Village votes to increase water rates by 1%
By ARIANA R. CHERRY
Fireworks became the main topic of discussion at the beginning of the Arthur Village Board meeting on April 5.
“We are trying to figure out how to do this safely and simply as we can,” commented John Stewart, who came to speak to the board on behalf of Rotary.
After last year’s show was canceled due to the COVID19 pandemic, many are anxious to “get back to normal,” and for some people that “normalcy” includes Arthur’s annual fireworks show.
Presently, Illinois is still in phase four of the Restore Illinois Plan which only allows for a group of 50 people or less. There is hope that Illinois could possibly be in the “Bridge Phase” paving the way closer to phase 5, but it depends on the area metrics and vaccination percentages (70% of the senior population 65+ must be vaccinated and hospitalizations and deaths must be on a downward spiral).
With that in mind, if Illinois is in the Bridge phase, then planning could move forward for fireworks with mitigations such as masking and social distancing in place. Stewart explained to the board that during the Bridge phase, 30 people are allowed for every thousand square feet (right now, that number is 15). During the Bridge phase, this would allow up to 6,500 people within the football field and ball diamond area.
Stewart noted to the board that he had spoken with the Douglas County Health Department, and as long as the guidelines were followed, they were okay with moving forward. He also explained that there needed to be a way to control who would come in and out of the restricted area and that additional security would be needed. Some of the ideas included giving people wristbands, putting up fencing and spray-painting circles on the grounds to help with social distancing.
“We need to make sure there are enough people to help control those that are wearing wristbands. It would be a large undertaking and would require additional man-power,” commented Police Chief Goodman. Mayor Rod Randall also agreed, who was concerned about being able to recruit enough law enforcement. Village Attorney Kenny Crossman also pointed out that those who were vaccinated would not count towards the restricted 6,500 people. They would simply have to show their vaccination cards. “Douglas County is only vaccinated at about 16% right now,” added Randall. Other concerns were brought up were those for vendors – they would need additional guidelines and be able to sign waiver and liability forms.
“We will need to educate those who might be coming from out of town. It’s hard to plan with numbers going up and down, so we need to start planning now. We need to know how to educate everyone- those that live in town and those coming in from out of town,” stated Trustee, Christy Miller. “There needs to be open communication moving forward and keeping everyone in the loop is great. We need to be making sure we have added insurance,” she added.
Randall informed Stewart that by the next meeting, contacts to the school board, park board, ball diamond and Moultrie County Health Department all needed to be made. “By the next meeting, we probably need to make a decision,” he said.
Other information discussed included
•Matt Bernius reported $48,581.57 in expenditures.
•The board reported that the village was moving forward with the Strawberry Jam and the Amish Tractor Cruise. Chief Goodman told the board that they have received the route for that.
•The final payment of $33,673.06 was made to Burdick Plumbing and Heating.
•A 1% increase in the water rates was approved as a recommendation from the auditors.” “The auditors recommend an ongoing raise each year to get back to where we were,” informed Grant Corum. “For right now the increase is getting us to where we need to be,” commented Matt Bernius.
•Grant Corum presented his five year Capital Improvement plan which included fire hydrant replacement, work on the water distribution system, inspection of the water tower, finding a new water source to help improve raw water quality, replacing water meters and replacing pump stations. After his presentation, the board approved the 2021-2026 Capital Plan.
•Mayor Randall presented updates about COVID19 and vaccination information from the Douglas County Health Department: The recent 7-day positivity rate for Douglas is 2%, which is trending down. 16.29% of Douglas County residents are now fully vaccinated. Anyone living or working in Douglas County, and is 18 years of age or older, can now set up an appointment with the DCHP for a vaccination.