Henry County Courthouse repairs closer to beginning

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Henry County Courthouse

The Henry County Board met Thursday August 19.  Jeff Orton, Jan May and Jim Padilla were absent. 

The Board meeting followed on the heels of a Town Hall meeting dealing with how to disburse the $4.25 M in ARPA funds the county recently received.  Another $4.25 M will be sent in 2022.

Among the items of business that were addressed at the meeting, the roof design quote was given the go-ahead.  The general contractor has been given to permission to proceed with the roof design quote, construction documents and blueprints, asbestos abatement and remediation (where necessary) and due diligence during the bidding process.  

A structural engineer has visited the bell tower, and reported that a metal bar that keeps the bell from ringing is no longer holding it in place.  The wooden housing has rotted and emergency repairs need to be made to shore it up until a crane can be on hand during the roof work.  The courthouse roof has been deemed to be past its useful life.

The Board agreed to the creation of an Ad Hoc committee made up of board members and members of the community. The county has until December 31 of 2024 to spend the $9.4M to be received from the government, within specific guidelines.  If for some reason a Board member does not maintain a seat on the Board, they will retain their seat on the Ad Hoc committee. Community members interested in serving on the Committee should contact County Administrator, Erin Knackstadt at 309-937-3400 or via the hernycty.com.

The County Board also approved new contracts for the circuit clerk, county clerk, coroner, treasurer and sheriff's office employees.  They are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, ( AFSCME).

Midland Wind project will be moving forward.  Groundwork will be done this fall and towers should be up in the spring.  An online date is projected for 2022. 

New Hillcrest Administrator Robin Barnes and Director of Nursing Tara Yancey gave a brief program on Hillcrest Home.  Three staff members are out with Covid, as well as one resident.  Family members are not currently allowed visits.  Yancey talked about a program they have implemented, whereby they are partnering with Black Hawk College  to train new aides and encourage them to go on to school with incentives. 

Jami Johnson of rural Coal Valley asked the Board to consider what they could do to help with a 90 acre tract of ground near the Oakwood Country Club that has been found to contain native american burial mounds.  He stated that the property is currently is expected to be used for development of luxury homes.  He has contacted the IDNR and the Department of the Interior regarding rescuing these burial sites.