County Board Congratulates OHS Basketball Team, Hears Zoning Cases At March Meeting

By Alex Haglund

Washington County Board Chairman David Meyer took a short moment to mention the Okawville High School Boys Basketball Team which took home the school’s first state championship just before the board’s meeting, held on the evening of Tuesday, March 13.
“This past Saturday was kind of a historical one in the county, at least as far as basketball is concerned,” Meyer said. “We appreciate the students that take part in this kind of activity for the school.”
Overall, and despite the big news in basketball, the board’s March meeting was a relatively short and routine one. The board took action on three different zoning cases which were brought before them.
The first case came to the board from Adam Newcomb, who planned to place a double-wide mobile home onto his piece of property and sought a zoning map amendment.
While County Zoning Administrator Rick Greten stated that he did have reservations regarding Newcomb’s access to the piece of property by road, he said that he had discussed those with Newcomb. Both the zoning board of appeals and the county board’s zoning committee recommended approving the amendment, and the board concurred.
The next case came from Josh Bevil, who was seeking to have two acres of 40 on a piece of family farm rezoned into rural residential so that a stick-built home could be constructed.
The zoning board of appeals recommended that Bevil’s amendment be granted while the Board’s zoning committee recommending that it be granted as well. The board agreed as well.
The last zoning case was a special use permit requested by Donald Mock. Mock placed a 17-year-old used mobile home onto his property and later applied for the permit. He told Greten that he had been advised that it would be within code by some St. Clair County authority and then came to Greten’s department upon learning that he would need a special use permit.
Mock stated that he intended to use the mobile home as a location to hunt from and then to begin to clean up the property from.
The zoning board of appeals did vote to recommend that the special use permit be granted, but two of the board’s seven votes were against the recommendation, due to concerns about the mobile home, already old, being left on the property to further break down.
The board of appeals’ recommendation did come with a stipulation that there be a three-year limit on the use of this particular mobile home, and that its use is limited to the Mock family only.
The County Board did approve the special use permit being granted, but board member Eric Brammeier voted against the permit.

Highway Department

County Engineer Mitch Burdick gave his monthly report to the board but did not have any resolutions for the board to consider.
“We’ve been doing some shoulder repair projects,” Burdick updated the board. “On County Highways 13 and 24, and spot work throughout the county.”
Burdick also stated that there was a major culvert failure, on County Highway 6, west of Addieville. He told the board that his department has a plan for the repair. This will require closure of the road.
As of the time of this printing, the work would begin on Wednesday, March 21, and it should be open again, “by the end of the week, if all goes as planned,” Burdick said.
Burdick also stated that despite the county not having seen a lot of snowfall this year, the highway department has still used most of its stockpile of road salt.
“Because we had so many ‘winter precipitation’ events,” said Burdick. “I’m getting really sick of hearing that in the forecast on the news.”

Regional Superintendent of Schools

Ron Daniels, the Regional Superintendent of Schools for this Regional Office of Education (ROE 13) spoke to the County Board. ROE 13 covers Washington County, along with Clinton, Jefferson and Marion Counties.
Daniels said that he had spoken with the board’s educational committee before the February board meeting, but was unable to attend that meeting of the full board so he came in March instead. He stated that his office had issued 300 letters of first notice regarding truancy in the ROE, after which 38 cases were referred to the truancy review board, and finally, 11 cases were taken to the courts after not being resolved by other means.
Daniels said that the State of Illinois would be switching over to a new formula for funding that was evidence-based, which will mean some changes, but stated that the biggest problem remained that the state needed to have the money in the first place, no matter the formula used.
“My office right now, is owed approximately $500,000 from the state,” he told the board, saying that the money had already been vouchered and sent to the comptroller.
Finally, Daniels said that the region was experiencing a teacher shortage, one that would only get worse in the immediate future. Daniels stated that in some of the districts he represented, they were even having trouble filling positions for Physical Education teachers, which he stated was normally the one of the easiest jobs to fill.

County Clerk

County Clerk Nancy Heseman gave her monthly report, saying that her office was preparing for the March 20 election.
A new change for this election, Heseman said, was that they would have extended hours before the election to allow for more early and grace period voting.
On Friday evening, March 16, the clerk’s office would remain open until 6 p.m., while on Saturday, March 17, the office would be open from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Treasurer’s Report

Washington County Treasurer Darlene Ostendorf spoke to the board about the annual tax sale.
Ostendorf said that there had been 209 parcels offered at the tax sale and that there were 15 total buyers.
Of the parcels offered, 85 did not sell. Now those parcels will be in the hands of the county’s designated trustee. If the tax bills on those pieces are not resolved within two years, the trustee will then take care of their sale on behalf of the county.
Ostendorf also told the board that her office had made the final property tax distribution to the taxing districts for the year. This distribution went out the day before the meeting.

Other

Washington County Sheriff Danny Bradac reported that there were 15 federal and 10 county inmates currently being housed in Washington County Jail.
The board voted to allow the demolition of property purchased by the county. The board voted to accept a bid from Henry Habbe excavating in the amount of $11,900 to knock down two buildings and remove trees. Dennis Shemonic and Paul Todd voted against approving the bids.
Items regarding county officials’ salaries and the per diem payment for the chairman of the county board were both in the agenda, but no action was taken. The items have been tabled until the April meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at the courthouse.

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