The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Joy Swearingen, Quill correspondent
After voting down a proposal to allow one marijuana dispensary in unincorporated parts of Hancock County at last month's county board meeting, the Hancock County board voted March 17 to prohibit any marijuana businesses in the parts of the county it governs.
This lets the state know that no licenses can be issued to businesses in unincorporated Hancock County, explained State's Attorney Rachel Mast.
The resolution passed with "no" votes from Gary Dittmer, Dennis Castlebury, Patsy Davis, Bryan Stevens and Tom Rogers.
After the meeting, Davis said she opposed the prohibition because it prevents the county from receiving potential tax income from sales of cannabis in unincorporated areas of the county.
The board did approve a 3 percent tax on gross receipts of marijuana sales where it is allowed in Hancock County municipalities.
Only Hamilton has voted to allow marijuana sales within its city limits. Wayne Bollin and Mark Hanson voted "no" on this issue, and Mark Menn abstained.
The county action does not change state legislation which allows the use of limited amounts of recreational marijuana by adults in the county.
To control the spread of COVID-19, the Ninth Judicial Circuit has released an administrative order with precautions that affect the county.
While the Hancock County Courthouse will remain open, residents are asked to contact any county offices by telephone before coming to the courthouse in person.
See phone and email contact information at hancockcounty-il.gov. Residents are urged to conduct business by regular mail, email or phone whenever possible.
Anyone entering or exiting the courthouse is required to go through the east entrance doors. Anyone entering the courthouse will be asked several health related questions before being admitted into the courthouse.
A limited schedule of court cases will be heard during the coming weeks.
The board set a budget amendment hearing for 6:20 p.m. in the county board room before their next meeting on April 20. The budget amendment will allow for payment of $6,000 to Bellwether Inc. for budget consulting.
"Bellwether does consulting with about 80 percent of the counties in Illinois," said Finance Committee chairman, Wayne Bollin.
"They see things in other counties all around the state. We would be well served to have a one-year contract with them. They will report to the finance committee with recommendations."
The contract totals $12,000 with $6,000 added to the current 2019-20 budget and another $6,000 falling in the 2020-21 budget.
The county has received four resumes to fill the ambulance coordinator position, with the resignation of Terri Griffin. The position is full time with benefits. The committee will begin interviewing March 30.
The Health and Miscellaneous committee also received information from a Macomb ambulance agency that currently manages several other county ambulance systems.
The board approved a contract with Surdex to make aerial flights for GIS assessment maps.
The agreement is with four other counties and should begin in April. These flights create accurate maps of the county for assessment purposes.
The county cost is $74,000. The payment will come from a fund that contains fees paid by agencies to use these maps.
A memorandum of understanding was approved allowing $21.150 from WIRC to pass through the county accounts, and be paid to Hancock County Economic Development to reimburse their staff for expenses related to educating residents and promoting the 2020 census.
The Highway, Road and Bridge committee discussed the issue of ATV usage on county highways, but no action was recommended.
The committee concluded that townships and municipalities have distinct jurisdiction over their own roads and streets.
State statutes are already in place allowing farmers to use ATVs on local roads and streets while engaged in farming.
Most ATV manufacturers state their vehicles are sold for off-road use only.
In other business, the board: