The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County Board Hears Group Is Forming To Seek Better Internet Service

Joy Swearingen,Quill correspondent

A group is forming in Hancock County to look into grant funds for improved internet service in the area.

“Hancock County has been identified as one of 14 counties in Illinois without consistent, reliable rural broadband,” explained Samantha Harnack, director of Hancock County Economic Development, at the Hancock County board meeting on Jan. 17.

“The federal government has given ‘Rebuild Illinois’ $400 million through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a statewide broadband improvement program.” The effort is designed to expand internet access resources into rural areas.

Harnack is forming a Broadband Infrastructure Planning group of 12 to 15 people who will work to place the county in line for possible grant funds. First they will identify current services, speed and needs for reliable internet service.

“Our next step is a survey that we will be sending out before Jan. 26. It basically is going to farmers and rural residences and will include a speed test for their internet,” Harnack said.

“The data collected will offer a clear picture of where we are and how far we have to go.”

Harnack will be talking to many rural groups to get the surveys filled out. She encouraged the board members to spread information and support for the surveys to their constituents.

The county has no cost to conduct the survey. It is funded mainly by the Illinois Soybean Growers, who see the need for better internet service in rural areas.

Hancock County EMS

The board approved a resolution allowing the sale of the two EMS buildings on the east side of Carthage. Terms of the sale allow for up to three years’ lease of the building by Hancock County EMS at $15,000 per year.

States Attorney Bobi James noted that the sale agreement will include the full purchase price by the buyer. Through provisions in the agreement, payments to the county would be reduced by the amount of the lease in the first three years.

The agreement provides that the county would have the option of adding more years to that lease. At that time the lease payment would be renegotiated.

Offers to buy the buildings can be rejected if they are not at least 80 percent of the appraised price of the buildings.

Board president Mark Menn introduced the new director of Hancock County EMS, Aaron Feagain, who started his job Jan. 2. Oversight of the EMS service by Adams County ended Jan. 6.

The board continues to identify people to serve on the Hancock County Ambulance Advisory Board.

Steve Lucie was appointed as county agent for noxious weeds. The county is required to create a plan for identifying and eradicating certain weeds in the county by USDA.

Lucie and Tom Rodgers were appointed to serve on the WIRC board. Andrew Asbury was appointed to the Hancock County Public Health board.

The board approved resolutions for three road and bridge projects, which will use Federal Surface Transportation Program funds.

These will improve Tioga, West Point and Stillwell roads; the Burnside-Durham Road; and a bridge in Harmony Township.

An amendment was made to the county employee Health Care Plan. This adds coverage for use of specialty drugs and infusions, sets maximum charges allowable giving the plan the option to negotiate the claims, and increases the Maxi Plan benefit to $2000 per admission.

President Menn asked office holders, at their discretion, to give a list of equipment and materials from their departments that is no longer needed. Declaring these items as surplus property is the first step in their disposal and removing unneeded equipment.

In other business, the board: