Henry is first female board chair

Robert Blackford/Editor
From the left, Assistant States Attorney Meeghan Lee, County Board Chairman Maxine Henry and County Clerk Phyllis Bewley preside over the Mercer County Board meeting Sept. 1. Henry was elected as the first ever female Mercer County board chairman earlier in the evening.

Maxine Henry was elected as the first woman to chair the Mercer County board at its Sept. 1 meeting. The vote was unanimous amongst the members attending. Henry had been filling the seat vacated by former chairman Tom Harris. Harris resigned in August due to health concerns.

Henry read a short note from Harris where he described his past health concerns adding, "I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the board."

Pastor Darren Dietmeier appeared before the board and a moment was taken to pray for Harris as well as Henry, who recently lost her brother.

The board then voted unanimously to fill Harris' spot on the board with David Maynard of Viola. Maynard was the selection of the Democratic Central Committee.

Floyd Utz was elected as the vice chairman of the board on a unanimous vote.

Jenny Garner, Mercer County Economic Development director, said that she has been working on a housing survey. Garner said so far the survey has determined that there is a need for low to moderate income housing, senior housing and executive style geographic specific housing.


Larry McHenry, a member of the ferry boat project stopped by to get Mercer County Board approval to proceed with the next step of the project. McHenry said the next step is for the group to contact legislators and try to secure support for the project. The other five partners (Louisa County, the cities of Aledo and New Boston, Oakville, Iowa and Wapello, Iowa) in the project have already okayed the next step.

"We are trying to attract federal and state dollars to the project," said McHenry.

McHenry told the board members that he wasn't asking them for money, just for their continued support for the project - to establish a ferry boat out of New Boston to across the river in Iowa.

He board agreed to draft a letter of support on an 8-1-1 vote with board member Charlie Box voting against the measure. Board member Terry Elliott, who is on the committee to bring the ferry boat to New Boston, abstained.

Tri-County Solid Waste Coordinator Chad Braatz addressed the board noting the Western Illinois Regional Council has collected 499,000 pounds of paint in the last four years and 876,000 pounds of computers. Despite the past successes though, Braatz said they will soon be out of the paint collection business. "I'm so upset over this," said Braatz.

Braatz said he has two 35-year-old paint cans on his desk, and someone just called him stating they have a 47-year-old can of paint. "I know this stuff is out there. Ninety percent of what I do protects your drinking water. I can't believe they are going to knowingly shut us down. We are doing what we are supposed to do - getting the old paint out of the area."


Henry told the board that she met with members of the Public Building Commission and they told her they were very optimistic they will receive a grant to work on the elevator at the courthouse.

Henry also read a letter from the superintendents of the Sherrard and Mercer County school districts in regards to the timeliness of the county's tax payments to Sherrard and Mercer County. The Sherrard board will have to cash in some of their CD's to meet their requirements.

Mercer County Clerk Phyllis Bewley swears in Dave Maynard of Matherville, who replaces Tom Harris on the Mercer County Board of Supervisors.