Village addresses crossing safety

RANTOUL — School children and other pedestrians will have a safer time crossing certain state route locations in Rantoul, pending a village board vote to install upgraded signage and crossing devices.

The board agreed to consider, at this week’s meeting, approval of an $83,892 contract with Stark Excavating to do the work. The cost will be shared equally by the village and the two local public school districts.

Improved school crossings-markings on the pavement “should jump out at motorists when they are approaching and direct students where they should cross,” Public Works Director Greg Hazel said at last week’s village board study session.

The work involves new school and pedestrian signage furnished and installed by the Illinois Department of Transportation and new pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at Lincoln Street on U.S. 136; new radar speed detector signs at Chanute Street on 136; replacement of sidewalks and ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements; and new crosswalk striping at Chanute and Lincoln streets and Sunview Road on 136, and on Wabash Avenue and Campbell Avenue, both on U.S. 45.

The village will install the flashing beacons and radar speed detector signs.

Trustee Terry Workman asked if there had been any discussion about placing radar speed signs on Maplewood Drive near Eastlawn Elementary School. Hazel said that might be forthcoming later on Maplewood and Grove Avenue, but the village wanted to focus on the state routes first.  

Corrosion found in water tank
The board was asked to consider a $131,605 contract with Phoenix Fabricators to replace 26 corroded beams and bracing inside the Campbell Avenue water tower.

The project was unexpected. Hazel said the contractor that was hired to paint the tower found that the bracing and steel beams within the tank bowl were heavily corroded, “much more so than the inspection revealed a few years ago.” The beams act as stiffeners to prevent deflection of the top plate of the tank.

“It was above and beyond (the company’s) capabilities to replace” the bracing, Hazel said.  

After the replacement of the beams and bracing, the remaining painting could still be finished this fall, he said. Otherwise, it will be finished in the spring.

The primer already painted on the tower is sufficient to last without a final coat for two seasons, so it should be fine for the winter, Hazel said.

“But from an operational standpoint we want the tank back in operation as soon as we can,” Hazel said.

Fire suppression system
The board was also asked to consider approval for converting Building 718 (707 E. Veterans Parkway, which is currently a mattress warehouse) and Hangar 1, both on the former Chanute Air Force Base, from a wet fire suppression system to a dry one. FE Moran, Champaign, presented low bids for both buildings — $40,920 for Building 718 and $86,450 for Hangar 1.

The existing wet system holds water in the lines until the sprinkler heads are activated. However, the entire building must be heated during the winter so the system won’t burst from freezing.

Under the dry system, water is removed from the entire fire suppression system, and dry valves are installed on each of the main risers for each zone of the building. The valves hold the water in place at a pump room until a sprinkler head is activated.

The benefit of the dry system, Hazel said, is that only that part of the building that is being used is heated, “which will save money for either the village or the tenant.”

Both buildings are being leased from the village. The village will save the money to be spent on converting to the dry system in a few months by not having to heat all of the buildings. He said the conversion will also help to market the properties.

Change in motel demolition project
The board was asked to approve a change order in the Rantoul Motel demolition project at 301 S. Century Boulevard, allowing for the payment of an additional $12,020 to contractor Owens Excavating and Trucking Inc., Oakwood, to remove 8 inches of concrete that the village did not know was present under 2 inches of asphalt.

David Silver, zoning administrator/building inspector, said even with the additional money, the Owens bid was $7,500 lower than the next-lowest bidder. Owens originally bid $39,250.

The motel has been demolished, the debris removed and dirt brought in to fill the basement area.

Road maintenance swap
Hazel said the Illinois Department of Transportation has quashed the jurisdictional transfer of maintenance responsibilities of two roads between the village and Rantoul Township Road District approved by the village in July. However, the same thing can be accomplished by adoption of an intergovernmental agreement.
Hazel said the change of maintenance makes more sense for both the village and township road district in terms of snow plowing and not moving equipment from one jurisdiction to the other.

Under the agreement, the township would maintain the village’s Chandler Road extended from South Perimeter Road to 1800E for 1.53 miles and a portion of 1800E (one-half mile north and south of 2800N for one mile) in exchange for the average annual Illinois State Motor Fuel Tax payment of $3,289.

The village would now maintain South Murray Road from 2900N to 2800N (Chandler Road), formerly maintained by the township.

Police department restructuring
Police Chief Tony Brown asked the board to approve the restructuring of the support services section of the police department staff.  

Operations Manager Elizabeth Frankie will retire in January after 40 years of service. Brown said during her tenure, her job has evolved to include IT support for the department and supervising the police services representatives.

Brown said the reorganization plan would eliminate the operations manager position and a part-time support service post, and replace them with an IT position and create a police support supervisory position. Brown said the change would be “cost-neutral” or might save the department money.

Brown said he would anticipate filling the IT position in the fall so that person can become acclimated prior to Frankie’s leaving. The supervisor post won’t be filled until after the operations manager retires.

IMRF agent change
Human Resources Director Katherine Johnston asked the board to have her department become the village’s Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund agent.

IMRF agent duties previously had been assigned to different departments in the village, most recently to Comptroller Scot Brandon. With Brandon’s pending retirement, Johnston said the time is right to move that responsibility from the comptroller to the HR Department.

The board was also asked to lift a moratorium on any rezoning requests now that the village zoning ordinance has been updated. The moratorium had been enacted in July.

Meet with administrator candidates
The board met in executive session with the two remaining candidates for village administrator — LaTonya Rufus and Rick Snider. Mayor Chuck Smith said earlier that he expected an administrator to be announced following the Oct. 10 board meeting, but said that has changed. He said the hire could be announced sometime this week.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

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