Village still recovering from emerald ash borer

RANTOUL — On the surface it’s a relatively inconsequential purchase. A Vermeer stump cutter. Price tag — $47,735.

But it points up the heavy toll the emerald ash borer took on the trees of Rantoul.

Public works director Greg Hazel said the ash borer killed 1,500 trees in Rantoul. The result has meant time and expense for the village to remove dead trees.

“The village has been progressing steadily through the neighborhoods (removing trees),” Hazel said, “but we still face the removal of a couple of hundred trees.”

He said once the canopies and trunks are removed, the crews’ focus will shift to the grinding and removal of the sumps, which will likely happen later this year.

The new stump grinder will replace a 1990 model that Hazel said has served the village well but has been “somewhat unreliable and has required ongoing repairs and maintenance” in recent years.

The village board approved purchase of the stump grinder at its monthly meeting last week.

Cigarette purchase restrictions requested
The board heard from students in J.W. Eater Junior High Honor Society, speaking about the hazards of pre-teen smoking.

The group asked the board to ban the purchase of cigarettes in the village until age 21.

A number of cities across the country, including the state of Illinois, have approved such bans.

Other action at the meeting:
The board voted to amend the village plan in connection with public works certification pay.

Each employee of the village public works department assigned as an operator in the water, wastewater or systems maintenance divisions who becomes and continues to maintain status as a certified operator issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will receive additional pay per hour.

The pay adjustments range from $1.92 to 44 cents an hour for both water and wastewater.

Village Administrator Jeff Fiegenschuh said the certified pay plan hasn’t been updated for “15 or 20 years. We have some of the lowest-pay for the licenses” in the area.

The pay adjustments amount to a 2 1/2 to 3 percent upgrade.

“Class A license and Class 1 license for wastewater, I would equate it to a CPA test. It’s hard to pass. I certainly couldn’t do it,” Fiegenschuh said. “You would almost have to have a masters degree to have a job out there ... with the rules and regulations handed down by the EPA.”

Fiegenschuh said the overall cost will amount to $11,275, a year, which will be absorbed by the water and wastewater budget.

Parks maintenance agreement
The board approved a $50,000 one-year maintenance agreement for the village to maintain three parks owned or partly owned by the park district.

The village will mow Mary Alice, Maplewood Drive and Wabash parks. It will no longer mow Eden Park, which is located next to American Lutheran Church.

Maintenance of that park will return to the church.

The park district jointly owns Wabash Park with the village and Rantoul Township High School. The village will mow that park in return for being allowed to store equipment in a park district-owned shed in that park.

The board approved an ordinance to issue up to $12.2 million in taxable general obligation bonds.

The bonds will be used to fund the police pension fund.

The board approved an environmental covenant for landfills 1, 2 and 3 on the former Chanute Air Force Base.

The board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Urbana regarding the management of community development block grant funds.

The board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the cities of Champaign and Urbana to conduct a feasibility study for possible creation of a land bank.

The board approved the purchase of LED lighting from Anixter for the wastewater treatment plant at a cost of $50,000. The purchase will be funded from the department budget. The village will also apply for a high-energy efficiency grant to help offset the costs.

The board approved a $25,296 contract with Burns & McDonnell engineers to provide construction administration and part-time construction engineering services for the village’s elevated tank coating and rehabilitation project.

The project includes the painting, maintenance and servicing of two village elevated tanks, including a 1 million-gallon tank at Campbell and Tanner streets and a 1 million-gallon tower on North Maplewood Drive.

The Campbell-Tanner tank will be cleaned, serviced and painted inside and outside. The Maplewood tower will be cleaned, serviced and receive a new exterior coating.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

Comments

Rantoul Press embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments