County board hears updates, takes action

Pictured, crews work Tuesday morning at the intersection of Route 3 and Country Club Lane in Waterloo. Work began Monday on a joint project between Monroe County and the City of Waterloo to create a signalized pedestrian crossing at the intersection.

The Monroe County Board met in regular session Tuesday morning at the courthouse. 

In one of several action  items, outgoing Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer requested the county purchase two new laptop computers and equipment for incoming personnel who will replace him and former Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Becker-Roscow.

Liefer proposed the purchase of newer equipment for the new state’s attorney staff, which would allow him and Becker-Roscow to continue using laptops used while in the state’s attorney’s office.

In addition to providing new staff updated equipment, Liefer reasoned he and Becker-Roscow already had significant data and files on the current equipment which would be cumbersome to remove or transfer.

Commissioners approved the purchase of new equipment from the commissioner’s contingency fund in the amount of $2,730.

Liefer and Becker-Roscow were recently selected as associate judges in the newly formed 24th Judicial Circuit.

Current Monroe County Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Webb was appointed last week to replace Liefer when he is officially sworn in as judge Feb. 28.

Webb will soon select Becker-Roscow’s replacement. She was sworn in Tuesday as associate judge.

Webb sat in as counsel during Tuesday’s meeting in preparation for his new role as state’s attorney and was able to offer advice during contract approval for a Monroe County EMS purchase.

Monroe County EMS Director Carla Heise presented commissioners with a purchase agreement for a new chassis and “box remount” to repair an existing ambulance. 

The contract stated a cost of $149,844.44 for the work, but Webb advised commissioners approve the order pending an amendment of language which allowed the provider leeway in changing the price of the chassis in the event of a cost increase.

Webb argued “the onus is on the seller to lock in with the manufacturer” to assure the price as part of the competitive bid process.

Webb said he would contact the seller to guarantee a set price for the equipment before commissioners officially approve the purchase

Another action item approved with a contingency was an item the board had considered a year prior.

In February 2022, Eric Knaust sought approval to reconstruct a dilapidated barn on his property on Lagoon Road in rural Valmeyer. At the time, commissioners denied his request since it was in the flood plain and was not for agricultural use.

Knaust revisited the issue with the Monroe County Board of Appeals last Wednesday when the board approved recommendation to allow the shed to be constructed if he obtained a letter stating it would be used by a local farmer. 

Knaust brought a letter of intent to use the barn for farm machinery storage by Bruce Brinkmann.

Despite Knaust not charging Brinkmann to farm the 10-acre property, Knobloch wanted Knaust to supply a formal lease agreement in order to approve the request.

Commissioners voted to approve construction of the barn pending a formal lease agreement being submitted to the county’s zoning office.   

The longest discussion of the meeting centered around a request by Road District 9 Commissioner Jason Niebruegge to become eligible for part-time Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund benefits.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger presented the item to commissioners during the Feb. 7 meeting, but commissioners deferred action until Tuesday in order to research the proposal.

Commissioner Vicki Koerber said she has “a problem” approving a part-time commissioner to use taxpayer money for IMRF contributions, but added the board could not deny the request since there are employees of another road district who also pay into IMRF.

Metzger also submitted highway department and road district aggregate awards for purchase of road rock and chip materials needed for upcoming work. 

Commissioners approved a purchase from two vendors, with Metzger explaining there was an increase between 17-35 percent from last year’s costs from both vendors.

Metzger also noted that work began Monday on a signalized pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Route 3 and Country Club Lane/HH Road in Waterloo. The project is a joint effort between the county and City of Waterloo.

The first item on Tuesday’s agenda was a report from Oak Hill Administrator Shari Kruep updating commissioners on the state of the county-owned care facility.

Kruep said Oak Hill is “accomplishing its goal” of accepting Medicare-eligible residents, in turn boosting census numbers and revenue. 

She said the next step for Oak Hill is to “focus on private-pay” clients in order to “build a bigger base of applicants.”

Staffing at the facility continues to be an issue, although Kruep thanked the Monroe County Nursing Home Memorial Endowment Association for providing funds to allow for events such as the recent “waffle week.”

She said such events make Oak Hill an attractive place to reside and work.

In light of data showing a lower prevalence of COVID-19 in Illinois, and the state’s ending of an official health “emergency” in May, Oak Hill is no longer required to perform weekly COVID tests for employees and residents.

Coincidentally, shortly after the facility made the move to a “symptomatic” testing policy, a number of residents have tested positive for the virus. A total of 17 residents and two employees were positive for COVID as of Tuesday morning. 

Kruep said the spread was likely the result of shared dining space and the facility has made adjustments to eating arrangements until the latest outbreak subsides.

She also noted Oak Hill can no longer “stop visitors from coming in,” and she advised anyone planning on coming to the facility to stay home if he or she is feeling sick.

In related news, The Belleville News Democrat included Oak Hill in a recent roundup of five-star nursing facilities in the area, of which Kruep said she was happy to have the facility named.

At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Dennis Knobloch announced Monroe County has a vacancy in its workforce development office. 

Applicants may apply for the “Career Specialist – Monroe County” at

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Scott Woodsmall

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