UPDATE: Metcalf Board Members want to throw away $450,000 Grant already awarded –
April 1, 2016 ·
METCALF, IL. (ECWd) –
Update is at end of article…
Discussions among the Metcalf village board have been going on since January 6, 2014 to replace the water mains in Metcalf. The board approved a Resolution of Support to apply for a $15,000 Search Grant which covered the costs of the design and Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for this project. This Search Grant was awarded and the PER was completed by Milano & Grunloh Engineers in 2015.
On June 1, 2015, a Public Meeting was held to inform the village residents of the project the board had been discussing and to discuss the PER that set on the table. Also on June 1, 2015, a Public Hearing was held to receive questions and comments from the village residents. Three (3) residents (visitors) showed up for these meetings but there were no comments or questions.
It was discussed in all meetings that a 25% leverage is needed for the $600,000 grant applied for. This is a $150,000 loan for a $450,000 grant. So, for approximately 2 (two) years, the Metcalf village board has been discussing a loan that they will need if they get this grant. And during this time, no board member nor resident had made any complaints or comments about this water main project.
During the February 1, 2016 board meeting, Mayor Cheryl Gill announced the news of receiving the award letter for the $450,000 grant that they applied for back in June of 2015. She told the board that the loan had also been approved by USDA Rural Development. Again, there were no comments by either the board or the visitors.
Mayor Gill said “I feel this is a huge breakthrough in success for our community. It is truly a feat of a well-run government to work towards improvements to meet the safety needs for our village before chaos hits and a dire emergency is in place. All municipalities have the potential to prioritize their issues and apply for funding for them as money is available. As everyone well knows, it takes years to get a grant in place and to get the project finished. So, to wait on a major emergency situation before seeking help is not a good scenario. Metcalf has had enough leaks and breaks that the Community Development Assistance Program thinks we need the upgrade; after all, they awarded us the funds. It was part of the application to provide the records of the breaks and repairs made to the mains, meters and hydrants to verify need.”
The village board meeting of March 7, 2016 opened and the board appointed a new trustee to a vacant seat. This new trustee is John Morris. During the discussions of the items to be approved to get the grant and loan moving forward, Morris stated that he knew nothing about this water main project. He said that a public hearing needed to be held first. He had no idea that this was already done almost a year ago. Morris also said that there are not enough residents in Metcalf to spend this kind of money on.
Trustee Michael Alligood (appointed in on January 4, 2016 to a vacant seat) seemed to be interested and asked several questions but before answers were given to him, he made the motion to throw the $450,000 grant funds and the $150,000 loan in the trash. Morris 2nd the motion and roll call was taken; Elmer Snoke, Leasa Driver, and Randall Wheeler said no to the motion. The motion was denied.
With that, the board left the table and reconvened on March 9, 2016. Figures were calculated and positive possibilities for repaying the loan were discussed and the board moved forward with the resolutions, ordinances, plans and other items needed for the grant and loan with Morris and Alligood still holding strong against it.
Mayor Gill stated “It is embarrassing to have our village board discuss throwing money away when we need it so badly. I have been asked if I regret appointing these two guys as trustees. And my answer is ‘I do not regret appointing anyone that has positive interest in helping our village. We must believe that these two guys just have a huge lack of knowledge in this situation because they haven’t been interested in the village’s improvements until recently. It would be foolish if their main focus is to jump into the seat only to devastate the village. I am sure that when they decide to actually see the big picture, they will be okay with this and be proud of Metcalf’s accomplishments. But if by chance I am wrong with their wishes; and we are forced to watch them attempt new ways to trash these funds, it will be the same as finding new ways to shatter Metcalf’s hopes and future improvements.”
If you look into the leaks and breaks that many communities have, it is a very costly factor. And when you consider that Metcalf will spend $150,000 out of pocket to update all of Metcalf’s water mains (a $615,000 project right now); it is a small cost compared to the price tag of a predicted $800,000 or more that Metcalf will need in future years when an emergency hits them and no grant is available. It should make you wonder what the village will do then.
Corrosion and rust is a huge factor in the current water mains. This is not safe for drinking water. It can be a breeding place for bacteria. Corrosion is also a cause for leaks and breaks in the mains. PVC is the suggested upgrade and this means lower maintenance costs and a longer lasting piping network for Metcalf residents now and in the future.
In 2014, Metcalf completed a project of relocating and drilling two new water wells at a cost of $295,000 – 100% was funded by DCEO Grant (no money out of Metcalf funds). Metcalf did abandon old well and purchase other equipment at a cost of $21,000.
Trustee Morris provided a letter in rebuttal to this article which can be read at this link: (HERE
I cannot at this time verify any of the information contained in his letter, but will fact-check it against the meeting minutes.
Copy of the approved meeting minutes at this link (here
) to verify this article – I have not had the time to review them yet.
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