Highland News Leader

Highland police chief resigns, council approves new interim contract

After almost 10 years of serving the Highland Police Department, Chief Terry Bell has decided to step down.

The Highland City Council meeting on Aug. 6 tagged Terry Remelius to serve interim interim police chief. Lt. Chris Conrad will be the new permanent chief following three months of command school at the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville.

Bell has battled with cancer for a little over two years. Last Friday, Bell, who has served as the city’s police chief and public safety director for about the last 10 years, was awarded a disability retirement pension due to his medical status, said City Manager Mark Latham.

“It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter as it has been an absolute pleasure to serve the city and citizens of Highland,” Bell said in his resignation letter, which was submitted to Latham last week.

Bell goes on to say:

“I am so appreciative of the support my family and I have received not just from the city, but the citizens as well. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish with the emergency services with the backing of you and the council. I leave the police department with one of the most educated and professional group of employees of any department in the area and the city has provided those employees with quality equipment and good support with which to do their jobs. I have no doubt the level of service the department will continue to provide the citizens of Highland long after I am gone.”

Bell also thanked Mayor Joe Michaelis and the council for giving him the opportunity to be the chief of police and public safety director.

“In my 30 plus years of law enforcement, my almost 10 years with Highland have been a wonderful capstone to my life of public service,” Bell said.

From his leadership abilities, to the citizen’s lives that he has touched, Latham said that Bell has made a large impact on Highland that will continue beyond his retirement.

“There’s no question of his legacy,” Latham said.

Latham said he picked Conrad as the chief’s successor, in part, because he has previously served in that capacity during Bell’s absence.

Remelius is retired Illinois State Police and has served on the city’s Police and Fire Commission. Latham said Remelius has helped to hire many of the officers currently serving in the department, therefore many of the officers know and respect him.

Latham said that under the terms of the interim contract, Remelius will be paid $7,000 a month for filling the position.

“We’ll support him anyway we can,” Latham said.

Unfinished business


The council approved Mayor Joe Michaelis’s reappointment of ErinMignon and John Coziar to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. Michaelis said that both parties have agreed to serve an additional three-year term. Their new terms will expire on July 31, 2021.

This item were on last month’s council agenda, but due to theabsence of Councilmen Aaron Schwarz and Rick Frey, the items were tabled.

Michaelis, who usually only votes in case of a tie, voted on allagenda items during the meeting that were not tabled in order to have the threevotes required for passage. However, the mayor did not wish to vote on his ownappointments, and two council votes left did not represent a majority, so theappointment votes were postponed.


The council approved an annexation agreement with Justin Lowe and annexed his property located at 12053 Highland Road into city limits.

Latham said that Lowe wished for his property to be annexed in so he can partake in city services.

These items also appeared on the last council agenda. However,annexation requires a super majority vote, which means four votes on a five-person council. So, even with a vote from Michaelis, the measures could not be passed.

New business

Church event approved

The council approved the Highland Hope United Methodist Church event Hope Night on the Square. The event will be held downtown on Aug. 17 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Square in Highland.

This year their will be a fundraiser at the event to help support Bell’s medical costs, according to Kathryn Comish, the church’s outreach coordinator.

Benefits broker approved

The city will continue utilizing services from the benefits broker it has used for the last nine years upon recommendation from numerous city directors, according to a memo from the city’s Director of Finance Kelly Korte.

In May, the city solicited various proposals from benefits brokers to provide benefits plan brokerage and consulting services, in light of a insurance coverage renewal date of Nov. 1.

Out of four businesses that responded to the solicitation, Korte said that it was determined Cornerstone Insurance Group was still the city’s best option. The city will carry on with the group for the next three years. An updated request for proposals will be submitted at the end of that term, and the city will review firms qualifications again.

Gas line relocation

The council authorized the city to pay the construction cost of $30,000 to relocate a gas line owned by Ameren.

The gas line is near the construction area for a culvert replacement under the Poplar Street CSX railroad crossing.

Latham said engineering firm Oates Associates Inc. recommended the relocation of the line as it will allow for the construction of the new culvert. The city has worked closely with the firm for a period of time to help find a solution for to lower the city’s new Special Flood Hazard Area, as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The engineering firm, which the city has worked with on the issue for quite some time, believes the project would help lower the city’s flood area back to its original height, which could help many local property and businesses owners avoid paying for flood insurance.

Alley vacated

An alley between Cedar and Beech Streets will be vacated for a local business owner.

Sean Engelmann of Engelmann Enterprises, LLC recently purchased multiple properties in Highland in order to bring his business Joiner Sheet Metal to Highland. Latham said that Engelmann would like to fence in the area to protect his property from theft.

The right-of-way being vacated is the 16.5 foot alley from Madison Street to Adams Street, situated between Cedar and Beech Street. The decision has no fiscal impact, according to a memo from Latham.

New defibrillator

The council declared one Lifepak 12 as surplus property. The device is a cardiac monitor and defibrillator used by Highland EMS.

The council also passed a resolution waiving competitive bid procedure and authorized the $27,414 purchase of a Lifepak 15 for the EMS department.

EMS Chief Brian Wilson said that standard bidding procedure was waived because only two of these types of devices are authorized for use in ambulances by the Department of Transportation.

The only other authorized device is provided by ZOLL Medical Corporation. The ZOLL equivalent for the Lifepak 15 was quoted at $34,960, according to a quote received by Fire and EMS Capt. Tim Rusteberg.

Tantalus invoice paid

The council approved the payment of an invoice from Tantalus Systems Inc. for about $28,383 for the purchase of a technical support and annual maintenance agreement.

Tantalus is the city’s provider for its smart grid meter network. Along with the purchase of their hardware and use of their software comes an annual support fee, according to the city’s Director of Light and Power Dan Cook. The support fee coves software maintenance updates, endpoint licenses and ongoing technical support.

“This annual support is necessary to facilitate the ongoing functioning of our system,” Cook said in a memo.

Bids let for water main project

The city will now seek bids for a water main improvement project.

The project consists of replacing the water mains in three areas of the city that experience the most water main breakage, according to Director of Public Works Joe Gillespie. He said the targeted areas are long Illinois 143 from Troxler Avenue to U.S. 40, on Broadway from Illinois 160 to Poplar street, and on Beech, Cedar, Deal, and Monroe Streets.

The work on these areas is expected to cost the city about $1.7 million. Gillespie said the city is in the process of securing funding from a bank and will adjust water rates over the next five years.

Council chamber ADA improvements

Latham directed a conversation pertaining to improvements that need to be made to the council chambers at city hall to make the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Latham presented three options to council, which were created by Idea Architects.

The renovations options included:

  • Construct an ADA sitting area with a railing, and wheelchair lift without a chair for an estimate costof $39,750;
  • Construct an ADA sitting area with a railing, a wheelchair lift with a chair at an estimated cost of $67,700;
  • Construct an ADA sitting area with a railing without a wheelchair lift at an estimated cost of $10,000.

At the end of the discussion, the council advised Latham to move towards the $10,000, without the wheel chair lift. The council members agreed that bring a wireless mic to those in a wheelchair, instead of bringing them forward to speak, was a suitable option.

Latham said these renovations are estimated to be complete in about 90 days.