Hillcrest rates to increase, ARPA funds discussed

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Historic Henry County Courthouse

The Henry County Board met Thursday July 22.  Duane Anderson and Jill Darrin were absent.  

Hillcrest Homes requested the approval of $7182 for repairs to the sewer system.  "It's a little city out there", explained Jan May, head of the Health and Social Services Committee.  The repairs are necessary to complete before winter, as unplugging the clogs in the system involve leaning over a pit, and removing the debris.  The repairs will take a week long project and reduce it to a few hours.  

The County also approved the contract with new Hillcrest Administrator, Robin Barnes, who replaces Janet Holmberg who recently retired.  Retiring maintenance personnel Jason Rusk and Dwayne Croegaert were also recognized for years of service.  

Hillcrest private pay rates were approved for an increase of $20 per day.  Current rate is $130, and it will go to $150 per day beginning January of 2022.  A cost of living increase of 3% will take effect annually after that.  More than 50% of residents are private pay.

The Finance Committee announced that the first half of the American Rescue Plan funds have been received.  The committee welcomes suggestions for the $4.5M.  They have outlined four "pillars" or pretexts for consideration.  Household relief which may include up to $2.6M in property tax offsets, County infrastructure which might include scanning and digital storage of documents, broadband enhancements, Community Projects, which might include broadband and business grants, and OEM enhancements, health and mental health programs.  The Committee will meet again August 12 at 5 PM, and welcome suggestions on how best to utilize these funds.  Another meeting prior to next month's Board meeting will be held to entertain ideas as well.

Transportation committee chair Jeff Orton brought members up to speed with the ongoing issues with IDOT and the I80 Atkinson exit.  Interagency agreements have been drawn up and IDOT is liable for 50% of the repairs.  The next steps will be to have the engineering studies completed. Shawn Kendall asked for an update on the viaduct  west of Galva and the status of repairs on that.  Residents have to drive back to Kewanee Dunes when a grain train has the crossings blocked.   Highway Superintendent Scott Stephenson stated that he has been in contact with all parties involved, with the ICC, the Railroad, township and county sharing the expenses.  In 2012 the project was priced out, and in the time since then, costs have increased $1.5M to an estimate between $3.5 and $5 M.  An projected timeline for the repairs of the viaduct is the 23-24 construction year. 

An RLF loan was approved up to $25,500 for Johns Lawn Care who will be renovating the old Airgas building that has been vacant in Kewanee for several years.  

Approval was made for the Office of Economic Development to participate with the Quad City Chamber of Commerce as an SBA Community Navigator, helping them manage a program of over $2.5M, for which the Office will be paid $100,000 to help with administrative costs.