RANTOUL — The village has a five-member human relations committee to deal with human rights and civil rights issues. And more members will be added.

The village board last week narrowly voted to approve the committee with Mayor Chuck Smith breaking a 3-3 tie.

Voting against it were trustees Sam Hall, Hank Gamel and Sherry Johnson.

Prior to discussion of the committee, whose members initially include Sherry Faulkner, Herm Fogal, Kelly Foster, Tony Peyton and John Vasquez Jr., Smith said he planned to add more members. Gamel, however, wondered if it would be better to wait to vote until the additional members are named.

The committee is designed “to reduce prejudice and discrimination” in the community based on race, religion, national origin, cultural background, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability and other factors.  

Gamel said if the committee is going to address discrimination, “We probably need more people of color on it. Is there a reason to approve this and not defer it?”

Smith said the new members will be added next month, and Housing and Urban Development regulations require a committee to be in place. The human relations committee was originally formed in 1995 to address any areas of discrimination regarding federal housing. However, Smith said the issue never came up, so the committee never met.

He agreed to re-form the committee at the suggestion of resident Debbra Sweat.

Gamel pointed out that only two of the five members “represent a minority population.”

Trustee Terry Workman countered that is 40 percent, which reflects the racial makeup of Rantoul with 60 percent White and 40 percent minorities. He said he didn’t see a problem with the makeup.

Hall said the committee is going to hear racial issues/challenges “our residents may face.”

“It’s important the committee members are accessible,” Hall said. “I’m not saying anything against the five on this. I want to make sure the members should be who the rest of our population can reach out to.”

Hall opined that if two new members are appointed, they should be Black or Latino.

Smith outlined who was selected and why he named them.

Faulkner is a licensed clinical social worker with a master’s degree in social work and a master’s in business administration.

Fogal “has a good background in housing and real estate.”

Foster is “highly ethical and is serving on the Rantoul Township High School board.”

Peyton “has been our h.r. director and knows what discrimination looks like and how to handle it.”

Vasquez is a local banker.

“From that,” Smith said, “I will take whoever applies, regardless of race, and they will be interviewed. I hope to have all of those people to you by the August meeting.”

Summer youth employment program

Resident Wendell Golston spoke to the board about a summer youth employment program through the state Department of Human Services. He said 30 slots are open.

The program, for individuals age 16 to 24, is administered locally through Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, but all jobs would be in Rantoul. Participants are paid $10 to $13 an hour up to a total of 180 hours. Participants must meet criteria related to poverty and other risk factors.

He said the program runs through Aug. 31, but on Aug. 24 an extension can be applied for to continue the program through November.

“Studies have shown that usually if a child has money in their pocket they will not want to part with it and they can be steered in the direction where they can be guided toward a career of good, sound judgment instead of a life of crime,” Golston said.

He asked the village to consider employing these individuals.

Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer said “seven to eight” positions have been identified that the village will seek for the youth to fill.

$500,000 loans approved

The board approved EDA loans of $500,000 each to a seven-person local group known as The Fringe Entertainment to build a 5,280-square-foot miniature golf-arcade-entertainment facility next to the Rantoul Family Sports Complex, and  to Bridget and Ariel Rogers to move their Shear Excellence Salon from 105 S. Century Blvd. to 424 S. Century Blvd., the former home of Logan’s Pub, which will be renovated.

The entrepreneurs will receive the loans at zero percent interest to be paid back over 10 years.

Sports complex contracts

The board also approved several contracts for the sports complex. They include:

• A $560,267 contract with Watchfire for scoreboards, including a large video board at the baseball championship diamond, a smaller video board at the championship softball diamond, a portable video board that can be used anywhere in the sports complex and the community, six nine-inning scoreboards and two home-guest/inning boards at the two 100-foot t-ball-Special Olympics diamonds.

• A $434,476 contract with Team Reil to build a splashpad and sports-themed playground.

• A $410,186 contract with Insight Public Sector for a Cisco-Meraki fiber system for a 27-camera security and wifi system. That does not equip the complex with the capability to video stream the games. Recreation Department Director Luke Humphrey said he had been contacted by a number of companies in the past week willing to install video cameras and switching equipment to stream the games. Viewers would pay a fee. The companies would pay rent for use of the wifi service.

• A $100,000 contract with Corson Music to provide audio.

• A $216,000 engineering agreement with MSA Professional Services to design sanitary improvements for a gravity interceptor sewer for the sports complex.

Other business

The board also:

• Voted to approve the sale of four lots to the public at 201 N. Penfield St., 405 and 429 Steffler St. and 110 W. Letchworth Ave. for $100 apiece.

• Voted to approve a $782,100 contract with Top Quality Roofing to replace the roofs on Rantoul Business Center, the wastewater treatment plant traveling bridge building, water treatment plant-west plant, power plant and Forum Fitness Center.

• Voted to approve purchase of a new storm siren for 617 E. Grove Ave. from Global Technical Systems Inc. for $27,055, replacing a siren installed in 1970.

• Voted to approve the purchase of sanitary sewer pumps and materials for Pump Station 1818 from Gasvoda & Associates for $41,451.

• Voted to approve a service agreement with Ratelis to provide software programming for preparing and generating stormwater utility bills for $64,750.

• Voted 5-1, with Workman voting “no,” to approve a resolution providing for the submission of the proposition to stagger the terms of trustees to the voters in the Nov. 3 election. If approved, the terms of trustees in even-numbered districts would be two years, and those in odd-numbered districts would be four years. If the measure fails, all trustees’ terms would be four-year terms.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com