County commissioners cover wide range of topics at Friday meeting
Topics ranging from an August solar eclipse and storage space to barking dogs, trash on local roads and finances were discussed at last week’s regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.
The meeting was Friday morning, April 28, at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
Union County officials are gearing up in a variety of ways as they prepare for a total solar eclipse which will occur on Aug. 21.
Union County, and other nearby areas in Southern Illinois, will be key viewing points for the event.
Thousands of visitors are expected in Southern Illinois for the event. Union County officials are among those preparing for the large influx of visitors.
Union County Ambulance Service director Grant Capel and Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel both shared updates about their plans at Friday’s meeting.
Officials are uncertain at this time about exactly how many people might come to Southern Illinois, and Union County, to view the eclipse.
Capel said the ambulance service is working on work schedules and acquiring supplies in anticipation of the event.
The ambulance service director said that he expects costs to be “very expensive” in terms of meeting such costs as overtime for staff.
Harvel said he is planning to implement 12-hour shifts for the sheriff’s office’s enforcement personnel.
“My biggest concern is traffic control,” the sheriff noted.
County Finances Update
Union County Treasurer Darren Bailey shared a regular update about the county’s finances at Friday morning’s meeting.
He shared that the county’s general fund cash balance for April was $843,204. General fund expenses totaled $391,415.
The treasurer said that the state’s budget impasses continues to have an impact on the county. Bailey said that he does not see a state budget happening any time soon.
Bailey also noted that the county continues to work to establish a reserve fund. The hope is that such a fund would allow the county to operate for a year.
Trash, Spending Concerns
The county’s finances also were addressed in relation to concerns about trash along county roads during comments voiced by county resident and business person Ron Garner.
Garner leads efforts to pick up trash along roads in the Anna area. He said that since January, 500 bags of trash have been picked up.
“There’s trash everywhere,” Garner said.
Garner addressed several factors which he said have an impact on resources which could be used to clean up rural roads, along with working on infrastructure and supporting the Union County Highway Department.
Garner questioned the county’s utilization of outside help for labor negotiations, as well as the allocation of nearly $300,000 to fund the costs of four staff members. He contended that there is a “lot of dissension in this courthouse” due to such actions.
In other business at Friday’s meeting:
Local attorney John Bigler addressed concerns on behalf of a client regarding guidelines related to barking dogs.
Bigler asked that the county consider amending existing guidelines so that they are more clearly defined regarding such issues as volume, frequency and boundaries.
County officials agreed that they would look further into the matter. County board chairman Bobby Toler Jr. said the matter would be discussed with Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds.
Commissioner Danny Hartline addressed concerns about the county running out of storage space at the courthouse for papers, equipment and other items.
“We’re just running out of room at the courthouse,” Hartline said.
Hartline said he would lead plans to look into a solution to the challenge. County board chairman Toler said he would help.
New county human resources director Angela Knupp attended the meeting.
Knupp shared positive comments about completing her first week of work in the post.
The commissioners approved a $500 hotel/motel tax tourism funding request from organizers of the upcoming Annabelle Street Festival. The festival is planned June 9-10 in Anna.