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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra City Council last Thursday approved going ahead with a grant application to fund a new Dickerson Street bridge.
In addition, the council voted to boost sick leave time and approve sponsorship of a youth business program.
After hearing a report from Street Commissioner Austin Dornberger, the council voted unanimously to seek a $500,000 grant to help fund a new two-lane bridge on Dickerson Street north of courthouse square.
Also included in the grant would be funding for expanding a storm water holding pond at the Jackson Park Golf Course.
Dornberger said initial plans were to seek a $750,000 grant for the project with an estimated cost of $770,000. However, he said updated grant rules limited the grant to a maximum $500,000.
As a result, he said, the city had the option of moving ahead and seeking the $500,000 grant and funding the remaining portion on it own, cutting costs in the project and doing the project in phases.
Dornberger suggested the city could justify going ahead with the full project with the knowledge the city’s portion could not only be paid over time, but that it would boost the grant’s chances by showing strong city financial support of the project.
“I say we go for it,” said Ellen Goodwin, the council member who made the motion to move ahead.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
By a 5-1 vote, the council followed the recommendation of the Personnel Committee to boost sick leave time from four hours to six hours per month.
Council member, Brock Fohey, said the committee was asked to raise it to eight hours per month but decided to go with six instead.
“We met in the middle with six,” Fahy said. “It can be reviewed later.”
Goodwin was only council member to vote against the motion.
The council was unanimous in voting to sponsor the Youth CEO program hosted by the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Commission at an annual cost of $1,000.
The vote followed a presentation by Maria Kuhns, an entrepreneurial specialist with the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council, who outlined the program.
Kuhns said the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program is designed to introduce high school students to the world of small business outside of the classroom.
As a former student of the program in Southern Illinois, Kuhns said it is a good way for students, who may not necessarily be heading to college to learn about small business and even encourage them to possibly start one of their own.
Jeff Arp, MIRMA, a self-insurance pool for liability insurance Palmyra is a member of, presented the city two grants totaling almost $4,500 to fund body cameras for the police department as well as pole saw for the Board of Public Works.
The items have already been purchased and received by the city.
Council member Andrew Salsman reported progress on recent downtown building inspections.
He said they are now waiting on engineering reports detailing needed improvements to the buildings in question.
There was some discussion if the city would be able to move ahead with dangerous building ordinance enforcement, and City Attorney James Lemon gave the green light.
However, he did suggest some ordinance changes be considered for the future in order to make the enforcement efforts more transparent.
Dornberger reported the street department and BPW split the cost for a used equipment trailer costing $7,500 to be shared by both departments.
“I think it will get plenty of use,” Dornberger said, noting it can be used to haul some of the pieces of heavy equipment the departments use and not have to drive them to the work sites.
Dornberger also spoke to the council about the possibility of allowing street department employees to take part in clean-up efforts after natural disasters like the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
He noted utility employees are able to help out with power restoration and make good money doing it while having the satisfaction of helping other communities.
He said the same could be done for city street crew members who have the know-how and equipment needed for debris clean-up work.
Council members expressed enthusiasm, and Dornberger said he was looking into what was needed to make it possible.