City Council Votes 3-2 to Help Support The Alliance


Published on November 7 2017 9:16 pm
Last Updated on November 7 2017 9:16 pm
Written by Greg Sapp


The Effingham City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to contribute $50,000 toward the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance for the next year.

Mayor Jeff Bloemker and Commissioners Kevin Esker and Kevin Willis voted in favor of the allocation, while Commissioners Merv Gillenwater and Don Althoff voted against.

The Alliance was established by local businesspeople to help attract industries to the Effingham community. Recently, the efforts have been leaning toward residential development to make sure potential employees have someplace to live. Proponents also say there are jobs to fill in the coding industry and Lake Land College is working to develop instructional programs in coding to attract that industry to the community.

Lake Land President Josh Bullock was among those speaking on behalf of the Council allocating funds, as did Jake Niebrugge on behalf of Heartland Dental, Agracel President Dean Bingham, Unit 40 teacher and consultant Joe Fatheree, and Newlin Martin of Martin's IGA. Niebrugge and Fatheree both spoke on behalf of a collegial effort looking toward the future and Effingham's part in it.

Gillenwater and Althoff have said they wouldn't be averse to budgeting funds for assistance should The Alliance get a lead on an industry, but they'd like to see some evidence of progress. Gillenwater said, "We've been contributing taxpayer dollars for five years and we'd like to see some return on our investment of those dollars."

Mayor Jeff Bloemker said he feels the Council made a commitment earlier this year to contribute funds this year. The Alliance has pledged to provide monthly sales reports, monthly updates on a strategic plan, and what was termed "an effort to lead the creation of a cooperative industrial property development with the City".

Council members also voted 3-2 against adding a Class R liquor license that would have allowed Lucky Dogs Bar to locate in Effingham. Bloemker and Gillenwater voted for the motion, while Willis, Esker and Althoff voted against. Gillenwater said his concerns had been addressed so he could vote for the increase in licenses to accommodate the bar, which also planned to offer chicken, ribs and catfish. It also planned to offer gaming. 

Since the motion to increase the number of licenses failed, there was no vote needed on whether to issue a license to the establishment.

The Council passed a tax levy for the fiscal year that is .44% more than what was extended for taxes last year. Also approved was a series of fire safety regulations and building code standards for construction in the city. The Council also discussed a fee schedule for the newly-adopted guidelines with a vote on those fees to take place at a future meeting. The new fee schedule would be effective January 1.

Also Tuesday, the Council:

--purchased property for replacement of a box culvert on East Rickelman Avenue

--agreed to close certain downtown streets for the Hometown Christmas event on Saturday, November 25

--named City Treasurer Caitlin Phillips to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund following the resignation of William Myers

--approved Milano and Grunloh Engineers of Effingham for the City's litter abatement program known as "Pick it up, Effingham!" with the firm starting the two-year project beginning in January cleaning up along Avenue of Mid America from Keller Drive to Outer Belt West

--released bonds on a number of recently-completed infrastructure projects

--approved downtown redevelopment projects with A-1 Food Mart at Fayette and 4th and with Tingley Insurance on Jefferson Avenue with the business and the City splitting the cost of exterior renovations

--proclaimed November 15 as America Recycles Day with plans to observe the day with a recycling effort at Centenary United Methodist Church


--discussed purchase of property from Maxine Lankow and from Jamie Roberts, both along North Forrest Street, for an expansion at Oakridge Cemetery

--approved renewal of property/casualty and workers compensation insurance coverage for just under $388,000, which is actually a $17,000 decrease from last year's premium cost

--purchased shelving for just under $47,000 for use in the police station now under construction

--agreed to seek a $725,000 grant for streetscape and pedestrian use improvements along Keller Drive, with the City agreeing to commit $439,000 toward the work

--discussed a request by Todd Martin of Save-A-Lot for a liquor license for the business with action on the request in the future

--discussed seeking a $500,000 grant for water main replacement work in low to moderate income areas of the City, with more than 80 households to benefit if the project is approved. A public hearing on the project is set for 5:30pm on Tuesday, November 14

--discussed a sanitary sewer rehabilitation project by lining existing City sewers along with four new manholes on which bids will be opened on November 14

--discussed an agreement with the Purcell family on development of their property along Marguerite Lane near Lake Pauline

--discussed increasing the number of Class R-1 liquor licenses by one for a brew pub downtown with a vote expected later

--got an update from Tourism Director Jodi Thoele on efforts to promote Effingham to tourists and to promote festivals and other events

--got an update from Building Official Michelle Wilkins on work to develop electronic forms for applicants and timetables on when projects under construction will be ready to open, with Speedway, Koerner Distributor, Clayton Homes, Gopher's Grill, Teutopolis State Bank, Dan Hecht Chevrolet/Toyota all set to open within the next two to four months, as well as plans for a breakfast for local contractors on Tuesday, November 14 from 7 to 9am at City Fire Station #1