The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
-by Jacob Irish, Quill Reporter
At the Oquawka Village Board meeting Monday evening, the board decided to allow private organizations to use the Oquawka Village hall for meetings.
Fullerton-Moody would like to establish standards in order to make the use of the village hall fair for everyone.
As for now, the board has decided to allow private organizations to use the Village Hall (by appointment) for meetings during the day when the building is not being used for village business.
Mayor Fullerton-Moody praised everyone that helped with all of the Independence Day events, "the day was a huge success."
However, there were a few complaints about parking and the late hours of the events.
Fullerton-Moody would like to discuss these issues later in the year to see what the board can come up with to resolve these concerns.
Pool & Park Report
The Oquawka swimming pool will be closed on July 11th due to staffing issues.
All available staff members have taken July 11th off for family trips, leaving only one certified lifeguard available on the 11th.
The board's decision to close the pool on Saturday July 11th led to a discussion about the financial issues surrounding the public swimming pool.
As of now the pool averages between 50-60 swimmers during the week days, and less during the weekends. Trustee Bob Lafferty noted that since the pool only loses money for the village, Laffferty believes the pool hours should be restructured to save money.
However, concerned Oquawka residents were ready to defend the village's swimming pool. Oquawka residents made it clear that the pool was never built to make money. Instead, the pool was built to prevent children from swimming in the local creeks, and especially the Mississippi River. Nancy Bundy stated, "If the Oquawka swimming pool saves one child's life, it is worth a million dollars."
Later in the meeting Sue Bigger approached the podium to discuss the City Municipal tax Revenue. Bigger mentioned that previously the municipal tax revenue had been used to fund Parks and Recreation. Now the tax revenue is being funneled into the City's General Fund. Bigger is concerned about this change because of the ambiguity of the general fund, as well as the change that had not been explained to the public. Bigger, as well as other concerned residents would like to see the municipal tax revenue earmarked towards specific areas of the village.
Bigger continued her discussion about the city municipal tax revenue in relation to the public pool. Bigger does not believe that the pools finances should be an issue because residents pay to keep the pool open through their City Municipal Taxes.
Bigger recalled her grandmothers willingness to pay the tax decades ago with the idea that "everyone needs to pay it forward" to keep community's facilities open, regardless of financial trends or personal use.
The board voted to raise initial water activation bills from $50 to $75.
This was brought up due to the increased number of cases in which people are failing to pay water bills over $100.
This raise has been made to offset money lost from people defaulting on payments. In the month of June there were 8 water shut offs.
Bob Eldridge made a motion to remove four dead trees on Village property for no more than $975. The motion was seconded by Bundy.
Attorney Doyle and the board discussed home damage liability in regards to village trees falling on private property. According to Doyle, the Village of Oquawka "most likely" would not be liable for any damage to private property in the case of a fallen tree.
Fire Department Report
Troy Jern addressed the city's recent criticism in regards to the use of the fire station's siren.
"If someone is going to get hurt, I am going to use the siren."
Jern made it clear that the siren is necessary due to the village's limited fire crew. He also wanted to make it clear what the variations of the siren mean. One consistent blast with no tone variation is a storm warning. A siren that goes up and down is a fire/ call to duty for local firemen and women.
The fire station uses the siren to get the attention of fire crew members that are not near their pager, as well as to warn Oquawka residents of dangerous incoming storms.
After an unpleasant night call without flashlights, Fire Chief Jern has approached the board to purchase 15 flashlights for $55 apiece. These lights will help with night calls, but they are also high quality flashlights that increase visibility through smoke.
The board unanimously agreed to pay no more than $825 for 15 flashlights for the Oquawka Fire Department.
The Oquawka Fire Department will also be sending their Brush Truck to the shop to be fixed. According to Chief Jern, the driver side spray is not working correctly. The Fire Department will be taking the truck to Alexis to have the problem fixed.
Officer DeJaynes requested board approval for three "no swimming" signs to be posted at the Oquawka boat harbor. After witnessing children in danger of getting ran over by boats, DeJaynes sees the signs as a necessity to keep children safe.
Officer DeJaynes reported 1 domestic battery, 4 ambulance assists, 3 domestic calls, 1 civil disturbance, 21 ordinance violations, 4 golf cart inspections, 5 speeding citations, 2 driving with suspended license, 1 driving without a valid license, 1 failure to yield the right away, 2 illegal screeching of tires, 2 illegal transportation of alcohol liquor, 1 DUI, 8 warning tickets, 54 other calls, and 2 warrants.
The Oquawka police department drove 1,798 miles, equating to 189.8 gallons of fuel.
The village collected $900 in paid fines, $500 in administration fees, $219.50 in DUI fines, and $191.44 in Henderson County fines for a total of $1,820.90 in collected fines and fees.
In other business:
Mayor Sandra Fullerton-Moody led a discussion about the Prevailing Wage Ordinance. According to Attorney Andy Doyle, the Prevailing Wage Ordinance must be approved annually for the Village of Oquawka to be eligible for any state and Federal funds. Eldridge moved to accept the Prevailing Wage Ordinance and it was seconded by Trustee Nancy Bundy.