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Thomas Clatterbuck

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Water is the most basic and critical recourse for a community. Clean, abundant water is a blessing. Not having water spells doom. After a flash flood in 2011 knocked the Jacksonville water treatment plant offline for weeks, the city knew it needed to upgrade. Now, seven years and 37 million dollars later, Jacksonville has a state-of-the-art water treatment plant.

This new facility took two and a half years to build, and should last the city far into the future. The plant was built to the strict EPA standards to ensure safety for both workers and the water customers. Computerization allows the plant to be operated with a very small team in the off-peak overnight hours. However, manual backups ensure that the staff can work all of the systems by hand if necessary. Most importantly, it is not built in a floodplain, so it should be safe from any flash floods.

Today was a day to celebrate the new plant, but the developers were already planning for future maintenance needs. The plant has many areas where this forward-thinking is on display. Three sedimentation basins will make it much easier to rotate them out for maintenance. When the old plant only had two, taking one offline for cleaning was difficult. Windows near the chemical tanks can be removed, so changing out the 5,000 gallon tanks will not require tearing down walls. In the basement, an overhead crane was installed to assist with moving heavy pipes without destroying the ceiling. It may not be used for 20 years, but future workers will be glad they have it. Even something a simple as putting heating elements under north-facing stairs was considered. Removing snow and ice only needs to save the city one workman’s comp claim to be cost-effective.

Water quality in Jacksonville was always high, and this will only continue with the new plant. The plant can draw water from two sources: wells and the nearby lakes. However, most of the city’s water comes from the wells. Residents may not notice an increase in water quality, but this is because Jacksonville already enjoyed some of the best water in the nation.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council committee of the whole February 13th, 2019

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole. This meeting was moved from the 12th for Lincoln’s birthday. Brian McFadden from Sangamon County spoke about the animal control situation and the county’s policies.

UIS baseball coach Chris Ramirez was recognized for his team’s achievements. Ramirez was awarded coach of the year.

This meeting was preceded by a special City Council meeting, where $1.2 million in TIF funding was approved for the Poplar Place Redevelopment Project. This money will go towards road infrastructure for the area. The council was unanimous in their support for the project, and looks forward to the multi-million dollar development.

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New Obama exhibit opens and African American History Museum

Thomas Clatterbuck

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President Barack Obama was the first African American president of the United States, and the fourth to have strong ties to Illinois. His two terms as president usually draw the most attention, but a new exhibit at the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum focuses on the start of his political career. Before rising to national prominence as a US Senator and later as President, Obama served in the General Assembly right here in Springfield.

Obama worked with many people in the Springfield area, many of whom are still active in the community. At the exhibit opening, two of his former staffers and mentors, Beverly Helm-Renfro and Nia Odeoti-Hassan, shared their experiences working with the then Senator Obama. From the first time they met the future president, to Michelle Obama’s reaction to Obama getting his first bill passed, to his eventual move to DC, these two women spoke about a side of him most outsiders never got to see. You can watch their full talk in the player.

The Obama exhibit showcases memorabilia and other artifacts from Obama’s time in the General Assembly all the way through his time as president. Community members from Springfield provided their own items to share their link with the president.

The museum is located at 1440 Monument Avenue, near the entrance to Oak Ridge Cemetery, and is open from 12 PM – 4 PM Tuesday through Friday, and 10 AM – 5:00 PM on Saturday. You can also check out their website at spiaahm.org.

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Boy Scout day at Jacksonville City Council showcases parliamentary procedure

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City council meetings can be a intimidating event for the first time visitor. The procedures that help the meetings run smoothly can be difficult to understand or track if you don’t know what’s going on. But at last night’s city council meeting in Jacksonville, local Boy Scouts got a hands-on look at why the council does things this way. This chance for the scouts to take part in the council meeting is an annual event.

The meeting’s agenda was routine. Claims were paid, and the liquor ordinance was amended. But the lack of action was a chance for Mayor Ezard and the aldermen to explain the procedure for the meeting.

During the workshop, the parks and lakes department also discussed a grant they are trying for to expand the trails at Lake Jacksonville. You can watch that discussion in the player below.

 

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