City buys more land on west side

As part of its effort to lure a prospect to town, the Vandalia City Council has approved an option for land on the citys west side.

After meeting in closed session for about 30 minutes, the council unanimously voted to pay the family of the late Fred and Thelma Mattes $8,750 for an option on about 35 acres of land.

That property is located south of the citys western Interstate 70 interchange, south of Main Street and east of 120 acres owned by the city, including the land on which National Ethanol LLC plans to build an ethanol plant.

Mayor Rick Gottman said that if the city exercises the option on that land, it will pay $25,000 per acre for the 35 acres.

Earlier in the meeting, Gottman announced that the work on extending water and sewer lines in the west interchange area has been completed.

Also at Mondays meeting:

Gottman presented a letter from CSX that informed city officials that the railroad company had investigated a complaint about work needed on the Remann Street crossing and made repairs at that location.

Alderman Bret Brosman, chairman of the streets and sewers committee, said, I sure wish youd write a similar letter about the Eighth Street crossing.

Gottman said that his letter to CSX pertained to all crossings in town, and that the company responded by repairing the one crossing. He told Brosman that hed write another letter to the company.

Director of Economic Development and Tourism JoAnn Givens, in reporting on tourism committee issues, said that Paula Barenfanger had agreed to serve on the Vandalia Tourism Commission. She also noted that there are still several openings on the commission, and encouraged local residents interested in tourism matters to volunteer for that commission.

Givens also reported that the commission plans to make a bid for Vandalia to become the host community for the Association of Lincoln Presenters annual convention in 2010. The city hosted the groups convention several years ago.

The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 115 from the estate of Ralph Stenger of Belleville to Brian and Gina Rader of Collinsville, and the transfer of lot No. 85 from Clarence E. and Debbie A. Swain of Vandalia to Robert and Caroline Jakubowski of Vandalia.

The council approved a lease agreement with Frances Reed of Flora that will allow the city to continue having a tourism billboard on Reeds property along the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 west of St. Elmo. Through the agreement, the city will pay Reed $250 a year.

In supplementing her written report to the council, Givens reported that the city currently has $85,000 available in its revolving loan fund that can be used for local projects and business improvements.

At the request of Gottman, Givens explained that the city would like to work with local businesses and developers in using those funds. Once the city has all of those funds applied to local projects, it can apply for more state funds.

We can deepen our pockets and be able to help more people if we can get more money into that fund, she said.

As Gottman mentioned the monthly report of Code Official Keith Meadows, Alderman Barbie Elliott expressed her disappointment that a number of properties are not getting cleaned up, despite the efforts of Meadows and City Attorney Jack Johnston.

Gottman echoed those sentiments, with both noting that it this was because of a lack of effort by the residents who are violating city ordinances governing nuisances. Gottman also pointed out, as he has in the past, that one of the worst violators is a city employee.

Gottman said that the Illinois Department of Corrections has assured him that the new council table will be completed in time for the next council meeting, to be held on Feb. 19. The mayor said that the next meeting will be the first in the new city hall, the former home of First Bank at the northeast corner of Fifth and Gallatin streets.

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