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Circuit Clerk Kim Evans reported to the Ford County Board that jury seating for at least one trial will begin on Oct. 19. But she said prospective jurors can be seated just 16 at a time for questioning in the large courtroom. She said that at least three sets of 16 will be questioned during that day separated by a period of time in between.

Evans was the only department head to appear in person at the meeting. Several county board members continue to attend the monthly meetings remotely.

Board member Gene May of rural Paxton, chairman of the board’s environmental/safety committee, said the county is rewriting the garbage hauling ordinance. May said that two trash-haulers operating in the county have no required license. “We’re looking for some teeth (in the ordinance),” May said. May said he’s shared a copy of the existing ordinance with health department administrator Lana Sample.

May, the owner of Central Illinois Disposal and Recycling said that in every county he operates in, the health department is in charge of the licensing. May said he had nothing new to report about a proposed county-wide electronics recycling event next year. Champaign County held one earlier this month.

It will be up to Tom McQuin, chairman of the board’s overview committee, and that committee to advertise for bids, set up an auction date for the two-year lease of county-owned farm ground, accept the highest bids received for the three parcels available for rent, and to execute contracts with the winning bidders.

The three county-owned farms are currently being leased by David and Kira Ebert of Onarga. McQuinn suggested holding the auction on the courthouse steps to avoid any problems related to COVID-19. He said he will review the existing lease with Killian to see if any changes should be made to the next lease.

Also the board:

-- learned from Chase McCall, chairman of the board’s finance committee, that he had set for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 19, in the small courtroom, a meeting to finish up the budget for next fiscal year. It will discuss an Office 365 email system upgrade and system maintenance package, as well as a request to increase the salaries paid to Ford County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Terry Whitebird and his deputy, Kevin Turner. Under the proposal, Whitebird would receive $10,000 per year, while Turner would receive $3,500, the proposed purchase of a new vehicle for the EMA and a proposed salary increase for the county’s new zoning enforcement officer, Brandon Magers.

--learned from McCall that MCS Office Technologies, of Gibson City, presented a proposal to the finance committee last Thursday. Last month, the board approved paying MCS $32,868 for Office 365 email migration and installation. MCS proposed a maintenance agreement, at a cost of $20,268 per year, with Microsoft; and a maintenance agreement with MCS at an annual cost of either $60,120 for basic services or $97,920 for premium services. McCall noted there is $225,000 currently in the proposed budget for next fiscal year for “computer services,” including IT upgrades. Board member Ann Ihrke asked if bids had been solicited from other providers. They were not.

-- tabled a proposed vote on an ordinance governing the $180,000 in grant funding under the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency Support Program, CURE program. The county is waiting for certification from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

The money would go towards any COVID-related expenses that have to do with protective equipment and overtime that is COVID-related. Some could go to upgrade ventilation systems at county facilities.

--approved an agreement with the Ford County Soil & Water Conservation District for the county to provide $7,000 in funding to the SWCD for fiscal year 2021. The county has supported the SWCD each year with a financial contribution. The money goes to certain programs and outreach activities.

--approved a preliminary engineering services agreement with Hutchinson Engineering, Inc., Jacksonville, for proposed road work in Wall Township.

--learned from Lindgren that the East Central Community Action Agency has lost their contract with the Head Start program. The agency will operate its winterization for low-income families, out of an office at 101 W. Ottawa Road in. Lindgren said the agency will pay about “four times the rent as budgeted but that it was about the only building that was available for rent on short notice.”

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