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Atwood Village Board Continue Plans to Improve Village

By Doris Elmore
Staff Writer

Condition of some businesses, residences and empty buildings in Atwood continues to be an issue for the Atwood Village Board. This was discussed at the regular meeting of the board on Monday, March 13, at the Municipal Building.

Atwood Village President Bill Fleming announced that the board continues to pursue ordinance violations on the former Meat Locker building. At the February meeting it was mentioned the building may have been sold to another party. After consulting with the Douglas County Assessor’s office and Douglas County Clerk’s office, Fleming found out there was no pending action relating to a sale. Fleming stated the village attorney continues to reach out to the owner of the building to pursue a resolution to the ordinance violations. Failure to reach an agreeable resolution will result in the village issuing fines and pursing those fines in court.

Regarding the situation with the excess ammonia in the sewer plant and the Illinois EPA as reported in the February board meeting, the Atwood Village Board continues to work with them to correct the situation. The sewer plant was built in the 1960’s to process sewage. Recently the EPA began monitoring the amount of ammonia. This local sewer plant is not designed to control the ammonia level.

In order to correct the ammonia level there is new equipment that village has to purchase, such as new blowers, de-chlorinator, new screen system. This is costly and the village does not have the money to correct the problem without a loan. This usually takes approximately one year to receive a grant. There is no guarantee the village will receive one. Also, the EPA is not in a position to enter into an agreement that would take more than a year to correct.

The Atwood Village Board sent a letter to the Illinois EPA outlining the process of what they will do to correct the problem. The board assured the EPA they would move forward and work with them on this project.

The village has applied for an Illinois EPA loan. Once the village determines if they can get the loan, Farnsworth will set up an outline of the process that needs to be done and how long it will take for completion of the project. They will work to keep the EPA updated on the process. Cost of the project is between one and two million dollars.

President Fleming said the excess ammonia only happens approximately 3 months of the year, usually during summer months.

Fleming stated that he wants residents to know the ammonia level has nothing to do with the drinking water and is not harmful to pets or any kind of wildlife.

The project on renovating the new Municipal Building (former Kirby Bldg.) continues. Fleming thanked Dave Ard, Roy Elmore, Mike Howell and Mark Corcoran for their work to prime and paint the new offices, as well as Jeff Mercer and Daron Soard for their help and support during the painting process. (Note: President Fleming also worked with the guys on this project).

The project is now back in the hands of Davis Construction. They will install the drop ceiling, upgrade the ceiling lights, install the new floor tiles and some various other work. Amanda Barbee, village clerk, and Jamie Simpson, village treasurer, have been researching the possibility of purchasing new office desks for the new location. Amanda showed some samples they have found.

The board passed a motion to purchase new furniture for the building including fire resistant cabinets since they will no longer have a safe.

Two newly-planted trees were pushed over during the recent rain/wind storm. Gingerich Trees came and straightened them at no cost to the village.

Daron Soard has been working to remove concrete in front of Michael’s Tavern and Willoughby Auction. This area will be where two of the new street lights will be located. Fleming thanked Norm and Crystal Willoughby for the use of their skid steer and jackhammer. Plans are to haul away the broken concrete within the next week before Honn Trucking comes to haul the concrete spoils pile away.

The next steps will be to remove the current black decorative lights and bushes as well as the brick pavers. Then Ameren will come in and replace the street lights.

Fleming told the board the village has received approval from IDOT on the Front-End Documents for re-paving downtown Main Street. Ryan from Farnsworth sent the village the IDOT formal contract proposal cover sheet which Fleming signed and returned. Ryan will now get the bid packet with specifications submitted to IDOT for review and once approved the village can bid the project. Ryan has a specific completion date of July 28, 2023.

The Atwood American Legion reported to the board they have been asked to provide a military rights memorial service for a veteran on Saturday, April 29 at the legion and as a part of the service there will be a 21-gun salute. The legion asked the board if there were any concerns with them performing the 21-gun salute since the service will be held at the legion and not the cemetery. They will be shooting blanks and will verify with the youth board to make sure there aren’t any games scheduled at the park during that time. The board gave their approval to the legion for the salute.

The village received an inspection of the village building and facilities. A few items were found to need attention and all items have been corrected and the Department of Labor notified.

The First Baptist Church of Atwood would like to sponsor and oversee a Summer Christian Concert Series this summer in the village. The dates will be June 4th, June 24th and July 14. Please see next week’s newspaper for a more in-depth article on the concert series. The dates are not in conflict with any activities of the Atwood Chamber or Sesquicentennial Committee.

The board approved a motion to install fence from Herschberger Custom Fencing on the west and north property line of newly-acquired park land.

A discussion was held regarding the rental of a copier from CDS Office Technologies for the new Municipal Building.

The board approved the Arthur Christian School using the park baseball diamonds.

The board also approved a bid from APT Technologies for an external backup system for the village computers.

Expenditures approved at this meeting totaled $12,019.

The board went into Executive Session to discuss employee raises and applicants and process for the Chief of Police vacancy.

The next meeting of the board will be held on Monday, April 10, at 6 p.m.

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