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The Vandalia City Council approved on Monday funding assistance for improvements to three businesses and for the enhancement of Internet service to the city’s west side.
The council approved Tax Increment Financing agreements with:
• Rusani Inc. (Chuckwagon Restaurant), $20,000 grant toward phase I of a project estimated to cost $79,715.
The first phase includes the construction of a pitched roof and four new restrooms.
• Jenco Products (Rich Jenner), $12,500 grant toward the $36,564 roof replacement on the building at the northwest corner of Fifth and Gallatin streets that houses Lia’s Gifts and Home Décor.
• Something Special Florist, $7,500 grant toward a $16,567 project that includes rebuilding a section along the front of the building that has sustained water damage.
• New Wave Communications, $30,000 toward a $70,000 project for the expansion of telecommunication services, including high-speed Internet, to the western interchange area.
New Wave said that those who will benefit from the expansion project include Holiday Inn Express, Huddle House, Embers, First Bank, Auto Zone, RP Lumber, Statewide Tire, Midwest Tractor Sales, Starmax Theaters and Vandalia Commons.
Prior to the vote on the New Wave contract, Alderman Mike Hobler said he’s received complaints from some residents about increases in New Wave rates.
Speaking for the project, Mayor Rick Gottman said that high-speed Internet services is something that businesses in the west interchange “want and need.”
For example, he said, Holiday Inn Express loses business to hotels in nearby communities because of the Internet service currently available to customers.
Hobler and Dorothy Crawford voted against awarding the TIF grant to New Wave.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Gottman reported that he was following up on a pledge that he made when the council approved a $300 pay raise for the mayor early last year.
Gottman told the council when the pay hike was recommended that if it was OK’d, he would donate the raise to local organizations.
He said at Monday’s meeting that half of the pay raise would go to the First Baptist Church youth group, to help pay for a mission trip.
The other half, he said, is going to Lincoln Park, the Gallatin Street mini-park that houses Vandalia’s “Sitting with Lincoln” statue.
• Gottman praised the public works department for its efforts in dealing with a major water leak at the Coles Street bridge.
That break resulted in railroad traffic being shut down while repairs were made, and Gottman said that public works employees will be backfilling a large hole at the Coles Street bridge in the near future.
The mayor said that an engineer had inspected to bridge to make sure that it was safe for traffic.
• Gottman reported that Land of Lakes (Purina) is reducing its workforce at its Vandalia facility.
He said that the facility will be used solely for warehousing in the future. Land of Lakes has completed a multi-million project at its Nashville manufacturing plant.
The number of employees at the local facility is reportedly being reduced from 11 to four.
• Gottman told aldermen that he will be asking the Illinois Department of Transportation to have engineers on the U.S. Route 51 four-lane expansion project to make a presentation to the council on the route alternatives.
The mayor told aldermen that because of the importance of the project to Vandalia, he will ask them to formally support one of the alternatives.
• Alderman Mike Hobler, chairman of the Vandalia Lake committee, said the current plans call for the marina campgrounds to be opened up for camping by the middle or end of this month.