Highland News Leader

City buys new boat for use on Silver Lake

The city of Highland will have a new boat ramp on Silver Lake and a new boat to launch from it, thanks to funding from Plains All American Pipeline, the company responsible for the July 2015 crude oil spill into the lake.

A blown fitting on a 20-inch pipe that carried the crude oil at the company’s Pocahontas Pump Station released 4,200 gallons of oil which washed down Little Silver Creek and ultimately ended up in the lake.

Following the clean-up, the company agreed to pay for many things to ensure the city has adequate equipment, should anther spill ever happen. Among those things was a new boat ramp to access the north end of the lake, above Interstate 70, and a new boat.

The council recently granted the contract to build the new ramp, and on Monday, bought the boat — a new 24-foot SeaArk at a cost of $35,397.

The new boat was designed specifically to be used to contain oil by placing containment boom 200 foot bottleneck where I-70 crosses the lake. The SeaArk will also serve as a dual purpose vessel that will conduct search-and-rescue missions by first-responders.

Other Action

Volkswalk approved

The Lebanon Cedar Cruisers received the permission to hold their annual Volkswalk in Highland.

The walk will take place on May 13, 2017. The Cruisers received permission to use city sidewalks and streets from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be two walking trails — the longer trail is six miles and the shorter trail will be three miles.

The Lebanon Cedar Cruisers took over the walk 17 years ago, after the Swiss Striders Walking Club of Highland stopped hosting the walk. Walkers from both Illinois and Missouri surrounding areas are expected to participate.

Shootout sponsorship approved

The council approved a $1,000 funding request from the Highland Optimists Club for the 26th Shootout Classic on Jan. 7.

According to the Highland Optimist representative Rick Ringwald, the Highland Shootout is the most well-developed shootout in the St. Louis area and has a great lineup of talented players. This year, 14 high school teams will be participating.

About 2,100 of the 2,800 tickets to the event have already been sold. The shoot out will take place 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Community Chorus funding request under consideration

The Highland Community Chorus is requesting $1,000 in funding from the city to help support its publicity costs for their growing audience.

The chorus sings in multiple churches around Highland and draws a large audience from the surrounding areas. Highland Community Chorus vice president Kay Ahaus said the chorus wants to do something “really big” this year and wants to increase its audience size.

The chorus budget runs at a yearly $18,000, however, the growing cost of manufacturing publicity materials was not factored into this budget, Ahaus said. This is the first time since 2013 that the Highland Community Chorus has sought help from the Highland City Council.

The council resolved to discuss the request at a later budget meeting.

Revised audit approved

A revision in the audit from April 30 was also approved by the council. The revision was needed because of a change that was calculated in the police pension funds liability. According to Scheffel Boyle, the accounting firm that conducted the audit, the change will ensure a smoother process with communicating information to the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Final tax levy approved

The council approved the final tax levy for the upcoming fiscal year. The levy will be $3,728,068.

The council approved a tentative levy last month, the final levy needed to be approved by the end of the year. The final levy differed from the tentative levy in that it includes an increase to cover insurance costs.

In previous years, the city has been attempting to keep all levy items as low as possible by using any available cash remaining. The insurance fund needed to be increased in order to have adequate funds available to pay future expenses, according to city officials.

Travel, purchasing policy approved

The council approved an ordinance to regulate the reimbursement of travel related expenses of city officers and employees. Along with the ordinance, the council approved an updated purchasing policy to replace the policy from December 2012.

According to Kelly Korte, the city director of finance, the ordinance has been placed to ensure the reimbursements and updated purchasing policy comply with the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act.

“Staff has discussed the appropriate travel definitions and dollar amount thresholds,” Korte said. “The purchasing policy has been updated to include these new requirements as well.”

Cemetery regulations changed

The council also approved the amending and repealing of sections of the Municipal Code on the income and expenditures of cemeteries.

According to the ordinance, the city now has access to the use of a perpetual care fund “to defray the expenses of caring for, maintaining, and improving the cemetery lots in Highland City Cemetery.” The owners of the cemetery lots no longer have to pay a monthly maintenance fee to the city.

The ordinance also changed the word “sexton” to use of the word “caretaker,” and the phrase “men of prudence” to persons of “prudence.”

Also, the ordinance now allows an individual to buy any number of spaces in the Highland City Cemetery instead of being limited to six per year.

Special use permit approved

The council approved a special use permit that will allow the residence at 308 Walnut St. to occupy two families instead of one.

According to the Combined Planning and Zoning Board, the changes proposed to the building will not change the traffic flow or infrastructure. The surrounding property values will not decrease from this change, but they might actually increase. After reviewing and considering certain standards the location was found acceptable for the special use permit after a six to zero vote.

The building has been vacant for over one year, and in the past, the building has been used as a two-family dwelling.

Agreement with Fox approved

The council approved the renewal of the Highland Communication Services (HCS) contract with FoxSports Midwest. The new contract will deploy the use of FoxSports Go!, an app that allows online streaming to broadband customers.

Currently, the HCS provides FoxSports Midwest in expanded basic and digital family packages, but recently the new service has been in high demand.

The new contract term will have a significant price increase, which according to Angela Imming, director technology and innovation for the city, will be absorbed by the HCS and will not change the rate for the customers. The new contract term will last three years.

Bids sought for tree trimming

The council approved the letting of bids for the trimming of trees around the city’s main electric transmission line.

This will be the first trimming of the 138 kilo-volt, which runs from rural Collinsville into Highland, line in almost six years. Growing trees have been encroaching the power lines and are causing reliability concerns.

The estimated cost for the tree trimming is $40,000.

Telecommunications board members re-appointed

Mayor Joe Michaelis’ suggestion to reappoint Sharon Rusteberg to the Telecommunications Advisory Board was approved by the council.

Michaelis said that Rusteberg has been an asset in her position, and she has agreed to serve an additional term. Rusteberg’s term would have expired in May 2017, but now she is approved for another three-year term, expiring on May 31, 2019.

2017 council meeting dates set

The council also approved its the meeting dates for the coming year. City Council meetings will continue to be held on the first and third Mondays each month, unless otherwise specified or if the first or third Monday is a holiday. The council will also continue to meet at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1115 Broadway.

HHS student with perfect ACT honored

The council gave special recognition to Highland High School senior Evan Capelle for his recent perfect score on his ACT college assessment test.

After scoring a 32 and 34, Capelle scored a perfect 36 on his third attempt on the test.

While addressing the council, Capelle thanked them for the honor of being recognized and thanked his family and friends for all of the support. Capelle’s family and girlfriend attended the meeting, though Capelle stated that he wished his grandmother could be there.

“You would have made your grandmother proud,” Mayor Michaelis said.

Vandalism on the Square discussed

During discussion portion of the meeting, Councilwoman Peggy Bellm brought up the issue of vandalism in the Square and suggested that more cameras should be placed to I.D. vandals.

“We arrested several young men,” Police Chief Terry Bell said in response. “There’s been a stop to the activity since then.”

Bell also said that close to 200 lights were broken in the Square and that the three young men confessed to most of the vandalism. Bell said that it is essential that the current surveillance cameras are upgraded as soon as possible and that funds are being found for that purpose.