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Sebastian Questions McChesney's Bills To FEMA For "Flood Work" After His Own Was Questioned, and Not Approved

Gladstone Board Hassle

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

GLADSTONE -- In a heated debate, in front of a packed crowd at the Gladstone Community Center, Village Trustees battled their way through every inch of a 2 hour plus board meeting Monday evening.

Trustees were at war with each other on several issues, pulling in others from the area, the same people who had all worked so diligently earlier to build a levee system that saved businesses and homes at the northwest edge of town in June, now called "The Big Flood of 2008."

At the beginning of the meeting, Jim Hetrick, Byron Sebastian and Clerk Joyce Hetrick sat near newly selected Village Attorney Andrew "Andy" Youngquist of Monmouth.

A couple chairs from Sebastian was Jr. Bielser and then a space and Mayor Rex McKinney was seated in the center. At the Mayor's left was trustees "Flo" Stewart and Darlene Manes.

The packed community building included 33 guests in attendance. Henderson County Deputy Steve Henshaw walked into the building around 6 p.m. and Mayor McKinney began the meeting with the pledge to the flag and usual minutes and treasurer's report.

But, most were in attendance to hear the dispute that came near the end of the meeting over the disapproval of Byron Sebastian's billing on flood work and the approval, without question, of Kurt McChesney's billing during the June 2008 flooding.

Mayor Rex McKinney, project manager, had signed his approval on four sets of bills. Two were from McChesney and two from the Gladstone Village, but he did not sign off on Sebastian's bills that also included work by Donnie Oleson and Kevin Shauman as well as repairs on equipment that was damaged doing work in June.

According to an August 11, 2008 FEMA report turned in by Richard Telgener, FEMA's project manager at Gladstone, Mayor McKinney, Gladstone's authorized agent and alternate, Darlene Manes, both have been actively involved with the project worksheets which contains invoices from various contractors that constructed sand bags and temporary levees for the Village.

Telgener stated that "these invoices appear to be fair and reasonable," but that the Mayor could not substantiate the nature or even if the work covered by some invoices was completed for the Village of Gladstone on invoices submitted by contractors including Byron Sebastian.

They "may be based on unreasonable costs and contain little information concerning what and where work was done."

"Mr. McKinney indicated that he would submit all invoices to FEMA but he would not likely sign the Project Worksheet (with his approval) if these questionable invoices are contained in the PW." Sebastian's invoices were attached and turned into FEMA, but not included in the portion approved by McKinney.

So, Byron Sebastian was again on the agenda to discuss "Flood Bills" and this time came prepared with lots of copies to hand out of the Project Worksheets that were approved by McKinney which included McChesney's bills for building levees, and his bills for clean-up which Sebastian said, he did not do.

He also had copies of his own bills he had turned in which totaled $17,820 for use of 124 hours at $50 an hour on a uniloader, 122 hours at $50 an hour on a Bobcat, and two forklifts at $30 an hours for 150 and 34 hours each from June 13 thru the 22nd. And he had a bill for repairs to his equipment that totaled $3,398.41 for a total of $21,218.41.

Sebastian's dispute was why McKinney and Manes would approve McChesney's high charges and on work that wasn't even done by them, he said, and yet disapprove his bill that didn't even include all the work.

Until the issue is cleared from an investigation that is being conducted by the State Police as to any misdealings by the two Gladstone agents, attorneys adivsed to hold up on paying out the $95,818.43 they received from FEMA that was approved on the Project Worksheet by the Mayor.

$88,305.76 was approved for invoices submitted by McChesney, and $7,512.67 for invoices submitted by Gladstone.

The Gladstone check of $2,279.85 was for repairing the streets on Sebastian Drive and on Lynn Street, and the $5,323.82 was for work of sandbagging along the levee.

The two invoices turned in by Kurt McChesney were for $52,328.68 pre-flood work, and $54,946.52 for clean up totaling $107,275.20. FEMA deducted 25% from the clean up and paid $41,209.89, and deducted 10% from the pre-flood work and paid $47,095.87.

According to the approved project worksheet, McChesney's bill was for temporary levee and sandbagging at Sebastian Drive and Lynn Street & 1650N as follows:

$16,906.50 $51 hr and 30 people sandbagging, Ryco Distributing, Inc., Bushnell, 6/14-18

$16,339.22 labor Nick Tapscott, Andry Bruer, Darin Garner, Nik Breuer, Masafumi Ushimaru, Makoto Matsushita sandbags/ATV, and equipment used (tractors, uniloaders, etc.) M&K Farms Partnership 6/12-17

$4,677.50 equipment (John Deere Gator etc.), RYCO Ag Products, Bushnell - 6/12-18

$781.32 Labor Gary Newton 51 hours Gladstone Salvage, Inc. 6/12-17

$5,206.73 sandbags/operators Fay Carter, Wes Manes, Peter Rousonelos, Kurt McChesney, supervisor - Gladstone Grain Co. 6/12-17

$3,392.52 Sandbags and/or ATV operator Jerry Bailey, Brian Fleenor, Ernie Darnell, Trent Lewis.- MKI Farms, Inc. 6/12-17

$2,513.02 ATV to build levee and fill sandbags - Leroy Hurka, Matt Peterson, McChesney Farms. 6/12-17

$2,511.87 19 hrs. skid loader 13.75x$82.50/hr; 2 trucks 19 hr. x$72.50/hr Husband Trucking 6/15-6/16.

Total $52,328.68.

Another invoice for $36,405.00 from Gus Rousonelos for sand taken from his farm was turned in but not approved.

McChesney's second billing of invoices on the Mayor's approved Project Worksheet (PW) was for $54,946.52 for "Debris Removal Operations" or clean-up as follows:

Oquawka River Terminal

Labor to reduce damage to city property owners by measuring identifing septic tank leech fields, water lines, etc. by fabricating and use of steel plates for loaders and trucks to drive in - $7650.00

Glastone Grain Co.

Land to dump material from temporary levee an level material off for site maintenance....... $9,700.

Gladstone Transport

Trucking to Remove Material Used to Construct Levee $9,680.

McChesney Farms

Use of 966 Front End Loader to load material used to make levee.... $9,800.

M & K Farms, PART.

Charge to return property to pre tempoary levee condition.

Use of scrapper to level ground to proper grade.... $9,500.00

MKI Farms, Inc. total $9,720.

Labor to cut, open and empty sandbags $6,150.

Labor to put empty sandbags & plastic into dumpster $3,570.

Landfill charges for disposal to be paid by Village of Gladstone

Sebastian was given the floor to talk about "Flood Bills" but most of the time was spent on arguments between Darlene Manes, Sebastian, and the Mayor.

Several times the Mayor asked Darlene to let Sebastian talk. He presented a receipt for hours on a Bobcat, and told Darlene, "You are way off."

Sebastian sald they started the work on Thursday, (June 12,) but others disagreed and they finally settled on Friday, the 13th of June.

"Mike Hopkins kept track of that stuff," Sebastian said, which Darlene commented, "That makes me feel good."

Sebastian continued, that he had told Darlene that Kurt McChesney didn't build the levee. "He didn't have the equipment. And you asked me to get bids, ....and then you didn't come back to get them."

Manes told Sebastian that "Your fight is not with us, it is with FEMA, Not us!"

"You ain't seen nothin' yet, sweetheart," he replied. "You said we were sliding bills through, and he explained use of two uniloaders, 3 backhoes and furnishing as to Dickie's road grader because they had used it.

Darlene told Sebastian that she wanted to see the extra gravel of the village's off his property. She wanted it moved to village property.

It was agreed it could be moved to the village property.

Sebastian question the work of Kevin Shauman and Don Oleson who did the work, and wasn't approved for payment.

McKinney said that Sue Corz with the state said the big fork lift was taken up to Twomeys and it was used for nothing to do with the flood to unload or load a shed and it sat there.

I saw Marty and he said it was not used, but in talking to Lafary in a phone call later, Lafary said that wasn't what he said.

"I didn't see it used, but that doesn't mean it wasn't used. I wasn't there all of the time."

Sebastian said he had taken it over to Indian Mounds. "We went down there to help them save their homes."

McKinney, said "Why didn't I approve it? I will tell you why.... I had two high ranking officials say that you billed hours on several of those days that it wasn't even used."

Sebastian said McChesney didn't do the cleanup, but state workers and church groups came in and did it.

McChesney said he had no trouble with what he turned in and after the meeting Sebastian and McChesney continued with some heated words over the accusations.

Jim Hetrick said he talked to a FEMA representative and he told me he talked to Curt. and that he could not turn anything in for own private dike. I also understand a business can turn in labor but it seems a little much to me at $51 an hour. Almost $17,000.

Byron said, "These bills are so out of line and you have trouble with mine." Then he questioned why Oleson's and Shauman's were not paid. Byron said, so he's a crook too?" Rex said, "I don't know, but his bill came out of the same package of yours."

Rex said, "... I seen him on the highway so we did back up Kevin and told them it was used there. I don't know why it was not paid . It just was not. I told them we had to go to Don's building, we used it to sandbag and put things in there and use his backhoe. I don't know." Sebastian asked, "What about the volunteer list? Mike turned in our volunteer list. We had 5,967 volunteer hours. Why were names crossed off?....If volunteers, why are they getting paid?"

In other business:


Matt Gray Disputes Water Hook-up Billing

As there were no committee reports, the Mayor addressed the old business which included Matt Gray disputing a bill on work at the Happy Rock Water Works last year on the car wash saying there was no specifics. "It is not right."

Darlene Manes repeatedly said that the bill was a disgrace and it was not done professionally and that it should just be thrown out. "Shame on us," she said. It should just be dropped.

It was asked if there was a set fee for water hook up and Jim Hetrick answered that the village just charges for the parts. "No labor is ever charged," he said.

Darlene said she didn't want to "see this crap" coming across like this and stated the village should have billed him with an itemized list and on Village Letterhead. "Waiting 10 months is not kosher," she said.

Tom Morrison, who was water commissioner at the time of the work explained all of the parts that were used and said to Darlene, "I can show you a list of the bills and the copy, are you happy?"

"No!" Darlene snapped. "I think we should make a motion to drop it."

Morrison went and retrieved the list of parts and gave it to the board. He mentioned all the things that the village paid for. "Everyone pays for material. No one pays for labor."

The bill was around $1,270. Just the meter alone was $375 and the first bills didn't come in until October, Jim Hetrick said. The work was done in March and it took two months or more before the bills were back.

Mayor McKinney asked if there wasn't an ordinance on what the water hook-up should be charged? and it was decided that it was talked about three years ago "but it didn't fly."

Attorney Youngquist said his guess was if they looked back far enough there may be something. He would charge something, it doesn't have to be a lot. 99% of the municipalities are going to be charging something for water hook-up."

He said the fee was huge in Monmouth.

"There should be something to not expose you to these arguments and concerns," Youngquist advised.

Rex said, "Let's keep in mind it is a new business and we want to help them out. It should be a set rate.

Matt said he wanted the bill deciphered and to know what he was paying for.

Jim Hetrick said to the Mayor, "Rex, I can get with him and write all this down if you want to know."

Darlene said, "Shame on us and I think we should drop it."

Approves 50 cent fee for FOI Copies

Jim Hetrick said he wanted to make a resolution to charge 50 cents a copy for requests for copies of paperwork. That was the attorney's suggestion. "It is very proper," Youngquist said, for the Freedom of Information Act. The mayor said he didn't think board members should have to pay. Sebastian made a motion to charge 50 cents a copy, Jim Hetrick seconded it, and Bielser, Hetrick, and Sebastian voted yes and Flo Stewart and Manes voted no. Hopkins was absent, so it passed. "From now on, it will be 50 cents a copy," the mayor said.

Work On Closing Of Railroad Crossing Continues

Dick Bigger questioned the closing of the railroad crossing at Lynn Street and Attorney Youngquist explained that he is preparing a report for the Illinois Commerce Commission in order to get a substantial amount of money for the village's voluntarily closing of the RR crossing. Youngquist said, if the ordinance they had tried to put into place earlier was past, they wouldn't be eligible for the incentive money. "I was concerned you had already passed the ordinance," he said. Youngquist is working on the resolution that will contain a written agreement for BNSF and the village on the amount of money Gladstone will receive and put it into the appropriate formate. The Ordinance will then come 2nd, he said.