The city of Highland will help the community’s veterans groups bring a vision of remembrance of the town’s fallen heroes to fruition.
The Highland City Council approved Jan. 17 funding for the construction of the “Wall of Remembrance and Honor” that will be built in Dennis H. Rinderer Park.
“This is a way to recognize them,” said Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis. “As far as the importance, I can speak for the community that there is nothing more important.”
City officials have already been working closely for months with American Legion Post 439 and VFW Post 5694 on planning, but now will contribute cash as well. The project is estimated to cost $35,000, which will be paid for by using general city funds.
“Highland is big on veterans funding,” said City Manager Mark Latham.
Post 439 American Legion commander Jim Hobbs said the wall will commemorate the lives and service of all veterans while serving in either World War.
While the American Legion and VFW have requested that the city front the funds for the construction of the wall, the organizations are currently seeking sponsorships to fund the commemorative bronze plaques that will adorn the wall. The plaques are estimated to cost $375-400 each and will be paid for by the sale of brick pavers. Donors have the choice to contribute by buying either a brick or granite slab. The paver will have the name of the veteran or first responder in whose honor the donor wishes. A brick costs $100, while an 8 by 12 inch granite slab is $300.
The Legion and VFW are also inviting citizens and businesses in the community to donate any amount toward the memorial. A donation form can be found linked to this story on the News Leader website. Send the form (including donation) to 1130 New Trenton Road, Highland, IL 62249. Checks can be made out to the Highland Area Community Foundation (HACF) Veterans Memorial Pass Through Fund.
“We have total confidence that the VFW and the American Legion will reach their goal,” Michaelis said.
The memorial is planned to be dedicated on Memorial Day 2017.
Mayor makes proclamations
Also at the city council meeting, Michaelis proclaimed the month of February to be “Heart Health Awareness Month” in the city of Highland.
Every year, the month of February is designated the “American Heart Month” by the American Heart Association. The employees of St. Joseph’s Hospital-Highland advocate a heart-healthy lifestyle and are always spreading awareness to help combat heart disease.
Michaelis encouraged the people of Highland to increase their awareness and understanding about heart disease, which has taken more lives than any other cause of death and affects one in three Americans.
Activities and programs centered around heart health will be announced during the month of February. The activities will work to inform the community on ways to keep a happy heart. Currently the agenda will include a free session of bingo, exercising and a cook-off with heart healthy recipes.
Michaelis also proclaimed the week of Jan. 22-28 to be National School Choice Week (NSCW) in Highland. Cities throughout all of the 50 states participate in NSCW, and Michaelis has decided that the community of Highland will be joining them.
“Educational variety not only helps to diversify our economy, but also enhances the vibrancy of our community,” Michaelis said.
NSCW started in 2011 and is the world’s largest celebration of opportunity in education. NSCW is aimed to raise public awareness on all types of education options for students. These options include public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.
During NSCW Michaelis encourages schools, organizations and individuals in Highland to hold events that explore school choice options and spread awareness about the need for greater opportunities for children.
According to Michaelis, each child of Highland should have access to the highest-quality of educational options possible.
Hotel/Motel funding postponed
The council decided to postpone two requests for discussion until after the budget meeting in March.
The requests were filed by the Highland Chamber of Commerce and the Highland Arts Council. Both asked for additional funding from the city hotel/motel taxes, but those funds have declined by 30 percent over the last six years, due to the loss of Michael’s Swiss Inn and the Cardinal Inn.
City Manager Mark Latham mentioned to the council that it might be beneficial to postpone the approval of the budget increase requests until a better understanding of the funds is achieved.
Currently, the chamber is allocated $24,000 from the hotel/motel tax to support tourism-related activity expenses. the chamber requested a $3,000 increase in funding because its budget for 2017 is expected to increase to $37,450.
“These funds represent and integral part of our annual budget and are used to support programs and events that create a high quality of life of the residents and visitors of Highland,” said the Chamber Executive Director Nancie Zobrist.
Funds allocated from the tax help to support events like the Peanut Butter and Jam Festival and the Street Art Festival.
The Highland Arts Council requested $1,000 in its budget for the Art in the Park event, which is scheduled for Oct. 13-15. Last year, the arts council was allocated $8,000, but this year the council is expecting to need $9,000.
Art in the Park is a three-day tourism event that draws an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 people to Highland every year. The event not only offers artists time to sell their art, but also gives them time to teach people through a series of live demonstrations that encourage the exploration of art.
Last year, Art in the Park artists sold $40,000 worth of art. Proceeds from the event benefit the city in different ways like supporting the planned Treehouse Art Gallery, Art Affairs, and the Street Art Festival, the arts council said.
Art in the Park has been held in Lindendale Park since 2004.
New attorney services approved
A contract for new attorney services for the city was approved at the council meeting.
The city posted a “Statements of Qualifications” in the Highland News Leader and Belleville News-Democrat, to which there was only one submission from the Edwardsville firm, Sandberg, Pheonix & Von Gontard. The current law firm assisting the city, Bruckert, Gruenke & Long, did not submit a bid for reasons unknown. However, Latham is not concerned about the single bid.
“It’s just a very specialized aspect of law firms,” Latham said. “There are probably two or three firms in the whole metro- east that support most of the municipalities.”
The new contract will cost the city a monthly fee of $14,000. Mark McGinley and Phillip Leding are the two attorneys that will now be assisting the city.
“I am confident that they are qualified to provide legal services to the city of Highland in a most professional manner,” Latham said.
The new attorney firm will begin servicing the city on Feb. 1. With the new contract, the city is anticipating a yearly savings of $24,000 and all services under the current contract are covered.
Maintenance support approved
The council approved the renewal of a yearly contract the city holds with Fidelity. The contract concerns the city video encryption, internet protocol television (IPTV) services and radio frequency (RF) solution.
During last year’s approval process, the council requested that Latham find other providers to bid on this support. However, after speaking with two different companies that provided services similar to Fidelity, the council found that the current needs of the city television solution were too specialized to enter different contract terms.
Given the unique architecture of the city’s video, there are very few places that could be used for support, Latham said.
According to Latham, the contract is specialized because it supports the use of things like antenna TVs, which is an RF solution. This is a term that many companies support today.
The contract with Fidelity also outlines the right to purchase a license with Minerva, which supplies video platform modules. The contract also states the agreement between Fidelity and Verimatrix. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires encryption certificates are installed on every set top box to insure that the users’ video signals are not being stolen from another user. Verimatrix provides the certificates insuring that the Highland Communication Services (HCS) server is protected.
According to Latham, changing the support model would require a rebuild of that server and would be very disruptive to the HCS team and to its customer base.
The contract is for one year and will cost $37,989.32, which is about 5 percent increase over last year’s. The hike is due to increase in pass-through charges from Verimatrix and Minerva.
Business to home rezoning approved
The council approved a rezoning (map amendment) request filed by Kathy Tilson of Highland concerning a property located at at 1306 Eighth St.
The request was filed to approve the building of a residential dwelling on property that is designated to be in a business district.
The city Combined Zoning and Planning Board found previously, with a 6-0 vote, that the property was a favorable location for the residence. The board also found that the construction would not interrupt traffic circulation or would not influence any other public services.
How to order a Veterans Memorial Paver
The American Legion and VFW of Highland are announcing the acceptance of orders for Veterans Memorial bricks and pavers. You can memorialize your military or first-responder veteran by ordering one of these items for a tax-exempt donation to the Highland Area Foundation. These items will be a part of the permanent World War I, World War II, and Highland Police Department memorial dedicated to the Highland residents who lost their lives while serving our community and nation.
The memorial will be dedicated at Rinderer Park on Memorial Day 2017, and your bricks/pavers will be a permanent part of it. Order forms are available at Highland City Hall, Latzer Library, and the Chamber of Commerce lobby and linked to this story. The forms will also be available at the VFW and American Legion.
The order forms should be submitted as soon as possible so they can be imprinted in time to be dedicated this Spring. These make a “unique permanent gift” for any special occasion for your veteran. Individuals are purchasing these to remember the service of grandparents, parents, children, siblings, and friends. They can be purchased for anyone who has prior service or are currently serving our community and nation.
If you don’t have a veteran in your family, you can purchase one as a thank you to those Highlanders who have served.
All funds received will be dedicated to the building and permanent maintenance of this memorial.
If you have any questions, leave a message at the American Legion at 618-654-4062, and your call will be returned.