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Three Trustees with thirty-three years of service bid farewell to Atwood Village Board

Atwood Village President Bill Fleming, center, presented three retiring village trustees with a Key to the City at the regular meeting on April 24. Pictured are Chris Stoltz, Fleming, Ron Wallace and Dave Ard.

Staff Writer

The Atwood Village Board bid good-bye to three trustees at their regular meeting on Monday, April 24. The meeting was changed due to the end of their fiscal year. Trustees receiving a key to the city were Chris Stoltz, 11 years (4 as village president), Ron Wallace, 19 years, (4 as village president) and Dave Ard, 2 years. Village President Bill Fleming presented the awards and thanked the trustees for their years of dedication to the village.

The board continues to work with the IEPA on the situation of high ammonia levels in the discharge of the wastewater treatment plant. This happens mainly in the summer months when the Lake Fork River is low. The cost of this project is expected to be a million dollars and the board is trying to find a way to pay for the mandatory project.

The village received another letter on April 17 (dated April 13) with a notice of intent to pursue legal action is provided pursuant to Section 31b of the Illinois EPA. They provided this notice because the Village of Atwood has failed to respond adequately to the Violation Notice dated November 20, 2022., which was issued by the IEPA within the time frame required by Section 31 of the act.

The Notice of Intent to Pursue Legal Action provides the opportunity to schedule of a meeting with IEPA representatives to attempt to resolve the violations of the act, regulations and permits.

President Fleming read this statement: “In recent years, the Illinois EPA has begun requiring Sewer Plant Operators to test the discharge of water leaving the sewer plant for ammonia. The Village Sewer Plant, built in 1965, was not designed or equipped to reduce the ammonia before the sewage discharge enters the river. As a result, the village test results have shown the ammonia discharge to be over the tolerance allowed by the IEPA. This generally occurs during the three summer months when the river is unusually low. The village has been issued a Notice of Non-Compliance by the IEPA. To address this issue, the village will be required to replace some equipment and install additional equipment at the sewer plant. The equipment will reduce the ammonia discharging from the plant to the river. After consulting with our engineering firm, this project will cost the village nearly $1 million.”

Fleming continued, “This is a necessary project and the village will be requesting financial assistance from some sources as well as acquiring a very low interest loan from the IEPA. Exact figure for the project and the amount the village will need to finance are unknown at this time. It is anticipated that the sewer rates will need to be raised to repay the low interest loan to the IEPA. We will keep the village residents informed as we proceed.”

The board agreed for Fleming to send letters to Piatt & Douglas County Boards requesting financial assistance for the village sewer plant project.

Andy Hanfland, engineer from Farnsworth, attended the board meeting to talk to the board regarding how to be in compliance with IEPA requirements. It was decided to set up a meeting with the IEPA, Hanfland, Fleming and Trustee Scott Harris to discuss the situation.

In other matters before the board, expenditures in the amount of $12,019.35 were approved.

Ryan Staley of Farnsworth was present to discuss paving of two blocks of downtown Main Street. To date, no contractor has bid on the project. He is still working on acquiring a bid to start work after the Apple Dumpling Festival.

A tract of land 36’ x 140’ at the corner of S. Missouri and West Cedar, appears to be an abandoned street (land) belonging to the village. Fleming said he had to do some checking because he was unaware the land belonged to the village. Erma Sutton who resides at 309 S. Missouri has been maintaining the property for a number of years. She is very concerned about the property and wants to make sure it stays as is. Patty Podgornik, 303 S. Missouri, who lives next to the property, would like to buy the piece of land, but Sutton does not want it sold. Podgornik would like to put a garage on the land since it is next to her property.

Both parties talked to the board about their feelings on the property. Laurie Marshall was in attendance with Sutton to tell the board she agrees with Sutton on the ground staying as is. She stated that Sutton has taken great care of the property for a long time. The board decided to leave the property as is at this time.

The new Atwood Police Chief Joe Duncan was welcomed. He said he has been busy getting up to speed on administration and working on a Federal Cops Grant to help finance 75% of the salary for another full-time officer.

The board passed a motion to accept the quote of $4,727.73 from Tech-Nik to install a computer back-up system, WiFi for the new Atwood Municipal Building, installing battery back-up protection, relocating computers to the new village hall including labor.

The board approved to $300 to the Atwood Woman’s Club to plant flowers in the business district.

A motion was also passed to approve Ordinance 23-0-5, an ordinance declaring surplus property and authorizing sale of the same. This will be the former Kirby Building inventory not being used in the new building.

Eric Shangraw with GFL Environmental was at the meeting to give a presentation to the board. Residents should now be aware that this a new garbage hauling company recently purchased IV Container Company. Shangraw discussed any changes to the level of service or fees that will be charged to the resident for their services.

The board also entered into discussion with Waste Management (WM) to request quotes for their services as well. Both companies are requesting an exclusive contract with the village, meaning their company would be the sole provider of garbage service within the village limits.

The board listened to the information from Shangraw, but no decision was made at this time. They are trying to obtain the best service for the most affordable price. More information will be forthcoming in the future.

Residents are asked to please take time to read the flyer that was sent out last week from the village letting them know what is going on in town. The section entitled Reminders is especially important.

Trustee Diane Eagan gave an update on the progress of the Sesquicentennial Committee. Don’t forget to save the date of Sunday, June 11 for the Kickoff Celebration of the Sesquicentennial celebration. Festivities will continue at the Atwood Apple Dumpling Festival Friday & Saturday, August 18 & 19.

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