Tuskegee street naming postponed

This obscure street — Tuskegee Avenue — that borders South Century Boulevard on the former Chanute Air Force Base will remain intact for now. The area is slated to become part of an economic development project, and the village of Rantoul wants to rename another street in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, who have a tie to Chanute. The renaming, however, has been postponed until a more prominent area can be selected.

RANTOUL — Rantoul village officials would still like to name a street Tuskegee Drive, but the original location was scrapped for now.

The previous plan was to change the industrial spur identified as Textron Drive to Tuskegee Drive. That tract leads south from Veterans Parkway toward the airport and is the first street east of Eagle Drive.

Some in the community, however, felt a more prominent location should be selected, Mayor Chuck Smith said.

The formal naming of the street was to have been highlighted at an event honoring the airmen March 22. The event, however, was postponed over coronavirus concerns.

“Since the Tuskegee Airman event has been canceled, it opens a chance to discuss this at great length,” Trustee Hank Gamel said at last week’s village board meeting.

The village already has a Tuskegee Avenue, but that area, located in the 800 area of the former base, east of South Century Boulevard and north of Chandler Road, is due to become part of a redevelopment project, and village officials felt that redevelopment would have overshadowed the street.

Other business

The board also:

* Approved the purchase of 14 Tasers from Axon for the police department at a total cost of $64,679, to be paid back over five years.  The Tasers will replace the 28 Tasers currently employed by the department. Instead of each officer having a Taser, officers will share them, Police Chief Tony Brown said. He said the current Tasers have reached their end of life and that Axon will no longer service them.

* Approved a $25,540 service contract with Deem Landscaping Inc. for the installation and maintenance of 33 plant beds and 33 standing planters plus $130 per time as needed for watering and weeding of the beds and planters from May 1-Nov. 25. Recreation Department Director Luke Humphrey said the village added some downtown beds and Constitution Park to the contract. The Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center is not included. That work will be handled by village personnel.

* Approved a motor fuel tax resolution that allows for the striping of bicycle lanes north and south on the edge of the through traffic lanes from north of Champaign Avenue to just north of Letchworth Avenue for $2,160.

* Approved a change order regarding the engineering service agreement with Burns & McDonell for the phase 3 design of the airport wildlife deterrent fence project for $4,223.

* Approved one-year cleaning contracts with Ram Clean 2 Inc. and ESS Clean Inc. for various municipal buildings for $78,600.

* Learned from Brown that the public is eligible to enroll in the Champaign County Citizens Police Academy, which will be held April 30-July 2 at the Police Training Institute, Champaign. Classes will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. “It’s an opportunity to really learn what police do,” Brown said. “Some of the topics are orientation of police training, crime scene investigation, firearms orientation, talking about the judicial system, the laws that apply to police, traffic stops and the use of force.”

* Heard from resident Donald Robertson, who touched on comments made at the previous week’s study session. He said adults tell children not to bully one another, but adults should not bully other adults either. He said a trustee verbally bullied Debbra Sweat when she met with the trustee while questioning the hiring of a new employee last year who had been charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. “We voted for you. You’re not supposed to bully a resident if they ask a question,” Robertson said. “Ms. Sweat, I want to apologize to you because you should have never went through that. I believe in second chances. I’ve been asked by at least 10 people this last week, do the second chances go for everybody or for just some?” He said some people told him minorities are not getting second chances.

* Heard from Rantoul Walmart Manager Nathan Volk, who announced that on April 9, the store would launch a delivery service for Rantoul and other area communities. He said “four to six” more workers would be hired at the store.

* Learned from Mayor Chuck Smith that Rantoul again had been designated a Tree City USA.