City works on two fronts for good census figures

Knowing how the data gathered through the 2010 Census will impact their wallet, Vandalia officials are working through a couple of different channels to make sure that every local resident is counted.

Mayor Rick Gottman announced at Monday’s Vandalia City Council meeting that the first meeting of the city’s 2010 Census Complete Count Committee will be held at 5 p.m. this Wednesday.

Those who were invited to this meeting include representatives of municipal government, county government, school districts and Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, as well as other individuals from the community.

The purpose of this committee, the mayor said, is to make sure that information about this year’s census gets out to all residents of the county. “The more information that residents of Fayette County receive, the more informed and more likely they are to participate in the census,” he said.

In addition to forming this committee, which was done through the passage of a resolution, the mayor is continuing to work with Governmental Consulting Solutions, a Springfield firm that has been lobbying on Vandalia’s behalf at the state capitol.

Among the efforts of that group is increasing the inmate count at Vandalia Correctional Center. Gottman said the facility currently houses about 950 inmates, and the goal is to get that number closer to the facility’s capacity of 1,500.

The city is concentrating on making sure that all local residents and VCC inmates are counted during the 2010 census because that number will determine how much the city – and other local entities – receives from the federal government for public safety improvements and other social services.

Also at the meeting:

• Alderman Larry Cable, chairman of the council’s water and disposal plants committee, reported that a meeting to discuss the city’s options for the Kaskaskia River raw water intake will likely be held in the middle of next month.

Cable encouraged all city officials to attend that meeting, as the city will likely decide what it wants to do to address the situation. The intake has been largely unusable since its installation on the river in the spring of 2005.

• Dr. Phil McKinney of Countryside Pet Clinic told city officials that in its effort to be a good citizen, the clinic extends an offer to help local government in any way possible.

Gottman reported that the Fayette County Board had reappointed him and Dana Smith to represent Vandalia and Fayette County on the Southwestern Illinois Tourism Board.

• Alderman Jerry Swarm, who is a National Road Association of Illinois volunteer, reported that the organization had recently received a new display for its interpretative center, which is located just north of city hall in the 100 block of South Fifth Street.

Swarm said that Kenneth Zimmerman recently finished building half of a covered wagon that will be displayed. The display, he said, is 10 feet long, 11 feet tall and about 40 inches wide. Included in the display is cargo similar to what would have been carried in the wagons.

Swarm said the arrival of the wagon display will be celebrated when the National Road Association marks the one-year anniversary of the interpretive center at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12.

Cable said he thinks the city should look into the installation of more streetlights near the new home of Sloan Implement on the west end of Main Street.

• Cable said he counted the number of streetlights near Vandalia Tractor Sales, also on West Main Street, and believes that the city needs seven more streetlights near the new Sloan building in order to provide the same amount of lighting.

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