The county’s increase in COVID-19 numbers has shut down in-person visitation at the Massac County Detention Center.

Sheriff Chad Kaylor informed the Massac County Commission at its Tuesday, Dec. 28, meeting the shut down took effect that morning.

Kaylor had been watching the county’s active COVID numbers as the holiday season approached. When Monday’s report from Southern Seven Health Department showed 115 active cases in the county, the decision was made to stop in-person visitation until further notice. Video visitation is still available.

Commissioner Jayson Farmer was not physically present for the commission meeting, but listened and interacted by telephone from his work site.

Kaylor updated the commissioners on the jail overcrowding he discussed at the Dec. 14 meeting. Two weeks ago, the jail count was 54, which is 14 over capacity. Just before Tuesday’s meeting, the count stood at 36 after several bonded out and four taken to a Department of Corrections facility, but, Kaylor noted, the number could go back up at any time.

On a related note, Kaylor had just received a letter from DOC concerning reimbursement for housing prisoners in 2021. Kaylor said he sent the request four to five months ago and those numbers have increased by at least 20 in the meantime; however, he noted, no update has been requested by DOC. The letter notes the reimbursement is a minimum $35 per day with no maximum listed.

“I’d hoped for a decent amount when we started this,” Kaylor said. “We were looking for $80 a day, which is under what DOC says it costs to house an inmate. When DOC last testified for its budget at the Illinois Budget Hearing, they said it cost $127 per day.”

Kaylor’s response has to be postmarked by Dec. 30.

“More than likely, we’ll have to sign something to get anything out of it. It should be a lot more, but it’s a take-it-or-leave-it type situation,” Kaylor said, noting his plan to be on a conference call between the Sheriff’s Association and the government’s budget office Tuesday afternoon.

Because the reimbursement funding is coming to the state through CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding, the DOC says “it’s through the federal government and they have no control over it,” Kaylor said.

The county requested and received $80 a day reimbursement in 2020 through CARES funding.

Massac County State’s Attorney Josh Stratemeyer, acting on behalf of Kristy Stephenson, who is administering the county’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, presented a resolution for the county’s acceptance and expenditure of the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund established under ARPA.

Stratemeyer said the county has until fiscal year 2024 to allocate its $2.67 million in ARPA funds, which have to be “expended pursuant to Treasury Department rules, the use of which continues to expand, but it still needs to be COVID related, which is a broad spectrum,” he said. “Before spending the funds, it will need to be verified as approved uses. Kristy will help in that.”

The commissioners accepted the resolution.

County highway engineer Joe Matesevac informed the commission he received last week a copy of a stipulation agreement from the Illinois Commerce Commission about replacing the County Club Road bridge. Matesevac said he has reviewed it, and Stratemeyer is currently reviewing it. The agreement — which states the Grade Crossing Projection Fund is funding 80% of the project and the county 20% — requires the signatures of Matesevac and representatives from IDOT and the railroad. Once everyone agrees, “the Commerce Commission will issue an order to secure the funding, and it will go to the construction stage,” Matesevac said.

County treasurer Jody Haverkamp reported the Dec. 15 county tax sale had the same number of parcels as in 2020 — 265 parcels and 42 mobile homes for 307 total. She noted the amount from the sale has been placed into the final tax disbursement of $2.2 million, which was scheduled to go to the taxing districts this week.

In other business:

• Kaylor has finalized the contract for the department’s new Tasers and body cameras. He expects to receive them in January and have them in service in early February.

• Kaylor is receiving estimates for a new fire alarm system for the courthouse.

• Kaylor reported the department’s Santa Sheriff program delivered about $1,800 in presents to a family with six children on Christmas Eve. “The family was very appreciative,” Kaylor said. The program was funded through the jail’s chirping program, along with a few donations. Chirping is a product that allows inmates to send chirps (texts) to friends and family members.

• Commissioners approved amending the annual tax levy ordinance for 2022. County clerk Hailey Miles said because the county’s population fell below 15,000, the maximum rate on corporate went from 27 cents per $100 evaluation to 37 cents per $100 evaluation.

• The commissioners approved a resolution for the Massac County Trustees for 01-17-404-011, or 714 Old Boaz Road.

• And, Haverkamp reported the county’s general fund balance is $411,728.45, prior to the payment of payroll and claims.

The commissioners are scheduled to hold a budget meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Their next regular meeting will be at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

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