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Atwood Downtown Beautification Project Moves Forward

Staff Writer

An appropriation hearing for public comment preceded the last meeting of the Atwood Village Board on Monday, July 10. There was no public comment and a motion was made to approve 2023-2024 Budget and Appropriation Ordinance 23-O-9. The hearing was closed.

During the regular meeting the consent agenda was approved. Expenditures totaling $27,755.58 were approved.

Village President Bill Fleming stated buildings with ordinance violations include the former Meat Locker, 230 West Cedar St., and 130 E. Orchard.

The village is still waiting to hear from the state on the Park Land Grant for the park land purchase.

Fleming gave a report on the Main Street update. He stated, “We continue to make progress on the downtown beautification project. Areas to be grass have been tilled and seeded. The concrete borders around the trees are completed. The next step is to fill around the trees with mulch and install the tree grates. After the repaving project is complete, the final step will be to install the pavers on both sides of each tree and the project will be complete.”

Bill stated that he was provided with an article in the Atwood Herald from 1975 which announced that the trees in the business district on Main Street were dedicated as Liberty Trees, in memory or honor of many community members at that time. A plaque has hung in the village hall stating who the honorees were. The village board plans on having a moment to re-dedicate the newly planted trees in the business district to these same people for whom the Liberty Trees were originally planted.

Jeff Mercer, Superintendent of Public Works for the village, and any help he had, was thanked by Fleming for the great job of getting all the trees and limbs picked up after the recent storm. Jeff commented that he appreciated all the help he had and the help from village residents who stopped to assist. This was a community working together. Ron Wallace thanked the board and employees for getting the limbs picked up so fast.

The Douglas County Board denied the village’s request for assistance with their ARPA Funds. Fleming attended the Piatt County Board meeting and they stated they already obligated their funds to projects and will not be assisting Atwood. With the help of Landon Stenger at Chapin Rose’s office, they reached out to Representative Mary Miller’s office to see if any federal funds were available. There are none available at this time, so the village is on their own to finance the sewer plant project.

Scott Harris and Diane Eagan were chosen as a new Housing Committee, with Harris as chairperson. Their purpose is to seek opportunities and to provide the village board with recommendations to assist in the development of locations for new single-family homes in the Village of Atwood.

A discussion was held concerning the village getting a debit card. There have been some issues with specific vendors not receiving their payment. It was suggested tracking these vendors to see what is happening. A motion was made and seconded to obtain a debit card. The vote was 3 yes and 3 no. President Fleming had to break the tie and he voted no. Fleming said he thought it should be investigated before a credit card is acquired.

A motion was passed to adopt Ordinance 23-O-10, ordinance to adopt proposing the incurring of a Loan and Issuance of Wastewater Works Revenue Bonds of the village in an aggregate principal amount Not to Exceed $2,000,000.00 for the purpose of defraying the cost of acquiring and constructing improvements to the wastewater works system.

The board also passed a motion to adopt Resolution 2023-R-5, a resolution approving the TIF request from Mick Price and entering into an agreement for the funds thereof. Total cost of the project is $17,000. The TIF fund will provide 20% now and 20% upon completion of the project.

Trustee Diane Eagan brought to the board the question of whether to have another time capsule for the village. The board voted yes.

Trustee Eagan said items salvaged from the time capsule will be on display in the former village hall for the Apple Dumpling Festival. The Sesquicentennial Committee has been working to have the items in a great display during the two days of the festival. No decision has been made on what to do with the items salvaged from the capsule.

She also stated that there will be a Rajah Alumni Tent available for the festival. They are hoping for a good turnout for this.

Trustee Justin Rosenberry said they were working on new toddler equipment for the park.

The board went into Executive Session for the purpose of the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body.

The board resumed their regular meeting after executive session. A motion was made by Allen Kilber, seconded by Diane Eagan to relieve village treasurer Jamie Simpson of her duties effectively immediately. Jamie was given a week to make the decision of resigning or being relieved of her duties. No word was received from her.

Allen discussed the incentive to add businesses to town. The meeting adjourned following this discussion.

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