After the 2013 tornado, Brookport received a grant from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity to acquire a city hall building, tear down the old one and build a pole barn for the maintenance equipment. A building was acquired and during the renovation, Gov. JB Pritzker, then newly elected, put all grants on hold. The city, then under the administration of Johnny Klaffer, was allowed to use part of the grant money for the purchase of the old bank building and renovate it as the city hall.

Now with the recently released money, the project can be finished.

The Brookport council held a special-called meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to make some changes.

The lowest bid for the maintenance shed was much higher than the grant allowed and all bids were rejected.

Some of the improvements to city hall were not finished, either, such as making it handicapped accessible and constructing a second exit for the police department.

It was decided to finish the renovations first and then use what money is left to build the shed either as a separate building or an addition to the current building. This change order should complete the grant.

The other change order was for a grant by Delta Regional Authority when the levee drainage pipe was lined. The second drainage pipe had been plugged with cement. It is this pipe that the city would like to use the remaining $73,000 grant money to have a half-inch steel plate with support system over the 72-inch pipe and stop the leakage. The cost is estimated at $58,995.

While in session, council approved the changes discussed at the previous meeting, Jan. 19, for the policy and procedure manual. The maintenance department will have a dress code. including steel-toed shoes, with the city subsidizing them at $100 per year. Employees must call in if they cannot be present for their scheduled time. Only authorized overtime is allowed.

Martin hired as maintenance supervisorAfter not having a quorum for the scheduled Jan. 12 city council meeting, the meeting was rescheduled for Jan. 19. All members were present, except Kathy Tucker, either virtually or in person.

Paul Martin, who has had many years of experience in a supervisor’s position and is OSHA certified, was hired as the maintenance supervisor at $15 an hour. Mayor Tami Wessel was impressed with the work he had done in his first month of employment. Martin remarked he and Donnie Henson have worked together well as a team with one working off each other’s strengths. Currently, they are the only two working in the maintenance department.

Martin expressed a need for metal gas cans and a container to hold flammable material, an OSHA requirement costing around $1,200. He would also like a metal detector to help find underground pipes and valves. The cost to repair the city mower is over $1,000. His recommendation is for the city to consider buying a new zero-turn mower with a 60-inch cut and seven-year warranty for $4,199.

Henson had found another company where the chemicals used in water treatment would be cheaper. The chlorine would be $2 a gallon and injector pumps would also be less expensive.

Bills totaling $49,907.69 were approved unanimously for payment with no questions by council. It was approved to pay Jeff Mays $2,800 for cleaning the outfall ditch of the floodwall pipes. In the past, it had cost the city $10,000.

Alison Boyt gave the treasurer’s report for November as $197,317.73 in the general fund. She did not have figures for December and January.

On the water system improvement grant, approval was given to pay the contractor MidWest Petroleum $56,387.42 and Brown & Roberts engineering $14,083.50 for work done in December.

Discussion was held on rebidding the maintenance garage in a new location. The lowest bid for the first design was $534,000. Changes will be made in the structure to lower the cost. It was unanimous to reject all bids and redesign the shed with some modifications.

Two new members for the fire department were accepted — Devan Martin and Jamie Parker. Parker is a registered nurse and has worked as a paramedic.

The fire department is also applying for two grants. One for $26,000 to get new fire gear — 14 sets of helmets, pants and coats. One drawback was that they would all expire at the same time, and the council previously agreed to buy two sets each year to avoid that situation. The other grant would be for 20 sets of gloves, boots and air packs.

The Illinois Municipal League recommended the city approve an ordinance adopting a diversity, equity and inclusion policy for the City of Brookport, which council did. It may help having that ordinance when applying for future grants.

Changes were approved to the employee policy and procedure manual. Illinois raising the minimum wage each year until it is $15 conflicts with the 50-cent raises given after 90 days, which was removed. Martin asked for a maintenance uniform policy to include steel toed shoes, reflective shirts/vests and long pants.

Scott Martin is working on the budget committee and the sidewalk replacement program funded with motor fuel tax. It would be helpful in budgeting if residents would get their applications submitted by March 1. The information and application packet is available at the city clerk’s office via the drive-thru window. Paul Martin will be assessing the need, and sidewalks will be done as available funding dictates. The city will provide the cement, while the resident provides the labor.

In the mayor’s report, Wessel reported that a grant/loan for the wastewater system had a preliminary inspection report by Brown & Roberts sent in for approval. Upgrades are needed for the lagoon, lift stations and sewer mains. It remains in question if Brookport will receive the funding. Any loan portion would need to be repaid, increasing the water utility bill once again.

The $175,000 Strong Community Grant will be earmarked for the Crockett Street neighborhood. Once property owners give permission to demolish structures or clear property, the city will be able to start work. The property will still be in possession of the owner. Property values should increase with eyesores removed.

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