Board okays street closings for fest

Mindy Carls

Singer-songwriter Roy Orbison’s dream was to be uptown with a big car and a chance to capture the love of his girl.

This year Orion Fall Festival is making his dream come true, at least with regard to big cars uptown.

For years, car show fans have had to leave the festival in Central Park to travel out to the former car dealership on Route 150.

But at their regular meeting on Monday, July 20, Orion trustees approved the street closings that will make it possible to have the car show on Fourth Street.

Parking along Fourth Street between 11th and 12th avenues will be banned during the hours before the Fall Festival parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, and for the rest of the festival.

Fourth Street will host the antique tractor and car show following the parade on Saturday, as well as the Coupe DeVille street dance on Saturday night and the car show on Sunday, Sept. 6.

For the street dance, Fourth Street will be closed from 10th to 11th avenues. 

During the car show on Sunday, Fourth Street will be closed from 10th to 12th avenues, including the 11th Avenue intersection. Drivers using the 11th Avenue truck route will be detoured onto Third Street or Fifth Street.

Village President Jim Cooper said the man in charge of the car show, Jim DeBaillie, will close the 11th Avenue intersection as late on Sunday morning as possible. DeBaillie plans to have the entertainment truck park in the intersection during the car show.

Also, before and during the festival Fifth Street east of Central Park will be closed for the Boden Amusements carnival.

Tenth Avenue will be open at all times during the festival. Coupe DeVille will set up on Fourth Street near 10th Avenue, but not in the intersection.

Twelfth Avenue will be closed only during the parade.

Cooper noted that Central Park has meters allowing electrical usage to be billed to the festival committee rather than to the village.

Village officials will make sure a sheriff’s deputy is on duty throughout the festival, but no additional deputies will be hired specifically for the event.

Trustees also approved putting a four-way stop sign at the corner of Fourth Street and 12th Avenue during the festival.

Cooper asked trustees how late bands should be allowed to perform outdoors at bars during Fall Festival weekend.

Trustee Jamie Lawson said the music should stop at 12:30 a.m., half an hour before bars are required to close at 1 a.m.

Cooper said 12:30 a.m. is a good time to stop the music even if a bar has a 2 a.m. license.

Dick Stiles, owner of Stooges’ Saloon, has not requested a liquor license allowing the bar to remain open until 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and special days, Cooper said.

“It’s his responsibility to get hold of us, not mine to call him,” the village president said.

Police contract

Orion’s contract with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department is expensive, Trustee Dale “Sarge” Stiles said. He is chairman of the police committee.

The village pays almost $20,000 a month for police coverage, Stiles said. 

“We’re getting a good contract, but we’re paying a lot for it,” the trustee said. “I don’t know if we can do better on our own,” he said.

He said he would contact communities that provide their own police protection.

Trustee Robert “Deano” O’Leary, former chairman of the police committee, said he had gone to Coal Valley, Cambridge and Port Byron to investigate costs. Since then, Cambridge has decided to have the county provide its police coverage.

Orion used to have its own police department, but O’Leary gave one reason why the village closed it.

“We had so much trouble with police chiefs,” he aid. “We had a bad run of luck. I didn’t think it was worth the trouble.”

There are liability issues with Orion having its own police department, Village Clerk Lori Sampson said. 

Stiles noted that despite paying almost $20,000 a month to Henry County, the village still has to buy squad cars, radios and other equipment.

If Orion decides to continue with county coverage, officials need to negotiate a new contract, O’Leary said. When the county wants to raise contract amounts, the village needs to know why.

Health insurance changes

Orion saved a little over $12,000 by switching health insurance providers, with little or no detriment to village employees, Trustee Mel Drucker said.  

Hepner Insurance Agency of Orion made the arrangements for the new provider, Cooper said.

The village now pays 100 percent of the cost of health insurance for dependents of employees, but the president said Orion wants to look at having the employees share the expense.

Cooper said he would like to know what other communities do.

If the village is going to ask employees to share health insurance costs, he would like to give them raises to help offset the expense.

“Cost sharing will have a huge impact on employees,” Drucker said. “We have withheld raises for the last few years, and made the employees bear the burden of the village’s financial woes. 

“We can’t impose cost sharing with no notice,” the trustee said. “Also, we need to check with Village Attorney John Ames and see if there’s any kind of implied contract that would commit us to cover dependents.”

Next spring would be the earliest any cost sharing program would begin, Drucker said.

In other business

• Trustees approved spending $2,029.61 to have a failing pump in the 10th Avenue lift station replaced with a rental unit during a thunderstorm on the Fourth of July weekend.

O’Leary praised the efforts of Water Superintendent Arnie Sandberg, Street Superintendent Neil Dahl and Electric Pump Co. employees during the emergency. Besides replacing the old pump, they had to drain four manholes. No sewer backups were reported.

Repairing the old pumps will cost more than $8,000, the trustee said. 

• While preparing Eighth Street for a new surface, Dahl discovered the base was in worse condition than he thought. He will have to buy more rock to apply to the base, and in order to ensure the project stays on budget he may have to install less curb and gutter than planned.

• Orion Sanitary District donated $40,000 to the village to help repay the sewer improvement loan. The money will enable Orion to pay off the loan six months early, Drucker said.

The sanitary district receives personal property replacement tax payments from the state, he said. When a significant amount of money accumulates, the district transfers it to the village.

• Trustee Roger Peterson, chairman of the recreation committee, said he is looking at new playground equipment. The Orion Fall Festival committee will be asked to help pay for it.