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Jacksonville City Council discusses major investments and ordinances

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Jacksonville City Council had a full slate of issues to discuss at its last meeting, many of which dealt with potential investments for the city. The smallest was a proposal to add vending machines to the Community Park soccer fields. For the proposal to work, the city would need to invest $500 to run electricity to the machines, in exchange for six percent (6%) of the gross revenues.

Jacksonville Main Street also asked the city for sponsorship of the Downtown concert series. The request was for $5,000. Jacksonville Main Street created a new sponsorship tier to accommodate the level of sponsorship the city has provided in the past. The series will be held on Fridays in June and July later this year.

These proposals were small change compared with the Revolving Loans Fund application. The request was for $250,000 to assist with the purchase and renovation of the Northridge Golf Course. This request caused a great deal of discussion, and was not resolved during the meeting. The main justification for considering the proposal was to protect the property values (and property tax revenue) from the neighborhoods around the course. If the course was allowed to become overgrown, or was turned into farmland, residents fear their property values would take a serious blow.

However, the proposal had a number of risks as well. The sheer size of the proposal was an issue, as the Revolving Loans Fund does not have $250,000 to give. Although the fund is loaned out on a largely “first come, first served” basis, there were concerns about totally depleting the fund for one project. Secondly, the loan request was for 30 years at 0.5% interest. Such a long term and low interest rate was also worrisome from an investment perspective. Most of all, the project would make the city a part owner in yet another golf course. As we have previously reported, the city’s existing golf courses already lose a considerable amount of money. Some wondered about the logic of adding more competition to those courses.

The council was not fully decided on what course of action should be taken regarding this proposal, but the prevailing opinion was to invest $125,000 and go from there.

Other city business

Last meeting, the council discussed the city’s firework ordinance for shows at the speedway. After some investigation, it was discovered that current ordinance is much more restrictive regarding firework sales within the city than had previously been realized or enforced. The merchants who were selling commercial fireworks were not properly licensed and had been selling higher grade fireworks to unlicensed individuals than they ought. Resolving this issue required amending the city’s pyrotechnics ordinance. Given the near impossibility of enforcement, it is likely the change will be to simply ban the sale of certain kinds of fireworks within city limits.

Mayor Ezard also notified the council that Lynn Craig had been let go by CMS. Craig had been responsible for maintaining the facilities at the Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC), including keeping the buildings free of water. Now there will be no one maintaining those buildings. Ezard warned that these buildings do no have “a year or two” for the state to hire a new vendor if the JDC is going to be salvaged for future use. He and the city are pushing to get the position restored as quickly as possible.

Alderman Warmowski presented plans make driving a golf cart while intoxicated a punishable offense for the Lake Jacksonville trails. It may seem obvious, but there are no rules specifically prohibiting DUIs on golf carts in that area. The rules will take effect when those trails are completed.

You can watch the full meetings 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.

Entertainment

Mayor’s Youth Council holds first talent show

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Students from around Springfield gathered last night to showcase their musical and artistic talents. Students from Springfield High, Lanphier, Southeast, SHG, Lutheran High, and even nearby Williamsville all came out for the friendly competition. The idea for the program came from the students themselves. They noticed that there is a “siloing” effect, where students only really get a chance to interact with others who attend the same school. This talent show was an opportunity to help build those inter-school connections.

In all, thirteen performers and six visual artists took part in the night’s events. Although music was the most common talent, there were also dancers and a juggler. The students performed in a packed room at the Lincoln Public Library. You can watch the full show in the player.

The Youth Council was one of Mayor Langfelder’s initiatives. These students meet with the mayor to discuss issues impacting them. Not all of the performers were members of the council. Developing today’s youth is valuable not only now, but also in ensuring young people wholeave the area for college want to return in the future.

Kennedy Green, SHG

Colin Gwillim, Lutheran High

Zoey House, Lanphier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the competition was a friendly one, three winners were selected from the contestants in the performing and visual arts. Colin Gwillim, Kennedy Green, and Zoey House, placed first, second and third in the visual arts. Colton Schmidt (the juggler) and Gerald Cole (dance) were honorable mentions in the performing arts. Sydney Moore placed third, Walker Dial, placed second, and Wynton Gage placed first. All three are singers.

The timestamps for the performers are:

1:12 – Gerard Cole (Lanphier)
7:35 – Walker Dial (Lutheran High)
10:50 – Sydney Moore (Springfield High)
17:15 – Maria Harmon (SHG)
19:10 – Mika Henderson (Lutheran High)
22:40 – Regina Ivy (Southeast)
27:30 – Nia Tiller, Mia White, & Cody Flesch (Lanphier)
32:30 – O.P. Jones (Southeast)
38:44 – Hannah Garrad (Williamsville)
42:40 – Wynton Gage (Southeast)
48:00 – Colton Schmidt (SHG)
53:37 – Gerard Cole & Wynton Gage

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Southeast honored at Springfield City Council

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Southeast High School has had a lot to celebrate this year, and the Springfield City Council took notice. First, Wynton Gage was honored for his poetry reading. Wynton will soon attend the national Poetry Out Loud contest in Washington DC. After being recognized by the Mayor, he performed Emily Brontë’s “Often rebuked, yet always back returning.” You can watch it below.

The Southeast Basketball team was also celebrated. They made it all the way to the state final; the furthest the team has ever gone. Their season ended 26-4.

Other city business handled tonight was the TIFF district on Lumber Lane. Alderman McMenamin raised the issue of supporting a new business with TIFF support when that new business would compete with existing businesses in Springfield. Alderwoman Turner answered saying that the new business would actually be located within the city limits, while the competitors had fought to stay outside the city legally but not geographically. That vote passed 10-0.

Allen Reyne was formally appointed to the position of Fire Chief of the Springfield Fire Department. Alderman Theilen discussed amending either the language or the interpretation of the dog barking ordinance, due to complaints about noise. He also said that he was aware of the issues withe Chatham Road, and that it was being worked on.

Plans to add a tourism office on the Old State Capitol Plaza were also discussed. This office would be shared with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which manages many Lincoln sites. It is thought that by having the office located more centrally, it will be better able to serve tourists.

In other Lincoln news, the fate of Lincoln’s internment document. This is the original handwritten document detailing Lincoln’s placement in his tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. The city owns this document. The presidential library was seen as the best place to protect the artifact, Alderman Theilen wanted to ensure the city did not lose de facto ownership of the item.

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Gun owners rally at Capitol to support Second Amendment

Thomas Clatterbuck

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A coalition of pro-Second Amendment groups rallied at the capitol Saturday afternoon. Despite the rain, more than 100 people attended the rally organized by the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans (NCCPA). The Springfield rally was part of a nationwide event protesting recently proposed gun control legislation.

Tom Shafer and Corey Proctor spoke about three bills in particular that are especially worrying for gun owners, HB 1664, HB 1465, and HB 1469. HB 1664 would allow police to seize  an individual’s guns based on an anonymous tip that the gun owner was a threat to themselves or others. Shafer described this as not only an attack on the Second Amendment, but also a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment which protects against unreasonable search and seizures. He laid out several cases where such a system could be easily abused by individuals with a grudge against a gun owner.

Other individuals from around the state spoke about their personal reasons for supporting gun rights and the Second Amendment. The need for self defense against random crime was a common theme, but the threat from a tyrannical government was also mentioned frequently. The Holodomor famines in the Soviet Union were mentioned, and Larry Williams from Peoria discussed examples far closer to home. You can watch his speech on the fate of Native Americans below:

The NCCPA event was the smaller of the two pro-Second Amendment rallies planned this week. In addition to the weather, Shafer blamed scaremongering in the local media for the lower turnout. He told me there was never any plan for open carry at this event, and no one did. The Illinois State Rifle Association’s (ISRA) Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) will be held at the Bank of Springfield Center this coming Wednesday, April 25th. Several thousand people are expected to attend IGOLD.

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