The Observer Reports were written by volunteer observers of the Greater Peoria League of Women Voters. The reports are presented here as a public service. They are in no way “official” but are intended solely as an informal means of enabling citizens to monitor the meetings of local government bodies. Every effort has been made to make these reports accurate; however, like all materials of this nature, they are subject to human error.
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting May 12th with all present but Member Pastucha and two members participating via phone-Members Elsasser and Rieker.
A proclamation recognizing the 36th Annual Gerald Brookhart Arts in Education Spring Celebration began the meeting. Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City County Health Department Administrator’s tenth anniversary with the department was also recognized.
There were no Citizen’s Remarks.
The Consent Agenda passed on a vote of 17-0 without discussion. Items approved included:
Link to the meeting agenda and video are here:
The Peoria Public Schools Board held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 25, 2022 with all seven board members present.
PPS Announcements (Upcoming Events)
PPS Awards and Recognitions
Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat congratulated four PPS teachers – Emily Dawson, Shannon Sailer, Michelle Salazar and Lauren Wulf for earning advanced teaching credentials by achieving National Board Certification. The rigorous program, which is paid for by the state for eligible teachers, takes educators approximately two years to complete.
Student Showcase: Middle School Speech Team
Six PPS middle schools implemented a new speech and debate program targeted at fourth graders to improve their oral communication, vocabulary, analytical writing and public speaking skills. The schools – Glen Oak, Harrison, Lincoln, Trewyn, Roosevelt and Sterling – are using a program developed by Bradley alumni Salvatore Trajino of Advantage Communications. The hope is that next year up to 350 students will participate. The PPS District Championship is Saturday, May 14 at Manual High School.
District Presentation: Woodruff Career & Technical Center Solar Panel Installation
Installation of 545 solar panels at Woodruff Career & Technical Center should generate more than 318,000kWhs and offset 226 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The construction process including roof updates began in 2019 and was funded by a $1.6 million award from the Edwards Power Plant. Contractor Ruyle estimates school district saving about $16,000 annually. Students in Woodruff’s Renewable Energy Program have been able to observe throughout the construction process, which has produced approximately 1,400 union job hours. Next semester students will monitor the solar panels, studying the energy production onsite.
The Consent Agenda, which can be found at https://peoriapublicschools.org/domain/57, was approved unanimously.
To see the meeting, go to the Peoria Public Schools YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFNu3PTGzEyjDH6qV7FKSnA.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
Presentation of the Landen Memorial Volunteer Service Award was made to John Martin in recognition of his volunteer service since 1997 in the joint association of the PPD and the Peoria Irish Fest/ Erin Feis.
Presentation of the Rhodell E. Owens Distinguished Group Community Service Award was made to Kappa Alpha Psi.
Information Security Supervisor, Willie Howe, reported that over $10,000 was saved with revamping of the golf telephone system.
Chief of Park District police, Todd Green, commented on the job posting for one full time officer to bring up to to four, the number of officers needed.
During public comments, a member of the Center Bluff Coalition discussed the need for a shelter at Columbia Park. Staff will be following through with that request.
The last Springdale Cemetary Management Authority meeting minutes were included in the meeting packet and will be routinely included from now on.
Trustee Bright was absent. The meeting convened at 6:00 and adjourned at 7:05.
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting April 14th with all present but Member Salzer and three members participating via phone-Members Bryant, Fennell, and Reliford. The meeting was brief—38 minutes.
Many proclamations began the meeting recognizing the following:
There were no Citizen’s Remarks.
The Consent Agenda passed on a vote of 17-0 without discussion. Most items were focused on regular financial matters. The employment agreement with County Administrator Scott Sorrell was amended following his performance review.
The regular agenda consisted of three items and all were approved.
Link to the meeting agenda and video are here:
The Peoria County Election Commission met on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, with Commissioner Burke absent. In his report, Director Tom Bride stated that almost all of the new voting system has been delivered. The printers had arrived, and the pollbooks were due in a few days. Staff is working on various processes, such as how to handle provisional ballots. Training will occur later this month, followed by a mock election with the judges. Tentatively, there will be an open house for the press and possibly the public. The Peoria office has been coordinating with DuPage County because they are the only other jurisdiction in Illinois using the same voting system.
During the discussion on whether to continue using prepaid envelopes for Vote by Mail, it was decided that the current supply would be used for the upcoming primary and general election.
New voting booths will not be available until July 1, due to a shortage of aluminum for the legs. Staff is looking to borrow booths from St. Louis County and/or Indiana, since they will have completed their primaries. Hopefully, the only cost will be for transportation.
At the State level, objections are still being handled. No voting bills were passed by the State Legislature this spring, but some may come up either in the veto session or next spring. Things that had been discussed include vote centers and pre-paid postage for vote by mail.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
All Board members were present. Announcements included: upcoming SAT’s and PSAT’s and Summer School signups.
Young Authors Competition Winners K-8 entries are shared through Peoria Public Schools social media channels.
Middle School Boys Basketball City Champions AJ Guyton presented the Championship team Roosevelt Rough Riders recognized for winning city middle school championship.
“We try to get these boys into a state of mind outside what they see on the streets” and work to get them prepared for college.
Presentations by audience seven people spoke. Among topics: free Little League, support for schools promoting democracy, upset with mask mandates (2), upset with school name changes, support for Accelerated Reader program which has been discontinued and using Covid money on truancy solutions.
Superintendent Dr. Kherat’s update:
1.Donations to Peoria Schools to date
2.Payment of bills
3.Payment for travel
5.License agreement with Jolt Foundation
6.Field trip approval Harrison
7.Field trip approval Washington
8.Extend the fuel purchase with Hoerr Petroleum
9.Purchase of five used buses
10.Peoria High varsity cheerleaders overnight trip
11.National model UN Club conference
Consent agenda items 5 and 9 pulled:
5. License agreement with Jolt Foundation for Harm Reduction with questions and details regarding: security for bringing the pilot to schools; professional medical office including Hep C finger stick, HIV swabbing, Narcan and Neloxone available. Will the school on-site program be open to anyone? Concerns about children being safe on site (clients must buzz in), loitering (hasn’t been an issue to date.) Hours will be 8-4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Located across the street from the Health Department. Passed unanimously.
9. Purchase of five used buses- paying a little less than half for the buses with reimbursements and they are gently used. Passed unanimously. They may have wi-fi.
Deliberation Agenda Expulsion agenda approved unanimously.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
Superintendent of Human Resources, Shaleese Pie, reported on the ongoing process to fill 230 full-time, part-time and seasonal positions. Staff have attended a good number of high schools and career fairs to recruit with more opportunities for recruitment in the future. PPD is using its website and various media sources, including Facebook, to promote its values and priorities. On the PPD website there is a listing of all job openings on an interactive interface with benefits and information on the hiring process.
In other business, a question from Trustee Petty concerning selecting the bidder on several commodity purchases, using the diversity policy in place, lead to a discussion about the applicability on the provisions of the policy in this instance. It was decided that the DEI (Diversity Equality Inclusion) ad hoc committee would take up the clarification of this policy as it pertains to future bidding for both services and commodities.
Trustee Bertschy was absent. All other trustees were present in person or via Facebook. The meeting was called to order at 6:10 and adjourned at 7:30.
All Trustees attended either in person or virtually. The Investment Committee Meeting report- the $5-6million dollars will be laddered for needed times, but rates are still very low.
The Board of Trustees Meeting had one guest whose volunteer work for the St Vincent de Paul society at a local church led her to ask that the GPSD bills also be sent to renters. Currently only the owners receive the bill from GPSD. But utilities may be the renters’ responsibility. When a notice finally does come to the renter it is a notice of approaching water shutoff and may be hundreds of dollars overdue. GPSD is aware of this and is looking into solutions, but extremely low-income households may not have a computer or internet access for electronic bills. Staff pointed out that GPSD has a link on their website to Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) which is a partial one-time solution.
· The public hearing on the 2022-23 Budget will be on Tuesday April 18. Afterwards the trustees will vote on the budget. Fuel and chemical expenses are much higher now which is reflected in the budget.
· Two employees were promoted from within to new positions and two interns are budgeted.
· GPSD has applied for a FEMA BRIC grant to cover 70% of their Levee Improvements Project. The project involves changing the height and slope of the levee which surrounds the GPSD plant, relocation of the maintenance garage, Kickapoo Interceptor Control Structure, and Effluent Channel Control Structure. This project is needed to meet the FEMA requirement for a 100-year flood event. Flooding has increased and on one occasion when the river reached 29 feet, employees had to take a boat to get to the plant.
· There were no overflows in February in the GPSD system. There was one combined sewer discharge on February 16 with .73inches of rain in the city owned combined water/sewer system.
· There were no sanitary sewer backups in February within the District-owned sanitary sewer collection system.
· A six-year generator maintenance agreement was approved to maximize the service life of their emergency standby generators.
· Trustees thanked staff for participation in an ongoing national sewage tracking project described in a Saturday March 12 Peoria Journal Star article: Sewage might track down next COVID-19 outbreak (by Leslie Renken) https://peoriajournalstar-il.newsmemory.com?selDate=20220312&goTo=A01&artid=3
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
Springdale Cemetery Observer Report March 15, 2022
Chair Pam Johnson and 3 trustees were in person, two trustees participated by phone and one was absent.
General Manager Matuszak talked about the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) approved unanimously by the City Council, Park District and County Board after months of negotiation. The major changes from the original IGA (Sept 2002) are: the County will increase its contribution from $60,000/year to double that gradually starting at $102,000 annually to $120,000 annually in 8 years. The city averaged about $230,000 per year. The Park District continues at $40,000 annually. However, since the Savannah is important to the Park District, PPD will buy the Savannah for $1 and will maintain the Savannah – costing about $20,000 annually. (The Savannah is on the National Register of Historic Places. The new Scattering Garden is in the wooded part of the Savannah property.) Another change is the number of trustees each governmental unit appoints to the Springdale Cemetery Management Authority. Effective in September, the City will have 5 trustees, County will have 2 trustees, the Park District and Foundation will each have 1 trustee. The Foundation will have a $25,000 annual donation due to the cemetery.
Matuszak needs 6 committed volunteers to maintain Soldiers Hill every week. Some of the original volunteers are in their 90’s.
They are awaiting two awarded state grants and have a bequest to be settled soon. The grants will be used for infrastructure - roads are in “total disrepair” (6 miles of road with 2.5 miles being rated “fair to good” and 3.5 miles in “bad shape.”) The roads originally were built to a variety of standards (or none.) The concept for the road repair including the type of materials is under discussion.
Trash cans around the cemetery are being replaced by donated, painted used ones in good shape.
The Foundation will revamp their newsletter and website and will have a variety of activities in the cemetery.
The cemetery has $407,000 in their designated (restricted, endowment-type) fund.
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