County board approves tourism grant for Route 66 conference

County board approves tourism grant for Route 66

Acting on the recommendation of the Economic Development Committee, Macoupin County Board voted unanimously at its Tuesday, Sept. 11, meeting to award a $5,000 tourism grant to the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau (formerly known as Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, which the county joined several months ago) to help with costs associated with hosting a Route 66 conference at Blackburn College Oct. 25-28. The grant will be used for print advertising and brochures/fliers.

Board member Todd Armour noted the conference is held yearly but its location moves up and down along Route 66 in the area. “This is finally our little local time to shine,” he said, noting attendees will be staying overnight in the area, and the Carlinville-area hotels are already fully booked for the conference.

“It’s quite an event,” said board member Harry Starr, noting Bill Kelly of the Illinois Scenic Byways presented information to the Economic Development Committee about how much tourism has increased in the county in recent years. “There’s more people coming here and stopping; they’re spending more money,” he said. “I think a lot of the time, people throughout the county may not realize just how many people do come through here and the impact it can have.”

It is estimated that about 100 people will attend the conference, including Route 66 enthusiasts, bloggers, speakers, small business owners and elected officials. “This is an opportunity for the people that write about Route 66 and the people that put out the pamphlets and the fliers, the bloggers, the guys that go online and talk about things on Route 66,” said Armour.

For more information about the conference, visit route66milesofpossibility.com or call (800) 248-6645.

Other discussion

The board approved a resolution in support of establishing an emergency response coalition. County Clerk Pete Duncan explained that the coalition was suggested by local labor unions, which have offered to assist the county after emergencies at no cost to the county. “Basically, if we had a disaster, they’d come in and help clean things up or help with other things,” said Board Chairman Mark Dragovich. The coalition will include representatives from local labor organizations, members of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, and any other members appointed by the board, and it would fall under the direction of the county’s EMA.

Kent Tarro of Macoupin County Public Health Department gave a brief update on goings-on at the health department, including a free six-week diabetes workshop that begins Sept. 24 and a drive-through flu vaccination clinic to be held at the fairgrounds from 2-6 p.m. on Sept. 25.

Robert “Tony” Wiggins was appointed to the Board of Review for a term ending May 31, 2019; Dr. Thomas Hatley was appointed to the Public Health Board to fill the unexpired term of Bart Pola (who moved away from the area) ending Aug. 31, 2019; and Robert Lehmann was reappointed to the South Otter Drainage District for a term ending Sept. 1, 2021. In addition, more election judges were appointed for the 2018-20 elections; Duncan said the Republicans have a full slate of election judges, but there are still about 27 slots to fill for Democrats.

Two petitions were approved for culverts: one in Hilyard Township for a total cost of $6,500, and the other in Western Mound Township for a total cost of $2,200; the county’s share will be half of each amount.

Carlinville Boy Scouts Grayson Armour and Seth Evans were recognized for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Armour’s project involved installing new LED lighting  (paid for the by the county) in the sheriff’s office, while Evans’ project involved building six fire pits for Lake Williamson Christian Center.

In other action, the board approved the minutes from the Aug. 14 board meeting, Aug. 29 and Sept. 6 finance committee meetings, Sept. 4 executive and public safety committee meetings and Sept. 5 road and bridge and economic development committee meetings; approved a budget-neutral resolution for consolidating phone bill budgets for each department into one overall phone bill budget, due to a change in the way billing is done for long-distance calls; on the auditor’s recommendation, passed a resolution abolishing the sheriff’s Federal Drug Fund, a special fund that was created for a grant and has only had a balance of about $23 for several years; approved increasing the state’s attorney’s budget by $20,800 to cover parity raises for her staff; approved the contract with E-911 for dispatching services; approved the health insurance renewal for 2019, with a total savings of about $30,000; agreed to seek new bids for financial software due to issues with the current software, which was approved about two years ago; accepted the annual financial report for Staunton Area Ambulance Service; approved the holiday schedule for 2019, the claims and officers report, mileage and per diem; and placed on file the revolving loan fund report, the county clerk report, the animal control report and a letter from the Jersey County Board regarding the formation of a regional development council.

Tuesday night, Macoupin County Board recognized Seth Evans and Grayson Armour for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Pictured, from left, are Evans, Armour, and Board Chairman Mark Dragovich.