County vote on liquor issue delayed

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City intervenes on Mabrys' plan

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The Fayette County Board’s plans to act Tuesday on a request for a liquor license had to be canceled at the last minute because of a message from Vandalia officials.
When it came time to act on a liquor license request from Steve and Michael Mabry, county board Chairman Steve Knebel addressed a group of about 25 county residents who were on hand to speak out against that request.
After the meeting, Knebel said that the Mabrys have purchased property from Bill York on Ill. Route 185 at the east end of the bridge over Vandalia Lake, with plans to construct a restaurant.
The Mabrys are requesting a license that will allow them to sell all types of liquor, both package and for consumption on-site.
Knebel told the audience that the board would not hear comments on the liquor license request at that time because the county had learned late on Tuesday afternoon of a potential problem with the Mabrys’ plans.
He said the county was notified that the Mabrys' property is in a subdivision that carries single-family residence zoning, and that land in that subdivision may be used only for that purpose.
“That creates an issue,” Knebel said.
He said the matter would be postponed until the board meets on March 11, to give the Mabrys time to research the issue.
“It’s a moot point right now,” Knebel told those in the audience. “I don’t feel there is a need for any comment (at this time).”
Also at the meeting, the board approved improvements to the computer infrastructure and the purchase of a new phone system.
Mandi Caudill, an employee in the state’s attorney’s office who has handled computer issues for the county in recent years, told board members that improvements to the computer network at the courthouse is “really needed.
“Everything that keeps the computers going has been Band-Aided,” she said.
Because of some substantial problems with the courthouse’s Internet service, Caudill said, she solicited bids for improvements.
She said she received two bids and recommended that the county accept the low bid of TVC Tech, an Albers company that services First National Bank in Vandalia.
The county will pay about $17,000 for the work, which will include upgrades and work to connect all courthouse computers to a local network.
The board also approved the purchase of a new phone system from Consolidated Communications at a cost of $46,896.16.
Caudill explained that there are problems with the current phone system, and that the manufacturer of phones in the courthouse is no longer in business.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The board approved a request from County Clerk and Recorder Terri Braun to reduce the number of election judges in each precinct from five to three for consolidated elections and emergency referendums.
Braun said that the action will result in a savings of about $8,000 for each election with the lower number of judges.
• Knebel announced that because the county had received some of its sales tax money from the state, it did not have to transfer money from its capital improvement fund in order to meet payroll in January.
He and County Treasurer Rose Hoover said they are hopeful that the county can meet payroll in February without a transfer.
• The board approved the switch from Blue Cross Blue Shield to Health Alliance for health insurance for county employees.
Wade Wilhour, chairman of the board’s insurance and personnel committee, said that the employees will receive the same coverage, and that going with Health Alliance will save the county about $32,000.
Life insurance coverage for county employees through Epic Insurance is increasing by one cent per $1,000, from 23 to 24.
County employees receive $15,000 of life insurance coverage as part of their benefits package, and have the option of purchasing additional coverage through Epic, Braun said.
• The board approved a new three-year agreement with Dean Matzker for the farming of county land near the county highway garage.
• Vice Chairman Jeff Beckman, chairman of the board’s building and grounds committee, reported that the roof of the jail has been leaking, and that the committee has asked an engineer to look at the structure.
• The board approved a professional energy consulting services agreement with Good Energy LP. At no cost to the county, Good Energy will be educating county residents on the issue of electrical aggregation prior to a referendum on the vote this spring.