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Jacksonville approves revolving loan, hears about watershed improvements

Thomas Clatterbuck



The plans to improve the Northridge Golf Course were given a boost at this week’s city council meeting. The Jacksonville city council voted to approve a $125,000 loan to Rohn Investments, Inc. for their proposal.  However, it almost didn’t happen.

At the last meeting, John Rohn made his formal request to the council for the loan. His initial request was for far more than the funds available in the Revolving Loan account, so the council discussed how much they wanted to approve. They settled on the $125,000 amount.

Prior to the vote to approve the loan application, Alderman Warmowski proposed an amendment to increase the loan amount by $20,000. After discussion about the actual amount of money in the Revolving Loan fund, the amendment passed 3-2-1. Now the proposal was for a loan of $145,000. This vote failed 2-3-1.

Suddenly there was a problem. Because the council had already voted on the issue, it would normally be inappropriate to vote on the issue again at the same meeting. However, seeing no objection, Warmowski motioned to reconsider the question at the original $125,000 amount. This vote did pass 4-1-1.  Alderman Mike Wankel abstained in all of the votes to avoid a potential conflict of interests.

The council also voted against adding a stop sign at the corner of Michigan and Hardin. This proposal had been discussed at previous meetings, and was requested by South Jacksonville. The the vending machine proposal for Community Park was tabled.

The workshop session

The administration office wanted to lease a new copy machine. That may seem insignificant, but Jacksonville still conducts much of its business offline, including sending out bills. By leasing a more cost-effective copy machine, they expect to save over $200 per month in direct costs.

Superintendent of Administration Sally Long also took this opportunity to discuss the paperless options that the utilities department has been adding. She noted that they have not done a very effective job at spreading the word about this option. More consumers going paperless would save even more money for the departments. Those online options can be found at the link:

The second half of the workshop session was a presentation about the Lake Mauvaise Terra watershed project. This project was designed to limit the pollutants entering the lake, including manganese’s, phosphorus, nitrates, and sediment. The lake has been listed as “impaired” by the EPA due to these issues.

The recent project successfully reduced the amount of pollution entering the lake. While this was welcome news, it is only the start of what needs to be done for the watershed. As can be seen in the report, only a modest fraction of real goal has been achieved so far.

You can read the full report here. You can watch the full meeting below:

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.


Springfield approves YMCA TIF, tavern rezoning

Thomas Clatterbuck



The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.

Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.

The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.

The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.

Rezoning Melrose St.

An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.

But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.

The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.

You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.

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What to expect from President Trump’s nominee



The Hon. Amy C. Barrett and the Hon. Diane S. Sykes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame and the Wisconsin Court System

Two federal judges from Illinois’ northern district are on President Donald Trump’s shortlist to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump told reporters that he would announce his pick to replace the Kennedy on Monday evening. Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy was often the swing vote that sided with the liberal end of the court on matters including “in particular, gay rights, and sometimes abortion and even more occasionally race,” said Carolyn Shapiro, associate law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Law.

Two judges from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago are reportedly being considered: Appellate Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Diane Sykes. Neither live in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to Judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman as two that “presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed,” according to a report from the New York Times.

The likely topic of questions that would come from the Senate for any nominee, Shapiro said, would be about their views on abortion due to a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade. Since Illinois passed House Bill 40, which contained a trigger that would make a national ruling on abortion less of a factor locally, it wouldn’t have near the effect that a ruling changing the legal status of abortion in the U.S. would elsewhere.

“[HB 40] has a lot of guarantees where, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, women will still have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in the state,” she said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner shocked Republicans by signing the bill into law. The backlash against the bill was a factor in the freshman governor facing a hard-fought primary challenge in March.

As for the changing dynamic of the court, Shapiro said she expects more cases regarding free speech and its relation to regulation, akin to Janus v. AFSCME, to come before the court in the future.


Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit 

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Project Mack hosts second “Take Back the City” weekend July 20-21

Staff Contributor



PRESS RELEASE | Project Mack will be hosting our 2nd Annual Take Back the City weekend to wrap up the summer, to be held July 20-21, 2018. In response to the recent violence in Springfield, Project Mack aims to inspire youth to make a positive difference in their lives. The events will bring together current and past students of the city throughout the weekend and allow them to showcase their talents.

The weekend will consist of benefit concert Friday night and our All-star Alumni basketball game on Saturday. All the artists performing at the concert are graduates from our area high schools and now are pursing musical careers. The alumni game will bring back all the best basketball players who’ve come from the Springfield area. Additionally, there will be vendor & organization information tables available on both days.

All proceeds from the event will go toward 3 scholarships created at SHS, LHS, and SSHS in memory of the innocent gun violence victims.


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