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Cerro Gordo Village Approves Outdoor Events at Depot, Smoking Issue at Standstill

Staff Writer

On July 21, the Cerro Gordo Village board met in person, with no Facebook live for the first time since May, 2020.

On July 25, The Depot hosted their first outdoor event with board and all licensing requirements. Silverlake played from 8pm-11pm and it drew a decent crowd. It cost $5 to get into the event, blocked off by the typical orange fencing,

The event went well from what I gathered. Not many masks were present, but there was the ability to social distance outside. As the band played, the world seemed still for a moment, with opportunities for friends to intermingle.

However, the issue of smoking continues. The Depot bar states they have asked patrons to step away 15 feet from other businesses, or walk across the street. Owner of Expressions in Cerro Gordo, Debbie Williams Hull, stated, “First of all I will compliment you, you are keeping the cigarette and beer cans cleaned up.” She went on to add that the policing of smokers however is not being accomplished, and that some are purposefully blowing smoke into her shop.

Bartender Amanda Rickner pointed out in their plan, that it was better than no solution. “I know it is not going to look nice, just a little squared off area. I just honestly feel like that is going to be a better solution for us saying to everyone that goes out the door, yo please go across the street or take two steps off.”

Williams argued that redirecting smokers to the back is the better solution stating, “What I am trying to say is if you have all this money for all these bands, you need to try to do like you planned to do in the beginning and put it in the alley. It is going to save a lot of these problems.”

Rickner argues that it would be a financial burden to make something in the back alley, with the possible purchase of the new building. I was not allowed to see the walkway through what I was told is the storage area, but the back door is a straight pull up garage style door which would create some issues. Other owners were concerned about their lack of business.

Owner of BeYoutiful Beades and Baubles, Shannon Luthy, added “As far as the financial burden of it, I just don’t kinda understand why we are putting one business financial burden above someone else’s. So I’ll play devil’s advocate for a minute here, you got a group of ladies that comes into Judy’s for lunch, and they think we have a couple extra minutes in town let’s go see these shops we keep seeing on Facebook that are really cute, that they have never been in, and they walk down the street and see the cancer crowd and go, nevermind….it looks a little busy maybe we’ll come back another day.” “We are losing business.”

Luthy went on to add that the executive order has affected her financially as well, “My business depends on classes, and I can’t do curbside for I have a financial burden just as much as everybody else.”

“It gives us the impression as business owners, since we don’t contribute as much as tax money to the community that we don’t matter.”

The Depot does plan to purchase the building next to it and turn the backside into a patio area, which would eliminate all smoking issues. However Rickner states, it will take time, and that is the bar’s reasoning for not redirecting smokers to the back, as Trustee Aaron Weldy suggested.

“I would just like to say there is a stigma to people hanging outside, loitering, smoking. That needs to go away, we need to keep that strip of sidewalk free of as many people hanging out smoking that we can.” Adding, “That is why I hold steadfast that you move it to the back, and not a parking area. No one is really going to use it, let’s be honest. They’re still gonna bring their drinks out….You are detrouring business from other businesses around the area because Like I said when I started off there is a stigma with a bunch of people standing.”

Trustee Beth Medlen motioned to allow the temporary smoking space for The Depot. No one seconded the motion, so it failed. The bar plans to bring another solution and speak with area business owners.

MFT project of road seal and coat improvements approved to be completed by Illliana at a cost of $43,495.60.

The water ordinance was changed to basically state that after paying the bill in full, deposit will be returned. It did state that the final bill could be applied to the deposit, but it left some customers with bills of 17 cents.

Jarod from Good Energy was present to present the two year contract the village has kept with them. He said on the municipal side of things, savings per customer may vary. “The savings is slightly skewed. It is about $25 savings per year, but that is versus the Ameren price. If your consumer were to choose the Price to compare, it will be at the start of the contract at about 4.5 cents. The contract you guys selected is 4.2 cents. That over a year’s period is $25.” Adding if someone has been with the past contract, “Your folks that are part of the municipal aggregation program that will be continuing will see an enormous discount with probably their January bill.”

The village has reached out to Mediacom, but still no response. The agreement was tabled.

The TIF payment for Dennis Ridgeway was approved. The agreement is for the village to reimburse his taxes annually for 23 years at the time of the agreement.

The land purchase from Tammy Nuding at a cost of $30,000 from the business fund was approved.

Appropriations not exceeding 5% approved.

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