City to Host Mahomet Aquifer Summit
DECATUR – The City of Decatur in conjunction with the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance will host the Mahomet Aquifer Summit from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday May 3 at Richland Community College’s Shilling Center, located at 1 College Park in Decatur.
The event is being held to inform the public about significant pending threats that could jeopardize the viability of the aquifer as a safe drinking water source for an estimated 750,000 people throughout the area, including residents in Decatur and throughout Macon County. Clinton Landfill Inc. has filed a request with the U.S. EPA to be permitted to dispose of industrial waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its Clinton landfill site located directly over the aquifer. PCBs are toxic organic compounds that are known carcinogens regulated by the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
City of Decatur wells in DeWitt County access the Mahomet Aquifer. These wells have been utilized five times in the last fourteen years to provide drinking water to residents during periods of drought.
As part of the Summit speakers will discuss:
“This is not a situation where you can wait until something happens because then it will be too late,” said Mayor Mike McElroy. “The question is not ‘if’ we will have to utilize this site for our drinking water, it’s ‘when’ and ‘for how long.’”
“We need to make sure that as a community the health and safety of our residents is not threatened by the storage of toxic materials over one of our sources of drinking water.”
The City is hosting the event in conjunction with the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance, a collective of Central Illinois communities and environmental protection advocates looking to protect the Mahomet Aquifer from contamination.
This event is free and open to the public. Visit www.mahometaquifer.org or cleanwater4midil.org for more information about the Mahomet Aquifer. Contact Billy Tyus at 217-424-2727 for more information about the Mahomet Aquifer Summit.
CHIC at DMH opens April 15
Decatur Memorial Hospital and the Community Health Improvement Center (CHIC) have partnered together to form a new access clinic for the community called CHIC at DMH. The new clinic, located adjacent to the DMH Emergency Care Center, opens April 15, and will provide primary care services to non-emergent people who have Medicaid or are uninsured.
This is the first access clinic to be located inside a hospital in Decatur.
“CHIC at DMH provides the correct level of healthcare at a convenient location which helps improve accessi- bility and lowers costs,” said Timothy D. Stone, Jr., Executive Vice President and Administrator, Decatur Memorial Hospital.
“DMH is providing Decatur with a very valuable community service gift,” says Tanya Andricks, Executive Director, CHIC. “Through the partnership with CHIC, DMH is helping give people another option for primary care that otherwise might not be able to access health care.”
CHIC is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) approve federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in an effort to provide easier access to care, to help realign resources and to hopefully redirect long- term patterns of access to care. FQHCs must provide care for an underserved area or population.
Approximately 22 percent of the population in Macon County is living in poverty according to the most recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau.
“We’re hoping to redirect non-acute patients from the DMH Emergency Care Center and begin changing the way some patients have learned to access health care,” Andricks said.
CHIC at DMH will be open from 1—9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and will be staffed by one physician or physician assistant, a nurse and a clerical employee.
“We immediately screen every patient who presents to the Emergency Care Center,” says DMH Emergency
Care Center Director Karen Schneller, RN. “If the patient does not meet the
criteria as an emergency patient and if the patient does not have a personal physician, the patient will be given the option to seek care at CHIC at DMH.”
Patients who opt to be seen in the CHIC at DMH clinic can choose to become a CHIC patient.
City Aggregation Program Renewed
Decatur residents and small businesses saved more than $2 million in electric energy costs between February 2013 and February 2014 as part of the community’s Electric Aggregation program.
Detectives Seize Drugs, Firearms And Cash
David Dickerson, Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations with the Decatur Police Department, reports that on April 8, 2014, at approximately 1329 hours, Street Crimes Detectives and members of the Emergency Response Team executed a search warrant at 1355 East Sedgwick.
During the execution of the warrant, Street Crimes Detective’s located Cannabis, 3 firearms and currency. One of the firearms was discovered to have been previously reported as stolen. Arrested during this investigation was Brian L. Austin DOB 10/30/77.
Austin was incarcerated in the Macon County Jail for:
-Possession of Cannabis over 5000 grams
-Manufacture / Delivery of Cannabis over 5000 grams
-Possession of a Stolen Firearm
-Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
The Decatur Police Department encourages anyone with information regarding illicit narcotics trafficking, or any other felony crime, to contact Crime Stoppers at 423-TIPS or the Decatur Police Department at 424-2711. Sworn statements and booking photos concerning the arrest of Brian Austin can be requested at 424-1341 (Macon County Jail).
City Council Approves Water Main Work
The Decatur City Council continued its commitment to improving local infrastructure tonight, approving an agreement to repair and replace water mains on the city’s south side.
The agreement with Entler Excavating is for work at Medial Drive and U.S. route 51 and along South Side Drive at Ward Branch and is part of the city’s annual Water Main Replacement Project. Work at Medial drive will involve the boring of a new main under Route 51 to create a second connection to the neighborhood west of U.S. 51, a second phase of work that follows the replacement of a section of water main in 2013. The project along South Side Drive replace a segment of water main extending from Ward Branch west to Farm & Fleet.
The City’s Annual Water Main Replacement project targets water main segments throughout the City experiencing a high rate of main breaks or that require extensive repairs. The Water Management Department tracks each repair made and uses the compiled data to determine which water mains need to be replaced and then the list is prioritized to meet the available funding.
Both mains have experienced breaks in recent years. The segment of water main has had several breaks over the years, including a break in 2010 that destroyed a large section of South Side Drive. The agreement with Entler Excavating is for $294,060.88.
The list of additional infrastructure projects that have either been completed recently or are ongoing includes but is not limited to:
LAKE SHORE DRIVE “CRITICAL” SEWER REHABILITATION ($8.7 million)- This rehabilitation project began recently to rehabilitate a sewer line that is upwards of 96 inches in diameter and serves a significant portion of the City of Decatur. A breakage in the line of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the community as the line currently serves one of two major hospitals in the area. The project is funded by a low interest loan from the IEPA. The loan will be repaid with the sewer use fees charged to our water and sewer system customers.
ENERGY PERFORMANCE CONTRACT WITH JOHNSON CONTROLS – Agreement to provide energy and water efficiency services to the city. As part of the project, more than 22,000 new water meters will be installed throughout the community with some retrofitted with Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI). Other work will entail, among other items, mechanical and lighting improvements to city facilities including fire stations, the South Water Treatment Plant and the Municipal Services Center.
PHASE 1 LAKE DECATUR DAM REPAIRS ($3.4 million) – This $3.4 million investment was critical to protecting our ability to control lake levels and protect the Lake Decatur/Sangamon River shoreline. The project rehabilitated mechanical systems, replaced seals and cylinders and repaired the upstream face of the dam. This was funded by water use fees paid by our water customers. Work was completed in early 2012.
PHASE 2 LAKE DECATUR DAM REPAIRS ($4.1 million) – This ongoing project includes repairs to the dam face and scour holes and removal of the old down-stream dam constructed in the late 1800’s. This project began in September 2013 and is expected to be completed in early 2015. Completion dates will vary due to weather a precipitation conditions. This work is funded by water use fees paid by our water customers.
DREDGING – Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. has been hired to dredge all four basins of Lake Decatur and to rehabilitate the Oakley Sediment Basin to store silt as it is removed. The work will span 5-6 years and increase lake capacity by 30%.
In other business council members heard an update on progress to determine why portions of the fish screen installed to keep the invasive Asian Carp out of Lake Decatur broke away recently. Members also received an update on House Bill 5485 which would allow fire department minimum manning requirements to be decided by an arbitrator in contract negotiations.
The City has vehemently opposed the legislation, in part, on grounds that it limits the City’s ability to manage its own budgets and takes away duties entrusted to elected officials by the public to govern based upon the needs of the community.
Police Respond To Home Repair Fraud/Burglary
Complaint On West Side Of Decatur
Police Respond To Home Repair Fraud/Burglary
On March 29, Decatur Police responded to an
address on the west side reference a home repair fraud/burglary. The elderly victim was approached by three
subjects, described as a white male, 60’s, a white male, 30’s-40’s and a white
male child, approximately 10 years old, who arrived in a nondescript white
truck with miscellaneous tools in the bed.
The suspects offered to resurface the victim’s driveway. The victim advised them it was too cold for
that type of work, and the suspects then said they could repair the cracks at
the end of the driveway for a very small amount of money. The victim agreed to the repair.
The suspects talked their way into the victim’s residence, and convinced him to boil a pot of water on the stove, to which one of the suspects allegedly added an unknown substance said to be needed for the repair work. The suspects then asked the victim to add cool water to the “mixture,” but suggested the victim remove his watch to prevent a “chemical reaction” which could damage the watch. The victim removed his watch, and then left the room for a moment, leaving the suspects, and the watch, unattended in the kitchen. When he returned, the suspects went out to the driveway and apparently started working on the driveway repair. After a short time, one of the suspects approached the victim again, stating they had to leave to get supplies. The suspects left, and never returned. The victim then discovered his valuable watch was missing from the kitchen.
Unfortunately, this is a common type of scam throughout the United States, referred to as a “ruse burglary.” The perpetrators gain entry to a victim’s residence under false pretenses, and distract the victim while other members of their crew steal valuable items. Often, these go hand in hand with home repair fraud. The perpetrators will often use high pressure sales tactics, and in some cases push themselves into a victim’s residence.
To avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime, the Decatur Police Department recommends the following:
*Never let a stranger into your home. When answering the door to an unexpected stranger, leave the door closed and locked and speak to them through the door, making use of peep holes or windows near the door.
*Do not rely solely on ID cards to verify a person’s legitimacy. Anyone with basic computer skills can easily make a photo ID card which appears legitimate.
Decatur Fire Hydrants To Be Flushed
Decatur Fire Department crews, in cooperation with the Decatur Water Department, will be flushing and flow testing 1200 fire hydrants throughout the city from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday during the month of April.
The flushing and flow-testing program is necessary to keep the city’s nearly 4500 fire hydrants ready for service. Crews will be checking for deficiencies and recording flows during the process to obtain tactical information for fire suppression.
Some minor and temporary discoloration of water may occur in areas where hydrants are being tested. There are no water safety or health issues related to the discolored water but residents will want to be sure the water is clear when doing laundry as clothing could be stained.
Residents should not bleach or dry stained clothing, as this will set the stain permanently. Stains may be removed by rewashing the wet clothing with a rust-removing compound.
The Decatur Fire and Water Departments appreciate the public’s cooperation during this process. Contact the Decatur Fire Department at 217-424-2811 for more information.
The Decatur Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to approve the contract of Lisa Taylor as the new superintendent of Decatur Public Schools. Taylor will be replacing retiring superintendent Gloria J. Davis and will immediately begin her duties as superintendent.
Taylor has extensive educational experience working on behalf of Decatur Public Schools for the past 12 years
as a teacher, building level administrator and central office administrator. Since 2010 she has held the position of
assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent where she has represented the Board of Education as the chair of
collective bargaining and co-chaired the Dennis Lab School task force. She also held the position of director of
research and information where she spearheaded all district level data collection, analysis and reporting.
“I am very excited to lead Decatur Public Schools into the future. I think we have great students, teachers and staff and I am truly humbled to be given this opportunity,” Taylor said.
Board President Brian Hodges says that Taylor emerged from a very thorough search process as the right candidate to lead the District. “I feel very fortunate to have Mrs. Taylor leading Decatur Public Schools and feel confident in her abilities. She knows our successes and our challenges. Her history with the district will allows her to hit the ground running,” says Hodges.
President Hodges explained that the extensive community input, including the focus groups, individual interviews and online survey was the key to a successful superintendent search process. “The input from the community was the driver that created the leadership profile report. That document outlined exactly what the community wanted to see in the next Decatur Public Schools superintendent and that is what the search firm used to find our candidates,” stated Hodges. Search firm Hazard, Young & Attea (HYA) formally evaluated 45 applicants to see if they could meet the expected characteristic’s that had been outlined by the community. From those 45 candidates, six candidates were interviewed. The candidates represented Illinois, Ohio, Maryland and Tennessee. They consisted of two females, four males, three African-Americans and three Caucasians. After the initial interviews were completed, the Board selected two candidates as finalists. On Sunday, February 16, 2014 the Board of Education identified their preferred candidate and started the lengthy completion process including the implementation of necessary paperwork, contract negotiations, timeline development, health evaluation and contract signing.
Taylor currently serves on the Decatur Family YMCA board of directors and is a member of the Decatur/Macon County Education Coalition. She also serves on the Education Committee for Grow Decatur. She is a member of the American Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Principals Association.
Taylor is married to Rich Taylor, and together they have three children.
Decatur Public Schools Superintendent Search Process
In August 2013 the Board began the process of researching, interviewing and hiring the executive search firm Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA), as the District’s Superintendent search firm. HYA is one of the top search firms in the United States. They have national members that help recruit and evaluate possible candidates for superintendent positions across the country. Bill Attea, the firms Vice President, was the lead administrator for the Decatur Public Schools search team and was responsible for all segments of the search firm’s work.
The Board met with HYA on September 16, 2013 and began the planning process. During this meeting HYA outlined two different processes that Decatur Public Schools could use for the superintendent search. They included:
1) HYA and the Board of Education creating a profile, HYA soliciting applicants, identifying acceptable candidates, narrowing the pool down to three or four candidates and the Board interviewing and sending the top two or three to open forums within the community for input.
2) HYA would hold multiple forums within the community and creating a profile of the next Decatur Public Schools superintendent for the Board of Education’s approval. Upon the profile being approved, HYA would identify acceptable candidates and arrange interviews for those candidates with the Board of Education.
Upon the recommendation of HYA, the Board of Education chose option #2 to allow for the maximum amount of community input while still providing a confidential interview process for candidates.
COMMUNTIY INPUT – PROFILE DEVELOPMENT
On October 1st and 2nd, 2013, HYA held numerous focus groups and individual interviews with community members, businesses, district staff, parents and students. Over 250 community members attended the focus groups and provided HYA with recommendations and desires for the new superintendent. The goal was to create a profile of Decatur’s next Superintendent. The focus groups represented individuals from city government and law enforcement, religious leaders, local media, social service agencies, after school providers, education partners, service clubs and realtors. Individual groups were also asked to participate including the Chamber of Commerce, Caring Black Men, Grow Decatur, Black Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Decatur Celebration and the Economic Development Corporation. In addition to the many focus groups that were conducted there was also an online survey that allowed the community to participate and provide input in the profile that was being created.
Once the focus groups, individual interviews and the online surveys were compiled, HYA presented the Leadership Profile Report to the Board of Education. This report outlined the desired characteristics and profile of the next Decatur Public Schools Superintendent. HYA began recruiting applicants through their extensive network.
HYA formally evaluated 45 applicants to see if they could meet the expected characteristic’s that had been outlined by the community. From those 45 candidates, HYA began a formal interview process of 15 candidates and presented the most qualified to the Board. The Board conducted formal initial interviews with six candidates. The candidates
represented Illinois, Ohio, Maryland and Tennessee. They consisted of two females, four males, three African- Americans and three Caucasians. After the initial interviews were completed, the Board selected two candidates as finalists. The final interview consisted of specific follow-up questions from the candidate’s initial interview. On Sunday, February 16, 2014 the Board of Education identified their preferred candidate and started the lengthy completion process including the implementation of necessary paperwork, contract negotiations, timeline development, health evaluation and contract signing.
On March 25, 2014 the contract for the new superintendent will be voted on in open session.