2015 Macon County Plat Book Now Available
The new 2015 Macon County Land Atlas and Plat Book is now available and is being distributed by the Macon County Recorder. This is the 15th edition of the Macon County Plat Book produced by Rockford Map Publishers since the first edition in 1951.
The new plat book accurately displays parcel boundaries, acreage data, roadways, waterways, railways, section lines, municipal boundaries, and includes an index to owners. An additional map feature included in the new plat book is aerial map images. An aerial map lies opposite each township parcel map, and is very useful in providing a quick gauge to the use of a particular parcel. Latitude/Longitude grids for GPS reference are also provided along with a rural addressing grid.
Plat books are a great reference tool not only for landowners, but for business owners as well. It is a necessary reference guide for industries such as agriculture, land development, hunting, real estate, utilities, municipal government, and much more.
The new plat books are available for purchase from the Macon County Recorder at 141 South Main Street, room 201, Decatur, IL 62523. The books are priced at $35 if picked up at the Recorder’s office and $40 if mailed. For more information, call 217-424-1359. To purchase additional products visit RockfordMap.com for a variety of eBooks, wall maps, smartphone/tablet maps, GIS-compatible maps, and custom mapping.
GovHR USA To Administer City Manager Recruitment
The Decatur City Council has contracted with GovHR USA to lead the city’s recruitment of its next city manager.
GovHR USA’s leadership team has more than 50 years combined experience in public sector leadership and consulting and today provides executive recruitment, interim and contract staffing, management and human resources consulting and professional development. The company will customize the recruiting process based on Council input and a thorough analysis of the organization, the position and the community.
While there has been no definitive timeline set for making a hire, GovHR USA works to ensure a timely process estimating that the Decatur City Council could be ready to appoint a candidate within 90 days outside of any notice requirements that candidates may be required to give. Mayor Mike McElroy indicates that the council is committed to finding the best candidate for the position with the qualities best suited for continuing to move the Decatur community forward, regardless of timeline.
The search comes following the announcement that current City Manager Ryan McCrady would be leaving the post to become president of the Economic Development Corporation for Decatur and Macon County. Gregg Zientara, the city’s current Director of Financial Management, has been appointed to serve as Interim City Manager upon Mr. McCrady’s departure.
GovHR USA is led by Heidi Voorhees and Joellen Cademartori Earl who came together to form the company after years of executive local government experience and after individually and collectively leading what are now the GovHR USA divisions of Voorhees Associates LLC and GovTemps USA. Voorhees Associates served 177 clients in 12 states since its inception in 2009 while GovTemps USA has served 67 clients in states since 2011.
Visit www.govhrusa.com for more information on GovHR USA.
DECATUR – Decatur Police officers will once again provide security within the Decatur Public School district starting next semester while a new round of public improvements to the newly designed Nelson Park promenade area will move forward following action by the Decatur City Council Monday night.
Council members voted unanimously to support an agreement with DPS 61 that will add a total of four officers to local schools – two in the high schools starting next month and two in middle schools at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. The school district has agreed to fund 75% of the cost of what will be new Decatur Police Department officers who will continue to work for the department during the summer or other periods when school is out.
Officers had served in the district for decades until last school year when the city could no longer fund the work due to budgetary restrictions.
In other business council members voted 6-1 to help fund publicly-accessible improvements to the new promenade and surrounding area in Nelson Park as part of the ongoing Lakeshore Landing lakefront redevelopment project. The Decatur Park District and the owner of the Beach House restaurant will soon make improvements to the restaurant’s exterior and decking. The City on Monday agreed to fund publicly accessible sidewalk improvements, address Americans With Disabilities Act-related issues and help make improvements to public areas on the lower level of the building – including park bathroom access.
The total project cost is just more than $760,000 with the city agreeing to pay $250,000 for the lakefront improvements from the water fund.
Council members on Monday also began talks about how to make sure that the workforce for publicly-funded city construction projects is representative of the community’s make-up and that those projects provide equal opportunities for minorities, women and local workers. A draft proposal discussed Monday would require that contractors meet the following standards for all City construction projects in excess of $100,000:
Community members who have been involved in early talks about the proposal on Monday expressed a desire to include requirements for ensuring appropriate representation of Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) and Woman Business Enterprises (WBE). The issue had been inadvertently left out of the list of possible standards discussed on Monday.
13th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive
Monday, December 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm at the St. Patrick Church, checks were presented to the winning schools that participated in the 13th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive. In October, WSOY and its community partners collected more than 1,000,000 lbs of food and money that was split between the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities. Thanks to these community partners, they were able to give the top five local schools that generated the most food in pounds a financial award:
Sponsors and representatives:
Team Soy – Karin Betzer & Kevin Breheny
Ticket n Trips – Pete Vercellino
Jones & Thomas/JTnet – Bill Lehman
Decatur Back & Neck Center – Jenny Fucinari
Kroger – Kendra Hastings
WAND TV – Carol Barnes
Herald & Review – Joel Fletcher
First Christian Church – BJ Leonard
Skeff Distributing – Katy Doolin
Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy – Dale Colee
ADM – Jennifer Ballinger
Wood Printing – Jim Ashby
United Way – Debbie Bogle
Special thanks given to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for their $100,000 matching grant.
The Geoffrey Neuhoff Spirit Award is given to honor and recognize someone that shows exemplary service to the WSOY Community Food Drive. This year’s recipient of the Geoffrey Neuhoff Spirit Award goes to the Family of Missy Auton Ford in her Memory.
Winning schools and representatives:
5th Place $500: 59,242 lbs – Warrensburg-Latham High School – Stacy Benjamin
4th Place $750: 63,888 lbs – St. Teresa High School – Ken Hendrickson
3rd Place $1,000: 107,724 lbs – Mt. Zion High School – Crystal Barksdale
2nd Place $1,500: 110,134 lbs – Our Lady of Lourdes – Chris Uptmor
1st Place $2,500: 166,021 lbs – St. Patrick School – Jan Sweet
The WSOY Community Food Drive Good Neighbor awards were presented to recognize the top businesses that participated in the Food Drive. Good Neighbor award winners:
Ameren – Marty Webb & Cheryl Sweet
Parke Warehouse – Bruce Stoddard, Mike Heffernan & Kenny Burns
Hoelting Food Service – Rory Tipsword
In addition to splitting the food collected, Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army each received $140,000 to purchase food.
The WSOY Community Food drive is presenting the Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket Project $25,000. Good Samaritan Inn and Northeast Community Fund will each receive $40,000 towards the purchase of food.
New this year…there will be small grants available to small community food pantries. Contact Tammy Moore at 420-4057 for more information.
FATAL TRAFFIC CRASH AT
OCEAN TRAIL RD. AND 70TH ST, RURAL MACON COUNTY
On Saturday (12/13/14) at approximately 3:53am, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office received a call in regards to a roll over traffic crash with injuries. Upon arrival, deputies discovered a 2007 Honda hatchback in a field south east of the intersection. Upon preliminary investigation, it was determined the vehicle was traveling eastbound on Ocean Trail Rd. Upon entering the intersection, the 20-year-old driver from Decatur, lost control of the car causing it to overturn multiple times.
Traveling inside the vehicle were 18 and 20 year old males from rural Macon County and an 18 year old male from Piatt Co. The driver was transported to Decatur Memorial Hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for life threatening injuries. The 20 year old from rural Macon County was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The 18 year old from rural Macon County refused medical treatment at the scene. The 18 year old from Piatt Co. was ejected from the car and pronounced deceased at the scene.
At this time the names of the individuals involved in the crash are not being released pending notification of family. Upon notification of family, Coroner Michael Day will provide an updated release. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office Accident Reconstruction Team are investigating the crash. Preliminary test results did not indicate alcohol as being a contributing factor.
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office sends it’s condolences to the family of the deceased as well as the families of the individuals involved.
Tyrone Johnson Is Arrested
At approximately 10:00 this morning (Monday, Dec. 8), Tyrone E. Johnson, 45, was arrested at 1536 East Division Street for Attempted Murder. That charge stems from the shooting of Briayon Cunningham on 11/30/2014. Briayon Cunningham arrived at Decatur Memorial Hospital on 11/30/2014 suffering from gunshot wounds.
The arrest of Johnson was made by Decatur Police Detective personnel, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Johnson is incarcerated in the Macon County Jail.
Decatur Police continue the investigation regarding the shooting of Cunningham. No additional details will be released at this time.
Abbott, Sweeney Promoted to Lead
Fire, Police Departments
City Manager Ryan McCrady has announced the appointments of Brad Sweeney to the position of Police Chief and Jeff Abbott to the Fire Chief post, both of whom have almost 20 years with the departments charged with protecting and serving the residents of Decatur.
A Decatur native and proud product of Decatur Public Schools (Stephen Decatur ’90), Chief Sweeney is a seasoned law enforcement professional who began working for the Decatur Police Department in 1995. During his tenure he served as a Patrol Officer, Master Patrol Officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant and as Commanding Officer of the Administrative Operations Division of the Decatur Police Department immediately prior to his most recent appointment. Sweeney also served as a field-training officer, member of the emergency response team (ERT), school resource officer, supervisor of the bike patrol unit, and Commander of the anti-crime team (ACT) while with the department.
Chief Abbott started his career as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Dawson, IL in 1986 and joined the Decatur Fire Department in March 1995. Prior to his appointment to Fire Chief, Abbott has served in a variety of leadership roles as well including Lieutenant (December 1999), Captain (August 2006) and Deputy Chief (April 2007). He holds several certifications in the areas of:
Abbott also served as fire union president in 2000-2001 and as a member of the Foreign Fire Tax Board 1999-2007.
Brownfield Grant Funding Update Dec. 8
The City of Decatur will hold a public meeting to update the community on its uses of brownfield grant funding at 1:30 p.m. Monday, December 8 in the city council chambers of the Decatur Civic Center, 1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza
Generally, a brownfield is a property that is actually contaminated or perceived to be contaminated by either hazardous substances (asbestos, or chemicals) or petroleum products (like abandoned gas stations). For the most part, these are properties that might not be utilized currently or are underutilized and are generally considered to be blighted.
The City in 2010 was selected to receive a pair of grants totaling $400,000 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help assess local brownfields and the funding has been critical to our being able to move forward with several recent economic development projects. The City was able to utilize funds to assist with site assessment for the new County Market Project at Grand and IL 48, the new $18 million Akorn Pharmaceuticals expansion along Grand Avenue, for the recently announced CHIC expansion project at Wabash Crossing and we are currently funding some of the assessment work along Brush College Road as related to transportation growth in the area.
Plans are to apply for a second round of funding soon and the community will be able to provide input as to other potential sites during the meeting. The community and members of the Decatur City Council were also provided with a grant usage update in November.
Council Approves Budget,
Appoints Interim City Manager
The 2015 budget approved Monday by the Decatur City Council represents a 12-month financial roadmap for the city buoyed by a recent economic upswing yet constrained by the reality of revenue challenges that hamper the city’s ability to fund a number of critical priorities.
Council members voted 6-0 to approve both the city’s 2015 budget and 2014 property tax levy during the council’s regular meeting, marking the first time in recent history that both have been approved simultaneously following the city’s move to a calendar-year budget. Next year’s budget, at $157.6 million, represents a decrease from the 2014 Council-approved budget of $159.5 million while the tax levy will remain relatively flat as well.
The property tax levy of $11,800,000 is on par with the prior year’s levy of $11,784,000, although the city’s tax rate will not be know until the tax extension is certified by the Illinois Department of Revenue in early 2015.
Major projects included as part of the 2015 budget include the dredging of Lake Decatur, the Lakeshore and Union Street sewer rehabilitation, completion of the downtown streetscape project, commencement of several storm water sewer rehabilitation projects and of the Brush College Road and Midwest Inland Port transportation study among other items. The future will not be without challenges, however, including the critical need to identify funding sources to cover property demolitions and neighborhood restoration, street repair and maintenance and capital equipment replacement.
The budget as approved does include funding for the possibility of having the Decatur Fire Department provide some level of public emergency medical transport, a topic that remains in the very early stages of discussion. Council members were clear that they would plan to have a study session on the issue prior to any decision being made on the topic and indicated that such a session would be held in the coming weeks.
In other business council members voted 6-0 to appoint Gregg Zientara as Interim City Manager upon the departure of current City Manager Ryan McCrady who announced earlier this month that he would be leaving to become President of the Economic Development Corporation for Decatur & Macon County. A 30+ year veteran of the finance industry, Zientara has served for the last two years as the city’s Director of Financial Management. During that time he has played a key role in guiding the city through one of the worst recessionary periods in recent history, identifying means to fund city services and critical community improvements without tax increases even as local government revenues declined significantly.
Decatur Police Investigate Two Additional Shootings
Today, Monday, Dec. 1 at approximately 1:00 p.m., Decatur Police received calls of gunshots being fired in the 1600 Block of West Grand Avenue. Upon investigating the call, officers learned that there had been an altercation on the parking lot of the Prairie Pantry just prior to the gunshots being fired. Police discovered that not only were there eye witnesses to the crime, there was also a video surveillance depiction of the events which transpired.
A black male individual, later identified as Rashean D. Vorties 19, approached an occupied vehicle parked on the lot of Prairie Pantry and engaged in an altercation with the occupants. The vehicle drove away during the altercation. A second black male then handed a firearm to Vorties, at which point Vorties fired several rounds toward the fleeing vehicle. Both Vorties and the black male, who handed the gun to Vorties, fled the parking lot on foot.
Patrol Officers reviewed the surveillance video of the incident. As Officer John Doswell was leaving the area, driving down Grand Avenue, he observed the black male who handed Vorties the gun during this incident. Officer Doswell noted that the black male was walking down Grand Avenue and was wearing the same clothing as depicted on the surveillance video during the shooting incident. As Officer Doswell exited his squad car and approached the black male to arrest him, the black male started to run. The black male dropped a semi automatic handgun as he started running away.
Officer Doswell continued to pursue, following the black male until the black male's escape path was blocked by a fence. The black male then proceeded to hunker down and put his hands in the front of his waistband area as if he was reaching for something. Doswell then physically forced the black male to the ground and handcuffed him. An additional handgun was located in the black male's front sweatpants pocket upon being searched by Doswell. It was at this time that the black male was identified as Stephen C. Megaris, 20.
Megaris was booked into the Macon County Jail for Armed Violence and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. There is an active Macon County Arrest Warrant for Rashean Vorties for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm following this shooting incident. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of Vorties is asked to call Decatur Police at 424-2711 or Crime Stoppers at 423-TIPS. Vorties has been known to frequent the Springfield, IL area.
At approximately 1:14 this afternoon (Monday 12/01/2014), Decatur Police received a call that there was a shooting victim at St. Mary’s Hospital. Upon arrival, it was discovered that Justin T. Jackson, 25, had been the victim of apparent gunshot wounds. Jackson indicated that he was shot at 1085 East Johns Avenue. Officers went to that location and discovered evidence indicating that there had been a shooting there. Jackson was being transported to Carle Hospital in Champaign for further medical treatment. No arrests have been made in this case at this time. Jackson was talking and in stable condition.
Decatur Police Detectives are also continuing the investigation into the shooting of Briayon Cunningham Sunday night and have received cooperation today from the victim’s family members. Detectives have conducted additional interviews this afternoon and are searching a residence for evidence at this time.
Anyone with information concerning any of these shootings should contact Decatur Police at 424-2711 or Crime Stoppers at 423-TIPS. Anyone with information concerning persons who are illegally possessing firearms are encouraged to relay that information to Decatur Police or Crime Stoppers. Cash rewards are paid for anonymous information leading to arrests on any felony crimes.
Police Investigate Shooting Of Decatur Resident
Deputy Chief David Dickerson has made public that, at approximately 1845 hours on 11/30/2014, Decatur Police received a call indicating that there was a shooting victim at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Upon police arrival, it was determined that Briayon Cunningham (18), a Decatur resident, had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Upon being questioned about why he had been shot, Cunningham indicated that he had gone to the area of Walnut / Woodford Streets to meet with an individual who wanted to buy drugs from him. Cunningham stated that as he was sitting inside a vehicle, the man who he intended to sell drugs to approached on foot from the area of Division / Woodford. The man who Cunningham was planning to sell drugs to was described as an older black male with low cut hair. Cunningham indicated that the older black male suspect handed him some money through the driver’s side door of the vehicle Cunningham was seated in, then the black male suspect proceeded to shoot Cunningham multiple times. Cunningham reported that the black male suspect then took a large amount of cash from him.
Cunningham stated that the black male suspect fled on foot and Cunningham then drove himself to the hospital. The vehicle that Cunningham drove to the hospital in has been searched pursuant to a search warrant. The vehicle was found to contain evidence of a shooting and evidence of suspected illegal narcotics distribution. Decatur Police Detectives are executing additional search warrants at this time.
Briayon Cunningham and his mother advised police that Briayon’s brothers know the name of the older black male suspect who shot him, however they refused to provide that information to Decatur Police when questioned about the shooters identity. Regarding the lack of cooperation by the victims’ family members, Dickerson states “I have Detective’s working very hard, some on their scheduled days off, to determine the identity of the person responsible for shooting their family member and they tell us to figure it out on our own. It is quite discouraging to have that happen.”
Dickerson did state however that, “The lack of cooperation from the victim's family will not deter us from seeking to arrest the person responsible for shooting Briayon. This investigation will proceed with or without their help. We do, however, certainly hope that they will change their mind and assist the Detectives investigating this crime.”
Decatur Police Detective’s continue to investigate and are requesting anyone with information regarding the shooters identity, or information about this crime, to contact Decatur Police at 424-2711 or Crime Stoppers at 423-TIPS.
Gregg Zientara To Be Considered For
Interim City Manager Post
DECATUR - The Decatur City Council will consider the appointment of Mr. Gregg Zientara to the position of Interim City Manager during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.
A 30+ year veteran of the finance industry, Mr. Zientara has served for the last two years as the city’s Director of Financial Management. During that time he has played a key role in guiding the city through one of the worst recessionary periods in recent history, identifying means to fund city services and critical community improvements without tax increases even as local government revenues declined significantly.
Under the direction of City Manager Ryan McCrady, Mr. Zientara has served as one of the principal architects for the last two budgets for the City of Decatur, with spending plans created based on goals set by the Decatur City Council. He also led the creation of financing plans to fund the city’s $90 million Lake Decatur dredging project, ongoing water system infrastructure improvements, the new Police Department Facility and ongoing sewer work among other items.
Mr. Zientara was instrumental in leading the city’ transition to a calendar year budget and his financial background could be critical to helping the city to navigate a number of continuing financial pressures as the city begins its search for a permanent city manager. Even as the local financial picture improves, remaining challenges include identifying funding sources for property demolitions and neighborhood restoration, road and street repair and capital equipment replacement.
“The last few years have been tough economically for cities across the country but we’ve been able to maintain and have started to turn the corner,” said Mayor Mike McElroy. “During this time Gregg has worked hard to find innovative ways to address some of the financial and organizational issues we’ve faced and I am excited about his coming on board as Interim City Manager to continue the city on its current path of positive growth and development.”
If his appointment is approved Mr. Zientara would fill the post on an interim basis being vacated by Mr. McCrady, who announced earlier this month that he would be leaving to become President of the Economic Development Corporation for Decatur & Macon County.
Mr. Zientara joined the City of Decatur in 2012 after having previously served as Controller and Chief Financial Officer for the City of South Bend, Indiana where he managed a $275 million city government financial operation and an investment portfolio of more than $150 million. He has worked as a Chief Financial Officer in both the public and private sector with organizations specializing in governmental services, healthcare, manufacturing and various other service industries in the United States, Europe, and the Far East.
COUNCIL AMENDS NOISE ORDINANCE, APPROVES
LAND SALE FOR NEW MEDICAL FACILITY
The city's noise ordinance was amended Monday to provide warning to drivers and vehicle owners alleged to be in violation prior to city penalties being assessed.
The ordinance prohibits the operation of a sound amplification system that can be heard outside of a vehicle from 75 or more feet and council members on Monday voted 6-1 to give both the owner and operator of a vehicle alleged to be in violation a written warning for a first offense.
The driver will be fined $250 for any subsequent violation if the driver first was given a written warning as driver or owner of any vehicle in violation of the noise ordinance. The vehicle will be towed for subsequent violations if the owner first was given a written warning as driver or owner of any vehicle in violation of the noise ordinance.
Prior to Monday’s amendment, both driver and owner of a vehicle found to be in violation of the ordinance faced fines of $250 each and the vehicle was towed upon citation without written warning.
In other business council members paved the way for a new, expanded Community Health Improvement Center facility in Wabash Crossing. Members voted 6-0 with one abstention to sell vacant city owned land in the area to CHIC to construct a 29,000 square foot medical office and health center providing primary outpatient health care primarily to low to moderate-income patients.
CHIC has been looking to expand and add more healthcare providers and this new facility in the heart of the city will provide better access for and be in close proximity to many patients that could utilize CHIC services.
Council members on Monday also discussed the city’s proposed tax levy and budget, a $157.6 million fiscal plan for city operations in 2015. A budget possibility of having the Decatur Fire Department provide some level of public emergency medical transport drew some concerned members of the local ambulance community to the meeting. However, both City Manager Ryan McCrady and Mayor Mike McElroy stressed that discussions on the topic were still in the early stages and that future talks had already been planned.