The Washington County Board met on Tuesday, Dec. 14 for their final meeting of 2021. The meeting was kicked off with a presentation by the University of Illinois Extension. Representing the extension were Jordee Koehler, the county director serving Bond, Jefferson, and Marion Alongside her was Chris Lueking, who is the Horticulture Extension Educator, and Ashley Hoffman, the Extension Educator.
“In this new era, I’ve been embarking on partnering with local businesses to identify what our communities need,” said Koehler.
They base their needs off of five grant challenges- community, economy, environment, health, and food.
The presentation specifically touched on food access within the communities.
“It’s a huge issue that we need to focus on within our counties,” said Koehler.
Hoffman explained the past several years the extension has provided a monthly mobile market at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Roughly 8 percent of the overall population in Washington County were described as “food insecure.”
“It might sound like a small amount, but it equates to over 1,100 people, and 8.8 to 9 percent of those are children, which equates to about 300 children,” added Hoffman.
While those numbers are from 2019, the pandemic made those numbers skyrocket by 5 percent in Washington County alone.
In an effort to lower those statistics, not only will they host their mobile markets, but will partner with the St. Louis Food Bank to host two large food fairs. A food fair is roughly ten times the size of a normal mobile market. The previous one in March 2021 had 200 families participate. They are also working towards bringing more food pantry boxes to the county. There is already one located in Nashville, and the goal is to locate them in Irvington and Ashely as well.
Chris Lueking then spoke on horticulture and Master Gardener, which is designed to teach people how to grow their own food.
“Our younger generation needs to learn how to grow their own food and take care of plants, so we’re using this opportunity to teach our youth and our Master Gardeners to go into the local food pantries,” said Lueking.
Next on the agenda for the board was the solution to appropriate MFT Funds for FY22 Engineer’s Salary.
Boardmember Eric Brammeier moved to approve the motion. It was seconded by Dave Ibendahl. On the State’s Attorney’s report, they were looking to approve a resolution to support and continue the operation of the Appellate Prosecutor. What they do is provide a number of different services. They resolve conflict when an outside counsel is needed as well as handle appeals.
Item number eleven touched on the National Opioid Litigation.
“It’s got to the point where they do have a settlement, Illinois’ share is in upper eight or nine hundred million of that to the entities that sign onto it,” said State’s Attorney Daniel Janowski. “We’ve received some information from out attorney’s that represent us in our class, and now is the time to seek approval of the settlement.”
Although there is not a final figure, there is a formula based upon the percentage of population that signs up and determines how much we get. The more entities that sign up, the higher the payout.
“Obviously for a county our size, this is money we aren’t going to get from anywhere else since we are not going to fire for litigation on our own,” said Janowski.
Brammeier motioned for authorization for David Meyer to sign off any documents of finalizing agreements. It was seconded by Rodney Small.
The board’s nex topic was the appointment of a new county clerk upon the retirement of Nancy Hesemann.
“I am grateful that I’ve been able to serve and work for the county that’s made it possible to retire at the time I’m retiring right now. I feel like the voters of Washington County have treated me well. The voting returns have always made me feel good,” said Hesemann.
The board went on to approve the yearly and monthly county clerk report as well as the sheriff’s report. Effective Jan. 1st, Chief Assistant Sherry Hempen will be the new clerk moving forward.
During the Emergency Ambulance and Rescue Report, Small said the service fees are up, they had about 150 calls and are expecting a new unit to come in the second week of January.
Treasurer Natlie Lynch explained they are getting ready to send out certified letters in anticipation for their tax sale that will take place Jan. 14. This year they are holding a semi-automated tax sale. Buyers will come in with their bids on a flash drive, and the successful bidders will be chose by the bidder. The reason for the new method was due to the concern of COVID restraints.
“We didn’t know if we had too many people what size room we were going to need to have, or what we could do,” said Lynch. “We just thought it was best to be as contactless as possible.”
Joseph Meyers from Edwardsville will be assisting with the sale. The other change this year is there is a new legislation effective Jan. 1 that the maximum bid will be at nine percent, half of what it used to be.
“That is just the bit of new legislation we are all having to adjust to,” said Lynch.
The county has collected over 98 percent of the taxes, so about $400,000.
“In the grand scheme of things, that’s wonderful. There’s about 400, plus or minus, certified letters that will go out this week,” she said.
Following the approval of the treasurer’s report, the board discussed zoning in regards to case 2011-21, the Valroy Binsbacher Zoning Map Amendment. Binsbacher presented a case to rezone 2.5 acres of an existing 18 acres to build a house behind his existing house. There was no opposition, and it was already approved by the zoning board. It was too approved by the county board.
A motion was then set to enter into an intergovernmental agreement between Southern Illinois Metropolitan and Regional Planning Commission.
The board then went over the county insurance renewal. Liability insurance has gone down $7,069 dollars, last year work comp increased by $18,666, and property increased by $6,182 dollars.
The board approved David Karg of Lively Grove to take the place of the late Victor Shubert on the county board and Cheri Queen to replace Roger Greten on the Coulterville Fire Department due to his resignation.