New playground on the horizon for Sherrard

Cala Smoldt/Correspondent

During a regular meeting of the Sherrard Village Board Monday night, a high school student representing Sherrard School District asked for a donation. Lauren Hoffman said they need money as the regular fundraisers are not garnering the support they once had. She asked for a donation of $500 to go toward decorations, pre-coronation ceremony, a D.J., and location for the May 3 Prom. She revealed that this year's Sherrard Senior Prom would be held on the Celebration Bell Cruise Liner. She said, "It's a messy issue just because students are getting bored with the usual location, the Milan community center." Ms. Hoffman said the schools decision was based on a number of variables, including money. She said renting the cruise ship for 3 hours would be cheaper than the community center. The current contract with the Milan Community Center  charges $5,000 for high school rental.

"(We) Wanted to make it a new experience, we have had a lot of anti-dances, students go out and make their own dance that usually has a lot of drugs and alcohol.... so students would be interested in our prom instead of going off and making their own. One advantage of having it on the boat is they can't go off and do their own thing," explained Ms. Hoffman. Cost to each student is $40 and will cover dinner and boat rental.

It was noted that the Village already donates every year to post-prom. Sherrard Village Board will vote on the matter in their April meeting.

Larry Rhodenbaugh, representing the Sherrard Park Committee, brought before the board an estimate for needed electrical work and maintenance to be completed.  The board approved removing a rotting pole from the center of the park, re-routing two street lights, upgrading to 200 amp service, and moving the location of an electrical line that currently hangs about 12 feet above the basketball court. The board approved the work in the amount of $2,800, up from the previous estimate due to the need for bigger conduits.

Mr. Rhodenbaugh spoke about the proposed playground equipment and location within the park. "Because of it being insured and everything by the village, we can't just throw anything up there at random," said Mayor Delbert Henry, "This is something that's hardcore here."

The equipment comes from NVB Playgrounds in Indiana and is industrial strength. The quote for equipment went up by $2,800 from the previous estimate.  Mr. Rhodenbaugh said this estimate gives them more and better quality equipment, along with warranty's. The board approved moving forward on the park.

Sherrard's Pumpkin Fest Committee has been raising the money for the new playground equipment over 4 fests, and several fundraisers.

A motion was made to place the Pumpkin Fest money in the amount of $30,709.11 back under the control of the committee after only about a year in the Village of Sherrard's finances. Representing the Pumpkin Fest Committee, Debbie Birely asked the board to clarify why the pumpkin fest money was being held by the Village of Sherrard. She said it made it difficult to pay their bills in a timely manner as they have to be approved first by the board. Mayor Henry explained it had to do with the insurance for the event coming under the umbrella of the Village. The money would be audited along with Village money saving the committee those fees.

"Anybody can look at any of our records," said Ms. Birely.

The motion was approved but with harsh words from Mayor Henry, " I think it's a huge mistake." He later said, "We fought to get that (Pumpkin Fest money) in there. They don't have any audits, I don't want them to get in trouble. Our lawyer would have represented them - they  now have no legal help."

Village Clerk, Theresa Johnson opened sealed bids for the 1989 Chevy Caprice squad car, John Deere tractor and backhoe. The $300 bid for the squad car did not satisfy the board and they refused it. The board approved the sale of the tractor and backhoe together to the highest bidder, James Browning of Galesburg, in the amount of $10,000.

The Village of Sherrard has now officially established a police department changing their ordinance to include it.

Clerk Johnson advised the board,  "We do not currently have anything formally establishing a police department in writing." While looking over the ordinance and comparing to other municipalities Ms. Johnson found that Coal Valley had written one into their ordinance. The board passed new police officer part-time hiring standards and changed  the ordinance to reflect a police department. Police Chief Merle Curphy said, "This was supposed to have happened years ago."

The board approved changes to the animal ordinance. A cap of 4 animals was added limiting animals allowed per household. An agreement was made with Mercer County animal control and now any person in violation is subject to removal of the animals as well as a previously established fine. The Village will pay $211 for their services. This comes subsequent to citizen complaints of households with several feral cats roaming the neighborhoods causing damage to property. Chief Curphy said, "We have stray feral cats funning rampant through town. Some are being fed, which makes them apart of a home." He said, cats doing damage, "Has been a problem for years here."

Village Clerk, Theresa Johnson presented a resolution sent by the Illinois Municipal League opposing  a 50% reduction in the municipal share of the state income tax proposed by Governor Rauner. The board approved signing it. If implemented the Village would lose $31,680.

The next meeting will be April 13 at 7 p.m.