County board OKs sheriff transport van

As Fayette County officials worked to trim this year’s spending, Fayette County Sheriff Aaron Lay agreed to take out of his budget about $50,000 for the purchase of vehicles. On Tuesday, the county board agreed to use money from its general fund for a new sheriff’s vehicle.
In taking that action, board members agreed that having that vehicle will allow the sheriff to make money for the county.
Lay asked the board to purchase a transport van, because the one that was being used, a 1994 model with more than 200,000 miles, is no longer feasible to repair.
“Without a van, we have a difficult time retrieving and keeping some federal prisoners,” Lay told the board. “With the money that we get for (housing) federal prisoners, the van is paid for rather quickly.”
The sheriff explained that his department is required to transport federal prisoners to court in East St. Louis, and while officers are there, they often are able to pick up more prisoners.
If it does not have a van, Lay said, he would regularly have to send more than one squad car, with four employees instead to two, to federal court.
Wade Wilhour, chairman of the board’s purchasing and printing committee, endorsed the purchase.
“I don’t want to take an opportunity away from Aaron,” Wilhour said. “If we are sending squad cars, we are using more people. In my opinion, I think it would be money well spent.”
Lay also pointed out that he had recently procured from the U.S. Attorney General’s Office $5,000 for wage reimbursement that could be used toward the purchase of a van.
Jail Administrator J.D. Vieregge said the federal government pays the county $68 per day per inmate, and the jail currently houses 24 federal inmates. That translates to more than $1,600.
Lay said he would be checking with local automobile dealers in searching for a van, and that equipment used in the van formerly used could be installed in the new vehicle.
Also at the meeting:
• The board agreed to have Lay seek bids from local contractors for a new heating and air-conditioning unit for the jail.
Lay said a compressor on a unit that provides heating and cooling for two cell blocks has gone bad, and that if a new compressor is installed, the unit is under warranty for 18 months. The warranty on a new unit, he said, is five years, so he recommended going that route.
The sheriff had received a cost estimate for the work from a local contractor, and will now go to all contractors for bids.
• The board approved the reappointment of County Engineer Michael Maxey for six years, and approved participation in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s County Engineer’s Salary Program.
Through the program, federal funds pay half of the $91,900 salary and county Motor Fuel Tax Fund monies pay the other half.
• The board approved an IDOT local agency agreement for the rehabilitation of 8.7 miles of the Ramsey-Fillmore Road. The total project cost is $1.026 million, with the federal government paying $720,000, the state paying $260,000 and the county paying $46,000.
• The board accepted the resignation of Lloyd Sugg from the Pond Lily Drainage District and the appointment of Brad Sugg to fill that vacancy.
• The board voted to continue recognizing the Tourism Bureau of Southwestern Illinois as the county’s state-certified tourism bureau.
• Board Chairman Steve Knebel read a letter from Rachelle Hollinshead, the local University of Illinois Extension director, in which Hollinshead thanked the county for its continued funding and support of Extension.
• Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Steve Koehler submitted a written report on his agency’s response to two storms at the beginning and ending of February.
The storm in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 included one tornado east of St. Elmo and another, stronger one in the Confidence area.
“Things, for as bad as they were, went very well,” Koehler said, praising the efforts of first responders throughout the county.
 • Three members of the St. James Hornets 4-H Club – Stefanie Sapp, and Hunter and Josie Strauch – and their leader, Jo Stine, attended the meeting to show their appreciation to board members during Local Government Week. The 4-H members presented board members with cookies.

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