Hiram Sibley ledgers

These original ledger books are a few of those belonging to Hiram Sibley, and they date to the 1800s. The books have been greatly deteriorated at their present storage site within the village-owned Land Office. Derrick Babbs was present as a representative of the Sibley Historic Preservation Association to call the situation to the village board’s attention during Monday night’s board meeting.

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Urgent need to preserve documents

SIBLEY — A representative of the Sibley Business and Historical Association warned village board members Monday that some valuable historic documents being stored in the village-owned Land Office building have been damaged as a result of a leaky roof and their unprotected storage status.

Derrick Babbs said his group would like to have the documents stored elsewhere, but they need the village board’s permission since the village owns the documents.

Babbs said the materials — which include historic volumes and photos — represent “valuable information that will never be available again.”

Among the materials are ledgers dating back to the 1800s, which show who lived and farmed on each of Hiram Sibley’s many farms. Babbs said the Hiram Sibley House museum in Rochester, N.Y., does not have any of the information contained in the ledgers.

There are also old photographs and school blueprints. Babbs said his group has scanned some of the photographs and laminated the school blueprints using its own funds, but some photographs have molded to the point they are not scannable.

Babbs said the Sibley Business and Historical Association’s goals include rebinding the documents. The group wishes to have the documents’ ownership transferred to the association once that is done. Babbs said the group also hopes to publish a book that reproduces some of the pages and photographs.

Village Board President Jim Kearney said the Land Office building is currently being rented but only on a month-to-month basis, so its status may soon change. Kearney said a village goal is to turn the Land Office building into a town museum.

Kearney and trustees were reluctant to OK all of the Sibley Business and Historical Association’s plans, but they gave tacit agreement and full appreciation for the group’s effort to secure the documents in sealed tubs at another location until final disposition and ownership is determined at a future board meeting.

Attorney to write new ordinance for nuisance control

Also Monday, village board members voted to spend up to $700 for Village Attorney William Gerber to write a new ordinance on nuisances. Gerber has offices in Fairbury and Paxton, and he is under contract to the village at $200 per hour.

After Gerber’s review of the current, dated ordinance and its amendments, he said a modern rewrite was the best course of action. Gerber said the old ordinance should then be revoked in its entirety.

Gerber expects to have a draft ordinance to board members for review at their September meeting. The new ordinance will define nuisances and attach modern-day fine amounts for noncompliance.

Maintenance report shows reports lagging

Village maintenance worker Merlin Tjarks said he had located and repaired one water leak, but at least one more remains to be found. Tjarks said he has called Popejoy Plumbing Heating, Electric and Geothermal of Fairbury to assist.

Tjarks also said that last month’s water use in Sibley averaged 30,750 gallons per day, with some of the increased use undoubtedly due to the prolonged dry weather.

Also, Tjarks requested phone and Internet access at the pump house, a village asset that he “strongly suggests” board members take a more active interest in. Tjarks currently accesses the internet via connections either at his home or at the Sullivant Township Fire Protection District’s firehouse.

Also, Tjarks said that, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s laboratory in Springfield, the village is about six years behind in submitting certain reports. Tjarks showed an example of one spreadsheet he is now keeping and said he is working on other submissions.

Tree maintenance proposal

Brandon Kruse of A&K Tree Service delivered a multi-page tree maintenance proposal with pricing. The board accepted the proposal with thanks and will consider action on its contents at a future meeting.

Board members approved the specific location of seven trees to be removed, as indicated by Trustee Ben Wurmnest, who has been heading tree maintenance efforts as part of the Streets and Alleys Committee’s work. Wurmnest said each tree slated for removal has a bright-orange mark. Funding of $5,200 was previously approved for tree removal.

Wurmnest warned board members that tree removal is also needed in the downtown park, and an estimate from Randy Painter puts the cost at $17,600 to remove 11 trees.

Trustee Tim Fillenwarth said a tree replanting program needs to also be in place, and he prioritized street and alley tree cleanup ahead of the park work.

Lakes and parks committee

Trustee Greg Brucker said materials for grading the Sibley Lake’s shores are on hand, but the work has not been completed.

Brucker also warned that with Asian carp reported at the Lake Decatur dam, the village should put a control measure in its future plans for the Sibley Lake.

EPA construction permit received

Kearney said a letter has been received from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency authorizing construction of the village’s planned water-main improvements. According to the letter, work must begin on the project by July 2020.

Closed-session discussions

About 7:50 p.m., the board voted to enter a closed session expected to last about 30 minutes.

According to a post-meeting email clarification from Kearney, items discussed included pending litigation with Mediacom over cable and Internet installation in Sibley and a village employee’s request for a salary increase.

Kearney said that while the board appreciates the work being done by Tjarks, budget constraints meant that his salary “is capped” at this time. No details could be revealed about the next step in the litigation.