting of the Douglas County board was called to order at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 16. All board members were present.

Following the approval of the consent agenda items, the board voted to extend the declaration of emergency in Douglas County for 30 more days due to COVID-19. The state of emergency was declared in the county on March 18, 2020. The declaration allows Board Chairman Don Munson to have authorization to sign documents and approve finances as necessary without the need to call an emergency meeting. The declaration also allows the board to continue to live-stream their meetings on Zoom while still being within the Open Meetings Act.

The largest bit of discussion during the meeting pertained to ordinance 20-O-12, authorizing the addition of Champaign County as a designated unit of government and related boundary notifications to the area known as the Douglas County Enterprise Zone and the Douglas County Enterprise Zone agreement. The modifications would come to zones A and B, which would now include a three-foot-wide connecting strip from the existing zone in Douglas County at the intersection of Illinois Route 130 in the corporate limits of the City of Villa Grove, Camargo Township to the project site in Sidney Township. The board was asked to consider the rezoning by Tuscola’s Chamber of Economic Development Director Brian Moody who had been approached by Sidney due to issues with Champaign County and a new solar farm being developed in southeast Sidney. The rezoning will not change much for Douglas County, but allows project developers in Sidney a chance to complete the project and purchase materials in Douglas County with no sales tax. Following the completion of the project, the ordinance will be broken and Sidney will return to Champaign County. The board voted to pass ordinance 20-O-12 and amended the Douglas County Enterprise Zone Intergovernmental agreement with a 5-2 vote.

The board then moved to the discussion of committee reports. As always, committee reports are available on the Douglas County website under the Current Meeting Information tab. Board member Bibby Appleby announced that she had met with the Regional Office of Education last week at their annual meeting. She reported that Douglas County will be paying less than last year due to an increased number of grants received. Appleby also informed the board that in the region (this includes Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, and Shelby counties) that there are 711 homeless students. (by definition, a homeless student is an individual who lacks a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” This includes students who are sharing accommodations, staying at hotels or sleeping in any public space.”)

The board hopes to look into this and see what they can do to help these students, especially those in Douglas County.

Following this, Jim Mikeworth announced that he had been meeting with the new Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOWA) director and that he had been very impressed with him and the work that he’s doing in the office for Douglas County. He announced that the office is hoping to hire an additional full-time employee as soon as possible. More information on the job can be found on the website.

The only public comment came from Amanda Minor in reference to the downstate transportation grant and clarification needed for that.

The board also:

* Approved the minutes of the August 19 regular board meeting.

* Approved the payments of the county’s financial obligations.

* Approved the reports of fees of county offices.

* Approved the 2021 holiday calendar as recommended by the Personnel, Legal, and Management subcommittee.

* Approved ordinance 20-O-11 authorizing the execution and delivery of local CURE program financial support conditions and certifications.

* Approved resolution 20-R-29, the execution and amendment of downstate operating assistance agreement for fiscal year 2021.

* Approved resolution 20-R-30 approving the cancellation of certificates of purchase A-04-03-03-416-001, B-06-04-05-113-003, C-06-04-33-303-012, D-07-06-31-112-016, E-07-06-31-112-021, F-04-03-11-106-007, G-M09-10-003-018-00.

* Approved resolution 20-R-31 for construction contract of section 19-01133-00-BR as submitted by Howell Paving, Inc.

* Approved resolution 20-R-32 authorizing Chairman Munson to enter into a contract with Beniach Construction for the emergency repair of a county highway in Newman due to a water main break on Sunday, September 6.

* Adjourned until the October 21 meeting at 9 a.m.

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