The recent destruction by fire of the shed at the Paxton public works site destroyed quite a few pieces of equipment. Many will not generate much insurance reimbursement but some items like a stump grinder, a 1995 two-ton truck, snow fence and two bucket trucks had worth beyond their value.
The city council authorized director Mark LeClair and Mayor Bill Ingold to spend up to $35,000 on replacing equipment needed before next month’s meeting including a mister for mosquitoes estimated to cost between $10,000-$13,000. But some brand-new materials were lost as well. LeClair said the piping and cover for the yet to be constructed new salt bin were also destroyed in the fire.
The state fire marshal ruled out arson as a cause of the fire and said the cause couldn’t be determined. Police Chief Coy Cornett said his review of video footage from the night of the fire revealed no one near the building.
Though he did not appear at the meeting, the council discussed the email proposal by Tyger McClure to hold a march in support of the Black Lives Matter. While several aldermen questioned city liability if too many people gathered in light of COVID 19 recommendations and possible liability for the city if the event takes place on city streets, City Attorney Marc Miller said political speech has important protections.
“It will be a big mistake to get in the way of this,” said Alderman Mike Wilson. Cornett said he was at a recent such event in Gibson City and that it ran “as smooth as heck. All these other small towns have held these—Monticello, Mahomet, Tuscola with no problems. Ingold said he would like more clarification from McClure.
And in an announcement that was a surprise to no one, Ingold said no city-sponsored July 4th fireworks nor daytime celebration in city-owned Pells Park will be held this year. The city usually budgets about $7,500 for the fireworks and private donations match that amount. Ingold said it might be difficult to raise that money this year. In addition, racks and tubes for launching fireworks were destroyed in the shed fire.
And the city’s insurance carrier said that the city would be exposed to liability at its park if the celebration goes ahead and the geographic region Paxton is in hasn’t advanced to the necessary stage of the governor’s opening plan that allows for large groups of people.
The council also voted to rename its disaster response agency to Paxton Emergency Response from Emergency Management Agency. Director Ed Hanson said the change to ERS to EMA was made three years ago. But he said he realizes there is no need for a city EMA since the county already has one and to which Paxton can apply for help in case of an emergency. Hanson said the city was five years away from being a fully credited EMA and that working toward that was a costly process including holding a full-fledged disaster simulation.
Also Ingold announced that Paxton is in line to receive $50,000 each year for the next three years through the state department of transportation Build Illinois program. The city engineer is researching how that money must be spent.
Also, Aldermen Deane Geiken and Jonas Hoedebecke agreed to take on the responsibility of the city’s Facebook page and try to increase its visibility. The council did not take up the issue of allowing chickens in town. No one has come before the council asking for permission. Alderman Susan Satterlee mentioned that a resident in her ward has been feeding raccoons in the garage. Satterlee said she will take up the matter with the health department. And a license, permit, zoning and insurance committee has been set for July 14 at 6:30 p.m., preceding next month’s regular council meeting.