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Emge Speaks Out About Circuit Changes; County Board Prepares For Road Work

By Todd Marver

Washington County Circuit Judge Dan Emge told the Washington County Board on Tuesday, February 14 that he has been a judge in the county for 10 years as of December 3 and they’ve never experienced as much change as they have the past six months in the circuit in the county. He said the State of Illinois decided to implement a pretrial services agency in September in conjunction with the SAFE-T Act that is now on hold due to a judge in Kankakee County finding it unconstitutional.

“Prior to that, the probation officers in our counties supervised people while their case was pending as well as if they were sentenced to probation. The pretrial services agency now supervises people pretrial. Probation only does people post-trial or after they’re sentenced to probation,” he said.

A new circuit was created as of December 5. The old circuit Washington County was under, the 20th circuit, consisted of St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington counties. Emge said the legislature decided to carve out St. Clair County on its own and have a new circuit consisting of Perry, Washington, Monroe and Randolph counties.

“We have to have our own rules for our circuit. We have to have the personnel for our own circuit. It has been a lot. The state prevented us from getting much of a head start on this before December 5. Since December 5, it’s been a whirlwind,” he said.

Heather Dunmyer, Regional Office of Education director of truancy and student services, said the region covers four counties: Marion, Jefferson, Clinton and Washington. She said this year they are serving 335 students in four counties and of the 335, seven students are in Washington County including four from Nashville Community High School, two from Nashville District 49 and one student from Ashley.

“On average yearly, we usually have between 15 to 20 truants from Washington County. We don’t have a big issue with truancy in Washington County. That’s because our enrollments are small and our administrators are pretty self-sufficient. They know the students on a more one-on-one basis and they are able to take care of truancy and attendance issues in-house before they have to come to the regional office for intervention,” she said.

The board approved a resolution detailing the county’s estimated motor fuel tax expenditures on maintenance for fiscal year 2023 at $946,950. County Engineer Kiefer Heiman said this includes material, equipment and labor costs.

“We will be oiling and chipping County Highway 6 from County Highway 13 to the St. Clair County line. We will also be chipping County Highway 12 from County Highway 10 to State Route 15. To close the season, we will be doing some patching and chipping in the Posen area,” he said.

The board also approved a resolution to appropriate township aid. Heiman said the cost to the county will be $1,710. He said Pilot Road District requested a 50/50 motion to reset three 60-inch concrete culverts on Van Buren Road.

“They have begun to separate and are causing failures on the road shoulders,” he said.

The board approved a special use permit from Darrell Klenke to allow a commercial recreational facility for weddings and events on the property located at the end of Kaskaskia Road on the east side.

“Everyone was in favor and the recommendation was made for approval (by zoning board). There was an addition put in by the zoning board that the failure to comply with the midnight shutdown may result in the special use permit being revoked,” said county board member Dan Bronke.

The board approved the administrative office of the Illinois Courts lease agreement for office space. Board member Gary Suedmeyer said the state court services need some office space in the county and the monthly lease payment that the county will receive from the state is $314.05.

The board approved a credit card limit increase for the sheriff’s department from $2,000 to $5,000.

The board approved Jill Bowers replacing Alan Bowers Sr. and Glen Johannes replacing Howard Johannes on the Locust Creek Cemetery Board, reappointment of Richard Schuette to the Locust Creek Cemetery Board and appointment of Alan Hohlt to the Locust Creek Cemetery Board. The board appointed Matt Lockhart to replace Ed Lockhart’s unexpired term on the Pilot Knob Cemetery Board.

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