PAXTON — Protect our protectors.

That’s the theme that Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School’s Project Ignition group has adopted this year.

Two members of the group — Payton Breach and Hannah Cliff — spoke to the Ford County Board on Monday night and presented yard signs they had created to Sheriff Mark Doran and Highway Engineer Greg Perkinson.

Beach said the group, which works to promote safe-driving habits among teens, had the signs made and sold throughout area counties. The signs say “Protect Our Protectors: Slow Down & Move Over.”

Beach said it seems simple to her that drivers “slow down and move over,” yet there have been numerous police officers struck and injured or killed while they were stopped on roadsides assisting motorists.

Cliff designed the signs. The blue background represents police officers. Cliff said the group is currently sold out of the signs but is having more made. Signs cost $10 and can be ordered by calling the high school or ordering one from one of the Project Ignition members.

Settlement with wind farm

Also during Monday’s county board meeting, Leo Weber, a Rogers Township road commissioner, announced that the township had finally reached a settlement with EDF Renewables over road problems in the footprint of the Kelly Creek Wind Farm in northern Ford County.

“I’m not happy, but I’m satisfied,” Weber said. “We held their feet to the fire.”

The company will make a cash settlement over ditch grading and a contractor will be hired to do the work. EDF will also pay the township’s legal fees.  

Weber worked with Perkinson on the settlement agreement, as well as with officials from bordering townships in Livingston and Kankakee counties. Weber was highly complimentary of Perkinson’s efforts and Perkinson of Weber’s.

Serious legal wrangling had been going on the past two years, though the settlement was hashed out before anyone took the matter to court. A total of $2.7 million remains in escrow that EDF will not see until the settlement is satisfied.

In a related matter, Kempton area resident Chuckie Loveall updated the board about his difficulty reaching anyone from EDF about his and another neighbor’s problems receiving television channels via antenna.

Board members Ann Ihrke of rural Buckley and Tim Nuss of rural Roberts have been trying to reach company officials on Loveall’s behalf and have also been unsuccessful.

State’s Attorney Andrew Killian said he will send a certified letter to the company’s local representative. Also, Weber said he would contact the company representative in person.

Other business

Also at the meeting:

➜ As a purely symbolic measure, the board voted 8-1 to not approve a resolution related to new court-related fees the state is mandating counties adopt under a law passed in 2018. Under the law, which goes into effect July 1, revenue generated from the new fees is reportedly to be sent back to the state, leaving the county with much less income. “Thousands will be lost,” said board member Chase McCall of Gibson City.

➜ The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card Act. Doran said that if signed into law, it would increase fees for FOID cards, all of which would go to the state police. In the meantime, if a person no longer qualifies for a FOID card or a concealed-carry license, it would be up to local law enforcement to confiscate that person’s guns. “All the risk would be on us,” Doran said.

➜ Doran said the elevator in the courthouse in Paxton is out of order because of a nonworking control panel. Doran said a representative of Kone Inc., the county’s maintenance agreement holder, told him the elevator could be down four to five months while a new panel is created. Board member Tom McQuinn of rural Paxton said the county may want to find a different company to work with. “We need to find another company,” McQuinn said. “It’s not that big of a deal to redo a panel. ... We get charged way too much monthly — $600 — and then way too much for repairs. We’re not getting the best bang for the county’s buck.”

➜ Board Chairman Bob Lindgren of rural Loda, who serves as Ford County’s representative on the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency’s board, addressed mismanagement charges against the agency’s chief executive officer, Angele Thibodeaux Burns. “That woman did nothing wrong,” Lindgren said. “It’s a problem higher up at the state level, and I think someone is going to get fired. There’s another side.” In response to the allegations of mismanagement, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity has threatened to pull millions in federal grants from the agency, which serves low-income residents of Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.

➜ The board approved an ordinance amending an enterprise zone encompassing portions of McLean and Ford counties. The enterprise zone was amended to include the addition of 0.05 square-miles of land in McLean County owned by Brandt Industries USA Ltd.

➜ The board approved the hiring of a Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School student to work part-time in the treasurer’s office and supervisor of assessments office this summer and next school year. The student worker would work fewer than 130 hours a month and fewer than 1,000 hours a year at the federal minimum wage.

➜ The board approved a resolution authorizing the circuit clerk to hire a full-time employee.

➜ The board approved the appointment of Philip Earing of Kempton as a trustee for the Kempton Community Fire Protection District. Earing fills the unexpired term of William Malone, who resigned April 1. Earing’s term runs through May 2020.

➜ The board approved the reappointment of Kevin Crowley as a trustee for the Sullivant Fire Protection District. Crowley’s term runs through May 2023.

➜ The board approved the reappointment of Mike Short and Laurelyn Cropek to the Ford County Public Health Department board.