Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Bob Balgemann
BELVIDERE - The Boone County Health and Human Services Committee is recommending that Knapp Schmidt Architects be hired for the design and construction of a new 3,000-square-foot animal control services building.
But it is a 3-2 vote, taken Wednesday April 9, which will go to the full county board at its Apri...l 16 meeting.
Committee Chairman Paul Larson and members Bill Pysson and Marion Thornberry supported Knapp Schmidt, headquartered near Portage, Wis., north of Madison. Opposition came from members Kenny Freeman and Ron Wait, who liked Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects, based in Rockford.
Support for Gehlhausen was tenuous, however. Wait said he didn't want the contract to go to an out-of-state company, while Freeman said he liked both companies.
And there was a big concern about Knapp Schmidt because of the three-hour plus distance between Boone County and its base of operation.
Beyond that, Freeman cautioned, "You bring in Knapp and he doesn't deal with the local trades, there will be problems."
The committee recommended authorizing County Administrator Ken Terrinoni to negotiate a contract with Knapp Schmidt, should it be hired by the full board at the April 16 meeting. If no agreement is reached he was given the green light to begin discussions with Gehlhausen.
There were four architectural firms in the running when the committee meeting began. But members quickly dismissed the Jenkins and Hagney companies for various reasons.
POLLING THE COMMITTEE
After discussing the two remaining candidates Chairman Larson polled the committee to see where everyone stood. When it became clear that a 2-2 deadlock existed, Pysson called on Larson to declare his position.
But Larson initially replied, "I won't force the issue. We are split."
He said what he was hearing from the rest of the committee was that Knapp Schmidt was good at design with Gehlhausen good with construction. It was suggested that project responsibilities be split between the two firms, but it was quickly agreed that would not work.
Still, Terrinoni said, "I don't know why you couldn't talk with both of them. Ask them to resubmit projects that are similar in nature."
Freeman asked if the issue could just be moved on to the full county board. That could be done, Terrinoni answered, but he predicted the board "will be equally divided."
Ultimately, the committee agreed with Larson's suggestion that it recommend Knapp Schmidt as its No. 1 choice, with the caveat that there were some concerns. Pysson authored a motion to that effect and it passed, 3-2, with Larson breaking the tie.
The health and human services committee is one of seven standing committees of the county board. It consists of five of the 12 county board members.
Members have agreed animal control staff and the animals themselves need to abandon the current building off Appleton Road, because of numerous structural deficiencies.
The new building likely will be constructed on the east side of Illinois 76, just south of Spring Creek Road, where the county highway department currently is located.
(Above taken for Belvidere Daily Republican’s Facebook
Monday, April 14, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
The following are taken from the Boone County Journal website (http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2014/Boone-County-News-04-11-14.pdf#page=1).
The paper itself is available free of costs at merchants across the county.
Click the photocopy to enlarge:
District 100’s Building bond refinancing possibilities.
St. James finally breaks ground.
Here is a preview of an article that will be in Tuesday's (4-15-2014) BDR. The news is too exciting to wait.
AMTRAK TO ADD RAIL STATION IN BELVIDERE
ROCKFORD – Governor Pat Quinn on April 10 announced a $223 million state capital investment that will create hundreds of jobs and restart Amtrak service between Rockford and Chicago beginning in 2015. The return of passenger rail to Rockford for the first time ...since 1981 will begin with one round trip daily between Chicago’s Union Station and a temporary station located in Rockford. Service will be expanded the following year and will eventually continue west to Dubuque, Iowa. The projects are part of Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“Next year, rail service between Rockford and Chicago will finally be a reality,” Quinn said. “This funding and a new route are the final pieces of the puzzle to restart this critical rail service, which has been dormant for more than three decades. This is just the beginning – reliable, intercity passenger rail will create jobs and drive economic development in these cities, the region and the state for years to come.”
The announcement is possible because following two years of negotiations, the state of Illinois has decided to switch to a new route, utilizing tracks owned by Metra and the Union Pacific Railroad. The new northern route was selected following lengthy negotiations with the Canadian National Railway, whose tracks were originally chosen for the service. Switching to the new tracks will ensure that service begins in 2015 and isn’t held up by continued delays.
“Today’s announcement is truly a team effort involving IDOT, Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad, the City of Rockford and many others,” Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “I am especially proud that we are working together to build a multi-modal system of transportation that benefits residents and improves the quality of life throughout Illinois.”
“I want to thank Governor Quinn and his staff for their persistence and determination to restore Amtrak service to the city of Rockford,” Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said. “I know it wasn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile and sustainable ever is. Working with the state of Illinois, the city of Rockford and its partners are transforming our city, and I am so happy to work with our state partners to make it happen, because it couldn’t happen without their support.”
“I am excited to be part of the final push to make Amtrak service a reality,” State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said. “Our growing, vibrant city boasts tremendous transportation opportunities and the addition of passenger rail service to and from Chicago enhances the amenities our community needs.”
The new route will use Metra’s Milwaukee District-West Line and connect to the Union Pacific Railroad near Big Timber Road in Elgin. The Rockford station will be temporarily located at 703 Seventh Street on the east side of the Rock River, while IDOT and the city continue to develop a permanent Main Street station on the river’s west side. Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin dedicated $3 million in state and federal funding in 2012 in develop this new, multi-modal station. Stops also are being planned for Elgin, Huntley and Belvidere.
“We are excited regarding the economic potential created by routing the train through Belvidere and thank Governor Quinn for making this a priority,” Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain said. “I would also like to again recognize former Mayor Brereton, Dave Taylor, Steve Ernst and the entire NICTI group for their tremendous efforts to create a transportation vision for Northern Illinois. This vision has become reality. Hurrah!”
“It is essential for the economic development and the ultimate financial well being of all communities to have quality transportation,” Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said. “I thank Governor Quinn and the state of Illinois for providing our region with improvements to I-90, high-speed rail and bus rapid transit between Elgin and Rockford that will bring us all unprecedented opportunities for growth."
The $223 million in track, signaling and safety improvements are funded primarily through Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. Preliminary improvements to the Union Pacific tracks will accommodate Amtrak trains at 59 mph by the end of next year. Final improvements are planned to be completed in 2016, at which point speeds will increase to 79 mph and a second Chicago-Rockford round trip will be added. The state will continue to work with the Canadian National Railroad to extend this corridor to its ultimate destination of Dubuque, Iowa, stopping in Freeport and Galena.
Included in the $223 million investment is $7.85 million to rehabilitate the temporary station on 7th Street in Rockford and $5.85 million to be split between Huntley and Belvidere to develop their own stations. The existing Metra station in Elgin will serve as its Amtrak stop.
At Quinn’s direction, Illinois has become a leader in the expansion of transit and passenger rail to create jobs, reduce congestion on state highways, improve air quality, expand travel options and promote economic development.
By Bob Balgemann
BELVIDERE - Members of the Boone County Board of Health were reviewing a proposed change in the sick and personal leave policy for employees of the health department should get each year.
The addition read: "When a physician releases an employee to return to work, the employee will be required to submit a written d...octor's statement to their director before they will be allowed to return to work. The director will review any restrictions set forth by the attending physician and apply those restrictions until a subsequent physician's statement releases an employee to full duty."
But before the board could dig into that proposal at its March 31 meeting, member Allen Sisson took issue with the number of sick days a full-time employee gets each year.
"I think nine days of sick time is excessive," he said. "I would recommend six. And if it's not used it should not roll over" into the next year. "I'd like this to go back to the drawing board."
Current policy allows employees to accumulate unused, paid sick leave to a maximum of 570 hours, or 71 1/4 days. Any amounts over 570 days are lost and not eligible to be carried over into the following year.
Sick leave currently is awarded in increments starting with three on Dec. 1, the start of the fiscal year. The employee receives two more each on March 1, June 1 and Sept. 1.
Part-time employees who work 20 or more hours a week now receive seven paid sick days a year.
According to the policy, the purpose of sick leave is to provide income protection for an employee who is unable to work because of "personal matters, illness or injury of the employee or an immediate family member."'
Immediate family members were identified as the employee's spouse, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, step-parents, step-children, mother, father, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
REFLECTS COUNTY POLICY
"What about the county?" board Vice President Jim Cox asked.
"This is the county policy," Frank responded.
To that Sisson said he agreed the health department should follow Boone County policy, whenever possible. "But I don't think we should follow this," he added.
The health department is independent of county government, though the county board approves its operating budget each year. One county board member, currently Ron Wait, serves as a voting member of the board of health.
Another county board member, Bill Pysson, who was in the audience for the March 31 meeting, said many counties "go with their union contracts" when it comes to personnel matters.
Sisson thought nine days of sick leave "is sending the wrong message."
"This is not common in the workplace," Cox said of such a practice.
But Bill Hatfield, director of environmental health, said the concept is for people to remain healthy. "It's an incentive not to take advantage of the system," he said.
Cox suggested the matter be brought before the finance committee at its next meeting. A motion to that effect passed, 9-0.
Meanwhile, Frank will find out how other health departments handle sick leave.