Plans to tighten security at the Crawford County Courthouse may be on hold until the money to renovate the building is found.
The county board Thursday approved an agreement with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police that will allow Crawford County Sheriff Todd Liston to post more officers at the courthouse, but they will not be able to start work there until changes are made at its various entrances.
The plan is to lock all entrances except the handicapped-accessible door on the west side. Other doors will still open from the inside, but an alarm will sound. An officer will stand gaurd at the west entrance all day and a metal detector will be installed. Liston had hoped to at least lock all but the one door as early as March 4.
Under the agreement, the sheriff's department can use a pair of part-time officers to man the entrance until the next fiscal year, when a full-time officer will take over. Meanwhile, a full-time officer will continue to stand watch in the courtrooms upstairs. The agreement passed 7-3, with board Chairman Gareld Bilyew and members Don Richart and Steve Rich casting "nay" votes.
The money to pay the new officers is in the budget, but the cash for the alarms and metal detector - about $7,800 - is not. The board and others are now seeking help from the Second Judicial Circuit and other sources to fund the renovations.
The board took no action on a matter left over from January.
Backers of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line had asked the board to support their plans to build a transmission line to carry power generated by Kansas wind-power farms to Sullivan, Ind. One possible route would bring the line through Crawford and Clark counties.
Bilyew did not call for a motion on the matter and pointed out it might be a couple years before the line is built. In the meantime, Grain Belt hopes to set up informational meetings to explain the plans to the general public.
There is already opposition: Coanne Love compared it to the proposed carbon dioxide disposal facility Willow Grove has discussed creating in the Hardinville area, saying it would damage farm land. Jim Runyan asked if the board could ask the company to stay out of the county completely. Bilyew explained the board no authority to do that, any more than it had the authority to block Verizon Wireless from constructing a new cell tower near Flat Rock.
In another matter, the board approved an agreement with Ameren Electric Generating concerning the tax assessment of the Hutsonville power plant.
The power plant was shuttered Dec. 31, 2011, Supervisor of Assessments Hope Weber explained. Because it is no longer in operations, its tax assessment should drop. However, the loss in tax revenues, will be detrimental to the county.
Ameren, Weber said, has agreed to a incremental decrease of its assessment, dropping its tax bill by $40,000 a year to ease the transition. Once the assessment hits its lowest amount, it will remain there until the plant is renovated for some new purpose.
Hutsonville Unit 1, which will be especially hard hit, "took the lead in the talks," Weber added, and the school board approved the agreement in January.
In other business, the board:
Approved an engineering agreement for replacing of a concrete box culvert in Montgomery Township.
Approved a new contract with the state appallate prosecutor's office. The office handles court appeals for the county and provides special prosecutors when there is a conflict for the state's attorney.
Learned the county has received reimbursement from the state for its share of the state's attorney's salary for January and February, the public defender for October, November and December and the supervisor of assessments for November and December.
Renewed its membership in the Greater Wabash Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Increased the mileage reimbursement rate to 56.5 cents per mile.