Additional village employees a possibility

Nick Stroman

The Dunlap Village Board entered into a lengthy discussion at its Wednesday meeting about the hiring of additional part-time employees.

Village trustee Jack Esterdahl said the idea came to him after recent conversations with the Mayor of Wenona and a village board member in Princeville, and he would like to reach out to officials in Brimfield and other communities similar in size to Dunlap.

Village Superintendent Dale Bishop recently went on vacation, leaving Assistant Superintendent Marcus Loser to handle most duties by himself, including a power outage.

“Marcus was great, but what if he needed an extra hand while Dale was gone or something worse happened?” Esterdahl said.

Village Trustee Sheila Taylor said the village could use an extra person, and if the employee was full-time they would be more invested in the job.

“However, then you will also have the added expense of paying benefits to them,” Taylor said.

Village President Jack Fennell said the village does not have the money now to justify hiring a full-time employee.

“I’m not against the idea, but do we have money to do that and the other things we have to do, too? I want to be very cautious,” Fennell said.

Bishop said he would love to have another person in the winter months to help him and Loser out, but at the rate the village has to pay, he does not find many people interested in the job.

“No one is going to wake up that early in the winter months to help us plow snow for $10 per hour,” Bishop said.

Taylor and Bishop both brought up the idea to bring in a part-time employee to answer phones at village hall for a few hours during the day.

Bishop estimated 15 to 20 hours of his week is taken up with those kinds of administrative duties, including water bill questions.

“If the doors were open at village hall and someone could take just those responsibilities on, it would help Marcus and I out tremendously,” Bishop said.

Fennell said it is a topic the board should diligently work on over the next year or so.

In other action and discussion, the board:

• approved an ordinance which would require any new business or development on the street side of Illinois Route 91 to have prior approval by a village engineer if a sidewalk is to be constructed.

Fennell said the business would be allowed two years to complete the project, and the village could possibly offer to pay a percentage of the cost.

• heard a report from Taylor about the Safe Routes to School Grant.

Taylor said the village was on target to have the entire grant submitted by Oct. 15, including a map of where they want the sidewalks to run.

She added the school board has been reluctant to give support to any type of sidewalks going in yet.

“Their snag has been if they would like to see a crossing guard for the K-5 kids, and we would split the cost. I think we can accommodate that,” Taylor said.

Taylor said once the Illinois Department of Transportation receives the grant, they review the plans and give it back to the village with their changes.

Nov. 15 is the final date for revisions.

“I’m hopeful the grant and travel plan will be accepted and we get the money. My fingers are crossed,” Taylor said.

• approved a resolution to enter into a new gas and electric contract with Midwest Energy for the village.

Fennell said currently Ameren charges 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour while Midwest Energy’s rate is 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

He said they are locked into a two-year contract with Midwest Energy, which will save them $1,100 annually.

“The only downside is if Ameren ends up reducing their rates down the line,” Fennell said.

Fennell added Ameren would still come to the village and take care of issues like power outages, and this change would only affect the village itself and not the residents.

• heard a report from Bishop about a call he received from a homeowner who found a raccoon in her home.

Bishop said he first contacted Peoria County Animal and Protection Services since the village entered into a new full service contract with them Oct. 1.

“They said they wouldn’t come out because they don’t deal with wild animals. There were two of us trying to handle this situation, and it really could’ve been ugly,” Bishop said.

Fennell instructed Bishop to call the county and see about the specifications of their contract.

“We need to get a hold of them and find out what’s going on because that could’ve been a bad deal,” Fennell said.

• heard a request from trustee Gregory Micklos to plant a tree at North Park in the memory of 53-year-old John Bennyhoff, a JFL coach who died of a stroke in September.

Micklos said his family requested memorials be made to the Dunlap JFL program, and lots of donations had been coming in his name. Many of the team members’ parents said they thought a tree would be a good idea.

• heard a report from trustee Colleen Slane about the new village website.

Slane said the framework is done and the web developer thinks the site will be ready to launch by the end of October.

The new domain name will be www.villageofdunlap.com, and Slane said she will be in charge of adding content to the site.

• and heard from Taylor that the Copperfield subdivision homeowners have formed a committee to discuss future plans at Copperfield Park.

Taylor said the residents have conducted a survey and the results will be presented to the board, when they also plan to request possible matching funds from the village.