Highland News Leader

City to seek $11 million loan from state to complete sewer project

The Highland City Council on Monday, Feb. 6, approved the next phases of the city’s wastewater system rehabilitation plan.

City officials will be submitting the Comprehensive Facilities Plan developed by engineers at Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc (CMT) to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for approval.

After the plan is submitted, the city will then apply to borrow $11 million from the Illinois State Revolving Fund Loan Program. The loan gives the city the funds necessary to complete all the work needed to rehab the city’s sewer lines, as well as update and enlarge the wastewater treatment plant.

City officials have been working for several years to restore the 100-year-old sewer system that runs underneath the streets of Highland. In 2015, the city floated bonds to begin repairing smaller sewer pipes that were considered in fair to poor condition. The new comprehensive plan is an extension of the previous improvements.

CMT representative Scott Knight presented the full comprehensive plan at the council meeting on Jan. 17. The current plan calls for a $1.2 million rehabilitation to the sewer trunk mains and city manholes. However, the main portion of the plan is an $8 million improvement to the Highland Water Reclamation Facility.

If approved for the state loan program, the city will be able to pay for the project without an additional rate increase, given yearly adjustments are made for inflation.

Other Business

Appointment approved to Tree Commission

The council approved Mayor Joe Michaelis’ appointment of Susan Amaro to the Tree Commission.

Michaelis said that Amaro’s experience on the Highland Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission make her a great candidate for the position.

The Highland Tree Commission is a committee of eight Highland residents who are appointed by the mayor. The members of the Tree Commission are responsible for maintenance, inventory, and growing of the city urban forests.

Amaro will be taking over the three-year term of Richard Wagner, who resigned from his position on the commission before his term retired. Amaro will serve until the expiration of Wagner’s term in July 2018.

The Tree Commission committee meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the Korte Recreation Center.

Road closure approved

The council approved the request from the Highland Masonic Lodge 583 concerning a road closure.

One-way traffic on Ninth Street, heading east from Walnut Street to Pestalozzi Street, will be restricted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 26. There will also be no parking on the same block during that time.

The lodge will be holding its 63rd annual Old Swiss Sausage Supper on that day from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The supper is an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. The members of the lodge have requested the same road closure for the last three years and continue to request it, because of the success it has served them in prior years.

The lodge members use the road closure to operate a drive-thru system that allows attendees, specifically catered to the elderly, wishing to carry-out their meal an option to drive up and grab their meal.

Event dates approved

The council approved the event dates for the Highland Speedway schedule.

The Highland speedway is a one-quarter mile, semi-banked clay oval track located at the Madison County Fairgrounds. The location is the stage for many events including racing, truck and tractor pulls and rodeos.

The opening day for the 57th year of racing at the track is scheduled for March 5 with a “Play Day” from 12:30 to 5 p.m., where “all cars are welcome.”

A full season schedule can be seen on the Speedway website and announcements are also made on the track’s Facebook page.

Funding requests tabled

Other citizen requests, including a funding request from Dick Connor at Misfit Motorsports Productions, and a closure request from Highland Community Schools Parent-Teacher Organization were tabled for a future meeting. Representatives from both parties did not attend the meeting. Parties are expected to attend the council meeting in case the council has questions for the citizens. The representatives are expected to attend the Feb. 21 council meeting.

KRC to get new stationary bikes

The council approved the acceptance of a parks and recreation loan from the Madison County board for $46,970.

The loan will be paid back at an interest rate of 3 percent for three years, payable yearly.

The loan will be used to buy 20 new spin bikes for the Korte Recreation Center, which will be used in spin bike classes.

The new bikes will replace 16 that are currently at the center. According to Mark Rosen, the director of parks and recreation, some of the old bikes are “not in good shape.” Though the bikes have “served the department well,” it is time to retire them, Rosen said.

The council also approved the sale of surplus spin bikes at a live auction. The auction will be held in the small meeting room at the KRC on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The bikes will be set up for inspection before the auction starts; anything wrong with the bike will also be stated during the auction.

Anyone is welcome to attend the auction, 14 of the 16 bikes will be sold with every bid starting at $100.

Bike purchasers will need to write a check payable to the city of Highland on the night of the auction and must transport the bike on that same evening. The rec center will not be able to store the bike after purchase.

The funds from the auction will go to the KRC, and any bikes not sold at the auction will be destroyed.

The extra two bikes that are not being sold at the auction will be given to Highland Middle School to provide alternate options for students to exercise.

Tree trimming bid approved

The council also approved the awarding of a bid for tree maintenance along the city’s 138KV main electric transmission line.

The bid will be awarded to Specialty Contracting Inc. of Highland, which placed the lowest bid at $28,000. City officials initially placed a $50,000 budget for the project.

It has been almost six years since the last round of tree maintenance along the line, and the trees have begun to crowd around the wires, City Manager Mark Latham said, and it is imperative that the encroaching limbs are removed. If the foliage is not removed, it could mean costly damage and interruptions of the services the line provides.