County board updates code

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At Tuesday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board, commissioners and Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean finalized an update to the county’s code of ordinances.

With the exception of zoning regulations, which require public hearing to amend, the board approved revisions to the county code, the first since 2006.

McLean explained most of the changes were made “based on changes to (Illinois) law” since the last code update.   

The version passed Monday also includes the latest language and amendments passed at the county level.

McLean said he was looking into printing a book of the new code. The book would be printed at MAR Graphics in Valmeyer and would be sold at cost to local entities or individuals who could benefit from an updated code reference material.

Unlike the current version kept in a three-ring binder, the book would be a paperback version which could be reprinted annually with necessary changes included.

Monroe County Board Chairman Dennis Knobloch agreed with the idea to have a book form of the code rather than a binder which requires the owner to update manually.

Knobloch said having a current, annual version would help ensure people were following the latest regulations.

The county’s animal control policy will remain status quo for now after Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer suggested the section of code be approved “as is” and reviewed at a later date.

At the March 7 meeting, a fee study was reported and it was suggested to gauge the interest level of local veterinarians in participating in an animal registration program as a way to fund animal control services, which are managed by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

Liefer said Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing reported local veterinary offices were not very receptive to the proposal when he reached out to them.

The issue will be revisited when the county reaches out to ask local municipalities if they will help share animal control costs, another recommendation per the fee study report.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Monroe County Circuit Clerk Lisa Fallon addressed the board with a request to earmark up to $50,000 of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds as a contingency for an upcoming courtroom technology upgrade.

Fallon explained she had applied for a grant through the state’s Technology Modernization Funding program, which provides money for courts to upgrade facilities to comply with 2021 amendments to the Illinois Supreme Court’s Policy on Minimum Courtroom Standards.

While her initial request was only granted $117,000, she submitted invoice vouchers in the amount of $159,000 and later learned the entire amount is likely to be funded through the grant. 

In order to ensure the entire project could be completed by the June deadline, Fallon asked commissioners to tentatively approve up to $50,000 of ARPA funds for the project should the extra grant funding in question not materialize.

Fallon explained the COVID-19 pandemic, “for circuit courts, it became clear we had to step up our game” to provide remote court services for both judges and attorneys. 

She continued by stating the two upstairs courtrooms must have matching technology. 

Fallon also speculated the creation of new 24th Circuit – going into effect this December – will likely require court in both rooms on a regular basis rather than having one primary courtroom used for a majority of court business.

Fallon, who was recently appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court e-Business Policy Advisory Board, said tech updates have been what she has been working toward during her five years as circuit clerk.

Oak Hill Administrator Shari Kruep gave commissioners a report on the state of the county-owned senior care facility. 

Retaining and employing certified nursing assistants continues to be a challenge. Kruep reported a continual need to rely on outsourced help in that area, stating the best strategy for Oak Hill will be to continue to “grow our own” CNAs through local school programs and education incentives.  

Kruep said the facility is “trying to open up to the community” by hosting events, although staffing issues in the dietary department and continuing COVID-19 regulations have changed what the community events may look like.

“We need to emerge in our new normal,” Kruep concluded.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger also addressed the board with three resolutions awarding bids for road district projects. 

One of the projects resurfaces an area of Gilmore Lake Road. Commissioner Vicki Koerber pointed out the project is mostly within the bounds of a subdivision.

She asked Metzger when improvements would be made to other parts of Gilmore Lake Road, and Metzger said that was the responsibility of Road District 5 Commissioner Ed Breeding.

Koerber also asked if there was a meeting of district commissioners scheduled and if there was a way “to get (Breeding) to return my phone calls.”

Metzger said there was no road district commissioner meeting scheduled and, “as for the second question, I can’t answer that.” 

In other business, at the April 5 meeting of the Monroe County Zoning Board of Appeals a representative for Parallel Towers withdrew a variance request on a proposed telecommunications tower just south of Columbia.

The Monroe County Planning Commission Land Use Committee voted unanimously to deny recommendation of a variance at 129 Hayden Drive at its Feb. 10 meeting and the zoning board voted to table consideration of the tower during its March meeting at Parallel Towers’ request.  

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