The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
-by Jeff Tee–River Rat News – Special for The Quill
The Oquawka Village Board held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 6. Present were Trustees Don Rice, Shawn Lain, Tammy Bundy, Brian Collier, Scott Ray, Brenda Tee; Village President Lori Lipes; Village Clerk Callie Thacker; and Village Attorney Andy Youngquist.
Anyone NOT on the agenda may speak for three minutes.
President Lipes opened the meeting to a standing room only audience. Most of whom live near the area of the recent Truck and Tractor pulls and were in attendance to voice complaints about Trustee Brian Collier. Lipes asked the audience to remain orderly and not be disrespectful of one another.
The first resident to speak explained that on the Friday morning before the tractor pulls, he had placed stakes and tape along the road in an effort to keep people from leaving trash in his yard. He stated Collier came to him and told him he couldn't do that because it wasn't his property but belonged to the Village. He said Collier told him if he didn't move the stakes back then the police would be called and he would be given a ticket. The resident stated he told Collier he would pay the fine. He then stated Collier said ‘it ain't your (expletive) yard, get it moved back!'.
Lipes stated Collier had no authority on this matter and that Zoning Officer John Newton should have been called. She noted that it would have been up to Newton to say if it needed taken down or not. Collier noted that John says they should not have been put there. Collier went on to say that until they revise the zoning ordinance, then that's the way it has to be.
Another resident stated Collier jumped out of his car and screamed ‘you M' F'er' and came around the car and tried to attack him. The resident stated that if it hadn't been for Lori Lipes and his wife, he doesn't know what Collier would have done. The resident explained he is 77 years old and Collier is a lot bigger than he is. He noted he has statements from more witnesses to collaborate his story.
Another resident stated a car drove through her yard because she did not have tape up. She said she understands why people put up the tape and felt it should be allowed.
Collier answered that's not what the ordinance states and they need to change it. The resident yelled back ‘I don't care what it says Brian because you think you're right all the time!'. Another resident yelled ‘if they were driving through your yard, you would be the first one bitching!'. Collier then turned to Lipes and said ‘if you're going to shhh me, then you need to shhh her'.
Another resident asked to address the board. He stated he saw Collier leaning up against his truck. He said he had no idea who he was and had never been introduced to him. The resident said he came out of his house and met Collier at the side of the road when Collier started telling him that he's illegal, he's on city property. The resident said he not once told him his name or that he was on the town board. The resident said he eventually had to ask him who he was and if he lived in Oquawka.
The resident suggested that when board member goes out to meet the public, they need to introduce themselves and say why they are there and who they represent. The resident went on to say he would like to see a meeting between town officials, tractor pull officials, and people that live in the area so that they could discuss not only how well the events went, but what are the concerns of the citizens of Oquawka and how best can we address those concerns and get something done that benefits everyone involved.
Lipes stated again that Collier was not representing the board but was acting alone and had no authority in this matter.
Another resident addressed the board saying he was not at home when he got the first call letting him know that Brian Collier came over and said a bunch of things to his wife that he didn't want to repeat in public. He said his wife runs a daycare so not only were his kids exposed to the foul language but other kids were too. The resident suggested a code of conduct be put into place. The resident stated he called Officer Dylan Tee and was told Tee would not issue a ticket and only a judge would issue a ticket for the caution tape. The resident went on to say he has owned the property for three years and has maintained it and put a lot of money into the property. He said to have a board member come on to his property and yell at his mother, his neighbor, and a Veteran is not in good taste.
Resident Steve Henshaw addressed the board to say he was representing the family of Constable David Welch. Constable Welch was shot and killed on January 11, 1859 while attempting to serve an arrest warrant at a flour mill outside of Oquawka. Henshaw stated he would like to place a stone bench in one of the parks in town as a memorial to Constable Welch. Henshaw noted he was seeking donations for the bench which has a total cost of $1695. He went on to say he would like to dedicate the memorial during the Schuyler Street Stroll on September 25th.
The board was receptive to the idea and Memorial Park was suggested as possible location but it was not possible to vote to approve a donation at this meeting because it was not on the agenda. It will be discussed at the next work session. Donations can be made to the Constable Welch Memorial fund at Midwest Bank of Oquawka.
I asked if the board could explain why it was the Village's responsibility to cut down a tree that was located on Illinois Department of Transportation right-of-way property. I noted an agreement from years ago between the Village and the Illinois D.O.T. and asked what the agreement said, why did the Village enter in to this agreement, and how does the Village get out of the agreement? Lipes explained the agreement pertaining to the tree's location was made in 2010 and signed by then Village President Harold Henshaw. She noted an agreement for another area along Illinois 164 was signed recently by former Village President Nancy Bundy. I stated I was just trying to understand why the Village would enter into an agreement that is seemingly so one sided that we assume all the responsibility and the state assumes almost none. Lipes said she had no idea and was not President at the time the agreement was signed. I asked if the Village could work to get out of the agreement and asked if the Village attorney could help with that process. Lain said he didn't understand it either. Rice said he thought if the agreement wasn't signed, then the Village would be responsible for all intersecting approaches during road construction.
Lipes presented a new Stony Courts sign to Victor Stoneking. The sign will replace the old one that has hung at Stoney Court's for many years. Stoney Courts is named in honor of Victor's brother Dick Stoneking.
Rice said he wanted to discuss something that he thought would become a "hot button" topic in the next month or so.
He asked what the criteria was for easements that the Village mows and easements that the Village does not mow. Rice said he felt that, in the coming weeks, they were going to see a lot of boulevards that weren't mowed.
Lain said he felt it should be the property owner's responsibility and the property owner should be able to put up stakes and tape at the road's edge to protect the property that they take care of.
Referring to the accident that involved Police Chief Clifford Adam and the squad car, Lain stated he was a little upset that he was not informed about the situation. He said he had to hear it through someone who happened to be at the scene. He went on to say he felt that when something like this happens, each board member should be contacted and made aware of it.
Lipes said there would be a police report about the incident, no different than any other resident.
Tee said Lain's point is the board members need to know when things like this happen.
Lipes said she was going to put it on the work session because she understands that they need to know but she's not allowed to group text the board members.
She said she would like to come up with a system where she informs a specific board member and that board member informs a specific board member, and so on.
Lain asked if they could discuss doing away with the baby pool and turn it into a spray park at the next work session. The baby pool leaks, which makes it hard to control the chlorine levels thus making it a nuisance for the pool manager and a money loss for the Village.
Tee stated she loved the idea of a spray park but felt it would be extremely expensive. Lain noted the Village has $150,000 from the fire department sale.
The finance committee, which consists of Tammy Bundy, Brian Collier, and Brenda Tee, will meet Tuesday July 27, at 5:15 to work on the yearly budget for the water department.
Tee stated she had met with one demolition contractor at the Palace II so far. As many as five others have picked up bid packets from Village Hall. Bids are due August 3rd at 3 P.M. and potential bidders must meet with Brenda Tee at the Palace II location before entering a bid.
Mick Olson presented a proposal to the board to prepare exhibits and estimates needed to apply for the BAAD (Boat Access Area Development) grant. Motion by Ray to accept the proposal. Second by Lain. All members vote YES Motion Carried.
There was discussion concerning what to do with the museum. Lipes provided an appraisal from 2012 for the old Family Video building. Rice questioned if it was an actual appraisal since it seemed to be incomplete. Tee asked where to start to get an estimate on upgrading the Village Hall storage building in order to put the museum there. Lain said he would hate to spend $100,000 on something that gets used one day per year. Tee stated if they don't want to do anything with it then they need to make that decision and get with the families that have donated items to the museum and get their things returned to them and just not have a museum. Tee said she felt if it was next to Village Hall it would get more use. Lain agreed that it would be better to have it next to Village Hall. Lain said they don't have to do a $200,000 upgrade to the building next door in order to make it a suitable pace for the museum items. He suggested just using a small percentage of the building to save on construction costs.
This is a procedural vote with all members voting "yes".
Dan Bigger addressed the board to say he would like to have a Labor Day tractor pull for Wounded Warriors and Veterans. Dan stated that along with the tractor pull, he would also like to have a parade. He has contacted the Wounded Warriors organization in Chicago and they will be sending Banners and signs for the events. Rice suggested they get ahold of some high school bands to see if they would like to be in the parade. The board thanked Dan for his efforts.
Resident Susan bigger addressed her concerns about fireworks to the board. She stated she was not against fireworks but asked if they could be kept to just one day. Sue stated she had to medicate her twelve-year-old dog for three days because of fireworks that were going off around town. She suggested making an ordinance for people to light fireworks during designated hours on a designated day. Lipes said the ordinance would be very difficult to enforce. She went on to say police couldn't keep up with it because it's going on all over town at the same time. Sue said she felt the loudest of the fireworks could be controlled.
River Rat News
"Just the facts Ma'am"