City continuing negotiations with Orgill

More than two weeks after Vandalia officials learned that the citys hopes of landing Orgills new distribution center were being threatened, they continue to work on keeping the company here.

Were continuing negotiations, even as we speak, Director of Economic Development and Tourism JoAnn Givens told the Vandalia City Council on Monday night.

The city, with assistance from area legislators and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, pulled together an enhanced package of incentives after Mayor Rick Gottman had heard rumors that Orgill had chosen Sikeston, Mo., as the home for a new distribution center.

Vandalia and Sikeston are apparently still the finalists for that facility, which will employ about 180 people.

If the company were to choose Sikeston, it would apparently close the Orgill center currently operating in Vandalia. The Vandalia center employs about 140 people.

Gottman has not been given a timetable by Orgill on a decision about the new distribution center.

Also at Mondays meeting, Givens reported that the citys revolving loan fund committee had approved two loans, one for $45,000 to Ashley York and one for $50,000 to SCIICS.

The loan to York, Givens said, is for the startup of a second Mama Antonios carryout restaurant at the southeast corner of Sixth and Gallatin streets.

Givens said the owners will offer pizza and other types of Italian food, and that they hope to eventually expand to a sit-down restaurant. She said there is a Mama Antonios restaurant in Centralia.

In other action:

Gottman reported that he had received four letters from CSX recently in response to complaints about the disrepair of rail crossings at Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Remann streets.

In one of the letters, CSX incorrectly told the mayor that the Remann Street crossing had been repaired; it is currently closed for repairs.

In a second letter, CSX incorrectly stated that the Eighth Street crossing had been closed for repairs.

CSX officials told Gottman last month that it has budgeted for repairs to the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth street crossings next year. The mayor did note that company employees were filling in some crossing holes with asphalt this week.

The council approved Gottmans appointments of Tony Simmons and Steve Hites to the Vandalia Planning Commission.

Simmons and Hites fill the seats recently vacated due to the resignations of John McIntosh and Justin Manley.

As Alderman Mike Hobler, chairman of the lake committee, announced that the committee will meet at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Gottman expressed his desire to change the committees regular meeting schedule.

Gottman told Hobler he had heard complaints from residents about the meetings being held so early on Saturday mornings.

We really need to look at this, Gottman said.

Hobler said he is unable to conduct evening meetings during the week because he works the second shift Monday through Friday.

Hobler said he is willing to try to work out a meeting time that is acceptable to the mayor.

The council cleaned up the citys liquor ordinance by reducing the number of Class E licenses from nine to six and clarifying that three businesses hold a Class G license.

The decrease in Class E licenses, Gottman said, was needed because of the closure of Twisters, The Depot and Cunettos.

Action on Class G licenses, he said, clarifies that Full Moon Bar & Grill, Cages and Redwood hold that classification of licenses.

Alderman Larry Bennett, chairman of the personnel, finance and insurance committee, reported that the committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday to discuss the salaries of the city officials who will be elected next spring.

The offices up for election include mayor, city clerk, city treasurer and four aldermen.

The council approved an annexation request submitted by Ron and Charlotte Blunt for property at the northwest corner of Imco Drive and Eighth Street.

The council approved two agreements with its consulting engineers, HMG Engineers of Carlyle. One agreement covers the annual inspection of the Vandalia Lake dam, and the other is for a review of the citys subdivision regulations.

The council also OKd an agreement with Hurst-Roche Engineers of Hillsboro for subdivision regulation review, in relation to a subdivision development in which HMG is involved, Gottman said.

The council approved revisions to the employment contracts for three city officials.

The city revised the contracts of Givens and Public Works Director John Moyer to reflect the councils recent decision requiring them to attend council meetings.

The council also approved a revision to the contract of Tom Henrichsmeyer, the assistant public works director.

Gottman said the revision confirms that Henrichsmeyer, who lives in rural Brownstown, is not required to live in city limits, because he moved outside the city before the council approved that employment requirement.

Vandalia Main Street Program Manager Dana Whiteman reported that the Main Street Executive Board has three new members long-time volunteer and committee chairman Jo Lineberry, Kim Shanks and Steve Barker.

The three new members take the seats previously held by Jennifer Howard, Joy Clymer and Sue Sheafor.

Whiteman also reported that the board elected officers at its recent annual meeting.

JoAnna Helm succeeds Howard as the Main Street president, Catherine Bowen is the new vice president, Ginger Boas is the secretary, and Doug Knebel continues to serve as the groups treasurer.

The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 154 from Chad and Brandi Dunaway of Vandalia to Rob and Vicky Blackerby of Vandalia.

The council approved the final plat for Beals Subdivision, which is located east of Kennedy Boulevard and north of Orchard Street.

The council approved an addendum to its lease for the citys Internet service. The addendum reflects the fact that the provider of the service, Swetland Communications, has joined HofNet Communications in Effingham.

The resolution approved on Monday stipulates that HofNet will provide high-speed, wireless Internet service to city hall, at 431 W. Gallatin St., and the citys public service building, at 219 S. Fifth St.

Ward II Alderwoman Barbie Elliott reminded other city officials that the July 21 council meeting will be her final meeting. She and her husband will be moving to Missouri.

The vacancy created by her resignation will be filled through an appointment made by Gottman and approved by the council.

Elliott said that after working in the Fayette County Soil & Water Conservation District recently, she wanted to again ask that the city consider dredging Vandalia Lake.

Elliott said that while she understands that that would be a costly venture, she learned of a federal matching grant program that could provide half of the necessary funds.

Hobler said the city applied for such a grant last year, but was unsuccessful. He said he is willing to again look into such a grant.

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