Gillespie council discusses water project, ordinance violations
By: JORDAN GRUCZA
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
Roger Mensinger of Curry & Associates, who are working on the city’s water project, gave the Gillespie city council an update at a Dec. 9 meeting.
“We’re pretty much close to half-done on the main installation itself,” Mensinger said. “Probably in a couple weeks we’re going to do the hardest part, which is behind the buildings on Main Street.
“Gillespie has some existing PVC lines,” Mensinger said. “One of the bigger issues, I know, is that I need to tie the new PVC into the existing lines. I need to make that connection somehow. The best way, of course, is to have you guys shut down the old main, then I just tie it in with one coupling. New to old, straight shot. That’s the easiest and best way to do it.”
Mensinger said the city would be out of of water for no more than an hour, if nothing goes wrong, and it could be done at night.
Mayor John Hicks said that with proper advance notice to the community, this plan should be fine.
Ordinance violation collections, an ongoing nuisance in Macoupin County, was a major topic in Monday’s meeting.
Macoupin County Circuit Clerk Lee Ross approached city attorney Kevin Polo about utilizing Credit Collection Partners for Gillespie’s delinquent ordinance fines. Polo reported to the council that Gillespie has $31,000 in uncollected fines dating all the way back to 1983.
Ross mentioned to Polo that Macoupin County had so far collected $131,000 in delinquent ordinance fines. Macoupin County Assistant State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison was observing from the audience at the meeting, and confirmed to Polo that the company had been successful with the county for the past two quarters since they signed the contract.
Credit Collection Partners sent the same contract they used for Virden, and Polo said he cleaned up language which vaguely defined a 30 percent fee for debt placed with them for collection.
“They may charge 30 percent, but we’re not getting any of this money in anyway,” Polo said.
The council unanimously voted to accept the offer.
The council also voted on whether or not to draw up an ordinance for golf cart use in the city. Details of what this ordinance would look like were discussed in the last meeting, including what age to set for drivers as well as what kind of fee the city would ask for a license.
“There have been some things brought up about airbags,” said alderman Frank Barrett. “I put 16,000 miles on a scooter and have never had an accident yet, and that’s only on two wheels. There are a couple dozen golf cart ordinances in towns in this county and surrounding counties that do this. I don’t know why this is such a bother.”
“I am personally not comfortable with 16 as the age, and I think the fee should be higher than $50,” said alderman Wendy Rolando.
“So we can put a teenager behind a three-ton vehicle, but not a golf cart?” Barrett asked.
“My problem is on the other end of it,” Rolando said. “If you put a teenager in the golf cart and there’s a three-ton vehicle coming at the cart. At the last committee meeting we all had concerns about having them out at the school parking lot.”
“I called three different towns today,” Barrett said. “I asked them if they were having problems with golf carts at their high schools and they didn’t know what I was talking about. Who came up with that? You’re making excuses up for something that isn’t even a problem.”
“I personally think it’s a ridiculous need,” Rolando said. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”
“A golf cart can easily tip over and it’s going to get a young kid hurt,” alderman Dona Rauzi said.
When it was mentioned that these golf carts would have to cross major highways, Barrett said that it wouldn’t be a problem if no one is coming.
At first, Mayor John Hicks recommending tabling the issue once again, but Rolando said that opinions aren’t going to change on the matter. Barrett agreed.
Polo said he already drew up an ordinance, but the council kept disagreeing on the details so much that it became unworkable.
“If Frank is making a motion to make 16 the age and have a $50 fee, my suggestion is for him to make a motion to that effect,” Polo said.
The council voted 4-3, with only Barrett, Jerry Dolliger and Dave Tucker in favor of the ordinance.
“That does it,” Barrett said. “I’m done.”
“That being said, if you want to go back and tweak it with a different age or fee, maybe someone’s opinion will change,” Hicks said. “You’ve got four people to convince otherwise, Frank.”
“No,” Barrett said. “We’ll just talk it to death. I’m not convincing anyone.
Gillespie police chief Jared DePoppe provided the council his monthly briefing report. The police department collected $1,939.30 in court fines, $600 in ordinance violations, $1,600 in towing and impound fees and $5,318..50 for miscellaneous fees.
DePoppe also thanked Adam Tallman, Farmers Insurance agent and owner of Dingers and On the Fringe, for his donation of digital cameras to the police department. DePoppe also thanked two other members of the community for the donation of a laptop and a donation of an AR-15.
The next Gillespie city council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2020.