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Security tightened for city meetings

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A week after stricter security measures were put in place at the Fayette County Courthouse, and about three weeks after five people were fatally shot in a public meeting in Missouri, the city of Vandalia announced tighter security practices for its city council meetings.

As the council met for the first time in the new city hall on Tuesday, Mayor Rick Gottman announced the new security measures.

Police Chief Larry Eason, who serves as sergeant-at-arms for council meetings, now sits at a desk facing the entrance to council chambers.

Gottman said the entrance will be locked once the city council meetings begin, and Eason will use his discretion on allowing anyone entrance into the chambers area once the meeting is under way.

Unfortunately, we have to take these kinds of measures, Gottman said.

Also at the meeting, the council, after a 30-minute closed session to discuss property issues, voted unanimously to give Gottman, City Administrator Jimmy Morani and Director of Economic Development JoAnn Givens the authority to negotiate with an industrial prospect.

Due to the confidentiality being requested by that prospect, Gottman is not providing any details about that industry or its planned development.

Also at the meeting:

Morani announced that the city is one of eight Illinois towns awarded state grant funds for bridge improvements.

The city will receive $1.14 million from the Illinois Major Bridge Program in 2013 for the replacement of two bridges near the intersection of Fifth and Randolph streets.

Gottman said the city was able to receive the grant through the help of Fayette County Engineer Michael Maxey.

Through the grant, the state will fund 80 percent of the bridge work, with the city to pay to balance.

Morani reported that the Vandalia Planning Commission had earlier in the evening approved site plans for a new building for Aldi on North Eighth Street, a new home for Garys North End Motors on Veterans Avenue near Security Finance and a proposed branch for First National Bank of Vandalia, Ramsey and Patoka at the west end of Randolph Street.